Monday, October 31, 2011

Eat, drink and be scary

Halloween ghoul 4Halloween ghoul 3Halloween ghoul 2Halloween ghoul 1
I don't know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids.
~Robert Brault
When we moved eight years ago, we were amazed at how many more trick-or-treaters there were in this neighborhood of Downey than in our previous neighborhood. We quickly ran out of candy, and swore we'd do better the next year. Finally, this year, we had enough candy. We must have passed out more than 1,000 pieces!

I didn't get any trick-or-treater pictures this year—the light was too poor and the kids' movements too fast. But I did have a chance to photograph some of the residents at the neighborhood spooky house. Thank goodness none of them actually moved as I walked by!
From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crazy Creole from Nawlins

Guy DuPlantier

Yesterday I stopped by Stonewood Center, which was hosting approximately eight gourmet food trucks all day. My favorite was the Crazy Creole Cafe, owned by Guy "Crazy Creole" DuPlantier III, above. Guy is a New Orleans native, who literally dreamed up his jambalaya recipe one night.

Crazy Creole foodGuy let me sample his gourmet options (ah, the perks of writing a blog!), which included his Gumbo Ya Ya (on the left), Seafood Gumbo (on the right), Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, and Shrimp Gumbo. I'm a somewhat picky eater, and this was a little out of my food comfort zone, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked that Gumbo Ya Ya. And my daughter heartily approved of all the rest of them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011



Clearly we have a theme going with all the Halloween activities. I couldn't resist stopping at the St. Raymond's Downey Halloween Carnival tonight. There were so many bright lights and big rides, it was irresistible.  If you are interested in attending, the carnival continues through this weekend.  I'm sure it will be an experience to die for...


Friday, October 28, 2011

Barry L. Plotz

Halloween cemetery

Cemeteries can be somber places, full of the ghostly echoes of lives lived and lost. We've returned numerous times to the Downey cemetery, and last week I showed you the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Halloween cemeteryBut today, to continue our unintended Halloween theme for the week, I want to show you my local neighborhood cemetery—one with a sense of humor (click on the picture to see the fine print), and apparently lots of room for expansion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Next door

halloween dolls

I decided to post what I didn't yesterday in light of the fact that it is Halloween and it is a weird holiday when people can act opposite of who they really are using an readily accepted excuse.

My mind is a controversy in and of itself about this night. I love the idea of a community getting together with children running around on sugar highs and Snickers and Butter Fingers melting in their hands. And who would pass up dressing up into things that you'd never be caught dead in on any other day?

But my other side thinks the holiday gets too much attention and is pushed over the limit with creepy sadistic imaginations made palpable.

Am I over thinking this? Is it just an innocent way to express the desires to, for one night, supersede the mundane and manifest ourselves into superheros and celebrities (sometimes mistakenly interchangeable)?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The holiday spirit


Staying on the pumpkin theme we have had all week, I saw this one hanging around outside a house in North Downey. I don't know about any other city but people here have taken decorating for Halloween as seriously as decorating for Christmas. Sometimes they are adorable like this over the top blow up, and sometimes they can be creepy like the house next door's bloody dolls hanging upside down.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin patch photo op

Pumpkin patch toddlers

Pumpkin patches are great fun for kids. Those great big orange things, some of them as big as the kids themselves, must seem like wonderful toys. At least, these kids certainly thought so. And this setting makes the perfect family photo op to start off the Halloween season.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin season


I love this time of year. Somehow it always seems to take a long time to get here. Summer is finally over, but there is still this big in-between time until it actually feels like autumn. The air is finally consistently cooler and we can start wearing sweaters and layers again. The pumpkin patches have started popping up all around town, full of all sizes and a variety of colors of pumpkins. I have so much fun filling the house with them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The final resting place

Pere LaChaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery is Paris's largest cemetery. I was surprised to discover that it's not much older than our Downey Cemetery. But the similarity stops there.

When the cemetery was first created, Parisians thought it was situated a little too far from the city. So the administrators came up with a marketing plan to increase its popularity by transferring the remains of several notable French people to the new cemetery. The campaign worked, and soon everyone was clamoring to be buried here.

There are now over 1 million people buried in the 110 acres of the cemetery. The grave sites are a jumble, sometimes nearly on top of each other. Some are cared for, others have grave markers that have fallen over. Those buried here range from the nobility to the ordinary, from the famous to the unknown.

Pere LaChaise Cemetery Chopin Pere LaChaise Cemetery Marcel Marceau Pere LaChaise Cemetery Jim Morrison
Frederic Chopin is buried here in 1849.
His grave is surrounded by fresh flowers.
Marcel Marceau was buried here in 2007.
His grave, in the Jewish tradition, is
covered with small stones.
Jim Morrison was buried here in 1971.
The trees surrounding his grave are
covered with graffiti.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fromage, Paris-style


We're still in Paris, but it's our last day! We have loved the food. In fact, it became clear to us that there was not enough time in the day to eat and be able to try everything we wanted to. Cheese was one of the foods we did not have the opportunity to really experience. Based on how many different kinds we kept seeing, I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed.

In reading one of the guide books we found in our apartment, there was a great quote that helped me understand the French connection to cheese.

"The French will only be united under the threat of danger. No one can simply bring together a country that has over 265 kinds of cheese."  - Charles De Gaulle

Clearly this quote is an old one but it does give you an idea of the importance of cheese in the culture. (BTW, I have it on good authority that there are now over 500 kinds of cheeses in France!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Along the banks of the Seine

Seine bank bikes

After a couple of days of rain and cold, today's warm sun brought out the crowds along the banks of the Seine.

Seine banks womanWe Downey Daily bloggers truly enjoy our two local river walks on the Rio San Gabriel and Rio Hondo riverbeds. We'll go back to them after we return home. And I know that in southern California, we don't have year-round rivers like the Seine.

But imagine if we had these picturesque surroundings to entice us on a sunny day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't go in Seine


I've taken over a hundred pictures of the River Seine. The view overwhelms me every few steps and I have to take another shot. I might go insane from the beauty.

Paris was built around this river and I can imagine history unfolding before me. Napoleon stood here. King Louis XIV probably crossed that bridge over there to get to the Louvre. Marie Antoinette ate cake here. The Parisi tribe in the first century came to this island from Britain and settled, never thinking that 2,000 years later, someone would be standing in the same spot, watching the river flow by, and wanting to capture every minute of it with or without a camera.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Musique de Paris

French Violinist

In every day dream I had about Paris, there was theme music. I just knew that surrounding the city was a constant state of romance and harmony. And I was not disappointed!

He plays a haunting melody that stirs emotions within me. He plays what he wants to play whether a passerby stops or not. He doesn't have a name to me and never will. He is part of Paris. All I want to do is sit under the Eiffel Tower with a cafe au lait in hand and listen to him serenade the masses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Paris, city of love


Paris is such a beautiful, romantic city. Who could be surprised to see couples everywhere walking hand in hand, snuggling next to the Seine or cuddling on a bench.

Even so, I was surprised to find the same custom here that we discovered this summer in Russia and Ukraine. We called them "locks of love." It is the custom of locking a padlock on a favorite or special bridge with lovers' names written or inscribed on the lock. (Click here to see the Moscow "locks of love" post.)

IMG_9080According to Wikipedia:  Love padlocks have existed for quite some time, though there are no certain sources for their origin. In Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s. The reasons love padlocks started to appear vary between locations, and in many instances are unsourced. An attribution for the bridge Most Ljubavi (lit. the Bridge of Love—now named after the love padlocks) in Serbia exists, where they can be traced to even before World War I.

Whether the locks affirm or protect the hearts of lovers, it seemed fitting to find them here in a city with so much beauty.

There is a something about Paris that forces you to slow down and take time to appreciate what is around you. The river is there to be walked, there are outdoor cafes everywhere that beckon you to sit and relax and enjoy the company of friends. The city somehow seems to be centered around relationships...maybe that's why it has come to be known as the "city of love."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Downey Daily on vacation—Notre Dame

Notre Dame

[Editor's note: Pam, Joan, and Allison are on vacation in Paris this week. This week's posts will come to you direct from the City of Lights.]

If you've been following Downey Daily Photos for a while now, you might have noticed that we really like taking pictures of old churches and odd outdoor decorations. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris combines both of these inclinations in one location. Built between the 10th and 12th centuries, Notre Dame is definitely old. With its French Gothic architecture and flying buttresses, it is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris.

But the gargoyles and chimera are distinctly odd! According to the Notre Dame website:
Notre-Dame’s gargoyles are very famous! I’m sure you’ve heard of them before. But do you know what they’re used for? They were built into the ends of the gutters to drain rainwater off the roof; since the gargoyles extend far off the side of the roof, the litres of rainwater from storms fall far from the walls to prevent damage. The chimeras are used as simple decorations. Most of them are on the façade, seated on a gallery, watching the people below and scanning all of Paris. The sculptors really used their imagination on these statues. They are animal and human figures, half-man and half-beast, grotesque, horrific, fantastic creatures with eagles’ beaks and wings, lions’ talons, serpents’ tails… Although some of them may be frightening, they remind us that all creatures are the work of God, so they deserve His love and salvation.

Notre Dame gargoyles

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Poseidon masked


In the spirit of Halloween, someone 'decorated' the Poseidon statue in this business center. The statue with a skeleton mask was certainly odd to see from the street. (Of course, it is also a little comical that there is a pizza box stuck on his trident.)

IMG_8478I guess it is a reminder that I should have already decorated for fall and it is time to start buying goodies to hand out to the trick-or-treaters.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The end of an era

Gallatin demolition

As long as I can remember, the Gallatin Medical Center has been there on Paramount Blvd. (Of course, it's been abandoned for the last 10 years or so. See I wonder who won this dispute.)

But finally, the buildings are coming down, to make way for new medical offices including a multistory urgent and primary care facility.

Last week, the old buildings served one final useful purpose as the Downey Fire Department used them for some training classes. (See Fire control training.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Standing room only

standing room only

Stonewood Mall, Buffalo Wild Wings.

It's 11:00 on a Thursday and the place is packed. Never mind that there is more than enough room on the patio and inside, Downey is now finding the night life it has been looking for, and waiting out the door for it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blue hat


Watching a group of seniors enjoy a "picnic" lunch, I spotted this little lady with the blue hat. I thought she was adorable. I loved the hat!

I'm one of those people who think they are "hat people." I buy hats because I love them and think they look cute when I first buy them. But sadly, I almost never end up wearing them. This lady was a natural. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The chaplain

Downey Fire Dept Chaplain prayer

In addition to watching the Compartment Fire Behavior Training last weekend, I had the opportunity to meet the Downey Fire Department's new chaplain, Father John Higgins. He has been the pastor at St. Raymond's Catholic Church since 2002, and was named fire department chaplain just a few weeks ago. Father John is still learning what his responsibilities include. While I was there, he led the firefighters in prayer before they started the live fire portion of the training.

Downey Fire Dept Chaplain Father JohnWhile we watched the training, we chatted a little about Downey Daily Photos. When I told him the types of things that we photograph, he invited me to the St. Raymond's Halloween Carnival (Oct. 28-30), which includes a haunted house. (He jokingly complained that in the past when he has gone through the haunted house, the workers greet him with a cheery "Hi, Father John," instead of scaring him.)

Looking forward to seeing you there, Father John!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Safety doesn't happen by accident

DFD training on the roof

I think the thing that struck me most while watching the Compartment Fire Behavior Training yesterday (see Fire control training) was the emphasis on safety.

DFD training uniformsWatching the men gear up for the live fire exercise, I was impressed first with their safety gear. From the multilayered jacket and pants to the head gear and oxygen supply, everything is built to protect the firefighters from serious burns or smoke inhalation.

All of the doors are clearly identified, inside and out, and can be easily broken through if necessary.

The firefighters on the roof had the responsibility to make sure that the fire didn't break through the ceiling into the attic, where it could travel into adjoining rooms or get out of control. In addition, they were there to vent the smoke from the room, as needed, and to provide another exit route in case anything got out of control.

DFD training backupsIn addition, another crew was present whose sole responsibility is the safety of those being trained. (The job of these firefighters sitting off to the side might look easy, but they were ready to jump into action at a moment's notice.)

Firefighter Villanueva explained to me that all of these safety precautions (and many many more that I can't remember) come from the National Fire Protection Association, an organization founded in 1896. The NFPA has created a constantly evolving set of standards for fire safety, which are reviewed and updated whenever an injury occurs or a safety issue is uncovered.
When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.
~Edward F. Croker

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fire control training

DFD trainers

Last Tuesday, Joan blogged about a fire department training exercise taking place at the old Gallatin Medical Center facility. (See Men at work.) They were still there this weekend, so I stopped by for more pictures and more details.

DFD training smoke
Letting some of the smoke escape
during the live fire portion of the training.
The training covers fire behavior inside a building, and teaches firefighters to recognize fire behavior indicators so that they can predict fire development. There are classroom lectures followed by time spent observing a live fire.

After they complete the training, the firefighters are certified in Compartment Fire Behavior Training. (There are different levels, and I have no idea which level they are working on here.) In addition, firefighter Pete Browne (nearly hidden in the above picture) will be certified as a Compartment Fire Behavior Training Instructor.

DFD training cleanupDFD training exitingFirefighters Villanueva and Seely chatted with me about the live fire training. The firefighters enter a room where a fire is set. From floor level, where there is less smoke, they observe the behavior of the fire. When they exit the room after the exercise is complete, they remain at floor level until they're out the door (left). After all the live fire training is done, they do a final inspection of the rooms (right).
Interesting facts I learned:
  • The firefighters' protective clothing isn't all that thick. What protects the firefighters from the heat is the air buffer created by the clothing's bulkiness. The area where they are most likely to feel the heat is on the shoulders, where the weight of the jacket eliminates the air buffer.
  • If the firefighters simply sprayed the fire down with water, the resulting steam, which would settle down to the floor, would kill anyone still in the building. So sometimes the goal is simply to let the fire burn (under control) until the firefighters can ensure that everyone is out of the building.
More tomorrow...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Country fair


Not exactly Downey... but, today we attended the Atherton Baptist Homes 27th Annual Country Fair. My friend's parents (who are from Downey) retired to the Baptist home about 20 years ago and have loved the welcoming community Atherton offers.

Alhambra residents turn out in droves to participate in the fair each year. There was lots of food, fun and entertainment for kids and families. These girls seemed to be having a great time.

IMG_8447Atherton residents seem to prepare for this event for months. One of my favorite booths at the event:  the sweets and homemade jams that are the specialty of some of  the ladies of Atherton. Clearly, Frieda Farneli was not to be challenged when it comes to making jams.


It was a beautiful, warm day—the perfect setting for a Country Fair.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Viking Motel—now and then

Viking Motel today

Back in 1962, the 24-unit Viking Motel on Firestone Blvd. was nearing completion. Now, very little has changed on the outside, but the motel has been converted to apartments.

Downey, California
Photo courtesy The Downey Conservancy/George Redfox

Thursday, October 6, 2011

3rd street coffee

coffee shop

One of the local coffee places is 3rd Street Coffee. I love it. Great food, fast service and very in the midst of what down town we have.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's kind of raining


I know it seems odd to see a picture of feet on a blog about daily pictures of a city but I felt that these captured Downey to a T. It rained today. Since it only rains about 7 times a year, the entire city went into havoc and dug out their Uggs and other irrational rain gear and ventured out into the open.

(By the way, as I'm typing this, my neighbor's sprinklers came on. Kind of ironic on a night like this.)

My answer to this day was to put on half of a rain boot and do my errands without still getting any rain on my feet.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Men at work


IMG_8380Today we watched some of Downey's finest at work in the fenced off/abandoned Gallatin Medical Center on Paramount. According to the Downey Patriot, they were holding a series of training exercises scheduled for the entire week. They seemed to be mostly dismantling piece by piece. I guess we will have to stop by again to try and catch some of the training...

IMG_8370It did not appear as if the rain had slowed them down, although it had stopped raining by the time we got there.