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Dori Scarano’s Millie’s Butterflies makes the spirit soar with signs of hope, love and family redemption

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

In Millie’s Butterflies, the narrator Carly Summer’s mother Millie, when asked how she is, always answers (sometimes to her daughter’s chagrin), “I’m fine and beautiful.” 

To her mother, it simply means having an optimistic attitude, and although this novel deals with loss, suffering, and pain, this phrase is an apt description of the story as well. This is a fine and beautiful book. Joy lies within its heart and soul.

Based on a true story, Dori Scarano’s novel Millie’s Butterflies takes the reader on a journey with Carly, who lives in Laguna Beach, as she navigates her way through her mother’s impending death. Carly has already suffered two losses, her brother and father have passed, both from cancer. And now her relationship with her three sisters threatens to shatter under the strain of her mother’s illness, as Millie has been the glue binding them together.

Faced with a more rapid decline than expected, Millie believes absolutely in the idea of heaven and its mansions. Carly, even though she attended Catholic school, isn’t convinced heaven exists. She wants proof.

Submitted photo

Dori Scarano, author of Millie’s Butterflies

“Carly, I’m not sure what the rules are up there,” says Millie, in response to her daughter’s request that Millie, once she passes, show her a sign there is a heaven and she arrived safely.

It’s unfair to the reader to reveal the magnitude or magical nature of Mille’s sign, one must read the book to find out.

Published in November of 2016, this story has been percolating in Dori’s mind since her mother’s death in 2004. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dori spent some time in Manhattan, and then came out to the West Coast in 1994. She is a partner of a small boutique IT company in Irvine. She has a fourteen-year-old son Aidan, and two stepchildren, Katie, who is 27 and Josh, who is 30.

Dori was overwhelmed with the response to her book when it came out. On Amazon, Millie’s Butterflies suddenly racked up over 60 great reviews, giving her book 4.9 out of 5 stars. She’s since had readings at Laguna Beach Books, and in Dallas, Texas, and hopes to soon go back to New Jersey and New York for appearances. 

Readers always wonder when the author says the story is based on truth, how much of it is real. But readers will need to see the epilogue to find out. I’m not going to give anything away.

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Submitted photo

Dori and Artist Sanah Brown, in front of Brown’s mural in Deep Ellum, TX

After her appearance in Texas, Dori wrote, “I’ve learned to stay open and receptive since Millie left for her mansion in heaven. She continues to break the “rules,” as she so thoughtfully questioned in her final days, and she seems to have a way of showing up in both my toughest and most remarkable moments. So, imagine my delight when in the middle of the book signing in Dallas, Texas last week, I was alerted to a fine and beautiful artist outside, putting the finishing touches of a butterfly on her mural. Two women brought together serendipitously by one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful gifts, the butterfly. Sometimes broken rules are nothing short of little miracles.”

Even though Dori came to novel writing later, (she was an business major in college), she is now passionate about it, and is working on her second book. She says, “As with every story, some semblance of truth exists, otherwise I don’t think one would be able to write with authenticity. My next book is that all too familiar story of love and deceit. There are millions out there, so it is how the story is told that makes it intriguing.

“Just like with Millie’s Butterflies—cancer wields its ugly, frightening sword every day, but it’s the story behind the disease, the story behind the heartbreak, the story behind the betrayal that makes it worth the read. My readers will have to stand by. This one’s a doozy.”

So, we as readers, will have no choice but to stay tuned for her next novel. Hope it’s not too long a wait.

For further information, go to https://milliesbutterflies.com/


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

September 5, 2017

Tropical storms have battered Laguna too – but not recently

By the time y’all read Tuesday’s Stu News Laguna will be a ghost town compared to what it was like since Memorial Weekend. The Festivals ended on Sunday and most of our visitors have returned to the grind. You can drive from one end of town to the other in ten minutes. Some of Laguna’s best and hottest weather happen in September and October and in a good year, well into November, with not very many people on the beach on weekdays. You’ll run into a lot of familiar faces you haven’t seen since June as some of them either hibernate or just plain get out of Dodge for the summer to avoid the throngs. Fall is McWeather’s favorite time of year in Laguna, but actually, for me, any season here in Lotusland is OK by me.

Historically Laguna has had its most 100 degree days in September at least once every three years or better. The morning crud backs off even more and the first hot Santana Wind event can occur as early as the second half of the month, say at least once every four years or thereabouts. September rain is scant, averaging about a quarter inch or so. Nights cool off a tad later in the month but still average at least 60 or so. Days grow shorter quicker and the noontime sun is noticeably lower in the southern sky but still plenty high.

September is also the ripest month for big south swells, either from Eastern Pacific hurricanes or long period big ground swells from the Southern Hemisphere. The water is still pretty warm too, averaging about 68 but in El Nino years it can still be 70 or higher throughout the month.

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Photo courtesy LB Historical Society

The pier at Bird Rock until 1939, when a tropical storm turned it to matchsticks

Historically, September has seen three significant Eastern Pacific tropical systems find their way all the way as far north as Southern California. Through modern technology and extensive research it has been discovered that in September of 1858, during a strong El Nino event a Category 2 hurricane made landfall near San Diego. The good news is there was hardly anyone around back then so casualties were most likely at a minimum and the same goes for structural damage. If that happened today it would probably be catastrophic. It’ll happen again someday, maybe next year or 50 years from now.

In September of 1884 a high end tropical storm made landfall near Oceanside but like its predecessor, damage or loss of lives was most likely minimal. There was a strong El Nino that time too, plus Krakatoa blew its top which really tweaked the weather across the entire globe as snow actually fell in what is St. Louis today and L.A. wettest season ever occurred in 1883-84 with a whopping 40.06 inches!

Then, on September 25, 1939 a high end tropical storm made landfall near San Pedro dropping over eight inches of rain in some places including the 7.74 inches in Laguna with waves of 20 feet or higher battering Laguna. Those storm waves dismantled and made toothpicks out of the old pier over Bird Rock in a matter of hours. It must have been a doozy as that pier had withstood storm after storm since its completion way back in 1915. Must’ve been the direction of the swell that caused the pier’s demise.

So now that we pretty much have our town back, enjoy! ALOHA!


Grand finale of Laguna Beach Surf School brings out the whimsy

Photos by Josh Tanaka, Instagram: @j.t.films

The grand finale Friday Funday costume surf-off for the Laguna Beach Surf School kids took place last week on the beach between Thalia and Anita Street. Vikings, hot dogs and clowns made the most of the day.

Laguna Beach Surf School is directed by Steven Chew, aka Professor SLi Dawg, who is also the creative director of Purple Corduroy.

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The end of summer brings out the whimsy at the Surf School


Ten Boys Who Care set fundraising goals for 2017/18 and plan Mega Yard Sale in January

This week, as school is about to start, Ten Boys Who Care, founded in 2013 by 10 seventh graders, got to work to begin planning the fundraising projects for their next scholarships. For the fifth time, they have a goal of $2500 to award a graduating senior boy and girl athlete.  

Co-president Kent Cebreros explains, “We are the same 10 boys that started the group four summers ago.” 

In addition to the goal of $2500 for their two 2017/2018 scholarships, The Ten Boys Who Care have a goal of $500 more to help another school in their league that needs extra funds for students to be able to participate in athletics.

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Photo by Jeanette Morck

Back Row L – R: Kent Cebreros, Blake Pivaroff, Sam Reynolds, Gustav Morck, Front Row: L – R: Enzo Sadler, Mason Lebby, Sam Kluver, Zack Bonnin, Not pictured: Ayrton Garcia, Noah Linder.

They began adding to their scholarship efforts last year with $500 for Godinez High School and hope to repeat the gift. 

“Every kid who wants to play sports in high school shouldn’t have money be a reason they can’t play,” says Co-President Sam Reynolds. 

The Ten Boys chose officers for the year and began planning for their Mega Yard Sale to be held again in January with the help of donations from families and retailer Jon Madison of Madison Square Garden.  

Mason Lebby, fundraising co-Chair, describes the yard sale as a win-win, “Not only do we make a good percentage of our overall funding, we also sell hundreds of families repurposed and often brand new goods for just $1 each.”


Shanti OC, founded in Laguna Beach 30 years ago, announces new Board members and leadership

Shanti OC, founded in Laguna Beach, 30 years ago, has announced new board positions and members as the nonprofit commences a year-long celebration of serving the Orange County HIV/AIDS community. The all-volunteer board is distinguished by individuals committed to their community with a passion for giving and fulfilling the mission of Shanti Orange County, the caring heart of our community. 

Serving as Board Chair, Trisha Burke will replace Charles Cannon. Trisha’s industry experience, leadership, and energy will help guide Shanti through the excitement of our 30 year celebration, and as we face a changing landscape of medical service reimbursements. 

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Lagunans have always been very involved with Shanti OC activities

Shanti noted that they were deeply grateful for, and would miss friend and outgoing chair Charles Cannon, and his humor, guidance, and passion. The nonprofit wishes him well as he journeys to UC Berkeley with Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. 

Wayne J. Fields, longtime supporter and activist, will re-join Shanti’s board as Vice Chair. Also stepping up to serve as Vice Chair is Kathryn Montoya-Andrews. Vice Chair Gerard Curtin is leaving with the organization’s best wishes for success in his professional endeavors and gratitude for his support. 

Also joining Shanti’s board as Treasurer is David C. Carnevale. David’s deep roles in the arts community and the education community further deepens Shanti’s ties with the community. 

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Submitted photo

Lagunans’ involvement is clear

Ruth Weaver, who has served on Shanti’s board since 2010, will serve as Secretary. The nonprofit notes its gratitude to Tom Ray, Laura Salazar, Kent Rhodes, and Ehsan Gharadjedaghi, for their continued service and commitment to Shanti and the Orange County community. 

Shanti OC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that began as a grassroots organization in 1987 in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis and has supported the local HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ community ever since. Today, over 7,200 persons live with HIV in Orange County. 

For more information, visit www.shantioc.org.


The Amazing Steals Art Auction takes place at the SALTfineart Gallery on Sept 16 

On Sat, Sept 16 from 5 – 7 p.m., the Amazing Steals Art Auction will present for its eighth annual year its black glove affair, featuring 42 works starting at half off. In addition to the usual “steals,” there will be a mystery lot, featuring the work of Ugo Zogbi – but which work, only the winning bid will reveal.

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Submitted Photo

Kyle Steward, Bound for Tomorrow, 14.75 x 17.75”, oil on canvas, framed. Value at $2,200 with starting bid of $1,100

Tickets are $25 each. This event will benefit the Laguna College of Art and Design. 

To place an absentee bid, download the catalogue, or purchase tickets, visit http://www.saltfineart.net. The SALTfineart Gallery is located at 346 North Coast Highway. 


AAUW Laguna Beach welcomes new members at kickoff of 51st year on Sept 10 at LCAD

New and ongoing members of the American Association of University Women will gather for the 51st annual Membership Mixer from 3 - 5 p.m. on Sun, Sept 10, at the Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) campus in Laguna Canyon. Community women interested in joining, or just learning more about AAUW-LB, are invited to come to this informal and welcoming event.

Illustrating the branch’s mission of empowering women and girls through education to reach their full potential, there will be brief remarks from AAUW-LB’s newest scholarship recipients, Jillian Broughton from LCAD and Rebecca Higginbotham from Orange Coast College. 

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Jillian Broughton, Laguna College of Art and Design

Local artist Leah Vasquez, co-chair of AAUW-LB’s partnership activities with LCAD, will explain the various ways in which AAUW-LB members blend advancing opportunities for women and girls with stimulating learning and social activities. 

As Leah says, “The Laguna Beach Branch, is a dynamic, growing organization with many exciting programs and interest groups. I love all the opportunities for women to explore common interests and make new friends, while supporting advocacy, education, philanthropy and research for the next generation of women.”

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Submitted photo

Rebecca Higginbotham, Orange Coast College

The event and parking are free. Appetizers and drinks will be served.  LCAD is located at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd. For those joining AAUW-LB at this Membership Mixer, membership fee will be discounted.

Anyone wishing to attend, whether a member or non-member, RSVP to Madeleine Peterson at 949-376-8494. For membership information or questions, contact membership co-chairs Leah Vasquez at 949-494-5787 or Rachelle Cano at 1-818 307-562, or visit AAUW-LB online at www.aauw-lagunabeach.org.


Billed as stunning, shocking and provocative, the groundbreaking Ballet BC company comes to Laguna

Next week, Laguna Dance Festival presents Ballet BC, a groundbreaking dance company from Vancouver, Canada, in addition to the iconic Paul Taylor Dance Company. 

Paul Taylor represents the traditions of modern dance, while Ballet BC brings a new dynamic to the form. 

Ballet BC has a remarkable repertoire of works by the world’s leading contemporary choreographers including Crystal Pite, Cayetano Soto, William Forsythe, Itzik Galili, Jorma Elo among others. This company has taken the world stage by storm and has established itself as the company to watch.

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Photo by Michael Slobodian

Ballet BC performs I and I am you, with dancers Rachael Prince, Alexander Burton and Daniel Marshalsay

At Laguna Dance Festival, Ballet BC will showcase three innovative programs choreographed by women. 

16+ a room features unique choreographic language deployed by Ballet BC’s Artistic Director, Emily Molnar. In a complex study of time, transition, and stillness, space between is as important as the space engaged, fostering a feeling of both liberation and anonymity. 

In the poignant Solo Echo, celebrated choreographer, and former Ballet BC company dancer, Crystal Pite, explores the symbiosis of acceptance and loss—inspired by two sonatas for cello and piano by Brahms and the poem Lines for Winter, by Mark Strand. 

Tel Aviv-based Sharon Eyal’s Bill is a daring piece showcasing Ballet BC dancers in their most intricate expressions of the body. Combining dance, music, and design into an instantly recognizable whole, this piece embodies the essence of life’s ebb and flow. 

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Photo by Chris Randle

Nicole Ward and Gilbert Small perform in 16+ a Room

A master class with Ballet BC Rehearsal Director, Makaila Wallace, will be held Sunday, Sept 17, 10 a.m. to noon, just before the company’s matinee performance, and a talk with Festival Founder and Artistic Director, Jodie Gates, precedes all performances. 

“Ballet BC brings an authentic physicality and fresh perspective to contemporary ballet, the repertory is exciting and the dancers are beautifully dynamic and stunning to watch on the stage. The performance will be electric!” said Jodie Gates, Vice Dean, USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. 

Ballet BC performs Sept 15 at 7.30 p.m. and Sept 17 at 2 p.m. Specially priced tickets for students. Paul Taylor Dance Company performs Sept 14 and 16 at 7.30 p.m. 

Tickets and information at www.lagunadancefestival.org or Laguna Playhouse Box Office: 949.497.2787.

Laguna Dance Festival presents world-class performances on the local stage and provides quality dance education in an effort to increase public appreciation for the art. An award-winning non-profit enterprise in collaboration with many local arts programs, the Festival event schedule, tickets, and video excerpts of previous performances at www.lagunadancefestival.org


Gwen Myers receives 10th Annual Spirit of Laguna Beach Unified School District Award 

On Aug 29, Superintendent Dr. Jason Viloria announced the 10th Annual Spirit of LBUSD award winner, Thurston Middle School Attendance and Student Records Specialist Gwen Myers.

Since its inception in 2008, the Spirit of LBUSD Award has been presented at the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Annual Welcome Back Breakfast to a District staff member who exemplifies extraordinary service to others.

“As part of the office staff at Thurston, Gwen’s calm demeanor is an asset helping not only young teens in angst but the parents as well. Gwen is dependable, loyal and can be counted on to get the job done,” said Board of Education President Jan Vickers.

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(l-r) Ketta Brown (School Board Member) and Gwen Meyers

Myers is a graduate of LBHS and received her BA degree in Biology at University of CA, Santa Cruz.  She worked several years as an animal trainer in the entertainment business. Myers was a dedicated parent volunteer at Top of the World Elementary School before joining the LBUSD team as an employee in 1999, working as an Instructional Assistant in the Community Learning Center. In 2011, she was promoted to the Attendance and Student Records Specialist position at Thurston.

Throughout her career in LBUSD, Myers’ knowledge, work ethic and connection to students and families made her the right choice for the award. 

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Submitted photo

(l-r) Mindy Hawkins (LBHS Teacher and LaBUFA President), Margaret Warder (TOW Paraeducator and CSEA President), Gwen Myers (recipient), Dr. Jason Viloria (Superintendent), Ketta Brown (School Board Member)

“There are few instances in life when one is able to work alongside someone who is truly outstanding in every way,” said Thurston Middle School Principal Jenny Salberg. “Gwen›s incredible attention to detail, her unwavering support of all students and her incredibly positive attitude makes each and every day amazing.  She is kind, she is hardworking, she is Thurston.”

“Gwen truly does embody the ‘Spirit of Laguna.’ She is a product of LBUSD, as are her husband and both sons. She gives one hundred percent each day and steadfastly believes in the mission of the district. She has worked with kids of all ages and abilities, always seeking to tap into their particular strengths and passions. In her current role, she finds ways to interact with students in as many areas as possible and is always ready to step in to help. She has experienced firsthand how our district has grown and evolved over the years trying to meet the needs of a changing world, appreciating these efforts and working to support them,” said Board Member Ketta Brown.


Here are the high holiday events and services taking place at the Chabad Jewish Center 

Upcoming events at the Chabad Jewish Center include the following: On Tues, Sept 12 at 4:30 p.m . Drill it, Saw it, Sand it, Polish it, and take it home. Craft a beautiful Shofar from a genuine ram’s horn in time for Rosh Hashanah. Learn how to blow the Shofar, its meanings and sounds. Fun, hands on, educational family workshop for kids of all ages. $15.00 per Shofar. RSVP and confirm amount of shofars you will be crafting.

Ladies Home Club on Thu, Sept 14, at 7 p.m. Start the new year on a healthy note. Healing Workshop with Estee Berkowitz, BodyTalk Access technician. Learn about the BodyTalk Healing method -The proper way to breathe, energy medicine, and the power of our minds. Walk away with simple techniques, tools and insights for health and wellbeing (At private home - Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for directions and rsvp)

Taste of Something New. Exclusive Pre Rosh Hashanah food tasting event on Sun, Sept 17, at 7 p.m, catered by Beverly Hills Kosher! Meet and greet, enjoy a wide array of delicious holiday foods and fine wine, and discover programs and opportunities that await you this year at Chabad of Laguna Beach. $36 per person $60 couple. RSVP necessary.

Rosh Hashanah will take place on Wed, Sept 20 at 7 p.m. Additional services will include Thu, Sept 21 at 10 a.m. with Shofar Sounding at 12:30 p.m. and Tashlich Service at Montage Beach following Mincha services.  

There will be another service on Fri, Sept 22 at 10 a.m. with Shofar Sounding at 12:30 p.m and evening service at 7 p.m. 

Yom Kippur will be on Fri, Sept 29 the Kol Nidre service at 6:30 p.m. Additional services will be on Sat, Sept 30 with morning service at 10 a.m., Yizkor Memorial Service at12:30 p.m. and Mincha and Neilah service 5 p.m. with communal break the fast.

Services and programs open to the community. No tickets needed to enter. English/Hebrew Prayer Books, Soulful cantor, Children’s program. Seat reservations available. 

To RSVP for the High Holiday programs, call Chabad at 949-499-0770, or visit our website at www.chabadoflaguna.com. Chabad is located at 30804 S. Coast Hwy

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