Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or treat


Cute, fun, and downright scary—we saw them all tonight. Several hundred kids of all ages (and I do mean all—from babies to grandmothers) showed up at our door to claim a piece of candy.

HalloweenHalloweenTonight I also met Mike, the owner and creator of those ghoulish decorations I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in Things that go bump in the night. For several years now, he's been dressing up in a different costume each year, to the delight of the whole neighborhood.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eat, drink and be scary


It's the night before Halloween and the house is full of party goers.

I'm really not sure how we developed the custom of carving pumpkins for Halloween. There is an Irish story of "stingy Jack" that I read recently, but, however it came about, it is certainly a typical custom in the US to carve faces into pumpkins.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Porto's Bakery

Porto's BakeryRows and rows of ... empty trays. Late into the night, workers are putting the finishing touches on Porto's Bakery and Cafe in Downey, hoping they'll be ready to open early next week. I can't wait to see these trays filled with those yummy pastries!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Unfamiliar territories


This liquor store has always been on the corner of Lakewood and Stewart and Grey. Well, since I've been around. There are so many little hole in the wall places I just never visit that are right down the street from me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Watch where you park


I know this isn't exclusive to Downey, but the other morning I got a parking ticket for street sweeping so I thought it was necessary to post this. I always check for signs and the one time I didn't, I paid dearly. 47 big ones...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween is almost here...


It seems everywhere you turn, another Halloween costume shop has opened up. I saw this girl 'hanging around" outside a shop on Firestone. I don't think this is what I'll be wearing on Halloween...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Someone's been working

Gate and shovel

This gate appeals to me. But the shovel is the perfect extra touch. It lets me know that someone here has been working hard.
"Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God ."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Before and after

PumpkinsCat jack-o-lantern

I've always enjoyed carving pumpkins, but I've never had the patience or the talent to complete intricate designs like this one at our local pumpkin lot. My pumpkins usually have simple faces with either circular or triangular openings. If they're lucky, they even have a couple of teeth.

But the real challenge, for me, is after they're all carved. One year, my jack-o-lanterns exploded all over the front porch on Halloween night, leaving bits of pumpkin filling all over the walls. The next year, they all melted into piles of goo that ran down the furniture they were displayed on.

Next month, I'll show you my solution to this problem.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

College Settlement


I have never noticed this plaque before. It sits on the north end of the Downey Fire Station #1. It states "Site of College Settlement, circa 1868 developed around Los Nietos collegiate institute (first protestant college in LA county), the methodist church, masonic lodge, Alameda school all had their beginnnings here. Settlement became part of Downey in 1873."

The area that is currently Downey was once part of a much larger "rancho" which was originally established as a land grant to Manuel Nieto in 1784. Incompassing 300,000 acres, it included what would today be Downey, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Lakewood, Long Beach, Signl Hill and Huntington Beach. Even though we had a big beginning, Downey is now a small town - it's really only about 12 square miles.

I guess the fun part in all of this is appreciating the past we have. We are not old by European standards, but we have over 200 years of history! Kind of cool. And it was fun to be reminded of this in noticing this plaque today.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homecoming traditions

CCHS Homecoming

CCHS HomecomingTonight I went to the Calvary Chapel High School 2010 Homecoming football game, held at the Downey High School football field.

I had to leave before the game ended, but the odds are that CCHS lost. (The score was 0-16 when I left.) But it was fun seeing the 2010 Homecoming King and Queen being named and crowned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Confusion in the air


My garden seems to be confused. So much rain and yet so much sun has them thinking it's time to bloom again...

peanutbutter plant

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Down the drain


Last night, I came home from work to see my dad knee deep in... well, bathroom stuff. Granted, he was kneeling, but it was still a smelly inconvenience. We called the smell good plumbers and they came out to help this morning. They however, refused to clear it because of a technical difficulty. We then called RotoRooter and they came out and an hour later, we could shower and flush safely.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010



I love the rain. One of my favorite things to do when it rains is to sit in my living room, in front of the fire, and read a good book. That was how I started my day today. Rain also makes things seem so fresh. The air smells clean, it's like everything gets a new start. Even the street is shiny.

It is also easy to resent the rain. It's inconveniencing; it makes us slow down on our drive, it's intrusive into our normal routine. But maybe that too, is something good about rain.

Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger.
Saint Basil

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eggs in a basket


A wise man does not trust all his eggs to one basket.
- Miguel de Cervantes

You can buy enough baskets to have one for each egg at the post-summer clearance sale at Michael's in Downey Landing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things that go bump in the night

Halloween ghouls

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
~Scottish Saying

Halloween ghoulsMy neighborhood likes to decorate for Halloween. In fact, they like to create haunted houses with scary monsters carrying chain saws! The ghoulie above (with a bit of fun editing) looks down from a nearby house. The bodiless head on the left is one of many hanging from their tree.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night...


I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to mail boxes. Maybe it's just that they are no longer common where we live. Most people have their mail deposited directly into their house now, so mail boxes seem so antiquated.

I wonder if it's harder or easier now for a postal employee. Either way. it is fun to find them around town.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The other side of the tracks


Among our most basic needs are food and shelter. Sometimes in Downey it's easy to overlook that there are those who struggle to find both.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Skool daze

school bus

"But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret."
— Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sticking it out


My brother asked me to take a few pictures of him the other day and while I was playing with lighting, he started swinging the golf club around. Interestingly, he sticks his tongue out the same way he and my other brothers do when they are playing basketball. Wondering why most men seem to do this got me researching. Apparently, it is very scientific. The tongue is a very strong muscle and for the brain to concentrate on a difficult task more easily, it subconsciously stops the tongue from moving.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some enchanted evening


As I wandered around the pumpkin lot this evening, I glanced up to see what Ma and Pa Scarecrow were looking at, and saw a beautiful quarter moon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Going postal


These postal trucks were all parked in the lot across from my bank. I am a little curious as to why they are there. The post office isn't that far away and they have plenty of parking. Maybe they're just getting ready for all those Christmas packages soon to be on their way.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Red white and blue house

I like these colors—red, white, and blue. I like how the red trim and bricks emphasize the lines of the windows, the roof, the flower beds. I like how the leaves of the Japanese maple complement the color scheme.

I just like it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tranquil setting


There is so much beauty surrounding us, but often we're too distracted to see it.

I like finding areas like this one where someone has taken the time to be intentional about creating a space to sit and enjoy the beauty. Sometimes what we need in our hectic lives is just a little space to sit and be quiet for a while.

"There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it." - Minnie Aumonier 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blooming in heaven

Grave stone at Downey Cemetery

Grave stone at Downey CemeteryA cemetery is full of untold stories, life stories that are left to the imagination. Some are recent, others are from the distant past. Sometimes the imagined stories leave you with a sense of completion, but others tell of lives cut short, dreams never realized.

These gravestones are like that. The one above said, "To bud on earth to bloom in heaven." It's more than 50 years old, but there are still flowers marking the grave.

The one to the right is more than 100 years old—many lifetimes ago. A time when we know that lives were often shorter than now. But then, as now, 18 years and 5 months and 9 days is "Gone so soon."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What the rain brought


The night took the last big chunk of rain and this morning, big fluffy clouds were the only proof there had been any precipitation. Until I saw my peanut-butter plant. It had caught some rain drops and were still feverishly hanging on to them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We'll take what we can get


They say whatever you want to do, it's less than an hour away from Downey. Beach? Sure. Mountains? Of course. Lake? There too. Even Disneyland is 20 minutes away. But the thing that is most prevalent to me is the desert. We live in Southern California. In a giant desert that we've turned into strip malls and playgrounds and homes, we get less than 13 inches of rain each year. So when we get it, we love it. We beg for more. We start the gas fireplace and jump into our Uggs and stir the hot cocoa. We cling to it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Finally Fall!


Finally, after temperatures in excess of 115 just last week, the heat wave has ended. It's like when you have a fever and it finally breaks. And, it rained today so the air is nicely crisp and just feels like summer is finally over.

The leaves on (and off) the trees are such a beautiful reminder of our transition to fall.


"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." ~Stanley Horowitz

Monday, October 4, 2010

Speed trap?

Speed check

No, it's not a speed trap. There are no cameras, no cop hiding behind the parked cars. It's just a gentle reminder to slow down.

Of course, with a fairly large dip just 100 feet away, most drivers have already slowed down quite a bit by the time they're in range. So in this case it's more of a pat on the back for having slowed down enough to not hit bottom over the dip.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Catching the train

Metro station

No one waiting, not a train in sight. Did I get here too early or too late?

“The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.”
G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, October 2, 2010

First Presbyterian Church of Downey


I like the older churches in our city. This one always appeals to me, with the stately entrance and large lawn in the front (though I have never been inside).

The building was erected in 1927, although the church began long before that. I have been unable to find the exact details about the beginnings of the church, but I have read it is over a century old.

I do wonder when the palm trees were planted. In a picture found in "Images of Downey" by Larry Latimer, the church is pictured in 1955 looking pretty much the same except the trees surrounding it are large pines. Click here to see another view of this church and its historic bell.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is it really the first of October?

Pool party

We've had an unusually cool summer this year—until last week when we had a record-breaking heat wave and the temperature reached 109°F. (A typical Downey summer day is in the 90s, and most of this summer we rarely got to the 80s.)

The payoff for suffering through this heat wave (I know, it was only two days) is the opportunity to enjoy a pool party on the first day of October.