Monday, June 30, 2014

More than just a pretty face


As Joan mentioned last week, there are 61 orphans at the Missao para Juventude orphanage in Mozambique--a jumble of arms, legs, and faces. Who can tell so many kids apart?

But by the end of the week, when we had to say goodbye, those faces had names and personalities attached to them. Here are two of my favorite three-year-old girls.

Tereza (left) and Aila are a couple of characters! They love to play catch, or push cars back and forth, or just hang out. Tereza lilkes to say "One, two, three, go!" before her turn. They can both say their ABCs and count to ten, and will do so often. When they started saying their ABCs before each ball toss, it really slowed the game down! Aila loves to tease, and you can almost see that twinkle in her eye and the beginning of a smile.

And that's just two of them!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New places


I love being a part of Downey Daily Photos. It creates opportunities for me to see places and people I would not have otherwise seen. When I was taking the pictures of the electrical boxes painted as train engines, I had to park my car in a shopping area I had never parked in before. I never knew this Peruvian restaurant existed, but now I'm intrigued and will have to check it out.

DSC_0269This is Burns Avenue, which runs east to west along the railroad tracks between Paramount Blvd and Old River School Road. It is just behind the shopping area and I've never driven on it before.

Have you ever found a "best place" by accident?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Right around the corner


The Fourth of July is just around the corner and these fireworks stands are popping up all over town. This one is just around the corner from us. Downey allows the organizations that run these stands to sell fireworks from July 1 to July 4. Some organizations will clear 90% of their annual budget from those four days.

This stand is empty now, but on June 30 it will be filled with explosive excitement.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Missao para Juventude, Mozambique

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We are currently in Mozambique at an orphanage that also has a private community school. The orphanage is green and quite beautiful and the children here will steal your hearts. The official name is Missao Para Juventude, but it is really home to 61 orphans. It is supported through an organization in the US that was set up by some friends of ours. The organization is called CFO Mozambique (Caring for Orphans, Mozambique).

IMG_9092 as Smart Object-1Here you see a class of toddlers with their teacher, along with Erin (our friend from the States who has made this place her home for many years now).

Below is Barbara with her class of preschoolers. Everyday they come outside to sing and dance. Barbara leads them and they sing back to her shouting loudly with their little voices.
The school has drawn in many community students and is up to 187 who attend school here.

Since the building we are staying in is connected to the class room, every morning we are treated to hear them chanting their lessons....A, E, I, O, U...among other things.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ordinary into extraordinary


I just noticed these paintings on the electrical boxes for the Union Pacific Railroad last week on my way to the Rio Hondo golf club. I was going out this evening to take some pictures when my wife showed me some pictures posted by Mario Guerra on Instagram of the same objects. I wanted to see the boxes up close so I went anyway and then decided I would post my photos also. This one is on the east side of Old River School Road just south of Firestone Blvd. You can see a lock in the middle that is painted to fit in with the rest of the scheme. What detail.

DSC_0265This red one is on the diagonal corner to the yellow one.

It is a great talent to turn a cold gray box into a colorful piece of art. Thanks, Downey, for commissioning these paintings.

“You must always believe that life is as extraordinary as music says it is.”
~ Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Change that serves


There used to be three high schools in the Downey Unified School District, Downey High School, Warren High School, and Columbus High School. But three was too many, so Columbus was converted to a continuation school and now houses Downey Adult School (DAS). One program at DAS allows people who never graduated from high school to train and take the General Educational Development tests. Once they pass these tests they receive their high school equivalency certificate.

20140625_113443This is Minerva. She has been helping students pass the GED test for a long time at DAS. She is a pillar of the program.


The rest of Columbus is dedicated to helping adults be trained in a career. Massage therapy, dental assistance, pharmacy technician, and make-up academy are a few of the programs they offer. Check out these and many more here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Home on the range


Just under 40 miles east of Downey is the Prodo Olympic Shooting Park in Chino Hills. My sons took me there for Father's Day this past weekend. It's one of the benefits of living in Downey, being so close to so many activities.


Spent casings were everywhere


Sometimes even the most docile person can become a "Pistol Packin' Mama."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Eat more lamb!

Greek Food Festival 2014

I finally realized this year that the Greek Food Festival really is all about the food! Sure, there's dancing and carnival rides, and fun stuff to buy. But the food is the thing.

Greek Food Festival 2014Greek Food Festival 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pizza box art

Downey Mosaics

A recent display at the Stay Gallery featured this one-day exhibit made by 4th and 5th graders using paper mosaics on pizza boxes. The images represent iconic places in Downey, many of which we have photographed for Downey Daily Photos.

I like this version. Wouldn't these make a great set of Downey postcards or kitchen magnets?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

None forgotten...none left behind

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The Leathernecks came through downtown Downey!

IMG_7906 as Smart Object-1 The Leathernecks is a motorcycle club is a proud and distinct organization of active duty and former Marines and FMF Corpsmen that stands apart from other motorcycle clubs. Their website explains that like the Marines, they stand ready to defend our country and our allies against tyranny.

Semper Fi

Friday, June 20, 2014

Politicians and babies

Councilman Mario Guerra

What is it with politicians and babies! Usually, it just means a photo op during election year.

But in this case, it means City Council Member (and past mayor) Mario Guerra and his new baby grandson, Bennett Mario. Also joining them for lunch at Joseph's Bar and Grill were more of the Guerra family, along with Mayor Fernando Vasquez and Council Member Alex Saab.

This is the kind of photo op I can appreciate!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Change that honors IV


The last in my series of middle schools in Downey is Griffiths Middle School, which was originally named North Middle School. I've been looking for websites with information about the name change but couldn't find anything. The school's web site is here.


As you can see from the marquee above, school is out for the summer. The bleachers are empty.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Change that honors III


There are four middle schools in the Downey Unified School District. They started out as North, South, East, and West Middle Schools. North Middle School was the first to have its name changed, to Grifffiths Middle School (more on that tomorrow).

East had its name changed this school year to Wendy Lopour Doty Middle School after the much loved and respected superintendent who recently retired.


It's a good thing the mascot of the school wasn't tied to the name "East."

Make Music Downey: A couple of last views

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One of the fun things about Las Cafeteras was their exuberant approach to the music. It was entertaining to watch them perform.

IMG_7899 as Smart Object-1As we moved on, we found a group playing in the Downey First Baptist Chapel. Evidently, it was music to soothe these big dogs, who were enjoying the afternoon entertainment.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”
― Plato

Monday, June 16, 2014

Make Music Downey: The musicians part 2

Make Music Downey Geoff and Scarlett

Over by Porto's Bakery, husband and wife Geoff and Scarlett more than held their own against the nearby traffic noise, while Joe Matzzie (left) and Gary E (right) entertained on Downey Avenue and in the Stay Gallery.

Make Music Downey Joe MatzzieMake Music Downey Gary E

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Make Music Downey: The musicians part 1

Make Music Downey Las Cafeteras Denise Carlos

The musicians were scattered in nine locations around downtown Downey, most of them within easy walking distance from the main stage at the Civic Center.

When I stopped by, the main stage was occupied by Las Cafeteras, who formed as a band in 2008 with the purpose of documenting the histories of their neighborhoods through music. They started as students of the Eastside Café in East Los Angeles. Pictured above is Denise Carlos, who performs vocals, jarana, zapateado, and glockenspiel.

Make Music Downey Shy but FlyyMake Music Downey Taylor Crawford

Other performers included Shy But Flyy (left), who has been making her presence known in the music world since 2006. Many know her for her musical talents, but others know her as the Radio Host on “Flyy Radio” where she interviewed up-and-coming rappers, singers, and authors. Taylor Crawford (right) is currently working on her first EP with producer Mack Damon, back in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

And last, I don't have a single picture, but I have to mention that the morning started with the first annual Tour de Downey, a 35-mile ride to Shoreline Village in Long Beach or, for the more novice bicycle riders, a 6-mile loop around the city.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Make Music Downey

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Today was the second "Make Music Downey" event. It was a fun day with bands and groups spread around downtown Downey in a variety of venues from the Civic Center to Porto's Bakery. We enjoyed the beautiful afternoon as we walked around and listened to a variety of music.

IMG_7911 as Smart Object-1"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." 
~ Berthold Auerbach

Friday, June 13, 2014

Go Kings go!

Go Kings

I've been a Kings fan since the early 1970s, when the Kings were a relatively new team playing in the Forum in Inglewood, and two midweek tickets with the Ladies' Night discount cost only $5 total.

Wins were rare back then and the Stanley Cup was merely a dream. But not tonight, when the LA Kings' Alec Martinez scored and the Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime to win the 2013-14 Stanley Cup.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Change that honors II


Yesterday I told you about West Middle School being renamed to Stauffer Middle School. This is Sussman Middle School, which used to be South Middle School but was renamed to its current name in honor of a previous Downey Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Sussman. My children went to South while it was in transition. Luckily the initials stayed the same.

DSC_0005They also kept the mascot the same. You can read about our Downey schools here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Change that honors


Downey has a long history of supporting our children through education. Because of her long history of being a part of that support, Mary Stauffer is going to be honored this coming fall by having West Middle School renamed to Stauffer Middle School in her honor. The Downey Patriot has the story here.

The 96-year-old Dr. Stauffer has given over $5 million to support the schools and students in Downey. The foundation she founded assures that the giving will continue even after she retires for good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a beautiful, old Catholic Church located in the center of Downey. We've posted about it a number of times. One of my favorite things about the church is the overall setting. Even though it is surrounded by very little land, it has managed to create a sense of space and tranquility. This statue adds to the setting.

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." 
The prayer of St. Francis

Monday, June 9, 2014

And the winners are...

3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition First Place

First place winner at the 3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition is this up-close-and-personal shot by Cristina Contreras. This is one of those pictures where you're tempted to say, "Lucky shot—right time, right place." But luck like that doesn't just happen, and this is a great example of a photographer taking advantage of one of those lucky moments and turning it into a great picture.

3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition First PlaceSecond place winner, and my personal favorite, goes to this portrait by Nathaniel Alvarez. This shot proves the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Look closely, and you'll understand the sadness in those eyes. 

3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography ExhibitionIt's hard to resist taking pictures of what you enjoy looking at, even when you look at them every day. This is George Redfox, photography teacher at Warren High School. He is admiring the third place winner (whose name, I apologize, I didn't get), whose fun shot of an old-fashioned Coca Cola bottle shows that even everyday objects make good subjects.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Photography on exhibit

3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition

Friday night was the opening night of the 3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography Exhibition at the Stay Gallery. There was quite a crowd there, mostly young people, when I stopped by just after the exhibit opened.

3rd Annual Downey & Warren Photography ExhibitionThis mom and daughter closely examined each photograph. I think there were some lessons going on there. I hope she's a budding photographer!

Tomorrow I'll show you my favorites.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

On this day, I thee wed

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We attended a wedding at Saddlerock Ranch and Vineyards in Malibu today. It was an amazing setting and a wonderful day. The flower girls were adorable as they dropped rose petals along the aisle.

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IMG_6276"This day I will marry my best friend,
the one I laugh with,
live for,
dream with,

~ Anonymous