Tag: California Living

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Hey, Let’s Throw Some Dirt Bikes in Back and Go Ridin’

For about a week last month, I passed by this truck parked on the adjacent street from our apartment. San Diego has a 72-hour limit for staying in one location, and the day I captured the Featured Image, the city’s parking patrol had placed a pink warning notice on the windshield. Since, the vehicle is off-street outside a nearby apartment building.

Vintage vehicles are quite common in Southern California, which sunny climate extends their potential lifespans compared to states like, say, Maine or Virginia, where harsh humidity or precipitation are aging elements. Consider this other long-lifer, a Rambler remembered with kitty Nelson from my “Cats of University Heights” series in December 2017. Months later, someone placed a “for sale” sign in the rear window. In another universe, an alternate version of me bought that classic.

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Be Blue, Buggy

There is something oh-so-stereotypical about 1960s-70s Volkswagens and Southern California. For sure, vintage VWs are commonly sighted, and weather is one reason. With so much sun and so little rain to accommodate them, Cal cars […]

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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).