Category: Living

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Another Stand Off!

What’s up with my passing by feline territorial skirmishes? There was Ash and Bandit in late May 2021 and now Goose (left) and Jasmine, which respective yards are separated by an apartment building parking lot. All four animals are profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series.

My wife and I came upon the pair, yowling and tensing forward or retreating, outside Goose’s home. That’s right, Jasmine was the aggressor. But sometime later, after I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, she backed through the fence and he pursued. Somebody pulled up and parked a car, which broke the territorial tension.

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The Photographer’s Friend

I am reluctant to post pics of myself, but this one presents opportunity to pay photographic homage to my wife, who captured the Featured Image using her iPhone XS. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/1748 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 1:01 p.m. PDT, today. Thank-you, Annie.

We walked by the house where live Bruce (pictured) and Guido, both of which are profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series, and the fluffier feline came on to the sidewalk to visit.

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The Palm Falls

My day started with resolve not to document destruction of the majestic palm infested with South American Palm Weevils—across the street from my home office window. But my wife and I watched the preparation stage, which was the city towing a pickup truck, baring Washington State plates, parked directly beneath the block’s major wildlife habitat.

Soon after, we heard the surprising sound of a chainsaw but could see no lift raised high so that a cutter could sever fronds from the palm’s crown. From a different window, Annie spotted someone working the base of the tree and a rope tied to the top. Then we realized: Rather than the more typical cut-from-the-top-down method, the men approached the project like lumberjacks would back home in Maine.

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Aspiration is a Long Way from Talent

My artistic talents peaked in first grade and never improved. That school year, I won my one, and only, award for them—and decades later I doubt doing better, if as well, as the ribbon-winner that is the Featured Image. I vaguely remember making this drawing, with the teacher looking over my shoulder either to offer praise or suggestions; perhaps both.

The next clear recollection is my mom talking on the party line to see who would win, my anticipation, and both our excitement at the news. Gosh, I felt so proud. The next day, the second-grade winner and I basked in the limelight and awaited our prize. What would it be? Speculation killed me. Then, with modest fanfare, the teacher presented each of us with a proper drawing pad and black marker. I was crushed. How boring.

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A Bird Poses

I don’t typically shoot bird portraits—yet here is another within three days (remember the seagull). But an unexpected opportunity presented early this evening. As my wife and I walked along Mississippi Street, between Monroe and Meade, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, we came upon a wayward dove (correct my identification if mistaken). It made no attempt to fly off as Annie passed, so I stopped and pulled around Leica Q2.

As the shutter clicked for the first of two shots, I realized that while the electronic viewfinder presented a green outlined box indicating focus the bird was blurry. Ditto for the second (half-press), so with the dove staying still, I turned the camera’s manual focus ring and produced the Featured Image (do click the link see this one bigger).

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A Tree’s Reprieve

The majestic palm infested with South American Palm Weevils did not come down today as planned. Tree cutters arrived around 7 a.m. PDT—four vehicles, which included lift and shredder. But the workers met an obstacle—a lone car curbed below the palm and smack beneath the sign warning: “No Parking, Tree Removal, 7-19-21, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.” Two hours later, with no one come to move the auto and tow-truck unavailable, the frustrated tree-cutter chief abandoned the project for another. He told me that his crew couldn’t return any sooner than Wednesday (July 21), because of other commitments.

When departing, he removed the signs, which is why you don’t see any in the Featured Image taken at 11:10 a.m., using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/2257 sec, 26mm (film equivalent). When I returned from a walk, about 12:30 p.m., someone had placed new “No Parking” signs for the 22nd.

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A Beloved Tree’s Last Day

One of our apartment’s main benefits: Abundance of urban wildlife visible from expansive windows. Directly across the street from my home office is a magnificent palm tree that is the block’s primary animal habitat. Dozens of birds, of various ilks, fly up into crevices throughout daylight hours all year long. Remember: San Diego is a climate of three Summer seasons: Early, Mid, and Late. Squirrels scurry up the trunk, chasing one another. Who knows what else lives there? Tomorrow, the city plans to remove the tree. I understand the reason but hate it.

According to University California San Diego, invasive, deadly South American Palm Weevils were “first detected in March 2016″—that’s locally. But agricultural experts identified the beetles’ encroachment along the Mexican border five years earlier. The insects essentially infest the heart of the palm crown, destroying it. The bad news from arborists Coastal Tree Care: “When left undetected, this damage is irreversible and will leave you with no choice but to remove your palm trees”. Judging from the topless trees I see in some of the canyons, and the speed with which the weevils appear to spread, infected trees must be destroyed as soon as they show symptoms. A month ago, the palm across the street looked normally healthy. No longer.

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Seagull Shopper

My wife and I drove down to Westfield Mission Valley today to take advantage of an expiring coupon: One free pastry from Panera. She chose the Kitchen Sink Cookie—so large two hands are required to hold it. Walking, while she consumed, we encountered a seagull so squawky that it more or less honked like a goose. The thing prattled about looking for food, presumably, making no attempt to fly off as shoppers passed by. I wondered if he might be wing-injured. Annie wanted to share some cookie but rightly worried that the one sweet thing wouldn’t be good food for the other sweet thing. Yeah, we found the bird endearing as it weaved about shoppers.

I brought Leica Q2 Monochrom to the mall and used the camera to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 2:32 p.m. PDT. We briefly continued, then I stopped and asked Annie if she minded my going back for more photos. Happily munching, she motioned me on. As I approached, a couple with a stroller stopped to gawk at the bird, seemingly unaware that they had cornered the thing between a store’s window and sidewalk sign. The gull’s only escape route was inside the shop, and that is where it briefly fled.

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Pumpkin Patch

Remember the neighbor’s house with the towering sunflower? Their luscious garden spills onto the sidewalk. Looks at the pumpkins! I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on  July 13, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually […]

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The Cats of University Heights: Loki

A few weeks ago, my wife made acquaintance with one of two black putty-tats that live in the same house. I started looking for him and twice saw a shorthair cross the street and jump a fence into a neighbor’s yard. Based on that behavior, he was most likely Loki (I don’t know the other’s name). But on neither instance did I see him upon reaching the location.

Three days ago, as Annie and I approached site of the previous sightings, Loki cautiously crept into the street with nose to the asphalt. There he stopped and sniffed a dead squirrel. Annie stayed on the opposite side of the street, which I crossed bringing me close to the fence. About that time a car came along and the cat fled to safety between two parked vehicles. Then he saw me and surprisingly visited.

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A Simple Remembrance

Mom would be 80 years old today; she passed away in August 2017 and will always be missed. Short stature, she put on the pounds with age, which would eventually make her bound to a wheel chair. She navigated the thing like a sports car, and I would like to have seen her race someone riding an electric scooter. But their popularity zoomed after she departed.

Linda was a sun around which other people revolved like planets—not because she was a narcissist demanding attention but for being affable and generous. They nourished off her light and enjoyed being pulled by her gravity. My sisters and I were blessed to have her as a parent.