Tag Archives: balboa park

Zoey the Cool Wet Cat

SNIPPETS (6-10-18)



A+R POTTERY Designer Pot #00111Sorry I missed last Sunday but I was heavily involved in the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Summer Show & Sale all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was a vendor with A+R POTTERY and got many comments. I was so tired after last weekend that I still haven’t unpacked the inventory to see what sold and what didn’t sell, so I won’t know how many sales I had until Wednesday night when I get paid.


In order to be a vendor at the Summer Show & Sale, I had to have eight entries into the show. I entered eight as a vendor and four as an individual, ten plants and two succulent pictures. My entries garnered one first place, five second place, and three third place. I’m particularly happy with those results because my best eight entries actually are on display at the 2018 San Diego County Fair from June 1 through July 4 (see SNIPPET 5). The first place was an educational exhibit on Pereskia grandifolia:

Pereskia grandifolia

There are three plants in that dish garden. I had ordered them from Uruguay on May 10. They arrived on May 31, just in time for the Show. They were a little ragged after not seeing sunshine for three weeks but it looks like they are going to survive.

The genus Pereskia has nine species and is the only genus in its family. It is more like a rose than a cactus, with non-succulent leaves, spines hiding on the stems behind the leaves, and rose-like flowers. Pereskia is considered the mother of all cacti & succulents because it is believed that the original cacti & succulents were very much like Pereskia.

One of mine even bloomed yesterday. Check out this rose-like flower:

Here is the educational flier that accompanied the dish garden.

Pereskia grandifolia


I’m working on getting the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society to take on renovation of the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden in Balboa Park as part of the Adopt-A-Plot program. This is a significant garden, planted under the direction of Kate Sessions (aka “Mother of Balboa Park”) for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. It’s severely neglected right now. Here’s my video presentation to the SDCSS Board of Directors. They won’t get it until Wednesday, June 13.


I tortured Zoey the Cool Cat on June 6. I didn’t really torture her, but if you were in the house for 10 minutes today while I was giving her a bath, you would have thought I was torturing her. This cat can howl better than any wolf on Earth. She’s so mad at me that when I found her after drying her off, she turned around and wouldn’t look at me.

Zoey the Cool Wet Cat

Zoey the Cool Wet Cat


Here is a video of all the plants in the cactus & succulent exhibit of the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society at the 2018 San Diego County Fair. The exhibit won first place in its category, and I have eight plants in the exhibit, including one awarded a “Noteworthy Plant,” the Peanut Cactus at 2:34 in the video.”


Fires do not “break out.” Fires are caused by something or someone. The fact that Fire Season started June 1, and there were a lot of fires the first weekend in June tells me that quite a few someones were out starting fires.



There were lots of dogs at the Cactus & Succulent Show & Sale last weekend. Here are my two favorites:

Dog in a backpack

Dog in a backpack


I’m so happy.

Twitler pardons Russel Ray


In 1966, while my wise old grandmother was helping her 11-year-old grandson start his very first business, she told me,

“Surround yourself with positive people and you’ll be positive. Surround yourself with successful people and you’ll be successful.”

She was right.


She also was right when she told me to treat every day the same. That way there are no bad Fridays because of weekend anticipation, no bad Mondays because of the weekend being over, and you can make a lot of money on holidays when most of the people don’t work.


Are sports teaching our children to steal? I mean, they steal bases in baseball, they steal the basketball from the opposing player. So much stealing going on…….


A little squirrel in Balboa Park last week. First one that didn’t scamper away when I said, “I’ll put you in my blog!”



I bought my first skateboard ever this past week. Walked out of the shop with it, got on it, and went zooming down the street. Cars were honking and swerving, yelling obscenities, flipping the bird. Weird.

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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?





















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Friday Flower Fiesta (3-10-17)—Spring is springing and the bees are going crazy

Friday Flower Fiesta

Spring usually begins around January 1 here in San Diego. It got delayed a couple of months this year due to the extraordinarily wet winter we have had.

My back balcony got 12″ of rain just in February; San Diego gets around 10.3″ each year, so it’s been pretty wet.

All the rain means the spring flower season, while late, should be spectacular, from ice plant along the coast and freeways to the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park to the desert wildflowers 100 miles inland in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

I have not been to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the wildflower bloom but all indications are that this year is turning out to be a “Super Bloom.” I’ll have to take off a day and go out there, even if I have to go all by my lonesome self.

Meanwhile, what’s going on locally:

Ice PlantIce plant path picture by Russel Ray Photos

Orange, yellow, and purple ice plant

Ice plant

Cherry Blossoms at Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa ParkCherry tree at Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park

Cherry blossoms

Garland chrysanthemum known locally as “crown daisy.”
This stuff will make you sneeze like you’ve never sneezed before.
Yellow wildflowers in San Diego

Yellow wildflowers in San Diego

Speaking of yellow, Oxalis is covering the hillsides
and the bees are going crazyFriday Flower Fiesta #9

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Not done since 1935

Out & About

When people come to San Diego, they naturally gravitate to Balboa Park. With 1,200 acres, it is said by those more knowledgeable than me to be the largest city-owned cultural park in the United States.

Within Balboa Park are the two most photographed buildings in San Diego, the Botanical Building and the California Tower.

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, having been built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

One used to be able to go to the viewing decks at the top of the tower, but they have been closed to the public since 1935….

….until January 1, 2015, which is when the first deck of the California Tower was again opened to the public. And it is pretty awesome up there!

Nowhere else can you get as close to the dome of the San Diego Museum of Man:

img_0507 california tower balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can see the Plaza and El Prado promenade, as well as the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east. The peak at the upper left is Mt. Helix, just a few blocks from where I live, and the biggest peak in the upper right is Mount San Miguel, 2,567 feet tall.

IMG_0504 plaza balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Right below the California Tower is the Old Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare’s Old Globe in England.

img_0506 old globe theater balboa park san diego balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You’ll see a panorama of downtown San Diego that is available nowhere else on the ground. Click on the picture for a monster version.

img_0500-0502 san diego downtown panorama california tower balboa park low res

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most importantly if you have children, they can wave at the planes as they fly into San Diego International Airport:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tours last 40 minutes, including 10-15 minutes on the viewing deck.

Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to go up.

Arrive at the Museum at least 15 minutes before your tour starts because tours will not wait for you and you will not be allowed to join a tour in progress. Critically, if you miss your tour, your ticket will not be refunded or exchanged.

Wear flat-soled shoes that cover your whole foot. You will not be allowed on a tour if you have open-toed shoes, flip flops, sandals, etc.

There are free lockers where you can store personal items while on a tour. No bags of any kind whatsoever—including fanny packs, purses, camera bags, and backpacks—are permitted on the tour. I think the purpose is to prevent people from dropping things over the edge, either accidentally or intentionally. Huge cameras and video equipment also is not allowed; make a reservation for a private tour if you are a professional videographer or photographer with lots of equipment.

It’s best to order tickets and make reservations online because all of Southern California wants to go to the top of the Tower. Only 4,761 of us (a number I completely fabricated) have done it so far.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Downtown San Diego at night

Out & About

One hundred years ago San Diego, a city of about 40,000 people, hosted the Panama California Exposition to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.

The first stop on the voyage through the Canal and up the west coast of the United States would be San Diego.

The Exposition began on January 1, 1915, and lasted until January 1, 1917.

To help celebrate the centennial, San Diego is beautifying the city, as if it weren’t already beautiful….

Many of the highway medians near downtown are getting new landscaping. Potholes are being filled but apparently to me only on streets near downtown and Balboa Park, and new lighting is showing up on many of the buildings in downtown San Diego.

Recently I went downtown after the sun set in the west to get some time exposure pictures of the new lighting that has shown up these past six months.

This first picture is of the San Diego County Administration Center where Jim and I got married on October 30, 2008.

San Diego County Administration Center stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both the north and south sides of the Administration Center used to be ugly parking lots. Those lots are now underground two wonderful water features and a playground for the children. I was down there around 8:30 p.m., and the playground was full of children and parents having late night fun. This pictures is of the water feature on the north side:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The south side is were the children’s playground is, so it’s more popular than the north side. Here’s the south side water feature with Wyndham’s new lighting; the blue adds nicely to the downtown visual experience:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, here are two skyscrapers with new red and green neon lighting stripes. Quite nice:

Downtown San Diego at night

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re flying into San Diego for business or pleasure, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane. Day or night the view is spectacular. Note that occasionally the fierce Santa Ana winds force the planes to come in off the ocean to land. If that happens to you, both sides of the plane offer great views—SeaWorld, Mexico, downtown San Diego, beaches. That might happen about ten days a year, so your best bet is to get that left side window seat.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Zoey the Cool (Book) CatZoey the Cool Cat exploring the books

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 11

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next to the San Diego Museum of Art is the Timken Museum of Art.

Timken Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art San Diego

Of all the buildings in Balboa Park, this one seems most out of place because its architecture does not match the predominant Spanish architecture. It was designed by San Diego architect John Mock and is considered one of the most important examples of mid-century southern California modernism, as well as one of the finest examples in the United States of the International Style. Construction materials include travertine, bronze, and glass, embracing the landscape of Balboa Park from its lobby, and making great use of natural light created by pioneer lighting designer Richard Kelly.

Putnam Foundation Art CollectionThe Timken Museum of Art houses the world-class Putnam Foundation Art Collection and is considered one of the great “small museums” of the world. It is the only museum in Balboa Park which does not have an admission fee. Donations, of course, are happily accepted, and memberships are available.

The Putnam Foundation Collection dates back to the early part of the 20th century when sisters Anne and Amy Putnam came to San Diego. During their extensive travels, they developed a love of fine art and spent decades acquiring European old master paintings, mostly for public collections in San Diego, but also for their own private collection. They established the nonprofit Putnam Foundation in 1951, and subsequent acquisitions became part of the Putnam Foundation Collection.

The Timken Museum of Art was founded in 1965 as a permanent home for the Putnam Foundation Collection, featuring paintings from European and American old masters. Notable artists represented in the collection include Rembrandt, Rubens, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, John Singleton Copley, and Eastman Johnson. The museum also is noted for its collection of Russian icons, icons here having a totally different meaning than in today’s computer world.

Since I only today realized that the Timken Museum of Art always has free admission, I scurried over to Balboa Park and made my way to the museum. I was quite impressed.

They don’t allow any photography whatsoever, so one either has to search for hours on Wikipedia or Google royalty-free images to find something, or you can go directly to the Timken Museum of Art online gallery.

I did find a royalty-free image of the one painting that I found the most impressive:

Death of the Virgin, Petrus Christi, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I couldn’t find a royalty-free image with the frame, so I used a picture and put my own antique wood, museum-quality frame around it.

This probably was the largest painting in the museum, measuring a whopping 67×54 inches. I am not much into religious paintings, but I found the history of this painting to be interesting. In art, a painting’s history is called its provenance.

Titled “Death of the Virgin,” Petrus Christus (unk.-1475/6) painted this from 1460-65 using oil on oak panel. It is his largest known work and was originally the centerpiece of a triptych. The two side panels were destroyed during World War II, a fate of many works of art during that time.

Its provenance has been traced back to the town of Sciacca in Sicily during the 16th century. Various families in Palermo and Bagheria, Sicily, owned it until it was sold to Knoedler & Company of New York in 1938. The Putnam Foundation acquired it in 1951.

It has not been registered as stolen or missing by the Art Loss Register database, nor is it known to be an art loss related to World War II. Barring any future research revealing it to be stolen or missing, it will most likely remain here in San Diego at the Timken Museum of Art.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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