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The Cats of University Heights: Tom

Meet the second New Years furball to appear in this series. Chub was the first, at the start of 2017. Eighty-four more felines joined him, before the year closed out with Bright. I expect a lull now, if winter sightings follow the previous pattern.

My wife spotted our first fellow of 2018 right after we visited with Panda, who lives on the same block along Mississippi Street. We had looked in on her many times, when walking to the grocery store, but not until the morning of Dec. 29, 2017 did she skirt out under the fence onto the sidewalk seeking attention. Oh, she got plenty. 

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A 2017 Reflection

While so many people, put off the the Presidential election, particularly out here in culturally crazed California, looked upon 2017 with dismay (or even disgust), I started out with hopeful, reminiscent mind. Two thousand seventeen marked 40 years from 1977, which was one of the most signficant in my life; a year of firsts and transitions.

That year, in order of events, I: passed the FCC exam that would let me go on the radio; graduated high school; turned 18; moved away from home; started college; and worked as a deejay on the campus radio station. There were many milestones, all marking the path to adulthood and greater independence. 

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‘Obstacles are Opportunities’

The new year ushers in a fresh, personal motto—an amalgamation of 2017’s slogan, “Everything is an opportunity“, older “Change the rules”, and another (“Why not?”) that I used for decades.

“Obstacles are opportunities” comes from an off-the-cuff, but well-meant, late-year text message response to my daughter. She struggled with something, to which I encouraged: “obstacles are an opportunity”. Then I thought to myself: “Oh, I like that. I shouldn’t forget that”. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Bright

On Dec. 19, 2017, as my wife and I walked down Adams Ave., from Park Blvd. towards Georgia, she spotted movement a few doors down from Sunshine‘s place. A lanky, tuxedo cautiously navigated its way from property to property.

As previously expressed, that’s a dangerous area for person or beast. The intersection behind leads into a business district of bars, where too many people impatiently drive searching for parking. The cat meandered a safe path far back from the sidewalk, along buildings, through hedges, and across driveways. 

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Tent City

From the Adams Ave. overlook, seen across the canyon to the backside of Franciscan Way, a tented home hugs the hillside. In early Summer, My wife and I walked through the multi-level dwelling during one of its countless Open Houses over the course of many, many months. The overly-expansive layout, square-footage (3,860), and $1.7 million asking price were reasons for our disinterest—and perhaps many other people. There is a pending sale, as of the week before Christmas, for $1.55M, which explains the extermination rig.

Californians tent homes to fumigate, which is common practice before a new sale closes. Think of it as a temporary tent city for vermin, before insecticide snuffs them out. Funny thing, tent city also refers to where groups of the downtown homeless gather together. If neighborhood banter on the NextDoor social network is revealing, there are many University Heights residents who view indigents as vermin they would like to eliminate

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The Great Gift Mom Gave to Me

On this first Christmas without mom, who passed away nearly five months ago, there is little pause for reflection. Flu symptoms started on December 20; today is the first in five where fever dropped below 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 F); 38.9 C (102 F) was frequent. My core body temp tends to be below normal (36.1 C; 97 F), which (I hope) explains why low-grade fevers are so debilitating. I let the blog auto-post several entries to my “Cats of University Heights” series, which is one reason there are so many uninterrupted.

There is little sentimental about this December 25. My wife finally succumbed to the flu by Christmas Eve; we steered our daughter away from the quarantine household. She is in Northern California with a friend’s family, and looks like she feels out of place, too. We’re here, as is her bag of presents, and she celebrates without mom and dad but with the loss of two grandparents. My father-in-law passed away Jan. 11, 2017. He already was in desperate decline last Christmas Day; I can’t imagine the dire circumstance if Anne and I were this bedridden then, when he needed so much assistance. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Lupe

Meet Lupe, who lives in the same home as Laramie and on the same block as Smokey and Monkey. What is it with the letter L in the household? The family also owns dog Lincoln. Hehe. One of my high school classmates had seven siblings—and all eight kids had names beginning with G. L works for me!

On some mornings, I see Lupe sleeping  on a chair in the yard. The Featured Image, captured on Dec. 3, 2017 at 9:08 a.m. PST, using iPhone X, puts him on the porch. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/510 sec, 6mm. The companion photo is a contrast in timing and lighting—bright sunlight versus darkening dusk. The smartphone could never have produced usable portrait. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Laramie

If this series had a motto—or perhaps, better stated, an unbreakable rule—it would be: “One cat, one time”. Each furball is profiled once. The problem: Sometimes there is uncertainty, and occasionally I will chance repeats. Hanoi and Bell may be one in the same, although I put the odds of not at 70-30. I am less confident about Betty and Betty Too or Stalker and Twilight. Odds are more like fifty-fifty, with proximity of sightings majorly causing uncertainty. In preparing this post, and reexamining photos, I see a common curvature to the two Bettys’ tails that increases the likelihood of a goof.

That introduction brings us to Laramie (his real name) and my big question: Is he the same feline as the one nicknamed Spry, whom my wife and I observed in the alley behind Alabama on June 13, 2017? Out on the street-side of the same block, where also Smokey and Monkey live, resides another ravishing grey; his housemate will be the next kitty to join the series. The cats were seen so close, could be. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Burglar

Our newest addition to the series verifies the not-so-old-adage that the best camera is the one with you. Because of the shocking number of Alabama kitty sightings, I now regularly include the street in my regular walking route, looking for more. Few days back, as dusk settled into night, I barely made out a white cat with orange markings sitting in a yard; photo wanted. But as I approached the fence, a dog barked from inside the house. There really wasn’t enough light to use iPhone X, anyway, so I gave up.

Twice yesterday, I walked by the property, hoping to see the beastie again. On the second go, the furball approached from the cross street strutting quickly down the sidewalk my way. Paying no attention to me, the kitty scooted into a yard. By the time I came up to the corner of the fence, iPhone X already out and camera app open, the cat had reached the house and started climbing up the side of the building to a window ledge—or so it seemed. I wrongly assumed that the meowing feline asked to be let in. Failing to understand what was transpiring, I missed the perfect shot—or series of them. Nevertheless I got something memorable, because of the smartphone’s camera.

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The Cats of University Heights: Reddy

After days of sun and unseasonably mild (and dry) weather, clouds blanket San Diego this morning. Overcast skies are excellent photography weather, and I just had to take a cat walk (accompanied by my beautiful wife). Along Georgia Street, between Adams and Madison, Anne spotted a fluffly ginger-light—tan, if you ask me—rolling around a lawn. Just then, the owner parked his vehicle, and by the looks of dress and carry-alls, he had returned from the gym.

He told us about Reddy—a one-eyed, 10 year-old male without a tail. The family found him as a kitten, with apparent injury that later required his tail to be amputated. Reddy lost his eye years later, when wearing a collar. Something caught on a fence—and, well, let’s spare the gruesome details. But suffice to say he notched the second of two lives, and, you know, he can’t afford to lose any more body parts. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Brawn

Dec. 10, 2017, as I walked down Louisiana, a handsome orange tabby presented himself—somewhere between Madison and Monroe, perhaps beyond. I thought at first that he might be a similarly colored cat spotted on the same street seven months ago. But on close inspection, differences are clear enough, and the animals displayed different temperament: One was friendly, the other standoffish.

I nickname this husky, handsome shorthair: Brawn. We never got close. I shot the Featured Image, which is cropped about 100 percent, using iPhone X. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/216 sec, 6mm; 2:47 p.m. PST.