Thursday, June 30, 2016

Humans of Downey - Scott


"I think I probably watch too much sports on TV. I find myself attached to the TV when golf is on or football when it's on, stuff like that. Instead I should be working around the house or working on my golf game, both of which I don't do enough.

"One of my early memories of success was when I was chosen to be on the All Star team of Pony League baseball in Downey. We got to play at Dodger Stadium. This is where I learned team play, depending on others for the success of the team. It taught me that you need everyone on the field to work together instead of as individuals like in golf. It makes you feel good when you are helping others. I think before I was a part of a successful team I didn't recognize the necessity and power of teamwork. I have taken that experience and knowledge into my adult life, especially when coaching my son in baseball. I'm trying to relay the idea that everyone has to do their part for the team to be successful."
~ Scott

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Humans of Downey - Frank


"My next great adventure is actually happening right now. We are putting together an anthology of the writings from Bonnie Mansell's Memoir Writing class. These are the stories that appear in the Downey Patriot each week under the title 'Shared Stories.'

"But once that is done, my next adventure is to write a book. I spend a lot of time thinking about my own life and I've written multiple memoir vignettes. But to tell someone else my whole story is not what I want to do. Partly because there are some things I don't want to talk about. So I thought the perfect way to tell my story is through a novel. A novel that would give the feeling of the times I'm thinking about, 1968 to 1970. It would give the feeling of the times and some of the experiences without having to go through and worry about the details of my own stories. So far, I've written about 20 pages of it. I'm looking forward to that next great adventure."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A woman you'll never forget

Golden Gate Bridge

I drove through San Francisco on the way home from last weekend's wedding. I wasn't taking time to sight-see, except for this one detour for a view of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is a sight that never fails to impress.

Most of the time, people stop at the quick-in-quick-out viewing point at the north end of the bridge. But if you take the road to the other side of the highway and drive a little ways up the Marin Headlands road, there are many turnouts that offer more views of the bridge, without the crowds.

"I have known her for 15 years, and she is more beautiful than ever ... Her hair is usually a copper-red, and she has enormous feet, but once you have seen her bathing in the sun, she becomes a woman you will never forget."
~ Dean Jennings, The Chronicle, 1952

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our biggest lake

Clear Lake

I traveled to northern California this past weekend for a wedding, which was held near Clear Lake. Clear Lake is located about an hour north of San Francisco, and has the distinction of being the largest natural lake wholly within California. (This distinction excludes Lake Tahoe, which is larger but is also bordered by Nevada.)

With over 100 miles of shoreline, Clear Lake is a popular destination for camping, fishing, boating, or, in our case, having a relaxing pre-wedding dinner with family and friends.

Clear Lake

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pretty lemon tree


This lemon tree looked so full and the lemons were huge. It reminded me of the old Peter, Paul & Mary song, "Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

You say tomato, I say tomato


I love homegrown tomatoes and these heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market were irresistible.

"If tomatoes are classified as a fruit...isn't ketchup technically a smoothie."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Window dressing

Second Tyme Around thrift shop

I often snap a picture of the latest window display at the Second Tyme Around thrift shop in downtown Downey. But this is the first time I've seen the work in progress. The Hawaiian-themed display must have caught someone's eye, because a dress was being purchased, and some redressing was definitely necessary.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Italian gelato


Another significant part of our trip to Italy was eating. One of our favorite stops was any gelato shop, there's always a few in every city. Oh my gosh, it is so good. I had dark chocolate, peach, black cheesecake with chocolate chunks (over multiple visits). This particular shop, Gelateria Caffe, in Rapallo, was manned by Giulio, the thumbs up guy. He said to drop by any time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I'm higher than you


On our recent trip to Europe, we visited Lucca, Italy, a town in northern Italy west of Florence. Our guide told us about the inhabitants of the city during the 13th century and how to show their prestige they would build a tower next to their home. Each one built a little higher than the last person.

The city government finally said enough and enacted a building code for the maximum height of any tower. So, this owner decided that since the code didn't say anything about items on top of the built structure, they would create a 10-foot-deep pit at the top and fill it with dirt. Then they planted trees to make their tower look taller than anyone else's.

Good thing they don't have California sequoia trees in Italy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We all scream for ice cream!


Without a doubt, my fav was the grilled pineapple bourbon caramel! This stall in the farmers' market had some amazingly good ice cream.

"You can't buy Happiness, but you can buy Ice Cream and that's kind of the same thing."

Monday, June 20, 2016

The rookery

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

In addition to the sheer beauty, one of the highlights, for me, of the Pacific Coast Highway is the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. This stretch of beach just north of the famous Hearst Castle is the periodic home to 23,000 elephant seals. No matter what time of year you pass by, you can stop and view hundreds or thousands of seals lolling on the beach.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal RookeryHere are just a few of the amazing facts about these seals:
  • Males grow to as much as 5,000 pounds and 16 feet long.
  • Only the males grow the long nose.
  • The seals can't grow new skin and hair all year long, so they come on shore once a year for a month, when they shed (molt) a layer of old skin and all their hair on the beach.
  • This being June, the current population is small and consists of the sub-adult males that are here for their molting. Since they are still young, there is a lot of play jousting between the young males.
  • The seals spend 8-10 months of each year at sea, with two breaks back at the rookery.
  • During their time at the rookery, they neither eat nor drink. 
  • On land, they are very social, often clumping together in row after row. In the sea, they are solitary, likely never seeing another elephant seal until they return to the beach.
  • They travel as much as 3,000 miles from the rookery in their search for food.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Road trip!

Pacific Coast Highway view

Living in California, we have access to some pretty amazing places. One of those places, which regularly makes the top ten lists of the most beautiful drives in the United States, is the Pacific Coast Highway between Morro Bay and Monterey.

So, since this happens to be my father's favorite drive, we took a road trip up and down PCH this Father's Day weekend. And as always, the views were superb!

Pacific Coast Highway view

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Perfect evening

20160618_200713 as Smart Object-1

Tonight as I was walking and jogging the path that runs around Furman Park, I had to stop for just a minute to appreciate the beautiful sky. The moon, the clouds, and the pink-tinted sky made for a beautiful ending to what had been a pretty hot day in Downey.

20160618_200347 as Smart Object-1"You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream."
~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, June 17, 2016


Farmers market

Most of the vendors at the farmers' market are regulars, so of course they get to know each other. So the #organic_delight guy was very pleased when I took his picture along with his sign—which had been made especially for him by the cupcake girls next door—who were equally pleased that we appreciated their sign. A win-win for everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Busking II


When we were in Paris, France, we also were entertained by buskers as Pam was in Downey. These two gentlemen, Brice and Felix, were playing some classical music as we passed them by when we were leaving the Louvre museum. We thoroughly enjoyed their playing and thanked them by putting some Euros in their violin case.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Paris sidewalks


These pictures are from our recent vacation in Paris, France, and Florence, Italy. One of the best activities when being in Paris is to grab a seat at a sidewalk cafe and watch the life of Paris walk, ride, and drive by. Bonnie, Carol, and Frank are enjoying the life of leisure as they absorb the sights and sounds of this Parisian neighborhood.

DSC_0035Engaged couples go to many beautiful places to have their wedding pictures taken. This couple came from Japan to have their wedding pictures taken in the park just behind Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. I asked them if they thought it would be bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her gown before the wedding. They said it wasn't the real gown. She will get the real one just before the wedding in Canada.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The brew that is true


It was raining on us this Saturday as we made our way to the Farmers Market on Downey Ave. So, it made sense to stop and get a hot cup of coffee. Yum! 3rd Street Coffee is right on the way and a fun, tasty stop. A neighborhood favorite, it's nice to have a local place to start your day.


"A yawn is a silent scream for coffee."

Monday, June 13, 2016


Felix Hackenberg

When I hear the term "busking," I usually think of touristy thoroughfares such as the waterfront in Victoria, British Columbia, which is typically covered with buskers year round.

Wikipedia says, "Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities, though "busking" is particularly associated with singing or playing music. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world by men, women and children and dates back to antiquity. People engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers."

But Downey, too, has its regular busker, Felix Hackenberg, who performs regularly at the farmers' market. Check him out yourself, Saturday mornings.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's in the genes


Eggs are one of the many fresh foods that you'll find at the Saturday farmers market in downtown Downey. But have you ever wondered why there are so many egg colors?

Some people have thought the the color of the feathers correlates to the color of the eggs. But a far better indicator is the color of the chicken's earlobes? (You didn't think chickens have earlobes? Guess again.) Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs. Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. And apparently no one has checked the earlobes of the chickens that lay those green and blue eggs.

But the actual determining factor is the genetics of the hen. For example, Leghorn chickens lay white eggs while Orpington's lay brown eggs and Ameraucana produce blue eggs.

And no matter the color, they all taste basically the same.

Saturday, June 11, 2016



It is always fun to see when kids make discoveries. These two had found a lone snail making his way across the sidewalk. Now, personally, I hate snails. But these two had no limit in their curiosity. It really is the simple things...

"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will." 
~ James Stephens

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Humans of Downey - Rob (2/2)


"I'd have to say that it wasn't being successful that has gotten me this far in golf. It was actually being unsuccessful after leading a two-day tournament in San Francisco. I was the leader after the first day, and after the front nine of the second day I was leading by 5 strokes. It was in my pocket. Unfortunately, the back nine got to me. I went 9 over par, which took me from first to tenth, and then had to drive home from San Francisco after that.

"A couple of my buddies and Greg that works here saw the meltdown. And if it wasn't for that tournament, relinquishing the lead and feeling those feelings of disappointment, I would never have gone on to win in college. It prepared me to win. What happened was I was able to analyze the round and understand that my focus was more on, 'OK, I'm winning the tournament versus the process of getting to that win'. And that is what allowed me to win the Southern New Hampshire invitational for the UMass Lowell River Hawks in college. You talk about what happened to Jordan at the Masters this year and watch him bounce back from that. Sometimes you have to lose before you can win. So, I would say it was more of a negative thing I learned to reach a positive. I look back on that tournament often to make myself focus on the process I need to follow to win."
~ Rob

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Humans of Downey - Rob (1/2)


"My love of golf started at a hockey camp in Montreal, Canada. I was there participating at a goalie camp. I grew up playing hockey and baseball. All of a sudden I had a golf club in my hand, golf took over, and hockey took a back seat. I started playing in high school. I got my game to the point to compete in college. I even played well enough to compete in division II golf. I won a tournament and now it has turned into a career for me. I would have never thought I would have been in this position 15 years ago, but I've embraced every moment of it. It's taken me from putting the carts outside away at the end of the day to running the junior programs here at Rio Hondo Golf Course to helping the high school golf programs to teaching the adult golf classes.

"Most people see the players of the PGA that have come up the ranks to qualify and play on the PGA tour. I am a PGA professional also. But I am in a program that will teach me the ins and outs of the business aspects of the PGA. Not just the golf swing, that's part of it, but I am more of a working-type PGA professional and not necessarily a playing professional.

"Now I do play in tournaments from time to time. I recently played in a tournament to qualify for the US open golf tournament. I love every moment while playing but my emphasis is on the teaching aspect of the profession."
~ Rob

Tuesday, June 7, 2016



Hollyhocks are one of my favorite flowers. I've been trying to grow this one for too long. But, all of a sudden, it seemed to get taller overnight and started blooming!

"Flowers are like friends, they bring color to your world!"

Monday, June 6, 2016

At play

Electrical box

Another painted electrical box, this time sponsored by the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

From desert to forest

View from the Palm Springs Aerial Tram

On another weekend trip, this time to Palm Springs and the nearby Mount San Jacinto. At 10,834 feet, this is the highest peak of the San Jacinto Mountains. Naturalist John Muir wrote of San Jacinto Peak, "The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!" (Wikipedia)

We had the opportunity to see this view from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In just 12 minutes, the tram takes you from the desert to an alpine forest, where the temperature (thankfully!) is about 40 degrees cooler.

Saturday, June 4, 2016



A special treat this last Memorial Day was a vintage plane flyover by these six airplanes during the Memorial Day Ceremony. (The flyover was actually part of the Memorial Day Observance at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.)

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” 
~ John F. Kennedy

Friday, June 3, 2016

The passing of the guard

Honor guard team

Every year at the Memorial Day Ceremony, an honor guard performs a final salute before the playing of Taps. What we typically think of as a 21-gun salute is really just three volleys from the soldiers in the guard—in this case, just four, for a 12-gun salute.

The honor guard team has changed over the years that I've been attending the ceremony, and there are fewer members. This year, half the team was new, and all of them were a little bit fuzzy on the details. So before the ceremony began, they started taking notes from a young high school student who knew the drill—ready, present, port, face left, face right, when do we cock the rifle again?—he knew it all, and was ready and willing to serve. A future honor guardsman in the making?

Honor guard team

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Humans of Downey - Johnny


"So much has changed about me since I entered the Marine Corps. Before I went in, I never had any manners, never shaved, I never got a haircut. I think once you're in the Marines, they help you become more presentable and more respectful. They first taught me to respect myself and then to respect others. They taught me to not look at life like some kind of game. They also taught me to care about others. We were a brotherhood and you respected your brothers.

"Before I was a Marine, I never listened to others, especially older people. But once you're in boot camp, that all goes away. You learned how to respect others for their position. I learned to say, 'Yes sir' and 'Yes ma'am.' I never told anyone, before the Marines, 'Yes sir' and 'Yes ma'am.' Then once I got out and I said, 'Yes sir" or 'How you doing sir,' people who knew me before were saying, 'Who's this? You changed a lot.' It was a great lesson."
~ Johnny

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Humans of Downey - Louis


Louis is a veteran of the Navy from 1968 - 1972 and served in Vietnam. This interview happened at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery.

"Discipline is one of the major character traits I learned during my military career. I went in right after high school so that is the biggest thing I learned in the military. To illustrate this, I'll tell you a little story.

"When you serve on board a Navy ship, you have a captain. The captain is the top guy that runs the ship. The saying in the Navy is that, 'Next to God is the Captain.' I, being a third class petty officer, was called up to see the captain one day. So, I'm scratching my head and asking, 'Why am I being called up to see the captain? I haven't done anything wrong. I've stayed out of trouble.' When I went up to see him, I smartly saluted, the whole nine yards, and he says, 'Mr. Gard, you're in here because your mother wrote me. You haven't been writing her. From now on, you will write your mother at least every two weeks. I prefer every week but at the minimum, every two weeks.' So, that was one of the little disciplines I learned. You don't mess with mom. You can be away but you must write her. That was the only time I got in trouble while in the Navy.

" My civilian job after my Navy days was as a warehouse manager. I managed multiple warehouses. It was my job, among others, to make sure the employees were showing up on time, doing their jobs and following the company rules. My time in the service, learning discipline, taught me how to lead employees to do the right thing. And now, my time is spent in serving veterans through the American Legion."
~ Louis