Our Laguna: Kinsmans host the last Soup

The final bowl of Soup at the home of Cheryl and Michael Kinsman was served Sept. 14.

Soup was a get together of whoever showed up on the first Friday of the month, starting Jan. 2, 1999, and later moved to the second Friday. Someone made soup, others brought beverages, salads, desserts and everyone dished.

"We only had two rules: you had to be friendly and you had to talk to everyone," said Cheryl, a former mayor. "Over the years, attendance had dwindled, so it was really nice that so many people showed up for the last one."

Michael, the current Chamber of Commerce president, said Soup was started to get folks together who enjoyed good food and good people.

"We have to thank Cheryl and Mike for letting this gang of ruffians into their home for the past 14 years — as someone once said, I wouldn't join a club that let me be a member," Matt Lawson said.

He was promptly informed that he wouldn't have been allowed at Soup were it not for his wife, Mary.

"I have known Cheryl and Michael for 23 years," said Steve Dicterow, who once served on the City Council with her and is running again. "They are incredible friends. The test of friends is when things are not going well, so for that as well as Soup, we are all grateful."

The Kinsman's "Last Souper" as Greg Benford dubbed it, almost didn't happen.

"We had contracted for new granite counters in the kitchen, with a deadline of [Sept. 12] for installation," Michael said. "As of this morning, we had no water, no sink and no stove."

Adding to the chaos, he said a nameless somebody (the Kinsmans' longtime housekeeper Marina Cruz confessed it was her) ran the dishwasher, which was disconnected.

"The beans for the chili soup were cooked in a crockpot in the bathroom, which had the only running water," Michael said.

And Soup was on.

Kinsman's chili soup is one of the memorable soups served over the years, said Terry Smith, former Laguna College of Art & Design board member. Among Kinsman's favorites: the vegetable soup made every Lent by Smith and former mayor Wayne Peterson, Elizabeth Brown's split pea soup, and Catrina Dicterow's potato soup, which also got kudos from Sande St. John.

Eileen Walsh's seafood soup must be really good. She only came one time to Soup, but her recipe was remembered.

Only once in all the years, has a soup cook failed to show. Doyon of the Design Review Board Ilse Lenschow confessed she simply had the date wrong.

The Kinsmans were applauded and presented with a crystal bowl to commemorate the years from 1999 to 2012

Dan Scinto announced that he and Francine will be hosting Soup in the future.

Judy Gratz said she and her husband, attorney Gene Gratz, would also welcome folks to their home as a thank you for making her feel welcome in Laguna.

Planning Commissioners Anne Johnson and her husband, Laguna Beach County Water District Commissioner, Marv Johnson, St. John, the Dicterows, Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson and Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman were at the first Soup.

"I remember because it was the day after Elizabeth's birthday," Grossman said.

Among those at the last Soup at the Kinsmans: Chamber of Commerce Board member Aaron Tallerico, Sandy Thornton, Diane and Stan Leeman, Laguna Beach County Water District board members Debbie Neev and Bruce Scherer and his wife, Janis, artist Patricia Tournier, Ann and Charlie Quilter, Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau President Karyn Philippsen, Laguna Beach Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick and Linda Vian.


SmartScape Info and Expo

Folks who attended the third annual Laguna Beach County Water District Info/Expo/ last weekend at the district offices on Third Street tapped into water-wise landscaping

An estimated crowd of 800, including Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger, attended the event to learn more about gardening with California-friendly plants, efficiently irrigated.

"This was an opportunity to ask questions of the experts," said district Assistant General Manager Chris Regan. "People who attended got a lot of hands-on guidance regarding irrigation products and saw first-hand what a California-friendly garden can look like."

A district house call to determine local water usage and recommendations to improve it is free. Just call (949) 342-1437.

And be sure to take time when downtown to visit the district's water-wise garden.

Water harvesting techniques were demonstrated at a water-wise garden designed by Saddleback College students with plants from Tree of Life Nursery and construction by Ganahl Lumber. Another demonstration included succulent tube gardening, which is space saving as well as water saving.

Succulents are planted into tubes from 4 inches by 24 inches up to 6 inches by 6 feet that can be hung vertically or tucked into niches. The tubes are filled with planting mix into which the plants root.

The city, the district, Master Gardeners, Laguna Beach High School Solar Club, Laguna Beach Fire Safety Council, Laguna Beach Beautification Council, landscape designers, KBD Nursery, Rainbird, Imperial and Toro irrigation companies, Hunter Industries, Channell-Bushman/A.B. Rain Gutters, Tierra Verde Industries, Kellogg Supply Products, Larry's Building Supply and Waste Management also had booths.

Laguna Beach High School students Katie Silva-Grizzle, Jessica Rollins and Jackie Martinez also participated — earning community service hours toward their graduation requirement.

On a break they painted pots to take home as souvenirs, along with Michelle Clarke, who naturally painted her pots Waste Management yellow and green.

Visitors to the booths collected stamps that were entered into the drawing for an iPad and two other prizes. Winners will be announced in October.

Bids were accepted for nine Terracotta rain barrels, decorated by six Laguna Beach children, two adults and one Laguna College of Art & Design student.

The district sold 35 plastic rain barrels and more are available. They come in terracotta, charcoal and green and cost $40.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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