Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let it fall

CS Lewis Quote

Like the leaves of this fall, I love seeing creation change and develop and cycle through. Some leaves cling to the trees while others happily fall to the ground. It is really the prettiest time of the year for Downey.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Neon in winter


There's something appealing about neon signs on a winter night. Neon seems to have a cool crisp color that matches the air.

This sign is at Granata’s Restaurant & Tapas, in downtown Downey.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas shopping

Second Tyme Around Shop

The Second Tyme Around Shop is ready for Christmas. The display looks a lot different from a year ago, but I think I recognize some of the faces.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Laundry—loads of fun

Super Wash laundromat

According to, laundromats are a great place for guys to meet girls. I'm not sure that this was true of the Super Wash, a local laundromat, which seemed to be full of laundry but nearly empty of people early Saturday evening as I passed by.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sparkly Saturday?

Putting up Christmas lights

If we call the Friday after Thanksgiving Black Friday, what do we call the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when everyone digs out their boxes of Christmas lights and bulbs and icicles, and starts decorating?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

2011-11-25 00.54.34

Okay, I admit it. I'm a Black Friday novice. I usually work on the Friday after Thanksgiving (also known as "Black Friday"), so I've never really had the opportunity to experience this unique shopping event. This year, since I had Friday off, I was "convinced" to go to our local mall (Stonewood Center) at midnight Thanksgiving night to look for Christmas bargains.

To give you a little background, according to, Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days in the USA. There are two popular theories as to why the day after Thanksgiving Day is called Black Friday. One theory is that the wheels of vehicles in heavy traffic on the day after Thanksgiving Day left many black markings on the road surface, leading to the term Black Friday.

The other theory is that the term Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, started making profits prior to Christmas. Many hoped to start showing a profit, marked in black ink, on the day after Thanksgiving Day.

Regardless of which explanation you accept, Black Friday has become the official first day of shopping for the Christmas holiday. As the first official day, retailers offer all sorts of special offers and bargains to entice customers. While I didn't spend a lot, I found some gifts at good prices. Overall, it was an interesting experience. The mall was crowded—there was a sense of excitement. While I later heard crazy stories of people getting really aggressive about shopping (stories of pepper spray, knives and shootings), everyone I saw was wandering around, having fun and spending the money retailers were hoping for.

Thursday, November 24, 2011



The place setting today was so fun. Beautiful and personal. Thank you Drea for the personal touch!

Everyone can give thanks. No matter what is going on in our lives, this day reminds us to stop and remember what we have, not what we wish we had. I am so thankful for my family and friends who, despite all that I am, love me and still want to be around me at the day's end.

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

696th post


I have a strange attraction to patterns. I notice a lot out of the ordinary. This truck, although I couldn't get the whole of it, had six beautiful white priuses (priui?) all lined up in two pretty little rows. I've never seen the same car all together on one of these trucks. It looked pretty cool.

PS Did you also notice the post number? pattern :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The leaves are falling!


Most days I cut down different side streets in our neighborhood as I'm on my way home from work. Lately I have chosen this street almost every evening because I noticed a few weeks ago that the leaves on the trees had started turning. With the time change, it seems I'm always approaching home as the sun is low in the sky. I love how the sun seems to make the leaves glow.

It is proof that we do have seasons in California.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Surrounded by destruction


Well, the old Gallatin Medical facility has been completely destroyed, down to ground level and piles of rubble. Imagine my surprise when I discovered one building left. Apparently this orthodontist office was never part of Gallatin.

I hope they kept up that big smile while they watched and listened to everything coming down around them.

Gallatin air view
The tiny building at the tip of the red arrow is the only building left standing
on this large area of land.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do you take your potatoes?

Thanksgiving potatoes

When I checked my email this morning, before my eyes were focusing well, I thought my Downey Daily Photos email said "Downey Daily Potatoes." That started me thinking (and not just about my eyes) ...

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, and potatoes are an important part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. (For me, they're the most important part, since I'm not crazy about turkey.) Our traditional meal includes mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and sweet potatoes. If you Google "mashed potato recipes," you'll get over 8 million results, and over 5,000 how-to videos.

No wonder the potato bins at the grocery store were nearly empty this weekend.

Saturday, November 19, 2011



I went out today to take a picture with something very specific in mind. But, I got started later than I had planned and it just didn't work out. But as I was wandering around, I noticed how beautiful the sky looked as the sun was going down. So, I headed off to my favorite "high ground" (the eighth floor of the Embassy Suites hotel). There was a tangible sense of peace as I looked out over the city in the fading light. This is my favorite time of day. The sky was so full of color, I had to share it.

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Darn scaffolding!

St. George Greek Orthodox Church construction

One of the disappointing things that can happen when you travel is that the sight you've been waiting for years to see is covered with scaffolding—necessary, I'm sure, but couldn't they have waited until next summer?!

Well, this can happen even here in Downey. St. George Greek Orthodox Church is one of Downey's most beautiful churches. And this week, it is covered with scaffolding while the roof is being retiled. (Click here for an unscaffolded view.)

I hope this didn't spoil anyone's vacation photos.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Almost the same

notre dame

When we went to Paris in October, I kept seeing this statue right behind Notre Dame and every time I saw it, it reminded me of the statue in front of Downey's own Rives Mansion. I decided to take a picture to show the resemblance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just a few more inches

recycling plant

This is a recycling plant in a city north of Downey. I wonder if they know the trees aren't tall enough to be doing much covering...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There's no place like home


On first glance, this out building looks typical of a run-down little place you might find on the edge of some small town or maybe out in some field as you drive down the highway. But, as you can see in the second picture, that is not the case. There are two small residential lots that sit behind Bank of America. The garage pictured sits with a house (built in 1920) on the corner lot. Across the street is the Krikorian Theater.

IMG_3536You just have to wonder about who lives here. Have they lived there a really long time? Do they mind having such an imposing structure towering over them?

Monday, November 14, 2011


Rancho corbels

One of my favorite fellow city bloggers is Mary Ann, of Beirut Pursuit. Her recent interest (some might call it an obsession) with the corbels of Beirut have made me more aware of the corbels, or balcony supports, in Downey.

Rancho corbelsSo when I passed by these beautiful iron corbels supporting the balcony of this abandoned building in the old Rancho facilities (click here for more pictures from Rancho), I had to stop and take a picture.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is it fall?

Fall color red

It's fall, right? It's a little hard to tell. Even by southern California standards, there's not much fall color in Downey yet.

Fall color yellowBut it's not just the fault of our generally warm climate and our unseasonably warm days. You have to have the right kinds of trees, such as the maple tree above,  if you want fall color. I'm paying more attention this year, and it turns out that a lot of our trees don't even lose their leaves in the fall. (I know, big surprise!)

But even those that do lose their leaves don't necessarily turn colors. For example, the tree to the left is losing lots of leaves, and the grass below is covered with a pale yellow carpet. Pretty in its own way, but not the striking colors one sees in Vermont, for example.

So pay attention when you're driving around town. They may be few and far between, but those maple trees are there. And the leaves are finally starting to turn!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Downtown lights


IMG_0596I like to see the city lit up at night. So, tonight I thought I might wander around downtown Downey for a bit. I was trying to get a different perspective on Downey after dark, so I went to the top of the Porto's parking lot. This let me look "down" on some of the downtown area.

IMG_0617About that time, of course, it began to rain...which added a nice glow to the streets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's their day

Downey veteran Kenji Sayama

The Veteran's Day holiday originated to celebrate the armistice that ended the fighting of World War I. The armistice went into effect in 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Over ninety years later, we show our gratitude on this Veteran's Day to all those who have served our country here and abroad.

At today's Veteran's Day Ceremony at the Downey Theater, two veterans were specifically recognized. Kenji Sayama, who served in WWII in the "Go For Broke" regiment, was one of 772 WWII Japanese-American veterans who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington D. C. on November 2.

Downey veteran Ken Drake The other veteran is AEMC Ken Drake, USN (Retired), who is still able to fit into the uniform he received more than 50 years ago! Drake is currently a commander of the American Legion Post in Downey.

"All gave some. Some gave all."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lost to the sea (in a good way)

Drew fishing

A little outside of Downey is Long Beach. At the end of the beach is a jetty where I love to fish. I love it. I love how calm it is, how great the feeling is when you catch a fish (I did yesterday!) and with no one there but yourselves, it's just the people you care about cheering with you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shelter thoughts


It is a bittersweet feeling going to one of our Downey Shelters. Although the animals are properly cared for, I can't help feeling sorry for every single one. They look at me with their soulful eyes and it breaks my heart.

On the other hand, they are so darn cute, I can't help but want to take pictures of them... And maybe take a few home...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rainy day


It feels like winter has finally arrived in Southern California. The air has gotten so much colder and it has started to rain almost every week. The picture above is a typical manhole cover in Downey. But, wet and filled with crushed leaves, it looks downright decorative.

Looking at this picture got me a little curious about manhole covers. According to Wikipedia: The question of why manhole covers are typically round was made famous by Microsoft when they began asking it as a job-interview question. Originally meant as a psychological assessment of how one approaches a question with more than one correct answer, the problem has produced a number of alternative explanations, from the pragmatic (manhole covers are round because manholes are round) to the philosophical. So why do you think they are round?

IMG_8355While I don't like getting caught in a storm, I like the fresh smell to the air that the rain brings. It also changes the things we see everyday, making them take on a deeper, more intense color.

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…
it’s about learning how to dance in the rain!” –Vivian Greene

Monday, November 7, 2011

Starbucks and laptops


I love technology—my iPhone, my laptop (and of course my camera). So I can totally relate to this late-night cluster at Starbucks, focused so intently on all of their laptops. (Did you know that people who plug in their laptop and stay for the day are called "laptop loungers"?)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Imagining a garden


Whenever I pass by this gate, I feel like I'm passing by the side entrance to an English country estate. If I could just peak over the top, are these what I might see?
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart's ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden.
~English Country Garden (traditional)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A duck takes to water


IMG_0548I went for a walk around Wilderness Park the other day and I was reminded how pretty it can be in the mornings. Unfortunately for the ducks, I disturbed their early morning siesta. They did not want me to be as close as I wanted to be. It was clear I had entered their "space", so they took to the water. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The end of an era

All American Home Center

After more than 50 years in business, All American Home Center is going out of business.

All American Home CenterThis family-owned home improvement store has been a favorite of mine for years. When you don't know how to do a home repair, you can always find someone in the plumbing (or electrical, or hardware, or garden...) department to help you out. When Home Depot opened a store nearby a few years back, we worried that maybe All American wouldn't last. But it did, with competitive prices, and all the while maintaining that high level of service.

The liquidation sale (10% to 30% off of everything) started yesterday. It feels a bit vulture-ish to rush over, but according to the Downey Patriot, owner Tamar Kane said in a statement, “Our customers have shown us great loyalty for decades and we hope they take advantage of these incredible savings on home improvement supplies.”

I'm going to miss this store!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The silver lining

Sunset over Downey

After several days of warm (80° F) weather, it rained today. I'm not crazy about the rain, but the silver lining was the beautiful sunset that was visible for most of my drive home from work. I reached Downey just in time to go to the top of the Embassy Suites Hotel to catch the last rays.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A little dinner music


Dinner tonight was tapas at Granata's & Tapas...but the best part was the music.  Her instrument tooked like an electronic violin (I didn't know they existed),  but it sounded great and the musician was fun to watch. I didn't get a good shot that was in focus, but hopefully this one gives you the feel of how expressive she was. It looked like she was having as much fun as we were.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the road again...


It's been a while since we have walked the bike path along the Rio San Gabriel "river." It was a beautiful day—perfect for a brisk walk, but there was virtually no water. In fact, there were three or four bulldozer type vehicles working in the river bed clearing away brush and small trees that have sprung up in the section along Wilderness Park. It was certainly a different experience from just a week ago when we were walking along the river's edge in Paris. But even if it was not the Seine, the walk was pleasant and the time well spent.

IMG_0553“To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson