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Flowers for the Urban Landscape

Dentist day is an opportunity to walk home—8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles)—from College Area to University Heights. My wife dropped me and then drove into Mission Valley for some errands. With no cavities, and quick cleaning, I started pounding the pavement within 30 minutes after arriving at the office.

On El Cajon Blvd, approaching 58th Street, I spotted a crimson-colored flowery-plant standing alone along the sidewalk. So out of place in the urban sprawl of retail, traffic, and wayward homeless, the thing demanded being photographed. Before leaving our place, I strongly considered carrying my camera to the dentist but refrained. So iPhone XS produced the Featured Image and companion, instead.

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Parlez-vous Français?

I shot the Featured Image for two reasons: Surprise to find a French preschool on Park Blvd in downtown University Heights; reminiscence—our daughter nearly attended a public French immersion school when we lived in Maryland. I have often wondered why she failed to make the cut. Could it be that she would enter as a first-grader instead of a kindergartener? Because: She was first on the waiting list, and the administration told us that admission was almost a certainty—some student(s) either dropping out or not showing up were frequent occurrences.

The kids learned English and French side-by-side in a program that lasted through eighth grade. Had Molly been accepted, and had she stayed, our family’s destiny would have changed. We would have unlikely left the Washington, D.C. area and moved across country to San Diego.

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A Fitting Tribute

The only constant on my street is the rap-rap-racket of new construction—in the alley across the way and a few blocks further where an eight-story multi-residence will fill the space where once stood a church that distributed food to the needy most Fridays. Silent: Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife that lived in the majestic palm that city contractors fell four weeks ago. South American Palm Weevils destroyed the frond crown, killing the tree and posing risk of further infestation along the block.

I don’t know the motivation, but today my neighbor, who lives in the house closest to where the palm stood, planted a collection of succulents where would be the stump (assuming it was covered over rather than removed). People place, or plant, flowers at gravesites—and that’s certainly how I see the location where once towered a mighty wildlife habitat.

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Some Common-Sense Perspective

Two coincidental reports published today put fresh perspective on the demonstration that breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Featured Image pairs the headlines and illustrating photos side-by-side: Reuters on the left and Wall Street Journal right. Heretofore I have cautiously opined about the incident because of political polarization that taints any reasonable discussion. My missives (in order published—all January 2021): “Flowers, Anyone?“; “Citizens are the True Symbols of Our Democracy“; “Divided We Stand“.

This week’s collapse of the Afghan government and violent ruling return of the Taliban stands in stark contrast to the unarmed dweebs dumb enough to breach the Capitol building some seven months ago. I don’t mean to diminish the clash that occurred between some zealous Trump supporters and law enforcement, but wonder: How can anyone call that an insurrection after the actual overthrow of the government in Afghanistan? Let’s briefly discuss the two stories, for some common-sense perspective.

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The Cats of University Heights: Spalding

Could San Diego’s housing market be slowing down? Countywide, the median home price dropped by $19,250 to (cough, cough) $730,500 month-on-month in July. Oh, I just quake with excitement. In context of this information, I was curious to look at a property, located where Georgia Street and Spalding Place meet, discovered on Zillow yesterday. On Aug. 7, 2021, the sellers lopped off $50,000 from the asking price. Whip out your checkbook! The residence now lists for $1.149 million. That’s not a location where I would expect to see something selling for so much; hence, my nosiness.

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 1,630-foot Craftsman sits on Georgia but I approached from cross-street Spalding, which explains my nickname given to the handsome black seen there. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image and companion, today. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 9:56 a.m. PDT. The other: f/8, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm; 9:58 a.m.

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They’re Ready for Picking

Perhaps you remember the green grapes from early July that had started ripening red and violet two weeks ago. On Aug. 16, 2021, they had turned deep purple, suggesting to my uniformed eye that they are of the Concord variety and ready to pick. I assume a neighbor planted the vine and that the many clusters won’t be wasted.

Three-quarters of the way through a 6.5-kilometer (4-mile) round-trip walk on an errand to nearby Hillcrest, and carrying Leica Q2 Monochrom, I decided to shoot with street settings rather than go Macro mode. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 3:52 p.m. PDT. I would have preferred color but black and white works, with the berries’ dark hue that also emphasizes dusty particles on the skin.

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The Cats of University Heights: Boxer

The seventieth Alabama kitty comes from the alley behind that street and Florida, somewhere between Meade and Madison. My wife and I spotted the black drinking water outside a cottage where another feline looks out from a window (think future feline profile should better photo opportunity present). Our thirsty putty-tat earns nickname Boxer for what the bowl sits on.

As usual, I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, which is cropped 100 percent. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 8:39 a.m. PDT, July 28, 2021.

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Why the Maine Coons Lost Their Home

To see where was the golf cart accident that led to yesterday morning’s dramatic chase and capture, my wife and I walked along Florida to Adams, where I shot additional photos. We returned the same way, passing by a man leaning on the porch railing of the house where feral felines Coon and Ghost lived for about eight years in the spacious backyard. I profiled both animals in my “Cats of University Heights” series in May 2018.

I asked the gentleman about clearcutting the property, which he confirmed started on Aug. 10, 2021. The action was taken at the behest of the broker, who believes there is a 98-percent chance an investor will buy the place, rather than a resident; removing the lush greenery and trees emphasizes the lot’s large size for the neighborhood and increases likelihood of higher bidding during the September 11 auction.

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The Incident in University Heights

When working with other journalists, I always advise: “Write what you know to be true”—or, lifting Star Trek lingo, obey the “Prime Directive“. That brief introduction frames what follows based on what I directly heard, observed, and photographed.

Our story starts some minutes around 11 a.m. PDT today, when emergency vehicles roar down the street where we live and others nearby. A police helicopter begins circling overhead, announcing search for a suspect, with his description, and instruction to call 911 if seen. I look out my window, to see police officers standing over someone handcuffed and facedown on the pavement—the Featured Image, captured at 11:06 a.m. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; all photos aperture manually set, from Leica Q2. Interesting aside: The takedown happens where once stood the block’s majestic palm tree, before being cut down nearly four weeks ago.

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‘Run for Your Life!’

I don’t often get a chance to shoot the sign in Hillcrest—dangers of standing in traffic being one reason, when trying to get good vantage point. But coincidental opportunity presented on July 18, 2021 during the San Diego Half Marathon. We needed something from the pet store located on Washington Street; my wife dropped me there, and I walked over to University Ave. for a lively jaunt home. Timing with the event was happenstance.

On the other side of Fifth, I used Leica Q2 to capture four shots in fairly rapid succession. I chose and cropped the Featured Image for the juxtaposition of bicycle pusher, runners, and walkers—and to remind that the camera can produce super-sharp photos. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 9:51 a.m. PDT.