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Laguna Beach


Locals Tom and Gayle Joliet anticipate launch of their children’s book Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf

By DIANNE RUSSELL

It all started with a giant elf in the South Laguna Community Garden Park. Ultimately, the seed of an idea turned into a 64-page children’s book, Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf, written and illustrated by Gayle and Tom Joliet, which will be released in November by Laguna Wilderness Press. 

As with most books, it wasn’t an overnight project. Gayle says, “It took three years and approximately 70 revisions for the finished product.”

Tom and Gayle sketched together and then Gayle painted the watercolor renderings. Being a third grade teacher for over 30 years helped her in selecting the proper vocabulary for eight to 10-year-olds, and a few of Gayle’s teacher friends collaborated on that process as well. 

A need for children’s books about Laguna

“There are no children’s books about Laguna,” they say. Both Gayle and Tom felt there was a need to educate kids about the Laguna Bluebelt and the Laguna Greenbelt (which are referenced in the story) as well as illustrate that when people take action to save our land and sea, it makes a difference. 

Tom says, “We originally were going to self-publish the story, but Laguna Wilderness Press heard about it and wanted to handle it. It’s the first children’s book the press has published.”

Laguna Wilderness Press is a nonprofit dedicated to publishing books about the presence, preservation, and importance of wilderness environment. It was a perfect fit in many ways, and the Joliets always intended that proceeds from the book be donated. Several local organizations have already offered sponsorships.

Locals Tom bookcover

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Submitted photo

“Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf” will launch in November

Laguna Wilderness Press asked for more artwork, which took the book from 56 to 64 pages, and Tom says, “It enhanced the story nicely, but not much was changed in the text.” 

Gayle added a glossary of the fish found in the kelp beds off of Laguna and also a detailed description of the various parts of a kelp plant plus other reference material.

In the story, Kelfie and his Kelp Elf Clan need help. Their underseas home, the giant kelp forest off the coast of Laguna Beach, is being destroyed by over-fishing and pollution. 

Destruction of kelp forest

Can their human friend, Alani, help them find a solution so they won’t have to leave their homes forever? 

Gayle revealed that Alani is based on a girl who comes to the garden, and the cat frequently pictured in the story is the garden feline who has been homesteading there for years.

The book is described as, “An engaging story for young children to teach environmental awareness and civic responsibility. Alani and Kelfie realize that people must speak up to create laws that protect the land and sea creatures who cannot speak for themselves.” 

The real story started when Gayle and Tom became part of the group that founded South Laguna Community Garden Park 10 years ago (the anniversary is September 28). Since its inception, the use of the Garden Park has been donated by its owner, however, a fund was set up to purchase the property so that it can become a permanent public park. 

Locals Tom Giant Elf

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Tom and Gayle with the Giant Elf

The garden evolved from an upper terrace to an additional terrace below. Fifty planter boxes (built in two stages), stairs, boulders, and other items were added over the years by community members. The objective is that each garden bed be purchased and then maintained by members/volunteers. 

The Garden Park also spawned a band – the Garden Band – of which Tom is a member. As most residents know, he plays the ukulele, and the band has played at many events in town. 

How the Giant Kelp Elf was born

On Valentine’s Day 2016, dirt was brought into the garden and became the original giant elf sculpture. The Joliets decided to have a contest for sixth graders, asking the questions – Is it an elf? How did the elf get there? Is it a boy or girl? – and assuming all legends would be true. 

Tom says, “Then we got the idea that there would be a tunnel – under the head of the giant elf – that goes all the way under the ocean to a kelp bed.”

And so the story was born, unfolding as the kelp elf Kelfie comes up the tunnel and leaves a magic nautilus shell necklace for Alani, the garden girl.

However, young readers will have to wait until the book launch to discover what happens next.

Pre-order Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf by visiting www.lagunawildernesspress.com, mailing a check or money order payable to Laguna Wilderness Press to P.O. Box 149, Laguna Beach, CA 92652, emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or calling (951) 827-1571.

Include with your check the number requested and title of the book; the total amount should include the price of the book, $19.95, plus $5 for shipping. If purchasing in Calif., an additional eight percent tax should be included in the grand total as well.


Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE 

September 10, 2019

McWeather reports sports!

Dennis 5Well, Stu, Our LA Angels once again will not be in the postseason. With 18 games remaining in the regular season, they have a dismal record of 67-77 and are mathematically eliminated from even a wild card spot. Where would they be without arguably the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, who is having a monster year, closing in on 50 home runs and a career high 120 RBIs and a batting average around .300? Without him they’d probably finish with something like a 68-94 record and near last place in their division along with the lowly Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, up the road, the LA Dodgers are 94-50 and had their division in the bag ever since July as they’ve been 15-20 games in front of everybody else and have consistently been in the top three in baseball for the best record. Offensively, they have so many weapons including a probable shoo-in for the MVP of the National League, Cody Bellinger, who’s also closing in on 50 home runs, 125 RBIs, and a .310-.320 batting average. Unlike Mike Trout, Cody plays for a winner. The Dodgers’ starting pitching staff is also among the best in baseball as well. 

Right now there are at least fifteen teams in the MLB that are going to set all-time records for the total number of home runs in a season. The Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees have already eclipsed their all-time club records as the Twins already have 270 and the Yankees have 268 – having just surpassed their all-time record of 267. It was set just two years ago and broke the record of 264 set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners. 

There are twenty clubs on pace to collect a total of at least 200 home runs for the 2019 season. Even in Minor League Baseball, total home run production is up an astounding 58 percent over all previous seasons. We know it’s not PEDs that are the reason for all the home runs because everybody’s getting tested at random, so if the players aren’t juiced, then it’s gotta be the baseballs themselves. 

Meanwhile the 2019 season is under way for the NFL. L.A.’s two local teams squeaked by their opponents on Sunday with the Rams beating Carolina 30-27 and the Chargers victorious over the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 30-24. The Colts’ star QB Andrew Luck suddenly retired just before the season at 29 years old and in his prime, but numerous possible career-ending injuries over the years cut his storied career short, so he walked. Too bad.

The Rams’ offense was often struggling in the first half but pulled it together in the second half, but they were looking in the rearview mirror at the stubborn Panthers the whole time before eking out a win by only three points. The Rams are deep in talent on both sides of the ball with Jared Goff leading the offense along with super-fast running back Todd Gurley who amassed 97 yards on just 14 carries.

New England continues to dominate with 42-year-old Tom Brady and crew. They just picked up star wide receiver Antonio Brown who will start in next week’s game. He’s probably the best wide receiver in the NFL but his attitude had better change under head coach Bill Belichick. Bill won’t put up with AB’s me, me, me approach. They embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday 33-3. The Cowboys looked like Super Bowl material will all cylinders running, beating the New York Giants handily, 35-17. Stop the hype, Cleveland Browns! You just got humiliated by a score of 43-13 so it’s a case of same s---, different day for that dysfunctional group! That’s it in sports.

See you Friday, ALOHA!


Pumpkin sky

Pumpkin sky stoplight

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Harvest colors usher in the fall and create ghostly silhouettes 


Fans of Kaira Rouda and her novel The Favorite Daughter fill Laguna Beach Books on Sunday

By DIANNE RUSSELL

On Sunday, Laguna Beach Books welcomed local author Kaira Rouda to the store to discuss and sign copies of her most recent book, The Favorite Daughter.

Fans packed the bookstore and peppered her with questions about her novel, her writing process, and her attraction to the dark side. 

The Favorite Daughter is a gripping story of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, and suited for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena. 

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

Well, not so perfect. 

When asked about writing on the grim side, Rouda admitted that she’s happier dealing with the dark side of the suburbs. Even her daughter told her to stop writing about dark things.

“I love writing. The characters in the novel start talking to you,” Rouda said.

She already has another book finished and submitted. 

Fans of book

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Photo by Sharael Kolberg

Kaira Rouda with her novel

Rouda said that when she’s writing, she can’t read other novels or listen to music, it’s too distracting. In answer to a question about process, she said, “I don’t outline, I write by the seat of my pants.”

When she isn’t writing, her reading preferences lean toward Southern Literature. “I love Shelly Dexton. I read the classics to reset. They stand the test of time. We saw To Kill A Mockingbird in New York, and it reminded me of the power of words and the power of literature. It’s so resonant right now.”

An audience member asked the question, “Are you going to write The Favorite Son?”

To which she replied, “No. I have three sons and only one daughter.”

Turns out it was her son Dylan asking the question. 

Fans of dog

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Photo by Stacia Stabler 

A furry fan

In addition to fiction writing, Rouda is an accomplished business leader, entrepreneur, national speaker, and internationally bestselling and award-winning author. A former magazine editor and society columnist, she won the Stevie Award for Women in Business for creating the first female-focused residential real estate brand, Real Living, and growing the brand to more than 22 states before its sale to Berkshire Hathaway. 

Her first book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, led to a national speaking tour where she inspired thousands. Turning to a full-time writing career, her most recent work before The Favorite Daughter was Best Day Ever. Rouda has received numerous awards for her community service, including the national Kiwanis Service to Mankind Award, among many others.

Fans of The Favorite Daughter are looking forward to her next novel, which will no doubt be on the dark side.

LB Books is located at 1200 S Coast Hwy. For information about LB Books, go to www.lagunabeachbooks.com or call (949) 494-4779.

For more information about Kaira Rouda, go to www.KairaRouda.com.


Great City

This great city,

Heart of human energy,

Of opportunity, of verve,

Of canyon-streets

Framed by structures tall

Filled with focused lives;

This city of noisy ethnicity,

Of dynamic enterprise,

This historic, cultured place

Of power, art and song

Its linear landmarks now

Dusty debris and twisted steel,

Now sighs with sadness;

Its people, though full of fear,

Heroically helping those in need

Where death and danger lurk;

This city of sacrificing, selfless souls

Grievously grieving for lives lost;

This courageous, resilient humanity

Resolved to resurrect its greatness.

Arnie Silverman 9/12/2001


LB Garden Club presents Chris Epting and “The Camping Trip that Changed America” on Friday

On Friday, Sept 13 at 9:30 a.m., Laguna Beach Garden Club will host its monthly speaker program featuring a presentation by Chris Epting on “The Camping Trip that Changed America.”

Chris Epting tells the story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s very important trip to Yosemite, the fateful three-day trip that shaped the destiny of Yosemite and the National Park Service. Chris’ presentation will include anecdotes of how John Muir’s love of plants helped shape our nation. 

Chris will be selling and signing copies of his best-selling book, Teddy Roosevelt in California. Chris Epting is an award-winning author of more than 30 travel/history books. He contributes articles to publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Westways, and Travel and Leisure Magazine. Chris is also a veteran music journalist and recently co-wrote Def Leppard and Phil Collins’ memoir as well as John Oates’ memoir. 

Laguna Beach Chris

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Submitted photo

Award-winning author Chris Epting is the featured guest speaker at LB Garden Club’s monthly meeting on Friday 

Chris also hosts the REELZ Channel series It Happened Here, which he also created. Originally from New York, Chris now lives in Huntington Beach. 

The Laguna Beach Garden Club meets on the second Friday of every month, September through May, at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. Social Hour starts at 9:30 a.m. and the General Meeting is at 10. The public is welcome; there is no charge for guests on their first visit. 

Before or after the meeting, guests are invited to browse the outdoor “Garden Boutique” where donated garden-related items and plants can be purchased at “dirt-cheap” prices. 

Parking is free in the Laguna Canyon Road lot (spaces 300-422) or $3 for all day in spaces 185-228. 

For more information on the garden club, visit www.lagunabeachgardenclub.org.   

The nonprofit Laguna Beach Garden Club, Inc. was founded in 1928 in beautiful Laguna Beach, and celebrated its 91st anniversary in February. Its members support a wide variety of projects related to education in gardening, horticulture, landscape and floral design, conservation, ecology, and bird life. 

The Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave in the Tankersley Hall. 


Where’s Maggi – the answers!

The pelican – his beak can hold more than his belly can…Don’t you just love him? Maggi spotted this happy pelican on Ocean Way.

Who knew? Janet Anderson knew. She likes him, too – she put him there!

Look for another puzzler on Friday, and keep Maggi on her toes.    

Wheres Maggi 9 10 19

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This little pelican resides on Ocean Way


Sultry sunset 

Sultry sunset bird

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A single bird under a September sky


Shelter from the sun

Shelter from the

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Boy in a sun bonnet


Protective gear to be bought for City firefighters

By BARBARA DIAMOND

It’s time for Laguna’s firefighters to get new personnel protective gear in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association.

The only question is which company the City Council will select at tonight’s (September 10) meeting to supply the equipment, which includes structure and wildfire clothing for fire suppression personnel.

An informal bid process allowed the fire department to determine the brand that best met the department’s needs, according to the staff report. 

Fire Department personnel evaluated the protective turnout coat and pant sets from three companies. AllStar Fire Equipment’s LION brand was rated the highest by the personnel whose lives may depend on the equipment.

The fire department has recommended the purchase of the LION brand equipment at a cost of $99,028.71, spread over four years.

Cost of the LION’s equipment was midway between the high bid of $146,971 and the low bid of $85,486. 

The council had approved $160,000 for the purchase of protective gear at the 2018 midyear budget hearing.

$100,000 was estimated for replacement of the turnout sets. The remaining $60,000 will be used to buy other equipment, such as boots, gloves, protective hoods, personal lighting, and helmets.

The timing of the purchase is in accordance with National Fire Protection Association recommendations to protect firefighters from chemical and toxic hazards and/or “any incident-danger-life-hazard environment.”

The expenditure is on the Consent Calendar for Tuesday’s meeting and will be approved without discussion unless pulled by a member of the City Council or the public.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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