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Laguna Beach


Keeping our challenges in perspective

It has become a topic that is in the news – the fact that children are missing a year of their “education” due to the pandemic. They are depressed and seem to be interested in games on their computers. Parents are upset and challenging different authorities to change the rules.

Just after seeing a program on this issue recently, I saw a brief documentary on a 9-year-old who was born blind (so was his sister) in Yemen – a country where five out of six schools have been destroyed by bombs, 90 percent of the population is food deficient, most families have lost family members to starvation, street violence, bombings of their neighborhood. Most are living day to day with minimum shelter and no money. This boy was so motivated to get an education that he rounded up children in the neighborhoods and had them find books and anything else they could to set up a school. This included pieces of plywood that they used to enclose an area where they set up chairs, rudimentary desks, etc. These boards were then hidden so that they would not be destroyed or removed. They found an adult or two that would come to this school and try to provide some sort of lessons, to these children who ranged in ages from young to pre-teen. Older children were trying to help their parents find food, shelter, etc. This has been going on for several months and each day they are happy that their school was still intact. After classes were over, two children help the blind boy and his sister get home – climbing over rubble and making sure they arrived safely. These children did not seem depressed, they felt lucky and made every moment count in their primitive school with no set lesson plans, few books, and certainly no computers, chalkboards, or the other things that make up normal classrooms here in the U.S.

Perhaps children who are complaining, seem depressed, are lacking motivation may want to see this brief documentary and get a different perspective on what is going on in the rest of the world – the struggles, the lack of basics, and with no hope for the future until the wars ravaging their countries end. Yemen is only one country where education is on the backburner – Afghanistan is another. Many countries are facing civil unrest, attempts to be taken over by military forces, lacking water, food, clothing, and other basic necessities. The fear of bombs, chemicals being sprayed on them, drowning as they attempt to escape in small broken-down boats, and of course the refugee encampments they may end up in that are inadequate. Then in Africa, young girls going to school fear being kidnapped, tortured, raped, and hopefully returned to their parents if the ransom money is paid. 

Any suggestions/ideas on how to help children worldwide?

Ganka Brown
Laguna Beach


Anti-Asian attacks must end

The 3,000 recent attacks on Asians are disgusting, but not surprising. In 1882 the federal government began the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited Chinese people from entering the U.S. for decades. No other country had ever been excluded, as far as I know. Many Chinese went to Mexico and at one time, the city of Mexicali had more Chinese citizens than Mexicans, and even today has about 5,000 and many Chinese businesses including restaurants.

In 1942, President Roosevelt signed the executive order giving Japanese citizens 48 hours to pack up and be shipped to a number of internment camps where Army guard towers and tar paper-lined buildings gave each family a 15 ft. x 15 ft. room. Photographers including famous Ansel Adams photographed the camps but were asked not to take pictures of the guard towers or fences and legend has it that Eleanor Roosevelt had a fierce argument with the president over his actions. Ironically, Japanese from these camps volunteered to fight in WW2 and served in one of the most honored army battalions of the war. No Japanese were incarcerated in Hawaii, because there were so many. Many of the Hawaiian-Japanese had been allowed to come to Hawaii to work harvesting crops including pineapple and after five years of hard work, could stay and live in Hawaii, but were not allowed to go to the mainland. The Supreme Court eventually said that rule was unfair and then they could go to the mainland.

Enough is enough. I love going to the boardwalk because I am reminded that Laguna Beach is an open society welcoming all races.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Happy birthday, Arnold

With the 2021 spring training season underway now, I’m guessing you remember when the great Willie Mays reported to his first camp back in 1951. 

Seven years later, when the Giants and Dodgers moved west, I became a devoted Mays fan. Had I lived in Laguna at the time, I probably would have followed someone like Duke Snider, but I was a product of Palo Alto. As a very young boy, I loved going to the Stanford baseball games with my dad. But once I got a taste of big league ball, I was hooked. Especially with #24, the Say Hey Kid.

Seventy years takes a toll on anyone, and Willie is no exception. But to me, he always will remain the exuberant Say Hey Kid of my youth. Happy birthday, Arnold. If I was a betting man, I’d say you can’t wait to hear the umpire shout “Play Ball” this spring. I know I can’t.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Plant Man Column

“Nothing is so beautiful as spring…” –Gerard Manley Hopkins

I was surprised, despite the weatherperson’s forecast, by this week’s teaser of a rain. But now, despite an anticipated dry La Niña winter, we expect spring to March into Laguna and beyond. Nothing is quite as beautiful as a sunny spring day in our village, unless arguably, it is a sunnier and warmer spring day in Baja California Sur.

Among my rites of spring is the need to ask Maggi where Shaena is. After nearly a year of being a part of Stu News Laguna, I’ve yet to say hello face-to-face with my editor. The mainly contactless reality of the pandemic fosters less than personal relationships, however, I admit it is better to be safe, particularly with a possible end in sight. Don’t be a neanderthal…

Your garden questions for March included:

Letter Kawaratani 1

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Steve’s flower garden

Q. Plant Man! What flowers do you favor now?

A. Cyclamen, impatiens, English primrose, foxglove, Iceland poppy, snapdragon, and azalea top my garden color list for March.

Q. I haven’t pruned my roses yet. Am I too late?

A. Better hurry. Prune lightly to shape, and don’t forget to fertilize and mulch.

Q. Plant man, should I fertilize my garden?

A. Spring-like weather has been the norm so far this very dry season and your plants are hungry. If you don’t fertilize your garden on a regular basis, this is the most important month to do so. I recommend that you apply a balanced fertilizer formulated specifically for the different type of plantings in your garden.

Q. Is it safe to start my tomatoes and herbs?

A. If you have been missing those homegrown tomatoes, I would recommend that you set out varieties like Early Girl and cherry tomatoes, which do well in Laguna during March. You can, of course, plant herbs (except sweet basil) in a protected, sunny part of your garden.

Q. Steve, is it too late for bulbs?

A. March is the “other” bulb season. There is plenty of time to start gladiolus, dahlias, the fragrant tuberose, and of course, tuberous begonias. They will all benefit by being mulched to keep the soil moist during our sunny early spring.

Letter Kawaratani 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Did I say I love daffodils?

Q. What do I do with my old bulbs?

A. Hyacinth, narcissus, or other spring-flowering bulbs that have flowered may be saved, by allowing the foliage to remain on the plant. Once the foliage has matured (turned brown), remove the bulbs and keep them paper bagged and dry until time for planting in the fall.

Q. Help! Deer are eating my plants. Help!

A. Try this formula: 1) Blend 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of water at high speed for 3 minutes. 2) Add an additional 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of Tabasco sauce – blend and refrigerate overnight. Spray generously over your plants and repeat after heavy watering or rain.

Spring is the best time to showcase your horticultural skills with a successful and rewarding garden, whether it is a beautiful annual and biennial flowerbed, the bounty of enjoying homegrown vegetables and fruit, or a cutting garden of roses and perennials. Besides, any day is a good day when you can be outdoors cultivating your personal patch of Eden; I am confident it will be more fun than being indoors on Zoom. Be well and see you next time!

Steve Kawaratani has been a local guy for 69 years. He can be reached at (949) 494-5141 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Steve Kawaratani

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor encourage healthy community discourse.

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