Tuesday, June 30, 2015


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What a surprise it was to have rain this afternoon.

20150630_170756 as Smart Object-1I was outside and it felt so humid and tropical. Then came the rain. As I watched, the sun (which had been hidden behind the rain clouds) became more visible, trying to peek through...while it was still raining.

It has been so long since it has rained, I couldn't resist staying outside and soaking it up.

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." 
~ Roger Miller

Monday, June 29, 2015

The view from Burns Avenue

Railroad tracks

I grew up just a couple of blocks from these train tracks. I remember hearing the trains come through, but I don't remember ever thinking that the sound was a nuisance. In fact, I can hear the train passing through right now, while I write this, and the whistle and very faint sound of the wheels have a rather haunting sound.

The railroad tracks have always held a certain fascination for me, from their rustic looks and parallel lines to images of places to go and things to see.

There's something about the sound of a train that's very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.
~ Paul Simon

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Feed the can!

Flowerbed litter

I stopped the other day to take a picture of these colorful flowerbeds on a side street near downtown Downey. It was then that I noticed the litter.

"Feed the Can, Man! Cuz littering just isn't cool."
~ Sign in Nebraska

See the following image, from freejunkremovalquotes.com, for some eye-opening littering statistics.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Better prepared

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Just outside Downey, off the 5 freeway, I came across this business. I was so curious, I had to pull over and check it out. Their motto is "Better prepared than scared." Evidently, this is a thriving business: affordable underground shelters. I was intrigued by the idea. You can check out their website where they offer a visual tour of one of their bunkers.

You gotta admit, it is not your everyday business.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Codes of the City of Downey - Property


Here's a question for you home owners: who owns that land from the edge of the street up 10 feet toward your house?

Until Monday, I thought it was the property owner and the city had an automatic easement on that property to do necessary stuff like sidewalks, trees, waterlines, and so on. But I have since spoken with the city and found out that the city owns the street plus an additional 10 feet into my yard and driveway. I have the easement in order to maintain the property.

Whoa! what a mind opener. This is why I have to get a permit to alter any of the city's property in front of my property which, contrary to what I used to think, is 10 feet shorter.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Humans of Downey - Anthony


"I grew up in Downey and attended Downey High School. After I graduated, I was hired by the city. My mom was a hard-working, independent woman who even though she didn't have much education she succeeded because she loved what she did. She passed that on to me by both example and encouraging me to continue my education in things I love to do."
~ Anthony

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Danny Ramirez AYSO soccer

Danny Ramirez, 15, is heading for Hawaii! He and several other local AYSO teams will be competing in the Aloha International Cup in July.

AYSO playersThis will be Danny's second trip to Hawaii. The first time, his older sister was competing, and the family visited Maui. This time, they're going to Oahu, and Danny hopes to find time to visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. But mostly, he and his teammates want to play to win and have a good time.

The players were taking a break today so that a picture could be taken of all of the teams that are going to Hawaii to compete. To facilitate the picture-taking, the teams were lining up in height order.

AYSO players

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Time to warm up

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These guys were warming up, getting ready to play. When little kids wanna play, they are easy to motivate. They contort their bodies and stretch so that they can be warmed up, ready to hit home runs. It doesn't take much more to motivate them to win.

IMG_4787 as Smart Object-1The coaches, somehow, are a different story. As much as I'm sure they want to win, I don't see them spending much time warming up.

"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?" 
~ Vince Lombardi

Monday, June 22, 2015


Masonic Temple

Masons have been meeting in Downey since 1871. The current Masonic Temple is located in downtown Downey on Downey Avenue near Third Street. But that's not exactly where they started.

From the Lodge History web page:
The first meeting was held in 1871 in the Mercantile House of Frank E. Adams, on the southwest corner of Santa Gertrudes and College Avenue, now Paramount Boulevard and Alameda Street. Since the area was primarily an agricultural community with Downey as the shopping center, the meetings were held on the Saturday of or next preceding the full moon. This allowed the members who came to town by horse and buggy to do the shopping, stay for the meeting, and return home by the light of the moon.

In 1874, the Lodge moved to a building on the east side of Crawford Street (Downey Avenue), between First Street (Firestone Boulevard) and Second Street. In 1965, a new three-story Masonic Temple was built nearby, and the old building was torn down.

In 1883, the Lodge purchased a site for a Masonic Cemetery. The cemetery remained under the control of the Lodge until 1925, when it was deeded to the County of Los Angeles and became what we know as the Downey Cemetery.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Made me smile

Richard Make You Smile

Richard Schmieg and his friend were making a music video yesterday in downtown Downey near the Farmer's Market. It's called "Make You Smile," and as Richard said, what better way to make people smile than to dress up as a banana.

Richard is just one of many musicians who will be performing next Saturday at the third annual Make Music Downey festival.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Welcoming front porch

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Front porches are such an important part of a house. It's a downright American culture. I personally like porches, they add to the curb appeal. And, there is such a variety of design.  Porches can be wide or narrow, raised or ground level, wrap-around, two story, brick or wood, you name it.

Originally the porch was a gathering place for family, friends, and neighbors. It seems like now we don't spend so much time on our front porches, but have moved to back porches that have more privacy. While I appreciate the privacy of my back porch, it seems like we've lost a little piece of the community interaction that happens when you sit out front.

I do like that this porch has a comfy chair with a permanent sleeping kitten below.

"Nobody thought much about the front porch when most Americans had them and used them. The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time." 
~ Rochlin, The Front Porch, in Home, Sweet Home

Friday, June 19, 2015

School's out

Krikorian Theatre

School's out, and summer movies are in. What's the most popular movie tonight? Judging by the number of show times at the Krikorian Theatre, I'm betting that everyone is here for Jurassic World.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Survival lines

Tree bark

Sometimes, my pictures are taken in Downey but they could have been taken anywhere. They are just something that happened to catch my eye. Such was the case with this peeling tree trunk. Are these the wrinkles of old age, slowly but surely exposing the years below?

"These are not wrinkles. These are the survival lines of my life. Each one holds a story, a laugh or a memory. They are like snowflakes, no two are alike."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Landscapes in dry weather

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This week's Downey Patriot had an article on the mandatory water restrictions from the state of California. In response, the Downey City Council just adopted sweeping regulations limiting water usage at homes and businesses. Downey residents and businesses are expected to reduce water use by 20% from June 1 - Feb. 2016.

IMG_4901 as Smart Object-1We live in a desert and with the current drought conditions, it is becoming harder to maintain traditional landscaping. That's why I liked this house and what they had done to create not only a mix of green and drought-tolerant landscaping, but a truly unique, creative facade for their home.

"Home is where our story begins."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shadow tree

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Shadows are so interesting and make fun photos. I saw this 'tree' as I was coming home a couple of days ago and couldn't resist it.

"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." 
~ Martin Luther King Jr.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Soul Consoling Tower

Manzanar cemetery

Before I head back home, one last post from Manzanar. Here is an excerpt from one of the displays:
"Manzanar changed substantially between the day it opened in March 1942 and the day it closed in November 1945. Internees transformed the landscape with ponds and gardens. Families welcomed babies and mourned deaths. Schools educated students, internal security helped prevent crime, and the fire department extinguished fires. In its first anniversary issue, the Manzanar Free Press published an anonymous poem about the complexity of life at Manzanar:
    "Out of smiles and curses, of tears and cries, forlorn;
    Mixed with broken laughter, forced because they must...
    Out on the desert's bosom—a new town is born."

Manzanar cemeteryThe film and the displays at the visitor center show this new town. There are old photos showing how the internees created beauty out of nothing. There were gardens everywhere, both for food and for beauty. (The internees grew much of their own food.) But almost nothing of the original buildings and gardens is left—the only thing still standing (that is, not reconstructed) is the cemetery.

Also from the displays:
"The Japanese Kanji characters read 'Soul Consoling Tower.' Master stonemason Ryozo Kado, a Catholic, and Buddhist minister Shinjo Nagatomi designed this iconic monument as a permanent tribute to Manzanar's dead. Kado built the obelisk with the assistance of Block 9 residents and a young Buddhists' group, funded by 15-cent donations from each family in camp."

There are only six graves left in the cemetery, because most families of the deceased, after they got resettled, came back and moved the remains of their loved ones for reburial elsewhere.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Loyalty Questionnaire

Manzanar Loyalty QuestionnaireManzanar Loyalty Questionnaire

Beginning in February 1943, Japanese Americans in the war relocation camps had to answer a Loyalty Questionnaire. Question 27 asked young men if they would  be willing to serve in the U. S. Army. Question 28 asked people to forswear allegiance to Japan.

These were hard questions, even for loyal Americans. For Question 27, young men had to decide if they were willing to die for a country that was not allowing them the basic freedoms they were entitled to. For the Issei (first generation immigrants), answering "yes" would leave them without a country. For the Nisei (second generation American-born U. S. citizens), the question was resented because it implied an allegiance they had never felt.

At Manzanar, those who answered "no-no" to the two questions were separated from the others and moved to a different camp. So eventually, even though a "no-no" answer was taken as disloyalty to the U. S, the answers to these questions became more about protecting the Issei and keeping families together.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I'm lovin' it!

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There is a new McDonald's in town! Just a mile or so north of the oldest operating McDonald's, almost to the 5 freeway.  It is the first McDonald's I've seen with artwork statues adding to the landscaping. There is also a cool double drive-through with touch screens. I may have to test it out and order my fav—a McFlurry.

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"I went into a McDonald's yesterday and said, 'I'd like some fries.' The girl at the counter said, 'Would you like some fries with that?'"
Jay Leno

Friday, June 12, 2015

Manzanar War Relocation Center

Manzanar War Relocation Center

Fear. It's a powerful emotion that can protect us from danger, or sometimes just provoke irrational actions. Today, I visited the Manzanar National Historic Site north of Lone Pine (about 4 hours north of Downey), to see an example of what fear can do.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, fear swept the nation. This information from one of the displays at Manzanar describes what happened next: "In 1942, the United States government ordered over 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Two-thirds of them were born in America. Not one was convicted of espionage or sabotage. For 10,000 of them, Manzanar would be their new home."

It was a home that was suffocatingly hot in the summer, and bone-numbingly cold in the winter. It was a home with an amazing view of the majestic Mt. Whitney, but it was a view from behind the barbed wire that kept them there.

Manzanar War Relocation Center

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Humans of Downey - Justin


"Coming here was a big move for me, you see, I'm from Mississippi. It's a really interesting thing for me to move here, traveling 2,000 miles, no family around but I'm starting my new family.

"I moved out here to have a fresh start to raise my family ,'cause if they saw my family it would be a bad influence on them. I want something new and better for my children."
~ Justin

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Humans of Downey - Greg


"I grew up in the family business. I started at a young age. Since I went to school in the local area and Grandma ran the business, in order to have some play money to buy bikes, nice bikes, Grandma offered me to do services. You know, you sweep, take out the trash, you start learning the ropes of the business. That was when I was 13.

"Then when I graduated from high school, I came on full time to basically help her out and I've been here ever since. Grandma stepped aside and now I'm running the business that Grandma started in July, 1963.

"I've seen with my own eyes, two generations of families that have been coming here. God willing, we will continue to be here for the next generations. But when all this is said and done and I put the key in the door to close up, I hurry to get home to be the best dad I can be to my two children."
~ Greg, owner of Donna's Dry Cleaning and Laundry

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Saint George

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One of the traditional events of the Greek Food Festival is to visit the Greek Orthodox Church, Saint George's. An hourly tour is available during the Greek festival.

A relatively new church, it was established in 2002. It is beautiful inside and out.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Mutton chops

Greek Food Festival lamb

We've been posting about the Greek dancing and the Greek fabrics, but don't forget, the Greek Food Festival is, after all, about the food.

The cows get off easy, but the lambs, chickens, and pigs are roasting in huge quantities over the barbeque pits, and side dishes of moussaka, gyros, hummus, dolmathes, souvlaki, spanakopita, baklava, and more are ready to serve.

Greek Food Festival chicken

Greek Food Festival pork

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Greek fabrics

Greek Food Festival sale itemsGreek Food Festival sale items

The Greek Food Festival includes about a dozen booths selling Greek (and non-Greek) goods. My favorites are the dance costumes and the embroidered table clothes and linens, because the fabrics are so colorful and beautifully made.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

It's Greek to me

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Every year I love attending the Greek food festival! The food is yummy and the music and dancing are fun.

It is fun to see the crowd join in the traditional dances.

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Then, the kids come out and steal your hearts.

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"Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!" 
~ Constanze

Friday, June 5, 2015

Keep your eyes on the ball

Lost tennis ball

Tennis is one of those sports (not unlike golf) where you start out with lots of balls, and inevitably leave one behind.

"The primary conception of tennis is to get the ball over the net and at the same time to keep it within bounds of the court; failing this, within the borders of the neighborhood."
~ Elliot Chaze

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trees of Downey


Everywhere you look in Downey you will see trees. There are trees of all ages, all sizes and all colors. This tree is an older one in a front yard I admire.

But the drought we have been going through is taking its toll on the trees. Some of them don't look as green as they once did. I guess it's true what they say, "living things need water to live."