Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What do they have in common?

Uptown Vogue

Uptown Vogue is a relatively new shoe store in downtown Downey. Passing by the other day, I noticed the logo. I immediately thought of Paris (the Eiffel Tower), London (Big Ben), New York (the Statue of Liberty), and ... the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

I think of Paris, London, and New York as fashion centers. And Italy is known for its leather goods. But Pisa? It's known for its tilting tower, not its shoes. This thought made me wonder where the idea for the logo came from. A little Googling, and I came across Uptown Vogue opens in Downtown Downey from downeybeat.com. According to Marco Sosa, the store manager, “We wanted to put the whole world into one shopping experience. Because we carry items from many countries, we thought it would be fun to showcase major tourist attractions. It was actually my father’s idea.”

Not fashion centers—tourist attractions. Now I get it!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Suave the Band

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The Downey free summer concerts began last Wednesday at Furman Park. The first sounds this year came from Suave the Band, Latin Dance. And, there were plenty of people who wanted to dance.

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It was a lot of fun to watch the dancers moving to the beat and clearly having the time of their lives. One of the understandings of the word Suave is confident or self-possessed. These dancers were definitely "suave."

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Another loss for Downey's history

Superintendent's house Rancho Los Amigos

I wrote yesterday about the Rives Mansion, which hopefully will be restored to its full potential. Another historic building, the Harriman House on the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus, won't be so lucky, since it was mostly destroyed by fire last night.

The building was erected in 1915 as the residence for the superintendent of the County Poor Farm. The first residents were William Harriman and his family, who lived here until his resignation in 1952. The 5,000 square foot house was designed in the Craftman style.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cleaning up

Rives Mansion cleanup

We've written a lot about the Rives Mansion. It's a beautiful old house, built in 1911, that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion has fallen on tough times lately.

Last month, the fence around the mansion's back area collapsed under all the overgrown vegetation. The collapse exposed overgrown weeds and lots of trash, as well as evidence that people were illegally living in the garage and water tower. The city of Downey went to court and got the OK to clean up the property. This picture shows the back area, with most of the debris cleaned up.

In the past, the mansion has been a private residence, a potential museum, and a potential steakhouse and wine garden, among other things. If money were no obstacle, what would you do with the mansion?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

There's no place like home

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I know it looks like it needs a little tender loving care, but there is something very cozy and appealing about this little home. I recently peeked inside the windows when they were doing some work and it was charming on the inside too.

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
~ Maya Angelou

Friday, June 23, 2017

Give 'em room

Downey Bicycle Coalition

Wednesday night was the Downey Bicycle Coalition's first Ice Cream Social Ride of the summer. It was advertised as a "short 9mi ride...on an EASY-paced, beach cruiser-friendly loop through Downey with a stop at ColdStone Creamery and nearby U-Swirl Frozen Yogurt."

Downey Bicycle CoalitionCalifornia law requires drivers to stay at least three feet away from cyclists while passing.  I like the bright-colored shirt that is sure to serve as a reminder to drivers who pass this group tonight.

I also like the idea of rewarding myself to  ice cream during a ride.

See what's coming up next on their Facebook event page.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A domain keeper

Isaac's cat

I went out to the street this morning to throw some trash out. While out there, I thought I would check my peach tree for any ripe fruit I could use for breakfast. I noticed a few of the peaches had been eaten by birds. Then I was startled to find our neighbor's cat in my tree. I'm not sure if she was waiting for a bird to return or just surveying her domain. Either way, I left her alone in peace.

“A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Keep your eye on the ball

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I went over to Columbus High School this evening to watch some softball games. I took several pictures of the action, and this one, I thought, epitomizes the saying we've all heard, "Keep your eye on the ball." Which is to say, keep your eye on the target or goal.

So, I thought I would ask our DDP followers, "Are you keeping your eye on your goals?" Let us know.

PS She did hit the ball.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Macarons and more macarons

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One of the things I like about Downey is its proximity to so many places. We are freeway-close to downtown Los Angeles. In fact, it is less than 15 miles from my house to Bottega Louie Restaurant (7th & Grand). Tonight I joined some coworkers for an amazing dinner there.

20170620_172117-1What a fun evening! Great small plates to start, we ordered and devoured octopus, calamari, crab beignets and, of course, pommes frites. After seeing so many dessert choices when we first entered the restaurant, we could not leave without having dessert. So, we chose a few to sample. I'm thinking there are more trips in my future, there are still so many more goodies to taste!


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“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
~ Julia Child

Monday, June 19, 2017

Vive la comida cubana

Florida Restaurant mural

Behind the Florida Cuban Restaurant, there is a mural that is maybe 200 feet long. While the people inside enjoy the Cuban food here in Downey, the mural outside celebrates the sights and sounds of Cuba.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Choose a side

Farmer's market

The farmer's market has grown a lot since the first time I walked through it. Now when you visit, you can choose the healthy side, filled with fruits and veggies, or the fun side, where you can choose from a variety of delicious international foods for a mid-morning snack.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Unexpected surprise

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This is one of the oddest flowers I have come across in my garden. It showed up 5 or 6 years ago. I'm not sure what it is, but it blooms once a year and is this brilliant red color. To me, it looks like a fireworks flower.

"Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." 
~ Hans Christian Andersen

Friday, June 16, 2017

No man is an island

Gardener

No man is an island...but sometimes he is responsible for one. This gardener keeps his little patch of grass looking neat and well manicured.

This post title just popped into my head, and then made me want to read the source again. The poem seems timely, and I'll share it here, even though it has little to do with the picture.

No Man is an Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

~ John Donne

Thursday, June 15, 2017

School's out

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Schools are out here in Downey. That means it's time to find things to do for the next few months. For the younger children, that means parents must find activities for them. For the older ones, it means finding something that you can do with your friends and not need parental supervision. The movies at the Cinemark theater are the perfect answer for both groups.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planned seclusion

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I liked how these owners planned the foliage in the front yard to make their house secluded from people on the street. Although, the people on the street get to enjoy a beautiful yard as they pass by. Both sides get to enjoy the view.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

With a side of history

Dubost Ranch general store sign

At Dubost Ranch in the Paso Robles area, we talked to Kate, one of the owners. She shared almost as much about the history of the Dubost Ranch as she shared about the wine that they produce. It was fun to talk with someone who enjoys and values her town's history as much as we enjoy learning about Downey.

Dubost Ranch 1880s spring wagonThe ranch in Adelaida has been in the Dubost family since 1882, when Auguste and Pauline Dubost, who had immigrated from France, settled here to open a general store to cater to the gold and silver miners. They also ran the post office and a dance hall. This 1880s spring wagon (right) was originally used by Auguste and Pauline to make the two-day trek over the hill to Cayucos to meet the clipper ships for supplies and mail for Adelaida. Their daughter-in-law Alexandrine later rode the wagon in the Pioneer Day Parade.

Alexandrine ran the general store and was the postmistress until 1936. Alexandrine's son Raymond farmed the ranch for over 90 years. (Raymond's son Curt is Kate's husband.) An intriguing follow-up to Alexandrine's story occurred in just the last year. (Forgive me, Kate, if I haven't got the details straight.) A woman in London bought a pile of old postcards at a flea market. The message on one of them was in French, and the last name of the addressee was Dubost. This woman used the internet to track down the Dubosts in California and contacted them. It turned out that the postcard, written in 1912, was from Alexandrine to family members that were still in France. (The lady sent the postcard to the present-day Dubosts.)

Dubost Ranch

Monday, June 12, 2017

It all starts with the vines

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The vines are just the beginning of the story. We are in Paso Robles at our final winery for the day. We had no intention of coming to this particular winery, it was just one of those serendipitous choices you make when you are on an adventure.

What an enjoyable hour we spent chatting with Kate at Dubost Ranch. We tasted some great wines and learned much about wine making and the grapes themselves.

We left laden with several bottles and with every intention of returning some day soon.

"Wine is bottled poetry." 
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Road trip!

Piedras Biancas elephant seals

Joan, Allison, and I are off for a long weekend in the Paso Robles wine country. But we didn't drive directly there. Instead, we drove up the coast, past Hearst Castle and San Simeon, to the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery.

At this time of the year, the sub-adult male seals return to the rookery for a month for molting, that is, to grow new skin and hair. While they are molting, they look pretty ratty, but they're actually quite healthy. The only fighting going on during this period is just for play, or maybe out of irritatation. ("That's my spot of sand." "No, it's my spot!").

Piedras Blancas elephant seals

Molting must be hard work. Most of the time, the seals just line up and sleep.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

New vines

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I have two different grape vines in my yard. Every year the vines come up, the leaves are beautiful, big and bright green; but I have yet to get grapes. Still, every year I anticipate the possibility. I will continue to hope.

IMG_2068-1"Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible."

Friday, June 9, 2017

The price you pay

Bougainvillea framed window

This window, framed with bougainvillea and roses, caught my eye the other day. I thought, how pretty the view out that window is going to be when the bougainvillea is in full bloom.

It's also going to be the safest window in the neighborhood. Bougainvillea is sometimes planted as a security feature. Between the rose thorns and the long bougainvillea thorns, no one is likely to try to pass this way!

"The most beautiful flowers have the sharpest thorns."
~ Samantha Goodwin

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Saint George Church

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Yesterday, I posted about the Greek Food Festival sponsored by the St. George Greek Orthodox Church put on this last weekend. The food and the outside activities were certainly worth the $2.00 admission. (Although, lots of Downey businesses had "free admission for you and a guest" cards they were giving away.)

But the highlight of my day there was the guided tour of the sanctuary of St. George Church. It is a beautiful and peaceful place of worship. Our guide was well versed in church history and architecture. The interior is still not complete. They are adding more icons as money and artists are available.

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The icon of Jesus on the sanctuary dome is to give the worshipers the sense that God is looking down at them and accepting their gifts of worship.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Greek Food Festival

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The Greek Food Festival was held at the St. George Orthodox Greek Church here in Downey this past weekend. We posted on it earlier this week, here. There was food galore and it was delicious. You could buy a roasted whole lamb for $275 if you wanted. I loved the Greek fries with the feta cheese on top.

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There was live music and plenty of dancing. These folks were practicing for the serious dancing later that day.

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And of course, there were plenty of family activities. Like hugs from mom and "this little piggy" with grandma.

“If a Greek woman tells you to do something, you do it.”
― Dave Barry, Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Seeing reflections

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I am always looking for interesting pictures. This is the Downey High School fence that runs along Brookshire Avenue. I liked how the the edges of the fence picked up so much reflection from all the street lights.


"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." 
~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, June 5, 2017

Young love

Kids statues

Was she trying to do some schoolwork when he offered her some flowers? In any case, she seems to welcome the interruption.

"I know we're too young and it's still early to say this...but I hope you're the one."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wrapping up

Memorial Day Downey Cemetery gun salute

One last look at last week's Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery...

Memorial Day Downey Cemetery trumpetersTwo of my favorite parts of the ceremony are the gun salute and playing of Taps at the end of the ceremony. The crew of veterans who perform the gun salute was smaller this year, but no less effective.

The crew of trumpeters has remained the same for several years, and they enjoy a few minutes of cameraderie before the ceremony starts.

A peak at the Greek

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Today I went to the first day of the Greek Food Festival at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church. It was early in the day, and they were still setting up much of the event, so there were not many people around, but the food was ready. And so were most of the rides and activities for kids.

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"My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex".
~ Toula Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Friday, June 2, 2017

Half-staff, half-day

Memorial Day Downey Cemetery

This year's Memorial Day Presidential Proclamation states, "I...request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control."

The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff only for the first half of the day, and then it is raised to full height from noon to sundown. Why only until noon? This custom honors the war dead for the morning and living veterans for the rest of the day (Live Science).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Humans of Downey - Carlos

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"This story is about an incident during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school and how it changed the path I was headed down to a better path. I was an artist, I loved to draw, but I also loved to tag. I remember this day very well. It is a clear image in my memory. I was hanging around this day with a group of guys. They were a few years older than me and I thought I was cool to be with them. They decided to go tagging on the freeway. It was broad daylight. This was not the brightest of ideas. So we went to the 710 freeway where we knew of an entrance to get us in.

"When we were done and leaving, the cops were waiting for us. So, I thought, if I run to the riverbed I can get away. But instead, I fell in the water because of the moss under the water was so slippery. For a second I was under the water and the current was pretty strong. I got myself up, though, and continued across the riverbed to the other side. But the cops were waiting for me there. So they took all four of us to the Bell police station. I remember sitting there all soaked and smelly thinking, 'What am I doing here? I'm not this type of person.'

"In my senior year I met this teacher named Mr. Synop. It was his first year of teaching and he was the most inspirational teacher I have ever had. He would approach me after class and tell me that I had done a good job that day. There was another teacher, my art teacher, that kind of watched me grow up in high school. She had me as a freshman and now as a senior. So she saw how I had developed. I wasn't a bad student. I actually had straight As during my senior year.

"Mr. Synop would sit me down sometimes and tell me that I was a leader in the class. He said that if I tell the class to hush up and listen, they do it. He said I was an example for the others by always doing my homework. Also, I would help anyone that needed help in the class. That year turned me around. First, because of the recognition that I'm not going to waste my life in police stations. Second, because of the attention and encouragement that my English teacher and art teacher gave me. Now, I'm a better person for it."