Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Cats of University Heights: Cookie

A backlog of kitties—three from Alabama Street—must wait, as this striking shorthair leaps to the front of the waiting queue. My wife and I spotted the black and white late morning today; he (or she) joins just five beasties seen along Mission Cliff Drive (in this instance near Park Blvd): Aylin, CupcakeFraidy, Starlet, and Tabby.

I shot three portraits before an approaching dog walker scared off the cat. The Featured Image and companion are the first and last taken—using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:57 a.m. PDT. The other is same but 1/800 sec, one-minute later. I am surprised to discover that among the 427 previous profiles, no beastie is called Cookie. It’s a nickname now—chocolate with white filling. Yum!

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Alfa Romeo Spider

No one would call me a car guy. Still, I’m a sucker for classic, European vehicular styling—like that seen in the Featured Image and its companions. Today, while walking through University Heights to the Vermont Street Bridge that leads to shopping plaza The Hub in Hillcrest, I passed by my first-ever sighting of an Alfa Romeo sportster. If online image search steered me down the right road, this model is the Spider—and I am unable to pin down year of release. What a beauty she is (my blog, my pronoun choice).

The car was parked on Lincoln at Maryland, near where I photographed a Hummer in February 2021. Coincidentally, or not, both vehicles were outside the same home—just on different streets (it’s a corner property).

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A Macro Moment with Leica Q2

The days are plenty when I consider trading in Leica Q2. Being beholden to a fixed-focal-length lens—even as magnificent as the camera’s 28mm f/1.7 Summilux—is a tradeoff when I can’t get close enough to a subject. But versatility abounds, holding me to the all-in-one shooter—like precise manual focus or Macro mode, which I used to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 1:16 p.m. PDT.

One of our car‘s windshield wipers broke, so today we drove to the auto-mechanic in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. The plan: Annie would drive home to University Heights, while I would walk for some extra exercise. I passed by the richly-pigmented orange and yellow flowers about a half block from the service station. The cropped photo is from a single shot taken. Anticipating the light breeze, I held my breath and waited for several seconds of stillness to click the shutter. During post-production, I throttled back the contrast and pulled out the highlights.

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The Cats of University Heights: Grit

For more than three years, I presumed that this fine feline is Burglar, who lives on the same street across Madison approaching Adams. The beasties’ markings are similar, but on closer inspection distinct—and sightings strongly suggest two orange and whites rather than one the same.

The Featured Image and companion make quite the comparison—skinny and heftier kitty, but similar soiled areas of the white fur. Is somebody a digger, perhaps?  Vitals for the first, taken with Leica Q2, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 10:49 a.m. PDT, Aug. 23, 2021. The second comes from Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens, on April 22, 2018. Vitals, aperture unknown: ISO 100, 1/750 sec, 50mm; 8:43 a.m. PDT.

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You Can’t Call 911

This payphone is one of many things out of place along University Avenue in downtown Hillcrest. At my request, today, Annie dropped me in the San Diego neighborhood when she went out on an errand. I walked home, for a change in scenery. Eh, what a change.

As I stood at the stoplight, waiting to cross Sixth Avenue, something tumbled end over end over University and landed in the gutter across the way. Then a skinny, shirtless, suntanned dude strutted across the street—haughty and boisterous. He picked up what looked like a metal pipe or handle and began twirling it combat-style. I pushed the walk button to cross University rather than Sixth.

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We Voted Today

My wife and I dropped off our ballots at Garfield Elementary, which is located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Crossing the parking lot, we saw three people, presumably all poll workers, sitting in folding chairs under an awning outside the school entrance. We had forgotten about masks, which the trio suddenly pulled out and put on before walking inside. Then a brave one came out to meet Annie and I, holding in outstretched arms a yellow canvas sack that blocked the woman from the two pariahs—meaning us. We dropped in our mail-in ballots, and she rushed away. Gosh, I sure hope that wasn’t the trash liner.

Californians are being asked whether or not they want to remove the governor. Unfortunately, opponents and proponents have framed the recall election in terms of Gavin Newsom vs front-runner Larry Elder, which distracts from the reason for everyone going to the polls. The special election is absolutely about Newsom vs Newsom, whether or not he should stay in office or be replaced. Nothing more matters. The answer is Yes or No.

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‘You Are Being Watched’

Funny how the intention for taking a photo isn’t the reason for publishing it—as is the case with the Featured Image, captured yesterday using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 5:26 p.m. PDT. The crusty, “Criminal Beware” sign struck me as really funny—no deterrent at all—and I planned to wisecrack about how the old, neglected thing would frighten off nobody. Then my wife got into the final frame, and everything changed.

She stopped to check her mileage (from walking), while I fumbled with the camera. I really like the synchronicity of her dipped head and hat with the cloaked villain’s posture. Her presence lends perspective, too—how ridiculously high off the ground is the warning. I have passed by that intersection, at Mississippi and Monroe, hundreds of times and hadn’t before noticed the sign. If a posting doesn’t register with residents, will criminals scouting people and places at eye-level see it—or even care? By the way, newer “Neighborhood Watch” signs are lower.

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Storm Warning

They say it never rains in Southern California—until a thunderstorm rolls in without warning. This evening, I ventured out for a late-day walk and progressed one-and-a-half blocks from my apartment, when rain drops started falling. I had been looking West to mainly clear skies, where hung a crescent moon. A downpour commenced seconds later, and I took refuge in an apartment building carport. Meanwhile, lightning flashed and thunder roared.

I used Leica Q2 Monochrom to capture the Featured Image, looking out at the clear horizon while water pummeled everything about me. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/1.7, ISO 5000, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 7:33 p.m. PDT. The photo is cropped to remove building overhang but otherwise is presented as rendered RAW.

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Desperate Hunter

About a month ago, I heard some commotion a few streets away and a woman yelling loudly to someone else: “It’s a coyote!” The location is far enough away from a canyon to be surprising. Over the weeks that followed, my wife observed occasional Nextdoor posts about additional sightings—mainly between Alabama and Louisiana either along Madison or Mission.

This morning, as Annie and I walked on Louisiana approaching Mission, she spotted a coyote strutting down the sidewalk on the other side of Madison moving towards Adams. We followed. The animal’s left rear leg was clearly injured, and the skinny beast hobbled on the other three. When she first saw the coyote, it was under the magnificent tree that I shared with you in June 2021.

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Ripe and Ready

Call my obsession with grapes overkill photography, but I must present one last look at the vine located between Campus and Cleveland along Meade in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. They’re gone now; someone picked them, or so seems the case.

I worried they would ripen and rot, being located between sidewalk and street rather than on someone’s property. Thankfully, they appear not to have been wasted—like so much other fruit languishing from lush trees outside residences. I don’t understand why. Food is precious, and the berries and citrus that I see requires so little human effort to grow.

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All That Remains

I more frequently walk down the Louisiana block between El Cajon and Meade, here in University Heights, looking to see when (now vacant) houses and shops at the corner will be leveled and another—ah-hum, morbid—San Diego redevelopment project begins. Two months ago, I explained how the forthcoming demolition led to the sudden closure of Postal Convenience Center, after 35 years in business.

Across the street is the abandoned Twisted Taps, which flatlined during last year’s SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns. On Aug. 24, 2021, while scouting Louisiana, I stopped to gawk at the mural on the side of the closed brewery/eatery and captured the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 10:06 a.m. PDT.