Category Archives: Uncategorized

Picture of the Moment—Be a unique star!

Picture of the Moment

A picture of some teen tiny flowers on one of my succulents, a jade plant (Crassula ovata). Taken with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens.

How many stars can you count on just the one flower? I see 7 but I would not argue with you if you made a case for 8.

I would/could never have seen this without that cool macro lens.

Be more than a star. Be a unique star.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post


If you need ANYTHING at all….

I live in my own little world

I took a journey the past weekend and discovered my new BFF #1 arboretum, college campus, boardwalk, beach, sea lion colony, and pier, making the location my new BFF #1 city.

I checked into this little (and I mean little—what you see is what there was!) Comfort Inn at 2:41 a.m. on 1/7.

Comfort Inn

Here’s the conversation between the night clerk and me:

Comfort Inn Night Clerk (CINC): “Do you smoke?”
Me: “No.” (Having already read the disclosures about a $250 extra charge if you smoke in the room, but I don’t smoke anyway, so all I could do was feel sorry for smokers.)
CINC: “Do you smoke ANYTHING?”
Me: “No.”
CINC (incredulously): “Nothing at all?”
Me: “No.”
CINC (leaning across the counter to whisper): “Well, if you need ANYTHING at all, just let me know.”
Me: “Thank you.”

I have my own thoughts, but let’s hear some interpretations of this conversation without anyone knowing where I was.

As an aside, I took 673 pictures and videos, so stay tuned over these next weeks!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-15-17)—San Diego winter roses

Friday Flower Fiesta

My wise old grandmother often told me that if you meet a plant’s specific needs for water, light, and temperature, you can grow anything anywhere. That, of course, is why we have greenhouses.

Here in San Diego, with our Mediterranean climate, we don’t have to worry much about light and temperature. It’s the water that often is the deciding factor for whether or not we can grow something, especially outdoors.

There is a rose garden over in Balboa Park, and except when the rose experts come along in February and March and destroy all the roses by cutting them back, they bloom year round. Following are pictures of roses in the Balboa Park rose garden taken a few days ago.

Which are your favorites?





















I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (12-11-17)—Lost on a desert island in 1970, part 2

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There will be no more Beatles songs from here forward so I’ll be able to include YouTube videos for all songs.

Following are the next 22 songs from 1970 that I would take with me if there were a possibility of being lost on a desert island.

In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Over 30 million copies sold, making it one of the best-selling singles ever.

Mean Mistreater by Grand Funk
From their album Closer To Home
This song and the next were on their album Mark, Don & Mel: 1969-1971
which I received as a birthday present in 1973 (my 18th)
and which started me on my hard rock journey.

I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home) by Grand Funk
From their album Closer To Home

Make It With You by Bread
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their only #1 hit, surprisingly to me.

Green-eyed Lady by Sugarloaf
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
I won an Oldies Contest in 1992 by naming this song in 3 notes.

All Right Now by Free
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Received one million radio plays in the U.S. in 1989
and three million air plays in 2006.

I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Dare I admit that this song was a natural for me
since I had my first girlfriend in 1970?

Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
#16 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
The first of one of their few singles.

The Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
First released on their 1967 album Makie It Happen

American Woman by The Guess Who
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
A hit with all my male friends, too,
since we all were 15 and looking for our American woman.

Share The Land by The Guess Who
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
The subject of possibly the longest-running civil lawsuit in history,
February 1971 to March 1998, claiming copyright infringement
of He’s So Fine by The Chiffons.

What Is Life by George Harrison
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

If Not For You by George Harrison
Written by Bob Dylan. Olivia Newton-John’s cover is the only
one with made it to the Billboard Hot 100, at #25.

Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando & Dawn
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
but a #1 hit on the Billboard country charts.

I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Joy To The World by Three Dog Night
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Played after every home victory by the Denver Broncos,
although probably just the refrain. I can’t see them playing,
“Jeremiah was a bullfrog….”

Lucky Man by Emerson Lake & Palmer
#48 hit in 1970 on the Billboard Hot 100 and a #51 hit in 1973.
Listen to this song with headphones!

Blue Money by Van Morrison
#23 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Truckin’ by The Grateful Dead
#64 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their highest charting single until 1987.

Lonely Days by the Bee Gees
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
My California cousins got me hooked on the Bee Gees in 1968.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (10-13-17)—Stapelia gigantea

Friday Flower Fiesta

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!Master Gardener

When my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, I found that I was moving in with a Master Gardener eight years before there was such a thing as a Master Gardener.

In September 1968, when I came home from my eighth grade plant biology class with Mrs. Bajza, I asked my wise old grandmother if I could have a small area in her yard to create my own little garden.

Earlier that year, my granddad, two uncles, and I had installed central heating and air conditioning in our South Texas home. Such a system comes with a cooling condenser which sits outside and blows hot air around at hurricane force. The wind and heat kills anything near it. So, of course, the area around the cooling condenser is what my wise old grandmother gave me. I was so sad but I didn’t let her see my sadness.

While I was over at a friend’s house—Richard Schmidt—his parents heard me talking about my useless garden. They offered to take me 70 miles down to the Rio Grande Valley and show me just how useless my garden was not. They introduced me to cactus and succulents, and I bought many on that trip.

I created a rock wall around the cooling condenser to force the hot wind upwards and protect the rest of the little area. Then I created little dry stream beds and a cactus/succulent rock garden. The area I was working with was on the south side of the house, so it got a lot of South Texas sunshine and heat to begin with.

Well, the cactus and succulents absolutely loved it there, and one day they all decided to reward me simultaneously with a magnificent display of flowers. I was so excited that I went running in yelling and screaming for my wise old grandmother to come look. She was impressed, and happy, which made me happy, too.

One of the succulents that I had planted was a Stapelia. They look kind of awkward, like me, so I could identify with them. When it bloomed, it was the most magnificent flower I had ever seen, similar to this one from Wikipedia:

Stapelia gigantea

I now know that what I had was a Stapelia gigantea, the largest flower of the Stapelia species. Sadly, I never took a cutting from that plant when I left home for college at Texas A&M University. And I had never seen another Stapelia gigantea…..

….Until yesterday….

I was wandering around a newly discovered nursery out here in the boondocks, Wally’s World Nursery. Wally’s had five of them, one blooming and two fixin’ to bloom. I brought one home with me:

Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia gigantea is known as the “carrion plant” because its flowers smell like rotting flesh, important to the plant since it needs common flies to pollinate it. Have no fear if you want one of these, though, because you kind of have to rub the flower all over your nose in order to smell it. Flies, on the other hand, can smell rotting flesh from half way around the world….

The flowers get up to ten inches in diameter and are fringed with hairs that can be up to three-tenths of an inch long. The flowers of all Stapelia species are star shaped, some having more than one star in them, and many of them are fringed with little hairs.

I have had other Stapelia species over the years but never Stapelia gigantea. I have had the Stapelia grandiflora, which has the second-largest flower (see second picture below), but I have always wanted  another Stapelia gigantea. Now I have one.

Here are some pictures of Stapelia flowers from my gardens over the years:



Stapelia from the garden of Russel Ray


I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Surfers and crabs

Out & About

Time flies by when you’re having fun….

I spent yesterday at the Surfing America’s 2017 USA Surfing Championships. Surfing is one of those sports where I change my Canon 760D’s settings to AI Servo tracking using all 19 focus points and burst mode. You might be tempted to just take videos and then capture a still photo from the video. Don’t. The still photo won’t be anywhere near as good as if you simply shot a still photo to begin with. Even with my drone’s 4K video, which is considered “movie quality,” a still capture is pretty poor. Just remember that videos are videos and still photos are still photos, and never the two shall meet….

I’m only 10% of the way through cataloging all the pictures from yesterday but here’s my favorite surfing picture so far.

Surfer at Surfing America's 2017 USA Surfing Championship, Oceanside CA

I admit that I spent as much time watching and photographing wildlife as I did surfers. Following is one of my favorite wildlife pictures from the day. I told this big fella that I would make him an Internet star; he just sat there oblivious, seeming to smile at me, so……………….. (Check out his little goatee, too!)

Crab at Surfing America's 2017 USA Surfing Championship, Oceanside CA

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Moral: Park the car, get out, and walk around

Out & About

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993, on one of the corners between where I hung out and where I lived there was a small model train store with a neon “Frank the Train Man” sign in the window. Although I wasn’t in a position to start collecting model trains again, I often stopped in just to look around.

Frank Cox, the train man, had died of a heart attack in 1989. He had been born in England in 1907 and had moved to San Diego at the age of 13. He opened his model train shop in 1943 at 4310 Park Boulevard. The store I used to visit was located at 4207 Park Boulevard. That address now is Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano. The store I used to visit had a large neon sign, which was installed in 1947. Sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the store closed but the neon sign was saved and moved and installed at the top of the stairs at the original location at 4310 Park Boulevard.

Original neon sign from Frank the Trainman, San Diego CA

After graduating from high school in San Diego, Cox worked in the old Marston’s Department Store in downtown San Diego where his father headed the shoe section. During the Great Depression, Cox switched jobs, hiring on with the Ben Hur Coffee Co. near the train tracks downtown. After visiting a train collector in 1941, an experience which he said changed his life, he became Frank the Trainman. Just two years later he had opened his own train shop. Due to declining health, Cox left his shop in 1981, turning it over to Cooley.

Recently I discovered that the original campus still existed for San Diego State University, then called San Diego Normal School, so I went to explore it. While I was wandering around, I discovered that the 2-story building where the neon sign is located, the original location of Frank’s shop, has been painted on one side to look like a train, a steam locomotive.

Building painted to look like a train

That probably has been there for a couple of decades but you’ll never see it if you’re just driving by. How sad that the only people who see it every day are a few employees of the San Diego Unified School District which currently is housed in the buildings of the old San Diego Normal School.

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago while researching information for this blog post that I discovered that Frank the Trainman’s model train shop still is in business, albeit it at 4233 Park Boulevard, just a few storefronts north of the location I used to visit. It is operated by Frank’s employee, protege, and successor, Jim Cooley, who also has an eponymous museum next door where displays include 15 cars from 1886 through 1933 and 25 categories of antiques represented by model trains, cast iron toys, spittoons, tools, cuckoo clocks, license plates, World War I posters, phonographs, typewriters, and cameras. The museum features “primitive” cars which Cooley defines as cars which have one or two cylinders and represent the development of the automobile. The majority of the cars have not been restored and chances are you won’t see them anywhere else. I guess you know where I’ll be going, soon.

Moral of this post: Park the car, get out, and walk around.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat