Laguna Beach Promenade on Forest extended through January 2021

Tuesday, the Laguna Beach City Council voted to extend The Promenade on Forest through January 31, 2021. The Promenade on Forest: Shopping, Dining, Art, and You! is an outdoor dining, display, and art performance area that creates a safe and exciting pedestrian-only experience on Forest Avenue from Coast Highway to Glenneyre Street in Downtown Laguna Beach. 

The Promenade design supports local businesses by expanding outdoor dining areas and merchandise display areas on Lower Forest Avenue.

Laguna Beach Promenade on

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Promenade will stay open through January 2021 

Key features of The Promenade on Forest:

--Operating hours from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through January 2021

--Dining decks, retail display decks, and a performance art deck for virtual and live performances and temporary art installations

--Layout to promote safe physical distancing between parties, hand sanitizing stations, and maintenance staff to regularly disinfect the furniture

--Face coverings are required at The Promenade; free face coverings will be handed out to those who need them periodically

--String lighting to illuminate The Promenade and provide evening ambiance and security; umbrellas, potted trees, and plants to provide daytime shade and ambiance

For more information, contact The Promenade on Forest Project Manager Jeremy Frimond at (949) 464-6673 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Jimmy Azadian selected for Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Thriving In Their 40’s” list

Dykema, a leading national law firm, is proud to announce that Jimmy Azadian, Los Angeles-based Member of the Firm’s Appellate Practice Group, was selected for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Thriving In Their 40’s” list. Azadian is profiled December 21 issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal. The Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Thriving In Their 40’s” program stemmed from their traditional “40 in their 40’s,” as a way to celebrate and honor outstanding market leaders that are leading the way in their industry.

Azadian’s practice focuses on complex federal and state court litigation raising cutting-edge and core business and constitutional issues. He has served as counsel in more than 250 appeals and writ proceedings covering a wide variety of industries and subjects across the country. Throughout his career, Azadian’s been responsible for arguing cases that have had an immense impact on the law. In 2019 alone, he served as embedded appellate counsel in two major cases, helping guide both trial teams to jury verdicts in favor of Dykema clients.

Jimmy Azadian closeup

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Jimmy Azadian

Outside of his practice, Azadian is extremely active with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He currently serves as Chair of the Appellate Lawyer Representatives, as appointed by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas. He was also recently appointed to serve on the Law Clerk Resource Group, a subsection of the Workplace Environment Committee. He’s also been a court-appointed mentor to civil practitioners through the Court’s Mentorship Program and has served two terms as a court-appointed member of its Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Internal Operating Procedures.

Azadian earned a J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s also served as an adjunct professor teaching courses in Appellate Advocacy at Pepperdine University School of Law, Law and Economics at UCLA, the Supreme Court Practicum at Northwestern University School of Law, and Legal Ethics at USC.

Azadian is a longtime Laguna Beach resident and is a leader in the PTAs.


Taking a break

Taking a branch

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Ruby-throated hummingbird resting its wings


Serandi Salon: at the forefront of style, service, and creative innovation

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

“There’s a reason that Serandi Salon is at the forefront of hair design,” said Haute Living Magazine. However, to be honest, there are several reasons – and the expertise of Sergio Andrioli and his nine stylists is at the top of that list. One visit will convince you why this salon was also named “Best of Orange County” by the OC Register. 

At the heart of this cosmopolitan salon is creative innovator Sergio Andrioli – hence the salon name Serandi, a combination of his first and last name. Reviews name him as one of the most sought-after hair stylists in Orange County. Andrioli has made a name for himself by constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional cutting and styling techniques. 

Growing up in both Italy and Argentina, Andrioli began his career over three decades ago in Argentina. He quickly became the stylist among celebrities in the area and worked with some of the most famous European models. 

Serandi Salon closeup

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Sergio Andrioli

The journey that culminated with the opening of his salon here in 2008 began back in 1990 when he visited the St. Regis in Newport Beach for a year of apprenticeship. 

“Then I went back to Argentina, and 11 years later (right after 9/11), they asked me to come back when they were opening up the St. Regis in Dana Point,” says Sergio. 

In 2002, Sergio returned to Orange County and within two years, he became the Artistic and Educational Director at the St. Regis and was recognized as the top hair stylist. It proved to be an environment which gave him the opportunity to let his artistic inclinations flourish – he began to style celebrities like Barbra Streisand.

“I styled at the St. Regis for almost seven years,” he says, “then I saw this building.”

In 2008, when he opened Serandi Salon behind Spa by Josephine, 80 percent (or more) of his clients followed him from the St. Regis. 

Serandi moved to the current location in 2010. “This space was vacant, and I couldn’t have a vacant space in front, so I moved in here,” Andrioli says.

It’s a large spectacular salon with ocean views – and to top it off, a big bonus in Laguna, a parking structure with eight spaces designated for clients. 

Serandi Salon Sergio and client

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Sergio with client 

For Andrioli, timely training throughout the year on new products and creative precision skills is essential for the success of “Team Serandi.”

Christine Veazey opened the salon with him 13 years ago. “Now I work only part-time to be with my family more,” she says. “I love the teamwork and especially the continuing education Sergio provides, so we can keep up with what’s new.”

Brian Pallas, who has been Veazey’s client for five years, says, “I’ve lived in Laguna for more than 30 years. I got to know Christine, who started with Sergio, and she’s fabulous. She’s got the touch. I’ve been to a lot of salons in town, and this is the best one – and I love the parking garage.”

Sergio attributes much of his success to listening to his clients.

“I’ve been doing hair for 30 years, and as I got older, I learned to communicate better. I understand what clients want, which is just as important as doing hair.”

His client Cindy Griesemer attests to that, “I’ve been coming here for a couple of years. Sergio is an artist and goes above and beyond and listens to what I want. I’m always happy, and I leave having a nice experience.” 

Serandi Salon staff

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Top row, left to right: Blake Masters, Arthur Margain, Erin Bliss, Giorgina Mohseni, Mai Nguyen; Bottom row, left to right: Clarissa Saiz, Arlene Long, Sergio Andrioli, Christine Veazey, Melanie Hanna

Stylist Arthur Margain, who has lived in the area of Huntington Beach and Newport Heights for 20 years, has been with Andrioli since June. He loves the friendly staff and the beautiful surroundings. “I previously worked at Hampton Salon in Newport Beach and all my clients followed me to Serandi. My clients love this salon.” 

Mai Nguyen also started in June. “The salon has a wonderful friendly staff.” 

One of Andrioli’s long-term stylists, Melanie Hana, has been with him for seven years. “I love it here – it’s very easy-going, right on beach, and my clients are amazing.”

The best products and training

One of the reasons Serandi Salon stays at the forefront of hair design is Andrioli’s emphasis on educating his staff. 

Using only the best products – Keratase, Oribe, Goldwell, and Wella – he’s also an educator for Bumble and Bumble and keeps his stylists abreast of new techniques and products by bringing in educational teachers and conducting training sessions. 

Serandi Salon jewelry

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Jewelry by Karla Pattur

Stylist Erin Bliss has been at Serandi for four years. “I love it here. Not only is it beautiful, it’s very warm and inviting. The hairdressers are experienced and seasoned. Sergio supports the staff with education and builds teamwork. Most of us have had a lot of experience and are grateful to be working with people who have a passion and love for what they do. It’s a pleasure to come to work – it feels like family.”

“I’ve been at the salon for two years,” says stylist Giorgina Mohseni. “It’s a very positive international atmosphere – the staff works as a team and to come here feels amazing.”

As proof of Giorgina’s talents, Lisa Bowler, one of her client says, “I followed her to this salon.” 

Sergio’s assistant Clarissa Saiz agrees, “Working with him is wonderful. He has so much experience and expertise.”

One service that clients probably won’t receive at any other salon resulted from a cancer scare Sergio had five years ago. After discovering a melanoma on his back, he now checks client’s scalps for melanomas. 

“Most stylists don’t check for melanoma spots when they do client’s hair. I have found spots on two of my clients, and they can’t stop saying thank you.”

Serandi Salon chairs

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Stations safely distanced 

Stylist Arlene Long came to Serandi from the Hotel Laguna. Her station has a magnificent view of the ocean. “I’ve been here six years. It’s a great place to work, and I love the ocean view. I came here from Atlanta and heard about their reputation. It felt right. I landed in a good spot.”

Local Karen Metcalfe has been coming to Long for two years. “My hair has never looked so good. Better than in the last 50 years. I love this salon. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I came to Arlene because she had amazing reviews on Yelp.”

Pandemic

Just as most businesses during the past year, Serandi Salon suffered three closures. Luckily, they have an outside patio and kept three or four stylists during that time. 

“All nine stations are full now and business is slowly coming back,” Sergio says. 

Alterations were made so that the stations are farther apart, partitions have been put in place, and they adhere to all the CDC guidelines. The space is meticulously clean.

Serandi Salon exterior

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Serandi Salon is located at 1833 S Coast Hwy

Outside of the salon, during his spare time, Andrioli paddleboards and hikes. His mother lives in Mission Viejo and his two daughters, 15-year-old Giuliana and 16-year-old Valentina, live in Coto de Caza. Although his father is still in Argentina, Andrioli visits him frequently.

Considering the strange quirk that makes clients talk about their private lives with their stylists, it’s not surprising that there have been some humorous situations over the years.

The lighter side

Andrioli says, “One of our male clients had a girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, and an ex-wife, and they all came to the salon to different stylists. We had to make sure we scheduled appointments so that their paths never crossed.”

Another funny anecdote occurred during one of the salon’s Halloween parties in which guys were to come dressed as saints and ladies as angels. “I was dressed as Jesus,” says Andrioli. “My hair was long then. A client had just gotten out of the hospital after an operation and asked me to stop by and trim her bangs because she didn’t feel well enough to come into the salon. So I went to her house dressed as Jesus. Her response was, ‘I was blind, but because of Jesus, now I see.’”

The consensus from clients is that Andrioli and his staff are true artists, and Serandi Salon is where it all comes together – to make everyone more beautiful – or handsome – whatever the case may be. 

Serandi Salon is located at 1833 S Coast Hwy.

For more information, go to www.serandi.com or call (949) 715-5115 for an appointment.


Homeowners and small businesses may request penalty cancellations if directly affected by COVID-19 

An Executive Order by Governor Gavin Newsom allows homeowners and small businesses to request property tax penalty cancellations if they’ve been directly affected by COVID-19. The first day to submit those requests for cancellation of the late penalties for the second installment and pay the base taxes due is Tuesday, April 13. All penalty cancellation requests must be submitted along with the base property taxes no later than May 6, 2021.

“While we have seen great improvements with vaccinations, a decrease in hospitalizations, and a decreased rate of positivity, many Orange County residents have been directly impacted by COVID-19,” said Orange County Treasurer Shari Freidenrich. “For that reason, under direction from the Governor’s executive orders, my office will grant penalty cancellations for certain homeowners and small businesses that were unable to deliver their payment timely due to an impact from COVID-19. Payment of base property taxes is required with the submittal of the request.”

For those who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and do not pay their second installment property taxes by April 12, they should complete the COVID-19 Penalty Cancellation Request Form and provide appropriate supporting documentation related to their request. Although the county is not able to change the payment deadline set by state law, Freidenrich says they are able to extend the time to submit and pay the base property taxes. 

Examples of direct impacts due to COVID-19 may include illness, hospitalization, quarantine, loss of employment, or business closures. Examples of documentation include hospitalization records, doctor’s notes, employment notifications due to a business closure, layoff notices, rent receipt postponement notices/waivers, CA EDD Unemployment Insurance claim letters, etc. 

As these requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, taxpayers are encouraged to apply and provide their specific circumstances to be considered.

For further details, go to www.ttc.ocgov.com/property-tax/informationfaqs/penalty-cancellation-request.


Guest Column

Tune in to KXFM on April 19 to hear from our new city arborist 

By Barbara and Greg MacGillivray

A month ago, our City Council/Public Works announced the hiring of a new City Arborist to fill the seven-month vacant position for leading the City’s Urban Forest Management Program. This was widely celebrated by all of us who love Laguna’s historically artistic and health-providing arboreal cover. Our wise City Council/Public Works teams persevered through COVID challenges to hire Matthew Barker as our new arborist.

Matthew has more than 11 years of prior tree care experience, coming to us from his Municipal Arborist position with the City of Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to that he was an arborist and tree climbing specialist for the Architect of the Capitol, maintaining the trees on the extensive grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Our beautiful canopy will certainly benefit not only from his tree expertise but also his tender touch!

Guest Column Tune in Matthew Barker

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Arborist Matthew Barker

It was while at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, that Matthew decided to switch from neuroscience studies and petri dishes to follow his youthful passion for the Tree Community and its Ecology. And passion is what defines Matthew. You can hear this passion in his upcoming radio interview on the “Mornings with Ed” show on KXFM 104.7 on Monday, April 19 at 8:30 a.m. We encourage everyone to tune in!

Matthew will explain both his love for trees and what he’s learned about this very special arboreal community, as well as present this year’s Arbor Day plans, which he immediately took on upon his hiring. A special addition to this year’s livestreamed Arbor Day Tree-planting, scheduled for National Arbor Day on April 30, will be a youth outreach feature designed by Matthew and his PW team. 

All LBUSD students are now encouraged to participate in this year’s Arbor Day Art Contest by providing entries with the theme of “What Trees Mean to Me.” Multiple media including poems, paintings, or drawings can be submitted, in a format no larger than 8” x 5” x 11”, to the City Hall check-in area until April 26. Winners will be announced during our live streamed Arbor Day, April 30. The winning pieces will be displayed in City Hall and each winner will receive a tree-themed gift box. 

We are so happy to welcome Matthew, his wife, and daughter to our community.


Kensho Fitness Studio: it’s all about intention and attention

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut 

Bobby Lee, owner of Kensho Fitness, describes himself as an educator, a taskmaster, and a cajoler – the perfect qualities to translate his fitness philosophy into life-changing results for his clients. Certainly, expertise and accountability are critical to any workout program, but a little flattery goes a long way too.

However, it’s Lee’s philosophy of stillness – or maintaining a still point – that permeates every aspect of his life and his approach to training and fitness. He defines it as a point of certainty (about oneself) from which one navigates through the world.

Stillness

The notion of stillness is not detachment, he further explains. “It’s the necessity to turn everything else off and be present in only the here and now.”

“Everything is about core,” he says. “The idea is to generate force in an object. The more stillness involved, the more efficient it is. You’re stronger mentally than you think you are.”

Lee’s studio is aptly named – Kensho is a Japanese term from the Zen tradition. Ken means “seeing,” shō means “nature, essence.” It is usually translated as “seeing one’s (true) nature,” that is, the Buddha-nature or nature of mind.

Kensho Fitness closeup

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Bobby Lee, owner of Kensho Fitness 

Learned from decades in the martial arts, Lee incorporates three facets of that training – physicality, spirituality, and mentality – into his fitness philosophy. 

“I try to instill in people the idea that training shouldn’t be mindless,” he says. “Clients aren’t maximizing their time here if they don’t put their minds into it. It’s a mental approach to fitness – involving attention and intention. Everything is about intention – as it should be in everyday life.”

Of course, the benefits of fitness are undeniable; some of the issues Lee addresses are: sarcopenia, osteoporosis, body weight, chronic conditions, and mental acuity. As part of his training, he also has several different focus areas – resistance training, golf fitness, youth fitness, and posture stability.

Studio 

The studio opened last year as part of the Boat Canyon Wellness Collective, which occupies the upper floor in the Pavilions center. All of the businesses upstairs are dedicated to wellness and well-being, and Kensho is a wonderful addition.

 Lee offers one-on-one personal training in over 1,000 square feet of space – with not more than two clients at a time for the foreseeable future to ensure social distancing.

He strictly adheres to Federal, State, and Local government safety guidelines, so his clients can stay physically active. Implementation includes temperature screening, face masks, and frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas and equipment.

Kensho Fitness client and Bobby

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Bobby Lee assists a client with the “Arnold Press,” a shoulder exercise which targets the deltoids but involves multiple planes of motion to activate several smaller muscles at once

Lacking typical fitness facility mirrors – which tend to be a distraction – the studio is a unique space that reflects Lee’s mindful ideology. If a client prefers music during a session, there is a wide variety of music available. 

After thoroughly researching the equipment, Lee furnished the space with the most innovative pieces to be found – some with names such as the Arnold Press, Sissy Squat, and Superman Press. The weights on the weight apparatus are composed of chrome rubber, which is made from recycled tires. For safety purposes, all the weight discs are the same diameter. Lee also installed brand new anti-microbial rubber flooring resistant to mold and mildew. 

The studio’s white walls are adorned with art from Lee and his wife Heather’s collection. Heather – the daughter of the late Dennis and Cheryl Ekstrom, longtime Laguna artists – is an art dealer, curating art in hotels such as Montage Laguna Beach and Surf and Sand. 

To add to the peaceful atmosphere, a heavenly ocean breeze flows from an open patio door and provides more than ample ventilation.

Kensho Fitness Bobby weights

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Bobby Lee doing the “Superman Press”

In addition to designing a serene oasis in which to train, Lee brings a wealth of diverse expertise to his clients. He’s a Master Trainer, Nationally Published Fitness Expert, Former Fitness Editor of Men’s Fitness Magazine, a member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Senior Fitness Specialist, Certified Youth Fitness Specialist, Certified Golf Fitness Specialist, Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness Professional, with over 35 years of martial arts experience.

It all started with Bruce Lee

In a strange but fortuitous turn of events, martial arts led Lee to the field of fitness and Bruce Lee led him to martial arts. When (Bobby) Lee was 14 years old and living in the Washington D.C. area, he got hooked by the Bruce Lee craze. “I was tall, but small in physique. I started training at 16, and it was my focal point for 35-39 years. I liked fighting, and I wanted to learn how to fight more efficiently.”

The road to Laguna

Lee graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia, with a degree in English.

Combining his writing talent with his dedication to fitness, he moved from the Washington D.C. area to California to work for Eastern Health & Fitness Magazine. He was then hired at Men’s Fitness Magazine as Fitness Editor. 

He also wrote infomercials and worked as a consultant on nutritional products. Now in his spare time, Lee golfs and reads, although he admits that he doesn’t write much anymore. 

Kensho Fitness squats

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Client demonstrates the “Sissy Squat”

Lee met his wife Heather, who had been in the fashion industry in NYC, in Santa Monica where they both lived in the same apartment complex. Lee says, “I buzzed her mother through the gate of the apartment complex, and she said, ‘You should meet my daughter.’” 

However, from what Lee says, it took Heather a while to come around. They married 17 years ago and when Men’s Fitness Magazine sold to a New York company, they moved to Laguna.

“Heather and I opened up a small antiquities and home goods store called TROVE on Ocean Ave and owned it for 14 years. I was working as a trainer all during this time.”

Clients

Lee currently has 20 clients, who come in by appointment only, two to three times a week, and train one-on-one.

“I care deeply about all of them,” he says.

It’s clear that he’s passionate about what he does. “Without passion, there is no compassion,” he says.

Lee’s approach is not just about fitness, but the engagement of one’s entire being, and he feels there must be a certain rapport between trainer and client for that to occur.

Kensho Fitness above head

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Bobby Lee spots a client performing the “Jammer Arm Snatch,” a full-body exercise that targets both the upper body (back, shoulders, and triceps), lower body (glutes, quads, and hamstrings), and core, in a single movement

Client Mark Miller says, “At 58, I have worked out consistently for the past 10 years – and off and on throughout my adult life. The type of workout I need has changed. The philosophy and methods about working out and getting the desired results have also evolved. From my perspective, Bobby approaches my workouts with an intelligent and thoughtful mindset, always considering where I am today, past and present injuries, and how best to train me to stay healthy and fit.”

Lee encounters clients who, as part of the fitness craze of the 80s, lifted too much weight – or too often – and are now experiencing the accumulation of that wear and tear.

“Sometimes those injuries take years to manifest themselves as joint problems in the hips, knees, and shoulders,” he says and further explains that he sees older folks who didn’t take care of injuries when they were younger and are now suffering the result.

Methods work

There’s no doubt his methods work, as another client explains.

“I hate working out…except with Bobby,” says Mark Christy. “About two years ago I went in with a rusted knee, a bad shoulder, and a heavy dose of skepticism. But he took me as I was and worked carefully on the things I didn’t even know I needed to work on. Always knowledgeable and watchful, I now see him 3x/week and actually look forward to working out with him. He has literally kept this old Buick on the road and changed my life for the better with his careful guidance. I cannot fathom anyone being more patient and supportive. He is doing what he was born to do.”

Kensho Fitness Bobby sitting

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Bobby Lee demonstrates the “Sissy Squat,” which builds the quad muscles and works the hip flexors while simultaneously strengthening the core 

Lee addresses functional strength, which is so important as we age.

“I have one client in his nineties, and six or seven in their seventies,” he says.

A long-term client has been with him for 16 years.

“Over the years, I have shared happy times with clients such as when a kid gets into college, but also sad times when someone is sick or diagnosed with cancer,” Lee says. “I try to get them as strong as possible before treatment.”

The importance of posture 

“Computers and smart phones have definitely made our lives easier, but it didn’t come without a price,” he says. “In the last 40 years, it has led to two postural distortions unique to modern life: Lower Cross Syndrome and Upper Cross Syndrome. Both are caused by too much sitting and staring at a computer screen or smart phone. An elongated neck, sunken chest, rounded shoulders and a hips back position are indicative of these syndromes.”

It results in the head leaning forward, and “Where the head goes, the body follows,” Lee says. 

However, he has a new software program that assesses one’s posture – and provides exercises that will help correct it. 

Kensho Fitness is currently offering a free posture assessment and a series of exercises to do at home.

Return on investment 

Lee continually seeks to do what’s best for his clients – while getting the best out of them. In doing so, he asks that they look deep within – incorporating the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of training – with intention and attention.

“One’s actions should carry weight,” says Lee.

Kensho Fitness Studio is located at 610 North Coast Hwy, Ste 210, in the Boat Canyon Wellness Collective. Ste 210 is at the end of the hallway.

For more information, go to www.kenshofitness.com or call (310) 699-0246.


KX Takeover: Local leaders “take over” KX FM airwaves for annual fund drive

KX FM, Laguna’s only radio station, is welcoming local leaders and legends on its airwaves November 18 through 24. Guest hosts will DJ their own hour live on the air, with their own handpicked music and content, to raise money for our beloved community radio station.

“KX Takeover is such a special fundraiser for us because it shows us every year that our station thrives when our community bands together to support it,” said KX FM Founder Tyler Russell McCusker. “This year, of course, has been especially hard on local radio like it has on all nonprofits. It means so much to us that Lagunans show up for us during this challenging time to validate the worth of community radio in Laguna Beach.” 

KX Takeover Bob and Kirsten Whalen

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Mayor Bob Whalen and Festival of Arts artist Kirsten Whalen are participating in this year’s KX Takeover

KX FM is a throwback to classic days of radio, when DJs actually picked their own music and listeners expected a human connection and community involvement from their local station. To honor that, KX Takeover guest DJs will craft their own playlist and hour of storytelling, as they talk about how music and radio has impacted their lives. 

KX Takeover is a friendly-but-stiff competition where the guest DJ that raises the most money receives the coveted “Silver Tongue Award.” Past winners include Larry Nokes, Rick Riess, Bobbi Cox, Clay Berryhill, Awakening Code Radio, Cookie Lee, and Lt. Jim Cota of LBPD and Stu News’ Shaena Stabler.

Some of this year’s participants include Mayor Bob Whalen and Festival of Arts artist Kirsten Whalen, City Council Members Sue Kempf and Peter Blake, IMAX filmmakers Greg and Meghan MacGillivray, Firebrand Publisher Scott Sanchez, Chamber of Commerce President Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold, attorney Larry Nokes, Planning Commissioner Jorg Dubin, and more. 

KX Takeover Bob and Kirsten Whalen 

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Local leader and radio personality Ernest Hackmon seeks donations for our local radio station during KX Takeover

Pledges can range from $20 to $20,000, and 100 percent of the proceeds generated during the fundraiser will assist the general operating budget of the station. By pledging $65 or more, listeners can become members of the radio station to receive annual benefits to ensure KX FM’s sustainability. When you make a donation online, you’ll be able to select which guest host you want it to count toward. 

If you value Laguna’s own radio station, as an alternative to corporate media, a source of independent views and thoughtfully crafted music shows, as a resource to be cherished and cared for, as a microphone into the very soul of Laguna, then help keep the station live on the air by listening in and pledging during KX Takeover from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. November 18-24.

Find the full schedule of shows and make your donation at www.KXFMRadio.org/kxtakeover

For more information, contact Alyssa Hayek at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Detour

Detour trees

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

Sometimes a detour is a beautiful thing


Gray day

Gray day clouds

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Photo by  Mary Hurlbut

A gray day has its own kind of beauty


Feeling the coronavirus blues? Laguna Beach Seniors stands ready to help

By LYNETTE BRASFIELD

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in Stu News Laguna on April 17, 2020. We wish to run it again today to bring further light to its important message.

Picture this: an elderly father and his adult son live together in a typically tiny Laguna home. The adult son has lost his job because of COVID-19 and decides that this is a good time to practice his saxophone-playing skills. At first the father doesn’t mind, but after a while the repetition of the music annoys him. He loses his temper and yells at his son. 

In turn, the son feels annoyed by constant interruptions during the day from his father, who wants to know how to download Zoom, or how to watch a Netflix show, or asks to have a jar lid loosened because of his arthritic hands.

Father and son end up at loggerheads. Stress levels rise. They stop talking. Alcohol is consumed, making things worse.*

Enter Susi Q’s Feeling the Blues program, a donation/grant-funded one-on-one counseling program designed to help people over the age of 55 deal with the challenges that come with aging. The therapy is situational and short-term, up to 14 sessions depending on need.

Feeling the Kay

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Kathleen “Kay” Wenger, LMFT, LPCC, is LBS’s Behavioral Health Supervisor

Behavioral Health Supervisor Kathleen “Kay” Wenger, LMFT, LPCC, the owner of Laguna Beach Counseling, has been working with Laguna Beach Seniors since 2009 and helped design the program. In addition to the Feeling the Blues program, Kay now supervises six Behavioral Health Support Programs at the Susi Q, including the Men’s and Chronic Illness Support groups.

How Feeling the Blues works

Kay explains how Feeling the Blues works. “We have five incredible licensed therapists available to counsel seniors who find themselves in emotional distress, especially during these difficult times. These days we do almost all of our counseling by phone/telehealth. 

“In the case described above, we talked to the father and the son separately, using Zoom. That gave them each an opportunity to process their feelings – commonly known as venting! We validated their frustrations and gave suggestions on how to approach their loved one differently. 

“The father and son have reported back that implementing the techniques that they discussed with the therapists was helpful.”

Feeling the group

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Laguna Beach Seniors’ staff at the Susi Q: (L-R) Martha Hernandez, Jo Ann Ekblad, Christine Brewer, Judy Baker, executive director Nadia Babayi, and John Fay

Nadia Babayi, executive director of Laguna Beach Seniors, is extremely proud of the work that the Feeling the Blues therapists are doing. 

“I’d like to give a shout-out to everyone involved with this program, therapists and staff, for providing such an important service,” Nadia says. “First of all, thanks to Kay, who has done a marvelous job supervising our behavioral health services, and our wonderful counselors.

“I want to mention them by name: Anne Schroeder, LMFT; Clint Christie, LMFT; Sandra Weiss, PhD; Laura Lee Townsend, AMFT, APCC; Diane Fisher, AMFT; Vivian Clekac, LCSW; Lori Osborn; John Fay, MSG; and Martha Hernandez, LCSW. Thanks to all for being so generous with your time and expertise.”

Resilience in the face of challenges

Happily, Kay says, many seniors over the age of 80 turn out to be remarkably resilient.

“They’ve gone through so many crises and upheavals during their long lives, from wars to recessions, so they’re not as anxious as you might imagine. Also, a number of them have been widowed or alone for a long time, so they’ve already set up coping mechanisms such as setting up a regular routine or doing yoga or tai chi through YouTube.

“And, importantly, quite a few have taken advantage of Laguna Beach Seniors’ many support groups so they already have connections with Susi Q programs.”

Sessions can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as 55 minutes. Typical concerns include family grievances – which, in these pandemic petri dish days, can spiral out of control – as well as couples’ relationships.

Feeling the computer

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Submitted photo

Kay consults with a client online

“Simple habits or tics, like a husband sneezing too loudly, or a wife biting her nails, can result in pointless but heated arguments,” she says. “It’s just human nature to get irritated with each other at times and it’s not going to get any easier as we stay at home for the next weeks and notice these things more. 

“On the flip side, I know of partners and other family members telling each other how glad they are not to be alone, that they would be lost without the other, and appreciate one another more than ever.”

Kay worries about seniors and baby boomers out there who are suffering but don’t know of the therapy offered through Laguna Beach Seniors’ Feeling the Blues services. 

“I so wish that everyone who knows friends or neighbors over the age of 55 would spread the message that we’re here to help,” she says.

Strategies to reduce anxiety and depression

Kay recommends several strategies for minimizing anxiety.

“I think journaling is great. Talk with your loved ones, pick up that phone instead of emailing or texting. Watch educational TED Talks on YouTube and TV programs on history and art. Travel the world through documentaries. Minimize alcohol intake – that’s an important one,” she notes. 

“Best of all, call us at Laguna Beach Seniors or email us to set up an appointment if you need help. Now’s a great opportunity to seek the therapy you’ve always wanted but didn’t have the time to do before – and from the comfort of your own home!”

Call Martha Hernandez, LCSW, at (949) 715-8104 to learn more about the program and to be connected to a therapist. 

Laguna Beach Seniors is based at the Susi Q Senior and Community Center. Visit www.thesusiq.org for more information.

*Please note that identifying details in the case have been changed to preserve anonymity.


Fog Blanket

Fog blanket city

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Fog slowly covers the city


Moonstruck

Moonstruck gray clouds

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Photo by Sue Lowden

Altostratus clouds often spread over thousands of square miles and are strongly linked to light rain or snow. They’re uniformly gray, smooth, and mostly featureless which is why they’re sometimes called “boring clouds.” These clouds are anything but boring.


Guest Column

Trails and travails in the time of COVID 

By Alan Kaufman

Conservation Programs Director, Laguna Canyon Foundation

It’s been a tough season for our trails. Too many people are flocking to the South Coast Wilderness and our ability to maintain our trails has been seriously constrained.

The major cause of these changes has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Trail use of all kinds increased dramatically as people found themselves with more time on their hands and limited options regarding how to spend that time outside of their homes. Unusually dry weather, added to this combination of increased use and less maintenance, has led to the degradation of our trails.

Guest Column Trails and mist

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Volunteer Miwa Kawai, Alan (holding hand sanitizer), LCF Conservation Coordinator Michelle Daneri, and volunteer Steve Larson

For the first several months of the lockdown, LCF staff and volunteers weren’t able to work in the Parks and the OC Parks staff was reduced to a skeleton crew. Thankfully, the OC Parks heavy equipment trail contractor was able to keep working during this period, re-working several trails including Canyon and Blackjack in the Dilley Preserve, Little Sycamore and a portion of Camarillo Canyon on the other side of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and 5 Oaks in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. 

In addition to increased use of the authorized trail system by the general public, we also saw some new unauthorized trails created, with new routes cut through pristine habitat. Because OC Parks is mandated to prevent the creation of unauthorized trails in order to protect the important habitat that the Parks were created to preserve, many of the available resources shifted to repairing these new scars, further reducing our ability to maintain the existing network of trails.

Guest Column Trails and shovels

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Pre-COVID: Alan with LCF certified volunteers Sean Hoerle, Jeremy Carver, Todd Hammill, Miwa Kawai, and several short-term volunteers who signed up for just that day

LCF staff and our long-term, certified volunteers have begun slowly to return to the Parks, under strict limitations designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Currently, groups are limited to no more than three people who must wear masks and stay physically distanced. Each person needs to be assigned their own set of tools, which need to be disinfected before and after each event. In addition, only one person can ride in a vehicle. This means each person needs to make their own way to the work site (volunteers either need to hike or bike in to remote work sites).

Since the rains in December, LCF and our dedicated volunteers have been getting out and working on the trails as much as we are able. We have been out in the parks 20 days so far this season, and maintained and improved over 120 drains, cleared brush from almost a mile of trail, improved 250 feet of tread (the trail itself), and naturalized and reseeded over 1,000 square feet of areas impacted by trail widening.

Guest Column Trails and Rangers

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Submitted photo

Alan and OC Parks Rangers collaborating on the trails

Trail work is always hard work, though usually enjoyably so (we often tell our volunteers that if they weren’t having fun, there’s something wrong!). Being out on the trails by myself, or with one or at most two other workers at a time, though, has given me a new appreciation for how much hard work it actually takes to maintain a trail.

Where once, during a well-attended volunteer event, we might maintain 60 drains in a day, now we are recording five, or in some cases just two or three.

Similarly, we might have been able to brush 3,000 feet of trail in one day, and now it might take us 4 or 5 days to accomplish that much. 

All of this just drives home just how much our trails depend on the hard work of our volunteers.

Once the pandemic has slowed, we look forward to many more opportunities for volunteers to come out and help us maintain and repair trails. We also hope that this time will lead people to recognize that open spaces are vital for their health and well-being, and that this will lead society to allocate more resources to protecting these wild places.

In the meantime, we are doing our best with the time and resources that we have to keep our trails safe and address the worst-impacted areas. If you are a trail user, you can help by staying on authorized trails, following all Park rules and regulations, staying off of the trail margins, and spreading the word to other users to “Use it Like you Love it.”

Thanks for reading.

Follow us on social media to learn more or visit www.lagunacanyon.org.


Laguna Presbyterian Church and Red Cross to hold Community Blood Drive on March 5, the need for donations is high

On Friday, March 5, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Laguna Presbyterian Church and the Red Cross will hold the first Community Blood Drive of 2021. It will be held in Tankersley Hall, but because of the pandemic restrictions and efforts to accommodate outside groups with the limited “safe” spaces on the church campus, both the day of the week and slightly earlier time period are “new.”

The need for blood donations is high. “Because of the emergency shortage of blood supply due to the pandemic, the Red Cross has set our goal of blood donor appointments at 60,” says Sandy Grim, ARC/LPC Blood Drive Coordinator. “I thought we ‘broke the ceiling’ last October when they set our goal at 52 (which we achieved!) and we collected 45 units, and brought in seven first-time donors.”

Laguna Presbyterian building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Presbyterian Church (pre-pandemic)

All donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Plasma from antibody-positive donations may help current coronavirus patients in need.

So, get out there and tell your families, friends, etc. All COVID-19 safety precautions, cleanings, etc. will be enforced. 

To schedule an appointment, sign up online here. Use sponsor code: lagunap.

Call the Red Cross at (866) 236-3276 to find out if you are eligible to donate.

Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave.

For questions, email Sandy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Molten marvel

Molten marvel cloud

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Lovely golden layer lights the late afternoon


Guest Column

From Laguna with Love: Summers at the Witch’s House

By Jennifer Griffiths

Every summer we packed the car in Los Angeles and drove to our summer vacation home on Wave Street in Laguna Beach – to the Witch’s House.

The house felt quirky, charmed, and elegant – although I didn’t have those words then. A whimsical home, it was built with and for a child’s magic and wonder in mind. I traversed all the different stairways from either side of the house in search of surprises, feeling free that I was in my happy place after a day at Diver’s Cove. I’ve never understood why it was coined the Witch’s House, unless it was meant to profess the wisdom of women who grow old and beautiful, sharing their riches.

The house, built by Vernon Barker over several years beginning in 1924, was made of wood from dismantled Santa Ana train trestles and was rich with their history. Barker, a mentor and friend of my father’s, was also head of the School of Architecture at UCLA in the early 1950s, where my dad finished his architectural degree.

Guest Column From Laguna umbrella

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Submitted photo

The author as an infant with her family on Diver’s Cove beach in 1951

Sometimes Vernon, his wife, and son visited while we were there, each a unique and unusual character. Vern, as my dad called him, had a soft voice with a slight lisp that went with his cowboy-like demeanor. While his wife, always in a 1930s flowered dress, had a voice that cracked for some reason. They always seemed happy to have us there, a cause for celebration.

The house’s many nuances are etched in my memory. The journey begins with a cobblestone driveway leading to a rounded wooden bridge – a structure built for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – then up the brick and stone curved stairway to the first of the seven different levels in the house. 

There were so many magical types of doors; one was an old stained-glass window with a handle, seemingly from medieval times. The big front door, with its porthole window, opened into the living area. (Near that room’s large windows was a small table with a book of photos documenting the home’s construction. It was faded, even then in the 1950s.) This bright room had a large triangle-shaped door with a smaller oblong door for kids in the middle of it. We mostly kept the large one open. There was also a glistening fireplace made of quartz crystal with several quartz stairs which led to a cozy bedroom with an American-Indian motif. My older sister slept there.

The dining area boasted a large, paned window of wavering glass that looked out toward the bridge. The tiny kitchen felt jammed with more than two adults.

The old-fashioned metal spiral stairway in my sister’s room led to two rooms made entirely of wood. One was tiny and featured a little pump organ, which I would play. The other, where my brother slept, was the dormer room, containing two beds under the V-shaped ceiling. We played cards up there and read Mad magazine, marveling at the new images that would appear as we folded in the back cover.

Guest Column From Laguna house

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Photo by Jennifer Griffiths

The Witch’s House

On the other side of the house, a solid two-tiered wooden staircase with strong squared posts, railings, and risers led to my parents’ and my bedrooms. My room was bright and warm – a bay of windows looked over the sea and afternoon light flooded in from a south-facing window. It was the perfect place to stare out in daydreams.

With play being the most important thing, my brother and I made up games, roaming the yard sprinkled with bamboo, vines, and large trees and then circling and hiding underneath the wooden bridge. It was a fearless time that seemed to go on forever.

The Witch’s House has changed over the years – more bathrooms, a master bedroom, and a larger kitchen and dining room. In the 1970s, part of the lot was sold and an apartment building was built. There is now a fairly tall fence to keep out the curious, yet the charming design of the three slanted windows of my sister’s room has graced the entrance of the Sawdust Festival for years.

Not long after I first moved to Laguna in the early 1980s, I saw a for-sale sign out front and called the realtor to take a look. In a dreamy state, I really wanted to buy it, but $350,000 might as well have been $1 million. Yet I often visit the Witch’s House, driving by as I go for walks at Crystal Cove and feeling honored to have lived there during our summer vacations.

Jennifer Griffiths is a seasoned local visual artist spreading her wings.

Organized by the Laguna-based nonprofit Third Street Writers, “From Laguna with Love” features personal stories (anecdotes of up to 200 words and longer pieces up to 750 words) and photographs that celebrate only-in-Laguna moments and experiences, whether they’re funny, sad, insightful, or simply a reflection of daily interactions.

If you or someone you know has a Laguna experience to share, you can submit your story or photo to https://thirdstreetwriters.submittable.com/submit for consideration.

Questions? Contact Amy Dechary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Laguna Presbyterian Church offers Loss and Grief Support Group virtual series 

What a year of profound loss and grief this has been. Laguna Presbyterian Church invites all to join their six-week Grief Support Group, from 4-5:30 p.m. on Mondays beginning April 12. 

Grief happens. The feelings that result from the loss of a loved one can be intense, unpredictable, and long-lasting. They are also unavoidable. Such grief is a natural, normal, and necessary part of life. And while it can’t be avoided, it can be shared. 

Laguna Presbyterian building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Presbyterian Church

That is why Laguna Presbyterian Church offers a Growing Through Grief Support Group, a safe place for those in surrounding communities, not to avoid grief, but to successfully navigate it. A place where questions can be answered, strange feelings can be better understood, and participants can rest in the comfort of others with a similar experience. 

If anyone in the community has suffered such loss, they are invited to join this six-week grief support group led by Rev. Jon Moore and therapist Deborah Sakach, both experienced grief counselors. Like the ocean, the emotions of grief often come in waves, large at first and then slowly diminishing over time. But at any moment a larger wave can surprise and overwhelm you, knocking you off your feet. When that happens, it is good to know that someone is near to help you back up.

Laguna Presbyterian flower

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Loss and Grief Support Group will be offered on Mondays beginning April 12

While grieving, you may find that you need time to talk with others you can trust and who will listen when you need to talk. It’s important to learn how to reduce stress and allow yourself to accept the expressions of caring from others. 

Whether someone is doing “fine” or grieving deeply, Rev. Moore and Deborah Sakach will guide participants through specific actions to process loss. Since the group will meet this year by Zoom, they hope you will invite others who are grieving, whether they live near or far away. It can be especially helpful to attend with a family member or a close friend who shares grief over the loss of a loved one or wants to help provide emotional support. Helping a friend or relative also suffering from the same loss may bring a feeling of closeness with that person.

To register and receive course materials and the Zoom link, call the church office at (949) 494-7555. There is a $20 fee for course materials and mailing costs.


Butterfly in bloom

Butterfly in flower

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Butterflies pollinate plants, but in ways different from all others. Bees are the best-known pollinators because they carry pollen over their entire bodies as they fly from flower to flower. But butterflies do their fair share of pollinating, too…they actually help plants reproduce.


Laguna Food Pantry gets help from Sir Speedy Printing + Signs

Laguna Food Pantry is blessed with many generous donors. One behind-the-scenes donor is Kathy Morgan, the owner of Sir Speedy Printing + Signs in Irvine.

In January 2019, Kathy met Cynthia Carson, Laguna Food Pantry’s Board Member and Operation Chair, through mutual friends. After learning of Cynthia’s involvement in the Pantry, Kathy wanted to see how she too could help. During the next two years, Kathy donated indoor and outdoor signs and banners, her graphic design expertise, and printed mailers, stationery, notecards, and business cards.

Sir Speedy’s generosity allows the Pantry to save precious dollars that fund groceries for our neighbors in need and also allows the Pantry to communicate with its donors – Kathy even prints the thank-you cards that the Pantry send to each donor.

Laguna Food Pantry Speedy

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Cynthia Carson, Laguna Food Pantry’s Board Member and Operations Chair, Kathy Morgan, owner of Sir Speedy Printing + Signs, and Anne Belyea, Laguna Food Pantry’s Executive Director

If generously handling all of Laguna Food Pantry’s printing needs without charge wasn’t enough, for the last two years, Kathy has also sent her delivery driver and truck to Norco to pick up cases of donated eggs (from another generous donor) every Wednesday.

The saying goes “it takes a village.” Laguna Food Pantry is fortunate and grateful to have people like Kathy Morgan in our village. 

The Laguna Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and is now operating with a drive-through curbside distribution system. Anyone in need is welcome to visit the site once a week. Please pass this information along to anyone who may benefit.

The Laguna Food Pantry is always in need of donations and welcomes your support. To give, go to www.lagunafoodpantry.org/.


Nestor, feeling jaded

Nestor feeling

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Photo by Leonard J Porto III

Whaddya mean I missed St. Paddy’s Day?


Tomorrow is “National Take Back Day” to safely remove prescription drugs from medicine cabinets

The OC Health Care Agency (HCA) encourages community members to drop off expired, unused, or unwanted prescription medications from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the 20th “National Take Back Day” tomorrow Saturday, April 24 at numerous locations throughout Orange County.

“This is a great opportunity for folks to clean out their medicine cabinets while helping to safeguard the health and well-being of those they love,” said Dr. Jeffrey Nagel, Ph.D., HCA Deputy Agency Director of Behavioral Health Services. “One of the main sources of drug misuse is prescription pain medication that’s been taken from a friend or family member. Opioid misuse and abuse is a nationwide issue and participating in events like National Take Back Day allows for the safe disposal of these or other prescription medications.”

This initiative, created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), addresses a vital public safety and public health issue by reducing the risk of accidental poisonings and overdoses. Medicines that are stored in home cabinets are vulnerable to misuse. In addition, the DEA advises against flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, since both pose potential safety and health hazards.

You can make a difference by properly disposing your unused medication. If the April 24 event is not convenient, there are now DEA approved drop-off locations available year-round in some Albertsons, CVS, Vons, and Walgreens, making proper disposal of unwanted medications easy and accessible. 

Visit the DEA’s website to find a collection site near you, at www.DEATakeback.com or call (800) 882-9539. Drop-off service is free and anonymous. 

To learn more about drug abuse prevention efforts in Orange County, go here.


No kidding, the goats are back to kick off the City’s 2021 Fuel Modification Program

The first 150-head goat herd arrived in Laguna last week to initiate the City’s 2021 Fuel Modification Program.

With the arrival of a 150-head goat herd, fuel modification programs to help reduce invasive brush and the risk of wildfires within the City of Laguna Beach are in full swing.

No kidding Saddleback

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Goats grazing last year in view of Saddleback Mountain

Laguna Beach has been using goats as part of its fuel reduction and vegetation management program since the early 1990s. City Manager Ken Frank got the idea from a similar program in the San Francisco Bay area. The program was expanded after a wildfire burned across 14,000 acres, destroying or damaging 441 homes in Laguna Beach in 1993.

Because of the climate, types of natural vegetation, and expansive wildlands in Southern California, including wildlands that reach into the City, there is an ongoing risk of wildfires. Fully aware of the risk, the Laguna Beach Fire Department is very proactive in vegetation management.

No kidding sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Please respect the goats as they do their job to protect our City 

Due to a lack of rain over the winter, the Laguna Beach Fire Department anticipates only needing two goat herds (150-head in each herd for a total of 300 goats) to handle this year’s new regrowth. If there is a growth spurt in vegetation, more goats will be brought in.

A movable goat pen with electric fencing keeps the goats from wandering off and protects them from coyotes and other wild animals.

The City’s veteran goatherder, Agotilio Moreno, is a native of Peru, where his family still lives. This is his 26th year tending the goat herds for the City of Laguna Beach.

No kidding herder

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Courtesy of City of LB

Agotilio Moreno takes care of the goats

Last year there was record regrowth, and the City’s goat herd was 700 goats strong – the largest it’s ever been since the program started in 1993.

As part of the City’s fuel modification program, a team of experienced hand crews also work in fuel modification zones to clear brush by hand as needed.

Please respect the goats and the work they do to keep our community safe. Do not approach them – they are not pets!

Stu News will keep readers updated on the location of the goats as they hopscotch through the hills.


Promenade and Village Entrance win “Best Project of the Year” awards

The City of Laguna Beach is proud to announce that it has won a pair of “Best Project of the Year” awards from the Southern California American Public Works Association (APWA) for the Promenade on Forest and the Laguna Beach Village Entrance Project.

The APWA recognizes outstanding individuals, groups, and chapters representing the best in public works.

Promenade and Forest

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Promenade on Forest Ave decorated for Halloween and Thanksgiving

Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis says, “We are honored to be recognized for the outstanding leadership of the City Council and the great efforts of our City of Laguna Beach staff in bringing these two great projects from concept to reality.”

The City won Best Project of the Year in the most “Creative & Innovative” category for the Promenade on Forest, a new outdoor dining and retail display area on Forest Avenue, and also won Best Project of the Year in the “Traffic, Mobility & Beautification” category for the Village Entrance Project.

Promenade and entrance

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Village Entrance

The Promenade on Forest opened on June 15, and the City Council agreed to keep the lower part of Forest Avenue closed and the decorated outdoor area in place for socially distanced dining and shopping through January 2021.

The Village Entrance broke dirt on September 11, 2018, with Phase I completed in June of 2019. Additional Village Entrance Project elements completed during Phase 1 included wide multi-use trails along Laguna Canyon Road, decorative lighting, extensive landscaped planting areas, new vehicular and pedestrian bridges, and water quality features such as basins and permeable pavers. The project broke for the summer of 2019 and was completed in May of 2020.

The project focused on enhanced pedestrian safety and circulation, improved traffic flow, and new public open space located at the gateway to the city.


County of Orange announces first Regional COVID-19 “Super POD” at Disneyland Resort

In a vital step to help battle the spread of COVID-19, the County of Orange has established the first large Point-of-Dispensing (POD) site to provide COVID-19 vaccines to residents at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

“The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county’s first Super POD site – undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process,” said acting Chairman Andrew Do, First District. “We truly appreciate the support of the Orange County Fire Authority, our cities, and our residents as we continue to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the county.”

Known as “Super POD” sites, the five regional Super PODs will have the capacity to vaccinate thousands of residents each day. The Super PODs will increase efficiency and provide multiple vaccine distribution points throughout Orange County. The County will announce additional Super POD sites as agreements are finalized.

“I’m proud to have Disneyland Resorts and the City of Anaheim, both in my Fourth District, be the first of the Super POD sites in Orange County,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee. “Residents in my district have been highly impacted by COVID-19. These Super PODs are absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus.”

Vaccine distribution is managed through a phased, tiered approach established by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Currently, vaccinations are available to Orange County residents and those who work in Orange County who meet the criteria for what is referred to as “Phase 1A, all tiers.” This group includes law enforcement first responders in high-risk communities and was recently expanded to include those age 75 and older. The County is excited to serve this group as a priority population and is working in collaboration with community partners to create a process that reaches seniors close to home and best serves these individuals. 

Please refer to these CDPH links here and here for a complete list of eligible groups.

“It’s important to vaccinate as many willing people as possible for COVID-19, and we need the space to do it,” said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner, Third District. “I thank Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim for stepping up in the shared effort to give OC residents protection against the virus.”

The first Super POD at the Disneyland Resort will be operational later this week. Most of those eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1A will be contacted through their employer to schedule an appointment via a third-party app developed in cooperation with the County of Orange.

“In order to ensure a smooth and effective distribution of the vaccine as quickly as possible, it is so important that Orange County residents have the information they need on who, and when, they are eligible to receive the vaccine, and where they can go to receive it,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “We will have several sites across the county, including South County, and information on these locations will be available shortly. Please stay tuned to https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccination-distribution for the latest information on vaccine distribution sites. In the meantime, please remain vigilant and protect you and your loved ones by practicing social distancing, good hygiene, and wearing your masks.”

Only those identified under Phase 1A who have an appointment will receive a vaccination at the County’s new Super POD locations. Individuals with appointments must provide identification and documentation of vaccine eligibility at the site. Walk-ups without an appointment cannot be accommodated. Given the limited initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, distribution will be limited at first and increased over time. The phased, tiered approach to vaccine distribution aims to reach critical populations to reduce morbidity and mortality rates due to the transmission of COVID-19.

“Coronavirus has brought both a public health crisis and economic devastation,” said Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. “With this super site, we will begin to overcome both. Every vaccination done in Anaheim will help to save lives and speed the reopening and recovery of our city.”

Those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can view the phased tiers of eligibility and other important vaccination information at OC Health Care Agency’s website: www.COVIDVaccineFacts.com. The success of the vaccination distribution plan and the Super POD sites is dependent on everyone understanding where they fall in the phased, tiered plan. Individuals attempting to receive a vaccine ahead of schedule will overload the system, making it even more challenging to meet this urgent need. The County appreciates the public’s patience and understanding.

The County, through its “Operation Independence,” established a goal of completing all county vaccinations by July 4, 2021. An Incident Management Team (IMT) was established on December 31, 2020, for Operation Independence. The Operation Independence IMT is a unified command with representatives from the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Orange County Fire Authority, the County of Orange County Executive Office (CEO), and other County agencies.

For questions related to COVID-19, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus, or follow the HCA on Facebook (@ochealhtinfo) and Twitter (@ochealth).


Laguna Beach Republicans (LBGOP) announce first meeting of 2021 via Zoom

The Laguna Beach Republicans (LBGOP) will hold their first virtual meeting of 2021 via Zoom on Thursday, Jan 28. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and end promptly at 7:15 p.m.

Emil Monda, president of the LBGOP, invites all Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians to attend the Zoom event with Anne Dunsmore. 

Anne Dunsmore is the spokesperson and strategist for the group working to recall Gavin Newsom. 

“Anne will give an update on the recall process and will provide information for attendees on how they can assist the signature gathering effort. Rescue California needs to collect 1.5 million plus signatures by the end of March to have the recall placed on the ballot in 2021,” Monda said. “If there is time permitting, we will take questions from the callers.” 

Those interested in the Thursday, Jan 28 meeting are asked to RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Guest Column

What to do when you think you’re not good enough 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” 

Sometimes I am really terrible to myself and relentlessly compare myself to other people, no matter how many times I read or hear about how good enough or lovable I am.

Not sure about you, but on some days, I meticulously look for evidence that I am a nobody, that I don’t deserve to be loved, or that I’m not living up to my full potential.

There is generally a lot of pressure to “stack up” in our culture. We feel as if there is something wrong with us if, for example, we’re still single by a certain age, don’t make a certain amount of money, don’t have a huge social circle, or don’t look and act a certain way in front of others. The list could truly go on forever…

Guest Column What to doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

Sometimes in the midst of all the pressure, I seem to totally forget all the wonderful, unique things about myself.

I get stuck in my head and allow my inner critic to completely tear apart my self-esteem until I hate myself too much to do anything except eat ice cream, watch daytime television, and sleep.

The other day, while I was beating myself up over something I can’t even recall at the moment, I read a comment from one of my blog readers telling me that one of my posts literally got them through the night. Literally. And if that one simple word was used in the intended context, this person was basically telling me that one of my posts saved their life.

I get comments like these on a pretty regular basis, and they always open my eyes to just how much I matter, regardless of my inner critic’s vehement objections.

Such comments also open my eyes to all the things we beat ourselves up over that don’t matter – like whether or not we look like a supermodel in our bathing suit, or whether or not we should stop smiling because of crooked teeth, or whether or not the hole in our lucky shirt is worth bursting into tears over.

Lately I’ve been trying harder to catch myself when I feel a non-serving, self-deprecating thought coming on. And I may let these thoughts slip in at times, but that’s okay because I’m only human.

While my self-love journey is ongoing, here are a few things I try to remember when I’m tempted to be mean to myself:

The people you compare yourself to compare themselves to other people too.

We all compare ourselves to other people, and I can assure you that the people who seem to have it all do not.

When you look at other people through a lens of compassion and understanding rather than judgment and jealousy, you are better able to see them for what they are – human beings. They are beautifully imperfect human beings going through the same universal challenges that we all go through.

Your mind can be a very convincing liar.

I saw a quote once that said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” That quote completely altered the way I react when a cruel or discouraging thought goes through my mind. Thoughts are just thoughts, and it’s unhealthy and exhausting to give so much power to the negative ones. 

There is more right with you than wrong with you.

This powerful reminder is inspired by one of my favorite quotes from Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Until you stop breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you.”

Guest Column What to heart

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Learn to love yourself

As someone who sometimes tends to zoom in on all my perceived flaws, it helps to remember that there are lots of things I like about myself too – like the fact that I’m alive and breathing and able to pave new paths whenever I choose.

You need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least.

This was a recent epiphany of mine, although I’m sure it’s been said many times before.

I find that it is most difficult to accept love and understanding from others when I’m in a state of anger, shame, anxiety, or depression. But adopting the above truth really shifted my perspective and made me realize that love is actually the greatest gift I can receive during such times.

You have to fully accept and make peace with the “now” before you can reach and feel satisfied with the “later.”

One thing I’ve learned about making changes and reaching for the next rung on the ladder is that you cannot fully feel satisfied with where you’re going until you can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where you are.

Embrace and make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying.

You are enough just as you are. And self-love will be a little bit easier every time you remind yourself of that.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Sunset schedule

Sunset schedule orange

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Only five more evenings until the sun sets later


Csira’s team to manage Gary Hawley’s Laguna Beach Properties portfolio

Gary Hawley is retiring and turning over the reins of Laguna Beach Properties, his property management and leasing company, to Dave Csira of Cove Canyon Realty, founded in 2020. 

The new company has two distinct divisions: Cove Canyon Realty, an independent brokerage that handles property sales, and Laguna Beach Properties, the company name retained by Csira to carry on Hawley’s leasing and property management business. Csira recently recruited Realtor Brendy Michael as a business partner. 

Csira's team smiles

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(L-R) Gary Hawley, Brendy Michael, and Dave Csira

Hawley started his business in 1980 and built a portfolio of 200 condominiums, single-family residences, apartments, and commercial buildings in Laguna Beach and nearby coastal cities. As he eyed retirement, he wanted to select a successor who would provide his tenants and property owners the same personal service he became known for. A stickler for meticulous service, Hawley typically shows up at properties to oversee landscaping or repair work to make sure it is being performed to his standards.

Hawley’s homegrown Laguna Beach Properties was attractive to large commercial brokerages and out-of-state real estate aggregators that made him hefty offers. However, he ultimately picked Csira to succeed him because of his confidence in Csira’s ability to provide his tenants and property owners the same high level of personalized service. Hawley’s retirement will be gradual; he will have a desk and his signature bowl of candy for visitors at Csira’s new Forest Avenue Mall office.

“Dave’s conscientious work ethic and congenial temperament made him the right choice as the successor to my business,” said Hawley. “It was important to me to do right by my tenants and property owners, many of whom have become friends over the years. I feel confident that Dave will build these same relationships.”

Of the plum acquisition to his business, Csira noted, “Gary’s integrity and trustworthiness are well known throughout the community. I am grateful to him for selecting us to manage the assets he has spent four decades developing. We hope to build a similar fan club of friends among his tenants and owners.”

Cove Canyon Realty is an independent brokerage company specializing in real estate sales in Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Corona del Mar, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente. Laguna Beach Properties is a property management and leasing company available for new contracts. 

The two companies are run and managed by Dave Csira and Brendy Michael from offices at 332 Forest Avenue, Suite 27 in Laguna Beach. 

For more information, visit www.covecanyon.com or call (949) 500-3283.


Meet Pet of the Week Elsie 

Elsie is currently taking over Pet of the Week. She is a six-year-old spayed black lab mix on the lookout for a new place to call home. Elsie would do best in a home being the only dog, and with no small children as she tends to guard her toys. She would also require a 6-foot fenced yard. Elsie is very friendly, active, and playful. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, is hoping to see Elsie adopted as soon as possible.

Meet Pet of the Week Elsie

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Elsie is a great companion to have by your side 

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Bushard’s Pharmacy: a prescription for success – serving the residents of Laguna for 75 years and counting

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

In 1946, four years after arriving in Laguna, Joe Bushard and his brother Earl opened up Bushard’s Pharmacy and Apothecary – which included a soda fountain – on Pacific Coast Highway across from the Hotel Laguna. 

Joe and Mary’s daughter Sheila Bushard-Jamison, along with her daughter Marisa Fader, are now at the helm of the family business. Of those early days, Sheila says, “My mom and aunt did all the cooking for the soda fountain.” 

Joe, a graduate of The USC School of Pharmacy, had a dream. His vision was to build something for his family and to serve the residents of Laguna Beach.

The business moved from its original location on PCH to the space Moulin now occupies on Forest Ave. Then in 1960, Bushard – tired of renting – built the pharmacy just down the street on Forest – its current location.

From 1946 to 2021, an amazing 75 years, Bushard’s Pharmacy evolved into what it is today – a full-service pharmacy (the only one in town that makes deliveries), which also carries high-end makeup and skin care products, an unequaled line of perfumes, sundries, beach supplies, and an incredible selection of hats. 

Bushard's Pharmacy Marisa and Sheila

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Marisa Fader, Marisa’s son Jamison Fader, and Sheila Bushard-Jamison

Sheila didn’t plan on going into the family business. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Cal State Fullerton, however, when she graduated, environment wasn’t a global focus as it is today. 

“I worked at the store since I was 13 and all throughout high school and college,” says Sheila. “So when the manager had a stroke, and I hadn’t found a job in environmental studies, it was the perfect fit because I had already been working here for so long.” 

Marisa admits that she’s always been interested in fashion and business. “I love the business side of Bushard’s.” It’s not a surprise that she graduated with a Business Degree from Loyola Marymount. Unfortunately, it just happened to be during the recession. “There weren’t a lot of jobs, so I came here in 2010 and ended up loving it.” 

Her brother Luke, a soon-to-be graduate from Los Angeles Film School, has worked on and off at the store doing deliveries – especially during summers off from school – and helps out whenever he can.

Sometimes working with family members sparks trouble, but this mother and daughter obviously have a great relationship. “We make it work,” Marisa says.

During the week, they alternate days at the store, Marisa works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and her mother works Tuesday and Thursday. 

Bushard's Pharmacy group

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Bushard’s Pharmacy family and staff (L-R): Michael Reyes, Amanda Knotek, Lizabeth Vargus, Marshal Abdullah, Sheila Bushard-Jamison, Jamison Fader, Marisa Fader, Jennifer Couch, Shane Baker, Lidija Ruskova, Katie Bent, Lika Synder, and Elizabeth Major

Sheila spends a lot of time with her grandson Jamison. Chasing a two-year-old around is not for the faint of heart, as evidenced by Sheila keeping pace with him as he runs around the Promenade chasing birds. 

Marisa says of her mom, “She’ll never really retire but she would like to spend even more time with Jamison.” 

What remains the same

Although much has changed over the years, what is still evident – in the staff’s interactions with each other and the customers – is the feeling of family.

Pharmacist in Charge Marshal Abdullah calls it, “The ‘Cheers’ of pharmacies – where everyone knows your name and you know theirs.”

A pharmacist since 2008, Marshal came to Bushard’s last September from a position with a physician’s group in Los Angeles. “My father was a pharmacist and told me never to become one, but of course, I didn’t listen to him. That’s all I ever wanted to be.”

He immediately connected with the staff. “A colleague used to work here, and he referred me. When I met with everyone, there was an instant rapport.”

A part of the job he especially likes is communicating with customers who come in to talk about their medications. One of the big advantages of this pharmacy is that they deliver, which was especially important during the shutdowns last year.

Bushard s Pharmacy Marsh al

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Pharmacist in Charge Marshal Abdullah

“I’m very happy, the bosses are great, you can be yourself and still get along with everyone here – there’s a sense of comfort. Marisa and Sheila encourage input, and I feel part of a family unit. There is no hierarchy,” Marshal says.

In the future, he would like to see their vaccination program expanded to include travel vaccines.

“We have an existing vaccination program which includes flu shots,” Marisa says. “We want to increase that to include travel inoculations. If residents could get them here, they wouldn’t have to leave town.”

Shane’s fan club

Pharmacy Technician Shane Baker has been at Bushard’s for 13 years, and evidently, he has his own personal fan club. 

His real name is Daniel O. Baker, but he says, “Ever since I was born, my mom called me Shane.”

“All the ladies love Shane,” Sheila says. 

The fact that he addresses ladies as “Ma’am” certainly helps. Shane grew up in North Carolina (hence the “Ma’am”) and moved here when he was 20 years old. 

“I’ve lived in a few places in Laguna and in South Laguna for four and a half years. I stumbled into this job when I was 22 years old. I was at Laguna Drug and came over here and applied for a job. They did a lot for me when I came here and since that time, they’ve given me more and more responsibilities.” 

Bushard's Pharmacy Shane

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Shane Baker (on right) and Lizabeth Vargus

He assists Marshal, researches prices, and handles logistics, operations, and deliveries.

Recently, Shane moved out of town so he could have a garage for his business. 

“I just started a personal training company, MindBodyKombat. I’ve been a personal trainer for 10 years with JCETKUNDO Athletics.”

When asked to recall something funny or weird that’s happened in the store, he relates the Robitussin Tussle, “A guy shoplifted some Robitussin and got away on a skateboard. I threw a shoe at him and chased him down.”

A fond memory involves Laguna legend Jack King, who Shane says used to come in and tell stories about the Laguna of 40 years ago. “He was a local inspiration. I learned a lot about Laguna’s culture and to appreciate that time as the end of a good era.”

Beauty and perfume

When Sheila says Bushard’s is full service, she means it.

They carry a line of makeup, skincare products, and perfume – that is unprecedented.

“It’s a big benefit. So many people come in to talk with the front-end girls,” she says, meaning Beth Major, Lika Snyder, Amanda Knotek, Jennifer Couch, and Katie Bent.

Bushard's Pharmacy Lika and Beth

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Lika Snyder (on left) and Beth Major

Beth, a 15-year staff member, is the skincare and makeup guru. 

“Prior to an event, a lot of young girls come in and want a pre-makeup lesson,” explains Sheila. “Beth teaches them how to put on makeup and gives advice on color. They can just walk in and take advantage of her expertise. Before COVID-19, she’d offer 10-minute spruce-ups.”

They stock Avéne, which is huge in Europe and is usually only sold in pharmacies and dermatologist’s offices, and Ahava, a product made with Dead Sea botanicals and minerals.

“We carry Orlane skin products for special clients, some who save up for the cream,” Beth says.

Beth and Lika Snyder are front girls who are also good friends.

A curated product line 

According to Sheila, they’ve carried perfumes since the beginning. “In 1948, boxes of Germaine Monteil were delivered to my parents’ house while my mother was doing laundry in the kitchen sink.”

If you want a special perfume or the perfume your grandmother wore, Lika, who has been in the fragrance department for 20 years, is the one to see. She’s the keeper of the perfume and a library of information on the history and trivia surrounding each one.

Lika learned from the best. “Mitzi Interlandi created relationships with the perfume companies, and it just kept building,” says Sheila. Interlandi came to work at Bushard’s in 1980 and retired in 2008, but not before she trained Lika, who now knows as much as her mentor.

Bushard's Pharmacy trio

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(L-R) Amanda Knotek, Jennifer Couch, and Katie Bent

Almost any perfume you can think of is in their extensive and well curated perfume section – Gucci, Armani, Arpége, Ricci, and Kai to name just a few – and if it’s not, Lika will order it. “People call from all over the U.S. to find a certain fragrance.”

Lika knows her stuff. “Every fragrance has a story. Guerlain, which is 300 years old, was made for Napoleon. L’Interdit was created in 1957 exclusively for Hubert de Givench’s friend and muse Audrey Hepburn. Angelina Jolie took part in the creation of the notes for Mon Guerlain.”

Jennifer Couch, who also works in the front section, says, “I love interacting with customers, it’s enjoyable.”

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so if you want a special or vintage perfume gift wrapped and delivered, this is the place to shop. They also offer online shopping.

Last year during the various shutdowns, Bushard’s was the only business open on Forest Ave. “It feels like it’s getting somewhat back to normal,” Sheila says. 

For 75 years, the norm for Bushard’s continues to be what its founder envisioned – to serve the residents of Laguna Beach, a vision that has been lovingly sustained by Sheila, Marisa, and their wonderful staff. 

Bushard’s Pharmacy is located at 244 Forest Avenue.

For more information, go to www.bushardspharmacy.com or call (949) 494-1059.


Low-cost spay/neuter program for pets offered May 1 to 31

A low-cost spay/neuter program will be offered from May 1 to 31 for pets belonging to Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods residents. Protecting Unwanted Pets (PUP) will cover the majority of costs during this one-time annual event. There is a maximum of two pets per household.

Spaying or neutering your pet has numerous health benefits and is also necessary in controlling pet overpopulation.

Low cost dogs

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Courtesy of Volunteers of Laguna Beach

Animal Shelter Facebook page

Laguna Beach Animal Shelter volunteers with Bobby and Sharman

Each pet is evaluated by a veterinarian, and in the event the pet needs additional medical care, those costs must be covered by the resident.

Voucher prices range from $20 to $50 for spays, and $15 to $30 for neuters, based on the weight of the animal.

Purchase vouchers at Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, or call (949) 497-3552 for more information. Vouchers must be purchased by April 30 and procedures must take place by the end of May.

Participating veterinarians include Dr. Gershun Alaluf, Canyon Animal Hospital; Dr. James Levin, Laguna Beach Animal Hospital; and Dr. Mukhtar, Laguna Beach Veterinary Medical Center. 

For information about LB Animal Shelter, go to www.puplagunabeach.org.


Laguna Beach Business Club to feature Elizabeth Pearson as speaker on Thursday

The Laguna Beach Business Club is proud to feature Elizabeth Pearson, founder of Laguna ADU and former Mayor of Laguna Beach, as the club’s April 15 speaker. 

The LBBC holds a breakfast meeting the third Thursday of each month at 7:30 a.m., hosting speakers that discuss topics valuable to achieving success in your personal and professional lives. Currently, the meetings are held via Zoom and will resume to being held live in the near future.

Ms. Pearson’s topic of discussion will be “ADUs: Breaking New Ground in Laguna.” Elizabeth Pearson, who’s had a passion for helping seniors in Laguna Beach for decades, founded Laguna ADU. 

Laguna Beach Pearson

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Elizabeth Pearson to speak during Thursday’s (April 15) Laguna Beach Business Club meeting 

Elizabeth served the City of Laguna Beach as a Planning Commissioner for six and a half years and as a City Council member for 12 years. She served three terms as Mayor and is very familiar with the city’s planning and building department processes and also has many positive relationships with City Hall and the City leaders. She also has relationships with many architects and builders who have designed and built in Laguna Beach.

For 12 years, Elizabeth championed the creation of a new Senior Center in Laguna Beach, working tirelessly to move the project forward at City Hall. She garnered citywide support and raised much of the funds to help with the construction costs of the building. The Susi Q Senior Center officially opened in 2009.

Outside of her work at the City of Laguna Beach, Elizabeth has worked as a corporate executive in the real estate and financial services industries – and also as a key executive and consultant for nonprofits.

Today, Elizabeth works with the City, local architects, engineers, and licensed contractors to help seniors and others to create ADUs on their properties to be used as rental units, caretaker units, mother-in-law units, and more. She also continues to serve on Boards of Directors of nonprofits, including Laguna Beach Seniors, Laguna Beach Live!, and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

The LBBC is a group of local business professionals and entrepreneurs. The club meets monthly to discuss current events, business opportunities, and share insights within the context of our community and our lives. Their goal is to build and maintain relationships with local professionals and businesses that they are proud to recommend to clients and friends.

For more information about the LBBC visit www.lagunabeachbusinessclub.com; to obtain the Zoom link for the April 15 meeting, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Wisteria wonderland

Wisteria wonderland flowers

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A famous Wisteria variety that can be seen on the Japanese bridge in Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. Wisteria floribunda “Alba” is a beautiful, white-flowered Japanese Wisteria with very long clusters of pea-like, fragrant white flowers.


State Senator Wiener to speak about affordable housing during LB Dems Club meeting on May 5 via Zoom

Affordable housing will be the focus at the next Zoom meeting of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club on Wednesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. State Senator Scott Wiener (D-CA11) will address the Club, along with Kelsey Brewer, community and policy manager at Jamboree Housing Corporation. Everyone is invited to this free meeting. Registration is at www.thelbdems.com.

Sen. Wiener has recently introduced bills to simplify state housing regulations to make it easier for locales to support affordable housing development, including easing local restrictions that inhibit multi-family housing and providing for housing for at-risk youth. Also among the stipulations of his proposed legislation is to allow churches and other non-commercial properties to build affordable housing on their property. (Which Laguna Beach has included in its plan to develop more affordable housing stock.) 

State Senator closeup

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State Senator Scott Wiener

“California’s severe housing shortage – in the millions – is severely harming our state, and we must take firm actions to help create more housing,” said Senator Wiener. “We need multiple strategies to help end our housing shortage, including empowering cities to build more housing, funding affordable housing, and ensuring that cities are taking necessary steps to meet their housing goals. Our 2021 housing bills help accomplish each of these important goals.” 

Brewer has also been active at the state level in promoting passage of the Orange County Financial Trust Bill, to fund housing specifically assisting the homeless population and people of no or low income. 

“Lack of housing for the un-housed and people of low and even moderate incomes constitute a complex issue for the State of California. My work since a student has focused on these issues and I am proud to have found a home with Jamboree, which focuses not just on developing affordable housing, but on the services surrounding that housing that boost the welfare of individuals and families.” 

State Senator Brewer

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Kelsey Brewer, community and policy manager at Jamboree Housing Corporation

Wiener earned a law degree from Harvard University and subsequently served in private practice and in public service with the City of San Francisco and Board of Supervisors. His focus has been on justice-related and transportation, housing, sustainable energy, and LGBTQ issues during his career. 

Prior to joining Jamboree Housing Corporation, Brewer served in policy, legislative, and analysis positions with the Association of California Cities. She was number 11 in Orange County Register’s 100 most influential people for her work on helping pass the Orange County Housing Finance Trust bill. She graduated cum laude in political science and government from California State University – Fullerton.   

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club is in its 75th year of uninterrupted engagement supporting Democratic candidates, causes, and values.   

For more information about the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, visit www.thelbdems.com.


Exciting news from R Star Foundation: A plan to provide young girls with personal hygiene kits

R Star Foundation has announced its first shipment of PPS kits – Personal Pad Solutions – which are washable, reusable pads to be delivered to girls in the rural areas of Nepal, where founder Rosalind Russell focuses her philanthropic efforts.

These kits are helpful in allowing girls to attend school every day and several have been successfully transported to Nepal.

Rotary Patan So will deliver the kits as they arrive. Kits include training on use and care of the items, along with personal hygiene training.

“All during COVID, our incredible volunteers have been cutting, sewing, providing materials, putting the kits together, not an easy task,” says Russell. “Nothing has stopped us from our goal to help meet female needs, and lift girls up, more than halfway around the world.”

Exciting news kits

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Personal Pad Solutions – kits for young girls in Nepal

Transportation is challenging as the kits are sent through friends traveling to Nepal.

“Anyone going to Nepal in the near future, or are friends of yours?” Russell asks. “Contact us, please, if you are willing to share a little space in your suitcase for this awesome project, lifting women.”

If you are wondering what to give or how to honor someone for Mother’s Day, Russell recommends buying a live goat in that person’s name for a rural Nepali woman.

“The cost is $200 for a pregnant pretty female or $275 for a studly male,” she says. “Most of us have enough ‘stuff.’ You can make a meaningful gift to lift another while showing your heart for the one you are saluting.”

To contact R Star, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 497-4911. Visit www.RStarFoundation.org for more information.


Art fans fill amphitheater at Heisler Park to hear about David Zinn’s creatures and creative process

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Saturday morning at Heisler Park, a huge crowd of all ages gathered to hear artist David Zinn discuss his process of creating and transforming creatures and monsters into sidewalk trompe I’oeil illustrations. Inspired by objects, street fixtures, and cracks in the sidewalks, several of his drawings brightened the streets of Laguna Beach last week. As part of the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to create their own sidewalk art, and soon the area was filled with technicolor drawings of every sort. 

Art fans dragon

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Corner Dragon, a creature drawn on a wall in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

Zinn’s temporary street drawings are composed entirely of chalk, charcoal, and found objects, and are always improvised on location through a process known as “pareidolic anamorphosis” or “anamorphic pareidolia.” It is a distorted projection or perspective requiring the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point. It’s like seeing the man in the moon. You see what you want to see.

Some favored characters are Sluggo (a bright green monster) and Philomena (a flying pig), but the menagerie of characters is only limited by the size of the sidewalk.

Art fans sluggo

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Zinn demonstrates process – one of his menagerie, Sluggo

Zinn says that he’s frequently asked when he started drawing. “As far back as I can remember, I never ran out of blank paper and its endless possibilities. It’s also reasonable to freeze up when faced with a blank paper and infinite choices. And I started comparing my work to my brother’s.”

Zinn’s father started a game called Doodle Battle. Zinn and his brother (each with a blank piece of paper) would start with a scribble and then the challenge was offered, “Bet you can’t make something out of that!” Through this process, he learned to eliminate the fear and threat of a blank piece of paper.

“Destroy blankness with random scribbles,” he says.

Art fans with kids

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David Zinn and kids have fun destroying the blankness

What he could do within the confines of the paper was his goal, and he never stopped drawing. “The challenge is the same with sidewalks,” he says. He doesn’t imagine the creatures before he draws them, and within the context of the sidewalk, he waits to see what the creature wants to be.

Most of his creatures appear on sidewalks in Michigan, but many have surfaced as far away as subway platforms in Manhattan, village squares in Sweden, and street corners in Taiwan. He has achieved global notoriety through sharing on the pages of Facebook, Instagram, Huffington Post, Graffiti Art Magazine, Bored Panda, Central China Television, Street Art Utopia, and Archie McPhee’s Endless Geyser of Awesome. His most frequent characters are Sluggo (a bright green monster with stalk eyes and irreverent habits) and Philomena (a phlegmatic flying pig), but the diversity of Zinn’s menagerie seems to be limited only by the size of the sidewalk and the spirit of the day.

Zinn says, “Since the installations are so fleeting, the experience of seeing one in real life is more surprising and more exceptional.” 

Art fans frog

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Light fixture becomes a frog

Of Zinn’s visit to Laguna, Chair of the Temporary Art Sub-Committee of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission, Adam Schwerner, says, “We want to explore every genre of temporary, and you can’t get more temporary and fleeting than chalk art. It’s a thrill to invite David to Laguna Beach and have programming that younger members of our community can embrace and enjoy.” 

Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin added, “As we develop this temporary program, residents are going to enjoy broad variety of work that will be diverse in content, artist and location.”

Commenting on the temporary nature of his artwork, Zinn says, “It’s much less pressure and more about the joy of making art.” 

To the onlookers, the fact that his works are fleeting makes them even more intriguing and special.

For more information, visit www.zinnart.com.


Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE

January 1, 2021

Will Siberian storm signal snow soon in Laguna?

Dennis 5Happy New Year, everyone! I hope for the best or at least an improvement over the disaster of 2020. 

The collision of a warm, wet weather front with a mass of cold air from Siberia could set a new record: the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in the North Pacific, which could mean hurricane-force winds and high seas in the Southwest Bering Sea. 

This storm is generating a lot of interest from weather watchers around the world. Climate specialist Rick Thoman of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks said the storm, which is expected to reach Unalaska by Thursday night, will be comparable to Typhoon Nuri in 2014 as well as another record storm that touched down near Adak in 2015, causing wind damage in Unalaska and the Pribilof Islands.

Anchorage-based National Weather Service Climatologist Brian Brettschneider said current models show the barometric pressure plummeting to as low as 920 millibars on Thursday. That translates to 27.10 inches of mercury on the aneroid barometer, which is found in quite a few Category 5 tropical hurricanes. The current record North Pacific record low is 925 millibars.

These ingredients could come together to form a stormy explosive development. The places that could be hit hardest are the Western Aleutian Islands like Shemya and Attu, but the heart of the storm might also center on the community of Adak, which has a population of 100, and Atka, a tiny community of about 50 people located about 100 miles further east. NOAA forecasts show winds up to 75 mph in Adak.

Low pressure will likely create more of a typical storm for Unalaska – short-lived 50-70 mph winds. Another effect could be waves as high as 40 feet in the Western Bering Sea, which will be a major issue for commercial fishing and for ocean transport. Those are some serious waves. 

The system is caused by the convergence of a deep high pressure cold front from Siberia with the warm tropical low pressure from the South Pacific. Parts of Siberia have seen temps as cold as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When you have cold air and warm air meeting together it provides a lot of energy for the storms and for the low pressure to really deepen like a bomb cyclone on steroids! 

Mainland Alaska likely won’t see any of the winds from the storm, but there will be indirect effects. A low pressure in the Bering Sea will push a high-pressure system over the Yukon. It means we’ll have an easterly flow, which is going to bring colder temps, and so paradoxically we may cool down over the next week in part because of that low pressure.

The NOAA is monitoring the state of the climate regionally and globally and how these things are changing, and whether the intensity of these storms is going to be a marker of the changing climate. 

Finally, the reason I brought this up in the first place is a very similar setup happened way back in January of 1949, which brought snow and record cold to Laguna. I’ll cover that in the next edition of Stu News Laguna. (This piece was aided by information from the NOAA.)

Once again, Happy New Year and ALOHA!


Bees a buzzin’

Bees a yellow

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Can spring be far behind?


County of Orange activates Incident Management Team for COVID vaccine supersites

The County of Orange is proactively leading Orange County’s response to COVID-19. The next critical phase is providing the vaccine to residents in a phased, tiered approach.

“The County of Orange, together with our partners at the Orange County Fire Authority, launched ‘Operation Independence’ to help administer COVID-19 vaccinations in the county,” said Acting Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Andrew Do, First District. “In order to coordinate the planning for this massive undertaking, the county has created an Incident Management Team (IMT). The Operation Independence IMT will be working seven days a week to secure locations and stand up large, regional Super Point-of-Dispensing (POD) sites that can vaccinate thousands of residents each day.” 

Operation Independence has the objective of setting up regional vaccine points of dispensing (POD). Due to the scope and size of these PODs, based on the high demand for vaccines, these sites are being referred to as County Super PODs. The Super PODs are expected to dispense thousands of vaccines each day once they are fully operational.

“Establishing the Operation Independence IMT will reduce and eliminate barriers to vaccine access for Orange County’s residents,” said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner, Third District. “This is important for the taxpayers we serve as it enables us to maintain fiscal accountability and avoid duplication of efforts at the City level.”

The county is anticipating the need for at least five Super PODs that will be brought online as they are approved, staffed, and have COVID-19 vaccines available. The location of the County Super POD sites are in development and will be announced as they are finalized. Once finalized, the County Super POD sites will be opened in a phased approach and will be located regionally throughout Orange County.

“I’m pleased that the Operation Independence IMT will eliminate potential waste of the vaccine and keep the community informed by providing coordinated communications among all agencies, authorities, stakeholders, and the public,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District.

Currently, vaccinations are being provided to Orange County residents and those who work in Orange County that fall within Phase 1a, all tiers. Vaccines will be dispensed at County Super PODs only to Orange County residents and those who work in Orange County who qualify. A vaccine will not be delivered unless identification and documentation of vaccine eligibility are presented at the site. To view a list of who is eligible to receive a vaccine, visit the OC Health Care Agency website at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/phased-approach-vaccine-distribution.

“I strongly encourage residents to visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.com for the latest information on who is currently eligible to receive the vaccination, and learn the facts about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy. The County and our partners have engaged in annual POD exercises to ensure we are ready to quickly distribute vaccines throughout Orange County,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. 

An Incident Management Team (IMT) was established on December 31, 2020 for Operation Independence. The Operation Independence IMT is a unified command with representatives from the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Orange County Fire Authority, the County of Orange County Executive Office (CEO), and other County agencies.


Laguna Canyon Conservancy features guest speaker Hallie Jones in Monday webinar

As with most nonprofits, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) this past year. President Gayle Waite says, “However, we are moving to Zoom meetings.” 

The second 2021 Zoom meeting will be held on Monday, Feb 1 at 7 p.m. The guest speaker will be Hallie Jones, Executive Director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation. She will be speaking on the current state of the Laguna Canyon, upcoming environmental threats and opportunities, and general LCF updates.

Hallie was born and raised in Laguna Canyon. After a brief stint in Washington D.C., she relocated to Los Angeles and spent almost fifteen years working in marine conservation for Heal the Bay. In 2013, she returned to her roots when she joined Laguna Canyon Foundation as Executive Director. Hallie has a background in marketing and creative writing. She lives in Laguna with her two children, who enjoy camping, hiking, and being outdoors just as much as she does.

Laguna Canyon Hallie

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Submitted photo

Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones

​Meeting instructions will be sent out in advance and posted on the LCC website.

Attendance is limited to 100; however, the public is invited. To suggest questions, send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.at least a day prior to the meeting or use Chat during the meeting.

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy has a long-standing commitment to preserving our natural coastal canyons and is a supporter of open space in south Orange County. The Laguna Canyon Conservancy holds educational meetings most first Mondays, September through May of each year, currently via Zoom as in-person dinner meetings are not possible. 

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group dedicated to monitoring the issues that could have an effect on the wilderness parks and open space connected to Laguna Canyon. LCC selects well-informed speakers and provides a forum for learning about the alternatives that face preservation efforts.

What’s been happening at LCC? Plans are underway to transfer the huge collection of LCC papers and photographs assembled over 30 years by Carolyn Wood to a permanent archive home at the UC Irvine Libraries. This massive undertaking is being spearheaded by Harry Huggins with assistance by Jackie Gallagher and should be completed by spring.

LCC is important to park users and residents of Laguna Beach for determining the optimal choices in preservation and protection of our surrounding open spaces, which improves our environment, community health, and surrounding beauty in what would likely have been an urbanized landscape. If all of the 22,000 acres of preserved open space were included in Laguna Beach city limits, it would be nearly 85 percent of the total area. 

For more information and a Zoom link to the meeting, go to the website at www.LagunaCanyonConservancy.org.


Guest Column

A Prayer: Show me how to love myself 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Show me how to love myself truly and entirely.
Show me how to eat, sleep, and move my body
for nourishment, restoration, celebration.
Show me how to embody everything that is my joy.

A Prayer doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Face me toward my Soul 

my innocence, 

my beauty, 

my strength, 

my gifts.

Show me what I knew before I took on the veils of human form.
Show me who I am with no attachments, and who I am fulfilled.

Rinse comparison from my psyche,

lift my gaze to my Higher Self. 

On the dark days, just remind me that I am a good person
and that I was chosen to be here. 

Please affirm that I am valued regardless of my productivity or my past. 

Help me notice how my Loving shows up in everyday doings. 

Help me see how I make a positive difference to the atmosphere of Life itself. 

Show me how to revel in my Divine qualities 

and to give them generously to the world. 

Support me to make empowered choices 

that are the best for my body, mind, and spirit.

A Prayer jacket

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Peace, love, and gratitude: Love yourself

Help me integrate the parts of myself that I’ve abandoned
so that I move forward, fuller and wise.
There is a formula for forgiveness. 

Help me mix it and drink it,
first bringing the cup to my own lips,
to loosen and wash away what I’ve held against myself.

Help me shift my relationships to deserving
so that I tend to my needs with incredible sweetness.
Guide me to knowing my magnificence, that I will transform
self-doubt into courage
denial into resolve
brittleness into fluidity
criticism into adoration
proving into honoring
striving into trusting
constriction into allowing
and harshness into an embrace that is greater than time.

May all be so blessed.

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Blue Bell publishes free booklet focusing on the cat sanctuary’s ties to Laguna’s history

From iconic greeters and love for animals, arts, and the environment, to surviving natural disasters, the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats and the City of Laguna Beach are tied at the historical hip. 

All comes to light in The Story of Blue Bell: A Virtual Tour Though Space and Time, by author and Laguna resident Lynette Brasfield. 

“Thousands of people race by Blue Bell on Laguna Canyon Road every day with little knowledge that the Cat Retirement Sanctuary exists, much less that it has so much in common with the history of our city,” says Lynette, a volunteer for the organization. 

“Nor do they realize that the cottages are surrounded by 14 gorgeous pocket gardens – the inspiration of Advisory Board Chairman Jeff Zakaryan.”

Blue Bell Lynette

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Photo by Jeff Zakaryan

Lynette had a great time working on the booklet

The Story of Blue Bell covers the early days of the cottage, which belonged to relatives of the author Willa Cather before the founder of Blue Bell, Bertha Yergat, bought the property. The Cathers were potters who exhibited their work at the early iterations of the Sawdust and Festival of Arts.

Like Laguna itself, the cottage home for cats – once 125 strong, now 50 in number – has survived and thrived despite the fires and mudslides that ravaged the canyon through the years.

Gorgeous photos, most of which were taken by volunteer Terri Karman, illustrate tales about the sanctuary’s cute and quirky cats over the years. 

Blue Bell mudslide

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Submitted photo

Blue Bell after the mudslide of 1997, which nearly wiped out the cottages – happily all 100 cats survived following evacuation

“Lynette has done a masterful job capturing the essence of this special place and the many ways it connects to Laguna,” notes Susan Hamil, Chairwoman of Blue Bell. 

Susan and her veterinarian husband John have had a forty-plus-year love affair with Laguna and Blue Bell. As owners of Canyon Animal Hospital, they looked after hundreds of cats for Blue Bell founder Bertha Yergat and have been on its Board since she passed away in 1989. 

The Story of Blue Bell shares the ups, downs, and unique charms of Blue Bell’s cats, facilities, volunteers, and supporters key to its enduring presence in Laguna,” Susan adds. 

Blue Bell today

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Photo by Jeff Zakaryan

Today Blue Bell houses approximately 50 senior cats, who enjoy “must-see” TV, aka the gorgeous gardens teeming with bees and butterflies

Brian Flynn, who is also a volunteer for the Laguna Canyon Foundation, provided his graphic design skills for free.

Blue Bell takes care of senior cats whose owners, because of death, disability, or relocation, can no longer care for them. Two cottages provide a lifelong comfortable and caring environment for the kitties: once a Blue Bell cat, always a Blue Bell cat. 

Free copies of The Story of Blue Bell will be available at the library at the Susi Q Community Center, with other locations TBD. For more information about The Story of Blue Bell and the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, or to request a copy, visit www.bluebellcats.org.

Tours will be planned for post-pandemic times, so stay tuned.


Guest Column

Why I refuse to worry (and how to be more useful to your friends) 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Some very precious people in my life are in extreme pain right now. Three friends are sorting through the natural disaster that breaking up brings on. I cry with them on Zoom and FaceTime. I write letters I know they’re too weary to respond to. I think about them throughout every day. I ache, actively. I’m concerned.

But I do not worry for them. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Refuse to. Not because I trust in a benevolent universe to carry them (which I do) and not because I’m disassociated (I’m anything but). I don’t let myself worry for them because I think it’s not only futile, but it’s obstructive. Worry only gets in the way of good intentions, energy, solutions. It’s toxic.

Guest Column Why I doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

Worry vs concern

Energetically, there is a critical difference.

Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.

Concern: to relate to; be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect.

Worry obstructs possibility. Concern is pro-active. 

Worry weighs things down. Concern can rise to the occasion. 

Worry is wistful. Concern is penetrating. 

Worry tangles. Concern peels back the layers. 

Worry gossips. Concern enrolls.

Worry is the conjoined twin of anxiety. Of course concern can be riddled with anxiety, but it’s strong enough to tune anxiety into a constructive force (coming up next Friday, so stay tuned).

How to transform your worry for others into positivity so you can truly be of service

Stand outside of the story 

Every fearful expectation has a big “story” behind it. The trauma, the drama, the pain, the plot. Worry feeds on the gruesome details. It replays the potential saga in your head. It validates all the reasons things could go wrong by dredging up the past again and again.

Worry is cleverly building a case as to why you should worry.

Don’t let yourself be pulled onto the “set” of the unfolding drama. Stay behind the camera and go where you’re needed to shed light on things. 

Witnessing is an act of compassion. Whether it’s with force or a light touch, you get to call the shots on how you will show up in any difficult situation.

Keep a soft gaze

No one needs your judgment about why they got themselves into something, or all of the things that could go wrong. Gently observe what’s going on, and stick to the facts. This is really tricky because facts can be relative. Medical test results are facts. So is someone’s immense inner strength. Choose the facts that keep you moving in a better direction. Friends in pain need love and optimism – critiques and prognostications are big fat downers.

Let your heart be broken

Life will devastate you if you get close enough to it. Get closer. In the cosmic fabric, your pain is mine as yours is mine…When we can share this unified space we know how to be of better service to one another – because we can better empathize.

Guest Column Why I wall

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Photo by Kavita Reddy

Replace worry with wishes

Put a stake of devotion in the ground

How far will you let your concern take you for a friend? (Limits are okay by the way – enlightened concern isn’t about martyrdom.) Are you willing to catch the next plane, withdraw your savings, find a lawyer, change bandages, mix herbs, listen tirelessly?

Your devotion may shrink or expand as the situation unravels. But if you can declare how you intend to be truly helpful, then worry takes a backseat.

Send wishes

This is the single most effectual way to defuse worry and move into positivity. Worry will crop up. Don’t let it stagnate. 

Cleanse your worry with very precise wishes

I’m worried that he’ll stay lonely. I wish him sweet love. 

I’m worried the meds won’t work. I wish her quantum healing. 

I’m worried she’ll do something drastic. I wish her equilibrium. 

I’m worried he’ll sink into depression. I wish him lightness. 

I’m worried this will takes years. I wish for swift grace.

While you’re at it, you could do one gorgeous global wish: I wish for the end of suffering and happiness of all beings. That about covers it.

Send wishes. And more wishes. The wishes will nest in your psyche and begin to inform your concern, your words, your actions. 

When you’re not preoccupied with worrying, you’re free to serve, in so many ways. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


FOA’s next “Concerts on the Screen” features Billy Valentine on Friday 

Known for working with musical legends like Roberta Flack, Ray Charles, and Burt Bacharach, the next Festival of Arts “Concerts on the Screen” will feature a memorable performance by soulful singer Billy Valentine.

Presented in partnership with Yamaha, viewers can tune in to catch the pre-recorded concert on Friday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per household for the general public and free with registration for Festival members. 

“Be sure to mark your calendars! Billy Valentine is a world-class vocalist,” said Susan Davis, Director of Special Events at Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach. “His music has delighted Festival audiences for years and we’re excited to stream this concert for you to enjoy at home.”

FOA's next stage

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Submitted photo

Billy Valentine and band hit the stage virtually on Friday, March 19 

Celebrated for his joyous performances and incredible voice, Billy Valentine’s vocal work can be heard on many television shows – most notably as the voice of the theme song for the hit TV series Boston Legal, as well as on the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed series Sons of Anarchy.

Keeping pace with his expanding singing career, Billy has written numerous songs and has collaborated with music industry greats including Will Jennings and co-writing three songs on the Family Groove album by the Neville Brothers. Billy also co-wrote the title track “My World” for musical legend Ray Charles.

Billy began his professional career as a solo artist opening for such luminaries as Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack in the 1970s. Billy and his brother John then went on to form the duo The Valentine Brothers, touring and producing four albums from 1975-1989.

The duo co-wrote the memorable hit single “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention),” which gained widespread popularity in 1986 when it was released as a single. Billy has also been a demo recording artist for high-profile producers and writers like Gerry Goffin, Mark Isham, Burt Bacharach, and Hal David.

The Festival’s virtual “Concerts on the Screen” series is presented in partnership with Yamaha and allows fans the opportunity to enjoy their favorite summer Fine Arts Show performances from the comfort of home. 

Festival of Arts “Concerts on the Screen” Monthly Series Schedule:

--March 19 - Billy Valentine 

--April 23 - Brian Bromberg’s Big Bombastic Band 

To register and purchase tickets today, visit www.foapom.com/event/virtual-concert-valentine/. Pre-registration is required.

To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Fine Arts Show, visit www.foapom.com or follow @FestivalPageant on social media. To support the Festival of Arts, visit www.foapom.com/supportnow.


Guest Column

Lift your mood in less than one minute with this simple trick 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

“Sound will be the future of medicine.” –Edgar Cayce

After being a lifelong skeptic, the idea that sound could heal or change consciousness seemed far-fetched to me. Years later, after learning to play the piano and exploring the science of sound and vibration, I am totally certain that sound changes consciousness.

Guest Column Lift your doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my podcast: https://naturally-happy.com/podcast/.

When I lead yoga nidra sound meditations, I guide people into the experience of how sound can cause an immediate shift in emotional states.

This simple technique can open the eyes and heart of any skeptic in less than a minute.

I call it the “HAHA mantra,” and I start every day with it to give myself a boost in hope, happiness, and energy.

Say, HA…from the gut.

And again…except twice…HA HA

And again…three times…HA HA HA

And again…four times…HA HA HA HA HA

And then five times…HA HA HA HA HA HA

As you continue to say it, change the pitch and loudness of the HA.

Allow the ridiculousness of the sound practice to bring a smile to your face.

Allow the mood to uplift.

Laugh like Woody Woodpecker.

Guest Column Lift your wings

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Let your laughter take wing

Say HA in any combination of sounds that you feel like, and allow it to impact you.

Laugh with exaggeration, and allow the shift in emotions to occur.

The heart will brighten, the face will relax, and stress will be alleviated.

Allow the resistance to fade.

Observe the shift in consciousness.

It is essential to allow the resistance to fade and to notice and appreciate the difference in feelings.

Recognize how if one simple sound can change a mood so quickly, what the emotional impact of sentences, words, and other thoughts can be on oneself and others.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


OC Public Libraries partners with Libromobile to launch inaugural OC Poet Laureate programs

In conjunction with April’s National Poetry Month, OC Public Libraries is partnering with LibroMobile Arts Co-Op to launch the inaugural OC Poet Laureate (OC-PL) and OC Youth Poet Laureate (OCYPL) programs in Orange County. 

Aiming to reflect regional demographics including approximately 60 percent people of color, these programs are intended to inspire and promote cultural connections and community partnerships by celebrating local poets using their powerful voices to impact social change. 

The goals of the OC-PL program are to inspire residents through transformative community engagement and the positive impact of poetry; provide opportunities to engage in literary arts and write or perform poetry; bring poetry to a variety of settings in the community; and ultimately support a civic and literary leader for generations to come. 

In partnership with the National Youth Poet Laureate Program and Urban Word, the OCYPL program is a countywide literacy effort celebrating poetry and connecting young writers to far-reaching opportunities. Each year Orange County writers (ages 13-19) can apply to join a community of talented young poets. 

A Laureate is selected and earns an honorarium that can be applied as an educational scholarship or toward additional arts programming. All Finalists are invited to serve as ambassadors alongside the Laureate for literacy, arts, and youth expression with ongoing opportunities for performances, projects, and peer support. 

One OC Poet Laureate and one OC Youth Poet Laureate will be selected for the 2021-2022 program year. Inaugural applications for the OC-PL and OCYPL programs will open on April 15, 2021 and be accepted through July 15, 2021. Announcement of the 2021-2022 OC Poet Laureate Appointments will be made on August 15, 2021. 

For more information about the OC-PL and OCYPL literary programs including eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit www.libromobile.com/ocpoetlaureates.


Supervisor Lisa Bartlett to speak at Laguna Canyon Conservancy Zoom meeting on Monday

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) will host Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett at its next program on Monday, May 3 starting at 7 p.m. The public is invited; however, attendance is limited to 100. 

Supervisor Bartlett will cover County issues including COVID-19 as well as environmental issues such as OC Parks management of the wilderness parks, the genetic health of the wildlife and the animal corridor, and Caltrans projects. 

Re-elected in June 2018, Lisa Bartlett represents the Fabulous Fifth District representing more than 650,000 residents, including those of Laguna Beach. To suggest questions, send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at least one day prior to the meeting or use Chat during the meeting.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

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Submitted photo

OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett to speak at LCC’s Zoom meeting on Monday, May 3

Schedule of meeting: 

--7 p.m. – Open meeting – time for announcements; LCC President Gayle Waite introduces speaker

--7:15 p.m. – Speaker’s presentation

--7:45 p.m. – Time for Q&A; questions from Gayle Waite using LCC Board questions and suggestions from Chat Room

--8:15 p.m. – Meeting over

The Zoom link to the event is https://zoom.us/j/95798457746.

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy is a volunteer environmental group dedicated to save Laguna Canyon and preserve it as natural. Due to COVID-19, the LCC programs are held via Zoom in 2021.

More than ever the Laguna Canyon Conservancy relies upon membership dues which can be paid by going to www.lagunacanyonconservancy.org. There will be upcoming LCC Board of Director elections, and members can nominate themselves or other members to be elected to the Board. Dues are $20 per person good through December 31, 2021. 

Also, past programs can be viewed under the “Programs” tab of the website. The LCC is a nonprofit organization; however, donations are generally not tax deductible. Since LCC does take positions on issues of public policy, the LCC is not a 501(c)(3) organization, but rather a 501(c)(4).


Deadline for 2019 Laguna Beach city photo contest, “Urban Laguna Beach,” is June 5

The submission deadline for this year’s Laguna Beach city photo contest, which celebrates Laguna Beach’s vibrancy, vitality, and livability through the camera lens, is June 5. 

This year, photographers are asked to submit their high-resolution photographs for contest consideration reflecting this year’s theme, “Urban Laguna Beach” – life downtown and away from the beach.

Deadline for street

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

These city lights on Broadway are a great example of this year’s contest theme 

To enter, photographers must submit their high-resolution photos of Laguna Beach online at http://bit.ly/2019LBphotocontest by the contest deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5. Any photo taken within Laguna Beach city limits is eligible and the contest is open to anyone.

The winning photographs will be selected by a local marketing professional. First-prize photographs receive $500 and winners of additional categories receive $100 each. 

All winning photographers will receive recognition at a future Laguna Beach City Council meeting, be featured on the city’s social media channels, and will have their photo posted in a gallery on the city’s website. 

For a complete list of contest rules and information about how to enter, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/photocontest.


Deadline approaching for Bank of America paid summer internship program

Summer may feel far away, but the deadline is fast approaching for civic-minded teens in Orange County to apply for Bank of America’s prestigious Student Leaders program, which provides paid summer internships at local nonprofits.

Each year, Bank of America selects 300 high school juniors and seniors across the country to participate, including four from Orange County. The 2021 online application process is now open through January 29. To apply, go here.

Last summer, the Student Leaders program was converted to a virtual format, with the Orange County students working with United Way of Orange County on a special project and learning firsthand how to work in a local organization. The program is part of the bank’s investment into education and workforce development for young adults to obtain job and leadership experience, while making a difference in their communities.

For more information about the Student Leaders program, go here.


Low tide languishing

Low tide dogs

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Lots of beach for canine strolling


Laguna Beach Community Clinic receives limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Rubal, the Clinic’s CEO and Medical Director, has been keeping tabs since last December on the opportunity to serve as a local vaccine distribution center. 

“We’re proud to be designated to distribute the vaccine. Our patient population is largely comprised of high-risk individuals, and we serve a community with a large senior population. From a community health standpoint, applying for approval to receive and provide the vaccine was the right and necessary move.”

Intense and rapid planning included coordinated efforts between the Clinic, County and City officials, Laguna Beach Fire Department, and Susi Q Senior Center. While the Clinic had ordered the requisite freezer, the Fire Department quickly jumped in, lending their own sub-zero freezer in order to expedite the rollout. 

Laguna Beach truck

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Dr. Jorge Rubal, RN, COO and Clinical Director Adriana Nieto-Sayegh, and LB Fire Captain Andrew Hill

The Clinic recently received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine with a small group of Clinic staff remaining after hours for its arrival. “I’ll always remember that evening. The way the shipment was packaged, with a high-tech GPS device, underscored the importance of what we received, giving us goosebumps. We felt a strong sense of relief and joy,” reflected Dr. Rubal.

Adriana Nieto-Sayegh, RN, COO and Clinical Director, oversees the daily operations of the vaccine rollout. “The process is heavily regulated, as it should be. Vaccinating adds to our day-to-day patient care, but we have an extraordinary staff. We’ve been together on the frontlines for nearly a year; being able to administer the vaccine gives us a tremendous sense of hope on behalf of our community.”

Laguna Beach office

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Submitted photo

Adriana Nieto-Sayegh and LB Fire Captain Andrew Hill 

Following strict County and State guidelines, the Clinic has administered its limited supply of the Moderna vaccine to: 

--Clinic staff 

--Clinic long-term patients at high risk 

--Laguna Beach First Responders

As additional vaccine supply becomes available in the coming weeks, the Clinic plans to expand its vaccination appointments to first include more of its patients. Next, the Clinic will schedule appointments for those who meet State and County eligibility guidelines, giving priority to its service which includes Laguna Beach residents. In anticipation of vaccine distribution ramping up, the Clinic has begun to take names and contact information to arrange appointments as soon as they receive more vaccines. In the meantime, the Clinic encourages all to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and look into county vaccinations options as well. 

Mayor Bob Whalen, who participated in the early coordination efforts, stated, “I’m so pleased that the Clinic will be on the frontlines of vaccinating our community. This is just another example of how our residents benefit from having the Clinic in the City.”

The LB Community Clinic is located at 362 Third St. For more information, call (949) 494-0761 or visit www.lbclinic.org.


Up there

Up there bird

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Bird flying high in a buttermilk sky


There is reason to be hopeful about cancer breakthroughs in 2021

By Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A., physician-in-chief, City of Hope Orange County

A recent report from the American Cancer Society finds that death rates from cancer have dropped by the biggest single-year decline on record – encouraging news for us all. But one cancer death is one too many and we must keep pushing for breakthroughs. 

According to the report, U.S. cancer deaths have dropped by 31 percent since 1991. The death rate from cancer in the U.S. dropped 2.4 percent from 2017 to 2018, a record-setting decline. More effective cancer treatments have helped push this notable trend, particularly in lung cancer. Yet, while mortality from lung cancer – the most lethal form of cancer in the U.S. – is down, other forms have not declined as much. Prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers have not had the steady drops we hoped to see. In fact, breast cancer rates in Orange County are still on the rise. Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the country. 

There is reason Dr. Kim

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Photos courtesy of City of Hope

Edward Kim, M.D., M.B.A., physician-in-chief, City of Hope Orange County

How to go from good news to great? I’m betting on City of Hope to lead the way. Here’s why I accepted the role of physician-in-chief for City of Hope Orange County and why I believe this century-old esteemed institution can change the cancer outlook.

--City of Hope is a nationally recognized cancer specialty hospital. It’s an institution powered by more than 1,000 highly specialized clinicians and scientists committed to providing safe and expert cancer care. This collective knowledge and dedication is the engine that pushes for improved treatment and cancer cures. It is estimated that 100 million people each year benefit from City of Hope discoveries.

--Pioneering work starts here. City of Hope’s relentless pursuit of medical breakthroughs puts us at the birth of the biotech revolution. Synthetic human insulin and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs were developed through technology pioneered by City of Hope. Today we are one of the few cancer centers globally with the ability to produce cellular, genetic, and drug-based therapies to good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards for patients. In practical terms, that means we move discoveries from the lab to patients at breakthrough speed.

--We improve upon today’s treatments and push to break new ground. While many of our patients receive well-known treatments such as chemotherapy, we fine-tune and improve these practices. For example, our scientists developed a precision medicine tool that bases chemotherapy not on demographic data but on the patient’s genetics to determine their tolerance. Similarly, City of Hope is advancing precision medicine such as CAR-T therapy that uses the patient’s own genetics to fight cancer – that means fewer side effects because treatment is 100 percent specific to the individual.

--Although we focus on cancer, our influence is profound. Because our specialists have vast experience studying the human body, our work often branches into other endeavors, including current research on COHO451, a COVID-19 vaccine. City of Hope scientists focus on stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies that block the virus from entering cells and induce T-cell growth, which has the potential for long term protection against future outbreaks. This promising work was conceived and developed in our labs and is being produced for clinical use at one of our clinical-grade manufacturing facilities.

There is reason research

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--We redefine health care delivery. City of Hope’s expansion into Orange County will put these extraordinary capabilities squarely in the community it serves. This bold departure from the traditional academic setting means greater access to discoveries for those who need them today. Our first location in Newport Beach is the beginning of a countywide network of cancer care and a cancer campus of the future in Irvine. 

I describe these capabilities because I believe that they have the power to profoundly change the way we treat and eventually eradicate cancer – and that’s good news for all of us.

Discover safe and expert care at City of Hope Newport Beach. Visit www.CityofHope.org/OC or call (949) 763-2204.

This is paid content by City of Hope. For more information on the City of Hope Newport Beach location, visit www.cityofhope.org/newport-beach.


LB Democratic Club to feature speaker Emerson T. Brooking via Zoom on March 3

Emerson T. Brooking, a national expert on identifying and calling out dangerous disinformation on digital media, will address the Laguna Beach Democratic Club via Zoom on Wednesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. The subject will be “Dealing with Disinformation: From Analysis to #Digital Sherlocks.”

“All in the community are welcome to register for this free meeting, which addresses a critical issue in retaining our democracy and addressing domestic terrorism,” said Club President Gwen McNallan. 

Brooking has written widely on the vulnerability of elections to foreign interference, the relationship of disinformation campaigns to actual war and other conflicts, propaganda campaigns, and other matters relating to democracy and digital security. 

He is a Resident Senior Fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL) of the Atlantic Council, a non-governmental organization think tank that has studied pressing issues in every region of the world. Its recent report is a timeline on the online campaign that led to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

LB Democratic Club Brooking

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Emerson T. Brooking

As part of DFRL, Brooking is involved in identifying, exposing, and explaining disinformation when it occurs in the digital space. Brooking’s first book, Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media, co-authored with P.W. Singer, received positive recognition from both the New York Times and Amazon. The book’s success has made him a leading cyber warfare commentator. 

He will be introduced by Laguna Beach resident and Atlantic Council colleague Stephanie Wander, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow. 

“Promoting objective truth is a foundation of government. It’s necessary for protecting democratic institutions from those who wish to undermine them in the digital universe,” Brooking said. “We have created a system for the study of disinformation, exposing falsehoods and fake news and documenting human rights abuses. It’s essential for retaining trust in democracy in our digital age.” Atlantic Council’s in-depth analyses and reports cover a wide range of environmental, climate, water, conflict, and democracy matters, working with allies and partners across all disciplines. Its DFRL is building a hub of digital forensic analysts who will track events in governance, technology, and security, a virtual network of #Digital Sherlocks.” 

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club is entering its 75th year of uninterrupted engagement supporting Democratic candidates, causes, and values. It welcomes the community to its free monthly informational meetings.

For more information about the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, or to register for the March 3 meeting, visit www.thelbdems.com.

For more information, contact Gwen McNallan, President, Laguna Beach Democratic Club, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(949) 325-4727.


Guest Column

Yes, anxiety can be your friend! 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Tummy trembles. Brain fuzz. That discombobulating feeling that you’re not quite sure what you should be doing but you feel you should be doing something to keep your act together. Anxiety. Sometimes it slips away with a few very deep breaths, other times you need to beat it off with a stick or some little white pills. 

Naturally, we want to try to get as far away from anxiety as possible – which usually just results in us being anxious about being anxious. You resist and so it persists.

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

But what if rather than pushing it away, we actually welcomed anxiety when it showed up?

Yup, I said what if we welcomed anxiety? Please hear me out…what if, rather than dreading the discomfort it brings, we looked at anxiety as a delivery service of inner truth and other such soul goodies? Because every time anxiety shows up, it’s our psyche’s way of saying, “Knock knock, anybody home? I’ve got something to show you about yourself that you really should see.”

Guest Column Yes anxiety doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard explained anxiety is a natural condition. (How liberating!) He believed that anxiety is “a cognitive emotion that reveals truths that we would prefer to hide but that we need for our greater health.” And that it’s a valuable tool for shaping our ideal lives. Think of it this way: beneath the butterflies in your stomach, behind the clouds in your mind…is your greater truth, and it’s trying to break on through.

Turning anxiety into power

Step 1: Face reality. “I’m anxious.”

Simply notice your anxiety. Firstly, you need to be aware of your actual indicators of anxiety…they can be different for everyone. A lot of the times anxiety is trying to talk to us and we’re just not picking up on the physical or mental cues. For me, anxiety manifests in what I call priority confusion. If I wander from room to room in the house, unsure if I should tidy, check my email, walk the dog, or write a novel, then I know something is up. I’m typically very laid back and laser-like decisive so if I can’t figure out what’s first on the to-do list, I know that anxiety has come callin’.

When you see the signs of it, all you need to do is simply state it. “I’m feeling anxious.” There. You said it. You probably feel better already. Getting real is always the best first step.

Step 2: Inquiry. “So, why am I anxious?”

This is the step that requires real work. It’s the kind of inquiry that calls for both concentration and compassion…a tricky combo. Having an “inquiry image” might be helpful. I often see dilemmas as layers of soft, earthy sediment within myself, and each question is a drilling down through the silt. “So why am I anxious?” I ask myself. “Because I don’t want to be late.” Not quite, that doesn’t feel true. “So why am I anxious?” I repeat. “Because I’ve got so much to do.” Nope, that’s not it either, it’s not making sense to my heart. “So why am I anxious?” I drill down. “Because I’m afraid that when I show up, that I’ll be rejected.” Bingo.

Guest Column Yes anxiety sun

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Photo by Kavita Reddy

Turn your face to the sun and embrace anxiety

When you get to the true reason for your anxiousness, and there may be more than one explanation, then there’s usually a softening that occurs when you come across it.

So, you called it like you see it. That’s powerful. And you’ve identified the reason – even more powerful. Now you’re ready to rise above it.

Step 3: Take responsibility.

This is where your real power comes in. This is the fun bit, where you get to be a creative grownup, the master of your own domain. Once you’ve discovered why you’re feeling anxious…whether it’s fear of failure, or a memory of past hurt or humiliation, then you need to counter the fear and negativity with courage and optimism. It’s that simple – and that challenging.

Whatever you want to call it, positive thinking, re-framing, self-encouragement, ra-ra-rah, this is where you need to step up to the plate, look at your fear head-on and confront it with your truth. The truth being, that you manage to get through every day whether with grace or grit; that fear will not kill you; that your God, or your friends, or your grandma in heaven will have your back; that you have risen above it before, and that you will rise above it again; that, it’s only life after all.

Anxiety doesn’t come bearing the solution. It’s just there to direct your attention to the problem. It’s like a headache that signals to you that you’re hungry. The headache reminds you that your body needs nourishment, and then it’s up to you to feed yourself. Self-care is a divine responsibility. To befriend anxiety is to choose your deepest strength. It’s turning brain fuzz into brilliance, and the jitters into vital fuel to help you shine brighter than ever.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Messy Church at LBUMC returns on Sunday

“Cross My Heart” Messy Church returns on Sunday, March 28, Palm Sunday, between 4 and 5:30 p.m., outside Laguna Beach United Methodist Church. The interactive, intergenerational event is open to everyone in the community.

Barbara Crowley, who leads Messy Church, is joyful that the program can be held outdoors with social distancing and masked participants. 

“Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week and the events that led to the Cross becoming the symbol of Christianity,” she says. “We’ll start by going through a labyrinth, then travel through Cross My Heart, stations of the cross. The stations are designed so that everyone at any age can join in, wherever they may be on their spiritual exploration.”

Messy Church building

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Courtesy of lbumc.org

Messy Church will be held outside LBUMC on Sunday, March 28

There will be an opportunity to make Holy Week Eggs or take home materials to create them later. Symbols appropriate for children will be in each egg so that they can review Sunday’s events. Per COVID guidelines, the traditional supper will not be offered, and masks and RSVPs are required. 

The next Messy Church, “Magic and Miracles! Always an Eggsceptional Event,” is scheduled for Sunday, April 25.

To RSVP, contact Barbara Crowley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. RSVPs must be made before 2 p.m. on Palm Sunday. 

Laguna Beach United Methodist Church is located at 21632 Wesley Dr, up the hill from the Gelson’s Shopping Center.


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach offers Basketball Skills Camp starting on April 19

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is excited to announce the return of basketball in their Clubhouse! 

“Although we are not running a full basketball league,” states Sports and Recreation Director Erik Vasquez, “we are excited to get the community’s youth back in our gym for a seven-week basketball skills camp!” 

To stay in accordance with health and safety guidelines of COVID-19, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has decided to run a basketball skills camp in place of their usual spring basketball league. 

“It is important to us to get the kids active again and working not only on their athletic skills but also their social and emotional well-being,” explains Vasquez. “Participants will work on specific skills surrounding shooting, ball handling, triple threat, and defense as well as skills in leadership, teamwork, and building relationship with peers.”

Boys & team

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2019 Basketball League Winners – pre-COVID-19

The Basketball Skills Camp will run from April 19-June 3 in the gym at BGC’s Canyon Enrichment Center. Kindergarten through 3rd grade will practice on Monday and Wednesday with grades 4th through 8th practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are two sessions to choose from: 3-4:15 p.m. or 4:30-5:45 p.m. The cost is $100 plus annual BGC membership. Registration is now open, and limited, so sign up today. 

For more information and to register, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.bgclagunabeach.org. The Boys & Girls Club is also offering Spring Break Camp. Visit the website for more information. 

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach service area includes Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, and the surrounding communities. The Club offers a nationally recognized and award-winning year-round Out-of-School enrichment program that focuses not only on the whole child but on the whole family. For nearly 70 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has offered an array of programming that focuses on leadership development, health and wellness, academic success, and creative expression.

The Laguna Canyon Enrichment Center is located at 1085 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit www.bgclagunabeach.orgor call (949) 494-2535.


Give the phone a “break” – April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) encourages drivers to give the phone a break and focus on the road. Throughout the month of April, LBPD will have additional officers on patrol specifically looking for drivers who violate the state’s hands-free cell phone law.

According to the 2020 California Statewide Public Opinion Survey, more than 75 percent of surveyed drivers listed “Distracted Driving because of TEXTING” as their biggest safety concern.

“A driver’s number one focus should be on the road. Anything that distracts you from the task of driving, especially a phone, puts yourself and others at risk,” Captain Jeff Calvert said. “Not driving distracted is a simple, but significant behavior change.”

Under current law, drivers are not allowed to hold a phone or other electronic device while behind the wheel. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use a phone for any reason, including hands-free.

If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over and park at a safe location. Drivers should silence their phones or put the phone out of reach, such as in the glove box or trunk.

Funding for these Distracted Driving operations is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


SLCA’s annual meeting on Monday focuses on protecting paradise

Leaders of the South Laguna Civic Association invite the public to attend its annual meeting on Monday, April 12 to celebrate the successes and challenges experienced in South Laguna’s corner of paradise.

The 6 p.m. Zoom meeting will feature video presentations about “the reasons we are so lucky to call South Laguna our home,” said Greg O’Loughlin, the association’s president.

SLCA's annual meeting

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Photo by Tom Joliet 

A glimpse into one of Laguna Beach’s protected coves

The videos will look at:

--Parks, trails, and open space preservation – accessibility, habitat destruction, and your place to get away from it all.

--Ocean protection – our Marine Protected Area, the effects of the off-shore sewer outfall, and Aliso Creek Estuary.

--Community Garden – the community’s favorite place to gather at a distance.

--Tourist impacts – addressing the increasing number of visitors, their sometimes-antisocial behavior, and the stress they put on emergency personnel.

--South Coast Water District – the urgent need to avoid sewage spills like the one on Thanksgiving of 2019 and the campaign to recover the right to vote for SCWD’s board.

--Coast Highway – the status of the Caltrans project to build a sidewalk, as well as the City’s proposal to impose paid parking.

“We’ll cover how SLCA has addressed these matters and more during its 75-year history – what we have accomplished, and what we have not yet accomplished,” O’Loughlin said.

This will be the first online annual meeting hosted by SLCA, which saw strong attendance for its Zoom-based candidates’ forum last October.

To view the April 12 meeting, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81051506009.


A beacon of light

A beacon sun

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A single light ray reflected in the dark clouds


Assemblywoman hosting town hall “Earth Month” presentation today

Today (April 27) at 5 p.m., Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (Laguna Beach-D) is hosting a town hall titled: “Earth Month: Breakthrough Innovations,” streamed live on her official Facebook page

The community is invited to join her and innovators at the center of their field as they discuss clean and sustainable energy breakthroughs in the public and private sectors. The panel of experts will include Lori Guette from Carbon Engineering, Kevin Noerker from Ampaire, Inc., and Professor Jack Brouwer from UC Irvine Advanced Power and Energy. Tune in to ask questions live.

Assemblywoman hosting Petrie Norris

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Courtesy of the Office of Cottie Petrie-Norris

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris

Also, on April 22, Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris held a virtual press conference with leading scientists and advocates to highlight the risks threatening the coastal communities. Restoration experts across the state are ready with solutions to safeguard the coast from sea level rise. She is encouraging her constituency to ensure that coastal habitat restoration is a top priority for California, while hoping to remove the “bureaucratic Green Tape” that’s only slowing down innovative solutions.

You can view the press conference here.


Guest Column

The awesome power of words – how words can make us need external validation (simple fix to redirect attention)

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Words are powerful. They can steer us to look outward, outward for fulfillment, or they can anchor us to look inward. 

Especially when we ask ourselves one question: “What is it I want to feel?” Loved, cherished, understood, respected. 

These words have us seeking or relying on external validation from other people or outside sources. 

Love, understanding, honor, respect. 

Words used in this way anchor us to our inner resource to provide for ourselves as well as others. We become the “being.” They put us in a psychological mindset where we can be receiving that experience as well as giving that experience. 

Are you ready to create a life you love? A life filled with joy, purpose, and the realization of your heart’s wildest, most wonderful desires?

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months and feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

Guest Column The awesome doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Words can steer us in many different directions – outward for fulfillment or they can anchor us to look inward. So, that we are consciously looking to our own inner power. Or unconsciously looking to the outside world for what we want. 

So, try this phrase on – say to yourself, “I want to feel loved, I want to feel loved.” 

Now say, “I want to feel love, I want to feel love.” 

Do those sentences feel different to say? They do to me. 

So, love is a noun, it feels more centered and open. It feels more – to use an overused word, in this space – it feels more empowering. 

Loved as a state makes me feel more like I’m waiting for someone to love me. And that just doesn’t feel as powerful as empowering. 

So, the gentle point is, be really mindful about using terms for feeling states. Potential core desired feelings that come from the outside world, as if life. 

Life being your partner or your boss or your job or your friends. As if life is going to make you feel that way. 

Guest Column awesome praying

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Photo by Kavita Reddy

Look toward your own inner power 

Here are some examples of feeling states that might depend on external validation: 

Respected – so imagine yourself saying these things, “I want to feel respected.”

My core desired feeling is to be Cherished, “I want to feel admired.”

Honored is a big one for people. 

Seen. Seen used to be a big consideration for me. 

Heard.

I want to feel Adored.

Treasured. 

Loved.

Of course, we all want those things, but these seem to rely on outside sources to make us feel this way. 

And the evolution of those words is where you make them self-centered, in  a positive way, and also inclusive. 

So, adored becomes adoration. I want to feel adoration. Then you can be receiving adoration. You can be giving adoration. You can even be adoration. 

Supported could be supporting or support. 

Again, it puts you in the psychological mindset where you could be receiving that experience and you could be giving that experience. You could be being the support.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Pared down budget adopted windfall funds for restored programs

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on June 30 adopted a $95.5 million budget severely compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the understanding that the economy could dictate changes for better or worse in fiscal year 2020-2021.

Slashes were made to the budgets in every city department to cover anticipated losses in revenue, but layoffs were avoided. The balanced budget included reductions in expenditures with cuts in salaries and benefits, contract services, overtime, maintenance, equipment replacement, downtown and beach cleanups, deferment of capital improvements, agreements with Municipal Employees’ Association and Management personnel to forgo a 2.5 percent salary increase scheduled to take effect July 1, and a dip into the 20 percent Reserve Fund.

City Manager John Pietig based the budget on the better of what he termed “bad” or “worse” revenue scenarios. The hardest hit source of revenue in either scenario was the anticipated $11 million reduction in the combined Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), the Business Improvement District Assessment (BID), and sales tax. Reduced consumer spending is also significantly lower, both reductions attributed to the impact of the virus on the travel and tourist industry, and locals observing the stay-at-home advisory. 

 “We made decisions based on the ‘bad scenario.’” said Councilwoman Sue Kempf. “When do you think we will get actual numbers? I am worried that in a few months, we may trend toward the ‘worse’ scenario.”

Administrative Services Director Gavin Curran assured council members they would be kept in the loop on a regular basis. The quarterly report on the revenue from the TOT, also known as Bed Taxes, is due August 1. Sales tax revenue takes longer. The report goes first to the state and takes four to six months to filter down to the cities, Curran said.

Pietig said anecdotal information from the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Laguna Beach on bed and sales tax revenue was included in the preparation of the proposed budget.

“It is difficult to predict with lagged information,” he said.   

A $125,000 windfall in estimated investment interest restored funding for downtown steam cleaning; porter service for litter, downtown restrooms, and trashcans; and additional summer porter service for Main Beach and Heisler Park restrooms. The hiring of two police officers was unfrozen which did not affect the budget in which they were already funded. 

Fire Chief Mike Garcia told the council the desired hiring of a Defensible Space Inspector will take about six months of preparation, and staff will return to the council at the mid-year budget review with the costs. 

Due to budget restraints, exceptional performance awards were limited to a maximum of 2.5 percent. City Treasurer Laura Parisi received a 2.5 percent award, .5 percent higher than last year. City Clerk Lisette Chel Walker also received a 2.5 percent award, half of what she received in 2019. 

“Lisette is the first person at City Hall in the morning and the last one to leave at night,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow. “If anyone deserves the maximum, it’s Lisette.”

The final actions prior to approval of the budget were the review, amendments to, and approval of the Community Assistance Grants, funded by the Festival of Arts; approval of the recommended Cultural Arts Grants, funded by a share of the Bed Tax voluntarily contributed by the lodging industry of Laguna Beach; and disbursement of the funds accordingly. 

As recommended by the council-appointed subcommittee members Toni Iseman and Sue Kempf, the Community Assistance Grants totaled $254,242, with only one disagreement between them: Kempf recommended a $10,000 grant to KX 93.5 and $7,242 for the Chamber of Commerce. Iseman did not recommend funding for either organization.

Both were bumped up to $15,000 by the council. The radio station also received a $5,000 Cultural Arts Grant. 

Increases were also approved for the Assistance League, Laguna Beach Pride 365, and Laura’s House. Other increases were awarded, pushing the total over the available funding, which the council augmented by $9,000 from the interest windfall and $5,258 from the General  Fund Contingency. 

Funding of the grants is contingent on confirmation that programming will take place in fiscal year 2020-2021.

Recommended Cultural Arts Grants totaled $200,000 and were approved without change. 

The complete lists of Community Assistance and Cultural Arts Grants are available on the city website at www.lagunabeachcity.net, along with the budget, as well as at the links below.

Click here for list of Community Assistance Grants.

Click here for list of Cultural Arts Grants.


Snowy splendor

Snowy splendor mountains

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Cold weather, but no snow here


America the Beautiful

America the beach

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Photo by Tom Joliet

Flag flies on Inauguration Day


Local sisters Kavita and Vidya Reddy of Buy Hand are business partners and best friends

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

It’s been said that sisters make the best friends. Vidya and Kavita Reddy, owners of Buy Hand, have proven that adage to be true. Not only are they business partners, Vidya lives with Kavita and her husband Matthew in Temple Hills along with their two dogs – a poodle named Roscoe and Rani, a rescue. 

However, Vidya, who is the oldest of three sisters, admits she and Kavita – the middle sister – didn’t get along as children. “We fought all the time – she used to tattle on me. In high school, we were mortal enemies.” Their younger sister lives in Detroit.

Often sibling rivalry, especially between sisters, comes with the territory. But once they left the University of Ottawa and their friends, things changed. “We matured and moved from the University and away from our friends. We then only had each other and became closer,” says Vidya, “and eventually best friends.”

Leaving Ottawa

In 2010, Kavita took the lead and left their home of Ottawa, Canada – which she describes as “one of the coldest capitals in the world” – to come to the U.S. “We had to plug in our car every night so the battery wouldn’t freeze,” she says.

Due to her husband’s job, they relocated to Boston, Mass., and have since  lived all over the country – including Dallas and Irvine. 

Local sisters in front

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Vidya (on left) and Kavita Reddy in front of Buy Hand

“I liked Boston,” says Kavita. “It’s a great compact city, and it was only an hour flight from Ottawa. I worked for the State of Massachusetts in the IT Dept.” As she and her husband moved to different cities in the U.S., she worked in technology, “It was fairly easy to get a job in that field at that time.”

Life in Laguna 

Vidya followed Kavita to Laguna in 2014.

Although Kavita and Vidya come from different career backgrounds – they always wanted to own a shop together.

In 2012, the time was right. Kavita says, “I had been in the field of technology and wanted to do something different.”

“I have been in the holistic health field for 15 plus years and wanted to do something more creative,” says Vidya. 

In September of 2018, Vidya launched her Naturally Happy website. To access, go to www.naturally-happy.com. The site is dedicated to helping people reach their highest potential by focusing on tools to make them happy. Vidya is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medical Specialist, certified Life Coach, certified NLP practitioner, and a Reiki master. She is also a Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and spent several years in India. 

Buy Hand launched 

The sisters re-launched their shop in Laguna’s HIP (Historic and Interesting Places) District in March 2017 after starting in the Sleepy Hollow District. In February of 2019, they moved to a space a few doors down from the cobblestones at Main Beach. 

Local sisters inside

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A wealth of hand-crafted items

Buy Hand specializes in handmade goods made in the U.S. and from all over the world – gemstone jewelry, crocheted sea creature toys, mosaic tile purses, textiles, cards, clothing, and journals – and much more. When you buy one of their products, you are supporting a local or global artist. 

Kavita says, “I found the artisans at trade shows and artists here recommended friends. Then they started coming to us.”

Vidya adds, “A lot of it was by word of mouth.”

The year that was

Of course, like all businesses, 2020 was not a great year for Buy Hand. 

“We’re in a touristy location, and there have not been a lot of tourists,” says Kavita. “That’s why we put everything on sale at 30 percent off.”

“Locals have been great, but beach goers are coming in but not spending,” says Vidya. “People are only buying what is necessary.”

Both say that the best thing about Buy Hand is the relationships that they have developed with their customers. 

“Our regular customers come back over and over,” says Kavita. “We develop a personal connection, and that’s the best part of the shop.”

Local sisters purse

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One of the many artisan finds in the store

“Once you start talking to them and listening with your heart as well as your ears, relationships develop,” Vidya says. “Some customers even keep in touch with letters and postcards. We have great customers. One came in wearing a beautiful necklace and I complimented her on it.”

There’s no doubt that the sisters are so close, they finish each other’s stories.

Kavita jumps in, “Then the customer went across the street and bought the same necklace and brought it back for Vidya.”

 “The customers have made a difficult year tolerable. We’re all going through similar things and that’s what bonds us together,” Vidya admits. “It’s been a difficult time and sometimes we unburden our emotions. On a tough day, I’ve cried with customers.”

Agree to disagree

Do the sisters ever disagree about merchandising and the shop?

“Yes,” says Vidya. “Especially about the gem stones. I wanted to include the healing powers with each stone, but Kavita thought it would turn off the customers. But we respect what the other brings to the table and from what place of knowing and research the ideas are presented.”

Other passions

Beyond the responsibilities of running the store, which allow for little spare time for either sister, they each have definite interests. 

Kavita says, “I spend it with family.” 

In addition to holistic health, Vidya has another passion – cooking, and Kavita admits that Vidya does most of the cooking at home. 

“I love to cook and experience my ‘Zen zone,’” says Vidya. “I’ve given cooking classes at other locations and hope to someday have a show online.”

Local sisters at beach

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Vidya and Kavita agree that they love living in Laguna

Her love of cooking comes from her mother and grandmother, who she studied intently as a child. “I’d stay inside while everyone was outside and watch my grandmother cook. But there was a bigger lesson she taught me. She said, ‘To cook with love is to put love into the food. Don’t cook angry, because you are pouring anger into the food – and that’s taken into the body.”

Vidya also contributes a weekly column for Stu News. “I write about what I’m going through and share it. It’s raw, emotional, and therapy for me, and optimistically, it’s a help to readers.” 

Looking to the future

With the start of 2021 comes the anticipation of a more promising year.

The Reddy sisters hope that now vaccinations are available, this summer will be better for Buy Hand.

Other prospects are on the horizon as well. Their building is zoned for restaurants, so whenever that endeavor happens, they’ll look around for a different location.

Kavita says, “Going forward, we will focus more on our website and online presence. It’s been difficult because whenever we post something online, it sells, and we have to change out the merchandise.” 

It’s impossible not to feel the warm and welcoming auras of Kavita and Vidya when one walks into Buy Hand. It’s a comfortable place to share feelings and shop for unique items that, in turn, help the artisans both here and abroad.

Certainly, there’s no shortage of sayings about sisters.

In this case, the most fitting seems to be, “Sisters by chance, best friends by choice.” 

Buy Hand is located at 357 S Coast Hwy.

For more information, go to www.lagunabuyhand.com or call (949) 715-0515.


Mail Stop Inc, a one-of-a-kind local mail receiving agency, and it’s all in the family

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

For the Holway family of Mail Stop Inc, “The mail must go through” is not a slogan but a creed. For 37 years, this family-owned and operated business has been making sure the mail gets through for the community – come flood, fire, mudslides, or a pandemic. 

In 1983, David Holway’s wife, who was in management at Sears and Roebuck, wanted to do something different, so they bought an existing mail business. Along with his brothers Wade and Harry, and Harry’s wife Myrna, they built it into the “smallest/biggest mail receiving agency,” as David calls it. 

Although a family in business together might be an enterprise ripe for conflict, David says it’s a great situation, “We’re all surfers and snowboarders, we stay close.” Harry is the oldest, David is in the middle, and Wade is the youngest. 

Mail Stop David

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David Holway – Harry in back

“We’ve been in town longer than any other family-owned business. It’s not a franchise,” says David. “We feel that it’s a service to the community to be in the postal business.”

“Postal business” is an understatement. It’s so much more.

Mail Stop offers a multitude of unique services: for example, free Amazon drop-off returns.

However, that’s just the beginning. There are 400 box holders, and the store features virtual mail, in which the customer doesn’t have a box. “The customer signs up to have their mail scanned and processed through us. We take a picture and the customer – who could be anywhere in the world – decides what they want forwarded or shredded,” David explains. “We’re the only place in town that offers both box holders and virtual mail.”

Mail Stop exterior

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Mail Stop is located at 1278 Glenneyre St

Mail Stop also offers Federal Express, UPS, faxing, and notary services – David is a notary – mail forwarding, and general delivery with a real street address (packages sent to the store will be held for pickup).

And they feature a priceless bonus in Laguna – free, easy parking.

Designated shippers for art

“For the last 20 years, we have been the designated shipper for art for the Festival of Arts and the Sawdust Festival,” David says. “We pick the pieces up, crate them, process them, insure, and ship them. We do the same for many of the galleries in town as well. Plus we ship a lot of family heirlooms and personal valuables – peoples’ treasures. Customers say they admire the way we go the extra mile to protect things.”

Don’t let the small stature of the building (600 square feet) fool you. “We even have a woodworking room onsite, where Wade builds crates to ship works of art. Wade just made a custom crate the size of a garage door, 100 inches wide and six feet high,” says David. 

Mail Stop Wade

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Wade with sculpture to be crated in the woodworking shop

With so many years in business, the Holways have witnessed the growth of families and the introduction of a whole new set of patrons. 

“We’ve seen three generations of customers come in, and we’re now seeing the kids of the kids. Some have been box holders for 40 years – since the original place opened – that’s loyalty. We see congressmen, doctors, and lawyers. There is a lot of family interaction. We know residents’ names and they know ours.”

Another lifetime

David, now retired, was a special education teacher in South Bay for 37 years – his day job – and a family therapist/counselor at night.

“While I was still working, I would come down to the store occasionally, but it’s only been the last six or seven years that I come here regularly.”

Mail Stop mailboxes

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Classic mailboxes 

Pandemic

It’s been a busy year for Mail Stop. “Because everyone has been staying at home and buying online, more packages are generated, and we also take Amazon return drop-offs at no charge,” says David.

“We are essential workers and do take some risks handling packages, but we maintain all the restrictions and protocol, wear masks, and observe social distancing.”

Marilyn Monroe collection

One might notice upon entering that there is a lot of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia around the store, especially on one wall.

David says, “It started with a calendar a customer gave us, then others brought in pictures and other collectibles, and it got out of control. But people give them to us, and we like to show them.”

Mail Stop Harry

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Harry at Marilyn Monroe wall

He stops a moment during our phone conversation to talk to a customer, and he reports that the woman said, “My mother-in-law gave you some of those pictures on the wall.”

Giving back

Not only does the Mail Stop give to the community by taking care of its mail, the Holway family gives in other ways as well. 

David is currently training to be an advocate for CASA Orange County. CASA provides a powerful voice and a meaningful connection for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Once the 40-hour training is completed, David will be an ongoing advocate for a child in a group home. Over the years, he was also involved in Big Brothers and has been a shareholder in various nonprofits. 

Mail Stop waiting on customers

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David and Harry waiting on customers 

Wade has volunteered all over the globe for Kids Around the World (KATW), an organization that buys old playground equipment, refurbishes it, takes it overseas, and reconstructs it. With partnering organizations, KATW establish playgrounds in poverty-stricken communities, restoring the opportunity for kids to enjoy the kind of play that is key to their physical, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive development.

It’s clear that this is not merely a place that ensures the mail goes through – “come hell or high water” as the old cliché says – although that’s the Holways’ utmost concern. 

David says, “There’s a plaque on the wall here that says, ‘It’s all about family.’” 

There’s no doubt that also includes the family the Holways have created with Laguna residents.

Mail Stop Inc is located at 1278 Glenneyre St. For more information, call (949) 497-2271.


SmileMakers Stations connect hearts and hands at long-term care facilities

With the implementation of SmileMakers Stations, The Council on Aging Southern California (COASC) found a way to reconnect seniors in long-term care with their loved ones. 

COASC President and CEO Lisa Wright Jenkins says, “As you know, seniors in long-term care were isolated before the pandemic and now they are more isolated than ever. To address this, we are building SmileMakers Stations that enable nursing home residents to meet with their loved ones outside and hold hands…something that’s been almost impossible since the pandemic began. We were inspired by this video of James Shelton, a gentleman in Florida, who was desperate to see his wife in a care facility.”

SmileMakers stations red shirt

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Submitted photo

Visitor and senior reconnect after long-term isolation

Some residents have gone for more than 250 days without hugging their family and friends. They have missed the warmth and comfort of human touch for far too long. So, COASC created the next best thing to a “real” hug. The SmileMakers Station allows family members to feel the warmth and joy of holding hands and embracing, often for the first time since the pandemic began. 

After seeing this video (click here to view), they decided they wanted to do something similar here. So, their Long-term Care Ombudsmen identified a nursing home in OC and another in Riverside County that were interested in receiving a donated SmileMakers Station from the Council on Aging. 

“It’s incredibly heartwarming for everyone involved,” says Lisa. “Best of all, it can be used regularly for visits, connecting hearts and hands.”

SmileMakers stations wheelchair

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Submitted photo

Able to hug again thanks to SmileMakers Station

Fred Randall picked up the cost, and they worked with a local manufacturer to create the stations, using plans from the gentleman in the video. The manufacturer augmented the design with a few improvements. 

On Wednesday, Feb 10, a SmileMakers Station was delivered to La Palma Nursing Center in Anaheim and last Friday, one was delivered to Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside.

COASC Director of Development and Community Outreach Jamie Cansler says, “The facilities were so excited to see people’s reactions. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It’s actually possible for the senior and visitor to feel the warmth through the gloves.” 

The stations were designed so that the gaskets in the sheeting are magnetized and fresh gloves can be put on for each encounter.

Best of all, COASC will put another 25 SmileMakers Stations into production using contributions from caring community members. They will be donated to facilities in mid-to-late February. 

 For more information about the Council on Aging, go to www.coasc.org.


Twilight time

Twilight time golden

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Photo by Cindy Shopoff

Golden horizon


Flag proud

Flag proud trees

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Every day is Flag Day


Cloudscapes

Cloudscapes pink

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The sky putting on a spectacular show – north from Alta Laguna


Red Cross Blood Drive hosted by Laguna Presbyterian on March 5 draws 53 donors

Sandy Grim, Red Cross ARC/LPC Blood Program Leader, reports that, “We met the goal of 60 scheduled appointments, and our 53 presenting donors were happy with the efficient service. Whole Blood donors gave 38 units, and we had five Power Red donors equaling 10 units for a total of 48 units! This was definitely the smoothest, best received and ‘served’ blood drive since we started years ago.” 

The LPC nurses effectively and efficiently handled this big crowd of “presenters.”

“So glad for their knowledge and grace,” says Grim. “Easy and ‘touchless’ temperature taking, Rapid Pass speeded most presenters, and the Canteen Volunteers doubled up to care for our donors with water, juice, and treats, and to disinfect all individual surfaces touched following the exit of our donors.” 

The next Red Cross Blood Drive date that Laguna Presbyterian has agreed to host will be on Friday, June 4 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. They are hoping to promote this as a “Community” Drive.

Grim’s new title with the Red Cross is now “Blood Program Leader” (BPL).

Laguna Presbyterian Church (LPC) is now a “Premier Partner” with the Red Cross.

Additionally, Kathleen Fay is the Business Manager of LPC. 

For more information, call (949) 494-7555, x100.


Last sunset of March

Last sunset clouds

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Photo by Tom Joliet

March goes out in an explosion of orange


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s 20th Annual Art of Giving Gala to be held at Montage

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is proud to announce that its 20th Annual Art of Giving Gala “Together Again” will be held on Saturday, June 12 at the Montage Laguna Beach. 

Event co-chairs Jimmy Azadian and Carrie Click are planning a fabulous VIP evening for all. Guests will get to indulge in the experience of this iconic event at Laguna Beach’s finest resort.

Boys & Girls Club peace

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Submitted photo

Gala co-chairs Jimmy Azadain and Carrie Click

The evening will begin on the Montage lawn with tasty morsels and signature cocktails and continue with an elegant dinner and rousing live auction. The night will top off with dancing to live music presented by “Hard Day’s Night,” a Beatles tribute band. Guests will have the chance to dress up in their grooviest threads. This year the event will be more intimate and will follow all social distancing and safety guidelines to ensure a fun and safe evening for all.

Table sponsorships are available now at www.bgclagunabeach.org. There will be limited seating available. For more information, contact Michelle Fortezzo at (949) 715-7584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

For over 65 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has been an indispensable asset to the community. From preschool to parenting classes, the Club offers an array of services that focus on academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles, and creative expression. 

The Club serves youth ages 3 to18 years of age at their two sites, Canyon Branch and Bluebird Branch, in Laguna Beach. For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org or call (949) 494-2535.


Laguna’s splendor

Laguna's splendor

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Photo by Nanci Nielsen

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


Chabad hosts discussion of extraordinary Holocaust survival story

Chabad Laguna Beach invites the community to a virtual event with author, investigator, and cave explorer Chris Nicola on Thursday, Aug 20 at 7 p.m.

Nicola will discuss his book Secrets of Priest’s Grotto and how an ordinary expedition uncovered an extraordinary true story of Holocaust survival.

While mapping out the largest cave system in Ukraine, explorer Chris Nicola discovered evidence that five Jewish families spent nearly a year and a half in the pitch black caves to escape the Nazis. This is the story of the longest uninterrupted underground survival in recorded human history. To date, Chris has confirmed the story by locating 14 of the original 38 cave dwellers; he co-authored the book, the award-winning Secret of Priest’s Grotto, that led to the making of No place on Earth, a documentary about their experiences.

Chabad hosts rock

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Submitted photo

Chris Nicola examining an artifact in Priest’s Grotto Cave in Western Ukraine

Nicola currently runs the Priest’s Grotto Heritage Project, a genocide awareness project in which the grandchildren of those who lived in Priest’s Grotto Cave during the Holocaust will be working hand-in-hand with the grandchildren of those who lived above the cave, in building an exhibit to honor the 38 cave dwellers, hopefully keeping this story alive for future generations. 

“As a caver, I look for the darkness beyond the void,” said Nicola.

“I learned the Holocaust isn’t one story of how six million people perished; it’s six million individual stories – as are all such genocides.”

To RSVP, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 499 0770.   

The Zoom link for the event is www.chabadoflaguna.com/noplaceonearth.

There is no charge for the virtual event; sponsorships are available.


Lawsuit challenges “voluntary” Historical Preservation Program

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition, Village Laguna, and Preserve Orange County electronically filed a lawsuit last week alleging that the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act when it revamped its Historical Preservation Program in 2020.

Both Laguna Beach groups and the County organization oppose the City’s approval of the program without an environmental impact report, as well as the requirement for an owner’s consent for a property to be considered a local historic resource. 

“The program will cause needless, irreversible damage to the city’s charming beach-town character,” said Village Laguna President Anne Caenn in a press release issued last week by the group’s attorney, Susan Brandt Hawley. 

More than 30 public meetings were held before the program was approved 4-1, with councilwoman Toni Iseman opposed, last year in August. The hearings were among the most contentious ever conducted in the City Council Chambers. 

“The City strongly disagrees with the claims in the lawsuit and is disappointed that those behind the lawsuit fail to understand the effect of the update,” Community Development Director Marc Wiener stated on Friday. 

“The City’s updated Historic Preservation Program still affords protection of historic resources as required by CEQA and other applicable laws. If the City is mandated to treat a property or structure as a historic resource, it will do so.”

“The proposal adopted by the City is contingent on California Coastal Commission approval,” said City Attorney Philip Kohn. 

Weiner said the commission has indicated it would conduct a hearing on the program in early summer. 

The ordinance was introduced at the July 14, 2020 City Council meeting and sent to a required second reading with modifications. The Council also approved a Negative Declaration on the program, an assumption that it will have no unmitigable adverse impact on the environment. 

Lawsuit challenges house

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Historic home on Flora Street

“These properties, which are essential to the remarkable charm of Laguna, are now at risk of substantial alteration or demolition without any environmental reviews,” stated Preservation Coalition member Cathy Jurka in the press release. 

“Some owners of 1981 inventory properties spoke at public hearings about wanting to demolish or radically alter them,” she said.

“The City’s position that removing environmental protections could not impact these historic resources defies common sense.”

Laguna Beach attorney Larry Nokes, who spent more than three years speaking on behalf of the voluntary requirement and representing property owners opposed to “involuntary” inclusion of their property as a historical resource, said the lawsuit was “unfortunate.” 

“It is a big overreach on people’s ability to use their own property,” said Nokes on Wednesday. “The voluntary, incentive-based preservation program was accepted and approved by the vast majority of the community.” 

Krista Nicholds, president of Preserve Orange County, questioned the validity of the owner-consent requirement, according to the press release.

“Owner consent has nothing to do with objective standards of historic merit,” she stated. 

However, the City’s stated objective of the program when it was approved was to safeguard the heritage of the city by encouraging voluntary protection of historic resources representing significant elements of its history.

Other objectives:

--Enhance the visual character of the city by encouraging and providing for the voluntary preservation of those buildings that reflect unique and established architectural traditions that contribute to the older neighborhoods of the city.

 --Foster public appreciation and civic pride in the beauty of the city and the accomplishments of its past.

--Strengthen the economy and improve property values of the city by protecting and enhancing the city’s attraction to residents and visitors.

--Promote the private and public use of historic resources for the education, prosperity, and general welfare of the people.

--Achieve historic preservation though the encouragement and promotion of voluntary additions to the city’s Historic Register.

--Recognize that the previous Historic Inventory is ineffective for the purposes of creating a presumption of historicity of any property identified in it.


A rather blustery day 

A rather beach

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

It’s not the Hundred Acre Wood, but it’s still a winds-day


Meet Pet of the Week Derby

Derby is currently taking over Pet of the Week. He is a one-year-old neutered short-haired black and white cat. Derby is known to be very fast, and would do best in a home that is secure without any small children as he often tries to get outside. He is very friendly and loves all the attention he can get. Derby is always on the go and is looking for a companion to call his own. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, is hoping to have Derby adopted as soon as possible.

Meet Pet of the Week

Derby is fast, loveable, and looking for a new place to call home

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Rental assistance program now open for applications

The County of Orange launched an Emergency Rental Assistance program yesterday, February 1, and will accept applications for a period of one month from eligible renter households with unpaid rent or utilities bills due to the impact of COVID-19.

“Orange County renters have had to bear an incredible burden throughout this pandemic. Our rental assistance will help keep our most vulnerable community members from losing their home and a sense of security in the midst of this ongoing crisis,” said Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Andrew Do, who represents the First District.

It is important to note that the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine received direct allocations from the U.S. Department of the Treasury as they have populations that exceed 200,000 residents. Residents of each of those three cities will be served by local city programs.

Eligibility criteria includes, but is not limited to:

--Rental households who can demonstrate that their housing stability is at risk due to unpaid rent or utility bills due to COVID-19. 

--Rental households’ combined income must be at or below 80 percent area median income (AMI). Please visit http://era.211oc.org to find the 80 percent AMI level for your household size.

Please know the ERA program does not apply to homeowners and past due mortgage payments, utilities, or energy costs and is solely to be used for renter households. 

Documentation requirements include:

--Photo ID.

--Copy of a lease agreement.

--Proof of income affected by COVID-19, such as an unemployment letter or letter from an employer that details your reduced hours or pay.

--Proof of unpaid rent or utilities such as documentation from a landlord or utility company stating the amount owed and that it is overdue.

“The County’s ERA program will provide much needed financial assistance to those struggling to make rent payments as a result of COVID-19. The program, which provides a maximum financial benefit of $10,000 per eligible rental household, is set to expire on December 31, 2021. Anyone interested in applying for financial assistance should gather the necessary supporting documentation now, so they are ready to apply,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District.

Orange County landlords are able to apply on behalf of their tenants, as long as the tenant co-signs the application. To find more information or to apply, residents may call 2-1-1, visit https://era.211oc.org/, or text ERA to 898211.


Other worldly

Other worldly rocks

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Low tide reveals rocks that make the beach look like another planet


Earth ablaze

Earth ablaze sun

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The sun sets the world on fire


New and familiar faces join the Laguna Beach Community Clinic

The Laguna Beach Community Clinic’s (LBCC) year of ambitious expansion includes a fully renovated medical home, and increased staff. “Modernizing our facility will create greater levels of efficiency, but to really reach peak levels of performance we also needed to grow our medical team,” states Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO and Medical Director for the LBCC.

After a year-long search for a new family physician, the Clinic found the perfect fit in Dr. Farangis Jalali. Dr. Jalali joined the Clinic in February and has seamlessly stepped into working alongside the Clinic’s staff in caring for its increasing numbers of patients. 

“Alongside our regular operations, the Clinic has been approved to distribute, per Orange County guidelines, 100 COVID-19 vaccines per week; it’s something we do on a volunteer basis to keep our community healthy,” states Dr. Rubal. “Dr. Jalali joins us at the perfect time, helping us scale up to meet the needs of our community.”

New and duo

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Submitted photo

Dr. Farangis Jalali and Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO and Medical Director

Dr. Jalali is Board Certified in Family Medicine and previously served at the Riverside University Health System Medical Center and says, “I’m passionate about public health, patient education, and caring for the health of women”.

The Clinic employs seven providers, joined by six volunteer physicians. It’s a team that’s able to provide a full spectrum of medical care in a variety of languages including Spanish, French, Farsi, and Vietnamese. The Clinic is currently searching for a bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker to care for patients struggling with mental health issues.

Also joining the LBCC team on a volunteer basis is Dr. Bill Anderson.

“Everyone in town knows Dr. Bill Anderson. He’s tremendously respected and loved, so when we learned he was available to serve in a volunteer capacity we jumped at the opportunity”, says Dr. Rubal. 

New and Dr. Anderson

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Submitted photo

Dr. Bill Anderson 

Dr. Anderson, who specializes in Emergency Medicine, was at the forefront of the Urgent Care concept in the early 80s. He’s known by many in the community for his Sleepy Hollow Walk-in Family Care practice that he operated from 1991-2016. While you can still find Dr. Anderson surfing at San Onofre, he’s now a weekly regular at the Clinic. 

“I started volunteering at the Free Clinic, the forerunner of the Community Clinic, while stationed at El Toro with Dr. Jorgenson in the early 70s, so volunteering again feels like coming home. Helping has always been important to me, and I’m glad for the opportunity to continue helping the community I love so much,” states Dr. Anderson.

New and Martin

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Submitted photo

New Clinic Board Member Zachery Martin

As a Federally Certified Health Center, 51 percent of the Clinic’s Board of Directors must be patients served by the Clinic. “We recently had a vacancy on the board and turned to Zachery Martin, a patient who has been serving for the past eight months on our finance committee.”

Mr. Martin, Senior Vice President with Pacific Mercantile Bank, recounts how he became a patient at the Clinic. “My primary physician, who I’d grown to trust and rely on, had recently retired. I knew Jorge because our kids went to school together so I asked if he would take me on. I was looking for what we all want in in a primary physician – excellence and a good relationship.” 

Aside from bringing his expertise to the Clinic’s Finance Committee, Mr. Martin is passionate about supporting the Clinic’s fundraising efforts and sharing its mission.

For more information on the Laguna Beach Community Clinic visit www.LBClinic.org.


Luminous layers

Luminous layers ocean

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The sun slips down from the deep orange sky into the dark divide


Laguna Greenbelt President Norm Grossman to speak at LCC Zoom program on Monday

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) is a volunteer environmental group dedicated to save Laguna Canyon and preserve it as natural. Due to COVID-19, LCC programs are being held via Zoom in 2021. 

The next program will feature Laguna Greenbelt President Norm Grossman on Monday, April 5 starting at 7 p.m.

For the Zoom link, click here. The public is invited; however, attendance is limited to 100. 

Norm Grossman will present a brief history of the Laguna Greenbelt, review current issues, particularly the need to improve the Wildlife Corridor, and address future projects. The Laguna Greenbelt was founded by Jim Dilley in 1968 and is a grassroots organization significantly responsible for saving the 22,000-acre coastal wilderness open space. There is a critical need to improve the wildlife corridor connecting the Santa Ana mountains to the coastal wilderness that will allow species to improve their genetic health. 

Laguna Greenbelt Norm Grossman

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Submitted photo

Laguna Greenbelt President Norm Grossman

To suggest questions, send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by a day prior to the meeting or use Chat during the meeting. 

The schedule is: 

--7 p.m. – Open meeting – time for announcements, LCC President Gayle Waite introduces speaker 

--7:15 p.m. –  Speaker’s presentation 

--7:45 p.m. – Time for Q&A – questions from Gayle Waite using LCC Board questions, suggestions from Chat Room 

--8:15 p.m. – Meeting over 

More than ever the Laguna Canyon Conservancy relies upon membership dues which can be paid by going to www.LagunaCanyonConservancy.org, and where past programs can be viewed under the “Programs” tab. Dues are $20 per person good through December 31, 2021. The LCC is a nonprofit organization, however, donations are generally not tax deductible. Since the group does take positions on issues of public policy, the LCC is not a 501(c)(3) organization, but rather a 501(c)(4).

For more information about LCC, go to www.lagunacanyonconservancy.org.


Laura Tarbox to offer investment advice through virtual financial workshop

Financial planning is critical to ensure that you can live comfortably with confidence, provide for the people you love, and leave a lasting legacy. On April 28 and May 5, local Laura Tarbox will present a virtual “It’s Your Money” series on financial planning. 

These sessions are part of an eight-week series on financial planning, with the focus on “Financial Planning Amid Uncertainty.” 

Tarbox is one of the pioneers of the financial planning profession. Her company, Tarbox Family Office, is recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in the country. 

Tarbox, a UCLA graduate, founded her wealth advisory firm in 1985 and provides fee-only financial planning (including estate and tax planning, charitable giving, and retirement optimization) and investment management. She will talk about how to navigate the current market environment and how to develop a healthy, long-term investment philosophy. 

In order to participate in this award-winning and free series, register at http://iymwebinar.itsyourmoneyandestate.org.

This program is moderated by Peter Kote, founder of the workshop series, and Trevor Murphy, president for the not-for-profit http://FinancialandEstateLiteracy.org. Additional articles and past virtual workshop sessions are available via the website.


Virtual financial workshop to feature local investment adviser Laura Tarbox

Financial planning is critical to ensure that you can live comfortably with confidence, provide for the people you love and leave a lasting legacy. On Wednesday, May 5, Financial & Estate Literacy, a 501(c)(3) organization, will present a virtual “It’s Your Money” series on financial planning featuring local financial adviser Laura Tarbox.

This session, part of an eight-week series on financial planning, with the focus on “Financial Planning Amid Uncertainty,” can be accessed via Zoom.

Virtual financial Tarbox

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Submitted photo

Laura Tarbox

Tarbox is one of the pioneers of the financial planning profession. Her company, Tarbox Family Office, is recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in the country. She will talk about how to navigate the current market environment and how to develop a healthy, long-term investment philosophy. 

In order to participate in this free seminar, register at http://iymwebinar.itsyourmoneyandestate.org

This program is moderated by Peter Kote, founder of the workshop series, and Trevor Murphy, president for the not-for-profit http://FinancialandEstateLiteracy.org. Additional articles and past virtual workshop sessions are available via the website.


Guest Column

Finding homes “fur” everyone

By Jennifer Halbert

Award-winning Laguna Beach artist Scott Moore, known internationally for his watercolors and oils, donates his talents to support our local shelter. If you have visited www.puplagunabeach.org recently, you may have seen its T-shirts for sale. Scott is the artist who created this super-cool design. The T-shirts are only $20, plus $5 for shipping. When I asked Ann Marie McKay, PUP Laguna Beach president, if all of the proceeds go to the shelter, she replied, “Every dime goes to PUP, which goes to the needs of the shelter.” 

Finding homes couple

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Submitted photo

Artist Scott Moore and his wife Carol

Scott became involved with the shelter by way of his wife, Carol, who has volunteered for the past seven years and is also on the board of PUP Laguna Beach. The family also has adopted two dogs from the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter – Sammy and Roxy. 

Sammy was going blind, deaf, and was in dire need of some tender loving care. Scott and Carol rescued Sammy and he rescued them right back! The dog is now 17 years old. He is completely blind, deaf, and has no teeth – but, one thing is for sure, he has a whole lot of love! His little furry sister, Roxy, is now six, and this pair brings much joy into the Moore home. 

Finding homes T shirt

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Submitted photo

T-shirts on sale to benefit LB Animal Shelter

“What’s really unique about the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is (its) extensive screening process,” Scott said. “…it’s reassuring to see how much they care about the animals. They really make sure that the family and the pet are a perfect fit.”

 Scott also donated his design and building skills to create other interesting pieces to the shelter, including cat stairs and a bird aviary. I am amazed by all the talent here in our beautiful city, and I’m even more amazed when I see the generosity of these talented individuals. 

While scrolling through his impressive galleries online, I fell in love with Scott’s giclée titled Walking The Dog. In his more-than-40-year career, Scott didn’t do too many pieces with animals, but he’s currently working on two commissioned paintings of people and their pets.

Finding homes Zoey

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Submitted photo

Zoey needs a home

Featured Pet: Zoey

This big girl is possibly the sweetest, most loving dog ever. She managed to climb the fence of the front play yard. Shelter staff found her on the roof of the shed behind it. She’s likely a Scottish deerhound mix and about a year old. Zoey is very friendly and active. She needs a family that will be dedicated to training her and can keep her safe and secure. 

If you would like to see “more” of Moore’s work, visit www.scottmooreart.com. You will not be disappointed. 

For adoption information, visit www.puplagunabeach.org

Have you adopted a pet and want to share your success story? Contact Jennifer Halbert at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 899-2113.


Barbara’s Column

I heard it through the grapevine 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fourteen years ago, a small group of folks thought it would be a good idea to raise some money for scholarships for Laguna Beach students. They figured a wine tasting was sure to attract locals. They called it Grapes for Grads. 

“Rotary Club of Laguna Beach got behind it; the community got behind it and the food and beverage companies got behind it,” said Jeff Redeker, chair of the event held Sunday at the Festival of Arts Grounds. 

Since its inception, Grapes for Grads has raised $410,000 in scholarships for graduating Laguna Beach High School seniors and Laguna College of Art & Design students.

“On behalf of Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation, I would like to thank the Rotary Club for hosting this wonderful community event that raises money for scholarships and for generously partnering with the LBHSS to assist Laguna Beach High School graduates in pursuing their educational goals,” foundation President Kathi Tinkess wrote in a letter to the club. “Thank you for making a difference.”

Rotary of Laguna Beach was funded in 1931 by 12 local businessmen. It has grown over the years to a membership of 73 men and women actively committed to supporting Rotary International, which espouses the promotion of peace, eradicating disease, providing clean water and hygiene, saving mothers and children, education and assisting economies to grow in underdeveloped communities. The local club meets every Friday at noon at the Assistance League of Laguna Beach Chapter House on Catalina Street. For more information, contact www.lagunabeachrotary.org

I heard Jonathan

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(L-R) Chair of Grapes for Grads Jeff Redeker, Charity, and LCAD President Jonathan Burke

Grapes for Grads focuses on students who show excellence in academics or art and a strong commitment to community and who may otherwise lack the resources to achieve their educational goals. 

Last year, Rotary funded $25,000 in scholarships to LBHS graduating seniors:  Chantele Carter, Audrey Duffy, Sydney Huang, Alden Kramer, Hailey Meister and Isabel Riches. Duffy, now a student at Boston University, majoring in media science, expressed her thanks for the Harry Bithell “Service Above Self Scholarship.”

LCAD President Jonathan Burke was equally appreciative in a letter to the committee. 

“Each year, the generous scholarships from Grapes for Grads make a positive and immediate difference in the lives of the [college] students, and we are so grateful for this support, thank you,” wrote Burke. “Helping the next generation of artists is a powerful investment in the future.”

LCAD senior Chris Kalafatis was awarded $500 for his 2019 Grapes for Grads logo, which appeared in the 2019 Grapes for Grads program.

“I am so happy to be a part of an event that helps art students just like me to follow their passion,” Kalafatis said. 

I heard Kate

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Todd Henderson and former Poet Laureate of Laguna Kate Buckley 

2018 LCAD scholarship recipients included Emily Bertucci, Morgan Goldstein, Landan Johnson, Hannah Smucker and Ryanne Phillips. Solomon and Phillips were among the LCAD students and graduates who participated in Sunday’s event – painting and displaying their art.

“It was thanks to Grapes for Grads that I am able to continue my wonderful education at LCAD,” said Phillips. 

The scholarship made it possible for Phillips to pay for classes and for quality art class supplies to make quality paintings in her classes, which she believes was responsible for her improvement in painting skills. 

Margaret Warder, who bought a painting by Phillips, said she got almost as much pleasure out of Phillips’ reaction to the sale as she did from her purchase. 

Although the event’s total net had not been determined by the deadline for this column, Redeker expects it to exceed last year’s $52,000. 

“We had 1,000 people there this year, the most ever to attend,” said Redeker, who should know. 

He was a member of the founding Grapes for Grads Committee, co-chaired the inaugural event with former Laguna Beach resident Steve Dotorotos and has chaired all 13 of the subsequent fundraisers. 

I heard Yachty

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Yachty by Nature gets crowd on their feet dancing

Redeker was honored by the scholarship foundation in 2016 for his efforts. 

Former school board member Ketta Brown and former foundation President Marge Earl served on the 2019 Grapes for Grads committee, along with David Cler, John Campbell, Jerry Catalan, Stacy Colledge, Bob Elster, Mahyar Haghighi, Peter Jones, Veronica Nice, Patti Stoop and Kerri Redeker. Volunteers included Gayle Waite and City Treasurer Laura Paresi, staffing the VIP sign-in table. The Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Pam Estes and Julie Hile greeted walk-ins. Rotary 2019-2020 President-elect Karin Hedlund worked at the will-call table. 

In addition to food vendors – Harley Laguna Beach, Maro Wood Grill, Moulin, Oak and the Wine Gallery – the event included entertainment by Yachty by Nature, a six-piece band that looked to be having as much, if not more, fun than the audience and dancers in the Festival Amphitheatre. 

Band leader Carl Nelson was greeted by many of the folks enjoying the music. He has taught social studies at Thurston Middle School for 13 years. “Thank you for celebrating Laguna and thank you for celebrating our students,” Nelson told the audience. (For more on Yachty by Nature, visit https://yachtybynature.com

I heard Glori

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Wendy Potter (on left) and Glori Fickling cut a rug

Among those enjoying the music: Laguna Beach High School Alumni President Wendy Potter, Catrina and Taryn Dicterow, author Lynette Brasfield, Stu News Associate Editor Dianne Russell and city Housing and Human Services Committee Chair Gail Duncan. 

Also: Doug and Diane Hand, Jeff Dickson, Eleanor, Alice and Eric Knabe, Deb and Ed Zimmerman, Richard and Karen Thorp, Doug Miller, KX 93.5’s early morning DJ Ed Steinfeld, 2017 Patriots Day Parade Grand Marshall Glori Fickling and 2019-20 Patriots Day Parade Citizen of the Year Sande St. John.

Partners Bank of California and Stifel sponsored the event. More than 115 donors and in-kind supporters – not including Special Donors Rick Balzer, Marv Drew, Michael Gosselin and parents of past recipients Lisa Vanderbeek, and Karin and Steve Riches. Donations made the silent auction the biggest ever, Nice said. 

Next year, Grapes for Grads will celebrate its 15th anniversary. Everyone is invited.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.


Holiday happiness

Holiday happiness sea

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Photo by Scott Brashier

What better way to spend Christmas Day?


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Deal of the Century: Brussels Bistro’s Monthly Meal Plan

By Diane Armitage

This holiday, while perusing some of my favorite Laguna Beach restaurant sites for various takeout options, I stumbled across an amazing deal that almost seemed too good to be true. 

Brussels Bistro had begun a new offer: A subscription of $89 a month gets you 10 new chef-crafted meals, all delivered at once to your door. You pay tax and optional shipping if you want these meals sent anywhere. I could, realistically, send these same meals to my Mom in Oregon.

One of the finer restaurants in Laguna Beach offering 10 foodie items for about $9 per meal? This was a no-brainer for me. I might have been their first subscriber.

Deal of ingredients

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Courtesy of Brussels Bistro

Brussels Bistro has begun a fantastic $89 monthly subscription

Of course, Brussels can deliver all 10 meals at once because they were the first – and still the only real primary player – in Laguna Beach to come up with dinners delivered sous vide style. 

Sous vide was developed by French chefs ages ago. Its cooking technique vacuum seals food in a bag to then cook in a low-temperature water bath, allowing the food to baste in its own juices. The process delivers perfectly cooked-to-temperature foods. 

Brussels Bistro simply creates a number of newly-crafted dishes, and then individually vacuum seals and flash freezes your month’s allotment of 10 meals. 

Gourmet meals in a bag

While the $89 monthly subscription is new for Brussels Bistro, their classic sous vide style is not. This is a technique they’ve used in their kitchen for years for even the diciest of dishes. 

When COVID hit last March, it was a matter of days before ingenious business partners Thomas Crijns and Nicolas Servais came up with a combination of fresh-made, refrigerated or frozen sous vide packs of everything from their famous Mushroom Soup to their quite delectable Boeuf Bourguignon. 

Every meal comes with directions for baking, cooking, or simply sliding a plastic pack into a pot of warm water on the stove. Not ready to cook it all up? No problem. Store your tidily vacuum-packed food in your refrigerator for three days or in your freezer indefinitely. 

Even better: Simply call in your order 24 hours in advance. Then, drive down to pick it up in the alley in Laguna Beach behind the restaurant for contactless delivery. Just pop the trunk and they hustle out, place it in your trunk and you’re off and running. The same service is available at their San Clemente store. 

Extensive menu and super easy directions

Last spring, my dear foodie friends, Terri and Greg, were the first to avail themselves of this new Brussels Bistro style, and they were all raves. Once I jumped in, I was all in, too. The food is remarkably great and I kind of feel that pride of cookin’ ownership because, hey, I’m at least turning on an oven or warming a pot of water. 

Over the summer and into the fall, Brussels continued to expand on its sous vide menu options. Their online menu is quite extensive now. And, with each month the delivery is somehow more polished and slicker. 

At Christmas, I picked up a number of items packed into a single box with a small QR code sticker on its lid. On their instruction, I just pointed my phone’s camera at the sticker and all the cooking directions for my box of entries slid silently into view. It’s that easy.

A cornucopia of coveted food

About a week ago, having given up on my ability to actually drive from South Laguna into Laguna Beach for my January subscription order, Nicolas called and offered to drop it at my door on his way back to San Clemente. 

He left a giant brown shopping bag at my door, filled to the almost-brim with sliver after sliver of frozen dishes. Additionally, four meals (also frozen) nestled at the bottom in takeout oven tins.

Deal of meal kit

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Photo by Diane Armitage

January’s 10 meals on the subscription plan from Brussels Bistro

I felt like an astronaut packing away space shuttle food in my freezer. This was too good to be true. 

I chose Roasted Salmon for my first entrée, and while it defrosted, I looked up my January cooking instructions on the website. Beneath the instructions for cooking the various dishes (whether in tins or bagged for warm water plunge), I explored my January menu:

Roasted Salmon, Fingerling Potatoes, and Lemon Crème Sauce

Smoked Bacon and Vegetables over Mashed Potatoes 

Ham, Mushroom and Cheese Au Gratin

Spinach Risotto in a white wine garlic cream sauce

Lamb Burger in Tomato Purée

Chicken and Bell Peppers over Rice

Shepherd’s Pie

Chicken and Brussels Sprouts with Mashed Potatoes

Beef Pasta

Chicken Tagine over Couscous

As you look at these thin slivers of what will be your meal, you may wonder if the serving will fill you up. Believe me, they are beyond hearty in serving size. The Roasted Salmon, atop a roasted celery and fennel cream sauce, turned out to be two servings for me. 

Salmon can be a fickle kind of fish (especially when frozen), but Brussels’ version was moist and perfectly cooked with a sauce that was impeccable.

Deal of salmon

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Roasted Salmon

I decided to invite two friends over on Sunday for more testing trials. As social distanced as we were, it was one of the most fun dinners I’ve hosted. It offered a potluck dinner of tastes with “gourmet” being the emphasis on the potluck. This was no Sunday-after-church potluck. 

For me, I find it most difficult to believe that you can properly cook and sous vide a complicated mix of risotto or couscous and, after simply dunking its bag in warm water, have it roll out perfectly plump and non-sticky just a few minutes later. I can’t even do this in real life. This was the case, though, with an oversized serving of Brussels’ fantastic Spinach Risotto and the Chicken Tagine’s underlying couscous.

Deal of spinach risotto

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Brussels Bistro’s Spinach Risotto in garlic and white wine cream sauce

We loaded each serving into medium-sized serving bowls and began passing everything. We tried just four dishes and, between the three of us, still had leftovers. 

The Chicken Tagine, a bow to Moroccan flourish, was braised perfectly in spices, olives, and a hint of zesty lemon. The chicken was tender with layer after layer of spice flavor crowned in briny olives. 

Deal of tangine

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Brussels Bistro’s Chicken Tagine

 Brussels Bistro’s generically named “Beef Pasta” was more of a classic Hungarian Goulash with its American take – prime ground beef – serving as the protein. I just finished those tasty leftovers for lunch today. It is the kind of awesome comfort food we all need these days. 

Deal of beef pasta 

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Brussels Bistro’s Beef Pasta

The last dish, simply named “Chicken with Bell Peppers,” was as equally lovely. More of what I would consider a Chicken Cacciatore, it hosts large chunks of chicken simmered in a peppers and onion tomato-y sauce. 

Deal of chicken

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Brussels Bistro’s Chicken and Bell Peppers

Spoil yourself rotten while supporting a Laguna restaurant

Each month, the Brussels Bistro $89 subscription menu changes. Although I still have plenty of their food in my freezer, I’m already eager to see what February brings. 

Thomas and Nicolas have always been serving up one of the most flavorful, internationally-based menus in Orange County. I happen to love the fact that I get to try menu items in this monthly subscription plan that are yet to be published to the rest of the world. This is truly a genius idea at an unbelievably affordable price. Go to www.BrusselsBistro.com to their “Order Online” tab to subscribe.

Note: Because of the amount of work that goes into fulfilling these menus and orders, please no substitutes. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Change a life by donating reading glasses, sunglasses, and hats to Village HopeCare

A dollar doesn’t buy much these days. However, by donating your reading glasses, sunglasses, and baseball hats to Village HopeCare (VHC) – or by donating funds to purchase them – it can change lives. 

The deadline of February 15 is quickly approaching.

One hundred percent of donations go to VHC.

For ten years, Tom Berndt, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Laguna, has been supplying reading glasses and sunglasses for recipients halfway around the world at Village HopeCore (VHC) at the base of Mt. Kenya (over 6,000 ft) in Cogoria, Kenya. 

Berndt says, “It is a long way from their village (Chogoria) to any kind of store. And they really don’t have the money for glasses, anyway. 

“This year I have only a short time to collect what gets hand carried to the villages. In the past I had six months and marketing meetings with Realtors, who contributed 90 percent of all the donations. But things have changed due to COVID-19. I have only 28 days to collect. 

“One pair of reading glasses can change a life. And my auxiliary, I created 10 years ago, can promise every donation gets to those who need it. By an amazing tiny woman now 80 years young who brings doctors, nurses, dentists, assistants, vitamins, etc. My department is reading glasses, hats, sunglasses.”

Change a life kids

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Submitted photo

Kids at orphanage wearing donated baseball hats

Chogoria, Kenya, is a high elevation area on Mt. Kenya. A very simple donation of hats, reading glasses, and sunglasses, which can cost as little as $1, can really affect a life. 

Berndt reports that the box has been filled twice in four days.

“Last year, I also included baseball caps for the two orphanages, and sunglasses. At that altitude, the children develop cataracts early on, hence the glasses and hats. The reading glasses went to the adults. I delivered 1,500 readers, over 400 hats, and over 400 sunglasses. They all know my name on Mt. Kenya, even though I’ve never been there.” 

“Village HopeCore started in the year 2000, with Founder and CEO Dr. Mugambi, the current Medical Director Dr. Phil Rasori, 12 women, and $5,000 USD. Since then, they have launched, grown, and evolved all of their programs to support the health of children and their mothers. 

Change a life Tom

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Submitted photo

Tom Berndt 

Their website states, “HopeCore’s approach is sustainable and replicable. We treat children and their mothers from conception through 18 years of life. All programming works within existing institutions to ensure longevity of programming. We partner with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, schools, and many others to ensure all activities are working hand in hand with other area interventions and that we do not duplicate efforts.”

Berndt relies on local realtors for donations.

“I started nine years ago just collecting reading glasses. I started this because I use reading glasses, and they’re only a dollar at the 99 Cents store. That’s where I go when I get monetary donations. I clean out the store of all their glasses. Realtors write checks to me, or hand me cash, not expecting a receipt. That’s just the way they are. And they trust I will get their donation to the right place.”

Change a life Kathy

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Submitted photo

Kathy Sangster 

A friendship with Lido Island resident Kathy Sangster sparked Berndt’s interest in VHC. “I became involved knowing Kathy for many years. She lives on Lido Island. She couldn’t be 90 pounds soaking wet and endures usually two to three months there, often returning sick. It is not a healthy environment. Kathy is forced to hand carry all of the items I deliver as luggage, because if sent ahead, it would likely be stolen in the Nairobi airport.”

Berndt says that Kathy, who goes there each year, also collects vitamins. “She travels there with doctors and nurses, dentists, and hygienists. The diet there is terrible, as is the general health. Dentists end up just pulling teeth all day. The doctors treat all manner of malady. And they go there on their own dime. The nurses too.”

To donate reading glasses, sunglasses, or baseball hats, there are drop boxes at Coldwell Banker at 31582 S Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach or at Coldwell Banker at 27111 Camino De Estrella in Dana Point.

To donate funds, call Tom at (949) 633-5100 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about Village HopeCore, go to www.villagehopecore.org.


Curvaceous coves

Curvaceous coves beaches

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Laguna Beach has around 20 or so different little coves and beaches, all of them spectacular in their own way


Community Clinic moves forward with major expansion thanks to local philanthropists

George Baechtold, a local philanthropist, had a decades-long history of helping the Laguna Beach Community Clinic rise to meet the moment. During the early days of the AIDS crisis, viral load testing was a game-changer, but the Clinic had no budget for the expensive test. Mr. Baechtold learned of the need and immediately funded the Clinic’s testing program. 

Dr. Korey Jorgensen, the Clinic’s Medical Director during the 1980s, says, “It still brings a tear to my eye to recall how George funded our crucial testing program. He made an immediate improvement in the health of my HIV patients. For some, it saved their life.”

Community Clinic George

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Submitted photo

George Baechtold

Over the decades, Mr. Baechtold funded many projects. “George liked to donate to projects in which he could see results, so it was often a project that involved building or maintaining,” expanded Dr. Jorgensen.

“A few months ago the Clinic was honored with a very generous gift from longtime supporter and advocate Mr. George Baechtold, after his passing, which started us all on the road to make the dream of expansion for the Clinic a reality,” stated Roya Cole,” President of the Board of Directors. 

Community Clinic group

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Submitted photo

 Laguna Presbyterian Church Missions Outreach Committee presenting check to Dr. Rubal 

“We reached out to our most generous supporters and asked if they would be willing to participate in this journey. The response was amazing; we’re honored to announce this true collaboration of generosity,” continued Ms. Cole, who is one of the donors who helped create the matching fund that now totals $450,000.”

These funds will start renovations to modernize the facility, including a new lobby with a triage room and private check-in, a multipurpose breakroom that doubles as a nutrition center, and improvements to the exterior. The funds will also provide for the addition of a full-time Family Physician and a full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker. 

Community Clinic break room

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Submitted photo

 Rendering of break room 

“Over the decades, the Clinic has evolved to meet the needs of our community. The COVID-19 health crisis has tested our strength and underscored the need to expand,” stated Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO and Medical Director.

“We are blessed to have had George in our lives,” stated George Heed, Past Board President and friend of Mr. Baechtold. “George was an extraordinary benefactor to so many nonprofits in the City. I miss him, but I’m grateful to see his presence daily in our community. Mr. George Heed and Dr. Korey Jorgensen were quick to follow Mr. Baechtold’s lead, helping to build the matching fund.”

Community Clinic lobby

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Submitted photo

Rendering of lobby 

Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bent have served and supported the Clinic since the early 1980s. Dr. Tom Bent, immediate past Medical Director, now serving as a volunteer family physician, and Mrs. Carolyn Bent, former board member and volunteer, who shaped the Clinic’s communications and fundraising, were among the first to give generously to build the matching fund. “Our lives have been intertwined with the Clinic and its mission for decades. It’s been an honor to serve alongside many dedicated and generous individuals, and very rewarding to see the Clinic continue to grow to meet the needs of our community”.

Mr. Bill Gross, another longtime Clinic supporter, also contributed to building the matching fund, stating, “I believe in donating to where it can do the most good when it is most needed. Whether it is restaurant employees, domestic workers, or unemployed musicians, anyone affected by the pandemic, whether directly or indirectly, deserves assistance to help get through his challenging time, especially if it’s health-related.”

Community Clinic exterior

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Submitted photo

 Rendering of exterior 

After a months-long interview and bidding process, the Clinic selected Ken Mockett of Pacific Orca Corporation and Architect Todd Skenderian. “They are differently the best fit, and I’m excited to be working with them to bring our vision to life.  We hope to see all the renovations completed sometime this spring,” stated Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO and Medical Director.

“Word travels fast in our close-knit community. We’ve raised 10 percent of the match before we even announced, including a very generous gift of $25,000 from the Laguna Presbyterian Church,” continued Rubal. “I’m continually amazed by the generosity of our community. Thanks to our family of supporters, we’re able to expand in ways that will bring a noticeable impact to our patients and our community.”

Those wishing to double their impact in support of the Clinic’s expansion plans can visit www.LBClinic.org.


Laguna Presbyterian Church and Red Cross to hold Community Blood Drive on Friday, the need for donations is high

This Friday (March 5), Laguna Presbyterian Church and the Red Cross will hold the first Community Blood Drive of 2021. The drive will be held in Tankersley Hall from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The need for blood donations is high. “Because of the emergency shortage of blood supply due to the pandemic, the Red Cross has set our goal of blood donor appointments at 60,” says Sandy Grim, ARC/LPC Blood Drive Coordinator. “I thought we ‘broke the ceiling’ last October when they set our goal at 52 (which we achieved!) and we collected 45 units, and brought in seven first-time donors.”

As of last Tuesday, 32 of 60 of the donor appointments have been filled, according to Grim. “I’m excited about the response, but please ask your readers to consider the ‘extreme’ shortage of blood supply our area (and our country) is experiencing.”

Laguna Presbyterian building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Presbyterian Church (pre-pandemic)

“We could also use 3-5 more Volunteer Helpers to assist with handing out snacks, juice, and water for the Blood Donors so they rehydrate and rest for a few minutes before they leave the facility.

All donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Plasma from antibody-positive donations may help current coronavirus patients in need.

So, get out there and tell your families, friends, etc. All COVID-19 safety precautions, cleanings, etc. will be enforced. 

To schedule an appointment, sign up online here. Use sponsor code: lagunap.

Call the Red Cross at (866) 236-3276 to find out if you are eligible to donate. Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave. 

If donors have a LB Parking permit, they are urged to use it, as our Parking Lot behind the church will be crowded.

For questions, email Sandy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A formula for success: Josephine Brooks welcomes clients back to Spa Josephine

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Josephine Brooks, owner of Spa Josephine, has racked up a remarkable 31 years in business and not by any serendipitous occurrence – unless you consider knowing what you were born to do serendipitous. Brooks discovered her passion as a child, and every endeavor she’s mastered since then has elevated her career in beauty and aesthetics.

Raised in Los Angeles as the youngest of seven children, Brooks played in the garden, mixing mud with grass and flowers for masks for her dolls. Ever the businesswoman – even then – she had a cash register and a little invoice book. This garden variety fun would eventually grow and blossom into her skin care product line JoJo Brooks, making Spa Josephine and its extensive list of specialty services even more unique. 

A formula sign

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Josephine Brooks, owner of Spa Josephine

Her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother all created their own skin care products. Brooks notes, “They believed in natural herbs and spices, which was a very advanced concept for the time. I was taught how to use herbs and then apply them to creams and serums.” 

Confident in the knowledge and experience of three previous generations, Brooks knew she was destined to formulate her own line of skin care products. 

“Four generations of women with beautiful skin,” she says. 

Just seeing Brooks’ skin leaves little doubt this is true.

JoJo Brooks

JoJo Brooks, her skin care line, is manufactured in the Valley. “The name comes from a consensus of my family members and friends,” Brooks says. “It’s my own formula, no one else has it except my chemist. It comes from the rain forest and is natural – it can be used on babies.”

One of her clients asked Brooks if Menwe, the botanical repair serum, would make her look 10 years younger, to which Brooks replied, “Maybe five.” 

“I’ll take it,” said the client. 

From personal experience, I can attest to its wondrous powers. I’ve been using it for five days, and I already notice a difference. 

Her clientele isn’t limited to just women. “I’ve always taken care of men’s skin, and a lot of men have been coming in lately.”

The newest addition to the Menwe skin line is #9, an eye and neck cream. 

“It’s very firming, almost like Botox in one cream,” says Brooks.

A formula old bottles

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Original bottles from skin care products 

Spa Josephine is born

In 1991, Brooks opened her salon – Salon Josephine – in the courtyard at the Surf and Sand. “It was a full day spa including skin care, massages, steam room, and resting area. I custom blended my skin care products for my clients. They’d bring in their empty jars, and I’d refill them.

 “I realized that it was becoming more popular and the demand was growing. I found a chemist to fulfill the orders and make larger batches. European based – because it’s from the rain forest – it keeps skin dewy and youthful looking.”

In addition to her hotel clients, locals, family members, and friends, Brooks also took care of stars such as Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, and Jane Seymour.

It was grand

“They had a grand piano in the Surf and Sand Towers,” Brooks says. “We used to bring down food from there for clients’ birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings – any and all special occasions.” 

Another service Brooks offered there was strictly the royal or “Golden Treatment” as she calls it – an explanation that requires a bit of backtracking. 

In 1997, as an engagement gift, her husband surprised her with the 1963 S3 Bentley that was used in the Grey Poupon commercial – yes, the exact one. Not a surprise that they got married in 1998.

A formula JoJo Brooks

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JoJo Brooks skin care line 

“I told him it was my dream car, and he searched until he found the owner  and bought it,” Brooks explains. “When I was little and saw the Grey Poupon commercial, I told my mom, ‘I’m going to have that car.’” 

As part of the “Golden Treatment,” her husband picked up clients in the Bentley (since the steering wheel was on the right, only the two of them could drive it), and then take them back home. 

Sadly for clients, they sold the car in 2005. 

After Surf and Sand management decided to take over the day spa, Spa Josephine relocated. In 2000, Brooks moved across the street to the Colonade and painted it white – and it remains white to this day. 

“I opened it up with a hair stylist and acupuncturist and started a spin studio – the only one in town back then. It was the beginning of the spin craze, and  people from the hotel would come to the studio.” 

Another relocation

From there, after four years, they moved to 1080 S Coast Hwy where Gene’s Market and Calvary Chapel used to be. 

“We took over the front and back and had a hair salon, steam room, treatment rooms, and offered facials and massages,” Brooks says. “It was so lovely. Local artists and sculptors put their works throughout the spa, and we’d have receptions upstairs with the locals – old-fashioned soirees.” 

After five years, they relocated to Cleo Street (for one year) until the current location became vacant. “With my husband’s help, we put this together,” Brooks says. 

A formula treatment room

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Josephine’s treatment room 

JoJo Brooks is only one aspect of the specialized services and products featured at Spa Josephine. “We offer massages, facials, Brazilian waxing – the old European method, not harsh, it’s gentle,” Brooks explains. She also does a variation of the Brazilian – a French Brazilian. Specialty treatments include an organic spray tanning process (with no chemicals), permanent makeup, and artistic tattooing which is drawn on top of the breast area to cover mastectomy scars. 

“I’ve always done tattoos,” Brooks says. “At the Surf and Sand, Dr. Bernard Deberry, a plastic surgeon, would book patients into the hotel to recuperate after surgery, and I’d take care of them.”

An abundance of beauty

When it comes to beauty, Brooks knows what she’s talking about. She attended a beauty school in Los Angeles with a specialty in cosmetic makeup. 

“The woman at the school felt I had a knack for it,” Brooks says. “I completed the course a month early. She favored me, and I helped do retouches. The tattooing is very specialized.”

Brooks also graduated from two academies of makeup (for special effects and beauty) in Beverly Hills – Joe Blasco and Elegante – and was a makeup artist for photographers, fashion, and the movie and theater industry. 

A formula office

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Spa Josephine office

She was also a “Tea Model” at I. Magnin on Wilshire Blvd, Joseph Magnin, and Bullocks.

The culmination of all this expertise and experience is Spa Josephine.

However, giving back is important to Brooks, and the community has benefited from her volunteer work. 

She worked as a makeup artist at the Pageant of the Masters for nine years from 1990-1998, quitting only, “Because I got married in 1998 and needed to concentrate on that.” 

“I used to give beauty talks at the American Legion women’s group at their luncheons and at the Rotary Club,” she says. “I’ve also participated in the Patriots Day Parade.”

At Christmas time, Brooks has also brought in residents from Glennwood House for special treatments. “I wanted to give them something of the enjoyment of the beauty of touch. I’d give the caretakers some of my products.”

A formula relax

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Massage room 

Hit hard by the pandemic

“We closed on March 17, reopened in May, and closed again in June. We’ve been closed and reopened four times,” Brooks says. “It’s been very difficult to keep the business going. Only about 30 percent of my clients have returned. It’s still going to take some time for them to come back to me. A few hotels send a trickle of their guests here, and I’m happy to have locals who refer family when they come to visit.”

The spa has all the COVID-19 precautions in place: masks, gloves, shields, plastic barriers, and thorough disinfecting procedures. It’s impeccably clean.

Although left with little time outside of the spa, Brooks still participates in spin classes, kayaks in back bay, walks on the beach, and swims at Crystal Cove, the Montage, and Crescent Bay.

Looking to the future 

During the new year, Brooks hopes to place her JoJo Brooks skin care line in high-end boutiques and is looking forward to welcoming her clients back  – as well as introducing new clients to everything Spa Josephine has to offer. 

She invites residents to come by and pick up a free sample of her products – you won’t be sorry! Who doesn’t want to look five years younger?

Spa Josephine is located at 1833 S Coast Hwy.

For a list of services and products, go to www.spajosephine.com or to make an appointment, call (949) 497-8461.


Second Harvest Food Bank and Laguna Food Pantry work to fight food insecurity in OC

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Food Pantry has a long history as a network partner with Second Harvest Food Bank – 21 years to be exact. However, this past year has been one of unprecedented challenges with regard to food insecurity in Orange County.

 Second Harvest Food Bank set a record for the amount of food provided last year with an 81.9 percent increase from March 2020 to January 2021 – over the same period the year before.

“The Laguna Food Pantry is part of the network that we need to be very aware of for the next 12-18 months as people cycle out of the fallout from COVID-19,” says Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. “There are vaccinations, the sun is shining, and people have aspirations, and it’s fantastic, but there is still the real issue of food insecurity in the county. We want to make sure that it remains very much at the top of our minds.”

Second Harvest new area

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Enlarged space at The Laguna Food Pantry to accommodate cooler

Executive Director of Laguna Food Pantry Anne Belyea says, “When we transitioned to outdoor distribution in March of last year, the number of shoppers went from 80-100 a day to 180-200 a day, with the highest being right before Thanksgiving with 282 shoppers,” says Belyea.

Of course, the growth in the number of shoppers meant the food supply needed be increased. “In March of 2020, the amount of food we got from Second Harvest and food rescue totaled 10,000 lbs, and in February of 2021, it was 100,000 lbs,” she says. “Second Harvest has really stepped up to the plate. They have a phenomenal team.”

Second Harvest is doubling its countywide food distribution from its pre-COVID averages. An additional 3.9 million dollars is needed for the increased demands in OC for the rest of the year. 

“That figure is a moment in time,” says Herrmann, “as it is constantly refreshed, but the numbers come down to food demand – which is generated by unemployment and the newly unemployed – and with that, our marching orders.”

Second Harvest Food box

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Second Harvest Food Box

“We solicit experts to vet forecasts, tied specifically to unemployment. In January, the unemployment figure of 7.4 percent may be low – another 4 percent could be added to take into consideration those who still haven’t received benefits, or received the first round, but not the second, and those who just didn’t apply for benefits. 

“The entire network has been focused on this need,” says Herrmann, “and has acted as a safety net to help Orange County get back on its feet.”

Before the surge of shoppers in March of last year, Pantry volunteers picked up the food at Second Harvest. But because the amount of food increased 10-fold, it was necessary to add two weekly Second Harvest deliveries (on Monday and Thursday) to Laguna Food Pantry, and the deliveries would need to be on pallets. 

Belyea says, “We needed more space, so we went to the city to get planning commission backing for an easement – to pour concrete – and to move the fence which would take up a small portion of the dog park. On July 4, a crane dropped an 80 by 20-foot cooler on the property. In addition to Second Harvest, we have also partnered with more grocery stores to pick up food – from the original seven markets, we now have 14 participating.”

Second Harvest pallets into cooler

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Twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, Second Harvest delivers five pallets consisting of 240 boxes weighing 8,800 lbs. Driver Joe McCree deposits them in the new cooler.

“It’s our model that a percentage of the food is provided by Second Harvest and the rest is food rescue,” says Herrmann, “which is a service. It keeps food from going to waste, prevents it from reaching the landfill, and reduces our carbon footprint.”

The Pantry’s inventory includes the rescued groceries, food purchased from wholesale grocers, donations from regional food banks, local markets, and private donors.

There is also another cause for concern, which directly affects children who were in the school meal programs.

“Because schools have been closed the past year – breakfast and lunch, and the goody food bags children would take home have all stopped,” says Belyea.

It’s not difficult to imagine that during a normal year, for some, these school meals might be their main source of food.

“Children are having to cope with being hungry while at the same time trying to learn and facing the difficulties of online classes,” says Herrman. 

These aren’t isolated situations or specific to big cities.

“This seems like a far-removed problem, but this could happen in any city in OC,” says Herrmann. “It lives in the shadow of every corner of Orange County. No child should be hungry.”

Belyea gives an example of the dire situation one family faced.

“We received a message on the website in the middle of the night from a single mother with four children who said, ‘I lost my job and we’re hungry. How can we qualify for food?’” 

Second Harvest Cynthia

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Operations Manager, Board Member Cynthia Carson

For shoppers at the Pantry, there are no qualifications.

To add to the stress, families might have to go to several food source locations to get the nutritious groceries that they need.

Second Harvest remains focused on quality. In navigating its bulk food purchases, nutrition is prioritized.

“In February, we fed over 4,000 families,” says Belyea. “That figure has  doubled from this time last year – going from 2,167 families in February of 2020 to 4,128 families last month.”

Herrmann calls The Pantry, “Small but mighty. They are committed, effective, and efficient. It’s a credit to the ability of their team to be able to feed that many households.”

Volunteers

“We have a great team of volunteers,” says Belyea. “We’ve been networking with the volunteers and some are coming back. The response has been incredible to see. We couldn’t do this without them, they’re family. One of our longtime volunteers Marianna Hoff just returned, and the shoppers were so happy to see her.” 

This is an indication of the level of dignity that the Pantry has in terms of relating to the shoppers who come for food. 

“Some of the shoppers say that never in their wildest dreams did they expect to be in line for food,” says Herrmann. “It’s a not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up. It’s an emotional investment. The volunteers are friendly and gracious. Before the store closed, it was like a mom-and-pop store. The volunteers have been able to carry that warmth to those coming to the drive-thru in the parking lot.”

Second Harvest volunteers

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Volunteer Appreciation Tree 

As a strange coincidence, Belyea mentions that her grandfather owned a mom-and-pop store, so she already had a sense of what it’s like to shop in that kind of friendly atmosphere.

“Last March, with all the craziness as the pandemic hit – it was like a sprint, and now we’re in for the long haul, and it’s settled into a marathon pace,” says Herrmann. “But we can’t become desensitized as a community.”

Belyea adds, “Now that parents may be going back to work, they are also faced with the costs of childcare.”

Underemployed population

“The newly vulnerable are the underemployed population – those who are paid hourly, and now work only two to three days per week,” says Herrmann. “The lower middle class is becoming the working poor and have never had to ask for food before. They are only five to 10 paychecks away from that situation. This is another fallout from the pandemic. It’s going to take a long time to get them back on their feet – mentally, physically, and financially.” 

Many have accumulated debt over the past year in the form of rent deferments and unpaid utilities – and have resorted to using credit cards in addition to draining their savings. 

“Now they are trying to climb out of debt,” says Herrmann. “The Laguna Food Pantry provides an addition measure of support for these families – a bridge as they get back on their feet. When you hit rock bottom, those who are rebounding need help. We are true partners in getting that job done. We’re at the ready to get OC back on its feet, but we will need the community’s help.”

Laguna Food Pantry is located at 20652 Laguna Canyon Rd, open for drive-thru shoppers from 8-10:30 a.m. Monday - Friday.

For more information about Laguna Food Pantry, go to www.lagunafoodpantry.org. 

For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, go to www.feedoc.org.


Laguna Board of REALTORS® gives back with Clean Laguna LBOR Trash Pickup Project

When Kendall Clark became president of the Laguna Board of REALTORS® (LBOR), she wanted to amplify the group’s community outreach. “There used to be a program called Zero Trash, but the founder (Chip McDermott) moved out of town, and I wanted to initiate a project that would give back to the city.”

She started the program with LBOR’s Realtor membership. It’s called Clean Laguna LBOR Trash Pickup Project, and volunteers will be taking it to the streets on Monday, April 19.

Laguna Board Main Beach

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LBOR Trash Pickup Project at Main Beach on February 15

“It is our way of giving back to the town and people that have done so much for us,” Clark says. “We are organizing monthly cleanups around town with our Realtors and business affiliates. Our first cleanup took place February 15, and it was great with about 18 people participating. March was canceled due to rain, but we are scheduled to go again April 19.” 

The third Monday of every month, the group will clean up a different part of town. On April 19, they will start at City Hall and move to the surrounding streets. 

Realtor and affiliate participants will meet at City Hall at 9 a.m., and the pickup will continue until 10:30 a.m.

Clark says, “We’ve done the beach already. Next month we’ll pick a different area.”

Laguna Board restaurant

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February 15 LBOR Trash Pickup at Main Beach cobblestones area

Gloves will be provided, and participants are asked to wear a mask and follow physical distancing and guidelines.

The mission of the Laguna Board of REALTORS® is “to meet the ongoing professional needs of the membership in the unique coastal marketplace (it serves), maintaining the highest levels of excellence and integrity since 1924.”

Although not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LBOR normally has two major fundraisers each year which attract people from Laguna Beach and the surrounding communities: The Taste for Charity in May and the Pet Parade & Chili Cook-off in September. 

According to LBOR’s website, “These events and others that LBOR sponsors, are wonderful opportunities to meet fellow agents and promote strong relationships in the communities we serve.”

For more information about LBOR, go to www.lagunarealtors.org.


Disneyland Super POD to close effective April 30

The OC Health Care Agency (HCA) Disneyland Drive-Thru Super Point-of-Dispensing (POD) site in Anaheim will close effective Friday, April 30. 

From the opening day in January through April 23, the HCA, alongside partners including Anaheim Fire & Rescue, the City of Anaheim, the Orange County Fire Authority, and community volunteers, has administered approximately 220,852 doses at the site, first through walk-up service and then as a drive-thru. It is anticipated that by April 30, 233,000 doses will have been administered there. 

“On behalf of the HCA and the County of Orange, our sincerest thanks to the Disneyland Resort for being the first organization to offer their time, talents, and property to launch and sustain our first Super POD,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer and Director of the HCA.

As more local businesses are reopening and increased, full-time employment opportunities are becoming more readily available, the HCA has made the determination to reallocate existing staffing resources to other Super POD locations to bolster their operations. 

“I want to remind the community that our Soka University, Santa Ana College, and the OC Fair & Event Center Super PODs currently offer ADA-compliant drive-thru lanes to continue meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities. We’re not going away – we’re just balancing the changing needs of eligible patients with our staffing and vaccine allocations to ensure we can be as responsive as possible,” said Dr. Chau.

For the past month leading up to this planned closure, the OC Health Care Agency has only provided second dose vaccination appointments at the Disneyland Drive-Thru Super POD out of convenience for those who received their first dose at that location. The HCA also continues to administer walk-up vaccination at the Anaheim Convention Center, Soka University, the OC Fair & Event Center, Santa Ana College, and through targeted mobile PODs. 

To learn more about additional vaccination distribution channels in Orange County, go here.

For vaccination and Othena-related questions, call the OC COVID-19 Hotline daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at (714) 834-2000.


OC automobile dealers helping to provide training and jobs to veterans

In partnership with the Orange County Workforce Development Board (OCDB), Orange County Veterans Service Office, and Orange County Automobile Dealers Association, the County of Orange is collaborating with OC Driven for Success to help provide support to military veterans and transitioning service members. Assistance will include paid training, mentoring, and job placement.

“Our nation owes so much to every veteran who has served and risked their lives defending our democracy and values,” said Chairman Andrew Do, First District Supervisor. “Orange County has the fourth-largest population of veterans in Southern California, and through this initiative, they will receive the proper resources and training to prepare them for a new career.” 

Orange County dealerships employ 3,500 automotive technicians and are facing a shortage of about 350 automotive technicians annually. The OC Automobile Dealers Association represents 120 new vehicle dealerships in Orange County and originally launched OC Driven for Success to support Orange County students.

OC Driven for Success is a nonprofit focused on developing highly skilled automotive technicians ready to join the workforce in Orange County. Traditionally focused on Orange County students, the nonprofit has now expanded its services to transitioning former service members who are looking for their next opportunity. These careers are technology-driven and offer great job satisfaction, benefits, and a six-figure earnings potential.

Those interested in enrolling are encouraged to fill out an interest form to receive an invitation to attend a Zoom orientation hosted by OC Driven for Success. After the orientation, a representative from the nonprofit will follow up. The first orientation is scheduled for Thursday, May 6.

For more information on how to enroll in this program, visit www.oconestop.com/oc-driven-for-success or call the Economic and Business Recovery Call Center at (714) 480-6500.


Good Bugs, Bad Bugs: learn how to organically fight garden intruders at workshop tomorrow

Robin Jones of Honey Girl Grows will tell gardeners and enthusiasts alike how to organically fight garden pests with beneficial insects at a special workshop tomorrow, Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m. at the South Laguna Community Garden Park, Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway.

From aphids to thrips, Jones will give hands-on tips for using “good bugs” to organically empower your garden’s health.

Bugs and gardens workshop

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Learn how to organically fight pests in the garden via Robin Jones

“Got grubs? You do and they’re eating your plant roots. Every attendee will get free beneficial nematodes from Arbico Organics to wipe out grubs for a year,” Jones said. 

Jones designs, builds, and tends organic edible gardens and apiaries for local Laguna Beach residents, resorts, and businesses. She is a science-based beekeeper, a pollinator, speaker, and educator noted for national award-winning honeys, and a fan of good bugs as well.

The workshop is free and open to the public. To reserve a spot, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rays of hope

Ray of clouds

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Photo by David Powers

December 31 sunrise from Moulton Meadows Park, a last goodbye to 2020


Winter wonderland

Winter wonderland sky

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Photo by Tom Joliet

Winter skies keep the colors coming


Guest Column

From Laguna With Love: Laughing on Main Beach

By Robert Girling

One sunny morning as I was walking through Heisler Park, I came to the gazebo overlooking Main Beach. As I gazed out at the azure sea, I noticed the sound of tinkling laughter drifting up. I thought, “Who is that laughing? And what’s so funny?” I walked down the steps to investigate. There I was met by 10 lively people who were stretching and laughing. 

Almost immediately, a lovely woman with a shock of white hair wearing a purple T-shirt with the picture of a smiling clown and the most engaging smile approached me. 

“Hi, I’m Ruthe. Please join us. Everyone is welcome!” Then she explained that the group was the Laguna Laughter Club, which gathers daily to practice laughter as a form of exercise. 

From Laguna laughing Jeff

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Courtesy of The Laughter Yoga Institute Staff

Longtime Laguna resident and club founder Jeffrey Briar is a disciple of Dr. Madan Kataria, the world-renowned founder of Laughter Yoga 

Feeling a bit awkward, but intrigued, I joined in. Welcoming me, their leader Jeffrey Briar explained that the practice of laughing improves your mood by creating the chemistry of happiness through the release of chemicals from the brain cells called endorphins – the simple act of laughter can help us to be cheerful throughout the day. 

Well, who could say no to that? For the next 30 minutes I joined them in gentle yoga stretches on the sand. There were no rigorous poses or painful stretching. Jeffrey was joined by co-leaders David, Kathy, and Ruthe, who each led laughter exercises, strongly suggesting that we not talk, but instead let the playful part of our brains take charge. 

With slow, easy stretches – reaching up and laughing down – I felt myself begin to relax. Then we walked around making eye contact and greeting each person with a silent smile or a few words in gibberish. This was followed by silly little laughter activities that engaged me. We made “laughter milkshakes” and then poured them over each other, causing gales of laughter. We laughed at the waves and with the birds. 

From Laguna laughing group

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Courtesy of The Laughter Yoga Institute Staff

Members of the Laguna Laughter Club share laughs on the sand pre-pandemic. The club has had thousands of participants over the last 15 years.

My initial awkwardness disappeared and I began to feel so free. The session ended with a few minutes of silent meditation as we lay on a colorful parachute on the sand. We closed the session by placing our hands on our hearts and sending healing, peace, and goodwill out to the world. 

I felt completely relaxed having let go of my cares and worries. Surprisingly, it had enlivened my mood and I went off thinking, “What a great way to begin the day!” 

After this first taste, I found myself joining these sessions several mornings a week. 

On one occasion, a group of six emergency room and geriatric nurses from San Diego joined us. Susan, one of the nurses, told me, “We came after reading about clinical research that demonstrated how laughter lowers the level of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol in the blood and improves the immune system.” She went on to talk about sharing her feelings of joy with others. “What our patients need is to feel connected with others, and laughter does just that. Laughing today just made me feel good, and I want to pass it along and spread the feeling of joy to my staff and patients. We really need it!”

As I left my new friends on the beach that day, I almost bounced away with a sense of joy and well-being and one thought, “Aren’t we Lagunites lucky to have this resource that helps people to connect with others while giving us hope and optimism to cope with life’s challenges?” 

Robert Girling is Professor Emeritus at Sonoma State University and has taught and consulted in 20 countries; his most recent book “The Good Company: Sustainability in Tourism, Wine and Hospitality” was published by Business Expert Press in 2016. 

Due to COVID-19 the Laguna Laughter Club has suspended its daily meetings. But if you are walking on Main Beach around 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, you just might encounter a small group of socially distanced people, stretching and laughing through their masks. Jeffrey Briar also offers a daily Laughter Yoga session on his Facebook page Sunday through Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.

Organized by the Laguna-based nonprofit Third Street Writers, “From Laguna with Love” features personal stories (anecdotes of up to 200 words and longer pieces up to 750 words) and photographs that celebrate only-in-Laguna moments and experiences, whether they’re funny, sad, insightful, or simply a reflection of daily interactions.

If you or someone you know has a Laguna experience to share, you can submit your story or photo to https://thirdstreetwriters.submittable.com/submit for consideration. 

Questions? Contact Amy Dechary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


County planning forum on COVID inequity issues

On Friday, Feb 26, the County of Orange and Orange County (OC) Human Relations Commission are inviting the public to participate in “Health Equity Issues & the Community Experience,” the second virtual listening session of a COVID-19 discrimination-based series. This event follows “Understanding Our Implicit Biases & Community Experiences,” the first virtual listening session of the series held in October 2020.

The webinar Zoom forum, which will run from 5-6:30 p.m., is open to the public.

The reason behind the forums is that it’s felt by many that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the magnitude of health inequities in the United States. This forum will focus on a discussion around the impact of the pandemic in communities of color in Orange County, the county’s efforts and response to COVID-19, and plans for vaccine distribution and availability in 2021.

Speakers for the event will be Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D., the Director of OC Health Care Agency & County Health Officer, and Mary Anne Foo, MPH, the Executive Director, OC Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance.

To register to attend the free event, go to https://forms.gle/Tu2pMaBKqtcGXpuq9.

Additional questions or desired information can be directed to OC Human Relations Commission staff Norma Lopez at (714) 480.6594 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Glassy shore

Glassy shore beach

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Low tide revelation


BSA Troop 35 girls earn “Scouting Spirit” District recognition, three achieve Eagle Scout rank

The 15 girls of Scouts BSA Troop 35, chartered by Laguna Presbyterian Church, were honored in OCBSA’s El Camino Real District for their unusual accomplishments in their second year of operation. In 2019, the Scouts BSA (formerly known as the Boy Scouts) welcomed girls to participate in the program, and Troop 35 had 10 who became founding members of the group. 

Two years later, three of these girls have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, placing them among the world’s first female Eagle Scouts. The three also make up an unusually large portion of the total 11 girls who have earned this rank across all of Orange County. 

BSA Troop Bear

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Elizabeth Keyser (on left, member of troop) and Alexandra Keyser, who achieved Eagle Scout rank, with The Spirit Bear

Peter Jensen, commissioner of the El Camino Real district, commented, “The ‘Spirit Bear’ is awarded to the Scouting unit that best exemplifies Scouting Spirit. The district commissioner staff was impressed with all the Troop 35 girls. Not only did three of them join the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, we were also impressed with how all the girls supported and helped each other, through their Eagle Scout service projects and beyond.” 

BSA troop Nottage

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Alexandra Nottage 

The three girls who achieved the Eagle rank were Alexandra Nottage, Alexandra Keyser, and Ani Hovanesian. Nottage, a seventh grader at Thurston Middle School, taught a series of acting and improvisation classes at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach in order to bolster students’ confidence in speaking in front of an audience. Commenting on the help from her fellow Scouts, she said, “Our troop is a team. We encourage and help each other achieve our goals – Scouting and non-Scouting alike.”

BSA troop Keyser

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Alexandra Keyser

Alexandra Keyser, a junior at Laguna Beach High School, taught yoga, meditation, and gratitude classes to girls from Corona Del Mar High School to impart skills in relieving anxiety and preventing depression. Keyser said of her project, “I was so happy to be able to share these lessons with the young women of my community.” 

Ani Hovanesian, an LBHS sophomore, created a pilot program for the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club teaching a week-long Space Camp over the summer. Hovanesian explained, “The purpose of the program was to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math. We did just that, and we felt good that most of them said it was a ton of fun. There was a lot of work preparing for the program, and I could never have done it without the help of my troop.”

BSA Troop Ani

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Ani Hovanesian 

All three girls relied heavily on the support of the other girls in the troop who helped sew puppets, teach yoga classes, and became Space Camp counselors in addition to all the cutting, sorting, sewing, and organizing of supplies for each project. 

The El Camino Real District spirit award is presented monthly to the top unit in southern Orange County from Laguna Hills and Laguna Beach south to San Clemente. Those interested in learning more about boy or girl Troop 35 can learn more at www.lb35.org.


Flame out

Flame out birds

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The birds watch as the last lick of sunlight disappears behind Catalina


Historical Society and LBHS teacher host a presentation about Laguna’s past

The LB Historical Society and LBHS US History teacher Shelby Anderson will host Exploring the History of Laguna Beach on Thursday, March 18 at 6 p.m.

The presentation will be in the form of a Webinar, accessible at the link here.

Historical Society laundry

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Many older buildings are still recognizable today

The focus of the evening’s event will be on the intriguing and artistic history of “our favorite coastal city,” say organizers.

“We’ve been working with Ms. Anderson recently to connect her and her students to local history through our society’s resources,” they add. “But the public is very welcome to join us also on March 18!”

Historical Society road jpg

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Artists have been crucial in preserving images of the past: Old Coast Road

The Laguna Beach Historical Society is an all-volunteer non-profit civic organization dedicated to collecting and preserving Laguna Beach’s historical documents and disseminating these materials to interested individuals, as well as educating the public.


Guest Column

Marking VFW’s 75th anniversary

By Arnie Silverman 

The year was 1946. The big war had just ended and the troops were returning home. Several veterans gathered together in the little quaint beach village of Laguna Beach and founded the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5868. From its founding post 5868’s members, all of whom served overseas in a hostile area, the group has been supporting and assisting veterans and members of the local community. Along with members of Laguna’s American Legion Post, VFW Post members have represented Laguna at patriotic events such as Memorial and Veterans Days and various holidays.

VFW members originally met in a modest dwelling located on Laguna Canyon Road but one year after a particularly heavy rain, the place was flooded and was no longer tenable. It was then that the American Legion Post generously offered the VFW Post its building on Legion Street for meetings and fundraising events.

Marking VFW Arnie

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Arnie Silverman speaks at a Memorial Day celebration

As a fully volunteer organization with no revenue-producing resource such as a bar or real estate, there were times over the years that the Post barely met meeting its expenses such as insurance. Several times at various monthly meetings over those years, officers were asked to contribute funds to meet those expenses. In those earlier years, members ran fundraising events such as yearly Oktoberfest parties and an annual lottery to raise funds. Unfortunately, we have become “long in the tooth” and can no longer manage such events. We depend instead on the generosity of those who contribute to our general fund.

Even during this pandemic we have been active in our support projects. We have assisted homeless veterans in achieving a fresh start by paying utility deposits, buying appliances, and helping to get them off the streets. We have also assisted young, enlisted families at Camp Pendleton with baby items, furniture, and food. We fund our annual Ben Blount Scholarship at LBHS that focuses on the importance of public service for our young scholars.

We remain active in spite of the pandemic with the Orange County Combat Veterans Court’s Veterans Rehabilitation program, encouraging and advising convicted veteran/felons as they attend mandatory meetings and tests, and after two years of disciplined, hard work witness them metamorphosize into responsible citizens with their criminal records expunged. If and when the annual Patriots Day Parade, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other national holidays observances are scheduled, we will be there when they resume. And, as the virus subsides and Little League baseball resumes, we will be there sponsoring and supporting our VFW team. We will also be there to help retire unserviceable American flags.

Marking VFW Little League

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VFW sponsors a Little League team

With the resurgence of the country as anti-virus vaccines become increasingly available, we are imbued with new energy and new commitments to supporting veterans and the community. The Post just established a yearly fund for homeless veterans to be contributed to the VA Veterans Services in Long Beach. The Post also donated 60 new T-shirts to veterans receiving long-term care at the VA Hospital. We are in summary an organization fully committed to assisting veterans and community and with new vigor and enthusiasm and as the virus subsides will continue to do so.

If you are a veteran who served overseas in a hostile area, we welcome you to join us. To maintain the continuance of our Post in Laguna Beach, we need new, younger members who will continue our good works for many, many more years after we have moved on. 

Contact Arnie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 305-2326 for more information.


Generous Blume family initiates “Feed It Forward” project with Harley restaurant and Sally’s Fund

Recently, Laguna Beach philanthropists Marianne and Wolfram Blume wanted to provide hot meals to Laguna Beach seniors isolated during the pandemic – so they negotiated a price with Harley restaurant’s chef and owner, Greg Daniels, to provide 100 hot meals for that purpose once a week for six months.

The Blumes also felt this was a way to keep some Laguna Beach restaurants open and their employees paid.

Generous Blume Greg

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Photo by Rachael Berger

Harley owner and chef, Greg Daniels, poses with Sally’s Fund drivers, Jason Pastore, left, and Rick Robe on right

However, they had no idea how to identify the seniors most in need or administer the distribution.

Enter Sally’s Fund. The Blumes shared their plans with its executive director, Rachael Berger, who identified the ideal recipients for their generosity, and coordinated and scheduled Sally’s Fund drivers and vehicles to deliver the meals.

Generous Blume group

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Photo by Rachael Berger

Front row: Roger, resident of Vista Aliso, Rachael Berger, Executive Director of Sally’s Fund; Second row: Kate, resident of Vista Aliso, Deby Grover, Property Manager of Vista Aliso, Wolfram Blume, and Marianne Blume

Many of the recipients selected had used Sally’s Fund’s services pre-COVID-19 and are currently included in Sally’s Fund weekly grocery deliveries, which began when the pandemic took hold. These seniors also often face age-related health issues, or have been sheltering in place, or do not have access to transportation.

Generous Blume house

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Photo by Rachael Berger

Door-to-door delivery at Vista Aliso

 “Sally’s Fund cares deeply about the health, nutrition, and the well-being of the elderly, which is why we have been delivering food to over 200 seniors every week for the last year during the pandemic,” says Berger. “When the Blumes approached me with their generous plan to purchase meals for seniors from Harley restaurant, we knew we needed to find a way to make this happen. The recipients are beyond thankful and appreciative, and for many, to receive such delicious, prepared meals is truly a special treat.”

As of March 3, the meals are picked up from Harley every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Generous Blume delivery

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Sally’s Fund coordinates delivery of meals to isolated seniors

Greg Daniels and his staff prepare delicious and nutritional hot meals that vary from week to week. Instruction labels are included if necessary.

It takes the two Sally’s Fund drivers five to six hours to deliver the meals. As they are often the only person an isolated senior sees, the drivers also visit with them and act as an advocate if needed.

Soon additional drivers and vehicles were required to ensure efficient distribution, so the Blumes made an additional contribution to assist with some of the overhead costs. However, Sally’s Fund is looking to the community for additional donations to help cover expenses.

Generous Blume with van

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Delivering meals to isolated seniors, The Blumes in front

Berger says, “While delivering these meals takes extra time and manpower, we are thankful to be able to bring enjoyment to those most isolated. Sally’s Fund provides so much more than senior transportation, we really are a ‘We Care’ organization for seniors in our community.”

Sally’s Fund was established in 1986 as a nonprofit primarily providing transportation for Laguna Beach seniors to the Susi Q Senior Center, where many enjoyed a hot lunch along with activities and classes.

Generous Blume chicken

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One of several delicious meals prepared by Harley’s chef and staff

When the pandemic hit a year ago, Berger quickly expanded the organization from strictly transportation (although she continued to ensure that seniors were able to get to dialysis or chemotherapy treatments) to delivery of groceries from the Laguna Beach Food Pantry, as well as medication and other essential items.

In the past, Sally’s Fund has worked with other local restaurants and delivered 135 Thanksgiving and 142 Easter meals to seniors.

Donations to further Feed It Forward can be sent to Sally’s Fund, PO Box 1626, Laguna Beach, CA 92652; or, if you prefer, contact Rachael Berger at (949) 499-4100.

For more information about Sally’s Fund, go to www.sallysfund.org.


Meet Pet of the Week Zoey

Zoey is currently taking over Pet of the Week. She is a spayed one-year-old Scottish Deerhound mix looking for a new place to call home. Zoey is in need of training, and requires a secure fenced yard as she can climb out of high chain link fences. She is extremely friendly, affectionate, and does well around groups of people. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, is hoping to have Zoey adopted as soon as possible.

Meet Pet of the Week Zoey

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Zoey is the ultimate friend to have by your side 

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to the shelter’s approach to adoption, its return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


New City arborist to lead Urban Forest Management Program and Tree Care Services

The City of Laguna Beach has hired Nate Faris as the new City arborist to lead the City’s Urban Forest Management Program and Tree Care Services. 

Faris brings a breadth of experience in best practices in tree care, pests and disease prevention, proper pruning techniques, and knowledge of enhancing the long-term structural integrity of trees to the position.

“I love being outside, working with trees and people who are passionate about the urban forest,” said Faris. “My focus is not only the health and well-being of individual trees, but also a larger-scale perspective like canopy cover and the overall benefits of trees to our community.”

New City Nate

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Nate Faris announced as new City arborist 

Faris holds both of the arboriculture’s highest distinctions, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist. He also has 15 years of experience creating and leading tree-planting programs at nonprofit organizations, both in Indiana and Florida. 

Faris also has 9 years of experience in owning and operating a tree consulting business. In 2018, Faris was one of five arborists to be given the True Professionals of Arboriculture Award by the International Society of Arboriculture. 

Shohreh Dupuis, Laguna Beach Assist