Sunday, August 31, 2014

Simple pleasures

Bike rider at Wilderness Park

Today was a beautiful day for the park. And what better place for a bike ride than the path around the lakes at Wilderness Park.

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
~ John F. Kennedy

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sounds of America

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Last Wednesday evening the City of Downey put on a rooftop event on the top level of the parking structure behind the Krikorian Theater. It was the first in the rooftop concert series. The Swing Kings Band played music from the 40s. After the performance, a special screening of the movie Grease was shown.

I thought it was a great venue. You get to enjoy an evening above the town, watching the sun set, listening to music....does it get much better than this? Go to the city link to find out information about the next rooftop concert.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rugrats at the dentist

Dentist office

My dentist isn't just for kids, but they keep the kids happy (and the parents too) in the waiting room.

Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you.
~Soupy Sales

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The big kiss


I wanted to do one more picture from Ireland today. This is me kissing the Blarney Stone. Some in our group didn't want to kiss this stone because of having to lean over backwards, while others didn't because they felt it was too full of germs from all the other kisses. But it was on my "bucket list" and so I did it.

Oh, by the way, I now have the gift of eloquence, so there was a reward for my effort. Click here to learn more about the whole Blarney Castle experience.

What have you checked off your bucket list lately?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bridge work


The city is doing work on Firestone Boulevard on the bridge that passes over the San Gabriel River. They have closed half of the bridge while they rebuild that half. The other half is for traffic. That's six lanes of traffic down to two lanes. What a gridlock during rush hours.

P1040673They seem to be moving along quite well, though. The entire project is due for completion in June 2015. Go here to see a fuller project description. You need to scroll down a little to get to the bridge article.

The Wise Guys....Big Band fun

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The Wise Guys were the band for the final Wednesday night Concerts in the Park at Furman. They were a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed their version of "Mack the Knife"!

Not only was their music great, they were fun to watch too!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

A hole in two

Golf N Stuff

Golf N' Stuff is a family-friendly amusement park that provides the perfect way to spend the evening after a hot summer day. It's almost as colorful at night as the Magic Kingdom!

Golf N StuffThe shot at left was a hole in two. We also had three holes in one—and our share of 6's. (There are probably official golf names for those kinds of scores, but I don't know them.)

It was a fun evening!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Heart and sole

Heart footprint

Clearly, the person who left this print was a heart and sole kind of person.

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you,
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do,
Because you held me tight,
And stole a kiss in the night... 

~ Frank Loesser

Saturday, August 23, 2014

"The Avenue"...follow the signs


I made it to the Stay Gallery for the last few minutes of the historical photo exhibit. This photo is zoomed in on a sign that was once found on the corner of Crawford and Firestone Blvd.

The sign gives the distance to a number of cities and landmarks nearby. It lists the LA county farm (which used to be the poor farm, located on the south campus of Rancho Los Amigos) as well as a place called Clearwater. While it listed Clearwater as only 4 miles away, I was unable to identify where this could be. I wonder if anyone knows what Clearwater used to be.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Avenue

Stay Gallery The Avenue historical exhibit

History. Photography. Downey.

What's not to love about tonight's historical exhibit at Stay Gallery, featuring photographs of downtown Downey ("The Avenue") from 1866 through the 1960s.

One of the photographs that had my friends and me puzzling was the one above. From 1961, it's "recent" enough that I should be able to remember some of the details. That's Downey Avenue heading south up the center of the picture. But that big open field beyond the train tracks is a complete mystery to my friends and me.

Stay Gallery The Avenue historical exhibitAnd the upper right corner should be showing the northeast corner of Warren High School. But Warren High, built in 1955, hadn't yet spread to the size it is today.

The train station, a short walk from downtown Downey, was still there in 1961. Today, the original building has been torn down and replaced by the Downey Depot Transportation Center where you can catch the DowneyLINK bus.

Bob Thompson, president of the Downey Historical Society and life-long Downey resident, was on hand to answer any questions about the pictures and Downey's history. The picture behind him shows Downey Avenue back in 1911, when it was called Crawford Street. Crawford Street was named after Matson Duke Crawford, agent for John G. Downey and attorney for the Downey Land & Improvement Association.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ireland - Enniskerry's flowers


The gardens of Powerscourt Estate were breathtaking, even if the sun did refuse to come out while I was taking these pictures. Part of me was thinking of me coming out each day from my back door to take a leisurely morning walk through my gardens. What a blessing to see this beauty each day.

DSC_0590Just think of the energy this plant had to expend to produce this single beautiful flower. And I got to enjoy it for a few moments. But with this photo, even longer.

DSC_0547My trip was made even more enjoyable because of the Irish people's love of colorful nature as exhibited by yesterday's and today's pictures. This was everywhere in Ireland. But I also thoroughly enjoyed the Irish humor, which was also everywhere.

What blessings do you enjoy on a regular basis?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ireland - Enniskerry


I was looking for some red doors to show you like Pam did earlier this week but this picture just took my breath away as it took me back to our visit to Powerscourt Estates in Enniskerry, Ireland. One of the reason I wanted to go to Ireland was to see for myself if the pictures that showed how green it is were true. Having seen it in real life, it's true.

DSC_0567A little further down the path through the estate we came across this pond. You can see the estate in the background. Wait till you see the flowers I post tomorrow.

Now sweetly lies old Ireland
Emerald green beyond the foam,
Awakening sweet memories,
Calling the heart back home.
~ Irish proverb

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DAR in Downey

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Walking across one of the grassy fields at Furman Park, I came across this plaque. It is from the Santa Gertrudes Chapter of the DAR and was dedicated in 1976. I couldn't believe it! I had never noticed this before. Evidently, the DAR donated this grove of trees to the park.

IMG_0762 as Smart Object-1Founded in 1890, the Daughters of the American Revolution honors and preserves the legacy of our patriot ancestors. Over two hundred years ago, American patriots fought and sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today. (I have to admit, since watching Gilmore Girls, I have wanted to join the DAR.)

DAR membership is available to women 18 years or older who can prove they are a direct descendant of Revolutionary War patriots. DAR promotes patriotism, education, and historic preservation.

While I am not a member of DAR, my daughter surprised me a couple of years ago by joining. Maybe it's time I joined myself!

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~ Lee Greenwood

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunset at Dockweiler

Sunset at Dockweiler Beach

When we Downey-ites think about heading to the beach, we generally think of the beaches to the south of us: Seal Beach, Bolsa Chica, Huntington, and so on. We don't general think of heading directly west.

But because the Los Angeles coast goes at a 45-degree angle, from northwest to southeast, heading either west or south will take us to the Pacific Ocean. And so, the other night when we arrived at the airport too early to meet our friends' plane, we decided to keep going west.

Just a mile to the west of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and directly under its flight path for take-offs, lies Dockweiler State Beach. We arrived just after sunset, to see that the beach was filled with people crowded around bonfires, enjoying the view and the warmth, and probably some hot dogs and some-mores.

LAX doesn't have a cell phone waiting area. Maybe this is the next best thing. It certainly beats driving around (and around) inside the airport area itself!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Five palms

Palms at Furman Park

I walk through Furman Park nearly every morning, but I guess I rarely look up. Until I was taking pictures of the new children's playground equipment, I failed to notice these two sets of palm trees framing the view.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Home sweet home

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Even birds need a place to call home. I've always been a fan of fun, eclectic birdhouses. I seem to find new ones in our neighborhood often. I particularly liked that this one was made of a repurposed license plate.

Inspired by Pam's history of red doors, I checked out the history of birdhouses on

In Eurasia, the Turkish culture has evidence of birdhouses from before the Ottoman period of the 1500s. Small and simple in design in the beginning, they progressed to ornate structures. The houses were built as a refuge for the lonely birds of the sky and to protect them from the elements of nature.

Going back to the 15th and 16th century, birdhouses in the European countries of Belgium and Holland were used to trap birds for food. The eggs and chicks would be gathered from the nests built in the house. The nests were built from baskets, wood and clay; clay became the preferred material for its durability.

In America, Native Americans built simple birdhouses out of birch bark and hollowed-out gourds. They were designed to not only shelter the birds from storms, but also to help the birds breed and multiply. The Native Americans passed this tradition on to the English and German immigrants.

"The bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."
~ old Chinese proverb

Friday, August 15, 2014

The red door

House with a red door

I like red doors. A red door adds class and seems to dress up what might otherwise be a plain-looking house. A red door draws your attention to the door and says, "Come see what other surprises await you."

What else does a red door say? Googling, as always, turns up a long list of possibilities:
  • In early America, a red door was a sign of welcome to passing travelers.
  • Some say a red door was a sign of a safe house on the Underground Railroad.
  • In China, many doors are painted with a fresh coat of red just before Chinese New Year to invite good luck and happiness.
  • In Ireland, a red door is supposed to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
  • Old Catholic churches used red doors to remind parishioners of Christ’s blood and that it was a place free from evil.
  • In Scotland, homeowners would paint their front door red to signify that they had paid off their mortgage.
  • And my personal favorite — Albert Einstein painted his door red because he couldn't recognize his house without it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ireland - Belfast


This was our only full day in Belfast, so we took a "hop on/ hop off" bus ride around the city in order to see what interested us. We could then take a later bus to the place we wanted to visit and then hop on to come back to the hotel. A guide was on the bus with us indicating points of interest and giving us some historical background.

A major theme of his talk was the political struggles Northern Ireland has gone through and that still exist today. These gates that separate a Protestant neighborhood from a Catholic one are opened each morning for travel but then closed and locked each evening to prevent any possibility of conflict. The fence runs for three miles between the neighborhoods. Other neighborhoods have learned to integrate different peoples but there are still some that hang on to the old hates.

P1040652Bonnie and I went to look at another side of Belfast. C. S. Lewis, one of our favorite writers, was born in Belfast and spent his early years there before moving to England to continue his schooling and later teaching.

We went to this statue of him in front of a local library. The statue is supposed to be Digory in front of The Wardrobe. We tried to get into Narnia but sometimes the magic just doesn't work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ireland - Dublin


Our vacation in Ireland is almost at an end. We said goodbye to the rest of the tour group, who flew home today.

We have added a few days by renting a car and driving back across Ireland to Belfast. I drove the whole way and what an experience to drive on the other side of the road and the other side of the car. Most of the time we were on a divided highway and not much was different, except that I kept drifting over to the left of my lane so that either I was encroaching on the left lane, bump bump bump, or I was getting real close to the curb, "Steve, look out for the curb".

But when we got into the city, that was different. I had to constantly remind myself to stay on the left side of the road, especially when making turns onto a perpendicular street.

DSC_0057We made a side trip to a section of Dublin called Howth, a seaside town. We stopped in to a beach cafe called "East Cafe," which is a quaint eatery on the ground floor of the King Sitric Hotel and restaurant. After a serving of fish and chips, we fell into a conversation with Susanne and Marlene who told us about some local places we should visit.

We were not disappointed with this advise. This reminded me of a fact that all of us had agreed about: the Irish are such kind, considerate, and helpful people anywhere. And we think humor is a mandatory subject in school.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A view inside

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A couple of weeks ago I went with a friend to look at the First Presbyterian Church as a possible site for a wedding. I have shared pictures of this church before, but always from the outside. Click here and here for related posts.

IMG_9934 as Smart Object-1The inside was beautiful. It was rambling and homey, yet had an elegant quality with all the dark wood and colorful stained glass.

In the Pepper Tree room we were shown a needlework tapestry done by a collection of some of the women in the church. It pictured the original First Presbyterian church building that was built on the corner of Second and La Reina Streets in 1886. I believe the current church on Downey Ave. was built in the early 1900s. It was nice to hear from Ann Marie (the volunteer who showed us the church) that most of the stained glass from the original church was used in the construction of the new building.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C.S. Lewis

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Monday, August 11, 2014

For the dogs

Downey Symphony Concert

Don Lamkin is one of many Downey residents who bring their dogs to the weekly Concerts in the Park. But his dogs have some of the best seats in the park.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What's your style?

Slides at Furman ParkSlides at Furman Park

Whether you're a traditionalist or an adventurer, the new slides at Furman Park are a hit.

Furman Park slideThe slide was invented by Charles Wicksteed, and the first slide, made of planks of wood, was installed in Wicksteed Park in 1922.
~ Wikipedia

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I hear a symphony

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This past week we enjoyed listening to the Downey Symphony, led by Sharon Lavery. One more great musical experience. My fav was songs from the old musicals like Porgy and Bess and West Side Story.

IMG_0338 as Smart Object-1Of course it is always fun to watch the Ms. Lavery direct. She is intense and clearly loves what she is doing.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
~ Plato

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Cutting the ribbon

Furman Park playground ribbon-cutting ceremony

With several snipsof the not-quite-sharp ribbon-cutting scissors, the president of the Downey Kiwanis opened the newly redesigned children’s playground Wednesday night before a huge crowd of excited children, parents, and neighbors.

Furman Park playground ribbon-cutting ceremonyFurman Park playground ribbon-cutting ceremonyThe work has been in progress since sometime around the beginning of July (see More renovation), and I was amazed to see it completed so quickly.

Downey Mayor Fernando Vasquez and Council Member Alex Saab were on hand, along with members of the Downey Kiwanis. They talked about the history of the park and how the Kiwanis have contributed to the community and to this park.

And finally, after that ribbon was down (and several more photos were taken), the kids got to play on their brand new equipment.

More next week.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ireland - County Tipperary


Today we went south to County Tipperary where we saw the Irish National Stud Farm. From there we went to the Rock of Cashel. The picture above is part of the building. It was first built in the 5th century and expanded in the 8th, 11th, and 12th centuries. Because of its historical significance and its original architecture/artistic examples, it is a national treasure.

DSC_0605Turning 180 degrees from the building to see the view, I saw beauty everywhere.

DSC_0620This monument over a tomb used to be twice as tall until a lighting bolt blew off the rest of the cross that continued up.