Category: Living

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Nature’s Drones

The sign beats any holiday decoration. In a city where there are three seasons—early, mid, and late summer—flutterbies are welcome year `round. I have seen a fair number of Monarchs and the Cabbage variety this month. Even on this last day.

The sign adorns a lovely house, with manicured-plant yard and occasionally playing kids, at North and Monroe Avenues here in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Maxine

No feline to appear in this series has history like today’s beauty, whom I first heard about six years ago. When coming or going with long-lost Kuma, through our back gate into the alley, I often chatted with Maxine’s owner. He rode an adult-size tricycle and loved to talk about his cats. These companions meant much to him.

Younger than me, he was effervescent, despite diminishing vitality from illness. Some people, by just looking at them, you know they peer down the tunnel to the end of the line. One day passed by, and he didn’t. He was absent for a few days longer. Then forever. 

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Cat on a Cold Tin Roof

Fog had settled onto the neighborhood by 1 a.m. PST, I observed before nestling into bed. The cloud is still there as I write, just after eight, and something else: The furball nicknamed Tiger from my Cats of University Heights series sits on our car.

He is a neighborhood roamer, and unmistakably identifiable from similarly-striped beasties I see hereabouts. I couldn’t resist shooting several portraits of the feline as he groomed, through my office window using Leica Q—different compositions and apertures, switching between auto and manual focus modes. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Guido

As I explained yesterday when profiling Tarry, there is an abundance of tiger tabbies between Madison and Meade along Alabama, Georgia, and Florida streets. Some are distinguishable from the others, like Itchy Valentino, overly large Peso, or an oldster for his slow, maudlin stride. Others are not.

Turns out three of them live in the same residence on Monroe Ave. I introduced you to one, Bruce, on May 10, 2017. At the time, I nicknamed him Loyal, which turns out to be quite appropriate (skip ahead to paragraph five for reasons why). Since moving to University Heights East (from West), I have seen Bruce’s buddy, Guido, on the property where both live, or the sidewalk in front. I shot numerous candids over several weeks, but withheld writing until knowing his name. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tarry

There are so many tiger tabbies on the East side of Park Blvd., I struggle to tell one from another—and that complicates profiling them. For now, location is best way to avoid duplications.

On Nov. 17, 2017, at 4:34 p.m. PST, while walking down Florida Street from El Cajon Blvd. towards Meade, I spotted the kitty who earns nickname Tarry—because she clearly waited for someone. The furball looked from ledge to apartment courtyard as if in anticipation of a human going out, or perhaps coming to let her in. 

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Thanksgiving Times are Changin’

On Nov. 20, 2005, I marveled at Tower Records’ holiday hours—the store being open on Thanksgiving and also Christmas. A year later, the retail music chain was gone—and, tragically, a broader cultural experience/lifestyle with it. Major bookstore chains, like Borders, followed along later—all casualties of the digital content economy (or lack of it because of piracy) enabled by Internet distribution.

Finding anything open for business on the third Thursday of November was a challenge 12 years ago. Today, retailers can’t wait to welcome shoppers. Black Friday deals have been available pretty much everywhere all week, while bargain hunters can shop today at their favorite stores. That is, if not scouring Amazon deals from ye `ol smart device while sitting on the couch, watching football, chugging brewskis, and belching. 

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My Best Office Ever

The workspace in our new apartment is something for me to be immensely grateful for this Thanksgiving. While the smaller of two bedrooms, one benefit is larger: The expansive window that looks out onto the street. Hehe, the cats and I share the view, which is on the same side of the building as our living room wrap-arounds. The dimensions offer better usable area than the larger room from our old flat.

The Featured Image, captured at 5:27 p.m. PST yesterday, using Leica Q, shows the view from the doorway. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 2000, 1/60 sec, 28mm.  My vintage Guerciotti bike, held upright by Saris “The Boss” stand, is in the foreground. Looking straight down from the roadster to the wall is the Casabelle Mail Center, which I purchased from Pier 1 Imports in late-Spring 2009 for use as my primary writing place. I now mostly use the handsome piece for storage and as pseudo-standup desk. 

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The Home We Leave Behind

Our old apartment is up for rent—and for lots less than I expected: $1,750, which is just 15 bucks more than our raised rent had we signed a new lease from first of this month. On the last day, November 8, 2017, while waiting for final inspection and to hand over the keys, I took some quick pics using iPhone X—for the Wilcox scapbook, so to speak, and to document the condition in which we left the flat.

We moved into the place on Oct. 15, 2007, sight unseen. We relocated to San Diego to enable my now deceased father-in-law to remain living independently. He found the second-floor apartment, on the next block from where he lived, during its complete renovation. On the promise of everything being new, we took the chance that benefit would be enough—and it was. We lived at 4514 Cleveland Ave., Apt 9, for 10 years. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Bella

For the second time in three days, I saw someone walking a leashed-kitty down Alabama Street. The previous occassion, passing by on my bike without camera or smartphone, no photo was possible. But this morning, I hauled out for an early-sun jaunt, with Leica Q in tow.

Just beyond Madison, approaching Mission, I came upon a woman walking her slim, quickly-striding cat. I asked to shoot pics of the beastie—Bella. She was more than willing and didn’t seem to mind my lying down on the street and sidewalk; she apologized about the shorthair moving so quickly. I observed great determination and will in the pace. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Hanoi

This series strives to profile each cat once—and, occasionally, uncertainty looms about one being the same as another. Take Hanoi (his real name), whose color and markings are similiar to the kitty I call Bell. There would be little doubt, if not for fairly close proximity of their sightings.

Bell debuted on Nov. 17, 2016, from a photo captured on June 28, 2014. I often would see the kitty in the alley behind our apartment alongside Kuma’s Ledge, where Maryland Court ends. The three year-old portrait was shot at the corner of Cleveland and Monroe Avenues, however.  

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Hippies on a Budget

This morning, as my wife and I walked down Florida Street, between El Cajon and Polk, on our way to the Sprout’s market, we approached an aged Volkswagen minibus. As we passed by, Anne joked: “Hippies on a budget!” That was enough for me to stop, go back, and capture some quick shots with iPhone X.

The Featured Image was first one taken and chosen because the license plate isn’t clearly visible. Besides, I like the perspective, which over-emphasizes the Bug’s flat snout. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/1389 sec, 4mm; 8:52 a.m. PST.