Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Faces of freedom


The Memorial Day Tribute at the Downey Cemetery was a time to remember, to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who chose to serve our nation. I was touched by the veterans who attended the service yesterday. For me, it put faces to the people who helped secure the freedoms I now enjoy.




Thank you for your sacrifice and your service! Thank you for not giving up.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave...
--Patrick Henry--

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day thoughts

Memorial Day Tribute veterans

"In gratitude to those who served... in sorrow for those who lost their lives." So many thoughts ran through my head at today's Memorial Day Tribute at the Downey Cemetery.

Memorial Day Tribute gun saluteI'm grateful for all of the men and women who have sacrificed their time and sometimes their lives to serve our country. I'm grateful to the veterans who were at the ceremony today, and for the service men and women in our immediate families. My dad, who served in WWII Germany, and my nephew, who served in Iraq. Ally's dad, who served in the Vietnam era. And Joan's daughter, who is currently serving in the National Guard. We honor them today.

I listened to the words of "America the Beautiful" and added my prayer that God will bless our country with peace.
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea! 

Memorial Day Tribute officerMemorial Day Tribute families
And I thought about the words of the speaker, who has been involved in these celebrations since 2000, and wondered if he would be granted his wish to celebrate a Memorial Day without our country being at war somewhere in the world.

I listened to the haunting notes of "Taps," echoing across the cemetery.
Memorial Day Tribute taps

And I thought about the words to one of my favorite songs, "A Song of Peace".
This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
A song of peace, for their land and for mine.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flight path

Passing airplane

Have you ever tried to spot landmarks when you're approaching your local airport by plane? It's not easy.

Downey is in the flight path of arriving flights at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), which is about 17 miles due west of Downey. From the time we enter the Los Angeles basin, I start trying to identify the various freeways below. Is that the 10? The 60? The 91? Yes, it must be the 91, because I can see it crossing the 5, right there past Disneyland!

Even if I can figure out the freeways, though, I'm usually either sitting on the wrong side, or over the wing, or I just lose track of where we are. But one time, I managed to track our path all the way to Downey, and suddenly, there was my house! I wanted to poke the guy next to me, and say, "That's my house!"

But I didn't. After all, that would be just silly!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Warren High Chalk Festival


The only time I had to check out the Chalk Festival was early - shortly after it started at 8 this morning, but the little bit we saw was fun.



The kids seemed to be having a great time. I was impressed by their talent. Some of the kids had "gridded" their art and some were more free-form. I'm always a little in awe of people who can draw. I struggle with stick figures when we play pictionary.


"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." ~Pablo Picasso

Friday, May 27, 2011

Go confidently!


Riding significantly ahead of his parents, this little guy was determined to make his own path on the Rio Hondo riverbed bike path. He showed no hesitation in the face of the approaching bikes traveling in the opposite direction.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." - Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Psalm 127 at work


Sanding, grouting, ripping off wallpaper in huge and tiny chunks, digging up unwanted trees, planting new flowers, painting, taking down walls and taking up carpet. A new house is one project after another. There are so many possibilities and so much potential.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The diet starts tomorrow


I work a little south of Downey in the city of Lakewood. As part of a charity fund raiser, my job held a bake sale with everyone donating their own specialties and selling each for a dollar in the breakroom. The table was filled with so many beautiful, delicious looking goodies, the employees forgot about their diets due to "donating for the kids".

whole table

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strawberry season


Strawberries are in season and they are everywhere. I love strawberries. And, lately, I have been buying both strawberries and blueberries to have for breakfast. But, when I opened the last container I was amazed at the size of one of the strawberries. I couldn't resist taking a picture and giving the ultimate fruit a little plug.

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating". ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Monday, May 23, 2011

Welcome, visitor

Country Inn girl

This young girl waits hopefully and patiently for visitors outside of the Country Inn assisted living home near downtown Downey.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Signs of summer

Electric work

Some signs of summer are very clear—longer days, shorts and swimsuits in the stores. Other signs are more obscure. This is one of those.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across some workers digging a long ditch to nowhere in Furman Park. When I asked what they were doing, they told me that they were extending the electrical lines out to the area where the stage will be located for the Twilight Summer Concert series. (Click here to see pictures from last summer's concerts.)

See what I mean? Summer is nearly here!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Railroad tracks at the Rio San Gabriel


Today was absolutely beautiful. We decided it was a great day for a bike ride so we headed to the Rio San Gabriel Park and riverbed. After a quick stop in the dog park, we were on the bike path speeding along the relatively full river bed. The scenery is pretty varied, some parts of the river are full of water and other parts are full of grass and other growing things.

IMG_2802During a short break, I climbed up to see this railroad crossing. There is something about railroad tracks that draws me in. The trestle made of timber and iron looked old and solid, standing high above the river below. Sure enough, looking underneath the trestle, there was a date stamped in the cement of the support - 1946.


The view of the train track from below along the bike path was appealing too. I liked the repeating pattern of the base supports.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Take me out to the ballgame

Dodgers vs Giants

One of the advantages of living in the suburbs of a big city is the access to major league sports. Now, I'm not a big baseball enthusiast, but when someone gives me free tickets for good seats at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, I'll go.

The Dodgers played the San Francisco Giants, who quickly got off to a 3-0 lead. The Dodgers couldn't get anything going. By the end of the 6th inning, people were leaving in droves. But my daughter and I stuck it out. At the end of the 8th inning, with no change in the score, she still wanted to stay to the end.

The Giants failed to score any more runs in the 9th inning. The Dodgers were back up, and just as quickly, got two outs. People were packing up to leave, when the Dodgers finally got a hit. The next batter also hit one out to center field, and drove in a run. It wasn't a shutout anymore, and people started to pay attention!

With a man on base and the tying run at bat, the Giants brought in a new pitcher, who threw four straight balls. Then he walked the next batter too! Now, the bases are loaded, and the crowds are standing—not to leave, but with excitement! The pitcher threw a strike, then a ball. And then, the batter gets a hit—out to right field, but not too far out there. The runners are rounding the bases as the right fielder races to try to catch that fly ball. He stretches, stretches—and catches it.

The game is over. The Dodgers lost.

But that last half inning made it all worthwhile.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wait, what was I doing again?

05 18 11_7901

I have started writing this paragraph so many times it feels like my little finger is permanently connected to the "backspace" button. I'm actually not sure what to write about this girl since I didn't really have time (read: couldn't think of a way) to talk to her. She was sitting at the bus stop as I made my way around the old part of Downey. My main focus was supposed to be about her but I just couldn't do it.

05 18 11_7890Sometimes it feels so weird.

I did however to talk to the bus driver as she got into her bus but didn't stop to take her picture and didn't think of even asking her name. I was looking at the transit building as she passed by and she asked if I liked it. I said it was great but a little out of place. She said she had hoped the new transit station would look like the old building but the mural on the side would have to do. I wish I knew more about the old one. It would have looked great with the old warehouses as a backdrop and the brick walls of the Firestone buildings in front of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I thought it was raining

05 18 11_7886 copy

This morning it was pouring down rain and I didn't want to do anything but curl up in a blanket with some coffee. But a few hours later, the sun jumped out and called to me. I went to take pictures of anything I could and wound up behind the bus station. It was incredibly beautiful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whittier Greenway


So, not exactly Downey, but it's close, just a 15-minute drive. This is the Whittier Greenway. It is a 5-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that replaced abandoned railroad tracks. It's a great way to walk or ride and avoid traffic, and it's dog-friendly. About halfway through the path you come across a trestle bridge that has been maintained to be part of the walking path. There were interesting moving metal art creations on the side. All in all, very appealing.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Just the right moment

Trees against red wall 1

A couple of years ago, a new little strip mall was built near downtown Downey. The various storefronts were painted a variety of strong colors, but it was never really anything striking to look at.

But today, everything just happened to come together for one car-stopping display. It had been cloudy when I left home, but the sun came out for a few minutes. It was nearly sunset, so the light had that wonderful gold tint to it. This tree was in full flower, with bright yellow blossoms mixed in with the strong green of the leaves. And finally, this tree is growing right in front of what has suddenly become an amazingly red wall!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The pitch

Kid's Day radar gun

This radar gun, ordinarily a sight that causes an involuntary jerk of the foot off the gas pedal,  was used for good at yesterday's Kid's Day event. This young Police Explorer was measuring the speed of the softball pitch—which varied greatly depending on the age of the pitcher. This pitcher (below, left, and caught in yesterday's post as well) was doing his best to throw the ball about 20 feet.

Further along, other young kids were lined up to pay 25 cents for three chances (below, right) to dump a girl into the dunk tank. She was pretty safe from dunking while I watched—but there was a high school-aged boy at the end of the line. By the time I reached the other side of the park, I heard a loud splash and even louder cheering that let me know she'd been dunked.

Kid's Day dunk tankKid's Day pitching speed

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kids Day at Furman Park


Today was Kid's Day at Furman Park. The park was filled with booths all geared toward kids. There were boy scouts, explorers, sports teams, food booths, dunk tank... you name it, they had it.

IMG_2705The fire department was there with fire and rescue trucks along with a couple of cars for demonstrations.  Here they are using the jaws of life to cut the car apart to demonstrate how they would extricate someone trapped in a car as a result of an accident.


Clearly, the kids were enthralled by the firemen. Of course, who isnt!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Classic cars redux

Downey Street Fair classic car

Unlike the classic car from Allison's post yesterday, these classics were spiffed up to the max. The cars, some from as far back as the 1920s, were on display by the Old Memories SGV Car Club, as part of the Downey Street Faire last Saturday. (See this post for last year's display.)

Downey Street Fair vintage carThe insides too are a wondrous display of what must have been been the gotta-have accessories of the day, including the cigarette pack holder attached to the steering wheel.

It's hard to pass a reflection without taking the occasional self-portrait.

Downey Street Fair selfportrait

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It's a classic

Classic Car

What makes a classic car, a classic? Is it the shiny new paint job? Is it the transmission restored or the year it was built? Is it the loud engine or the puff of black smoke coming from it as it races past you? Or is it the one sitting in your driveway that you work on every Saturday with a passion to make it yours?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Community gardens


Yesterday I visited the Bell Gardens Community gardens. It is not Downey, but it is close. Bell Gardens is directly west of Downey and shares the Rio Hondo riverbed. On the Bell Gardens side of the river, one of the things you see as you walk along the bike path is the profusion of flowers and vegetables planted in this community effort.

IMG_2627It was fun to wander through the gardens and see the variety of plantings and to realize how much activity there was on a week day. There were quite a few people working their plots, culling, weeding, picking the fruits of their labor.


One of the guys we met was Manny. He had planted mostly onions, big purple ones. But, he also had these beautiful red gladiolas all around his plot that he was cutting to take to his mother. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how old these gardens are. Manny has had a plot here for 14 years! I never even knew this existed  until a couple of years ago.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"America the Beautiful"

rolling hills
"O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!"

I can't help but think of these lyrics whenever I travel up and down the coast of California. I was among the "fruited plain" at this point, with a wine glass in my hand toasting to (and tasting) that year's good harvest. The Santa Ynez wineries (Santa Barbara area) are a great way to spend the day, tasting and wandering and catching some sun. There are official tastings at the actual vineyards and then you can go into the little town and have lunch at any of the mom and pop shops. There are touristy shops everywhere for little knickknacks or flowers. All in all, I wish it were closer so I could visit more often instead of devoting half the time to driving.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Faces of the faire #2

Downey Street Fair face painting

Face painting is always a popular attraction at fairs, and the Downey Street Faire is no exception. Of course, the desire to paint one's skin isn't limited to children.

And just to demonstrate that unusual haberdashery is not limited to the Royal Wedding, take a look at these hats. (Actually, the girl with the Lady Liberty costume represents Liberty Tax Services.)

Downey Street Fair Liberty taxesDowney Street Fair hats