Tag: animals

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The Cats of University Heights: Sunshine

Few neighborhood intersections could be more dangerous to people, or to animals, than where Adams Ave. and Park Blvd meet. So I was surprised to discover a kitty nearby there on Dec. 5, 2017. As my wife and I walked by, I heard meowing—then stopped and stepped back to see a long-hair tortoiseshell rustling before a closed door to be let in. I pulled out iPhone X and knelt down to take some quick photos; she scurried to us across the walkway to the sidewalk seeking pats and attention.

I nickname the feline Sunshine, for being such a ray of delight; she also reminds me of our Cali. The cat moved around so much, and in contrasting areas of shade and light, that capturing good portraits proved challenging. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Frankie

I sometimes wonder what people think about me strolling around the neighborhood and peering into people’s yards—looking for cats, of course. Recently, while chatting with the cashier at Healthy Heights Pets Market, other customers came in and I decided best to excuse myself and let her serve them. We had a good conversation about journalism and writing; she offered her name, as did I. One of the other shoppers said, referring to me: “The photographer”. Yikes! Recognized and categorized.

Yesterday afternoon, while walking along Mississippi Street towards Mission, I spied a pretty kitty sitting on grass behind a white picket fence. I pulled out iPhone X and snapped a shot from standing, approaching position—in case he scattered, which will happen depending on the furball’s temperament. I crouched down to shoot through the fence. Then a SUV horn bellowed behind me. I had stepped backward into the driveway, just as someone else wanted to pull in. Apologizing, I scooted out of the way and continued capturing portraits. Deliberate decision was made to hang around: Perhaps the person could tell me the animal’s name. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Panda

For the second consecutive day, I saw a cat on the same block along Mississippi Street—beyond Howard. The first, Peohe, is a big, black, friendly fluffball. The other is Panda (yes, her real name). She so reminds me of Luna, whom my wife and I would see in the yard of a house on North Avenue., near where it meets Meade. She disappeared 18 months or so ago, and I was sorry to never have taken her portrait. Panda is as close as this series will get to her.

I used iPhone X to capture the Featured Image and its companion, yesterday. I got down on one knee and shot through the openings between the property-fence’s slats. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 40, .97 ev, 1/60 sec, 6mm; 4:25 p.m. PST. Other is the same, except for ISO 32. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Peohe

Near the neighborhood’s southern boundary, I made a new feline friend, while learning a valuable lesson about identification. Yesterday, as I walked home from Smart & Final, along Mississippi Street, I spotted a kitty nestled beside a porch. Seemingly glowing eyes glared back against black mat in the distance. As I stooped low to capture a photo using iPhone X, the beastie trotted across the driveway to the sidewalk. From the name on the collar, I had just made acquaintance with Daisy.

She rolled around on the cement, relishing pats and marking scent on my hands and legs with her head. Not long later, the cat’s master came home—and, of course, the animal would step into the driveway in front of the vehicle. Behind the wheel, the woman explained that this frequently happens; toot of the horn scooted Daisy to safety. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mr. Kitty

Alabama Street serves up more felines; I discovered two more on the same block yesterday. I’ve got another two on hold, hoping to get their names from their caretakers. The first of four, therefore, is Mr. Kitty—and, yes, that’s his name. The owner and I spoke briefly as he walked out to his car. Poor Mr. Kitty was rescued from a garbage dumpster! His estimated age is eight months.

Turns out he is house/yard mate with Itchy Valentino, who sat on the sidewalk grooming when I approached. The vet says Itchy will always have the skin condition that makes his fur look a bit thin (and ragged), the owner explained. Maybe, but the medicine must be doing something, because his coat looks fuller to me; his owner agreed. 

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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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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.