Category: Living

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The Coins I Left Behind

While walking along Kansas from 30th Street in North Park towards the University Heights boundary at Texas, I spotted 21-cents change on the sidewalk. I moved about 10 steps before turning back—not to grab the coins but to capture the moment with Leica Q. Why leave dime, nickels, and penny? Doing so is a more interesting story than taking them.

I wondered why the change remained. Had no little kids, or perhaps someone homeless, come by? Surely 21 cents would mean something to someone. Were the coins maybe embedded in the cement (I didn’t check)? Who had left them there? Were they an accidental loss that kept little Johnny from buying ice cream at the corner store? Maybe they were dropped by someone so wealthy picking them up wasn’t worth the time? Oh the questions the forlorn change raised from its fallen, forgotten state. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Bramble

There are days I long for a reliable, interchangeable-lens mirrorless digital camera, like the Fujifilm X-T2, from which a good telephoto could close the distance to a subject. Then again, I doubt whether such a sophisticated instrument could capture such fine feline. The Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens of the Leica Q may seem to shoot too wide, but precise manual focus let me cut through branches and full-frame sensor later made possible a moment from close-in crop.

I took the Featured Image and its companion yesterday afternoon, along Florida Street, soon after crossing Howard towards Polk. The kitty was a chance sighting and difficult capture. As I passed a cement wall, with overgrown hedge above, I spotted the cat through the branches, waiting outside a door to be let in.

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The Cats of University Heights: Carl

The East side of the neighborhood sure has an abundance of lovely smokey grey kitties, living close-by one another. Yesterday, I met Carl, his owner, and dog in a yard near where Mission and Mississippi meet. Down Mississippi, beyond Monroe, Ohana lives within sharp-eyeshot. At the end of the street turn onto Meade towards Alabama and somewhere you may meet Amanda. Along Alabama, there reside Laramie and Smokey, at houses diagonally across the street. I am no cat breed connoisseur and must ask: Are any of these Russian Blue?

Carl’s official nickname is Monkey because of his curled tail. Hehe, a block-and-a-half down and over on Alabama roams a tiger-tabby whose real name is Monkey; the old-timer and street’s dominant male turns 14 in March. Along Monroe, just down from Mississippi, lives Bruce, who goes on long walks with his owner and dog. Ha! Carl tags along, too, but only for short distances, because his master doesn’t like the cat crossing the street. 

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Caught in a Villainous Lair

Part of the reason, yesterday, I walked down Adams Ave. to Pet Me Please (for cat food) was to swing by Villainous Lair, which is a cool comics shop that also hosts gamers. Last week, I read a San Diego Reader news story by Mike Madriaga about the store closing on January 31.

Employees confirmed closure and the date, although much stock remained to be sold—50-percent-off list price this week. Role-playing game activities, along rows of tables and chairs in the back room, will continue as usual until the last day. Tonight, as part of a kind of send-off party, there also will be live Rocky Horror Picture Show in the store. I shot the Featured Image, of the shop, when leaving, using Leica Q. Vitals, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec; 28mm; 1:59 p.m. PST.  

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The Cats of University Heights: Lola

When walking to the grocery store, and expecting to carry back a hefty load, I usually leave camera behind—as was the case this morning. So I had to rely on iPhone X when meeting Lola and her owner, along Polk Ave. between Georgia Street and Park Blvd.

As I trudged up the hill, a lady approached her property fence to the sounds of a meowing cat greeting her from behind a mesh-like security door. I asked about her kitty, who came out into the small yard and promptly attacked a tiger-tabby that neither of us humans had seen. The intruder immediately fled, and Lola returned to rubbing against anything and everything, issuing sweet meows. 

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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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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.