Tuesday, September 30, 2014

California pepper tree

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I like pepper trees. I love the incongruity of the tree: the gnarly trunk looks rugged and wild, yet the leaves are graceful and airy. It makes for an interesting contrast.

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Despite the name, the California pepper tree is not native to California. It is native to the deserts of Peru but has since been cultivated in warm regions around the world. This tree can be found throughout South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the southern United States, Hawaii, Australia and Africa. It is a fast-growing tree, even though its bark makes it look ancient.

I have always thought the red berries were not edible, but according to one of the sites I researched,  they can be substituted for pepper.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fly me to the moon

Control panel

Kids playing on the space-themed play equipment at Furman Park can practice their take-offs and landings.

Friday, September 26, 2014



The miracle of life and the miracle of science combine to give this mom her first touch with her newborn son, born six weeks early.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Los Angeles County Fair #2


Yesterday I showed you a couple of scenes from the Los Angeles County fair that caught my interest but today I'll show you why I really went. First, I went to see the Photography exhibit. I got some great ideas and really enjoyed the experience.

Next, I went to see the bunnies. They are the most adorable animals (to look at). One of them would pick up straw in its mouth then go and bite the other bunnies on the backside. They would hop away and he would go bite another. Then one bunny had had enough and came and bit the first bunny. He hopped off and stopped biting the other bunnies.

On the human side, this is Dwight, in the white shirt, helping a fair attendee. His badge read "Vice President" so I was surprised that he was walking the hallways among the crowds looking for ways to help.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Los Angeles County Fair


My wife and I went to the Los Angeles County Fair tonight. On our way to the farm area, we watched the Clydesdale horses park the Budweiser wagon. They are huge animals.

I asked the driver if the horses were good for riding. He replied that some people do ride them but they are built to pull. You need some wide legs to straddle those horses.

DSC_0212Once we got to the farm area, we saw a bee exhibit, a blacksmith exhibit, and lots of plants, both vegetable-bearing and just pretty ones.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's a sign

Furman path

What does this strange symbol in the grass indicate? It means that work is starting on the improved walking paths at Furman Park.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Einstein on imagination

Firestone improvement project

For my last Firestone improvement project post (at least for a few weeks), I'm taking this quote to heart. I don't know what these structures are for. Each has a quote on the inside and a decorative D carved on the street side.

So until they're done,  I leave them to your imagination.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Zoltar speaks

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There were so many fun extra "touches" for the International Food Festival.

IMG_0988 as Smart Object-1IMG_1040 as Smart Object-1This little area drew me in because of the Eiffel Tower, but once I was there I noticed Zoltar. Do you remember the fortune teller machine from the movie Big with Tom Hanks? I kind of wondered if this man was making the wish that he could be a young boy again...

We arrived in time to see the belly dancers. The ZaZa Dancers were fun to watch. I can't imagine how much practicing this kind of dancing must take.

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I say "Good Job, City of Downey!" The International Food Festival was a Downtown Downey hit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

International Food Festival

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Downey hosted an International Food Festival in downtown Downey today. The event was a great success.

IMG_1014 as Smart Object-1 I loved this fountain area, above. It was like stepping into a little European city. It made me wish we could leave the fountain and add in a traffic circle. It was charming.

There were food trucks and booths offering a wide variety of choices for dinner. I chose Thai food and was not disappointed with my spicy chicken fried rice.

More to come tomorrow!

Friday, September 19, 2014

No longer empty

Firestone improvement project plantersFirestone improvement project planters

On Monday, I showed you the just-delivered pots for the Firestone Boulevard improvement project, still wrapped in plastic. Here, you can see them in place and filled with with greenery and flowering plants.

These pots now line Firestone Boulevard near downtown Downey. There's still a lot of work to do, but what's there is starting to look very appealing.

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
~ Tao saying

Thursday, September 18, 2014



Quick, what was the first church in Downey? Answer, below.

It was the Methodist Church of what was then Los Nietos Valley and it started in 1854. It is now called Downey United Methodist Church. I went to their 160th anniversary the other night to see how they were going to celebrate this event. Having been a part of Downey history, there were plenty of stories to go around. They had several people dressed in period costumes dating back to pre-civil war era.


This was the original building which was located further south than the current location.


These are some of the members dressed in period costumes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stormy sunsets


These hot summer days are making for some beautiful summer sunsets. When moisture from down south meets with the hot air in the overheated deserts to our east, it causes serious thunder clouds. First, over the desert itself, then over our San Gabriel Mountains.

Then, if there is enough energy and moisture, they will spill over into the Los Angeles basin where Downey is. Even if it doesn't rain, we get some spectacular sunsets. Enjoy.

"It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream."
~ Bern Williams

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I call "fowl"

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Even the birds enjoy a cool swim on a hot day!

IMG_0893IMG_0920 as Smart Object-1It was such a hot day, we went to the park to find a cool breeze. What a nice relief it was.

Maybe it was the time of day, or maybe it was just being by the water. The lake was filled with a variety of birds who also seemed to be enjoying their afternoon. It was fun to watch them while we cooled off.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pots instead of potholes

Firestone Project

These pots, still plastic-wrapped, give you a clue of more to come for the Firestone Boulevard improvement project. Some of these pots have been unwrapped since I was by there this weekend. I'll show you more on Friday.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seeing Firestone in a new light

Firestone ProjectFirestone Project

The Firestone Boulevard improvement project seems to be taking another step forward. Recently, the ornamental street and pedestrian lighting installation was completed, and numerous trees have been planted along the sidewalks in this section of Firestone, near the palms that were planted in July. The lighting has kind of a combined retro and modern look, and provides light to both the street and the sidewalks.

Sometimes it looks like the project still has a long way to go, although it is scheduled to be completed next month. But it's encouraging to see this latest step forward.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mountain view

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It is not too often that you can see the San Gabriel Mountains so clearly from Downey. Unfortunately, the foreground for this view wasn't very exciting, but it was a reminder to me that we really do live in a basin.

These "foothills" rise abruptly 4,000 feet above the Los Angeles Basin and give rise to the Arroyo Seco (a tributary of the Los Angeles River). Melting snow and runoff on the south side of the San Gabriels' highest mountains feed its largest river, the San Gabriel River--which borders Downey to the east.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Container gardens

Pots and yard art

There are advantages to growing your garden in containers.

Pots and yard artYou can start one anywhere, and if the light doesn't suit the plant, you can move it to a new location. It's easier on your back—less bending and lifting.

Weeds are few, and bugs are less likely to take over. You can easily change the look by introducing new plants, or new containers.

And you can mix some friendly ceramic animals in between the pots.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We will never forget


Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy of the terrorist attack on the United States. Americans across the country remembered the anniversary in various ways. Here in Downey, among other things, we flew our flags at half mast. This one is at city hall.

20140911_163648This one is at the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I see the moon and the moon sees me


Last Saturday, Joan showed you pictures of the astronomers at the Columbia Memorial Space Center on International Observe the Moon Night. I went later that night to also observe the moon and the people observing the moon.

This is Mark, a recent member of the Columbia astronomers. He is giving back a thumb drive to this lady. He has transferred picture files of the moon that he took with his 2000mm telescope. Anyone bringing a flash drive could get these pictures.


This is one of the moon shots I received.

Moon - Tranquility Base

And this is a closeup of Sea of Tranquility, which is where Apollo 11 landed in 1969. I can't see the American flag though.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
~ Neil Armstrong

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The night, the moon, the clouds

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This night the moon was amazing. It kept hiding behind the clouds, but as I watched, the clouds would move out of the way and let the moon peek through. It was eerie and a little mysterious....it was the night before the rain came.

IMG_0976"We love the night and its quiet; and there is no night that we love so well as that on which the moon is coffined in the clouds" 
~ Fitz-James O'Brien 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lines, angles, and rhymes

Power linesPower lines

The lyrics of the old Fifth Dimension song, "Love's Lines Angles and Rhymes" come to mind when I look up at these electrical towers at Wilderness Park. There are so many variations of lines, angles, and repetitions (rhymes?) to make them interesting.

"Of the angles and rhymes
And the triangle lines
The feeling touching
Mine with time"
~ Dorothea Joyce

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Huskies at the park

Dog park huskies

When I got my first Siberian Husky, back in 1985, Huskies weren't very common. This was long before movies like Snow Dogs and Eight Below made them as popular as they are today.

Now Ivan and I pass Huskies on our walks several times a week. And last week at Downey's David R. Gafin Dog Park (at Rio San Gabriel Park), the Huskies easily outnumbered all the other large dogs put together.

I didn't know anything about Huskies back in 1985. I lucked out in that I fell in love with all their qualities, the good and the bad.
  • They "talk" instead of bark. They howl, especially if  you're laughing at something. (Ivan has taught his big, tough Belgian Shepherd companion to howl too.)
  • They're smart, but they're inclined to use their intelligence to suit their own purposes. 
  • They are born to run, which is great if they're pulling you on your bike or skateboard (not me!), but not so great when they escape out the front door. 
  • They have a high prey drive ("Squirrel!"), so they'll chase anything, but they're not good at bringing anything back again.
  • They aren't smelly, but they shed their entire coat two (or more) times a year.
I wouldn't trade Ivan for anything!

Dog park Huskies

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Observe the Moon Night

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Tonight is International Observe the Moon Night—an annual event dedicated to encouraging people to look up and take notice of our nearest neighbor, the moon.

IMG_0966 as Smart Object-1People were gathered on the lawn of the Columbia Memorial Space Center with telescopes set up ready for an evening of viewing.

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"Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars." 
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bike Downey

Bike DowneyBike Downey

The City of Downey wants you to be healthy. Here's a colorful reminder to ride your bike around Downey.

And if you need any help or encouragement, get together with the Downey Bicycle Coalition. Monthly bike rides resume on September 27.

Or come out to the community workshop tomorrow morning. The workshop includes a bicycle master plan update, displays with draft recommendations, and community feedback.