Tonight I went to take pictures of the headlights racing down the 105 freeway on Lakewood Blvd., but while I was looking through the viewfinder, my attention was called downstairs to the Metro where people were waiting for the night bus. It was pretty fun to see a different part of the city. I felt like I was in Downtown Chicago or something.
This evening I went out at dusk to take a few pictures. Driving by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, I was drawn in by the peaceful setting along the side of the church. There is a smallish garden of flowers with this statue of a priest and child. The setting had such a feel of quiet and serenity. It was a nice way to end my day.
Last Saturday, my pine tree lost a huge branch, for no apparent reason. Today, the trees at Furman Park are losing branches a little more intentionally, although the reasoning is still not apparent. Most web sites recommend pruning trees during their dormant season (late fall and winter), not in mid-spring.
Today I came across a number of "walkers" ambling along Downey Avenue. It was a Dog Walk-A-Thon for Country Inn Seniors. Many of the seniors were in wheel chairs, accompanied by volunteers from Miracle Outreach Church of Norwalk, miscellaneous children, and dogs. They made a diverse sight as they moved along.
Some of the dogs were volunteers too. They were brought on the walk by SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority). If you are interested in adopting a pet that has been abandoned, click here for the Downey area SEAACA website. Being the multi-tasker that I am, I appreciated the multi-beneficial walk.
The Metro Green Line runs through the south side of Downey, with a station at Lakewood Blvd. The station is decorated with the hand and footprints of the area's unfamous residents. At the end of a long day, people disembark from the train to go the rest of the way home by bus, car, bike, or foot.
I absolutely love this time of the year in southern California. The gardens are blooming, the weather is mostly pleasant, the days are longer and we get to see more wildlife. I'm sometimes surprised how many "wild" critters there are around Downey.
This morning I was greeted by a little squirrel who was taking his breakfast in one of my pine trees out back. Interestingly enough the squirrel was actually eating one of the softer, new pine cones like we eat corn on the cob. It was fun to watch until Ivan (my Husky) spotted him. I'm sure if Ivan could talk he would have shouted "Squirrel" like the dogs in the movie "Up." Needless to say, my morning squirrel watching was over for the day.
Growing up, my favorite treat at my grandparents' house was molasses chips from See's Candies. As I got older, I was shocked to discover that people outside of California hadn't heard of the wonderful (but California-based) See's chocolates, which I happen to think is the best chocolate candy in the world.
Most See's stores are located in big shopping malls. This small standalone store has been on Paramount for a long time. But recently, it has turned into what See's is calling a "seasonal" store. Now they open for a couple of weeks prior to a holiday, then shut back down until the next holiday.
Apparently this time around they can't make up their mind if they're open or closed.
According to Wikipedia, a water tower is a large elevated water storage container constructed to hold a water supply at a height sufficient to pressurize a water distribution system.
When I think of water towers, I think of small Midwestern towns like the one depicted in the movie "Little Giants." When I discovered Downey's water tower near the Los Amigos Golf Course, I felt like I had been transported to another part of the country.
So, I know I need to be more like Bibi from A-Yankee-in-Belgrade and carry my camera wherever I go. The fun stuff always takes you by surprise. For example, last week we went out to lunch for a friend's birthday. We got to Bob's Big Boy and saw a retro Rockview Dairy truck in the parking lot. Rockview Dairy used to have a functioning dairy where we actually visited the cows when we were little. Anyway, sad day, no camera.
Next, as we were finishing our lunch, the fire alarm went off in the restaurant and no one was able to turn it off. The Downey Fire Department arrived on the scene to customers who had pulled chairs outside so they could sit and eat their ice cream sans ear shattering sounds. And me with no camera!
Fast forward to yesterday... I decided to go to Downey River Walk for an evening walk. As I entered the path, I was almost run over by two motorized cars each driven by small, innocent-looking children. This time I at least thought to whip out my cell phone (a Blackberry, not an iPhone) so at least I have a picture.
Then on my way home as I turned into our alley, the kids you see above popped up over the top of the fence with these crazy, painted faces. For this, I could go home and pick up my camera! They were adorable and so willing to show off their brilliantly colored faces.
This house was built in 1920. The last time this house was remodeled was in 1922 when its neighbor, its only remaining one, was built. This tiny, 666sq ft. house is so run-down, it looks forgotten in the midst of dentist offices, a Bank of America and the Krikorian Theatre. But this is just the kind of house I would love to have as my very own fixer-upper. The yard is huge and the face of the house, though damaged, is very cute.
I have always thought the Embassy Suites on Firestone in Downey was a beautiful building. I like the Spanish style architecture and think of it as a reflection of our heritage in this area. But, how did I miss this really beautiful entrance. I've driven past it a thousand times, but one night a week or so ago, I was looking for a picture, for something new, and I saw the lighted entrance with "new eyes."
It never ceases to surprise me how much I miss of what is right in front of me when I'm not really looking for it. I think that's one of the things I have appreciated about doing this blog: learning to see more of what surrounds me everyday and trying to capture and share it.
The Orange Estates area of Downey has many alleyways that provide access to backyard garages. The surfaces vary from well-paved concrete to potholed asphalt. But this alleyway between 4th Street and 4th Place is a puzzle — it is unpaved and overgrown, it's not wide enough to drive down, and it is blocked off to traffic anyway. Why is it here? Was it ever used for cars?
I may never know, but it's a fun walk anyway. Alleyways provide a different glimpse of a neighborhood, and this one is no exception.There are glimpses of roof lines, dogs, old gates, patios, and fences. For more pictures from the alleyway, see my Flickr slideshow.
Woody the cowboy keeps watch 24/7 at Andy and Betty Wolfe's home on Ryerson. Andy hand-carved Woody's face and hands seven years ago after Betty mentioned that they needed someone to sit on the porch to keep an eye on the neighborhood. Betty painted and dressed him.
Woody is so life-like that some folks have commented on his rudeness when he doesn't return their greeting. On the other hand, Betty sometimes reads on the porch, and surprises passers-by when she actually moves and proves she's not fake too!
Meeting Andy and Betty (and Woody) was one of the side-benefits of doing Downey Daily Photos, after Betty wrote to tell us about Woody. Thanks, Betty, for a great suggestion!
Fresh & Easy opened its newest store on Firestone Blvd. in Downey this week. Today I dropped by to check it out. It has an appealing atmosphere and the philosophy is all about simple (cement floors, efficient lighting, no coupons or clubs to join). My favorite things were the small, neighborhood feel and freshly prepared foods.
When I decided to snap a few pictures for this blog I heard a small voice calling out "cheese, cheese." And there he was, this little guy, shopping with his family. One more "cheese" and I couldn't refuse. As I pointed my camera to take his picture, he bent down (I wondered for a second if he was hiding from me). He popped back up from behind the basket with his little sister held up in front of him so she could be in the picture too. Talk about your neighborhood store!
There are some people in this world that do not get the recognition I believe they deserve. Dr. Dan Fox is one of them. He is one of those people that just exudes professionalism but with a genuine concern for each patient. He lets them know what is going on with their body and shows them ways to fix the pain without having to come back every week for the rest of their lives. He wants them to heal and not become dependent on him or medication. I would recommend him to anyone in pain.
There are three different ways to go about writing today's blog. The first is the most obvious, the most detailed and also, the least personal. I could relate to you the full history of Sussman Middle School, beginning with its previous name, South Middle School, and ending with the new addition of canopy shaded tables in a new Quad area behind the Gym.
Secondly, I could delve into my own personal past like I did this afternoon as I walked the halls. The peeling paint on the walls is the same paint I peeled off the walls when I went here. The classroom numbers have the same monochrome look to them as they always did. The Nostalgic part of me wanted to open one of the doors, walk inside and have a lesson right there. The practical side of me told me to drive away because I probably hadn't finished my homework assignment. As I turned the corner of the Gym, I could almost hear a basketball dribbling and swishing through a hoop. Then I realized I really could hear it because there was a pickup game going on on the other side of the blacktop.
The last one is the one though, since it happened today, and it happened so randomly, that I have to replay it. While driving around Sussman, trying to get the best angle for my shot, I noticed a gate open in the far southeast side of the school. The school is closed for Spring Break so I was surprised to see any sign of entry available. I walked around and took pictures at my leisure, remembering classrooms and trying to name the teachers that occupied them. When I was finished, I got back in the car and rode the side, alley-like drive back to the gate that was now closed!!! Luckily the friendly maintenance lady, Niko, came around the corner and opened the front gate for me.
I've started on a quest for the "old" Downey. This evening I drove down a residential street that I remember has a number of old (think pre-WWII) clapboard houses — and they were nearly all gone! Replaced by what is not-so-affectionately known in Downey as McMansions.
So instead, I ended up on the backside of what used to be known as 1st Street (that is, Firestone Blvd), where I worked at the Sears catalog store after I finished high school. The building is currently home to Downey's Billiards. I love the look of the stairs climbing up the brick wall.
I'll let you know as soon as I find an old house again.
This afternoon's 7.2 earthquake in Baja California created foot-high waves in our swimming pool. It was so fascinating to watch that I didn't even think of taking a picture until the waves had already started to settle down.
The earthquake almost completely distracted me from my main thought of the day — it's Easter Sunday. In the words of Don Francisco, "He's alive! He's alive! He's alive and I'm forgiven, heaven's gates are opened wide." (Click here to listen to the entire song.) Happy Resurrection Day to all!
Tonight I learned about the celebration of Easter Vigil. I am not Catholic, but I was interested to see what was going on tonight when I drove by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and saw sparks flying up inside the crowd encircling the front of the church. I joined the crowd for a few minutes just to get a sense of what was happening.
Saturday evening the Easter vigil begins with the darkness that comes after sunset. The service starts outside the church in twilight to represent the darkness of our world, and the darkness in our hearts. It is a solemn occasion. Each person prepares by readying themselves to experience the darkness. It is a time for humbling. Then a light is struck, dispelling the darkness. It is the light of Christ in our midst. The Easter fire begins outside the church, then individual candles are lit from the fire. It is now a celebration of how Christ conquered death and banished the darkness forever. It is considered the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church.
Midway Upholstery, on Downey Avenue in downtown Downey, is one of those small businesses that have been there for years, longer than I can remember. I don't think I've ever walked by there during the day when it's open. But I enjoy looking in the window when I walk by in the evening.
Some of us hang dice on the rear view mirror. Some of us have a hula dancer on the dash. Some of us have car slip-covers matching our steering wheel. And some of us personalize our license plate. I loved this car as soon as I saw it.