Category Archives: nature’s geometry

Where do I cancel?

Out & About

On Saturday, March 14, I drove to Visalia, California, a distance of 327 miles. It was a 10-hour round-trip. My purpose was to speak to the Visalia Succulent Club on Nature’s Geometry in Succulents.

Cover of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" by Russel Ray

I got to go over The Grapevine, a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 5 over the Tehachapi Mountains from California’s San Joaquin Valley to Grapevine.

The Grapevine

It’s a monster of a road because there’s a lot of semi traffic doing 5-10 mph in the slow lane, and semi traffic doing 10-30 mph in the second lane. Traffic in the other lanes is cruising by at 55-65 mph, with some doing up to 90 mph in the fast lane. The weather can be atrocious because of the height of the mountains, raining at the top (4,000 feet) but clear on both sides, and even snow at some times of the year. Couple the weather with the wide range of speeds, and there always are various accidents.

The meeting was at 6:00 p.m., and since I got there at 10:15 a.m., I had a lot of time to explore. Visalia and its sister city of Exeter were quite beautiful with all the trees that were blooming.

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus sp.)

Flowering Maple (Albutilon sp.)

Redbud trees

Flowering trees

Exeter, with a population of 10,000, had a very cool little downtown area. There were murals on the exterior of 32 buildings. I didn’t find them all, but the following one, #15 and titled “Tracks of Time,” was my favorite.

Tracks of Time

In Exeter, I found a bookstore with lots of local history books, so I bought one, a hard-cover edition of a book that itself is difficult to find.

Visalia Electric Railroad

The bookstore also had a cat. I’m one of those who have to take time out of my busy schedule to pet a cat, so this little one got 15 minutes of love and attention from me. Look at the expression on his face as I told him that I had to go but would make him a Facebook star.

Exeter bookstore kitty

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, when I got home at 4:00 Sunday morning, I decided to self-isolate, not because I think I might have caught something in the Central California Valley but rather because at my age (65 years and 8 days) and with my high blood pressure; skin cancer and seborrheic keratoses; BPH; and constant coughing, sneezing, and trouble breathing due to a deviated septum from a broken nose sometime in my early childhood (according to the otolaryngologist), I’m in the high-risk category. My constant coughing and sneezing also might cause concern to anyone within hearing distance. I have pills to help control the coughing and sneezing, but I never know how long before they take effect and when they might expire.

I’m keeping a journal of my days at home in self-isolation., trying to keep things in perspective.

Day 1—I have decided to self-isolate. Since I am retired, between watching television (although no sports), gardening (lots of weeds to pull and flora to plant), and taking care of Little Queen Olivia (who doesn’t seem to be real excited about me being home all day), self-isolation shouldn’t be too hard.

Day 2—After a day of drinking margaritas and watching the Hannibal series on Prime TV, I can definitely state that drinking margaritas all day does not make you poop. Thusly, I am out of margaritas, but I have 1,618 rolls of toilet paper.

Day 3—Little Queen Olivia is completely oblivious to the fact that I am home and willing to give belly rubs.
Little Queen Olivia

Day 4—Self-isolation isn’t so bad, but I do find it interesting that there are 8,471 grains of rice in one box and 8,552 grains in the other box.

Day 5—It’s been raining all this week, with 3½ inches these past two days, and it’s raining hard right now. Pulling weeds and planting flora is going very slowly. Ah well, that means I definitely still have things to do during the next nine days of my self isolation.

My self-isolation will end on March 28, and three days later my 90-day free trial of the year 2020 ends. Where do I cancel?

Hope everyone is doing well in these weird times we’re living in.

Out & About in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Out & About

I went camping for three days last weekend in Anza-Borrego Desert in Southern California, perhaps the best ever camping trip I have been on.

Out of several hundred Ferocactus cylindraceus plants I saw in the desert, I found these two that clearly show spiraling flowers, rather unusual in cacti.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Go, Fibonacci, go!

When I moved out here in the East San Diego County boondocks at 682′ elevation in July 2017, I started landscaping with my favorite plants. Keep in mind that, at that time, I had 62 years of experience growing my favorite plants.

Well, two of my favorite plants, Agave attenuata and aeoniums, don’t like it out here. Agave attenuata simply doesn’t like it when it gets below 40°F, of which we have had several weeks, and aeoniums don’t like it when it gets too hot, of which we have had several weeks of 100°F+.Grow dammit!

After trying to will them to live and look nice, I gave up in October 2019, and I’ve been replacing all of them with cacti, mostly Ferocactus.

One of my purposes in going desert camping was to get a good look at Ferocactus cylindraceus since it’s native to Southern California just 80 miles from me. I am officially in love (but don’t tell my husband).

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I found the tallest ferocactus I had ever seen, standing six feet and six inches tall, four inches taller than me.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I’m the one in red.
Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Additionally, I found the clumpiest clump (with seven heads!) and the tallest clump.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

And, to top things off, I found the desert rains and a desert rainbow!

Rainbow in Anza-Borrego Desert

Unsolicited comments and updated speaking schedule

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

In 1966 when my wise old grandmother was helping her 11-year-old grandson (me!) set up his first company, she told me not to solicit comments, saying that if someone wanted to comment, they would. Unsolicited comments are the best.

So here are unsolicited comments about my book and presentation:

From Etsy
Etsy review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From my Facebook page
Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From Instagram
Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From the Facebook page for San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society
San Gabriel Valley C&SS review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" presentation

Here is my updated “Nature’s Geometry in Succulents” speaking schedule. Come see me if I’m in your area!

  • February 11 – Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society
    Bakersfield, California
  • February 13 – San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, Los Angeles County Arboretum,
    Arcadia, California
  • March 14 – Visalia Succulent Society,
    Visalia, California
  • May 10 – South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Palos Verdes Estates, California
  • June 7 – Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • July 1 – Gates Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Redlands, California

Whenever I go to speak to a club, I always take plants, books, and shells to create a display about Nature’s Geometry. The plants and shells exhibit the golden spiral.

Here’s my display from the 2/13/20 meeting of the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society:

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" display for cactus club meetings

Nature’s Geometry: Star-tetrahedron

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" front cover

In my never-ending quest for finding geometry in nature, I recently found a star-tetrahedron in the flowers of a Hoya pubicalyx ‘Red Buttons.’ Here are the flowers:

Hoya pubicalyx 'Red Buttons'

The star-tetrahedron is a three-dimensional figure, represented in two dimensions thusly:

Star-tetrahedron

The flowers create a three-dimensional ball, so if I could wrap a three-dimensional star-tetrahedron around the flower ball, I’d be willing to bet that everything would line up almost perfectly.

Since I can’t do that, I have to settle for a two-dimensional picture of the hoya flowers and a two-dimensional representation of a star-tetrahedron. But, with special thanks to Photoshop, everything lines up pretty nicely when I superimpose that star-tetrahedron representation on top of the two-dimensional picture of the flowers:

Star-tetrahedron superimposed on Hoya pubicalyx 'Red Buttons'

It’s too late to put this in my book, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, but it’s not too late to put it in my Powerpoint presentation for the cactus & succulent clubs that I will be talking to next year.