Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tea Party on the 4th

Ready for another 4th of July tea party?

Last Independence Day I met Amy Hemsley, of La Mirada, at a tea party she’d organized in La Habra. This summer she’s out of town, so two members of her group, American without Apology, are taking over the job, Al Cervantes and Tom Folden. Bring a sign and join them at the intersection of Beach and Imperial, if you like. They’ll be demonstrating this Sunday from noon to 2 p.m.

From 2:30 to 4 p.m. they’re rallying nearby at the outdoor amphitheater in Creek Park, La Mirada. Three candidates for next November’s election will speak: 56th Assembly District candidate, Henry J. Bestwick; 58th Assembly District candidate, Garrett M. May; and 30th Senate District candidate, Warren P. Willis.

(Click on the place markers for more info.)

Last 4th of July tea party

Tax day tea party


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Free Movies

La Habra’s Regal 16 is offering free movies every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10 all summer long. It’s part of Regal’s Free Family Film Festival, held nationwide every year since 1991.

Here’s how it works. You go to the theater on the day of the movie to pick up your tickets, which are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. When seating runs out, the tickets run out. And they’re free. That’s it.

This is the schedule of free movies at La Habra’s Regal 16:
(Free movies are NOT listed at the theater’s site)

La Habra Stadium 16
1351 W. Imperial Hwy
La Habra ,CA 90631
06/29/2010-06/30/2010 Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG)
Surf’s Up (PG)
07/06/2010-07/07/2010 Hotel For Dogs (PG)
Planet 51 (PG)
07/13/2010-07/14/2010 Tale of Despereaux (G)
The Spy Next Door (PG)
07/20/2010-07/21/2010 Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs (PG)
Stuart Little (PG)
07/27/2010-07/28/2010 Charlotte’s Web (G)
Imagine That (PG)
08/03/2010-08/04/2010 Kit Kittredge: American Girl (G)
Alvin And The Chipmunks Squeakquel (PG)
08/10/2010-08/11/2010 Curious George (G)
Monsters Vs. Aliens (PG)
08/17/2010-08/18/2010 Doogal (G)
Night At The Museum II (PG)

Other Regal Theaters

You can find schedules for free summer movies at all Regal theaters at their Family Film Festival site. Different theaters are showing different movies. Free movies are NOT listed with other showtimes on each theater’s own site.

Thanks to Marla Jo Fischer and the Orange County Register for their article: Free Family Film Festival This Summer.


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Gem Show

Last weekend (June 18-20) rockhounds from all over the country descended on East Whittier for a gigantic event, Hidden Treasures, a national gem show and convention.

The North Orange County Gem and Mineral Society (NOCGMS) holds a show every year, usually at the La Habra Community Center, but this year’s event was an extravaganza.

The local rock club is part of the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, which, in turn, represents one of seven regions in the national American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS). Each year the national group holds a convention. This year it was California’s turn to host the national gathering, a monumental undertaking that fell to the La Habra club.

Note: The slideshows in this post are hosted on Flickr. You can see them there, complete with captions, by clicking on the name of the slideshow that appears in the black box before the show begins. The one below, for example, is titled “Hidden Treasures.”
Too large to fit in its usual venue, the La Habra Community Center, the show was held instead at the Southern California University of Health Sciences, known to many locals as the former Lowell High School. Displays filled the cafe and gym, demonstrations were set up in the courtyard in front of the gym, the multi-windowed pavilion was filled with fossils and petrified wood, speakers held forth in the lecture hall, and hungry folk gathered at picnic tables under tall trees and ate hot dogs and hamburgers grilled on the spot.

A small encampment of six or eight motor homes sprang up in the back lot of the college. Other out-of-town guests stayed at the Anaheim Park Hotel in Fullerton. And of course there were many locals.


Lydia Pattison of Orange examines slices of jasper at last weekend's gem show.

I met Lydia Pattison of Orange at a display of jasper in the cafe. When I asked how she became interested in rocks, she said, “A lot of little things kind of led me down the road and I ended up here.” She went from “crafts to beads to necklaces to rocks… Rocks are addictive.”

First, she said, you cut your rock with a diamond blade saw, then you grind and shape it to make a cabochon, a gem that is ground and polished rather than being faceted. The cabochons can be wire-wrapped, but Pattison prefers beading,

The tools can be expensive.

“That’s why you join a club,” she said. Club membership give you access to tools as well as to the expertise of members and organized field trips.

Glass fusing

In the courtyard outside the cafe, amid demonstrations of geode cutting, faceting, wirewrapping, and making cabochons, Lisa Murphy of Palmdale was fusing vivdly colored dichroic glass.

“The blue is cobalt, the orange might be copper,” she said. “My mom (Cheri George) says, you want to remember it, just say, die-crow-ick.”

“It starts out with just cut pieces of glass that I put together, put it in the kiln, heat it up to about to about 1600 degrees, and then when I’m done it comes out nice and round and pretty,” she said.

Between the hot kiln and the sharp glass the enterprise seemed a bit daunting. Does she ever cut herself?

“Yes, all the time. Sharp little things. I cut myself this morning right here,” she said, and pointed out a recent mishap.


I found Don Eschbach, a neighbor I’d never met from East Whittier, demonstrating silversmithing. While Pattison began with an interest in crafts and discovered rocks as a material, Don Eschbach worked the other way around. First came the rocks, then came the craft.

Don Eschbach of Whittier demonstrated silversmithing.

After taking early retirement about five years ago, he tried something he’d been curious about for a long time, prospecting.

“I love the outdoors. I knew I wouldn’t get rich quick.”

Then he found some cool rocks and thought, “I bet they’d look really good cut and polished, so I started that way.”

He doesn’t sell the finished products, he gives them to family and friends.

“You know, when you retire, you retire to enjoy life. If you start doing something as a business then you’re right back where you started from. To me it’s not worth it.”

Fossils and petrified wood

The pavilion, a charming, circular building with lots of windows looking out on lawns and tall trees, was packed with an impressive display of fossils and petrified wood, including many examples from the extensive collection of Walt Wright, a well-respected paleobotanist who just happens to live in Brea.

How to get involved

This is a hobby with something for everyone. If you’re interested in rocks, in jewelry, in crafts, in the great outdoors, in learning new skills or making new friends, then check out the North Orange County Gem and Mineral Society. They hold workshops and classes and organize field trips. Visitors are welcome at their meetings, held the second Tuesday of most months, but not July, August, or December.

North Orange County Gem and Mineral Society


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Panera Bread

My life has turned into a game of “Where’s Rosie Espinoza?”

Yesterday I saw the La Habra councilwoman at Mike McGroarty’s memorial. On Memorial Day she was at The Gathering of the Crosses. When Fire Station 193 was dedicated, she was there wishing she could slide down the fire pole. And today I saw her at the opening of Panera Bread, looking like she was working hard. I didn’t interrupt.

Panera Bread opened today at 1331 West Imperial Highway in La Habra. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

I did interrupt David Babbush, one of the partners of the group that owns this Panera and three others in north Orange County. He told me the store bakes all its own goods — bakers come in at 10 the night before.

Tempting display case at La Habra's new Panera Bread. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

Pastry display case at Panera Bread in La Habra. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

In case pastry sounds like too much of a good thing, Babbush recommends the strawberry, poppyseed and chicken salad with a frozen strawberry lemonade. Strawberries are in season, and the whole meal will only set you back 430 calories.

You can get that to go, eat inside, or take your food to the patio Panera shares with Starbucks and Pick-Up Stix. It’s been made more inviting with privacy screening to shelter it from the parking lot and a fire pit for warmth and cheer on cool evenings.

Patio outside La Habra's new Panera Bread. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

Panera also strives to be a good neighbor. They partner with Make-a-Wish Foundation. Panera doesn’t accept tips. Instead they make it easy for you to donate at the cash register. They also give food to food banks and churches.

Panera partners with Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can donate at the cash resgister. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

Panera Bread
1331 W. Imperial Hwy
La Habra, CA 90631
(562) 690-2100

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Mike McGroarty

Mike McGroarty, former Fire Chief of La Habra, was honored at Station 193 Thursday morning. He died June 7. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

This morning Mike McGroarty was honored at L.A. County Fire Station 193, in La Habra. McGroarty, former fire chief of the La Habra Fire Department, died June 7 of prostate cancer. Before leaving La Habra, he’d pushed for a station in the hills when new neighborhoods began to spring up in the former oil fields. Later he went on to a distinguished career in search and rescue and disaster management.

The ceremony was brief. Fire Chaplain Elvin Miranda spoke, a flag was raised to half mast, lowered, then ceremonially folded and presented to McGroarty’s wife, Dee.

A flag was raised to half-mast, then lowered as part of the memorial Thursday morning at Fire Station 193 in La Habra. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

After being briefly flown at half mast, the flag was ceremonially folded. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

Deputy Chief John Tripp presented the folded flag to Dee McGroarty, former chief Mike McGroarty's widow. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

La Habra Mayor Steve Simonian and Councilwoman Rose Espinoza were among those who gathered to honor former Chief Mike McGroarty (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

Jarrod Dye, 3 years old, is practicing to follow in his father's footsteps. He's behind the wheel of Engine 29. 1929 was the the year that La Habra's first city fire department was formed. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

The Orange County Register has excellent coverage of today’s memorial, including photos and a video.

A work-related biography from McGroarty’s own site.

Previous posts on this site about fire services:

Sand Bags were available behind Station 193 during last winter’s heavy rains.

Fire Station 194 Has a New Home, as of March 22.

Dedication of Fire Station 194 (See a councilman slide down a fire pole!)

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Coyote Melon

Coyote Melon near entrance to Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve on Euclid Ave. in Fullerton on June 12, 2010 (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

An odd California native grows just inside the Euclid entrance to the Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve in Fullerton.  Right now, in June, it’s a large, sprawling vine with big yellow blossoms and small round melons that you might expect to find in a vegetable garden. Cucurbita foetidissima (coyote melon, coyote ear, buffalo gourd, stinking melon, calabazilla, or chilicote) looks like a melon plant, but it grows wild in dry land that would wither its cultivated relatives.

Cucurbita foetidissima is sometimes called "coyote ear" because of the shape of the leaves. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

According to James Cunkle of the White Mountain Archeological Center, It was cultivated thousands of years ago. The seeds are nutritious, but Cunkle lists several other possible uses for the fruit: The flesh makes a laundry whitener, the juice was used to wean babies (Cunkle says, “This stuff could discourage anyone from anything”), and the dried gourds can be used as containers and rattles. The flesh also has medicinal uses.

In June the plant is still in flower, with fruits just beginning to form. (Photo credit: Cindy Cotter)

There are several references in scholarly journals from the seventies and eighties to research on new uses for the plant as a feed crop for animals or as a source of oil that could be used as fuel, the primary advantage of the plant being its suitability in dry climates.

Today the gourds are used as a medium for decoration. They can be displayed as-is or painted, carved or etched. One town in Arizona holds a coyote melon festival every fall, and the plant has inspired at least one song.

They’re for sale online at the Las Pilitas Nursery, but beware! They’re called “foetidissima” for a reason — they smell like sweaty armpits!

If you prefer, you can just visit the plant here:

Here’s what the entrance to the preserve looks like:

This is the entrance to the Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve from Euclid in Fullerton. The coyote melon is straight ahead, to the right of the pile of dirt, in front of the small elderberry tree. (Photo taken July 4, 2009, by Cindy Cotter)

Coyote melon links:

The Ancient Gift of Gourds, an excellent article by writer Jan Cleere

Nature writer Chris Clark gives a hypothesized history of the evolution of squashes in America from natives like the Cucurbita foetidissima:
What’s Owed to Those Who Have Gone Before.

Scholarly suggestions for possible uses:
Potential commercial source of oil
Diesel fuel and feedstock
Cow-feed and oil source

Click the photo to see more decorated coyote gourds:

Painted coyote gourd by Luna Rivera (click photo to see more of her work)


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Dedication of Fire Station 194

On May 20, the ribbon was cut for Fire Station 194. Here’s a slideshow of the event. (Turn your sound on.)

And here’s my story about the station posted the day after it opened for business:  Fire Station 194 Has a New Home


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