Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bustling downtown

Downey Farmer's Market ladies eating lunch

Downtown Downey was bustling with activity this Saturday morning.

Downey Farmer's Market lunchLet's start at the farmer's market. When you think about a farmer's market, you usually think about fruits and veggies and eggs. And as you can see below, there were a lot of those being sold.

But on the other side of the street, there are the prepared-food vendors, where I picked up some of my favorite coffeecake from the Tropicana stall. And at the end of the street, the ladies above were enjoying an early lunch from (I think) the Greek food stall.

More about the bustle tomorrow...

Downey Farmer's Market stalls

Friday, August 30, 2013

Secret garden


Do you ever wonder about what's beyond the gate? I so want to think there is a secret garden, or maybe a rabbit's hole to another land.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Every house has a story


I was out looking for some pictures the other day and saw these bunnies. I couldn't pull over right away because of a car behind me so I had to go around the block. When I got back on the bunny street I wasn't sure which house they were at so I parked the car and started up the sidewalk. At each house I passed I didn't find the bunnies, but I found something worth photographing. It reminded me of what my wife always says, "Every person has a story." Today I saw that, "every house has a story."

DSCN1341So for today I'll show you the bunny house, they're hiding, and the wishing well house, notice the missing bricks. I'll save the others for another day.

Have you written down your story?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Imagine the possibilities


Last week we looked at several vacant buildings here in Downey. We showed how they can invite non-owners to use the property for purposes other than what the owner had intended.

DSCN1327Today I wanted to show you that a vacant building can be changed into a beautiful place of business given the right person with a little imagination. Uyuky is just such a person. She has taken an empty shell of a building and transformed it into an inviting retreat.

The POSH hair and makeup studio is lined with comfortable chairs for its customers and a makeup studio complete with right angle mirrors.

"They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea."
~Francis Bacon

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A quiet moment

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I spent some time at this "pond" on Sunday. It was beautiful and peaceful. There were hundreds of dragonflies of different colors buzzing around the lily pads and bees making themselves at home.

IMG_8776 as Smart Object-1It was also dinnertime for the koi fish living here. Koi are such interesting-looking fish. According to Japanese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would become transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, the koi became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.

It reminded me of a koi experience we had years ago on vacation. A koi was plucked out of a pond by a bird. The koi struggled so much the bird dropped him on the ground, right in front of my daughter. She didn't hesitate for a minute. She scooped up the koi and tossed him over a hedge that separated us from the pond. Hearing the splash of him landing in the water, we were sure he was some amazing fighting koi.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Watching the sun set

Palm trees at sunset

The palm trees that line Rives Avenue stand like sentinels watching the sun disappear over the Pacific.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

One man's trash


Not everything will fit into a trash can. When that happens, in Downey you have two choices. You can call the trash company and arrange for a large-item pickup. It's free, but it requires some advance planning and a phone call.

Or, you can put your large item out in the alleyway. There are very few items that won't be picked up within a day by someone scrounging for a deal, thus proving the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Long shadows

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My favorite time of day is when the sun is low in the sky. The colors are always so much stronger and I love how long shadows can be.

"Like our shadows, our wishes lengthen as our sun declines."
~ Edward Young

Friday, August 23, 2013

Burgers rule!


The slogan of the Burger City Grill on every wall and picture is "Burgers Rule." And while I totally and completely agree, I couldn't help but be thoroughly impressed with their drink dispenser.

IMG_2163[1]Maybe I don't get out much, but I've never seen anything like it! All digital, you pick your drink of choice from a menu and then submenu and viola! A hundred different choices, right at your fingertips and one nozzle.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taking advantage


I showed you yesterday a vacant building on Firestone that used to be used as an Arby's fast food restaurant. The thing about vacant buildings is that the owners usually do not have an incentive to keep up the property. Thus the "abandoned" look of the property.

DSCN1317Because it does look abandoned, some people will take advantage of the situation and use the property for their own purposes without fear of being caught. Above I see a blanket in an alcove of the building, probably used for sleeping quarters during the night. It allows for some privacy and limited exposure to the elements.

Others will use the property for a wide open trash can.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Abandon ship


The other day Pam showed you an abandoned building here in Downey so I thought I would show you another. It isn't that we are full of them but it is interesting how an abandoned building will take on a personality of its own.

DSCN1319As you can see, this use to be an Arby's restaurant. They have taken care to board up all the windows and doors. They also removed the electrical boxes.

It's a good location, being across from the Stonewood shopping center, so I'm sure it will be occupied soon.

Tomorrow I'll show another use for an abandoned building.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


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One of the things I like about Furman Park is all the activity going on. This day, I watched these young boys practice. They were working really hard, but they were also having fun.

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"No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference."
~ Tommy Lasorda

Monday, August 19, 2013

Going, going...


All the other buildings have been razed. These administration buildings are all that's left of the site of Downey's aeronautic history, from the first airport in 1929, through Consolidated Vultee Aircraft in 1943, to the various aeronautics companies that worked on the Apollo, Saturn, and space shuttle programs. Eventually, this will be the Tierra Luna Marketplace.

Vultee-RockwellThe administration buildings are supposed to be preserved as historical landmarks. I thought that meant all these buildings that are still standing. However, I noticed this weekend that most of them are falling into disrepair—broken and boarded-up windows are what stand out now.

I don't know what the plans are for these buildings. But I will be very sad if all this construction means losing the old Vultee logo that graces the floor of the round building above. (Click here to see the building and logo as it appeared a year and a half ago.)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Broken windows

Urban decay

The "broken windows" theory holds that if a city doesn’t fix its broken windows and graffiti, the environment will continue to descend into crime, chaos and violence. So the appearance of a lot of broken windows recently was a little discouraging to me.

But in spite of that, urban decay like this holds a powerful draw to a photographer, with its opportunity to discover something of beauty in the midst of the decay. We've explored this idea before, in the old Rancho Los Amigos buildings (here and here).

So, today, here's what drew me in. Tomorrow, I'll show you more of the decay, along with the location.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rainbow blessing

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It had been a long day at work. When I have those days, I often come home and spend some time outside in the yard, just puttering around to relax.

As I was watering some plants with the hose, I realized that the combination of the water and the angle of the sun caused this beautiful little rainbow for me. It was a fun blessing for my afternoon and a good reminder of the beauty that is often around us if we have the eyes to "see" it.

"May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.
May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows,
and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder."
~ American Indian Cherokee Blessing

Friday, August 16, 2013

Park view


I'm so jealous of the people who have the backyard gates leading right to the park. I only live a few blocks away, but if I were there, I could pretend the whole park was mine.

Sitting on one of the benches today was so relaxing. It was nice in the shade and I didn't do anything for a while but watch the wind blow by.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Practice games


Went to Apollo Park this evening to see if I could see some softball games. Tonight was soccer practice though, so I went over to the indoor gym to see if I could see some basketball games, but it was girls' volleyball practice. Then I went out to the outdoor basketball courts to find some "pickup" games. I had a hard time getting a non-blurry shot but finally got the above shot.

DSCN1309I also went over to the baseball diamond to find these people practicing ground balls. This is Alan Trejos, who is going to San Diego State to play baseball.

To be captivated


I'm back from vacation in Cayucos, California, which I shared with you last week. As I said then, the city of Cayucos is just north of Moro Bay. You can see Moro Rock in the distance sticking out of the ocean. Moro Rock was spit out of a nearby volcano, about 10 miles away, to its present resting place just off shore.

DSCN1277This beach spans the full length of the city of Cayucos and is several miles long. At low tide, it is one of the most peaceful ways to take a walk I know of. And even with an arthritic hip, I will walk a couple of miles and not take my mind off the beauty of the ocean. There are some places in this world that are that captivating.

Of course, it helps to have a spectacular sunset and the love of your life beside you.

Where do you like to get away? To be captivated?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birds of a feather

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I passed this yard the other day and couldn't resist. They had so many fun things in their yard. It is almost a garden in itself...all of the fun, random pieces that make up the whole design.

More to come...

"Beauty is the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole"  ~ Leon B. Alberti

Monday, August 12, 2013

The smallest park

Temple Park

A corner of grass and a few trees. That's all you need to make a park. Add a slide, a few swings, and a couple of benches from which to watch the kids play, and you have the perfect afternoon resting spot.

Temple Park is another of those Downey parks that are buried out of sight. Even though it's been around since 1968, I didn't even know it existed until this week. At .5 acres (or the equivalent of the two houses that it displaced), it is the smallest of Downey's parks.

Temple Park plaqueSeveral of the parks I've visited have a plaque commemorating the opening of the park. These plaques have served as a kind of time capsule of our city government. In this one, you'll see that, in 1968, Thomas H. Morton was mayor and Scott E. Temple was mayor pro-tem. I couldn't find any information on the naming of the park, but I think it's a good bet that the park was a pet project of Mr. Temple and was therefore named in his honor.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Crawford Park

Crawford Park

Some of Downey's Parks are so hidden away that most Downey residents will never know about them. One such park is Crawford Park.

Crawford ParkCrawford Park is located in a residential neighborhood that borders the Rio Hondo riverbed. Its main claim to fame, for me, is that it provides a place to park and easy access to the walking and bike trail along the riverbed. But it also has a small kids' play area, and a wide-open field that's great for an informal football or soccer game.

It's always fun finding out where the names come from. Crawford Park is named for one of Downey's original residents. According to the Downey website, "It was no coincidence that one of the first buildings in the new town [in the 1870s] was the Christian Church. Prominent among the early members of the church was Matson Duke Crawford, agent for John G. Downey and attorney for the Downey Land & Improvement Association. Crawford arranged for the church to acquire the lot on the corner of Fourth and New Streets. The construction of the church marked the beginning of the present downtown." (The current Downey Avenue was originally named Crawford Street.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Where music dwells...

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I posted about these guys a couple of years ago. These are a set of busts set in front of a house. I think they're great. As I passed them the other day, I realized they had been repainted since I last posted.

IMG_8658 as Smart Object-1"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."
~ Plato

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Friday, August 9, 2013

It's all in how you look at it


Please tell me I'm not alone in this fantasy of wanting to live downtown in a giant loft apartment with friends. Downstairs is a coffee shop and next door is a bakery. You're walking distance from any restaurant in town. It's a big city dream in a small town setting. This "available" office building would be perfect. Does anyone want to buy it and then rent it out to a dreamer?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A quiet hideaway

cayucos 8-9-13

Just 200 miles north of Downey on the California central coast, just past Moro Bay, is the town of Cayucos. Bonnie and I will be spending a few days here to celebrate our anniversary.

Cayucos was founded in 1867 by Capt. James Cass as a business venture. He built a pier, you can see it in the background, to export local goods and import necessary goods for the growing population of the central coast. It has long ago been replaced by other piers in larger towns so today it is used only by walkers, fishermen, and photographers. We come here for the miles of walking beaches and just to watch the ocean. Sometimes, we spot dolphins.

Where do you go for a retreat?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Downey Symphony Orchestra


Tonight's concert at Furman Park featured the Downey Symphony Orchestra directed by Sharon Lavery, Music Director. We heard several John Williams movie scores including Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. There was a tribute to the military where they played the theme song for each branch and had those that were serving, had served, or had relatives that served in that branch to stand up when your theme song was played. I loved the young children that were brought and how they played by acting out the music.

This is Ashley and Janette, who work with the Downey Civic Theater that hosts the Downey Symphony Orchestra during their performance season. You can check out upcoming performances of the symphony here and the theater here.

DSCN1235This baritone horn caught my eye because it has four valves, one is being pushed down, rather than the usual three.

DSCN1239During the concert, some of the Downey Junior princesses go among the spectators and sell raffle tickets. I think it develops in them the confidence and composure to speak with others. Not everyone said yes.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

National Night Out

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The first Tuesday in August has been recognized by communities around the country as National Night Out. In the interests of increasing community spirit and enhancing crime prevention awareness, Downey had its own first annual National Night Out.

IMG_8605 as Smart Object-1Home Depot had a booth and was giving away free plants.  (I picked up a habanero plant.) The fire station had all sorts of equipment out that they were demonstrating (mostly for the kids), and there were bike safety demonstrations. It was a pretty good turnout and everyone seemed to have a good time.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Pointing the way

Furman Park Health Trail start

Some day, Furman Park is going to have a new state-of-the-art walking path instead of a dirt path that sometimes turns muddy. But for now, just in time for Walking Wednesdays with the Mayor, new signs along the Health Trail point the way to better health through regular exercise.

Furman Park Health Trail turn 1This first new sign (above), with its aerial view of the Health Trail, answers a question that has long been on my mind. It turns out that it takes two trips around the park to walk a mile (or 1.1 miles to be precise).

At right, the yellow sign (along with several others at key points) answers a question that I don't think I've ever asked—do I need to turn here to stay on the path? I guess it's a helpful sign to those who are new to the park.