Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rooftop garden

IMG_0428 as Smart Object-1

I spotted this mini tree along with a few other greens growing on the roof of one of the homes that border the riverbed. While it isn't quite a rooftop garden, it was fun to find.

Now, I have lots of pine trees on my property and I struggle with constantly having pine needles on my roof. However, I've never sprouted plants....at least not that I was aware of. Maybe if I tossed a few seeds up there....

Monday, March 30, 2015

Laundry: Loads of fun

Empty clothesline

Laundry is a universal task. When I am traveling, I enjoy the picturesque site of clean laundry hanging outside on a line strung from window to window. sometimes across the small alley I'm walking down.

This clothesline next to the Rio Hondo riverbed reminded me of those scenes, as I pictured loads of laundry waiting to be hung.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gym class

Downey High School joggers

The two main high schools in Downey, Downey High and Warren High, are about an equal distance from Furman Park. So it's not unusual to see groups of students from either school running to the park on a school morning.

At this point in their run, these students from Downey High have come a little over a mile. The students at the head of the group look pretty cheerful and are setting a brisk pace. The students at the end of the group, not yet in sight, are a different matter.

"Slow runners make fast runners look good. Thank you."

Saturday, March 28, 2015


IMG_3964 as Smart Object-1

Sunset is my favorite time of day. The warm colors that light up the sky are beautiful if you are on a beach far away, or just walking along the river walk.

IMG_3968 as Smart Object-1In Africa, every night we headed out for a night drive around 4 pm. It was called a "sundowner," because you started the night's adventure by heading to a scenic location to watch the sun set, have some snacks, and maybe score animal sightings. Our guide would set up a "tailgate" on the front grill of our vehicle and put out wine, beer, and savory snacks to enjoy while we just absorbed the beauty of our surroundings.

"It's almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Biking at dusk

Biking Rio Hondo riverbed

In the twilight immediately after sunset, you don't have to ride very fast to make the camera think that you're racing along at high speed.

These bikers were enjoying their leisurely rides along the nearly empty bike path a couple of weeks ago.

Biking Rio Hondo riverbed

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where's the flag?


This is the flagpole at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. The pole has been flagless for a week now since one of the ropes broke.

20150324_161016I'm not sure if there is a professional flagpole repairman but they must be scarce here in Downey. It seems to me you just go to Home Depot and get 60 to 70 feet of rope and restring the pulley. They probably even have ropes that already have the hooks for the eyelets on the flags.

I just think it is important to fly the American and California flags at a government site.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stop and discover Downey


We have shown you some of the improvements on Firestone Blvd. that Downey has been doing recently. I noticed this addition recently as I was across the street at the Downey Gateway. It is a bus stop for the LA metro bus line. Since the buses are equipped with bike racks for their riding passengers, the bus stop has bike racks for waiting passengers.

DSC_0774And since Downey taxes paid for them, we get to advertise Downey.

How have you "discovered" Downey this year?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Riverbed cityscape

IMG_3974 as Smart Object-1

I found this view of the LA cityscape when I was commuting to USC, which surprisingly is only about 13 miles via surface streets from Downey. I liked that it looked as if the city buildings were sitting on this bridge.

IMG_3974a as Smart Object-1According to Wikipedia, a cityscape is the urban equivalent to a landscape. In the visual arts, a cityscape (urban landscape) is an artistic representation, such as a painting, drawing, print, or photograph, of the physical aspects of a city or urban area. So, for fun I also created a more artistic cityscape.

Unfortunately, as with many views from the riverbed, it's hard to escape the power lines.

"The life of our city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects. We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvelous; but we do not notice it."
~ Charles Baudelaire

Monday, March 23, 2015

The porch cat

Porch cat

A cat on the porch is a peaceful thing. A dog at the window will bark and race around, either in welcome or warning. But the cat lies quietly, and just watches through half-closed eyes.

"There's no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat."
~ Wesley Bates

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Captain of Yosemite

El Capitan

On one of our hikes this weekend, this site greeted us as we came around a corner. This is the southeast face of El Capitan, which contains the Dawn Wall. On January 14 of this year, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall.

Below is what that 3,000 foot climb looks like, looking up from the valley floor.

El Capitan

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Morning with the deer

IMG_4126 as Smart Object-1

This morning we took one of our usual walks around the back of Yosemite Lodge. We encountered groups of deer roaming, looking for a morning munch. What I didn't expect was what happened as we got down to the area of the swinging bridge.

IMG_4174 as Smart Object-1There were a lot of photographers in the area, closer to the water. So we walked down to see if there was a nice reflection. Then I noticed the deer across the creek approaching the edge of the water. Then, to my surprise, he entered the water and began crossing right to me. If you look in the picture, you see another deer entering the water to follow.

IMG_4182 as Smart Object-1

It was kind of amazing and something I had never encountered. Once they were both safely on the bank by us, they scampered off to find "greener" pastures.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Yosemite river walk

YosemiteYosemite Half Dome Merced River

It's time once again for our annual winter weekend at Yosemite. Today, we're hiking the Valley Floor Loop trail.

It's the first time I've walked this part of this trail. It's a bit different, since it doesn't have one of the famous Yosemite sights as a destination. It just wanders along the valley floor by the Merced River. Whether it's the trees opening up to a view of the valley walls or Half Dome peaking out above a view of a bend in the river, there is a surprise around every corner.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Happy trails to you


Along with the beauty of the ocean, the night sky and the surrounding countryside, what made our stay in Avila Beach so memorable was the Bob Jones bike path. It is a 2.5 mile trek along a beautiful golf course and through an expansive oak grove.


As you can read, Bob Jones was worthy of this honor. And we were glad we brought our bikes along.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sunrise, sunset


We went up to Avila Beach for a few days this week. That's a coastal city 200 miles north of Downey located on a south-facing beach of the San Luis Obispo Bay. I woke up early and took some pictures of the sunrise over Pismo Beach.

DSC_0756So then I thought I would show you a sunset over the other end of the bay.

"Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days."

And now we're back in Downey.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Power lines

IMG_3965 as Smart Object-1

Hundreds of overhead power lines stretch along the side of the Rio Hondo riverbed. Looking at them, you get a sense of what it takes to generate the power we consume on a daily basis.

IMG_0420 as Smart Object-1According to Wikipedia, power lines date back to the late 1800s. I wonder why this process has not gone through some kind of paradigm shift. I know there have been refinements and improvements, but I wonder if some company out there is close to some kind of wireless energy.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
~ Nikola Tesla

Monday, March 16, 2015

The smoky mountains

Rio Hondo Riverwalk

The recent time change and summer-like weather mean just one thing—there is time for a very pleasant evening walk along the riverbed!

It was just after sunset, and the fascinating thing about the lighting at the time was that it highlighted the layers of mountains in the distance, giving our local mountains a "Smoky Mountains" effect.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Waving flags

Houses with flags

These two porches face each other, suggesting that these two neighbors probably share their comings and goings. They also share the desire a display our country's flag.

"'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave..."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spread your wings and fly butterfly

CRW_7261 as Smart Object-1

Springtime brings not only flowers, but butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

CRW_7312 as Smart Object-1This is the best time of the year. Thanks to daylight saving time, the evenings are longer, so there is more time to spend outdoors. I love to watch hummingbirds flit from flower to flower. They are so quick and delicate as they poke their beak into the petals. And, the variety of colors on butterflies always delights.

CRW_7267 as Smart Object-1
"We were children in the garden where the flowers kiss the sky and the birds sang out in wonder as the day went sailing by."
~ lyrics to Daydream by Robin Trower

Friday, March 13, 2015

The wild side


Downey has a wild side. We have the opossums, the racoons, and the occasional coyote. And we have a lot of squirrels.

SquirrelOriginally, I tried to set up a bird feeder in my yard. But the squirrels kept chasing the birds away and stealing the food, no matter how inaccessible I thought I was making it. So I finally gave in and just fed the squirrels.

And I have to admit, they're a lot of fun to watch.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Strike one


Yesterday I shared with you the opening of the exercise equipment donated by the Kiwanis club here in Downey. Going a little further back in Furman Park are the baseball diamonds used by the Downey's Northeast Little League. Several games were going on as I took some pictures. It certainly took me back to when I played Little League. Boy, was I terrible. I was lucky Tee-ball had a "no cut" rule.

How was your sport life as a child?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kiwanis give back again


This past Saturday was the grand opening of the new stationary exercise equipment donated by the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis club to the citizens of Downey. Downey city councilman Alex Saab, a Kiwanis member and third from the right in front, was present to make the announcement to those gathered for the occasion.

DSC_0691These are some of the nine pieces of equipment donated by the Kiwanis and available to the public at Furman Park. The design of the equipment is that it uses your own weight for the resistance. You lift yourself at each station.

But notice that there is another set of handles on the other side of where the lady is sitting. This side is designed to accommodate a person in a wheelchair. The person then lifts a solid weight rather than himself.

DSC_0666The Kiwanis club is an international service organization that focuses on serving the needs of children. You can visit their website here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Furman Park romances

IMG_1929 as Smart Object-1

Furman park has several old trees that have names, hearts, and endearments carved into their barks. The carvings, known as "arborglyths," tell a story.

I just read an article about a grad student who was studying carvings made by soldiers from WW1 and WW2 throughout Europe. She has been able to track people down from the carvings and uncover stories of loved ones separated by wartime. The stories she shared in the article had many happy endings.

IMG_1931 as Smart Object-1It made me wonder about the carvings in this tree.  Who are Patti & Miguel? What is their story? As a born romantic, I imagine it represents two who have pledged their love for each other and are still together today.

"For it was not into my ear you whispered,but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."
~ Judy Garland

Monday, March 9, 2015

A pair of doves

Pigeons at Wilderness Park

Not only was Wilderness Park filled with people yesterday afternoon, it was also filled (as usual) with birds. This is a pair of of rock doves (also known as rock pigeons).

I know, you see them everywhere. Pigeons are so common in parks and public places that they are sometimes considered a scourge to public health. (They have been called "rats with feathers.") And feeding them is nearly always discouraged.

But they're not all bad. Rock pigeons carried messages for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I and II, saving lives and providing vital strategic information (http://www.allaboutbirds.org).

And did you know that pigeons mate for life? I had fun watching this happy couple.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The fountain of youth

Wilderness Park

Our summer weather while it's still winter brought out the crowds to Wilderness Park this Sunday afternoon. These kids were having a great time playing in a drinking fountain with a slight malfunction.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Trumpeting lilies

IMG_4393 as Smart Object-1

I'm still stuck on my flowers.  I love spring! Everything is in bloom. These calla lilies are growing so beautifully, and the gift is that they just come up every year. Looking at them, they remind me of bold, white trumpets growing out of the ground.

This native of African marshes can make itself at home in moist garden soils in the warmer parts of the United States. Interestingly, they are also called trumpet lilies or pig lilies. I just love how full and vibrant they have become.

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." 
~ Claude Monet

Friday, March 6, 2015

The view from the mountain

San Bernardino view

Directly to the north of Downey lie the San Gabriel Mountains, topping out at just over 10,000 feet. When we show you a view of the snow from Downey (Magical snow), you're seeing the San Gabriel Mountains.

But the mountains that typically receive the most snow are the San Bernardino Mountains, further to the east. With elevations at around 11,500 feet, these mountains hold the ski resorts that people most often head to.

So with last weekend's snow in mind, four of us (and two dogs) played hookey on Monday and headed for the San Bernardino Mountains. After driving up the mountain through a thick blanket of fog, we found enough snow to play in at Running Springs (6,100 feet). We had fun, we got wet and cold, the dogs caught snowballs—and I didn't take a single picture until we headed back down the mountain.

So here is the spectacular view of San Bernardino, from the San Bernardino Mountains, at the end of our snow day.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The pirates are in town


Currently, one of my favorite places to go in Downey is the Downey Gateway. It is full of great-tasting, inexpensive places to eat. When my son was visiting us recently, we drove by there on our way to the airport for his return flight and his comment was, "Look at all the great places I haven't eaten at yet."

There's a new place there that I need to try out soon. It's called the Stinkin Crawfish. The pirate above is their calling card to passing drivers and pedestrians. I haven't eaten there yet, but the night I took this picture the place was packed.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten—and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight—
Why, that's the best game of all!
~ Robert W. Service

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter is still here


This past weekend we went to a cabin in Frazier Park, which is a little west of Gorman and 88 miles north by northwest of Downey, for a birthday celebration. The storm that passed through during the weekend dropped a couple of inches of snow on us.

So what better way to enjoy snow for people that grew up in the basin of sunny southern California but to catch snow flakes on your tongue. So, no matter what Joan said yesterday, winter is still here and fun.

What did you do during the recent storm?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring has come!

IMG_3928 as Smart Object-1IMG_3931 as Smart Object-1

The weather has sure been unpredictable lately. We had pouring rain just yesterday and hail in Huntington Beach! And, this weekend we are supposed to have sunny 82 degree days. But the ever-changing weather has not stopped my garden from coming to life. The morning after a heavy rainfall brought such beauty. My tulips and nasturtiums have started to take over....not to mention the morning glories.

IMG_3934 as Smart Object-1IMG_3950

"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from dreams of it's wintry rest"
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley