Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sometimes it's good to be tolerant


IMG_2035-1I have seen more and more drought tolerant yards popping up all over Downey. While the City of Downey encourages replacing your lawn with drought tolerant options, the City's codes still require the front and street side yards to be landscaped with a living plant material.

While I like the idea of low maintenance and reduced cost, I have a bit of a hard time with the thought of giving up my grass. It's the perfect place to sit in the shade on a hot day.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The secret of the cosmos

Drought-tolerant wildflowers

Here's another example of drought-tolerant landscaping. This one, with all its wildflowers, is more to my personal taste—and made me a bit jealous. No matter how hard I try, I've never been able to successfully grow cosmos (those purple and white flowers along the back). Maybe I've been overwatering them all this time?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Toucan play

Boy and bird statue

I'm always interested when I think I've spotted a unique mailbox, so this one made me stop in my travels around Downey. Upon closer inspection, I think this is some sort of audio system, but I still liked the boy reaching out to the toucan, both of them covered in moss-colored green.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'm watching you!


As I snapped this picture of this very fun conglomeration of yard art, I noticed the neighborhood watch sign. I appreciate neighbors who look out for others. It is all about safe and secure neighborhoods. This home appears to be doubly protected; by both this serene cat and very observant-looking dwarf out front and center.

Friday, May 19, 2017

You're welcome

Front porch with chairs

Front porches should be welcoming, and this one, with its chairs and bistro table set, fulfills that requirement quite nicely. Come on up, sit a while!

Thursday, May 18, 2017



This Downey house has multiple shapes in the design of their house. They have the rectangular window within the pentagon shape and the odd shapes of rocks within the rectangular red bricks. Can you see any other shapes in the picture?

“Seeing all life
in perfect symmetry.

Perceiving each day
with righteous clarity.

Living each moment
in purposed reality.

Believing each day
is the start of eternity.”
~ S. Tarr, Love, Adventure and Other Noble Quests

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Front row seats

front row seats

I think a parade is coming down this street soon. And this house has front row seats for the viewing.

Actually, this house is participating in the "large item pickup" feature of the Downey's waste pickup program. Any large item that won't fit into the trash receptacles can be picked up on the same day as your other trash. Just go to the Downey website to get the phone number for CalMet Services, and then give them a call to arrange for the pickup. The website will tell you what you can have picked up and what you can't. I've used it multiple times to pick up my large tree trimmings or large cardboard boxes. This family is throwing away toilets they've had replaced in their house. And it's for no additional charge.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017



Who could resist? This is one of the coolest horse swings I have seen!

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." 
~ Winston Churchill

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fire Dept #40

Fire Dept yard art

A member of Fire Dept #40 is on guard here—whether he's ready to put out fires or just preventing water waste during our drought, I'm not sure.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Stately house

Sometimes as I drive around Downey, I notice that a house is suddenly looking spiffier than usual. On this house, either the gray is a new addition, or the previous coat of gray had faded so much that it looked white. The new gray walls, with the whiter-than-white trim and black shutters, give this 1919 colonial-style house a very stately appearance.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

It's all Greek to me


With the Downey Greek Food Festival quickly approaching, I thought it would be timely to share about this new deli in town: To Nostimo ~ Greek Food & Deli. I have passed this several times and finally stopped in this afternoon. Located on Florence Avenue just west of Lakewood, the deli has been open only a few months. The girls behind the counter were gracious and welcoming.

IMG_2048-1I couldn't resist buying some fresh feta cheese for a snack (it was yummy). I was also tempted by this jar of Masticha—produced only on the island of Chios in Greece. It is created from the resin of a small evergreen tree. Fascinating! I'm definitely coming back for lunch.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Cottage style

Cottage style house

Sometimes I think I should have been born in the English countryside. I'm always attracted to the cottage-style houses in Downey—especially in spring when they're surrounded by cottage-style gardens in full bloom.

"I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post which any human power can give."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Humans of Downey - Fernando


"For 32 years I was a scout master for the Boy Scouts. My headquarters was at the Salvation Army Youth building at 11th and Union in Los Angeles. In Mexico, as a child, I was in niƱo exploradores. My one son rose to the level of Eagle Scout, while the other son was more into sports. He was trained by the Marines to compete in the triathlon.

"One significant part of my duties was to train the scouts in survival. We would go out into the desert to train. I taught them to survive by finding edible plants and animals. Things such as rattle snakes, worms, roots and insects. One time, I had sent a scout on a mission to traverse a part of the desert and find a certain road. An accident happened and he broke his leg. He was able to survive, eating what he could find. He was found when he signaled a helicopter using Morse code."

~ Fernando

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ron and Sally


"My first car was a 1941 Ford. In 1949 I was 11 years old. My mother had just died and my aunt and uncle came out to Ohio to pick me up and take me back to California to live with them. They came in the '41 Ford. By the time I was 13 years old, the Ford had worn out so they gave it to me. My older brother and I would work on race cars. He had a '38 Ford coupe. We would take it out to Fontana and drag race it on Foothill Blvd. When I went into the army at 17, I sold it.

"Actually, when I went into the army I had the '41 Ford that my aunt and uncle gave me. I had a '37 Ford that my sister gave me. I had a '46 Ford that I had bought and I had a '32 Ford Model A. I sold them all except the Model A. I also had a '46 Plymouth that I put up on blocks. When I came home three years later, I found my Plymouth up on blocks but I couldn't find my Model A. So I asked my dad where my car was. He said, 'Oh, I didn't think you wanted it anymore so I sold it.' He said he had sold it for $100 and back then a $100 for a '32 Ford was pretty good. They weren't the collector's piece they are today.

"I got on Facebook a couple of years ago and I found a girl that used to live up the street from me but now she lived in New Hampshire. She mentioned one time that she remembered the time my dad sold my Model T to her cousin. He completely redid it and he is still driving it around in Monterey Park. I told her it was a Model A and my dad wasn't supposed to sell it. But, oh well, what's done is done."

~ Ron

Island perspective

20170509_173818 (1)-1

I'm back in Hawaii for a quick 4-day trip, so I thought I would to share a couple of views of Waikiki. Tonight we had dinner at one of the restaurants in the recently re-created International Marketplace, which is now a seriously posh shopping and dining center. The only thing that remains of the original area is the banyan tree in the center of the complex.

20170508_210111-1Originally founded in 1957, the Marketplace was closed down for reconstruction in 2014 and reopened last August. As beautiful and charming as it is now, I have to admit, I miss the local feel the original Marketplace had.

After dinner I had to take a short walk down to the beach.  I couldn't resist trying to capture the palm tree shadow on the beach.

"Traveling ~ it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. 
~ Ibn Batutta 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Purple clouds

Jacaranda trees

It's that time of year again, when a glimpse down the street or over the rooftops shows a cloud of purple jacaranda blooms.

Jacaranda trees

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ride and Stride 2017

Downey Ride and Stride 2017

Today was the Downey Ride and Stride event. This is one of several check-in locations, where kids had fun signing in with various levels of artwork, from scribbles to flowers.

Downey Ride and Stride 2017 Ride and Stride provides almost 5 miles of car-free streets, where kids of all ages can walk or ride (any non-motorized form of transportation, including scooters, bicycles, wheelchairs, skateboards, wagons, strollers, rollerblades, and more).

Along the way, there were lots of stops with music, games, vendors, food, a petting zoo, and lots more.

Downey Ride and Stride 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Follow the road before you


I am someone who likes to walk. This path is along side the riverbed by Wilderness Park. While this isn't the most interesting path, it does offer a little more of a view on either side:  Wilderness to one side and the overgrown riverbed to the other.

"It's your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you." ~ Rumi

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happiness is a hammock

Front porch hammock

Ahhh. Not just a hammock on a porch...a beautiful, enticing hammock to make you want to spend your whole weekend relaxing...

"Monday? But I wasn't even finished with Saturday yet..."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Humans of Downey - Larry


"My first car was a stock 1952 Ford Victoria. It was my cousin's car and she sold it to me for $200. I was 15 at the time, so I worked on it and had it the way I wanted by the time I got my license at 16. I changed the hub caps and added some interior decorations. I used it mostly to cruise Hawthorne Boulevard. I probably put over 1,000 miles on Hawthorne. When we came east to cruise, like Whittier Boulevard, we were either looking for a race or a fight.

"This is a 1932 Ford with a 1980 Chevy 350 engine. I built it from the ground up. I did everything but the paint and upholstery. This is the car I wanted since I was a young teenager. Although I never could afford it. I've played with cars my whole life. I've been saving for years for when I was retired to build a hot rod like this. When I retired, I had $25,000 for my project. I started by thinking I would build a Ford Model A hot rod since it would be cheaper and fit within my budget. But, I fell into some deals and decided I wanted this model more. The engine block came from a friend, the frame came out of Huntington Beach, the body came out of Billings, Missouri, and the wheels came out of Seattle, Washington. Eventually, I got pieces from all over the United States. It took me 4 years to complete. So my final cost came to $28,000, but it's insured for $55,000. It puts out over 500 HP and my wife and I love to take it out for a spin as often as possible."

~ Larry

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ed with Raymond and Richard


"I wish I could tell you a humorous story about my work here at LACOE as a JET Mail driver, but the truth is, we come in each morning to get our mail and then we spend all our time out on the road and at the districts. So not much time is spent with my fellow drivers. I know the people on my run better than I do guys I've worked with for 28 years.

"When I took over custody of my two grandchildren, they were 1 and 2 years old, and I was in my 50s. I have two sons and I never once changed their diapers. When Richard and Raymond came, my wife left for work at 4:30 a.m., so I was responsible for their morning routine: changing their diapers, getting them dressed, and feeding them. When it was time to enroll them in school, we chose a school that was close to my work so I could drop them off and pick them up afterwards. We chose St. Dominic in Bellflower. Also, I would be close enough to go to their after-school activities.

"One discipline technique I used to help them learn the value of relationships was when they were fighting, with the object of their fight lying on the floor unused, I would tell them, 'What are you arguing about? It's about nothing.' So, rather than get angry to get them to behave like I wanted them to, I would have them sit on the floor and hold hands or hug each other. I'd go away and come back 5 or 10 minutes later and they would be laughing with each other. They had totally forgotten what the argument was about. Now they were laughing at me and my technique."

~ Ed

PS I took this interview at Ed's retirement party at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's bloomin' Spring!


Spring is my favorite time of the year. I like looking for blossoms and color. From this cactus bloom that I happened upon, to the weeds "blooming" in the riverbed, Spring is here!

IMG_1779-1“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, May 1, 2017

Desert days

Desert landscaping

Just next door to yesterday's "mountain retreat" is landscaping designed to remind us of the desert that we actually live in. This drought-tolerant landscaping has its own beauty, but mentally cooling one off on a warm afternoon is not one of its benefits.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mountain retreat?

Country decor

It was hot today, but this front yard reminded me so much of a mountain cabin that I automatically felt 10 degrees cooler. The chair, in the dappled sunlight surrounded by flowers and rustic decorations, looked like the perfect place to take a break.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Outdoor dining


New uses for old things at the Machado houseOne of the fun discoveries we made during our visit to Julio and Stella's was the outdoor kitchen. This was not just any outdoor kitchen, this came complete with an oven large enough to cook an entire cow.

I was also significantly impressed by the number of cast iron pots and pans on display.


"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
~ Harriet Van Horne

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another man's treasure

New uses for old things at the Machado houseNew uses for old things at the Machado house

Julio Machado loves flea markets and yard sales. For him, one man's junk truly is his treasure. He can spot potential in the most mundane or run-down objects, and these items, cleaned up and sometimes transformed, find their way into his house. At DDP, we like to see new uses for old things. Julio is a master at this process. Above, collections of old copper teapots and irons lead the way his  staircases.

You'll nearly always see a crystal (or faux-crystal) vase at a yard sale. I usually pass them by. But collect a mass of them, and display them on a handcrafted wrought iron shelf, and they come to life. A collection of miscellaneous items enhances a hand-carved wall shelf. And leftover scraps of metal and rivets create a map of the USA.

New uses for old things at the Machado houseNew uses for old things at the Machado houseNew uses for old things at the Machado house

No two sets of lighting are the same. I like finding new uses for Mason jars, so these Mason jar light fixtures were my favorite, along with the use of old piping to conceal the wiring.

New uses for old things at the Machado houseNew uses for old things at the Machado house

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Into the wood

Wood in the Machado house

Julio, Stella, and I also share a love of wood. Like the metal, wood is everywhere—but more so! The house is framed in wood, and it is all left bare, with the knots and the bark adding to the beauty.

Julio's floors are put together from many kinds and colors of wood—not just because that's what he had on hand, but also because the variations are beautiful and more interesting than a single kind and color of wood. In many places, words that relate to their lives are inlaid into the wood. Some of the wood is highly finished and smooth. Some is textured and dinged in a way that adds a whole nother (yes, Google says it really is a word) dimension to the beauty. Gnarled tree trunks get made into strange but comfortable chairs.

Wood in the Machado houseWood in the Machado house

Huge wooden planks become dining room tables that will seat the whole extended family (or into a desk where there's always room to spread out your work). Thick logs get carved into jaguars (above) and eagles.

Wood in the Machado houseWood in the Machado house

And Julio doesn't let anything go to waste. The little pieces that most carpenters sweep up and throw away get used to cover up ugly concrete columns. Or as material for an artist's rendition of the house, made entirely from wood.

Wood in the Machado houseWood in the Machado house

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Julio has wrought

Machado house

Wrought iron: iron that has been heated and is then worked with tools to change its form and properties. The term “wrought” comes from the past participle of the word “worked.” Wrought iron literally means "worked iron."

Machado houseWrought iron, although prevalent, is just one of many metals found in Julio and Stella's beautiful home. I soon realized that we shared a love of metal. From the three wrought iron staircases, to the numerous custom-made display shelves, to the rows of hanging cast iron and copper pots and pans (not pictured), metal is everywhere, and most of it is handmade by Julio himself.

Here are just a few examples of the artwork that Julio has created from metal.

Machado houseMachado houseMachado houseMachado house