Tag Archives: my wise old grandmother

Do not throw things away! There is no away!

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother was the champion of re-purposing. She regularly tell us not to throw something away before she had a chance to examine it. Her motto: “Do not throw things away! There is no away!”

Tin cans became holders for pins, needles, bobby pins, paper clips, buttons, spools of thread. Glass jars, too.

Anything that needed refrigeration came in Mason jars. Once those jars were empty, granddad would drill two holes in the lid, attach it to the underside of a shelf in the garage using two screws, and then screw the jar onto the lid. His jars contained nails, screws of every shape and size, washers and nuts to fit all those screws, bolts, wire….

Re-purposing didn’t end with the small stuff. One weekend granddad replaced the bathroom toilet and bathtub with modern ones. Both the toilet and the old claw-foot bathtub got re-purposed as outdoor container gardens.

Recently I was walking around an older San Diego neighborhood when I came across a re-purposed claw-foot bathtub, just like my wise old grandmother would have done it:

Re-purposed claw-foot bathtub

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat


When pen pals come to visit

I live in my own little world

When my wise old grandmother (MWOG) adopted me in December 1965, I had four main interests that I had developed in my 10 years and 9 months of life: Mother & Father Nature (flora & fauna), music, and philately.

MWOG didn’t know what philately was, until I told her it was stamp collecting. For Christmas she bought me a subscription to Linn’s Weekly Stamp News. Best. Grandmother. Ever.

Linn's Weekly Stamp News

In the advertisements in the last pages was a section titled “Pen Pals.” These weren’t just ordinary pen pals, though. They were philatelist (stamp collector) pen pals. Write a letter, put stamps on the envelope, and your pen pal may or may not read whatever was in the envelope being just so happy to get free postage stamps from another country.

Back in those days I had many, many pen pals, and I had my little journal that helped me keep track of who I wrote to, and when, and when I got a response from them. My longest pen pal relationship lasted from 1966 to 1973. Sadly, I have forgotten his name and what country he was from, and my little journal was absconded by MWOG when I went off to college. She was terribly upset at me for going off to college 270 miles away, so everything that I couldn’t take with me when I left was not there when I came home for the weekend a month later. She had gathered up all the stuff that I had left, figuring I didn’t want it and that she would never see me again, and sold it at one of her city-famous garage sales.

Here is is 51 years later and I still have pen pals. My little journal is now an Excel spreadsheet. There are no stamps involved. It’s much easier to write a “letter.” It’s called blogging.

Occasionally a blogging pen pal arrives in San Diego, and when that happens, often I get notification. Yesterday, I had the pleasure to go out with Liz Flint and Bryan Flint. I met Liz when we both were blogging on a real estate blog site a decade ago; I was there from 2007 to 2011 before I set out on my own here at WordPress. Liz and Bryan are from Tomball, Texas, a northwestern suburb of Houston. Tomball happens to be where my favorite aunt and uncle lived for several decades, so I was intimately familiar with the area.

Liz and Bryan made it to San Diego back in May 2013. I had the pleasure of taking them to the San Diego Zoo, the cactus garden at Balboa Park, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (also in Balboa Park), and train spotting. All three of us are railroad fans and photographers.

Yesterday they were in San Diego again. I had the pleasure of going with them to the Carlsbad Flower Fields and then out to eat and a place right by some very active railroad tracks where we could watch Coaster and Amtrak trains go by. They had taken Amtrak from Houston to Los Angeles, driven down to San Diego to go to the Flower Fields, and then drove back to Los Angeles. They will be taking Amtrak to San Diego on April 6 to catch a cruise ship that will take them through the Panama Canal and to Florida. I’ll be out there on April 6 taking a video of their Amtrak train. Meanwhile……..

Some pictures from the Carlsbad Flower Fields yesterday featuring Liz & Bryan:

Liz Flint at the Carlsbad Flower Fields

Bryan & Liz Flint at the Carlsbad Flower Fields

Bryan Flint at the Carlsbad Flower Fields

And, of course, the requisite picture of Bryan taking a picture of an Amtrak train:
Bryan Flint taking a picture of an Amtrak train in Carlsbad CA

If you make it to San Diego or anywhere close by, let me know. You might get free tickets to something (usually the Zoo or Safari Park), discounted tickets, and, perhaps, your own personal docent.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Be a unique star

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother always said, “If you don’t get up early, you won’t see the sun rise.” She was always up before sunrise. I wasn’t far behind her. Here is this morning’s sunrise through the dirty window of my home office in La Mesa CA:

Sunrise in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With that out of the way….

A few more quips from my wise old grandmother:

“If you’re not sleeping with someone, you don’t know what they are thinking.”

“Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will love you or hate you based on your actions and words. So be nice.”

“Children aren’t born with hatred in their hearts. Mom and dad teach them that, usually through religion.”

I believe she was right on all counts.

I have been a member of a home inspector trade association for 13 years. There are about 10,000 members. I led a marketing seminar at its national convention in 2007, which is when a very significant member of the association found out I was gay. He wasn’t happy, telling me that he always thought gays should be killed. I brushed it off , thinking that if he got to know a gay person, he would change his mind. Apparently that has not worked.

I have had significant interaction with that person over the past nine years. A couple of days ago I was on the association’s message board and all sorts of Trump-approved hate was spewing. It’s allowed on the message board under the guise of free speech. He was participating and left a comment stating that maybe now that Trump was president, gays, illegal immigrants, and blacks would be killed. “Can’t go wrong with that.”

That definitely caused me to rethink my association, and I have decided to move on. However, that also means that my latest venture, House Key News, is being put on the back burner because I believe my main target audience all are Trump supporters. I’m not going to intentionally associate with those kind of people, especially now that they apparently have approve to spew their hatred in public.

My fallback is Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. I have let it slip over the past year, but a recent sale a few days ago has encouraged me to make it numero uno.

House Key News had a main target audience of about 20,000 people—home inspectors. Photographic Art has a main target audience of about 3,000,000 people—Realtors, loan agents, title agents, and escrow agents. They can use Photographic Art as unique close-of-escrow gifts instead of the standard $50 gas or restaurant card, a plant, a bottle of wine or champagne, etc.

Photographic Art also can be used for birth gifts, birthday gifts, graduation gifts, marriage gifts, divorce gifts, new business gifts, anniversary gifts, just because gifts, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Be a unique star

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift for a special occasion?

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Making a difference begins with me

My wise old grandmother

Perhaps the most important aspect of life that I learned from my wise old grandmother was to care—about people, fauna, flora, and the environment.

Whenever I complained about not having new clothes for the start of the new school year, she would say, “There’s always someone worse off than you.”

When the three-legged alley cat made a pass through our back yard, my wise old grandmother was following it with a bowl of water and a bowl of food, trying to get it to stop for a meal, perhaps make our house its home.

She’s the one who taught me that a weed is something that is growing where you don’t want it to grow, so instead of pulling it and throwing it away, transplant it to where you do want it to grow. If wildlife of any kind gets inside, move it back outside. That included spiders, snakes, rodents, birds….

She was conserving before it was fashionable to conserve. She used to follow us around the house turning off the lights that we had left on (“If it’s on, it’s using electricity!”), knocking on the bathroom door to tell us that we were taking too long in the shower and using too much water. She put a gallon jug of water in the toilet tank so that it would use less water.

I learned from her to keep a five-gallon bucket by the bathtub to save the cold water while waiting for the hot water to arrive. That bucket of water would then be used to water flowers, bushes, and trees around the yard.

11141 Valley Lights Drive, Mount Helix, La Mesa CAWhich reminds me of the time when Jim and I were selling our Mount Helix home (picture►) back in 2001. I had buckets in all the bathrooms to save cold water while waiting on the hot water. I then watered two acres of plants and filled all of our fountains and ponds.

When we went to sell, one of the Realtors walked around the house to see what we were asking her to sell. Once she finished her walk-through, she told us that in order to get the most money for the house we should fix all the roof leaks before putting the house on the market. I asked her, “What roof leaks?” She said, “Well, I see all the buckets in the bathrooms which usually mean roof leaks.” I had to explain to her what water conservation was….

Alpha Phi OmegaThroughout my life I have tried to care for others less fortunate than me, to care for unwanted or injured animals, to care for the flora that use carbon dioxide which humans breathe out for photosynthesis, creating oxygen which humans breathe in, to care for the planet. My journey began with my wise old grandmother, continued in high school with Circle K, and then with Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity at Texas A&M University.

Fire on the freewayAfter college, my involvement included organizations that cared for people (soup kitchens, blood drives, Special Olympics, women & children abuse shelters), fauna (animal shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries), flora (botanical and community gardens), and the environment (planting trees and native vegetation after natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires).

My wise old grandmother also taught me that making a difference begins with me. If you would like to do something to make a difference, here is a list of 100 things you can do to make a difference.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

SNIPPETS (7-18-15)—Will we become maze runners?


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts


Today is Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday, love!

Happy Birthday!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


We have rain, thunder, and lightning here in San Diego for Jim’s birthday.

I reminder readers of the following facts:

It’s July.
Middle of July.
In San Diego.
Southern California.
It rarely rains here, much less in July.
The last time it rained in July was 1992.
I was still in College Station, Texas, then.
This is completely unacceptable.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


Jim is off work this weekend so we are having a birthday weekend instead of just a birthday.

Yesterday evening we went to the San Diego Night Time Zoo. That’s when the Zoo stays open an extra four hours, until 9:00 p.m. Along with entertainment (music, magic….) throughout the Zoo (wonder how the animals like that….), it’s a great time to see some animals that only come out or become active at dusk. Such as the Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda).

img_3862 fennic fox zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At a maximum weight of 3½ pounds, the Fennec Fox is the smallest canine in the world. It lives in the Sahara Desert of North Africa. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to high-temperature, low-water, desert environments, and its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground. It mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds, and is itself eaten by the eagle owl.

Milky Eagle Owl

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


The Serval (Leptailurus serval), a small kitty cat but bigger than domestic kitty cats, also was active last night.

img_3914 serval zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Serval is a slender cat with long legs and a fairly short tail with a maximum weight of 40 lbs. It also is native to Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


The Serval at the Zoo is a mommy. Two little ones born earlier this year. They were just as playful as all little kitties are. Jim and I stood there for thirty minutes watching the little ones play with each other and with their toys, although I think their favorite toy was a pine cone that had fallen from the tree.

img_3912 serval kitten zoo stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


atlas shruggedThis past week I watched three futuristic movies based on a book that Republicans seem enthralled with: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. “Atlas Shrugged,” along with her previous book “The Fountainhead,” developed the philosophical system now known as Objectivism.

According to Wikipedia, “Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.”

Are you as tired from reading that as I am?

My wise old grandmotherOne of the things that my wise old grandmother (picture ►) taught me 40 years ago is that if you want to see how something will work in reality, take it to its extreme. That has always worked for me, and I think it works with Objectivism, Capitalism, and Socialism.

Objectivism seems to be where the Republicans want to take us, privatizing schools, roads, libraries, food (Monsanto comes to mind) and everything else in the world, which pretty much would be total and complete Objectivism with the rich controlling anything and everything.

Unbridled Capitalism comes very close to Objectivism, in my opinion, but I don’t know of any country anywhere, past or present, that subscribes to unbridled Capitalism. Rather, in capitalist economies, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which they exchange assets, products, and services. Note the word “typically” there. Governments often get involved in capitalism to prevent things like gouging during natural disasters whereby prices for food and water are not allowed to increase exorbitantly due to demand caused by the situation.

Lack of any government at all would, I think, result in Anarchism, no better than Objectivism or Capitalism.

atlas shrugged filmYes, life is not fair, but do we really have to capitalize (pun intended) on that unfairness? Surely intelligent humans can find a happy middle ground that would allow the rich to stay rich, the middle class to have the opportunity to become rich, and government to be able to provide for all of its citizens in terms of transportation and education but also including the unemployed, the sick, the homeless, and the hungry.

I can highly recommend the three movies, “Atlas Shrugged,” “Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike,” and “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”.


maze runnerOnce you finish those three moves, go a little further to the extreme and watch “The Maze Runner.” All four movies also provide a view into society and what the future might hold as the climate changes, manmade or not.

However, if you’re still confused about the role of mankind in climate change, think about this:

The Holocene interglacial period, which is what we are in now, began about 11,000 years ago. The population of Earth at that time was about a million people. Now fast forward to July 18, 2015, where the population is 7½ billion people. Climate change happens. We know that. With all we are doing in terms of manufacturing and such, and the results of 7½ billion people using the products of that manufacturing, can we really say that we are not having some effect on the climate of the Earth, perhaps causing climate change to get here sooner rather than later? Can we do something, or will be become maze runners?


San Diego gay pride paradeThis is Gay Pride weekend here in San Diego. Started with the Stonewall Rally yesterday evening, continues with a huge 3-hour long parade today followed by a Festival, and continuing with the Festival tomorrow. Parties are everywhere, including Gay Pride parties at the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.

Jim and I are going to the San Diego Botanic Garden today and to the Gay Pride Festival tomorrow.

Rainbow balloons at San Diego Gay Pride

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Marriage? Anniversary? Birthday? Other special event?
Photographic Art logo
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

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

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (6-15-15)—I’m gonna make you, I’m gonna break you

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother (picture ►) was not a fan of what she called foul language. Granddad, on the other hand, was the world’s #1 user, with every other word being foul language or some racial or ethnic slur. How they got along for 50 years is beyond me, but maybe they were the definition of “opposites attract.”

She instilled in me that distaste for foul language with just one slap of her hand. Earlier that day I had tacked a black light poster of The Beatles on a wall of my room. She ripped it down, and I do mean ripped. I had saved my allowance for a month to afford that beautiful poster—$3.99! She totally destroyed it.

As I stood over the ruins, I looked at her and yelled “Damn you!” I was 6’3″ and 100 pounds. She was 5’0″ and 140 pounds. With one swing of her arm, she slapped me in the face, knocking me to the ground. She then stood over me and said ever so quietly, “Don’t damn me, damn you.”

Long-time readers will realize that my blog is safe for work with neither foul language nor inappropriate pictures or videos. In fact, if someone leaves what I deem inappropriate language in a comment, well, it’s my blog, and I feel free to edit comments. (English is a beautiful language. Learn how to use that beauty to express its ugliness.)

My collection of music is the same way. Prior to digital music, I would buy a record album and listen to it. Occasionally, I was shocked by what I heard in a song and, whenever that album played in the future, I would skip that song by picking up the needle and placing it on the next song on the record. In today’s world of digital music, I simply pull up the file and delete the song from the album.

Thus, I can count on three fingers the number of songs I have in my music collection with foul language in them. All of them were added in 2015, and one, titled “Star F***er, by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is getting deleted later today after I listened to it yesterday. I just don’t like it.

Another one has just one inappropriate word. I can’t even remember the song title or the artist, but I remember remarking to Julian that in the context of the song, the inappropriate word was appropriate.

The third song was just added a few days ago. It is titled “Psycho” and is by Muse. I like the song so much that I was encouraged to explore Muse’s discography, and I now have their complete catalog.

Muse has been around since 1994, and “Psycho” is their first song to have an “Explicit Lyrics” label on it. The message of the song is a powerful one about war and “killing machines.” My dad was in the Air Force, and I graduated from Texas A&M University which has a Corps of Cadets that is 2,500 strong, so I’m familiar with this specific language in the context of war.

Along with the message about war, Matthew Bellamy’s guitar and vocals, the driving bass, the drums…. everything about the song really gets me going.

It is 5:50 long, so you’ll hear a lot of inappropriate language. Give it at least one listen to and then make up your mind, but I did warn you about the message and the language.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosI'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

For wise old grandmothers everywhere

My wise old grandmother

My wise old grandmother had the most beautiful yard and gardens, although I have to give myself a little credit because I’m the one who mowed the yard and trimmed the trees and bushes. THAT is why I have never had a grass yard that needed mowing and never had trees and bushes that needed trimming. Whatever is in my yard and gardens gets to grow until it can grow no more.

One of my wise old grandmother’s hanging baskets had a plant in it that I really didn’t like. The plant had no leaves, and its stems and branches were flat. It just looked weird to this 12-year-old, one who was not weird himself, yet.

However, it didn’t need water, fertilizer, or pruning. It simply existed in its hanging basket. So THAT was a plus.

Then one day it bloomed.

I was a fan forever.

The plant is more on the expensive side, so I have never had one. However, when my employee, Julian, and his mom moved last summer, his mom asked me if I wanted any of the plants. ANY? Does ALL count as ANY?

Two of the plants she had were the odd-looking plant that my wise old grandmother had. Yesterday, one of them bloomed. Looks like this:

img_2015 epiphyllum stampPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is the flower of an epiphyllum, common name orchid cactus. The flower is about nine inches in diameter. It’s huge! And it’s purple, which was my wise old grandmother’s favorite color.

My wise old grandmother died in June 2003, but I do believe she has come to visit me in my garden. I shall name my epiphyllum Mary since that was my wise old grandmother’s name. You thought her name was “my wise old grandmother,” didn’t you? Nope.

Mary Agnes Hartmann Kirk, this epiphyllum is for you, and for wise old grandmothers everywhere!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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