Tag: California Living

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Affordable Housing?

Oh the lies they tell to sell. San Diego is in the midst of a so-called affordable housing crisis, for which the poorly urban-planned cure eases zoning laws to increase population density among some neighborhoods. Funny thing, circumstances convince me that developers and politicians define “affordable housing” differently than do I or other residents. Rather than lower the entry point to rent, many newer properties raise it such that by comparison the already high monthly that I, or others, pay suddenly seems more affordable. Ah, yeah.

Consider, as example, the soon-to-open Blvd North Park, which takes up the block between Alabama and Florida on El Cajon. The complex is a wonder of marketing myths—ah, lies. As you can see from the Featured Image, which shows the leasing booth and building behind, the structure is very much under construction. Yet the leasing manger told me two weeks ago that the place would open—meaning be ready for tenants—on September 1. That’s the first lie; okay, a presumed one. The second is indisputable.

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Say, Sunflower?

The rainy season may be (mostly) over, but the full flowering super bloom sweeping Southern California is everywhere. How about them lilacs down the street? Or this sunflower rising from a nearby construction zone? Road crews have worked that sidewalk and street all Winter, seemingly. It’s amazing there is soil enough to grow anything, let alone something so sudden and big. But, hey, the small patch of dirt sits at the bottom of an incline, where water (lots of it) flows fast and the right elements were just right.

By the way: Seems like nothing sprouting out of the earth can grow fast enough, this Spring. We are overtaken by plants not just thick and lush but towering upward. The newspapers prattle on about the super bloom, but I am awed by the super sizes of every green leaf thing. Gardeners and landscapers are overworked—and with the President tightening up border crossings, I can’t imagine there are enough (illegal) immigrant workers to whack weeds and mow the grass. Oh, and for the record, California has officially cancelled the drought. Too much of a good thing is…

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Boatload of Trouble

Since starting the “Cats in University Heights” series in October 2016, no one has objected to my photographing their animals—until today. In fact, some neighbors have asked me to include their pets. The story: As I approached the multi-family dwelling where Blue and Valentine—both nicknames—reside, a skinny and frisky shorthair walked down the sidewalk alongside a nearby open-fenced yard. As I approached, the putty-tat retreated to the grass. From there, another feline moved my way, and I started clicking the shutter of Fujifilm GFX 50R, with attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens.

“Why are you taking pictures of my cats?” a woman calmly, but firmly, asked from behind a home’s security door. She didn’t step out onto the porch, and I couldn’t see her even while looking straight on from the sidewalk. I explained about my photographic project that started two-and-a-half years ago. My demeanour was friendly then, and when asking the name of the kitty whose portraits I had just taken. Gaping silence followed. “It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me”, I interjected, trying to diffuse any tension. 

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How Much Has It Rained in San Diego?

Record rainfall pummels Southern California, as a series of storms continue. In my neighborhood, according to official government weather stats, 3.7 cm (1.45 inches) fell during the Valentine’s Day downpour. Totals for the month, as measured at Lindbergh Field: 7 cm (2.8 inches). That same storm walloped Palomar Observatory with 28 cm (10.9 inches) of rain. Yikes! Rivers overflow. Flooding wreaks havoc in the community Ramona, among others. And nobody uses the dreaded D word (e.g. drought).

The sun shines through puffy, cumulus, cumulonimbus, and nimbus clouds stretching across the horizons upon the wet asphalt, earth, and fallen palm fronds—brief respite before the next storm surges. But the air is chill, and record low temperatures are expected tonight. Already, ice accumulations have led authorities to close both major roads leading into the quaint, mountain community of Julian—where we nearly bought a house last year. Being President’s Day, the town would typically bustle with tourists. 

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Sanctuary No More

I started more closely watching what the Wilcox clan calls the Butterfly House—a lush Monarch (and other creature) refuge along Maryland Ave., going down the hill from Meade. A major culling of plumage made me wonder if the residents might be leaving. Yep. Last week, I passed by as a moving truck was loaded. Three days ago, I spoke with one of the tenants. They’re Hawaii-bound, and the future of the mini-wildlife habitat is uncertain. Much depends on whomever resides there next. The longstanding caretakers, who contributed much to the neighborhood by way of their overly-committed gardening, bought a house and acre of land on the Big Island. Their tending will be missed by many.

For a small sense of what will likely vanish, please click through to the “Cats of University Heights” profile of Wink, laying low in the middle of the magnificent front yard. Incidentally, two other felines—Flower and Skull—were previously profiled in the adjacent properties on either side of the Butterfly House. 

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The Christmas House

A few years ago, when my daughter shared an apartment in Point Loma, Calif., I drove up Garrison on the way home from her neighborhood. Houses along the way decked out big time for Christmas, such that traffic snarled as drivers slowed to gawk, others searched for parking, and pedestrians admired the decorations. My wife and I visited the street this evening, previewing what’s expected to come. Only one house had spiffed up for the Holiday—and in unbelievably magnificent fashion. The Featured Image and three companions are but a glimpse of the fabulously adorned property.

I captured the set using Google Pixel 3 XL, which proved to be more than a low-light performer. It’s a charmer. I am rather surprised to see character and dimension in these quick snaps. I cropped all four 3:2 and straightened two, but did not otherwise edit. Vitals for the first: f/1.8, ISO 176, 1/24 sec, 4.4mm; 5:35 p.m. PST (about 55 minutes after sunset). 

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Fido Confections

Among the stereotypes that cling to Californians: Their love of—no obsession with—dogs. Take a peek into this window of a local dog bakery. I could understand meat pie. But cake? Welcome to SoCal, where residents primp tail-waggers and fawn incessantly over them. I am aghast how the fussy folk here let their beasts pee and poop everywhere. Sure, most dog walkers carry baggies to clean up the hard deposits. But the liquid soils sidewalks and anything along them; considering how rarely rain falls, this crap clinging to shoes and dust that becomes airborne can’t be healthy. So why in a state where residents also are lifestyle-profiled as being health-obsessed is there such contradiction?

In County cities Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee, and Solana Beach, there are about 162,000 licensed dogs, according to official statistics. Human population for the same locales is about 2.15 million, says the Department of Animal Services. FYI: San Diego Humane Society assumed responsibility for providing county animal services to these communities during second quarter of this year. If you’re local, and interested in domestic or wild beasties, SDH’s annual report is informative reading. 

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The Book of Our Times

It’s catch-up time for things I meant to post but put aside, temporarily. Family drama! Perhaps you will read about it in the future, but likely not. Now to the main course: On Oct. 21, 2018—the day after reading that San Diegans spend more on alcoholic beverages than residents of any other city in the United States—I spotted something surprising on a table outside LeStat’s on Park. Did someone forget the book? Was it purposefully left behind—seemingly appropriate commentary about America’s “booziest city”?

For sure, breweries are commonplace, and most eateries serve alcoholic beverages, which also are sold everywhere—not predominantly in liquor stores but from pharmacies, supermarkets, warehouse stores (e.g. Costco), and more. 

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James

For as long as we have been in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood—11 years next week—a homeless man lived near the top of Texas Street before it passes the Valero gas station at Madison. James was a fixture, seen day or night, every day, regardless of weather. If absent from his chair for any length of time, there would be chatter across social networks—in recent years NextDoor—asking where he was. Sickness or even police harassment were the more likely reasons for his absences.

Near the end of September, James vanished again, raising roarous concerns on NextDoor, until someone stated—and later was confirmed—that this homeless man had passed away. I didn’t know James, but some of my neighbors engaged him. “Friendly” and “kind” are two words used to describe him among many NextDoor posts and comments. I just took James for granted. He was as much a part of the scenery as the palm trees. As I would drive up Texas, or walk across the Adams Ave. bridge, he was an expected sight—and refreshing one, too. Something about his presence, and neighbors embracing his homelessness, was a triumph of humanity and dignity.