Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spring-time blooms

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Downey has these beautiful trees called Jacarandas that bloom with amazing lavender-colored flowers. While they make excellent shade trees, their real appeal comes from their fragrant trumpet-shaped blossoms. For a couple of months a year, they look like an explosion of purple. Some of my favorite streets in Downey are lined with these trees.

20150519_095159 as Smart Object-1In reading about the trees, I found that they are not native to California, but were planted in the late 1890s by a horticulturist in Balboa Park (San Diego), and since have spread all over the state.

"I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, May 22, 2015

Little boys

Boys with trucks

While the big boys play a game of pick-up basketball, what do the little boys do? They drive around in their John Deere tractor.

"Tractors, trucks, and toys, there's nothing quite like little boys."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Humans of Downey - Daniel and Isaiah

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"I coached for 15 years and I won a championship almost every year. But the main thing is is to be able to see those little nuances that most people don't see. I describe it like this, it's kind of like Michelangelo the painter, you are born with the talent to draw or paint. It's the same thing in a ball player. I see things in sports, I see things that make an excellent athlete. It's hard to describe.

"For instance, I tell my grandson, Isaiah, there's very few American ballplayers in the pros as opposed to say Caribbean players. The number one detriment to the American player is the level swing. You see, when you have an object coming straight at you and your bat has to meet it straight, that's very hard to do. But if you do like the Caribbean players or some of the American players like Chris Bryant, you drop the bat down on the ball. It's like a tennis swing, You're not supposed to swing like this, level with the ground, you're supposed to drop the barrel and lift it.

"That's what the kids aren't doing. If you look at every kid out there, they're swinging level. I taught my grandson, 'Don't swing level. This is the swing you should have. The bat goes down and your hands come up. That way, your bat is doing the work.'

"They don't understand that here in America, very few ball players make it. Even though we have a collegiate system that turns out maybe 1,000 ball players each year, they still don't outperform the Caribbean players. And it's because of the level swing."
~ Daniel

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Humans of Downey - Jim

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"One unique thing about me is that I'm a heck of a fisherman. I'm a tournament fisherman. I come from a long line of champion anglers who were record holders, IGFA record holders. I have competed for many many years and I've won multiple titles. I've done both fresh water and salt water."
~ Jim

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drought conditions

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According to CA.gov we are living through one of the most severe droughts on record. In fact, this past January a drought state of emergency was declared.  And, Downey has not escaped.

20150519_094505 as Smart Object-1I have noticed more flower beds in Downey that have the look of becoming "drought tolerant." The county of Los Angeles defines drought tolerant as a garden full of plants that can get by on rainfall alone.

According to the LA County handbook on "The Drought Tolerant Garden," fresh water is a valuable resource and our local supply is not being replenished. We bring in most of our water from other places, and the cost of that is very expensive. We currently use at least half of our drinking water to irrigate our lawns and gardens. By making our gardens more climate appropriate, we can have beautiful, lush gardens full of flowers, herbs, fruit, even grass and meadows, at a fraction of the water cost.

Today, I noticed this yard, which has a nicely done drought tolerant side section. One of the things that initially drew my attention was the sort of exterior trellis that surrounded this cactus—it is very inventive.

While the City of Downey encourages drought tolerant landscaping, there are some city codes you must follow. See the city site for more info.

"We never know the worth of water, til the well is dry." 
~ Thomas Fuller

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's all Greek

Marketplace Grill and Cafe

The Marketplace Grill and Cafe is not explicitly a Greek restaurant, but there are many Greek options in its menu, with saganaki, pita bread, feta cheese, and Greek salads.

So it's not surprising to see this poster in support of the upcoming Greek Food Festival (one of our favorite annual Downey events!) posted front and center.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday morning worship

Sunday morning musicians

It's not unusual during the spring and summer to see Sunday morning worship services being held in the park. Worship tends to come naturally in the peaceful surroundings and morning sunshine.

The sun wasn't very accommodating this Sunday morning, with a lot of clouds left over from our unseasonable rainstorms last week. But these three, Carlos, Carlos, and Jose (from left to right), were practicing their music anyway.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bloom where you are planted

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I didn't see the creative hands that worked to plant these imaginative "flowers." I simply came across the display while walking around Furman Park recently.

Now, some people would have walked past this and not even noticed. But, I think it is important to recognize and appreciate the ability of some people to take mud, a stick, and some color and be able to create something. I don't know who did it, but I wish I could thank whoever did, 'cuz it brought a smile to my face this morning.

"I must have flowers, always, and always" 
~ Claude Monet