Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday delivery

Sunday USPS delivery

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow...nor Sundays...will keep the post office from delivering your packages from Amazon.

It's not at all unusual these days to see the small post office delivery trucks parked around town on a Sunday morning. This is because Amazon made a deal with the U. S. Post Office, back in 2013, to deliver Amazon's packages on Sundays and holidays. So don't be surprised at your next Sunday delivery.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The People's Car

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While it is not Herbie, this Beetle is a classic. I noticed it on a morning walk recently. Since I haven't posted about yard art in some time, and it appears to be semi-stationary, I decided this cute bug qualified as yard art.

The Bug has quite a history. The Volkswagen Beetle, (aka the Volkswagen Bug), is a two-door, four-passenger, rear-engined economy car. Conceived by Hitler, designed and built by Porsche, the People's car was to get 40 mpg and cost around $250. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

While I have never owned one, it is one of those cars I have always liked and wished I had. It is small, but scores high on my "cuteness factor" scale. I might even consider one for a special decorative touch in my yard. Of course, I would probably have to have it filled with plants. Can't you just see the nasturtiums trailing out of the windows?

"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."
~ Doug Larson

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pizza box art

Stay Gallery 2nd Annual  Pizza Box Exhibition

Bianca Herrera, a student at Old River Elementary School, is proudly posing for a picture next to her pizza box mosaic.

Her mosaic of McDonald's is, according to the Stay Gallery where they were on display, one of "70 student mosaics on display today for the opening of our 2nd Annual Pizza Box Exhibition. Using old magazines and newspapers and donated pizza boxes as their canvases, elementary school students interpreted their favorite Downey icons."

When I commented to Valentin Flores, the Stay Gallery director, that these mosaics were really good, he replied, "We have a lot of talent in our Downey kids."

The exhibition was a hit with parents and students alike, and it was rare to see only a couple of kids in front of a section of the display.

Stay Gallery 2nd Annual  Pizza Box ExhibitionStay Gallery 2nd Annual  Pizza Box Exhibition

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Humans of Downey - Peter


"I've been volunteering for the Downey Junior Athletic Association (DJAA) for the past 16 years and I probably volunteer my time about 38 hours a week. I just love watching the kids play. Now my grandsons are born, I'm going to have them play. One of them is going to start next year and I'll enjoy watching him play.

"I played in DJAA in the 70s, then my son played. He was on the Cardinals. When my grandsons play, that will be three generations that have grown up being trained by DJAA."
~ Peter

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Humans of Downey - Joe


"I served in the military, in the army. My son is serving in the military also. I was a supply specialist and served at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Fort Lee, Virginia. It taught me discipline, self-respect, and camaraderie. It has helped me in my coaching and being an umpire.

"The hardest part of being an umpire is dealing with the parents. I guess that's it really. The kids are cool but the parents get a little too into it."
~ Joe

Personal note: It turns out that Joe was one of my son's coaches back when he was on the Tigers in the Downey Junior Athletic Association (DJAA). It's a small Downey world.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Memorial Day ceremony

Pride. I saw a lot of it at yesterday's Memorial Day ceremony at the Downey Cemetery.

There was our pride in the veterans who were recognized, when we stood in a standing ovation to honor them.

Memorial Day veteranThere was the veterans' pride in having served our country, shown by the little things like this car flying its American flags, and the veterans who proudly wore caps signifying their service.

And the students who participated for the first time this year. The kids from the Aspire program from Williams Elementary (my alma mater!) sang God Bless the U.S.A:
"And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the ones who died
Who gave that right to me."
And the middle school student who read her excellent essay "What Memorial Day Means To Me." It meant being proud of those who served, and those who gave their lives.

Memorial Day ceremony Memorial Day ceremony

"And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land—God bless the USA."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Living in liberty

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White crosses are scattered around the cemetery. These are the veterans we are here to remember. As I walked across the grass to attend the Memorial Day service today, I was thinking of those brave individuals. 1.8 million have given their lives for America since 1775. And some of them are buried right here in Downey.

IMG_4769Today I found grave stones from those who served in the Civil War (both sides), the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember the fallen, those who gave their lives so that we might live with freedom and liberty. It is important that we take time to be intentional about honoring these fallen heroes and not forget their sacrifice.

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"On this Memorial Day, we honor the sacrifices of prior generations. We honor the sacrifices of the men and women next door who have served or continue to serve our country. And we pledge never to forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. We would not have the privilege of celebrating this day and honoring so many memories without the sacrifices of those who gave their last full measure of devotion." 
~ Walter Borneman

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Upside down and around

Memorial Day carnivalMemorial Day carnival

Theme parks like to drop you from great heights, so that your heart ends up in your throat. Carnivals, on the other hand, seem to delight in turning you upside down, so that your heart ends up in your stomach—if you're lucky. And when they're not turning you upside down, they're flinging you around in circles until you can't walk straight.

This carnival is an annual event at Downey High School, and this year, the rides are crazier than ever. The camera provides a great excuse to avoid any unpleasantness. "I have to stay on the ground, to take your picture," I tell my daughter, who is pictured in two of these three rides.

Memorial Day carnival

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spring-time blooms

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Downey has these beautiful trees called Jacarandas that bloom with amazing lavender-colored flowers. While they make excellent shade trees, their real appeal comes from their fragrant trumpet-shaped blossoms. For a couple of months a year, they look like an explosion of purple. Some of my favorite streets in Downey are lined with these trees.

20150519_095159 as Smart Object-1In reading about the trees, I found that they are not native to California, but were planted in the late 1890s by a horticulturist in Balboa Park (San Diego), and since have spread all over the state.

"I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, May 22, 2015

Little boys

Boys with trucks

While the big boys play a game of pick-up basketball, what do the little boys do? They drive around in their John Deere tractor.

"Tractors, trucks, and toys, there's nothing quite like little boys."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Humans of Downey - Daniel and Isaiah


"I coached for 15 years and I won a championship almost every year. But the main thing is is to be able to see those little nuances that most people don't see. I describe it like this, it's kind of like Michelangelo the painter, you are born with the talent to draw or paint. It's the same thing in a ball player. I see things in sports, I see things that make an excellent athlete. It's hard to describe.

"For instance, I tell my grandson, Isaiah, there's very few American ballplayers in the pros as opposed to say Caribbean players. The number one detriment to the American player is the level swing. You see, when you have an object coming straight at you and your bat has to meet it straight, that's very hard to do. But if you do like the Caribbean players or some of the American players like Chris Bryant, you drop the bat down on the ball. It's like a tennis swing, You're not supposed to swing like this, level with the ground, you're supposed to drop the barrel and lift it.

"That's what the kids aren't doing. If you look at every kid out there, they're swinging level. I taught my grandson, 'Don't swing level. This is the swing you should have. The bat goes down and your hands come up. That way, your bat is doing the work.'

"They don't understand that here in America, very few ball players make it. Even though we have a collegiate system that turns out maybe 1,000 ball players each year, they still don't outperform the Caribbean players. And it's because of the level swing."
~ Daniel

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Humans of Downey - Jim


"One unique thing about me is that I'm a heck of a fisherman. I'm a tournament fisherman. I come from a long line of champion anglers who were record holders, IGFA record holders. I have competed for many many years and I've won multiple titles. I've done both fresh water and salt water."
~ Jim

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drought conditions

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According to we are living through one of the most severe droughts on record. In fact, this past January a drought state of emergency was declared.  And, Downey has not escaped.

20150519_094505 as Smart Object-1I have noticed more flower beds in Downey that have the look of becoming "drought tolerant." The county of Los Angeles defines drought tolerant as a garden full of plants that can get by on rainfall alone.

According to the LA County handbook on "The Drought Tolerant Garden," fresh water is a valuable resource and our local supply is not being replenished. We bring in most of our water from other places, and the cost of that is very expensive. We currently use at least half of our drinking water to irrigate our lawns and gardens. By making our gardens more climate appropriate, we can have beautiful, lush gardens full of flowers, herbs, fruit, even grass and meadows, at a fraction of the water cost.

Today, I noticed this yard, which has a nicely done drought tolerant side section. One of the things that initially drew my attention was the sort of exterior trellis that surrounded this cactus—it is very inventive.

While the City of Downey encourages drought tolerant landscaping, there are some city codes you must follow. See the city site for more info.

"We never know the worth of water, til the well is dry." 
~ Thomas Fuller

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's all Greek

Marketplace Grill and Cafe

The Marketplace Grill and Cafe is not explicitly a Greek restaurant, but there are many Greek options in its menu, with saganaki, pita bread, feta cheese, and Greek salads.

So it's not surprising to see this poster in support of the upcoming Greek Food Festival (one of our favorite annual Downey events!) posted front and center.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday morning worship

Sunday morning musicians

It's not unusual during the spring and summer to see Sunday morning worship services being held in the park. Worship tends to come naturally in the peaceful surroundings and morning sunshine.

The sun wasn't very accommodating this Sunday morning, with a lot of clouds left over from our unseasonable rainstorms last week. But these three, Carlos, Carlos, and Jose (from left to right), were practicing their music anyway.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bloom where you are planted

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I didn't see the creative hands that worked to plant these imaginative "flowers." I simply came across the display while walking around Furman Park recently.

Now, some people would have walked past this and not even noticed. But, I think it is important to recognize and appreciate the ability of some people to take mud, a stick, and some color and be able to create something. I don't know who did it, but I wish I could thank whoever did, 'cuz it brought a smile to my face this morning.

"I must have flowers, always, and always" 
~ Claude Monet

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Honorable Del Clawson

Del Clawson Memorial

Near the Downey Civic Center flag poles is a small memorial to Del Clawson, who served eight terms (1963-1975) as our representative in the U. S. House of Representatives.

After his retirement, he lived in Downey until his death in 1992.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Humans of Downey - Fausto


"I chose Downey because it's a nice city to live in. I've been here now for fourteen years and I just like the area. People around here live in nice areas. Downey is coming up. The parks are in better condition, there are more shops in Downey than when I moved here fourteen years ago. A lot of people talk about Downey, that they want to move in to Downey.

"In my family there are six of us total. Three of my sisters live in Downey. They own houses. I have, how many, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 nephews in Downey. Everyone gets along here in Downey. My oldest sister moved here to Downey first and we all just followed."
~ Fausto

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Humans of Downey - Andres


"When I was three years old I got in a car accident. When I was four, I got in a major one. I'm hoping to not get in a third because they say, 'three strikes and you're out'."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A good workout

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I normally see people working out on the new exercise equipment at Furman as I am out walking my dog. This past week, I noticed a couple of guys just hanging out on the equipment, chatting. I like that the park is a social gathering place. Maybe having a conversation here is almost as good as the exercise itself.

"My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit." 
 ~ Phyllis Diller

Monday, May 11, 2015

Kitty in the window

Cat in the window

On a beautiful spring day in southern California, everyone wants to be outside. Even the cat.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day lines


In a scene replicated in every restaurant on this Mother's Day afternoon, lines go out the door as people wait to enjoy a meal with family. These patrons line up outside of the Tropicana Bakery and Cuban Cafe (one of our local favorites).

"Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever."
~ Author Unknown

Saturday, May 9, 2015


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Heading to Costco today, I passed McKenna BMW and noticed this Ultimate Driving Machine on the back side of the building. It certainly got my attention.  It also had me just a little concerned about how it got up there and what was keeping it from falling.

“Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects.”
 ~ Dave Barry

Friday, May 8, 2015


Drought-resistant landscaping

We live in a desert.

Drought-resistant landscapingThe only reason we have green grass and lush landscaping is because we pipe the water in. And now (in spite of yesterday's unusual May rainstorm), California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record.

Drought-resistant landscaping has been around for a long time, but I've noticed a definite trend around Downey toward saving water. This strip mall recently replaced their grass with this water-saving alternative.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Humans of Downey - Donell


"My mother, I'll use this particular quote she gave me when I was in between two situations at the same time. She said, 'You can't be in something and out of it at the same time.'

"I thought that was very good. My mother's been very caring and really fun. She influenced me to take on those traits. Like art and things like that, so I took on poetry. From my mother's side of the family we had musical people in our groups. She was a great influence on me by being a leader in our clubs when I was younger."
~ Donell

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The other zoo


I was walking through Stonewood Center and noticed these animals penned up. They were pretty active for that time of day, just hovering above the ground. I think they were waiting for someone to take them for a walk before dinner. I also think the bunnies were the leaders of the pack. They usually are.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Early morning at the LA Zoo


Downey doesn't have its own zoo, but the good thing for us is that the LA Zoo is relatively close. This Sunday morning they opened early for members only. It is the best time to go. Many of the animals were more active than usual.

One of my favorites is the cats. Hubert is a new lion for the LA Zoo. He and his mate Kalisa (who have been together for 10 years) came from a zoo in Seattle this past March. Hubert was quite active as was this Sumatran tiger, Castro Jr., who also recently came to the LA Zoo. They both seemed like they were ready for breakfast.

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IMG_4650 as Smart Object-1It was fun to watch some interaction with the giraffes. This zoo worker was feeding the giraffe branches with purple flowers on them.

And then, there was the bear. He was so cute and cuddly-looking. We watched him for a long time. He looks a little ferocious here, but he wasn't growling, he was actually yawning. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

The leaning thing

Leaning trees

My friends and I see a lot of life through the filter of movie quotes. And one of our favorites comes from a scene in While You Were Sleeping, where Jack and Lucy discuss the meaning of "leaning." Here's an abridged version of the scene. 
Lucy: What do you mean by "the leaning thing"?
Jack:  lt was a lot different than hugging. Hugging´s very different. Hugging, that involves arms and hands, and leaning is whole bodies moving in, like this. Leaning involves wanting...and accepting. Leaning--
Neighbor: Hey, Luce. ls this guy bothering you?
Lucy: No, no.
Neighbor: Are you sure? 'Cause it looks like he´s leaning.

Well, these trees are "leaning."

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Don't disturb those tenants!

Don't disturb sign

Until recently, this lot held a tire store called Just Tires. Now, it's an empty lot waiting for someone to build something new.

Meanwhile, don't disturb the squirrels! Or rats? Or mice?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A perfect night for a stroll

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Today I went to a friend's house for a housewarming and close to the end of the day, we decided it was time for a walk. Their charming house is in the Orange Estates.

For those of you who do not know, Orange Estates are the homes that are located around Furman Park. The old estate homes (1920s-1940s) are located between Rives Ave. and Paramount. The new estate homes (1950s and 60s) are located between Rives and Old River School Rd.  I just know it's a nice place to take an evening stroll with a few good friends.

"Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much."  
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 1, 2015

A tisket a tasket

May Day Kids from Rio Hondo

Today is May Day, and I got to be home when the kindergartners from Rio Hondo made their annual delivery of May Day bouquets. (You can read more here at May Day.)

May Day BouquetBoth sides of the street were filled with kids excited to be passing out the baskets that they had worked so hard on. Two boys knocked on my door, handed me this basket, and the whole group yelled "Happy May Day!"

Thanks, kids, for brightening up my day.