Friday, November 30, 2012

Another tree


A quick look through our posts on trees shows what incredible diversity there is in the sizes, shapes, and colors of the trees in Downey.

This tree caught my eye the other day. It too displays fall colors, although not in the way that we traditionally expect.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Present patience


Just as Joan pointed out the day before yesterday, the signs of Christmas are showing up everywhere. When I came home from work today I found wrapped Christmas gifts on our Family room floor. My daughter spent part of her day wrapping them but there is no tree yet to put them under so here they'll wait. The tall one in the back is mine she says. But I'll have to wait 26 days to see what it is.

Do you try to figure out what your presents are? Do you shake them, roll them or see if the wrapper left a section of the paper loose so you can sneak a peek? I remember when I was young I would unwrap then re-wrap my presents because of my impatience. But I found 1. that the giver didn't see the joy on my face as I discovered their gift and 2. it was hard to act surprised when I opened the gift a second time and the giver sat across from me. I learned to wait.

Patience is the companion of wisdom.
Saint Augustine

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snack shop

snack shop

The Discovery Sports Complex in Downey has two baseball diamonds and a soccer/football field. Between the two baseball diamonds is the snack shop run by D.J.A.A. (Downey Junior Athletic Association). They have the usual snack shop fare of sunflower seeds, candy, chips, bubble gum, water and juices. But they also have a man-sized barbecue for hot dogs and hamburgers.

snack shop menuGoing by tonight reminded me of my Little League days of getting a snow cone after every game, of working on the scoreboard for the main field and getting paid with a hot dog and coke, of hoping the baseball card package I just bought for 10 cents had somebody good in it. Actually, it was a treat if I just knew someone in the pack. Isn't it fascinating how some crushed ice and flavored syrup can be just the thing for a hot July afternoon.

What was your favorite item at the snack shop?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas time is here!


Everyone knows:  that once Thanksgiving is over, it is officially the "Christmas season." It's time to start baking and making fudge, and Christmas decorations (both inside and out) can officially appear! I like decorating and I like seeing how other people adorn their houses for the season.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Six geese a laying

Geese at Rio Hondo Elementary

Many years ago when I worked for several weeks in rural New Jersey. I enjoyed my daily drive to work  past the local lake, where geese always stopped on their way south.

In southern California, seeing a flock of geese resting and feeding isn't a daily occurrence, but the geese are attracted to the open fields of the local schools. There's no water at Rio Hondo Elementary School, but there was lots of open space and early morning moisture to attract this flock of Canada geese for a couple of days.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seen in a different light

Furman Park trees

Photography is all about the light. And the light changes constantly!

I usually walk in the morning in Furman Park. But a week or so ago, I took my work in the late afternoon, when the sky was ominously dark and getting ready to rain. And against the darker sky, the trees seemed to glow with different shades of greens and golds.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Imagine, dream, believe

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Today the feature performers from the soon-to-be released 3D movie "Cirque du soleil, worlds away" appeared at Stonewood Center. They rode their "Vessel of Dreams" as they drew in the crowd, hoping to pique everyone's interest in going to see the movie when it comes out.

2012-11-24 12I had come to the mall to try to catch any of the sales that lasted past "Black Friday" so I could finish up my Christmas shopping. Luckily, cell phones have cameras (even if they aren't the greatest.). It was fun to take a quick break and watch the performers navigate their umbrellas (their "vessels of dreams") which slid across the floor without any apparent effort.  To see the trailer for the movie click here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Brick wall

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This brick wall lines the backside of one of the yards that back up to this alley. I have always liked the "feel" of  brick.

“I like talking to a brick wall- it's the only thing in the world that never contradicts me!”
~ Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Everyone has their own holiday traditions during this time of year. One of my favorites happens to be the game of S.C.U.M. where one needs to keep the 8 ball rolling at all times using only the cue ball to throw at it. Sometimes violent, sometimes hilarious, sometimes stressful, this game will make you lose a few pounds hurtling yourself around the pool table to get to the ball. The game has no favorites. Young or old can win. But if you're playing the game right, you'll come away panting, laughing, and nursing a few bruises. Let the holidays begin!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Will you marry me?

Karin and Adam

The best stories are the ones you get to tell forever. She will always be asked, "How did he propose?" My twin and his now fiance sit in the middle of the room and rehash the night's silly, sweet, and romantic events to friends and family, some of whom have traveled hundreds of miles to celebrate this night with them.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A painted lady

Painted lady

According to Wikipedia, "painted ladies" is a term used for Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. The term is typically used for the rows of Victorian houses in San Francisco, but has also been applied to neighborhoods in Baltimore, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Cincinnati.

And Downey?

We don't have many actual Victorian houses in Downey. But this recently painted home made me think of the painted ladies. There are three colors (four if you count the rich red of the bricks). And the colors enhance the nooks and crannies (and blend nicely with the lush landscaping).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blissful leaves

Fall colors

Brightly colored fall leaves play an important role in our Thanksgiving table decorations, but our house is surrounded by pine trees. Pine needles totally fail to convey that "it's fall" feeling. So what's a person to do?

Well, at our house, we stock up with some old plastic grocery bags and scout the area for real fall trees. With the mostly mild weather we've had this autumn, the piles aren't quite as thick as usual, but this is one of those streets where we can always count on finding the full range of fall colors—red, orange, purple, yellow, and of course some green.

" Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
~Emily Bronte

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Aesop's fable?

Frog and squirrel yard art

OK, sometimes yard art can make you scratch your head.

From my own experience with squirrels burying their walnuts in every conceivable place in the garden, I imagine this fed-up response from the frog. "That's one too many nuts in my pond! Get out, before I douse you with a lily pad bucket-full of water!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What's a little rain?

Furman Park tennis court

The rain cleans the skies and makes the colors fresh and vibrant. But it can spoil the plans for a tennis workout.

Furman Park tennis playerOr does it?

A few puddles won't keep this gentleman from his daily tennis workout.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall back

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I love fall! The leaves are turning and there is a chill in the air. It's time for sweaters, cozy fires and hot cocoa. We've "fallen back", so the days are shorter, but somehow that seems right as the days grow colder. On a walk today, I noticed I was "crunching" on some of the leaves that had collected on the sidewalk. Somehow the leaves (along with the weather) seemed to change overnight.

IMG_9695 as Smart Object-1I also enjoy decorating for this time of year—it has become quite a tradition at our house and clearly I am not alone. Many of the houses I passed today had pumpkins, fall garlands, and wreaths adorning  homes and gardens. They were charming. Somehow the bold colors of fall bring a warmth that offset the chilly weather.


Falling leaves hide the path so quietly.
~John Bailey

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anti-serendipity moment


Over the years, my wife and I have enjoyed looking at houses in Downey for possible upgrades and to get decorating ideas. There are some houses that look great on the outside and we are very anxious to see the inside. So when one of those houses goes on the market we make time to go visit.

This is one of those houses that has great curb appeal. But when we saw the layout of the inside we kept asking ourselves, "why?" It just wasn't what we had expected after having seen and admired the outside for so many years. I'm sure the current owners found the layout to be advantages and appealing so they bought it. For them, it was serendipity, for us, just the opposite.

Have you had either one of those lately?

Serendipity = Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.
~Lawrence Block

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fund raising for school


On my way home from the doctor's office, I passed this group in front of our local Fresh and Easy grocery store. They are from Carpenter elementary school and were raffling off a basket of goodies to raise money for the school. Parents, teachers, and students were all helping out in the effort. The lady sitting at the table is Mrs. Hesketh, the school principal.

DSCN0180You could feel the energy from this group. They love their school and are willing to give up an evening to raise the necessary funds to give their students some extra tools in the learning process. What activities did you do to support your school when you were a kid? I remember paper drives.

They were also collecting receipts from the shoppers to collect rewards from the store. By the way, that sign behind this parent says that you can get a frozen Jennie-O turkey for spending $30 or more at this Fresh and Easy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My tree

My tree

This is my tree.

Not really of course, but I've come to think of it that way. I pass it every day on my way to work. Since the wall faces east, there are often interesting shadows. In winter, it's the shadows that stand out most, such as this picture of my tree. Here, it's the green that catches my eye.

Sometimes there are people. If I'm early enough, there are kids on foot or on their bikes, on their way to middle school around the corner. On this day, a worker cleans outside the Hometown Hardware store that now lives in this building.

Always there. Always changing.

My tree.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Firestone Boulevard

Firestone Blvd.

Firestone Boulevard is the main thoroughfare through Downey. In the "old" days, it was called Front Street.

This section of Firestone, near Downey Avenue ("downtown Downey), looks very much like it must have looked 50 or more years ago. (Hopefully, some Downey historians can fill me in on the actual age of this area.) Revitalization efforts have had their effect down the street, around the corner, and elsewhere. This little area, with its odd combination of shops, some of which have been there as long as I can remember, stay the same.

Click the picture, then click again, to see it larger.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Olive tree

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I really like this old olive tree that lives in the back section of Furman park. Evergreen with small silvery leaves and a trunk that is perfectly gnarled and twisted, it has a certain character. While it looks old, it is also strong. I was surprised to learn that many old olive trees in the Middle East and Europe are believed to be over 1,000 years old. Certainly the Furman olive tree isn't that old, but I wonder how long it has been there. Hopefully, it will be there long after I am gone.

"They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust." ~ Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cave canum

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As I passed this gate, I liked the silhouette of what I assume to be this home's "guard dog." Many of us rely on our dogs to protect our homes. What I never really thought much about was that using dogs for protection is actually an an ancient "alarm" system and posting a warning sign to keep trespassers away has been used for centuries.

In Pompeii, Italy, (dating back to 79 AD), mosaics that read "Cave Canum" often were placed at the entrance of a building or a home to serve as a "no trespassing" sign. Cave canum is Latin for "beware of the dog." I found it amusing to note that my source for this information believed that the citizens of Pompeii did this whether or not they actually had a dog.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A day in Downey

Downey Museum of Art event entrance

Last night, the Downey Museum of Art held their "renaissance event," a visual arts exhibit called "A Day in Downey." On display were works by local artists, along with some of the pieces from the museum's collection.

Downey Museum of Art event musicThe museum was founded in 1955 and was Los Angeles county's first contemporary art museum. However, the museum almost disappeared a few years ago in a financial and legal limbo.

Downey Museum of Art event patronsA lot of hard work by George Redfox, the current president, and others culminated in tonight's exhibit in the display room of the Paramount Auto Center. (The center turned out to be a surprisingly good venue for an art exhibit!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Four wheels down to two


This is my view on my way to and from work. Luckily I live within a few miles of work so I can arrive in a presentable condition. My wife and I downsized to one car a few years ago to save on all the expenses of owning a second car.

How have you economized during these difficult times?

"Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use."
~Charles M. Schulz

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

'Tis the season


Well, Halloween is over so now it's time for the next holiday, Christmas. Or at least that's what the stores want us to believe. I went to Home Depot today to get a part I needed and was surrounded by Christmas decorations when I entered the store.

DSCN0161But of course we all know that presents are the most important part of Christmas. So I thought I would remind all the ladies out there of the two words that will bring a smile to any man this season, Power Tools and barbecue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Express yourself!

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It's election day, November 6th. It is our time to to vote for what we think is right. The right choice for president, the right propositions. It isn't a right that all Americans automatically received. There was a significant amount of struggle before we got to where we are now. Did you realize that it has only been since 1920 that women could even vote?

Now we are a nation, with much diversity (as you can suppose just by looking at this "vote here" sign).

When I dropped off my ballot, the polls were pretty quiet...just the volunteers staffing the church gym.  Somehow I was expecting lines of people.

“Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilt, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country?  Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms. Vote.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich
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Monday, November 5, 2012


LA Zoo zebras

Sometimes you don't need a whole picture to know what you're looking at. Sometimes just a glimpse of a pattern or texture gives it away.

LA Zoo elephant

LA Zoo giraffes

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Afternoon delight

LA Zoo elephant

I spent today enjoying some up-close-and-personal interaction with the beasts at the Los Angeles Zoo at the 23rd Annual Photo Day.

LA Zoo elephantThe elephants at the zoo have had a remodeled home for about three years now. It's such a big area that sometimes you can walk all the way around and not see any of the three elephants that live there. But today that wasn't the case.

It was hot today in southern California. 90 degree-hard-to-believe-it's-fall hot. So it was no surprise to see this elephant thoroughly enjoying a dip in the water.

She started by spraying herself, then lay down and rolled until she was completely submerged. Her trunk came up briefly like a periscope, then back down for some more rolling. When she was done, she looked delighted with herself.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pretty in pink

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Furman Park is only a few blocks away from where we live, so I often head to the park to walk the dog or for a little exercise.

IMG_9164 as Smart Object-1One of the things I like about the park is the variety of trees. One of my favorites has been in bloom for a while. It's this amazing pink canopy of color and it's right in the middle of the park. I've decided to call it an Orchid tree for lack of better information.

Not only is the tree a profusion of color, but the ground is blanketed with these darkening pink blossoms that seem to float to the ground as you simply stand and watch. It feels just a little magical.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

A gateway to downtown

Downtown food court construction

After what seems like months (years?) of little progress, the Downey Gateway project, which will feature a variety of food places (sandwiches, pizza, and so on) in downtown Downey, finally looks like it's making some progress.

When it's done, this will be one more addition that will provide a lot more life (night or otherwise) for downtown Downey.

Can't wait!