Tag Archives: julian

Much safer reading than the old manual way

Snow day in the Cuyamaca Mountains, San Diego County, 11/30/2019Snow Day in the Cuyamaca Mountains,
East San Diego County, 11/30/2019

When I was young, I used to carry around with me a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. That was what I read when I had to wait, usually in some sort of line, like at the grocery store or post office. It was my emergency reading material.

The Golden Ratio by Mario LivioDare I say that I still do that?

My current emergency reading material is
The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number, written by
Mario Livio (b. 1945) and published in 2002.

(Interestingly, as with my own book, it has an ISBN on the back cover and one on the copyright page. They are supposed to be the same. They are not. Ooopsy. Someone goofed.)

It has to do with my book Nature’s Geometry: Succulents and my 1-hour presentation on the same topic.

I’m 99% certain that I’m on the Speaker’s Circuit for cactus & succulent clubs now, but, as my wise old grandmother said in 1966: Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

(Yes, we had a farm/ranch, and yes, I was counting the number of eggs so I would know how many chickens I would have….)

Two cactus & succulent clubs in the Los Angeles area have me tentatively scheduled for February 9 and February 13.

I did a presentation in June 2019 for the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society in Escondido, California, a club to which I belong. However, that presentation is now six months old, so I’m updating it using material from my book which was published in October 2019 and with information garnered from my current emergency reading list.

Dare I say that I also read while sitting in stop & go traffic? It’s a skill I learned in 1977-1983 while actually working in an office 8 to 5 (something I rarely have done) and sitting in rush hour traffic in Houston, Texas. I drive with my left hand and hold my reading material at dashboard level with my right hand. The key to doing this successfully, though—with successfully being defined as “without having an accident”—is to only read when the car is at a complete stop. I don’t do it if the car is moving irregardless (one of my favorite non-words) of how slowly that movement might be.

My 2019 Honda Insight has “Brake Hold,” which is the Honda’s way of saying, Here, Russel. We’ve made it easier for you to read while you drive.

2019 Honda Insight

Brake Hold in the 2019 Honda Insight

Brake Hold only takes effect if the car is completely motionless, and it won’t release unless I press on the gas pedal. Much safer reading than the old manual way.

When I went to Julian, California, on November 30, 2019, to play in the snow, I do believe the whole city of San Diego (population 1.3 million) had gotten there before me. There is a high-traffic intersection coming out of the mountains and into downtown Julian. Traffic often backs up for 20 or 30 cars, and it can take 10-15 minutes to go one-tenth of a mile. Traffic on snow day was backed up 1.2 miles, and it took me 1 hour and 34 minutes to go that 1.2 miles. I got a lot of stop & go reading done!

Snow day in the Cuyamaca Mountains, San Diego County, 11/30/2019

No need to wait for the weather to change

Lake Cuyamaca, CaliforniaLake Cuyamaca, California

I have been retired three times in my life: 1983, 1993, and 2017. None of them have stuck.

In 1983 I was living in Houston, Texas, and playing the “Keep up with the Joneses” game. Suddenly, though, everyone started getting engaged, getting married, and having children. None of those were for me. I knew quite well that I was gay and that getting engaged and married to someone of the same gender probably wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime. And children! Ha! I was one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents. I was pretty sure that if I had children, one of them would be the next great serial killer…. You know, karma.

So I moved out of Houston, 90 miles northwest to College Station, a place with which I was familiar since it was the home to Texas A&M University, my alma mater. I wanted something different, but not too different.

I stayed out of the work force from April 1, 1983, to February 29, 1984. On March 1, 1984, I took a job as a life insurance sales rep with Fidelity Union Life Insurance. I enjoyed it, even earning Sales Rep of the Month for three of the six months I was there. I quit because there were no benefits…. no health insurance, no sick days, no vacation days, no pension, not even any life insurance!

I went to work for Texas A&M University in the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, the University Press, and the TAMU NMR Newsletter. Each entity paid 25% of my salary, and since none of them had to absorb a full salary, I was rolling in money. Had any one of them been required to pay a full salary, I probably would have made about 25% of what I was making. And the benefits! Mama Mia! That was when I understood why people wanted to work for the government.

Sadly, the person who had hired me and put me in those four positions took early retirement and moved to Palo Alo, California, where he was a Distinguished Professor at Stanford University. He gave me the same positions at Stanford, and I worked there from June 1, 1986, to September 30, 1986. I got homesick for Texas.

I had a side business in College Station—Just Your Type—that I had been running since 1973 when I was a freshman at Texas A&M. My wise old grandmother had helped me start it in 1966. I decided to go full-time with it and turned it into a thriving typing, word processing, desktop publishing, and editing business. Over the years, I had several customers who now are quite well-known: Chuck Knoblauch, Robert Earl Keen, and Lyle Lovett come immediately to mind.

One of my weekly customers was on the 7-year plan, and when he finally graduated, his dad set him up in a competing business on the north side of College Station whereas I was on the south side. Each year he would come by and offer to buy my company. Each year I declined his offer.

Finally, on April 15, 1993, he and I were standing in line together at the Bank of A&M and talking. He asked me if this would be the year I would sell to him. I told him to come by and we’d talk about it. He was impressed with my (anal) record keeping and accepted my selling price.

I took off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t tell anyone that I was taking off. I just left. I actually left with the intent of committing suicide. I was tired of living life as a closeted gay man but didn’t know what else to do. That suicide journey was a failure, and I wound up in San Diego. Again I retired, and succeeded at staying out of the work force for 11 months. I got bored doing nothing each day.

On February 14, 1994, Valentine’s Day, I was at Ocean Beach with friends. We were swimming, sailing, and surfing. Suddenly, one guy asked if we wanted to go skiing. Sure! It starts with an S, too, so no problem. Turns out that he was talking about snow skiing, not water skiing.

Everyone went home, changed into snow clothes, got their skis and such, and we headed to Big Bear, California, about 90 miles northeast of San Diego. That was when I understood why so many people want to live in California, especially California. One can go to the beach in the morning on a warm Valentine’s Day, eat lunch, and then go snow skiing in the afternoon just 90 miles away. What more could one want in life?

I’m a fan of snow as long as I can go play in it and then come home to my non-white winter landscaping. Every time it snows in the mountains, I head to Julian to take snow pictures. Such was the case the last two days in November this year when it snowed heavily in Julian. I went to document the event.

Lake Cuyamaca in the picture at the top of this post is a great rest stop after getting through the first half of the winding mountain roads. Here are some other pictures from November 30:

Crowds were out in force, most from the city, just like me.
Lake Cuyamaca State Park, California

Lake Cuyamaca State Park, California

I had never seen so many snow people!
Lake Cuyamaca State Park, California

On the western side of the mountains, where the snow had melted, I found a flock of wild turkeys celebrating their success at surviving another Thanksgiving.
Turkeys in Julian, California

In Southern California, there’s no need to wait for the weather to change.

Out & About—Our new quilt

Out & About The World

Last September when I went to Julian for its famous Apple Days Festival, I discovered The Warm Hearth and The Birdwatcher. I also discovered Quilts & More but they were closed.

Jim and I were looking for a nice water fountain for the exterior of our new home, and I found two at The Warm Hearth. Jim and I went back to Julian a few weeks later to choose one, hoping, of course, they they still had both of them. We came home with a new water fountain.

Purple quilt at Quilts & More in Julian, CaliforniaWhile we were there, we went by Quilts & More, hoping that they would be open. They were. They had beautiful quilts but none in a queen size. There was a purple one hanging on the wall, but it was king size.

Jim asked if she made custom quilts. Yes, yes she does. Jim ordered one. That was October 7, 2017.

We picked it up yesterday.

Here it is, looking extraordinarily beautiful on our queen bed, and adding a splash (splash?!) of color to all the earth tones we have in our house, courtesy of someone who has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Texas A&M University; not naming names here:

Purple quilt from Quilts & More in Julian, California

Purple quilt from Quilts & More in Julian, California

Did you see the photobomb in the lower right corner of the second picture? Yep. That’s the little queen walking around and checking out the new quilt.

Purple quilt from Quilts & More in Julian, California

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

Out & About—The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Out & About

I went to Julian, California, for their Apple Days the weekend of September 24 and discovered three cool stores. The Warm Hearth is in my blog post here. The second one I want to talk about is The Birdwatcher. How can anyone resist going into a store called The Birdwatcher?

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The first home that I remember was where we lived when I was 5 in 1960. It had a row of windows under the eaves to let light into the living room. Sadly, birds would fly into the windows and knock themselves out, dying an agonizing death on the ground below. I was picking up dead birds every morning. I resolved to never have windows that would kill birds. Of course, now that I’m a little older, I realize that all windows have the potential to kill birds. You can help our feathered friends by using WindowAlert. Pretty neat.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Rick & Brenda Campbell own The Birdwatcher, and Brenda kindly gave me permission to take interior photos for my blog post here. Thank you, Brenda!

A beautiful selection of wind chimes just in case you don’t have any songbirds at your place.

Birds like taking baths. I mean, who doesn’t?

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Bird cards to send your family and friends.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Real honest-to-goodness books about birds for your own personal library.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Cute hangings for your yard.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

They have a special wall in the store where they display bird pictures taken by anyone and everyone. All you have to do is send them a picture!

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Bird houses and bird feeders of all shapes and sizes to help us care for our feathered friends.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Proof outside that their bird feeders work:

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Hot pads, coffee cups, and hand towels.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Birds, nests, and eggs for inside, without the resulting mess to clean up.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Shirts and socks. No pants? No underwear? Sad.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Beautiful and whimsy wall art.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Dishes.

The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Of course, I came home with something. I could have come home with a lot more but I was in the Corolla instead of the 18-wheeler.

Barn owl from The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

And if there are birds around, well, you know there has to be a cat around, too. Here’s The Birdwatchers indoor kitty:

Indoor kitty at The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

Indoor kitty at The Birdwatcher in Julian, California

As soon as I told her that I was going to make her an Internet star, she gave me that look in the first photo and then curled up and pretended she was asleep. Yeah, right.

I was carrying my new video recorder around with me and got a short video of the many hummingbirds hanging out. I think The Birdwatcher even has more hummingbirds than the San Diego Zoo!

If you need anything at all relating to birds, stop by The Birdwatcher in Julian, California.

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

Video—Their water fountain is now MY water fountain

On September 30, 2017, I went to Julian, California, a historic gold-mining town in the mountains, for Apple Days. While I was there, I discovered all sorts of cool stuff and cool places. One of the cool places was The Warm Hearth, a huge store full of goodies to make your house into a home.

One of the items they had, which I fell in love with—and it’s difficult to fall in love with inanimate objects, but I did—was a water fountain. Jim and I had been looking for a fine fine fine water fountain at a reasonable cost, and this one was only $379. We headed to Julian yesterday for the sole purpose of getting the fountain.

Here it is in all its glory—flowing water, sound, and lights— on our deck. It will only stay on the deck for a few weeks until I get the landscaping in. It sounds a lot better than it did in The Warm Hearth because there aren’t a billion people walking around talking….

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

Out & About—Here, There & Everywhere

Out & About

Many readers who like my San Diego Historical Landmarks series might think that I have given up on them. Not so. I simply want to do them in order, and I got stuck at #15. Its name is “Conception,” and it’s on the United States Naval Submarine Base at Point Loma. In other words, it’s not accessible to the general public….

….Except for one day each year. Guess which day that is? Yep. Today. “Cabrillo Festival” day. So you know where I’ll be going later today, and I can resume my San Diego Historical Landmarks series. I have no idea what I’ll find there since I have not done any research on #15 year.

Meanwhile…. September has been a very active month for getting Out & About, and I’ll have blog posts on everything as the summer comes to a close and the cold, wet, fall and winter months arrive. To whet your appetite, here’s a sample of some of the places I’ve been.

We’ll start at home with Zoey the Cool Cat. I continue to take care of her every need—boxes, tummy rubs, food, clean litter box, food for the squirrels and rabbits so she can get her daily exercise running from window to window watching them, and what does she do? Turns her back on me.

Zoey the Cool Cat turns her back on me

September 3—Wildlife Corner at our new home

Rabbits & squirrels coexisting

September 9—Queen Califa’s Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park, Escondido

Queen Califa's Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park, Escondido

September 10—Surf Dog Surf-a-thon at Dog Beach in Del Mar

Surf Dog Surf-a-thon at Dog Beach in Del Mar

September 13—San Diego Zoo

Rattlesnake at the San Diego Zoo

September 15—Getting some kicks on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga

Overturned tanker on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga

September 16—Chili Cook Off & Classic Car Show in Alpine

Pirate Chili at the Chili Cook Off in Alpine

Classic car show in Alpine, California

September 18—Big Border Baby in Tecate

Border Wall baby

September 21—Watching trains in Colton

Union Pacific's West Colton Yard

September 22—MCAS Miramar Air Show in San Diego

MCAS Miramar Air Show in San Diego

September 23—San Diego Bonsai Show

San Diego Bonsai Show

September 23—Wavecrest Woody Meet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas

Wavecrest Woody Meet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas

September 24—Cuyamaca Rancho State Park near Julian

Deer in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

September 24—Apple Days in historic Julian

Apple Days in Julian

September 24—Gold mine tours in Julian

Gold mine tour in Julian

September 24—Cool shopping in Julian at The Warm Hearth, The Birdwatcher, and the Julian Jewel Box

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Hummingbirds at The Birdwatcher in Julian

Julian Jewel Box in Julian

September 25—Newest visitor to our new home

Praying mantis in Winter Gardens

September 29—San Diego Quilt Show

San Diego Quilt Show

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

 

Out & About—The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Out & About

About once a quarter I discover a store that is way beyond cool, so it’s unusual to find three cool stores on the same day within a block of each other. All three stores are in Julian, California, a mountain community founded around 1850. Gold was discovered in 1869. Perhaps Julian is best known now for its apple pies; I can highly recommend any pie by the Julian Pie Company. Julian’s Apple Days Festival, held last weekend, is why I was exploring Julian.

The first, and the largest, of the cool stores I found is The Warm Hearth. My wise old grandmother always told me that a house is just a house until you make it a home. So many goodies at The Warm Hearth that can help make my new house, or yours, into a home.

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Near the front entrance, and what immediately caught my eye, was a huge display of hot sauces, some of which I have never heard of. Considering that I have been hot saucing for 51 years, that’s quite unusual for me.

Hot sauces at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Hot sauces at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

I stood there making mental notes of each hot sauce, and salivating. I know it’s not nice to salivate in public, but, oh well. What Hot Saucer could refrain from salivating over a hot sauce called Devil Drops, or Pain 100%? I don’t think anyone saw me….

Across from the hot sauces were all sorts of other sauces. Rattler BBQ Sauce piqued my interest.

Sauces at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Sauces at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

As many of my readers know, when I find trains of any sort, I get kind of excited.

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

I have never had an appreciation for wine, not that I didn’t try when I turned 18 (would have to turn 21 in today’s world). The only wine I wound up liking is Zinfandel. However, I have a lot of friends who are wine connoissuers so whenever I find cool wine necessities, I think of them.

Wine necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Wine necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Wine necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Wine necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Wine necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

There were coffee and bacon necessities, too.

Coffee necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Bacon necessities at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Many readers know about the dysfunctional family I grew up in, so this one really hit home with me:

Family tree roots at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

My wise old grandmother had several interesting clocks in her home, including an old railroad depot clock and a grandfather’s clock. Clocks have always fascinated me, and at one time I had a huge collection of clocks. They got left behind in April 1993 when I escaped Texas.

Clocks at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

When I was 10 and being bullied in sixth grade, my wise old grandmother counseled me with her wise words of wisdom: “Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will hate you or love you based on your actions and words. So be nice.” I thought of her words when I saw this:

Rules at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Of course, there still are witches (and warlocks), and there are good reasons to be one of them:

Reasons to be a witch at The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

An interesting assortment of books for the kids and cards for every occasion:

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

There were gifts for our fine, furry, four-legged friends, too.

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Lots of other make-a-house-a-home stuff, too.

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

I think I found my next water fountain at The Warm Hearth. Hopefully it will still be there when I return.

Chris is the owner of The Warm Hearth. He graciously gave me permission to take all these interior pictures for this blog post. Thank you, Chris.

I liked The Warm Hearth so much that I offered to let Chris adopt me and I would work at The Warm Hearth. Since I come with an endowment, he wouldn’t even have to pay me. Just consider it family child labor.

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