Friday, February 28, 2014

In memory of...

Messiah Lutheran Church

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I noticed some construction work going on at Messiah Lutheran Church. We watched as the project progressed and took shape. Then last week, I happened to chat with a man parked nearby. "You like it?" he asked. I replied that I did, and asked him for more details.

His name is Dave Lopez. This is going to be a garden and a children's playground. He donated the entire project to the church in memory of his wife Elaine Lopez, who passed away about six months ago. The finished project will be dedicated this Sunday.

Elaine Lopez sounds like a very special person. (You can read about her in this article from the Downey Patriot.) Even though I never met her, I will think of her, and her husband's gift, whenever I pass by.

Messiah Lutheran Church

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let the water out


Also on my bike ride yesterday along the San Gabriel river, I had noticed that the water level had increased significantly from the day before. Towards the end of my ride I found the source of the increased water. This outlet just north of Firestone was opened to release stored up water in anticipation of this weekend's heavy rain.

I don't seem to be the only one curious about the increased water flow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Night and day bunnies


On my ride today on the San Gabriel River, I was surprised by these two bunnies down in the horse trail. I'm not sure where they came from or how wild they are. I hope no eagle spotted them.

I start and end my ride in Downey, but at this point I'm in Bellflower. But these bunnies are so cute I just had to stop. I knew you would understand.

"There's nothing else I would rather do, unless there was a profession that involved cuddling bunny rabbits and kittens all day for money."
~ Kat Dennings

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And they're off!

Community Bike Ride

It was a beautiful day last Saturday for the monthly Community Bike Ride. But the group was smaller than normal. According to Lars Clutterham (in front, above), the group usually numbers in the teens or twenties.

The Downey Bicycle Coalition stresses bike safety and following the rules of the road, while still being courteous to drivers. So they stay to the side when possible, and take up the whole lane only when necessary.

Community Bike RideSaturday's ride covered 6-8 miles, but was manageable for all, even for families with young kids. Nathan Dunn, a teacher at Downey High School, brings all four of his kids along.

Join the group on next month's ride. For information, see their Facebook page.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Every lane's a bike lane

Downey Bicycle Coalition bike ride

On the last Saturday of each month, the Downey Bicycle Coalition holds a Community Bike Ride. The members of the Coalition are passionate about making bicycling a safe and accessible activity for all.

Downey Bicycle Coalition Lars ClutterhamThe Coalition was started a year ago by Downey resident and biking enthusiast Lars Clutterham (right), who is a long-time proponent of bike lanes in Downey. "I would be delighted to see new bike lanes. I'd do cart wheels on my bicycle, if I could," Clutterham said in an interview with the Downey Patriot. The city of Downey has been awarded $225,000 in state grant money to produce a bicycle master plan, the first step in what could eventually lead to bicycle lanes in Downey.

Each month, the Coalition invites everyone to meet at a local park, and then ride together on a path that has been mapped out by the Coalition leaders. This month's ride took them from Furman Park to Treasure Island Park, and then to the Rio Hondo Riverbed and back to Furman.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's all about fresh

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One of the things I appreciate about our local Farmer's Market is the variety of items you can get that are fresh. It's fun to wander around and choose something for dinner or for breakfast for the week.

IMG_3092 as Smart Object-1Here are some beautiful brown eggs.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The workman's shoes

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As I was walking the neighborhood last week, I passed a house where they had just finished a new sidewalk area. These shoes, kicked off when the work was done, were artfully placed at the end of the section they had worked on.

"Every  man is better for a period of work under the open sky." 
~ Henry Ford

Friday, February 21, 2014

Frozen in time

Bronze kid

I pass this young man every day on my morning walks, and he always makes me smile at his exuberant expression.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Balboa valentine part 2


Yesterday I talked about our Valentine holiday on Balboa Island. Today, I want to continue telling you about that great day. We walked for over 6 miles during the day and had a great view the whole way. There are water sports galore. For these guys, the calmness of the bay is ideal for exercising while enjoying the view.

P1030256P1030255For others, it's a time for laying around. Even if it is on someone else boat. I don't think the owner of this $30,000 boat is going to be happy to find it has been appropriated by these seals in his absence.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Balboa valentine


Last Friday, which was Valentine's day this year, my wife and I went to Balboa Island, Newport Beach, for the day. Balboa Island is 33 miles south of Downey. It was created in 1909 by William Collins by dredging up sand from the harbor and piling it onto the local tideland. Lots that sold originally for $600 are now selling for several million on average. This ferry, which carries cars and passengers between Balboa Peninsula and the Island, first began operation in 1920 with a single two-car boat.

P1030257It now operates 3 three-car boats. I estimated it has transported over 19.5 million cars in its 93 years.

More of Balboa Island tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Home sweet home

Rustic birdhouse

On the same walk when I came across the rustic gate, I spotted this rustic birdhouse: nothing flashy, blends nicely with its surroundings. I know birds really don't care, but I can imagine that this would suit the neighborhood sparrows quite nicely.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yosemite wildlife

Deer at Yosemite

No trip to Yosemite is complete without some wildlife viewing. We saw numerous herds of deer. Perhaps because they are so used to people, they are quite tolerant to being watched and photographed. They inevitably stop traffic wherever they are.

Deer at Yosemite

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yosemite beauty

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I thought I would share some of less famous but quite beautiful scenes that you encounter as you wander around Yosemite. Yosemite is all about getting outside, exploring and appreciating nature.

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It rained most of the night. This morning we awoke to a mist that covered the valley floor. It was mysterious and beautiful. It made for a great morning walk. Very few people were out, so it kind of felt like we had the valley floor to ourselves.

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We spotted a coyote down this boardwalk, but he disappeared into the mist.

These next pictures are what I call "puddle art." Hopefully you can "see" what I saw in the puddles left over from our rainy night.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

The great outdoors

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We are in Yosemite for the weekend. No snow, no magical wonderland of white...but how can I complain. It is always amazing. Half Dome never disappoints.

IMG_3250 as Smart Object-1The overcast weather today gave the valley a quiet, sleepy feel.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn."
~ John Muir, Our National Parks

Friday, February 14, 2014

Another gate

Rusty gate

I know, it's just another gate in another alley. But this one appealed to my love of anything rustic. And my appreciation of creative painting effects. I'm looking forward to seeing if the right side will be painted to match the left, or if the owners will keep the two-toned (or is it four-toned?) effect.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Country in the city


My wife and I often pass this house on our walks in the evenings. We always admire it since the owners have captured the look of the country and brought it here to Downey.

The bush-lined walkway and the aspen trees in the yard compliment each other in size and shape. There is a deck by the front door with an umbrella-covered table I'm sure they use to eat meals. It is set off from the street by the taller bushes so as not to be seen from the street. They have given us many good ideas for our own front yard.

Do you look for ideas in other people's yards?

During our walk, the full moon was coming up.

"The city is always recruited from the country. The men in cities who are the centers of energy, the driving-wheels of trade, politics or practical arts, and the women of beauty and genius, are the children or grandchildren of farmers, and are spending the energies which their fathers' hardy, silent life accumulated in frosty furrows in poverty, necessity and darkness."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Drought-tolerant plants


The US Bank on the corner of Florence Ave. and Brookshire recently redesigned their parking lot. They installed parking canopies with solar panels on top and they landscaped their flower beds with native drought-tolerant plants and rocks.

P1030227I went by after work to take this picture to show the dedication some Downey businesses have to be proactive during our current drought. The moon just got in the way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Out to dinner

ChipotlePanda Express

What do these two delicious meals have in common? Nothing, except that both are available on the same corner location in Downey, at Firestone Blvd. and Brookshire Ave.

The Chipotle Mexican Grill serves gourmet burritos, stuffed with my choice of organically grown ingredients. Next door at Panda Express, orange chicken and chow mein are our ingredients of choice.

Where do you go for a fast-food dinner out?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Life imitates art

Farmer's market

The Farmers' Market is always a fun place to take pictures, with all its colorful fruits, veggies, and flowers.

But what struck me ths last weekend was all the activity going on. The weekly market is a beehive of activity, reminding me of a Bruegel painting.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

1920s Craftsman home

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I have walked past this house dozens of times. Somehow I never noticed the Historical Society sign. It's a charming little home.

IMG_3186 as Smart Object-1The Craftsman home was an architectural style that began around the end of the 19th century. The style was a single-story home with sloping roofs, deep front porch with rectangular pillars. Typically the living room is open and large with exposed beams.

It was part of the Arts and Crafts movement that emphasized handiwork over mass production. The movement continued into the 1930s. Interestingly, the bungalow style originated from India.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

California Club

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This past week I was honored to be a guest at the California Club. Located in the heart of LA, it is an oasis of elegance a mere 14 miles from Downey.

IMG_3128 as Smart Object-1The beautifully maintained building designed by Robert Farquhar in 1887 gives you the sense you are stepping back in time. We started on the third floor patio, which looks out over the city. The lights were just starting to come on in the buildings around us and the effect was impressive.

It was an amazing experience. The food was superb and the service top notch. If you ever get the opportunity, don't pass it up.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Time to blossom


Even the trees are confused about the seasons this year. "Is this spring? Is it time to blossom?"

BlossomsThe results are beautiful, even if they're a little disconcerting in February.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A night at the theater


This past Saturday, the Downey Civic Theater was host to the world-renown violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn and the infamous Red Violin. She performed Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and was accompanied by the entire string section of the Downey symphony. Check out their web site here.

20140201_210215[1]The Downey Art Coalition took the opportunity to showcase many local artists' work with the theme of "red." The above photo is of Jorge del Toro and his version of the Red Violin. Mr. del Toro always incorporates animals into his work, so you'll see the white bridge is an elephant and the scroll is an alligator's head.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pizza time


In 1984, some local residents opened "The Downey Pizza Company" on Stewart and Gray Ave. We discovered them shortly after moving here in 1986. We have always enjoyed their thick crust style pizza and the convenience of home delivery. Eleven years ago, they moved to their current location on Florence Ave. just East of Lakewood Blvd. They serve pizza, calzones and specialty pastas. Check out their web site here.

P1030204P1030205One slow evening they played around with some different ingredients and came up with a new signature pizza, the pastrami pizza. It is awesome. You have got to try it. Make sure you get mustard on it.

Business is good. They employ around 25 staff.