Tag Archives: nature

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

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Zoey the Cool Cat’s birthday presents

Cats

Zoey the Cool Cat has been celebrating her birthday today. We adopted her from the El Cajon Animal Shelter on September 21, 2007, and the vet said she was about a year old, so we use September 21, 2006, as her birthday.

We couldn’t celebrate September 21 because I was feeling really bad. When I can’t even listen to The Beatles, you know I’m sick….

For her birthday she got a new sack….

Zoey the Cool Cat in her new sack

She was so happy, for an hour or so….

That was when she discovered that I also had a new box for her….

Zoey the Cool Cat in her new box

The little queen loves her sacks and boxes, especially if they are placed on the bed. Here are some pictures of past sacks and boxes:

Zoey the Cool Cat in her new sack

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat, Olympic boxing champion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat, Olympic boxing champion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

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If you don’t attract the birds you want, switch bird feed

Picture of the momentThe plants in my gardens were planted for one of three specific reasons:

  • They use little water (cactus and native vegetation)
  • They attract butterflies
  • They attract birds, specifically hummingbirds

In order to attract other birds, I supplement the plants with bird feeders. The feed that I had been using was attracting house finches (which I love) and mourning doves (which I can take or leave).

House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
House finch

Mourning doves (Zenaida macroura)Mourning doves

A few days ago when I went to Walmart to get some more feed, there was a
40-pound bag on sale for just $17.44. I couldn’t resist it even though I had never used that brand before.

The house finches and mourning doves still come around, but I’m now being visited by bluebirds and cedar waxwings.

Western bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
and three
Cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Bluebird and three cedar waxwings

That western bluebird, a female, doesn’t look too happy that she’s outnumbered by the three cedar waxwings.

Find other posts in my Picture of the Moment series by clicking on the logo at the upper right.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Why do we get excited….

Picture of the momentWhy do we get excited….

I go at least once a week to the Zoo or Safari Park. With all the interesting animals there — komodo dragon, elephants, giraffes…. — why do we get excited when we see a wild rabbit?

Wild rabbit at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Wild rabbit at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Moms, dads, kids, and me! were standing around taking pictures of the little rabbit, which I’m pretty sure is a cottontail.

Pictures taken by Russel Ray on January 30, 2012, using a Canon 550D.
Post-processing done in Corel PaintShop Pro X4.

Find other posts in my Picture of the Moment series by clicking on the logo at the upper right.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Location, location, location….

Picture of the momentLocation, location, location…

This is the first in my Picture of the Moment series. You’ll always be able to identify this series by the logo in the upper right corner. This series is more picture, less text.

 

Buoy with seagulls and seals

 

The seagulls have the view;
the seals are closer to the swimming pool.

 

x marks the spot

 

Pictures taken by Russel Ray on January 27, 2012, using a Canon 550D.
Post-processing done in Corel PaintShop Pro X4.

 

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About San Diego — #2: Barn owls

Out & About San Diego

#2: Barn owls

On January 4, 2012, I headed out and about to attend an educational presentation about raptors. The presentation, by Sky Hunters of Lakeside, California (A on the map below), took place in Alpine (B):

Lakeside (A) and Alpine (B)

The presentation featured an American kestrel, a red-tailed hawk, a western screech owl, and a barn owl. Here are three pictures of the barn owl:

Barn owl

Barn owl

Barn owl

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed of the owls, occuring throughout the world except in polar and desert areas. It is a year-round resident of California, has become accustomed to human activities, and can be found in every county. It gets up to 18 inches long with a wingspan up to 48 inches and likes to roost and nest in dark cavities in trees, cliffs, and buildings.

This barn owl is injured and cannot be released into the wild. It makes its home at Sky Hunters, a nonprofit organization educating the public about raptors, promoting raptor conservation, and rehabilatating injured birds. Sky Hunters has a U.S. Federal Fish & Wildlife permit for rehabilitation, education, and eagle possession, as well as a California State Fish & Game permit for rehabilitation and education.

Sky Hunters depends on volunteers and donors to carry out its mission. If you would like to donate money, food, or any of the other items they regularly need, visit Sky Hunters funding.

Several years ago when I was doing a home inspection, I found a barn owl in the roof eaves keeping a very close eye on me:

Barn owl in the roof eaves

Barn owl in the roof eaves

I love seeing wildlife  in zoos and aquariums, and at presentations, that I might not otherwise see, but there is something special about finding the wildlife in their natural habitat and being able to snap a picture of them.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat