Category: Photo

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The Cats of University Heights: Hawk

Our forty-fifth kitty to appear behind window or door, like the others, is nameless—or at least to me the street photographer. I dub this one Hawk, for watching birds on the wire. Their reflection in the glass punctuates the moment, which I captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 9 a.m., June 17, 2019. The Featured Image is best appreciated by clicking through (warning: 19MB file).

I spotted Hawk along Panorama Drive, where also live Brick; Herbie, the Love Bug; and Roadie—surely others.

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Such a Waste

Last month, on a whim, my wife and I took an excursion down memory lane: the narrow, out-of-the-way street leading to San Diego Hospice, where twice weekly my father-in-law played flute for residents before the facility closed. He passed away in January 2017—and unbelievably—the buildings have followed him, as can be seen from the Featured Image.

In December 2012, administrators told him that his playing would end at the start of the new year. Months later, the healthcare operation declared bankruptcy before closing for good. My experience going inside any kind of extended-stay care facility is bad. But San Diego Hospice was good, with clean, wide hallways and walls decorated with art—some of it for sale, if I remember rightly. There was warmth, in a place that could otherwise have born the chill of death.  After all, most of the residents received care before their lives ended.

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The Cats of University Heights: John Adams

We follow up Ludgwig, with one of his street buddies, quite appropriately and unexpectedly. Two days after the white and orange kitty joined the series, his close neighbor John Adams disappeared. Perhaps because the tiger tabby is so handsome or maybe because so many people like his name, he caused quite the consternation on Nextdoor when reported missing. I didn’t learn about the two beasties’ close residences until about a week after John Adams was found. He hangs out on North; Ludwig around Madison, not far from where the streets meet.

Ludwig’s owner was one of the many folks scouring alleys and rapping locked garages searching for the cat who would be named president of the United States. No one guessed that he was trapped a stone’s throw away (for five days) inside the nearby, abandoned florist shop, which closing I wrote about one year ago today.

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The Cats of University Heights: Ludwig

While walking down Madison Avenue, beyond North and approaching Park Blvd., I spotted a young man swinging a wand toy before his kitty in a driveway. Hey, the provocateur of this series had to stop for a visit and photographic moment. We spoke. The gent explained, almost apologetically, that he never considered himself a “cat person”, having grown up with dogs. Lest I misunderstood, Ludwig (yes, real name) is the first, and the shorthair has been with its caretaker for about two years.

But there is a backstory. Coincidentally, Ludwig’s original owners of one year were en route for a visit, and the young man wondered aloud if the pet would recognize them after two years apart. There is reason to be curious. Not long after joining his human’s habitat in 2017, Ludwig escaped and disappeared for about 14 days. The furball somehow made way back to his previous residence in Mission Hills. The nearly 5 km journey would require travel down busy Washington Street and possibly even over highway 163. Yikes. Poor baby. His paws were blistered. Once returned to University Heights, however, Ludwig settled in contently.

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The Cats of University Heights: Mandy

We start the month with a Caturday and lovely surprise. While walking down Cleveland Ave., I came upon a yard sale and familiar faces: The Parkers, and owners of Fess, who disappeared in early August 2017. Even in absence, he remains my favorite neighborhood feline—for cat character. Monkey, who also is gone, and the esteemable—but still with us—Itchy Valentino are close seconds for the same reason.

Fess’ vanishing, which was sudden and unfathomable, devastated the Parkers, who spent long neighborhood walks looking for him—as did I. He will never be replaced—how many kitties jump into the owners’ truck cab to greet them—nor be forgotten. But, about a year ago, time enough had passed: His former family adopted another Maine Coon-blend baby. Please meet Mandy.

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The Cats of University Heights: Toasty

Anne and I kicked off her birthday (May 22, 2019) with a morning walk around the neighborhood streets on the East side of Park Blvd. Along Florida, between Madison and Monroe, I spotted a Siamese soaking up the sun on the same steps where I photographed maow maow seven months earlier. Looks like the home isn’t presently occupied, and the Calico is missing and presumed lost or abducted/rescued—the latter circumstance as reported by a neighbor seeing maow maow taken away in a cat carrier.

The newer steps-sitter earns nickname Toasty for warming beneath a few hours of scattered sunbeams bursting through storm clouds. Yep. Unseasonably wet weather again pours down on Southern California.

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The Cats of University Heights: Olive

Surely today’s Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, breaks several composition rules that photographers live by. Our kitty, whom I nickname Olive (for the piercing eyes), isn’t the obvious subject of the portrait even though he (or she) is intended to be. I cropped and edited the pic same day as shot, March 27, 2019, then put it aside. But having not seen the kitty since, and on reconsideration finding modest redeeming value in the dimly-seen Olive nearby the illuminated cat tree, I welcome the Torbie to our series. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/150 sec, 63mm; 5:55 p.m. PDT.

Olive, the forty-fourth kitty to appear behind window or door, sits in the same place where was seen Night in early August 2018. Also residing within the same multi-family property, along Georgia near Madison: Luci, Maven, and Peso.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cat

On March 10, 2019, as I shot a fresh portrait of tiger-tabby Alley, someone walking by stopped and told me that there is a dude who takes pictures of the neighborhood kitties. I smiled: “Oh, that’s me”. The answer precipitated a delightful 20-minute conversation between two transplants—he and his family being in San Diego for about 18 months, because of a work transfer, but with tentative plans to return to Texas (employed by the same company) in perhaps a half year hence.

He also told me about his Tuxedo: Cat—and, yes, that’s a real name. So I made extra trips down Mississippi, between Meade and Monroe, looking for the beastie. Not until May Day did we finally meet. Cat started to approach me several times, as I called his name. But the camera continually scared the handsome animal away. That’s context for the Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/3.6, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 7:15 p.m. PDT.

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Ninja

Our sixth feline found outside the neighborhood’s designated borders could easily have been the seventh. Darth Mew originally was an “honorary” member, spotted on the other side of Texas Street going East up Meade towards Arizona. But I later learned that he, like Princess Leia, lives on Louisiana, which is one block back Westways from Texas and so within the boundary. Frightening: Thinking of Darth Mew crossing the bustling street, without getting killed in traffic. How could he?

Ninja (his real name) provided an unexpected explanation, during the first sighting in late September 2018—day before seeing a Bird scooter in a tree. As I approached the Texas crosswalk, the blackie walked down the Meade sidewalk towards me. But before I reached the opposite corner, the cat stepped into the street and slunk down the storm/rain gutter. I stopped, and looking back saw another behind me. Darth Mew could have crossed under the road, using the drainage pipe! Not over it. Clever cat(s)!

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The Cats of University Heights: Patches

We follow Pinky, with another Texas Street kitty, whom I nickname Patches. I spotted the Calico in a yard between Meade and Monroe, barely grabbing a shot before she disappeared behind a hedge. I have walked by the property many times since—March 16, 2019—hoping to snag a better portrait. After weeks passed, and no new sightings, it’s the one or none; so here is the moment.

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, 63mm; 1:43 p.m. PDT.