Monday, April 30, 2012

The dream bike

Kid's bike at Downey Street Faire

The classic car show at the Downey Street Faire last Saturday had a section for the kids. There were kid-sized versions of classic cars, and bikes that were fancier than anything I ever saw growing up.

Kid's bike at Downey Street FaireThis fancy bike would be every girl's dream. It was being shown off with complementary pink zebra-patterned fleece, with mirrors strategically placed to catch all the sparkles from the polished surfaces.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dressing the part

Downey Streeet Faire

If you own a pimped-out car like many of those displayed at Saturday's Street Faire, you need to dress the part. This booth had all the accessories you could possibly need.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Downey Street Faire 2012

Today was the 19th annual Downey Street Faire. It was a beautiful day for the event. Lots of food, arts, information, and fun old, restored cars.

IMG_3089A as Smart Object-1"My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance."  -
Tim Allen

Friday, April 27, 2012

April showers bring May flowers

Spring flowers

The blooms in all the neighborhood gardens bring the hope of spring, with May right around the corner.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A touch of class


Anthony seems to know everything. It's a Thursday night and I'd like a glass of wine.
What am I in the mood for? A white. Maybe a Chardonnay.
Have I tried the Fransiscan? Yes I have. It's delicious.
Okay, Here's the perfect one for you.... Ahhh. It is perfect.

Anthony goes back to his other customers at the other side to see how they are doing. I sip my wine and talk to someone who came with me.

Anthony comes back talking about a bottle of a new Belgian beer that he wants us to try. He gets excited explaining how it's made and how the new taste brings it alive.

"If beer was music, this one is techno!" he exclaims.

"As soon as it comes in, we'll all drink one," we say.

The atmosphere is always great at Mari's Wine Bar. It has a certain class without being pretentious. It is dark without being dingy. It is quiet without being absent.

Come in, sit, drink, watch old reruns of "The Little Rascals".... Be merry....


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cloudy sky

cloudy sky

The clouds are again scarily close to coming down hard. It's almost worse waiting for the storm than to be in it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Killer carnitas

Attack of the Killer Carnitas food truck employee

Every Tuesday evening, Downey High School hosts food trucks in the parking lot. The trucks have been there since February, but this was my first opportunity to stop by. Our dinner choice tonight was the creatively named and decorated Attack of the Killer Carnitas food truck.

Attack of the Killer Carnitas nachosCindy, above, cheerfully answered our questions and took our order. We ordered Monster Nachos, which turned out to be a great choice.

According to Cindy, our dreary weather of the last few days was keeping the crowds down tonight, but normally, business has been good. We got our dinner to go, but there are tables available for those who want to stay and eat there.

Attack of the Killer Carnitas menu Attack of the Killer Carnitas food truck sign

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yellow flowers

2012-04-21 10

Finding these flowers growing through the fence along the alley was a reminder that beauty can surprise us, sometimes when we least expect it.

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old." ~Franz Kafka

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Royal red cupcakes

Royal Cupcake Mobile Allen

Friday's OLPH fundraiser consisted of eight food trucks, one of which was the Royal Red Velvet Cupcakes. The cupcakes looked scrumptious!

Royal Cupcake Mobile cupcakesIn addition to taking orders, Allen (above) was kept busy making balloon figures for the kids. But he had even more fun, it seemed, making funny faces for the camera.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Everything but the kitchen sink...

2012-04-21 10.35 

Saturdays are often the days people choose to do yard sales. Today we came across one not too far from our house. They might not have had everything, but they did have something that resembled the kitchen sink.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Russ Lewark, unplugged

Russ Lewark

This is Russ Lewark. He's a singer and guitarist who was entertaining the crowds this evening at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help School fundraiser.

Russ LewarkI first saw Russ last year at the Farmer's Market, where he was singing a song by Gordon Lightfoot, one of my favorite artists from the 70s. I took Russ's picture then, but the light was bad, one thing or another, and I didn't use it.

So I was excited get another chance tonight, not only to take another picture, but to listen to him again. I enjoyed his acoustic guitar playing and a selection of songs that bring back a lot of memories.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A wide basin of smog


Not everything is fun and pretty about taking pictures. I was really hoping after all the rain we've been having, that the sky would be a lot clearer from up in the Whittier Hills. The sky is still pretty ugly right now. Maybe it is the wrong time of day.

I want to show you a panoramic view of the basin Downey sits in. In the far right of the picture you can just make out downtown Los Angeles, but other than that, no significant landmarks...

Sometimes, we can see clear from the mountain range containing Big Bear all the way to Santa Monica. That's about 100 miles east to west. The ocean sits south of us and the Hollywood Hills, to the north. From shore to hills is about 35 miles. I keep waiting for a day that will display the whole circle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Los Pollos #3


Melvin Madrazo had a great job. He co-owned a business that manufactured and distributed patches for the jerseys of every major league baseball, NASCAR, National Football League, and National Basketball Association team.

DSC_0006But Melvin hungered for more. He wanted to own and run family style restaurants. So his business partner bought him out and Melvin started a restaurant in the city of Bell called Los Pollos.

Business boomed and Melvin added a second and third Los Pollos in Los Angeles and Downey, the latter being where I sit now, eating my chicken tamales, frijoles, and arros, and enjoying dinner with the nephew of the owner. He tells me the history of the place and other restaurants Melvin has created, including The Tropicana, sitting adjacent to Los Pollos on the other side of Paramount.

As many times as I’ve eaten this food, somehow knowing the history of the people behind its creation makes it that much more delicious.

Guard squirrel


On my walk this particular morning, I came across this squirrel who kept an eye on me as I was passing by. He was definitely "guarding" his backyard and tree from any intruders.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Against all odds

Carnival kid

When I was about 5 years old, my dad won me a giant Panda bear at a county fair in Missouri. Everyone was totally shocked—no one ever really wins these things, right?—except for me. For years, I was convinced that those giant bears and every other prize was mine for the taking, as easy to win as that first bear seemed to me.

The young kids at this weekend's carnival were just as hopeful as I was as they tried their luck, in this case, with winning a goldfish.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Zipper

Carnival ride in motion

It seems like only last month that there was a carnival at Downey High School, but here we are again with another carnival. And once again, this carnival had to deal with the weather—the first whole day was rained out.

Carnival rideBut last night, both the stars and the kids were out in large numbers. By far, the most popular ride was the Zipper, which is like a staid Ferris wheel gone horribly wrong (at least from my adult perspective). I'm sure that the two minutes of constant flipping and sporadic bursts of speed were an intense delight to the long line of teenagers waiting to get on the ride.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Alley gate


Back to another alley scene. This gate, off the alley, looked a little like a gate from another time. It seemed secure and I'm sure it was locked, because that is what we do now—secure our property. But, it hasn't always been how things were done.

I recently talked to someone who grew up in this area (I would guess in the 60s). He said that when he was growing up here, all the families on the block knew each other and the kids spent all their time together. So, most of the families routinely left their gates unlocked so the neighborhood kids could have easy access. What a different world.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A little patch of beauty

Flowers in the alley

For the last couple of weeks, when I leave for work, I've admired this clump of flowers in the alley. Today I decided not to pass them again without taking a picture. So, in the cold and wind (no rain yet), I stopped to admire and capture scene.

So, since the carnival that I was going to show you tonight got rained out, I'll share this little patch of beauty with you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A stormy night

Dodger Stadium

Over the Dodger Stadium, less than 20 miles north of Downey, the clouds loom ominously before the game Wednesday night. Thankfully, it didn't rain until after the Dodgers won and I was safely on my couch at home.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Around the worlds


Outside of the Downey Columbia Memorial Space Center now looks like our Solar System. Downey is really making itself more beautiful.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The colors of the riverbed


On a bike ride along the Rio San Gabriel this morning we noticed all these colorful plants growing in the currently mostly dry riverbed. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that it was full of water, and now, it is full of these flowers and grasses (and trees). It looked landscaped in some places, but with a fun "wild" appeal.

It made me wonder where the different plants come from. Are they planted by the same squirrels who plant the walnut and fig trees in my yard? Come to think of it, lots of things I've never planted have come up in my yard over the past few years. Maybe the Downey squirrels are smarter than we think. Kinda makes you wonder.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thank you for coming

Red Cross volunteer

The Red Cross is always in need of volunteers—both blood donors and helpers. This helper (who just happens to be my daughter) was learning the ropes on her first day of volunteering.

The Red Cross holds frequent blood drives at the Masonic Lodge in Downey. The Masonic Lodge #220 has been part of Downey's history since the 1870s. Click here for more about how they got started in Downey.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is not here

The empty cross

"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying."
Matthew 28:6 (NASB)

For Christians, the empty cross symbolizes the risen Christ. This cross, at the Cornerstone Christian Worship Center, seems an appropriate picture for this Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A dog's eye view

IMG_2871 as Smart Object-1

I'm still having fun exploring some of Downey's alleys. I came across this cute little dog the other morning on a walk and realized what a unique view he has into his alley.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Some extraordinary spiritual grace

The Arc

Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.
~Vincent McNabb
The Arc of Los Angeles & Orange Counties, located in Downey, provides education and employment opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc was founded in 1956, and today it brings hope to 400 children and adults.

SCLARCI thought of the Arc this week when my daughter and I went to an orientation meeting at the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center. In California, the regional centers coordinate services for people with disabilities. (The ARC contracts with the regional centers.) Those present at the orientation ranged from a young mom with an autistic 3-year-old to an older man who is temporarily caring for his 42-year-old epileptic nephew, whose own mom had recently died.

The one thing we all had in common was fear—the fear that our disabled children will not be cared for when we're gone. The fear was palpable in the room, and wasn't ready to give way yet to the hope being offered by the regional center spokesperson.

And so we pray for the grace of hope.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some things don't change


Among the many manly accessories in the barber shop was this line of hair products I couldn't get enough of. The retro feel of the shop took me back to another decade where men draped in tattoos talked about everything from women to beer to the football game last Friday night... Oh wait, that's what they talk about now...


To see more of this shoot, click here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shave and a hair cut...


I went into a barbershop to do a miniature photo shoot today and there was this little tough guy doing his own shave. I guess I literally did a "miniature" shoot.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alley access

IMG_2851 as Smart Object-1

One of the things I like about Downey are the alleys! The area of Orange Estates that I live in was originally planned out in 1929. Pretty amazing, right?

The design was for there to be no driveways in the front of the house, the alley provided access to your garage and left the front of your house to offer better "curb appeal." Trash cans, light poles, power poles, are all in the alley (where they belong!). Anyway, this "alley access" is one of my favorite gates in the Orange Estates area. More to come...

Monday, April 2, 2012

An elevator with a view

Embassy Suites elevator view

Yesterday the sky was clear and blue, with lots of puffy clouds—the perfect day, I thought, for a great view of the Los Angeles skyline. So I went to the top of the Embassy Suites Hotel (the highest point in Downey, remember?). But the view was disappointing.

However, the view on the elevator ride up to the eighth floor (OK, I was feeling lazy) was surprisingly appealing. The light from the skylights lit up the entire atrium.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Two bikes

Two bikes on a corner

Two bikes locked to a corner street post. Is there a couple nearby, walking the neighborhood hand-in-hand?