I'm often surprised by how many Santa Barbarans don't shop at the wonderful small local stores here. I know one can head out to Costco and save money buying in bulk, but really -- isn't shopping at our local independent stores its own investment in the quality of our community? Sure, you can pick up some Italian ingredients from Trader Joe's to make a pasta dinner, but why not go to Tino's Italian Grocery located in the mini-mall at the corner of De La Vina and Carrillo instead?

On my most recent trip to Tino's I shopped for ingredients to make an Italian dinner for Ray and me. I had some pizza dough in the fridge, homemade from a most excellent King Arthur Flour recipe (here), and some marinara sauce, but needed to fill in with other ingredients.

As you can see, Tino's carries lots of Italian specialty products. I decided to buy some Giuliano Sliced Peperoncini, some Divina Organic Pitted Green Olives, and because it caught my eye (not for the pizza) some Cento Hoagie Spread (who doesn't love a good Hoagie?). I also perused Tino's wines.

Is there anything more romantic than a straw Chianti holder? Sadly, neither Ray nor I can drink red wine. Note to Santa Ynez Valley wineries: how about making a straw Sauvignon Blanc bottle?

For dessert I picked up some Vincente Hazelnut Cream from Sicily and their Pistachio Cream as well (either one delicious on gelato). Had I not been about to meet Ray for lunch at Miso Hungry on Canon Perdido, I would have had one of Tino's Italian sandwiches from their deli. (If you want a Tino's sandwich, it's wise to get there before the hordes of Tino Submarine lovers.)

You can even sit at one of their tables to eat.

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I'm looking forward to the book launch party for Santa Barbara Katie L. Lindley's A Man for Every Purpose: My Naked Journey Searching for Love, a deliciously candid and witty tale of the Santa Barbara author's search for true love.

As Katie herself puts it on her website "I began writing A Man for Every Purpose out of a desire to keep record of my past mistakes and simultaneously help others. I am a strong believer in the power of manifestation, which is the knowledge that people create their own realities."

The idea that women might take responsibility for their own sex and romantic lives instead of simply blaming men is a genuinely empowering concept for women to embrace and one that's currently too often forgotten in the midst of the #MeToo-blame-men movement. And it's also a really fun read.

Katie's book launch party will be held on Friday May 25th from 4 -- 7 PM at Ambience, 1266 Coast Village Road in Montecito.

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One of the best food stores in Santa Barbara is Gladden Produce, located at 5342 Hollister Ave, in the mini-mall opposite the Goleta Valley Hospital just west of the Patterson intersection. (The landmark water store used to be in the same mini-mall, and it's now been replaced with a 7-11.) Gladden's is both a store to get special ingredients for your own cooking and a wonderful deli with prepared entrees, soups, salads, dressings and more available every day except Sunday when they're closed.

I've recommended Gladden's to my Santa Barbara friends over the last few years and a number of them have become regulars who tell me how much they love shopping there. What makes it so special? First, it's a small store packed with wonderful local produce. Second, it's that the owners, Jared and Carrington Gladden, curate everything they sell very carefully.

Jared picks from among the best vegetables and fruits, and if he tells you that a Yukon potato is great, it is. That potato will have what the French call gout de terroir (trans: taste of the earth) that a Yukon you might buy at Costco or TJs just won't. If he says this pick of strawberries are ultra delicious, they are. And if you aren't happy with something you buy he wants to know. Carrington's prepared foods are fresh, delicious, healthy and seasonal. (To pre-order Carrington's prepared dishes visit their website here and be sure to get on their mailing list for first picks at what's going to be offered each week.)

Besides produce, Jared carries local vinegars like Bragg's, McConnell's Ice Cream, nuts, granola, eggs -- even sometimes local quail eggs -- Watkins meat (I've bought marrow bones from Jared to make stock) and Mallea pork.

There are spices and nuts as well. I especially like to buy his raw cashews and make bar nuts with them. Here's my recipe:


1 box of Gladden's raw cashews


sugar (don't use honey)

smoked paprika


salt (preferably sea salt)

ground pepper

wasabi oil

coconut oil


Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

In a bowl, toss cashews with cinnamon, sugar, smoked paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper.

When the oven is heated, spoon coconut oil onto the aluminum foil in the pan. Put in the oven until the oil is melted. Take out, put cashews onto the aluminum foil and combine with the coconut oil.

Roast in the oven, watching them to make sure they're browning but not burning, and turn them over to evenly bake all sides of them.

When they're nicely browned, remove the pan, let cool, return to the original bowl and toss them with additional salt and pepper as needed and then toss with wasabi oil.

Store when completely cooled in an airtight container. They'll last nicely for a week but you will probably eat them all within a day.

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Great news for those who've missed this show at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum: Bob Evans' and Andrew J. Mc Mullen's exceptional photographic underwater exploration of Santa Barbara Channel marine life has been extended to May 19th. Shot by Bob and Andrew from 1974 to 1981, a period where the marine life developed beneath the offshore oil platforms, it's a rhapsodic and exhilarating look at ocean life. Bob Evans and his partner Susanne Chess (who owns Fine Fabrics on State Street) are good friends of ours -- wonderfully inventive, creative, innovative thinkers. Bob's own visionary spirit (he designed the Force Fin) shines through this selection of 26 photos from a vast collection on the subject.

Bob's offered to take people on a guided tour led by him and I guarantee it'll be a wonderful chance to talk with him both about the past and the future of marine life in the Channel and the fate of the offshore oil platforms. He's also created images for the show of what could be alternative possibilities for the platforms.

Those interested in the tour should contact Susanne to schedule a guided tour: susannechess at Or you can see the show on your own. check here for museum hours.

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For a small city, Santa Barbara has a great array of lectures and cultural events. When I grew up here, I was out all the time, even when I was supposed to be in class at San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara City College or UCSB. And even today I often want to see two things that are happening at the same time. Of course there isn't the array or abundance of things happening here like there is in NYC, where I spent years running from one thing to another. But there's quite a wonderful lot.

Lately, though, I've had a severe bout of what I call Post Disaster Inertia. I want to go to things, but the months of fire, mudslide, numerous evacuations, knowing the losses friends endured and driving by the wreckage left both Ray and me exhausted. We left home so many times with so much uncertainty of the future that just lying in bed and forcing Ray to watch Forensic Files with me is a luxury.

It's strange to think back on how many things Ray and I would go to in a given day in NYC or even during the first two years when we moved back to SB, because at the moment I can handle one thing a day. Sometimes half a thing a day. I'm sure that we're not alone among Santa Barbarans, and I'm sure it's affecting the cultural attendance here.

But the fact is, when I think about going out to something right now, I can easily get talked out of it.

For example, I was pleased to see that Charles Hood, the author of a book I've enjoyed, A Californian's Guide to the Birds Among Us, would be speaking at the Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez on May 12th at 7 PM.




Charles is a poet as well as animal chronicler and his book is witty, informative and fun. When I wrote Charles and asked him about the lecture, and said we'd like to go, he told me he'd just gotten back from photographing bats in Arizona and looked forward to talking about scrub jays with us.

He then said his lecture would be about the evolution and future of field guides rather than focusing on birds. Hmmm. Well, I'm sure Charles can make the art of the field guide interesting or at least poetic, but the thought of driving an hour to hear about field guides set off my Post Disaster Interia.

Then I thought perhaps it would just be fun to finally get onto the Sedgwick Reserve and we could go early while it was still light, take in his talk -- hey, I'd learn something about field guides! -- and especially fun to meet and talk to an author whose book I like and who knows a lot about birds. Now, birds may not be a subject you find interesting, but I find them endlessly fascinating. Ray and I are bird enthusiasts (some would call us bird crazy) and consider the Scrub Jays, Titmice, Juncos, Doves, Crows, Hummingbirds and company on our property our feathered friends. We give them names like Nipper and Kikki and Ed and even have framed photos of our birds on our mantle:

Now that I look at the photo above, I do think we are crazy. However, our birds raucously greeted us when we returned home after every evacuation. They did seem to be saying, "Great to see you're alive -- now you can return to giving us peanuts." But they're good birds, even if a little self-interested.

Another enticing aspect of the Hood lecture was that we'd been wanting to visit the Sedgwick Reserve. Plus there'd be the lure of a nice dinner afterwards at one of my favorite SYV restaurants nearby. So I wrote Charles and asked if he'd like to join us afterwards for dinner. We could yak about his recent visit with the bats and share bird stories. He wrote back that he was planning to go out into the night on the preserve with a flashlight to study mammals, so no dinner out, but he would have a bottle of wine. I wasn't sure whether he was offering to share the bottle of wine and the mammals with us, but if he was, maybe it would be fascinating to accompany him. Although I'm not keen on encountering mountain lions with only a flashlight and a bottle of wine.

Charles wrote back that Ray and I needed to let the event unfold as it will. I'm not a very unfolding person these days, especially when I'm hungry and worried about encountering a mountain lion, so I wrote him we'd have to pass. However, if you like birds or any other kind of animal, I highly recommend Charles' books, which you can buy (and should buy) from Chaucer Bookstore. And if you decide to go to the lecture please let me know what you learned about the art of field guides -- in just two sentences, please.

There's another upcoming event that at first got me excited. Ashton Applewhite, an anti-ageist activist and someone we knew in NYC, is going to be talking twice. First at the Public Library downtown on Friday May 18th, and then at UCSB on Saturday the 19th. I love attending lectures at the Santa Barbara Public Library in Faulkner Gallery. The photo below perhaps doesn't convey the excitement one can feel listening to an expert there on a topic that includes lots of stats, but it's a great venue.

However, when I read what the focus of Ashton's library talk will be, I felt a desurge of energy. The synopsis of her talk was listed as: "What makes aging different for women –- and so much harder than it has to be? How does the double impact of ageism and sexism affect women’s health, income, and well-being? And how does competing to “stay young” dig the hole even deeper?"

I can answer that without attending the talk. Women do it to women. Yes, they do. I used to go to a Park Avenue dermatologist who told me he was glad I hadn't asked him for Botox. I said, "Why do women do that to themselves?" He said "Their girlfriends tell them they need it. I'll always ask these women what their husbands think and they'll say 'he thinks I look fine and don't need it' and I'll say 'I bet your husband doesn't think you need a new dress, either.'"

So maybe the husband is cheap or maybe he's having an affair or maybe he really digs his wife. But the point is, from my own personal experience women can be pretty damn ageist about other women. The most ageist places I ever worked as a writer were the glossy women's magazines. I once wrote a column for Harper's Bazaar touting actresses over 40 and my female editor told me that old age, like not being 22 any longer, really depressed her.

Then there was my last birthday. A number of my guy friends, of all ages, wrote me sweet messages about how much better I get every year, my husband bought me chocolates and lingerie. And what did I get from a woman acquaintance? She sent me a photo of a decrepit Bette Davis holding up a pillow embroidered with her famous line "Old age ain't for sissies." Gee, thanks, lady.

So no go for me on the library talk. Then I thought about going to the UCSB lecture the next day. I remembered fondly how I first heard Ashton talk on anti-ageism at her Williamsburg home a few years ago. She was just getting her lecture organized and tried it out on a small group of friends to get feedback. I was impressed by her drive about the subject and admired her when her book "This Chair Rocks" got turned down by publishers, she didn't let it stop her and published it herself.

I heard her do the lecture several times and she got better each time. And her commitment to anti-aegism seemed to grow. When she came to hear one of my autobiographical shows at Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village she commented afterwards that she felt my referring to my mom as "still beautiful at 90" was ageist. Interestingly, when I also described my late father as "still crazy at 92" that didn't seem to bother her. Nonetheless, I admired Ashton's passion.

I wasn't surprised when she did a TED Talk or finally got a book deal from a mainstream publisher. I was pleased to see her success. But then I read one of her mass emails about This Chair Rocks last fall and I was dismayed. 

Why was I dismayed? Because it was all about her alignment now with all these other movements, like #MeToo. I despise the #MeToo movement, which is not a movement so much as witch-hunting and the equivalent of 1950s McCarthyism. Here's an article about the renowned Swedish theater director, Benny Fredriksson, who killed himself after being #Metoo accused of sexual abuse and none of the allegations were substantiated. Great going, girls, you destroyed a theater director who employed hundreds of actresses and gave them the chance to do meaningful theater.

What exactly have any of these #MeToo gals done that's creative? Nothing. They're just destroyers. Oh right, men have kept them from having careers. No, actually, if these MeToo women spent less time getting revenge on bad dates or imagined micro-aggressions and more time creating their own film companies and publishing houses I'd have a lot more respect for them. In a year when women in the food industry complained on MeToo about being held back, a number of other women spent their energy forging ahead with their culinary careers. Like the three Zitelman sisters in Philly who run their own tahini business, Soom Foods, and who were lauded by Forbes as an exciting upcoming business.

And then in that same email Ashton also mentioned something about "the patriarchy." Isn't it interesting how no one mentions the word "patriarchy" in a positive way? I sighed when I read that. I mean, aren't old patriarchs entitled to anti-ageist activism on their behalf? Maybe that's why it didn't bother her when I made my remark about my father still being crazy at 92. The truth is, men get subjected to a lot of ageism as well and not all men in their 90s are patriarchs who ditch their long suffering wives for hot young women. I've known men who were abused in their later years by their wives and by female staff members at hospitals and assisted living homes.

I wrote Ashton about my reservations, but never heard back from her. I've become used to that in the last year. Now, I consider myself a liberal, albeit in the old-fashioned 1960s/70s way when liberals actually believed in liberal things like freedom of speech. But I find some of my new-fangled "lib left" friends will spout their political opinions out of nowhere -- you can be talking about how nice the warm weather is and suddenly out of the blue they'll say in a loud voice "God, I hate Trump." As some Millennials like to say to excuse their own bad behavior, these people got "triggered" by something. Was it thinking about what a nice day it is in Santa Barbara that triggered them? Can they not have a nice day while Trump is in office? Do they blame him for global warming? Who knows what triggers them. And then they'll go on and on ranting and I've come to realize they just expect me to nod and listen because if I say something like, "Well, I didn't vote for him, but isn't it time we Democrats moved on, I mean, time's a wastin' and we don't have a viable candidate for the next election" they'll go silent, walk away, or say "we obviously can't talk about politics."

And these days that's enough to trigger me and my Post Disaster Inertia.

So I'll be missing Ashton Applewhite's two talks. I hope she'll drop the MeToo, anti-patriarchy and intersectionality and just do what she's great at, which is being an activist for anti-ageism.

To subscribe to my Santa Barbara blog, click here and send me an email saying you'd like to subscribe. I'll send out emails with a roundup of my postings only twice a month. You can unscubscribe at any time simply by emailing me and requesting it.