Saturday, December 31, 2011

All volunteers are welcome

Storm dog closeup

Volunteers of all shapes and sizes are welcome at the Downey Rose Parade Float preparation site. Storm has been volunteering (along with his owner) all of his life.

Storm dog in wagonStorm is 15 years old now and has arthritis in his feet. Unable to walk, he still comes in his wagon to woof his encouragement to the rest of the volunteer workers.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The 98%?

Downey Rose Parade Float in progress

As reported in the Downey Patriot, the Downey Rose Parade chairman has pronounced the Downey Rose Parade float to be 98% complete. I guess it's the 98% that's under the hood, because the float looked pretty bare to me today, with just three days of work remaining.

But there were lots of volunteers working on the float, and no doubt it will be ready on time (on January 2 this year). So, I've got lots of pictures for you today—it's the only way to really communicate the incredible amount of activity taking place at the preparation site. And I'll be back there on Sunday night to show you the results.

Downey Rose Parade Float preparation 2Downey Rose Parade Float preparation 1

Downey Rose Parade Float preparation 4

Downey Rose Parade Float preparation 3Downey Rose Parade Float preparation 5

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Out of desperation, hope

tomb stone

In our local cemetery there is a group of old tombstones depicting very similar pictures such as baby shoes and little angels. Each of these headstones record a birth and a death only a few months apart, all around the late 1940s and a few into the late 1950s. Right around the baby boom period a lot of infants were buried here. I can only assume it was a polio epidemic which ended when the vaccination was discovered. It's so sad to think about, but it really makes me appreciate the scientists working on all the pain in this world.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From the top


From the four stairwells at the top of the Embassy Suites building, I can see the whole of my little town getting ready for the night.

A line is formed at Porto's Bakery. People are coming in and out of the Wells Fargo Bank and the sirens of a few fire engines flare through the intersection of Brookshire and Firestone.

By the way, this is the second year of doing this daily blog. Happy 2 year anniversary to us!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holy night tree


The German custom of celebrating Christmas with small decorated trees was first recorded in 1838. Called a Weihnachtsbaum or holy-night tree, the practice soon caught on in the States...I'm glad it did. I love Christmas trees, all lit up and shiny.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Last days

All American Home Center

I stopped by All American Home Center today. With just two days left before they close their doors forever (see The end of an era), the sign was flashing 80% off everything, and I was curious to see if there were any bargains left.

If you're interested, there are still some kitchen towels and oven gloves. But that's pretty much it.

I know I said it before, but—I'm going to miss this store!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hark! the herald angels sing

OLPH nativity scene

On Friday night at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Joseph gazed down on an empty manger. Today, Christmas Day, the baby Jesus lies in the manger as Mary looks on.
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let them eat cake!


I know this seems a deviation from a Christmas theme, but I pass this cake shop almost every day and I've been meaning to take a post picture for quite some time now.

IMG_1008It's called Cakeland Gallery on Paramount Blvd. The cakes are really a work of art!


Friday, December 23, 2011

A righteous man

Joseph at Our Lady of Perpetual Help

One of the things I enjoy each Christmas is the Nativity scene in front of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help church. Seeing Joseph's face reminds me that, even though he often doesn't get much mention in the Christmas story, he played a very important role.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "God with us."

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
~ Matthew 1:18-25

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ivan the cunning


I went on a run with this furry guy yesterday. To my unsurprise (I know it isn't a word), he wasn't even a little tired when we were done. He kept coming up to us with this face begging for us to play more with him, tossing his toy on us when we ignored him. How can I resist such a face?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seeing yellow

car under tree horizontal

On my way home early one morning, I saw this car. It looked so cool I had to turn around to stop and luckily, I had my camera! I loved the yellow on yellow effect. It felt like it was done on purpose.

car under tree vertical

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here we go a caroling


Tonight we were greeted (at our door) by some members of the Warren Band and Color Guard playing Christmas music and spreading holiday cheer.

IMG_0999What a nice treat it was to have them share their gifts...we actually begged for a few extra songs! The musicians are going door-to-door caroling for the month of December.

As with all school music programs, they need community support. You can donate when they come by your door or you could send in a check to the Warren High School Band and Color Guard - Caroling Donation Drive 2011 (8141 De Palma Street, Downey CA 90241).

There is also an upcoming free concert to be held at Downey Theatre on January 19th at 7pm. You can email to reserve tickets -

IMG_1000 as Smart Object-1IMG_1002

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Dismukes House bedroom

Dismukes House bedroom

To finish up this little mini-series on the Dismukes House, here's the bedroom.

Dismukes House shoesIt's small, and of course there are no closets, much less the walk-in variety that are common now. Some shoes typical of the period sit on a chair in the corner.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inside the Dismukes House

Dismukes House living room

The inside of the Dismukes House (see An ordinary 1880s farmhouse for a view of the outside) consists of this living room, the kitchen (below), and a bedroom.

Dismukes House kitchenThe windows provide a lot of natural light, even on this gloomy day. I'm not sure how historically accurate the furnishings are. (You'll note a few 21st century items out because of this Open House event.) But regardless, they help to give you an idea of the living and cooking areas that were available to this family.

Tomorrow, the bedroom.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An ordinary 1880s farmhouse

Dismukes House

In 1887*, Edwin Price Dismukes built a wood farmhouse for his wife Maude and his growing family. Unlike some of the large homes in Downey (such as the Rives Mansion), the house that Edwin built was 20 by 25 feet, with a living area, a bedroom, and a kitchen. The bathroom was an outhouse out back.

The house was originally located near the corner of Firestone and Paramount (then College Avenue) Boulevards. Scheduled to be demolished for a parking lot, it was donated to the Downey Historical Society and moved to Apollo Park in 1986.

Over the next couple of days, I'll show you the inside of the house.

Dismukes House Patriot article

For a more complete history of Dismukes and his house, see Looking back on - Dismukes house from the Downey Patriot.

* The 1887 date is based on the Downey Patriot article; the Herald American, above, dates its photo in 1886. I haven't attempted to resolve these contradictory dates.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Toyland winner


It is fun to drive around and see the variety of decorations around the city. This house I discovered tonight as I was out admiring the lights. It is the Toyland winner of the 2011 Holiday Home Decorating Contest.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ready for Christmas

11 06 10_6517-1

From lights on the tree to fake snow in the yard, everyone is getting ready for Christmas. Every day at work I see old men with reindeer on their sweaters and little kids with antlers on their head. Well, my cousin Jake, however uninitiated of course, is no different. He is so cute though.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas in the air


Okay, so Downey doesn't get snow. But the Coffee Bean has decorations that look so pretty, I can imagine it's snow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feliz Navidad

IMG_0887 as Smart Object-1

Olvera Street, Los Angeles. This world-famous Mexican marketplace sits on the area considered the birthplace of Los Angeles and has been in operation since 1930.

IMG_0865_1The first time I visited this historic sight was on a field trip from school (I think it was from Spencer Williams Elementary). I don't come very often now, but I do like to visit around the holidays. It is always so festive and colorful.


Monday, December 12, 2011

A hint of what's to come

Downey Rose Parade float 2012

The Downey Rose Parade Float-to-be was one of the final entries in the Downey Christmas Parade last week. It doesn't look like much—yet. But in a couple of weeks, it's going to be an Enchanted Paradise.

The float is an entirely volunteer effort, with fundraisers and planning going on all year long. But the most intensive work takes place during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, when volunteers work from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day to complete the float.

If you're local, click here for information on how you can participate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Star of wonder

Downey Christmas tree

Lest my posts about Santa and snowballs at last week's annual tree lighting ceremony mislead you, the ceremony actually did include lighting up a tree. It's not quite a traditional tree, but it was big and tall, full of sparkly decorations and colorful lights, and topped by a huge star.

Downey Christmas tree detailAccording to the report on DowneyBeat, the maintenance team that was responsible for getting the tree ready was amazed and grateful that the previous night's winds had left the decorations in place and undamaged.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Apples to apples


Christmas is just around the corner. So, once again I ended up at Stonewood, our local mall, with my daughter for a quick errand. As we wandered past shops, I spied this beautiful sight: amazing looking candy apples. Yummy! Although I was drawn to the Chili Apple, the Rocky Road looked delicious too. My daughter's choice was the Snickers-topped apple. While each one had its own appeal, I did manage to resist...this time.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Snow in Downey

Santa was just one of the attractions at last week's tree lighting ceremony at the Civic Center. In addition, an entire section of the median strip, normally covered by grass, was roped off and covered with snow. About 20 kids were allowed in at a time, where they had a blast making and throwing snowballs. The looks on the kids' faces were priceless.
The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
~Doug Larson

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tacos Don Chente

Don Chente

After a long long day, we needed a fast and easy place to eat. Our first thought went to Tacos Don Chente, which opened just a couple of weeks ago. $1 tacos and flautas with guacamole and sour cream were exactly what we needed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What a beautiful mess


A lot of stuff went wrong today. (Ps. I just spelled "wrong" -wrnog-... irony?)

We had a leak that turned into a flooded cellar, a clogged sink, a splinter, and so on. But the saddest thing that happened today was the ruined fudge. We heated the bowl and things were just fine until the chocolate wanted to fight back. It just wouldn't melt! So one of us took a knife to it. Well the bowl couldn't fight back as well and, much to our startled dismay, it shattered. No more fudge (although we did nibble precariously at the bits of chocolate that were still completely intact).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas color

IMG_0787 as Smart Object-1

IMG_0794I love Christmas and the variety of decorations that pop up around town. The Embassy Suites had a beautiful tree in the lobby that you could see from the street. It was so sparkly!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Santa alone

What does Santa think about when he's all alone? Perhaps he contemplates that list of naughty kids.

Santa with a young girlKids lined up to have their picture taken with Santa last Thursday at the annual tree-lighting ceremony in front of city hall.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On parade

Downey Christmas Parade horse rider

The first few days of December were very busy in Downey with Christmas activities. Thursday night was was the Christmas tree lighting celebration, which I'll come back to later this week. And today was the annual Downey Christmas Parade.

Downey Christmas Parade cowboysDowney Christmas Parade marching bankPeople lined the sidewalks on Downey Avenue and up 3rd Street to the Civic Center. (I got there a bit late, so I didn't have the best view.) My favorite paraders were the horses, with their proud prancing steps.

But there were also marching bands and cheerleaders from all the local schools, and cowboys, and floats, and guide dogs, and of course Santa Clause...

For two hours, on a perfect 70 degree afternoon, everyone enjoyed the show.