Monday, October 31, 2016

Dia de los Muertos Urban Art Alley

Dia de los Muertos Urban Art Alley

The Dia de los Muertos Festival wasn't just for kids. There was a shopping section with lots of souvenirs, a food truck section with a huge selection of foods, and—my favorite—the Urban Art Alley.

Dia de los Muertos Urban Art AlleyThis horse and two riders was created by Martin Sánchez, who immigrated here as a child from a small town in Mexico. Sánchez gives ingenious and creative new life to everyday things that have been used and then discarded.

There was also an all-metal Catrina figure that stood about 10 feet tall.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dia de los Muertos for the kids

4th Annual Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival kids4th Annual Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival kids

This year's 4th Annual Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival was bigger and better than ever! Not even a few showers slowed things down.

The first thing I noticed was all of the activities available for kids. Kids were everywhere, and having a great time. Children were drawing, decorating sugar skulls, and having fun posing with the Catrina figures and other folk art in the Urban Art Alley.

4th Annual Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival kids

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Four years old

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Stay Gallery is 4 years old! Today they had a pumpkin carving day that I almost missed. By the time I arrived, there was only one person left carving. But it was still fun to watch.

And, in celebration of being four years old, there is a new wall-to-wall mural inside the gallery. A fun celebration of many hands, some who designed, some who painted and gave it life.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Cat lover anonymous

Alternative cat feeder

When I saw new construction going on where a couple of old houses were recently torn down, I worried about the feral cats that used to live there. (I have a soft spot for cats.) But then I saw that someone else with a heart for stray cats was already on it—there was an alternate food and water location right across the street. Phew, what a relief!

"People who love cats have some of the biggest hearts around."
~ Susan Easterly

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Humans of Downey - Dennis


"The place I would like to wake up tomorrow is in bed with my wife because that's my life and my lifestyle. I love doing it and I want to continue doing it. There is security and affirmation in that routine. After we wake up, we each have our own activities during the day, but we usually meet up together in the afternoon.

"Part of my day is taken up with woodworking. I love to put different hardwoods together and turn them on the lathe making bowls. When my children were younger, I made miniature houses for them and their friends. Some have been handed down in the family.

"One thing my dad taught me was to be honest and truthful. He showed me by his life that if you always tell the truth, then you won't be plagued with worry about being caught in a lie. Currently, I work with truancy kids in Bellflower. Being honest is something I try to instill in them. Many of them come from unstable family environments, but I try to teach them that nobody is going to just hand you what you need for your life. You need to work for it, to earn it. Lying and being dishonest may work in the short term, but eventually you have to pay the consequences. And that's no fun.

"So, first I try to reason with them. They tell me they want a good job or they want to go to college. So, I ask them, 'You're only going to school one day a week. How are you going to get this great job or how are you going to get into college? Is your family rich? Do you know someone that will just give you a great job in their business? Who's going to pay your tuition or your books?' But if that doesn't work, then I try to scare them, 'You want to go to jail? Let's go. I don't care, it's not going to hurt me.'

"I confess, though, part of me does it for selfish reasons. I get to go one on one, toe to toe with 15-16 year olds and try to beat them at their own game. Sometimes I win."

~ Dennis

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Humans of Downey - Dan


"You may not believe this, but the first person that comes to mind as to being a hero in my life is my wife. In my earlier, pre-married life, I had a drinking problem. She is the one that helped me turn that around.

"Before we got married, I was a roofer and after work the crew would go grab a few drinks. It became a habit that after a while took over. When I got married and I continued my drinking habit, she said, 'Hey, you need to make up your mind because this isn't making any sense.' Then one day I woke up and now I don't do it anymore. I owe it all to her when she confronted me with, 'Get your act together or this is it.' If it wasn't for her we wouldn't have been married now for 53 years."
~ Dan

Beauty all around


Day is done. I am in Hawaii again for work, staying at the Hawaiian Prince. This hotel looks onto a harbor area just past Ala Moana Park. Although there is not much time to enjoy the beauty of the islands, I did get a chance to look out and appreciate the beauty of the sun setting on the water.

20161025_182308"The most beautiful way to start and end the day is with a grateful heart."

Monday, October 24, 2016

The El Teatro theater - now and then

Original El Teatro building in Downey

Another hidden historical treasure in downtown Downey is the building that originally housed the El Teatro theater. If you grew up in Downey, you most likely remember the Avenue Theater. And maybe you remember the Meralta. But it's unlikely that you remember the El Teatro, built around 1915.

Original El Teatro building in DowneyThe theater showed silent movies starring the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Norma Talmadge (of the Talmadge Sisters). Old-timers report that Mary Pickford once performed here, and that Roy Rogers performed a benefit show here.

Around the far left corner of the picture below (courtesy of The Downey Conservancy), there would have been another archway leading into the ticketing area. You can see, in the picture to the right, where this archway has been enclosed and plastered over—and is now cracking away.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Under the surface

International Waterbeds

One of the things that George Redfox talked about on Saturday's downtown Downey historical walking tour was that, in so many cases, Downey's history is buried just under the surface, usually under a layer of stucco or drywall.

In this case, the Simply Elegante Designer Fashions shop has recently gone out of business. Tearing down the store's signage has revealed another layer of Downey's history—perhaps not as far back as George Redfox envisioned, but at least back as far as the '70s and '80s and the heyday of the waterbed!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Discovering downtown Downey


Today George Redfox of the Downey Conservancy led a walking tour of downtown Downey. What a treat.

20161015_222026 as Smart Object-1As we passed by one of the old shops that now houses Palardy and Miller Auto Paint Supply, one of the workers saw our tour group (of almost 20 people) and invited us to come into the shop and see what the rest of the original building looked like.

The old skylight and windows looked like there was chicken wire inside them, and all of them were still intact—the original windows from the 1920s. I loved the painted original brick wall that was an adjoining wall for the next business.

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All in all, it was a fun 2-hour walk around our city. I learned a few tidbits I had never heard before—like did you know we had an underground speakeasy int he 1930s? It is supposedly hidden underground, possibly under the Masonic Temple? Someone must know...

Friday, October 21, 2016

If you've come as far as Downey...

Sea World killer whale

When you have friends who've come all the way from the Midwest to visit you in Downey, what's another 2-hour drive to go see the wonderful animals at SeaWorld in San Diego? Especially when the Shamu show is ending after this year?

After the death of a trainer in 2010 and a lot of protests by animal rights activists, "SeaWorld has ended its killer whale breeding program, making the orcas in our care the last generation. Our whales are still here, and they will still be here for many years to come, living and thriving under the best veterinary care. While the animals are with us, we will be changing their habitats and their performances. The all-new orca experiences will soon take place in more natural looking habitats, and with a focus on the whales’ natural behaviors." (SeaWorldCares)

Even now, the Shamu show we saw was a lot different than the one I remember from 10 years ago. The whales still jump and spin and spray people with water (and seem to enjoy every minute of it), but there's no in-the-water interaction any more. Still, the orcas are beautiful creatures, and a joy to watch.

And then there are the sea lions, who pose and bark for fish. Since the last time I was there, SeaWorld has installed special portals through which you can slide the fish directly into the sea lion's mouth. This is fun for everyone except the snowy egrets, because they used to be able to snatch thrown fish right out of the air before the sea lion could get it.

And there are also the polar bears! They seem as cute and cuddly as panda bears (or as lazy as sloths on this day), but it's all a facade—polar bears are among the most dangerous animals on earth.

All in all, very worth the 2-hour drive!

Sea World sea lionSea World polar bear

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Humans of Downey - Karen

Karen 10-6-16

"I am most thankful for the abundance even in the midst of difficulties. I had a very poor childhood, but my brothers and I have fought our way up and are all very successful. When I was 12, I won a writing contest. The grand prize was a trip for almost two weeks to Florida for my mother and myself.

"The little town we lived in, without telling us, took up a collection to buy me clothing because I didn't have clothing that was good enough for the trip. They surprised me by having the school principal give me a day off from school to go shopping. We were a small farm town of 500 people and we were 64 miles from the nearest city. In our town we had a lot of lumberjacks and people who worked in the mills. When they would go to the bars during their time off, they would have to contribute to the clothing fund every time they were buying drinks.

"I knew nothing about it nor did my mom. It was a secret until the day they took me to the city. They told me they were buying clothing for my little friend so they had me try on the clothing first. I ended up going home with a whole bunch of new clothing. The town was proud of me for winning the contest and they wanted me to represent the town in Florida. It was a very sweet and appreciated gesture."
~ Karen

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Humans of Downey - Nora

Nora 10-6-16

"I would be afraid to change the house I've lived in for the last 40 years. My husband died last year and my children want me to move into a smaller home. This has been my family home. My husband and I sort of built it together. I am very reluctant to change my address at this time.

"Everything about my home keeps me there. First, my husband built most of it. It was half the size it is now when we first moved in. He was in the construction business and over time he doubled its size. His stamp, his work is in every room. Every room reminds me of him. When I look at the brick sidewalk, he put it in. In addition, all my children were raised there. It was their home, it's still their home. They can come back anytime they want to. So, I think I am quite content and I don't think I'll be changing where I live.

"The day may come when I will have to move to a smaller home but I'm only 84, so not just yet. When I do, I think the fear I'll feel will be about a change in the familiar. What I'm accustomed to, what I'm used to, my neighbors are all familiar to me. I would be afraid of these unknowns. I think I would rather get a caretaker into the home."
~ Nora

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

All at once...

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"And all at once summer collapsed into fall."
~ Oscar Wilde

It seems like I had just passed this house only a week before, but this day it was transformed into a field of "fall" and Halloween all at once. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Two views


Looking southward down the Rio San Gabriel Riverbed, you can see the stately pillars and wavy connecting lines of the redesigned Firestone bridge.

Below, you can see a homeless village. See Volunteers canvass Downey streets to inventory homeless for information on how Downey volunteers have helped to tally the homeless population for the last two years.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The ABCs of Halloween

Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations have popped up all around town. Most are traditional. But some are a little harder to interpret than others. I'm still puzzling over the meaning of this display—any suggestions?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Courage to Care"


Tonight I was so grateful to be able to attend the Children's Hospital Los Angeles Gala at LA Live. CHLA is ranked as one of the top children's hospitals, and the event tonight was to honor and celebrate those who have given so much to the children—at CHLA and around the world.

20161015_222308 as Smart Object-1Honored tonight were The Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation, Drew Barrymore, and the Los Angeles Kings for their "Courage to Care." I was reminded of how much I like Drew Barrymore—her acceptance speech was down to earth and genuine.

The final highlight of the evening was a performance by Katy Perry.

"I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire, 'cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar, louder, louder than a lion 'cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar." 
~ Katy Perry, from "Roar"

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall exposure

Fall treeTree bark

Each spring and summer, I enjoy the trees full of leaves, especially the shade they provide. But fall rolls around every year to remind me that trees are often most interesting when they are bare—when you can see the twisted and wiggy shapes of the branches that hold the trees together, or the prehistoric-looking designs in the bark.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Humans of Downey - Charlene


"One thing I can do today that I couldn't do a year ago is to get in front of an audience and speak with confidence. The job I had for years required me to get in front of an audience, but I was always uncomfortable with it. I would tell my boss that when I get in front of an audience, I turn crimson. He said, 'Missy, they don't care what color you are. They're listening to what you have to say.' So, he sort of startled me and I had to decide, 'Am I going to be out in the forefront or am I going to stay in the background?' But I was too creative to stay in the background, so he said. So, I did speak in front of others but I was always crimson. I thought I could never get over it. And yet, this class, the Memoir Writing Class facilitated by Bonnie Mansell, has given me that confidence that I needed and crimson doesn't happen anymore. It's because Bonnie makes you feel safe while speaking, while sharing something personal.

"The first story I read in the writing class was about how to master the unicycle. I have an everlasting photograph, which I quoted in the paper. We still have it in our house. I was probably 13 at the time and I did it for my uncle. He had daughters who couldn't ride it and the guys couldn't either. I was determined to do it. It's weird to ride a unicycle, you're holding onto air. My dad got us started in the garage where he had us hold onto a pipe. Then we would let go and crash. But soon, I would go for three feet, then five feet, and pretty soon I went to the end of the driveway. Soon I could ride up and down my street. That was my first story."
~ Charlene

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Humans of Downey - Eric


"Two years ago I participated in a statewide journalism contest. I was named a finalist in the 'Best Writing' category. I was proud and excited. Unfortunately, the award ceremony was in San Francisco and due to the costs involved I could not attend. It wasn't until my plaque arrived in the mail that I learned I had won first place. It was a bittersweet moment.

"Something I can do today that I couldn't do last year is to be more confident in myself. I was elected president of the Kiwanis of Downey. It has given me more opportunities to be in front of people. During Christmas last year, we had a celebration for under-advantage families. I had to address around 20 first- and second-graders and their families and keep them entertained. Activities like these have given me more confidence to be in front of an audience and to meet new people."
~ Eric

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Halloween thrift (part 2)

Second Tyme Around Thrift Shop Halloween

 Yesterday, I told you about some strange Halloween laws for kids. Well, there are laws for adults, too.
  • Years back, there was some problem with clowns in Vendragues, France. Now it is illegal on Halloween to wear clown costumes or makeup if you are more than 12 years old.
  • In the town of Bellville, Missouri, you can’t ask for candy on Halloween if you have passed the eighth grade or the age of an eighth grader. Trick-or-treating is meant for children only.
  • Women are not allowed to wear corsets in Merryville, Missouri. Remember this when trying to figure out what to wear on Halloween.
  • In Dublin, Georgia, it is unlawful for any person over 16 to go out in public on Halloween wearing a mask, sunglasses, hood, or any other type of accessory that covers the face.
What's an adult to do? How about a Halloween party instead? And the Second Tyme Around Shoppe has you covered there, too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Halloween thrift (part 1)

Second Tyme Around Thrift Shop Halloween

If you're a kid, the Second Tyme Around Shoppe has something for you. From Winnie-the-Pooh to cheerleaders, they've got the traditional costumes covered.

And if you're a kid, you should keep in mind some of the strange Halloween-related laws in effect around the country:
  • In Dublin, Georgia, you can’t go out in public wearing a mask if you are under the age of 16. 
  • In Walnut Creek, California, a permit is required to go “trick or treating” if a mask or disguise is to be worn on a public street. You can get a permit from the town sheriff.
  • In Alabama, no one may dress up like a priest, on Halloween or any other day. Also, you can’t wear a mustache when you are attending church on Halloween as it might make people laugh if it is amusing.
  • In Hollywood, California, you can't use, sell, possess, or distribute silly string from 12:00 AM on October 31 until 12:00 PM November 1. You can be fined $1000 for just holding the can.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mi Cielo...heavenly


Another new upscale restaurant is planned to open early this fall—Mi Cielo, roughly translated: "heavenly."

IMG_0257According to the Patriot's article from last year, the restaurant will have two cascading staircases that lead from the back patio to the rooftop lounge. I love the idea of a rooftop concept, live entertainment, and delicious food. Downtown Downey just keeps getting better. I can't wait for the grand opening!


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Kids at play


It was a beautiful day out today. Walking through the park, I watched these kids for a moment. They were having such a good time that it was fun to watch. One of the things about kids is their ability to have fun wherever they are. Somehow, they are always at play. And,  you never know what they are thinking or what they might be ready to say.

"Mom, button my sweater, please. I'm going to slay a dragon." 
~ Reese (age 3)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Discover Downey's space history

Electrical boxElectrical box

Here's another electrical box work of art that I noticed lately. This one celebrates Downey's space history. It's located, appropriately enough, right around the corner from the Columbia Memorial Space Center, where you can see exhibits related to all of these images.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The book release


Today I had the privilege to be a part of the celebration of a book release. Every week in the Downey Patriot, there is a feature called "Shared Stories." This feature posts a story contributed by the members, pictured above, of the Life Stories Writing class, taught by Bonnie Mansell. They meet every Thursday afternoon at the Norwalk Senior Center.

From left to right: Eric Pierce, Bonnie Mansell, Carol Kerns, and Frank Kerns.

Frank and Carol Kerns, two members of the writing class, approached Eric Pierce of The Downey Patriot to see if the Patriot wanted to support the idea of publishing a book of the stories that had been published in the Shared Stories feature. They said, "yes." Because of the Patriot's support and Frank and Carol's hard work of editing, the books were published and today was the celebration of the book's release. By the way, sales are going so well that they have just ordered their second printing.

Do you like reading stories that give you a glimpse into another's life? Check out the feature in this week's Patriot.

Do you like to write or would you like to learn how to write the stories of your life? Check out Bonnie's class at the Norwalk Senior Center.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

It's finally here


I regularly shop at the Norwalk Costco warehouse, which is the nearest one to Downey. But I have had to travel further to get Costco gas. I either have to go to Lakewood or Commerce or to a local gas station.

I have wanted the Norwalk warehouse to get their own gas station for years. And it has finally happened. They just opened about a month ago and now it is my regular gas stop. One more perk for living in Downey.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


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A few days ago I wrote about a ride you don't want to take. Well, these pictures are of a place you really don't want to go.

IMG_0241 as Smart Object-1At the end of our tour of DPD, we got to walk through the lockup area where individuals who have been taken into custody are processed. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Off to a good start

Reading the Downey Patriot

We like to keep up with the local Downey news at our house. All of us!