Three dead birds. Why are there so many dead birds? Two flew into my window and died a barren death on the concrete, and are now buried in our common-space garden. One I found on my way home from a meeting, gasping from pain and fright; or perhaps the breath of death, waiting to transition from one life to the next. I scooped it up in cloth I happened to have on me and brought it to the Vets on Market. The veterinary assistant looked at the dying bird compassionately. “I don’t think it’ll make it”, she said softly. I left with a hole in my heart.

Why was she dragging the cat? A woman with a cat on a leash, tugging it along as it dragged across the cold concrete ground. “I don’t think that’s very good for the cat”, I stopped and said to the woman, barely concealing the anger that surged in me. She shrugged. “He knows how to walk but doesn’t want to”. But she stopped all the same and let the cat cower in the doorway of a closed office building. Later, from Starbucks, I saw her crossing the street with the cat clawed onto her back like a backpack.

Barely 6:30am. Walking across “the bridge” which links my building to the main. East over the mountains, a glorious orange glow, lighting up the back of the mountains, radiating orange and yellow light far into the heavens. Or did it come from the heavens? Had a drop of gold fallen from the sky? And then….a glow of brilliant, dazzling light, a beacon of sorts, welcoming the day….illuming the blue, shiftless dawn, disturbing the stillness molecule by molecule, permeating the deep corners of despair and the excess of wealth alike.

Early morning coffee at Bread on Market. Smelling of home-baked breads and cinnamon buns. The only bread my mother will eat. “Just like Europe”, she says, The owner acknowledges this. “The recipe came from a French baker”. My mother even knew what province! A true bread connoisseur.

My dog has become quite a snob in her old age. Or maybe it’s just fear. She has bad hips, my 10-year-old dog. She doesn’t like to be around bigger dogs these days. I think she’s afraid that they’ll hurt her hips. At Petco Park where half the neighborhood congregates with their dogs, mine purposefully sits a good 20 feet away, with her back to the other dogs. Every now and then she’ll peer over her shoulder at me, and then turn away, with her snout disdainfully in the air. I ignore her, and continue my conversation with one of the locals. I swear, every time I glance over at her she’s moved another 5 feet or so away from me. Now she’s at the edge of the grass and concrete. I guess it’s time to go home.

Now, we’ll just go and “hang-out”, Isis-the-dog and me. We’ll find a nice, cool, tree. I’ll lay down with a blanket and a book (which I usually only read a page or two before I start to nod off) while Isis lays next to me, sniffing the air as (I am sure) all those wonderful “dog scents” are carried on the breeze. I love it, on hot, summer days, to lay in the cool grass, dig my feet into the earth. Under one of those beautiful trees that blossom those great, yellow flowers. They look like sunflowers! The trees are covered with them in the summer (or is it the fall?). It seems to me that the trees with the most flowers attract the most people under them. I have noticed that one tree in particular – it kind of stands alone, at the top of the hill, near the Tony Gwynn statue – always has several of our homeless population sitting under that one tree. Always. I think that maybe subconsciously they are drinking up mother nature. That they are attracted by the flourishing nature of that tree. They are drinking from mother nature’s fountain.

The homeless are a part of our population. A man wearing a $1000.00 suit passes right by the homeless in their old rags and worn shoes. Unfortunately, the homeless have become almost like our buildings. They are seen, but not observed. I wonder if they were truly observed, maybe we’d do something. I wonder every day what is the “right thing to do”. I haven’t found the answer yet. So I do nothing.

The new library is going up across the street from us. Construction just started a month or so ago. Prior to that it was a vacant lot. I dreamed about turning that lot into a community garden. I guess that won’t happen now.

Although my dream of a community garden in THAT particular occasion is no longer possible, I am happy, at least, to see the library go up. As a child, my step-daughter was afraid of the public library. It was dark and gloomy and dank. Have you ever heard of a child being afraid of a library?? So I am hopeful that the new library will awaken an interest again in books and literature and culture and art.

My 85-year-old-mother lives with us. She and her 86-year-old friend walk three times a week. They both have their walkers, and they tool around the neighborhood. My mother’s friend loves to bake – it is her way, I think, of expressing love to her fellowman. Anyway, through her baking my mother and her friend have gotten to know practically the entire neighborhood. From the workers at Petco Park to the construction crew for the new library to a lovely young woman in a wheelchair with her little chihuahua, Mom and her friend have become kind of an Icon in East Village.

They were interviewed one day for the new public library. “What are your thoughts?” the newsman asked. “Do you think we need a new library with the advent of the internet and computers?”. “Books have a soul”, my mother shot back. Indeed!

I have gotten to know a lot of people since living here the last 4 years. Or rather, I should say I recognize a lot of people since living here the last 4 years. One meets a lot of people walking dogs. Isis is very particular about who she socializes with. Some dogs she just won’t have anything to do with. Some dogs she’ll give a warning snarl to keep away! And other dogs she just goes crazy over and flaunts herself unashamedly.

Dieter-the-Dachshund just loves Isis. Actually, Dieter loves just about any dog. He’ll come waddling up, running as fast as his little legs will carry him. One day, when I was getting into the elevator, Dieter came running up behind us, his ears flapping in the breeze, he was running so hard. His squat little legs a blur under his squat little body. Threw himself into the elevator and licked every inch of Isis face. She was so stunned she forgot to snarl.

City Dog is our local dog supply store. Actually, they are more than that. They are our canine advocates. You can always count on City Dog to keep you informed on the next big “walk for canine” causes….and to plan the next dog event. I only went once to the “Canine Happy Hour” which the Indigo Hotel hosts. It was a trip! A rough and rowdy romp for 40+ dogs, racing this way and that. Pure mayhem! Dogs jumping up on the tables, running in circles, splashing through the “pond”. One lab raced up and down the pond with a pack of 4 dogs in pursuit, splashing waves of water on anyone who was within 5 feet. Pure abandon. Don’t we wish we could do that?

There are a LOT of dogs downtown. I always said, when I moved to California, the happiest dogs I’ve ever seen are right here in San Diego.

Night time in the East Village. When there’s a Padre game, it gets a little crazy. People darting in and out, families, couples young and old. Lights blazing. 40,000 screaming fans outside my living room window. I see the scoreboard from my living room window. Unfortunately, I am not a baseball fan, so half the time I don’t know who’s playing or even what the score is. And there’s a billboard with an unrecognizable Padre player (at least to me) staring at me. I think I was the only person in San Diego who was hoping the Padres wouldn’t make it to the playoffs. By the time October rolls around, I am ready for a little solitude (and someplace to park).

Now, the stadium is dark. I can barely make out its silhouette against the night sky. I can see the flags fluttering in the breeze. The surrounding high-rises are ablaze, everyone home from their day at work. Here, we are warm and cozy, the smell of stew wafting through the corners of our home. Mom is resting, husband's eating, Isis the dog is laying at my feet. Somewhere out there the homeless are finding their corner to sleep. Tomorrow’s another day for us all.

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MsGrant Oct. 26, 2010 @ 7:46 p.m.

I love your blog and this is what writing about a neighborhood is all about.


marie_angele Oct. 27, 2010 @ 8:10 a.m.

Thank you, MsGrant! I followed your link and saw that you were the second place winner last month, and had actually read your article in the Reader! Congratulations....and, I LOVED it! In fact, I was inspired after reading your article to explore this....and subsequently found the "neighborhood" contest and the neighborhood connection! So thank you for YOUR great blog!!


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