Category: Living

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The Cats of University Heights: Captain Blackbeard

One year ago today, I started this series with grainy photo of a presumed stray I nicknamed Scruffy. The plan was to post pics I had recently taken, and to add a few more, before wrapping up within a few weeks or as long as a month. I had no concept of the number of kitties that there were, or are, around the neighborhood—more than 100 featured so far.

We celebrate the anniversary with Captain Blackbeard, who yesterday evening relaxed on house steps below a sweet, 6-month old girl and her friendly dad. “He came with the name”, the gent said about his pet, observing that the beard is more white. The feline spends more time indoors, but gets occasional outside romps, and he has been with the family for about 3 months. 

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La Croix Sticker Shock Gives Me Nose Bleeds

What a difference branding makes for sale-pricing. Before La Croix became a posh, bubbly brand for environmentally-minded, organic-obsessed, uncompromising-to-spend-less Whole Foods sundry shoppers, my wife and I regularly purchased the seltzer. We preferred the no-flavor water for its effervescence and low-sodium content. I remember when, going back just five years, the local Ralph’s sold cases of 24 12-oz cans for $4.99 during summer months.

But now that La Croix is the Apple of bubbly waters, those cans cost lots more. Today, in the same Ralph’s the exact quantity deeply discounted is twice as much—and that’s helluva savings when one case of eight typically sells for what I used to pay for 24. 

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Graduating from the Schoolhouse

On Oct. 15, 2007, our family of three relocated to San Diego from the metro-Washington, D.C. area. Looking back at my blog posts from a decade ago, I see very little writing about the move and regret not recording the poignant personal history. It’s not a mistake to be repeated. My wife and I will soon change residences—and while the move is nowhere near as dramatic as the last, this missive you read begins the chronicle of our next adventure.

Strangely, or not, the decision to leave the current apartment is fallout from our failed home-buying effort—for the property we call the Schoolhouse (and affectionately, at one time). Anne and I learned enough to know that we aren’t ready to own, certainly not in overly-priced Southern California. As such, staying put for another year looked likeliest option; we have, or had, until October 20 to sign another year’s lease for our second-floor rental of 10 years. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tiger

Alabama, along a two-block stretch, delivers yet another friendly feline. These sightings surprise because the street, like a few others in the neighborhood, has no utility poles. Their absence immensely diminishes the presence of birds, which would otherwise perch on the wires. If there is so little prey, why are there so many predators? Even well-fed cats hunt and kill. It’s their nature.

On no other street to either side of Park Blvd. have I seen more furballs than Alabama. Among the recent sightings: Goldie, GreyItchy Valentino (yes, real name), and Nine. In the alley behind: Spry. Several others will join the series when I get better portraits of them. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Grey

Seven minutes after sunset, 6:32 p.m. PDT, on Oct. 7, 2017, I encountered yet another feline on Alabama, close to Meade. The kitty isn’t the first grey in the series, but she is distinguished by having the color as nickname.

Mystery: The increasing number of cats recently seen on or around that street. Why here? Also from Alabama: Goldie, Itchy Valentino (yes, real name), and Nine. In the alley behind: Spry. On Meade or Monroe, respectively, close to the cross-street: Amanda and Loyal.

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Radio Remembrances

Before the Internet, I listened to shortwave broadcasts for news and cultural information. There was something thrilling about catching radio programs from Australia, Austria, Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Russia, or United Kingdom, among many other countries—hearing local perspectives about all things current or past.

Among the big broadcasters, whose programs I could regularly listen to, BBC and Radio Canada International were favorites. I also found Radio Cuba and HCJB to be engaging, and they were easily received from any of our Washington, DC suburban residences, including the last one of nearly a decade.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dancer

Yesterday, while walking up Mission Ave. towards Park Blvd., I watched a lanky tortoiseshell cross Georgia and gracefully go into an apartment complex parking lot. Her pace was slow and precise, and slim shape and long legs reminded me of a human dancer. Hence, the nickname she receives.

By the time I reached the parking spaces, the shorthair had gone into the building’s courtyard. As I knelt down with the Leica Q, she turned to see me and then strolled back. I almost gave this kitty nickname Kneady, or Kneedy. She received pats and attention for more than 10 minutes; when twice I knelt down on a knee, she stepped in close, put her front paws on my thigh, and kneaded. I got the sense she could be a real lap cat. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mittens

Texas Street, which leads down into Mission Valley, demarcates one of my neighborhood’s major borders. A few homes back from the throughway, as I walked to Pizza Hut along Meade, a pretty tuxedo kitty greeted me on Oct. 2, 2017. She was so friendly that getting good portraits was next to impossible. Hence the odd selection presented.

We visited for a few minutes before I crossed Texas and started strutting up the steep incline beyond. Then I changed my mind and aborted plans to fetch a $6 three-topping medium pie special. I walked back towards the furball, who had remained on the sidewalk. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Seeker

When I saw this lonesome feline looking out a window, I assumed he must be either of the furballs nicknamed Jumper or Stride. All three were spotted on Campus Ave—this one closer to Madison than Monroe. Obviously, he is another.

I captured the Featured Image on Sept. 18, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. PDT, using the iPhone 7 Plus second camera as a pseudo-2x optical zoom. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 80, 1/60 sec, 6.6mm. He is the seventh window watcher of the series. The others are: CoolGlassKitStar, Still, and Watcher. I chose this kitty’s nickname based on the presumption that he seeks to go outside.

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The Cats of University Heights: Crystal

Around the neighborhood, there are numerous nook-and-crany streets that dead into one of the canyons. Last night, I walked down several of them, for the first time in months, seeing a meandering, slow-moving siamese in one of the yards along Proctor Place.

The kitty approached me, initially. But when kneeling down to shoot, over a low-lying brick wall, I inadvertently nudged a green grated-metal door, which creaked. The furball stopped, but did not rush away. Rather, the kitty slowly strolled across the yard to an open security door and vanished.