Ojai Quarterly — Winter 2020-21

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Ojai: Blighty In The Sun

LIVES WE’VE LOST The Pandemic Hits Home


Larry 805.640.5734

Erik 805.830.3254


Impeccable Rancho Matilija Estate | 3+ Acre of Park Setting | $2,950,000

Downtown Ojai | 2000SF Residential or Commercial Use Adjacent to Farmer’s Markets | $695,000

Commercial Lot in Ojai $375,000

Commercial Lot for Sale $325,000


Modern Ranch in Downtown Ojai $7,500,000

Downtown Ojai Church For Sale Approximately 4000 SF | Prime Half-Acre+ Ojai Location | $995,000


2+ acre Oak Studded lot with water in Rancho Matilija | $549,000

727 W. Ojai Ave. - Ojai - CA 93023 - Larry - 805.640.5734 - Erik - 805.830.3254 wilde-wilde.com - lwilde@west.net - erikw@west.net Larry Wilde DRE:#15216270 - Erik Wile DRT:#01461074

East End | Spectacular Views “Rodney Walker” Pedigree | $2,950,000

Donna Sallen

WOW, Sitting on over three acres in the prestigious Persimmon Hill area of downtown Ojai. This five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom sprawling ranch-style home showcases open-beamed vaulted ceilings, a stunning great room with a massive brick fireplace, formal dining room, hardwood floors and a large master suite. The magical meandering pathways will lead you to an Artist’s studio where you can once again find your creative soul. Living off the grid is easy with your own private well and solar panels. This slice of Country living offers a prime location all within walking distance to Libbey Park, shops, restaurants, and the Ojai Bike/Hike Trail. Horses welcome.

There’s no place like home ... Let me find yours.

Your Ojai life awaits in this 4,314 square-foot, 5-bedroom, 5-bath home amid the orange blossom-scented air of the legendary East End. With 2.38 acres, you’ve got plenty of room for gardens and projects. Perfect for entertaining and hosting friends and family in the guesthouse, cottages and writer’s studio, this two-story Victorian will open your sense of possibility and wonder.

Beautiful, flat useable lot, just under an acre located in the City of Ojai. great views from this lot. Zoned commercial — come build your dream!

If you are looking for a quintessential downtown cottage with a guest house ... then look no more. Located in the heart of downtown Ojai.

Donna Sallen


w w w. D o n n a S a l l e n . c o m D o n n a 4 re m a x @ a o l .c o m

Located in the Golden West neighborhood of Ojai downtown, this incomegenerating home is very warm and welcoming. The backyard is a gardener’s delight.

GAB R I E LA C E S E Ñ A THE NEXT LEVEL OF REAL ESTATE SERVICES Realtor | Luxury Specialist Berkshire Hathaway

Unwavering commitment to my clients’ satisfaction. Driven by passion for the work I do 805.236.3814 | gabrielacesena@bhhscal.com CAL DRE# 01983530 Gabrielacesena.bhhscalifornia.com

853 Oak Grove | $2,400,000 Solitude & Serenity! Located in the highly sought-after gated Rancho Matilija enclave, this single level home is a true Ojai Valley treasure. The park-like setting, lush & abundant Ojai landscape & serene atmosphere are paralleled within the home. Featuring high ceilings, an open floor plan & multiple French doors & windows that flood the home w/natural light & bring the

outside in, this Mediterranean style residence captures the true essence of Ojai. Surrounded by specimen trees, & stunning oaks, the grounds provide an exceptional backdrop for living an easy & relaxed life w/a private pool, sun drenched patios & lush lawns. This versatile estate is the perfect antidote to a busy world w/limitless possibilities. Enjoy all the best that Ojai has to offer in this exquisite and versatile property. Welcome to your Ojai Oasis!

614 Country Drive | $935,000 Multi-Million Dollar views! This turnkey remodeled 3/br, 2/bt uplifting & blissful home is flooded w/ natural light & was designed to integrate interior & exterior living seamlessly. The home is centered around a living room featuring a gorgeous fireplace, connecting living, dining, & kitchen into one large open living space. Tucked away are two bedrooms, plus a lavish master suite w/its private

patio offering stunning views. Back in the living room walls of glass & oversized sliders offer mesmerizing views of the famous Topa Topas. A beautiful patio invites outdoor dining & entertaining. A stroll through the grounds will take you past lush flower gardens, a fishpond, grapevines, fruit trees, raised veggie beds. Tennis courts & lap pool, located in the common area, invite an active lifestyle. In the evening, you’ll love the unmatched Ojai Pink Moment. Welcome home!



Specialty Department Store

Alan Rains






www.RainsOfOjai.com OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

218 E Ojai Ave.


eralta SOLD! above asking price in the East End

Real Estate Team

SOLD! above asking price. Kazumi Adachi designed

OH-So-Chic in the foothills $1.599m


Team@PeraltaTeam.com @PeraltaTeamOjai

Tonya Peralta Serena Handley 805.794.7458


Rachelle Guilani

Ashley Ramsey


DRE# 01862743 8

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


Own a piece of historic Ojai with this authentic california adobe $3.2m

SOLD! Custom Architectural Gem

SOLD! East End Craftsman

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


eralta SOLD! Craftsman Bungalow

Real Estate Team

SOLD! No Detail Overlooked

3+ acres of pristine horse property close to downtown Ojai! $2.6m


Team@PeraltaTeam.com @PeraltaTeamOjai

Tonya Peralta Serena Handley 805.794.7458


Rachelle Guilani

Ashley Ramsey


DRE# 01862743 10

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


Escape to the beach! Beautifully done with the best sunsets on Faria Beach $2.695m

Room for all of your friends & family, dolphins & sunsets included! $3.995m

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


12251 Linda Flora Drive - $525,000

Step 1: Imagine summer evenings spent sipping your favorite drink, sitting on your patio, facing the majestic Topa Topa mountains as the sun sets. Step 2: Realize the dream when you build your custom home on this 2.03 acre parcel in Rancho Matilija! For Sale

144 Pasadena Ave., Oxnard - Offered at $1,700,000

Just 500 ft. from Silver Strand Beach, this 5 bed/4 bath, 2,842 sq. ft. home is the epitome of turn-key! Features include a private guest suite and modern kitchen and bathrooms. Sale Pending

1008 Creekside Way, #D - $539,000

3 bedroom, 2 bathroom Creekside Village condo! It’s nestled toward the back of the community and is both stylish and updated. With vaulted and beamed ceilings, a bright and light kitchen, and updated bathrooms - you’ll want to call this home. Sale Pending

75 E. Short Street - $699,000

4 bed/1.75 bath, 1,390 sf on .92 acres. SOLD for $750,000

P: 805.272.5218 E: ContactUs@TeamDeckert.com VenturaAndSantaBarbaraHomes.com

DRE# 01761150, 01859199


OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

Lovingly handcrafted in Ojai, CA Jes MaHarry Store ~ 316 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai California 93023 www.jesmaharry.com ~ 877.728.5537 ~ jesmaharryjewelry Photo by: Rylann Smith


Adventures in Fashion

O P E N DA I LY 1 1 - 5 : 3 0 | 3 2 1 E AS T O J A I AV E N U E | 8 05 . 6 4 6 . 1 92 7 F o l l o w U s M e o n I n s ta g r a M @ d a n s k I b l U e

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021




Parker Bowles Chronicles The Sceptered Isle Lives On in the “Little Orange” By Emma Parker Bowles


FARM TEAM Women Going Back to Garden During Quarantine Story by Ellen Sklarz


the lives we lost Remembering The Victims of Covid-19 By Mark Lewis

FEATURES HOME ON THE CARRIZO PLAIN National Monument Celebrates 20th Anniversary By Chuck Graham



THE RAP AGAINST COLONIALISM Transpersonalism In Action in Ojai By Betty Love Nguyen



NTER 2020

The Sheltered Life Photo by Brandi Crockett A SHELTERING LIFE Hotelier’s Artistic Style THE BRITISH HAVE COME

Ojai: Blighty In The Sun

LIVES WE’VE LOST The Pandemic Hits Home

Romantic Vintage Estate Previously a B&B, this remodeled beauty with Income

Potential on nearly 1/2 acre is an in-town sanctuary! 4 bedroom + 4.5 bath Main Residence with private 2 bedroom + 2 bath Cottage, plus a separate Studio with fireplace & spa like bath. | $1,995,000

ojai real estate group | michaels+associates | DRE 00878649 www.ojaihomes4sale.com | char@ojaikw.com | 805.620.2438

Perfectly Located and just the right amount of updating on this 1 Level, 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath Hitching Post Condo with two sunny patios! Close to restaurants & shopping. | $559,000

Build your own Dream Home Tucked away on an Upper Ojai peaceful lane

sits a beautiful flat usable 2.4 acres dotted with oaks and impressive views to the Topa’s. Serve yourself a slice of the Country Life! | $530,000



char michaels

NOW OPEN! The NEW Continuing Care Center at Ojai Valley Community Hospital Thanks to the generosity of countless individuals and businesses across the Ojai Valley, the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation and Guild were able to raise $6.7 million locally to help fund construction of the $21 million Continuing Care Center. For more information on the Ojai ovchfoundation.org. Valley Community Hospital Foundation, please visit ovchfoundation.org

The Continuing Care Center is a patient/resident oriented facility for both short-term and long-term placement, providing daily skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. Promoting healthy living in the tranquil setting of the beautiful Ojai Valley. • 75 bed, state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility • Seamless access to hospital care if needed • Private and semi-private rooms • Private bathrooms with showers in each room • Hair salon, chapel and library on site • Outdoor gardens and courtyards

The New

Continuing Care Center

1306 Maricopa Hwy., Ojai 805/948-2000 cmhshealth.org/ccc

Riki Strandfeldt

1885Maricopa-11-Ojai.com Call to see...

CA DRE Lic. # 01262026



Your call is always welcomed.


Search all Ojai Valley & Ventura County MLS Listings (no sign-in required)

2012 Bungalow & Mountain Views Affordable Ojai Living - Gated 62+ Community

11209CreekRd-Ojai.com SOLD!

Bear-Creek-Ranch.com SOLD! Craftsmanship

Residence + 1/2 acre vacant lot

Cabin, Guest House & more on 39 acres

403NFulton.com 3 bedroom / 3 bath


Ask about New Listings

Vivienne Moody CA DRE Lic. # 00989700



Call to see any listing!

OjaiViv.com vmoody10@sbcglobal.net


4 bedroom / 2 bath



Ojai Notes


Headless Bandits & Ojai Backcountry By Bret Bradigan p.58

Artists & Galleries

p.29 Editor’s Note

p.30 Contributors

p.33 p.64

Ojai Notes

Turning Tables on The Holidays


By Ilona Saari

Artists & Galleries



Food & Drink

Chef Randy

Food & Drink

Squash with Orange Couscous By Randy Graham

p.116 Beyond the Arcade Map


Ask Dr. Beth From Willpower to Wellpower By Beth Prinz, M.D.

p.120 Ask Dr. Beth

p.123 Healers of Ojai


Nocturnal Submissions


A Reading Group. A Library.

Top Ojai Hikes

A Monday. Strap In. By Sami Zahringer

p.133 Calendar of Events


OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


OJAI QUARTERLY Living the Ojai Life

WINTER 2020-2021 Editor & Publisher Bret Bradigan Sales Manager David Taylor

Director of Publications Ross Falvo Creative Director Uta Ritke

Social Media Director Elizabeth Spiller

Ojai Hub Administrator Jessie Rose Ryan Contributing Editors Mark Lewis Jerry Camarillo Dunn Jr. Jesse Phelps Columnists Chuck Graham Dr. Beth Prinz Ilona Saari Kit Stolz Sami Zahringer

Circulation Target Media Partners

CONTACT US: Editorial & Advertising, 805.798.0177 editor@ojaiquarterly.com David@ojaiquarterly.com The contents of the Ojai Quarterly may not be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written consent of the publisher. SUBSCRIPTIONS: To subscribe to the OQ, visit ojaiquarterly.com or write to 1129 Maricopa Highway, B186 Ojai, CA 93023. Subscriptions are $24.95 per year.

#OJAI IG: @rhdixon IG: #Ojai — Rainbow over Ojai photo, courtesy of at Eric Joule @ejoule the Ojai Valley Inn


You can also e-mail us at editor@ojaiquarterly.com. Please recycle this magazine when you are finished. © 2020 Bradigan Group LLC. All rights reserved.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

Š2020 Ojai Valley Inn

The magic of a California moment has never been more tangible than at Ojai Valley Inn. It’s a place where time slows down, memories are crafted, and life itself has the space to hit its highest notes. Come explore THE FARMHOUSE at Ojai, a one-of-a-kind epicurean and event destination designed to connect you to world-class food culture. Reserve your moment today.

855.420.9209 OjaiValleyInn.com


OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


NOT-SO-BRAVE NEW WORLD “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.— Aldous Huxley George Orwell’s “1984” (it came out in 1948, he came up with the title by inverting the two numbers), described in excruciating detail a possible future of tyranny, where every private thought belonged to the state. By comparison, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” which came out in 1932, described virtually the opposite, a world in which every human desire was catered to through a combination of drugs and entertainment. Both detailed dystopian futures; both described human potential in its darkest forms — one the compulsion towards authoritarianism then loose upon the world in Stalin’s Soviet Union and Chairman Mao’s China, the other toward that human tendency to amuse ourselves to death. Which, not coincidentally, is the title of the prophetic book from 1985, Neal Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Postman writes, “Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us; Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance; Orwell feared we would become a captive culture; but Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture.” Part of a wave of intellectuals escaping war-torn Europe’s darkness for the sunnier shores of Southern California, Huxley was no stranger to Ojai. Not only did he help found Happy Valley School, now Besant Hill School, he took one of the three mescaline adventures so vividly described in “Doors of Perception” in upper Ojai. He and his wife, Laura, were also fast friends with Ojai’s Rosalind Rajagopal, who stood witness to his death on the same day as JFK’s. I wonder if Huxley’s fondness for Ojai was in part a reaction to the existential nausea so common in those days between the fall of fascism and the rise of the nuclear threat. The natural beauty, the air scented with orange blossoms and sun-warmed sage, the deliberately slow-paced lifestyle, would have been just the tonic for Huxley. That’s no small part of the Ojai Quarterly’s purpose: to slow down and seek deeper understandings in this astonishing place. And Huxley’s journey parallels Emma Parker Bowles’ hilarious, insightful telling of the British expatriates who have become so integral to our identity. Mark Lewis’ touching account, “The Ones We Left Behind,” of Covid-19 victims, is an important reminder that we all matter to each other, or what’s a community for? Few people have done a better job of creating community than our cover subject Kenny Osehan, (“A Sheltering Life”) in Robin Gerber’s fascinating look at this fascinating woman. Betty Love Nguyen’s thoughtful look at two very different Ojai musicians also reminds us of the creative urge at the heart of the Ojai experience. Kit Stolz writes about author Kendra Greene, whose Ojai upbringing may well have contributed to her startling talent. Reading Sami Zahringer’s genius for the absurd is one of the great pleasures of Ojai life, as is Ilona Saari’s ability to connect the world of food to memory and reflection. And what could be more in keeping with the Ojai life than gardening? Enjoy Ellen Sklarz’ lyrical account of five women who create abundance from our soil. That goes along with Dr. Beth Prinz’s column as she explains how to manage that weakest of all powers, willpower. Nearly 40 years ago, Postman commented of Huxley’s view that, “Civil libertarians and rationalists, who are ever opposed to tyranny, fail to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” Postman writes, “In ‘1984’ people are controlled by inflicting pain; in “Brave New World,” people are controlled by inflicting pleasure.” Both are perilous, he said. But in Ojai, and in your hands, this magazine represents a different path; one that is full of insight and reflection. Please enjoy responsibly.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021




is a freelance writer with a background in automotive journalism. Adrenaline sports, Mama Nature, dogs, fast cars and motorbikes are her jam.

African born and bred, is an editorial and lifestyle photographer, who is known to ocean swim at sunrise. Her work can be found at www.simonenoble.com


ROBIN GERBER is the author of four books, and a playwright. Check her out at robingerber.com



a creative consultant to help clients rebrand. Offering fresh copy, engaging photos and impactful marketing strategies. Follow @ chironhouse

is a writer and editor who has lived in Ojai for 30 years. Family, friends and animals spell j-o-y for her in these bizarre times.

has lived and worked as a doctor in New York, London and locally. If she were president, she’d make fruits and vegetables free for everyone, and end chronic disease. Until then, she hopes to persuade with words. askdrbeth@ ojaiquarterly.com


KIT STOLZ is an award-winning journalist who has written for newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and online sites. He lives in Upper Ojai and blogs at achangeinthewind.com.

a writer who’s worked in TV/film, rock’n’roll and political press, and as an op-ed columnist, mystery novelist and consultant for HGTV. She blogs for food: mydinnerswithrichard. blogspot.com.




Ojai pixie tangerine peelin’ native and an editorial and destination wedding photographer. Check out her work at fancyfreephotography.com

MARK LEWIS is a writer and editor based in Ojai. He can be contacted at mark lewis1898@gmail.com.


is an independent artist, designer and curator. She is a member of Ojai Studio Artists and runs utaculemann.design and inbetweenwhite.art


an Ojai writer and award-winning breeder of domestic American long-haired children. She has more forced -meat recipes than you.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

“You must understand

the whole of life,

not just one little part of it.

That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.” J. Krishnamurti, Founder



Students will enjoy new classrooms for science, technology, robotics, journalism and performing arts, as well as a spacious new dining hall, girls dorm and library overlooking the Ojai Valley. Each of the buildings is expected to meet LEED Gold standards for environmental sustainability.

January Virtual Open Houses

Upper Campus (grades 9-12): Thursday, January 14, at 4 p.m. Lower Campus (grades PK-8): Thursday, January 21, at 4 p.m.

OQ | OJAI NOTES “Make no small plans,” said Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, words which Ojai founder Edward Drummond Libbey took to heart. Inspired by the grandeur of the Pan-American Exposition in 1893, Libbey in 1917 turned the dusty town of Nordhoff into the City Beautiful examplar of Ojai.

OJAI: TALK OF THE TOWN PODCAST CLOSING IN ON FIRST YEAR The “Ojai: Talk of the Town” podcast, started in April as the town went into the first phase of the Covid-19 quarantine, has now produced more than 40 podcasts. Recent episodes include a post-election review with Alexander “Sandy” Treadwell, former Secretary of State for New York and Republican party activist who launched a new career in his 70s as a portrait artist. As a Republican party activist, Treadwell was relieved that that Joe Biden’s election meant that “America avoided authoritarianism.” Also an episode with Dr. Marty Pops, former dean of admissions to UCLA’s medical school, provided breaking information about the race to develop a vaccine in record time. “The previous fastest vaccine was for the mumps, which took 4-1/2 years,” said Pops. Other interviews include Eric Goode, creator of “Tiger King,” bluesman TD Lind and an exit interview with former Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston.

JOAQUIN MURIETA, ZORRO & OJAI ONE: California’s first novel was “The Life & Adventures of Joaquin Murieta” published in 1854 by Yellow Bird, a half-Cherokee emigré who also went by the name of John Rollin Ridge. It told the tale of a folk hero and outlaw who was known as California’s Robin Hood. Murieta swore revenge on the ‘49ers who jumped his claim, then hanged his brother and gang-raped his wife. The state of California offered up a $5,000 “dead or alive” reward for Murieta. According to the Paris Review, “He was reportedly killed in 1853, but the news of his death was disputed and myths later formed about him and his possible

DEMONSTRATION PROJECT BUILDING BIKE LANE FOR MARICOPA HIGHWAY if necessary, and to help Thanks to a inform the design of more $430,000 grant, permanent construction. Ojai’s Maricopa The six-month project Highway is about to starts December 8. One get a quick-build pilot local business, Ojai Mob parking protected Shop, has challenged other bike lane. The grant businesses to pay their is from the Southern workers for up to four hours California Association of time to volunteer the of Governments week of December 8 to the and meant as a 12th.. temporary project “We’re asking all of you on the busy street to A similar bike lane project in Rogers, Ark. to use your reach via email test a protected bike and/or social media to get and pedestrian lane the word out,” said Tim that would connect Rhone, co-owner. “The project team seeks Nordhoff High School, Meiners Oaks, community volunteers to help with tasks the Ojai Meadows Preserve through to like planting planters, painting green bike/ the Ojai Valley Bike Trail. car cross-over zones, installing planters Ojai’s first on-street protected bike and delineators, and installing project lane project will be 3/4 of a mile on both signage. sides of the highway, and will add a bike Project coordinator Dana Wall called lane, curb extensions and temporary it “tactical urbanism,” meant to improve planters. It’s the first on-street protected the flow of traffic while providing for safe bikeway in Ojai. According to a story by biking and hiking. Wall said that CalTrans, Melanie Curry, “the city’s plan is to test out the concept with relatively inexpensive despite having never permitted a similar projects, was helpful in the process. materials that can be adjusted or removed






survival.” His severed head was exhibited around the state. In 1919, Johnston McCulley supposedly received his inspiration for his fictional character Don Diego de la Vega — better known as Zorro — from Ridge’s book.

Joaquin Murieta’s legend lives on in Ojai placenames.

TWO: During Murieta’s (spellings vary) reign of banditry, he is rumored to have used Ojai’s rugged backcountry as a base to reconnoiter up and down the length of the state, lending his name, and legend, to the familiar placenames of Murrieta Canyon and Murrieta Trail. He also was rumored to have buried a treasure in the nearby Rincon.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



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Blending academic fundamentals with the richness of the visual arts, drama, and music. Preserving the magic of childhood in Ojai’s beautiful East End. Pre-K - 3rd Grade • Toddler Program • Summer Camp 805.646.8184 783 McNell Rd. Ojai, CA 93023 monicaros.org

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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


an Ojai tradition since 1964

Open Every Day 9:30 - Sunset


302 W. Matilija Street | 805-646-3755 OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


38 38

50 Ojai questioning

stumbling upon stunning Kendra Greene’s Search For Curious Museums By Kit Stolz

Ojai Teen Musician Connects With Others, Himself



‘Our Ojai’

artists & galleries

Defense Fund Book Reminds Us Why Ojai Is Worth Preserving

The People, Places That Make Ojai An Arts Destination OQ / WINTER 2020-2021







Iceland, writes Kendra Greene, some people are born with a kind of second sight — the ability to see the magical. 38

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



“They say if you’re baptized wrong, if the holy water does not wash over your eye, you may retain another sight,” writes Greene in a unique new collection of essays called “The Museum of Whales You Will Never See.”

hold in our hands.”

“You may see the elves even when they do not choose to reveal themselves to you. And I feel something of that old story here [in Iceland], that I have been given a glimpse of something extraordinary, hidden though it was there the whole time, interwoven amid everything else we see or know or put in our pockets or

Over time she went from Nordhoff High School to the University of Iowa’s famed writing program, to a Fulbright Scholarship teaching English in Korea, a stint in the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Harvard Library’s Innovation Lab, among other stops.

The search for “something extraordinary” has been a life quest of sorts for Greene, who came of age in Ojai in the 1990s.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



Her new book of essays, published this year in this country by Penguin Books, begins by juxtaposing the most shriveled of realities — dried penises from all the species of mammals in Iceland, collected in the Icelandic Phallological Museum — against the frivolous depiction of this same museum in newspapers and magazines. The Icelandic Phallological Museum is described in articles from publications around the world with terms such as “weird” and “kooky,” she points out, when in fact it’s a small, scientifically accurate collection of anatomical specimens displayed without any joking. The gap between the austere reality of the museum and the colorful story that has grown up around it intrigued Greene, who spent many days in the museum talking with the curator and observing visitors to better understand its nature. “The Icelandic Phallological Museum is a museum of language. For a thing [the phallus] that has such cultural significance, with festivals and monuments and shrines around the world, this is the one museum devoted to it,” she reflects. “ The joke is that they have taken a taboo that you think you know you shouldn’t say out loud and definitely not in the hallowed walls of an institution and shown it to be almost unrecognizable without all the cultural associations and the baggage. The museum is exactly what it says it is — which is kind of the last thing you’d think.

They don’t have to make a joke of it, because the visitor was so ready to supply the punchline and that is what’s funny. It’s not a laughable museum; it’s a museum of great wit.” In fact this museum began as a kind of practical joke. A scholar, author, conservationist and teacher named Sigurdur Hjartarason, working as a schoolmaster in a small town, was given a dried bull penis. He put it on a shelf in his office. Hearing of this unusual gift, some of his teachers — while working at a whaling station in the area during the summer — starting bringing him whale 40

penises. “Which is to say,” Greene writes, “the initial expansion of the collection began as a joke. Imagine the strange satisfaction of plopping a giant penis across your boss’s desk. Yes, it was a very good joke. And then, it’s hard to say when, it became something more.” It’s this transition — from a private collection to something more, something to be shared with the public — that fascinates Greene. She points out that the history of museums goes back to private collections of curiousities, the “cabinets of wonder” that naturalists and explorers — and very often eccentrics — had in their homes, such as were found at the start of the venerable Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The Ashmolean Museum first opened in 1683, but most of Iceland’s hundreds of musuems have come to life in the past twenty-five years or so, and most began as private collections that outgrew their owners’ homes. The most famous example of this private collection turned public display in Iceland must be Petra’s Stone Collection. On the remote and storm-battered eastern shore of Iceland, known for its volcanic rock, a woman named Petra Sweinsdottir walked day in and day out for decades, quietly picking up eye-catching rocks and stones and bringing them home. OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


Over the years the stones she collected filled up the shelves of her house and spilled out into the yard and up the hill beyond, totalling thousands upon innumberable thousands of stones. “We kneel at this museum of her commitment,” writes Greene, “... awed at its yield, even as we suspect in our secret hearts that we, too, could have done it. We’ve been known to walk up a beautiful hill. We know enough to bend when something shines and beckons. If only we’d had the time or were born in such a conducive landscape ... surely we would have done the very same thing.

Perhaps Petra reminds us of what we already suspect: that the world is chockablock with untold wonders, there for the taking, ready to be uncovered at any moment if we only keep our eyes open.” Much of Greene’s work looks at these “untold wonders” and how their story is told (or not told). And part of the thrill of working in museums, she admits, is the pleasure of being able to see and touch and turn over in her hands the secret treasures that have been stored there. “The first museum I worked for was the Museum of Contemporary Photography [in Chicago],” she says. “I was painting touchups on the walls where bodies left scuff marks and putting things in frames at first, and then, in time, managing the collections and holding the keys to the vault. And it became apparent to me, with access, that the museum had things you wouldn’t know to ask for because you can’t imagine that they exist.

And so when I visited colleagues at partner institutions, I would say — “Show me the good things.” It was like I had a secret key to the club. Most people would respond, “What are you interested in?” And I would say, “No, no, no — I’m specifically looking for the thing that hasn’t occurred to me can exist.” Some curators and collections are reluctant to lean into the question, and don’t want to put their personal view into it, but there’s a fraction that understands immediately and says, “Come with me …” One of the examples Greene cites from this sort of asking around behind the scenes at an Iowa natural history museum is the legendary Ivory-Billed Woodpecker of the Southeastern U.S., now believed to be extinct, the so-called “Holy Grail Bird.” In a previously published essay available on her site (akendragreene.com) called “Chilean Wild Baby Pears,” Greene tells the story of how the Iowa museum’s display model of this spectacular bird was stolen back in 1979. Fascinated herself by the bird, she puts herself in the place of the “Visitor X” who stole it. As a curator, she disapproves of such a theft, but she understands all too well the overwhelming desire to keep close something so rare and special. “I revel in the mere possibility that at any turn we might stumble on something so stunning it takes us out of ourselves for a moment and compels us in some manner and leaves us changed — leaves us better, I hope — leaves us whole.” Greene is an artist, and illustrated her book with dozens of charming little drawings, but she’s also a writer attuned to language, and she loves that a number of museums in Iceland collect not objects so much as stories. They include a museum devoted to Ghosts, Elves, Trolls, and the Northern Lights, a Museum of Prophecies, and — perhaps most

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


literary of all — the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, located in a small and particularly remote village. The creators of this relatively new museum, including an editor for a national radio station, have over the last twenty years collected on tape thousands of stories of sightings and encounters with monsters, mostly from older people, mostly seen by the shore, the accounts of which Greene weaves into her chapter on the museum. One such frequently-seen monster is the Shore Laddie, about the size of a pony but with short legs, covered in barnacles and seaweed, which is said to live to nudge people — especially pregnant women, for some reason — into the sea. Other sightings include the Sea Bull and the Shell Monster, about the size of a hippopotomus, covered in shells that cling to its fur and clink and rattle as it comes ashore. Another was a Sea Horse discovered dead on the shore in 1827, about the size of a seal, but with the hind legs and tail of a horse. The person who discovered it described it but dared not touch it: the next day, when he returned, the creature was gone.

Greene recounts these stories with appreciation, leaving aside her doubts. After all, a number of known facts about Iceland now known to be true (such as the existence of polar bears, or narwhals, or ambergris) were reported by early European explorers, such as a mapmaker to the King of Spain in 1585 but considered far-fetched at the time. For Greene, museums themselves are a kind of miracle of our species, an almost unconscious overachievement. “We are going to preserve the intellectual and material and cultural history of the world through a few volunteers whom we almost universally think of as eccentric,” she says, in a tone of wonder. “There’s no plan, this is the best we can do. It seems haphazard and a little careless. Even those of us who aren’t collectors on that grand scale, by visiting exhibits and witnessing collections and telling people about them we collectively push museums into being. The museum we see is made of thousands of these little pushes. They represent something genuinely communal.”

“Kendra was a grown-up woman with integrity and balance when I first met her,” Bickford recalls. “She was a fine writer even as a sophomore. Some people are who they are as soon as you meet them, no matter how young; they arrive wholeborn, like Athena from the head of Zeus. She also brought a certain kind of whimsical joy to the work. She was serious, but she wasn’t grim or sober or somber. It’s not a deadly dry academic effort she had to put forth to impress somebody, it’s the pleasure of thinking and forming thoughts and expressing them.” While in school in Ojai, Greene came to know Matt Henriksen, who sat next to her in a homeroom and has grown up to become the maestro behind the revival at Bart’s Books. He has a handful of “Hometown Edition” copies of “The Museum of Whales You Will Never See” still on sale. This was an innovation in response to the pandemic, a way to provide a signed edition in lieu of an in-person book signing, featuring a special hand-printed bookplate with Greene’s signature. Henriksen says Greene’s singular book has now become the bestselling new non-fiction book in the store this year, outselling Michelle Obama’s memoir. Asked about the influence growing up in Ojai has had on her life, Greene says that it gave her an underlying belief in a place where happiness and wonder remain possible. “I think if you’re really happy where you’re from, that molds you. You don’t think you had it good, you think there was goodness to be had. Like, if you’re from a place where the weather is good, you think that weather itself is good,” Greene says. “When you meet snow or sleet or softball-sized hail or ice that encases branches so that they clink together in the wind, you think that’s interesting, that’s good, too. So maybe if you’re from a place of happiness, you are set up for happiness. Ojai set me up nicely to follow things worth following, to trust that was worthy, and that’s been working out okay.”

Though Greene in her work has taken her to museums around the world, she still feels connected to Ojai. Instead of a traditional book launch, due to the pandemic, in May she had a Zoom reading and invited many of the teachers and friends she knew from attending Nordhoff, including her former art teacher Linda Taylor and English teacher Laura Bickford, who recalls teaching her from an honors class. 42

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



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I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes I can see it in his smile and the way that he can cry I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes I can see how she knows herself and how she can carry life




With the truth and the power like black women and brown youth, on the precipice of creation and the brink of of emergence

My people gatherin’ in circles, holding councils in convergence, mycelium healin’ in a societal delirium, part of the people speaking medicine got me hearin’ em Governments buildin’ walls, efforts to kill dreams, brothers tearin’ down walls of toxic masculinity, empowered lodge shift combattin’ white fragility...

INTERVIEW WITH SONE ITENCO BY LOVE NGUYEN When Sone speaks, we listen. She has spoken at the Ojai Police Department during a Black Lives Matter rally. She was there community organizing and walking door-to-door to place BLM posters in Ojai businesses. As a person of color living in Ojai, she felt the calling to lift up the global message and has always spoken authentically since she was a child. She started rapping when she was six years old, and her current messages reflect and uplift in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. She is producing new

tracks in a recording studio in downtown Ojai and is excited for the next chapter of her development. She’s traversing the path that a lot of BIPOC Americans are on by circling back to her ancestral roots, honoring native peoples to decolonize her mind and identity. As we see how capitalism has torn apart Mother Earth, we try to tread lighter on nature, ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Sone’s music and lyrics give a hopeful voice to a much-needed consciousness during this global reckoning. Her message and musical talent recognizes the traumas that we are all healing from, with an unparalleled integrity and softness. She came over to the new Chiron House, to honor my interview request and promises to put up a track once this is published. “You told me earlier this year, that you really appreciated my music because it was egoless, and I thought that was one of the best reflections I’ve ever received because that’s exactly what I’m aiming to do,” she said. “Neutrality is an integral aspect to who I am. My father was born in Guadalajara, so I’m first generation American on his side. My mother is Italian-American, so I’m second generation on her side. I never felt that I was I white enough or brown enough. I’ve been decolonizing my mind and reclaiming my indigenous roots, knowing that my father was born in Guadalajara and that makes me Native.”

“In the trans community, my own friends, who may be the most aware of gender, as they identify themselves or others, have projected themselves onto me, saying that they can’t call me “she.” When I was in the U.S. Navy, I held very conservative views and ideals. With all these experiences, I see myself now as “transpersonal” and able to see beyond my own perspectives. I believe that everything in life is neutral and we, as humans, apply values and labels to things. I also specialize as an Ontological Coach, focusing on our metaphysical state of being-how we are, rather than how we think, referencing the Ph.D, Master Coach, Maria Nemeth. This contributes to my music. I’ve been assertive since my childhood and thankful to have this privilege to make a space for myself in the world, in America, in California.

“I started rapping with my older cousin when I was six years old. I went by the name Quest because my music was searching for something different and non-conforming. 48

In 2016, I felt ‘found.’ I experienced a spiritual awakening and performed with a group called, Awun. “Awun” in a lot of native languages translates to “the energy that exists within all” or “ever-permeating love.”I went by the name, Omni then, because I acknowledged that I am all things and nothing at the same time. That didn’t stick, and so I started examining my birth name. It was beautiful, but wanted to decolonize it and strip away its labels. So, I looked further back at the Chichimeca culture and Aztec Nahuatl language of my Huichol people. “At the age of twenty-six, it’s customary to give yourself a name through spiritual guides. The name I have chosen, “Sone,” comes from my given name, Sonia. It felt more androgyne and was something people started calling me. My last name, Cerda, is a Spanish colonizer’s erasure term and it felt connected to my grandfather, who was this patriarchal, perverted man and I wanted to break free from the trauma that he affected to generations of my family. I chose the last name, “Itenco” because in Nahuatl language, it means ‘edge.’ The message that I received on my spiritual journey, is that the edge is where we grow. That’s what permaculture taught me, that’s where the water stops. We grow when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.

“I struggled with chronic depression throughout my life, but so long as I’m dedicated to my personal development, I know that the best is yet to come. I am then able to not cling to things like heartbreak or loss because I knew that living on that edge is that promise of growth.

“That time in the womb, while we’re babies, is like an eternity because there is no concept of time. And then after birth, we enter this whole new life. It’s just another phase of existence. We’re much more than our bodies and this physical expression. There’s something beyond this. This is a pregnancy for what’s to come next. All these concepts contribute to my music. As artists, we are medicine people that can tap into a greater consciousness and send that out into the world.” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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With directors like Luca Guadagnino capturing the nuances of first love and gender experimentation in his unforgettable film, “Call Me By Your Name” (2017) and in his recent HBO show, “We Are Who We Are,” with Chloe Sevigny, there’s something about the intensity and curiosity of understanding teens that never ceases to fascinate.



It’s a time where our identities are forming with the leash of parents loosening, perhaps even out of rebellion against them. These years are formative, but as we continue to grow, we are constantly redefining ourselves and our tribes. As we’ve witnessed this year, more so than any other perhaps, the only constant is change. As the youth of today influence our future, we’ve witnessed them organizing massive movements in culture and politics, growing into not only their own individual identities but the ability to empower others. As we first saw Jaslyn Charger, (Cheyenne River Sioux of Eagle Butte, South Dakota), alongside The International Indigenous Youth Council actively protest against the pipeline and advocate

for Native American’s needs; Greta Thunberg sailing around the world speaking about the sobering threats of capitalism and its environmental devastations; Billie Eilish involuntarily becoming the voice for body acceptance; our youth seem to be getting smarter and faster in order to save the the planet and uplift themselves. In a social media world, these kids are our influencers — constantly sharing, figuring out who they are and who they “follow.” There’s a spectrum of emotions teetering on how to deal with political and interpersonal dramas in a global pandemic, but it’s also placing a massive mirror up to this moment in human history. With friends, neighbors and even strangers, we can offer an alternative question to the normative, “How are you doing?” which can be kinda loaded right now, with “What can I help you with?” We are, hopefully, cherishing what joys we can, between a lot of alone time and listening in heart-centered ways during this especially sensitive year. We’ve become less judgmental, less binary, less definitive of our plans and savoring each moment in real time. 2020 was just a projection and now that it’s almost over, what have we learned? Peyton Kim is seventeen, half-Korean and maybe the youngest person that I’ve ever interviewed for the Ojai Quarterly. I wanted to hear what it was like to be a teenager in 2020. What are bedroom producers thinking about in lockdown? What is the collective music experience like now? Growing up with computers and the internet, seems like Instagram and Youtube Live, podcasts and online radio shows are sites where savvy kids are tuning in. More than 200,000 people checked into Jarvis Cocker’s “Sunday Service” where he DJ’ed while sipping cocktails. His girlfriend dances in the foreground and refills his drinks occasionally. Local hip-hop vocalist Shylah Ray broadcasts weekly DJ sets on her IG Live, inviting friends whom she saw on the comment wall. People sat in cars alone/ together listening to concerts and watching films at drive-ins. After a pretty weird, crappy day, I remember scrolling in bed late one night to find one of my favorite 2020 directors, Issa Rae, streaming live and instead of promoting herself, her friend @ JosiahBell performed edits of gospel music that turned my mood 180. I was literally dancing in bed! People have found ways to “gather” with music despite all the restrictions — a few people even went out to Burning Man this year who couldn’t resist not going to the playa and dressing up to dance. The human desire to listen to music and be together prevails. What Peyton Kim’s been up to is everything that I hoped and more. 52

“Because I’m not in school, I don’t get to see everyone I normally would. Now, I only see the people that I really want to. That makes a huge difference in the quality of my connection with people. “I’ve been gathering with a tight-knit group of friends and they’re super supportive of my music. Intimately, I’m feeling more free to experiment and finding people that are open to that,” says Peyton. I ask him if he identifies with any scene. “I love the LGBTQ scene. I don’t really identify with any gender or sexuality right now ... I’m just questioning. I’m making songs about my life-romance, substances that have affected me physically and just general feelings that most teenagers experience.” We discuss his musical influences. “I love 100 Gecs, Dorian Electra and was listening to a lot of Sophie last year.” Sophie and other techno producers, like Arca, have transitioned in the public eye. Peyton’s got mad, fluid fashion style that demonstrates his confidence to express himself and his tracks reflect a similar musical intensity. With songs titled, “I Hate the Sun,” and “Wanna Be Enough,” his lyrics and his temperament balance each other. The scratchiness of his music is offset by the punchiness of his vocals to create a wall of obliterated sounds that are relentless and cathartic, even when they’re angsty. Think, “Dance really hard and fast to this stuff.” “I think being around my Korean dad, maybe on his side of the family, there’s this suffering that is part of being human that I’m going through that comes out in my music.” If you’ve ever seen a Korean drama, you’ll understand what he’s talking about. With the 2019 Oscar for Best Feature Film, “Parasite” by Bong Joon Ho and the intimate documentary released by KPop sensation, Black Pink, there’s an intensity to their culture that drives creativity. This is really only the beginning of Peyton’s musical career as he’s begun to leak some tracks onto the internet. I’ve asked him to put his lyrics “on aux” to end this interview, as they illustrate some of this year’s big life lessons — that creativity and friendships are the lubricant to atonement and true love. Things are getting really rough I can never ever stop I don’t wanna be the best, I just wanna be enough Life is getting pretty tough All my feelings never stop I’m about to just give up But then you come and pick me up “Wanna Be Enough” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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11/13/20 2:53 PM






Ojai Valley Defense Fund recently published “Our Ojai,” a lavishly illustrated coffee-table-style book of photographs celebrating the Ojai Valley in all its glory. The Ojai Quarterly sought out the book’s co-editors, OVDF founder John Broesamle and his daughter and current OVDF board member Carolyn Vondriska, for a Q&A session about the project.

OQ: John and Carolyn, what prompted your organization to create this book? JOHN: “Our Ojai” originated with the feeling that the time was right for a new book of photographs depicting the Ojai Valley of today, two decades into the 21st century, and to depict it both as a place and as a way of life. We hope to remind longtime residents of their majestic surroundings and the uniqueness of their community. We also very much hope to inspire in newcomers a sense of responsibility to preserve this surviving, fragile vestige of old Southern California, as past generations of valley residents have done. In joining the Ojai community, one should gratefully assume this responsibility. And finally, the time seemed right because the valley’s primary instrument of protection against large-scale environmental threats, the Ojai Valley Defense Fund, had just completed its first decade of existence. CAROLYN: Having met our original goal of raising $1 million for the valley’s legal defense fund, we were in a celebratory frame of mind, and a photography book celebrating Ojai seemed like a meaningful way to thank our community and the photographers who so generously have shared their images with us for 56

the past ten years. Little did we know that just a few months into the project, the pandemic would hit. That we were able to complete the book, almost exclusively via Zoom, astonishes me. What began as celebratory in January transitioned instead to a much-needed bright spot during the dark and unsettling days that began in March. We now share “Our Ojai” with the community as a reminder of all that remains good, even during the dark times. OQ: How would you describe “Our Ojai”? JOHN: The book features images that 15 of the valley’s leading photographers have identified as among their best work. We’ve also included comments from 25 champions of Ojai past and present, including Jiddu Krishnamurti, James D. Loebl, and Patricia Weinberger. The book, in short, is a combination of images, words, and words about images. And in several places, it poses the question: What if ? What if the valley had been crisscrossed by freeways, or had a regional landfill at its foot, or had a uranium mine above Lake Casitas or a city along the shore? The book invites those who open it to ponder and reflect. OQ: Several other current OVDF board members also pitched in on this project. Misty Hall and Christopher Land are among the contributing photographers, and Lisa Casoni is one of the artistic editors, along with her Porch Galley partner, Heather Stobo. CAROLYN: We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Lisa and Heather for their time, expertise, and talent. They created a true OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



work of art out of what Dad and I had put together.

which made them most proud. And boy, did they! We were thrilled with the body of work we received - not just its caliber, but also its comprehensiveness. This project literally allowed us to see the Ojai Valley through the lenses of some of its finest photographers — its scenery, sociology, and from every which direction, up close, from underneath, and from above. What made our job vastly easier was not only the enthusiasm and generosity of the photographers, but also their wonderful flexibility as our needs and ideas evolved over the course of creating the book.

OQ: Mark Frost, of “Twin Peaks” fame, is a nationally noted screenwriter, author and film director — and a former OVDF board member. How did he come to write the introduction to “Our Ojai”? JOHN: Mark cares passionately about Ojai. What he wrote about Ojai, within little more than a page of prose, is to my knowledge unparalleled in capturing the essence of the valley and what it has taken to protect it. CAROLYN: Mark is a perfect example of what we hope “Our Ojai” will inspire — the willingness of newcomers to protect the valley into the future. Mark and his family moved to Ojai and immediately became part of the community. He was the obvious person to write the Introduction. Mark’s writing is riveting and engaging; he captured, as if reading our minds, the message Dad and I were trying to convey. OQ: How did you choose the photographers? JOHN: Our first and maybe biggest decision was to invite photographers, plural, to participate. Each and every one brought a unique eye to the book, so that it ultimately became a collaboration of 15 distinguished photographers. How, then, to decide whom to invite? This was actually simple. Since one of the purposes of the book is to recognize the decade-long existence of the Defense Fund, we chose in turn to recognize the photographers who had helped us start out during the Great Recession, carry forward, and, over time succeed. They had allowed us to use their images for publicity purposes, and they did this with extraordinary openness and generosity. We asked those “who got us here,” then, if they would like to contribute to the book. Every single one said yes. They then referred us to a few additional photographers of like mind, each of whom also agreed. Every single photographer we invited to be part of “Our Ojai” came on board.

CAROLYN: We asked them to give us their best work, that


OQ: Does “Our Ojai” include any images of people, or is it all beautiful scenery? CAROLYN: Initially, we imagined the book as highlighting the scenery of the valley. Then we decided that it should also depict the friends and neighbors who make it a community. Our residents are as wonderfully interesting and diverse as our landscape. These are the folks who recognized the environmental threats that the Defense Fund was created to protect against, and they embraced the cause and rose to the challenge. People donated generously; children held lemonade stands and donated the proceeds; local businesses (including the Ojai Quarterly) gave inkind donations; and volunteers stepped in to fill the various roles the Fund needed as a nonprofit. In short, a massive, community effort is what made the OVDF a success, in a relatively short amount of time. We are aware of no other community that has protected itself in this manner, and I wonder if there’s something so unique and special about the Ojai Valley that this kind of accomplishment might only be possible here. The photographers who contributed to “Our Ojai” are Zack Abbey, Stephen Adams, Bryant Baker, Cindy Pitou Burton, Vickie Carlton-Byrne, Logan Hall, Misty Hall, Terri Laine, Christopher Land, Chris Miller, Brian Pidduck, Holly Roberts, Fred Rothenberg, Guy Webster and Carin Yates. To hear John talk about his and his family’s three-decade quest to preserve the Ojai, visit ojaihub.com or wherever you get your podcasts to listen to “Why is Ojai Worth Saving? John Broesamle’s Purpose,” part of the “Ojai: Talk of the Town” podcast series hosted by OQ editor-publisher Bret Bradigan.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


OQ | VIS UAL ARTI STS Perhaps it was potter and “the Mama of Dada” Beatrice Wood’s influence, going back nearly 90 years. Maybe it even goes back further, to the Chumash people’s ingenious and astounding artistry with basketry. It’s clear that Ojai has long been a haven for artists. The natural beauty


Mysterious equations of abstraction, nature, architecture, and illumination rolled into the stillness and clarity of singular, psychological moments. “Thought Form #1: Clearing.” Oil on canvas, 48” x 36.” Contact: amend@pobox.com or visit RichardAmend.net. 323-806-7995


is an artist who expresses herself in two strikingly different mediums: soft pastel and rich encaustic. 805-649-3050 PatrishKueblerFineArt.com




Photojournalist and editorial photographer, specializing in portraits, western landscapes and travel. 805-646-6263 798-1026 cell OjaiStudioArtists.org

clear glass with kilnfired enamels, mapping unpredictable rhythms of thought. Custom commissions for art & architecture welcome. SusanAmend@pobox. com She is also on Facebook.



Eells searches for beauty in his work. His paintings are about energy, empathy and connections. Bold strokes with classical drawing principles drive his work. Studio visits by appointment. Collect online at eells.com 805-633-0055

Painter and Printmaker of People, Places and Things. Media: oil on canvas and printers’ ink on paper. lewisojai@mac.com. 805-646-8877 KarenKLewis.com


Original Landscape, Figure & Portrait Paintings in Oil. Ojai Design Center Gallery. 111 W Topa Topa Street. marc@whitman-architect. com. Open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Inspired by medieval chain mail — stainless jewelry, scarves, purses, belts and wearable metal clothing. UnzickerDesign.com 805-646-4877



Intuitive, visionary artist, inspired by her dreams and meditations. It is “all about the Light.” Her work may be seen at Frameworks of Ojai, 236 West Ojai Ave, where she has her studio. 805-6403601 JoyceHuntingtonArt.com


framed so well by the long arc and lush light of an east-west valley lends itself to artistic pursuits, as does the leisurely pace of life, the sturdy social fabric of a vibrant community and the abundant affection and respect for artists and their acts of creation.


Creating life-like highly detailed drawings and oil paintings of ballerinas, pet and people protraits. 805-450-3329 Roygrillo.com


Rich oils and lush pastel paintings from Nationally awarded local artist. 805-895-9642

Original watercolor+ink paintings --Plants and flowers, birds and insects. Plus scenes of cottages and gates inspired by Ojai and beyond. SkyheartArt.com.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



Firestick Pottery provides classes, studio/kiln space and a gallery abundant with fine ceramics. 1804 East Ojai Avenue. Open from 10 am to 6 pm every day but Tuesday. FirestickPottery.com 805-272-8760


Featuring local artists, including William Prosser and Ted Campos. American-made gifts and cards, crystals, new and vintage goods. 304 North Montgomery OjaiHouse.com 805-640-1656


Contemporary Art in a Historic House. 310 East Matilija Avenue PorchGalleryOjai.com 805-620-7589 IG: PorchGalleryOjai


Working with reclaimed, organic, local materials such as bones, clay and drawing on fabric and newsprint. “Datura / Kanye” (2019) bettynguyen.carbonmade.com

You haven’t seen Ojai until you visit us! Local art of all types, unusual gifts, Ojai goods! Open daily 10-6. Closed Tues. 323 Matilija Street


Plein air landscapes, figures and portraits in oil by nationally-acclaimed artist Dan Schultz. 106 North Signal Street | 805-317-9634 DanSchultzFineArt.com



40+ LOCAL artists with a unique selection of contemporary fine arts, jewelry and crafts. 238 East Ojai Ave 805-646-5682 Daily 10 am – 6 pm OjaiValleyArtists.com


Exquisitely handcrafted bags. 305-G East Ojai Avenue New Location! StudioSauvageau.com 805-798-2221

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Ojai Cafe Emporium Ojai’s favorite gathering and eating place for over 30 years.

Voted Best Bakery, Breakfast & Lunch Place ‘10 ‘11 ‘12 ‘13 ‘14 ‘15 ‘16

805 646 2723

108 S. Montgomery Street / off Ojai Ave www.ojaicafeemporium.com BREAKFAST Served All Day Every Day LUNCH Served Daily11am-3pm BAKERY & COFFEE BAR Open Daily 6:30am-3pm


64 duck variations Turning the Tables on Local Chefs For The Holidays




Ojai Wine Map

Acorn Squash With Orange Couscous

Wineries, Breweries & More

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Love is gr eater than everythi ng.


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“...The feel is fun, energetic & evokes the perfect Ojai picnic...” 469 E. Ojai Ave.



Celebrating 32 Years Breakfast



Open Daily 8 am to 10 pm (Call for summer hours) Home of the $2.50 Mimosas and $4 Bloody Marys and Margaritas. All Day, Everyday.

Sea FreSh SeaFood

Restaurant, Sushi Bar and Fresh Fish Market


• 533 E. Ojai Avenue, Ojai OQ / WINTER 2020-2021




Sleigh bells ring, are you listening... In the lane snow is glistening… Well, maybe in northern climes from Maine to Oregon, but here in Ojai “sweater weather” is a highly variable concept. When we’re not sheltering in place or social distancing, you might find Ojaians sunbathing in our backyards, sunning in Libbey Park or swimming in an outdoor pool while folks in other parts of the country are ice skating on frozen ponds or shoveling snow. 64

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Ojai, nevertheless, decks its halls — or in our case the “Arcade” — with boughs of holly, and steeps itself in the holiday spirit. (Heck, you ain’t seen anything until you see a palm tree lit up like a Christmas tree.)

smoked paprika) is from her first cookbook, “A Taste of Ojai — A Collection of Small Plates.” Based on the Middle Eastern spread, “muhammara,” this “sweet and piquant dip” is perfect for this time of year.

And, just like Americans all across the country, Ojaians gather family and friends close. Celebrating and breaking bread with those we love is especially important this holiday season whether you cook together, or cook and share a meal around a virtual table on Zoom. Food can comfort us in times of joy and sorrow and unify us in times of stress.

A winter holiday meal always glows with a palate-pleasing hearty soup course. There’s no better choice than Robin’s roasted carrot and onion soup with her recipe for a savory spicy granola to sprinkle on top. This marvelous soup recipe is from her cookbook, “A Taste of Ojai, Flavors of the Valley.”

Because we’ve been deprived from gathering in large groups for so long, I asked two well-regarded local chefs for ideas for a special at-home holiday meal.

All of Robin’s cookbooks can be found in our very own Pixie General Store, Carolina Gramm’s olive oil, Rains, Ojai Tasting Room, Caravan Outpost, and Ojai Valley Inn & Spa’s Libbey Market, or on her website where you can also learn more about Robin’s culinary creativity. Any one of her cookbooks would make a fabulous holiday gift. privatechefrobin.com

For appetizers, who better than Chef Robin Goldstein, caterer, cooking instructor, cookbook writer extraordinaire? Her Red Pepper and Walnut Spread (roasted red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate glaze flavored with cumin, coriander and

My next “kitchen” call, this time for a holiday entrée, was to world-class Chef Claud Mann. Many of us know Claud from TBS’ long running program, “Dinner & A Movie,” a television show he co-created and hosted. But Claud was more than just a pretty television face, he was also a chef with a healthful mission. He began his gastronomical career as a chef at a San Francisco fine dining restaurant, but soon left to join “Project Open Hand,” which cooked and delivered healthful meals to homebound AIDS patients. He’s also written recipes and essays for the NY and LA Times, as well as other newspapers around the country, not to mention for magazines such as “Cooking Light.” After moving to Ojai, Claud became co-publisher of the James Beard Award


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winning “Edible Ojai & Ventura County Magazine;” worked closely with The Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative in Santa Barbara County; and was a founding Board member of “Food For Thought — The Ojai Healthy Schools” here in Ojai… programs that work with public schools to help students learn how to eat more healthfully by bringing fresh ingredients and scratch cooking into the schools’ cafeterias.

Never resting on his “laurels,” while severely injured with a broken ankle, Claud wheeled a stool around his kitchen and taught himself the art of bread making. He now supplies the fruits of that labor to some of our best local eating establishments, including Rotie, a restaurant he co-founded a few years ago. He also donates loaves to those in need. His recipe for a sumptuous holiday entrée? Duck confit! “Some people avoid duck because they believe it’s too fatty. Counterintuitively, by submerging salted and seasoned duck legs in rendered duck fat and then cooking at a very low heat, the final product is lean and fall-apart tender. Confit is a preparation

(comparable to fermentation, smoking and pickling) all of which arose as methods of preservation prior to the advent of refrigeration. As the duck cooks, the intoxicating scents of ginger, clove, cinnamon, (and of course, roast duck) fill the kitchen.” CM “Duck Confit is superbly versatile. Use in a cassoulet, risotto, salads, potpie, pasta, tacos, or my favorite, on a bed of Puy lentils alongside a simple green salad with a glass of Pinot Noir or Grenache.” CM Check out Claud’s confit recipe. The versatility of this dish leaves you with a wealth of choices for your holiday table.


it’s time for dessert, because holidays are legally bound to feature mouth-watering confections, right? Never mind that a rich, sweet delight will end the meal with a five-pound weight gain… you can always keto after the New Year.

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is the richest, chocolatiest cake I’ve ever had: Mark Miller’s Ibarra Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze from his Coyote Café cookbook.

happy and healthy holiday season.

You can find the recipe at my blog link: https://mydinnerswithrichard.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-last-hurrah-2013-ibarrachocolate.html

It’s not angel food, but definitely heaven-sent and heaven-scented. You can find the recipe at the link below. https://mydinnerswithrichard.blogspot.com/2013/07/let-meeat-cake-citrus-almond-cake.html As we wind down this very challenging year, I wish you all a very 68


If chocolate’s not your guilty pleasure, try food writer Molly Wizenberg’s twist on a Citrus-Almond Cake.

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4 tablespoons kosher salt

In a small mixing bowl, combine salt, sugar, lavender, fresh-ground peppercorns and

1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 teaspoon culinary lavender 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper 4 tablespoons grated Ojai lemon or tangerine peel, or a mixture About 4-cups duck fat 4 large duck leg quarters I knob unpeeled fresh ginger, cut into coins 1 teaspoon whole cloves 1 or 2 Saigon cinnamon sticks, broken in pieces 6 bay leaves 12 sprigs fresh thyme 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed


citrus zest. Using a paring knife, prick the duck skin all over to allow fat to render more easily. Try not to cut into the meat. One-by-one, rub each leg well with the seasoning mixture. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight. Rinse off excess salt, and then arrange the legs skin-side down in a Dutch oven or baking dish just large enough to accommodate the duck in a single layer, with sides high enough for the fat to cover the meat without overflowing. Preheat the oven to 200-225F, the lower the better. In a medium saucepan, combine the duck fat with the ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, thyme and garlic. Place over low heat until the fat is melted and the mixture becomes fragrant. Arrange duck in a single layer in the dish; pour the warm, seasoned duck fat with all the spices over the top. (The duck should be completely submerged in the fat. If it is not, you may need to add more fat or use a smaller baking dish.) Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake 4 hours, or until the meat falls easily from the bone. Unless using immediately, allow the duck to remain in the fat until used, up to 10 days, refrigerated.

CULINARY LAVENDER is available from Rivendell Aromatics at the Ojai Farmers’ Market, or on Rivendell’s website. Westridge carries DUCK FAT it at the meat counter, or you can order from dartagnan.com NOTE ON SPICES: If your herbs and spices have been sitting around for more than 6-months, splurge and invest in some fresh ones. I like The Spice House, Burlap and Barrel, Diaspora and Penzy’s. (All available online. ~CM)

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g ourmet garden d ining

Introducing theranchhouse.com 8 0 5.64 6.2 3 6 0


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î‘–illage marketplace

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This is a wonderful entrée or a second course for the fall and winter months. It makes four servings.




1/2-cup green bell

2 large acorn squash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup carrots,

1 tablespoon brown



1/2 cup dried apricots




1/2 cup dried cran-

2-1/2 cups fresh or-


ange juice

1/4 teaspoon cinna-

10 ounces couscous


1/4-cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1-1/2 cups onion,

2 teaspoons ground

finely chopped

coriander seed

1/2-cup celery, finely

1/2 teaspoon dried



1/2-cup red pepper chopped

Stabilize the squash on a cutting board, stem-end down. If the stem is too long

for this to be stable, cut in half sideways. Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits insides. Using a sharp paring knife, score the inside of the acorn squashes’ halves in a cross-hatch pattern (about 1/2-inch deep). Place

the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour ¼ -inch of water over the

bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven. Add butter and brown sugar by rubbing into the insides of each squash half.

Bake for 50 or 55 minutes or until the tops of the squash halves are nicely

browned, and the squash flesh is soft and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Stuffing Directions:

Heat orange juice in a medium saucepan to boiling. Stir in couscous, remove from

heat, and cover. Set aside for five minutes or until orange juice is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Heat oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add all vegetables and sauté for six to eight minutes, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat—stir in dried fruits and spices. In a large bowl, combine vegetable mixture with couscous.

Spoon stuffing into baked squash shells and bake in a covered casserole dish for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve while still hot for the best flavor.

TIP: If you have leftover stuffing, cover it and place it in the refrigerator. It is good reheated as a side dish without the squash. 72

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State permit C10-0000474-Lic

Visit us online at SLCC.info and on Instagram

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@SLCC_Ojai 73

It's time to create anew The Flourish Ojai Center for Inspired Living is READY. Are You? “We invite you to join us for our New Beginnings Series. Let’s Flourish Together!” -Diana Syvertson, Founder




OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


OQ | OJA I W I NE MA P CASA BARRANCA ORGANIC WINERY & TASTING ROOM Historic Downtown Arcade. Stop by and relax in Casa Barranca’s Craftsman style-designed tasting room. Taste our award-winning wines made with organically grown grapes, also our USDA certified wines containing no added sulfites! Join our Wine Club!. 208 East Ojai Avenue, 805-640-1255. OPEN DAILY: Sunday — Thursday 1 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday until 1-7 p.m. CasaBarranca.com or facebook.com/casabarranca.

VENTURA SPIRITS Ventura Spirits is a California Craft Distillery specializing in distilled spirits inspired by the native and cultivated flora of California’s Central Coast. We offer distillery tours and tastings of our award winning spirits in our new onsite tasting room. For more information or to contact us please visit: venturaspirits.com, email to: info@ venturaspirits.com or call us at: (805) 232-4313

TOPA MOUNTAIN WINERY Topa Mountain Winery offers handcrafted wines made from grapes grown on its estate in upper Ojai and sourced from other premium vineyards in the region. Located on two acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, Topa Mountain Winery has been voted Ventura County’s best Tasting Room two years in a row, is family and dog friendly and offers live music every Saturday and Sunday. TopaMountainWinery.com

OJAI OLIVE OIL Ojai’s no. 1 rated visitor experience, our Olive Mill & Tasting Room is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free tastings and shopping. We also offer free guided tours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit an organic family permaculture farm and learn everything about extra virgin oil. We also have balsamic vinegars, olive trees, skin care products and more. No reservations required, pets welcome. 1811 Ladera Road , Ojaioliveoil.com, 805-646-5964.

BOCCALI VINEYARDS & WINERY is a family-owned and operated winery located in the scenic Upper Ojai Valley. Father and son winemakers DeWayne and Joe Boccali are the driving forces behind the label. Boccali Vineyards produces 100 percent estate wines; grown, produced and bottled at Boccali Ranch. Visit us in Ojai’s East End on weekends for a tasting at 3277 East Ojai Avenue in Ojai. Visit us on the web at BoccaliVineyards.com.


OLD CREEK RANCH WINERY Old Creek Ranch Winery is Ventura County’s only rural winery situated on an 850-acre ranch in the Ojai Valley. A tasting room as well as lawns and guest areas with handcrafted chairs and couches, surrounded by lush landscaping, have been designed for relaxing and enjoying fine wines. Pack a picnic, gather up the kids and dog, and head to the Ranch! A selection of 25+ red and white varietals are available for wine tastings and purchase. Check oldcreekranch.com for a schedule of live music and food trucks. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Located at 10024 Old Creek Road, Ventura, CA 93001. 805-649-4132. OldCreekRanch.com OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

MAJESTIC OAK VINEYARD Hidden in the stunning Ojai Valley, the Majestic Oak Vineyard is deeply rooted on land our family has held for decades. As fifth generation Ojai-ans, we had a dream of bringing you the quintessential Ojai experience — something as beautiful and unique as the Valley itself. We believe a great bottle of wine represents the hard work that goes into it. From the land, to our hands, to your table, we are proud to offer you our labor of love. We invite you to be part of our legacy. 321 East Ojai Avenue (downstairs), 805-794-0272, MajesticOakVineyard.com.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

OJAI ALISAL’S handcrafted wines are made only with grapes we grow in Upper Ojai. We grow Syrah, Grenache, Malbec and Viognier in our beautiful vineyards dotted with California walnuts and sycamores (or Alisal in Spanish), bringing the spirit of the Rhone region to California. Please visit our Weekend Tasting Room at Azu Restaurant, 457 East Ojai Ave, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m.. For more information 805-640-7987 or online at OjaiAlisal.com and AzuOjai.com.


BLATZ LAW FIRM Your Trusted Ojai Attorney For 30 Years


“You would rather have me on your side... than theirs” Paul Blatz (805) 646-3110 206 North Signal Street, Suite G, Ojai

www.blatzlawfirm.com Email: blatzlawfirm@gmail.com



90 The Lives We Lost

82 Parker Bowles Chronicles Blighty, With Sun Emma Parker Bowles

The Costs of Covid on our Community By Mark Lewis

98 garden states

116 OQ BEYOND THE ARCADE MAP Street Map & Landmark Businesses

Who Do These Ojai Gardens Grow? By Ellen Sklarz

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We know Ojai.

Lucky Q Ranch is a 106+ acre, one-of-a-kind property with mountain and lake views perfect for a weekend escape or private retreat to live the simpler, country lifestyle you have always dreamed of. The custom, stone house features unique touches throughout, such as reclaimed doors made from 150-year-old oak, century-old tin tiles, circa 1900 light fixtures, and a Luke French-inspired fireplace. Also enjoy easy access to the shops, cafĂŠs, golf courses, and more in Ojai, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and beyond. www.LuckyQRanchOjai.com Price Upon Request

2020 Remodel on 17 acres with gated entry, lighted tennis court, approximately 15 acres of avocado orchards, multiple outdoor living areas, outdoor kitchen, 3,000-square-foot shop, two fireplaces, multi-room master suite, amazing views, and much more. $5,900,000

Three-bedroom, 2.5 Golden West home remodeled in 2020 with two fireplaces, swimming pool, fruit trees, flexible spaces for home office or hobbies. www.1116DelNidoCourt.com $1,250,000

The Davis Group ojaivalleyestates.com

Nora Davis

BRE License #01046067



We’re lifelong residents.

Enjoy the Ojai lifestyle at Kenewa Oaks minutes from downtown with a 5-bedroom, 8-bathroom main house, 2-bedroom guest house, pool, outdoor kitchen, horse area, solar panels, and much more. www.1577KenewaStreet.com $2,199,000

Rancho Tranquilo is located on 5+ acres in Upper Ojai with five bedrooms, flex rooms, two fireplaces, pool, tennis court, caretaker’s quarters, horse facilities, solar, RV garage, views and more. www.12605HighwindsRoad.com $3,375,000

Kiowa Creek Farm is just a short drive from downtown with a three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home on 1.27 acres with three-car garage, two fireplaces, horse facilities, and beautiful outdoor living areas with patio fireplace. www.11311CreekRoad.com $1,299,000

Kellye Lynn

BRE License #01962469



Les Ros Beef. Brits. Limeys. Poms. And my favorite by a country mile, ‘Soutpiel,’ which means Salty Penis. This excellent name was given to the British in South Africa by the Afrikaaners.


Salty Penis, you might ask? And how would they know — what exactly was going on over there? But we can all relax because it means having one foot in Britain and one foot in South Africa with your undercarriage straddling the Atlantic. Which can surely apply to us Brits in Ojai. Except for obvious reasons I


am not a Salty Penis. No, I must be a… ummm …. Soutpoes? Let’s just leave that there, we have only just met.

But don’t you think it is an apt description of us Brits? We can definitely be a little salty. We are a down-to-earth, no nonsense bunch and often have a racy, sarcastic sense of humor. Some of us have got potty mouth, verging on the coarse (ahem) especially when indulging in our national pastime — drinking. And we LOVE taking the piss. But we are sweet as well salty. We tend to be polite with good manners — we apologize automat-

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

ically and might thank you when we have done you a favor. We love a line and can form a queue almost anywhere. (Be warned though, jumping the line is the ultimate crime.) We will make you a cup of tea in response to any crisis and if you come round to our house, we will break out the fancy biscuits and serve them to you on a plate. And you won’t leave without a fine coating of dog hair on your clothes.

Which is maybe why our editor is such an Anglophile. Not only is he the only Yank I know who knows the meaning of all our naughty words, but he looks more like an English gentleman than any actual English people.

So when he asked me to round up all the Brits in Ojai and write an article about them I said, “For F--k’s sake Bret you tosser, don’t be miffed but stop being such a ninny — even if you paid

out my country men and women in Ojai like a truffling pig. I am only sorry I didn’t get to speak to more of them, but, you know, Covid. I didn’t have to look far for my first victim because I wake up to

JON FURNESS and his wife Brenna every morning. Not in my bed, because that would be weird, these are good Christian folk we are talking about and pillars of the community.

Jon used to be a pastor and Brenna is one of those women that you would follow into battle. And they are both a total hoot. When I shambolically shuffle into their coffee shop The Coffee Connection every morning in Meiners Oaks I know I am going to start my day with a yummy coffee and a chuckle. Jon, the son of a newsagent from Carlisle and a no-nonsense Northern lad, was the first Brit that I met in Ojai.


He is also a relentless piss-taker. Their coffee shop is something of a Ground Zero for Brits and pre-covid it was not uncommon of a morning to find a gaggle of British men hanging out at the end of the counter talking about the Footie.

me lots of dosh I am way too knackered to talk a load of old codswallop with all these dodgy muppets.” Of course I didn’t.

Most of us Brits who move to Ojai, move here for love. For the love of a person, the mountains, the forest and the trees, or just the general vibe.

I was mega-chuffed at the chance of having a cup of char and a chinwag with my kinfolk and immediately set about rootling

Jon moved here for the love of a woman. A woman he met on the banks of the Amazon basin in 1999 in Brazil wearing booty

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


shorts. ( Jon, not Brenna.) And their love story is literally the best of British. As in, what you American’s call, a total sh*t-show. It all started when they were both working for faith-based non-profit organizations in Santarem, famous for the “Wedding of the Waters,” where the clear, dark Tapajos River meets the muddy ochre Amazon and due to their different densities, they flow alongside each other for quite some distance, between the same banks. “It is a lot like our relationship, we sort of flowed together in the same direction for a long time,” says Brenna. “It definitely wasn’t love at first sight. He was the first Englishman I had ever met and he was wearing short shorts with his white legs poking out. He had the whole Euro-tourist vibe” She also thought he was ‘kind of snobby’ and very short. “You could pick me up and burp me like a baby,” said Jon. However, over the months they became firm friends and once they had both returned to their corners of the earth, Carlisle for Jon and Ojai for Brenna, they kept in touch over the years writing letters, sending mixtapes and good old AOL. Brenna’s instant messaging handle was ‘Riverbottom Rat” because she is Ojai born and raised and grew up in the Ventura riverbottom, running up and down the trails with the neighborhood kids and mucking about in the swim holes. They watched and supported each other through relationships and life’s ups and downs until it dawned on Jon he felt more than friendly.

So, two years after they had first met, he decided ‘I am going to tell her that I like her’ so he sent her some roses and wrote her an email and said “I think I am in love with you.” SO romantic no? Brenna’s response? “Thank you for saying that to me but I am in a relationship right now.” Awks!! So Jon sulked for a while and life went on and it wasn’t until 3 year later that the stars aligned and they were both single and ready to mingle (and Jon got dumped by a dodgy minger called Jill who had piggy eyes and a wandering fanny) and Jon came to visit Brenna in Ojai. There was an awkward first kiss on Venice beach where Jon did some weird sort of flying lunge (Brenna is 5’10” to Jon’s 5’7”) “Luckily she didn’t swat me off like a pesky fly,” he said. His marriage proposal was also a total sh*tshow and would give Richard Curtis wood. Even the obligatory permission from the future father-in-law was a balls-up — he managed to crash his mother’s car into his father’s (parked) car arriving at the family newsagent to make the call. Real Mr. Bean stuff. 84

Then there was the first botched proposal attempt which was meant to take place in the shadows of the stunning Carlisle Cathedral. Jon planned on reading Brenna some poetry from an anthology he had picked up at Bart’s Books and get down on bended knee and present her with a special Brazilian seed he had fashioned into a ring all those years ago in Brazil for his future wife, and had it carved out and inlaid with silver and an inscription ( Jon is nothing if not particular. And fun fact: he is a huge John Travolta fan.) Unfortunately, being Northern England, it started pissing with rain and the poetry book got soggier than Brenna’s spirits. “I did think he was being a bit weird dragging me round Carlisle in the middle of the night and I was annoyed because I wanted to go home and pack as I was flying home the next day.” Time for Plan B, and the next morning Brenna found herself being dragged off to Oldswater Lake for a boat ride. Unfortunately, somewhere out on the lake, Brenna’s green, I’mabout-to puke face was just visible through the rolling mist and the mission was aborted. “So we were driving back to Carlisle,” says Jon, “and I think ‘screw this’ and I just pulled the car over and dragged her off into some random wood and get down on one knee and read her the poem and proposed.” And Brenna said, “cor blimey guvnor not on your Nelly.” Not really. She said yes, the skies cleared and the sun came out and four children, one successful business and a marauding pig later and Jon and Brenna are beloved by all who know them. I for one am a big fan of the Furness’, who I have appointed King and Queen of Meiners Oaks and long may they reign.

Now if you are a regular reader of this magazine, then you will know the next Brit on my menu already, the zingy and zesty writer

SAMI ZAHRINGER. Her Covid Diary made me laugh so hard I scared the dogs and I knew I wanted to meet her, fangirl style. She didn’t disappoint. Not only is she hilarious and a one-woman fun factory but she has this big clever brain — one of her degrees is in Cell Biology and Genetics for f*ck’s sake. In fact if you were stuck on a desert island, this sexy Scottish slag (not really) would be your ideal companion. Hailing from the Outer Hebrides, she comes from such a strict background it makes Catholics look like the Hells Angels. OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

“It was very strictly religious,” she says. “Heavily Calvinistic. I remember if I was running on a Sunday, people would shout ‘hell mend you.’ Dad worked for the council and one of his jobs was to tie up the swings on Sunday so you couldn’t swing. We didn’t have gay people growing up,” she said. “Well, we did, because I dated two of them. I was like an early beard.” Sami’s wild side must come from her grandfather, who sounds like an excellent bloke. “He was a government gigolo,” she says. “He learnt Arabic and worked in places like Istanbul, Cairo and Jerusalem, seducing the wives of diplomats for some pillow talk. He was also very pink with blue, blue eyes so I can’t even understand how he passed as Arabic.” Of course, the Outer Hebrides is a long way from Ojai in more ways than one. But Sami came here for love too; the love of her husband David Zahringer. And it is in this Valley that she raised her prize-winning babies. In a wonderfully British way of course. Take the school run. “The other mothers were immaculate and I have got bits of cornflakes in my hair and my children are shambled together.” Once the day was over and it was time to pick them up she would stop by The Hut for a “wee snifter” to hang out with the bikers. “As a writer, Ojai is fascinating because it is all these people from wildly different worlds coming together,” she says. “It is definitely a bubble,” she says. “And everybody knows your business. We have had Hedgegate and Stonewallgate — proper parochial bullshite you get in any small town. But as far as I can see there is nothing like this on earth.” I could talk about Sami until the cows come home but it is time to move on to

England.” She also loves art and the theatre and is a big fan of Iris Tree. I would rather gnaw my fingers off and then gouge my eyes out with the bloody stumps than watch any experimental theatre — this is someone who managed to fall asleep during Dame Maggie Smith’s award-winning performance in “Lettuce and Lovage.” I am more of an Aldous Huxley fan. But Jane is the very definition of a refined British lady. Luckily, she also what we call in the South of England a “good egg” and totally down-to-earth, funny and unpretentious or she would be frigging annoying. And it was love that brought Jane to Ojai. She fell in love with the mountains and moved here with her husband Bob and raised her three girls here, in the foothills of her ‘companions.’ “My favorite place in the whole world is Andalusia in Spain,” she says. “I go back there quite a bit and take study tours, studying Islamic Geometry. Whenever I get there, I say it looks just like Ojai, except there is a 12th century Italian fort or an old church from when the Crusaders come in.” There might not be any old buildings in Ojai, but there is much else to love. Apart from being stunningly beautiful, it is a very nice and polite place to live. Even the bus, sorry the “Ojai Trolley,” is really civilized you won’t have someone spitting chuddy in your hair or offering to “box your bastard eyes out” or chuck a can of Special Brew at your head for looking at them funny. “It is a gentle place Ojai,” says Jane. “It is not rough. People are kind, there is a kindness here. It’s very soothing I find. But it’s not fake. I don’t think it is superficial. Ojai is not a very flashy place. People really value low-key and are totally uninterested in your background — it doesn’t matter if you made a major motion picture or you sew pillowcases.”


JANE CARROLL. I stumbled across her on a lazy sunny afternoon at the Libbey Park tennis courts whilst I was taking my 5-year kiddie-hunting. She was knocking some balls about with her daughter and they were laughing and bantering with each other in that easy way us Brits do when we are relaxed. It just felt like home, so I accosted her for a chat. And it turns out that she is all the things I am not. Chic, elegant, intelligent and immensely talented, although she would never tell you that. She trained as an architect at the Architectural Association in London and studied under a Professor called Keith Critchlow whose jam was geometry and proportional systems. “ A lot of people are very open to that here so I got to do a lot of new work … it has definitely been more interesting than if I had stayed in


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has made a few major motion pictures but he prefers golf to needlework. British people are very proud of Malcolm — he is a total legend and back in Blighty he is held close in many people’s hearts. When I told a couple of my friends I was going to speak to him they almost spontaneously combusted with excitement. “He has got wild horse eyes,” sighed one friend. “Don’t piss him off though,” warned another. Crikey. With that in mind maybe my opening gambit of “Ey up lad! Nah then! Ow do?” might go down like a cup of cold sick and earn me a clip round the lughole. Not really, because Malcolm is a gentleman. But we both have a bit of Yorkshire in us — Malcolm was born there and I went to school there, within mere miles of each other as the crow flies. Yorkshire is known as “God’s own County,” famous for the rolling hills of the Dales with its valleys caused by glaciers instead of rivers (as immortalized by another Yorkshireman David Hockney) Yorkshire pudding and Chip Butties. If you haven’t had the pleasure a chip butty it is a kind of sandwich — white bread, butter and ketchup stuffed with big fat French fires cooked in beef dripping. Probably not appearing on any menus in Ojai any time soon. “Yorkshire is f*cking great,” says Malcolm. “I love Yorkshire and Yorkshiremen. They say it pretty blunt and straight and I love that.” Much like Malcolm in fact. There is a saying, “You can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him much” and I would say that applies to him. If he was being a mardy bum then I wouldn’t want to direct him to the nearest petrol station, let alone in a film or theatrical production — he has quite the withering side-eye. But Yorkshiremen are also humble with a down-to-earth charm and Malcolm has that in spades. He is chuffing champion in fact — a real Bobby Dazzler. Although Yorkshire born and bred — Hosforth in Leeds — he considers himself more of a Liverpudlian, because that is where he came of age, along with the Beatles. He was sent to a boarding school in Orpington, down South. “Luckily my father sent me away to boarding school in Kent which saved my life basically. I became an actor because the headmaster was such a theatrical man and took me to see Olivier at the Old Vic. As soon as I got on stage with the lights


and the void of the audience, I felt like I was home.” And although he has been in the U.S. for yonks, is Britain still in his blood? “I will always be English first and foremost and I always root for England because we are usually the underdog. It is a small country, but it is a great country too.” He was recently back in the Old Country filming a show called “Truthseekers” (currently on Amazon with rave reviews) in London. “We used to call London ‘The Big Smoke’ and for a provincial youth it was intimidating but I loved it. It was this city of mystery and excitement and just walking through Soho and the smells of the food, the restaurants, people sitting smoking in cafés and the prozzies standing around …” There aren’t many prozzies in Ojai, where Malcolm has lived since 1980 and has raised five children in this Valley. “I love Ojai,” he says. “I find it a very spiritual place and I am not really a soppy spiritualist type. I find it very relaxing. When you drive into this Valley things fall off your shoulders. It is such a beautiful place, it’s charming — this is my favorite place of all the places that I have been.” Home is a converted 1920s farmhouse, tucked away behind the Ojai Valley Inn and it is simply stunning, thanks to his ridiculously talented designer wife Kelley. One thing I have always wondered about McDowell is why he hasn’t been knighted. It is a bloody disgrace as far as I am concerned, but he fobs me off in his usual humble way. “I have been very fortunate and had a wonderful career, played some great parts and been paid very well, so I don’t need to be given a title to enforce that, it’s already done.” Kelly and I agree that whilst it doesn’t mean anything over here it is a token of gratitude. “I want him to be knighted just so I can be Lady McDowell and make my mother call me ‘Lady.’” However, it’s not just Malcolm I am proud of — Jon, Sami and Jane are also the best of British, as far as I am concerned. And how do you do? Very pleased to meet you (insert awkward handshake) If you see me barreling down Main Street in ‘Big Red’ with some German Shepherds hanging out the back whilst singing tunelessly to Neil Diamond “I am, I said,” then give me a wave. And may I finish by saying a big British thank you to Ojai, this Shangri-La that we all live in, for having me to stay. So cheerio, toodle pip and I’ll catch you on the flip side my darling. Carry on!

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Ojai, and all across the country, nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic. Those who succumb often die in isolation, without the consolation of a loved one in the room to hold their hand and say goodbye. They don’t even get to have funerals. But we can at least tell their stories. 90

When Ojai went into lockdown last March, the social and economic impact on the community was huge, but for several months, the disease itself seemed far away. Only a handful of local people tested positive. Some were hospitalized, but none died. Then, on May 22, an obituary in the local newspaper reported that Ojai’s own Sharon Dueysen had passed away in distant Connecticut “from complications of the Covid-19 virus.” Born in 1942, Sharon was the only child of Chester and Hazel OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


Fording. Chet was an ice man in Ojai for many years. In the 1960s and ’70s, he and Hazel operated the Ojai Rancho Inn, and in the ‘80s they operated the Capri. After graduating from Nordhoff High School in 1960, Sharon married her high school sweetheart, Melvyn Weeks, and had a son, Bryan. The marriage didn’t last, but Sharon persevered as a single mother, working in the local Bank of America branch as a “new account” representative. In that capacity she met Rob

ert Dueysen, who had just moved from Milwaukee to join his parents, Arnold and Twila, in Ojai. One thing led to another, and Bob and Sharon married in 1970. (Six years later, Bob adopted Bryan.) After Bob inherited the downtown Western Auto store from his parents, Sharon left Bank of America to join Bob at the family store, located where Ojai Coffee Roasters is today. In those days, Ojai’s downtown stores were more geared to serving local customers than tourists. Many old-timers today

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have nostalgic memories of getting their first bicycle from the Dueysens at Western Auto, or of doing their Christmas shopping there.

They brought Jingles with them. Sharon’s elderly little companion was dying. Due to the lockdown, she could not cradle her dog in her arms and say goodbye.

After the store closed, “Sharon worked as a receptionist at Ojai Eyes Optometry until her retirement in 2016,” Bryan said. Bob had died in 2006, and Sharon had mobility issues, so three years ago, Bryan moved her to a nursing home in Newtown, Conn., close to his own home in Bethel. Her little Yorkshire terrier, Jingles, came east with her and lived with Bryan, who often brought the dog to visit Sharon.

“We held him up. She was able to see him.”

“I could stop by every day and see her,” Bryan said. Sharon enjoyed accompanying Bryan and his partner, George Loscalzo, on trips to their weekend house in the Adirondacks, and joining them for holiday gatherings with George’s family. Then the pandemic struck. In late February, Sharon’s nursing home went into lockdown mode. No visitors allowed, lest they bring the coronavirus in with them. “We weren’t allowed to see her for months,” Bryan said. Finally, around April 20, he and George managed to arrange a visit of sorts. They stood in the parking lot and chatted with Sharon via their cell phones while she sat on a third-floor balcony, a safe distance away.

Not long after that visit, Sharon fell ill. “We got a call that her oxygen level had dipped,” Bryan said. She was transported to a nearby hospital, where she tested positive for the virus. They gave her convalescent plasma – blood donated by someone who had recovered from Covid-19 – and she rallied. But not for long. Stuck in the hospital, unable to receive visits from Bryan and George, Sharon was further upset to learn that many other residents from her nursing home were dying from the virus. “She became incredibly sad and depressed,” Bryan said. The doctors gave her medication to relieve her anxiety. As her condition deteriorated, they decided to put her on a ventilator. But when they intubated her, she went into cardiac arrest and died. It was Saturday, May 9. She was 77 years old. “She passed the day before Mother’s Day,” Bryan said. He plans to have a memorial event in Newtown at a later date, followed by one in Ojai, where his mother had so many friends. Nordhoff alums from the Class of 1960 will surely turn out in force. Their planned 60th class reunion this year had to be cancelled due to Covid, but one day the pandemic will end, and they will reunite to celebrate the life of Sharon Dueysen.

SHARON’S DEATH hit her friends hard, but it happened 3,000 miles away, and for a while longer Ojai remained impervious to local Covid fatalities. Meanwhile, city officials and local business owners grappled with the enormous challenges posed by locking down a tourism-based economy. City Manager James Vega said that as of the end of September, the revenue decline amounted to 30 percent of the city’s typical $10 million annual budget.



“I am proud of our city for our response,” Vega said via email. “City Hall and our services have remained open every day of this pandemic – that’s something some cities that are 10 to 100 times our size can’t say. … We continued to supply standard city services, but we also took on many new Covid-related ones – We were the first (and only) Ventura County city to implement OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

a face-covering requirement on April 10. We did so to try to protect our community as much as possible, and also to help ensure that local business owners were safe and able to operate. The city imposed temporary moratoriums on both commercial and residential evictions, and Ojai was one of the only cities to establish city-specific business protocols, in partnership with the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce.” Facemask requirements have proven controversial in many communities, but not here. “The Ojai community has been amazing,” Vega said. “This pandemic is particularly challenging for a community like ours that thrives on coming together. But the community has found new ways to come together – virtual meetings, outdoor exercise, or more recently, a socially distanced mandala.” Vega referred to the Ojai Day Mandala, a collaborative artistic effort led each year by River Sauvageau, Susan Evergreen Herick and Mary Kennedy. Usually the three Mandela Mavens and their collaborators paint their intricately designed creations in the intersection of Ojai Avenue and Signal Street. (Those streets are closed to traffic during Ojai Day.) But this year’s celebration, scheduled for Oct. 17, was cancelled due to the pandemic, so Sauvageau & Co. moved their venue to the Libbey Park Plaza and painted multiple mini-mandalas around the fountain. For River Sauvageau, the mandala project was especially meaningful this year, because she recently suffered a profound loss. Ojai, alas, is no longer impervious to Covid fatalities. Over the summer, coronavirus outbreaks in two local nursing homes resulted in 12 deaths, and one of them was River’s mother.

BORN in Milwaukee in 1956, River Lisa Sauvageau grew up in Montreal and in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her mother, Jeanne Brodeur, was a single parent who worked as a registered nurse to support her children. At 21, River landed in Ojai, where — in addition to the Ojai Day Mandala — she also has contributed to the community’s cultural fabric over the years by designing costumes for the Illusions Theatre, helping to mount the annual Ojai Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball, and creating colorful designer handbags at Studio Sauvageau, her downtown boutique. (She recently closed the store and moved her handbag business online.) She also leads a monthly Sacred Circle gathering that is grounded in Native American spirituality. In her youth, River had a difficult relationship with her mother. That began to change 10 years ago when Jeanne moved from the Bay Area to a nursing home in Thousand Oaks.

“We were able to get to know each other again after many decades apart,” River said. They saw even more of each other starting in 2016, when River moved Jeanne from Thousand Oaks to Ojai Health & Rehabilitation on North Montgomery Street. (Formerly known as The Acacias, this 74-bed nursing home was founded in the 1950s by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus as part of the Grey Gables teachers’ retirement complex. Now the nursing home is owned and operated by a company affiliated with the Providence Group of Farmington, Utah.) “I was with my mom six days a week,” River said. Then came Covid. During the summer, there was an outbreak of the virus at Ojai Health & Rehab. When 88-year-old Jeanne fell ill, she was transferred to Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura. No visitors were allowed. “I couldn’t be by her side,” River said. “So I set up an altar at home and I kept a candle burning. I held vigil for her for two weeks as she was dying.” River shared her process with her large community of friends via Facebook posts, which hundreds of people followed. What follows are excerpts from these posts:

August 11: Dear friends I need your prayers. My mother, Jeanne Brodeur, is in the hospital with Covid. She’s resting and is receiving the best care she can. I’m not allowed to see her and that’s the hardest part of all of this. So I ask for you to please light a candle for her, send some loving thoughts her way and I ask you to pray in whatever way you do for her, and for our elders who are alone trying to deal with this, and for their caretakers. August 12: So my dear friends I just got a report about my mom from her lovely doctor at the hospital. Honestly it’s not looking that good right now. Mom is not able to take anything by mouth because she is in danger of aspirating it. That means she is not able to take some of medications that would help her. The doctor said she looks good and is able to talk when she’s not coughing. She said tonight will be touch and go. I’m feeling very sad right now. I’m doing my best to accept what is and to pray for her to have a calm and loving feeling during all of this. Thank you so much for your prayers, your love and concern and your support. August 13: Mom got through the night last night. She was restless and combative and finally rested. … I keep feeling her inside a dream where she is resting and not wanting to be disturbed. There is the support from both sides of the

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veil and there is a dance that is going back and forth. It is a sacred moment in the place where life and death are doing their dance. August 15: I got to Facetime with her and we had a good conversation. I told her that it was her decision how to go forward, and that if she wanted to be left alone, that’s what we would do. I let her know that meant she would die without the extra oxygen, and to that effect we were sending a priest to perform the last rites for her. She responded positively to what I was saying and was full of love. Her nurse told me that she was happy to see the priest and that it went well. … I want to say what an amazing job her nurses and her doctor are doing. They are unfailingly kind, informative, and take the time to talk with me, with no rushing, as if they have all the time in the world. I am proud that my mother was a career nurse and how this is her time of reciprocation for all of the care she has given to others in her lifetime. August 17: I got to talk to her one more time. Her nurse called me from her bedside and she was happy to wake up and talk to me. “Mom, it’s time to let go, don’t be afraid, you have a lot of help. It’s not going to hurt, they’re going to take care of you.”

August 18: Hello friends. I find myself up against my own edges. There is a field in the distance that we are approaching together. There is a gate to pass through to get there. That is where we will part from each other in this world. She has not had oxygen today, she continues to refuse it. Her oxygen levels are low and she is resting most of the time, not eating or drinking. The body and spirit have an intelligence that is beyond our human ken. August 22: Tonight Maman is unresponsive. Her time to transition is approaching soon. She has not taken any medication, food or water and is sleeping peacefully. When I woke with the dream of the Rainbow Bridge this morning I knew that we are in the homestretch now. August 23: My mother, Jeanne Brodeur, died peacefully this evening at about 5:30. I am grateful that she lived a long life and had the blessing of a peaceful death. Peace, my heart, let the time for parting be sweet. Let it not be a death but completeness. Let love melt into memory and pain into songs. Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest. 94

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night. Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence. I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light your way. --Rabindranath Tagore

JEANNE BRODEUR was one of 10 residents of Ojai Health & Rehab who died of Covid during the summer and early fall, according to Ashley Bautista, the Ventura County public information officer. Two more people died at Wellness Care Senior Living (formerly Autumn Years) in Oak View. “The virus was introduced to the facilities by a positive staff member,” Bautista said in an Oct. 30 email. “The outbreaks at both of the facilities are closed.” (As this Ojai Quarterly issue was going to press in mid-November, the county reported three additional Covid deaths for the Ojai Valley. No details about these three deaths were immediately available.) No one at Ojai Health & Rehab responded to the OQ’s requests for an interview. At Wellness Care, the outbreak was discovered on Aug. 18 after an employee who had gone home with a headache tested positive OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


for the coronavirus.


“It was very scary,” Wellness Care Community Director Aly Alonso said. “I’m so proud of my staff. They stayed and they did their best, and we stopped the spread. We’ve been clear since September.” The two residents who died “were already in hospice” when the outbreak began, Alonso said. “They were frail.” Frailty is endemic in nursing homes, which is why their residents comprise 6 percent of California’s Covid cases but 34 percent of its deaths, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Ojai, those 12 nursing home fatalities comprise 100 percent of Covid deaths reported through the end of October. But that number doesn’t include the loss of Sharon Dueysen — or of Harold Shapiro, a former longtime resident of Oak View who died on Sept. 29, after apparently contracting the virus in a Ventura rehab facility. Born the San Gabriel Valley in 1931, Harold enjoyed a long and successful career in commercial real estate, mostly in downtown L.A. After retirement, he and his wife, Sandra, moved to Oak View in 2006 and became very active members of the community. Sandra, a nurse by profession, got very involved with the Nan

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Tolbert Nurturing Center (now called Secure Beginnings); served as an Ojai Studio Artists volunteer during the group’s annual studio tour; and remains a co-chair of the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO Education Committee. Harold also took an interest in those organizations, but his main project was the Awakening Community Institute, which he and Sandra co-founded. Inspired by the memory of his mother feeding hungry people during the Depression, Harold sought to help communities such as Oak View deepen people’s sense of connection to their neighbors. “Our communities are not mere collectives of individuals associated only by geography and economics,” he wrote in 2015. “A community is a natural grouping of human beings with the potential to awaken and become a conscious part of a greater, unified and more meaningful whole.” Harold and Sandra moved to Ventura about three years ago. This past June, he fell in their kitchen and fractured his pelvis. “Then it was one thing after another,” Sandra said. “He was in and out of the hospital.” On September 18, Harold tested positive for the virus. “He had very recently gotten out of the rehab center,” Sandra said. “He had been staying there for a couple of weeks.” Sandra tested positive too, but hers was a relatively mild case and she soon recovered. Not Harold. He stayed in Community Memorial, where Sandra and he communicated via Facetime until he died. “He couldn’t get enough oxygen,” Sandra said. “It was a tough way to pass.” At 89, Harold had accomplished a lot in his life. But he did not think he was close to being done. “I don’t think he was afraid to die,” Sandra said. “He was just not particularly interested in dying now.” In addition to Sandra, Harold’s survivors include four children, three stepchildren, eight grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. Sandra said the family might eventually scatter his ashes in Tuolumne Meadow in Yosemite National Park, a place where Harold loved to hike. But that event may have to wait until after the pandemic has 96


passed, and right now it shows no signs of going away. “We have to take it a lot more seriously,” Sandra said. OJAI’S summer spike in coronavirus cases was associated with the outbreaks in the two nursing homes, and it subsided after those outbreaks ended. But winter is coming. People will be spending more time indoors and gathering in groups to celebrate the holidays. With no vaccine available yet, more local Covid outbreaks are possible in the coming months. Meanwhile, the community struggles to process its losses in the absence of funerals and celebrations of life. For River Sauvageau, working on the Ojai Day Mandala in Libbey Park Plaza provided an unexpected way to safely memorialize her mother in a public space without attracting a crowd. As part of this year’s design, Elena Rios had created a mini-mandala with a Day of the Dead motif. That inspired River to bring her altar from home and put it up near the fountain, with flowers and pieces of cloth and a picture of Jeanne. “I sat there with my altar to my mother,” River said. “I brought my drum and sang some songs. It felt really good to honor my mother at my 28th Ojai Day Mandala. I held space for half the day. Then I took down my altar and went home.” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


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Since the COVID-19 national emergency was declared in mid-March 2020, the fabric of life has shifted in form. The initial shock of no toilet paper or hand sanitizer transcended fear of illness. Face masks have ranged from fashion statements to points of contention. Zoom and social distancing entered the lexicon, while jobs have been lost, furloughed, or re-created in this recalibrated new reality.


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While front-line and essential workers kept the rest of us safer, this unprecedented pandemic also kept countless people homebound and grounded. And when that ground started feeling shaky, many started digging in the earth. Historically, the Ojai Valley community is resilient and adaptable. As many turned to nature for sustenance and community, the contagious allure of gardening beckoned novices and seasoned greenskeepers alike. In the next pages, we introduce you to a group of interesting, diverse women who have created and cultivated glorious, unique gardens that feed, nurture and nourish themselves, their families and, often, friends, neighbors and those in need.

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Megan Bense is one of the few people who can seamlessly relocate from Camarillo to Ojai during a pandemic while oozing boundless excitement about landing here. Initially, Bense, her wife Christine, both originally from Canada, and their three sons dreamed of a self-reliant life on a large farm. However, they are thrilled about living in Ojai on a one-acre property, which houses their family, four dogs, and a large, abundant garden, as well as varied fruit trees that were inherited from the previous owners. Says Bense, “Being here in Ojai in our beautiful neighborhood and having this incredible garden ... it all makes me feel really happy and appreciative.” Bense is being mentored by her oldest son, Liam, 15, whose interest in horticulture started at a young age. “I’ve had my garden for a really long time. I started out growing native plants and then moved into food,” he says. “Mom’s been supportive, but it’s never been anything she was keenly interested in until recently, when she realized that if toilet paper can become such a commodity, so can food. “ Supply shortages in the markets initially fueled the family’s serious discussions about how much of their food supply and basic needs came from grocery stores. “We started asking ourselves,” says Bense, “‘How can we make ourselves more self-sufficient and be better prepared?’ That led to wonderful, deep conversations and brainstorming among all of us. The garden that you see unfolding today is a great extension of those conversations.” 100

They intentionally planted fruits and vegetables that provide a high amount of nutritional and caloric value, including avocado, bananas and goji berries, blackberries and marionberries, and tomatoes, beans and peppers. Fall brought quinoa and amaranth, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, corn, and more. “I love to cook and bake,” says Bense. “We planned the garden around what we eat often. Whatever Liam brings to me will be used to make healthy, delicious food.” Middle son Niall, 13, enjoys working in the kitchen, while Keir, 6, supervises the entire operation. Liam’s conservation practices include a drip system, improving soil health with compost and mulch, and the use of biochar, a charcoal-like, carbon-rich substance that increases productivity by locking in water and nutrients. Because of COVID, Liam attends school at home via Zoom, so he has more time to work in the garden. Bense tells us that they’ve never had the space for so much variety and that Liam actually brought seeds, plants and raised beds from their Camarillo house. Next year, she will be canning, and the family plans to donate surplus produce to foodshare programs. Bense says that being in the garden “brings about a sense of purpose and makes me feel extremely content and secure to know that our family is producing our own food. Seeing my son out here, using his hands to do something meaningful ... there are no words. I feel like I’m living my dream life right now.” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

“I am a self-taught gardener,” says Cindy Kalmenson. “The plants teach me everything.” Clearly, the plants have one great student. As singer-songwriter-jewelry designer Kalmenson guides her guests through her lush, ever-evolving natural world, she explains that the garden has quadrupled in size since the pandemic infiltrated daily life. “And that’s because my therapy was digging in the dirt,” she says. “The backyard was one big weed patch since no one had lived here for two years before we bought the house. I can’t stand weeds, so I went out there and started taking out the Bermuda grass.” She met her husband, Alaska native Terry, on a camping trip in Baja. The couple moved from Nashville to their Ojai home about 12 years ago with their then-three-year-old daughter, Sara Eden. Terry, a skilled wood turner, has built a greenhouse for garlic sprouts, peas, spinach, celery and cilantro. Summer brought tomatillos, eggplant, zucchini, apples, green beans, and more. For fall, Kalmenson prepared beds for garlic, onions, root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower. “If we are going to talk about global warming,” says Kalmenson, “those of us who grow our own food should not allow any of it to go to waste. This would lessen the need to contract large trucking companies to deliver food from other areas into Ojai. For residential growers, she says, “we can also make sure that not one morsel makes it out of this town since it can all be shared.”

Unless, of course, she is bringing fresh produce to her mother, who lives in Tarzana, her hometown. After the rains last March, Kalmenson‘s garden was so abundant that she’d drive to her mother’s house with a car full of food. During those spring months of COVID living, Kalmenson also connected with neighbors and friends and found lovers of her abundant crops such as okra, zucchini and eggplant. “Food is nourishing and makes people happy,” she comments. “Food unites people and takes care of all the differences we have.” Kalmenson continues, “What I love about gardening is that plants do not lie. You learn so much from them because they show you what works and what doesn’t. When you overcrowd your plants, they don’t thrive and can’t spread out. The leaves don’t want to touch each other; they want enough space to open up to the sun. For the future, says Kalmenson, “We can really increase the amount of community gardens with volunteers who teach these types of skills so that we can grow food by working together across all ethnicities and ages.” Kalmenson reflects further about the magical allure of this world she has created near downtown Ojai. “What I feel in the garden is enchantment and a responsibility to uphold what is Mother Nature’s most amazing design . And everything makes sense. The laws of nature prevail as a model for answering many of life’s questions. Life’s lessons can be found right there in the garden. Everything a plant needs, a person needs, too.”

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


A native of Chile, Carolina Lobo first came to the United States as a university student majoring in agronomy. After returning to Chile and earning another degree in engineering, Lobo returned and spent five years working in Oxnard. Marriage to lighting designer (“mi amor”) Steve Cooper and the birth of their daughter, Amaya, brought the family to Oak View. Lobo is manager of a large company with oversight responsibility for food safety and compliance dealing with foreign suppliers whose goods are brought into this country. Because of her studies and her work, Lobo knew how to grow food on a large scale, but since settling in the valley four years ago, she was interested in growing large amounts of food in a small space. As a vegetarian and new mother, she knew her younger days of fries and beer were long gone. Since the backyard of the Lobo-Cooper house became a dedicated play space for Amaya, Lobo decided to grow her crops in front. After letting the lawn go, she wanted a no-till garden. She chose to plant seeds and starters in hay bales, which serve as natural raised beds, while providing soil replacement and improving productivity. Since Lobo and Cooper work from home, the garden has become a family affair, with Amaya selling pumpkins to the neighbors so she could buy a longed-for Halloween costume. The family’s summer bounty included maize, cucumbers, tomatoes, varied squashes, string beans, kale, and watermelon, blueberries and figs. As the seasons changed, fall and winter 102

months produce a variety of root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, peas, lettuces and broccoli. Prior to moving to the valley, Lobo missed the camaraderie she felt at home in Chile. Here, however, neighbors welcomed the family the day they moved into their house. And since their fruit and vegetables are grown in the front yard, people stop by to admire her crops and socialize. Since the beginning of the pandemic, others on the street have expanded their own gardens, and they all started sharing. One man built a stand for extra vegetables and fruit, with books then arriving on the shelves, creating a small neighborhood library. Says Lobo, “This is the way I grew up. To know your neighbors and understand when they are going through difficulties. And when someone loses a job or isn’t well, you can bring them what they need without them asking for it.” Lobo’s intention is to buy less and learn to eat whatever is in season. “When you go to the supermarket to buy tomatoes or melons year-round,” she says, “you lose the excitement of waiting for the summer to eat watermelon and peaches. I had forgotten that sensation for a long while.” Lobo is thrilled that her family is eating healthfully and seasonally. When she is working in the garden, she says, “I feel a sense of freedom, of being connected with nature in my front yard . . . kind of going into a forest but a little forest. I leave the inside of my house — which is also my office since I work at home — and go to another dimension. I feel very empowered.” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

Tara Saylor

Many would be intrigued by a woman who refers to herself as a “human multi-tool.” That woman is Tara Saylor, whose years of travel brought her back to her hometown of Ojai.

When the pandemic was declared, Saylor’s work in event planning abruptly halted. She promptly did odd jobs as a handywoman and was asked by a friend for help painting houses. That same friend would soon become her business partner in a home and ranch restoration company with the goal of creating ecological food forests. Saylor sees this unprecedented time as providing an opportunity to move into a deeper relationship with the land of the Ojai Valley and to transform one property at a time into self-sustaining earth. “Initially, the biggest thing was slowing down,” says Saylor. “I saw so many people turning inward, including myself.” Then came the questions. “How do I take care of myself? How do I take care of my house? A lot of that came down to a garden ... food, nutrients, and being able to go through the process of planting something, nurturing it, growing it, and then eating it.” About a year ago, Saylor’s family bought a home in town. They complied with the Resilient Landscapes Program through Sierra Watershed Progressive, using gray water and planting vegetables and fruit trees. Saylor is thrilled to go over and work with her threeyear-old nephew, Forrest, the son of her brother and sister-in-law. She says, “We garden together, and watching Forrest get close to the plants is so rewarding. If he sees one tiny strawberry, he can’t wait

to taste it.” She adds that watching her mother, Charys, create that bond with her grandson is a reminder of how she was raised — with a garden in their backyard. For Saylor, “Hanging out with the plants and getting dirty feels so natural to me.” After she returned to Ojai, Saylor also started working at Pans Garden Nursery, created and owned by her lifelong friend Nathan Whitman. When the pandemic was declared, Saylor and Whitman started a delivery system for bringing plants to many local residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions who needed to stay home. In recent months, Saylor and her business partner worked on a five-acre property in Meiners Oaks, while also beginning on a 20-acre parcel. Whether planting a large property or her family’s backyard, Saylor sources from Whitman’s nursery since he offers herbs, California natives, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, as well as varied exotic, medicinal and water-wise plants. Now that Saylor the “human multi-tool” is back home, she is here to stay and wants to continue to contribute to the community and nurture the land. When working in the garden, she says, “I feel fluid, centered, awake, present. I start noticing things more ... like a bug, or a new growth realigning with purpose and evolving. I think that our simple purpose on this earth is to evolve.”

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


In 1992, 18-year-old Dolkar Tso escaped her native Tibet as China sought to enforce its control over the country. Dolkar went to India, where she lived in a refugee camp for the next five years. The accommodations were primitive, with about 50 women in each dormitory room and a scarcity of bathing facilities. It was there that she met her Tibetan husband, Dorjee Tsewang. The couple arrived in the Ojai Valley in 1998. Although they had support from kind sponsors, they also worked hard and learned English. Dorjee, who took courses at Ventura Community College and online, got a job as a pool server at the Ojai Valley Inn and eventually became a food and beverage manager until the hotel closed for large-scale renovations. For many years, Dolkar also worked there part-time as a banquet server. Their two sons were born and raised in the valley. Twenty-one-year-old Kangchen is now an economics major at UC Santa Barbara, and 19-year-old Norbu is majoring in music at UC Irvine. In 2015, Dolkar realized her longtime dream of opening a restaurant, Mandala, “Cuisine of Tibet, India & Japan,” located in Oak View. Dorjee left a corporate job at Panda Express to assist Dolkar in managing the restaurant’s bookkeeping and marketing. “I work for her,” he says, beaming. “She’s my boss — and the chef.”


Simultaneously, the couple was able to buy a home close to the restaurant. At that time, Dolkar started planting a small vegetable garden, although she had never done so in Tibet, where she lived in the city. When the pandemic was declared, she enlarged her home garden so that there would be enough produce to supplement the restaurant’s needs and to provide additional food for her family.

Although the restaurant is open daily, Dolkar works in the garden for a few hours each morning until she leaves for work. This past summer, she grew tomatoes and zucchini, bell papers, cucumbers, swiss chard, corn, radishes, bok choy, and variety of lettuces. When there is surplus, she shares with friends. Since Kangchen and Norbu are both at home taking university classes via Zoom, they help their mom in the garden by turning the soil and watering. For the transition to fall and winter, Dolkar planted snap peas, cabbages, chard and additional lettuces. Production is abundant, and the fruit trees are flourishing. While in the garden, she says, “I feel like I’ve accomplished something special. I feel happiness, peace, close to the earth. All seems quiet, and I hear the birds. I love watching the vegetables as they grow. We are so lucky to have this food to nourish us. Food is life.”

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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thousands of miles from Bandung, Indonesia to Santa Barbara via Loma Linda, but that’s the journey Kenny Osehan traveled as a child. Her journey to create Shelter Social Club, a collection of hotels in Ojai and Los Alamos, was also long, not in miles, but in determination, inspiration and grit. Kenny, tall and lithe with straight black hair past her shoulders, and the grace of a dancer owns the Ojai Rancho Inn, Capri Hotel, Alamo Motel and the Hummingbird Inn, which will be added to her brand once it’s renovated. All the properties reflect two resounding themes in Kenny’s life, artistic spirit and creating community. Both are rooted in family.


Kenny was only eight months old when her parents, Yani and Anthony, brought her and her older sister, Jessy, to join other relatives already in the United States. The family carried a tradition of working hard, and working together. Kenny’s grandmother had eight children, and everyone pitched in to earn money from

a young age. In Indonesia they made fruit desserts, and each child sold the delights in the neighborhood, at school or on the street. In Loma Linda, the work changed, but not the collective effort. Kenny’s parents had a Laundromat. Kenny remembers helping clean, which included the fun of riding around in the laundry carts with her sister. They got treats from the Dairy Queen next door, and often fell asleep in the family car waiting for their parents to close up. Kenny also helped with her mom’s table at swap-meets around the area, at her Aunt’s bakery in Redlands, and by modeling clothes that her mother and aunt made. “They were always working on things together,” Kenny remembers. “My grandmother lived with us, and I always heard the sewing machine going in the garage.” Kenny’s extended family formed a tight ‘pod’ in today’s parlance. “My parents’ house was where ev-

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021





eryone got together.” The family spoke a language called Bahasa Indonesia. Kenny entered kindergarten speaking only her native language, and what English she had learned from cartoons. “I loved Looney Tunes and Sesame Street,” she laughs. On the way to that first day of school, Kenny’s parents gave her another challenge.

They told her American children would make fun of a girl named “Kenny,” so she had to tell everyone her name was “Kennilia.” They came up with it by adding my cousin’s name, Lea, on 110

to my name,” Kenny remembers.

“I was terrified that I’d forget how to say it and spell it, and the other kids would find out what my real name was. I finally changed back to Kenny in high school.” When Kenny was nine, her parents moved the family from their three-bedroom house in Loma Linda to Santa Barbara. Kenny’s sister had asthma, and they felt the climate would be better for her health. The Osehans became the managers, and eventual owners, of a OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



thirteen-room budget motel called The Travelers, which is now the Agave. The family lived in a cramped one-bedroom, one bathroom manager’s unit in the motel. Kenny was devastated by the move. “I was very close to my grandmother,” Kenny says, “and I was sad to leave her. I also wasn’t comfortable in Santa Barbara. I didn’t fit in. There were almost no Asian people, and my friends lived in houses with their own bedrooms.” On Kenny’s first day of school, a boy asked her if she knew Karate. “The Karate Kid was popular then,” Kenny sighs. Besides running the motel, Kenny’s mom started a clothing line

with imports from Indonesia, which meant she took extended trips overseas. Her Dad imported Indonesian food for his extra business. My parents were risk takers, and I learned that from them. I saw that if one thing didn’t work out it was OK.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021



They created other opportunities.” Kenny and her sister were always part of the family enterprises. Kenny went with her mother to the Fashion District in Los Angeles to sell clothes. She worked the front desk at the hotel from the time she was ten, taking reservations, checking people in, doing laundry, ironing pillowcases and helping clean. “I remember Mrs. Hoffman who lived in the hotel for months,” Kenny says. “She was in her eighties, and I would walk her to the grocery store. She was German and gave me dolls with eyes that opened and closed. I thought the faces were so scary I would turn them to the wall.” No doubt Mrs. Hoffman had good intentions, but when customers arrived late at night to check in, Kenny had to get out of bed so that more than one family member was at the desk. The Travelers attracted some less than desirable clients, and the Osehan’s learned to be cautious. Kenny didn’t care for school like her older sister did, but she adored drawing and painting. “I always loved to make art, work with clay, sew, be creative. I wanted to be an artist.” Predictably, her parents didn’t see a prosperous future in art, so Kenny got her degree from UCSB in sociology and art history. But the passion to create is a life force in some people. It won’t be denied by something as flimsy as lack of training, parental dictates or the side-tracks of life. Anyone who walks into one of Kenny’s iconic hotels today can see that an artist is in charge.

When Kenny’s parents were offered a short-term lease on The Presidio motel in downtown Santa Barbara Kenny and her then-husband jumped on the opportunity, and asked to run it. It was Kenny’s first chance to act on some of the dreams that had been forming over her years in the hotel industry.

The couple moved into the Presidio for the first three years. “We were waking up at 3 a.m.art to check people in, and at first the clientele was kind of shady, on drugs, or transient. The police came often, but we turned that around.” Borrowing money, the pair started renovating with furniture from IKEA, and the help of some UCSB students. “We just renovated one room at a time as we got the money,” Kenny remembers. “The UCSB art students did a vinyl sticker 112

installation up a wall in a room for an art show we hosted. We thought it was an inexpensive and unique way to create a fun experience in each room. We had them create different murals in all sixteen rooms.” Just running the motel wasn’t enough for Kenny. She had always dreamed of having a boutique for clothes and accessories, so she opened The Supply room in the lobby of the motel. “I thought it would be a hobby,” Kenny laughs, “but I was working 8AM to midnight.” She closed the boutique after two years, but she had plenty of other ideas. Jill of All Trades was Kenny’s outdoor swap-meet for female makers, a craft fair with food and jewelry that she held on the hotel grounds. She also started Deck the Halls, a holiday show where crafts’ people rent motel rooms to show their wares, and the event still happens at the Rancho every year. The rooms become pop-up stores where the vendors can stay over for the weekend. The show also allows shoppers to see the rooms. “The events fulfill me creatively,” Kenny says, “and they allow me to connect with old and new friends. They also serve as a way to keep the locals aware of the properties.”

The Presidio became the kind of place Kenny had envisioned, where she could invite friends with pride. “We changed the energy of the motel, and that changed the clientele.” The motel filled a middle niche for places to stay in Santa Barbara. “It was affordable but also offered an experience,” Kenny says. “I wanted people to feel they were entering a community, and get a sense of being a local when they stayed with us.” There were music and art parties, and a modern sense of style new to Santa Barbara. Friends opened businesses nearby, and they made a map for visitors to follow to the stores. One of those visitors was a travel writer, and soon The Presidio got written up in both Sunset Magazine and The New York Times.

The publicity was a great affirmation of Kenny and her partner’s vision, but a devastating shock soon followed. The Presidio landowners would not renew the lease. After years of work, thousands in renovations, and untold hours in building the motel’s engaging brand, Kenny and her partner had to start over. That’s when they found The Rancho Inn in Ojai. OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

memories of the week in mid-March when everything started shutting down. “I felt the doom of that weekend. Every phone call and email was a reservation cancellation. I had a migraine.”

Steve Edelson, who owns the Rancho property was happy to give them a twenty-year lease, and they got to work updating furnishings, textiles, and fixtures. They planned events and collaborated with artists to bring the property to life.

Kenny had to furlough staff, but helped them get unemployment. She saw thousands of dollars in refunds piling up. “My credit card batches were negative every day.” Kenny frowns remembering, “I struggled to keep money in my bank account, rushed to cancel automatic payments.” All of her reserve was going into the Capri renovation, which she had to stop. “I had been banking on going into the busy season, and replenishing my accounts.”

Kenny thought about how to meld Ojai’s spiritual side with its reputation as a hideout for Bohemian artists. She realized she was already friends with the artists who could fulfill her vision since she had represented their work in her shop at the Presidio.

The Rancho was able to open as an essential business. Kenny’s manager, Sheila, lives nearby, and was happy to work. They started to get long-term rental requests. People saw Ojai as a good place to isolate. “Rancho became a safe space for people who were stuck with nowhere to go,” Kenny says.

As an homage to Beatrice Wood, the new owners enlisted Heather Levine to create the ceramic pendant lights in the lobby, rooms and bar. Each room has a sacred door painting by Carly Jo Carson, and shibori-dyed curtains by Nikki Tsukamoto. Eric Trine created octahedron-shaped metal pedestals for the bar and leather woven chairs on each patio. “I’m so grateful to grow alongside these artists,” Kenny says. “Their work created a portal for me to develop the space. We have launched each other. Rancho wouldn’t be what it is without Heather Levine’s ceramic lights, and they’ve become her main work since she designed them for the property.”

By the end of April, Kenny’s other three hotels were open thanks to federal small business loans created after the pandemic took hold. She’s almost up to fifty-percent occupancy, and Steve, her landlord, has given her a generous break on rent.

In 2016, after the success of The Rancho, Steve offered the chance to run two more of his properties, the Capri and Hummingbird hotels in Ojai. “My motto is “go with the green light,” Kenny says. Owning a group of hotels, which soon included The Alamo Motel in Los Alamos, seemed the perfect time to create a portfolio. “We call it Shelter Social Club because they provide lodging with a social experience. The culture of the space is so important. It can’t just be a place to stay.” Today, Kenny is managing the brand herself, and struggling with the massive disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. She has sharp

The renovated Capri Hotel, Kenny’s take on Italian ‘60s/’70s meets mid-century California is ninety-percent complete, and open for reservations. “All the right people came into the picture as I started working on the Capri.” Kenny says. “Artists like Mattea Perrotta who created all original artwork for the rooms and the lobby painting. Jessica Pell of Manola Studios who worked on the vision, Eny Lee Parker made custom desk lamps and wall sconces. Winston and Ted of Dusk Designs did all the desks and beds, and the travertine and oak front desk. The best part for me is working with my friends and people who inspire me.” Kenny sees a brighter future ahead. “I feel lucky to have a business in a place like Ojai, where people will always want to visit. Overseas travel is going to be curtailed for a while, so I’m counting on people road-tripping up the coast.” And if those visitors want more than a place to sleep, the Shelter Social Club properties will be waiting.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


When you support our Wild About Ojai partners, you give back to local businesses and to Ojai’s open spaces! Please consider supporting our partners during this difficult time. A Taste of Ojai Alojai Creations BeCalm of Ojai Chamber on the Mountain

Jennifer Keeler, Hair Stylist at Bohème Lorraine Lim Catering Mary Nelson Skincare & Massage Studio

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The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company GoOjai.com

Sol Haus Design

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Tonya Peralta Real Estate Services, Inc


Tobias Parker, General Contractor OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

Photo by Nathan Wickstrum

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1. Azu Restaurant & Ojai Valley Brewery 457 E Ojai Avenue 805-640-7987 2. Bart’s Books 302 W. Matilija Street - corner of Cañada Street. 805-646-3755

3. Besant Hill School 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road 805-646-4343

The TheRanch RanchHouse House 15 15 15 15

4. Ojai Music Festival 201 S Signal 805-646-2094


5. Boccali’s Restaurant 3277 Ojai-Santa Paula Road 805-646-6116 6. Emerald Iguana Inn Located at North end of Blanche Street 805-646-5276


7. Genesis of Ojai 305 E Matilija Street 746-2058 18 18 18 18

8. OVA Arts 238 E Ojai Avenue 805-646-5682

14 14 14 14 8888 18 18

9. ROTI 469 E Ojai Avenue 310-770-3282 4444

10. Ojai Art Center 113 S Montgomery Street 805-646-0117


11. Nutmeg’s Ojai House 304 N Montgomery Street 805-640-1656

12. Ojai Café Emporium 108 S Montgomery Street 805-646-2723

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13. Ojai Valley Electronics & Hobby 307-A E Matilija Street 805-646-7585 14. Ojai Valley Museum 130 W Ojai Avenue 805-640-1390

15. Ranch House 102 Besant Road 805-640-2360 11

16. Sea Fresh 533 E Ojai Avenue 805-646-7747 19

17. Studio Sauvageau 332-B E Ojai Avenue (Inner Arcade) 805-646-0117

13 8 7



STAY ON HWY 150 for about 2.2 miles 1






18. Treasures of OJAI 110 N Signal Street 805-646-2852

19. Porch Gallery 310 E Matilija Street 213-321-3919

20. Ojai Olive Oil 1811 Ladera Ridge Road (off Hermitage) 805-646-5964

CAFÉ EMPORIUM Take advantage of this prime piece of commercial real estate with a fully operational up and running business. Ojai’s Café Emporium is a turnkey, well-established breakfast and lunch restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Ojai. Prime location steps away from all of Ojai’s events and attractions. Ojai Cafe’ Emporium has for over 34 years addressed the need in the community for a warm and friendly dining experience for family, friends and business. A family tradition for every generation serving high-quality, fresh and healthy food. And if you crave something sweet, there is an adjoining bakery producing fresh baked goods every morning. $2,099,000

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The HSVC is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19. We are performing adoptions, spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and other services by appointment only. If you are in need of any of these services, please visit www.hsvc.org for more information. Our shelter needs your support now more than ever. Those wanting to donate to help animals in need can do so by visiting hsvc.org/donate. Thank you for your support, understanding, and patience during this difficult time.

402 Bryant St. Ojai, CA 93023 805-646-6505 Tax ID: 95-2272598


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ask dr. beth

Healers of Ojai

these plain facts

Willpower? Wellpower! By Beth Prinz, M.D.

Practitioners & Helpers

Carrizo Plain Turns 20 By Chuck Graham




Ojai’s Hiking Map


nocturnal submissions

Our Top Trails Art by Colleen McDougal

Ojai’s Busy, But Still Mostly Online, Schedule of Events

Writing Group. Library. Monday By Sami Zahringer

OQ | A S K DR . B ET H WILLPOWER? WELLPOWER! Working Around Your Weaknesses DR. BETH PRINZ Contact: doctorbeth@ojaiquarterly.com The Food Doctor M.D. – Dr. Beth Prinz is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and passionate about preventing disease through healthy living and a whole-food, plant-based dietary approach to health.

Someone I know very well said something shocking to me the other day. Discussing meal plans, he casually stated, “Well, I couldn’t do that, I don’t have your kind of willpower.” Excuse me? Willpower? That’s not me. I’m the person who cannot leave an opened bag of salt and vinegar chips on the counter until every last salty crumb is licked clean from my fingers. I’m the person who will spoil my dinner and skip dinner altogether if there’s chocolate in the house. What my friend called willpower is actually just me knowing my weaknesses (and strengths) and planning accordingly. Strategic planning! Here are some things I know to be true: 1. If I go to the grocery store hungry, I’m coming home with salt and vinegar chips and a bunch of other things I didn’t want to buy. 2. If I come home from work starving because I didn’t eat lunch, and there’s salt and vinegar chips at home, I’ll eat the entire bag and I will have no appetite for dinner. 3. If I buy cheese for “the kids,” I’ll eat it before they know it’s there. 4. I am so lazy that if I have to cut, chop, peel, cook, or clean it up after 10 p.m. I am probably not going to bother eating at all. 5. I can eat the other half of a birthday cake in two days. 6. The breakrooms at work have higher caloric density per square foot than a Dunkin’ Donuts. 120

So what’s my strategy? 1. Keep it out of the house. This eliminates 99 percent of problem. Whatever it is I don’t want to be eating, I keep it out of the house (most of the time.) 2. To ensure strategy No. 1, I never go to the grocery store hungry. 3. Don’t buy cheese or any other junk “for the kids.” They don’t need it either. 4. Do as much of the cutting, chopping, peeling and cooking in bulk so there’s healthy stuff to grab in moments of fatigue. 5. Cupcakes are just as yummy for birthdays as cake and there less risk of leftovers. One per person. 6. Stay out of the work breakroom unless I’ve already eaten. Willpower is useless in the face of great temptation, except when the temptation goes against our values. I don’t need willpower to not steal the groceries. I’ve incorporated not-stealing-groceries into my value system. Even if I did forget my wallet and it’s super inconvenient to put everything back and go home, I’m not going to steal, even if I wouldn’t get caught. It’s just part of my value system. Same goes for not eating animals. I used to eat animals, and I couldn’t imagine how I could switch to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle — it seemed so inconvenient. It took several cognitive shifts to make the change permanent. The first was the data on health and longevity. Once I understood that eliminating OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


animal products was the single most important change I could make for my health, I was compelled to start making the necessary changes. The second cognitive shift involved understanding the impact of animal agriculture on the planet and on the welfare of the animals. Even though I probably would still enjoy the taste of a hamburger, the thought of eating one seems rather gross, so it’s easy to avoid. No willpower required. So it makes sense that my friend viewed my generally

healthy eating patterns — my whole food plant-based eating — as a sign of willpower when in fact, now that I’ve had the cognitive shift, it’s effortless. The occasional temptation, say, a bag of chips, which does not transgress my value system, does require willpower. For this, I resort to strategies to limit the likelihood I partake, because junk food is still something I know is not good for my health, and my health is another thing I value.

Doctor Beth’s Nine S For Taking Charge of Your Health 1. Sleep: Adequate and restorative

safe limits, and the opposite at night, turn off the ubiquitous blue

2. Stress: Work/life balance, avoiding toxic people and relationships, use therapy when needed

3. Social: We need connection and belonging with other humans to thrive

4. Service: Find a purpose, do something for others 5. Sunshine: Daily exposure to direct sunlight within

lights from our electronic gadgets.

6. Spirit: Believe in the wonder and beauty of nature or some other higher power. Cultivate a sense of awe and appreciation for the beauty of life.

7. Sweat: Get out and move your body every day. 8. Scale: Maintain a healthy body weight 9. Superior Diet: Diversity of plants is the optimal goal. If it grew in the earth, and is not highly processed, go for it.

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OQ | H EA L I NG A RTS JACALYN BOOTH Certified Colon Hydrotherapist Ojai Digestive Health With more than 30 years of experience in healing modalities, Jacalyn brings a deep level of caring to the art of colon hydrotherapy. Professional, nurturing, experienced. OjaiDigestiveHealth.com 805-901-3000

HEALING WITH ALISON EAKIN Healing sessions for the mind, body and spirit. Guided breath work meditation opens the flow of energy from the universe. Get help with insomnia, anxiety, depression, trauma, anorexia, and addiction. HealingWithAlison.com 970-208-7733

JUDY GABRIEL Energy Landscaping Using intuitive vision and energy dowsing, Judy brings the health of your body, land, business, or home into balance to support your highest potential. Judy@EnergyLandscaping.com EnergyLandscaping.com 805-798-4111

NUTMEG’S OJAI HOUSE Functional Art for Heart & Home - American Made Fair Trade - Psychic Tarot and Astrology Readers, Energy and Crystal Healings daily by appt. Walk-ins welcomed: Open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 304 N. Montgomery Street OjaiHouse.com | 805-640-1656


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LESLIE BOUCHÉ, C.HT. Cert. Hypnotherapist Find your calm center. Release negative thinking, emotional reactivity, anxiety, fear and unhelpful behaviors. Improve sleep and comfort. Safe, loving, rapid change. It’s time to feel better! leslie@lesliebouche.com LeslieBouche.com | 805-796-1616

ALAN CHANG, L.Ac 2nd generation Acupuncturist who brings 15 years of Meditation, Tai Chi and Kyudo Zen Archery experience to his healing practice of Functional Medicine and TCM. AmaraOjai.com | 805-486-3494

LAURIE EDGCOMB Lic. Acupuncturist since 1986, voted best in Ojai! Natural medicine including Microcurrent, nutritional and herbal consultation, Facial Rejuvenation. LaurieEdgcomb.com 805-798-4148

LAUREL FELICE, LMT Offers Swedish, deep tissue, reflexology, reiki, cranialsacral and pre and post natal massage with a reverent and joyous balance of hands and heart. laurelfelice54@gmail.com 805-886-3674

DR. JOHN R. GALASKA Dr. John R. Galaska, PsyD, BCN, Cht, university professor of Psychology, Neurofeedback, biofeedback, hypnosis for past troubling experiences and enhancing subjective life experience. BeCalmOfOjai.com facebook.com/BeCalmofOjai 805-705-5175

NATHAN KAEHLER, MA, LAC Nathan Kaehler (Best of Ojai 2014). Licensed Acupuncturist, MA Psychology. Gentle acupuncture, 14 years experience Personalized herb preparations Large onsite herb dispensary OjaiHerbs.com | 805-640-8700

SOMATIC SANCTUARY Welcome to Somatic Sanctuary — a somatic-based healing and movement arts center. Explore healing treatments, group movement sessions, workshops and community events. 410 W. Ojai Avenue 805-633-9230 SomaticSanctuary.com

ALARRA SARESS Gong Meditation and Acutonics Sound Alchemist. Master Bodyworker. Founder of Harmonic Earth — sacred space for healing arts and performance. Call or text. 107 W. Aliso Street HarmonicEarth.org | 720-5303415

JULIE TUMAMAITSTENSLIE Chumash Elder Consultant • Storyteller • Spiritual Advisor • Workshops Weddings & Ceremonies JTumamait@sbcglobal.net 805-646-6214

NAN TOLBERT NURTURING CENTER Pre-birth to 3; pre/post-natal wellbeing; infant/toddler development; parent education/support. BirthResource.org info@birthresource.org 805-646-7559

email bret bradigan at

editor@ojaiquarterly.com or


OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


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within a throng of Canadian milkvetch, green ephedra and swaying grasses, I observed an active den of San Joaquin kit foxes, six pups jostling amongst themselves as one of the parents stood watch over its rambunctious family. The kit foxes were surrounded by their prey. California ground

squirrels and endangered antelope ground squirrels were readily

available near the den site. They hovered around their own burrows keeping a watchful eye on the kit foxes. Ironically, the rodents’

alarm calls also alerted the kit foxes of potential threats. Prey and predator working in unison.

During the evening, giant kangaroo rats took their nocturnal turn. Sitting in my tent, I heard them communicating with each other by drumming their kangaroo-like feet on the ground, burrow to burrow, this sliver of grassland habitat working the way it’s supposed to, 20 years after the Carrizo Plain became a National Monument.

The last of California’s historic grasslands nestled in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley, 50 miles east of San Luis Obispo turns 20 in January 2021.

The Plain is an example of a thriving ecosystem that’s home to more endangered species than anywhere else within the Golden State, a diatom of what once extended 450 miles north encompassing the entire California Valley. Twenty years has seen continual growth for native flora and fauna alike on the Carrizo Plain. However, there is plenty of room to expound on this growth to recapture more remnants of these grasslands by extending habitat beyond the National Monument, while increasing wildlife corridors and revegetating these surrounding lands.

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logical stability, and the Carrizo Plain is their last bastion of habitat for this integral species.

For decades, the Carrizo Plain was cropland and ranches of various ilk. As these ranchlands waned and non-native animals removed, parts of the Carrizo Plain healed on its own.

“The return of giant kangaroo rats seems to be the cure,” continued Dr. Chipping. “They recast the microtopography and microhabitats suitable for native plant preoccupation.”

Other regions have required a helping hand. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) started buying land back from ranch owners in the 1980s. Eventually the Carrizo Plain came under control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). And although many public lands are under fire for their natural resources, the Carrizo Plain remains protected. Under watchful eyes such as nonprofits like Friends of the Carrizo Plain (FCP), the cleanup of ranchlands, especially fence removal, has enabled wildlife to roam freely.

“I am generally pleased, said Dr. David Chipping, president of the FCP, referring to the overall restoration of the Carrizo Plain. “Although the recovery of former cropland has been slower than original expectations due to destruction of the original soil profiles.”

THAT WAS THEN This remnant of grassland habitat once encompassed the entire San Joaquin Valley, from the 246,812 acres that makes up the Carrizo Plain north for 270 miles between the Eastern Sierra and the Coast Ranges. The Carrizo Plain represents the least impacted region of the San Joaquin Valley. Located at its most southern region, the entire valley once teemed with massive herds of tule elk, California’s only native elk and fleet-footed pronghorn antelope,

Soil destruction on the Carrizo Plain is an example of something that dates back to the great Dust Bowl era that inflicted the West in the early 1900s. However, with the return of the grasslands, one of the smallest, but most important creatures on the Carrizo Plain and beyond is putting in the hard work to reverse lasting damage.

Ecologically speaking, the giant kangaroo rat is small but mighty increasing biodiversity on the Carrizo Plain. Biologists say as the giant kangaroo rat goes, so goes the rest of the Carrizo Plain.


the fastest land mammal in North America. The Carrizo Plain now represents what once was.

The giant kangaroo rat is virtually responsible for everything improving from the ground up on the Carrizo Plain as they have come to be known as the eco-engineers of the grasslands. They regenerate soils providing quality habitat for native plants. Their burrows provide denning habitat for a wide host of grassland wildlife. Vacant giant kangaroo rat burrows are adopted and modified by American badgers, kit foxes, burrowing owls, antelope ground squirrels and more.

However, there is hope for expansion beyond the Carrizo Plain. Since 2013, the nonprofit Carrizo Plain Conservancy (CPC) has been buying up old ranch lands and restoring them with native vegetation and clearing fences to create important wildlife corridors.

Following wet winters giant kangaroo rat populations spike and the long-tailed, almond-shaped eyed, big-footed rodents are a source of food for hawks, falcons, owls, canids, snakes, and weasels. Giant kangaroo rats cover the gamut of eco-

Once surrounding lands are acquired the CPC restores freshwater springs, plants trees and shrubs, then fencing those new plantings to keep herbivores (both native and domestic) out until established.


“This is our main purpose,” said Neil Havlik, president of the CPC. “It is a great feeling for all of us to have things like this happen.”

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

“We are all looking forward to a larger scale effort to “re-shrub” the Plain,” continued Havlik. “We want to restore the open shrublands that we believe covered much of the Plain before clearing for agriculture and which still can be found in places which have not been so cleared. This will significantly improve habitat for wildlife by diversifying the habitat and making better cover for nesting birds and young herbivores such as pronghorn. This is the long-term goal, and I believe it can be realized, although it will take time.”

GRASSLAND OBSERVATIONS I admit, to experience the natural wonders of the Carrizo Plain, it does take some patience and a pair of binoculars. Virtually all its inhabitants blend in with their surroundings. A maze of game trails zig-zag across the grasslands and hillsides of the Caliente and Temblor Mountain ranges. Evidence is everywhere suggesting an abundance of wildlife.


Last spring, I was hired to be a wildlife guide for a film crew working on a two-part documentary about California wildlife. They direct messaged me while I was partially concealed in the brush photographing a kit fox den. They asked if I could help with their project and I obliged.

Now all I had to do was find everything, and somehow, I

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the photo book “Carrizo Plain: Where The Mountains Meet The Grasslands” by Chuck Graham is available for purchase. The photo book covers 15 years of photographing the grass-

managed to locate the dens of kit foxes, badgers, burrowing owls, giant kangaroo rats, antelope ground squirrels and where to locate blunt-nosed leopard lizards. I located nests of ravens, songbirds, barn owls and great horned owls. It was an enjoyable five weeks and my time observing animal behavior increased my knowledge of all the species I encountered. One late afternoon while working out in the field with the film crew, one of them revealed the results from their FLIR camera, a locater of thermal imaging seeking heat out on the grasslands at night. I was blown away by what they had captured two nights before. Pointing the locater out into the Panorama Hills, the imagery revealed an array of wildlife. Within a short distance, kit foxes and badgers foraged, coyotes marauded, burrowing owls chased insects, and giant kangaroo rats drummed overturned soil.


It was a unique perspective of the grasslands at night. What was remarkable was how close all the species were to each other, almost as if they were not concerned with each other’s presence. It was a small sample of what the entire San Joaquin Valley once looked like, the Carrizo Plain being a reminder of what once was but can be expanded upon over the next 20 years.

lands. The 116 pages of photos also includes three essays and an intro by Graham; the foreword was written by Neil Havlik, president of the Carrizo Plain Conservancy. It can be purchased at www.chuckgrahamphoto.com or by direct messaging the author on Instagram @chuckgrahamphoto.

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PRATT TRAIL 8.8mi STRENUOUS | Elev. Gain: 3,300

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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

OQ | EV EN TS CA L ENDA R d e c e m b e r -j a n u a r y - f e b r u a r y weekend seminars



SOMATIC SANCTUARY | MON-FRI @ somaticsanctuary.com The Ojai Invitational 2020 — “The Ceramics Show” Dates: To December 21: Porch Gallery Ojai presents the Ojai Invitational 2020, The Ceramics Show: Featuring Works by Wyatt Amend, Beth Katz, Travis Kennedy, Elizabeth Orleans, Peter Shire, Diane Silver, Sandra Torres, Lynda Weinman and Beatrice Wood. — a collaboration with EMS ARTS. Location: Porch Gallery, 310 East Matilija Street Contact: porchgalleryojai.com 805-620-7589 Insight 2020" Dates: November through December Location: Ojai Valley Museum Contact: info@OjaiValleyMuseum.org Ojai Studio Artists have contributed to this virtual gallery exhibit, a reflection on the tumult of the year. Open with precautions. Agora Foundation’s Saturday Seminars Time: 12 noon to 2 p.m. Location: agorafoundation.org Learn, discuss and challenge the wisdom of Beckett, Aristophanes, Montaigne, Proust or Seneca with experienced tutors. Cost of a subscription is $25 per month, with scholarships available. Contact: agorafoundation.org Phone: 805-231-5974 DECEMBER 5 “Online Film Seminar — Rashomon”

“THE CERAMICS SHOW” - PORCH GALLERY | THU-SUN | TIME VARIES Released in 1950, “Rashomon” was the first Japanese film to receive a significant international reception, and is considered one of the greatest films ever made. “The Rashomon effect” of the unreliability of witness accounts is named after the film. Contact: agorafoundation.org Phone: 805-231-5974 DECEMBER 12 “Thucydides — The Peloponnesian War” Is there an art to writing and reading history? Is a detached view of historical events desirable, or even possible? What does this conflict (431-404 BC) in particular have to teach us. This series will cover all eight books over time, with one two-hour online seminar per book. Contact: agorafoundation.org Phone: 805-231-5974 DECEMBER 19 “Shakespeare’s Henriad Tetralogy” ​Readings in the Series this date: Richard II “Though I did wish him dead, I hate the murd’rer, love him murdered.” Tutors: Eric Stull and Andy Gilman​ Contact: agorafoundation.org Phone: 805-231-5974

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Every Sunday Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact: 805-698-5555 Location: Matilija Street city parking lot behind the Arcade. Open air market featuring locally grown produce, as well as plants, musicians and handmade items. Monday, Wednesday & Friday “Somatic Stretch for Self Healing” Instructor: Meredith Sands Keator Time: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Location: Anywhere you can find a sturdy internet connection. Contact: somaticsanctuary.com email support@somaticsanctuary Phone: 805-633-9230 Mondays & Thursday “Introduction to Somatic Stretch” Instructor: Sultana Parvanka Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Contact: somaticsanctuary.com email support@somaticsanctuary Phone: 805-633-9230 Wednesday “Offerings with Sarah Grace” — Somatic Satsang, free community gathering and tools for resiliency Instructor: Sarah Grace Time: 7 p.m. Contact: somaticsanctuary.com email support@somaticsanctuary Phone: 805-633-9230 Thursday “Awareness Through Movement” Instructor: Mary Jo Healy Time: 4 to 5 p.m. Contact: somaticsanctuary.com email support@somaticsanctuary Phone: 805-633-9230 Every Day Farmer & The Cook Location: 339 West El Roblar Avenue, Meiners Oaks Times: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This popular farm-to-kitchen destination has reopened, with usual precautions in place to reduce exposure to coronavirus.




Almost everybody else had arrived by the time Stephanie Potts (Phanny to her friends) got to the library to lead the regular Monday writing workshop. They weren’t an easy lot but they turned up week after week, animated by some inner fire, hungry for an elusive something — people so different they would never meet under any other circumstances


between them they had developed a sort of reluctant friendship; a grudging trust, if not in each other, then in The Group. They understood the importance of having a place free of snickering to expose their fledgling work. Such places were becoming increasingly rare in the noisy, scornful world. Phanny was a local journalist and had had a difficult day already. Sightings of the Beast Of Upper Ojai were increasing but eyewitness reports varied wildly. “The beast looked very much to me like a child accountant stapled to a shag rug,” one had said. A tiny man with wide, bloodshot eyes and a strong smell of methylated spirits about him said the beast was “enormous and bounded! Odd bounding at first, then more normal bounding. I’ll never forget it. Especially the normal bounding.” He shuddered. A large woman with an arthritic Labrador under one arm and an “I garden so I don’t kill people” T-shirt had said “No, no, I saw it very clearly. The beast was really quite small and made a noise like the start of the News at 10.” In the end, Phanny had just written “The beast was monstrous in its indefinability.” She looked around at the group. The Reverend Moley, his wife, Judy, and their five children, all of whom were crawling around on the floor were there. Their eldest, Damian, was inventing a Death Ray with rubber bands and a vape; Punky Suzy was there; 134

Octavia Cadwallad’r, British heiress to the Toilet Duck millions; Mary-Ann, poet of the high-blown Restoration style; Pablo Escobar (yes, really), a dentist and speculative fiction writer. Phanny looked around at the potluck food they had brought and perceived that Westridge Market had had a sale on pre-cut cheese cubes. She had brought a large mason jar of her much requested sourdough starter for everybody to take a bit home. “Now, it’s not for me to draw parallels between my life and the life of Christ,” the Reverend Moley, was saying gravely to the already assembled, “But people say that at a certain time of twilight, when I’m standing against a tree they have perceived from me a strange and holy emanation.” “Actually,” piped up Judy, “They said “an odd discharge.” You do have a robust sinus problem, darling.” “But,” continued the reverend smoothly, “I also have a plantar wart and some nasty splinter scars on the palms of my hands from when I was a boy and I was forced to climb a tree to escape my sister’s pony. The pony’s name?” He asked with a smile that could barely contain its own triumph. “Roamin’ Norman! Make of that what you will!” OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

The looks around the room could not have been blanker had they been oil company checks to a presidential campaign. “Roamin’ Norman! ROMAN Norman! Scarred palms and a verruca! Do you see?” They did. They did all see. Damian death-rayed a Puffy Cheeto. Next to the reverend was Suzy Whatro, a tiny, many-pierced member of several major Oak View Anarcho-syndicalist organizations who were dedicated to the overthrow of everything the reverend believed in. She passed him some pasta salad, adjusted her cheek-ring and said “Have we started then? What’s your poem, Moley?”

“Well, Suzie …” he said, allowing himself a small preen. Not a mortal preen or anything, Pride being a deadly sin, and all. But just enough to indicate to everyone that they were about to hear something very special indeed. “Suzy,” she corrected. “Well, I was inspired by you actually. With all your many punctures.”

“Piercings,” she growled. “Looking at your piercings, I was reminded of St. Sebastian’s horrible arrowy death and martyrdom for Jesus at the hands of the Emperor Diocletian’s soldiers. And although the circumstances are different, in the same way I believe you have mutilated yourself for your beliefs too. I find that very moving.” Suzy found it very weird but even though she was an anarchist sworn to burn the system to the ground, she felt compassion for the reverend. Something must have gone very wrong in his past for him to choose a life like that. She nodded and gave a brief, tight smile. The group winced and leg-crossed its way through the reverend’s poem as the air about them fizzed with words like stab, lance, flesh, spike, and sea-urchin. Phanny gently suggested the reverend hold back on the torrents of blood flowing from the Suzy’s hideously sliced belly-button piercing and the reverend, although slightly irritated nobody had been moved to weeping, agreed it needed more work. Next it was Suzy’s turn, but she said that she now wanted to perform her poetry exclusively in a cupboard in an abandoned farmhouse in the the Hebridean wilderness because “the audience is a passive concept” and she didn’t want to feed her ego.

OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


OQ | NO C T U RN A L S U BM I SS I ONS Fair enough, thought everyone, a bit relieved, and turned to Mary-Ann, a spinster of the reverend’s parish who had forgotten her poem but wanted instead to talk with some animation to the reverend about improving the quality of the communion wine. The minister visibly slumped. Mary-Ann’s disapproving pucker reminded him keenly of his mother’s. Although dead and buried many years now, he was sure that like the Cheshire Cat’s smile, her pucker would be the very last thing remaining in the dark of her silent, reproachful coffin, long after the rest of her had turned to dust. “Last week’s,” she said “was quite good …” “Oh yes?” The reverend sat forward looking hopeful. “… But at the same time immensely disappointing.” Mary-Ann was good at being disappointed in the same way that a dwarf is good at being short. A meanly-nostrilled woman, she had that type of brutal honesty that was more interested in the brutality than the honesty. “I found it plucky, yes, but almost Episcopalian in its predictability. To me it wasn’t the sort of thing The Host would credibly inhabit. I mean I just don’t BELIEVE Our Lord would bother to show up in such an insipid wine! It tasted like liquid Belgium. I know we can do better, Reverend. From my not-insignificant monetary contributions alone. Perhaps also you could put a little more red meat into your sermons, too. Bit of bracing Old Testament with a nice communion Pinot sounds like just the thing to move into winter. ” “Darling, Mary-A!” trilled Octavia Cadwallad’r who had been watching Mary-Ann’s genteel savaging of the minister from beneath her dangerously smokey eyelids. “You must tell me about this marvelously rough kind of paté you’ve brought to share!” “It’s meatloaf ” spat back Mary-Ann, her nostrils going menacingly white around the edges. Reverend Moley gave Octavia a look you could have poured on pancakes. The tension was broken as the sourdough starter suddenly bubbled gastrically in its jar. Unfortunately, it was on a seat next to Pablo, the dentist, and nobody could help notice how much more charismatic the starter was than Pablo. 136

Pablo was the sort of person who was not born as a baby. He was born aged 54, was 17 for a minute when he said and did all the regrettable things he had ever done thus far, and now is an age nobody knows. He spoke at length about something or other, rhyming sonorously in such a way that two of the children on the floor went to sleep. “Dum de dum de dum de etter,” he intoned. “Dum de blah blah dum de dead Life would be so very much better if you could take your arms off in bed.” Wait! Wait now, what did he just say? Everybody suddenly came to and considered this carefully for a while. The murmured consensus was that yes, things WOULD definitely be improved if we didn’t have to sort out what to do with our arms in bed! There always seemed to be one too many, even when sleeping alone. Very good point. Huh! That Pablo, he’s more interesting than we thought.The quiet ones, eh? Privately, they each hoped he wasn’t a serial killer. Then Pablo said had to leave early to pick up his pregnant wife and their son. The reverend laughed and said “I understand completely. What a merry-go-round! My wife and I had five children under five at one point!” “Five under five! Wow! Are any of them twins?” asked Phanny. “No,” said the Reverend and glanced lovingly at his wife who was patiently trying to comb some strawberry jam out of her hair. The words, “We are just sexually irrepressible” hung, unspoken, in the air. The silence was broken, thank God, with a sad fizz as Damian death-rayed a bumblebee, leaving just a tiny smoking pile of ash and wings. In reality, Pablo did not have a wife or a child. He was going home to watch competitive Ballroom Dancing and eat cheetos from a bowl resting on his tummy, like a happy otter. In reality, Pablo was a serial killer. He just hadn’t killed anyone yet… Part 2 of Writing Group, next issue… OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021


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OQ / WINTER 2020-2021

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