Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pelican in charge


Back at Seal Beach, this pelican was demanding attention and commanding all that surrounded him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Celebrate birthdays

Yay for birthdays! Congratulations on one year older Erinna!

Another Year
I’m wishing you another year
Of laughter, joy and fun,
Surprises, love and happiness,
And when your birthday’s done,
I hope you feel deep in your heart,
As your birthdays come and go,
How very much you mean to me,
More than you can know.
By Joanna Fuchs

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I really do want world peace


Looking at the faces of the people who attended the Memorial Day Tribute at the Downey Cemetery was a reminder to me that this day is about people.

IMG_3372There was a sea of hats among the group, with tours of duty proudly displayed... Korea, Vietnam, World War II. Service to our nation is a proud tradition. I was moved. I felt like I was surrounded by people who protected my country. It's something I don't want to ever take for granted.

As you look out over the cemetery, small flags mounted on white crosses mark the graves of the fallen and the veterans buried here.

IMG_3362On Memorial Day we join together to honor those men and women who have fallen. We do this by remembering their sacrifice.

Please take a minute to remember to pray for our troops and for peace.

Monday, May 28, 2012

More than self

Jim Higuera, American Legion Post 270

A couple of years ago, I saw an article about a Memorial Day tribute at the Downey Cemetery. I thought, aha! a good photo op for Downey Daily Photos.

Cross and flagTwo years later, the annual Memorial Day Tribute has become a regular and meaningful part of my Memorial Day traditions.

Music is just one part of the Tribute ceremony. From the moving words of "America the Beautiful" (above, Jim Higuera, Commander of the American Legion Post 270, is mouthing the words along with singer Sheila Jacobs) to the haunting melody of "Taps," the music reminds us of those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms.

    O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife.
    Who more than self their country loved
    And mercy more than life!

More tomorrow...

Click here for pictures from previous years.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fallen soldiers

Downey Cemetery flags for Memorial Day

The Downey Cemetery is filled with white crosses and flags today, marking the graves of the service men and women who are buried there.

As always, the grave markers say so little and yet so much. Tony Gomez was born at the end of one world war, and served in the next one. He died just two days before the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Russell Mackay was a cook in World War I and made it home to live a full life.

Take a moment tomorrow to remember and be grateful to those who have served our country.

Downey Cemetery grave markerDowney Cemetery grave marker

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Here a thistle, there a thistle

2012-04-05 08.18.50

While hiking in Whittier, about 10 miles away from Downey, I spotted these beautiful purple thistles flowering along the trail. I had to take a picture, because they reminded me of a story I had just read while doing some ancestry research.

Did you know that in addition to being found all over the southern California foothills, the thistle is also the national emblem of Scotland? According to legend, an invading Norse enemy stepped on one of these prickly flowers while attempting to sneak up on a Scottish encampment at night. He yelled in pain and alerted the Scottish army which was a turning point in the battle for the Scots.

So, was the thistle native to California, or was it brought here by one of my ancestors? It kinda makes you wonder.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What is that?


On my hike the other day, I kept seeing this weird, almost creepy, plant covering other plants throughout the hills. Back home, I looked it up and it is a parasitic weed called the "California Dodder." It's less creepy when you actually read up on it. Click here for more information on it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012



I don't know much about panning for gold except that one of our state's football teams is named after the gold rush era in and around '49. I did learn yesterday, however, that we still have gold "dredging" up here in these parts... In the Azusa Canyon, about forty miles north of Downey, up where the 605 and the 210 freeways meet, people hike into the hills to the streams and rivers to pan for their chance to strike it rich.

When someone dredges,* they take out part of the river and make a small hole damming it up with larger rocks. They wade in the pool and pan through the silt and sand, not forgetting to look under the larger rocks they've unearthed.

Here is what it looks like after someone has dredged out an area. The water has almost gone, but the hole is still there.

*as told to me yesterday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back to the past


I grew up watching movies like "Back to the Future" wishing I could do the same thing for a day—just hop back into another time for a minute. Gone are the days where one will see two young gooey eyed sweethearts sitting in the local drug store with two straws in the same milkshake. I even searched online the other day to get milk delivered, but they bring it in plastic pints and not glass... I could go to the store and do the same thing... not very romantic.

But enough about my ranting. Today, however, I went back in time. Sort of. In Brea, fourteen miles east of Downey, there is a place called Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. It's definitely an experience. Loud, obnoxious, and over the top, their ice cream is heaping and sweet. The diner looks as if you stepped into a 50s candy store with an ice cream parlor in the back.

We sat at the soda fountain counter and watched as the boys made the chocolaty delights.

A picture of the front of their menus shows the atmosphere they've recreated in here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A very fine house

House with cats

Some entry ways are flanked by stone lions on concrete pedestals. This one is flanked by kitty cats on tree trunk pedestals.
Our house is a very, very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard...
~Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Monday, May 21, 2012

SWAT's up?


The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was in full force at Downey Studios this afternoon to test SWAT maneuvers. I'm not sure if this was an announced event, but passers-by kept driving in and kids old and young were excited to board the SWAT helicopter. The officers were patient, allowing everyone to take a turn for a picture.

IMG_3283 as Smart Object-1 I know these elite teams are trained for counter terrorism and extreme cases of law enforcement, but this felt kinda like a photo shoot. That was, until I looked closely at the controls in the cockpit. It was the button that read "weapons system" that reminded me these guys train to be prepared for scary situations and I'm really glad they do.

IMG_3303According to Wikipedia: A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What happened to the sun?

Trying to see the solar eclipse

The scene above is what you get when you're a not-scientifically-oriented procrastinator.

Solar eclipse light effectI got home late this afternoon and didn't even remember the eclipse until the light suddenly changed. My daughter and I wanted to view the eclipse, and of course, we know we're not supposed to look directly at the sun. So I tried the paper-with-a-pinhole method first, with no results. Then I tried the paper-with-a-hole-punch method. That didn't work either.

So instead, I'll tell you about the effect of the eclipse on the light on my garden. It is dull. The sun is out, there are shadows, but the brightness is missing. For southern Californians, this kind of light typically means that there's a serious wildfire burning somewhere nearby, but there's no smell, no ashes floating to the ground.

All around, rather an eery effect.

How about you? Were you able to see the first annular solar eclipse in 18 years?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


IMG_3150 as Smart Object-1

Last week as we were taking a bike ride along the riverbed, I noticed a storm drain. It reminded me of the ones I would look at when I was little, in the car riding with my Mom. We regularly drove to Glendale to shop at a department store "Webb's."

One of the memories of those rides was looking off the freeway at the riverbed that ran along side the 5 freeway. At regular intervals, there were these storm drains. I just knew them as the "cat faces," because that is what they reminded me of each time I saw them. I guess I had never noticed them along the Rio Hondo riverbed until just recently. It made me smile to see them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's in a name?

Bastards Restaurant

How things have changed! It's been a while since I've walked around downtown Downey on a Friday night. The last time I looked for night life in Downey, I found it only at the local In-N-Out. (See Night life.) But tonight is different. There are so many new shops and restaurants downtown.

Bastards RestaurantThe latest is Bastards, a new restaurant opened this week by former Marine Cpl. Nick Velez. He chose the restaurant's name in honor of his former battalion, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards."

The name has caused a bit of controversy among Downey residents. I asked Nick, who served in Iraq in 2006-07, if the flak had died down yet. He said not yet, but that he hoped everyone would understand his desire to honor his former unit and those who served in it.

Bastards Restaurant

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Walking to save your life


Melanie stands behind the table during the 5k but really, she has to be everywhere at once. Melanie is in charge of a walk held by Kaiser Permanente for its employees during their semiannual Health Fair. Everyone that walks gets a t-shirt, even if you don't finish the three miles.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another oops sign


You know those little things you say you'll do tomorrow and end up three months later looking at the same pile without having moved the top piece? Well, this is like that pile. I've seen this for a long time....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's all about the kids


The 25th annual Kids Day at Furman park was a success, because it was really all about the kids. I had fun watching them explore, play games and just have fun.

IMG_3264 as Smart Object-1

The grass was flying as these two were enjoying the day and playing with each other. Meanwhile, this little guy got ready for the photo booth that supplied silly hats and glasses.


Monday, May 14, 2012


Geronimo the greyhound

I'm always drawn to the animals at events like Saturday's Kids Fair. I looked for my favorites—the Guide Dog puppy raisers with their young Labradors and Golden Retrievers, but they weren't at this event. Instead, the Downey Obedience Club had a number of well-behaved dogs on hand.

This is Geronimo, a retired Greyhound racer who no longer feels the urge to race. Instead, she lapped up all the attention from the kids (and some of us adults).

And they're off!

Kids Day horse race

Yesterday's Kids Day at Furman Park provided lots of entertainment, both for and by the kids. The smallest kids had fun at the hobby horse races, where it was a close race as these three moved towards the finish line square by square.

Kids Day performerOn center stage, a variety of acts provided entertainment for the crowds. This young girl was singing and accompanying herself on the ukelele.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jaws of life

IMG_3239 as Smart Object-1

It was Kid's Day at Furman Park. Along with the many booths and games, we were once again treated to the Downey Fire Department demonstrating one of the ways they save lives. Here, they are preparing to use the jaws of life to cut the car apart to save a "trapped" motorist.

IMG_3258 as Smart Object-1This fireman/engineer explained the process to the crowd and answered any questions.


After a few minutes, the windshield was pulled out of place...

IMG_3246 as Smart Object-1
Then, it only took what seemed like a few quick snaps and the roof of the car was lifted away.


Rescue accomplished!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Outdoor dining

La Barca patio reflections

With our recent nice weather, several of us decided to try out La Barca's patio dining area.

La Barca patio reflectionsThe patio is right next to busy Paramount Blvd. The same setting on a busy Paris street wouldn't give me a second thought, but it seems disconcerting in suburban Downey. Why is that?

But in any case, our dinner was pleasant and the view of the historic Rives Mansion in the large reflective windows was appealing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My elixer


I love Mimi's Cafe. I always have. I get the same thing every time. French Quarter, no cheese please. Medium well-done.

Today though, I sit down with a slight headache and a firm belief (hopeful prayer) that it will be gone by the time my Caesar salad is gone.

Andria is our server, and also a vegetarian so although she wouldn't eat it herself, she would recommend the chicken potpie. She hears it is delicious. She is friendly, knowledgeable, and will come back in a few minutes to see if we're ready to order.

Of course being me, I eat too much bread and butter, poke myself with the fork while I'm trying to stab a crouton into obedience, and make my own spicy mustard because they are fresh out.

My friend asks me about my headache as I swallow another french fry and I realize happily, it's gone. Thank you Mimi's Cafe.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Two for the price of one

lawn mower

One of my neighbors was mowing his lawn yesterday and his son decided he would help his daddy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Interstate 5

IMG_3145 as Smart Object-1

One of the things I consider a benefit of living in Downey is the proximity to so many freeways. One of those freeways is Interstate 5. Here is a view of the interstate from the edge of the Rio Hondo riverbed. It is an old freeway, and is quite unpredictable regarding traffic, but it is the route I use on a regular basis.

According to Wikipedia, Interstate 5 (I-5) is the main interstate highway on the west coast of the United States, running largely parallel to the Pacific Ocean coastline from Canada to Mexico. It serves some of the largest cities on the U.S. west coast, including Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It is the only interstate highway to touch the U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico.

By the way, we have President Dwight D. Eisenhower to thank for our interstate system. In 1956, he signed the federal highway act and worked with Congress to find funding.

Monday, May 7, 2012

We've only just begun

Only Just Begun apartments

This apartment complex and its sister across the street are a clue to two of the most famous musical artists to come out of Downey.

Called Only Just Begun and Close to You, the buildings are named for the Carpenters' first and second #1 hits, back in 1970. Karen and Richard Carpenter both attended Downey High School before they became one of the top-selling groups of the 1970s.

Those songs (and these apartments) never fail to bring back memories of high school and driving around town with the radio turned way up... We've Only Just Begun was one of my all-time favorites.
We've only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we're on our way
We've only begun

Before the risin' sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We'll start out walkin' and learn to run
And yes, we've just begun
 Want to listen?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The untamed sound

Farmer's market musician

Recently, I walked through the Saturday morning farmer's market for the first time in several months. In one of the booths, this man was playing the pan pipe in accompaniment of John Lennon's "Imagine." It made for a very haunting melody.

"From the start, when it was the instrument of the wood-god Pan, the flute has been associated with pure (some might say impure) energy. Its sound releases something naturally untamed, as if a squirrel were let loose in a church."
~Seamus Heaney

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The faces of the street fair

IMG_3035 as Smart Object-1

I had so many pictures of the street fair, I had to go back to share some more.

Jorge Del Toro, local sculptor, worked at the Downey Arts Coalition booth, showing some of his techniques with clay.

IMG_3108This little girl was at the booth where some of the Downey Princesses were offering face painting.

IMG_3062While I am not quite sure what this little guy was, he was kinda cute...