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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

Stapelia

Stapelia from the garden of Russel Ray

Stapelia

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

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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

Out & About—Copper Creek Falls Trail, San Elijo Hills

Out & About

If you haven’t discovered meetup.com yet, I can highly recommend it. If there is something you want to do but you’re not doing it, I can pretty much guarantee you that there are other people just like you, and you can meet them on meetup.com.

One of the photograph groups that I’m a member of introduced me to a year-round waterfall on Copper Creek. Year-round waterfalls in San Diego County either are rare or are very difficult to get to. The one on Copper Creek is easy to get to. The trail out and back is 2.7 miles but they are an easy 2.7 miles with virtually no elevation gain on a well-used path, provided that you take the Copper Creek Falls Trail. There are 12 named trails in San Elijo Hills, some going over steep mountains. See the trails here: San Elijo Hills Hiking Trails

There is parking at coordinates 33.093945, -117.204883. Enter those into Google Maps and you’ll be on your way.

The entrance I took after parking goes by a dead sewage treatment plant:

Dead sewage treatment plant in San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Dead sewage treatment plant in San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Dead sewage treatment plant in San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

On the way to the falls, you’ll see the creek, ponds, mini-falls, cute little bridges, and flowers.

Copper Creek, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Thistle

Bridge over Copper Creek

Copper Creek, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Castor flowers

My research indicates that this area was copper and silver mines from around 1857 into the early 1900s. There are remnants of the mines and operation structures throughout the area. The waters behind the small dam is said to be where ore would be cleaned before transport.

Copper Creek, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Copper Creek, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

I always find structural ruins to be of interest, and I was not disappointed at Copper Creek Falls.

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Mining ruins at Copper Creek Falls, San Elijo Hills, San Diego County, California

Copper Creek’s water comes from the Escondido Creek Watershed, which begins in Bear Valley above Lake Wohlford. The creek flows through a series of man-made ponds, part of the mining efforts, all the way to San Elijo Lajoon.

The Copper Creek Falls Trails takes you through a grove of Eucalyptus trees which apparently were planted for firewood during the mining days.

There were three vertical mining shafts over 300 feet long and one horizontal shaft over 200 feet long but those shafts were blasted in decades ago for safety.

Fellow photographer sitting on the largest part of the dam
Fellow photographer sitting on the biggest part of the dam

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Halls of History—Torrey Arms Apartments, and more Torrey stuff

Halls of History

I haven’t subscribed to a daily newspaper for four years, nor have I had television or cable in that same span. That left me wanting since my day usually started with the news, breakfast, and a shower. It took me a while to replace the news but the Internet and our local weekly paper, the San Diego Reader, have allowed me to carry on.

The San Diego Reader often has articles about local history as well as places and events to check out. Earlier this year they had an article on the history of San Diego State University. Turns out that the original campus still exists, so I went to wander around and take pictures. While I was wandering around, I discovered the Torrey Arms Apartments across from the old campus. Looks like this:

Torrey Arms Apartments, 4260 Campus Avenue, San Diego CA

The address, 4260 Campus Avenue, even tells us something about the history of the area. When I first came to San Diego in April 1993, this area and the beaches were where I hung out. I had always wondered why the street was Campus Avenue since there was no “campus” anywhere along the street, or at either end. It only took me 24 years….

From my research, I discovered that the Victorian main building was built in 1885 and is one of San Diego’s oldest buildings. The courtyard units seen at the sides in the picture were built in the 1930s.

There are 21 units in the building:

  • 11 studios, 300 square feet each
  • 7 units with 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom, 500 square feet each
  • 2 units with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, 751 square feet each
  • 1 penthouse with 800 square feet but no indication of the number of bedrooms and bathrooms

John Torrey courtesy of WikipediaI found one source that stated the property once was owned by the renowned botanist Dr. John Torrey (picture at right). If that’s true, then we might have to define “property” because Dr. Torrey, born in New York City in 1796 and dying there in 1873, predates the construction of the main building by twelve years.

The same source stated that Dr. Torrey “discovered and named the Torrey Pine.” That’s not true. Someone’s using alternative facts. Plants and animals rarely, if ever, were named by the discoverer after himself/herself. In this case, the Torrey Pine was discovered on June 26, 1850, by Charles Parry, courtesy of WikipediaCharles Parry (1823-1890; picture at right), who came to San Diego in 1849 at the age of 26. Parry was a doctor, botanist, geologist, and surveyor. Parry named his new discovery after Dr. Torrey, one of his botany teachers at Columbia University.

Parry’s diaries, journals, and notes reside at the Iowa State University library as the Parry Collection.

So……………

Torrey Arms Apartments was for sale as recently as May 2016 for $4,260,000 but public records indicate that it still is owned by the people who bought it in October 2012.

Sources: The 1850 Discovery of the Torrey Pine, by James Lightner, 2014, and Wikipedia entries for John Torrey and Charles Parry.

Large Torrey Pine in Del Mar, California
Torrey Pine in Del Mar, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Lake Murray under threatening skies

How I Did It

Now that I have a fine fine fine super computer for all my digital photo editing needs, I’m testing it out like there’s no tomorrow.

One of the software programs that I have always wanted—but didn’t want to pay $99 for because the full-featured trial program never would operate on my old computer—is Photomatix. Photomatix takes pictures, preferably a set of bracketed pictures, and creates a high dynamic range (HDR) picture.

Today I downloaded the trial version. It worked. So I paid $99, got a registration key, and went to town. Following is my first HDR picture created from three bracketed pictures of -1, 0, and +1. I look forward to trying this with -3, 0, +3 and even -5, 0, +5.  Since Photomatix can use many many pictures, maybe even a bracketed set of -5, 4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5. It will be interesting to see what I can create.

Lake Murray, La Mesa CA, under threatening skies.Lake Murray, La Mesa CA, under stormy skies

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Halls of History—The Hawthorne Historical Inn

Halls of History

Early last year when I was trying to find something to do with the rest of my life, I hired out to deliver people for Uber and packages for Amazon Prime Now. I knew that people and package delivery was not going to be my full-time adventure in my post-retirement life, but I did think that I would get to deliver people and packages to some interesting places that otherwise I would never visit. Whenever I found interesting places, I added them to my tablet’s electronic notepad with the intent of visiting them later.

One of those places was the Hawthorne Historical Inn at 2121 1st Avenue.

Hawthorne Historical Inn

The Hawthorne Historical Inn was built in 1900 as a Dutch Colonial hotel with 31 rooms. Currently it is an apartment building comprising 11,951 square feet with 29 studio and studio bedroom units renting for $800 to $1,400 a month, all utilities paid.

Hawthorne Historical Inn, San Diego, California

Apparently some of the rooms don’t have kitchens, not totally unexpected in an Inn but a little unusual in today’s world of apartments, even studio apartments. However, onsite amenities include a kitchen in addition to a game room and laundry facilities. I don’t know where the kitchen is, but imagine living on the third floor and making your way down to the first-floor kitchen three times a day for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Wonder if the kitchen is open for midnight snacks….

The Hawthorne Historical Inn is pet-friendly, with just a one-time fee of $100 for either a dog or a cat. One source says “no size or breed restriction” while another source says “small dogs” and yet another says “40 pound limit.”

If you don’t want to hassle with street parking, you can get assigned surface lot parking for just $50 a month. Trust me, $50 a month is cheap cheap cheap for assigned parking in downtown San Diego.

Hawthorne Historical Inn

Interesting “facts” about the Hawthorne Historical Inn:

  1. The 1993 movie “Mr. Jones” starring Richard Gere, Lena Olin, and Anne Bancroft, was filmed in the house next door, which you can see at the left of the palm tree in the picture immediately above. According to one source, Richard Gere shot several scenes while balanced precariously on the Hawthorne’s roof but I believe he actually was on the house next door. I’ll know for sure once I watch the movie.
  2. During World War II, the Inn was popular with Rosie the Riveters who built B-24 Liberators and PBY Catalinas in San Diego at the Consolidated Aircraft plant.
  3. According to legend, Muhammad Ali and Sammy Davis Jr. stayed in the hotel.
  4. Most recent sale was in April 2016 at $4,100,000.
  5. The Hawthorne Historic Inn was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
  6. At least two people claim the Hawthorne Historical Inn is haunted. One guy, a photographer, posted online that he was taking night time pictures of the building and on picture revealed in one of the windows a partial face of a woman and an outline of the camera he was using.
    A woman replied to his posting: “I lived behind the building you are talking about for about a year. When I would sit in my kitchen in the morning drinking my coffee I could see the building clearly there was always a lady in her 30′s. I would say that would be in the window that was across from my window I could not see her clearly but I could see her I would think wow why is she always looking at me. when you walk by the building you always feel just creepy. well then I found out that no one was living there at the time it was being redone to get ready to rent out the apartments. The place is just really scary I always see for rent signs out side of it. its a beautiful place now that it has been finished but there must be a reason such a nice place cant keep tenants.”

Hawthorne Historical Inn, San Diego, California

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat