Sunday, September 30, 2012

Looking for my forever home

Cat at Department of Animal Care and Control

The Downey branch of the Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC, aka, the "pound") celebrated its 75th anniversary this Saturday.

Laker GirlsThe DACC, founded in 1937, marked the occasion by discounting their pet adoption fees to $19.37. The DACC is quite large, with hundreds of dogs, cats, and bunnies available for adoption. Business was brisk, with long lines of families waiting to take home their new pets.

If the cute animals and low fees weren't enough to draw people in, the Laker Girls were also there to lend their support.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Camaro Z-28

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Today we attended the first annual car show at Rancho Los Amigos. The theme was "Rebuilding cars, rebuilding lives." It was a festive event sponsored by the Rancho Los Amigos Brain Injury Service and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department County Services Bureau.

IMG_7137 as Smart Object-1I enjoyed wandering past the variety of vintage cars on display, many older than me.

I was excited to see a Camaro Z-28 on display.  I was immediately drawn to it because I learned to drive in my mother's '69 Camaro Z-28. It was a classic back then and I had a lot of fun driving it. My mom drove the Camaro until 1987, when she sold it for the same price she paid for it in 1972.

IMG_8661 as Smart Object-1This is what my Mom's Z-28 looked like (with a couple of family members in front).  Green, raised Corvette hood, with black racing stripes...not exactly what you expect your mom to drive. My mom liked cars with power.

According to Wikipedia, the Camaro was first introduced in 1966. It was Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Mustang. When the name "Camaro" was unveiled at a press conference in June of 1966, the automotive press asked Chevrolet's product managers, "What is a Camaro?" The answer:  a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Refugio refuge

Refugio State Beach

One of the blessings of living in southern California is our proximity to the beach. Several of us spent the last four days camping at Refugio State Beach, just north of Santa Barbara and about 2 1/2 hours north of Downey.

You can hike and bike, watch the harbor seals sun themselves and the pelicans dive for their dinner, or just be lazy and fall asleep to the sound of the waves breaking nearby.

What you can't do (or at least we can't) is get reservations during the summer. And so, camping at Refugio in September has become an annual tradition.

When you leave Highway 101 at Refugio Beach, if you turn inland instead of toward the beach, you will eventually reach Ronald Reagan's "western White House," where Reagan spent vacations during his presidency. At various times, Reagan hosted Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and Mikhail Gorbachev at the ranch.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

People of the morning #2


I went on my bike ride this morning and saw this gentleman and his dog walking. I see them often so I pulled over and struck up a conversation with Craig. He takes this trip every morning with his dog Chloe and turns around at a historic landmark on Paramount Blvd. After his morning run, Craig travels on the Metro line to work.

So, this morning, I learned two new things about Downey. I met someone new and I learned about a landmark I'll investigate soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A new neighborhood

New Neighborhood

Downey started out as part of a larger ranch that was divided up and sold. Smaller land parcels were then sold and were usually multiple acres of dairy farms or orchards. And over time, these parcels were subdivided into smaller and smaller parcels until, when my family moved here 26 years ago, most of Downey was single family homes of around 5,000 to 10,000 square foot lots. But some land owners held out and when they passed away, their heirs sold the property to developers.

This cul-de-sac is made up of ten houses set on a piece of land that just several years ago had one house. This is my turn around point for my morning bike rides. I love to imagine how the land once looked.

Have you always lived in a neighborhood full of houses or did you get to grow up with open land around you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Everyone's best friend

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He looks a little scary in the picture, but he was all excitement. He really wanted us to come pull open his gate and play with him. That is one of this things I love about dogs, they are always happy and excited to see you. They live in the moment and they are excited to spend it with you.

"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives."
    -Sue Murphy

Monday, September 24, 2012

A big event

Crowd at Endeavor flyover

I didn't realize prior to last Friday's shuttle flyover just how big an event this was.

Channel 2 news at Endeavor flyoverCity councilmen at Endeavor flyoverAt the Columbia Memorial Space Center, where so much of the shuttle program is documented, several hundred people gathered and waited, in some cases for several hours. Many people brought their lawn chairs and staked out a location in the shade. Everyone had their cameras and phones ready.

Several Downey city council members (past and present) were there. I chatted briefly with a local high school teacher who was hoping that the shuttle would get there before his lunch break was over. Parents brought their young kids. A CBS2/KCAL9 reporter held his shuttle prop at the ready. (I bet he wished he could find some shade!) Several local journalists wandered and chatted with the crowd.
The thing I'll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I'm sure it was the most fun that I'll ever have in my life.
~Sally K. Ride, first woman to orbit Earth aboard the Space Shuttle, 1983

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taste of Downey - the artists

Taste of Downey Amanda Brown

Last Thursday's Taste of Downey event included more than food. This was the third annual Taste of Downey and each year has added a new aspect.

Taste of Downey The AnswerEach year there has been a band providing live entertainment. This year's band was called The Answer (to Classic Rock). My googling has not provided any insight to their name. Their music was classic rock from my college years—songs that got my toes tapping and evoked strong memories of those days.

Last year was the first year for the Art Wall, with paintings and photographs from local artists. This year, the Wall moved into the nearby Downey Theater, for a more sophisticated and comfortable setting.

The theater also provided a venue for additional music this year. Amanda Brown, above, sang jazz standards from Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and more.

Taste of Downey Art Wall

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A day at the Sea...World that is

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Not your typical teddy bear, but I swear, he looked soooo cuddly. This polar bear was one of my favorites on our day trip to Sea World, San Diego (which is just under two hours away from Downey when there is no traffic).

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He paced around the habitat, roaring and clearly demanding attention. Who could resist such a beautiful creature? Don't you wanna just hug him?

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Back home

Space shuttle Endeavor flyover

This morning, a crowd gathered at the Columbia Memorial Space Museum to watch the space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight. The shuttle arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) earlier on the back of the 747 that NASA has modified specifically for transporting the shuttle. This morning, the pair made a last flight over California, making low-flying (1,500 feet!) passes over various landmarks, many of which have ties to the space program.

Space shuttle Endeavor flyover
Of course, Downey-ites make claim to the most important landmark, the North American Rockwell buildings where the shuttle had its start. Many of the parts of the shuttle were made in this building that is now about to be torn down. The life-size shuttle mockup was stored here until recently (see Small boy, big dreams).

As the shuttle flew over us, in addition to the cheers, I heard proud comments like "We made that!" and "That's ours!". The shuttle will be moving eventually to its final home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. But even though it won't be back here ("back home"), we're proud of our part in its history.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tasting Downey


Downey has a tradition of community events. Tonight I went to "Taste of Downey," which happens once a year. Twenty or so restaurants come out to give samples of their delicious meals. I had turkey and mashed potatoes, a beef rib, and pumpkin pie from Pieloon, my favorite definitely of the night. The people of Downey came out to hang out and listen to the live band. In this picture, a friend walks toward our table with a new pile of goodies on his plate.

In another area of the night, our very own Pam Lane is featured as a Downey Artist in the photography section. She and Joan Anderson will be two of the featured photographers in the "Black and White" show at Mari's wine bar coming up.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

People of the morning 1


I am Steven Mansell, Allison's dad. I'll be filling in for Allison for a few months while she concentrates on her school work.

I ride my bike in the early morning hours for exercise and on my rides I see others out getting their daily exercise. I also see others doing their jobs during these dark hours. I thought I would do a series on "The People of the Morning" to see who's up at 5:30am and what are they doing.

20120919_054513[1]I've seen this couple, Kevin and Heather, (they really are there) walking each morning during this time and thought they would be a good start to the series. They walk each morning about 3 1/2 miles to keep up a healthy lifestyle. They wear the reflective vests to be seen in the dark. Both options work.

What do you do toward having a healthy lifestyle?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Palm crazy

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On a recent walk, I started noticing all the different kind of palms growing in our neighborhood. This interesting blossom is on a banana palm.  This next one was next to the banana palm and might have been part of it, but I wasn't sure. But this "fruit" or whatever it was certainly was interesting. It also had dozens of flies buzzing all around it.

IMG_7142 as Smart Object-1I was walking past this last palm with my dog, who all of a sudden was alert and staring up at the top of a really tall palm tree. It reminded me of the movie "Up." If you've seen it, you probably picked up the same favorite phrase. A great part of the movie was how any sighting of a squirrel completely distracted any dog at any time.  "Squirrel!" Yes, there was a squirrel scrambling up the palm tree. Which, of course, I had not noticed at all. (You'll probably have to look closely to spot him.)

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Monday, September 17, 2012

One of those days

Furman Park tree

I love the trees at Furman Park. They're wild and wiggy, and the branches make me think of all the snakes of Medusa's hair. There's a lot of freedom and spontaneity in going any which way.

But sometimes all that freedom can weigh you down. Literally. Or maybe the stress makes you crack.

Whatever the reason, sometimes, you feel like taking a break. You need everyone to back off a little, and give you some room.  Be careful, or someone might get hurt.

Furman Park tree

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Frisky puppies

Dog park

It's been a while since we've visited the dog park at Rio San Gabriel Park. It's gotten a bit dustier since the last time I visited.

But these frisky puppies didn't care. Luna and Bruno, two Weimaraner puppies (9 and 4 months, respectively) enjoyed playing with this very playful German Shorthair Retriever. At 8 months old, he already towered over the other two, but he was so excited to make friends.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Artist of a different ilk


Art can be found in many places. We tend to think of art as paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs. But art is expressed in such a variety of ways.

IMG_7223 as Smart Object-1IMG_7178The Macy's at Stonewood Mall has a large MAC makeup counter. They provide makeup artists for customers who are willing to purchase a set amount of makeup. It was fun and interesting to watch as Christina, a 5+ year MA, applied makeup on my daughter, who was getting "all dolled up" for an Army Ball.

"Art is the proper task of life." ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, September 14, 2012

Buon appetito

Pina's Pizza kitchen

The gleaming metal surfaces, the worn pots and pans, and the fresh baked bread—all make eating dinner at Pina's Pizza an appealing choice.

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again."
~George Miller

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Catch of the day

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On our recent field trip to Malibu, we posted a picture of this bird. But upon looking at some of my pictures, I discovered I had one of him with his "catch" in tact.

"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." ~John Buchan

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The east-west mountains

Santa Ynez Mountains

Returning to our road trip...

To the north of Downey and Los Angeles lie a number of mountain ranges, many of which are located in the Los Padres National Forest. The Santa Ynez Mountains, above, are unusual in that they are one of the few entirely east-west mountain ranges in the United States.

This particular range is not very high, topping out at Divide Peak at 4707 feet. California State Route 154, from which this picture was taken, crosses the range at San Marcos Pass between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never forget!

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Today is the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. As I was driving around town looking for some kind of memorial, I saw Jim Fuller on his bike. Jim remembered Sept. 11th, 2001.

I remember that morning. Watching the planes hit the World Trade Center building towers was surreal. It was shocking to watch, I struggled to comprehend what was happening. It was a day I don't think I will ever forget (and I watched from the relative comfort of my home).

The memorial in DC is open. Americans from all over the country can visit and honor the thousands of innocent men, women and children who lost their lives 11 years ago. Reading about the memorial made me think of President Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg after the devastating battle that settled the Civil War.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Monday, September 10, 2012

The fenced in blue lagoon

Malibu Lagoon

We took a photo field trip today, starting at Malibu.

Malibu lagoon fishing birdMalibu is a sliver of a town that runs 27 miles along the coast at the north end of Los Angeles (about an hour from Downey when there's no traffic). It is the home to many stars (Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Barbra Streisand, Richard Gere, Sally Field, and Whoopi Goldberg, to name just a few). Their homes have a sandy beach as the front yard and the Pacific Coast Highway ("PCH") to their backs. From PCH, all you can see is a series of gates and walls.

In the center of Malibu, the Malibu Creek empties out into the Pacific Ocean, forming the Malibu Lagoon. The lagoon is a stopping point for many migratory birds, where more than 200 species have been observed.

Our intention was to see the lagoon and the birds at sunrise. Sunrise was beautiful this morning. Unfortunately, we didn't know that the lagoon is being restored—which means chain-link fencing and blocked views.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Open air worship

Church in Furman Park

One of the nice things about summer is the opportunity to meet for church in the local park.

Bring your blanket or your chair and sit back, relax, and listen, surrounded by the beauty of an early Sunday morning in the park.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Art on the Vine at Mari's

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Two new artists were featured at Mari's Wine bar tonight. The artist of this selection, Jose Lopes, explains to Downey Arts Coalition that his work has been influenced by a mix of his fascination with pre-Columbian artifacts and the influence of traditional Mexican mural art.

IMG_6862 as Smart Object-1Death seems to hold a great preoccupation in his native culture and his work reflects it. There was a dark sense to each of his works.

"The viewer can, when presented with the image, find in the shadows his own demons and have them breed with mine to create a third form of reality. As a result, my nagging demons and angels commune with the observers’ own creatures spawning a world that is no longer mine but an addition of both artist and spectator’s subconscious minds.” Jose Lopes - DAC.

Friday, September 7, 2012

An explosion of color

Neon bike rims

I must confess that I'm not the most observant fish in the sea. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that something that I noticed for the first time a couple of weeks ago at a local McDonald's turns out to be a trend that started at least a year ago.

I'm talking about neon-colored rims on bikes. Once I noticed the first one, I started seeing them all over. Neon shades of green, orange, yellow, pink—you name it, they're out there.

When did you start noticing them?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye summer


Although it is still quite hot outside, I feel like the sun is setting on summer. Fewer people are at the beaches now, ice cream places are closing down earlier (except in our house!), and the neighborhood kids are going to bed earlier for school the next day. However much I love and crave change, the time that is slipping by reminds me that I can't hold onto it any more than I can the waves on the beach.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What we don't see


In class today, my professor spent a long time lecturing us on the importance of looking around us. The small things that we pass by every day. We miss details that someone once took the time to create. This truck pulled up beside me at a red light after class and I saw the little drawing of a hand holding the wrench. I don't think I would have caught it without the lecture a few hours before.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vessels of clay


I appreciate the variety of "yard art" we have in Downey. This is a wall in our neighborhood that has been decorated in pottery. I think it rocks!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Drought-tolerant beauty

Furman Park

A couple of months ago, we wrote about a volunteer effort to spruce up the landscaping at Furman Park with drought-tolerant plants.

Now, with a couple month's growth and the golden light from the setting sun, it's a beautiful sight.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You've been flocked


In a new spin to fundraising, you can now arrange to have your friends' houses "flocked"—held hostage by a flock of pink flamingos.

Flamingos Soroptimist signThe flamingos arrive when no one is looking, along with a note on how they can be removed. The removal fee is $50. I suspect you also have to pay when you arrange the flocking. And while you're at it, you might as well buy the optional insurance (another $25) that will ensure that you are not flocked in return.

All proceeds from all this flocking go to the various charitable projects that are supported by Soroptimist International of Downey.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Everybody needs milk


Okay, so I was in the moo-d for more yard art.

I found cows "grazing" in someone's front yard. I don't know if this family used to work at the local Rockview Dairy or if they just like cows, but I thought they were fun and wanted to share them on DDP.