Ojai Magazine Fall 2020

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FALL 2020



Kisses the Ground






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char michaels I N T E R N AT I O N A L















FALL 2020 VOLUME 38 No.3

EDITOR’S NOTE - 12 ARTS & CULTURE Non-essential Art - 24 Weddings Reimagined - 66 Artisan Parfumes - 30 Artists & Galleries Directory - 27 BIG ISSUES Ojai’s Lorax, Alasdair Coyne - 16 Cover story: Kiss the Ground Released - 58 FOOD & DRINK Bonito Coffee Roasters - 36 Eating with the Season - 44 Art in a Bottle, Majestic Oak Winery - 48 Dining & Tasting Directory - 54

100 30

OUTER LIMITS Extraterrestrial Ambassador Mark Simms - 74


TRANSFORMATION Deborah King, Your Heart Never Lies - 86 HEALTH Making Friends with your Microbiome - 92 Mindfulness & Healing Directory - 97 EVENTS - Calendar - 72 HISTORY Celebrating Ojai Suffrage - 100 The Great Walls of Ojai - 110 HUMOUR Lonely Heart Will Travel - 80 Look Back in Ojai - 127 OUTDOORS Hiking Trails for the Fall - 120 REAL ESTATE - 115


36 74 58



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jai Valley Guide has evolved to Ojai Magazine. Call it the mid-life crisis of a 38-year-old publication, or the abdication of the too weighty responsibility of being your “Guide.” We remain the longest living magazine in the Ojai Valley, published by the Ojai Valley News, and we appreciate our loyal readership. Our world is upside down and it keeps on churning and burning. Besides our last two issues of Ojai Magazine, the best thing about the year so far just may have been the beautiful symmetry of the “2020” New Year’s eye-glasses we wore that evening. Since then it has been plague, revolt, brimstone, loss and waiting. I have been inspired by cover-story filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell, and their mission of regenerative agriculture in their groundbreaking environmental documentary, Kiss the Ground, recently released on Netflix. The good news the Tickells and their team bring is that there are answers to global warming through changes in agricultural practices: restoring our dirt to soil to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We can all take a page from their book and consider regenerating our Ojai lifestyle. Woody Harrelson, narrator of the film, makes a promise, “I won’t give up, and neither should you.” So instead of pining away the days, dreaming of turning back the clock to “Make Ojai Great Again,” let’s regenerate and move on, because, as my swim coach Rick Goeden says, “only the strong survive!” Ojai is a small community with an accountable and conscientious people, so coronavirus has left most of us virus-free, though a COVID culture affects us all. Our spirits are heavier, and I miss the relaxed laughter of our recent old days. But our people are resilient, and we are capable of regenerating our joy. The neighbors are friendly, conversing on the daily dog and cocktail walk, seeming to instinctively understand they may be helping to stave off the despair of a neighbor. One can usually get a swim lane at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, catch a break from gravity and give and receive some compassion. There’s always a hike we haven’t been on in a while, about 20 restaurants with outdoor seating … so the glass-half-full days are plentiful if you’re looking. Of course we are all focused on national politics this year, and some people are feeling helpless in their inability to effect meaningful change. Perhaps you’ll think I’m drinking my own Kool-Aid when I say that democracy starts here at home, but a small town like Ojai is a place where you can experience a palpable difference in effecting change: in local government, with advocacy, and through local projects. Positive changes begin with knowing what’s going on. Our First Amendment right to a free press is a protection not an entitlement; it is a choice we make for ourselves. Becoming informed truly starts with a subscription to a local news source, and the Ojai Valley News has been reporting for our community for 130 years now. … In this town, every Who down in Horton’s Whoville, must count: “Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!” Let’s stick together, Ojai Valley — and those who love it — let’s harness the power of our people along with our earth to regenerate our soil, our local economy, our health, our confidence and our sense of humor. Please enjoy the stories of Ojai lifestyle, and thank our advertisers.

EDITOR / PUBLISHER Laura Rearwin Ward

ASSISTANT EDITOR Georgia Schreiner


Perry Van Houten • Alicia Doyle Karen Lindell • Kit Stolz • Ellen Sklarz Drew Mashburn • Richard La Plante Richard Camp • Robin Goldstein Alexia Parks



Robert Lloyd • Jodie Miller Billy MacNeil




team@ojaivalleynews.com advertising@ojaivalleynews.com Phone: 805.646.1476 101 Vallerio Avenue Ojai, CA 93023 ©2020 Downhome Publishing, LLC

Cover photo: Ian Somerhalder, executive producer of the newly released documentary, Kiss the Ground Photo: Mariana Schulze


Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher.






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Ojai’s Lorax

(He speaks for the trees)


By Kit Stolz


n a hot summer day in the mid-1990s, conservationist and professional gardener Alasdair Coyne, who emigrated to Ojai from Scotland as a young man, came home to the sound of a ringing telephone. He dashed up the stairs. “I ran up the stairs to our living quarters to get the phone,” Coyne said. “I was out of breath and not really prepared for the call. Somebody with a Japanese accent said, ‘You know Mr. Toyama? He has no finger.’” Coyne at the time had been leading a fight to preserve two large parcels of land along the Ventura River frontage in the Ojai Valley — totaling 1,800 acres — from development into a luxury golf course called Farmont by a Japanese tycoon named Kagehisa Toyama. Coyne had heard rumors that Toyama was a member of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. “To be a member of the Yakuza, you have to chop off the little finger of your left hand — and you have to do it yourself, no one can do it for you,” Coyne said. (Because he never met or spoke to Toyama, Coyne grants that he cannot know if the allegation was true or not, but he believed it.) Coyne tried to ask questions of his mysterious caller, but the man hung up. Coyne guessed that he might have been calling from Japan, but couldn’t know for sure. He went to the police. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office put him in touch with a task force in Los Angeles focused on organized crime, but after looking into the details, they told Coyne — “unhelpfully” — that it was unlikely that a prominent member of the Yakuza would be involved in a high-profile development in California. Coyne consulted with


Ojai gardener Alasdair Coyne left the Japanese Mafia in the dirt in a high-stakes game to preserve what is now the Ventura River Preserve, owned by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. a young Japanese acquaintance, an environmental activist, who told Coyne that if he were a farmer in Indonesia or Hawaii, he would have reason to worry for his safety. “He said that if I was a subsistence farmer in Hawaii or Indonesia, then I might disappear in the night, but since I was prominent locally as a member of the opposition in the community, they won’t drag me off in the night and put a bullet in my head and drop me off at sea,” Coyne said. “I wasn’t terrified, but it was sobering.” At the time the Japanese economy was booming, and golf was a national obsession. Lindsay Nielson, a wellknown Ventura attorney, represented the proposal for Toyama and his firm in lawsuits, Board of Supervisors hearings and the press. Nielson said that in the late 1980s, to be a member of the premier golf course in Tokyo could cost a million dollars a year. A golf course for the wealthy could attract substantial visitation from vacationing Japanese golfers accustomed to flying to Hawaii or California to play. The battle between the Japanese magnate Toyama — who owned at the time a radio station in Japan — and a ragtag band of Ojai activists led by Coyne began with a water bill. In July 1992, Coyne says, the Meiners Oaks Water Company doubled the cost of his home water. At about the same time, Coyne says, he heard of the Farmont plan to put in a luxury golf course, initially described as a “Camp David West,” with a luxury resort and a high membership fee of $100,000 a year or more. He knew the golf course would depend on wells near Rancho Matilija that supplied the Meiners Oaks Water Company and the Ventura River Water Company.

“So the price of water was going up and it didn’t make sense to me to be paying more money to support a luxury golf course, especially during a drought,” he says now. Coyne went on to describe his style of activism: a kind of Environmental Organizing 101. He began by building a constituency. Already Coyne was writing on a frequent basis for a local alternative paper, the Ojai/Ventura Voice, a nowdefunct biweekly for which he wrote 55 stories on Farmont over the course of 11 years. In the paper Coyne began raising questions about the project. Coyne avoided any rumors in his reporting. Instead he focused tightly on the requirements of the county’s General Plan. In county planning documents, he discovered a paragraph that prohibited the irrigation of golf courses with drinking water, unless it could be demonstrated that “the existing and planned water supplies for an area are shown to be adequate to meet the projected demands for all existing and foreseeable demands for water in that area.” This became the crux of the argument. Although Toyama and his planners, including the famous golf course architect Tom Fazio, proposed workarounds, including a million-dollar plan to reclaim water for the golf course from the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, nonetheless Alasdair and his backers found enough support through appeals to the Board of Supervisors and to the courts to block approval for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, Toyama became ill and ultimately passed away, and with his death and the stagnation of the Japanese economy, the project was abandoned and the land sold.



Today, the bulk of the Farmont property has become the much-loved Ventura River Preserve, owned by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, purchased for $4 million, with the bulk of the money coming in a $3.1 million grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy in January 2003. The Coastal Conservancy declared in the purchase agreement that this was the largest conservation acquisition in the history of Ventura County. Looking back on the controversy, Nielson sounds philosophical about the loss. “Ojai is Ojai,” he said. “Probably it didn’t help that we were trying to develop a golf course in the middle of a drought. I’ve long said that any good idea should be able to withstand pushback. Alasdair mustered a response, and ultimately time ran out and he won. I don’t resent Alasdair.” Nielson joked that he couldn’t possibly resent a man who, as a result of the long-running battle over Farmont, ended up putting his four kids through college.

walking the land. (Coyne stresses that his group always supported paying fees for campgrounds and other costly features, as well as fuller congressional funding for the Forest Service.) Over the last 24 years, this action too has largely succeeded, and as of 2012 such fees are only required at one trailhead in Ventura County. Coyne continues to lead on wilderness issues in Ventura County. In August, Coyne rallied supporters to pressure the Forest Service to drop plans to log a 425-acre stand of large pine trees on Reyes Peak. Coyne estimated in an op-ed in the Ojai Valley News that 15,228 trees, many of them old-growth pines, possibly hundreds of years old, would be felled in a misguided attempt to save old-growth trees from the risk of fire. He referenced studies that showed fire had “been insignificant in the area for many hundreds of years.” Coyne worked out his argument from Forest Service plans. He said forest planners agreed his estimates of the numbers of trees slated to be cut were on the mark.

If it seems improbable that a selfemployed organic gardener should be the pivotal player in this high-stakes game, know that Coyne has been leading efforts to preserve wildlands and access to wildlands since he arrived in Ojai from Scotland in 1978. He led — and still leads — the wilderness group Keep the Sespe Wild, which partnered with the Sierra Club and others in 1992 to pass a bill through Congress to preserve the Sespe backcountry as wilderness and most of the 55 miles of Sespe Creek as a “Wild and Scenic River.” When the Forest Service implemented an “Adventure Pass” fee in 1996, requiring visitors to the national forests to pay a fee to enter wildlands, even in areas without campsites or other amenities, Coyne launched an action with partners around the country to oppose the fee as an unfair “double taxation.” This meant raising money to fund lawsuits, testifying before Congress and working locally to oppose fees for simply visiting or

Above: Alasdair Coyne at home in Upper Ojai. Right: Members of “Keep the Sespe Wild” have been cleaning along Highway 33 for many years.



Although Coyne has inevitably suffered setbacks over the last 50 years of environmental organizing, he has never doubted — or never seemed to doubt — his ultimate success. Even allies at the time were taken aback by his invincible confidence. Jim Lashly, a longtime Ojai actor, director and friend, recalls Coyne being asked to join the nascent Ojai Valley Land Conservancy back in the late 1980s. “We were seven or eight people sitting around talking about how we would go to somebody and they would donate the land so that we could preserve it in perpetuity,” Lashly said in wonderment. “We were all (with an exception of one or two) essentially hippies, talking about huge expanses of acreage, while we were trying to scrape together 15 bucks to copy some documents. It was the same sort of chutzpah that Alasdair had, living in Upper Ojai, and thinking he’s going to stop this Japanese multibillionaire. I thought: yeah, that’s going to happen.” Yet over time, that’s exactly what did happen. Coyne himself attributes his certainty to the rightness of the cause, a fidelity to fact-based research and to a faith in communication with nature through methods developed by an organization called Perelandra. Coyne says this allows a person to ask for guidance and protection from the energies of the natural world. When asked for an example, he mentions the Thomas Fire. “During the Thomas Fire I asked for protection for the property from the nature spirits responsible for the property, and even though the fire burned all around the property, not one speck of black was visible on the property, even as embers were flying through the air,” he said. “It was as if a big bubble had been extended over my property and a substantial portion of my neighbors as well, with no damage at all. It’s a good example of the protection that is there for the asking.” Not too shabby for a self-described “little gardener from Upper Ojai.”












alifornia’s government-provided list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic is 23 pages long. Nowhere on this list is the word “artist.” In a practical way, that makes sense. But it ignores the heart. When the pandemic hit, recent Ojai artist Eric Dubnicka created what he calls a Non-essential Art Gallery, featuring a mobile mini-exhibit titled “The Audacity of Love.” The display features two pieces of his art along with text panels, mounted in a whitewalled, open gallery booth he pulls behind his Subaru SUV. In April, he towed it to public places, including a curb across from the Ojai Farmers

Market, for people to view. Dubnicka is firmly behind COVID safety measures. “I didn’t want it to be seen as an act of defiance, but as an act of giving,” he said. “It was truly about presenting art in an accessible way to the public without going indoors.” He might still take the exhibit around town, or to Los Angeles, but Dubnicka doesn’t live in the past, and is ready to move on to the next “phase” of both the pandemic and his community artistic mission. “The role that piece played in the moment was strong,” he said, “but it’s time to plan for the next wave of creating and exhibiting art in person.

Artists have had success selling artwork online, but it’s an essential need for us as humans to experience art in person.” Dubnicka, a painter, sculptor and photographer, is one of eight people welcomed this year as new members of the Ojai Studio Artists. He’s also new to Ojai: Dubnicka moved here in November 2019 from Duluth, Minnesota, where he lived for 18 years. In Duluth, he had a successful art career, and was deeply involved in the arts community. But his mortgage, the cold weather, health concerns and other life travails led him to “hit the reset button.” He sold his house, moved his art studio



By Karen Lindell

supplies into storage and “took a drive to heal,” along with his dog Jack. One of his sisters lives in Big Sur, so he spent some time with her, then did house-sitting for a friend in Silverlake (near Los Angeles) and volunteered at an animal sanctuary in Malibu. Something happened that surprised him: “Southern California started to grow on me,” he said, and suddenly, he no longer wanted to return to the upper Midwest and “hide out the rest of my life.” Dubnicka, who grew up in a small Wisconsin town, said it took him a while to realize art could be a career. As a kid he mainly drew pictures of deer or portraits of famous people. In college, he studied wildlife biology, and took some art classes to earn easy A’s. A mentor urged him to pursue art, but he was reluctant to explore the arts as a profession and ended up working for the Forest Service at a bear sanctuary in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Encouraged by others, Dubnicka eventually earned his BFA at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. In Duluth, he was part of an artist cooperative and served as a gallery and collections manager at the Tweed Museum of Art. Dubnicka said he’s always looked at success as an artist “in terms of what I’m making and the impact I’m having on the viewer.” Duluth, he said, was a “great training ground.” In addition to curating, designing and installing museum shows, he created pop-up and group exhibits. “I just became so ensconced in the community, I became lost in it, so it became time to blow it up,” he said. Left:, Nonessential Art Gallery, April 2020. Right: Untitled (Ascension series), mixed media on fencing, 2020.



and varnish mixed together, the additive and subtractive process, working the layers, sculpturing it. “One of the biggest compliments I get is, ‘Can I touch your painting?’ It makes me feel there is energy people are drawn to that I created with my hand.”

Left: The artist and his sidekick, Jack.

Dubnicka hopes to have the same impact in Ojai, although “as a midcareer artist,” he also realizes he needs to focus more on making a living from his work. Eventually, after his move to California, Dubnicka needed somewhere to live, so he posted a quirky ad on Craigslist seeking an “atypical” housing option for an “artist and his mutt.” Dubnicka explained he was willing to live on a mattress in any room or space that could serve as a studio, and would do construction or handyman work in exchange. “I’m resourceful and like problem-solving,” he said. “Basically my job as an artist is to create problems I myself have to solve.” He knew nothing about Ojai, or its spiritualist or artist community, but found the perfect 12-by-18-foot living space, and a kind landlord, in Meiners Oaks. When people learned he was an artist, they suggested he apply to be a member of the Ojai Studio Artists. He created some encaustic art — even though he had never worked in encaustics before — applied, and was accepted. In February, he participated in the OSA’s Mini-Tour open studio event. His Ojai debut came to a grinding halt when the coronavirus shut down galleries and gatherings. But the time off during quarantine, he said, has given his body time to heal because he has a tendency to overwork. Even though deep down he is a “white

box gallery nerd,” Dubnicka said he enjoys creating what he calls “rogue art” — pop-up galleries, exhibits or works of art, like the Non-essential Art Gallery. In the summer of 2018, he created a pop-up sculpture on Lake Superior to celebrate the summer solstice. Created from wood and wire, with the look of an abstract sun, it was designed with a six-sided geometric opening in the middle to capture the sunrise. The solstice sculpture, along with his most recent works, including encaustic sculptures and paintings, follow a narrative of “Ascension,” a theme that arose when he was still in Duluth reevaluating his priorities. “It’s about personal growth,” he said. “I love the idea of each of us having the ability to be empowered to grow and ascend — and transcend — our current scenarios through self-love and care.” Dubnicka said he’s attracted to encaustics “because of the tactility, the nature of the material. I have kind of an old soul. I just love the texture and feel and touch — the wax Right: Untitled (Ascension series), encaustic wax on panel, 2020.

He works primarily in abstraction, but wants it to be accessible, “for anyone to be able to say, ‘I see something there.’ I’m kind of a blue-collar abstractionist.” He’s working on a series of panels and graphic drawings following the “Ascension” theme, abstracts featuring images that take “a chrysalis shape like a caterpillar, with sacred geometry trickling in, like a tetrahedron. They have a stressed patina of age and layers — this idea that we can come out of the gritty, dark, dirty place we’ve been in, and there’s hope within that.” See more at www.ericdubnicka.com


Poppies Art & Gifts

323 E. Matilija Street in beautiful Ojai, California. We are behind the historic downtown Arcade. Stop in for local art and art events. 323 E. Matilija St., Ojai. www.poppiesartandgifts.com | 805-798-0033

OVA Arts

Your Go-To Place For Gifts. 238 E. Ojai Ave. Open daily 10-6 www.ojaivalleyartists.com 805-646-5682

Porch Gallery

310 E. Matilija St. Open: 11-5, Sunday: 9-1:30 Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday Instagram: porchgalleryojai lisa@porchgalleryojai.com 805-620-7589


Pamela Grau

www.pamelgrau.com pamelagraustudio@gmail.com 949-903-9743

Dan Schultz Fine Art Gallery & Studio

Plein air landscapes, figures and portraits in oil, with a special focus on California landscape paintings. 106 N. Signal St., Ojai www.DanSchultzFineArt.com 805-317-9634

Firestick Pottery

Creative workspace or clay artists & students. Open 10-6 daily. Closed Tuesday. 1804 E. Ojai Ave. www.ďŹ restickpottery.com 805-272-8760



Karen K. Lewis

Painter & printmaker; etchings, monoprints, figure drawings, plein-air landscapes, still lifes and large-scale oil paintings. www..karenklewisart.com | 805-646-8877

Martha Moran

The Ojai Rockstacker Sculptures, fountains, custom shower installations and more. Studio visits by appointment. www.OjaiRockstacker.com | 805-279-7605

OVG Artists and Galleries Guide

Reach a wider audience with the Ojai Valley Guide, Artists & Galleries listings. The OVG is distributed throughout Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. Contact us for details. team@ojaivalleynews.com | 805-646-1476



F I R E S T I C K P OT T E RY Creative Workspace Open to Public

Open 10-6 daily 1804 E. Ojai Ave 805-272-8760

Gallery Workshops Pottery Parties Free tours



An Ojai tradition for over 50 years 302 W. Matilija Street (805)646-3755 9:30 - Sunset daily







W I T H A P U R P O S E Ixchel Leigh’s scents not only smell divine, they support their wearers’ dreams, goals, desires and sense of wellbeing.


onsidered a pioneer in the natural perfumery and aromatherapy worlds, Ojai resident Ixchel Leigh has created her most complex, unique collection to date — Artisan Parfums: Parfums With Purpose.

she explained. “The whole, or end result, is a product greater than its individual parts, which can trigger a path for change for those who wear it and potentially those who smell it.”

Leigh — who is known in perfumery circles as “The Fragrance Alkemist” — weaves together the modern “neural science of scent” with the wisdom of the ancients to create what she calls a new and innovative form of “functional fragrance.” Far more than just scent, she said these organic perfumes combine raw materials in precise methods to encourage specific transformational outcomes for the wearer.

Her artisanal perfumes are created to support clients in manifesting the lives they intend for themselves. In other words, these scents not only smell divine, “but support wearers’ dreams, goals, desires and senses of wellbeing.”

“It’s all parfum fragrance scent with a purpose,” said Leigh, adding that she deliberately spells “parfum” the French way. “Most people think of fragrance as ‘I just want to smell good,’” Leigh said. “I grew up with that concept, but because of my aromatherapy background everything I do, whether it’s a custom product I’m working on, one of the parfums for the parfum line, or Chakra Synergy, which is an aromatherapy formula approach to wellness … it’s all parfum fragrance scent with purpose.” A former Parisian model, Leigh’s love of botanical essences was ignited in Provence, France, and she later studied with Indian mystic, Baba Pyare Lal Bedi. To date, Leigh’s vocations as an aromatherapist, author, consultant, radio host and educator span more than four decades — and her ultimate goal is “to offer people a support system” by composing fragrances that are “focused on raising overall vibrations.” “I compose a fragrance with conscious intent or focus to create a formula that has enhanced positive, therapeutic and wellness qualities for the purpose of transformation,”

There are two collections of Artisan Parfums: the Elements Collection and the Affirmations Collection, both of which include a Herkimer diamond in every bottle. Considered to be “attunement crystals,” the Herkimer diamonds “assist you to bring life-force energy harmony and balance to your desires, dreams and goals.” The Elements Collection includes Harmonie, which Leigh designed for those wanting to regenerate and ease their emotions, with scent notes including juniper berries, pear, jasmine, labdanum, seawood absolute and sea shell essence. Another scent in the collection is called Phoenix for those who want to focus and remove blocks, with scent notes including pink grapefruit, palmarosa, cardamom, ginger, coffee and nutmeg. The Affirmations Collection includes Brilliant, which comes with the affirmation: “I am resilient, and I thrive.” This scent – with notes of sweet orange, petitgrain, ylang ylang and patchouli – is said to spark joy, deepen the celebration of life and encourage adventure and renewal.

By Alicia Doyle



Leigh also created the Chakra Synergy Professional Collection, in which the vibration of each formula corresponds to a chakra or aura, supporting these energy centers to encourage wellbeing, balance and transformation. For instance, the scent “Courage” targets the first chakra (the root chakra) for those seeking a physical transformation; and “Create” targets the second chakra (the sacral chakra) for those wanting to enliven their creative energies while balancing the emotions related to all forms of creativity.

them with updated information, including updated profiles of the essential oils.

She also made the Chakra Synergy Everyday Elixir Collection, which can be used for a “quick lift” and is considered the perfect entry point for someone new to aromatherapy and essential oils.

“You decide what it is you’re focusing on your life – physical, health, emotional, spiritual – and then you choose (the scent) according to what you’re drawn to,” explained Leigh, noting that each scent comes with a quote which is the focus of the smell, as well as a vignette about the scent notes it contains. For instance, in the Chakra Synergy collection, the scent “Release” aligns with the quote: “I want to transform negativity and blockages.” The description goes on to state that Release “helps clear blockages and negativity,” and is made with essential oils including grapefruit, ginger, mandarin, black pepper and cypress.

Over the years, Leigh has seen “some magical and mystical” things happen for people who have invited these parfums into their lives. “In actuality, I guess everything I’ve created with essential oils… have all incorporated the concepts of creating fragrances to inspire transformation,” Leigh said. One particular aspect that makes her scents unique is the fact that “I use no synthetics whatsoever,” she said. “I only use essential oils and other raw materials or naturals – not naturals created in a laboratory because those are synthetics.” She also doesn’t use alcohol in her scents. “Most parfums are like a light mist; so I use organic jojoba and sunflower; the sunflower is something that the Egyptians used and it’s just such a happy flower that finds a way to live in the most dire climates. And jojoba has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years for their skin and hair.” Leigh’s vocation is outlined in her book, “Aromatic Alchemy,” which came out on Feb. 29. This book was first published in 2001, “so this is the second edition and the updated version of what was published.” Leigh took out 70 pages of the first edition and replaced

“It has brand new material and an additional 100 essential oils compared to what was in the first one,” she said. “All the material is updated, which means it’s new information completely, or the profiles changed.” She re-emphasized that her scents are designed “as a support system.”

“You’re drawn to that smell, now read the card and find out what it’s for,” she said. “When I ask people if it makes sense, every single time, almost every person said ‘yes, that’s what I needed.’” Leigh also does custom work, which she calls “soul parfums.” “This is where I sit down with you and help you determine what your main dreams, goals and desires are for this moment,” explained Leigh, who can do these consultations via Zoom or FaceTime in today’s climate of social distancing. “Then I go into a meditation and I ask what will support you. Then I am given the information about the essential oils…and what they’ll do for you.” Before COVID hit, Leigh’s scents were sold in stores in Ventura and Ojai, which either closed temporarily or permanently since the pandemic.


“However, I’ve contacted a few people with stores in town here to see if they want to consider in the fall bringing it in,” she said. Meanwhile, more information about her scents, including how to order, can be found at www.artisanparfums.com. In related endeavors, “healthy, clean water sources has been a passionate focus of my intention, so I give back and have donated to companies – usually nonprofits – that support clean, healthy water,” she said. “Sometimes it’s been in India or other developing countries. Lately I’ve been focused in Ojai to try to assist the whole concept of sustainable, consistent, clean water.” Above all, she feels that as humans, “we are placed on the Earth Mother to integrate all aspects of ourselves – our body, heart, spirit, mind and soul.” “If we don’t use the precious resources gifted to us, we deny ourselves the experience of receiving their gifts,” she said. “If we don’t honor these natural resources as gifts from the Earth Mother, we deny the circle of healing which occurs from her to us. We must learn to use…nature’s gifts wisely and consciously. Using her gifts wisely and consciously allows healing to occur.”


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From the mountains of Nicaragua to the Valley of the Moon.


arlos Ramirez’s love for coffee began as a boy growing up in Ocotal, Nicaragua, where he watched his grandfather fix coffee processing machines in a town that relies on coffee as a source of sustenance. His grandfa-

ther was known as a coffee mechanic because he repaired coffee processing machines. “As a 5-year-old he would take me up to the coffee farms in the mountains of the north western part of the Nueva Segovia region; it was an incredible place, like a little Amazon,” recalled Ramirez, now a resident of Ojai. He admits when he was young, “I didn’t know what coffee was.” But that changed over the years, when Ramirez learned the economic logistics of growing, farming, harvesting and distributing coffee beans. But most importantly, he discovered the exceedingly personal experience of coffee as a connecter and a ritual — and the integral glue in a family. In Nicaragua, “when I open the door to my grandma’s house, the first thing she gives me is a cup of coffee and I sit down with her and she says, ‘tell me about the world,’” Ramirez said. “My grandfather was the same way, too. They never talked about themselves. It was more about what’s going on … and then, before you know it, it’s almost like you’ve relieved all your worries.” Ramirez came to Los Angeles in 2005 because he had a visa, “and I wanted to work to make enough money to go

back [to Nicaragua] and buy a coffee farm,” he said. His plans changed when he met and fell in love with Katherine Black, who was just finishing her master’s in social work, “so she wasn’t interested in going back to Nicaragua.” Ramirez had studied agriculture in Nicaragua, but was in and out of school because he had to work to pay for tuition, so he never finished.

In 2016, Ramirez returned to Nicaragua to visit the farms, where he touched and smelled the coffee beans to find a quality product worthy of his vision of “farm-to-cup coffee.” He began importing, and Bonito Coffee Roaster was born in the shed behind his house. “The reason why it’s called Bonito is because of those beautiful moments I remember from childhood in the town

“In 2008, when the crash happened, I decided to go back to school,” said Ramirez, who attended Cal Poly and finished his business agriculture degree in 2012. He was recruited by Dole in Thousand Oaks immediately and soon discovered “they were super corporate.” With that, he left. “It was a good experience because I learned what I didn’t want to do in life,” he said. “Yes, it was a high-paying job. But it wasn’t fulfilling me.” By that time, Ramirez and Black were married, had their second child, and wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The couple had previously spent time in Ojai for a yoga retreat and also came to town for their anniversary, drawing them into what they considered “the most beautiful neighborhood.”

I grew up in,” Ramirez said, “and it’s similar to Ojai because it’s surrounded by mountains and only the mountains [in Nicaragua] have coffee — it’s full circle for me.”

“We bought a fixer-upper in town that took us three years to fix, and now our kids love it,” said Ramirez, who is now the father of two girls and a boy, ages 8, 5 and 2.

In 2018, Bonito Coffee opened its roasting room on Bryant Circle in Ojai. Ramirez still handles each and every small batch roast himself after visiting Nicaragua annually to find the best beans.


Photo: Arna Bajraktarevic

By Alicia Doyle




“The beans come from my town,” said Ramirez. For instance, his best friend from high school inherited a processing plant, “so I go looking for farmers like that … who have never sold coffee on their own. They’ve always sold to the conglomerates because they’re small holders. But now I’m able to, in a sense, highlight those small farmers … by processing it through my friend.” Many of these farmers rely on their crops to live, and therefore Ramirez believes that sustainable coffee farming is as important as the quality he looks

you would like in your coffee: it has the caramel, chocolate and citrus all at once, which creates that ‘oh my’ taste because it’s sweet and sour with a little bit of salt and spice in it,” Ramirez said. “I drink it black. I don’t have to add any sugar or cream to my coffee.” In addition to his medium roast Nicaragua Pacamara coffee, Ramirez also offers Dark Beetle, a dark roast whole bean with roaster’s notes of toasted nuts with dark chocolate, and Espresso Bonito, with roaster’s notes of blueberry, caramel and stone fruit. Also, “my coffee doesn’t give you coffee crash — I can drink five cups and I’m not jolty or itchy or feel the need to jump out of my skin,” he said. Ramirez explains that caffeine acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills many insects feeding upon the plant. He goes on to explain: “I don’t crash because it’s strictly high-grown — my town [in Nicaragua] is almost a mile high, so the coffee plant doesn’t have to produce that much caffeine to protect itself.”

for in his coffee beans. “For them, coffee is a cash crop — with that cash, they buy rubber boots, machetes, the fabric to make pants and shirts, or things they can’t produce on the farm like cooking oil,” Ramirez explained. “We purchase our beans directly from farmers, so there’s no extra shipping between a third party, and the farmer receives 100% of the fee.” Not only is he helping coffee bean farmers in Nicaragua sustain their livelihoods, Ramirez brings something quite special to coffee lovers locally. “These beans are strictly grown at high altitude — that translates into freshness in the crop,” he said. “The coffee doesn’t taste flat. It tastes really fresh.” He is especially proud of his “go-to” bean: the Pacamara. “This wonderful bean, in my opinion, has several of the tasting notes that

Since Ramirez runs a small operation and wants the coffee to be fresh for customers, he roasts on Thursdays and makes home deliveries on Fridays. “It’s roast-to-order; it’s not going to sit on the shelf,” said Ramirez, adding that Bonito Coffee is also sold at Westridge Midtown Market in Ojai. “I’m pushing hard for the home delivery. I’m even building a little truck that has a sign on it. Like the milk man — but this is the coffee man.” His home delivery base is currently in Oak View and Ojai, with plans to expand to nearby cities, such as Ventura. And, for those who don’t live in the area, orders can be made online. Above all, “Bonito Coffee is not about me,” Ramirez emphasized. “It’s about the moment that you have with coffee. It’s that conversation that you have with your best friend where

hours can pass by and nothing else matters.” Looking back on his current vocation, Ramirez is grateful for his early experiences in Nicaragua where his grandmother, Chepita Espinoza, remains alive and well. “My grandfather, Salvador Jimenez, died at 107 in 2016,” Ramirez recalled. “And he drank coffee all the way.” More information from www.bonitocoffee.com call 310-463-9480





11400 N.Ventura Ave., Ojai

805-613-3048 Open from 11:30 to 9:30 everyday except Monday 4:00 to 9:30







Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 7 am - 2:30 pm Closed Wednesdays


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Eating with the season




tuffed Squash with Farro, Grapes, and Pecans

1½ cups red grapes 2 small red onions, sliced thin 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine Olive oil 2 large acorn squash or 4 delicata squash 2 cups cooked farro 1 cup mixed greens, baby kale, chard, or arugula ½ teaspoon sea salt Ground black pepper ¼ cup toasted pecans, chopped Parsley, chopped, for garnish Preheat oven to 350°F.

Robin Goldstein, chef and author of ‘A Taste of Ojai,’ shares some tasty inspirations for the fall.

Autumn The sun is setting sooner, the nights are getting a bit cooler and getting back to cooking heartier meals starts to sound like a cozy idea. As summer fades to autumn, the food choices we tend to gravitate toward are perfectly cooked root vegetables, squash, whole grains, legumes and hearty greens from the garden. This is the perfect time to celebrate the seasonal gems of autumn!

Arrange grapes in a single layer in a lightly oiled roasting pan. Scatter red onion slices over grapes, sprinkle with vinegar and rosemary. Roast 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Raise oven temperature to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment and lightly oil the paper. Cut the whole squash horizontally into 1½-inch thick slices and remove any seeds. Arrange them on the baking pan. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.

Fall reminds us that change is right around the corner. The leaves start to change colors and eventually fall from the trees, and our taste buds change to crave the autumn harvest. It’s not just pumpkin we look to during this time. Here in Ojai we like to shop locally and support our farmers, as we understand why it is so important to eat according to the seasons. Head to your local market and fill your basket with these seasonal produce picks:

In a medium mixing bowl combine farro with roasted grapes and onions. Toss gently with mixed greens, salt and pepper. Fill the center of each squash ring with the farro mixture. Warm in the oven for 15 minutes to heat through.

Root vegetables: carrots, squash and sweet potatoes Legumes: beans, chickpeas and lentils

Arrange stuffed squash slices on a platter, using a spatula to carefully lift each one from the baking sheet. Scatter toasted pecans on top and garnish with parsley.

Green vegetables: broccoli, spinach and celery

Serves 4-6

Welcome the essence of autumn into your home with delicious aromatic flavors by roasting pumpkin or acorn squash. One of our favorite recipes from “A Taste of Ojai II, Flavors of The Valley Cookbook” is this savory stuffed squash. To balance the sweetness of squash, this vegetable is transformed into a delicious colorful side dish with the addition of fragrant herbs, roasted grapes, onions and pecans. This is fabulous for serving at your upcoming Thanksgiving table. You’ll be delighted by this warm, rich side dish perfect for any fall gathering.

Chef ’s Note: You can prepare parts of this dish ahead of time. Roast the grapes a day in advance. The squash can be roasted hours before serving and cooled to room temperature. Make the farro filling in advance, too. Fill and warm the squash just before serving.

Whole grains: brown rice, oats and farro



farmer and the cook organic vegetarian mexican cafe-market-bakerysmoothie-juice bar 339 el roblar drive ojai 805-640-9608




Westridge Market 802 E. Ojai Ave • Open Daily 8am - 8pm • Phone 805-646-2762

Westridge Midtown Market 131 W. Ojai Ave • Open Daily 7am - 9pm • Phone 805-646-4082




By Richard Camp

Majestic Oak Vineyard. Facing Down the Lockdown.



ajestic Oak Vineyard is named for the 200-year-old oak tree that’s been standing watch over the family’s beautiful property on Ojai’s west side. Anything that’s been around that long has most assuredly weathered many storms, and this tree continues to bear witness to the vitality and spirit of the vineyard owners who have been hit with perhaps the most stressful storm in their existence, the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Majestic Oak Vineyard, along with other Ojai wineries, was faced with an entirely different kind of prohibition. These businesses whose livelihoods were based on social gatherings and camaraderie were forced to close their doors and exercise social distancing and isolation. “We had to reinvent the wheel,” says Tara Coble, the Vineyard’s manager, quoting her husband, Andrew, the head winemaker. Their intimate tasting room in downtown Ojai with its tranquil patio was initially closed completely by mandate, then allowed to reopen for two weeks under state mandate, then re-closed due to county mandate and now opened again by state mandate with only outdoor seating. This stressful uncertainty would be enough to hold any business owner over a barrel, especially one with barrels of wine waiting to be bottled and sold, not to mention the on-again-off-again closures putting a tremendous strain on the business and the family. “The second shutdown was harder than the first,” says Tara. “Just when we were hitting a stride with the regulations and felt in control, we were forced to close again. If we could financially afford to stay closed until a vaccine is freely available, we would do it and I think that is the same for most business owners.” Unfortunately, this is not feasible for a

business that can literally claim the title of “mom and pop.” Founded by Terry Gustafson, his wife Leslee and son Micah (Tara’s parents and brother), the entire family lives on the same property. That means, of course, that if one family member contracts the virus the entire family is put at risk, so extra care had to be taken. During the lockdown the family tried to open for retail sales, but it was difficult to do and didn’t make financial sense to put any of the family at risk. And, according to Tara, it would have been self-defeating to enter the wholesale market because it’s dominated by the huge wine corporations that can afford to sell their wines for less. The Vineyard does have a robust wine club, for which the family is very grateful, and some club members have become loyal friends. “I have never loved our wine club members more than I have during all Seated from left: Leslee and Terry Gustafson, Tara Coble, Andrew Coble. Standing from left: Micah Gustafson, Dylan Gustafson, Tyson Gustafson.


of this,” beams Tara. “The outpour of love and support that they have given us has been beyond what I could have imagined.” Majestic Oak Vineyard is a small operation, with an output of less than a thousand cases per year, and its sales are exclusively through the wine club and tasting room. As of late August, only part of the tasting room was allowed to open, the charming outside patio area, while the intimate interior room remains shut down. This gives them roughly a 50% capacity when accounting for social distancing. And there are strict guidelines to follow. Patrons are greeted before entry, shown to their seats, reminded of safety rules, and given full table service so they never have to move from their seats. “I have longtime patrons who have told me that they felt safer on our patio than any place they have visited,” Tara says proudly. “That really meant a lot to us.” Surfaces such as tables, chairs, menus, the bathroom and the handrails on the stairs are cleaned throughout the day after every use.



Masks are required when entering, leaving, on the way to and from the restroom, or basically any time they leave their seats. This seems to be working well; an informal poll of the staff revealed that they feel very comfortable with the protocols, which are strictly followed.

that belts out aromas of rose petals, strawberries and spices. Tara calls it “sexy, light ruby red in color,” so let yourself be seduced. The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon soothes your tongue with flavors of black cherry, toasted oak, brown sugar, fresh-cut herbs and vanilla. Have a glass and you’ll sing “Life is a Cabaret …” Have two or three and you’ll sing “Life is a Cabernet”!

By necessity, any good business owner faced with adversity will add a bit of creativity to the mix. In the first lockdown, Tara and Andrew began a Virtual Tasting (VT) program. Tara had just finished a certificate program for wine business management and her final paper centered on this plan. A VT consists of a box sent to the tasters with five 5-ounce bottles of wine that make up the current wine flight, along with preparation instructions. Then, a Zoom session allows the tasters to share personal stories about each wine with Tara and/or Andrew. Often these formal tasting sessions turn into informal conversations where families and vintners can bond with each other. “At one point,” says Tara, “we did a VT with multiple members of the Channel Islands Yacht Club. We had 17 screens to manage at once with a total of 36 people participating and discussing wine, but more importantly, reconnecting with each other.” Tara still books VT tastings and has improved the winery’s online shopping experience with free local deliveries and free shipping within California. She and Andrew also conduct “Wine Wednesdays” on social media, with themes and winetrivia contests and prizes. Of course, nature waits for no virus, so the grapes are still growing. In fact, the production side of the business has never stopped, and by the time this goes to press, the year’s harvest should be over or nearly so. And there is still a backlog of wines due to decreased sales. Farming has been hit hard. There’s a labor shortage due to health risks and budget cuts, and Majestic Oak Vineyard has had a couple of big grape harvests in a row, which means the cellars are bursting in the middle of a down market.

Also available for purchase are the 2018 Chardonnay and a 2017 Cabernet from Dirty Boy Vineyard. And, coming soon if not already available, Tara and the family will have for your savoring pleasure a Rosé of Tempranillo/Graciano, a Syrah, a Pinot Gris and a Sangiovese.

Above: Winemaker Andrew Coble thieves barrel samples to staff, showcasing soon-to-be released wines.

“Some wineries are choosing to not produce wines this vintage (2020) because the bulk market is completely saturated,” says Tara. “No one knows what to do with their extra wine. This could have a long-lasting effect on winery, vineyards, grape farming and tasting rooms projections.” Nevertheless, they persist. For a taste of delicious wines in a safe environment, drop in at the tasting room on Ojai Avenue, just across from the Arcade. Venture down the stairs into the shaded patio, where you can get away from it all for a while and choose from a balanced and hearty list. The 2018 Viognier has hints of pear, pineapple and white sage. (The winery calls it Vee-own-YAY!) The Triple LD white is a Chardonnay/Viognier blend and is named for the estate ranch. This promises aromas of baking spice, yellow apples and apricots, with palate pleasures of crème brûlée, apple pie and Ojai Pixies. The 2018 Pinot Noir pairs with your favorite burrito —and why not? The team was enjoying burritos during bottling and voila! A rare and daring pairing came to be. The 2018 Grenache is a showstopper

“I hope that we really have taken notice how much small businesses really need local support and how vital it really is not just in our community but all communities,” says Tara. “You are not only making sure those businesses stay open, but also that those people are able to put food on the table.” According to Wines & Vines Analytics, wineries that produce 1,000 cases or fewer are classified as “very small,” and Tara is proud to be among them. “These are the sizes of the wineries we have right in our backyard,” says Tara. “If you are purchasing mass-produced wine, it supports only 4% of the entire wine market.” As Shakespeare said, “though she be but little she is fierce.” Tara, Andrew and the family have fiercely fought the downturns in order to continue bringing you highquality, local wines far from the madding crowds of mass production. They do it with great care and artistic flair, so mind your manners, your masks and your social distancing and raise a glass to surviving the lockdown with the Majestic Oak Vineyard family of artisans. “All of us make these little pieces of art in a bottle,” Tara says, not only of Majestic Oak Vineyard but of small wineries everywhere. “Who doesn’t love ingestible art?”









Dining and Eating and tasting in Ojai is often experienced outdoors, as our little town boasts over 20 restaurants and tasting rooms with outdoor seating options. Most establishments with outdoor dining are pet friendly. So get outside, and gormandize en plein air with your pooch. You are sure to make, or see, an acquaintance while you fortify yourself. Papa Lennon’s Pizzeria

Farmer and the Cook


MarchĂŠ Gourmet Delicatessen


Hakane Sushi

Original Italian cuisine, Best of Ojai winner, local wines & beers on tap. 515 W. El Roblar Dr. www.papalennons.com 805-640-7388

Cuisine of Tibet, India & Japan. 11400. N. Ventura Ave. 11:30 to 9:30 Tues-Fri 4:00 to 9:30 Mon. www.TibetanAid.org 805-613-3048 | 805 798-2768 info@TibetanAid.org

A Sohisticated, casual restaurant & bar. We serve Spanish Californian cuisine paired with our artisanal beers, local wines and craft spirits. Open all day, 7 days a week. See our website for details or to book. 457 E Ojai Ave. 805-640-7987 | www.azuojai.com

Market, Cafe, Bakery, Smoothies, Pizzas, Fresh Organic Farm Produce. Open 8:00am to 8:30pm 339 W El Roblar, Ojai To go orders 805-640-9608 Office 805-646-0960 farmerandcook1@gmail.com www.farmerandcook.com

Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free Options. Breakfast & Lunch 9-3 daily. Dinner Fri & Sat 5-8pm 133 E. Ojai Ave. 805-646-1133 www.marchegourmetdeli.com

The best Omakase Sushi in town. Izakaya menu, unique appetizers, Bento Gozen dinner. Top sushi chef with over 30 years experience. Open 7 days a week. See our website for details. 967 E Ojai Ave. | 805-640-3070 info@hakanesushi.co | www.hakanesushi.com



Tasting Topa Mountain Winery

Tasting room 821 W. Ojai Ave. 805-640-1190 www.topamountainwinery.com

Ojai Beverage Company

Outdoor patio dining, great food! Open 11am to 11pm 655 E. Ojai Ave. www.ojaibevco.com 805-646-1700

Ventura Spirits

Our tasting room is open every Friday from 1-5pm Sat and Sun 12-5pm 3891 N. Ventura Ave. SteB2A, Ventura 805-232-4313 www.venturaspirits.com

Majestic Oak Vineyard

Tasting room 321 E. Ojai Ave. (Downstairs) 805-794-0272 www.majesticoakvineyard.com

Heavenly Honey

Ojai Olive Oil Co.

OVG Dining & Tasting Guide

Bonnie Lu’s Cafe

Tasting room. All natural pure honey. 206 E. Ojai Ave. 805-207-4847 www.heavenlyhoneycompany.com

Reach a wider audience with the Ojai Valley Guide, Dining and Tasting listings. The OVG is distributed throughout Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. Contact us for details. team@ojaivalleynews.com 805-646-1476

100% organic-local-sustainable Tasting Room Open Monday-Sunday 10am-4pm 1811 Ladera Road, Ojai 805-646-5964 www.ojaioliveoil.com

328 E. Ojai Ave. Serving breakfast and lunch Open 7am-2:30pm Mon-Sun. Closed Weds. 805-646-0207








Above: Ian Somerhalder gives Mother Earth a little love. Photo: Mariana Schulze



the Ground By Ellen Sklarz

“We want the film to reach a billion people.” Lofty? Perhaps not for Rebecca and Josh Tickell, whose long-awaited documentary, “Kiss the Ground,” premiered on Netflix last month. We first spoke with the Tickells at their live-work Big Picture Ranch in Ojai for our Winter 2019 article, “Kiss the Emerald Valley,” which focused on their move to Ojai and their work, including the making of “Kiss the Ground.” The film focuses on regeneration of the world’s soils through agriculture as a key solution for stabilizing the earth’s climate crisis and restoring lost ecosystems. This couple, who has created one of the more enduring, boutique environmental filmmaking companies in the country, is dedicated to making movies with the commitment to heal themselves and the planet. Since COVID-19 became a reality, Rebecca has believed that this unprecedented time is an opportunity for a moment of self-reflection and deep healing. “We’ve all had to rearrange how we live and how we get our food. Our own land has come a long way, and we still have a lot to discover. There is a steep learning curve for really becoming a steward of your land ... the soil, water, plants.”



Right: Josh Tickell and Rebecca Tickell on set directing an interview with Ian Somerhalder for Kiss the Ground. Photo: Brandy Crockett.

says Rebecca. “This is a big pause, and we are seeing Mother Nature in all her power. It’s so great to eat our own food, to give food away, to trade with neighbors. We give them avocados; they give us quail eggs. Having that sense of community is wonderful ... you really get to know people during times like this. It’s exciting that we can adapt because we’re all going to need to adapt to reverse climate change.” However, Rebecca and Josh never anticipated restructuring extensive plans for a film that’s been seven years in the making. Originally, they were supposed to have a grand premiere of “Kiss the Ground” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Then, it was to be shown in a thousand theaters, including global release in 44 countries.

passionate about this idea. Their hearts are in this. What they bring is genuine passion and a very sophisticated knowledge of the story.” He continues, “Ian is probably the most articulate person I know when it comes to regenerative restoration because he studied with Zimbabwean ecologist Allan Savory, and he spent so much time in Africa.” In one sequence of

“Kiss the Ground,” Somerhalder travels to Africa to interview Savory and learns about restoration. Somerhalder talks about that meeting nine years ago, when he went to Africa with Geoffrey Shotz, his close friend, collaborator, and cameraman from the television show “Vampire Diaries.” He had heard an inspiring talk by Savory at a symposium in San

With a big shift in plans created by the pandemic, the Big Picture Ranch filmmaking duo chose to focus on the bigger picture. They are eager for the movie to be available around the world for as many people as possible, and to eventually get a billion people to watch it. The Tickells want the film to have accessible educational value, so there will be a cut just for farmers and one for schools to be shown in classrooms. Throughout the months of life’s unforeseen rearrangement, Josh and Rebecca have worked to create a large coalition of partners. Ironically, the imposed lockdown has been remarkably expansive for them, their company and the film, as they have been forced to adapt to changing circumstances. Narrated by environmental activist and longtime vegan Woody Harrelson, “Kiss the Ground” also features Ian Somerhalder, Rosario Dawson, David Arquette, Gisele Bündchen and Jason Mraz. When discussing celebrity contributors, says Josh, “Our friends who are participants who have that celebrity cachet are also super

Woody Harrelson, actor and environmentalist, narrates the Kiss the Ground movie and also makes an appearance. Photo: Big Picture Ranch.

Diego, where, Somerhalder recounts, “Allan explained how planned grazing of herding herbivores could restore degraded ecosystems by mimicking nature as it had been for hundreds of millennia. Many of the national parks in Zimbabwe, Botswana and across Africa are turning into desert due to land mismanagement.” He continues, “The idea of allowing cattle in to fix the problem has been incredibly controversial — even as critical biodiversity is lost week after week, month after month, year after year. If what Savory says is true, this could change the world.” Somerhalder tells how Savory showed him and Shotz vast areas of land that had been transformed from “bare, human-caused land degradation to healthy, green, carbon-sequestering grasslands. His only tool,” says Somerhalder, “was four-legged animals that he and his herdsmen moved in a very planned, specific way across the

land. We filmed everything, and it was truly incredible.” However, Somerhalder realized that “putting that footage into a film would take almost a decade more and would require me reconnecting with a guy who actually grew up in my hometown in Louisiana and who went to the same high school as me. That guy is Josh Tickell. Josh and his wife Rebecca had the filmmaking muscle to take my footage, combine it with a huge story, and turn that into ‘Kiss the Ground.’ It’s a movie that I’m immensely proud of and immensely excited to bring to the world.” In addition to ecological storytelling, this committed actor formed the Ian Somerhalder Foundation “to secure a healthy future for our world by finding achievable ways in the conservation/regeneration of natural resources, such as forests, lands and wildlife, for the benefit of the entire

community.” Again, lofty? Perhaps not for Somerhalder, a determined activist driven by the urgent need “to provide relief and education to the poor, distressed, underprivileged youth of our world and support to other organizations. The mission of reversing climate destruction for the aforementioned can only be achieved by collaborative, global efforts in creating regeneration in every sense.” Sewing the ideas put forth in “Kiss the Ground” into the minds of lawmakers, activists, farmers and the general public is an important step in that mission. Toward the end of our Zoom meeting, Josh is reflective. “You can argue against climate change and global warming, and people do. But you cannot argue [with the fact] that twothirds of the planet is desertified, which has a cascading effect of intensifying poverty, intensifying cities, intensifying water demand, intensifying the tenuous nature of food-supply lines. And so,” he concludes, “all these big global problems that are interconnected and seemingly unmanageable — regardless of climate change — become solvable, manageable, and actionable through the lens of regenerating damaged ecosystems.” “Kiss the Ground” was released globally on Netflix on Sept. 22, 2020, with other digital platforms coming soon. The film is also available for farm screenings, schools and events.

www.kissthegroundmovie.com Instagram: @kissthegroundmovie Facebook: kissthegroundmovie




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Hours: Thurs - Sun 11am - 4pm




By Karen Lindell


ouples who want to tie the knot in California have options these days other than untying COVID-snarled wedding plans. They can eschew a ceremony in favor of a courthouse wedding; host a “microwedding” (the full ceremony with a COVIDapproved number of attendees); or try a “minimony,” which, according to wedding site The Knot, is “a mini ceremony held with your loved ones, or simply a moment of commitment shared between yourselves,” to be followed by a “sequel wedding” when everyone can celebrate together again without fear of contagion. Or they could try a “reimagined wedding” in Ojai, which simplifies all of the above to create a coronavirus-safe ceremony that’s easy, intimate and less expensive than a traditional gathering, yet still stylish, elegant and meaningful. Kat Ferguson, owner of Little Creek Events, an Ojai event management company, came up with The Reimagined Wedding to help clients who want to go ahead with a marriage ceremony instead of waiting for the world to return to pre-COVID conditions, yet don’t want generic courthouse nuptials. “Just because a couple is getting married in a hurry or wanting to keep it small and

simple doesn’t mean they can’t do it beautifully,” Ferguson said. While carefully following state and county COVID guidelines, The Reimagined Wedding offers a “turnkey” ceremony outdoors at Ojai’s scenic Meditation Mount. Flowers, photos, videography, sound, decor, seating (for up to about 12 guests), an officiant and a wedding concierge are all provided. The only thing “missing” is a reception, which falls outside safety guidelines.

“In terms of business, I love it,” she said. “I’ve been really supported by local venues.” Little Creek Events was working “at max capacity” by 2019, Ferguson said, and for 2020 she had built a staff of four people gearing up for 20 weddings and 10 other events throughout the year. When the coronavirus shutdown began in March, every event planned from April to August was canceled or postponed.

Ferguson has lived in Ojai for about five years, coming from Boulder, Colorado, with her husband, who works for Patagonia. With a background in marketing, including events and partnerships for such clients as the U.S. Ski Team and Wanderlust, she also went to culinary school and has a passion for the artistry of food. When she moved to California, she decided to try event planning. After training with Seasons Catering, in 2018, she created her own company, Little Creek Events, named after the small creek that winds through the Ojai Valley’s Matilija Canyon. Ferguson grew up in Fort Meade, Florida, a small town “similar to Ojai” where her dad was a citrus grower. She said she welcomes the community vibe here.

Starting in August, “most of my weddings bailed,” she said. As Ferguson began “unwinding” weddings, she saw the emotional toll cancellation took on couples who had been planning their event for a year or longer. “The world was falling apart, and so was their wedding,” she said.


“We considered postponing, but the wedding was not as important as being married, coming together, being with our family, celebrating our love.�




Unlike at a courthouse, couples have an opportunity to walk down an aisle to music and can write their own vows. All vendors are Ojai-based, and everything is thoroughly cleaned between ceremonies. Price packages range from $2,800 to $4,300, depending on the time of the ceremony, which takes place in a garden overlooking the Ojai Valley. Each ceremony lasts about 20 minutes, with everyone on the grounds for about one hour total, including photos. A concierge greets the couple and guests when they arrive and directs them throughout the event. Ferguson said her business went “on hiatus” for a time, but some of her wedding clients still wanted to get married. A few just went to a courthouse, or in the case of one couple, to the Honda Center in Anaheim, where a clerk-recorder inside a will-call booth officiated. When she started to get inquiries about eloping in Ojai, Ferguson said, “The light finally went off.” Meditation Mount, she noted, basically does wedding ceremonies only, mainly outdoors, but not big receptions, so the venue would be ideal for a stylish but coronavirus-safe, “elopementlike” wedding with a minimal guest list. She describes The Reimagined Wedding as an “outdoor wedding chapel,” some-what like a Las Vegas chapel, but without the kitsch. The company saves money by making five ceremonies available each day using the same venue, floral arrangements, seating, videographer, photographer and officiant.

“This is definitely a higher-end boutique experience than a courthouse wedding, but at a fraction of the cost of doing it altogether on your own,” Ferguson said. The first “Reimagined Wedding” took place in August, featuring the couple who had done a Honda Center wedding, but wanted something more traditional as well. To stay within county and state guidelines, Ferguson said, her company “can’t host a reception, but we’re happy to recommend hotels to stay at and places to have dinner. We even have a partnership with private chefs who will deliver a meal to a hotel.” Meditation Mount “is not a place for a big party, anyway,” she said. “It has a different energy to it, a serenity, that’s wonderful for

Right: Karen, videographer from Wovenlight Films.

a sacred ceremony.” Guests are asked to bring a mask because although people can be outdoors without one, some guests will want to wear a mask anyway, and state and county guidelines are everchanging, so people need a facial covering just in case. Ferguson said that even when COVID restrictions ease or a vaccine brings the world back to “normal,” she thinks The Reimagined Wedding will still be available. “We’ve all been re-evaluating priorities due to COVID,” she said, including “whether big weddings with high prices are necessary.” Carpinteria couple Erin Johnsen and Tim Laber agree that bigger isn’t necessarily better. They had originally planned a small ceremony at an Ojai ranch followed by a “huge blowout” reception at a private estate near Lake Casitas in September, but opted instead for The Reimagined Wedding.



Photography by Brandi Crockett, Fancy Free Photography. www.fancyfreephotography.pixieset.com

The couple wanted to get married in the Ojai Valley because they met in Ojai at another wedding five years ago, and Laber, who works for his family business, Aqua-Flo, was born and raised in the town. “We had SO much planned,” said Johnsen, a nurse practitioner who works at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. When the coronavirus happened, as they watched a lot of weddings get canceled, they “tried to stay positive,” Johnsen said. “I’m in healthcare, so I know how important it is to follow safety standards set by the CDC, and safety was really important to us.” They first canceled the reception and thought they would go ahead with the morning wedding ceremony, but the venue wouldn’t allow the number of people they wanted. Then, their wedding photographer mentioned The Reimagined Wedding. “I hesitated because I had gone down so many roads, only to find out it wasn’t possible,” Johnsen said. “I was pretty exhausted trying to figure stuff out. But I called because I know how beautiful Meditation Mount is, even if it was just me, Tim, an officiant and a witness.” They considered postponing, she said, but “the wedding was not as important as being married, coming together, being with

our family, celebrating our love.” Whether or not to cancel a wedding is “up to every couple,” Johnsen said. “We didn’t have a big idea; we just wanted some elements: to be in Ojai, with family, playing David Bowie music and driving away in an Impala. We’ll get to do all those things. Maybe next year we’ll throw a party.” Johnsen said she’s not disappointed because she thinks “the idea of marriage and a wedding has become so grand,

so focused on expectations and this picture of a perfect day, when, really, a wedding is the start of a journey with the person you love. As much as we want the setting to be right, the dress to be beautiful, the guests to be fashionable, the food to be fantastic, I think it boils down to standing up with the person you love and feeling good about it, and this made us feel good.”









Krishnamurti Foundation of America Unconditionally Free – The Life and Insights of J. Krishnamurti. Oct 26 - Oct 30. Krishnamurti On Education: An online in-depth study program. Nov 2-6 Krishnamurti Educational Center, 1070 McAndrew Rd, Ojai (805) 646-2726. www.kfa.org Certified Farmers’ Market Every Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Open-air market featuring locally grown produce, plants, musicians and handmade items, including soaps, baskets, beeswax candles and olive oil. Matilija St. city parking lot behind the Arcade. (805) 698-5555

Ojai Music Festival

Ojai Film Festival

Watch host Ara Guzelimian host virtual offerings that featured insightful conversations with special guests, video and music excerpts. Following each segment are selected concerts for your enjoyment. www.ojaifestival.org/2020-virtual-festival.

The Ojai Film Festival presents a free online film series. “Festival Highlights.” www.ojaifilmfestival.com

Ojai Poetry Series Third Tues., 6:00 p.pm.–7:30 p.m. Come be inspired and read your poems. Ojai Library, 111 E. Ojai Avenue Ojai. oberlanderjudy@hotmail.com

Firestick Pottery Daily, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Hosting classes and small private group workshops while observing healthy safe distancing while you have fun playing with clay! 1804 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai 805-27-8760 www.firestickpottery.com info@firestickpottery.com

Ojai Valley Artists Thurs. – Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. OVA is a unique art gallery in downtown Ojai. Offering collections from many diverse and talented local artisans. 238 E. Ojai Ave.,Ojai 805-646-5682. www.ojaivalleyartists.com Ojai Valley Museum Insight 20/20: Ojai Studio Artists. A virtual exhibit, featuring 59 artworks in a wide variety of mediums and styles. www.ojaivalleymuseum.org/ insight-2020

For current events listings visit www.ojaivalleynews.com/events





Extraterrestrial Meet spiritual scientist and ET ambassador Mark Sims of Ojai.

Mark Sims of Ojai, the creator of the CE-6 protocol to contact extraterrestrials, leads a Harmonic Convergence mass meditation in July.


In July, Sims organized the Harmonic Convergence 2020, a global attempt to contact extraterrestrials and spread universal peace through mass, synchronized meditation. More than 229,000 people from 152 countries took part in the virtual event July 5–14, and thousands reported unexplained occurrences in the sky. At least two lightships were seen that night over the Ojai Valley, participants said.

“It looked like it had just faded in.” The craft descended, and as it neared the desert floor, it disappeared. “We were pointing and yelling and screaming. About half the people saw it,” Sims said. Gray, who had predicted the visit, did not. Sims described the shape of the craft as a geodesic ellipsoid, which he later rendered artistically. This was no

Sims’ first ET contact happened in November of 2012, when he attended a six-day ambassador training retreat in Borrego Springs led by Dr. Steven Greer, who claimed he could teach a meditative practice used to initiate contact with extraterrestrials: the CE-5 protocol.

are here?” he said. “It changed my whole world view, and I was no longer a skeptic, I was a believer.” Raised in Michigan, Sims graduated with a degree in computer-aided design from Eastern Michigan University in 1986. His first job out of college was with Sun Microsystems, developing 3-D modeling programs for aerospace and automotive design. In 1992, he left Sun to start Netrex, which became the largest internet security consulting company in the world. After eight years of running Netrex, he got an offer from another software company to acquire the business for $60 million. Coming out of retirement in 2004, Sims started another software company, Nanorex, that created the world’s first 3-D molecular modeling program.

Each night at the retreat there was a group meditation from 9 to 10 p.m. and another from 11 p.m. to midnight.

Sims retired a second time in 2009 and took up competitive ballroom dancing, becoming an amateur champion in 2012.

The group included Dr. Bill Gray, a UFO enthusiast who had taken Greer’s training before and claimed to have had a face-to-face encounter with a female ET named Charmaine.

A growing interest in UFOs led Sims to start looking for ways to improve contact with ETs. With the help of a friend who’s a radio engineer, he developed an electronic message that can be broadcast into space using a special radio. “We both felt that some of the ideas we were getting, in making contact, were coming from above; from

Gray would meditate in his backyard and Charmaine would appear. “He described her as a praying mantis about 7-feet-tall, who was a doctor in her world, and she was teaching him a

Ambassador healing science,” Sims said. On the fifth day of the retreat, after the first meditation of the evening, Gray told the group he’d been informed of an ET contact that would take place between 11:05 and 11:15 p.m. The group sat in their circle and stared at the sky. They didn’t have to wait long. “At 11:12, a ship materializes above our group, and was only visible f or roughly three seconds,” Sims recalled.


airplane, satellite or weather balloon, he said. “The quality and color of the light were otherworldly. I got such a sense of awe that I felt I was seeing something of a divine nature.” Up until then an avowed atheist and skeptic, Sims’ perspective on the nature of life was radically changed by the visit. “For me, this was an answer to a burning question that I had come to get an answer to, and that is, are we alone or not? Is it true that the ETs

By Perry Van Houten

topside, is what we like to call it,” Sims said. At about the same time, Sims came across a video from Dr. Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project, which prompted him to sign up for the six-day retreat in the desert where he saw his first UFO. After that first sighting in 2012, Sims went back to his hotel room and tried to make contact using the CE-5 meditation.



But before he began, Sims decided he needed to prepare a greeting for any ET that might appear. In the greeting he would say he was grateful and honored to be meeting a being from another world, and was hopeful it would lead to a lasting friendship. Sims would also say he was completely trusting of the being to do whatever it pleased with him and his body. Sims sat up in bed and meditated. “I noticed right away that I started getting a swirling whirlpool of light in my third eye,” he said. The light became brighter and coalesced into a sphere, which then morphed into a humanoid shape. Sims sat with his eyes closed for four or five minutes, waiting for the form to disappear or move or do anything. “I finally decide to open my eyes, and standing at the end of my bed is a lightbeing, clearly not human or a physical being,” he said. “If I hadn’t been prepared for it, it would have looked like a ghost or a hologram.”

The being’s body had sparkles all over it. Parts of it were transparent or semitransparent. It gave off enough light to illuminate the room, but no ambient light was cast on the walls, bed or floor, Sims recalled. Because the being’s face was so bright, Sims couldn’t tell if it had a mouth or nose, but its eyes were big and round, with triangular pupils. There was a crest at the top of its head. Sims gave his greeting telepathically. When he finished, the light-being approached and touched Sims’ elbow with his finger. He pushed his finger, then his entire body, into and through Sims’ body, until the two beings were completely merged.

Tezjbar said he was from Earth and lived 3,000 years ago in Argentina, the chieftain of a mighty tribe in the Tierra del Fuego region who died a human and then ascended to the “astral realm.” His first ET contact and his encounter with Tezjbar led Sims to begin a daily meditation. He had never meditated before. Since then, all communication between Sims and Tezjbar has been through telepathic dialogue. Tezjbar encouraged Sims to join a religious organization called Eckankar, whose main spiritual practice involves singing a note called “HU” (pronounced and sung as hue).

The feeling was “freaky,” Sims said, but he rode it out. “I was left with this acute awareness that there was another entity inside of me. There was no doubt,” he said. “There was a dude in my body.”

In 2015, while singing HU and meditating on the last day of a music festival in the California desert, Sims had a vision, “like a movie that was playing on the inside of my eyelids.” He saw a stage, thousands of people meditating and a screen displaying two dates: July 5 and 14, 2020.

Next, Sims asked the being its name. Taking control of Sims’ mouth and vocal chords, it replied, “Tezjbar.”

Eight days later, also at a music festival, Sims had a second vision very much like the first, but with a request


from Tezjbar that he organize a 10-day global meditation for promoting world peace, “and that would begin a process to initiate global contact with extraterrestrial intelligence,” he said. “I took it as a mandate from Tezjbar.” Sims began investigating how to organize a mass meditation, doing extensive research on the first Harmonic Convergence and synchronized global meditation held in 1987, an effort to bring an end to the Cold War. In the course of his research, Sims got another confirmation when he discovered the dates from his previous vision coincided with a major alignment of the planets, even more significant than the one 33 years earlier. During this time period, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury would all align with the sun. For the next five years, Sims put his business skills to work to make the event happen, recruiting the charitable organization Unify, which specializes in organized global meditations.

Meanwhile, more visions, or “downloads,” came. In 2017, Sims met a woman whose mother was abducted by a UFO and impregnated with extraterrestrial DNA. The woman was a product of this pregnancy and had become a famous astrologer. She invited Sims to visit her for 10 days at her home in Italy, so he could learn the significance of the planetary alignment. The dates she selected for the visit further affirmed his earlier visions: July 5 to 14.

answering every question Sims threw at him, including the requirement for ascending from the human form to the astral realm. To reach the astral realm, one must master unconditional love, Tezjbar answered without further explanation. After several years of research, Sims discovered that unconditional love is not the love a parent might feel for a child. It’s having love for oneself. “That’s one of the biggest lessons we’re learning as human beings,” he said.

Other downloads followed, including a list of 12 popular songs that Tezjbar wanted reproduced with new lyrics for the Harmonic Convergence. In the hit song “Grease,” for instance, the word “grease” would be replaced with the word “peace.” Sims had the songs professionally recorded. Sims also had a vision about a crisis that would be happening in 2020. “I didn’t know what the nature of that crisis would be, but that it would present an opportunity for the ETs to show themselves to the entire world in a way they could be embraced and not feared,” he said. During the Harmonic Convergence 2020, participants meditating with Sims in Ojai witnessed a lightship that was visible for more than two minutes and four times pulsed a super-punctuated flash of light. A second ship streaked across the sky in a single, straight line trajectory for an incredible distance, they said. To measure the impact of the global contact meditation, Sims teamed with Princeton’s Global Consciousness Project, which uses unique technology to measure how coherent our collective consciousness is. Preliminary results showed that more than three-quarters of participants made contact. Sims’ physical communion with Tezjbar in 2012 lasted 13 days, with the being


The CE System The CE (close encounters) system for categorizing UFO sightings was first developed by researcher J. Allen Hynek: CE-1: A sighting of a UFO within 500 feet.

• CE-2: The UFO leaves behind a physical or physiological trace or effect.

• CE-3: The presence of a

creature, like a humanoid or robot. An associate of Hynek, Jacques Vallée later added: CE-4: A human is abducted or invited to go on a craft and brought back.

Coined by Dr. Steven Greer: CE-5: Human-initiated contact using the special meditation.

Coined by Mark Sims: CE-6: Mass human-initiated contact using the special meditation.

• Left: Once visited by an entity identifying itself as a celestial being, Mark Sims leads a meditation to contact ETs at the Ojai Retreat & Inn.





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“Lonely I

’d left the light on in an adjoining bathroom and the bed was cast in a dim, borrowed glow. We were making love when I sensed something — it was a feeling of loneliness that swept over me like a devil’s kiss. I opened my eyes. Looking down at her. Beautiful; she’d always been beautiful to me, her dark hair fanning out against the sheets, long regal face, full lips and deep brown eyes. Eyes that were open, like mine. Looking up. Eyes that I had known for 15 years, from London to New York, from the sandy dunes of Long Island to this small, high-desert town in Southern California. Lover’s eyes. Mother’s eyes. Eyes that had seen the birth of two sons, our wonderful sons, sons sleeping now in twin beds in a room down the hallway. Eyes that had seen me laugh and cry and rage. Eyes that knew everything about me, the strong and the weak, the rough and the raw. I loved those eyes. I trusted them. But now they were different; there was deadness inside them, something

vacant and far away. “What’s going on?” I asked. She shook her head and pulled back against the bed as if, suddenly, I had become an intruder, demanding a currency she did not have. “Talk to me.” Silence. The next day, her ring finger was bare. The marriage was over. A solo dad, single at 64. Alone. Or “on the loose,” as a 71-year-old movie star friend described it. Like I’m going to be the apple of many eyes. The king of the retirement village. Somehow it doesn’t feel that way. Not at this point, anyway. Until I am introduced to Ann. She’s from Los Angeles, has the most incredible green eyes, sense of style and slight English accent, a leftover from her London roots. She’s also 75 years old, has severe scoliosis and generally travels by walker. One meeting at lunch and I know all about her upbringing, from hustling on the streets of Soho before graduating to full Hollywood madam, procuring all

manner of sex and contraband for the rich and famous. She’s been close friends with everyone from Marlon Brando to Jim Morrison — a little lady who has lived an extra-large life. Now, she’s confined to a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment with three dogs, a couple of cats, a parrot that resides on her shoulder and a squeaky walker. I love characters, and I love Ann. The feeling seems mutual as she promises to pull out all the stops and find me just the right woman. A week later my cell phone rings. “How is my favorite darling today?” “Ann.” “You’re going to love Michelle,” she continues. “Michelle?” “Absolutely. She was with Jack for a while and then dated Mick. She’s perfect for you.” I don’t even ask who Jack or Mick is, because I already know, and it’s a bit intimidating. “Yeah, but Ann, why would Michelle be interested in me?” “Because, darling, you are an abso-



Richard La Plante began online dating at age 64. Below, read a censored abridged version of a chapter of his book, Lonely Heart, Will Travel, which chronicles his bittersweet journey through a maze of pixelated faces and distant places.

Heart Will Travel” lutely fabulous man, and I’ve told her all about you and she is very, very interested.” Now, you’ve got to understand that self-confidence and self-esteem can run at all-time lows in the midst of a divorce; I’ve driven down the main drag of town, eyeing couples from the window of my car while glued to the lyrics of old heartbreak songs like “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.” Wondering what happened to me. “I’m going to put you in touch,” she adds. “Take down this number. She’s expecting you to call her.” Click ... . I’m on the spot. Nervous. What if I blow it, with a quaking voice and nothing clever to say; I’m not exactly at the top of my game, living on dwindling book royalties, pacing the floors at night and avoiding my own reflection in the mirror. Still, if I want Ann’s respect, and her continuing help in finding me a partner, or at least a date, I’d better make the call. I pick up the phone and try to enter a Zen, no-negative-thought state as I dial the number.

“Hello ...” the voice on the other end is slightly gravelly, maybe world-weary, a voice that’s walked the red carpet, slept with movie stars and rock stars, and is now talking to me. “Hello, this is ...” “Richard,” she says. “Ann said you’d call.” “Yes, and here I am.” And that’s the extent of my fast repartee. Michelle takes it from there and pretty soon we exchange email addresses and agree to send each other pictures. I get off the phone, once again feeling that great and fleeting sensation of hope; maybe being single is not such a bad thing; in fact, it’s exciting. In fact, I am really glad I’m free as I hunt down a not-so-recent black and white portrait, and off it goes with a whoosh and a prayer. Within minutes I receive a return email from Michelle. I open it and voilà, there she is, in a swimsuit and poised on the cusp of a gently rolling surf, all white teeth and legs. Being single just got infinitely more attractive. I email back and say the photo has arrived and tell her she’s beautiful. She suggests we meet in person. Closing with, “We’re going

to have some fun.” I sure don’t want to come off badly if compared with Jack or Mick. Particularly if she reports any inadequacy or lack of performance to Madam Ann, who is not known for her discretion and is known to spend hours gossiping on a telephone that seems to have attached itself to her ear, interrupted only by her parrot yelling a succession of fuck you and kiss my ass from his perch on her shoulder. Michelle invites me to Pasadena, where she lives. I accept instantly, suddenly full of energy, feeling that I’ve just discovered the new love of my life. I can finally stop envying couples on the sidewalk. Lonely days are gone. I’m soon booked into a suite at The Langham in Pasadena, featuring a four-poster bed, which looks stately, and is the most up-market place I can find. I am not a poser and I am not wealthy, but I am slightly intimidated by Ann’s description of Michelle, not to mention the swimsuit photograph. Then I call Madam Ann. She’s a step ahead of me, having already spoken to Michelle.



“She loves you, darling. Says you sound absolutely fun and absolutely fabulous. And she thinks you’re absolutely handsome.” Which, I may have been, 10 years ago, when the photograph was taken. Following Michelle’s endorsement and still traveling on a chariot of hot air, I count the days till the fated rendezvous, trying to keep my imagination in check. I feel like a man adrift at sea. Praying for rescue. Ahoy, Michelle! The Langham embraces me in all its four-poster splendor as I unpack my clothes, shower, shave for the second time in a day and change into fresh jeans and a gray Iron & Resin T-shirt, which comes from a shop in Ventura that features a black ’57 panhead Harley in the window. Then, I sit down on the side of the bed, take a few calming breaths and dial Michelle’s number. Is it better to begin with a more formal “Hello, it’s Richard,” or a more confident and casual “Hi, Michelle, it’s me”? Her cell phone rings many times, giving me plenty of opportunity to contemplate the “hi” or “hello” dilemma, until: “Hi, this is Michelle, I’m not here right now but if you leave me a message, maybe I’ll return your call.” Paranoia descends like a wet leather jacket. Maybe. Did she just say maybe? This is dire, or it could be. She knew I was coming. I even emailed her the approximate time of my arrival. Maybe? I leave a message. “Hello, Michelle, it’s Richard. I’m here at The Langham.” Leave my cell number and wait. Alone in The Langham, lying on the hard mattress of the reproduction

15th century bed, all dressed up with nowhere to go, my recent life washes over me like a wave of dirty dish water. Insecurity runs deep. What am I doing? An old man in young clothes. My cell phone rings. It’s Michelle, full-throated and sexy, as if she’s done this a thousand times; maybe she has. “Sorry baby, I was in the bath, getting ready.” My negative self-image fades with the distant thunder of twin exhaust pipes. “What room are you in?” she asks. Back in the saddle, all custom chrome and leathers. “415,” I answer. “See you there in about half an hour.” I put down the phone. Half an hour. That’s just about enough to brush my teeth a few times, finger-comb my hair into several flattering positions, stand in the mirror and check my pecs beneath the soft cotton of the Iron & Resin T-shirt, smile broadly at myself from varying angles, wondering how I compare to the decade old photograph she’s seen, adjust the lights in the room to allow for the decade and invade the minifridge to procure a mini bottle of extremely overpriced Johnny Walker Red, hoping it will smooth some of the rougher edges of my face. Half an hour passes, still no Michelle. Another finger-comb, a pec-flex and a glance towards the minifridge. Tempted by Johnny Walker. My cell rings. Michelle’s voice fills the airways. “Hi baby, I’m just around the corner. Room 415, right?” A quick check of my entrance key and I answer. “Yes, 415.” “On my way.” A last-minute light check, using the dimmers to create flattering reflec-

tions of myself in the mirror, a quick mouth rinse so I don’t smell like an alcoholic, and there’s a quiet knock on the door. One slow breath to calm my nerves and I answer. “Hi.” “Hi,” I reply. Michelle is a little taller than I am, which makes her above 5-foot10, and she’s very blonde with full collagen lips and breasts that I can only describe as pneumatic, bursting forward from a pink sequined T-shirt. She’s wearing tight faded jeans and strappy sandals with slight heels. She smiles. It’s a super-sized smile, in keeping with everything else about her. “Well, Richard, are we just gonna stand here or are you going to invite me in?” I step aside, grateful that, at least, she recognizes me from the photograph. “Please ... come in.” She brushes past with a sultry hint of musk and sits down in one of the twin leather chairs that flank a wooden coffee table at the foot of the four-poster. I feel very at ease with Michelle as I sit on the edge of the bed facing her. She seems totally relaxed which has a calming effect on me. “Would you like a drink?” “Sure.” I get up, walk to the corner and open the minifridge, calling out a list of available beverages. Johnny Walker makes another appearance and we split a mini bottle, then spend the next 15 minutes talking about Ann, who Michelle has known for nearly 30 years, and the strange assortment of wildlife that inhabits her tiny apartment, particularly the foul-mouthed parrot who rarely


leaves her shoulder. We laugh and it occurs to me that I haven’t had a good laugh with a woman in a very long time. “Where would you like to eat?” I ask. Michelle suggests a local Italian restaurant and off we go. A glass of red Barbera later and I feel like I’m on a Roman holiday with one of my greatest friends. We exit the restaurant hand in hand and drive the few miles to The Langham extremely carefully. Nothing like a DUI to ruin a new romance. I am about to suggest walking Michelle to her car when she asks, “Do you have any red wine in your little fridge?” “Absolutely,” I answer although I don’t recall seeing any. I just want the evening to continue and in my current state of intoxication, which is probably above the legal limit to drive a car and definitely enough to give me a warm, relaxed feeling of confidence that I haven’t experienced in years, I wrap my arm around her shoulder as we walk the quiet, gray-carpeted corridor to 415. Inside and to the fridge. A small bottle of Cabernet waits patiently. I rinse the whiskey glasses and pour. “I don’t want to go crazy,” Michelle says, sipping the wine. “Or I’ll have to spend the night here.”

“Please go crazy,” I suggest. We end up lying on the bed, kissing passionately; Michelle is marvelous; she has a way of making me feel good about myself. After half an hour of oral exploration she stands up and begins to remove her clothing, starting with her pink sequined T-shirt, revealing a drowning man’s fantasy, two flotation devices of gigantic proportion. They may not exactly be real, but she carries them with such authority that reality no longer matters; the faded jeans soon join the sparkling sequins on the floor as she looks down at me. “I warned you.” I move over and invite her to lie down. She does. We kiss a little more and that’s it. She’s drowsy, and I am suddenly interested more in having a woman lying next to me, and somehow, I believe that Michelle feels the same way. It’s like a creature comfort, two warm bodies, sheltered from the storm. My storm is the break-up of


my family; I’m not certain of hers, not then, anyway, but I do realize that beyond all the hype of who we want to be and what we would like to be perceived as being, there is the heart, and as Carson McCullers said in the title of her 1940s novel, “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter”. “Lonely Heart, Will Travel,” coming soon in digital, paperback and audio.



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Deborah King: How cancer saved her life.

By Alicia Doyle

Your Heart Never Lies as a new york times best-selling author who is considered a leading authority on energy medicine, ojai resident deborah king, is the founder of the deborah king center — a school of energy medicine and healing in ojai that’s helped change the lives of tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

King also found an energy healer, and with her guidance underwent a process of chakra healings. With each session, King felt the damage from years of stress and substance abuse lifting from her, “and for the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt lightness, a safety and a sense of unconditional love. … I also felt the awakening of a higher consciousness; I knew that embracing the truth would lead to a healing unlike any other.”

But years before her current vocation, King was a 20-something “hard-charging” attorney with a list of addictions and negative behaviors, living life “at the absolute edge of insanity” until she received the wake-up call of her life: “I was diagnosed with cancer.”

In just three sessions, she had “an amazing remission” from the cancer, right there on the energy healer’s table, where King “could literally feel the cancer leaving my body as my chakras opened and the energy blockages cleared.” King was so grateful and intrigued, she wanted to learn all about this energy healing, “and I’ve never looked back.”

Like many who are faced with a life-ordeath situation, she found the focus and strength to survive — which meant taking a long hard look at herself and her life. “I … just knew that I was headed down a path that there was no turning back from. It’s almost as though there was an unseen force pushing and pulling me into a very dark place and I was helpless against it,” recalled King. She later discovered through her work and study that this “dark force” was really the trauma of a childhood full of abuse, “something I had worked very hard to bury and ignore.” When King began contemplating her diagnosis of cervical cancer, she knew she had to change and was forced to “jump off the treadmill that was my life.” With that, she decided to get a handle on her addictions with help from Alcoholics Anonymous. She also began meditating, figuring, “it couldn’t hurt,” and “I needed something to distract me from all the vices I was giving up.”

Her journey involved training and studying with some of the leading minds in spirituality, intuition and energy healing. This included spending 10 years with an esoteric group in California, all of whom have long since passed on, who had amazing abilities in remote healing, or what they called “prayer.” “They followed the command of the New Testament to ‘go out and do as I have done,’” King remembered. Subsequently, she graduated from and stayed on to teach at a U.S.-based energy healing school (long since closed) that taught the chakra-based work pioneered by Barbara Brennan — a former NASA physicist who dedicated her life to exploring the human energy field and realms of human consciousness — and others of her generation. “I was also mentored by shamans, priests and sages in Nepal, India, Mexico and

South America,” King said. “Ultimately, I returned to my roots, finding that the techniques taught to me originally were the most powerful.” Looking back, King believes serendipity led her on the path toward alternative medicine and energy healing. “There was something about the idea that if thousands of years worth of tradition and history could have survived this long, there must be something to it,” she remembered. King emphasized that she didn’t ditch western medicine all together. After her cancer diagnosis, she got permission from her doctors who said she could delay her surgery a bit. “I want my followers to be careful,” she said. “I got permission from my doctors and was very cautious … and I insist on people doing that. When you have a diagnosis it means the disorder is in your tissue. I always tell people to get all hands on deck — your surgeon, your oncologist … maybe you need counseling. Whatever it takes.” After decades of study and practice, King is now considered an expert in sharing her higher spiritual abilities, including energy medicine, energy healing, shamanic techniques, space clearing, karmic residue, chakra wisdom readings, angels of energy healing, pet healing and communication, meditation, spiritual initiations, and developing spiritual gifts and abilities. Today, she is honored to share “messages of healing, hope and guidance to friends, fans and followers from all walks of life,” said King, who wrote the New York Times best-seller “Be Your Own Shaman,” “Truth Heals,” “Entangled in Darkness,” and the Simon & Schuster release “Heal Yourself — Heal the World.” She is also





Deborah King doing an “activation” to increase the vibration of an attendee’s energy field at a live workshop.

become.” Most of them are not dealing with a medical crisis; “more are feeling a lack of direction – they don’t know why they’re here and need help finding their purpose. I hand select them … it’s usually people looking for direction or spiritual advancement. That’s what I’m most famous for: spiritual advancement.”

a featured contributor in a number of print and online publications, including HuffPost and Psychology Today. In her school of energy medicine, King teaches what she calls LifeForce Energy Healing®, which she says helped her accomplish many things in her life including putting her cancer into remission, helping her kick addictions, allowing her to heal faster from illnesses and helping her “stand up for my truth.” King has an “elite group” of 25 carefully selected students that she puts under her wing for a year to “really help them become whoever they’re trying to

Additionally, King has an international student body comprised of more than 500,000 followers from around the world, as well as a student body of over 5,000 students who are actively pursuing their goal, whether it’s personal development or spiritual, or they’re looking for a career in energy medicine. Speaking of energy, it’s the reason why King chose Ojai as her home and business base, which came about “serendipitously” when she started hosting events in town. “When I stepped out of the car, I was overwhelmed with the energy — I felt it right away,” remembered King, who was living in Westlake Village before she relocated to Ojai. “I’ve been to all the major hot spots around the world that have similar vibrations and it’s very pronounced [in Ojai]. There’s water

underneath the valley that runs east to west, which is very unusual. I was in the Himalayas studying with some monks there, and their valley runs the same direction and has a similar feel. Ojai is really, really special.” King says, ultimately, her mission is to spread and share what she’s learned to help others enjoy healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.“I want to change the world,” she said. “I’m an activist, just an activist in an unusual way. Instead of marching down the street with a sign, I’m trying to help people upgrade their consciousness and become more selfaware, because when we change ourselves and we like ourselves, we can help other people. Until you have real clarity about yourself, you can’t help others.” For more information on courses, visit www.deborahking.com; call 800-790-5785 or email deborah@deborahking.com King offers several ways for people to watch, listen and learn from her, including participating live on her interactive Zoom platform, watching broadcasts on her Facebook page or viewing video recordings on her YouTube channel The Deborah King Center.


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Today, the most common diseases of civilization are defined by what are called “mismatch diseases”: the modern lifestyle is mismatched with the way our bodies were designed to function. Here are the five biggest mismatches 1. We were built for movement. However, today our lifestyle is mostly sedentary. 2. We were designed for natural food nutrition with a lot of fiber in the diet. Today it’s just the opposite: most people eat highly refined food with very little fiber in the diet.

Making Friends with your Microbiome The New Nutrition: A Self-Care Guide to Health and Healing.

3. We were designed for spending time in Nature. Today, too much time is spent indoors and on computers, video games and social media 4. We were designed to be in community. However, preCOVID, 80% of seniors were isolated at home. Once you factor in the coronavirus and its consequential social isolation and lockdown, the number of isolated seniors has rapidly increased. 5. Our brain is designed for social behavior. The lack of faceto-face social engagement represents an underestimated health risk factor. No self-help book will encompass all of these. Yet, these are at the heart of many of the diseases of modern civilization. When expressed in the body this constellation of diseases is called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can be a serious issue for seniors. In 1980 at Stanford Medical School, Dr. Reaven, head of the endocrinology department, discovered a group of traits strongly linked: high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, insulin resistance and diabetes, that were all linked together but he didn’t know the cause. Two years later he worked out the cause, the “smoking gun” of the hormone insulin. WHAT THESE DISEASES ALL SHARE IN COMMON IS TOO MUCH INSULIN IN THE BLOOD. There is one, and only one food group that really spikes the insulin - highly refined carbohydrates, especially highly refined cereal grains used in most baked goods So what is the solution? What is the best path to optimum health that is aligned with how our bodies were designed to function? Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo or ketogenic (keto)?

With Alexia Parks & Joel Rauchwerger Ph.D.

Looking back 40 years, public interest in nutrition started with Dr. Robert Atkins and the Atkins Diet. Given the times, it was a quantum leap for nutrition. Before that, it was carbs, carbs, carbs. Carbs were king. Atkins basically said, “Let’s have more protein and fat in the diet and reduce the carbs.”





1. By age 60, 60% of your digestive juices are gone. For good digestion, always eat protein first.

With metabolic syndrome, we are really talking about one thing: too much insulin in the blood due to a diet of highly refined carbohydrates and sugars.

2. Avoid drinking any liquids with your meal, including water, soup or beer. Drink liquids 30 minutes before and after a meal. This keeps your digestive juices strong, helps break down the protein and reduces the problem of acid reflux. 3. Eat more fiber. We describe the many benefits of fiberrich foods in our books.

It was a game-changer in the world of nutrition. The Atkins Diet was fine-tuned by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., now 70, who is a professor of exercise physiology at Colorado State University. When Cordain was a student, he asked a simple question: “What did we eat before agriculture?” Cordain then compiled 15,000 journal articles from medical, nutritional and anthropological sources, and that synthesis has become known as the Paleo Diet. It was another tremendous contribution because, like Atkins, Cordain showed that the bad guy was highly refined carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, refined bread, pasta, beer and pizza

The brain only needs one teaspoon of blood sugar to function properly, However, today, when our food contains too much sugar from refined carbs, sweetened beverages and concentrated juices, this can mean 20 teaspoons of sugar or more entering the blood in a single day. When there is too much sugar in the blood, insulin spikes and pushes the high blood sugar down into the liver. When your sugar level drops the result is hypoglycemia, commonly known as low-blood sugar, which creates feelings of fatigue, tiredness and brain fog WHY DOES OUR BODY CRAVE GOOD FAT? Our body has two bank accounts: one is for sugar (glucose) — also called carbohydrates. The other is for fats. The bank account for sugar is the liver. It is a very small bank account. It only takes about 700 calories to become filled. By contrast, the bank account for good fat is large. It is all over the body: under the skin, around the heart, around internal organs and in the brain. It is big for a reason, and this alone suggests that the standard fuel for the body should be fat.

If you permit your sugar/glucose bank account in the liver to drain, which takes about three hours, then the body has no choice but to burn ATKINS In the Paleolithic times that Cordain studied, we did not fats. This method for on-going fat burning and easy weight have these foods. loss is called intermittent fasting. Medically speaking, the term is autophagy. Now, the most recent innovation — what we call the “New Nutrition” — is an extension of the Paleo Diet called The In the New Nutrition, a ketogenic diet will accelerate the ketogenic diet (KETO), the ketogenic diet is focused on burning of stored fats. Fat burning also produces “ketone protein and fat with refined carbs kept to a minimum. bodies.” This is good. Your brain and your heart run 25% The keto diet simply takes good fats to the limit. In a pure ketogenic diet 80% of your calories come from good fats, with no more than 50 grams of carbs per day. For example, 50 carbs is the equivalent of two small bananas. This is very difficult to do, so our own modified keto meal plan includes up to 100 carbs. By “good fats,” what we’re referring to includes avocado oil, olive oil, canola oil, nut butters and 65% or darker chocolate. In addition, saturated animal fats in moderation are good. These can be found in high-fat yogurt, high-fat cheeses and in a 3-ounce steak or hamburger.

better on ketone bodies. In addition, the 640 muscles in your body have a 10 times greater affinity for ketone bodies rather than sugar (glucose). Ketone bodies are a high-octane fuel for the body that is long lasting. It will keep your blood sugar nice and constant so that you avoid the experience of brain fog or fatigue. You avoid the “sugar blues,” the ups and downs of a carb-fueled diet. THE LONGEVITY BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING 1. Intermittent fasting is based on eating only two meals a day within an 8 hour period. For example: lunch at 12 noon and



dinner between 7–8 p.m. When you practice intermittent fasting, you accelerate the body’s fat burning and internal “house cleaning.” It becomes easy to burn off excess body fat. This simple lifestyle change can help prevent metabolicsyndrome-linked diseases. 2. With intermittent fasting, you keep your insulin levels low. When your insulin levels are at their lowest point, they turn on the longevity genes known as Sirtuin genes. These are genes which we all have that are basically on lock-down over a lifetime due to poor eating habits. Expression of these genes is good for health and healing!

Tight junctions provide a really good barrier for preventing bacteria from leaking into your body.


When the body sends out antibodies from the immune system to attack the bacteria that have entered the bloodstream through the leaky gut, it always sends out more than what is needed.

The microbiome is a newly discovered organ in the body. Though medicine is 3,000 years old, this new organ was only discovered a few years ago. Your microbiome weighs three pounds, the same as your three pound brain. In fact, it’s called “the second brain.” However, the microbiome contains 50 trillion bacteria, viruses and fungi and is located in your colon. These 50 trillion microbes are our employees. Even Amazon doesn’t have that many! So the whole name of the game is to maximize and unleash the potential of your employees. For example, these microbes will produce 90% of your feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, all within your gut. What maximizes and unleashes the maximum potential of your microbiome is the food that you cannot digest: fiber.

Over time, if the primary fuel for the body is highly refined carbohydrates, the tight junctions, like cement in bricks, start to dissipate. They become inflamed. This creates tiny openings for very small gut bacteria to pass through and enter the blood. When these small bacteria leak into the bloodstream, the body goes into attack mode to fight these “foreign bacteria.” Medically speaking, this battle is called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a new model for understanding autoimmune diseases.

The extra antibodies will not only kill the bacteria but, like “friendly fire,” they will start to hit your own tissues. The result is what we now call autoimmune disease. The fix? Dialing up the amount of soft, soluble fiber in your diet toward 60–70%. It is the consensus of experts that leaky gut can be healed by this kind of fiber. Today’s New Nutrition is based on pulling the best from vegan, vegetarian, Paleo and ketogenic meals and creating a lifestyle that has a “ketogenic tilt.” For us this means: 70% fiber, 15% good fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, omega 3s, coconut oil, butter, nut butters, high-fat yogurt, high-fat cheeses and 15% protein (about 3 ounces of protein a day).

When your health and healing path includes this lifestyle and high-fat meal planning, pretty CO R DA IN soon you will automatically reduce or eliminate any By contrast, the food that humans can easily digest is protein and fat. These foods are digested in your stomach, desire for refined carbohydrates. pancreas and liver. Fiber, the food which we humans cannot The benefits of the New Nutrition can be measured daily and digest, becomes the food for the bacteria in the gut. include high energy levels, a continuous feeling of well-being Soft, soluble fiber — found in vegetables like spinach, kale, and happiness, and mental sharpness. onions, garlic and tomatoes, as well as all fruits — dissolves in Hello happiness. Good-bye brain fog. water. The fiber in these fruits and vegetables is what feeds your 50 trillion employees. When you feed your microbiome the food it loves, it will produce another big benefit: short-chain fatty acids. And the rock star is the 4-carbon butyric acid. Butyric acid is known to heal leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome can lead to auto-immune diseases. In short, a ketogenic lifestyle can help heal a leaky gut and prevent auto-immune diseases. What causes a leaky gut? When we are young, the cells in our gut “hold hands” very tightly. That is, they are very close together. These close networks are called tight junctions.


is co-author of “23INGREDIENTS” with Dr. Joel Rauchwerger, and is CEO of ZIPHomeChef.com, an internet platform that networks licensed home cooks who are able to respond to emergency food service needs. Dr. Joel is an expert in whole-body health and nutrition. With a lifelong interest in how to strengthen the immune system, his focus is on how to prevent, reduce, or reverse most disease. Dr. Joel worked with the well-known cardiologist and heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey and was on faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.



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Celebrating Ojai’s suffrage In 1920, California was already far ahead of the rest of the country by nine years. And so was the Ojai Valley. By Karen Lindell


n August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing women all over the country the right to vote. This year, the United States is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. But the rest of the country is late to the party: Women earned the right to vote in California in 1911, and in five other Western states before then. Women and men in the Ojai Valley helped lead the way. In Ventura County, the vote on October 10, 1911, was 856 to 816 against the state amendment. But in Nordhoff (the city’s name before it became Ojai in 1917), the vote was 90 to 84 in favor.

“In Nordhoff, where the women do all things well and have the right kind of men to help … the issue carried by six,” a story in The Ojai newspaper reported. California overall voted yes, too: 125,037 to 121,450. In the first days after the election, the amendment appeared to be failing because voters in large cities like San Francisco were against the measure, but after votes from more rural areas came in, the total landed in favor of granting women the right to vote. Men, of course, were the only voters at the time, so their ballots were crucial, and men also made many of the written arguments supporting the amendment in local publications like The Ojai (now the Ojai Valley News). Women, however, often as members of local service and suffrage groups, fought for and educated members of both sexes about equal rights for women. ‘NO LOGICAL BASIS …’ Two of the most active Ojai suffragists were Eliza Thacher (left) and Josephine Pierpont Ginn, said Deya Terrafranca, research library and archives director at the Museum of Ventura County. Both women, according to newspaper accounts, spoke at suffrage meetings in other cities — Thacher in Ojai and Pierpont Ginn in Santa Paula. Men supported the effort, too. In 1911 The Ojai published a series of opinion pieces by Henry J. Dennison (Ojai’s first public school teacher), Edward Thacher, and author Walter W. Bristol in support of women’s suffrage.


Thacher wrote that “there remains no logical basis for withholding the vote from women.”

by state senator John Bunyan Sanford: “Woman is woman. She cannot unsex herself or change her sphere. Let her be content with her lot and perform those high duties intended for her by the Great Creator, and she will accomplish far more in governmental affairs than she can ever accomplish by mixing up in the dirty pool of politics …”

“The constitution of California does not respect or consult the consent of half of the governed, simply because the gender is feminine,” Dennison wrote. “One who is opposed to feminine influence in a more elevated and refined government is not progressive, but obstructive to humanity’s best interest.” And Bristol said that “women in America are entitled to the exercise of the franchise on two definite grounds, viz: that of education and of moral fitness.” They were likely responding to anti-amendment arguments like this one in the state’s 1911 Voter Information Guide,


“Women ought to vote, because taxation without representation is tyranny”. —Dorothy Dix

An anti-suffrage reader of The Ojai, “D. Bushnell,” responded to one of Dennison’s opinion pieces with a letter to the editor that read, in part: “Difference is not inequality. … Each sex is supreme in its own realm. … Why … [try] to exercise a ‘privilege’… which carries with it duties (such as police, jury and military duty, and the arduous and disagreeable machine work of politics) which we could not and ought not to perform?” Women too had a pro-suffrage written voice in The Ojai, including a piece from



the San Francisco Examiner by columnist Dorothy Dix, who wrote the following: “Women ought to vote, because taxation without representation is tyranny, whether the individual who pays the taxes wears trousers or petticoats.” Even though 1911 appears to be the more active women’s suffrage movement period in Ventura County history, 1920 was important, too, and current local celebrations are part of the national commemoration of the 19th Amendment’s centennial. Passed by Congress on June 4th, 1919 and ratified August 18th, the 19th Amendment says: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Photo: California State Library

The Museum of Ventura County is presenting a virtual exhibit, “Amendment 19: Votes for Women,”

about the history of women’s suffrage in Ventura County. Available online, the exhibit opened in conjunction with the Toast to Tenacity, a free, nonpartisan online event held August 26th (Women’s Equality Day). Presented by Vision 2020 Ventura County, CSU Channel Islands and others, the event featured talks and performances about voting, advocacy and equality. The virtual celebration echoed the spirit of activities more than 100 years ago as local women came together to win the right to vote and address other rights issues. WOMEN’S NETWORKS “In 1911, women in Ventura County were very busy organizing,” said Museum of Ventura County’s Deya Terrafranca. Women’s clubs became popular in the late 1800s across the United States, and sprang up in Ventura County in the 1890s. Generally, they were social and charitable clubs, “but many had what was considered a subversive element,” Terrafranca said. “They talked about homemaking and caring for children — and also about politics and civic responsibility.”

California first voted on whether to give women the right to vote in 1896, a year that saw top national suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw travel throughout California. They each spoke at Armory Hall in Ventura, and women from Ojai likely attended the events, Terrafranca said. Anthony delivered a 45-minute speech to a room “filled to upmost capacity,” according to a Ventura Free Press newspaper account. The 1896 amendment failed to pass, however. Women’s clubs then became more active, and educational presentations began to include topics like prison reform and the economy, including a talk on “our daughters for and against a business life for girls,” Terrafranca said. The August 18th, 1911 issue of The Ojai featured a news item about a speech by Los Angeles labor reformer Katherine Philips Edson (referred to in the paper by her husband’s name, “Mrs. Chas. Farwell Edson”) at a meeting of The Ojai Equal

The groups formed networks, she said, hosting women from other cities and organizations, and members encouraged each other to talk to similar clubs for men.

Above: Walter W. Bristol with his wife Olive. Local Campaigners for women’s sufferage. c.1920

“Woman is woman. She cannot unsex herself or change her sphere.” —Senetor John Bunyan Sanford (far left)

“Women failed or were handicapped when they appeared before a city council because they had not a constituency back of them.” —Katherine Philips Edson (left)


Suffrage Club. Edson, the report said, made “a clear, logical plea for the cause of equal suffrage.” She told the audience, for example, about a common “home” problem among L.A. women: the purity of milk. Women concerned about the issue, she said, “failed or were handicapped when they appeared before a city council because they had not a constituency back of them.” The same newspaper page featured a report on the formation of a Ventura County Equal Suffrage League, with an overwhelming response to calls for membership. A few days before the October election in 1911, Ojai (Nordhoff ) residents presented a play, “How the Vote Was Won,” in which a family dubious about equal rights for women is won over by the end. The show apparently played to a packed hall. After women earned the right to vote in California, they began to sit on juries, do other kinds of work previously not open to them and advocate for other women around the country who didn’t yet have those rights. Ojai Valley women were among those who argued, marched and lobbied for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Celebrations of the 19th Amendment’s ratification often overlook that the constitutional change, while not race-specific in writing, in effect only gave white women the right to vote. Barriers to voting for Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American women and men still existed — some of which to this day haven’t been eradicated. The Museum of Ventura County, for its “19th” exhibit, sought stories, pictures, recordings, and other memories and memorabilia from local residents about Ventura County’s suffrage movement. Patti Bagley, a member of the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, has lived in Ojai for 20 years but grew up in the Midwest. She submitted a story about her grandmother’s aunt, Rachel Chenoweth Morse, who kept a diary in the 1880s and wrote that she planned to attend a meeting of “women who were interested in getting the right to vote.” Morse ended up voting for Warren Harding in the 1920 U.S.

election, the first election in which women were allowed to vote. “Voting has always been a privilege in my lifetime, but I respect the women who worked hard to fight for this right for women,” Bagley said. Also in 1920, leaders of the women’s suffrage movement founded the League of Women Voters. Betsy Patterson, president of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County, said the local chapter began much later, in 1960, with 22 members, and now has 125 members, including men. The League of Women Voters describes itself as a “political” but “nonpartisan” organization that “encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.”

1896: Susan B. Anthony spoke at Armory Hall, Ventura


SUFFRAGE TODAY One of the Ojai Valley’s modern-day “suffragists” is Dawn Dyer of Oak View, president of Dyer Sheehan Group (a real estate consulting and brokerage firm), a member of numerous women’s organizations including the National Association of Women Business Owners, a Toast to Tenacity organizer and a California delegate for the Vision 2020 national women’s equality initiative. During November 2019 in Ojai, she and a group of women dubbed “Suffrage Passion Players” presented a play, “Use Your



Photo: Museum of Ventura County Library & Archives collection.

Right: Members of the La Loma Club, c. 1902. The women in this club were among the first women to vote in Ventura County. Below: The Ventura County Vision 2020 Suffrage Passion Players, performing the one-act play, “Use Your Voice! Use Your Vote!” at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club. Below right: Dawn Dyer of Ojai (right) and her daughter, Tiffany Dyer-Emhoff, were among eight women from Ventura County who marched alongside a 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade float that celebrated women’s suffrage.

Photo: Patti Bagley

where I found myself treated differently because I was a woman,” she said.

Use Your Vote!” that traced the 70-year fight for women’s right to vote throughout the United States, profiling such suffragists as Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, and Puerto Rican feminist Luisa Capetillo. Dyer and her fellow suffrage sisters also marched in the 2019 Ojai Independence Day Parade, Camarillo Christmas Parade and even the Rose Parade in Pasadena (walking alongside a Statue of Liberty float). Dyer said she wants people to know “how recent it has been since women were full citizens in our nation. In America we get a little full of ourselves about how other cultures treat women. But it’s been just 100 years. We not only could not vote, but were considered the property of our husbands, and couldn’t keep wages, sign contracts or own real estate.” Dyer, who said she has always been “acutely aware of obstacles for women in the world,” married young and had two small children when she divorced her husband. At the time, in her 20s, Dyer had a real estate license, and as the primary source of support for her children, wanted to get a credit card for business use, but as a single woman, she was denied. “There were many situations

Political representation for women didn’t happen right away for Ventura County women after the 1920 election. In Ojai, Harriet Vonderembs was the city’s first councilwoman (1952) and female mayor (1955). The Ventura County Board of Supervisors took a little longer to get female representation: its first two women supervisors, Maggie Erickson Kildee and Susan Lacey, were elected in 1980.

In 2013, the board honored the two former supervisors by naming its annual resolution for Women’s History Month after them. Two women on the board was a novelty in 1980. But “I think we’re reaching the point where maybe it doesn’t matter so much whether you’re a man or a woman,” Kildee said.


Vote Bill Weirick Ojai Mayor 2020 Vision + Experience • Committed to preserving Ojai’s unique small town character in the face of ever evolving threats, challenges, and opportunities. • Years of advocacy and participation in various initiatives improving our resilience in the face of fire and water supply threats, facing the reality of climate change, and advancing environmental sustainability. • Strong supporter of local ownership and entrepreneurship to broaden and diversify our business community. • Insisted on and achieved greater transparency and accountability for County Planning actions affecting our Valley. • Led efforts to improve the quality of city services and overall staff accountability. For questions, comments, and conversation please email me at weirick@ojaicity.org





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l’ timers will tell you that Ojai has more stone walls than any other part of California.

Santa Paula has a few, they say, and there are some up north in the Sierra Nevada foothills, but Ojai takes the prize for the most rock walls. The reason for all the stone walls in Ojai is that the ground is full of rocks, and when farmers cleared their land to plant crops, workers dug out a tremendous amount of stones. “The rocks interfered with planting trees, making and maintaining the furrows for irrigation, and digging wells for water,” said Ojai citrus grower Tony Thacher. Thacher’s father-in-law, Elmer Friend, used to say he’d picked up every rock in Ojai at least twice. Men clearing the land would throw the stones into a barranca or, if none was available, they’d make a huge rock pile. Often, they’d use the rocks to build walls around the fields and orchards. The stone walls define boundaries between properties and keep the creeks at bay during flooding. Most early homes and barns in Ojai sit atop rock sills. The rocks in the Ojai Valley are generally sandstone. Hard winter rains wash the rocks down the canyons. Creeks fill up with them and sometimes change course, flooding the land and depositing enormous amounts of mud and rocks. The stone walls of Northern California’s Mother Lode Country, where gold was discovered, were made by Chinese laborers brought over in 1849 to build the railroads and work in the mines. No cement was used in building the “dry walls.” The rocks were simply stacked up and fitted together to make crude walls that were prone to falling apart. In a 1971 interview with the Ojai Valley Museum, old-timers Howard Bald and Austen Pierpont said Ojai’s early stone walls, built between 1880 and 1890, were also dry walls made by Chinese laborers. “Tradition will tell you that the Chinese

had a hand in building them, but, in truth, many ethnic groups did this work,” said Thacher. As a little boy, Pierpont remembered Chinese laborers working on a wall near his home in Ojai’s East End, where land had been cleared to plant olive trees. Pierpont and his brother, Phillip, would dig around under the oak trees where the Chinese workers camped and would often find little brass boxes where the men kept their opium, hidden beneath the leaves.

Visitors to Ojai’s East End are often impressed and baffled by the presence of massive drystone walls enclosing the orange groves.

After the Chinese, Mexican craftsmen came in and, at first, built dry walls in Ojai. They later switched to making wet walls held together by cement. Each man doing the rock work was paid 35 cents an hour, according to Howard Bald. On many of the stone walls, the inner and outer sides are the only stacked portions, with the middle being filled by sundry debris picked up during the harvest or yearly plowing and discing. “I’ve come across pipe, wire, concrete chunks, even a mummified coyote. Who knows what else lies buried within those mute structures,” Thacher said. Most of the walls are no higher than you could toss 10 or 15 pounds of debris with ease, he added. When he was 13, Thacher worked for a man named Jim Potts, taking care of the orange orchard at The Thacher School. In order to renew and refresh the irrigation ditches that summer of 1953, Thacher’s first assignment was “picking rock” behind a caterpillar-type farm tractor made by the Cleveland Tractor Company.


These behemoths stand as monuments to the work of the many Chinese migrants who’s hard labor built something which would withstand floods, quakes and the ravages of time itself. by Perry Van Houten



Walls of ojai




“Jim fired up the crank-started Cletrac, hitched it to a sledge and told me to trail along and throw or roll rocks onto it,” he said. When Potts got to the end of the row, he turned the tractor into the next row. “Now, you drive,” Potts said. Thacher dutifully climbed up and stared at the various pedals and handles. “You do know how?” Potts yelled up. Thacher nodded. He did manage to keep the tractor reasonably straight for a short time. “But stopping and turning my neck to look backward as he rolled a watermelon-sized boulder onto the sledge, I guess I lost footing on the left brake and simultaneously pulled the right clutch lever,” Thacher said. “In what seemed like an instant, I was under an orange tree, where my firstever driving effort stalled out.” Not only that, the crank was jammed against the tree trunk. Pulling the Cletrac away from the tree required moving the rocks and sledge and getting another tractor to pull the Cletrac free. “Needless to say, I ‘picked’ and Jim drove the rest of the day,” Thacher said. The next day, Potts gave Thacher a lesson on more open ground. “I grew quite attached to the pre-war machine and Jim, its master,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for nicer teachers in or outside the classroom.”


We care About the Health, Safety & Beauty of Your Trees RCA#592

Owner Mark Crane, member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, and his team of certified arborists, have been meticulously caring for trees in Ojai, Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta since 1995.

• Tree care planting & trimming • Drought services & fire safety • Emergency tree services • Tree evaluation

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Living the Ojai Life Ojai’s reputation as a uniquely desirable place to put down roots continues to grow. Surrounded by natural beauty yet a mere stone’s-throw from Los Angeles, residents can live a relaxed, small-town lifestyle within a close-knit community. The attraction of being a member of a small semi-rural community has become more appealing with the pandemic of 2020, as people look to live away from crowded urban areas. When you come willing to adapt to, and become a part of, the Ojai way of life you will likely find peace, beauty and belonging in our special community.

Ojai’s local agents know and love our valley; we recommend everyone from these pages. For the most current weekly listings, pick up a copy of the Ojai Valley News, or read our free digital copy of Real Estate Weekly, online edition at





SIGNAL STREET COMPOUND On nearly 8 acres at the top of North Signal Street, this compound has boundless potential for multiple uses. The main house is perched on a hill, with amazing views of the entire valley, from sensational sunrises to famous pink moment sunset s. The property has multiple structures, including t wo ďŹ nished guest houses and a third waiting for your magic touch. With a little love, t wo of the other buildings could ser ve in a myriad of ways: a yoga or recording studio, RV storage, a workshop or a secret getaway for writing that masterpiece! It s grounds are ďŹ lled with pepper, bottle brush and fruit trees and it is only a short walk from downtown, Shelf Road and Pratt Trail. 1203NorthSignalStOjai.com



25 years matching people and property in the Ojai Valley



w Ne O g ri n ffe e ic Pr

EAST END SPACIOUSNESS This magnificent 40 acre gated Mediterranean estate in Ojai's East End offers stunning panoramic views of the Ojai Valley, exceptional privacy and is minutes from town. The main structure, with 4,000sf of living space, features a great room with vaulted ceilings, a huge family/media room, a large eat-in farmhouse kitchen, 2 master suites and a 3rd bedroom. Luxurious amenities include a stone wine room, a whimsical bell tower and 3 kiva fireplaces. Outside there is a 75ft infinity pool & spa that take full advantage of the sweeping views, 2 gas fire pits, an infrared sauna, a 4-car garage and an EV charging station. Beautifully landscaped and built with green materials, this is a truly unique property. 2661LaderaRdOjai.com Offered at $5,295,000


(805) 340-3774




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Bryant Circle Mini Storage •Free move in truck •Moving and packing supplies •Security system with TV surveillance •On site resident managers •Competitive rates •Move-in specials

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Thank you. Healthcare Professionals First Responders Sanitation Teams Grocery Store Clerks Field Workers Delivery Carriers Restaurant Workers Caregivers Utility Workers Waste Collectors Warehouse Workers Generous Neighbors Heroes and Helpers And my Ojai community In good times and bad, always committed



Kristen Currier DRE 01314850

805.798.3757 kcurrier@livsothebysrealty.com www.ojaibykristen.com





inged by mountains laced with many miles of trails, the Ojai Valley area has much to offer twowheeled adventurers.

P E R R Y VA N H O U T E N ’ S

Fat tire fans can ride zigzagging singletracks to ridgetops with sweeping vistas, wide fire roads that traverse long, deep canyons, and a few flat, easy trails for more contemplative riding. There’s a trail for every age and ability. Preparation is key to happy riding. Always wear a helmet, bring plenty of water and snacks, carry a first aid kit, know where you’re going, tell someone where you’ve gone and when to expect you back. Don’t rely on a lot of shade on most of these rides, as much of the trees and brush burned in the Thomas Fire, so apply plenty of sunscreen.

SULPHUR MOUNTAIN ROAD This good, graded nine-mile dirt road begins just off

Highway 33 between Oak View and Casitas Springs. The road climbs moderately through oak woodlands and grassy hillsides, and provides outstanding views spanning the Ojai Valley and out to the ocean. Mileages are marked by sign posts along the road. After approximately 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you arrive at a paved section of road beside a large, gated ranch. This is a good place to turn around and head for home, though the road continues for another four miles to the upper trailhead. Or do Sulphur Mountain as a shuttle trip, with two vehicles, and ride it from top to bottom, for a roughly 13mile downhill run. Hazards to watch for are messy oil seeps along the lower portion of the road, cattle guards in a few

O J A I VA L L E Y H I K I N G & B I K I N G

places, and large cows that wander the road and can take fast-moving downhillers by surprise. In fall and winter, the road is open for recreation from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

mile of the six-mile Gridley Trail is rocky with some hike-a-biking required. The middle 3 miles take you from avocado groves to spectacular canyon vistas, on a very rideable grade. At about mile four, the trail gets steeper and narrower, before leveling off at the top. A few miles west of Gridley Canyon, the five-mile-long


For a challenging ride with lots of elevation gain, point your front wheel up these mostly singletrack trails. Both trails climb to Nordhoff Ridge at roughly 5,000 feet elevation. Starting at the north end of Gridley Road, the first

Pratt Trail begins from a signed parking area near the top of Signal Street. The trail is rocky but rideable for the first mile, on an easement through private property. Past the last house, the trail, now a road, climbs steeply at times and becomes singletrack again. This section of trail has been a bit sketchy in the past, but it’s gotten plenty of TLC recently from volunteers, many of them mountain bikers.


Both trails are a thrilling downhill ride, but watch those drop-offs!

VALLEY VIEW & VENTURA RIVER PRESERVES Two preserves administered by Ojai Valley Land Conservancy offer separate networks of short trails, with varying degrees of difficulty. The western portion of easy Shelf Road starts in the VVP and continues two miles to Gridley Road. Running north of Shelf

for about one mile are the Fox Canyon Trail and Luci’s Trail. Both are steep and narrow, and connect to the historic Foothill Trail. As the preserve’s name suggests, the views from these trails can’t be beat.


Across town and straddling the Ventura River, the 1,600-acre VRP offers about a dozen well-maintained trails and three trailheads. Most rides require crossing the river, usually an easy task, except after heavy rains.

Be aware that access to the trailhead has recently changed, due to a locked gate just south of the former parking area. Limited parking is available along the gravel road, or you’ll need to park along Highway 150 near the school, and ride an extra mile up the paved residential road.

For a pleasant ride beneath a canopy of oaks, take the Wills Canyon Trail to El Nido Meadow. For a much more challenging ride, take the Rice Canyon Trail to the Kennedy Ridge Trail, which climbs three miles to the old El Camino Cielo Trail. You’re bound to encounter horses on most of the VRP trails, so be tolerant and give equestrians the right-of-way. Restricted hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. go into effect starting Nov. 1 on the VRP.

There’s nothing unusually difficult about this eightmile, 3,000-foot elevation gain climb up a wide, graded fire road.

Two creek crossings are usually easy affairs, before the road gets noticeably steeper and makes a sharp left-hand turn out of the oak-shaded canyon. As you pedal out of the canyon, you get impressive views of the Topatopa Bluffs, looming hundreds of feet above you. Vistas to the south as you leave the canyon are equally breathtaking, including Upper Ojai, Sulphur


Mountain and all the way out to the Santa Barbara Channel.

If you tire of the fire road, there’s a challenging singletrack option roughly two miles up, the White Ledge-Red Reef Trail. One mile up this narrow, brushy trail is shady White Ledge Camp, situated beside a stream and beneath fragrant bay laurel trees. For a truly epic ride, ascend Sisar Canyon Road to Nordhoff Ridge, head west and descend the Gridley or Pratt trails. Anyway you go, the downhill run is a blast!



1489 Foothill Rd, Ojai | $2,150,000 A quiet peaceful retreat, tucked away on a private elevated knoll placed to maximize the property’s 360 degree exceptional views! Nestled at the base of Ojai mountains, with hiking/biking trails, just minutes from Ojai village. The multi-room master features a walk-in closet plus a view office and private patio. With 5-bedrooms including a 2-bedroom separate entrance suite upstairs, there’s lots of room for creativity; offices, etc. With fruit trees and lots of land, just sit back or swim and savor the peace and solitude of dreamy Ojai living. Incredible views, exquisitely designed, custom-built home, owned solar, whole house water filtration system and alarm system in place!

Joan Roberts 805-223-1811

roberts4homes@gmail.com 727 W. Ojai Avenue Ojai, California, 93023

CalBRE# 00953244 © 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principals of the Fair Housing Act.



2144-2150 Baldwin Rd. Six parcels, two homes, Bass and Perch stocked lake, covered arena, and 29 stall barns surrounded by Las Padres Forest and Land Conservancy. 20 minutes from the beach.

3 SEAVIEW DR. MONTECITO Located steps from the sand. One of only 4 oceanfront ground floor units in the Montecito Shores Complex.

308 Drown St. Downtown location, upgraded home with detached building that could easily be converted to legal ADU.

Cathy Titus DRE 01173283 805.798.0960 ctitus@livsothebysrealty.com

LIV SOTHEBY’S International Realty 727 W. Ojai Avenue, Ojai, California www.livsothebysrealtyca.com

© 2020 LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All data, including all measurements and calculations are obtained from various sources and has not and will not be verified by Broker. All information shall be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. LIV Sotheby’s International Realty is independently owned and operated and supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act.








Drew learns to drive SEX did not happen for me at 15 years old, but the next best thing did.

Let me explain. Mom was pregnant with my second little sister and fourth sibling, Mindy. Mom was a shorty and her belly got so big that her short legs would no longer reach the pedals in our 1959 Ford station wagon. So, she asked me if I’d like to become the family driver when Dad was at work. It took me all of three whole seconds to exclaim “Yes!” Mom explained I was so close in age to being eligible for a Learner’s Permit (15 1/2 years), if the police spotted us, they’d assume I had a permit. Fine with this soonto-be Roadmaster! Mira Monte Market, here I come!!! I had driven back in my early years and by the time I mastered that tank-of-a-station-wagon, I had already had several sets of wheels. My earliest ride was an old wooden whiskey crate mounted on large, spoked babycarriage wheels. I was too young to remember it, but Dad made it for me after his return home from the Korean conflict in 1952. (We met each other for the first time when I was 7 months old.) No, Mom & Dad did not drink all that whiskey in order to get the crate.

It didn’t take long for me to upgrade my ride. Dad landed a job in the oil patch not long after his discharge from the Naval Reserves in 1952. He must have been making big money working up in that derrick because he and Mom scored me a brand-spanking-new, shiny red “RADIO SUPER” wagon with white rims and even hubcaps! Later my parents moved from their W. Oak Street rental to the new home they purchased on E. Aliso Street. Dad must have been makin’ great coin to be able to buy a new home, but I was positive life was good when I received a super-sporty new tricycle on my first birthday. I rode the heck outta that baby until I was 6 years old.


LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn Contributed on behalf of the Ojai Valley Museum

Not only did I have my boss-bitchin’ tricycle, I also got a three-wheeled scooter for Christmas in 1953. Only 2 1/2 years old, and I had a red wagon, tricycle and a scooter in my wheels collection! I moved up from my trike (that’s biker lingo) to a two-wheeler without ever using no stinkin’ training wheels. That’s ‘cause my teenage neighbor, Tommy Bugg, taught me to ride on his bicycle. E. Aliso Street was armor-coated with big chunks of gravel in it. Tommy held onto his bike while I pumped hard, then he’d let it go. After falling on that chunky asphalt and tearing the hide off my hands and knees, it only took me about six Bugg-pushes to figure out how to stay upright to save flesh. My folks must have fallen on hard times. I had to ride an old clunker girl’s bicycle that must have been Mom’s until I was about 10 years old. Later my parents bought me an English 3-speed with a front basket big enough to carry a VW beetle. I transitioned from leg-powered vehicles to a motorized mini-bike at 12 years old. Eventually, I got legal and bagged my learner’s permit. I even parallel-parked that bomber-of-a-station-wagon on my first try and nabbed by driver license at 16 years old.







403 N. Montgomery Street El Viaje, a luxurious Italian Villa where old world charm & the modern conveniences of every day life come together perfectly! Enter through the gates to a private, secluded yard with a mix of mature trees, rose gardens & cozy seating areas. Inside you will appreciate the elegant but simple lifestyle, with polished concrete floors downstairs & Brazilian Cherry wood floors upstairs. Cozy living room open to kitchen & dining rooms, perfect for entertaining. Venetian plaster throughout, granite counter tops, top of the line kitchen appliances & an elevator. The brilliant finishing touches & attention to detail cannot be ignored!



3860 Grand Avenue Fabulous & charmingly inviting, this two-story Victorian estate is nestled in the magical East End of Ojai. Surrounded by organic orchards & meticulous landscaping, this 5 bed & 4 bath home is ďŹ lled with Southern Charm. The wrap around porch looks out to the gardens, the country kitchen & breakfast nook looks out to the pool & tennis court. Perfectly situated nearby are the spacious guesthouse, separate cottages & a writer’s studio, creating plenty of living space for friends & family.


Patty Waltcher


25 ye a r s o f e x p e r i e n ce m a tc h i n g

p e o p l e a n d p ro p e r t y i n t h e O j a i Va l l e y


This magnificent 8br/6½ba estate with incredible views was designed in 1929 by renowned San Diego architects Requa & Mead, who also designed the Ojai Post Office and the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. Modernized and upgraded, the property retains its historical magic while appealling to contemporary sensibilities. On 3+ acres near the top of Foothill Road, it features a guest house, a guest suite, a large pool, tile and wood floors, and a chef’s kitchen. 1365FoothillRdOjai.com Offered at $6,850,000

I will help you discover the home that brings peace to your mind and heart (805) 340-3774 ~ pattywaltcher.com

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