Tag: Storytelling

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The Joy Ride

Classify this story in the category of surprising Sunday dramas. Painters have been working on our apartment building and parking their lift truck along the street. Around 11:45 a.m. PST, I saw some stranger climb onto the lift and start it up. While he wore yellow utility belts that gave the aura of authority, his presence was suspicious, because: Neither he nor his buddy was one of the three painters; his companion drove a nondescript white utility truck, while the painters’ vehicle is branded and red; and he initially fumbled around like someone unfamiliar with the controls.

When the dude unparked the lift, I wondered: Is he stealing it? Off he drove down the street, with his companion following behind in the white truck. This is my neighborhood, it’s a sleepy Sunday, and I am more curious than a cat. I had to follow, first on foot and then by car. The pair drove about 1.8 km (1.1 miles) through University Heights to Rhode Island Ave., which is nearby an area called The Point and overlooks a canyon leading into commercial area Mission Valley below. 

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Where Did My Leica M10 Go?

I never expected to part with Leica M10 six months after acquiring it. But such was the circumstance on Oct. 5, 2018. So shocking the suddenness, I waited three months to explain. The camera was my dream shooter—a magnificent manual rangefinder that fit my personality. Problem: Too often I couldn’t focus fast enough, or with appropriate precision. Perhaps another six months of use and practice would have made perfect.

But my wife and I were looking at possibly moving from San Diego to Julian, Calif. So serious our intention that we had put down an offer on a house, where we went for formal inspection that fine Fall Friday. Thinking about living in the mountains in nature, I couldn’t imagine using the M10. For the wild woods, autofocus and telephoto lens would be better. So I had posted the camera for sale, with intention of replacing it with a Fujifilm mirrorless. 

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Luci Lost and Found

Some stories can’t be left behind, even if their telling is delayed. That is the case with Luci, who was featured in my “Cats of University Heights” series about three months ago. She disappeared on June 1, 2018. The following afternoon I saw on the NextDoor social network posting “Did anyone lose an elderly Tortise Shell cat?”, from about three hours earlier.

Verbatim: “I saw her Friday morning, June 1, (yesterday) walking very slowly on Florida street between Meade and Mission. She was heading north and looked disoriented and lost. Definitely an elderly kitty, based on how slowly she was moving. I was in the car and late to work, so could not stop to help her. Please is she someone’s lost kitty?” I immediately thought of Luci, with some frustration. Had the women posted 24 hours earlier, I could have searched for cat. 

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Free Moose!

There are times when human relationship drama is so bizarre and intense you feel like you’re living in a TV soap opera. Thus sums up recovering Moose; the cat belonged to one neighbor but was taken away by another. I played my role.

My wife and I first encountered the tortoiseshell, running off her porch to greet us, in early December 2017—and I profiled her in my “Cats of University Heights” series. We saw her at least once more, months later, in the building’s parking lot. Thirteen days ago, someone direct-messaged me on NextDoor about the kitty. He had seen my photos and wondered if she was a stray, as she frequented his property. For the purpose of privacy, I am changing the names of all the participants. We will call this gentleman Jerry.  He asked where I had seen Moose. I gave an approximate address and expressed confidence that the tortie belonged to someone. 

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Graduating from the Schoolhouse

On Oct. 15, 2007, our family of three relocated to San Diego from the metro-Washington, D.C. area. Looking back at my blog posts from a decade ago, I see very little writing about the move and regret not recording the poignant personal history. It’s not a mistake to be repeated. My wife and I will soon change residences—and while the move is nowhere near as dramatic as the last, this missive you read begins the chronicle of our next adventure.

Strangely, or not, the decision to leave the current apartment is fallout from our failed home-buying effort—for the property we call the Schoolhouse (and affectionately, at one time). Anne and I learned enough to know that we aren’t ready to own, certainly not in overly-priced Southern California. As such, staying put for another year looked likeliest option; we have, or had, until October 20 to sign another year’s lease for our second-floor rental of 10 years. 

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Home Buying Lessons from the Schoolhouse

Aug. 18, 2017. I travel back to San Diego after visiting my niece in Long Beach. Meanwhile, two blocks from our apartment, my wife attends an Open House for a cute, Spanish-style property listed for $586,000. Anne tells the seller’s real estate agent that we can’t afford to buy the place—an effective diversionary tactic. But the 900-square-footer is within our means, and we will nearly come to own it.

This is my story of wanting and walking away. I take with me disheartening lessons about the home real estate market. 

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That’s the Mom I Remember

The family is still shocked, following my mother’s passing two weeks ago today. In February, a doctor candidly warned my sister Nanette that Linda likely wouldn’t live until Christmas and maybe not beyond summer. But mom was a fighter, with 10-fold a cat’s nine lives. Despite declining health, and repeated rushes to the hospital, she showed herself to be stout and fibrous—and since Spring she reached a relatively stable, vital plateau, seemingly in defiance of the physician’s prediction. What did he know? Eh?

Among other health issues, Mom suffered acute kidney failure, stemming from diabetes, and underwent renal dialysis several times a week. During her last week of life, the purification process went poorly because of problems with the port used to access her vein. Doctors planned to open a new port, and close the other, on Aug. 3, 2017. Something went wrong, and she started bleeding profusely internally. 

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Goodbye, Momma

The world is full of narcissists, who gain popularity by self-broadcasting themselves, boasting their own accomplishments, and in process taking praise or gaining glory. They are false. Ingenuine. There is another type of character—someone who naturally gives, asks for nothing in return, and (often too rarely) is well-regarded for their generosity. They are true charmers in the sense self-proclaimers pretend to be.

My mom, who passed away today, Aug. 5, 2017, was social through grace and a kind of innate likability. She was short in stature—adult height of four feet, ten-and-a-half inches—but tall in presence. In any room, she easily became the sun around which all present orbited. I often marveled at how people just gravitated to the small woman without any seeming effort on her part, other than flowing friendliness and generosity. Her buoyant, positive spirit, supported by unstoppable, advocating determination, made mom the person others wanted to be with—and to be like. She was authentic. Genuine. 

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The Ring Returns

Yesterday, I put on my wedding ring for the first time in 13 years. The saga starts in January 2004, in an incident described in missive: “Man on the Train“. I got poison ivy—in Winter, no less—after giving a homeless guy money while riding the DC Metro. That was the suspected scenario from my then doctor, now retired, Gabe Mirkin, a well-known fitness physician whose office was around the block from our house. Dr. Mirkin surmised that the homeless dude had residue on his hands and clothes from sleeping outdoors. Brrrr.

I closed the blogpost recounting the incident: “My left hand is so swollen, today I may ask a jeweler to cut off my wedding ring”. And I did, returning to White Flint Mall, where was the store from which my wife and I bought matching gold bands in 1989. The shop had closed, but another jeweler expertly performed a clean hackjob. Whoa, color returned to my finger! White Flint is gone now, BTW. The upscale mall was torn down in summer 2015. WTH? 

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Valleywag May Be Gone, But Its Spirit Lives On

I follow few bylines. Matt Taibbi tops the short list, which also includes Gawker writers Sam Biddle and John Cook. I read them for their biting style and searing sarcasm. But one of the vehicles for their content is gone, and I should have seen the end approaching.

The New Year left behind Valleywag, the snarky insider rag that over the course of 9 years shamelessly scorched Silicon Valley’s power elite. But no more. On December 31st, John posted “R.I.P. Valleywag, 2006-2015“.

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Protesting Greenpeace?

The weather is perfect here in San Diego—what my wife and I call a Maine Day: 22 degrees Celsius and breezy. We hauled off to Ocean Beach, where navigating people busking or begging for money takes almost as much talent as negotiating a kayak through rocky rapids. Sure enough, I looked left and missed the approaching, friendly fundraiser from the right. Smack!

The singing circle of happy people distracted me. Oh no! Greenpeace? Again? Just cut an artery why don’t they and bleed me? But this dude—the one holding the yellow sign—had a different pitch. Greenpeace hires for two-week jaunts, he claimed, and those who don’t meet their quotas are dismissed from service. There be women with kids about to lose their livelihood. Yikes! The small cadre raised money against Greenpeace. 

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Gregory Peck: The Eyes Have It

Apologies for going dark, letting Flickr a Day run on automatic (as I keep about a week’s worth of advanced photos primed to post). Wednesday afternoon, May 6, I picked up my first new pair of eyeglasses in six years, resulting in downward spiral of my vision rather than upwards. I couldn’t much read or write, which is why the absence. My wrong assumption: Customary adjustment period for aging eyes that require severe astigmatic correction and progressive lenses with bifocals. Wrong guess.

I have returned to using my old eyeglasses while the others go out for redo. I see so well, the temptation to demand refund and keep the aged pair is almost overwhelming. Almost. 🙂