Tag: California Living

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Better Bee Reading

Outside the “1917 House“, where also is the little homes collection, my wife and I came upon something new: cute book-sharing repository. Unlike others around our neighborhood of University Heights, this one doesn’t bear a LittleFreeLibrary label. I’m good what that distinction. This thing is fresh and oh-so Spring. Correction: Early Summer, in San Diego. (The other two seasons are Mid Summer and Late Summer. I know, I know, you don’t have to say it.)

During post-production, I recomposed the Featured Image to give more space to the honeysuckle, which sweet succumbing scent is such a relief from toxic construction dust and stink weed smoke (the latter disgusts my nostrils). Aroma and ambience make Birds, Bees, and Books an appealing pitstop. But do watch out for the stinging insects buzzing by searching for nectar.

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Chopped Before Its Time

While walking West on Monroe Avenue, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, my wife and I could hear tree cutting as we approached cross-street Georgia. Sure enough, to our left, going towards Mission, a work crew cut and carted two palms. We had to investigate.

As you can see from the Featured Image and companions, all captured using Leica Q2, an extremely healthy-looking palm top is lifted and dumped. I wondered why and what was chopped. Annie and I walk down this street somewhat regularly, not recalling any recent road signs or other indications that the city would destroy more trees.

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No, It’s Me Watching You

On University Avenue in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood—alongside Bohdi Animal Hospital, across from Smart and Final—is a fitting homeless habitat. That is, if you go for the stereotype of some street-living person paranoid about government surveillance, which could include nanites from SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 vaccines. The sign says it all, in a triumphant tables-turning warning to the spies.

Today, as my wife and I waited for our turn to cross the street, I pulled around Leica Q2 for a single shot. Because, ah, someone watched me, speed mattered. The Featured Image is a close-crop, and, yes, University slopes along that stretch at Mississippi.

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This is Progress?

I am not obsessed with the construction site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street, despite the number of recent photos and commentaries about it: Cave’s Grave; Wonder Wall; Shattered Serenity; Postal Convenience Center. My interest is what the project represents to San Diego neighborhoods Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights, where relaxation of zoning rules is bringing down charming businesses and homes and replacing them with high-rises that are way out of character with the area.

The Featured Image, taken on May 7, 2022 using Leica Q2, captures before, during, and after multi-unit construction. Foreground looks across the aforementioned recent demolition to a four-story residential complex at Mississippi, overlooking the recently relocated Red Fox Steak House.

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Decorating the Cave’s Grave

The demolition site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street in University Heights returns five days later, because of alterations. Remnants remain of the Cave of Wonders building, but somebody has graffitied over some of the doodle drawings of the still-standing inner wall.

In reviewing the Featured Image, I see another change: The livable-looking property that was to the right behind in my previous shots is gone. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm; 4:48 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.

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The Better Barrier

Across my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, increasing trend: homeowners surround their front yards with obnoxious fences that while providing privacy create fortress-feeling and block residents’ view of surroundings—and beneficial sunlight. If you want to live in a dungeon, please sell your property to someone who will appreciate the local climate and move elsewhere. Perhaps Chicago, where you can add bars to all the windows, too.

Contrast that to the Featured Image, taken today using Leica Q2. While walking past this hedge, and not for the first time, I stopped to really look at its lovely practicality. The residents have privacy, which includes keeping dogs from peeing or poohing on the lawn, while providing a natural, beautiful barrier for their enjoyment and for other people.

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Shattered Serenity

The difference 24 hours make. Yesterday, the abandoned houses still stood along Louisiana Street at El Cajon Blvd. Today, they—and the businesses around the block—are gone. The Featured Image captures something of the devastation. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 1:26 p.m. PDT. This one and the others come from Leica Q2, aperture manually set for all.

My wife and I have known since summer last year what would happen along one of my favorite blocks in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Two cottage complexes, a few modestly-rising apartment buildings, and bunches of single-story houses—with vast swaths of grass and greenery in an area otherwise converting to cement—create calming ambience. The street is, or was, surprisingly serene. Three residential properties on Louisiana and businesses half-way to Mississippi along The Boulevard are gone.

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Vintage Volkswagens

Today, while walking along Adams Avenue, my wife and I came across three vintage Volkswagens. I have seen some of these vehicles parked about, but this is the first time together, in a row—and there were others elsewhere. Possibly one of our neighbors is an auto-collector or repairer/refurbisher.

Finny, who was profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series, lives in one of the houses before which were the VWs. Oh, and we saw him skulking about while we both took photos. The Featured Image and companion come from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:50 p.m. PDT. The other is the same but 1/800 sec, one minute earlier.

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Weather-worn is Wear Enough

On average, about 28 cm (11 inches) of rain falls in San Diego annually. The mild Mediterranean climate means three summer seasons, and the warmest of them is in process of gradually heating up. Sunny days, punctuated by breezes coming off the Pacific Ocean, allow citizens to maximize their living space by extending it outdoors. Businesses do likewise; consider Costco, which customer eatery is outside the warehouse rather than the more common inside location.

The fine climate leads to oddities like the alley art gallery, little house collectionsSatanic shrine (well, maybe), or sidewalk lending libraries. The Featured Image is another example. This necklace has hung on this fence for at least six months. My wife spotted it along Monroe Avenue in University Heights on Dec. 11, 2021. She stopped for a photo, because beads and jewelry are her designer passion; I decided to do likewise—using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 64, 1/121 sec, 26mm; 10:43 a.m. PST.

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So Which Is It Supposed to Be?

Yesterday, while walking to the used bookstore where receiving a U.S.  Constitution booklet and unprompted lecture, I came upon the oddest objects—on the outer fringes of University Heights’ boundary, along Georgia between Howard and Polk. Are these signs in the Featured Image more signs of San Diego bureaucratic bungling? This stretch is part of the Georgia-Meade bikeway, for which someone in the city authorized traffic circles with the wrong community name that later required sandblasting to correct.

Tell me, when have you ever seen a posting stating “Speed Humps Ahead”. Gasp, is that, ah, innuendo for approaching sexual activity (e.g. humping) in hedonistic Hillcrest? Yes, I am being facetious, but it’s not an unreasonable question to ask about the neighborhood.

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San Diego Affordable Housing

The place isn’t roomy, but the architectural style is quite appealing. I hear there’s a waiting list, though. But if you like, I walk past often enough and can look for that “no” to be covered up. Here’s the thing; A little birdie told me that several crows are in the queue—and they are quite aggressive about obtaining lodging, particularly when the place is furnished and the landlord provides some meals.

Advice: Adopt a community cat from the shelter and turn him loose nearby. If the beastie doesn’t catch and eat some of the animals waiting for the place, he might scare off most of them. The residence is on Maryland Street in University Heights. Address isn’t disclosed, just in case I want to submit a rental application myself.

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Promises, Promises

Who other than perhaps researchers at a Chinese lab could have predicted the global lockdown to combat SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. Surely, owners of the Red Fox Steak House couldn’t guess when the restaurant and piano bar—long a fixture within the iconic Lafayette Hotellost its lease. Like its crafty namesake animal, the eatery cunningly chose to make a new home directly across El Cajon Blvd in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood.

But building and opening anew during California’s Coronavirus crackdown, when the governor ordered citizens to stay home and prohibited indoor dining, clearly proved challenging. In January 2021, I shared with you a photo of the then unfinished construction with banner “Opening early Fall 2020”. As you can see from the Featured Image, the place is still outfoxed by the virus—even as mandated restrictions relax. Will we ever eat medium-rare amidst the ambience of live music? I really wonder.