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.
Tonight 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.
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.
Rows 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!
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
My 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A 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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.