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Buddhist monks visit local wellness doctor Anita Wang, MD on Monday

On Monday, Feb 4, Buddhist monks stopped by local wellness doctor Anita Wang, MD’s office to offer blessings for the Chinese New Year. 

Buddhist Monks outside

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Dr. Wang outside of her Laguna Beach office Monday, delighted by visiting Buddhist monks

“I believe everyone needs a helping hand now and then. That help comes in many different forms, and one is receiving a blessing. It has been many years since I climbed Mount Kailash, the ‘Precious Snow Mountain,’ which is sacred to Buddhism. Circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot in a single day, which is no easy task, is believed to bring one enlightenment and good fortune,” shared Dr. Wang. 

Buddhist Monks prayer

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Buddhist Monks saying their blessing over Dr. Wang’s office

“It has been many years since I have journeyed to Tibet and circumambulated the sacred mountain. I am fortunate that I do not need to journey back to Tibet to receive a blessing from the Drepung Gomang Buddhist monks. The monks visit Laguna Beach every few years, and spread their blessing. I wish to share that blessing with everyone and share in good fortune for the New Year!” 

Dr. Anita Wang is located at 255 Thalia St, Ste B. For more information on her practice, call (949) 734-0580 or visit

Laguna Presbyterian Church invites the public to movie screening of Beautifully Broken on Saturday

On Saturday, Feb 9 at 6:30 p.m., Laguna Presbyterian Church invites the public to a screening of the movie Beautifully Broken. Ebralie Mwizerwa, wife of the refugee, will be available for questions after the film. 

The film tells the true story about three families who become connected. A Rwandan refugee, fearing for his life during the 1994 genocide, flees to the United States but must leave behind his wife and daughter. Once in America he meets a business owner whose own family is fracturing as his traumatized teenage daughter confides only in her pen pal who is in Rwanda. 

Laguna Presbyterian Beautifully Broken

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A scene from the movie “Beautifully Broken”

The two men become friends and open a refugee center for immigrants and work through their challenges as they also focus on saving their own families. The compelling story addresses the issues of dealing with personal struggles, violent reality, and ultimately finding healing and forgiveness.

A powerful line in the movie includes, “If everyone sought revenge with an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ theology, the whole world would be blind.” 

The film features Emily Hahn and Scott William Winters and was filmed on location in South Africa and Louisiana. It’s directed by Eric Welsh. 

The showing will be held in the sanctuary. Admission is free and free will offerings will be accepted.

To view the official trailer, visit

Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave.

Somber sea and sky

Somber sea gray

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Photo by Scott Brashier

So many stormy shades of gray

Splendiferous Sunday

Splendiferous Sunday sky

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Blue is shining through on Sunday after the rain

A new day, a new week

Photos by Scott Brashier

Starting the painter

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Plein Air artist painting during a rain break

Starting the rock

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Dramatic Monday seascape following the weekend storms

Starting the street

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Staring down the calm and empty streets of Coast Hwy

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday alone

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Perfect time for a walk

Wild weather

Wild weather rainbow

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Wild weather brings riches – rainbow at sunset over Oak St

CAP & LPAPA open “Unexpected Places” exhibit with reception on Feb 9

Community Art Project (CAP) and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) present “Unexpected Places,” with an opening reception on Saturday, Feb 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

CAP Tom Swimm

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Tom Swimm, Point Lobos Grandeur, 48” x 60”, oil

“Unexpected Places” showcases a juried selection of works by over 20 Signature and Artist members of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Artists will be in attendance to discuss their work and the joys and challenges of painting “en plein air.” There will also be an awards presentation during the reception.

CAP artist Fernando Micheli

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Fernando Micheli, Batequitos Lagoon Evening, 18” x 24”, oil

The unexpected place – this is what artists thrive on, it’s where they find their inspiration. That special moment when they come upon a scene and experience the perfect glimmer of light sparking their artist emotions, these are the Laguna Plein Air Painters.

CAP artist Val Carson

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Val Carson, In Her Glory Casper Park, 16”x 20”, oil

The CAP Gallery is located at 260 Ocean Ave, on the Second Floor of Wells Fargo Bank. This free event is open to the public. For more information, visit

All biking is not the same

By Paula Olson

Outreach Director, Laguna Canyon Foundation

Years ago, inspired by one of the most awesome gifts my dad ever gave me – a Bianchi road bike – I became obsessed with biking. I rode around Palos Verdes Peninsula almost every weekend. Back then, I didn’t wear a helmet or sunscreen. I frequently rode alone; my route was out of Malaga Cove on Palos Verdes Drives West, South, East and home on Palos Verdes Drive North. No matter how many times I pedaled up Palos Verdes Drive East, my endurance was challenged. Huffing and puffing, I muscled to the peak, so I could sit back, let go of the handlebars, grab some water, and sail down for the rest of the ride. Twenty-four miles of sheer pleasure.

This past summer, I got back into biking – mountain biking, to be specific – on a used hardtail Leader I recently purchased.

As the saying goes, “It’s just like riding a bike,” right?

Well, no. And I learned that the hard way when after huffing and puffing up a dirt trail, I sat up to grab some water and cruise down the incline – feeling pretty proud of myself – instead of focusing on the quick turns, changing soil, and protruding toyon branches that lay before me. I braked hard for a rock that came out of nowhere and nearly fell into a cholla.

All biking Karin and Paula

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Courtesy of LCF

Volunteer leader Karin Lotz (on left) and Paula Olson

It was time for me to acknowledge that I needed some guidance.

On the third Sunday of each month in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, several Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers lead two rides: Introduction to Mountain Biking and Intermediate Mountain Biking. Andre and Karin Lotz, Heather Hawke, Fernando GenKuong, and Shawn Biglari are very experienced riders. They are CPR trained, are certified by OC Parks staff, and know the trails. Most importantly, they are fabulous and patient teachers. The two rides are scheduled at the same time so that the leaders can welcome all participants, ensure everyone has helmets and necessary equipment, and determine who will lead which ride.

For December’s ride, I arrived at Aliso and Wood Canyons not as a Laguna Canyon Foundation staffer, but as a mountain biker, ready to learn. Since all the riders that showed up that morning wanted to go on the intermediate ride, Karin graciously offered to take me on the intro ride, which was my preference. What a wonderful experience!

The Intro ride is about eight miles up and down Wood Canyon. Karin adjusts seat height if needed and reviews neutral and ready body positioning before the ride. Along the trail are bridges, water, cake mix soil, sharp turns, quick inclines and, of course, other park users. As we approached these elements, Karin reviewed things like when and how to brake, when to change gears, and where my line of sight should be.

All biking group

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Courtesy of LCF

Group of mountain bikers

I learned that a steep, rocky incline wasn’t something to “gear up” for, to muscle through as I have always done, but to anticipate with a proper gear and consistent pedaling. If I found that I had to stop in the middle of an uphill ride, Karin showed me how to recover and pedal again. We talked as we rode and all the while she communicated with and watched out for other bikers and hikers.

And while there were things I didn’t feel ready to do – ride on a narrow wooden bridge or through a creek – I came away with improved skills and confidence, eager to ride more.

The intermediate 10-mile ride goes up Wood Canyon to Cholla and Westridge and down Lynx, Rock-It, or a trail appropriate for that day’s group. The leaders focus more on the experience than the skill level of the riders but will include pointers on the subject where the need is realized. For the most part, riders on the intermediate ride are already competent on a mountain bike. 

All biking trio

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Courtesy of LCF

(L-R) Volunteer leaders Fernando GenKuong, Heather Hawke, and Shawn Biglari

As many are either new to Southern California or new to the park, the focus is more on where we are, what trails are available and who uses them, and what one might expect to encounter in the park. The primary goal is to have a good workout, a lot of fun, and a chance to make new friends who can share a common experience.

These rides are just plain fun with a wonderful group of riders and are a great way for those, like me, who want to get back into biking or for more experienced folks who may want some fresh ideas and input. As I hone my skills, I imagine I’ll soon want to ride with the Intermediate group, but for now, I’m happy re-learning how to ride a bike.

Join us on February 17. Sign up online here, where all of Laguna Canyon Foundation’s hikes and events are listed. Remember to RSVP!

For more information on LCF, go to

After the rain

After the rain

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The sun peeks out following Thursday’s rain, creating a beautiful spectacle

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