Saturday, June 30, 2012

Avast, there be pirates! (Theme week: Looking down)

Belmont Pier Pirate Invasion 1 closeupBelmont Pier Pirate Invasion 2

The Pirate Invasion is taking place this weekend at the Belmont Veteran's Memorial Pier, about 20 miles south of Downey.

Belmont Pier Pirate Invasion 1Belmont Pier Pirate Invasion flagFrom his high post, this pirate was in position to keep watch for other ships and to look down on the crew (and the rest of us).

The pirate invasion includes sword fights, treasure hunts, an imitation Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate encampment, and lots and lots of great food.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Clean up the traffic mess (Theme week: Looking down)

I5 thru Downey HOV work

This view of the I-5 (Santa Ana freeway), looking down from a pedestrian overpass, shows the roadwork that is in progress.

I5 thru Downey overpass shadowThis freeway is the most unpredictable of the freeways that surround Downey. You never know if there will be traffic or not, regardless of the time of day.

This section of the freeway is getting an HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane in addition to an extra general purpose lane. Maybe this improvement will eliminate some of our traffic guesswork.

“If they'd lower the taxes and get rid of the smog and clean up the traffic mess, I really believe I'd settle here until the next earthquake.”
~ Groucho Marx

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My vote counts


How am I supposed to write about a political dinner I attended when I have absolutely no interest in politics?

This was my trepidation before Joan and I walked into the Rio Hondo Event Center today and met Patricia Kotze-Ramos, candidate for the new 58th Assembly District. But she was friendly and down to earth as she mingled with the various hierarchies of Downey in her red-white-and-blue outfit. So I thought I'd give her my ear for the night. She seemed to fuse into hugs as if everyone was her best friend. Her smile was not the politician smile I was expecting. It was genuine and comfortable and happy.

Someone sat down at our table and started to talk to Joan and me.

Where are we from? How are we connected to this?

We live in Downey and came to see what it was all about. How was he connected?

He owns a small business. He lives here in Downey. He serves on several boards with “Patty.” In other words, he’s very connected.

We talk for an hour and a half about how Walmart is taking over the world and shutting down small businesses, an African Safari he went on, and the reasons why Patty should be our Assemblywoman. He told us the reasons to pay attention to who we are voting for because without our interest, the wrong people can get into power and make poor and greedy decisions.

Patricia Kotze-Ramos got up at the end of the dinner, made a speech about being excited and the need to press on and ended with thanking others throughout the room.

By the end of our dinner, I want to volunteer and join Soroptimist International of Downey (where Patty is also a member). And I want to pay more attention to what is going on nationally, statewide, and right here in my hometown.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Burger please Bob! (Theme week: Looking down)


"Looking down" on us from the entrance of Bob's Big Boy, he tempts us with the promise of burgers and fries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blossoms (Theme week: Looking down)

IMG_4615 as Smart Object-1

Looking down on the spent blossoms...I find it really interesting that these are the leftovers. What you see is what is left after the blossoms have fallen off. Clematis flowers are so interesting.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The long empty expanse (Theme week: Looking down)

Future Downey art gallery inside

Looking down this long and empty expanse of concrete floor, it's hard to imagine the art gallery that will be opening here in a few weeks.

Future Downey art gallery frontThe gallery will be operated by the Downey Art Vibe. (The Art Vibe coordinated an outdoor art exhibit at Taste of Downey last summer.) The gallery will focus on art from those who live and work in Downey.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Instant cash

Instant cash for phones

A large crowd milled around waiting for their turn at the Instant Cash for Phones EcoATM machine at Stonewood Center. You can trade in your old phones (and other electronics) for cash—the amount of which is determined by the machine.

Even if it's not much cash, this sounds like a better idea than having old phones pile up at home. I'll have to try this out. How about you?

Saturday, June 23, 2012



Our final destination on the east coast was Washington DC. The city is big and bustling, but I found that from most places we visited, we could still view the Washington Monument, which allowed me to get my bearings.

Standing 555 feet high, the Washington Monument is the world's tallest stone structure. Completed in 1884, it commemorates our first president, George Washington. It is pretty impressive. Here, it is still "with us" as we paddle around the Potomac.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer solstice

Tree against brick wall

I took this picture yesterday evening, just before sunset on the first full day of summer.

I love summer! I rejoice when the calendar finally confirms what the weather has been hinting at for weeks. I bask in the warmth.

I also savor the light. I enjoy every minute of this almost longest day of the year. But I also am a little disappointed, just a little, because tomorrow the day will be shorter. Not by much—at our longitude, it's just a few seconds a day this first week. A little more each day next week. Until by September, each day is over two hours shorter than yesterday.

But enough of that! I'm going to enjoy every minute I get!

Click here to see how this tree has grown in two years.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

...and cruise it up and down the road


Some cars are actual historical landmarks. A car guy told me that these can only be driven a few times or for so far a year and are for mostly display.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm gonna buy me a Mercury


It's the 1920s and you're one of the few in the neighborhood to have a car. Life is grand. This is the future!

It's the 1950s and the carhops are popping up everywhere. You go for a cruise listening to the Beach Boys... What do you want to do tonight? The drive-in? Split a milkshake with your girl? It doesn't matter, life is great. You have a sweet ride!

It's the 1960s and life is awesome. Elvis is King of Rock and Roll and now the movies. We're sending people to the moon. And you have a car that will someday be a classic!

These cars from years past all scream out stories to me as I pass them in the parking lot of Bob's Big Boy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A fork in the road

IMG_4174a as Smart Object-1

I've always been told that sometimes you come to a fork in the road and it forces you to make a decision one way or another. I figured the expression was more allegorical...I never expected to see a literal fork-in-the-road.

This was on a beautiful road on the east coast, approaching the town of Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hungry hippo

Nissan Downey hippo

What does a 30-foot-high hippo say to you? Stop and buy a new car today?

Nissan Downey moon bounceApparently not. But the moon bounce right behind it does translate into "Daddy, can I go in the moon bounce?" Which in turn brings in prospective customers to Nissan Downey. Maybe they won't buy a car right then. But they might come back. And that's half the battle.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Porto's on Father's Day - Lines

Nearly every restaurant in Downey had long lines of people waiting for brunch on this Father's Day morning. Porto's Bakery was no exception.

Porto's on Father's Day - Break roomThe sidewalk tables were all filled, and the lines for individual and whole pastries were long. (And maybe a little faux oil paint will help cover up the blurs caused by the low level of lighting.)

But as busy as they were, the employees could look forward to an earlier-than-usual closing so that they too could spend some time with their dads.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Where there is smoke, there is not always fire


What hotel stay is complete without a fire alarm just before midnight? (I am still traveling on the East Coast, in Maryland.)


Everyone slowly evacuated themselves while the alarm sounded throughout the building. It was a little surreal as everyone took their time deciding whether or not to leave their rooms.

IMG_4333Guys were posing and taking pics in front of the engines. All told, we had four different engines show up.

After about 20 minutes of the firemen walking around inside the hotel, we were waved back in to return to our rooms....False alarm! Time for bed ~ YAY


Friday, June 15, 2012

Bagpipes on the green

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This is not Downey! This is Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. My daughter graduated from a Masters program today, so we spent the week in beautiful Vermont. Almost every evening, we were treated to bagpipes on the green. It was a charming way to end the day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Or you could have...


Well I was going to go to Coldstone tonight after work to have a kind of rival daily photo from yesterday but I got there too late! It was already closed when I got there at 9:18. Oh well, I'll come home and eat my absolute favorite. Kirkland Vanilla with fresh berries and chocolate chips! I win.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So many choices!


If you have a hard time choosing things, don't ever go to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. With more than "31 flavors," you need to come in knowing what you want, or try a dozen samples testing what you're in the mood for. Usually, I get the chocolate chip cookie dough, but I thought I'd be crazy and got the Rainbow Sherbet. Yummmm!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dinner, fast


Flag Day in the U. S. is coming up this week. But before we get to that day (and after a long and frustrating day at work), let me just express my appreciation for that other flag with the golden arches.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bump set spike!

Volleyball at Apollo Park

Here's another group of Sunday afternoon players. This time it was an informal game of volleyball on one of the sand volleyball courts at Apollo Park.

The park was renamed to Apollo Park many years ago, in honor of the Apollo Space Program which has played such an important role in Downey's history. (Click here to see other Apollo-related posts.) Does anyone remember the park's original name?

In the background you can see the back side of the historic Dismukes House.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The summer game

Sunday afternoon baseball game

What's better than playing baseball on a warm Sunday afternoon? Kickin' back in the shade and watching others play baseball.
"Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people."
~Steve Busby, in Washington Post, 8 July 1974

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Anything good out?


I just recently went to the movies and really enjoyed it. I saw Battleship, which I thought would be just another gory guy film with guns, but turned out to be an exciting, lifelike take on the game "Battleship" that I used to play when I was little.

I can't remember the last movie I saw in the theater before this though. What was the last one you saw? Anything good coming soon to a theater near you?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The balcony

Rives Mansion campaigning for Cristina Garcia

In this week's primary election, Cristina Garcia received enough votes to advance to the general election in November.

But I wasn't really thinking about that when I snapped this picture a couple of weeks ago. Instead I was thinking, doesn't the Rives Mansion balcony just beg for a beautiful couple standing there waving to the crowd? I had visions of the President and First Lady. Or the Royal Couple after the Royal Wedding, giving the Royal Wave.

Or maybe just the present owners on a quiet evening?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friendly arches


One of the things I love about living in Orange Estates is the variety of the home styles. It is not an area where you will find tract housing and I appreciate the individuality.

IMG_3778Archways appeal to me. I like the repeated pattern and the flow of the architecture. The mission style has a feel that is enchanting and just a little mysterious, but still feels homey.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



Dating back to the 13th century, weathercocks (or weather vanes) were used on buildings, often churches, as architectural ornaments with some functionality.

IMG_3781According to Wikipedia, weather vanes can help determine the changing wind direction, which can be meaningful when coordinated with other apparent sky conditions, enabling the user to make simple short range forecasts.

I just think they are fun!

"Good morning weathercock make this day bright
Put us in touch with your fairy winds
Sing to us softly, hum evening's song
Point the way to better days, we can share with you"
- Jethro Tull

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Venetian sunset...


Something exciting happened today! Okay, so it wasn't just Downey, but Venus eclipsed the sun tonight. It was beautiful. So many people came out to look. People brought their own telescopes or used some that were set up at the Columbia Memorial Space Center.

20120605_165639[1]"A transit of Venus is very rare. It comes at regular intervals: eight years, then 105.5, then eight again, then 121.5. We had one eight years ago, and the next will be in 2117."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Greek dancing

Dancing at the Greek Food Festival 1

Of course the food is a treat at the Greek Food Festival (see Greeks and food), but the highlight of the festival is watching the kids put on their dance performances.

Dancing at the Greek Food Festival 2

Dancing at the Greek Food Festival 3

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Greeks and food

Greek Food Festival mutton

This weekend was the annual Greek Food Festival at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church. It's called a "food festival" for a good reason!

Greek Food Festival stuffed grape leavesTo start with, there's row after row of spit-roasted lamb, with a whole crew busy tending to the spits. Then to go with the roasted lamb, you can get stuffed grape leaves (dolmathakia), souvlaki, gyros, moussaka, and baklava for dessert.

Greek Food Festival signThere was also a friendly message from your neighborhood cow.

Tomorrow, the Greek dancers.

Saturday, June 2, 2012



I like cats. I passed these two on a walk the other day. While they looked up to acknowledge me, they were not about to be disturbed.

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this."
~ Anonymous

Friday, June 1, 2012

A good sign

Hometown Hardware and Garden sign

Many Downey residents were deeply disappointed when All American Home Center went out of business last year. (See The end of an era.)

Hometown Hardware and Garden signSome of the All American executives are opening this new store with a new name (Hometown Hardware and Garden), a new location (in the old Von's grocery store that has been vacant for a couple of years), and hopefully with the great service we all knew and loved.

So far, there's just a sign. But I think it's a good sign.