Friday, October 4, 2019

Tough nut to crack

Crows eating walnuts

With Furman Park closed for Measure S renovations, I'm doing a lot more dog-walking on my neighborhood streets. And recently, Max and I were bombarded by walnuts, which was strange, because we were walking under a pine tree!

There are several walnut trees in our neighborhood. I know this because the squirrels collect the nuts, bury them in our yard, and then forget where they left them. I continually find small walnut trees growing in my yard.

But it turns out that crows love walnuts too! Max and I encounter hordes of crows every day—in the yards, in the nearby trees, or flying away as soon as they see Max. Often, there are 20-30 crows, cawing with excitement.

But walnuts have to be cracked to enjoy. And the crows do this by taking the walnut to the top of a nearby tree and dropping it, where it hits the sidewalk or the street and cracks open. (And makes a mess on the sidewalks.)

And that's why walking Max has turned into an adventure of dodging walnuts.

Crows eating walnuts

Friday, September 6, 2019

Where your money is going


In the November 2016 election, Downey residents approved a sales tax increase of ½ percent. Part of its purpose is to improve our city parks. This week, work started on Furman Park, where I regularly walk.

I'm looking forward to the improvements. But mostly, I'm looking forward to getting my park back in a few months.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Rest stop

Geese in Furman Park

It's still August and I'm not ready to think about preparing for winter yet. But these geese have already put their plans into action and are heading south. They seem to make Furman Park a regular stop each yeardo you think this is the same group as last year?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Kitchen garden

Kitchen garden

The downside to a corner lot is that you have very little backyard space, and you have a lot of what seems like wasted space facing the streets. But this household has turned that wasted space into a magnificent kitchen garden, producing enough veggies to last them all summer.

And, it provides a scenic stop on my regular dog-walking path.

Kitchen garden

Kitchen garden

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Purple rain

Jacaranda blossoms

It's that time of year again, when the jacaranda blossoms turn neighborhoods into clouds of purple...and cars and sidewalks get stained with the same.

These trees were on my mind when I answered a recent Downey survey about trees. Which is more important to me, flowers or shade? I choose flowers, and I'm looking forward to the new flowering trees that will be planted in Downey over the next year.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Stand up next to you

Memorial Day 2019

One of my favorite annual Downey events is the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery. The format stays the same from year to year, but some things do change. I love to see the veterans standing up to be recognized, although the number of WWII vets has declined considerably since I started coming. I love the 21-gun salute, which was missing this year. I love the speeches and the melancholy sound of Taps at the end of the ceremony. And every year, I love watching the kids from local schools perform.

This year, kids from my alma mater Spencer Elementary School performed one of my favorites, "God Bless the USA".
And I'd gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.
These kids are standing proud, together with each other and with us, to support our veterans and our country. 

God bless the USA!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Humans of Downey - Charles

From the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery, May 27, 2019.

"It's hard to play [taps] sometimes because of if you think too much about it, you can easily crack a note or worse. But famously, the bugler that played taps at President Kennedy's funeral cracked a note but no one cared.

"I couldn't play taps for my dad's funeral. I just knew I wouldn't be able to get through it. I had my best friend, Larry, who's a fabulous trumpet player, play it. I've been doing this Memorial Day service in Downey for eleven years. It kind of rolls up on you. It doesn't hit you in the first couple of notes, but once you get going and you start to realize everyone's listening and everyone within themselves is thinking what it means to them. And if you let that get to you, you'll screw it up.

"I played taps for my boss a few years ago. I worked for a company that built trumpets down in Anaheim. When I left, we didn't part on the best of terms, but when he died the family asked me to play at his memorial. I was so grateful that they did. I was playing and handling it alright even though it was a hot dry summer day. I was handling it until I looked up and saw his urn and a large photo of him. That's when I distinctly heard his voice right behind me saying, 'Don't screw it up!' And so I cracked a note. It's hard to separate yourself from that emotion.

"There is an organization called Bugles Across America that is all volunteer. Their mission is to make sure that no vet has a funeral without a taps player."

~ Charles

Friday, April 19, 2019

A reminder of Good Friday

Kaiser Permanente in Downey is expanding its hospital. Groundbreaking was last summer. You can see part of the beginning construction here. This week, they brought in this massive crane to lift the steel girders used in the construction. It took them three days to put it together and make it operational.

This morning as I was riding to work, I spotted the crane lifting some of the ground floor structures. The shape of the beams reminded me of three other crosses that were lifted up on another Friday some 2000 years ago. Today, Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday, the sacrifice of our Savior for the sins of the world. This image helped me to stop for a moment and praise God for doing for us what we couldn't do ourselves. Ephesians 1:7