Santa Cruz Island excursion with friends

Joan, Abigail, and Ken on Boat to Santa Cruz Island 8/26/14

Joan, Abigail, and Ken on Boat to Santa Cruz Island 8/26/14

We reconnected with friends from long ago who invited us to hike Santa Cruz Island, one of the Anacapa Channel Islands. ISLAND PACKERS Boats leave from Ventura Harbor daily to these islands. We embarked on the Island Explorer, a two level boat with a galley amidships. Santa Cruz is the largest of four Islands, that include Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. We departed with 65 passengers and 3 crew members.The Explorer left at 9 and we arrived at Santa Cruz at 10:30 AM.

She plowed through the water leaving a white trail on the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Brown Sea Lions, and dark seals clung to buoys showing the departure course from the harbor. Pelicans, and sea gulls glided nearby and flapped their wings while curious dolphin leaped through the waves, dipped, and zoomed.

Even on a warm summer day the north westerly wind whistled through the open deck cooling us off. Some wore wrist bands and took Dramamine as they were warned the ride could be rough. My experience as a waiter on a merchant ship and in the U.S.Navy as a shipboard navigator taught me to watch the horizon and breathe fresh air to avoid sea sickness people in the galley might feel as the boat rolled around distorting their balance.

Upon arriving at Prisoner Harbor dock the crystal clear water revealed large orange and yellow kelp beds that fish use to hide from predators and deposit eggs. Black glistening cormorants with a long throat and a large pouch for holding fish, bobbed up and down in the dazzling water and congregated on rocks in the hundreds. We had arrived at an Island in California as it appeared two hundred years ago.Two athletic coaches showed kayakers how to maneuver their red two-seater kayaks and work together as a team. When they smartly swished by under the dock our crew told us it was time to depart the boat.DSCN0223

Paul, our guide, from the Nature Conservancy, described the flora and fauna of the Island and told us to watch for the scrub jay that only inhabited this paradise. He explained the formation of the island that arose from forces of nature including volcanic activity and the reactions of diatomaceous earth. Because the hike we were about to commence was strenuous including ravines and dangerous cliffs, they required our signatures on a document containing an emergency contact in the area and warning us of the potential dangers we might encounter.

About ten of us decided to join Paul, and followed his smile, tanned face, wavy blonde hair, and muscular frame with blue Nature Conservancy shirt, khaki shorts, and hiking boots.The first trail ascended quickly into a winding path around ancient trees, over slippery peach-colored volcanic rock formations attached to slopes. Soon the path took us to a group of shimmering bronze manzanita with red berries. An endangered Island Fox scurried into the underbrush. We turned back toward a spectacular view of the cobalt ocean that led to Ventura, sport fishing boats, and smaller craft that searched for the breathtaking painted caves nearby.


Each time Paul took us past any scene he would describe some feature of Santa Cruz like the name "Prisoner Harbor". That involved events in 1830 when the Mexican government wanted to increase its population in California with 80 convicts. They were so filthy, starved, and disheveled the presidio commander in Santa Barbara refused their entry until a prominent citizen convinced him to allow some prisoners to perform odd jobs after they were bathed, fed, and clothed. The California governor approved thirty additional convicts who constructed shelters, but a fire destroyed their camp.They built crude rafts and landed near Carpinteria Valley. They were imprisoned and eventually released, so the story goes.


Eventually we came to a deep gorge and stopped while he pointed to a remarkable view of the forest trees and rocks that formed a natural waterfall during the rainy season, but now one could only imagine it cascading through the steep area to the gorge he was about to take us. Since there was a time limit we would have to press on to make the 3 PM return trip. We decided to relax, eat our lunch under the shade of a tree overlooking the gorge, and return at our leisure. Many enticing and different views we missed racing up to that spot, were now available and gave us the opportunity to stop,  photograph, and enjoy. We heard scrub jays but never saw one, although we have six that regularly eat at our bird feeders in Granada Hills.


The hike back descended and seemed easier. Panoramic views spread before us with ever differing features exposed we hadn't seen. We noticed the wetlands Paul mentioned that are a project to increase bird and nature activity. Our walk took us under a gigantic shade tree near what was once a mill, but now a well in front of the wetlands. Insects flew, birds flitted after them, many birds chirped and made calls. Beyond was a view of the Pacific Ocean and Ventura Harbor.


Soon our group caught up with us and were glad to rest at benches while the crew prepared for our return. We wandered to the beach where instead of sand, thousands of smooth rocks appeared worn by erosion and the action of constant salt water that rushed over them. As a child I always enjoyed beach exploring and was entranced by the varieties of rock colors and shapes, different shades of kelp, and other vegetation. One caught my attention that appeared like a scarlet cloth or part of a dress, but when I touched and pulled it,  an interesting seaweed or plant appeared. A marsh with a pond and many shades of green over a slight hill made me grab my camera,  but it announced the battery quit. My hands grabbed two perfectly flat rocks and cast them out on the ocean surface where they both made eight to ten circles to the pleasure of the child inside me.


The boat departed on time and again shot through the ocean leaving a white foamy path for seagulls to follow. Soon we were surrounded by hundreds of frolicking dolphin dipping and zooming at the bow, or riding along the bow for a few seconds until another wanted that spot.The crew encouraged us to look at these amazing and playful dolphin who seemed to truly enjoy their habitat and play with boats  filled with people. The crew turned the boat around to encourage more interaction and the dolphins responded with intense movements as before. The passengers were infected by the sight of such glee and seemed elevated  despite exhaustion from a hike or other activity. It was the most spectacular dolphin scene I had ever witnessed.That includes nine years on many ships and cruises. We all shared our enjoyment of this trip over dinner at Brophy's  Brothers restaurant.DSCN0246



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Summer Fun at Dan and Joan’s Home 2014



 We all Swam in the Lavery sparkling pool

Grandsons 5 and 9 dove off the diving board

And caught countless balls that was very cool

Oldest played many a harmonic piano chord


They hit a whiffle ball into one of many trees

Caught a football in the sand with their hands

Slid on Sean and Christina’s grass on their knees

Saw Freese hit a homerun into the stands


Smashed tiny whiffle ball onto the roof

Threw tennis balls to Ginger and Barkley

Baby granddaughter learned a dog bark woof woof

Balls fell from the roof into our pool sparkly


Boys wore Angel Jersey’s we bought

Had fun bowling for two hours after lunch

They listened, played, swam and never fought

Gibbons swung on branches and hooted a bunch


Saw three movies and Dodger and Angel Baseball

“Planes”, “Tarzan”, and “We Bought a Zoo”

Two on Blue Ray and one at the Mall

Sean marinated and made a tasty barbeque


Bed Time stories from Bill Peet and others

Nine year-old played a Beethoven piece on the piano

Good story choices approved by all mothers

Aleksey and Dan’s guitar added to the flow


Lex and Des’s friends joined them for a lunch

They, their friends, and kids joined the throng

Sean’s BBQ’d gourmet sausages’ tasty crunch

Added zest to the delightful Saturday marathon


“All’s Well That Ends Well” by Shakespeare

Will Geer’s Topanga Canyon venue never a bore

Brought from the friendly crowd a loud cheer

Dan read “Mount Fuji” at Pasadena book store


Daughter and friend enjoyed swimming at Zuma Beach

Found the surf a challenge and Nature so sweet

Saw “Much Ado About Nothing” with many a fine speech

We hope everyone will join us again soon at our retreat


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The Audacity to BE Robin: A Tribute to Robin Williams By Cynthia Piano

A passionate poem in tribute to a man whose words and actions touched anyone who listened, watched, and felt what Robin Williams was about. Dan
August 19, 2014

Robin Williams lives on in our compassion, love and deep sensitivity to the feelings of the world. Releasing the pain and incorporating more self love may be the model for us all.
Robin Williams by Public Domain
The Audacity to BE Robin: A Tribute to Robin Williams
Robin Williams is HOME
In his own true consciousness
Committed suicide they said
Totally misunderstanding his role
Exposing the lack of compassion, love and understanding
Of the alien in all of us
Rich in depth and clarity of BEing SOUL
Capturing and wildly expressing
The TRUE soul
The OPEN soul
The ONENESS of soul
That links all of us to our REAL, INNATE way of Being
Overflowing with courage and creativity
Wandering into the depths of the rabbit hole
And burrowing further down to the core
Of the HEART
Of the divinity
Of the ONE
The true, wise, uncontained shaman of modern times
Allowing us all to vision and venture beyond
Our limits
Society's limits
Boundaries artificially shored by laughter and smile
He was the blue genie in the bottle
Granting wishes of freedom
To BE who you are
No matter what others think, say, and bully
We cracked up with him
In our minds, our hearts, and our souls
As he blew away the remnants of the misuse of power
The false masks of politician and private citizen alike
That no longer serve the whole
So substantially embodying the
Sacred masculine of strength, right use of power, and protection
And the divine feminine of compassion, nourishment of all, and mother love
Giving birth to inner and outer FREEDOM
Sounding the joy and passion of the animals
He could BECOME one
In an instant
With a body movement, a hand gesture, a facial expression
A sound
The trumpet of an elephant
The flight of a bird
The hiss of cat
And the warmth and pleasure of a canine
Catering to the awesome innocence of the child
That still resides in all of US
He cared too much for public and private pain
He recognized and empathically sensed the consequences of separation
The lonely state
Abandoned and bereft of love
Perhaps for himself
Perhaps for all
Only he knows
Only he can judge how it FEELS now
In my mind and heart
He was not the crazy one
We who do not integrate the feeling
And accept the whole of us
Copyright 2014 Cynthia G. Piano
Written 08/14/2014
Submitters Bio:
Founder, Oneness House ~ A Spiritual Spa; Writer, Visionary, co-creator of the New Earth, Spiritual Mentor, Inspirational and Transformational Healer/Teacher/Speaker. Awakening others to the beautiful, free, loving creators that we all are is her lifelong work. She feels that empowerment and freedom to create one's life, with harm to none, is the most important lesson of the Earth. Assisting and Consulting the individual or the business, with a work herstory in education, large and small corporate processes, sole-proprietorships, and self-development, Cynthia has experience with many environments, structures and personalities. Joy, fun, honest exposure, and dedication to simple truth are the methods used to propel people and businesses to success and happiness. She also deeply reveres the Earth, the Animals, the Plants, and all of nature. A sincere love for the planet and all with her was developed by extensive travel and study with native shaman, priests, kahuna, and other sacred teachers. Gently caring for and nurturing each other and the environment with total respect, creating peace and harmony with freedom, are her goals. Ease, comfort, enlightenment, growth and grace characterize the environment of Oneness House ~ A Spiritual Spa, the place of ahhhhhhhh and ah-ha! Relax into the human angels you are!

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On Sunday, August 17, from 2-4 PM, local authors, Daniel C. Lavery,(All the Difference-memoir) Richard Weekley,(Already There-poetry, and Douglas William Douglas(The Black Lake-mystery)will discuss their most recent book, read an excerpt. and coffee, tea, water, cookies, will be provided at Crown Books, 6100 Topanga Plaza, #1340, Woodland Hills. Each author will discuss his work at fifteen minute intervals followed by fifteen minutes of a break for mingling with the crowd and book signing. This will be Douglas Willliam Douglas's initial book signing for his startling mystery, The Black Lake. (The image is for our last event at the same venue and a new poster will be at the location)

Local Authors Book Signing at Crown Books 8/17/14 2-4 PM

On Sunday, August 17, from 2-4 PM, local authors, Daniel C. Lavery,(All the Difference-memoir) Richard Weekley,(Already There, poetry) and Douglas William Douglas,(The Black Lake, mystery)will discuss their most recent book, read an excerpt, and coffee, tea, water, cookies, will be provided at Crown Books, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd. #1340, Woodland Hills. Each author will discuss his work at fifteen minute intervals followed by fifteen minutes of a break for mingling with the crowd and book signing. This will be Douglas William Douglas's initial book signing for his startling mystery, The Black Lake.

New Flyer:

Meet the Authors


Douglas William Douglas

The Black Lake


Daniel C. Lavery

 All the Difference, memoir

 "From a Pawn to a Crusader for Justice"


Richard Weekley

Already There

Poems Not to Read


Sunday August 17th

2 PM – 4 PM


Crown Book Store

6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Woodland Hills


Join us for a fun time of coffee and cookies as these popular writers read from and sign their books.


(The image is for our last event at the same venue. A new poster will be at the location.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013


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