Even without Bubbles, Barbara’s Lake is a great place to see wildlife


Barbara’s Lake, even without a hippo, is bubbling with life right now after the rains: pelicans, ducks, and frogs ripple its surface and recently, on the trail that leads to the lake, we encountered four ducks, three rabbits, two hikers and a lizard. We even saw two gophers poke their heads out, which was a lovely sight when not in one’s garden.

Of course, Orange County’s only natural lake is always more fun when there’s plenty of water in it, which hasn’t been the case for a while.

(More about Bubbles a little later.)

Click on photo for a larger image

Lynette’s IPhone photo

Barbara’s Lake with ducks (if you look very closely)

According to Laguna Greenbelt, the approximately six-acre lake, located in the Jim Dilley Preserve, is fed by a series of natural springs and is named for long-time Laguna Greenbelt board member and open space advocate, Barbara Stuart, who bequeathed

a large amount of money for the preservation of the Laguna Greenbelt. 

Thus it was that the lake was named in her honor.

However, the story of Bubbles the hippo has had arguably more impact on locals’ memories of the lake, which was once two lakes divided by Laguna Canyon Rd. After the Canyon Road was rerouted, skirting the natural spring, the two lakes were connected into one.

This is said to be Bubbles bathing and bellowing in Barbara’s Lake

One February night in 1978, Bubbles shoved her way out of the nearby Lion Park and ambled over to the west lake. Here she spent 19 days of freedom, enjoying a somnolent sojourn while national media took notice and park rangers attempted to entice her out with alfafa.

Sadly, her emergence marked her downfall. It was said that after she’d been hit by a tranquilizer’s dart, shot in an effort to calm and then relocate her, she fell heavily, suffocating herself. 

Was that the real reason for her death? No one knows for sure.

The signpost at Barbara’s Lake offers this piece of wisdom: A frog does not drink up the water in which he lives – something to think about as we strive to conserve the wilderness that provides Laguna with so much of its character.

Easter sunrise with all of nature’s glory

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Mary welcomed Easter morning with this shot from the fire road, between TOW and Moulton Meadows

Each shirt tells a story:  The 16th Annual Clothesline Project at LOCA breaks the silence of victims


Entering Nina’s garden at LOCA, our (Marrie Stone, a fellow writer was with me) attention was immediately drawn to the brightly colored t-shirts hung on clotheslines stretched between the sprawling trees. There were so many, a hundred or so, it was difficult to take them all in at once, and this installation represented only a portion of the shirts Community Service Program (CSP) has collected. 

The beauty of the setting seemed a fitting backdrop for the brave messages written on the shirts, each from a crime victim, each telling a story of abuse. These testaments of survival were a result of those who had sought help from the nonprofit Community Service Program (CSP) Sexual Assault Victim Services and Victim Assistance Program.

Mixed among the many bright colors across the clothesline hung a number of grey t-shirts (maybe six or seven) representing the victims of human trafficking. Some were inked with names, some memories, some remembrances. A few were covered, top to bottom, in long scripts of angry words. One had been slashed in several spots with scissors or a knife. 

Click on photo for larger image

The Clothesline Project travels to Orange County colleges and universities

The Clothesline Project in Orange County began in 2001 with just eight t-shirts and now has grown to 1,100, as CSP travels to Orange County colleges and universities. Each t-shirt color represented a different crime; red, pink and orange signified rape; green and blue - child sexual abuse; gray - human trafficking; purple - rape due to sexual orientation; black - sexual harassment; white - homicide; yellow - domestic violence. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, an ideal time to raise public awareness around sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it.

CSP had a table set up with information about their organization and stacks of new t-shirts for those wishing to contribute a message to the project. Dawn Foor, Supervisor II, CSP, spoke with us regarding the problems of sexual abuse in OC.  Marrie asked Dawn about the gray t-shirts that represented victims of human trafficking, and she relayed some shocking information.

Click on photo for larger image

(l-r) Roselyn Tran, Sabrina Hughes, Dawn Foor, Christina Beecher

Orange County, we were told, is one of the worst places in the nation for human trafficking because of our high tourist population. Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, the beaches, all hotbeds of sexual trafficking, which is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. Whatever amount of money traffickers can get for girls in Los Angeles or San Diego counties, they can get twice that amount in Orange County, reported Lita Mercado, an administrator with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, in the Orange County Register last year.  

Dawn also told us that girls are found all over, from small mid-western towns to big cities, malls, parks, wherever kids hang out. They’re promised free airfare to the happiest place on earth. And then they’re stuck. Fortunately, Senate Bill-1322, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of last year, protects underage girls from prosecution. While critics claimed California was legalizing child-prostitution, this law protects victims of sexual trafficking from being further victimized by the system. Suffering an arrest record after suffering sexual assault is not a solution California will tolerate.

As we left, it was clear that the t-shirt project conveyed the anguish of the victims, but it also expressed their enduring strength and persistent hope. While the experiences will never be forgotten, being allowed this outlet to talk about them gives power back to the survivors. What they’d suffered, many shirts said, did not define them. In breaking the silence, they are no longer broken.

Caltrans sidewalk maintenance work continues during April and May

Caltrans has started a project to remove and replace damaged and/or displaced concrete sidewalks, curbs, and driveways on Coast Highway from Mountain Road to Ledroit Street and on Broadway Street from Coast Highway to Forest Avenue from April through May. Work is being conducted between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Sidewalk maintenance during April and May from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Closures will include one lane of traffic in each direction and sidewalks depending on the direction of the travel.  For more detailed project information, see the press on the City’s website: at: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/news/displaynews.htm?NewsID=1399&TargetID=17 or contact Yvonne Washington at (657) 328-6000.

Annual Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Open House on May 13 offers opportunity to bowl by the sea 

Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling club hosts their annual open house on Sat, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is held on the same day all over the country at lawn bowling clubs to encourage people to give lawn bowling a try. The gate will be open for anyone who would like to try this great game and meet some spectacular people.

Try lawn bowling at LBLBC’s Annual Open House on May 13

Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club, established in 1931, is the largest in the US. LBLBC is located in Heisler Park, overlooking the ocean at 455 Cliff Dr, LB. Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club members, young, old, novice, or veteran enjoy both social and tournament bowls. They provide ongoing complimentary lessons in basics, strategy, etiquette and team games.

Those interested in attending should drop by, or if further information is needed, contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or by phone (949) 494-1811 or visit the website at https://www.lagunabeachlawnbowlingclub.com/.

Alley treasure: The one that got away


One may think alley picking is akin to dumpster diving, but in Laguna Beach, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here in Laguna, it seems to be an agreed upon concept that when residents have something they no longer want, but still has some life left in it, they place it near their trash cans. Usually, the items quickly disappear. 

After my husband retired, he put out a few shirts and dress shoes he no longer needed. A few days later, we saw a gentleman on the boardwalk wearing one of the shirts and the shoes. We were happy they had another life. And in Laguna.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve alley picked, often. Almost every day on the way to the beach, I walk my dog down an alley, one we share with several galleries. I have a large unfinished oil painting hanging in my kitchen that was found leaning against a gallery’s trash can. It’s of two chefs cooking in a restaurant, but they have no definite features, which makes it even more mysterious. I’ve always wondered if it was painted by a student who decided it wasn’t good enough to finish. It would be nice for the artist to know that the painting has received many compliments.

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

An abandoned painting finds a home

On another occasion, I spotted a cache of costume jewelry on top of a Nordstrom’s shopping bag in an open trash can. Of course, I bagged it.  Again, I wondered about the history, whose was it, where was it worn, and why was it tossed? 

However, I passed up the strangest item I’ve stumbled across, because I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. A beaded designer wedding dress, still with the tags on it, lay carefully arranged on top of a dirty trash can lid. 

Thinking it might be a joke, and a cameraman was waiting to yell, “You’ve been pranked,” if I picked it up, dumbfounded, I left it untouched. When I got back from the beach, the dress was gone. How did it get there in the first place? In a fit of rage, did a jilted fiancée throw it away? Was it a joke as I suspected? Whatever its origins, I just hope it found a home with another owner, size six, who lived happily ever after in Laguna Beach.

So, next time you stroll down one of our alleys, keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find.


Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising


Email: StuNewsLaguna@Yahoo.com with news releases, letters, etc