Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The power of water


This past weekend when I revisited the riverbed, the scene was quite different from just a week ago. Where there had been a lake was basically now just dirt, and the other side that you see in the picture that had little to no water then, and now is a gushing flow that is moving so quickly I kept my distance.

"Water is powerful, it can wash away earth, put out fire, and even destroy iron. Water can carve its way thorough stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path."

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chairs in a row


Chairs can be grouped together to encourage conversation, or they can be placed in a row so that everyone can view the show. These chairs are all set up for the next show—whether it's a local game of touch football, or just the constant stream of passers-by on this street.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The scarecrow and the bear

Scarecrow and bear yard art

This scarecrow might not be very effective in keeping the bear away, but the two of them made a cute combination in this front yard.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Snow-capped mountains


IMG_0873-1From Downey, the view looks promising. It sure looks like our snow pack is in better condition for the southern California mountains. We have been in a serious drought for a number of years and it would sure be nice if that could be made up by all the rain we have experienced.
Today was such a beautiful day.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A newfound favorite place #2


Yesterday I told you about the vintage automobile portion of the Nethercutt Collection. But there is much more to the collection. On the second floor there are housed hundreds of hood ornaments and other automobile accessories. On the third floor is a grand collection of musical machines. As with the automobiles, they are restored to original condition and fully working.

This unique piano is one of only several made. It has 97 keys rather than the customary 88. You can see the extra 9 keys on the left side in black. Because of this it is too heavy for a concert hall. But it has been modified to also have the ability to record any music played on it. It can duplicate not only the keys struck, but the duration and the intensity of the stroke.

These visitors are listening to the piano play "Rhapsody in Blue" as played by its composer, George Gershwin.
This is a Wurlitzer organ, built to be played in a Chicago silent movie house. It is played for you as part of the tour.
I urge you to make time to go and see this magnificent collection of restored and working machines. There is so much to see you won't be able to do it in one visit. I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A newfound favorite place


One advantage to living in the midst of a metropolis, such as the Los Angeles basin, is that, although you will have your favorite places to go back to as often as you can (Disneyland, Balboa Beach, or Arrowhead Lake to name a few), there is always a place where you have never been before but after you've seen it you want to go back again.

My wife and I recently visited such a place. It is the Nethercutt Collection. It is located in Sylmar just 42 miles, or one hour, away from Downey. You can visit its website here. It is a collection of totally restored vintage cars in working order. They take each car out for drives at least twice a year. This showroom is reminiscent of the luxury auto showrooms of the early 20th century. Admission and parking are free but you must call to make an appointment for one of their tours.

DSC_0108This was my favorite. I would love to drive up to Rio Hondo Golf Club with our golf bags strapped to each rear fender. How cool would that be?

Cars are not the only restored machines in the collection. I will share more tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Under the banyan tree

20170124_201536 as Smart Object-1

I'm back in Hawaii on business and found myself without a picture from Downey available, So, I thought I would share a little something from my walk back to the hotel after dinner last night.

20170124_201410 as Smart Object-1We decided to walk along the beach, so we cut through an area I haven't walked through before and it had a bit of a magical feel to it. I loved the red lanterns that were hanging from an amazingly huge banyan tree taking up the open space between the buildings.

It was a beautiful way to end our day.

"Mahalo naku no keia nani la." (translation:  Thank you Lord for this beautiful day.) 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Love is in the air

Party City Valentine's Day

The next holiday on our horizon is Valentine's Day, celebrated on February 14. Nearly every store gives a nod of some kind to Valentine's Day. At Party City, you can find these balloons and every other sort of item to help you decorate for the occasion.

Party City Valentine's DayValentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not an official public holiday in most of them.

According to History of Valentine's Day, "approximately 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines."

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A tree in winter


We seem to have a bit of a theme going with trees in recent posts. I saw this white tree today and it just looked like winter to me:  white, stark looking, not even one leaf left on its branches.

"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it." 
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, January 20, 2017

I think I can

Compact car parking

We humans have a hard time realistically judging size and distance. Whether it's the amount of dessert that makes up "one serving" or the proper distance between cars on the freeway, we always tend to over- or underestimate to our own advantage. This was made very clear to me the other day when I saw this line of large cars, all parked in the spaces marked for compact cars only.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Downey trees


The majority of fruit trees in Downey are of two varieties. They are either orange or avocado. Years ago, Downey was mostly populated with orange groves. As more people desired to move to the Los Angeles suburbs, land owners saw the opportunity to increase their wealth by subdividing their land into smaller lots and putting houses on each one. My wife and I live on such a lot. Now, there are only a handful of privately owned parcels of land in Downey that are larger than an acre. But many of the orange trees were left on the subdivided plots for the new owners.

Avocado trees have also been a popular tree in Downey. Their sturdy build (the trunks can grow to a diameter of two feet), their ease of care, and their delicious fruit make them a favorite of homeowners, although they can be messy for some of the year. This avocado tree is not a Hass variety, so the yield is from January to March each year as opposed to year-round for the Hass trees. See more about the Hass avocados here.

What is your favorite use for avocados or oranges?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The best walks


For me, the best walks are not when I'm surrounded by buildings and walking on concrete, although these are the walks I take during my weekly routine here in Downey. No, for me, it's when I'm surrounded by nature and walking on dirt or sand. Downey is surrounded by miles and miles of buildings and pavement in all directions. Unless you travel 20 minutes up the 605 freeway to the Whittier Hills.

Some significant portion of the hills have been set aside as Hellman Park so that the only buildings or pavement are the water towers. Other that that, you can walk for miles and see nothing but green grass, trees, and the city far off in the distance. This is the walk we took on our day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are multiple trails through the hills separated for different levels of hikers. We took the more level path called Peppergrass Trail rather than the steeper Hellman Trail.

For a small portion of our day we escaped to see in 360 degrees nothing but nature. What a great time.

Where do you like to walk?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017



My photo choices seem to reflect a certain amount of poor planning or bad timing these days. My last photo was the reflection that could have been a better picture had I been willing to either sacrifice my Uggs or go home and change my shoes. This picture would have been amazing, had I taken it a day earlier. The day before was an absolutely gorgeous clear day where you could see the significant amount of snow that has fallen in our local mountains against the backdrop of a brilliant, blue sky. But, did I take a picture that day? Unfortunately, no. I had to choose the overcast, murky day - although I did get a peek of blue sky through the clouds.

Here's to making better choices.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Monday, January 16, 2017

If the shoe fits...

Rio San Gabriel riverbed

Just a couple hundred feet from yesterday's post, just past the inflatable dam that looks surprisingly like an oversized sea slug, the Rio San Gabriel River turns into the concrete Rio San Gabriel riverbed.

Rio San Gabriel riverbedThis is the usual state of our local riverbeds. Both this and the Rio Hondo riverbed to our west are lined with concrete for many miles. Water drains into the riverbed from the local storm drains, but after the initial rush, the water gathers in the small channel in the center of the riverbed and leaves the rest of the bed dry for bikes and skateboards. The dead branches are the only sign that water flowed from upstream during the storms.

The shoe? Who knows...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Measuring up

Rio San Gabriel riverbed

We've written a lot lately about how much it's been raining. Typically, rainfall is measured in inches. But here in the riverbed, the measurement is in feet—almost 7 feet.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Reflection of rain


We have had an enormous amount of rain in the past couple of months and it seems there are puddles of all shapes and sizes around Downey. This is one of the alleys in Orange Estates. It would have been a better picture had I been willing to step into the puddle so I could have had the reflection of the palm trees on one side and the line of electrical poles on the other. However, I was wearing a pair of my favorite Uggs and opted for a less impressive reflection photo.

According to the forecast, we will have about 5 days until more rain is expected. I wonder how long until it starts making an impact on our drought.

Friday, January 13, 2017

I scream for ice cream

Coldstone Creamery Downey

It's been cold out lately. But it's never too cold for ice cream. Especially a "Love It" sized concoction from Coldstone Creamery at Downey Landing.

"My head says go to the gym, my heart says eat more ice cream."
~ iliketoquote.com

Coldstone Creamery Downey

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Christmas season continues


Epiphany was six days ago and Christmas day was 19 days ago, but there are still houses decorated for the Christmas season. I like the houses that continue to display their Christmas decorations for some time after others have stored them away. It's like having lighted bookends around Christmas day. There's the Advent season and its lights where we remember Jesus coming as a baby and all the fulfilled prophesies surrounding his birth. And then there are the joyous lights that continue to remind us of the joy that Emmanuel, God with us, offers all mankind.


Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Humans of Downey - Sharlene


"I am passionate about the arts. Throughout my life I have been placed in all kinds of arts. I feel that I have been called to serve other people through the arts. One art that I entered and did for a very long time, in fact I still do, is dance. I first started dance as a freshman in high school. I had tried other artistic endeavors like cheer, soccer, or ice skating, but they only lasted for a year. But then I started in dance and I loved dance. I first joined because I wanted to have an extracurricular activity in high school, but I fell in love with it and I continued for all four years. I even continued and joined a collegiate group to compete against other groups.

"Then I felt led to bring dance to the community and so I started a ministry of dance at a local Downey church. I teach five different classes there. The church runs it sort of like a studio called Revolution Dance and Performing Arts. It is open to anyone in the community and my students range from 3 to 50 years old. I teach lyrical ballet, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. In all these classes I incorporate teaching the students to worship God in their dance. They learn how to praise God and let God move through them as they use their gifts. I grew up with dance and it hit home when a friend asked me if she could teach me a dance move. Of course I said yes, and little by little I felt God changing my heart and the reason for my dancing."
~ Sharlene

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Outside, looking in


We have been waiting since last year for Mi Cielo to open. Tonight, I saw what looked like new employees being orientated (as I peeked through the glass door). At least that is what I'm hoping. I look forward to fine food and rooftop dining.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Southern lights

Southern lights

When I looked up at the sky tonight, I thought for a moment that I was seeing some strange southern California version of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. It turns out there was a more urban explanation—a set of rotating searchlights, common in and around Los Angeles. They did, however, provide a very intriguing image as the spots circled around the moon.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Out to dinner

Marisa's Restaurant

Tonight, a group of us had dinner out at Marisa's Mexican Restaurant. Marisa's is family-owned, founded in 1975 by Fidel and Maria Palomo. In a pinch for a name, they called the restaurant after their youngest daughter, and the name stuck. The place was temporarily closed a few months ago because of a fire in the kitchen, but was quickly back in business, serving great Mexican food at reasonable prices.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Morning glow


I was on a short business trip this past week and traveled up the coast (a few hours north of Downey). This was my beautiful Pismo morning. And, I got to enjoy my first cup of coffee and watch the waves roll in. I never want to take for granted how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful state. with so much coastline to explore. While I didn't get to explore this time, I did get to appreciate the beautiful morning before I headed off to work.

"Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard."
~ Psyche Roxas-Mendoza

Friday, January 6, 2017

Empty streets

Firestone Blvd.

Firestone Boulevard is one of the busiest thoroughfares through Downey. But it was surprisingly empty one early evening this past week as we took a walk through downtown Downey.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Humans of Downey - Vincent

Vincent Rose Float 2016

"Rose Float construction always has its challenges. One year the challenge was we had to make panthers. To make them, we had to screen them and I had never screened before. First, it's wire frame welded out. Then you have to put glue on it. Then you have to put screen on it. It has a mesh the size of a window screen. Then you have to put glue on it again which is a very sticky glue, not your ordinary glue. And it only goes on the metal. Then you use cardboard to smooth it out and wait for it to go while the glue is sticking to your hands. All the while, the little metal pieces are pocking into your hands throughout the process. Then you have to spray on a cocooning material and then you can paint it after that dries. But it kept bending and moving and I'm breaking and not working. You don't know what's right or wrong, what works or doesn't work. It was quite a challenge. Then they come by and tell you how great it is and all of a sudden you're the expert and then I'm in charge. So, I went from a little help to being in charge of the panthers.

"They said, 'You did such a good job could you do it over here? Oh, and could you do it faster? Because now we have to attach the head to the body.' There were three iron bars sticking out of the body and the head was made out of foam, so you had to push the head onto the iron bars. Then you had to screen the neck area where the two forms met. When the construction was all done, then the painters made me look great."
~ Vincent

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Humans of Downey - Judy

Judy Rose Float 2016

"On one of our floats that had a Hawaiian theme, we used pineapple bark. The pineapples had to be cored out because we only used the outer ridge of the pineapple for the trees. Well, our mayor at the time was Meredith Perkins and he got the job of coring all those pineapples. And we won't let him forget either. That was a nasty job. Of course, every one else enjoyed the fruits of his labor by eating the pineapple he had removed. Eventually, we did get him a gadget that he stuck into the center of the pineapple, twisted and the fruit came out. So, it got easier after we got him that tool.

"Mike's and my next great adventure is to stay at home. We just got back from a three-month trek across America. We went about 9,000 miles. We've done this four times, visited every state except North Dakota. As we go we visit whatever attraction is in that area. Of course, we've visited a lot of friends and relatives. We even visited people we didn't know were related but found out about them during the trip. We've done a lot and we've seen a lot.

"So, now it's time to rest. One way I rest is to knit hats for Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. Also, this year I donated to 'People to People' in Ohio because my cousin gave me some yarn that her mother had when she passed away. I was able to make two bags full of hats. Now, I'm making hats to sell here. The proceeds go to the Rose Float Association. I'm always looking for yarn if anyone wants to donate some. These are warm hats. This one is a ponytail hat. It has a hole in the back."
~ Judy

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Water for the poor farm

Water tower on Rancho Los Amigos south campus

The Downey Rose Parade float is stored and worked on in an old building on the Rancho Los Amigos south campus. Driving there these past couple of weeks to see the float in progress, I once again noticed the old water tower. It's enclosed in the fenced-off and abandoned section of the campus, in what used to be the Los Angeles County Poor Farm.

The farm was originally created in 1888. It eventually morphed into the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, until this section was abandoned in the 1980s. For a fairly comprehensive historical write-up about the farm, see Ranch of the Friends: The Extraordinary Evolution of the L.A. County Poor Farm.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Snow day

Rim of the World Highway snow

My friends and I took advantage of the "extra" holiday day today to go to the snow. The recent rainstorms we've experienced in Downey have left several inches of snow in our local mountains, even at lower elevations.

Rim of the World Highway snowAbout halfway up the mountain, we entered the clouds, and visibility dropped to just a few hundred feet. We had to slow way down, but this gave us even more time to see the striking scenery along the way. We rarely get to see the results of snow melting and freezing and melting again, and so on. It was a very beautiful sight.

"A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!"
~ Author Unknown

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Almost time to go...


It was just about 5:00 tonight when I stopped by to check on the progress of this year's Downey float, The Gold Rush.

It looked like they had some challenges and were working furiously to resolve them. so they could get on the road. There was a crowd just waiting around for the float to be ready to leave.


The Tournament of Roses has had a “Never on Sunday” tradition since 1893, the first year since the beginning of the Tournament that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. The Tournament wanted to avoid frightening horses that would be hitched outside churches and thus interfering with worship services, so the events were moved to the next day, January 2. Though horses are no longer outside local churches, the tradition remains to this day.