broken clouds


Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 44  |  June 2, 2020

Barbara’s Column



Our lives changed drastically in March. But not all the changes will be discarded. Some are keepers.

South Laguna resident Peggie Thomas never enjoyed grocery shopping. Getting groceries delivered is a treat she doesn’t intend giving up when the COVID-19 pandemic ends: “at least for a while.” 

Laguna Beach County Water District Board member and sculptor Marv Johnson has spent more time on his art since being confined to his home with Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson since the pandemic began.

“I will finish up stuff I had let go,” he said. 

 Laguna Beach Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Pam Estes, who for years has spent her time caring for the children of Laguna, has enjoyed being with her own children during the “stay-at-home” period of the pandemic. 

“I love being off the hamster wheel, driving everyone everywhere,” said Estes.

When Board of Education watchdog Howard Hills was in college, he cultivated an organic garden. 

Keepers Kaia

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Submitted photo

Howard Hill’s granddaughter in the organic garden

“Now I have been organic farming with my three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Kaia,” said Hills. “I call it my Pandemic Victory Garden. We have grown broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, and we just had some broccoli for dinner. It was the best I have ever tasted. I am not going to give that up.” 

Laguna Beach Sister Cities Founding President Karyn Philippsen has found isolation and a reduced schedule of activities to be “utterly delightful.”
“In the future, I am going to be more protective of my personal time,” said Philippsen. 

Betsy Jenkins is considering cutting down the number of boards on which she sits. 

“I would have more time to read, to walk, and to go to the beach,” said Jenkins. 

Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson joked he would continue to simonize and quick buff his dome, even when the pandemic ends – as did his hair. 

Laguna Plein Air Painter Association Executive Director Rosemary Swimm has always had a close relationship with her son. It has become closer since the start of the pandemic.

“He calls every morning just to say, ‘I love you,’” said Swimm. 

“I think we have become more aware of the people in our lives and we should keep that up. We shouldn’t take people for granted. They may not always be there.”

Retired Temple City Manager Karl Koski will be more watchful in the future about people surrounding him in a crowd, and he will be continue to wash his hands frequently and carry wipes and sanitizers. 

Keepers Jane

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jane Egly is reclassifying a music collection

Former Mayor Jane Egly has been reading more, but now and in the future, if she isn’t enjoying the book, she puts it down. She also has been listening to and reclassifying the music collection of her late husband, retired Federal Judge Paul Egly. His 200-plus collection ranges from classical to show tunes to jazz.  She is reclassifying them to fit her categories: classical, nice, and pop. 

“I don’t have to hurry,” said Egly. 

Former Mayor Wayne Baglin and his wife, Faye, 2019 Laguna Beach Arts Alliance Chair, miss traveling and are looking past the pandemic.

“We are planning things into 2021, and we have booked a couple of cruises,” said Baglin. 

Laguna Pantry Executive Director Anne Belyea said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the staff to examine everything the Pantry did. Changes will improve the sustainability of the Pantry, according to Belyea.   

“We have streamlined and improved the processes,” said Belyea. “It used to be a mom and pop project. We have stepped up our game.” 

Former Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman is working on finding more places in town for groups of five to 25 meet. 

“It‘s impossible to find a place to have meetings for 13 people in Laguna Beach,” he said. 

Patti Jo Kiraly won’t be participating in the Sawdust Festival this year, due to the pandemic. 

Keeper Patti Jo

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Mother of Pearls

Patti Jo Kiraly will be back at the Sawdust in 2021

“It is too hard to sell my kind of jewelry without touching anyone,” said the “Mother of Pearls.” 

But she will be back in the Sawdust in 2021. For immediate plans, call her at (949) 494-9701. 

Socialization is especially important to the health and well-being of our older folks said wordsmith Chris Quilter, former president of Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. 

But the Susi Q will be hyper-cautious about resuming classes, he said. 

“Some seniors who are more vulnerable won’t want to be in a crowd,” said Quilter. “So we eventually will have regular classes but we will also Zoom some of them. We will also Zoom one-on-one consultations.” 

Quilter believes Zoom has become a permanent fixture in our lives. 

Keepers Chris

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Executive Director of LB Seniors Nadia Babayi and Chris Quilter 

San Onofre shutdown activist Rita Conn and her husband, Dr. Howard Conn, have been dining via Zoom with family members in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Joshua Tree, and Santa Fe, including daughter Lisa, founder of Icebreaker (, online guidance in how to communicate – very important in the midst of the pandemic and in the aftermath.

“No one has to drive,” said Conn. 

Zoom meetings have been beneficial to the clients of Michael Kinsman, a certified public accountant, in business with his wife, Cheryl, a former Laguna Beach mayor – and to them. 

 “We have driven much less – about 12 miles in the last three or four weeks,” said Kinsman. 

He plans to continue to curtail driving – he likes the clearer skies that he attributes to fewer vehicles on the road. 

“This is a long-term pivot,” said Kinsman. 

Kinsman anticipates the vicissitudes of the pandemic to forever change retail businesses. Stores will have to offer something that Amazon doesn’t or develop customer loyalty, said Kinsman, a former president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

Kinsman also believes education will be different. 

“One-on-one contact is important, but distance education has proved to be successful,” said Kinsman, a retired professor. 

Architect Jim Conrad used to think it was essential for him to be in the office from morning until quitting time. 

“But I am working from home now, and I don’t feel like I need to be at the office,” he said. 

 “I do PowerPoint presentations on my projects, and I can just as easily do that by Zoom from home – and have a snack. I hope we never go back.”

Planning Commission Chair Ken Sadler also found it is possible to work from home. 

“I might embrace doing that more frequently in the future,” said Sadler, who chaired the commission’s second Zoomed meeting on Wednesday, this time with the faces of the commissioners on the screen.

Keepers Iseman

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Councilwoman Toni Iseman 

Councilwoman Toni Iseman believes that the council in the future will combine Zoom with public attendance meetings. She participated in a virtual meeting on Thursday that would have been impossible for Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris to have attended in person. 

Personally she has found she likes fine dining at home.

“Just picking it up and eating is great – and I get to pour my own wine,” said Iseman. “When we are cleared to go out, it won’t be the same. We won’t be the same. And that is not necessarily bad.”

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

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