Tag: living

Read More

Why Cats?

Anyone looking at this website’s recent posts, and seeing how many are devoted to the beasties, might presume that I am a feline fanatic. Nah. The “Cats of University Heights” series is about something else, and the reasons for it wouldn’t be obvious.

The story starts during late Spring 2016, when rapid onset cataracts in both eyes greatly diminished vision—just recovering, following a series of treatments for macular edema. After consulting an ophthalmologic specialist, I scheduled surgery for the first day of Comic-Con 2016. Attending Preview Night, and being unable to read any of the signs in the venue, I surrendered any regret for missing the event (turns out, I would be there Saturday and Sunday, with one good eye and my daughter as assistant).

Read More

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. 

Read More

Why We Went to Julian

Our family relocated to San Diego in October 2007 with a purpose: Being close to my father-in-law, so that he could continue to live independently, which he did until his passing, at age 95, in January 2017. Eleven years is long enough. The Wilcox clan, or part of it, contemplates exodus, because the area is increasingly less desirable: Cost of-living and recent zoning changes that will increase population density by way of building more multi-unit housing.

My wife and I are considering many different possible locations to move—anywhere from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico or Texas to Delaware, North Carolina, or the Mid-Atlantic region we left to come here. That said, closer-by would be more practical, particularly if we were to buy a home. Earlier today, Annie and I spent several hours in Julian, Calif., where we looked at four houses for sale. 

Read More

Decorating Shabby Chic

While my daughter was away for two weeks, I furnished her new apartment, which was a fun exercise. I decided to go vinatge, buying several semi-matching Shabby Chic-style pieces—the majority from local store Loveseat.

The Featured Image is Molly’s nearly completed living room; a few additional accents are not shown here. She already had the phonograph player and guitar—earlier Christmas and birthday presents, respectively; I added most of the rest, including the picnic basket and painted box, with a few exceptions like the painting. The lamp, light, and chair are from IKEA. 

Read More

A Garbage Story

Human behavior perplexes me. This morning while walking towards the Sprouts market, here in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I observed a grey-haired woman stop walking to pick up a discarded cigarette carton; a wide-brim hat obscured her face. I smiled and thought: “Good for her! How commendable”.

But she soon followed community-minded behavior with inexplicable action. The lady tossed the thing into foliage alongside the sidewalk. Surely, I misunderstood—but, no, her right hand was empty. So much for the goodwill of grabbing unsightly refuse and disposing in a garbage can—which wasn’t more than 46 meters (50 yards) further along. Passing the spot of the drop, I could see other trash. 

Read More

The Coins I Left Behind

While walking along Kansas from 30th Street in North Park towards the University Heights boundary at Texas, I spotted 21-cents change on the sidewalk. I moved about 10 steps before turning back—not to grab the coins but to capture the moment with Leica Q. Why leave dime, nickels, and penny? Doing so is a more interesting story than taking them.

I wondered why the change remained. Had no little kids, or perhaps someone homeless, come by? Surely 21 cents would mean something to someone. Were the coins maybe embedded in the cement (I didn’t check)? Who had left them there? Were they an accidental loss that kept little Johnny from buying ice cream at the corner store? Maybe they were dropped by someone so wealthy picking them up wasn’t worth the time? Oh the questions the forlorn change raised from its fallen, forgotten state. 

Read More

Burtech Blues Break

I stand corrected about the water pipeline work, which seemed to reach its mainstay on Jan. 12, 2018. Two days ago, Burtech contractor crews started to earnestly tear up our street, compelling closed apartment windows that keep out noise and dust and, disappointedly, pleasant weather.

My repast has been longer walks, to parts of the neighborhood where the natural sounds of birds, other wildlife, and breeze rustling palm fronds are soothing ambience. This afternoon, while walking down Meade Ave. towards Texas Street, I passed a lone rose rising defiantly behind cement wall, challenging the urban, human landscape’s listless, lifeless incursion. 

Read More

Slow Down!

Our old apartment of 10 years overlooked an alley, from the dining room and my office. There is something compelling about alley life that gives different insight into San Diego neighborhoods. For example, here in University Heights, utility poles run along the alleys rather than major residential streets. Palm trees reach for the skies in their place.

Many properties keep trash cans and dumpsters in the alleys, where residents will place unwanted items they want to give away rather than throw away. Savengers on foot, bicycle, or truck collect this stuff or forage for redeemable bottles and cans. Some of these people rip open bags of refuse, which attracts wildlife—ranging from birds to possums. 

Read More

Piping Project Progress

Call me mistaken.  Pipeline road construction only seemed to start in earnest yesterday. This morning, Burtech heavy-machinery gouged a long narrow trench—what my wife calls “the mote”—down our street. We are overwhelmed with disruption—like the car being blocked from leaving its assigned parking space—and constant noise. But that’s okay, because the road crew clearly makes tremendous progress. Maybe we won’t be besieged for months, as I had feared.

To document the moment, but not make the workers too uneasy, I used iPhone X instead of Leica Q. Smartphone snapping is familiar to most people and less threatening. In the Featured Image, you can see the trench, for new water pipes, going down the street. I wonder: What about the old ones? Do they just stay in the ground? Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/2288 sec, 4mm; 10:39 a.m. PST. 

Read More

Afternoon Walkabout

I spent the day cooped up, with windows shut, consoling our unsettled cats and waiting for the plumber to arrive. Normally, there is fresh air flowing, but we wisely chose to keep out jackhammering noise and airborne debris coming from the street, which is being dug up to put in new water pipes.

The plumber and construction crews completed their tasks within minutes of one another, freeing me to take a later-day long walk. Trudging up Meade Ave. from Alabama Street, I finally stopped and used Leica Q to make a portrait of a sign seen many times. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set (for bokeh): f/2, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 4:07 p.m. PST. In editing with Adobe Photoshop Classic CC, I tweaked exposure, slightly boosted vibrancy, and aggressively drew out highlights.