Flowers! I love that we have such a variety of flowers available pretty much whenever we want them. The Downey Avenue Farmers Market has a great supply. The last time I visited the market, I found a profusion of color and choices.
"I must have flowers, always, and always."
~ Claude Monet
It's the day after Thanksgiving, and in case you haven't noticed, Christmas is coming!
It actually started last night with late night shopping at Stonewood Center and Downey Landing. The Second Tyme Around thrift shop in downtown Downey is actually closed this entire holiday weekend, but they'll be ready for you on Monday!
Today my wife and I rode to Ralph's Market to get some last minute ingredients for the apple salad she was making to take over to a friend's house where we were celebrating Thanksgiving. While there, I noticed a long line of people at Boston Market waiting to pick up their Thanksgiving meal.
Later in the day, on our way over to our friend's home, we passed Norm's restaurant. The parking lot was packed and it reminded me that people will celebrate Thanksgiving in their own way as circumstances allow. My family continued our tradition of going to our friend's house along with other friends (28 of us in all). Others may go to a restaurant or go to a mountain cabin to celebrate alone. Others had to work today or wait in line for hot deals and so they celebrated some days before.
The important thing though is that we need a time set aside to think about the blessings each of us enjoy. Another tradition we have is to share with each other things for which we are thankful. I love this part because it reminds me how blessed I am.
These three gentlemen are waiting in line in front of Best Buy at Downey Landing at 10:00 pm. They have been in line since 1:00 pm today. Others in line have been there since Monday. They are all waiting for Thanksgiving day at 6:00 pm when Best Buy will open its doors for once-in-a-year buys.
These three gentlemen are going to buy televisions. They already celebrated Thanksgiving, so camping out isn't keeping them from family time. One of them told me that his mom told him "go ahead and wait in line. Oh, by the way, get me this and this and this."
I was peeking through the construction fencing at Joseph's Bar and Grill today when I was spotted and invited in.
I've gotten a lot better this year at chatting with strangers, but most of those conversations have been one-on-one. This one was many-on-one, and I managed to ask only one question before I retreated behind my camera.
So, when will they open? The three owners, seated, agreed. Hopefully in two weeks, maybe three...
Tomorrow, I'll show you some more shots of the interior of this new restaurant in downtown Downey.
I like "The City." For those of us who live in Downey, that means driving about 13 miles west to Los Angeles. Although I have explored many areas in the past few years, I find I know surprisingly little about LA.
This afternoon, a friend and I took a tour called "Weird West Adams." The tour was put on by Esotouric (offering bus adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles). It was a fun way to learn a little local history. Our tour focused on the historical district of West Adams and crimes from the early 20th century. It gave me a new glimpse into the past and made me curious to know more.
One of the places we visited was the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, located just outside the heart of downtown. How had I never seen it? Founded in 1884, the cemetery stretches for 65 acres. According to Wikipedia: "The internments include pioneers and members of leading families who had a conspicuous place in Los Angeles institutions and the state." It was also intriguing to find many headstones for soldiers who served in the Spanish American War (1898).
It had me rethinking about the importance of having a memorial marker of some kind. It offers a tangible way of remembering a loved one and it helps us gain a sense of the past.
The Rives Mansion was open to the public today as a fundraiser to benefit victims of the typhoon that struck the Philippines. For $5 or $10, you could get a cup of lemonade. And for $20, you could get a private tour of the mansion, where James C. Rives looks out at you across the elegant rooms.
The fundraiser was organized by Ralph Verdugo, owner of the Rives Mansion Steakhouse, which will open here early next year. Meanwhile, preparations for the steakhouse continue. The rooms are painted and the floors gleam. The kitchen is still in progress, and there's no landscaping outside yet.
But that doesn't take away from the sheer elegance of the mansion with all its windows aglow.
Yard art can come in many forms. Metal sculptures and ceramic figures are the usual fare, but this homeowner has found a unique yard art form. This cactus, a variant of the "Santa Rita" cactus, was scratched on its skin with this facial design. The subsequent scaring of the plant left this permanent picture for passersby to enjoy. Doesn't it just seem to be calling out, "Howdy, this is a friendly place to live."
Yesterday, Joan showed you a beautiful sunset here in Downey. Last Monday I was riding home from work and was blessed by this display of color. I had to stop and take a picture before it faded away in the twilight. So I rode a little further until I came to this open view. Five minutes later the bright reds and yellows were gone and had faded to dark blue. I'm glad I didn't wait.
Did you do something today that you're glad you didn't wait to do?
Tonight the sky was so full of color. I was at Downey Landing doing a little shopping. As I walked out of a store I looked up and WOW! If I had stayed inside shopping for even another 20 minutes, I would have missed it. Sometimes timing is everything.
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever
its loveliness increases; it will never
pass into nothingness."
~ John Keats
Did you ever make sidewalk art when you were a kid? It's fun, partly because you know it's not permanent. You can make pictures, create your own sidewalk checkers game, or create your own racetrack. The sky's the limit, and you can start over in just a few days.
I like yard sales. There are bargains to be had. It just takes a little looking. Today as I was out driving I came across the Knights of Columbus yard sale. Pam blogged about Christopher's Knights a couple of years ago. Pope John Paul II referred to this Catholic service organization as the "strong right arm of the church." I think a yard sale is a great way to boost fundraising. I hope they had a good day.
"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." ~ John Bunyan
Last weekend, thinking about the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, I walked through the Downey Cemetery and noticed this gravestone.
Tony Gomez was born at the end of the first World War, the Great War. And he died at the end of the second World War. I've always wondered at the history behind the people buried here, and now, thanks to the internet, we can fill in some of the blanks.
Based on U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, Tony Gomez enlisted as a private in the army in Colorado, in July 1943. He was 25 years old, with a grammar school education. He was married. In his civilian life, he was a driver of some sort. He rose to the rank of Technician Fifth Grade, the equivalent of a corporal. The cross on his gravestone indicates that he most likely served as a chaplain's assistant. In this role, he would have cared for the chaplain’s official property, acted as his clerk, and helped with the educational, religious, and general entertainment programs.
The 306 Infantry 77 Division served in the Pacific during World War II. At the time that Private Gomez was killed, his unit was "...fighting its way slowly against extremely heavy Japanese resistance."
These are the facts that possibly apply to Tony Gomez. But I still wonder. How did he come to be buried in Downey, California? Did he leave behind children in addition to his wife?
And did he know how much his sacrifice would be appreciated by the generations that have come after him?
In its beginning, Downey High School was on the corner of Firestone Blvd and Brookshire Avenue, but only went up to 3rd Street. Later, the school expanded to occupy several acres north of 3rd Street. But what did they do with the actual 3rd Street, you may ask?
Well, the parts of it that didn't have buildings constructed on them were left intact, so that today you can still see the asphalt street complete with curbs in the middle of the Downey High School campus. Above is the east entrance as seen from the west entrance of Stonewood Center. Below is the west entrance as seen from the Downey library.
I was talking to one of the security personnel who told me that they still say they are working on "3rd Street." Also, several years ago an elderly man drove in to the east entrance of the campus as seen above and thought he could continue straight across and get to Brookshire Avenue. He was informed that he couldn't any longer and had to turn around.
It's interesting how some things change and yet retain some of their original parts.
Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but also in the circumstance. Joan showed us some beautiful fall leaves the other day, but when a home owner goes outside and sees all the leaves on his yard and knows there's a job just waiting to be take up his time, well, that's another side of the same coin. Not so beautiful now.
But then I thought I need to look up more often and see the leaves as the tree's gift to me instead of as just work.
When I was little, I would lie on the grass and gaze up at the clouds and look for shapes and make up stories about them. This day the sky was filled with these wispy clouds that seemed to be continually in motion. In the top picture, you would not know the moon is smack in the middle of the sky.
"A cloudless plain blue sky is like a flowerless garden."
"Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have. Veterans Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have."
~Recent Facebook post
Today, Downey held its annual Veterans Day celebration to honor and pay tribute to our veterans. The celebration was filled to overflowing and featured several speakers, including Capt. Victor Shen of the U.S. Army (right) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, on the subject of how we can continue to support our veterans after they return home.
Flags worn or waved in support could be spotted everywhere.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the First Baptist Church of Downey. That church, started in 1868, is one of the oldest churches in Downey. Recently, reader Perscrutations commented on that post that the United Methodist Church in Downey is even older.
The information that I have is a little contradictory. Perscrutations wrote that the church officially dates back to 1854. But the church plaque, at left, states that the church was organized in 1869. The church's website is undergoing renovation, so I wasn't able to confirm either date. Hopefully, Perscrutations or another reader can point me to more information about the church history! (I love history!)
But I did come across this picture, below, of the church dated November 8, 1931.The tower and the door are similar to today's tower, above, and door, right. The current door is at the base of the current tower. Are they the same ones? It's hard to tell for sure.
Photo courtesy The Downey Conservancy/George Redfox
I love going to the local farmers' market on Downey Avenue. There is an appeal to the experience... that what you are getting is local and fresh, even if you pay more for it.
Today we wandered through the stalls tasting and admiring the beauty of the pure fruits and vegetables. It just makes me want to eat better. And, somehow gives me the sense that I am closer to nature or farm life.
"The smell of manure, of sun on foliage, of evaporating water, rose to my head; two steps farther and I could look down into the vegetable garden enclosed within its tall pale of reeds - rich chocolate earth studded emerald green frothed with the white of cauliflowers, jeweled with the purple globes of eggplant and the scarlet wealth of tomatoes."
~ Doris Lessing
I've grown resigned to the fact that retail Christmas starts as early as September. So I guess I'm grateful that Santa waited until after Halloween to arrive at Stonewood Center.
He arrived, along with Mrs. Claus, to a fun-filled night of sing-alongs and crafts for the kids, who seemed thoroughly fascinated with the old man. Mrs. Claus led the kids in Jingle Bells and other fun Christmas tunes, while Santa looked on from the sidelines.