Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cactus variations


Yesterday's house with the cactus wall also has cactus in the front yard. The variety of shapes and the oddities of each were fascinating.

The one on the left reminds me of my Siberian Husky when he's shedding. Or maybe a mattress with a leak...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cactus wall

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Walking home from the farmer's market last week I noticed this wall of cacti. I'm not a big fan of cactus normally, but I really liked the variety of both pots and plants lining the brick wall. The effect was quite charming.

Did you know? Cactus in French is cactus. Cactus in Dutch is cactus, and cactus in Swedish is kaktus.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What's work?

Whitewashed gate

What do you think of when you see a white-washed fence?

I think of Tom Sawyer, the famous character from Mark Twain's book "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Tom is made to whitewash the fence as punishment, but he cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work:
"Say -- I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd druther work -- wouldn't you? Course you would!"

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

"What do you call work?"

"Why, ain't that work?"

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

"Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."

"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"

The brush continued to move.

"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth -- stepped back to note the effect -- added a touch here and there -- criticised the effect again -- Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

"Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Encourage one another

Kathi's surprise 1

Just 20 miles southwest of Downey you'll find the University of California Irvine Medical Center in the city of Orange. Recently some of us went there to gather and encourage a very special lady.

Katlyn Dobrow has been in UCI medical center since February 12 because of her battle with meningococcemia, a deadly strain of meningitis. You can read about her battle here and here.

On this day we were there to encourage her mom, Kathi who has been staying at the hospital in Katlyn's room since she was first admitted. Kathi only leaves to go home for showers. We gathered to sing worship songs of encouragement while she and her husband Don enjoyed a catered meal.

It was another reminder that living in Downey, a suburb of Los Angeles, we are surrounded by the world's best medical care facilities.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Pinnacles

Pinnacles 1

Just 83 miles east of Downey in the San Gorgonio mountains lies a local landmark called "The Pinnacles." They are just off Hwy 173 near Lake Arrowhead. Adam, John, and I recently decided to go there for the day. We drove to the head of the foot path and parked in the adjacent shooting range parking lot. They were not very friendly so we parked just off the road.

Pinnacles 2We then hiked for about 90 minutes to a large collection of boulders called "The Pinnacles" and were rewarded for our efforts with a spectacular view of the desert just northeast of Los Angeles. Here lie the towns of Barstow, Apple Valley, Hesparia, and Victorville.

It's just another reminder of the vast array of environments that surround Downey.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Everything's coming up roses

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Usually roses grow on a bush. These must have been a new variety...

Monday, June 24, 2013

The skaters


At the end of the day, the cat and the skates are stowed away, awaiting the next day's play.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Guard dog

Guard dog

The barking warned me as I passed by—stay away, I'm guarding this house!

But the reality made me laugh. He was much smaller than his bark. And he couldn’t be bothered to get up off his comfortable chair.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Doesn't that just beet all


After seeing these beautiful beets at downtown Downey's farmer's market, I ran across some fun beet facts found on a website devoted to beets. Just for fun, I thought I would share a few...

Did you know that beets contain tryptophan? Also found in chocolate, tryptophan contributes to a sense of well-being. Beets also have one of the highest sugar content of any vegetable. Up to 10 percent of the beet is sugar, but it is released slowly into the body rather than the sudden rush that results from eating chocolate.

In many cultures it is believed that if a man and a woman eat from the same red beet, they will fall in love.

So, whether you need to find a new boyfriend, or had a hard day at work and need to de-stress...grab a beet and enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's official—it's summer

Feet  by pool

The summer solstice is so many things. It's the longest day of the year, and the shortest night. It marks the official start of summer. School is out. Our traditional overcast "June gloom" mornings are pretty much over and the pool becomes a refreshing afternoon choice.

But I always feel a touch of melancholy while I enjoy this day. For the rest of the summer, each day will start a little later, and end a little bit earlier, until once again, the nights become longer than the days, and summer is over.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

History set in stone


My wife and I were at one of our favorite restaurants, The Marketplace on Florence and Tweedy, when we decided to take a walk before dinner. We like walking through the neighborhoods of Downey so we started up Tweedy. We came upon this monolith and decided it must be something of historical significance. My sources tell me it is a marker describing the path to Los Angeles going through Downey.

I need to do a little more digging to find out what the numbers mean and what has been removed that used to be next to the stone.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


neighbors 06-19-13

While riding with my wife this evening near our home, we passed these men in their front yards. It reminded me that friendly neighborhoods were one of the major reasons we moved to Downey 27 years ago.

This is Paul and Ronnie having a friendly chat while watering their lawns. I'm sure they each could have put out a sprinkler, but instead they took advantage of a warm spring evening to catch up with each other and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

How do you enjoy your neighbors?

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.
~ Hubert H. Humphrey

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Music Van

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I spotted this van in the parking lot the other day. It was so intriguing to me that an artist would spend so much time to decorate his vehicle in this way. Notice the statue of Liberty on the back...what kind of car do you drive? Are you in the market? This one's for sale...

sic gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything" ~ Plato

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tranquil no more

Waiting room signs

I'm waiting for my massage at Massage Envy in Downey Landing. I'm sitting on soft cushions in the peaceful, dimly lit waiting room. The harmonious colors of the room soothe my eyes, while the tranquil music soothes my mind. The three words framed on the wall reinforce all this. It's not a good picture, so I'll tell you what they say: "Harmony. Peacefull. Tranquility."

Uh-oh. The harmony is gone. There's a storm in my sea of tranquility. I'm an editor in my day job, and two errors have popped out on me. Can you spot them?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What's good for Cleopatra...

Lady in purple

What caught my eye at the farmers market was her coordinated purple outfit. Her clothes were purple. Her hat was purple. Even her iPhone case was purple to match!

But what kept me there was her pitch. This is Pat in the Hat, as she is known. She sells Infinite Aloe "never have dry skin again" skin care products. As far back as Cleopatra, people have been using aloe to sooth dry skin, and Pat will let you try it out—with a hand massage thrown in as a bonus.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Horseshoes anyone?

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The game of horseshoes has been believed to date back to Roman soldiers. During idle moments, the soldiers would occupy themselves by playing what we would consider a "backyard" game. It has also been suggested that peasants in medieval Britain adapted the game from something called "quoits."

IMG_6207 as Smart Object-1Brought to America by English settlers in colonial times, horseshoes has been an American backyard game for many of us.

When was the last time you played?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Local budding artists

2nd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition

Last night was the 2nd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition, held this year at the Stay Gallery in downtown Downey. Sixteen students from Downey and Warren's advanced photography classes participated in this group exhibit, with special awards being given later in the evening during the reception.

Valentin Flores Stay GalleryI love photography, so I particularly enjoyed examining each of the pictures. All pieces were available for sale. My favorites were the two pictures on the left, above. The one on the far left is a black and white portrait called "Silence." The one in the center is called "Uncle," and is made up of pieces of several pictures cut and pasted together.

Stay Gallery executive director Valentin Flores (far right) told me that the gallery has met its first fundraising goal of $20,000 and is ready to start some new projects on the gallery over the next few months.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mexican treats


Downey has a rich heritage of Hispanic culture for which I am very grateful. You see, it means we have some of the best Mexican restaurants anywhere. One of our favorites is Taco Don Chente located on Firestone Blvd. I first discovered Don Chente's when they took over the building of another Mexican restaurant we liked. They were there for four years and then moved to their present location on Firestone next to the Wells Fargo bank.

DSC_0026They have authentic Mexican cuisine that we love. They grind their own chilies for their homemade sauces. My wife and I usually split a chili relleno burrito and an order of four flautas.

This is Evelyn and Nayeli, who are always friendly and refreshingly are always doing something to make my time there enjoyable.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The butterfly bush works


When my daughter planted this bush in our backyard, she called it a "butterfly bush." It has some beautiful blossoms each spring, but I don't see many butterflies around. Then the other day I was working in the backyard and I spotted this Monarch butterfly landing on several blossoms and I ran in the house to get the camera. Mr. Butterfly cooperated and came down to a level so I could get this close-up. Enjoy.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hana Hu


Hana Hu entertained us with Hawaiian music using ukelele, lap steel, percussion, and bass. We listened to Hana Hu at the Stay Gallery for the Make Music Downey day last Saturday. What a great celebration of music!

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"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." 
~ Victor Hugo

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Monday, June 10, 2013


Rio Hondo putting green

At yesterday's Rio Hondo Golf Course open house, the putting green was turned into a miniature golf course.

Rio Hondo putting greenMayor Guerra and a friend enjoyed a few holes of miniature golf, complete with hazards such as sand and water traps, trees, boulders, logs, miniature golf carts, and the occasional oversized pair of feet.

Rio Hondo putting green

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A good walk

Rio Hondo Golf Course

I've never been a golfer. I'm one of those people who consistently hit the ball round the hole, not into it. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to walk the course this afternoon at the Rio Hondo Golf Course's open house.

Rio Hondo Golf CourseMark Twain said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." As I wandered around what seemed like miles and miles of paths through beautifully landscaped hills and lakes and trees,  I wished I could come here every day for my daily walk. It's quiet and peaceful. The solitude makes this an ideal place to relax, to think, to pray.

For that, if for nothing else, maybe I should take up golf.
Rio Hondo Golf Course

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Pretty Little War

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Thanks to Carol Kearns and Bea Romano, "Make Music Downey" (based on France's FĂȘte de la Musique, a national musical holiday that began in 1982) was a day selected to highlight local talent and provide a forum for the talent to be shared with the community. Bands performed at six different venues centered around the downtown area.

IMG_6253 as Smart Object-1One of the 61 bands who participated in an all-day music festival in Downey today, "My Pretty Little War" played on the lawn of the First Presbyterian Church.


"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
~ Berthold Auerbach

Friday, June 7, 2013

Old crows watching hungrily

Crows in a tree

This is the same trimmed tree that I showed you a couple of weeks ago. It looks like it's reaching for the sky. For the the two crows perched at the top, it's a 360-degree view of their neighborhood, and they complained loudly as I walked by. (Click the photo to see a larger view.)

"An old crow watching hungrily from his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free as that feathered thief up there."
~ The Garden Song, Peter, Paul, and Mary

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thank you for your sacrifice


Today is the 69th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France known as "D" Day. I celebrated it by remembering and thanking my dad for his participation in the liberation of Europe. We recently visited Omaha Beach memorial in France. This picture shows flags of the different countries that participated in the "D" Day landing.

"You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle." General Dwight D. Eisenhower D-Day Quote


Downey recently unveiled a veteran's memorial near city hall. You can read about it here

Twenty nine years ago, President Reagan gave a speech to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "D" Day. Youtube has the entire speech here. It is a good reminder that when duty calls, some people fight the instinct of self preservation and instead fight evil.


We also celebrate our current servicemen by displaying their names and service branch along several streets in Downey.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Downey wide house


There are times I've wished I had some particular camera equipment to capture the scene I'm looking at so others could enjoy what I just did. While taking a walk with my wife, I came across this house that totally surprised me. I needed a wide-angle lens but had to settle for two pictures combined to show the width of this house.

We looked the property up on Zillow to find that this house is over 9,000 square feet on a 1/2 acre lot. There's about 2,000 square feet on the second floor with the other 7,000 square feet on the first floor. The property is a little over 200 feet wide. One of the biggest pieces of property for a single-family house in Downey.

In case you're interested, it's for sale for a little over 2 million dollars.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The dogs of Treasure Island Park

Dogs at Treasure Island ParkDogs at Treasure Island Park

And to wrap up my day at Treasure Island Park, what trip to the park is complete without checking out the dogs? Here are Cookie (right) and Bailey (left), 6 weeks old and resisting the leash with all her 6 weeks worth of stubbornness.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Treasure Island Park

Treasure Island Park view

Back at Treasure Island Park—Saturday I showed you all the hoopla associated with the grand re-opening of the park. Today, in keeping with my goal to show you all of the Downey parks, I want to show you the park itself.

The park is narrow—maybe 100 feet wide?—but it makes up for the narrowness by its length. Mayor Guerra, as part of his Healthy Downey program, has measured its length at 1.2 miles. The picture above is taken about half way down.

Treasure Island Park slidesThe play equipment is all brand new and much of it is tailored for the really young kids. But even the adults were trying out the "digger," below, which helps young kids develop hand-eye coordination while they're having fun.

Treasure Island Park digger

And of course, no little kid can resist the swings.

Treasure Island Park kid

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Food Festival

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This weekend was the annual Greek Food Festival. We try to never miss it! It is always a fun event with traditional Greek music, dancing, food and more.

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Unfortunately, we went late this year so I missed the roasting of the lambs, but they were still chopping away at a mountain of meat when we arrived.

IMG_6244 as Smart Object-1Of course, there were the standard blue and white striped tents lining the area. And, the food...I simply could not resist. I had both moussaka and a spanakopita! Both were yummy.

And, I bought some great smelling cream from a booth called "Holy Honey." But, my favorite is always the dancing.

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"Dance is the hidden language of the soul"
~ Martha Graham