The Valley Line: Books, elbow fractures and good times

Wow, there has been a fast and furious social buzz going on around town. I’ll try to catch you up on all the news.

I recently went to see one of the most glorious operas presented by the Los Angeles Opera — “Romeo and Juliette,” written by Charles Gounod and conducted this time around by Placido Domingo.

Beautiful, sumptuous, sensual, tragic — these are only a few words to describe this opulent production. Everything about this new rendering of the beloved Shakespeare story of star-crossed lovers is magnificent — lush costumes, sets, and lighting. The roles of Romeo and Juliette are sung by two attractive singers who truly bring this story, set in Verona, Italy, back to this romantic city. The role of Juliette is sung by Georgian-born soprano Nino Machaidze and Romeo is robustly sung by Italian-born Vittorio Grigolo, who was making his L.A. Opera debut in this role.

The chorus, under the direction of Grant Gershon, who is also the conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, is truly wonderful. There are many Valley area residents who sing in the L.A. Opera Chorus.

I hope that you opera lovers can find time to attend this opera. It is also an amazing opera for first-time opera-goers. Check out the L.A. Opera website for further information about the production.


Members and guests of La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild celebrated not only the guild’s 54 years of support of Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital, but also the 100th year of this world-renowned hospital.

The occasion was the guild’s Book and Author Luncheon, which has proven to be a most successful fund-raising event over these many years.

The event took place at the Angeles National Golf Club. Even though the day was gray and cloudy, the vistas over the golf course with the beautiful mountains in the background were stunning.

More than 200 women and men came to meet authors Frans Vischer, Jennie Nash and Diana Johnson. Vischer, who was born in Holland, told guests about his journey from Holland to America when he was just a boy and did not speak English. Drawing was his passion and it was a beginning of communication in this new land. His love of drawing led him to a career with Disney and a delightful children’s book about the antics of his overweight cat. The book is humorously illustrated and is called “Fuddles.”

Nash introduced her book, “The Threadbare Heart,” a story that was inspired by her mother finding love at the age of 70. Nash is a writing coach, instructor at UCLA Extension Writer’s Program and a prolific writer. She also is a breast cancer survivor whose book, “The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming and Other Lessons I learned from Breast Cancer,” tells her story and victory over this disease.

Johnson, an avid genealogist and fourth-generation Californian, has written an adventure-filled book, “Wagons to Hangtown.” This is the story of her family’s travel by covered wagon from the Midwest to California’s gold fields in the 1850s.

Before the authors were introduced, Dr. Mauricio Silva, associate medical director of Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital and medical director of urgent care, spoke about elbow fractures in children and how the hospital treats them.

The event raised about $15,000 that will go to the hospital for the children’s needs for wheelchairs, braces to wheelchair-accessible playground equipment.


Judy Mendicina, president of The Oakmont League, welcomed guests to the Castaway Restaurant and the club’s annual holiday fashion show and boutique.

Nearly 70 women gathered to sip tea and coffee as they chatted and shopped at tables spread with unique jewelry and accessories offered by Christine Ritchie and the Yearsley Collection.

Modeling elegant fashions for the holidays were league members Marlene Oliphant, Monica Sierra, Ellen Farewell, Lynn Dittrick, Allison Weir, Mercy Velasquez, Nina Ratliff, Mary Broerman, Yolanda Lopez and Jeri Benton.


Lillian and Roy Olofson, presidents of Stardusters, a dance club founded in La Cañada Flintridge more than 40 years ago, celebrated to the theme, “Let the Good Times Roll,” at their recent dinner dance held at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club.

Approximately 50 guests were encouraged to wear garb reflective of the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s. Everyone seemed to get in the spirit of the occasion and there were some outlandish costumes.

Dance chairs for the evening were Gigi and Jim Schlueter. Assisting them on the committee were Diane and Newt Russell and Mary and Daryal Gant.

The band “Stunt Road” provided the very danceable tunes that all seemed to enjoy. The good times did indeed roll as well-loved stories were remembered and talked about all evening.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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