Thursday, May 31, 2018

The greatest generations

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

The "greatest generation," a term popularized by the book of the same name by Tom Brokaw, is often used to refer to those who came of age during World War II. But those men and women are certainly not the only generation in attendance at this year's Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery.

One part of the ceremony that I always appreciate is the roll call of veterans. The roll call starts with those who served in World War II (there are fewer every year), continues through the Korean and Viet Nam wars, and ends with the various wars in the Middle East through the continuing conflict in Afghanistan. And for each one, men and women from each new generation stand to be recognized and honored for their service, past and present.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I love the USA

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Students from the ASPIRE programs at Lewis and Alameda Elementary Schools performed at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery. First, they sang "American Tears," by Teresa Jennings. The kids were appropriately solemn as they sang these words:
For the heroes. For the patriots.
For the soldiers. For all the pioneers.
I will always be an American.
And I’ll always cry American tears.
And then they sang "God Bless the USA," by Lee Greenwood. Its upbeat tune and chorus had everyone smiling—and taking pictures.
And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
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.
Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ready, aim...

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

The Memorial Day Ceremony at the Downey Cemetery is sponsored by the American Legion Post 270. The American Legion is a volunteer organization chartered by Congress in 1919, and is "committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans."

The Legion has a long history of accomplishments. Here are just a few of the significant dates and events, from the history page on their website:
  • Aug. 9, 1921
    The Legion's efforts result in the creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, forerunner of the Veterans Administration. Today, the Legion continues to lobby for adequate funding to cover medical, disability, education and other benefits for veterans.
  • Sept. 19-21, 1942: Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion is changed for the first and only time since it was written in 1919.  The word “War” is changed to “Wars.”
  • Dec. 15, 1943
    Past National Commander Harry W. Colmery starts to write in longhand, on Mayflower Hotel stationery in Washington, the first draft of what will later become the "GI Bill of Rights" – considered the Legion's single greatest legislative achievement. Higher education becomes democratized after 8 million veterans go to school on the GI Bill, get better jobs, buy houses in the suburbs and raise families.
  • Aug. 26, 1982
    The Legion presents a $1 million check to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for construction of the Wall in Washington, becoming the largest single contributor to the project.
Today, the Legion has over 2 million members worldwide. But local membership is declining, and there are no longer 7 volunteers for the traditional "21-gun" rifle salute. These four volunteers are Michael Murray (US Army), Richard Tuttle (Downey Police Dept), Johnny Croshaw (USMC), and Dean Wright (USAF).

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Monday, May 28, 2018

In gratitude, in sorrow

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

On this Memorial Day, I once again attended the Memorial Day Ceremony that is held at the Downey Cemetery each year. There is much to be moved by at each year's ceremony. But to me, the quote on this wall is always meaningful: "In gratitude to those who served ... in sorrow for those who lost their lives." In the stone's reflection, you can see the crowd that has gathered to remember and honor those who have served their country.

In the other direction, you can see the grave markers. And if you look closely, you'll also see the white crosses and American flags that mark the graves of the servicemen and women who are buried here. Many of the crosses have gone missing over the years, and for the past two years, a couple of local Explorer Scouts have made it their project to replace and restore them—a fitting project for the holiday originally known as Decoration Day.

Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Nuts about nuts


We recently hung this squirrel feeder on a tree in our front yard. It has been fun to watch some of our local squirrels scurry up and down the tree snatching nuts to munch on.

20180526_125946-1Oops, I guess we did not hang it up well enough, because the next time I went to check on the squirrels, this is what I saw.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Old adds new


We have moved to another home base today. We are staying in a vintner's B&B for two days. The home is adjacent to the town of Beaumes de Venise in southern France. We took a walk in the town to get a taste of this old village. We walked up to the top of the hill where the first inhabitants lived in the 12th century. As we strolled through the narrow streets, we noticed that the older homes were not torn down to make room for the new but the new fit in with the old.

Or, in some cases, were never modified at all. We met a family that are living in a three-story stone home that was built in the 15th century. Little has been done to modify the structure. Only a few conveniences to make life a little bit more comfortable. I wanted to ask them if they knew anything about former tenants, so I said, "There have been a lot of people that have lived in your home." They replied, "Oh yes, but no ghost."

It made me think of Downey and how we tear down the old to make room for the new. We don't use our imaginations to preserve the old and meld the new in with it.

"Architecture has been called the art of building beautifully, a fixation of man’s thinking, and record of his activity… Keep in mind that last phrase. It is important."

~ Ernst Johnson, architect, professor, colleague of Eero Saarinen

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Food for the stomach, food for the eye


Bonnie and I are in France for the next two weeks. We have been in Annecy for the past few days and enjoying every minute.

Except when the voice on the car's GPS didn't say anything about the direction of an upcoming Y in the road until the last second. By the time she said it and I obeyed it, I had to cross over the solid white line that divided the two paths. We followed the path which took us on a sharp turn that took us up to an overcrossing. We had to slow down because of several cars ahead of us. When we got the the top, two policemen were walking across the street and when it was our turn, they motioned us to pull over onto the sidewalk. He wanted my license, car registration, insurance, and my passport. He said he was watching from up above and saw me pull across the solid white line. I told him, "I know, but the GPS lady didn't tell us anything until we just got there." He said those things tell you of stuff half a mile ahead. I said, "Not this one!" I think he could sense my frustration because he let me go with a warning instead of the $100 fine.

We ate at the La Galejade restaurant tonight. We had some local dish called escalope savoyarde. This is "gratinated chicken in the oven with reblochon cheese" served with french fries. It was delicious. The view of the Le Thiou river was captivating.


For most of the day, we had a storm going through. Around 8:00 pm the sky cleared and we got some great pictures of Lake Annecy with the Alps in the background.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wild mushrooms


I came across these mushrooms growing in a field. I love mushrooms and I've always been curious about how you identify which mushrooms you can eat and which ones will make you sick. These mushrooms are interesting to look at, but I don't think I am willing to risk eating them.

"...And you, whose pastime/Is to make midnight mushrooms..."
~ Prospero, in Shakespeare's The Tempest, V, 1

Monday, May 21, 2018



Recently, I visited the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park. It's been a while since I've been, and this is the first time I've seen the completely refurbished LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrated, and Reptiles) exhibit. As an added bonus, I got to see it through the eyes of a couple of small boys who were fascinated by every swimming, crawling, slithering creature!

The Zoo is only 20 miles from Downey, and they offer an affordable family season pass. Check it out this summer if you have the chance.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rancho's past


The south campus of Rancho Los Amigos is an odd reminder of Downey's past that has been locked up for years now. While you can still drive through the main section from Imperial to Gardemdale, the major portion of the property remains fenced off from the curious—which includes me.

I have heard for years that the county has plans for the property, but have yet to see any indication of that. I have, however, hoped for years to have the opportunity to photograph the buildings that remain.

"You have to know the past to understand the future" 
~ Carl Sagen

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bon voyage

Mimi's hot chocolate

Steve and his wife Bonnie are heading off to France tomorrow, visiting many of the same places that Joan and I saw just a couple of weeks ago. So we met at Mimi's tonight to share some information and tips, over a cup of hot chocolate with an extra portion of whipped cream.

"I love days when my only problem is coffee or chocolate."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Humans of Downey - Carla

HoD Carla

"In tenth grade, our history teacher took our class to the House of Blues in Hollywood. There was an incredible amount of art work being displayed. What caught my attention was an exhibit that featured a lot of human skulls. They were distributed all over the House of Blues on different pieces of furniture. I remember the reason why the artist chose to display skulls in so many areas and in so many different mediums. The skull is universal. Everyone has one. That stuck with me ever since that field trip. It reminds me that I have that in common with everybody else. We all have a skull. As I remember that, it reminds me that we are all alike and yet different.

"Since I was a little girl, I've been told that I was the type of kid that marched to the beat of their own drum. I was always doing something different than my peers. In grade school, when the other girls were playing with their dolls and playing house during play time, I was coloring or doing other art activities. I was really drawn to art. At home, I played office. I played with papers, staplers, and other office supplies. My parents were small business owners. After school, I would spend most of my time at the office, helping out. I got to play with all the office supplies. My dad was in construction so I got to play with tools and other home improvement items that probably weren't safe for a child my age to play with—but I did it anyway.

"I believe the model I saw at home, my mother being a working parent, gave me the foundation and courage to make my own choices in life. Although she could have chosen to stay home, she chose to support my dad in his business. She would take me along on business trips so I was always on the go. That was my upbringing and it has made me the unique person I am today."

~ Carla

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tierra Luna


These are the last few acres of the immense land given to Downey when Boeing closed their plant in Downey. The first half of the land became Downey Landing. A giant parking lot surrounded by stores and restaurants. Now the other half has become the Promenade, Downey. This time it is a giant parking lot dotted with shops and restaurants.


The definition of a promenade is, 1. "A leisurely walk, or sometimes a ride or drive, taken in a public place so as to meet or be seen by others." 2. "The place where one would take the leisurely walk". There is nowhere in the Downey Promenade to take a leisurely walk. When you sit at Panera's to have a leisurely meal and look out on the lovely landscape, all you see is a parking lot.

Promenade in Paris

This is a promenade. Let us hope that the plans for the rest of Tierra Luna (Promenade) will not look like the current lunar landscape but instead, a beautiful park-like area to take a leisurely walk and meet others doing the same.

"The promenade is a special subset of walking." 
~ Rebecca Solnit

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Do you know the ice cream man?


I didn't know we still had an ice cream man that comes through the neighborhood. Tonight I chased him down and I wasn't the only one. These kids made sure he not only stopped, but he actually backed up to us.

"Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos". 
~ Don Kardong


Monday, May 14, 2018

Lilies of the field

PIH construction

Construction has been going on at PIH Health Hospital since 2016 when ground was broken on a major expansion of the emergency department. Progress is being made, and there's a lot less scaffolding visible these days.

Yellow liliesBut what really catches my eye when I drive past (aside from the missing letter in the sign that makes me think for a moment that I am back at the River Rance in France) is the awesome field of golden lilies out front. Especially in the glow of the late afternoon sun.

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
~ Matthew 6:28-29

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Late in the day


The afternoon sun always seems to put such a nice glow on everything. Looking out over the park grounds this afternoon, with the long shadows falling, seems like a fitting end to the day.

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." 
~  Jawaharlal Nehru

Friday, May 11, 2018


Sign at OLPH

The first building of what eventually became Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church was built in 1909 on "a triangular lot bounded on the east by Crawford Street [now Downey Avenue], on the south by Fifth Street, and on the west by New Street." Back then, they probably didn't worry much about parking space, at least for cars.

More than 100 years later, they are still located on that same small triangular lot. And even though there is a dedicated parking lot a block away, the few parking spots right next to the church must be a constant temptation for those arriving late. So remember—no double parking!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Local convenience


Sometimes, later in the evening, say 11 pm, you remember a grocery item that you'll need for tomorrow. For me, it was coffee grounds for my wife's morning coffee. The Ralphs supermarket is just a few blocks away and is open from 5 am to 1 am, every day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Always changes


The one constant about Downey is that it is always changing. I frequently pass by this house and noticed recently that they had added these driveway lights to their landscape. Downey residents are constantly changing how their property looks. Asphalt driveways turn into concrete. House colors change. New roofs are put on.

DSC_0118New trees are planted in the hope of growth. Even new rooms are added to the top or back of houses. I think these changes are planned to add functionality or to enhance the beauty of the property. But whatever the reason, I like it.

"When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future." 
~ Bernard Meltzer

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Flowers are yard art too!


I have always had an eye for yard art. I appreciate how creative and fun some can be. But flowers can also be yard art, especially in this yard that I spotted last week. It was an explosion of wildflowers and color and I couldn't resist sharing it with you.

"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."
~ Claude Monet


Monday, May 7, 2018

Elegant hands

Selling chocolates

Elegant desserts should have elegant hands to serve them. These hands caught my eye a few weeks ago at one of the kiosks at Stonewood Center.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Downey Street Fair


Today was the annual Downey Street Fair. For me, this event has become all about the food.

20180505_151058Here you can see this couple eating ice cream, but there was an amazing variety of options...from Poke to ice cream.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Beep beep!

Rio Hondo Elementary logos

A while back, I noticed that the fence that surrounds Rio Hondo Elementary School had some new decorations. It serves a couple of purposes, I guess. First, it makes it harder for passers-by to see the kids when they're playing on the playground. And second, I now know that the school mascot is the roadrunner!

"Dear Warner Bros: Now that I'm an adult, I feel I'm old enough to hear what the "beep beep" is hiding when Road Runner talks to Wile E. Coyote."

Rio Hondo Elementary logos

Rio Hondo Elementary logos

Thursday, May 3, 2018


blocked parking space

I usually enjoy photographing the good in Downey, but today as I was in the Ralph's grocery store parking lot looking for a place to park, I saw that almost every space near the doors was occupied. Except for this one.

Someone decided that the 30 seconds it would take them to take this cart to the cart bin was too much for them. Either they didn't have the energy or they couldn't afford to get to the next place 30 seconds later.

And it wasn't just me. While I was taking this picture, three other cars drove by and couldn't park here but had to park further out. Oh well, I did find a spot to park and I got my groceries. All is fine now.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New beginnings, BRB

IMG_20180502_195235 (1)

Walking in uptown today, we noticed activity in the Mi Cielo restaurant. The sign out front says, "Coming Soon. Barriles Restobar". So, I went in for a closer look to see if the change had happened.

I talked with Simon, a worker, who told me that the new restaurant, BRB, had their grand opening last Thursday. They are now open Thursday through Sunday. They have a new chef with his own style, and live music on Sunday on the upstairs patio. Check it out soon and let us know how you liked it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A look at the past


One of the things I love about Europe is the history we just don't find in our little town of Downey. In Downey, our historical buildings are from the turn of the century—early 1900s or the Dismukes house, which was built in 1887.

IMG_5899We are ending our trip to France in a town called Annecy. The Chateau d'Annecy dates back to the 12th century—that is the High Middle Ages and predates Downey by over 600 years.

"I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history." 
~ Pablo Picasso