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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: A new year and new beginnings

Here we are into the second week of January already. I reluctantly removed the ornaments from my tree, wrapping each one carefully in tissue paper. I always hate putting them away because they are so magical and representative of places I’ve been in the world and memories of family times. It will be an entire year before I see them again.

Now that the holiday activities have faded away, it looks like the community is taking a well-deserved nap after the frantic rounds of parties and gatherings, and the social pace is slower. Hard to believe that all is so quiet on our front.

The movie award season begins this Sunday, Jan. 15, with the Hollywood Foreign Press presentation of the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Those will be followed on Jan. 29 by the Screen Actors Guild’s SAG Awards. The granddaddy of them all — The 84th Academy Awards ceremony — will be coming up on Feb. 26.

For a film buff like me, this is always an exciting time. It was even more fun that two of the favored movies for Golden Globes, “The Help” and “War Horse,” had pre-screenings right here in our very own La Cañada Regal Theater.


One movie award event that I look forward to each year is the USC School of Libraries’ “Scripter Award,” held in the Times Reference Room on campus at the Doheny Library. This will be the 24th presentation honoring the author and screenwriter of the year’s best book-to-film adaptation.

Of course I love all of the red-carpet fashion parades to see the best- and worst- dressed stars.

Moving away from the silver screen for a moment and jumping onto the boards of legitimate theater, this weekend I went to A Noise Within’s reprised production of “Noises Off.”

This is the third production for the A Noise Within company in its beautiful new theater in Pasadena.


“Noises Off” is a hysterically funny British farce that has received rave reviews. By the second act, I was laughing so hard that tears were running down my face. Just what the doctor ordered for whatever ails anyone — don’t miss it. It runs through Jan. 15.

Just as I entered the lobby for the play I saw and chatted with Mindy and Gene Stein. They had wonderful holidays filled with family and friends. The real joy for them was spending three weeks with granddaughter Charlotte, who is 15 months old. Charlotte is the child of the Steins’ daughter Shana and Adam Elga, who live on the East Coast. Mindy said it was so precious to be spending this time with their children. Also coming home for the holidays was their son Andrew, who is studying at Harvard Business School, and their daughter Julie, a pediatrician in San Francisco.


‘Tis January and time for new beginnings. It was just so at the Lanterman House, when the A.M. Kiwanis Club volunteers came to plant a winter garden at this historic La Cañada residence and museum.

The green-thumb Kiwanis members taking part in the planting session were Joan and Chuck McGee, Erik Fiske, Frances Hill, Duane Batenhorst, Julia Cameron, Sean Crahan, Dave Hemstreet, Brian Hummel, Susan Huntsman, Jack Labrie, Joyce Ruygrok, Donn Sarbaum, Tim Scheck and Margot Siess. Just some of the many veggies being planted were different lettuce varieties, broccoli, artichokes and string beans.

Tom Purnell, manager of the Armstrong Nursery here in town, donated the 170 plants that the energetic Kiwanis members planted.

Later on, when the plants are ready for harvest, the morning Kiwanis group gets an assist from Key Club members who attend Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park. The school’s Key Club teens have been helping in this project for at least 15 years.

When the vegetables, fruits and herbs are harvested weekly they are taken to shelters for needy families throughout the Los Angeles area. The mothers at Elizabeth House and Door of Hope in Pasadena are particularly grateful for this fresh produce.


The food delivery project was started 18 years ago by the A.M Kiwanis’ founding president John “Robby” Robinson.


La Cañadan Mackenzie Ann Heaton is one of 21 girls who will be presented as debutantes of the Pasadena Guild of Children’s Hospital this coming June.

The young women were introduced at a gala tea held on Dec. 30 in Pasadena. The tea was served by past presidents, including Jinny Dalbeck of LCF.

The annual event honored the young women, their mothers and grandmothers. Also in attendance were Guild President Becky Garnett, Cindy Jenkins and Karen Sweeney, ball chairmen; and Deb Chairmen Tory Howe and Millie Steinbrecher.

In addition to Mackenzie Heaton, the other teens to be presented next June are Sarah Dolores Boggott, Cornell June Banta, Kelsey Virginia Buckner, Kristen Elizabeth Clark, Jane Harrington Davidson, Camille Wisnom Hooks, Caroline Carter Lehan, Casey Kathleen McCloskey, Sarah Elizabeth Patterson, Avery Michelle Rhodes, Olivia Diane Fern Russak, Caroline Craig Vettese, Sarah Elizabeth Buckingham, Lauren Grace Ferraco, Courtney Claire Jobe, Kelly Elaine McCandless, Paulina Marie Pinsky, Kathryn Morris Thomson, Emily Rosamond Walper and Annie Van Sant Wenzlau.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. She can be reached at