Thursday, March 31, 2016

Humans of Downey - Rafael


"I was born in El Salvador on March 15, but my ID has July 17. You see, when you ask me about my birthday, the question is which one? My family always makes fun of me. My wife will say, 'So, which one are we celebrating this year, the real birthday or the fake birthday?'

"The reason for all this is because back home in El Salvador, I immigrated when I was 7 years old, we came from a very small town. When a baby was born you had to go to the capital to register that baby. Or else you would get fined if you did not do it on time. After my birth on March 15, my father didn't go to the capital until July 17. He registered me as being born then so he wouldn't get fined."
~ Rafael

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Humans of Downey - Youhana


"The US immigration service picks about 15 countries that do have a significant population here and chooses by lottery some 1000 people from each country to immigrate to the US. Seven years ago my wife won a lottery visa to come to the US, so I brought my whole family here.

"In Egypt I had a Masters degree and worked as an accountant in the Ministry of Finance. When I came here I started from zero, scratch. I completed my Masters degree last Christmas and now I am looking for a new job. I wanted to immigrate here after high school and study physics, I love physics, but I couldn't come. So, perhaps my kids will do it. We will be citizens in a few months.

"For a long time, about 15 years, I haven't received presents for my birthday. Then last year my children, they are 10 and 11, surprised me with some ties and a pair of shoes. It made me very happy because they were thinking of me and they worked with their mother to plan the whole surprise."
~ Youhana

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


IMG_7947 as Smart Object-1

Not exactly yard art, but it is a fun visual. Some pictures insist on being taken. This was one of those. I was driving in a neighborhood and happened to glance up and see this. I like quirky and this "art" appealed to me.

IMG_7948 as Smart Object-1"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." 
~ Edgar Degas

Monday, March 28, 2016



Closed doors in big walls always make me wonder what's on the other side. This door would open (if it weren't locked up tight) onto a wide open area of trees and shade—right next to the 105 freeway that cuts through the south part of Downey.

The concrete sound wall effectively blocks most of the freeway noise. In fact, the slight noise that's left sounds like running water, almost like living next to a waterfall.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hear the bells ringing

Easter bell

"Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again.
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead.

"The angel up on the tombstone
Said 'He has risen, just as He said.
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead.'"

This bell, with the caption "He is risen...", sits on the corner of the First Christian Church. It always makes me think of The Easter Song, performed by Keith Green and written by Annie Herring. It's a fitting song for this Easter Sunday.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Colorful Easter

IMG_7925 as Smart Object-1

Most people decorate for Christmas, but only the really dedicated decorators cover their yard for Easter.

IMG_7926IMG_7927 as Smart Object-1

"Bunnies are cuddly 
The large and the small
But I like chocolate ones
The best of them all."
~ Author unknown

Friday, March 25, 2016

A little neighborhood


The first things I noticed here were the massive roots at the base of these two trees. But after that, I thought, what a nice neighborhood within a neighborhood. If I were to rent a place, one of these six units is the kind of place I'd like, rather than a huge impersonal apartment building.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Humans of Downey - Tony


"I'm 21 years old and I've been going with my girlfriend for almost 5 years. We met in my old neighborhood on the outskirts of Watts. We met there because her brother was a friend of mine and he introduced her to me. We bonded right away. She can make me laugh. Not many people can do that, but there is something about her that I let down my guard. After all these years, she still does. Some day I'm going to marry her."
~ Tony

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Humans of Downey - Jean (2 of 2)


"I've known since I was a little girl that I should write. I would write poetry, but then I would get away from it. I wrote journals that set me in all kinds of adventures. And then I taught school. When I retired from teaching, I thought, 'Now is the time I should write.' But I was very reluctant about going to workshops where you would share each other's stories. I was kind of the 'dog' outside the door. They would say, 'Come on in' and I would say, 'I don't know, is it safe?'

"I had a friend that very kindly encouraged me and so I had gone to some poetry readings and learned about a workshop that was being held by a poet that I had never heard of, named David St. John. So, I went to that workshop and I would say it really was transformative. David is a very well-known American poet and he is a brilliant teacher. He had just the right touch to bring the 'dog' inside the house. When he is able to give workshops, I have studied with him. I am now working on my third poetry manuscript. He has definitely been a person to change the path of my life."
~ Jean

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Here's the beef!

IMG_7917 as Smart Object-1

I spotted this butcher shop while taking an alternative way home the other night. I had to admit, I was intrigued. Do people really take whole animals here to be butchered? According to Richie, they do.

IMG_7923 as Smart Object-1IMG_7918 as Smart Object-1And, this is more than a butcher shop. It is a local market filled with numerous items from a variety of South American countries. They also have a gourmet eatery that smelled fabulous, but was closed when we arrived. After exploring the store for a bit, I chatted with Richie, who helped me decide on trying some of their carne preparada. The carne was amazing! This place is a fun little gem. I will be back for more fresh carne asada and maybe a prime rib eye.

IMG_7924 as Smart Object-1

Monday, March 21, 2016


Tree swing

I always think of small-town America when I see tree swings. However, these swings bring a new twist to the homemade swing. It's hard to say which one looks like more fun.

"No matter how old you are, swings are cool."
~ Anonymous

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday at Our Lady of Perpetucal Help

Today, I happened to be out and about with my camera just as the Palm Sunday observance was about to begin at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Palm Sunday at Our Lady of Perpetucal HelpAccording to Catholic Online:
During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into church. The palms are blessed and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be returned to the church, or kept for the year.

Because the palms are blessed, they may not be discarded as trash. Instead, they are appropriately gathered at the church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in the following year's Ash Wednesday observance.

The colors of the Mass on Palm Sunday are red and white, symbolizing the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


20160319_121446 as Smart Object-1

I like that Downey Adult School is using a community-based program to support learning English. It makes sense to use classrooms at Rio Hondo Elementary outside of school hours too. I can't imagine living somewhere, trying to work and make a contribution without being able to speak or understand the language.

"The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice."  
~ Brian Herbert

Friday, March 18, 2016

Late night cravings

Papa John's Pizza

It's 10:30 p.m. I've already been out to dinner, visited with my dad for a couple of hours, and stopped by the grocery store for a couple of items. But it seems that a lot of people are still out and thinking of food. The booths at Norm's ("Open All Night") are crowded. The Downey Brewing Company parking lot is full. And pizzas are still being picked up at Papa John's Pizza.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Humans of Downey - Jean (1 of 2)


"My cat Sasha had not been well so we had taken her to the vet. From her, Sasha's, point of view, life was not bad. I do promise family members, pets are family members, that I will do my best to not let them suffer. So life from her point of view was okay.

"I had a trip planned and I debated about this and I decided I would go. I found a very good cat sitter that would come 30 minutes in the morning then 30 minutes at night. She would give Sasha her vitamin B1 shot. So, I went on the trip and I had a great time.

"The sitter gave me, she freed me to have that experience. I also thought of my cat and what was going to happen in the not to distance future. When I got home I took one look at her and we spent the night full of pets. The next morning I did the very kind thing. The vet was very supportive. I took her in on my birthday."
~ Jean

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Feeling a little run down


I spotted this fence one day recently after a strong wind and thought of how everything has to eventually run down and fall apart. Sometimes I feel like this fence, like inside things aren't as strong as they use to be. Like, all it's going to take is a strong wind and I'll be leaning to one side, unable to stand up straight.


But then I think, it's not windy, I'll go ride my bike and maybe even play a round of golf today.


“If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
~ Mae West

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Early spring

IMG_7916 as Smart Object-1

It's my favorite time of the year. Springtime. Somehow I never cease to be amazed when plants just reappear in my garden, "reborn" from the bulbs that were hidden underground for so many months. And, when they appear, it is like a gift that I wasn't expecting. They bring beauty and somehow a renewed appreciation for the outdoors and growing things.

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope." 
~ Lady Bird Johnson

Monday, March 14, 2016

Only just begun

Electrical box mural

This electrical box is another example of the Downey logo that you can see almost everywhere these days in downtown Downey. This particular box also celebrates our musical history, with a nod to the Carpenters. "We've Only Just Begun" was one of Karen and Richard Carpenter's first hits, back in 1970.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The big D

Downey's 60th anniversary

As part of Downey's celebration of 60 years of incorporation, the intersection at Downey Avenue and Firestone Boulevard got a facelift this weekend. All four crosswalks now sport the big D that is Downey's logo.

This is just one of many ways, big and small, that Downey is celebrating this anniversary.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rats...I hate rats!

IMG_7905 as Smart Object-1

After the rain yesterday, I went outside to spend some time in the backyard. Much to my surprise, there was a "gift" for me in the pool...Yep, it was a dead rat. The problem was that I couldn't leave him there, it would be almost a week before the pool man would come.

Of course, I couldn't reach him with the net without getting into the pool. It was cold and creepy at the same time. I'm not sure why he was in the pool...did he fall out of a pine tree, get chased there by our cat, was it related to the rain? Either way, last thing I wanted to do was wade into the pool to extract a dead rat.

"The same rain that drowns the rat, will grow the hay." 
~ Amy Grant

Friday, March 11, 2016


Kids playing checkers statues at Ralph's Market

This statue was such a pleasant surprise. I was trolling for pictures of something new, and I pulled into the Ralph's Market parking lot to turn around. And there they were. A boy, his dog, and his girl.

Kids playing checkers statues at Ralph's Market

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Humans of Downey - Chad


"Recently, we were on vacation in Tahoe and my 6-year-old son, Charley, became sick. We got some blood work done while we were there and in the middle of the morning they called and said my son had leukemia. We were to get him to the nearest emergency room because he needed a blood transfusion and platelets immediately, because he was in danger. From there, they airlifted him to Sacramento. He was at Kaiser, Sacramento, where they did a bunch more tests. Next, they airlifted him to here at the Kaiser, Downey.

"Dr. Simon and the other doctors have been treating my son for acute leukemia of ambiguous linage. It's like pre-T-cell AAL leukemia. Tomorrow, my son is going in for his fourth treatment. They will be doing a spinal tap and giving chemotherapy in his chest IV. They tell us he will have three years minimum of chemotherapy. He's already had complications with an inflamed liver.

"We've been here for about two weeks at this Kaiser hospital. We need to be with him, be good parents, trying to make the best of our days. We're praying that this all works."

Tears fall.

"We're just trying to get by, you know. Currently, his white blood cell count is zero. He has nothing to fight off any disease.

"Last Christmas we asked Charley if he knew the real meaning of Christmas. He said, 'Dad, it's Jesus' birthday. Don't you know?' That day, we knew he knew Jesus."
~ Chad

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Humans of Downey - Francisco


"I was born in Mexico on May 11th. I have lived here in America for 35 years. For 25 years I worked in a garment shop here and sewed pants, shirts. Now I do not work. I do not earn money. Sometimes it can get hard."
~ Francisco

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Waikiki afternoon

20160306_160825 as Smart Object-1

I'm still in Hawaii, now on Oahu for a few days. On Sunday I spent part of the afternoon just walking around the beach, enjoying the beautiful weather and doing a little people watching.

20160306_160549 (1) as Smart Object-1This group was taking turns walking on a tightrope tied between these two trees.

20160306_161919 as Smart Object-1

Monday, March 7, 2016

Post office boxes

Downey Post Office

The post office on Lakewood Boulevard has a small counter for business, along with another small self-service counter. But it's really more about the post office boxes. There are walls and walls of them.

I like the geometric patterns these mailboxes make. But mostly, I like them because they remind me of when I was young and visited my grandparents. They had a post office box to force themselves to take daily walks. I enjoyed the walk to the post office and back, with either grandparent. But when I walked with my grandmother, she would remind me to be careful, not to step in oil spots, and so on. But my grandfather never had any instructions or reminders—with him, I could walk on the curb or dance around on the asphalt. And, if I remember right, I never did step in the oil spots when I was with him.

Downey Post Office

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Never enter the riverbed

Rio San Gabriel riverbed

On a typical weekend day, the Rio San Gabriel riverbed is teeming with people—bikers, skateboarders, motorcyclists, even horseback riders.

Rio San Gabriel riverbed signBut we had a bit of rain last night, with more expected in the next couple of days. And the strongly worded warning sign at the entrance (OK, covered with graffiti but still legible) made me stop and think—just how likely, really, is a flash flood? After all, the sky is blue, with hardly a cloud in sight.

Flash flooding occurs when it rains rapidly on saturated soil or dry soil that has poor absorption ability. Many people tend to underestimate the dangers of flash floods. What makes flash floods most dangerous is their sudden nature and fast-moving water. And the source of the water might be a storm that occurs miles away. [Wikipedia]

So for today, anyway, unlike those two bicyclists in the picture, I stayed away from the floor of the riverbed.

Just in case.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Big Island

20160305_150746 as Smart Object-1

No, this picture is not of Downey. I am on the Big Island of Hawaii. Nearly twice as big as all of the other islands combined, it is also extremely diverse.

20160305_151535 as Smart Object-1Today I drove across the island to get a "feel" for it and found the green rolling hills of Waimea, with horses and livestock on the wide open plains. Then as I headed into the center of the island I found fields of black rock as far as you could see.

20160305_160257 as Smart Object-1
20160305_181921 as Smart Object-1And, of course, my beautiful day ended as the yellow gold sun set on the water, coloring the entire sky.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sunlit freesias


The freesias are blooming. They're pretty in any case, but even more so when the sun lights them up from behind. The nice thing about these freesias is that they come back, year after year, with little or no effort on my part.

Freesias have flowers ranging from white to yellow, pink, red and blue-mauve. They are mostly cultivated professionally in the Netherlands by about 80 growers. Freesias can be grown from seeds or from bulbs. Because of their pleasing scent, they are often used in hand creams, shampoos, and candles; however, the flowers are mainly used in wedding bouquets. (Wikipedia)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Humans of Downey - Norma


"My family and I celebrate my birthday each year in a simple manner. We will usually go out to a local restaurant for dinner. I am the youngest of 8 children, so it is a large gathering when we meet. My parents are divorced now and my father has moved back to Mexico. One year I went back to Mexico to visit him. When I came back, it happened to be my birthday and a friend of mine met me at the airport and brought me flowers. Boy, was I surprised. Now I love taking my 8-year-old daughter out on her birthday. This year we went to Big Bear mountain and played in the snow, just me and her. She loved it. She made a snowman, a little snowman.

"Some years ago, I was working for someone else in their restaurant and I thought it would be better for me to own my own. So my brother and I opened this sandwich shop 13 years ago. It takes much of my time but it is worth it. We bought an existing shop but added some of our own ideas about items on the menu. We added shakes and smoothies. We also changed the name to Carmen's Bionicos & City Life Deli Sandwiches after our mom. The toughest part of opening up our own shop was learning to make the sandwiches the way customers wanted them. Our other problem was finding sources for all our ingredients. I do all our shopping for the meats, cheeses, breads, and fresh fruits. I shop at Jethro's and Costco."
~ Norma

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Humans of Downey - Pamela


"My birthday is on May 14th so it's coming up and I'm thinking about it already. At my age, I like to celebrate with friends and family and go dancing. I like to have dinner with my family and then go dancing with a large group of family and friends. We like salsa and merengue. We like Spanish music.

"This year I'm planning to get a party bus and go to a club in downtown LA. Last year I reserved the whole VIP area for a night at Joseph's Bar and Grill just down the street on Downey Ave. So, depending on how many confirm, I reserve that much space."
~ Pamela

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A work in progress

20160223_172737 as Smart Object-1

The Downey Patriot reported on August 24, 2015, that street repairs were beginning at Firestone and Paramount. The projected 4-month improvement and widening project is now past the 6-month mark and appears to have a ways to go. While I will someday appreciate all the improvements, which include a wider street and new and better sidewalks and landscaped medians, the reality is that I resent the added traffic and inconvenience every night I drive home from work.

20160227_133332 as Smart Object-120160227_133350 as Smart Object-1