Sunday, March 31, 2013

How much is that doggie?

Balloon pets

These days, the animals at the "pet store" at Stonewood Shopping Center aren't the furry variety. Instead, they are rubber and colorful and tend to float away if not properly "leashed." 

In spite of the food dish in this shot, I don't think these pets require much food—which makes that whole discussion of "If we get you a puppy, do you promise to help feed it and take care of it?" a moot point.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring in bloom

IMG_1966 as Smart Object-1

I love spring. It is a time of renewal and beginnings. Flowers seem to be popping up everywhere. They bring such beauty; they make me smile and feel at peace.

IMG_1977 as Smart Object-1 IMG_1979 as Smart Object-1

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."~Claude Monet

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Good Friday cross

At Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the cross symbolizes Easter.

Why is today called Good Friday? I think Johnny Hart, in his B.C. comic strip from April 9, 2004, had the best answer.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Getty Center

Getty building 1

Just 30 miles northwest of Downey is the J. Paul Getty Center, which houses one of the Getty museums. We visited there today and as always we had an enjoyable day. The Getty Center is known for its architecture, its art collection and its care of the environment. Its website has the following statement:
"The J. Paul Getty Museum seeks to inspire curiosity about, and enjoyment and understanding of, the visual arts by collecting, conserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works of art of outstanding quality and historical importance."
Getty bustpurple flower single
A bust of J. Paul Getty  Some orchids on display in the Center's entrance

Another surprising drawing card is its value. Each car costs $15 to park and museum admission is free. They also have free iPods and headphones with collection information recorded on them for you to use during your visit.

Have you ever been to the Getty Center?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A banged up fence

bent fence

There's a used auto dealership on the corner of Lakewood Blvd. and Alameda St. called Reliance Auto that I pass often on my way to work. I noticed today a slight change in their surroundings and in their inventory. When I asked David, the owner, he told me someone took the corner too fast and went through their fence and hit several autos in their inventory. He was not a happy camper. Even in Downey, there are reckless drivers.

I thought it made for an interesting picture though.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Healthy Downey, Walking Wednesdays

IMG_1046 as Smart Object-1

Last week was the "Walk with the Mayor" at Downey High.

IMG_1064 as Smart Object-1Some friends and I have been doing this for a while and have really enjoyed the times. It's a great opportunity to get outside and get some exercise while chatting with locals from all around Downey.

Meet the group tomorrow night for fun and some good, clean exercise. Meet at the Downey High track at 6. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The fears of a clown

Stonewood clown

He looks rather lonesome. I think he must be looking off into the distance, at the Easter bunny at the other end of the Stonewood Mall, where all the kids are gathered.

Is he afraid that he made the wrong career choice?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The bunny, the bunny, whoa I love the bunny

Stonewood Easter bunny

An 8-foot-tall Easter bunny seemed kind of creepy to me. But apparently this oversized bunny is less intimidating to kids than Santa Claus is at Christmas time. In the entire time I watched kids getting their picture taken with the bunny at Stonewood Mall, not a single kid cried or hung back, which frequently happens at Christmas with the jolly old Santas. Go figure!

P. S. The title of this post is from "The Bunny Song," from VeggieTales: Rack, Shack, and Benny.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's party time!

20130320_152616 as Smart Object-2

Last week I was at the Stonewood Center doing a little shopping. As we arrived, my friend noticed this van in the parking lot. I couldn't resist taking a picture. I must admit, hiring a DJ seems reasonable for both birthdays and weddings, but I have never heard of hiring a DJ for a divorce. Am I somehow out of some loop? Is this a "thing"?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Photographing the photographers

Stay Gallery J Arthur Morris

A couple of weeks ago, I passed by the Stay Gallery. The late afternoon sun lit up the J. Arthur Morris exhibit inside, and I couldn't resist this photo of the photographers-—Morris's work on exhibit and my shadow in the doorway.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some activities are everywhere


I have two activities I want to show you today that I saw everywhere I went in Yosemite. The first is, that plants grow everywhere and anywhere in Yosemite. This bush is growing between two rocks with nothing but an inch of dirt for its roots but lots of water for nourishment.

20130316_170922This tree, that started its life on top of these rocks, has been standing for hundreds of years drinking the water falling from Yosemite Falls. And even though the running water has washed its top soil away, it's still standing tall and still growing. That is amazing.

416The second activity that is everywhere in Yosemite is photography. Looking at the visitor statistics over the years, I estimate that well over one trillion pictures have been taken in and of Yosemite. I saw photographs being taken of people in front of trees, in front of rocks, in front of falling water, in front of running water, in restaurants, in hotels, in parking lots. Some people even took pictures without people in them. I guess they had extra film.

Where has your picture been taken in Yosemite?

“Sometimes I arrive just when God's ready to have someone click the shutter.”
~Ansel Adams

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tourists everywhere

foreign tourist

Another ubiquitous element in Yosemite National Park is the tourists. And not just any tourists, foreign tourists. They come from everywhere on earth to visit the grandeur and exhibition of beauty that is Yosemite. In one afternoon, my wife and I spoke to a family from Israel, a couple from Australia, and these gentlemen from Kansas and France.

Steve Rhoades, on the right, is from Kansas while Joseph Fischer is from France. They work for a major manufacturer of farm vehicles and were in California to give a lecture on maintenance to local distributors when Steve decided to show Joseph some sites.

We met them at Mariposa Grove when they were taking pictures of each other in front of one of the giant sequoia trees. I asked if they wanted me to take a picture of them together in front of the tree. During the ensuing conversation they told us that this was the only section of Yosemite National Park they were going to visit, so we encouraged them to continue their drive and see the tunnel view of Yosemite valley. It was well worth their time. Just by luck, we met them again at the parking lot that overlooks Yosemite valley that you see in the background.

People are so fascinating. What strangers have you met in Yosemite?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Water, water everywhere


The valley is full of water this season. As you turn a corner on the path approaching lower Yosemite Falls, you see this incredible view of the falls through the trees. The closer you get, the roar of the water continues to grow.

IMG_1165 as Smart Object-1It is impossible not to be impressed by the shear power of the water as it falls on the rocks below. It almost looks like it is a solid, it takes on so many forms, continually changing as you watch.

And then you come to the streams that mesmerize you. I could watch the water run over the boulders for hours.

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
~LORAN EISELY, The Immense Journey, 1957

IMG_1191 as Smart Object-1

Monday, March 18, 2013

The rock-climber's challenge

Yosemite El Capitan

Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, El Capitan is the largest monolith of granite in the world. It was visible—but not very noticeable—on the left in yesterday's post. But that take-your-breath-away moment doesn't come until you're down on the valley floor. Once again, coming around a corner does the trick, revealing this massive, towering hunk of granite.

Yosemite El Capitan NoseFrom across the meadow (above), you see El Capitan's southwest wall, one of many popular rock-climbing locations. On the far left, you can see Ribbon Fall, hidden in the shadows.

El Capitan was once considered impossible to climb. The Nose (right) was the first section to be climbed, in 1958. The climb took 47 days. In contrast, the current "speed climbing" record is just under 2.5 hours.

That would be quite a different kind of take-your-breath-away moment!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First glimpse

Yosemite Half Dome

In Yosemite, beauty surrounds you, everywhere you look. But even so, there are sights that take your breath away. Today and my next two posts, I'll show you the moments that took my breath away this past weekend.

Yosemite is about 300 miles north of Downey. But the last 90 miles, after you leave the main highway and start up the mountains, seem to take forever. Then suddenly, you turn a corner, and there it is—Half Dome.

Before you see Yosemite Valley, before you see the first of many waterfalls, you see this massive shape in the distance. Half Dome is a granite dome that rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor. Seeing it is your first glimpse of the wonder that is to come.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Down in the valley

IMG_1367 as Smart Object-1

Yosemite Valley contains seven square miles of deep valleys, broad meadows, amazing waterfalls, ancient trees, and a wide variety of wildlife.

IMG_1410 as Smart Object-3Along the Merced river that runs through the valley, there are so many colors and textures; the granite formations seem to rise above you in a way that humbles every view. 

We spent hours tramping around the various paths, hiking until our legs were shaky, and still felt like our time here was too short.

IMG_1436We didn't have to go too far to see wildlife. This little guy and the rest of his family met us on an early morning walk. Then, the next day, came by right outside our room to eat and laze around.

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see."
~John Burroughs

Friday, March 15, 2013

You don't have mail

Rural mailboxes

My mailman walks from house to house, where the mailbox is typically a slot that dumps the mail into some sort of receptacle inside the house. I never have to leave the comfort of home to see what I got in today's mail. I think the scarcity of the traditional mailbox in Downey is why I find these rural mailboxes so appealing.

These mailboxes are just outside of Yosemite National Park, where I'm back for my annual winter weekend visit. As colorful as they are, they still look a little sad—none of the flags are up, so there's no mail here waiting to be picked up or delivered.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Out with the old and in with the new


All along Brookshire from Imperial Hwy to Firestone Blvd they are repairing old water valves and connections. Some of these valves are old enough that they have frozen shut which makes them a hazard when the water needs to be shut off in an emergency. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Is there anything in your life that needs to be fixed before it turns into an emergency?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Electricity and shade

us bank 3-13-13 1

This USBank, formerly Downey Savings, is just 5 minutes up the road from my home, so I pass by it all the time. I noticed these girders being put up the other day but I couldn't figure out what they were for. Since the top ones are slanted they certainly were not adding more floor space for the bank.

I stopped by today and found out they have a dual purpose. First, they are for the placement of solar panels that will supply electricity for the bank and second, they are strategically placed over the bank's parking lot and will supply shade for the bank's customers.
us bank 3-13-13 2
I especially appreciate how the bank has kept the beautiful pine trees that dot their property.

us bank 3-13-13 4

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Misty morning

20130312_072132 as Smart Object-1

As I was driving home, the sun peaked over the mountain and the morning mist seemed to float just above the ground.

Early Morning Mist

A light and wispy blanket covers the fields
No deeper than the shoulder of a man,
Drawn from the frosty ground
By the first rays of the weakling sun
As it slowly steals the morning
From the wayward realms of night.
As ethereal and insubstantial, it is,
As the dreams that just an hour ago
Clouded my sleeping brain.
They vanished just as quickly into dawn,
And I was drawn from sleep
To go and walk amongst the mist,
Evading all responsibility for unconscious thoughts.
That is now the remit of the rooks
Assembled in the hedgerow oaks,
And the solitary hare.
~ Pete Thompson, from Poems and Paths

Monday, March 11, 2013

Get your paper here

Downey Patriot outside the Stay Gallery

I read recently that a local restaurant had requested that the Downey Patriot (our weekly and free local newspaper) no longer be distributed in their restaurant, so the newspaper rack was removed.

Downey Patriot outside the Stay GalleryAnd then I read today that the Downey Patriot is now available outside of the Stay Gallery in downtown Downey. It kind of adds to the small-town ambiance that is starting to develop in this area.

And on a totally off-subject note, let me just say how much I love the extra hour of daylight at the end of my work day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Goodbye Granata's and Tapas

Empty restaurant

Restaurants come, they go. At one time, this location housed Granata's Italian Villa. According to the Downey Patriot, " Granata's restaurant is the longest-running family business in the history of Downey... It first opened at Paramount and Alameda in 1955, moved to Florence three years later, and proved so successful that Downey's city manager... thought it'd be great for the city if they moved downtown, which they did in 2001."

Granata's Tapas waiter statueAnd there they stayed until 2009, when the restaurant was sold and reopened as Granata's Restaurant and Tapas.

Now it's empty, with a change of ownership sign that says, "Joseph's Bar and Grill," which will join several other "bar and grill" type restaurants in the newly vibrant downtown Downey.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Road trip

20130309_075212 as Smart Object-1

I'm off on another weekend road trip to northern California. The direct route is the 5 freeway (which runs through the city of Downey) and becomes the Golden State Freeway just east of downtown Los Angeles. Less than two hours away is the Tejon Pass—at almost 4,200 feet, it is the second highest point on the freeway (which stretches 1,381 miles through California, Oregon and Washington). As I reached the pass this morning, there was a light snow that melted as it hit the ground.  It was cold, so I didn't stop for long.

20130309_111419 as Smart Object-1_1 This picture was taken further north at the Coalinga canal area. You can see some of the cultivated fields in the distance. It's my favorite part of the long drive on the "Golden State." 

Friday, March 8, 2013


Lacrosse game scoreboard

I didn't know when I went to the bi-weekly "walk with the mayor" event at the Downey High School track that we would be watching a lacrosse game while we walked.

I don't remember ever hearing of lacrosse when I was in high school. But according to Wikipedia, lacrosse is a Native American game that was well-established and documented here as early as the seventeenth century. Wikipedia says, "It is a contact sport which requires padding such as shoulder pads, gloves, helmets, elbow pads, and sometimes even rib guards." However, these guys didn't look nearly as well padded as the typical football player. I was surprised, with all those big sticks flying on the field, that none of the guys wore shin guards.

Final score: Downey High School - 12, Manual High School from Los Angeles - 0.Lacrosse game Downey Vikings

Lacrosse game Manual Arts

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some Roman plates


Driving down Florence Avenue, I spotted this building and its interesting decor. So I came back to take a few pictures. I parked in the back and found that this complex has both a front building and a back. The back building has the same decor of these relief plates as the front one. They remind me of my Western Civilization classes and the Roman architecture we studied.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Downey night life

mambo grill 3-2-13

I've heard it said, "On St. Patrick's day, everyone is Irish." A local Mexican restaurant in downtown Downey, Mambo Grill and Sports Bar, gave credence to that saying by having an Irish folk group play live there this past Saturday. The group, called "When Pigs Fly," entertained us while we also enjoyed some great food. I highly recommend the Mambo nachos. They don't make the chips until after you order the nachos.

mambo grill2 3-2-13mambo grill3 3-2-13

The owner/operator, David Llamas, adds his own delightful personality to your dining experience, which will have you coming back many times. You can see the many dollars delighted patrons have signed in the background.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zoo morning


The LA Zoo is about 20 miles north of Downey.  This past Sunday morning was a member appreciation day. As members, we were able to enter the zoo early, at 8:30, and see the animals a little more active than we normally observe.

IMG_0832 as Smart Object-1It was a nice morning. One of my favorites this day was watching the chimpanzees and apes. Here is a "parade" of chimps carrying their snacks of raw onions...who knew?

IMG_0933 as Smart Object-1