Monday, September 30, 2013

Through the garden gate

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It's been a while since I posted a gate picture. I find gates such as this one appealing and also hopeful. You start with a charming gate and you imagine there must be something special behind the gate.

I know I've used the quote before... but I really like it.

"Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate."
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The last days of summer

Refugio beach

I had every intention this weekend of taking pictures at the carnival at Warren High School. Carnivals, with their mix of lights and kids, are great fun for picture-taking. But...then I got sick.

So instead, I'll take you back to last week at Refugio State Beach, where I spent four days camping in the last few days of warm summer weather.

“It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy...Beach Therapy.”
~Amy Dykens

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pets with benefits

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IMG_9908I noticed these little "creatures" at the mall a couple of weeks ago and thought they were so oddly cute. It kind of looks like the zebra above is ready to make his escape.

It was fun to see how many of the kids were "walking" their animals around as their parents shopped. It's a great deal, true low maintenance feeding, no cleaning up after.

Today I came across this little girl attempting to tie her pet up to the gate surrounding the train.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Taking care of your bike

Downey Gateway bike rack

These bike racks make it fun to chain up your bike while you eat at the Downey Gateway.

"Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use."
~ Charles M. Schulz

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Aviation—now and then

NA Rotunda 1960s

The one thing you can count on with a city as old as Downey is that there will be visible change. Downey Historical Society has chronicled those changes at their website here.

For my birthday this year, my fellow DDP photographers gave me a deck of historical Downey postcards produced by the society. I thought I would try and recreate the pictures in a "then and now" series. This picture shows the North American Aviation rotunda from the 1960s.


Today the rotunda is vacant and unused. Downey Studios tried to revive the old buildings but they lasted only a few years. We'll have to wait and see what the new owners do with this building. I'll do another post when something changes.

Can you remember a building that was significant in your life? Is it still there?

"We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us."
~ Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The fruit of the land


Went out for a walk with my wife and passed this guy on a ladder picking something out of this tree. I stopped and asked him what he was doing and he said that he was picking gwachuie out of the tree. I'm sure I spelled it incorrectly but it is a Mexican sweet nut similar to the pistachio. His name is Crispan and I thought, "Here is something else that happens in Downey. Folks enjoying the fruit of the land."

Do you grow something in your yard that lets you enjoy the fruit of the land?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In a good light

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I noticed these new lights at Stonewood Center a week or two ago. They are so fun! They are made of plastic and twisted together and seem to give off a glow. It would sure be a great way to add some funky color to your room.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The cobbler

Shoe Express

cob·bler 1 (kblr)
1. a mender or maker of shoes and often of other leather goods

Earlier this month, I showed you a little shoe store in downtown Downey where you can buy new shoes. But where do you go when you  just need to get your shoes fixed?

This is Shoe Express, in Stonewood Center, where Kevin is busy at work repairing shoes. Kevin's father was a shoemaker in Sicily. When he came to this country, shoes were too expensive to make, so he went into the shoe repair business instead.

Kevin has continued in the family business, and was very helpful to me this week with the "other leather goods" part of cobbling.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's official

Fall colors

The calendar, the weather, and the trees all agree—it's fall in Downey.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tree stories

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Trees can be so interesting. This one is at Furman Park by the basketball court This particular evening, the sunset has given it a bit of a glow.  Looking at this tree made me wonder how old it is and how long people have been scratching their names on its bark? It has the feel of a landmark. It bears the history of the past in the names carved into the bark.

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."
~Kahil Gibran

Friday, September 20, 2013

The coastal fog

Shoreline Village fog

Downey is about 15 miles inland from the beach—just far enough that most days we are unaware of the layer of coastal fog just a few miles away.

Shoreline Village fogSuch was the case last Sunday morning. The sun was out and bright in Downey. Just a few miles south, at Shoreline Village in Long Beach, the sun was still bright overhead, but the low-lying fog was so dense that it was almost impossible to see shapes just 100 feet distant. A telescope is useless. The only safety lies in sound, and the warning sounds of the foghorns were constant.

Did you know that, to be called "fog,"  the resulting visibility must be less than 1 km? More than 1 km, and it's just misty out.

Shoreline Village fog

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Taste of Downey 2013


Tonight was the annual celebration of the restaurants of Downey called "Taste of Downey." We have written about previous years (2012, 2011, and 2010).

Tonight I concentrated on the Soroptimist International of Downey booth to learn more about this service group. According to their pamphlet, the "Soroptimists help women and children, and help to make the community a better place to live." They do this by giving scholarships, supporting organizations that support female college athletes, and providing assistance to women improving their lives by going back to school for their business degree. You can visit their website here or contact Beth Crawford at 562-756-0632.

DSCN1397The Soroptimists' booth served different beers and ales for a donation that they will use in serving others.
DSCN1398I found a group of women enjoying a night out doing their part to support the Soroptimists.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Country in the city


I was driving through one of Downey's neighborhoods recently when I turned a corner to find this beautiful home. It is surrounded by life. The front and side yards are teaming with green bushes that are showing off their flowers' colors for those willing to pause for awhile. I did and was rewarded with fifteen minutes of being transported to a small country cottage alive with reds and blues and purples. They have a wrap-around porch complete with wicker chairs and table. Oh to sit on that porch and sip my tea looking out on my acres of front yard.

"Words that soak into your ears and heart are whispered...not yelled."
~Author unknown

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mariachi fun

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Part of the celebration of Mexico's independence at Stonewood this weekend was a mariachi band. They were lively fun and the audience loved them!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Mary's birthday

See's Candy Store

When Charles See arrived in Los Angeles in 1921 and opened his first candy store, he chose a picture of his mother Mary to represent the quality and personality of his products. According to the company website, "Mary See died in 1939 at the age of 85, but the company's ability to adjust to changing times - without abandoning the passion for quality and service that Mary See represented - kept it going strong throughout the decades to come."

Now, nearly 100 years later, the See's Candies store in the Stonewood Mall has celebrated Mary See's birthday this past weekend with discounts on their fine chocolates. Yum!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Further in


Here at DDP, we seem to have a fascination with gates. Sometimes it's the gate itself. Other times, it's what's on the other side.

Most of the time, the gates we see are closed, and we are left to imagine the scene on the other side. But here, the open gate invites me and draws me further in.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fiestas Patrias

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Fiestas Patrias, a celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain. Stonewood Center sponsored this event with Folklorico dancers, mariachi music, contests, and food. My favorite were the dancers. They were colorful and fun to watch. Clearly they were enjoying themselves.

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Of course, the kids were adorable.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

It's time to head south

Canada geese at Furman Park

There are many signs that summer is over and fall is approaching. The days get shorter and cooler. School starts. But for me, the event that most signals the coming of fall is the appearance of geese migrating south.

Nearly every day this week, there has been a different flock of geese at Furman Park. They are attracted to the open spaces and puddles of water of the park as they make their way south for the winter.

Canada geese at Furman Park

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Downey welcome


Tonight, Downey was host to the Independent Cities Association (ICA) annual installation meeting at the Columbia Memorial Space Center. Our own Mayor Guerra will be President of the association this next year. You can see why Downey belongs to ICA by visiting their website here.

DSCN1376Trish Pietrzak, of Platinum PR, the organizer of the event, used local talent to enhance the gala affair. First, PCA management greeted you at the curb to provide valet service.

DSCN1384Next, the Downey High School Jazz Combo provided entertainment for the guests. Appetizers were hosted by Porto's Bakery and Cafe while dinner was prepared by Rio Hondo Event Center.
DSCN1393And Mayor Guerra made everyone feel welcome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never forget


Do you remember where you were that September day. I remember going into the family room to watch the morning news and being shown the first tower on fire. I thought, "What a terrible accident." Then I watched as the second plane flew directly into the second tower. I thought, "That was no accident" and my pity turned into anger. Then as the towers collapsed it turned into grief as I thought about all those people instantly dying.

DSCN1359This house's owner has created a scene to help us remember that even in the midst of an enemy attack, freedom still stands.

“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.”
~Rudolph Giuliani

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Soccer time

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Furman Park was full of kids tonight. Many of them were learning the sport of soccer. It was fun to watch them work hard and run until they were ready to drop.

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"The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn't move, kick it until it does.”
~ Phil Woosnam

Monday, September 9, 2013

Everyday surroundings

Alleyway gate

"Wonderful images are hiding almost anywhere, if you just look." This is the premise of the book I'm currently reading, Extraordinary Everyday Photography.

So I was looking the other day when I passed this gate in a concrete block fence. What I noticed was the contrasting horizontal and vertical lines mixed with the circles of the knotholes, and the grain of the wood next to the porous surface of the concrete.

It's fun to find the extraordinary in your everyday surroundings.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

It's the law

Old Gallatin Medical lotOld Gallatin Medical lot

For a couple of years, the empty lot of the old Gallatin Medical Group site has been surrounded by a netted chain link fence. (See What's coming?) But recently, the fence has come down, revealing the desolate empty lot behind it.

But for some reason, what really caught my attention in this new scene was the address signposts. It's the law that every structure assigned an address must have the address posted in a visible location. So I guess it makes sense that if you don't have a building to put your numbers on, you gotta put up a sign.

Old Gallatin Medical lot

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Punta Cana beauty

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A mere 3,200 miles away from Downey is Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Although Downey and Punta Cana share some similarities (a strong historical Spanish influence and a similar population of around 100,000), the similarity pretty much stops there.

IMG_1003 as Smart Object-120130901_155033 as Smart Object-1This tropical island is a beautiful vacation destination. The turquoise waters and the white sand beaches draw visitors from all around. It drew us. My daughter and I just got home from a week at a resort on the Bavaro shore and had a great time.

On one of our daily beach walks, we ran into this fisherman cleaning his daily catch. It was fun to watch the activity going on, but I love the sound of the surf, the constant blowing of the wind, and the water as it rushes over my feet.

"My life is like a stroll on the near to the edge as I can go."
~ Thoreau

Friday, September 6, 2013

I can see for miles

Panorama of San Pedro

It's incredibly hot in Downey right now. So hot that, to beat the heat, one must jump in their pool (or get to know your neighbors real well real fast if they have one). When even that doesn't work, we go to the beach!

In San Pedro you can see for miles on a good day. All the way from the Long Beach Ports to past Point Loma and inland you can see Big Bear and the Los Angeles skyline. You're at the outermost tip of our crescent here and only about 20 miles from Catalina Island. It is a really great view anywhere you look.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tree stories


Here's another yard with a story I found. This neighborhood used to be a lemon grove before it was subdivided into single-family homes over 60 years ago. So this tree has seen over 60 years of kids playing football and baseball in the street, maybe a swing or two on that horizontal branch. And how many birds have rested here for awhile?

DSCN1352And just down the street is this old tree that still has its swings.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two more yard stories


Last week I talked about walking down a neighborhood street and seeing a story at every yard. Today I want to share two more stories. The one above tells me that someone missed the driveway by just a little but not enough to knock down the palm tree. Or maybe the accident happened so long ago that they planted the palm tree after the wall was knocked down.

DSCN1337This one tells me that these owners want to be reminded to keep Christmas in their hearts all year long. It's actually on a post out front and not a door knocker.

"And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but Marley's face."
~A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens