Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Skate park

IMG_1692 as Smart Object-1

Meet Franz. "Icegard" is what I think the rest of the kids were calling him at the Skate Park at Independence Park. It was fun to watch everyone try different moves. When some of the boys noticed my camera, they started asking me to take their pictures. I told them I would if they would do something interesting. That was when Franz stepped up. He offered to show me a trick off of the steps. He made quite a few attempts and landed it a couple of times.

"The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Brick arch

Brick trimmed house

This house caught my eye the other day. There's nothing particularly special—I just liked the combination of the red bricks with the green trim, echoed in the red and green leaves of the landscaping. Oh, and the arch over the window that sets the whole thing off.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Put out the welcome cat

Cat at gate

I saw a lot of cats as I drove through this neighborhood recently. Most of them skittered away when I got close. But this cat made a point of stopping at his gate so that he could welcome me in, if I chose to visit.

"There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat."
~ Tay Hohoff

Saturday, February 25, 2017



Spring is on its way. With all the rain we've had, my nasturtiums are growing like crazy.

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size." 
~ Gertrude S. Wister

Friday, February 24, 2017

Humans of Downey - Alex


"A hero in my life would be my dad. He's always guiding me in the right direction by the lessons he gives me. Also, he's a great role model and gives me inspiration. One saying he has told me is that to find a good wife, you need to look at her family life. It doesn't matter how she looks or any other surface characteristic, but look at her family values. He's always helping me by giving me advice, whether it's about finding a wife or getting a good job, he's always looking out for me.

"My dad really motivates me by his actions. My dad came here from Iran as an immigrant when he was 25 years old. His first job was washing car windows at a gas station. He had mechanics training from when he was in the Iranian army. So, he worked his way up in the auto repair business until he finally opened his own auto repair shop. Later, he went into the real estate business buying houses, remodeling and reselling them. This work ethic has inspired me to work hard if I want to succeed in my business."

~ Alex

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Waiting for the train

Railroad tracks

This railroad track, which follows Firestone Boulevard through Downey, is called the Los Nietos branch (a.k.a. the Patata Industrial Lead) and is owned by Union Pacific Railroad. The trains on this track carry freight, and the maximum speed allowed through Downey is 10 m.p.h.

Maybe that's why it seems to take so long when you get stuck waiting for a train to pass at one of its twelve railroad crossings in Downey.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Humans of Downey - Jordan


"My hero is my mom. She's always helped me. When I was little, I was trying to make myself some Top Ramen noodles and I burned myself. She put some cream on the wound and the pain went away. I was surprised because she could make it go away so quickly. Then she took me to the doctor's office and they said I would be alright.

"My next great adventure is playing football at Cerritos College. There are several 4-year schools that are keeping an eye on me and when I'm ready, then I'll be playing for one of them."
~ Jordan

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Storm print


The storm from last week left its mark on our city. In the picture above, you can see the big tree that was uprooted in Rio San Gabriel Park.

IMG_1650-1And, despite sewer drains all throughout the city, the water couldn't drain fast enough. On my way home from work last Friday, I was surprised to notice my phone navigation app warned me of a "flood" up ahead as I was exiting the 605 freeway. And, sure enough, it was flooded and completely overrunning the curb halfway across the street. I will say I drove more slowly than normal that night. It was a scary drive home.

"The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but deliverance from fear." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 20, 2017

That golden hour


The photographer's golden hour is that hour after sunrise or before sunset, when the light turns everything, well, golden. We can take that light for granted when the scene is just an ordinary Downey street. But combine that light with the dark storm clouds in the background, and even an ordinary street scene can make you stop and take notice.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The cookie monsters

Girl Scout cookies

It's that time of year again, where Girl Scout cookies pop up around every corner (and at your door) to tempt you. Lali (left) and Lisset have found a great spot to sell out their inventory in front of the local Stater Brothers grocery store. And of course I had to pick up a box of those thin mints!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The aftermath


I woke up to a calm, sunny day today. No rain, no wind, no thunder...even the sidewalk was mostly dry, but there were branches and pine needles EVERYWHERE. Time to clean up and get ready for the next rain. The forecast has more rain tomorrow night!


Friday, February 17, 2017

This crazy storm!

Rainstorm Firestone Blvd.

In California, we have earthquakes for excitement. We rarely get (or are prepared for) "Weather" with a capital "W." But today we've seen what many are calling the worst storm in years. High winds have knocked down branches and even trees, and have left many without power. Streets and freeways are flooded.

Thankfully, all this rain continues to improve our current drought conditions. But even so, californiadrought.org reports that there are no quick fixes: "Despite these improvements, drought impacts on overdrafted groundwater basins, forests, and aquatic species in California are long term and will take multiple above-average precipitation years to be resolved."

Rainstorm Downey Ave.Rainstorm Firestone Blvd.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Humans of Downey - Crystal


"My mom is my biggest hero. There are four of us children and my mom dedicated herself to us. She worked hard at her job to give us a good life. She taught me the ethics of hard work, to get up early each day and dedicate myself to whatever I'm doing that day. I look up to her a lot and I appreciate everything she's done for us. When I have my down days, when I'm sad, she's there to talk me out of it. She brings cheer to me and makes me remember that there are bigger things to think about in life."

~ Crystal

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Humans of Downey - Ana


"My hero is my grandfather. Growing up as a toddler I remember my grandfather telling us stories. Then, as a teenager, I had so many issues, but he was the first person I would call and he would give me such good advice. Then he would talk to my parents to calm things down. My grandfather is 91 years old now and to this day I will still seek his wisdom when I need some advice.

"The stories he would tell us were about his growing up, his struggles in a small town in Senora, Mexico. One story I remember, I was about 8 years old when he told us, was about the mining town he lived in. He told us that local Indians would attack his town. They would take the women and kill the men. One time, during one of these raids, his aunt was taken away. For years they could not find her and so they thought she had died. But one day she came back. She came back though just to tell her family that she was okay and she was happy with this Indian. She left and they never saw her again. My grandfather is full of great stories like that."

~ Ana

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The view from above

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A couple of days ago, Pam posted her view from the plane on our way home from Paris to Downey. Well, a little before getting to the Los Angeles area, I noticed this scene outside my window—it is the Colorado Rockies, covered in snow. It was an impressive sight.

“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that 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.”
~ Victoria Erickson

Monday, February 13, 2017

The bridge

Rio Hondo riverbed bridge

This is a bridge over the Rio Hondo riverbed near Crawford Park. On this side, you can walk north next to the Rio Hondo Golf Club, as far as the I5 freeway. On the other side, you can walk to the John Anson Ford Park, where a gate allows access to the park. Either side provides a very pleasant evening walk. Or if you're more energetic, you can ride your bike north past Legg Lake, or south all the way to the ocean at Long Beach.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A welcome sight

Los Angeles

I like having a window seat when I fly, because I enjoy looking for landmarks that I recognize. It's especially fun trying to spot my home in Downey, but you have to sit on the left side of the plane to do that. Today, downtown  Los Angeles was  a welcome sight, letting me know that I am, indeed, back home.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's for the birds...

IMG_1563 as Smart Object-1

We are still in Paris (about at the end of our trip). As we were walking across the square in front of Notre Dame de Paris, I realized that tons of people were standing in a sea of pigeons. Evidently it's a "thing" to call the pigeons to you (I mean to literally land all over you). It isn't something I would do, but it seemed to be attracting a wide group of people attempting it.


IMG_1572 as Smart Object-1 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Another point of view

Eiffel Tower

Sometimes it's a challenge to find new ways of looking at things you see every day, whether it's in Downey or abroad. So it was fun to find new views of the Eiffel Tower. This one is from the walkway below the Pont d'IĆ©na bridge on the Seine.

Eiffel Tower reflectionSometimes it's just a matter of looking in a different direction.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Humans of Downey - Donna (Grandma)


"My next great adventure is my retirement next year. My mom, who turns 80 years old today, wants to go see Mount Rushmore, so we have planned a road trip. We are going to go through the southern states and then head up to South Dakota to see the national park. On the way, we'll visit some friends in Georgia and my step-father in Alabama.

"But, while I'm still here working, I'm going to continue to fight for justice in our workplace. I do that by listening to my coworkers when they are having issues with their management. Right now, I've been blessed with good management above me, but some of my coworkers aren't that lucky. It's disheartening when you see others that aren't rich—they have to work, they have to come here every day—and they're mistreated. It's sad when people misuse their power towards others. I'm always an advocate to help others solve those issues. I know the union rules and help them to know their rights and how they can respond to the injustice. I advise them to try this or that. Sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn't. Just being a good listener will help some people at times. If they don't get it off their chest, it will eat at them to no good."
~ Donna

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Inviting bench


I pass this yard on my walks during my lunch hour here in Downey. I have often wondered how often the owners sit and enjoy the view from their front yard. It looks like a great place to sit on a Saturday and converse with the neighbors as they walk by.

If you put a bench like this in your front yard, would it be a decoration or would you put it to good use?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Throw away the key!


In her last post, Pam talked about the Seine and how it somehow motivates people to action—in Pam's post, the action was jogging. Here, you see the motivation is the demonstration of their love.

One of the things we have written about before was the "love locks" that get attached to fences, gates, bridges, and parts of bridges.In this case, the locks you see pictured here are attached to a metal ring that is in the wall that borders the Seine alongside Notre Dame. The story is that people show their commitment to their loved one by attaching a lock with their names on it and throwing the key into the river; as a sign of their enduring love.

Monday, February 6, 2017


Paris booksellers

The booksellers of Paris line the Seine even in winter. In fact, they're part of what makes Paris feel like Paris!

According to Wikipedia, "The bouquinistes of Paris, France, are booksellers of used and antiquarian books who ply their trade along large sections of the banks of the Seine...The tradition of the second-hand booksellers began around the 16th century with little market peddlers. Under pressure from booksellers, a settlement of 1649 prohibited stalls and the display of books on the Pont Neuf. The authorities at the time were rather anxious to limit parallel markets not subjected to official censorship. Travelling booksellers during the period were driven out and then reinstated under approval."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A river walk that motivates

Seine river walk

Having a river walk as beautiful as the Seine River through Paris must be motivating to those who want to stay in shape. Even in February, on a rainy morning, there were lots of people walking, running, or biking.

In addition, I saw something new this trip. Lots of little "pocket parks" have been created along the Seine where kids from 5 to 10 years old can play. In the one below, kids can practice their rock-climbing skills, with the rubberized surface below to protect them from injuries from falls.

Seine river walk

Saturday, February 4, 2017

River view

20170204_192216 as Smart Object-1

I've been posting a few pictures of the riverbed in Downey lately, so I need to be clear that I'm not in Downey right now. This is the Pont Marie in Paris—where we'll be staying for the next week or so. Even after dark, the bridges and the reflection off the Seine look amazing.

We are staying on a small island in Paris called Isle Saint Louis and just around the corner from our apartment is the most amazing ice cream—Berthillon. Here a man is leaning into Berthillon (they have a walk up counter) to order an ice cream cone.
20170204_192447 as Smart Object-1

"Paris is always a good idea." 
~ Audrey Hepburn

Friday, February 3, 2017

Peaceable kingdom

Yard art dear and lions

This yard art tableau made me think of "the lion will lie down with the lamb." In this case, these are deer that are lying or standing peaceably, under the watchful gaze of a couple of lions.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Humans of Downey - Phillip


"I am a twin. I was born in San Gabriel, California, in 1972. My parents didn't know they were having twins so they said, 'If it's a boy, we're going to name him Hector. If it's a girl, we'll name her Jacqueline.' So, my mother goes into labor and it's a boy, yeah. His name is Hector. Fifteen minutes later, the doctor says, 'Hey, there's another one.' That's when I made my appearance. But they only had one boy's name. What to do? Well, when my mother immigrated to this country she worked for a family and one of the boys she took care of was named Phillip. So, that's how I got my name.

"I was introduced to cars in the Volkswagen brand. My uncle, one of my mother's little brothers, lived with us for some years and he had a Volkswagen. When he left to go live on his own, he gave my twin and me his car. It was a '76 Beetle. We took it and customized it to the way we liked it. Then, when I bought my first car, I bought a '59 Volkswagen Ragtop. I paid between $1500 and $2000 for it back in 1991. In those days it was a matter of bragging rights. 'Oh, you have a hard top, I have a sunroof. Yes, but I have the Ragtop.' It took me a while to fix it up the way I wanted, but the first date I had in that car was with the lady who is now my wife. We went to Subway and talked. I miss that car."

~ Phillip

P. S. Phillip is sitting in a 1963 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible that he has restored and customized himself.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

After the rains


After the rains, not only do the rivers fill up but yards get extra water and then lots of sunshine. These flowers are popping out all over Downey. It seems January showers are bringing February flowers. The hillsides of Whittier are going to be very green this spring and summer. We'll have to do some more hiking up there and take lots of pictures.

DSC_0132Oh yeah, along with the flowers and grass come weeds. I didn't even see this one yesterday and now it's ready to spread its seeds tomorrow.

“I've never written a quote I feel would be suitable for my gravestone. Wouldn't it be ironic if it were this one? Oh, and could you pull a few weeds while you're here?”
~ Ryan Lilly, Write like no one is reading