Tag: living

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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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Home Buying Lessons from the Schoolhouse

Aug. 18, 2017. I travel back to San Diego after visiting my niece in Long Beach. Meanwhile, two blocks from our apartment, my wife attends an Open House for a cute, Spanish-style property listed for $586,000. Anne tells the seller’s real estate agent that we can’t afford to buy the place—an effective diversionary tactic. But the 900-square-footer is within our means, and we will nearly come to own it.

This is my story of wanting and walking away. I take with me disheartening lessons about the home real estate market. 

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The House on Monroe

Feeling a little glum about mum—she was laid to rest back home in Maine yesterday morning—I took a long, late-afternoon walk through the neighborhood. As I approached Mississippi along Monroe Ave., a cute craftsman with “coming soon” for sale sign piqued my interest. I would later discover that the property listed the same day (Aug. 25, 2017). Striking: The unbelievably low price for University Heights: $525,000.

I have not seen such interest in a home! Jumping ahead in time, briefly, I later took my wife to look at the Monroe house. Cars and SUVs of various types pulled over in and around as we approached; I am amazed there wasn’t a vehicular or pedestrian collision. A small mob had formed before the informational brochure holder. One man walked in circles, flip phone to ear, one hand waving, and frantic—no panicked—expression filling his face. Dare I say foaming at the mouth, as he desperately tried to contact the listing agent? If you need a metaphor, think Black Friday outside Wal-Mart. Even this morning, when I shot the Featured Image and its companions, using Leica Q, this little ramshackle rustled as much attention. 

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That’s the Mom I Remember

The family is still shocked, following my mother’s passing two weeks ago today. In February, a doctor candidly warned my sister Nanette that Linda likely wouldn’t live until Christmas and maybe not beyond summer. But mom was a fighter, with 10-fold a cat’s nine lives. Despite declining health, and repeated rushes to the hospital, she showed herself to be stout and fibrous—and since Spring she reached a relatively stable, vital plateau, seemingly in defiance of the physician’s prediction. What did he know? Eh?

Among other health issues, Mom suffered acute kidney failure, stemming from diabetes, and underwent renal dialysis several times a week. During her last week of life, the purification process went poorly because of problems with the port used to access her vein. Doctors planned to open a new port, and close the other, on Aug. 3, 2017. Something went wrong, and she started bleeding profusely internally. 

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Along Park Blvd

Yesterday afternoon, I walked 1.6 km (1 mile) from the Greyhound depot to the McDonald’s nearby San Diego High School, where my daughter graduated five years ago; my legs needed movement after being too long motionless during the three-hour ride from Long Beach. I had made an overnight-trip to see my niece Lynnae, who was on the West Coast for business.

Soon after the bus exited Interstate 5, I saw the extent of the city’s homeless crisis for the first time. Tents lined several blocks (at least) along what may have been National Avenue. According to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the number of homeless people living unsheltered has increased 41 percent since 2014. There are 937 (recorded) tents, up 58 percent year over year. Data is current as of July.

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A Short Stay in Long Beach

My niece, Lynnae, is in Long Beach—her first trip to California and the West Coast. We visited last evening and breakfasted this morning, when I used iPhone 7 Plus to capture a portrait. Her family lives on a 7-acre “homestead” in Vermont, where she works part-time for a local company but also operates her own small business—making (and selling) fresh, natural cosmetics from her own recipes; eh, formulas.

Lynnae’s energy, geniality, and clarity are irresistibly endearing. She’s a social butterfly, too. After looking around the Hyatt for a place to eat, and finding nothing appealing to either of us, I suggested dining at the hotel. About an hour earlier, Lynnae told me about trying to beat back jet lag the previous night, her first; she snacked and sipped at the restaurant pub. Ha! The woman makes friends easily. She could have been a regular for years judging from the hand waves and by-name greetings received as we walked in together. 

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Clever Homeless Habitat

The Vermont Street bridge, passing over Washington, separates my neighborhood of University Heights from adjacent Hillcrest. It’s not uncommon to see tents below, as some of the area’s homeless seek shelter from the elements. But bright colors make them obvious.

While looking over the side, I saw something either new or so camouflaged it hadn’t previously caught my attention. At first, I thought a palm tree had collapsed or perhaps city workers had gathered fronds. But stepping back for different perspective, I could see an entrance. The Featured Image is a crop (see the original below the fold), shot using Leica Q at 12:02 p.m. PDT today. Vitals: f/4, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm. 

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Sign of the Times

Two weeks ago, while walking around Hillcrest, my wife and I briefly stopped by the local, massive, used bookstore. To my surprise, the place was three-quarters emptied and going out of business. Yikes! I hadn’t shopped there for nearly a year, when purchasing a paperback for myself later given to my father-in-law. While 5th Avenue Books is gone, online counterpart Schrader’s Books will continue selling used titles through Amazon. As someone who almost exclusively reads ebooks, I occasionally—but, honestly, rarely—shopped out-of-prints not available in digital format, almost always finding the sought-after read.

That last purchase: The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein, an old-time favorite selling for three bucks. When I first bought the anthology in high school, it came as a set with two other titles: Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. During the last year of my father-in-law’s life, reading became his main recreation. I donated the Heinlein title to that cause. Following the 95 year-old’s death nine weeks ago, I reclaimed the book to read and as remembrance. 

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Epitaph (Revised)

With great sadness, I must report the passing of my father-in-law exactly one month after his 95th birthday. Bob often insisted that he would live to be one-hundred-and-eleven, and I wondered if he might. Aged as the retired engineer might be, he exhibited surprising vigor and sharp intellect. I will miss the gentle geek, who continually searched for ways to mature his spirit and improve—extend—his livelihood. If only more people, of any age, opened their minds to new ideas rather than crusting over into immutability.

On Oct. 15, 2007, my family relocated to San Diego to be closer to him, understanding that the solitary elderly rarely receive the respect they deserve. Someone in so-called official capacity would have placed Bob in an institution long ago, because of his age. But with a little assistance—our apartment is one block from his—he lived independently up until the end, passing in his own bed. I am especially proud of my wife for being such a dutiful daughter. Anne enabled her dad.