Halloween may be over, but neighborhood terrors remain, like this giant spider seen on Mississippi Street in San Diego’s University Heights community. I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture […]
Anyone looking at this website’s recent posts, and seeing how many are devoted to the beasties, might presume that I am a feline fanatic. Nah. The “Cats of University Heights” series is about something else, and the reasons for it wouldn’t be obvious.
The story starts during late Spring 2016, when rapid onset cataracts in both eyes greatly diminished vision—just recovering, following a series of treatments for macular edema. After consulting an ophthalmologic specialist, I scheduled surgery for the first day of Comic-Con 2016. Attending Preview Night, and being unable to read any of the signs in the venue, I surrendered any regret for missing the event (turns out, I would be there Saturday and Sunday, with one good eye and my daughter as assistant).
This profile breaks a steadfast rule: Only spotlight felines that live in the neighborhood; those that move away or pass away are ineligible from participating in the series. Problem: The ginger was a resident when I captured the Featured Image, on July 19, 2019, using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. His family relocated before I could clear enough of the backlog of photographed, but unpublished, kitties.
Because the beastie was frenemy with Zero, and is missed by the black, he earns exemption and nickname Hero. He lived on Georgia, between Madison and Monroe, in an apartment building across the street from Zero and the new home of Reddy, whose current caretaker has renamed Jinx. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/240 sec, 63mm; 3:54 p.m.
Three years ago today, I started this series with photo of an apparent stray nicknamed Scruffy. In a neighborhood with a bazillion dog walkers, I expected to exhaust the potential population of felines within 30 days—perhaps a few weeks longer, if lucky. How many cats could there possibly be in woof-woof paradise? Thirty-six months later, not only is this thing still going but should I choose to continue (maybe to that) a backlog of unpublished kitty portraits waits on camera(s) and computer. Quite deliberately, Zero’s profile is 300th; but I waited too long to tell his story and that of his mates.
Our tale begins on July 12, 2019, when, while walking along Georgia Street, I spotted a sleeping, sunning ginger who looked lots like Reddy—and on the wrong side of Madison, which is treacherous for people to cross let alone animals. So I purposely returned over the next several days to see; one week later, he appeared, along with two other beasties.
I can’t say why—because the composition, presented as shot, demands recropping—but this portrait appeals to me as is; oh-kay, I tweaked highlights and brilliance, but little else. Something from the backlog of unpublished profiles should go first, and I typically wait to get the real name when the beastie wears collar and tag. For now, I’ll call the kitty Spunky and move him (or her) to front of queue.
We briefly crossed paths on Oct. 9, 2019 along Lincoln, where it parallels Washington, which the Vermont Bridge crosses over. Along the same street stretch, which is a boundary between the neighborhood and another (Hillcrest), you might also see: Cool, Dainty, Glass, Kitty, Little Miss, or Sky. The Featured Image comes from iPhone XS. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/144 sec, 52mm; 3:55 p.m. PDT.
Among the 298 profiles in the series, nine others feature multiple animals. This one should show three beasties, but I only snatched shots of two. Barely. On June 18, 2019. The group hasn’t presented since, so after long delay—and dashed hopes of getting names from their tags as well as better portraits—here we are.
The house, editorial style for this series is one animal name, single-use only. But that approach stumbles when repeats appear—owner-given, not something I made up when not knowing the real one. Consider Charlies One, Two, Three, and Four as nomenclature nightmare examples. That brings us to our second Kitty, and gender switcheroo—the other being female.
I met Kitty and his owner on Sept. 9, 2019, while walking along Lincoln, between Maryland and Vermont, from the grocery store. He has been with her for about three years—and, if I rightly recall, the Tuxedo was abandoned by someone (or some family) who moved out of the neighborhood. Funny how these cat sightings are: I began this series around the same time the owner started caring for Kitty, and I have walked by the property many dozens of times since without seeing him. No wonder the number of furballs is seemingly constant.
On Sept. 11, 2019, setting out for a reminiscent walk recollecting the national calamity 18 years earlier, I consciously chose to leave behind a digital camera. The decision meant unexpectedly using iPhone XS to take portraits of Namaste, stretched out and shaded under a car. Grumble. I have returned since, several times, but the kitty hasn’t re-presented for better-quality shot.
According to Wikipedia, Namaste is a Hindu greeting, meaning: “I bow to the divine in you”. And, yes, that is the kitty’s real name, as reported by the owner who put the animal’s age at about one year. Namaste lives along Adams Ave., nearby E.T. and the now-deceased Alfredo and Shadow. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/489 sec, 52mm; 9:34 a.m. PDT. Other is the same, except for 1/484 sec.
Few felines in this series are as naturally, muscularly large as Pedro (real name). Peso is another. The forty-fifth Alabama kitty among the 295 profiles posted since the series start three years ago, Pedro lives in the same apartment complex as Penny. I am aware of five other furballs residing there—none featured. Yet.
Some late afternoons, Pedro’s owner lets the shorthair romp supervised about the building’s center courtyard, up the steps, and along the second-floor walkway. I captured the Featured Image and companion on Aug. 31, 2019, using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/72 sec, 52mm; 4:57 p.m. PDT. The second is same but 1/96 sec and 5 p.m.
Amassing a backlog of unpublished kitty pics isn’t all bad. Delay posting the Featured Image generated opportunity to add some unexpected, and opportune, companions—all captured using iPhone XS. Vitals for the first, from July 3, 2019: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/197 sec, 52mm; 5:30 p.m. PDT. (Metadata records 6mm, but I now state film equivalent.)
Initially, I thought the black and white might be Boss, who lives on the same block of Louisiana. Fleeting sightings followed before one quite unexpected on September 3. As my wife and I walked along, Darth Mew ambled up purring and demanding attention. Presumably, he is companion to Princess Leia, who also resides on the street. He left us and moved unthreateningly into the driveway of the apartment building where lives the shorthair beastie, who hissed at the intruder.
Way, way, way behind with photographed furballs, my slow catchup begins with a Tuxedo sighted in the alley between Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 17, 2019. I haven’t seen the beastie since, but there is plenty of evidence: Cat scratcher put out in the morning and food/water dishes in the afternoon. As acceptable as the iPhone XS-snapped Featured Image is, a camera-captured portrait should be so much better. So I will keep looking.
I nickname the kitty Steppy, for location seen. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/165 sec, 52mm; 5:39 p.m. PDT. Metadata records 6mm, but I henceforth will state film-equivalent for Apple device shots.
While walking home from UltraStar Cinema in Mission Valley, after watching “Ad Astra” on opening day, I crossed over San Diego River along Mission Center Road. Ripples upon the water delighted my eyes, which demanded capturing the moment, and I did using iPhone XS.
The film, starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray, is in essence about the consequences of solitary living—astronaut Roy McBride, his hero father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), or all the living creatures (including humans) of Planet Earth. Somehow, looking down the river—even with the roar of Friday afternoon rush hour behind me—I experienced a moment of welcome solitude, ennobled by having just seen “Ad Astra”. Hence, the Featured Image and its companion.