Monthly Archives: February 2018

Retirement ends, again

A+R Pottery

I’m on my third retirement. As with the first two, I say retirement sucks.

Ergo, I have hired myself to start my 39th company: A+R Pottery. All of the other companies were either sold to business partners, friends, or, occasionally, employees; given to the people or companies who hired me to create them; or (gasp!) actually kept as income-producing companies, such as Russel Ray Photos and Photographic Art.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photographic Art by Russel Ray photos--taking photographs, making art

A+R PotteryA+R Pottery creates custom cactus & succulent pottery for indoor or protected outdoor locations since they will not have drainage holes. I hate drainage holes—I’ve ruined enough carpets and wood tables because of drainage holes!

I make this pottery using floor tiles and pool tiles. With the inherent variance in tiles, even of the same kind and color, I can truly say that each custom pot is one of a kind.

Each custom pot will have a number on it to help indicate that it is a custom creation.

A+R Pottery number

Tiles are “glued” together with silicone sealant. I figure if silicone sealant, being waterproof, is good enough to make large aquariums, it’s good enough for small cactus and succulent pots that sometimes come into contact with water.

The pot corners will be grouted, something that I’m not good at, but with experience I believe I’ll get much better because I am improving from one corner to the next. These first prototype pots could be quite interesting!

A+R Pottery grouted

I have connected the tiles inside the pot with small tile quarter rounds and silicone sealant to provide extra strength and stability. A pot falling apart while one’s not home, completely destroying a prized plant, would not be good. One look at the interior of these pots and it’s pretty obvious that’s not going to happen.

A+R Pottery showing tile quarter rounds for extra strength and stability

Here are five more of the first eight; the other one is still drying.

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

A+R Pottery, custom cactus and succulent pots for indoors or outdoor protected locations

Except for the round pot, all the others still need grouting. I didn’t do the grouting on the round pot, but that shows me how good I can be.

Whaddayall think? A great way to come out of retirement, yes?

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

Picture of the Moment—Sunset through an Amtrak window

Picture of the Moment

Recently I was on Amtrak somewhere between San Diego and Los Angeles, and the sun was setting.

It was beautiful, but I have discovered that trying to take pictures of sunsets through Amtrak windows while the train is cruising along at 92 mph (it’s top speed here in Southern California) makes for some, uh, interesting sunset pictures.

On this day, though, the train stopped at a station that was perpendicular to the sunset, allowing me to get a pretty nice sunset picture.

Sunset in Southern California through an Amtrak window

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

San Diego Zoo—Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Nice kitty.

San Diego Zoo logo

The oldest part of the San Diego Zoo, Cat Canyon, built in 1915, used to house the big cats. Over the past couple of years all the cats were moved out of Cat Canyon as it was destroyed to make way for the new Africa Rocks! natural habitat exhibit. After Flamingo Lagoon, which was at the Zoo entrance, Cat Canyon was always #2 on our list. The only thing better than big kitties is little household kitties. While Africa Rocks! was being built, one had to trundle all over the Zoo hoping to see the big kitties. Sometimes the big kitties were nowhere to be found, having been loaned to other zoos. Uprooting animals from their homes of 10, 20, 30 years and sending them off to a strange zoo with strange smells, perhaps even colder weather, just seemed so wrong. It’s still difficult to find all the big kitties since there is no Cat Canyon anymore, so here, dear readers, just for you, are all sorts of big kitties in one place, my blog!

Mountain lion at the San Diego Zoo

African lion at the San Diego Zoo

Lion tongue at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lion paw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Tiger at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Snow leopard

Mountain lion

Mountain lion

Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

Snow leopard

Rarely is the snow leopard (last picture) visible so well, either because he’s wandering around or hiding. I had never noticed that he only has one eye, and didn’t notice that until just now when I was processing these pictures. This is one reason why having a nice 150-600mm telephoto lens is useful, to get up close and personal, to see things one has never seen before.

In today’s world, all of the animals residing at the San Diego Zoo come from four sources: (1) born at the Zoo; (2) rescued from a failing zoo somewhere else, like eight of elephants that were rescued from a zoo closing in Oklahoma and a “backyard zoo” in Texas; (3) rescued from the illegal animal trade; or (4) brought here as part of the Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research or the Global Wildlife Conservancy program.

California CondorThe latter two programs are why we still have California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). In 1987, the California Condor was declared extinct in the wild due to the effects of DDT, which resulted in defective egg shells, and hunters’ lead bullets. When hunters killed wildlife that the condors feasted on, the condors would often ingest lead bullets as well, which killed them.

California Condor at the San Diego ZooBecause of the Zoo’s breeding program, as of December 2016 there were 446 condors living in the wild or in captivity. The ones living in the wild, about 170 of them, were re-introduced to California, Arizona, Nevada, and Baja California because of the Zoo’s Captive Breeding Program.

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

Picture of the Moment—Looking a little ragged after traveling millions of miles

Picture of the Moment

There are resident reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) at the San Diego Zoo but I don’t know how many since their habitat is hilly and parts of their habitat are hidden.

Earlier this month one of them was out in full view.

He looked a little ragged after traveling millions of miles on Christmas Eve.

Reindeer at the San Diego Zoo

Poor thing. I’d look ragged, too, if I traveled all those miles in just a few hours….

Now he is back at the San Diego Zoo where he can spend the year relaxing and freshening up in preparation for Christmas Eve 2018.

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

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

New giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

I discovered many decades ago that annual memberships to places that one enjoys going quite regularly are very worthwhile.

First, they save a lot of money.

Second, though, things are always changing.

As my wise old grandmother told me after I had become the largest typing service in Kingsville, Texas: “If you want to stay #1, you have to change.”

At the time that didn’t make sense to me, but after watching several companies—Quark Express, Lotus 1-2-3, PC Word, Wordstar, WordPerfect—with #1 market share disappear because they failed to change, either with the times or in response to competition, I now understand.

The San Diego Zoo is another case in point. When I was watching Johnny Carson in the ’60s and ’70s, two of his regular guests came from the Cincinnati Zoo and the San Diego Zoo. Even though San Diego was much closer to Hollywood, I thought the Cincinnati Zoo got more exposure. That put the Cincinnati Zoo on my list of top zoos to visit.

When I finally got to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1995, it was a major disappoint-ment, especially since I had already been a member of the San Diego Zoo for a year. I was soooooooooo looking forward to visiting what I had always considered the #1 zoo in North America. Sadly, the exhibits and the zoo itself were overgrown with weeds, the alligator exhibit was disgustingly gross and odiferous, and many daytime animals simply were nowhere to be found. I now know that the Cincinnati Zoo had lost a major benefactor due to his death and had not found a replacement for several millions of dollars that had flowed into the zoo each year.

Elephant getting a pedicure at the San Diego ZooHere at the San Diego Zoo, they continue to expand the boundaries of zoo exhibits, being the first zoo to create natural exhibits where several different species live together, just like in the wild. Conrad Prebys, San Diego Zoo’s major benefactor, died a few years ago but left a lot of money to the San Diego Zoo. Thus, we have the Conrad Prebys Koalifornia koala exhibit, the Conrad Prebys elephant care facility, and the newly opened Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks! exhibit.

The San Diego Zoo comprises only 100 acres, though, so when an area gets renovated, they have to do something with all the animals that made that area home. Typically, they will loan them out to other zoos, and other zoos reciprocate when they are undergoing their own renovations. The San Diego Zoo also often rescues animals from other zoos that didn’t make it financially, or “backyard zoos” which are typically still found in the Midwest and South. A couple of years ago, several abused and distressed elephants from an Oklahoma Zoo and a backyard zoo in Texas were brought to the San Diego Zoo and rehabilitated, now happily roaming around 14 acres with their own herd.

Recently I discovered a new giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo.

I was quite surprised because I had read nothing about this new species in the Zoo Magazine or on the web site, and nothing in the news about it.

It’s quite an interesting animal.

Here’s its picture:

Unusual giraffe

And you thought this whole post was going to be serious. I guess I just can’t be trusted.

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

Mickey the Meerkat mug shot

Mickey the (bad) Meerkat

Picture of the Moment

Who knew that bad meerkats got arrested?

Here are the recently released mug shot photos for Mickey the Meerkat, arrested for abandoning his post.

Mickey the Meerkat mug shot

Mickey the Meerkat mug shot

Here is what Mickey the Meerkat should have been doing at his sentry post:

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Here is what the Meerkat Police, San Diego Zoo Division, found Mickey the Meerkat doing:

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

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

Gull taking home some food

You can take some home

My wise old grandmother

Whenever my wise old grandmother (MWOG) took me out to eat, inevitably I could not eat everything that the restaurant served me. MWOG often told me, “Just because the restaurant served it to you doesn’t mean you have to eat it all now. You can take some home.”

In her afterlife, I believe she has been counseling some fauna here on Earth:

Squirrel taking home some food

Gull taking home some food

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

Agave utiliensii

Picture of the Moment—The very rare Agave utiliensii

Picture of the Moment

The city of San Diego, as well as its suburbs, love to paint their streetside utility boxes.

I’m not complaining.

I love ’em, and I’m always on the lookout for the coolest of the cool ones.

Utility boxes are usually at street corners or in heavily trafficked areas where there is no parking so they often are difficult to get a picture of.

I have been known, however, to go around the block several times looking for parking so I can get out and take a picture.

Here’s one of my favorites from this past weekend:

Agave utiliensii

I believe it’s the very rare Agave utiliensii, not normally seen in cultivation.

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