Sunday, November 30, 2014

Downey Doodle-icious hits the "big screen"

Downey Doodle-icious mural

Three years ago, Downey resident Don Lamkin created a collage of famous Downey icons as part of a fundraiser for the Downey Museum of Art.  Entitled "Downey Doodle-icious," it includes places such as the oldest McDonald's and the first Taco Bell, as well as references to the Carpenters and the Apollo space program. Limited edition prints have become quite popular and hang at several places around Downey.

Downey Doodle-icious muralAnd now, Downey Doodle-icious comes to the big screen—that is, the big wall. Don and a team of helpers have started work on reproducing the painting on a wall of the Porto's Bakery parking structure in downtown Downey.

For lots more information about the project and the artist, see the Downey Patriot article.

Stop by when you can to see the progress and encourage Don and his team.

Downey Doodle-icious mural

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sweet gum trees

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I love these trees. They are so colorful and I love the volumes of leaves they drop. (Of course I don't have one, so I might feel differently if I did.) The color is striking as you look down the street lined with these trees.The best part is the reminder that we do have a fall season—even if our afternoons still reach 85 degrees.

IMG_1878 as Smart Object-1As I walked this afternoon, I kept noticing more of these trees. So, I got curious and did a little research. Sweet Gum is named after the amber-colored sweet sap that was scraped from inside the bark to make a chewing gum-like substance. It is the second most utilized commercial wood after oak. It is a fine hard wood used in flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and paneling.

It is also a good source of pulp wood—it makes good quality paper, go figure.

Wow, all this functionality from a tree I just thought was beautiful. This makes me like it better!
IMG_1894 as Smart Object-1

"There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it."  
~ Minnie Aumonier

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

Stonewood Center

What does everyone want to find on Black Friday? A great bargain? Well, maybe, but first, you have to find a parking space.

This is the Stonewood Center parking lot on Friday afternoon, with not an empty space in sight.  Just lines of cars before and behind me, all looking for the same thing. We don't even care if it's a good spot—any space will do.

Mathematically, your odds of snagging a space are much better if you sit and wait instead of circling the lot. (For the details, see Use math to beat holiday shopping crowds.) Keep that in mind if you venture out to the mall again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm thankful for: (Part II)


People celebrate Thanksgiving in many different ways. This is one beautiful way to celebrate with your guests. The place settings were lovely and very inviting.


I love this setting. It's so regal and luxurious. I had a great time here.


But the thing about Thanksgiving I like best is family getting together.


And of course the desserts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm thankful for:


I'm thankful for sunrises. They are a reminder that each day is dramatic, filled with possible beauty and ever changing. When I get up early enough to see the sun come up over the horizon, when I make the effort to change my view and get the obstructions out of the way, then I can see more clearly throughout the day the special and the ordinary gifts that God has given me each day.

Have you seen one today? Have you said "Thank you"?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Downtown lights

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Tonight I found myself intentionally driving through downtown Downey just because I think it is pretty at night. The buildings and trees always take on a much more elegant feel when they are lit up at night. It gives a warm, welcoming feel to downtown Downey.

IMG_1854 as Smart Object-1

Monday, November 24, 2014

A new angle

Angles of The View

My previous posts about The View, the new housing complex in downtown Downey, have focused on the colorful aspects of the building. (See The view). But what caught my attention this time were the building's many angles and lines.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Military etiquette

Bastard's decorBastard's decor

Bastard's, one of several restaurants in downtown Downey, is named in honor of owner Nick Velez's former battalion, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards." The decor inside and out is in keeping with the military theme. But these aren't just store-bought decorations.

I remember seeing clearing barrels for the first time when I attended a friend's graduation from army boot camp. Clearing your weapon before entering a building was just one of many many things that I as a civilian had never given a thought to. And viewing these items here was a reminder to me that I'm grateful to those who do.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Proof of life

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I know it doesn't look like much. But seeing these shoots pushing their way out of the ground made my day. Planting bulbs is so dissatisfying. You don't have anything to show for it. You have to be patient. It seems to take forever before they show. But once they do, I have hope.

"You can find joy everywhere if you only look close enough."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Old boat

Boat outside Russell's

I'm not sure why this scene struck me as funny. Is it that a boat is parked outside a bike shop? Or is it the thought of this old boat being dismantled piece by piece, week by week, to fit it into this trash bin?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall is here


There has been a discussion here lately about not being ready for the Christmas season. For me, I'm ready for winter weather. I love the rain, the clean crisp air, and the endless photo opportunities winter provides. I took this picture on top of my roof today after taking the picture below from my work's east parking lot. I love when a storm moves through.

Then when I got to the other side of the building, I saw the golden sunset. But I wanted to get high off the ground to get a better view without all the buildings. I rode home as fast as I could. When I got home, I called for my wife but she had gone for a walk to enjoy the sunset. I immediately got my ladder and climbed onto the roof. I was rewarded with an amazing burst of color. Thank you God.

Oh, I'm ready for winter.


"Peace is seeing the sunset and knowing who to thank."
~ Unknown Author

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Habit


The Habit Burger Grill opened in Downey today and was greeted by enthusiastic burger fans on its opening day. This is the fifth Habit in the Los Angeles area.


They started in Santa Barbara over 45 years ago.


From the beginning, they have had the slogan of "Respect the Burger." You can tell this still drives every decision in their business. The produce, the toppings, and the meat are all chosen and handled to "Respect the Burger."


On my way out, I saw this view of the patrons and structure of the interior and felt the same drive went into the design of their buildings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Expect delays

IMG_1818 as Smart Object-1

These days Firestone Blvd. is a challenge. With all the road improvements, you either experience an extremely rough road, reduced lanes, redirected lanes, or entirely blocked lanes.

IMG_1822 as Smart Object-1Clearly, the improvement has been needed for quite some time. Firestone is a busy street. Did you know that this stretch of Firestone averages 40,000 vehicles every day?

According to the Downeybeat, this is a $4.2 million dollar improvement project and runs from Old River School Road to Brookshire Avenue. The groundbreaking was in March and the project was due to be completed October 2014.
IMG_1827 as Smart Object-1Norwalk has also gotten into the act. The Firestone bridge over the San Gabriel River is also in the process of being widened.

“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” 
~ Stephen Hawking

Monday, November 17, 2014

Still not ready

Christmas decorations in downtown DowneyChristmas decorations in downtown Downey

Yesterday, I complained about "shopping centers and city governments," but I only showed you the shopping center Christmas decorations. So today, I show you the recently decorated downtown Downey, provided (I'm assuming) by the city of Downey. Even the trees, with their fall colors, don't appear to be ready for Christmas decorations yet.

The decorations will be beautiful, I'm sure, especially all lit up at night. But if you don't mind, I'm going to wait until after Thanksgiving to enjoy them.

Christmas decorations in downtown Downey

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not ready yet

Downey Landing Christmas decorations

We've had a late summer this year, with many summer-like days late into October. It's only been in the last couple of weeks that I've finally felt like fall has arrived. I've been enjoying the crisp mornings and the fall colors.

So, shopping centers and city governments, I'm not ready to move on yet! Please don't make me start thinking about Christmas, at least for a couple more weeks.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our inheritance

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I have shown this grove before. It is the grove of trees donated to Furman Park by the DAR. On this day, we were taking a walk to enjoy the crisp morning. The park was especially beautiful. The sun was brightly shining through a break in the clouds overhead. But, the darker clouds still loomed in the background, giving a magical feel to the day.

20141112_115133 as Smart Object-2We seem to spend more time walking through the park these days. It is a blessing to be able to enjoy the beauty this close to home.

“One may lack words to express the impact of beauty but no one who has felt it remains untouched. It is renewal, enlargement, intensification. The parks preserve it permanently in the inheritance of the American citizens.”
~ Bernard DeVoto

Friday, November 14, 2014

Falling in love with cooler weather

2012-11-29 10.11

It was so nice to have rain that seemed to bring on the beginning of some cooler weather. This morning the air was crisp and fresh. I felt invigorated as I walked down the street. I don't know if these leaves would have fallen on their own, or if the rain helped, either way it made for a beautiful walk.

"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 off like autumn leaves." 
~ John Muir

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Neighborhood watch


Tonight my neighbors and I participated in our third and final community meeting to qualify as Downey's Neighborhood Watch #154. This meeting featured Diana Carbajal, the Emergency Preparedness Council chair for district 4, instructing us on how to be prepared for the emergencies that could hit our neighborhood at any moment.


The handouts were full of helpful information and tips.


The meeting was well attended by my neighbors. I am truly blessed to have such caring neighbors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The last open frontier


Downey, as is most of the LA basin, is saturated with buildings. You can drive for miles and never see more than 10 feet between the residential houses, apartments, or commercial buildings that make up the landscape. But for a while, this particular piece of land, that used to be the Boeing site, was stripped of its buildings so that we had an uninterrupted view of the horizon.


I've enjoyed the views but will soon see more buildings side by side.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The man behind the marker—more to the story

Tony Gomez

A year ago, I posted a picture of a grave marker at the Downey Cemetery (The man behind the marker, Nov. 11, 2013). In that post, I speculated about Tony Gomez, the man buried there, and I used Google to fill in some possible information.

Imagine my surprise when Tony Gomez's grandson and his wife, Tony and Alma, contacted me earlier this week with more information. So, today's post contains a picture provided by Alma Gomez, along with more information about this man who served our country and made the greatest sacrifice.

"When my husband Anthony talks about his grandpa Tony, he talks about him being a war hero. We at the time only had one picture of him, and that was of him in his Army uniform. So wanting to know more information about this amazing man, I started my research.

"I found out that Tony Gomez was born on March 10, 1918, to Juan and Sarafina. He married Benita in 1940. They lived together in Denver, Colorado, and had two children, Gloria and Tony. He enlisted in the Army on July 26, 1943. When he left, he left behind a pregnant wife and a baby daughter.

"Tony Gomez was assigned to the 306 Infantry 77 Division. Although unclear, the story that has been told to us by family members is: Tony fell on top of a grenade to save his platoon. He was given the congressional Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. I'm in the process of authenticating the story that has been told us. I'm just waiting to hear from the National Personnel Records Center, this is where they hold military personnel records. "

"While Tony Gomez was fighting, Benita wrote him a dear John letter. So when he died, they did notify Benita of his death but she did not claim his body. Therefore his brother and sister who lived in Paramount, California, claimed his body, and that is why he was laid to rest in California. Tony Gomez was a father of two and would have had seven grandchildren in total. Gloria had five children, Valerie, Louie, Abraham, Debra, and Gary. Tony had two children, Anthony and Adina."
~ Alma Gomez

Thank you, Tony and Alma, for sharing this story with us. And our thanks go out today to all the veterans who have served our country.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Outdoor exercise

Furman Park outdoor exercise area

Next to the new Furman Park walking trail, near the tennis courts, is a puzzling wide-open area. The walking path crew worked hard on this area, but its purpose was hard to discern.

Until the ribbon-cutting ceremony, that is, when the city officials announced that this area will eventually hold outdoor exercise equipment. This is going to be a great addition to the walking path!

And meanwhile, the area serves as a safe training ground for future drivers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Window appeal

Shop in StonewoodShop in Stonewood

I like books. And I like to travel. So I was immediately drawn to this window display at a clothing shop in Stonewood Center.

As appealing as it was, though, I'm not sure it was very effective marketing, since I can't remember the name of the store.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sunset sky

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I work in Torrance, about 20 miles southwest of Downey. A week or so ago, I went outside to check on something, and I was greeted with this beautiful sky. It took me a minute to notice the moon was there, shining through the clouds. I know I've seen this before, but it made me wonder why I could see the moon while it was still light out.

According to, two things contribute to the moon being visible in daylight. First, it is bright enough that its light penetrates the scattered blue light of the sky. If you're looking at exactly the right spot with a telescope, you can also see the planets Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter in daylight, plus a few of the brightest stars (though few casual observers can actually pull this off). Secondly, the moon must be high enough in the sky to be visible.

I just appreciate the beauty of the sky and the moon.

"I've never seen a moon in the sky that, if it didn't take my breath away, at least misplaced it for a moment." 
~ Colin Farrell

Friday, November 7, 2014

New pathways

Furman Park Walking TrailFurman Park Walking Trail

In September, I showed you the first signs of change at Furman Park. Then in October, Joan showed you some signs of progress.

And last weekend, much sooner than I ever expected, the completed walking path was dedicated with a fancy ribbon-cutting ceremony and an inaugural walk. Twice around the park is a little over a mile, which is a nice morning walk.

The new path is made of decomposed granite. Since it rained (hard) the morning of the ribbon-cutting, we got to experience firsthand the advantage of decomposed granite. There were no muddy puddles!

Furman Park Walking Trail

Thursday, November 6, 2014

More signs of fall


Another sign of fall is the abundance of apples in the stores. Albertson's had 12 varieties on display in the produce department. Some of the usual were there, such as Golden Delicious and Gala. But I also found a new one for me, Cameo. I bought a few last night, and then had one today. Very crisp, juicy, and sweet. I'll buy them again.


And then there were the Santa displays encouraging me to stock up on Christmas-themed cookies.


And of course the discounted Halloween cookies so I could stock up for next year.

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.
~ Bernard Baruch