Monday, August 31, 2015

Geraniums on a wall

IMG_5916 as Smart Object-1

I liked this rustic wall with geraniums growing along the base. Geraniums are one of those flowers that I used to think were boring and kind of old-fashioned. But I have come across so many different types of geraniums, with different smells, that I have come around to almost liking them.

One of the consistently nice things about them is that you can take a cutting from virtually any kind of geranium and start a new plant. I think that is kind of amazing, especially if you are short on cash and need to add color and fullness to your garden (or a friend's garden),

Fun Flower Facts about Geraniums:
  • The common name “cranesbill” refers to the the seed capsule that looks like a crane’s bill. The beak-like column will burst open when ripe and casts the seeds over a distance.
  • Geranium essential oil can be used as a deodorant, tonic, and diuretic. It may even be able to reduce the appearance of scars and other spots on the skin.
  • Geranium essential oil has been used in making artificial rose oil in perfumes
  • There is a variety of geraniums that smells like citronella, which can repel mosquitoes.
  • Geranium leaves can be used to make tea.
  • Rose-scented geranium leaves can be used to flavor cakes, jellies, and vinegars.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Workin' man

IMG_5914 as Smart Object-1

More work was continuing on at Furman Park this past week. As this worker passed me, I realized how many tools he was carrying and how many more he could have carried. His tool belt allowed for a significant amount of organization.  I was quite impressed.

“When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really PLAYED.”
~ Dr. Seuss

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beating the heat


Some people beat the heat by simply avoiding it, staying indoors where it's cool or air-conditioned. But if you want to stay active and stay cool, all it takes is a friend to spray you down with a homemade spray bottle.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Learning by example

Soccer practice

Soccer lessons start young. But at this age, concepts like "take the ball around that cone" and "relay race" can be difficult. So when these boys didn't quite catch on initially, the dads stepped in to demonstrate.

Soccer practice

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Humans of Downey - Michael


"My parents had a 1965 Chevy Impala when I was a kid. My mom and dad bought it brand new in 1965 and they had it until 1977. Then they were going to sell it. That was the car I grew up in so I kind of didn't want them to sell it so I was hoping they would give it to me, but of course that didn't happen.

"I ended up paying them $1000 for the car. I worked in Bakersfield when I was 14 and 15 years old picking grapes and cotton. I had family up there and I saved enough money to buy the car. So a 1965 Chevy Impala was my first car. It was a nice car.

"Two years later I sold it to a guy down the street who rolled it on the freeway. I sold it because in the 70s gas prices were going up and up. I bought a VW Beetle to save on gas and ended up owning ten of them. I loved to tinker with them. I'm thinking of buying another one if I can convince my wife to let me keep it in the garage."
~ Michael

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Humans of Downey - Augie


"I'm retiring tomorrow after 27 years here. What I'm planning to do after tomorrow is play more Latin jazz. I play percussion in a Latin jazz band, and the leader of the band moved to Las Vegas. He plans to open a club or work with others that have clubs, and we are going to play there.

"If he opens his own club or gets a contract to play in the other clubs, then I plan to move there myself. I'm thinking of getting a town home of something where I don't have to cut the grass."
~ Augie

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pardon our dust!

20150820_101713 as Smart Object-1

Rio Hondo Elementary School is becoming less green. The grassy parkway that used to surround the school is now becoming concrete.

20150820_101743 (1) as Smart Object-1It is one more step that our city is taking toward limiting water use. Less green, less water use.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The crew

Promenade Downey construction

Even though more and more buildings are taking shape at the Promenade at Downey site, it hardly seems possible that a "first phase opening" will take place this fall. There are still huge swaths of open dirt fields, such as this one.

This tank caught my eye because of the somewhat confusing logo. I imagine the logo is indicating that the "crew" pulls together to get the job done. But the tank, raised up on stilts as if to avoid the high water, gives the impression of a tanker with its crew, stranded by our current drought.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

You've got mail


This style of mailbox reminds me of visiting my grandparents in rural Missouri. Their mailbox listed their name rather than their house number, since they didn't have a number. The flag indicated whether there was outgoing or incoming mail. The mailman delivered the mail from his truck, since each farm was quite a distance from the next.

Here in Downey, the mail people deliver the mail on foot, and never have serious weather (that is, snow) to deal with. But that flag still indicates, "You've got mail."

Saturday, August 22, 2015


20150721_101403 as Smart Object-1

The frangipani, aka plumeria, are found all over Downey and are native to many lands and cultures. They were plentiful in the South Pacific, where I remember learning about the significance of how you "wore" these flowers. Over the right ear indicated you were single and seeking a relationship. Over the left ear meant you were taken (married). It seemed like such a simple system.

"Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Friday, August 21, 2015

Two if by sea

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

I spent this last week near Boston for some work-related training. Boston is full of Revolutionary War history, and one of the most recognized characters is Paul Revere.

Paul Revere arranged for two lanterns to be hung in the steeple of the Old North Church (seen in the picture above) to warn his fellow patriots tht the British were approaching by sea ("One if by land, two if by sea"). He then took off on his midnight ride, successfully warning those in the neighboring towns.

Paul Revere drank hereToday, Boston's 3-mile Freedom Trail, which several of us walked about 2 miles of, takes you by many of these historic sites, including Paul Revere's home, below. The trail itself is marked by a pattern of bricks in the sidewalks and streets, and is very easy to follow.  (You can also see part of the Freedom Trail in the sidewalk in the background.) Businesses on the path such as this pub (left) can take advantage of their location, as you can see in this pub's sign.

Paul Revere's house

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Humans of Downey - Cesar

"I've been playing soccer since I can remember. I have played baseball and football but soccer has the most running. There's a lot more to do. I like that because when I would play baseball, I would get bored. You're always waiting, waiting on the bench to play or waiting for the ball to come to you. I like soccer because there's more action, there's a lot more going on on the field and the whole team is always active.

"Two of our Downey teams recently went to Hawaii for a tournament against three Hawaiian teams. My team lost every match but overall we played well and took away a wider soccer experience and new friendships.

"Soccer is helping me to become a better person and a better adult. I am learning personal responsibility because the individuals on the field have to play as one team, like a body with many parts but with a single goal. It's not just one player that wins, you have to work together. And there's leadership, teamwork, and being personally responsible for your own equipment necessary to play well.

"I've also learned more about friendship, getting to know more about individual people so you can understand others and play well. Sometimes you'll be playing with a new player and you don't know how they play, but you have to trust them and then learn who they are, their abilities.

"I've also learned how to calm my teammates down when there is a disagreement on the field. I stay calm myself and then talk them down to a calmer level."
~ Cesar

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Humans of Downey - Wendy


"It's really the best thing that ever happened to me. My girlfriend that was my friend in high school, we had graduated from high school and I went to visit her. When I was there, her dad invited me to sit down and went through the Bible with me. He showed me all the places in the Bible where Jesus says, 'I am.'

"I couldn't deny anything that was right there in the scriptures because I had known that the Bible was Truth and I had a lot of respect for it. He was showing me right there what Jesus was and I couldn't deny it. I said, 'Whoa, this is pretty amazing.'

"That was probably the first day that Jesus was shown to me with evidence. So I realized what importance there was in who He is. That day I prayed for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It has taken years for all that to sink in and make some sense. I think of that day a lot, it's very meaningful to me."
~ Wendy

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


IMG_5341 as Smart Object-1

With all the drought issues we have encountered this summer, I was surprised to see so much water in the riverbed. So much that more weeds than ever have popped up.

IMG_5340"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
~ Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Monday, August 17, 2015

With a little help

Dog walk

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting old. It's hard when you can't get around like you used to. This scene, which passed by so quickly I almost didn't catch it, epitomizes what I think we all hope for when the time comes—to be surrounded by family and friends who step in to help when our bodies fail.

"I get by with a little help from my friends."
~ Billy Shears

Sunday, August 16, 2015

In & Out's improved in & out

In & Out parking lot

Why, you're wondering, am I showing you pictures of a parking lot?

Well, I'm celebrating the new expanded parking lot and extended drive-thru lane for our local In & Out. Before, these cars would have overflowed out onto Lakewood Blvd, where they would be blocking traffic and making it impossible to join the line.

Now, everything is streamlined, and all is well for In & Out fans.

In & Out parking lot

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Horse power

IMG_5354 as Smart Object-1

The Rio San Gabriel riverbed gets a fair amount of traffic, despite not being very scenic. I like seeing the horses, they always look a little regal to me. And, of course, there are always dogs to get their daily exercise too.

"It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall."
~ Mexican Proverb

IMG_5335 as Smart Object-1

Friday, August 14, 2015

Alternative gardening

Upstairs garden

When you live upstairs, you can't really plant a garden. But this upstairs dweller near downtown Downey has done the next best thing by creating a potted garden on every available space.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Humans of Downey - Darrell


"This story is about when my oldest daughter was 8, my son was 7, and my youngest was 6. We liked basketball and we were at the park just fooling around with the basketball. There was just us on the court, just the four of us. We were going through some made-up drills. You know kids, they loved to do stuff and we were always making stuff up. I called a time out and I brought them into a circle around me.

"I was going through our upcoming formations we were going to do next and it astonished me that they were paying attention to me. They were really, really paying attention, like it was important to them. Then my son, who happened to be on the opposite side of the circle, for whatever reason, he stopped, walked across the huddle and kissed me. Then he walked back. I don't know how it influenced him, I don't know if it did influence him. I don't know what it did but I was moved. I thought it was important and to this day I remember it, I'll never forget it."
~ Darrell

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Humans of Downey - Fred


"Now that I'm retired, I love to spend time with my 3-year-old grandchild. I get to see him three or four times a week usually. We love to go places all around town. We go swimming in our pool. We go to the mall to see the shops and get an ice cream treat. We go to the park on Signal Hill in Long Beach and down to the marina to walk around and get excited about what he's seeing. But mostly, I just love being with the little guy.

"I would have to say that my brother-in-law has been a significant influence on my life. We've been reading a book called 'Hundred Days of Integrity.' The things I'm learning, the habits I'm changing, I then try to teach my grandkids by example. At his age, we're working on manners: things like 'thank you,' 'I'm sorry,' or saying our prayers. If I don't set the right example (in conjunction with their parents), my grandkids aren't going to go down the right path either."
~ Fred

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Arches journey continued...

IMG_5832 as Smart Object-1

The sandstone arches were very impressive. This is one of the over 2,000 arches located within the park's 76,518 acres. Despite the heat, we hiked up to this one and enjoyed the view. The park has a 36-mile scenic drive and the scenes were amazing. There are hiking trails all over the place, so you could spend days here. It would have been nice to have more time, but I was glad to have the time we did to wander a little.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” 
– J. R. R. Tolkien

IMG_5873 as Smart Object-1

Monday, August 10, 2015

aka the Three Kings

Three Gossips Arches

Last week's vacation took me somewhere I'd never been before: Arches National Park in Utah.

This wasn't our actual destination (we went camping in the Rockies), but was just a stop-off on the drive home. But it was well worth the side trip. The park has the greatest concentration of natural sandstone arches anywhere on earth, along with numerous other rock formations.

The formation above is known as the Three Gossips. But it reminded me more of a Christmas decoration that I have of the Three Kings.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Worth the wait

La Barca

When La Barca Grill and Cantina opened in 2012, they of course landscaped all of the outside areas. But if you've ever landscaped your yard, you know that it can take a year (or two, or three) before you see the full potential of what you've planted.

I've thought about that every time I've passed La Barca this summer, as I've enjoyed the vibrant abundance of blooms mixed in with several varieties of cactus plants. It's a beautiful (and environmentally friendly) sight!

La Barca

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bridging the gap

IMG_5344 as Smart Object-1

The bridge on Firestone Boulevard over the Rio San Gabriel riverbed is getting close to being done. I'm so glad we got some decorative pillars.

IMG_5347 as Smart Object-1“Let every man praise the bridge that carries him over.”
~ English Proverb 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cleared for landing


I like old-fashioned, rusted-out equipment, so this windmill caught my eye the other day. But when I got closer, my imagination took over.

Just as it's important for a pilot to know the wind direction and speed before landing his plane, I imagine a young kid, getting ready to go down this slide. Will it be safe? Is the wind coming from the right direction? (From the west to slow him down? Or from the east to provide more speed?) He checks the windmill, ensures that everything is to his liking—and slides down for his safe landing!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Humans of Downey - Elliot


"The passing of my dad, he had a chronic illness but more importantly, the difficulty of managing an estate, federal agencies and the legal problems he had, helped to redirect my career from a music education major to a law major. So I did my pre-law, then went to law school.

"Watching him struggle with the regulations and the legal requirements and all of that after working on defense ships for the Navy, he developed asbestosis. It was literally caused out of working for the defense contractor but he couldn't get any support. So he suffered for two years before passing."
~ Elliot

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Humans of Downey - Diana


"I've liked tattoos for a long time and I've wanted one since before I was 18. I started with a couple of smaller ones then I saw this one and I really wanted it. You see about 8 hours of a ten hour job to complete this tattoo. I sit for two or three hour sessions. The next session they will put the color in the face.

"I'm not married yet but I'm not worried about that someone not liking my tattoos. These days, everybody is getting them. My co-worker has a lot more than me. She has them on her legs, arms and her back. I think having a tattoo is becoming more acceptable." 
~ Diana

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It ain't easy being green


With the water restrictions continuing, the City has not been left out. The new median on Paramount Boulevard is looking a little worse for the lack of water.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Eating in style

Cat food

Feral cats abound in a small area of downtown Downey, where there are some vacant lots and empty buildings. Typically, feral cats scrounge for their food and at best eat off of paper plates. But these cats get to eat in style.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Still on duty


I first met Woody in April, 2010 (see Woody the neighborhood watch cowboy). Then, I saw him again a few months later, all dressed up for Christmas (see Santa Woody).

It's been a few years, so I decided it was about time to check on him. Woody has spiffed himself up a bit in the years since we first met (some new clothes, new hat, new glasses), but he is still keeping watch for co-residents Andy and Betty Wolfe.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

More yard art


Our yards are in some ways an expression of our personalities. Yard art seems to be part of that. At the same time, yards do just seem to collect things. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes almost random. I think that is what I find so fun about the objects I find in people's yards.

Take this yard, for example...I wondered why the squirrel and frog looked like they were both sort of hiding in this water fountain,.. until I saw this crocodile a little ways away. Then it all made sense.