Laguna Beach Live! There are only two Jazz Winter concerts left

Jazz Wednesdays Winter 2018 is held in the distinctive [seven-degrees] event facility, 891 Laguna Cyn Rd. Concerts are 6 – 8 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.

The last concert in the Jazz 2018 Winter series is on April 11, featuring Josh Nelson, followed by a benefit concert with jazz vocalist, Leslie Lewis, on April 25.

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Submitted photo

New West Guitar Group: Perry Smith, John Storie, and Will Brahm

A full bar and buffet dinners are available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Seating is assigned.

Laguna Beach Live!, a nonprofit organization, strives to increase the awareness of and participation in diverse musical experiences, enhancing the reputation of Laguna Beach as a music town. To this end, they present high-quality live musical performances that are accessible, affordable, intimate, and in the community. Education of LB kids is a high priority.

Reservations are accepted until noon on the day of concert or until sold out. For more information visit or call (949) 715-9713.

LB “Gate & Garden Tour” Fundraiser showcases

South Laguna’s diverse gardens on Friday, May 4

The charming, tree-lined streets of South Laguna are the venue of this year’s Laguna Beach Garden Club “Gate & Garden Tour” on Friday, May 4, a fundraiser for educational school gardens, scholarships, and community projects. 

The 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. event features 10 fancy and fanciful private gardens along a three-quarter-mile walking route and includes a quarter-acre formal garden with ocean views.

Fun is in the air as this year’s tour takes place on the “Eve of Cinco de Mayo” and offers margaritas and Mexican fare, free refreshments, plein air painters in several gardens, and a raffle of prizes from local artists and businesses.

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Submitted photo

Charles Reimer’s quarter-acre classic French garden with ocean views on Mar Vista Avenue in South Laguna 

“This year’s Gate & Garden Tour is a celebration of the diverse gardens of South Laguna, which reflects the community’s past and present,” said Nancy Englund, tour chair. “We’ll showcase classic, contemporary, whimsical, and unusual gardens at 10 homes. The final stop is a gem: The South Laguna Community Garden Park with dozens of thriving garden beds,” she added.  

Tour tickets are $45 in advance and available at and at Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Drug, Laguna Nursery, Tides Inn, and Dana Point Nursery. On May 4, $50 tickets will be available at the tour’s starting point: Arabella Laguna Historic Cottages, 506 N Coast Hwy, which is the location of the registration and reception areas. 

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Submitted photo

Charles Reimer (left), homeowner on Mar Vista Avenue in South Laguna, with Nancy Englund, Laguna Beach Gate & Garden Tour chair

On May 4, from 11 a.m., buses will continuously shuttle attendees from Arabella Laguna to the first garden in South Laguna and back at the end of the walking route. The last tour bus leaves Arabella at 2 p.m. 

Volunteers will be on hand to assist tour goers. A rest stop, water, and restroom will be available along the route. Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, brimmed hats, sunglasses, and cameras are recommended.   

For more tour and ticket information, visit or email Nancy Englund at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Don’t be rattled by sightings of rattlesnakes on the trails – they’re a critical part of our ecosystem 


Man has always had a precarious relationship with snakes, from the sly viper in the Garden of Eden to the serpent gods of ancient mythology. 

Even in the year 2018, we still have a touchy kinship with the 19 species of snakes living in Orange County, especially rattlesnakes. Summer hasn’t yet arrived, but the warm weather has, and there are already several reports of sightings. 

In addition to rattlesnakes, two other species common to OC (but not dangerous to humans) are the California king snake and the gopher snake.

We’re told not to panic even when we encounter a harmless one, but that’s not so easy. However, if we’re going to tramp around on our 22,000 acres of trails in the Laguna Wilderness Park, we’d better know how to react if we do. Over the years, I’ve seen a more than a few rattlesnakes, one was dead, but the others were alive and slithering. 

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Photo by Josie Bennett, LCF

Baby Southern Pacific rattlesnake at Willow Nursery, taken by Josie Bennett

Josie Bennett, Restoration Manager, Laguna Canyon Foundation (LCF), offers timely information, “As daytime and nighttime temperatures increase during the spring, we see more snakes out. They are cold-blooded animals and take on the temperature of their surroundings. If it’s cold outside they are less active. When it’s warm outside they are out hunting and looking for a mate. 

“This seems about the right time for them to be coming out. It might be a good year for snakes since we had a lot of rain last year. Increased rain means more plants, more rodents, more snakes. More snakes mean more food for things like hawks and bobcats.”

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Photo by Cameron Davis, LCF

Adult Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganos helleri) on the DeWitt property (location of new LCF headquarters), taken by LCF Outreach and Restoration Coordinator, Cameron Davis

 “We see them often when we are out in the field this time of year. Every time it is a treat! Snakes often get a bad rap, but they are a critical part of our ecosystem and the Canyon is their home. My advice to people is to stay on the trails and avoid putting your hands or feet anywhere that you can’t see them.”  

In addition to those suggestions, Bennett says, “Be alert during warmer weather and in the evening when snakes are most active, wear closed-toed shoes, and don’t wander off the path, since snakes can be hard to see in tall grass and in rock crevices, and learn to identify the common species in the OC.”

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Rattlesnake spotted on Dartmoor Trail

Per the Natural History Museum website, each year 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the US, and of these incidents, on average, five to six bites result in fatalities. 

This means you are six times more likely to die from a lightning strike or a dog attack, eight times more likely to die from a TV set or other large furniture falling on you, 14 times more likely to die falling out of a tree, and 95 times more likely to die falling off a ladder. 

However, these statistics don’t immediately come to mind when you encounter a rattlesnake. Best to remember the advice Bennett gives on her blog, “People are often scared of snakes, but in reality, snakes are also scared of people! The best defense a snake has is to avoid confrontation by slithering away or by warning others to stay away (like rattlesnakes do). Although you don’t need to be scared of snakes, you should be careful when you see one and give them their space.”

No problem with that advice.

For more information on California snakes, go to 

For more information on LCF, go to

Dennis’ Tidbits


April 10, 2018

Tsunamis and twisters – rare, but they’ve happened here

Here on Sunday, the nine day run of gloom is finally done with sunny skies with just a few high clouds, no biggie. Temps warmed into the high 60’s this afternoon with gentle breezes and there were actually some fun zone waves today from a severe angle little NW ground swell with two to three and occasional four-foot sets that hit the Thalia Street reef just right. The tides were agreeable most of the day as we’re at the last quarter moon so tides are mellow. Finally some waves and some sun! It’s funny how quickly we forget about the gloom and the flat spells when they finally give way to a classic spring day. It looks like we’re in for at least a couple more sunny days with a possibility of 80 degree temps through mid week.

On this date (April 8, 1975) Laguna recorded its coldest nighttime on record with a low of 36 in town and 32 out in the Canyon. Also on this date in 1983 an EF-1 tornado briefly touched down in Fountain Valley as numerous thunderstorms erupted over much of Southern California from a feisty little upper level low that camped out right over Orange County for several hours. The twister with winds of 95 mph actually did quite a bit of damage to some rooftops in an industrial park just north of the 405 near Brookhurst Street. There were no injuries as the freak twister occurred on a Sunday, a day off for most people so nobody was around. The twister was only on the ground for around three or four minutes. 

The El Nino of 1982-83 was a wild one with just about everything imaginable thrown at us that season. That same day there were several waterspouts reported off Huntington Beach with one spout reaching EF-1 status but none of the spinners made landfall. April of 1983 was Laguna’s second wettest April on record with 5.16 inches surpassed only by the 6.02 that fell in April of 1965.

Last Friday a 5.3 shaker struck a few miles SW of Santa Cruz Islands off Santa Barbara and Ventura. It was the strongest quake in the So Cal area in four years when there was a 5.1 near La Habra in late March of 2014. The shaking was not felt here in Laguna as the epicenter was way up close to the Channel Islands and that’s about 130 miles from here. The shaking was horizontal so there was absolutely no threat of any tsunami activity plus the quake wasn’t strong enough to generate one anyway.

Way back on March 28, 1964 there was actually a three-foot tsunami that made landfall in Dana Point shortly before sunset. We had just gotten out of the water only moments before after surfing some fun little peelers at Dana Cove. This was years beforae they ruined the place with a harbor. Anyhow, we saw the whole event unfold when we saw the tide to recede to the point where it exposed parts of the inside reef, and then a three foot rush of water followed moments later as it washed up just high enough to brush the bluff’s bottom. It was like a three foot shorebreak on a super high tide, but no damage as it was only about three feet or so but we definitely noticed the somewhat peculiar behavior of the ocean for those few moments. 

Thank goodness the wave was minor by the time it reached us, but places like Crescent City up past Eureka got hammered by a tsunami estimated at 15 foot plus that destroyed most of the boat harbor and did major structural damage up to a quarter of a mile inland causing 28 deaths. That morning, near Anchorage, Alaska, one of the strongest earthquakes in world history struck the region as a 9.2 and the violent shaking lasted seven minutes! Terrifying! 

The one people really have to worry about is the Cascadia Fault which runs basically from north to south and it runs from just north of British Columbia on its north end all the way to just 60 miles west of Eureka Cal on its southernmost end. The fault is known as a subduction zone where the two plates move past each other vertically. Through extensive research it was discovered that a 9.0 struck just 65 miles off Central Washington causing a 70 foot tsunami only 12 minutes later but hardly anybody was around back then. The bad news is that kind of event occurs about every 250 years or so. Let’s do the math here. They’re almost 70 years overdue and now they say there’s at least a four in ten chance of one hitting by 2060. 


Garden(er) of the Month

A tropical treasure trove tantalizes the senses on Temple Hills 


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Picture a peaceful place to pursue gorgeous scenery and greenery punctuated with plentiful plants, sculptures, a koi pond, and paths that transport the body, mind, and soul. Imagine a garden so lovely and expansive that people actually think it’s a pocket park.

This special place is Susan Immel’s expansive, multilevel garden, her tantalizing treasure trove on Temple Terrace.

“It’s two levels and this goes around the house; there is actually a path. I will show you. This is the majority of the yard,” Immel said. 

It is jaw dropping, absolutely massive, and spans around the house on every side, up and down embankments and beyond.

Taking it all in, I asked what she loves most about gardening. 

“I love it all. I love to see something new. It’s so beautiful. You look at a flower and you see all the different levels of petals and stamen and everything in it,” Immel said. “And I think being an artist helps too. When you’re an artist you look at shadows and the different ways things are made.”

Seemingly so. It’s obvious this masterpiece has been creatively crafted and cared for with the hands of an artist.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Enjoy a luxurious garden on top of a hill with expansive views to the ocean and tropical treasures at every turn 

The eclectic garden has a sensational assortment of sculptures, art pieces, benches, many made by Immel herself. 

“So this is the path that goes around our house,” she said. “All this bank, all the way down there to where it’s flat, we have to take care of. It’s quite the yard, and this goes straight down.”

I verbalized a wow in response, a response that was frequently reiterated, while touring the garden-filled grounds.

At the entry of her driveway is a charming wooden sign with colorful arrows pointing in different directions to Virginia, where she’s from, to Chicago, where her husband Jerry is from, as well as the places her children live, and of course, the direction toward Nordstrom and other fun places.

Then to the left is an incredible embellished cement mailbox that Immel made. It was the coolest mailbox I had ever seen. It’s very whimsical and artsy, including a piece of china that she painted of Main Beach, beads, and a colorful array of decorative touches.

Not only is the mailbox decorative, it’s a necessity. Because of their location on the hill, cars and trucks would hit it either going up the hill, down, or back into it.  

“It was a wooden post, trucks used to run into it and knock it down. So I thought I’m going to make something so strong so the cars and trucks coming up here don’t hit it anymore,” Immel said.

 I’m not the only person that loves her mailbox and everything that surrounds it. The beautiful landscape is wonder to behold. Over the years, the Immels have received many love letters. 

“We’re such a prominent visible property, so people have written us lots of letters through the years. People leave us little notes and letters,” Immel said. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Susan Immel’s expansive garden includes a bus stop park-like area, a peaceful place to park it on a bench

Further along the corner edge of her property, she explained, “So these are the spires and they’re very historical. See the little steps going up, they’re very artistic. We were told that the house down here [belonged to a] Japanese farmer. He built the house and he was going to build all this land until he was sent to an internment camp, during WWII.”

The spires were mystic, they looked like miniature dwellings with tiny steps. “The front part is more ornate than the back part,” she said, showing me the pieces.

“We had a big sign there with our last name on it because no one could ever find our house. But too many people thought that this was a pocket park. So they would come into the yard and walk around with their kids,” Immel said.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A koi pond with 30 fish enjoy living the life in the Immel’s backyard sanctuary

Going in through a red gate into the sloping area of her backyard presents a phenomenal sight. In my mind, it looked exactly like a pocket park that you might see in San Francisco, my favorite place.

“And this is the koi pond over here,” she said. I laughed when she jokingly called it part of the pocket park. “Our grandchildren have a ball coming here,” she said pointing at the 30 huge koi fish. 

With the big palms, and the Buddha statue, it’s very peaceful and tranquil with the sound of running water. It could lull you into a peaceful state, which is perfect with the hammock swinging in the Zen-like garden.

When they moved in 34 years ago, the area was trashed, she said. 

“It sat empty for three years. And we didn’t even know there was a pond because it was so overgrown,” Immel explained.

She planned her piece of paradise from scratch,beautifully and meticulously with gorgeous details with every step. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Paths in paradise with exciting scenery, sculptures, and special touches, making it a perfect place to get lost in

“I got involved in the Laguna Beach Garden Club just because I retired and had the time. And my mother always belonged to garden clubs and liked to garden,” she said. “It’s great. It’s a great place to go and learn.”

Immel’s been gardening all her life, as has her mother. “My mother used to win all kinds of awards with her plants and this is one of her awards,” she said showing me one that been worn and faded over the years. They too received an award from the Beautification Council for their bench.

Nearby, she showed me a collection of letters that admirers of the picturesque property have placed in their mailbox over the years. 

“I love your beautifully landscaping, you’re creative, it’s quite welcoming as I drive the hill.” 

She expressed how welcome the appreciation is that she’s received from a lot of locals, hearing that the garden greets them and fills them with joy. 

“A lot of people say that, ‘Once they turn the corner and see our house they know they’re almost home,’” she said.

I can’t picture a better homecoming than that.

Annual Charm House tour on May 20 will feature lovely homes – and a hidden-away organic farm

The Village Laguna Charm House Tour, an annual celebration offering guests the opportunity to view iconic areas of Laguna Beach, will take place on Sunday, May 20, with buses leaving continuously from noon to 3 p.m. in front of the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

Parking is directly across the street, $3 all day.

Johanna Felder, president, notes, “It is gratifying that on each annual tour, we see familiar faces; new guests are equally enthusiastic. Our Village Laguna Board is pleased to help other nonprofit organizations financially, and this tour helps us achieve our goal. We’ve got a great mix of houses this year.”

As in past tours, there are many variables which make a home appropriate for the designation “charm house”: its gardens and general authenticity of what best represents the quaintness and charm of Laguna Beach are important – but unique contemporary and modern homes are also included, organizers say.

This year, five specially selected homes will represent the best of Laguna Beach, and the focus will be on homes in and around Bluebird Canyon.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A view of the hidden-away organic farm included on the tour

“Our tour is including another addition to the lovely homes,” Jahn Levitt says. “As a special treat, we are excited to offer our guests a tour of Laguna Beach’s one-and-only organic farm, plus refreshments. 

“The tour of the organic farm, which is set into a hillside with sweeping views, will add the special touch to make our tour especially interesting and educational for all guests.”

Tickets are now on sale for $50 presale, and will cost $60 on the day of the event. They can be ordered through PayPal at the Charm House tour website at

Alternatively, tickets may be purchased by sending a request and check to Village Laguna Charm House Tour, Post Office Box 1309, Laguna Beach, CA 92652, or at any of the following outlets: Copy & Print Center, 240 Beach St; Cottage Furnishings, 802 S Coast Hwy; EGO Salon, 32880 Pacific Coast Hwy #40; Monarch Bay Plaza, Dana Point; Fawn Memories, 384 Forest Ave; or Laguna Beach Books at “Old Pottery Place” 1200 S. Coast Hwy.

For more information, call (949) 472-7503 or go to the website at

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