Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An old warrior


The last of the WWII vets stood to be honored at Monday's Memorial Day ceremony. And, I remembered the words "In gratitude to those who served."

IMG_8536-1We also spoke for a bit with a family whose brother had served in Vietnam and was one of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They continue to honor his service. And I remembered the words "In sorrow for those who lost their lives."


"Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he — the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine — who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail."
~ Admiral Forrest P. Sherman

Monday, May 30, 2016

In gratitude...in sorrow

Downey Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony 2016

 Today, we once again celebrated Memorial Day at the Downey Cemetery. Every year since I've started attending this ceremony, the quote on the Memorial Wall has touched me. This year, the quote was reflected in all who attended.

The turnout this year was large, but changing. The first couple of years I attended, there were WWI veterans in the crowd. This year, these men are gone, and there was but a single WWII veteran. Time passes, and the burden of serving moves on to the younger generations.

And the youngest generation was represented by Ward, Price, and Stauffer ASPIRE students, who sang "I'm Proud to Be an American." The quote was reflected in the words they sang—"And I won't forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me."

So for all of us this Memorial Day, remember—"In gratitude to those who served...in sorrow for those who lost their lives." 

Downey Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Santa Catalina

View of Avalon Harbor and Casino

Santa Catalina Island lies about 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It's a popular tourist destination, with the boat trip taking about an hour from Long Beach. (And it's free if you go on your birthday.) This is a view of part of the Avalon harbor, with the Casino in the background.

The Casino was built in 1929 by William Wrigley, Jr. You might recognize that name from the chewing gum brand that he created, or as the owner of the Chicago Cubs, where Wrigley Field was named after him.

Cars are limited on the island, so you mainly get around by foot, bike, golf cart, or boat. My daughter and I walked around the town, took a glass-bottom boat tour (fun!), and climbed up several flights of stairs to this vantage point where we had this wonderful view of the entire harbor.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


IMG_8446 as Smart Object-1

Tonight we stopped by the Carnival set up in the Downey High School parking lot. One of the first things I saw was these kids having a blast whacking each other with these oversized bats they had won on one of the games. They were having a great time.

IMG_8450 as Smart Object-1Of course, my favorite, and perhaps a contributing factor to the willingness of adults to bring the kids to a carnival—Fried Food Factory! Yes, they had deep fried Twinkies, Oreos, and strawberries.

IMG_8457 as Smart Object-1

Friday, May 27, 2016

Clematis success


We've been trying for several years to successfully grow a clematis vine, but have lacked locations with enough sunlight. This year, however, with no effort at all, this clematis suddenly burst forth with these two giant blooms, which have lasted for about two weeks so far.

Finally worthwhile, even if we never get any more flowers the rest of this year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Making your own garden


Stacy, the lady that lives in this house, told me that the yard used to be grass all the way up to the house. One day earlier this year she thought, "Maybe I can plant a garden in my front yard." So she cleared away the grass from in front of the house, put a rock fence to divide the lawn from the garden, and planted some flower seeds. She had some sunflower seeds in the house and thought, "I wonder if these will grow."

DSC_0997A few weeks after she got her answer to both questions. Yes, she could have a beautiful garden in her front yard, and sunflower plants will grow from those seeds.

Have you planted anything to make your life more beautiful lately?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Humans of Downey - Carl


"One of my first memories of success was when I was on the high school football team and we won the league championship. In addition to the position I played on the field, I think my most important contribution to the team would be my promotion of teamwork, camaraderie, friendship, and brotherhood among my teammates, which allowed us to trust each other and play better on the field.

"That gave me the first taste of teamwork and how I could be successful. That experience then grew later in my life. Even when I went to college I knew I wanted to be a police officer. Then when I entered the academy they taught us that the essence of police work is teamwork, looking out for one another, helping one another. You don't mind who gets the credit, we just want to get the job done. So, as in football, you can't do your job well unless the guy next to you does his job well. The same is true in police work.

"As Chief of Police of Downey, I want to instill that same spirit of teamwork in the officers I'm responsible for. It starts in the academy. Everyone goes in as an individual. The academy starts from day one to teach you how to depend on your partner. For example, most of the younger recruits don't understand the motives behind what we do. So, you have to have a carpool partner to come to class from the very first day. If you don't have one you can't come. If he's late, you're late. If he's disciplined, you're disciplined.

"Once they graduate from the academy, we try to continue that training of depending on the team. We put them with a veteran training officer. Nothing is more important than the team and getting through the day by helping each other. It doesn't matter who gets the credit when the job gets done. We teach them to depend on each other. You know, they're with their fellow officers more than they are with their families. We need to be a team. We try to instill that by having outings, we do recreation together, we play sports together, and all that is predicated on the fact that we want everyone to know that it takes teamwork to win and that each of them is on the team."
~ Carl

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

House of color

IMG_8444 as Smart Object-1

I love color! I drove past this house and was drawn to the colors. It is so appealing!

IMG_8445 as Smart Object-1

Monday, May 23, 2016

Window art

Window art

Although there is some yard art in this scene, it was the window art that caught my eye. I'm guessing that a teacher lives here. Clearly, there are some pretty fun ideas for schoolroom bulletin boards on display here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


The Promenade at Downey sign

As you drive by Downey's newest shopping center, you'll see the tall sign that lists some of the stores that are part of the center. At the top of the sign is a logo—"Pd" surrounded by stars. It's only if you drive into the parking lot, near the base of that sign, that you see that "Pd" stands for "The Promenade at Downey."

A promenade is a leisurely walk, typically in a public place. The name conjures up images of strolls through appealing settings. So far, there's not much evidence of this, but with many areas not developed yet, maybe I'm expecting too much too soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rainbow lagoon

20160518_184551 as Smart Object-1

There are definitely advantages to having to visit Hawaii for business. One of them is the sheer beauty of my surroundings. On my evening walk, I rushed down to order garlic shrimp from the Gilligan's Island Shrimp Truck, which closes at 7pm. I hurried past the people enjoying the end of the day along the beach, intending to get back to my room while my food was still hot, I was in a hurry.

But, I couldn't resist one last look at the lagoon as I rushed past. I was so glad I did. I had missed this beautiful rainbow streaking across the sky. It made for a magical evening and made me realize that my dinner being hot wasn't so important after all.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The giant sand dune

Malibu sand dune

About 90 minutes up the coast, in the northern part of Malibu (that is, past all the celebrity estates), there's a giant sand dune. To give you an idea of the size of this single slope of sand, look closely at the center of the picture above. You'll see the small speck that is my daughter.

Malibu sand duneThe dune used to be deserted, but in recent years, it's become a popular spot for kids young and old. You can climb to the top, then run (or roll) back to the bottom.

Advice from a sand dune

Soak up the sunshine
Stay loose
Keep moving
Embrace winds of change
Make positive ripples
Don't get carried away
Show your true grit!
~ Ilan Shamir

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Humans of Downey - Mario


"I came from Cuba when I was six. Our family was fleeing Castro's communist take over of Cuba during the first Freedom Flights. But during that time of travel with my family, I knew I was loved by my parents because of the way they protected me. We were rich in Cuba and poor when we arrived in America. Then we worked hard to make it to middle class. I never had a doubt about their love.

"My first experience of puppy love was in high school. But it is a different experience when you are in love as opposed to being loved. I've been blessed with my wife. I've been married 30 years and known my wife 35 years. That love that comes with the comfort and knowing that you are going to spend the rest of your life with one person. Knowing that person is always there to share your dumbest moments, your funnest moments. It's great to have someone else to look at the world with. I'm truly blessed.

"Now, every person I meet, I try to give the other person a sense of comfort. A smile is a very easy thing to give so with every relationship I have I want them to have a sense of comfort when they are with me. I want them to know that there is nothing behind what I do."
~ Mario

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Humans of Downey - Haley


"One of my earliest experiences of success was when I was in high school. I was a swimmer and water polo player at school and then I got my first job at Blizzberry on Florence Avenue. They noticed my commitment to the job and so they promoted me to assistant manager while I was still just 16 years old. This early success affected my later decisions. One example is during the summer of my senior year I was working long hours. There were nights I wouldn't come home until 11:00. I thought, 'I'm a teenager, I shouldn't be working these long hours.' I thought about that and how I needed to remember I'm still a kid, I don't need to work this much. I need to have some fun in my life also. So that early success taught me to have balance in my life.

"When the manager asked me to work more hours, I felt obligated to work as much as they needed me to but at the same time, there was a struggle involved. It taught me to focus on my own self while reaching for higher goals. It's hard to say 'no' when you're asked to take on a challenge. You think, 'Well, I've done a good job before and now they want me to do more,' and you want to prove to them you can do it or you feel an obligation to continue to work hard for them. So, yes, it's hard to say 'no.'

"Sometimes, especially because now I work for my dad, you bring work home with you, and I work in the political world also so your job never ends. So, there are times you try to find the right amount, you try to find your own time away. But as a young person, the expectations are very high, especially in the political world, that you should be working 24/7. So, I don't think I have the ability to say 'no' yet because I'm still a young person and there are very high expectations. I just don't think I've reached the highest success yet that I can say 'no.'"
~ Haley

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Love locks...again

20160516A_071532 as Smart Object-1

I was on an evening walk in Waikiki, heading back to my hotel when I noticed this lock on a fence. It made me smile. Shades of past visits to Paris and this tradition of placing a lock (typically on a bridge), although here on a fence. It seems the tradition continues.

"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."
 ~ Oscar Wilde

Monday, May 16, 2016

Safe and secure downtown

Police in downtown Downey

All this Friday evening activity in downtown Downey calls for a police presence that wasn't there five years ago. Of course, this presence is slight—a police car parked down the street, and somewhere a uniformed officer quietly patrolling the streets.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Relaxed downtown

Joseph's Bar and Grill

On Friday, I showed you the hustle and bustle on the west side of Downey Avenue, where people mingled outside of Bastard's BBQ. On the other side of the street, another group enjoyed the warmth and more relaxed atmosphere of the outside tables at Joseph's Bar and Grill. Either way, downtown Downey is the place to be.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Light through the clouds

20160514_181652 as Smart Object-1

Coming home this evening, I was struck by the streaks of light coming through the clouds. You can see three of them straight ahead and to the left. Here is a close up. I know the pictures don't do it justice, but it was impressive how the rays of light were streaming through an opening in the cloud.

20160514_181845 as Smart Object-1According to Wikipedia, the rays occur frequently at twilight and are called Crepuscular rays (from a Latin word meaning twilight).

“To love beauty is to see light.”
~ Victor Hugo

Friday, May 13, 2016

Vibrant downtown


Once again, it's Friday night at 9pm. It's hard to recognize this street as the same place we showed five years ago in Lonely downtown. The sidewalks are full of people, the many restaurants, such as Bastard's BBQ above, are busy, and it's impossible to find a parking place. Many of the restaurants are new since that time, and the area is buzzing!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The "Good Humor Man"


I caught this dad buying some ice cream for his two little boys off this converted van. It also has candies, sodas, cookies, and various other sweets. When I first saw them, the dad was at the window purchasing the items while the boys were standing just behind him anxiously waiting. By the time I got my camera out the dad had completed the transaction and was walking back to the house.

I remember the "Good Humor Man" coming around our neighborhood every day when I was a child. He just sold ice cream though. The Helms bakery van would come around every morning with fresh donuts, cookies, and breads. Can you think of any other curbside vendors that came around your neighborhood?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Clouds are for sharing


Last week, the day before a storm blew through Downey, I spied these clouds overhead. They remind me of waves at the beach. It's amazing how a clump of water vapor, which is at the mercy of the wind, air pressure, and air temperature, can be such a topic of conversation.

Do you remember lying on your back, looking up at the sky and asking each other, "What does that one look like to you?" A rabbit, a ship, an alligator, a bear?

Look at the clouds today. What memories do they conjure up for you?

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
~ John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Duck tales...

20160505_175648 as Smart Object-1

I came home a few days ago to these two waddling around my yard. Now, I've had squirrels, possums, raccoons, and even a coyote run through my yard, but this was the first time for ducks.

"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck....it's probably a duck."

Monday, May 9, 2016


Birds at Wilderness Park

My daughter and I took a walk around Wilderness Park yesterday after we finished our Mother's Day brunch. The weather was a bit cold and the park was nearly deserted, which made our walk very enjoyable. Just us and the birds.

Birds at Wilderness ParkThere were quite a few cormorants, all resting on rocks in the lake and all with their wings outstretched. There are several theories about why birds do this, but the most common theory for cormorants is that they are air-drying their wing feathers. Their feathers are not as water-repellent as those of other birds. This makes it easier for them to dive for their food, but makes the air-drying a necessity.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A sign on the way to the park

Electrical box mural

On my way to Wilderness Park this afternoon, I spotted this electrical box mural. I'm never sure, unless I actually see the artist at work, whether the mural is new or if I've just now noticed it. This one shows a composite of Downey park scenes on three of the sides.

Electrical box muralThe fourth side is a painting of the "Welcome to Downey" sign that used to be located on Firestone Boulevard. The sign contains the emblems of various Downey organizations. At the bottom is the "Four Way Test," created by Herbert J. Taylor and later adopted by the Rotary International:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Sounds like good questions to ask, even if the original sign isn't around anymore.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

April showers...not so much

20160506_183122 as Smart Object-1

These clouds looked pretty stormy to me on an afternoon last week. Now I have to wonder if they were a result of the work of the LA County Dept. of Public Works. According to an article I read today, contract workers have been attempting to make it rain through "cloud seeding"—sending special flares containing silver iodide into the clouds to increase precipitation. The flares are shot from the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains.

Interestingly, even though cloud seeding has gone on in LA for 50 years, there didn't seem to be solid evidence that it was really effective. Sadly, the predicted El Nino rains have not appeared this year, so the drought remains concerning for LA.

"The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it." ~ Patrick Young 

Friday, May 6, 2016

The surf pig

K-Earth 101 Surf Pig

The K-Earth 101 Surf Pig was also on hand for last Sunday's Ride and Stride event, where he oversaw the playing of much 70s and 80s music (that is, songs I recognized). The van was parked in the YMCA parking lot, which was one of several locations set up for kids to take a break and play.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Humans of Downey - Angel and Claudia


"I'm looking forward to going to Palm Springs for our first anniversary. We are going to just hang out there. We will be staying at the Hyatt. I've never been there but I've been told that it's very peaceful and quiet. We'll hang out at the pool most of the day."
~ Angel

"I am very curious about the job opportunities in accounting that will be available after I finish my degree. There are lots of different companies and uses for my degree and I want to find one that suits me and my personality."
~ Claudia

"We first met at a Halloween party my friend was throwing for his birthday. They were serving a drink called 'Jungle Juice' where they put a lot of different fruit and several kinds of liquor. By the time I arrived, though, the Jungle Juice had run out so she comes up to me and says, 'You shouldn't have any more to drink, here's a water.' And I was like, 'What?' That was my first impression of her. We talked some more at the party but we were both uninterested in the other. Her friend said we should exchange numbers but we both were thinking, 'I don't know if I want to.' But we did. The only reason we were even talking together was a friend of mine wanted to hook up with one of her friends.

"A couple of weeks went by and my friend asked me, 'Hey, do you still have that number of that girl at the party?' It seems that the girl he wanted to hook up with wasn't returning his texts so he wanted us to go on a double date. Since I hadn't called her in several weeks, I had to come up with a clever and original opening line when I called her. I said, 'Hi, I'm that Angel dressed as a Dodger you met at the Halloween party.' It then took 6 to 8 months before we started to think, 'This could work out. I want to keep it going.' And now it's been a year since we made it an exclusive relationship."
~ Angel

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Humans of Downey - Elizabeth


"My family are the most important people in my life. If I were dying, my choice of who I would want to spend those last hours would be my family. I would want to reminiscence about the stories of our lives, share the good times.

"I have four sisters and one brother. I would want to share with my little sister, not to think too much about her future but to enjoy every moment as it comes. Don't think too much about boys, that can come later. Focus on yourself versus about boys. It's like when you are in school, you're not thinking about school but about your latest crush on a boy. I would tell her to focus on school, there's time for everything. There's time for education, there's time to have fun and later there's time for a boyfriend but that should come later.

"My hero is my cousin from Seattle. He always seems to be there when I'm feeling down, feeling depressed. He always knows what encouraging words or words of wisdom to say to lift me up again."
~ Elizabeth

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Giant Jenga

IMG_8423 as Smart Object-1

One of the fun activities at the Ride and Stride event on Sunday was a lineup of games along 3rd Street. These two were playing with the giant Jenga blocks.


Unfortunately, the tower fell!

IMG_8425 as Smart Object-1IMG_8426 as Smart Object-1

Interestingly, the name Jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning "build."

Monday, May 2, 2016

To each his own

Downey Ride and Stride participants

One of the things that made yesterday's Ride and Stride event so interesting was the incredible diversity of the participants—young and old, walkers and bikers, men and women, families and friends, humans and animals. You name it, we saw it.

Downey Ride and Stride participantsDowney Ride and Stride participants

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Riding and striding

Downey Ride and Stride

For more than four hours today, several miles of Downey streets, roughly between downtown Downey and the Columbia Memorial Space Center, were closed to cars for the first Downey Ride and Stride event. Instead of car traffic, the roads were wide open for walkers, bikers, skateboarders, and any other mode of transportation that didn't involve a motor. Along the way, there were games, music, and plenty of food.

Downey Ride and StrideThe freedom to walk down the middle of the street, without concern for cars, was surprisingly liberating. We walked probably half the 5.5 mile path that was available before turning around and walking back. (Shuttles were available in case you wanted to walk the entire distance and then get a ride back to your car.) This event was very different from most Downey street events, which are typically confined to a small area. This was an opportunity to walk the city, and it was a lot of fun.

Ride and Stride is one of eight events funded through the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Open Streets Grant Program, which seek to encourage walking, biking, and public transportation.