Monday, July 31, 2017

Relaxing at the park

A day at Furman Park

Sometimes you relax while watching the kids play. Sometimes you take a break while walking the dog. Whatever the circumstances, these park benches are a nice place to stop and sit a while.

"There are “bus bench” workouts and “park bench” workouts. A bus bench and a park bench look exactly the same, but your expectations sitting in them are radically different."
~ Dan John 

Editor's note: We'll be taking a break for the month of August. See you in September!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Montreat hike

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Today was our last day on Black Mountain. We headed just about 20 minutes down the road to Montreat to a hike up the mountain. It was lush green forest with little water for the kids. It ended up being a fairly strenuous trek, but worth it for the view at the end.

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"In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, -- he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Friday, July 28, 2017

A trio of waterfalls

High Falls

I like hiking and I like waterfalls, so one of the delights of the Smoky Mountains has been the number of hikes to waterfalls. This day, we managed to walk to three of them, all in the same afternoon. The one above is High Falls. Below left is Hooker Falls, and below right is Triple Falls. All of them are on the Little River in North Carolina.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Humans of Downey - Marisa

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"I think this year of being a Miss Teen Princess is changing me. It is a pleasure to work these events, and the community service activity is helping to build my confidence. It also helps my ability to speak in public, to help others, and to be a more well-rounded person. Currently, I'm a junior in high school and being a part of this pageant will help me to do well in classes, to graduate, and get into a good college. Two of the goals I am thinking about pursuing are nursing and anesthesiology. These both fit into my desire to help and serve others.

"It will also allow me to enter and succeed in larger and more competitive pageants such as Miss Los Angeles or Miss Orange County. This pageant has helped me build my relationship skills so I would like to expand and improve even more by competing in larger pageants.

"In preparing for the pageant, we have had to practice our speaking skills and interacting with new acquaintances. At the Stay Gallery, we had to socialize with the mayor of Downey and other officials of the city. We had to introduce ourselves, tell what position we were running for, and introduce our sponsors. We got to meet new people and interact with people we may never have met otherwise. Meeting adults of authority was somewhat intimidating, but I think I did very well. My mom recorded my talk and it was a proud moment for my family."

~ Marisa

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Family concert in the park

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If you were one of the several hundred concert-goers that attended the Downey Symphony concert at Furman Park this evening, you enjoyed an hour of beautiful music in a peaceful atmosphere. The theme of the night was "Broadway Film Tunes." As always, Downey Symphony was superb in its delivery of these familiar tunes.

DSC_0516They also performed their usual tribute to service men and women by having audience members stand if they or a family member was in the branch for which the theme song of that branch was playing. An audience favorite.

DSC_0518The concert was made more enjoyable because of the family atmosphere, which was demonstrated by another standard of these concerts. Sharon Lavery, the music director, announced that she had run out of energy and needed the help of the children of the audience to come up and conduct the symphony for the last tune, which was a John Phillip Sousa classic march.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A little more of the Smokies

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As we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, every few miles or so there was an overlook pull out—more beauty to stop and enjoy. We ran into a local man who had spent hours photographing butterflies at one of our stops. They were beautiful and seemed to be everywhere.

IMG_2679-1One of the things I just can't get enough of is that it is so lush and green everywhere.

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"Although I do love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with the sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more To become more."
~ Victoria Erickson

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Great Smoky Mountains



I'm in North Carolina this week, visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. They're called "smoky" because of the natural fog that often hangs over them. The mountains fade into the distance, with each ridge becoming a little more faint.

On this day, we're driving across a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are lookouts every mile or so, and we're checking out pretty much each and every one. Since we're driving along the ridge of this particular ountains, some of the views are to the right and some to the left. The weather adds to the beauty, as the conditions constantly change, from sun to fog and back again, and then some rain, with thunder and lightning thrown in to boot.

"If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way."
~ Bill Bryson

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Wiseguys are back!

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This past Wednesday night, we were swinging to the sounds of the Wiseguys—an 18-piece big band orchestra. The lead singer did a great job of keeping the show going—he has a Frank Sinatra sound, it felt a little like we had stepped back in time. The whole band was fun to watch—clearly all the band members are having fun up there.

One cool thing was the live feed on Facebook. It would be a great way to catch their show if you couldn't make it to the venue.

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"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." 
~ Victor Hugo

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tom's Jr arrives

Tom's Jr Downey

Tom's Jr recently opened in Downey on Florence Ave. I had noticed its progress a few weeks before, but was reminded about them when I got a coupon in the mail that offered several different meals at a great price. So...part of DDP went to scout it out.

Tom's is a small, local chain, with locations in Compton, Los Angeles, Lynwood, and South Gate. They serve a variety of traditional American and Mexican food. Even without the coupon, the prices are reasonable and the serving sizes are large. The food was great—I've returned for more since that first time.

Plus, they have a lot of fun decorations on the walls. Always an important aspect of any dining experience!

Tom's Jr Downey

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Humans of Downey - Julie

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"Being Miss Downey provides many opportunities to perform service in our community as we volunteer at different organizations. I think this helps me grow as I get to know people and myself better. By meeting and speaking with people, by speaking in front of people, I grow as a person. I ran for Miss Downey four times. The three previous times I was chosen to be a Princess. I think these experiences have taught me patience, to be a team player, and to grow in my maturity. I've learned to never stop trying.

"Not only has being Miss Downey helped me to grow as a person, but I think that as I meet and get to know more people I will find people that will help me along my path of becoming a veterinarian doctor. I graduated from Cal State University Long Beach with my Bachelors but I need a few more prerequisites before I apply to one of the vet schools. I'm thinking of applying to UC Davis and Cal Poly Pomona. Veterinarian school is very difficult and I know I can't complete my goal on my own. I will need a lot of help from others to succeed. Being Miss Downey helps me get a little closer to that goal."

~ Julie

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Humans of Downey - Edward

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"I'm a dancer. I'm a swing dancer and a blues dancer. My last dance I went to was in Pasadena on Saturday. I went to see Flattop Tom and His Jump Cats. I've been following them for many years. Tomorrow night I'm heading to a dance in Burbank at Joe's Great All American Bar and Grill. It's a rockabilly band called Crown City Bombers. Saturday I'm going back into Pasadena to see Debbie Watson out of Austin, Texas. She's a blues girl.

"In 1952, I was in the 5th grade at Our Lady, Queen of Angels, in Los Angeles. Sister Mary, my teacher, noticed that I had rhythm. She asked me if she could teach me how to do the swing. From Sister Mary's adventure I fell in love with her. So much so that I wanted to get married to her. When I asked her to marry me she said she was already married. And I said, to who? She said, to Jesus. And I shook my fist to the heavens and said, 'Aahh.' But I've been dancing ever since.

"I met my first wife on the dance floor, at a wedding. I was 18 years old and fell in love. We were married within 6 months. We produced four great children. The marriage didn't last long but we are still friends."

~ Edward

PS This interview took place at Furman Park during the Wiseguys concert, one of the Concert in the Park series on Wednesday nights. Next week will feature the Downey Symphony. Come out and enjoy the free entertainment at 7:00pm.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back on the market?

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It looks like the Rives Mansion is soon to be back on the market once again. It seems like there has been nothing but struggle and controversy regarding a use for this historic property for years. Downey Beat had a lot to say about it—check out the article.

It is a beautiful old home and I would love to see it used and appreciated once again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Choose your exercise

Exercise at Furman Park

Even while the Marine band is playing at the other end of the park, people are taking advantage of the many forms of exercise available. There is the strength-building exercise equipment that uses your own body weight, the tennis courts, and the path around the park for joggers and dog-walkers (the dog is out of sight).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Moon & palm

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Not exactly in Downey. Tonight I'm in Beaumont celebrating my daughter's birthday. The moon has been incredible lately and I couldn't resist the way the moon lit up the sky with the palm tree in shadow.

"The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen." 
~ Shannon L. Alder

Friday, July 14, 2017

Be our guest

Concerts in the Park: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wingband

This week's Concert in the Park at Furman Park featured the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wingband, which is one of my favorites and a regular in the concert series. The park was crowded as usual. With tunes that ranged from the melancholy "Shenandoah" to a medley of tunes from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the band wowed the crowd to an enthusiastic response.

Concerts in the Park: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wingband

Concerts in the Park: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wingband

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Humans of Downey - Joe and Joseph

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"It's not that I want Joseph to be just like me, but I want him to instill the things I'm teaching him. I hope he listens. I'm going to lay a canvas out for him and he can choose what he wants. That way, he'll be himself.

"The one character trait I want my son to see in me and choose to build in himself is honesty. Every day, I quiz him about his day. I ask him, 'What do you remember about today?' He reflects back and tells me what he did. If we catch him in a little lie, we correct him. If he catches himself in a lie, he corrects himself. It gives him practice in honesty."

~ Joe

PS Joe is teaching his son to play golf. One of the few sports where you keep your own score and call penalties on yourself. A great way to build honesty.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Contrast

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As Pam mentioned earlier this week, we have been watching photography videos to enhance our skills. One of the skills we are learning has to do with observation. Being aware of light and how it creates photographic opportunities. The other day I was at Rio Hondo Golf Club participating in the group golf lessons that are sponsored by the City of Downey. My wife, who is watching the videos with us, pointed out the contrast of the bright areas opposed with the shadows on the practice putting green. A beautiful place, don't you think?

By the way, you should check out the golf lessons at Rio Hondo Golf Course. The teaching pro, Scott Walley, will improve anyone's game and the price is very reasonable, $70 for 6 weeks.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fruitful

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Watching fruit develop is pretty incredible. The Italian prunes on this tree have the limbs bending to the ground. I just can't wait until they are ripe.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

We all scream for...

Baskin Robbins

What's the best way to celebrate a warm summer evening? (The temperature is still in the 80s.) Your favorite flavor of ice cream at 31 Flavors, of course!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

They're baaack!

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I had an encounter with these circles a few years ago and did a post on them then (a little tongue in cheek). When I saw them this time, I thought it might be time to share the crop circle image again. I also recently saw a series of them both at intersections on Smallwood and on Rives.

Obviously, the comparison to crop circles is still valid. I would love to think that some cereologist could offer an interesting explanation. (Did you know that a cereologist is a person who studies crop circles?)

Friday, July 7, 2017

The direction of light

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My friends and I recently watched a photography video about how the direction of light has an impact on the picture you take. The speaker concluded with a reminder to change the direction, to always turn around to see what lies in the other direction. I was reminded of this tonight when, at the same moment, the setting sun lit up the moon in one direction and the sky and clouds in the other.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Humans of Downey - Michael

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"For our 4th of July tradition, we have always celebrated it with a block party. I’ve lived in that neighborhood all my life and only one year, the year we went and celebrated it at the beach, did we not celebrate it with a block party. The neighbors were really upset with us that year.

"Another year, my cousin thought a mortar firework was a smoke bomb. He thought it would be a great prank to light it and toss it over by me. I saw it coming out of the corner of my eye. I turned just as it exploded and shot around the room. Luckily, it didn’t do any damage in the house. But he was certainly embarrassed. Being family, we did allow him back into the house."

~ Michael

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Humans of Downey - Gilbert

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"My grandmother came here first and then my mother followed. I was born here and lived my first years in West Los Angeles. Our 4th of July celebrations centered around family, food, and fireworks. Our family loved to celebrate the freedoms of our country. We celebrated with the community of our block. We shared barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad. Then we would set off our collection of fireworks. We kids would run and jump over the fountains of sparks. No one ever got hurt.

"One 4th of July I spent the whole evening at the hospital because of my daughter. I was in charge of setting off the fireworks in the street. So, I had a punk that I was using to light the fuses and I was keeping it in my mouth sideways. It looked like a rose in my mouth. My 4-year-old daughter came running out to be with me as I was getting another firework ready to light. I was kneeling down and as she called my name, I turned around and the lighted punk stabbed her in the corner of her eye. At that point, 4th of July was over.

"We poured water on her face to stop the burning and then took her to the hospital. After many hours, they patched her eye and sent us home. She couldn't sleep during the night so we took her back to the hospital. They found and removed the tip of the punk that was still in the corner of her eye. She recovered completely. But for several years I refused to have anything to do with fireworks. We still had the barbecues but the only fireworks we saw were at the Queen Mary. Finally I relented and we had fireworks at the house. But only after a 30-minute talk with my children concerning the dangers of fireworks and the rules they had to follow to stay outside. I put a strip of caution tape they were not allowed past. Each year I give that speech, put up that tape and remind them of how easy serious accidents can happen in dangerous circumstances. Most of the day is filled with fun, eating, and community. The fireworks part of the celebration, though, is no longer the joy of watching the pretty colors and hearing the pops. Now, it's filled with stress of watching to make sure no kids get too close to harm."

~ Gilbert

PS Gilbert works at Avenue Press and was kind enough to take time out to talk with me. Stop in and have a chat some time to get to know him better.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

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Tonight a small group of us headed to the Stonewood parking lot to watch the firework show at Downey High. We were joined by tons of people doing the same thing. It was a great show.

IMG_2543The thing that seemed so different this 4th of July was the overwhelming sounds of fireworks exploding all around us that seemed to be everywhere in the city. The rumblings started before it grew dark. It actually sounded as if war were raging all around. It is now after 10 pm and I am still surrounded by the sounds.

Curious, I looked at the City of Downey website to see if something had changed this year. What I found was that nothing has changed and the City of Downey has a “zero tolerance” for illegal fireworks, but allows for the sale and use of legal fireworks, identifiable by the California Fire Marshal’s “Safe and Sane” seal. Any firework that launches into the air, propels across the ground, or explodes, is illegal to sell or possess and can result in fines and/or arrest. I'm not sure too many people read this. From my street, there were tons of fireworks launching into the air. The whole city seemed to be engulfed in explosions of fireworks and the inescapable smoke that follows. Hopefully, no one got hurt in the process of the celebration.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Hospital history

Photo of Downey Community Hospital at PIH

Going to the hospital is never fun, but one benefit of going to PIH in Downey is the opportunity to view the historical pictures of Downey that line the halls. I think this picture of the original Downey Community Hospital, located on 5th Street, is especially interesting, since it is both the predecessor of PIH and the hospital where I was born.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Little birdie

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Today as I was working in my yard, I spotted an unusual bird's nest in my tree. Birds' nests are always a wonder to me. This one is made up of a little of this and a little of that. And, somehow all those pieces of thread, sticks, and heaven knows what else have been woven into this safe little sac-like home suspended from branches in my tree.

IMG_2498-1As I was snooping, I looked over and realized there was a little bird sitting on the edge of my umbrella watching me peek through the branches of the tree. All of a sudden I felt a little like I was intruding. Maybe it was her nest? I never found out, but on the chance it was hers, I climbed down and walked away.

"may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living" 
~ e e cummings

Friday, June 30, 2017

Humans of Downey (Montreal) - Simon #2

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"I was very sad when the Montreal Expos moved away. I usually went to 15 to 20 games a year and now, nothing. Yes, I am very sad. The movie about the Oakland Athletics is just like us. We are a smaller-market ball team and we couldn't hold on to them. Our team was a mixture of players from all over the world. The players were examples for the youth. Now that the team has moved to Washington D.C., fewer and fewer children are playing baseball. They play hockey and soccer but almost no one plays baseball anymore. That is sad, really sad.

"I'm hoping that another team will come here. The Blue Jays use our stadium for spring training. We fill the stadium for the two games they play here. I think we get a smaller amount of tourists because Americans want to visit a city that has a baseball team."

~ Simon

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Humans of Downey (Montreal) - Simon #1

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I have always lived in Quebec. I believe that having grown up in Quebec all my life has made me more open-minded, more progressive. We are interested in the other people that live here. I live among many kinds of people. There are both English and French here, but also, many immigrants. We must open ourselves to know who they are. We also have an interest in Europe and what they are doing.

"My country has changed since I was a child. Back then, it was white French-speaking people. Now in my neighborhood it is 50/50. Before, Montreal was the mixed community but now, it is my neighborhood also. I think it is more interesting now. I have curiosity about these new people. They are very warm.

~ Simon

PS Simon is the owner and chief baker at La Femme et Le Boulanger in Otterburn Park, Quebec, Canada, a suburb of Montreal. My wife and I were visiting friends in Quebec and stopped in for fresh baked pastries. They were great. Stop in and visit with Simon if you happen to be in the Montreal area.

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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