Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Another spooky spider


Keeping with the October holiday theme, I spotted this guy building his web in my backyard the other night. It was very scary to try and get close enough for a decent picture that would show you just how big this spider is. His abdomen was as fat as the end of my thumb. Spooky!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall colors


I like autumn and find myself anticipating the colors of fall. This house looks so inviting in the late afternoon sun.

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spookiness lives here

Halloween decoration Dracula

In addition to the spiders crawling all over (Spooky spiders), this house is a temporary home to Count Dracula and a couple of ghosts.

Halloween decoration ghosts"I have crossed oceans of time to find you."
~ Dracula

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Spooky ghost


It is always interesting to find how people decorate their yards and houses in preparation for Halloween. This skeletal ghost was pretty spooky even in daylight with the wind breathing life into his ghostly form.

"The lawn 
Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn, 
The sad intangible who grieve and yearn . . . " 
~ T.S. Elliot

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spooky spiders

Halloween decoration spiders

We've posted about the fun yard art at this house before (Sunsets and yard art and His bark is worse than his bite...), but we've never seen it this time of year. It turns out that this family really does it up for Halloween. It's spooky enough during the day. I can't wait to see it on Halloween night.

Halloween decoration clock"Remember when you threw a shoe at me and I fell somewhere behind the bed? 

"I remember too."
~ The spider

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Humans of Downey - Maddison


"When it comes to our spirit and soul, as humans we're designed in a very specific way so that our personalities are the unique parts of ourselves. With emotion, whether it's pain or joy, those all come out through our personality, but that is what makes us the same. We all have that spirit, that soul. There are very specific things that drive people and they are all very different. But that drive, I think I'm the same as everyone else that wants to get somewhere. Specifically, I share a desire to be significant, a desire to have my life count.

"I am unique in something that I've experienced within the past year, an extreme loss in a weird way. My older sister, my dear sister, we almost lost her to a very rare disease. But she survived, she made it. But she isn't the same. It is a very interesting grief to process because there is a handbook on how to handle grief when you lose someone. But when someone is still there but they're not quite the same, how do you grieve that loss and how do you embrace the something that's still there?

"For me, the only way I've been able to process this loss is to be creative: through painting, through music, through expressing how I'm feeling in sound waves and in color. I think that's unique to me because that's how I've experienced it. My parents went through the exact same thing, but they experienced it differently. The 20-year-old people I know don't have that script. It is my own and I own it wholeheartedly. I've taken that and worked on turning it over for good, not letting it hinder me, but to use it in a way of saying, 'OK, how can I use this to love on other people through this pain that I've experienced.' I think some people might turn inward after experiencing something similar. So, that's my goal every day. How can I show people that they are loved and they do matter. That's a really hard thing to do."

~ Maddison

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Humans of Downey - Lars


"I am the same as everyone else because I get up each morning and look at the world just like everyone else and I interact with others. I feel hurt when I hear things said about me that I think are unfair. I feel good when nice things happen. I feel energized and happy when I see people treating each other nicely.

"Although, let me tell you two stories to show how I am unique. My parents were both musical and we had a piano in our home, which I love to tinker with. Then, I received piano lessons as a gift for my 8th birthday, and even at that age I knew I wanted to be a musician.

"As a 12-year-old, I was a good singer. I played Amahl in the Christmas musical called "Amahl and the Night Visitors" by Gian Carlo Menotti. This was in Orlando, Florida, where I was growing up at the time. So, I was in front of audiences at the age of 12, singing soprano and playing an acting part. Although, I didn't take that any further. In the same year, being a promising piano student, I tied for first in a statewide piano competition. This allowed me to play several times with the Florida symphony. All as a 12-year-old."

~ Lars

PS Downey Symphony will be performing a Lars Clutterham composition in January, 2018.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Freeway ladder


I came across this the other day driving through north Downey—just on the outside wall of the 5 freeway. I thought it was so interesting to have this ladder and the tree shadows on the wall. It had me wondering how many times the ladder is used and why it might be important to have this access.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Honor and Halloween

Halloween decorations

Pumpkins, scarecrows, spiders and skeletons—all bring attention to the main attraction at this home, that an honor student lives here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The magic hour


I'm cheating today, because this picture was not taken in Downey. And, I know I have shared more than my share of twilight and light pictures, but it really is the "magic hour."

“It was deep afternoon when shadows begin to grow, light becomes gold, and you realize that this particular day has reached its destiny. Like old age, it’s not yet over, but there’s no denying the time of day.”
~ Vicki Covington, Bird of Paradise

Friday, October 6, 2017

Costume stories

Second Tyme Around Shoppe Halloween

It's Halloween again at the Second Tyme Around Thrift Shoppe. The window is filled with bargains on everything from princesses to Peanuts to pumpkins—evidence of Halloweens past.

"Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story." 
~ Mason Cooley

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Panorama pictures

Balboa panarama 2017

This is a panorama picture of the sky over Balboa Island that I took on a recent vacation there. It's just 30 minutes south of Downey.

I'm showing it because of its beauty but also to show how far photography has come. I took several stills of the skyline and made sure that they were at the same level and overlapped each other. Then Google pictures put them together as a panorama. Years ago you would have had to do this with a special lens that would have distorted the horizon. Or you could have achieved it by using very time-consuming special techniques in the darkroom. But this is so easy and beautiful. I use it when I want to show the 180-degree view I have somewhere. Try it sometime.

"A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands."
~ William Lyon Phelps

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sentinels of Halloween


These sentinels of Halloween are popping up all over lawns in Downey. This little one just popped up a few days ago. A little worn from his travels but with a big smile to greet me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fiery sky


I was just driving down the road and all I could pay attention to was the fiery sky. It was powerfully bright and full of color.

"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 2, 2017

The watch cats

Watch catWatch cat

Dogs bark when you pass, and rush to the fence to either greet you or warn you away. But cats just watch. They are everywhere—sometimes hidden, sometimes not, aloof and confident in their place in our world.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gate at dusk


I really like gates like this one. Not only is the metal work beautiful, it gives you a bit of a sense of both history and of mystery. This gate lets you see through, but still is a boundary, keeping out those who don't belong.

I stand alone at the Gates of Dusk,
A fire blazing in the sky.
The trees are shadows, the clouds they glow,
The water reflects the light.
A sun half down but still half up,
Dying but still alive.
A time of change, a liminal time,
~ Bethany Lorekeeper Davis, At the Gates of Dusk

Friday, September 29, 2017

Avast ye!

Pirate ship

On a walk the other day, I discovered this pirate ship. I don't know if it's there just for the Halloween season, or if it's a permanent addition to the neighborhood. But in any case, I can't stop thinking of pirates—and Johnny Depp.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Humans of Downey - Kathy


"What makes me the same as other people is that I would like to be cared for and loved like most people in the world.

"My uniqueness comes from the fact that I never knew my biological father but I had a stepfather who came into my life early and he was Mexican. That was very unique when I was a little girl, that there would be an interracial marriage. But because of it, I was so much more diverse than my friends in my age group. So, I am very proud of the fact that my dad was a Mexican man. He was my stepfather but he was my father.

"He taught me so much. My dad helped me become the person I am today. He taught me that we are all connected and that we all do matter. A teacher told him in high school, after they had graduated, that he would never be anything more than a garbage truck driver because he was Mexican. One of only two in the school at that time. He enlisted in the army after high school. When he got out he became a Long Beach policeman. One night, when he was on patrol, he pulled over what appeared to be a drunk driver. When he got up to the window, he asked the occupant for their license and insurance card. He looked at the license and was shocked. The driver was the same teacher that had told him he would never amount to anything significant. He said, 'Do you remember me?' That was poetic justice."

~ Kathy

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Humans of Downey - Vella


"I'm the same as everyone else because I live in Downey. I'm a parent. I love to listen to music. I'm very friendly and happy, I get angry and I'm very temperamental. I show love.

"I'm unique from others in that I'm a very dedicated parent. My daughter dances about 11 hours a week and my life pretty much revolves around her dance schedule.

"Another way to tell you how I am unique—when I was about 15 years old, I left with my parents to live in Ecuador, South America, where I lived and finished high school. Then I finished college, and after living there for 8 years I returned to the States. Boy, what a culture shock, the lifestyle was so different. Here in the US, it is very fast-paced. In South America, it's a slower pace, everyone is friendly. People here are much more conservative and quiet."

~ Vella

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Welcome fall


Pam wrote about the signs of fall starting to appear in the form of pumpkins. Well, it appears to be spreading! This house was quite decked out in the fall scheme of things.

IMG_3029-1If you are not quite ready for pumpkins to adorn your front yard, you could always compromise by stopping by Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Signs of fall

Pumpkins and fall

It's fall. The typical signs? Sweaters. Hot cocoa. Walks in the woods. The fireplace. Falling leaves. Chill in the air. Hot apple cider. Pumpkins.

Well, one out of nine isn't bad. In southern California, the leading (and only!) indicator of fall is pumpkins. In preparation for Halloween and Thanksgiving, pumpkins are popping up all over.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Twilight glow


I am always on the lookout for how light at the end of the day is reflected all around us. I was wandering around the downtown area and happened to look up and saw the end-of-day light being brightly reflected on the windows of this building. It gave a sense of warmth to the entire evening.

"Sometimes just looking up and seeing the light is enough." 
~Terri Guillemets

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dogs of Downey - Jackson

Jackson Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Last weekend's International Food and Music Festival was a dog-friendly place. This is Jackson, a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier. Huh, you say? According to Wikipedia, "the Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier is a pure breed terrier originating from Ireland. . . . Wheatens are generally friendly and playful, and tend to get along well with children and other dogs." This was definitely true of Jackson. He is very friendly, but calm enough to sit and enjoy the crowds with his owners.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Humans of Downey - Connie


"I'm the same as everyone else because humans are all one. It doesn't matter what race, religion, sexuality, we're all just humans. I'm the same as everyone here tonight because I love being with people, watching what people are doing, how they are reacting and interacting with others, just like the police officers that are standing watch over there. I'm the same as everybody else because I love being part of this community. As a parent, I'm the same as everybody else in that I want the best for my children.

"I'm different from everybody else because being a widow, I have to be both to my children, both mother and father. I understand that life isn't easy. And even though my children are now adults, I still see them as my children. When they were growing up I think I pushed them a little harder than most parents, because I was a single mom. Knowing that life is rough, I tried to prepare my children for that reality. That makes me different than others. Having raised my children as a single mom, my outlook on life changed over the years. I had to become independent and not depend on another like when there are two parents. I think I became stronger as an individual though."

~ Connie

PS I interviewed Connie at Downey's International Food and Music Festival.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Humans of Downey - Robert


"I'm the same as everybody else because I'm human. And just like many other people, I'm a parent. I have a six-year-old little girl, Sophie. I show my child love just like other parents. Every day I tell her that I love her and I hug her. I support her by always complimenting her.

"I am different from others because I'm disabled. The left side of my body is paralyzed. The paralysis was caused by a stroke. I cope with my disability by directing my anger at myself because I know that I caused my stroke. I'm also unique from others in that I try to be more creative than others. More creative by the way I use my mind. I'm always thinking of ways to improve things. I used to write but my mind isn't the same now and so I don't write like I used to."

~ Robert

PS I took Robert's picture and interview at the International Food & Music Festival last weekend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kitchen garden


From blossom to fruit—in this case, vegetable. This is my cucumber vine. I love growing fresh veggies in my kitchen garden.

20170804_173543_001The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.
~ Alfred Austin

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dance the night away

Downey International Food and Drink Festival

There were three stages for music performances at the Downey International Food and Music Festival this year. At each one, people were dancing and swaying to the music (in this case, The Little Mermaid's Under the Sea).

Downey International Food and Drink FestivalAnd it wasn't just the crowd enjoying the music. The musicians also looked like they were enjoying themselves.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Photo ops

Downey International Food and Music Festival photo op

Today was the Downey International Food and Music Festival. Preparations go on all day for the food trucks, live music, festival attractions, face painters, and a beer and wine garden.

One of the popular attractions is the photo op with the D-O-W-N-E-Y letters, where everyone enjoys having their picture taken.

Downey International Food and Music Festival signDowney International Food and Music Festival flags

Friday, September 15, 2017

"The Boat"


Tonight, dinner was at La Barca Cantina and Grill. I had chicken in mole sauce, it was quite yummy.

20170915_192030_001The patio dining was much improved over the previous outdoor setting. The experience was a little loud with a live band and roaming musicians. But for me, it is all about the food.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
~ Luciano Pavarotti

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ernesto


"When I was younger, actually in middle school, I had a passion to serve, to help others. Sometimes it was fixing someone's bicycle or washing a car. Whatever the situation was that someone needed help, I wanted to be the one that helped them. I think I have a servant's heart. That translates into customer service. This cafe gives me the opportunity to serve Downey, to give back to my hometown.

"I think my parents were my model for helping others. My parents helped me to become more social. To be able to talk to a stranger and make them feel like I was their friend. They helped me see school as a positive thing and to get out of my social shell. They had multiple lunch trucks and I got to see them enjoy serving others. The look on their faces when they made others happy by meeting their needs was an inspiration to me. I wanted to smile because I had met someone's need."

~ Ernesto

DSC_0542PS Ernesto and his wife are owners of the newly opened Chocolate Covered Cafe here in Downey, 12250 Paramount Blvd. This is one of their creations, a S'more shake.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A blue wall

Blue Wall

My wife and I were out for our nightly walk on August 11 when we noticed this message being projected onto a wall of Downey City Hall. We inquired about Corporal Hano at the police station. They told us he was injured in an electrical explosion during a training exercise in South Gate. You can read about it here. The picture in the article is of Corporal Hano receiving an award for saving the life of a child that had fallen into a pool. You can read about that here. I haven't heard how his recovery is going. But having worked in a hospital, I know that burn injuries can take some time to recover. I'll investigate and let you know later.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017



Somehow the mix of clouds, light, and sunset or sunrise just amazes me. It gives you such a powerful sense of the impact of light on everything. It changes how you perceive the world around you.

20170911_064831-1"May the blessing of Light be on you, light without and light within..."
~ Irish blessing

Monday, September 11, 2017


Elephant Bar in Downey Landing

The Elephant Bar restaurant was one of the original restaurants in Downey Landing when the shopping center opened in 2006. It recently closed, a victim of its parent company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. All that's left of its name is "ELEP," partially showing through the banner advertising the site's availability.

Here's hoping for a classy new restaurant to take its place.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Misty mountains


I recently went to the Great Smoky Mountains and one of the things I loved about it was the layers of mountains you could see as you looked out over the distance. Last week when I was taking some overview pictures from the Embassy Suites in Downey, I noticed these beautiful layers of foothills off in the distance. It made me think just a little bit about the Smoky Mountains.

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. ... There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."
~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Friday, September 8, 2017

Take me home?

Petsmart Adoption Center

Whenever I shop at Petsmart, I wander by the cat adoption center (just in case, you know...I've adopted two cats from Petsmart over the years).

The adoption center is part of Petsmart Charities, which helps local animal welfare groups find homes for homeless cats and dogs. As the sign below shows, they've found homes for over seven million cats. The Downey store works with Zazzy Cats, a local organization whose goal is to rescue high risk cats from shelters in the Los Angeles area. (For example, one of the cats there tonight is missing one eye.)

So come on by, and see if one of them catches your eye, and your heart.

Petsmart Adoption CenterPetsmart Adoption Center

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ramon #2


"The worst thing that has happened to me in a car is that I got in an accident in my '63 C10 truck. When I bought this truck I was so ecstatic. I had finally gotten the truck I had always wanted. It was the truck that my grandfather had when I was growing up. Actually, his was an Apache but the only difference was the windshield. They had the same engine, although my truck has a Corvette engine installed. I was so happy. I drove my truck every day.

"A few months after I bought it, I got careless. I sideswiped another vehicle. After that, I lost all the joy of driving it. It just drained me. It wasn't that I was afraid. As a fire fighter and medic, my whole core is to do no harm but to protect others, but here I am causing an accident. It made me want to sell the truck. But thankfully my grandfather talked me out of it. He said, 'No, this is what you've always wanted, you've been talking about this truck for years, you've been fixing it up. Just find joy in it.' And little by little the joy has been coming back. But I'll never forget that accident. It's the only car accident I've ever been in since I've been driving, some 15 years."

~ Ramon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ramon #1


"This is a 1963 Chevy C10 Fleetside long-bed truck. It has a Corvette 350 cubic inch engine. I've had it for a couple of years. I also have a Mazda II which I call my "gopher" vehicle. I've driven it over a wide range of areas in the US and also in Canada. The car is so nimble and agile that I decided to sign up for SCCA, Sports Car Club of America. They support autocross racing. I entered my Mazda but when people saw it they said, 'Oh that little car won't do anything.' But I showed them. I ended up coming in 2nd in the nationals for my class.

"That race goes along with my career and what I've been told all my life. I'm not a big guy, only 5 feet 5 inches. I've always been told that I can't do that, you're too small, you're not strong enough. People have always underestimated me. My response has always been, 'Well, I'll show you.'

"One—I was told I couldn't join the military because I was too small. So I joined the navy right after 9/11.

"Two—While I was in the navy, I tried to join the Crash and Salvage program, which deals with fires on an aircraft carrier. I was told, 'No', I was too little. Well, again, I'll show you. In 2008, I joined the Fire Academy. From there I became a fire fighter.

"Three—Once again people told me 'You can't do that, you're too little.' Well guess what? Now I'm an engineer for Edward's Fire Department and I drive the fire trucks.

"Four—Now, I'm going back to college to get my degree in Fire Science and Safety Risk Management because some day I want to be a fire chief and I'll need that degree."