Monday, February 29, 2016

Guard cat on duty

Security cat

As I drove slowly down the street, I knew I was being watched. By the ADT security cat.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oranges everywhere

Picking oranges

It's orange season again! This picture contains three common sights these days: an orange tree covered with ripe oranges, a wood pole supporting a branch that is weighed down by too many ripe oranges, and the tools to pick ripe oranges.

I could say more, but I'll end with this...just substitute "picture" for "character...
"Google is my best friend and my worst enemy. It's fabulous for research, but then it becomes addictive. I'll have a character eating an orange, and next thing I'm Googling types of oranges, I'm visiting chat rooms about oranges, I'm learning the history of the orange."
~ Liane Moriarty

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Always in bloom

IMG_7896 as Smart Object-1

They say variety is the spice of life. This is one of my favorite front yards. It makes me smile every time I drive past. I love the metal figures and flowers they have, all unique and very appealing.  It's hard to believe it was almost 6 years ago that I first posted the palm trees. Now the sunflower to the right of the palm trees is painted blue.

IMG_7898 as Smart Object-1The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety. 
~ William Somerset Maugham

Friday, February 26, 2016

New uses for old things


Mailboxes are a common theme this week. These mailboxes caught my eye because of the unique "pole" that they're attached toa stump that otherwise might serve no useful purpose.

It'll be interesting to stop by again in a few months, though, to see if those small sprouts at the top of the stump have overpowered the mailboxes.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Humans of Downey - Jessi


"I would have to say that one of my life's heroes, someone that stepped in to help me make some good decisions, was one of my middle school teachers. I grew up in Compton, which doesn't have the greatest reputation for being a great area. I was applying to a magnet high school. Not only did you have to apply but there was an interview process to get in. This teacher really encouraged me to go through the process. I was a kid. I wanted to stay in Compton, all my friends were there, and I wanted to go to high school with them. But she encouraged me to go through the process and get the work done to see what happens.

"She said it would be a better opportunity for me to go to college later. That changed my life completely. I don't know what I would have been like if I had stayed at school in Compton. She really pushed me and encouraged me to always do more than the level I was at, to always keep improving. I don't know if I would have even gone to college or at least it would have taken a lot longer to get through. She was a great influence on me."
~ Jessi

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Humans of Downey - Scott


"When you say the word of hero, I think of my dad. I look up to him. He's a very simple person but his family means a lot to him. I've seen that in my life whenever I've gone astray, like I'm in a bad place of my life, he's always been there and I've always looked up to that. Growing up, I've seen my friends' family lives were always broken, their parents' marriages were broken. My parents are still together. At a young age I knew that I wanted a life like that. I wanted to provide that for my son. I saw how hard it was for my friends. They always envied me, they'd say, 'Your life is so great.'

"Even though it looked great from the outside, it wasn't all perfect, we had our problems, but I wouldn't trade my family for the world. Although it sounds like a cliché, when I think of a hero, I think of my dad. He's always provided for us. No matter what stupid mistakes I made growing up, he would never yell at me but would talk. We would sit down and discuss it. He would just be there, whatever I would need.

"I would say that one character trait of my dad's that I've taken and made a part of my life is his work ethic. He never misses a day and when he goes to work, he works hard. My dad earned a BS in biology but he became a mail carrier for the post office. It took that work ethic to earn the degree and then you add that to his devotion to his family to get a good job and stick with it through the years. I want to be that kind of hero."
~ Scott

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Not your typical mailbox

IMG_7892 as Smart Object-1

They aren't exactly yard art, but they are a fun, artistic way to differentiate yourself from your neighbors. And, it had me wondering...when did we start using mailboxes?

According to Infoplease, in the early 1800s, most letters in the U.S. were taken to the post office to be mailed, and recipients had to retrieve their mail from the post office. It wasn't until 1863 that mail was delivered without additional charge to homes of people who lived in cities. By 1890, hundreds of cities delivered mail to residents' homes, thus leading to a need for mailboxes.

Of course, mail has changed over the past ten years. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Mailed a bill? Pretty soon, these boxes, though appealing, may be obsolete.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Vultee eagle

Consolidated Vultee emblem

The first time I saw the Consolidated Vultee logo, I was looking through a window into the entrance to their abandoned old administration building. (See Consolidated Vultee for a view through the window.) With the window reflections, it was a little hard to see clearly.

Now, these old buildings are being restored and repurposed. The buildings are part of what used to be a huge site where aircraft were built for WWII and, later, space shuttles were constructed. Now it is being developed into a mixed-use site called The Promenade. Part of the agreement with the developers was that the administration building be restored and that the Vultee and later aeronautic history be preserved.

A kind watchman let me check out the old entrance and get a close-up picture. The inside of the entrance is covered in graffiti and is obviously in the middle of construction. But the logo is there, waiting to be restored along with the rest of the building. And a copy of the logo now marks the outside of the partially finished building.

Consolidated Vultee emblem

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Woody and Chip

Woody and Chip

In the years since I first met Woody and his "parents" Andy and Betty Wolfe in April, 2010 (see Woody the neighborhood watch cowboy), we have become friends. So when Betty, sounding like any proud mom of a toddler, emailed me to let me know that Chip was standing now, I knew I had to stop by to visit again.

And sure enough, Chip is standing proudly next to Woody, an arm around Woody's shoulders. It's good to see this "family" growing!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Snow moon

IMG_7886 as Smart Object-1

Tonight we had a beautiful full moon. I saw no stars, but the moon was clear in the sky. At least that is what I thought. According to NASA, we won't have a full moon until Monday the 22nd. Then it will be a snow moon. According to the Farmers' Almanac, full moon names date back to Native Americans in the northern and eastern U.S.

IMG_7884 as Smart Object-1“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Friday, February 19, 2016

Silhouette or shadow

Tree silhouette and shadow

One of the things I like about winter is seeing the "skeletons" of the trees. The silhouette of this tree, one recent morning, was what first caught my eye. But then I noticed that its shadow on the house was just as intriguing.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Humans of Downey - Bob


I was at Disneyland this evening celebrating my grandson's second birthday, so I took the opportunity to interview someone staying at Disney's Grand California Hotel. Bob and his wife, Kristen, are from Marin County in northern California.

"I first met my wife, Kristen, when we were both teachers at the same school. We taught third grade together at Coleman Elementary School in San Rafael and our classrooms were next to each other. We were at first colleagues, then we grew to be more than colleagues. We kept it a secret from everybody at the school for a little over a year. It was our students that first noticed I was giving Kristen the 'loving eyes,' according to one of their diaries. Now she works at the County Office of Education and I'm a middle school principal.

"How I became a school principal was, when both of us were school teachers, Kristen got her Administrative Credential before I did. So I was spurred on by her to get mine. But I still didn't think I wanted to be a principal. I had this feeling that the real work happens in the classroom and that's where I want to be. The principal at our school and another colleague kind of pushed me. They said, 'There is this principal position opening in our district and it should be you. You need to go for it and these opportunities don't come around very often.'

"I felt kind of swept up into applying for the position, but I got it. So I have changed my tune of 'I never want to be a principal' to now I can't imagine filling any other role in the school system. I strive to never lose the mindset that I am there to help the teachers do their jobs. That the kids are getting what they need in the best possible way. I try to never lose sight of that. It's very easy to make that switch of 'everybody is working for me' where it should be the other way around. It should be, are the kids happy, are they learning? Are the teachers happy, are they able to connect with the kids to get their jobs done? That's what it is all about."
~ Bob

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It rained today


Sorry, but here in southern California, that's news. It started in the late morning and has continued for most of the day. I took this photograph during a lull in the storm this evening around 9:00 pm. That's probably why there are no children on the swings. You know, if you hold a camera's shutter open long enough, enough light gets in and it can look like daytime. But it's not.

DSC_0797But it's the reflections that intrigue a photographer. What is the difference between the light from the lamppost and the reflective light from the puddle in the street? To me, it's fascinating. What do you think? Claude Monet made a living out of painting reflections in a pond.

“What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence.”
~ Claude Monet

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


20160216_175024 as Smart Object-1

It's funny how you can live in a city and drive past some place for years without every stopping by. I have seen this liquor store for years.

20160216_174343 as Smart Object-1A few weeks ago, I noticed this sign advertising Craft Beer. I'm not a big beer fan, but craft beers can be fun. So, tonight I stopped by to check it out. There was a pretty varied selection. I even ended up buying a vanilla porter.

20160216_174620 as Smart Object-1

inside Wyman's liquor ( City of Downey , California )According to one internet search, it says Wyman's was founded in 1977. It seems older. This picture was available online.

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer". 
- Frank Zappa

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gaucho style

Stay Gallery Gaucho Style

I don't always make it to opening night for a Stay Gallery exhibit. In fact, I probably miss more of them than I attend. So when I walked past the gallery one evening last week and noticed the photographs (my favorite type of exhibit!), I was intrigued. The building was nearly empty, and it was obvious the few people meeting at a table in the back weren't really "open." But the door was unlocked, and they kindly let me wander about.

The exhibit is called Gaucho Style—a one-night fundraiser for the gallery's Stay Young 2016 Art Education Initiative. It featured the photography of Executive Director Valentin Flores. It is also the first group exhibition of Stay Gallery’s creative team: Gabriel Enamorado, Ana Godinez, and Matthew Ward.

I don't often get an unobstructed view of the artwork at Stay Gallery. Thanks, Gabe, for letting me wander.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dressed for love

Second Tyme Around Shoppe window display

Looking back, I notice that I frequently post about the Second Tyme Around Shoppe. Just last month, I wrote about their winter-themed window displays. This month, the display, with hearts and pink and red clothes, is perfect for Valentine's Day. And this time, I finally realized what keeps me coming back.

It's not just that the displays are colorful and appealing. Rather, it's that somebody here (or most likely several somebodies) cares enough to take the time and thought to make the displays attractive. Somebody cares enough to want this thrift store to be a success.

And that's important, because proceeds from the store benefit the Assistance League of Downey and their numerous philanthropic projects. Among their programs is Operation School Bell, which provides new clothing to school children, and HOME (Housing of Medical Emergencies), a 10-unit apartment complex that serves relatives of patients at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

So stop by sometime, and see for yourself.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Are you ready for Valentine's Day?

IMG_7822 as Smart Object-1

I'm in San Diego for the weekend and it seems like every few intersections down here there are street vendors selling all sorts of items from boxed individual roses to a variety of stuffed animals for Valentine's Day. One of the vendors I talked to today plans to stay "Open" until 9pm today and reopen tomorrow. They seem to be doing a booming business.

IMG_7820 as Smart Object-1I guess it is how things change. I think of Valentines as more about chocolate and fresh flowers...not sure a pink 3-foot stuffed animal is my cup of tea. But, I guess if you need a last minute gift, it is an option.

"The National Retail Federation estimates 55% of Americans will celebrate Valentine's Day this year, spending an average of $142.31 per person for a total of nearly $19 billion."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sign of support

I love my DPD sign

I posted last November about the support shown to the Downey Police Department in the wake of the murder of Officer Ricky Galvez. "I love my DPD" slogans popped up all around the city.

Earlier this week, I spotted another of these slogans on top of the old Century 21 building in downtown Downey. Maybe it's been there a while without my noticing—I don't really know. But it reminded me once again that our officers risk their lives every day to protect and serve their community.

"We stand watch together, a thin blue line protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police."
~ Officer Taylor, End of Watch

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Humans of Downey - Maria


"One time my husband planned this special Valentine date that I never expected. He asked me to get dressed up and we went to this French restaurant in Fullerton called The Basement. The only problem was that I don't eat much at each meal, so he was kind of disappointed that I didn't eat more. But we did take home the leftovers.

"I was raised by my grandmother and she worked at the Red Cross in Costa Rica. It was in this big building, which was mostly empty. I spent all my time there after school. I would roller skate in the meeting rooms with tile floors. It was great. I always wanted to be hospitalized. I saw whenever there was an emergency coming in and I wanted that excitement. I never had a broken arm or any thing serious.

"One day I told my grandmother that I was going to roller skate in a certain meeting room. And I swiped some casting material. I went upstairs to an empty bathroom and I made a little cast and put it on my little finger. I knew how to do this because when emergencies would come in they would put me up on top an armoire and I would look down and watch them. I became an LVN because of those experiences. So, I was going to tell them at school the next day that I had broken my finger roller skating.

"I went and roller skated some to let the plaster dry before going back to my grandmother. She saw that I kept hiding my hand behind my back. So, she came after me and found out what I had done and took it off. I was very disappointed. I didn't have anything to show off at school the next day."
~ Maria

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Humans of Downey - Brenda


"I started working for pay when I was 16 years old. My mom and dad broke up when I was young. It was my mom trying to raise us on a waitress's income, so we suffered some. My dad helped when he could. When I got old enough, I decided, 'You know, I'm going to have to help her.' I put schooling on hold and went to work. First though, I had to knock on a lot of doors around the city. I didn't care what they did as long as they would hire a kid with no experience. Whatever it was, I was there. I got plenty of NO's but finally, I got a few yes's. I found a job at McDonald's in Bell, but then I found another one at Der Wienerschnitzel in Huntington Park. So I worked both jobs. I even found another one for a while at the South Gate drive-in making pizzas. Ever since, I've always worked two jobs.

"A few years back I came out of a bad relationship. I told myself, 'I'm not going to date anymore. I'm just going to be single for the rest of my life.' I had been cheated on. It was just a bad situation all around. A little bit later, while I was teaching here at Downey Adult School, and I had a strict rule to never date a student, but here he comes. He spent from January to April in my class, one semester. We had talked a little bit, not much, but there was some things in common and definitely an attraction but more on a mental scale. All through the semester he would come, do his thing, and then go home. He never asked me out and I didn't pursue a deeper relationship. Then during the last week of class, it was going to be the last night he would be in my class, he came up to me and asked, 'Will you go out with me?'

"And we did. It was kind of cool. I'm a Christian and the relationship I was in before was bad. 'God wasn't in it' is the best way I can describe it. So, I prayed, 'God, I'm going to be single the rest of my life. But if you have a different plan, I have to know it's from you. He's going to have to be a Christian.' So, Shawn and I went out, I didn't know him that well, so I told him, 'OK, you have to meet me at a parking lot. You can't come to my house.' He thought that was kind of weird but I said, 'You have no idea what I've been through and until I know you, you're not going to know where I live.' So we went to Dave and Busters', shot pool and hung out. I kept my big purse at my side so he couldn't hold my hand. The cool thing was while we were driving in his car, he said, 'I want you to know right off the bat, I'm a Christian.' Nobody knew but me and God that that was one of my requirements. We've been married for a year and a half now and he always spoils me. I've got some good things planned for him this Valentine's Day."
~ Brenda

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Airplane view

20160107_165013 as Smart Object-1

I recently had the opportunity to ride on a corporate jet. What an adventure. This is the view of the setting sun as we approached Long Beach. It was an incredible sight. Sunsets and sunrises bring such color to the sky.

"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 8, 2016

Celebrating yogurt


Today is National Frozen Yogurt Day, and Yogurtland, in Downey Gateway, celebrates by serving free yogurt and toppings from 4pm to 7pm. No one knows for sure how this particular national celebration started, although some give credit to yogurt retailer TCBY back in 1993.

YogurtlandThe line was long but crowd control kept the inside uncrowded and pleasant.

How long would you wait for your free yogurt?

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Huskies at the dog park

I have a fondness for Siberian Huskies. So I was excited to see nearly enough huskies at the David R. Gafin Dog Park (at Rio San Gabriel Park) to make a sled team!

"You're not fat, you're just a little husky!"

Saturday, February 6, 2016


IMG_5994 as Smart Object-1

I am a sucker for colorful flowers. I actually took this some time ago at Furman Park while on a walk. It always seems like they can't be real....they are so brilliant.

"Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways." 
~ Oscar Wilde

Friday, February 5, 2016


Embassy Suites atrium

It's been quite some time since I've been inside the Embassy Suites Hotel, and I was surprised to see that the interior atrium has been completely remodeled. Gone are the cascading waterfall, tropical foliage, koi ponds, and turtles. The feeling now is much more open, and the breakfast buffet looked quite enticing.

But oddly, from above, the planter areas reminded me of a couple of amoebas.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Printed graffiti


I discovered a new electrical box that the city has had painted. It's on the southeast corner of 2nd Street and Downey Avenue. This one is painted in a retro style. The pictures show scenes of earlier days of downtown Downey. Stop by and peruse the pictures on all five sides. Even the lock is painted to fit where it lies.

DSC_0729But the thing that caught my eye and got me upset was the arrogance of someone to put an advertisement on this piece of art. You can see it in the upper right corner of this photo, on the "D" of Downey. I hope they can peel it off without damaging the artwork.

What do you think? Was it good business to put this advertisement on someone else's artwork?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Humans of Downey - Emery


"Thirty-two years ago I was the Youth Director of the Hungarian Baptist Church of Alhambra. Two young ladies were coming from Maryland to visit their aunt and I had the privilege to pick them up at the airport. When I saw them I had my eye on the younger , but I married the older. We met in April, became friends, and married in November. We have been married for 31 years.

"When our daughter, Christina, was born, I was the first to hold her but only for a few minutes. The feeling of joy that filled my heart as I looked into this little bundle of joy we had created was overwhelming. Then I gave her to her mother, who got to hold her for a few minutes, then the nurses took her away and I only got to see through the glass for the next few days."
~ Emery

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


20160131_111532 as Smart Object-1

The funny thing about rain is it makes everything sort of blurry and indistinct, like looking through this window. My favorite way to spend a rainy day is to be warm and cozy—a fire lit in the fireplace. It is such a peaceful way to spend a lazy afternoon...listening to the sounds of the rain drops.

20160131_111702 as Smart Object-1"Suddenly all the sky is hid
As with the shutting of a lid,
One by one great drops are falling
Doubtful and slow,
Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,
And the wind breathes low;
Slowly the circles widen on the river,
Widen and mingle, one and all;
Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver,
Struck by an icy rain-drop’s fall."
~ James Russell Lowell, "Summer Storm," 1839

Monday, February 1, 2016

What's your newspaper style?

Reading the newspaper

You know all those quizzes that pop up on Facebook or in magazines? They ask you about your style in some facet of your behavior, and then tell you what this means about your personality. Well, I think there should be a quiz to tell you what your newspaper reading style says about you.

Reading the newspaperIn just a few minutes of people-watching at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Sunday morning, I observed two very different newspaper styles. The first one, above, is relaxed. There's no rush here. The completed (or unwanted) sections of the paper get tossed aside.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who read on the go. Life's short, there are a million things to get done, there's not a moment to waste. If you can multi-task while reading the paper, so much the better.

What's your newspaper style?