Author: Joe Wilcox

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Burtech Blues Break

I stand corrected about the water pipeline work, which seemed to reach its mainstay on Jan. 12, 2018. Two days ago, Burtech contractor crews started to earnestly tear up our street, compelling closed apartment windows that keep out noise and dust and, disappointedly, pleasant weather.

My repast has been longer walks, to parts of the neighborhood where the natural sounds of birds, other wildlife, and breeze rustling palm fronds are soothing ambience. This afternoon, while walking down Meade Ave. towards Texas Street, I passed a lone rose rising defiantly behind cement wall, challenging the urban, human landscape’s listless, lifeless incursion. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Token

Early afternoon yesterday, my wife and I spotted a handsome Bengel-like furball whose portrait I shot with iPhone X in a yard off the alley coming from Cliff Street to Adams Ave. Disappointed with the results, I later returned with Leica Q but ended up at a nearby apartment courtyard capturing another kitty, a blackie.

He rolled in grass neaby the front gate, presenting outstanding opportunity for lovely candids. But as I slowly approached, the feline fled two-thirds-away across the lot. Just after I composed and shot several photos, one of the residents came up to the gate. She knew the shorthair, who belongs to a neighbor, and said the animal is called Token. I presume, thinking of the cat’s color, that his name comes from South Park character Token Black

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Forbidden Fruit

I suppose these lemons could be bitter and deadly. Or, perhaps, the sign seeks something else: Pilfering deterrence. The tree hangs perilously, and temptingly, over the sidewalk and easily within reach of most passersby. Poison […]

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Show Me a Smile

Let’s dispense with the important disclaimer: The song lyric that follows is in no way about my wife. I wrote it years before we ever met, in 1979, at age 20, around the same time as “Seventh Star Dreamer“.

I got to thinking about “Show Me a Smile” today while discussing high neighborhood rents. I reminisced about my first apartment costing just $40 a week—and being more visually appealing than the great place where we live now. Most of my best songwriting goes back to that first flat. 

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Goodbye, Guerciotti

This afternoon I took my Guerciotti bicycle out for what likely was a last ride. After long deliberation, I decided to sell the vintage roadster—and two prospective buyers are tussling for ownership. The bike was a self-given birthday gift in 2013 that I sadly part with. But I tend to walk more than ride, and the 12-speed takes up valuable space (blocking access to the closet in my office). This beast demands to be ridden. Often. And it deserves an owner who will do just that.

During that last ride, while pulling up to Adams Ave. along Mississippi Street, I spotted a set of keys on the ground by a black Toyota Corolla parked behind another vehicle by the Stop sign. After assessing possible places the owner might be, I asked the restaurant right on that corner to take them, reasoning: Likely place for someone to ask if keys had been found. I later posted just-enough limited information on the NextDoor social network, encouraging: “Leave a tip. It was kind of the eatery to take the keys rather than me put them back on the street by the driver’s door, which is where I found them”. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Fresh

Our second, sighted window watcher on Jan. 16, 2018 follows-up Seer (my nickname), along with 10 others since the series started in October 2016: CharmCoolCurious, Glass, KitSeeker, StarStill, Twain, and Watcher. Another, Burglar, climbs into one.

The house next to the American Market, on Cleveland Ave., is a recent renovation and subsequent rental. I dub the kitty in the Featured Image Fresh, for being a neighborhood newcomer. Hehe, she also looks out on freshly growing oranges. I captured the portrait, while walking home with groceries, using the iPhone X second lens to 2X zoom. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/706 sec, 6mm; 1:12 p.m. PST. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Seer

Meet the first of two additional window watchers, whose portraits were captured on the same day, Jan. 16, 2018, but in vastly different areas of the neighborhood. The other joins the series tomorrow. The shorthair earns nickname Seer for having an expansive view from the second floor.

Seer is the eleventh kitty positioned in a window looking out. The other 10: CharmCoolCurious, Glass, KitSeeker, StarStill, Twain, and Watcher. Another, Burglar, climbs into one. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Ohana

Some people are so rude—and I refer to myself. On Jan. 13, 2018, as my wife and I walked along Mississippi Street between Meade and Monroe, we spotted a pretty, grey kitty about half-way down the block. As we approached, the shorthair moved around a car in the street, later going back to the sidewalk, then passing through the door-fence bars into a yard. I took out Leica Q and started snapping portraits.

About three minutes after the photo shooting started, with a dog barking loudly inside the house, a man came out to see what caused the ruckus. I explained, although with camera in hand my purpose was obvious. He shouted—to get above the barking—that the beastie was “the neighbor’s cat”. Someone perhaps more polite would have stopped there, to give the gent relief from the yapper inside the house. But I pressed, asking for a name. “Hanna!” he yelled. I thanked him and moved along. Yes, but is that with an “h” at the end? If only I could have read the collar tag.

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Slow Down!

Our old apartment of 10 years overlooked an alley, from the dining room and my office. There is something compelling about alley life that gives different insight into San Diego neighborhoods. For example, here in University Heights, utility poles run along the alleys rather than major residential streets. Palm trees reach for the skies in their place.

Many properties keep trash cans and dumpsters in the alleys, where residents will place unwanted items they want to give away rather than throw away. Savengers on foot, bicycle, or truck collect this stuff or forage for redeemable bottles and cans. Some of these people rip open bags of refuse, which attracts wildlife—ranging from birds to possums. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Boss

Construction crews return to ripping up our street—so they can place new water (and possibly sewage) pipes—following a three-day break (for the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). During December, the contracted company worked on Louisiana, which is where I met this fine feline, on Jan. 14, 2018, appropriately cowering behind one of the many, remaining Burtech signs.

But I am fairly sure we had a near encounter the previous evening. Returning home with Pizza Hut pie, driving up Monroe from Texas Street, I passed a Tuxedo-like kitty, with massive white ruff, sitting upright, beyond a parked car, slightly in the roadway, across from Louisiana. I watch my speed in the neighborhood for a reason: kids and cats. My wife got an earful about the strange sighting while enjoying a mouthful of cheesy crust, zesty tomato sauce, and bountiful toppings (Super Supreme without black olives, baby).

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I no longer look for Kuma, our Maine Coon mix who disappeared on this day in 2012. About four months ago, my wife and I moved from our residence of 10 years to a new apartment six blocks away. There is now no home to which Kuma could return; since I less-frequently walk that part of the neighborhood, the nostalgia is gone, too. Looking was more about sentiment, moving along the streets he did; little more, as we were convinced that a coyote took away our kitty.

Untold backstory: During early summer 2010, Anne and I started to ponder the benefits of adding a cat to the household, if for no other reason than our daughter. We were prompted by a friendly, sweet, long-hair calico, who would come out from her yard to greet us whenever we walked by, on Cleveland Ave., second house back from Monroe going towards Meade on the American Market side. The ball of fluff would roll about the sidewalk, purring. A pet like her would be wonderful, we agreed. Anne recalls her name as being either Priscilla or Penelope. I think the first is right. 

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Piping Project Progress

Call me mistaken.  Pipeline road construction only seemed to start in earnest yesterday. This morning, Burtech heavy-machinery gouged a long narrow trench—what my wife calls “the mote”—down our street. We are overwhelmed with disruption—like the car being blocked from leaving its assigned parking space—and constant noise. But that’s okay, because the road crew clearly makes tremendous progress. Maybe we won’t be besieged for months, as I had feared.

To document the moment, but not make the workers too uneasy, I used iPhone X instead of Leica Q. Smartphone snapping is familiar to most people and less threatening. In the Featured Image, you can see the trench, for new water pipes, going down the street. I wonder: What about the old ones? Do they just stay in the ground? Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/2288 sec, 4mm; 10:39 a.m. PST.