Category Archives: Photos

Out & About—Eastern San Diego post-apocalyptic folk art

Out & About

I left Zoey the Cool Cat at 5:45 this morning to go find Dead Dolly Lane.

Yes.

Dead Dolly Lane.

I found it.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dead Dolly Lane.

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

Dead Dolly Lane

A Google search for Dead Dolly Lane San Diego wasn’t much help.

One bicyclist/blogger calls it “Eastern San Diego post-apocalyptic folk art.” Alrighty…..

Another blogger asks, “What is it about San Diego’s rural southeast county that attracts the fantastically absurd characters that create these horrible images?” and then ends with “I love it!”

That’s it. I have so many questions but there don’t seem to be any answers.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Picture of the Moment—Row boats

Picture of the Moment

I had never seen purposely painted utility boxes and dumpsters until I came to San Diego. Around here, absolutely. everything. is painted. I do admit that they are much more pleasant to look at than the unpainted thing. Here’s the fence surrounding a couple of dumpsters at a ritzy hotel over on Mission Bay:

Real boats and mural boats

Notice that the painting of the row boats is a painting of the row boats sitting just a few feet away. I really liked that. Which is why I took a picture of it. Uh, der.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—One of only three in Southern California

Out & About San Diego

I think my last hike might have been this past June when I hiked the Lake Calavera South Trail in Carlsbad. The old body just isn’t what it used to be.

In the map below, you can see all sorts of dotted lines representing trails. If only I had discovered Calavera 40 years ago!

Lake Calavera map

Lake Calavera is the dominant feature, but I’ll have more about that a little later.

Calavera means cranium in Spanish. Skull. Wonder who named it that, and why.

Lake Calavera covers about 400 acres, and the Calavera Nature Preserve complements the lake with another 110 acres and 4.9 miles of hiking and biking trails. There is a lot of accessible land that is not in the preserve, though, with many more miles of trails.

The Lake Calavera area is home to an identified 115 plants, 49 birds, 10 mammals, and 7 amphibians & reptile. Six of the various species are classified as threatened or endangered, including the California Gnatcatcher, a bird which has had 85% of its natural habitat, the Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub, destroyed by development.

Although I love lakes, the dominant feature here, what was even more interesting to me at Calavera is this:

Mount Calavera volcano plug

That’s Mount Calavera, far more interesting to me than a lake full of water. Mount Calavera is a volcanic plug. In other words, the inside of a volcano—its throat, full of magma—which went extinct 22 million years ago. Once a volcano goes extinct, it starts eroding, leaving behind the magma plug. Mount Calavera is one of only three volcanic plugs in Southern California.

In the middle of the picture you can see some vertical columns. As the magma cools, it typically forms columns. Here’s a two other pictures of the magma columns:

Mount Calavera magma columns

Mount Calavera magma columns

From the early 1900s to the 1930s, the ancient plug was mined for gravel. Some of it has been left behind.

Mount Calavera gravel

Although the mountain is 513 feet high, there are many trails, some easy and some difficult, that take you to the top. There you’ll see several old lava flows.

Mount Calavera lava flow

You also can see three labyrinths below, which you’ll probably miss on your first visit up the mountain since they are off the beaten path. No one seems to know who or why they were created.

Mount Calavera labyrinths

All in all, a great hike. Too bad that I won’t be going back again, unless it’s by helicopter.

Kudos to those who know the name of what is quite likely the most famous volcanic plug in the world. Take a guess in the comments.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Halls of History—The woman belongs in the home….

Halls of History

When I was young and living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, I looked forward to the days when the Fall and Spring catalogs arrived from Sears. We also received the Montgomery Ward catalogs, but there was nothing like the catalogs from Sears. Dreamland….

Of course, catalog offerings changed over the years, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I discovered kit houses, a common name for the Sears catalog homes sold as Sears Modern Homes.

Sears reported that more than 70,000 kit homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. More than 370 different home designs in various architectural styles and sizes were offered.

Although sold mostly along the East Coast and in Midwestern states, they have been found in Canada, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Alaska and California. Which takes us to Ocean Beach, a neighborhood of San Diego. Recently I discovered that there might be a Sears kit house at 4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach. Looks like this:

4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Sears Modern Homes offered the latest and greatest technology available to home buyers in the early 20th Century, including electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating. Eventually, asphalt shingles and drywall (instead of the messy lathe and plaster) were offered. Kits were usually shipped by railroad and included most of the materials needed to build the house. Perhaps this is where the great Christmas adage—Some assembly required.—came from….

A few years after Sears quit selling kit homes, all sales records were destroyed in a corporate house cleaning. Sad. Since many of these kit homes were not documented when they were built, finding them today usually requires detailed research for correct identification, especially since there were competitors: Aladdin (which offered the first mail order kit homes in 1906), Bennett, Gordon-Van Tine, Harris Brothers, Lewis, Pacific Ready Cut Homes, Sterling, and Wardway Homes.

Sears issued its first specialty catalog for houses in 1908, Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans. It featured 44 house styles costing $360 to $2,890.

Sales grew, and Sears expanded production, shipping, and sales offices to sites throughout the United States. In order to meet demand and lower costs, Sears purchased lumber mills in Cairo, Illinois, and Port Newark, New Jersey, as well as the Norwood Sash and Door Company in Norwood, Ohio.

Sears first offered precut and fitted lumber, pioneered by Aladdin, in 1916. Prior to 1916, the Sears-supplied lumber had to be cut on site to appropriate lengths. The pre-1916 houses are considered “catalog houses” but are not not considered to be kit houses. A Sears Modern Home kit could have 25 tons of materials and over 30,000 parts. Yep. Some assembly required….

Sears started offering financing in 1912, with early loans for 5-15 years at 5-6 percent interest. Sales peaked in 1929, being hit hard by the Great Depression, which led to payment defaults and strain on the catalog house program. Sears even stopped selling homes for a short time in 1934 and, after liquidating $11 million in defaulted debt, quit financing altogether by 1934.

4921 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

The home at 4921 Voltaire Street was built by William Feigley, recently arrived from Kansas. The city has dubbed it the William and Ona Feigley Spec House #1. Sadly, the life of the Feigley House appears to be coming to an end. It has been vacant for years after having been gutted in the 1980s to convert it to a doctor’s office. The doctor left in 1989, and records of its use since then are spotty. There have been lots of complaints about squatters and trash, though.

The new owners of the property want to tear down the Feigley House and build a two-story building with commercial space on the ground floor and two apartments on the upper floor, and a rooftop deck so they can see the ocean. The Ocean Beach Planning Board gave near-unanimous approval after the original design was altered to present a more Craftsman look. It appears that a portion of the front entrance might be retained and incorporated into the new building. However….

In October 2016, the Historic Resources Board recommended designating the Feigley House as a historic resource, which would pretty much prevent its destruction. According to the Board’s report, the Feigley House has maintained integrity in terms of design, materials, and feeling. Assistant Planner Suzanne Seguer, one of the report’s authors, said, “Nearly a century after its construction, the prized characteristics of its Craftsman-style architecture continue to shine through. Specifically, the resource exhibits a gable roof with wide eave overhang, wood cladding, decorative beams, a partial width porch with tapered square columns, wood-frame sash windows, and decorative attic vents,.”

Interesting, the owner’s representative charged that its kit house origin didn’t enhance but actually weakened historical value. The “Historic Resource Research Report,” prepared by the architectural firm Brian F. Smith and Associates for the owners, asserted the Feigley House bears a telling resemblance to a “Crescent” kit home, one of the 120 models described in the Sears “HonorBilt Modern Homes” 1921 catalog. Thus, the home is “not architecturally significant,” according to Scott Moomjian, an attorney who has represented owners with historic properties, told the board. He continued, saying that even if the Feigley House had not been damaged by insect infestation, neglect, and weathering, it would still be nothing but a “common, undistinguished, and ordinary Craftsman home” that falls far short of being “considered an important architectural specimen.”

Neighbors seem to agree with Moomjian, which isn’t really surprising considering the condition of the house. Which would you rather live next door to, a brand new building or a decrepit old buildng?

The Feigley House’s status as a Sears home is not 100% certain, though, which possibly caused only three Board members to vote for historic designation, short of the required six votes. Personally I find kit homes to be intriguing, interesting, and important.

The Crescent, on page 29 of the 1921 catalog (between the Ardara and Martha Washington) and costing as little as $1,704, was described as being for “folks who like a touch of individuality with good taste.” The cost included “all the millwork, kitchen cupboard, flooring, shingles, siding, finishing lumber, building paper, eaves trough, downspout, roofing, sash weights, hardware, porch screens, painting material, lumber and lath.” Everything except “cement, brick and plaster.”

I found it interesting that the Sears Modern Homes plans were “passed upon by women experts.” “Architects and women advisors plan economy of space…. We plan the arrangement of the kitchen to save steps for the housewife.”

Ah, yes, the woman belongs in the home….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Oceanside sunset from the pier on 11/6/2017

Out & About

Pictures of beaches during King Tides, which are the highest of the high tides and the lowest of the low tides each year, can be quite beautiful, especially if there are people, buildings, piers, boats, and sunsets (or sunrises) to provide reflections on the wet sand and make it that much more beautiful.

Yesterday the sun set at 4:53 p.m., the exact time of the second-to-the-last King Tide for 2017. Check out the beautiful pictures from the Oceanside pier.

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Most of the people in the wet sand were taking pictures,
and most of them were members of the Pacific Photographic Society,
to which I belong and the reason I was there yesterday.
Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Ooopsy. A couple of photographers forgot their tripods!
Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Sunset from the Oceanside pier in Oceanside, California, on November 6, 2017

Picture of the Moment—San Diego harbor sunset on 11/3/2017

Picture of the Moment

Ever since I worked in the wireless telecommunications industry from April 1994 to March 2000, I have been anti-cellphone. I always wanted a portable phone that made and received phone calls. Never a phone that allowed whole families to ignore each other when they went out to eat; a phone that allowed husband and wife, brother and sister, boy and girl on a date, to ignore each other. I understand children have a phone for emergency purposes, but still…. Maybe I’m just upset that parents aren’t teaching their children how to use smart phones responsibly. Or maybe parents are using smart phones as babysitters…. I don’t know.

Thus, I’ve been a decade behind everyone else with their phones. Until a couple of days ago when I put aside my Samsung Galaxy S “Captivate” and got a Samsung Galaxy S8. I must admit that I hate the thing. Maybe I’ll learn to like it as I discover how it can control my life….

I did use it to take  a picture of last night’s sunset because I had left my DSLR in the car. Purposefully, I might add, because I try not to take it into restaurants unless I’m intending to do a review of the restaurant and its food. The picture is alright. Certainly nothing like I get out of my Canon 760D. However, the picture below is the camera-created JPG. JPG’s throw away a lot of information, which is why, even after photoshopping, this picture leaves a little to be desired.

I did discover that the phone also creates RAW picture files. Unfortunately, it took me about 30 minutes to get the JPG off the phone (I had to email it to myself), and I have not yet gotten the RAW file off the phone. The RAW file is about 25 MB, too large for many email services. If I can get this thing to work the way I want it to, and not the way Samsung’s engineers want it to, I can see me doing more restaurant reviews with pictures of food.

Meanwhile, here’s last night’s sunset from the Fish Market in downtown San Diego overlooking San Diego Bay.

Sunset in San Diego on 11/3/17

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post