Category Archives: This ‘n’ That

This is not a restaurant review

Casual fine dining.

by Sheldon Brown

This is not a restaurant review, because I don’t write those. But this is a restaurant comment.

What was once Romano’s Macaroni Grill in the Ventura Gateway shopping center (4880 Telephone Road) is now StoneFire Grill. If you were blindfolded and shown the outside – or inside – of the restaurant, you would have no idea where you were. The interior was taken down to the bare studs and completely remodeled.

The restaurant recently held a pre-opening by invitation only dinner (I, obviously snuck in) showcasing the restaurant and the food. I was very impressed with both. It is what I would call casual fine dining. Food is served family style but you grab your own place settings, and get your own drinks.

The menu has something for everyone. Pizza for the kids, pastas, sandwiches, great salads, ribs, tri-tip, chicken, fish, you name it, plus beer and wine. It will be necessary to eat there a few times to figure out how to best order, as most dishes come in four different sizes, for one person to enough for many people.

The food was excellent, and we were also served a sampling of their desserts. The carrot cake was spectacular.

I had better not write anymore more, as it’s now sounding like a restaurant review. Go check it out – I think you will be impressed.

The fire was like an unpredictable assailant

Dr. Sumalpong is helping fire victims to achieve a greater sense of calm.

by Pilar Sumalpong, Ph. D., Licensed Psychologist CA PSY 27891, NRHSP #55927

Anyone exposed to the Thomas Fire could have strong and lasting emotional reactions. We all experience fear, danger, loss and grief at some point in our lives but residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are describing classic symptoms of traumatic stress and many are not sure how to cope or don’t understand why they feel the way they do. Some have said “I feel like things are unreal,” or describe distortions in time, problems with memory or emotional detachment and numbness. Some want to hide out in their homes and don’t feel the same sense of safety when going about their day. Others describe feeling drawn to use substances or alcohol to achieve a greater sense of calm or “normalcy.”

Judith Lewis Herman wrote “After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment” (1997). For those who lost their homes or property the dust has still not settled. While one part of a person’s mind may rationally understand that the danger has passed, the emotional, irrational part of the mind still feels the tension and chaos like a lasting stamp on the nervous system.

When we reflect on the behavior of the fire itself, it was like an unpredictable assailant, attacking at random. Its behavior was totally unpredictable and there was no negotiating with it. Anyone in close proximity to the blaze was aware on some level that anything could happen. That knowledge or that kind of brush with one’s own mortality is a jolt to the psyche that can have a ripple effect lasting months to years.

The key to overcoming traumatic stress reactions may seem somewhat counterintuitive: Confronting the traumatic memory and all the emotions that come with it are the most direct way to put the past in the past. Avoidance or suppression of thoughts or feelings delays the natural healing processes of the mind. Recovery is all about delving in and accepting one’s emotions as natural and part of moving on.

Confronting and processing emotions can be as simple as talking about everything you went through with trusted friends or family members. Writing about what happened and how you felt and rereading your narrative several times over the span of a few weeks can help you gain different perspectives on your experience.

More structured ways of processing emotions can be achieved by doing some reading or completing a workbook on trauma recovery, attending group or individual therapy. Therapy does not have to be long-term and can be focused on addressing the effects of the Thomas Fire or it can be a lengthier process depending on a person’s needs and preferences. As a consumer of therapy a person has the right to ask for the kind of treatment they want.

The most critical piece is to remember not to isolate and withdraw. This is a time for leaning on one another for support and staying connected. Freud wrote “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful” (1960). Trusting that there are things you can do to help yourself and others is what makes this possible.

Dr. Sumalpong may be reached at

Life Coaching – is it for you?

Dr. Bunny Vreeland has developed Life Enhancement Therapy. Photo by Isabel Lawrence

by Dr. Bunny Vreeland

Do you know what a Life Coach is? Who uses a Life Coach? How can Life Coaching be beneficial? You might consider Life Coaching if:

You are Stuck – If you have a big decision to make, for example, whether to get married, leave your unsatisfying relationship, change careers, move to a new geographical location, or go after a big dream of yours… Anything.  You may be confused with the “voices” in your head, one says its too risky, one says go for it.

You are Lost – if you lack direction or feel guilty, a life coach will help you sort out what your true personal values are and help you get clear on what is important to you as you choose your direction.

You are Unhappy – Simply put, if you’re unhappy, you need a change, or… you need to change, or you’re under stress and need to sort things out.

You are Happy – This is the best time for a life coach because you’re more likely to be open to growth.  As a side effect, being happy is a great motivator as well.

You just got out of a relationship – You’re starting over, broken-hearted.  Working with a Life Coach will help clarify what you want, why it’s important to you, and how to get what you want.

You are comfortable – If you have a routine, a comfort zone.  A Life Coach can help you step out of your comfort zone and bring back some excitement to your life by realistically challenging you with attainable steps.

You are Scared – We’re all scared.  A Life Coach will help you name your fears, give you tools to take action, and help you feel differently about your fears.

I’m Dr. Bunny Vreeland. Being a Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and a Life Coach, I have developed something I call Life Enhancement Therapy – accessing the power of the conscious and the sub-conscious mind. I work with a mature clientele, to help them reach their full potential and desired lifestyle.  You’re a mature adult, you want a mature coach.

With over 30 years of experience, I use a combination of Hypnotherapy, recently developed Motivational Coaching, Image Consulting, Counseling, and a whole lot of real-time life experience.

I’d love to help you break through the roadblocks, identify and smash those barriers that are holding you back, and attain your goals.

My approach is sensitive, thoughtful and creative, but determined.  I assist each client in recognizing what makes them special and unique.

Real tools.  Real skills.  Real results.

Call me today at (805) 482-8111 and let’s start your journey!

Dr. Bunny Vreeland has been a professional model, an award-winning Color and Image Consultant, Radio & TV Show host, and, for the past 20+ years, a Board Certified, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Ordained Minister and the Founder of the Vreeland College of the Healing Arts, in Camarillo, CA, where she sees clients for Hypnotherapy issues, and teaches accredited Basic and Advanced Hypnotherapy classes on a regular basis.

Ventura Police Department hosts Coffee with a Cop at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Photo by Bernie Goldstein

The Ventura Police Department hosted Coffee with a Cop at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 4360 E. Main St. on June 26 in a friendly, informal environment to discuss community issues and build relationships. Engaging the community in public safety efforts is a top priority of the Ventura Police Department. Coffee with a Cop is an additional opportunity for residents to get to know the officers who serve Ventura.

The Coffee with a Cop effort is a national initiative supported by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events were held across the country as police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve. Coffee with a Cop provides an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s service. There is no formal agenda, just a casual opportunity to voice concerns and share ideas.


CAPS Media members create original TV and radio programs

Orientation sessions are held on the first Thursday of every month.

Summer is a great time to join the CAPS Media creative community. Aspiring (or experienced) videographers, journalists, photographers, radio DJs, and storytellers are encouraged to get involved at the CAPS Media Center. The highly skilled and experienced CAPS Media staff helps members master the tools they need to craft the stories they want to tell in video and radio productions in all forms of communication genres including documentary, talk, music, drama, comedy, politics and more.

CAPS Media Member/Producers include all ages, all interests and are from all facets of the community. No prior experience is required, everyone is invited to join and share their unique voices. Anyone who lives, works or attends school in the city of Ventura is eligible to become a member for an annual fee of only $25. Non-profit organizations throughout the county can join for $75 per year, if at least one representative lives or works in Ventura.

Orientation sessions are held on the first Thursday of every month and explain how to become a member of CAPS. HD videography/camera classes are held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class are on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes are on the 4th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road.

CAPS Media’s Thomas Fire Stories series continues every Friday night with firefighters, first responders and members of the public sharing inspirational first-person experiences. Each 20-30 minute story premieres on CAPS TV Channel 6 and CAPS Radio 104.1FM on Friday at 6pm. On July 6th Clark Tulberg recounts his extraordinary battle to evacuate and defend Thomas Aquinas College from the fire that started in Steckel Park, two miles from the college. Clark and his small and courageous crew spent 5 days, fighting non-stop to save the college.

On Friday, July 13th Ventura County Fire Assistant Chief Mike Milkovich shares his experience and perspective on the night of December 4th and the days and weeks that follow. On July 20, Clark Tulberg continues his Thomas Fire Story with his emotional tour of upper Ojai following the fire. And on Friday, July 27, Ventura County Deputy Fire Chief Vaughn Miller adds his personal story to the archive.

The Thomas Fire Stories are produced by CAPS Media in collaboration with the Museum of Ventura County and are supported by photos and videos contributed by the public, firefighters and news agencies. The remarkable and inspirational personal accounts repeat throughout the week and can be viewed at any time online at

CAPS Media’s mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. For more information, go to or call 805.658.0500.

“Think Big” was theme at Chamber breakfast

The speakers gave inspiring and motivational talks. Photo by Richard Lieberman

On June 28, the Ventura Chamber of Commerce presented their Economic Outlook Breakfast “Think Big” at the Four Points Sheraton hotel. After eating a buffet breakfast the packed room was welcomed by Stephanie Caldwell, CEO & President of the Chamber. Opening remarks were made by Joey Zumaya, Manager, Public Sector Sales, Linkedin.

The featured speakers were John Silva, President & Senior Creative Director Du Puis. Ray D. Bowman, Director of the Small Business Development Center and Erick Went, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, Matter Labs.

The speakers presented inspiring and motivational direction to the enthusiastic business professionals in attendance. At the conclusion of their speeches they answered questions from the audience and invited them to contact them for further business assistance. In conclusion brief presentations were made by selected members of the audience regarding the status of business and development in Ventura.

Vol. 11, No. 20 – July 4 – July 17, 2018 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

What’s your fondest 4th of July memory in Ventura?

Karson Fish
age 18
works at The Wharf
“Probably when I was little, going to the college and watching fireworks with my family. We picnicked and barbequed, and I especially liked the barbequed burgers because burgers always taste better on the 4th of July!”

Victoria Beelik
age 50
presents seminars for large animal evacuation planning and author
“My fondest memory is sitting on Hollywood Beach, in front of the Rudder Room watching the Quad Police (police that ride quad motorcycles on the beach) busting people that had “over celebrated”. We did that for years, it was hysterical!”

Savannah Benton
age 23
works at Iron and Resin
“Just being on the beach with my friends and my dog Buddy, surfing and hanging out.”
I asked, “Do you do any fireworks?”
“Aren’t fireworks illegal?”, she whispered. “Well, we do, but don’t say we do…it’s pretty simple to get them in Fillmore. I like the ones that look like weeping willows, or sparklers – I love sparklers! Wait! Roman Candles – those are my favorite!”

Louise Bailey
age 80
worked as a waitress at Vagabond
“Going to my son, Kenny’s when he lived on a ranch off Casitas Vista Road and we’d set off fireworks there. And of course, all those years going to the Pier to see the fireworks. It’s a shame they’re taking away fireworks but it’s not the fireworks that are the problem, it’s the people that are not responsible. But it’s ok cause I’ve got faith, the future generation’s gonna get it right!”

Dan Weidler
age 68
retired Navy / works at the base in Port Hueneme
“We moved here in 1978 and we like going to the fireworks at Ventura College. My wife, Debbie likes to go to the street fair too, but I usually have to work in the morning even on the 4th.”

John Christie
age 65 (but looks 50)
retired Sheriff / works as a Park Officer at Lake Casitas
“In the late 70’s, I took my girlfriend and several of my friends with their girlfriends in my dad’s boat and anchored about 500 yards off the end of the Pier, we could see all of Ventura and the fireworks from there, to see it all – that was my favorite! Now, I get to drive a patrol truck around Lake Casitas and many of the campers barbequing offer me food, they’ll ask, “hey John – want a burger? or hey John – wanna try these ribs?” I love my job!”

Writer’s note: living in Ventura for over 50 years, and I have many fond memories of July 4ths past … in my teens when I didn’t let go of a cherry bomb soon enough and my ears rang for days! In my mid-twenties when the City did the firework show off the Pier and we’d all pack up the kids and go to the beach. But it wasn’t enough for some folks to just watch, they began to bring their own arsenal and Pierpont beach became Armageddon. My fondest memories are in my forties with the block parties we used to have, neighbors came together, we pulled the Webers to the street, everyone brought side dishes and the kids would decorate their bikes and wagons and have a parade. At dusk, although we could see the fireworks from the college, we had our own, smaller show (thanks to Fillmore). Those kids are all grown now, some have kids of their own and I hope they are creating memories. For me now, it’s all about that street fair!

Happy 4th of July Venturans and stay safe out there!

Kids ages 4 -10 years old to immerse themselves in new sea themed activities

Members of the Seaside Kid’s Club will enjoy their summer at the Harbor.

Leading the pack in what’s hot for kids summertime fun in Ventura, Ventura Harbor Village is a sure bet for children with the announcement of the return of its 3rd Annual seasonal Seaside Kids Club to be held Thursdays from July 5 – August 9, from 11 a.m. – noon on the waterfront. Keep children busy all summer long with a seaside sojourn where they can explore beyond the classroom.

Ventura Harbor Village allows kids ages 4 -10 years old to immerse themselves in new sea themed activities, entertainment and crafts. Cost is $3 per child. Sign-in begins at 10:30 AM at the Kelp Corridor directly across from Coffee Dock & Post and outside the Village Carousel & Arcade.

For those kids who want to keep busy all summer long, they can become a Seaside Kids Club member, where for just $12, they receive a Club stamp card good for a complimentary stuffed animal after three visits, a wooden nickel discount for the entire family at Coastal Cone, special goodies each week, and a guaranteed spot on the Seaside Kids Club list (space is limited weekly).

All participants receive a Seaside Kids Club sticker and experience a different theme each week including “Red, White Sand & Blue Ocean,” “Piratey Fun & Puppets Too,” “Fit & Fun in the Sun,” “Jellyfish Jam – All Things Squishy” and more.

Here’s a glimpse of the Seaside Kids Club schedule, complete with free parking, bubbles and endless summer fun.

July 5, 2018: Red, White Sand & Blue Ocean

Take to the ocean and get kids to make their own ocean in a bottle, learn to put on a life vest with Captain Cooper from Ventura Boat Rentals, visit with Ventura Harbor Patrol, and receive a booklet on Water Safety.

July 12, 2018: Seals & Sea Lions Are Pinnipeds– Oh Wow!

Get up close and learn all about our pinnipeds in the Harbor and at the Islands from a Channel Islands National Park Ranger. As part of this summertime afternoon of fun, decorate a sea horse to take home (craft sponsored by Lakeshore Learning).

July 19, 2018: Jellyfish Jam – All Things Squishy!

Search for sea creatures in squishy sensory ocean water beads, attend a show and tell with Ventura Harbor’s Squid experts, and create your own jelly fish craft!

July 26, 2018 – Yo Ho! Piratey Fun & Puppets Too!

Witness a professional marionette pirate puppet show, visit with a mermaid and pirate, play in a pirate ship, walk the plank, and create a Mermaid or Pirate Puppet!

August 2, 2018 – Fit & Fun in the Sun!

Strike a pose at sea with themed yoga led by yoga guru Pam Griffin. As part of this fun filled afternoon, partake in an obstacle course & relay races, and make a shell mobile to hang in the sun.

For visitor information, contact Ventura Harbor Village at 805-477-0470, online at Ventura Harbor Village is located at 1583 Spinnaker Dr. Post, share, and like #VenturaHarbor

Michael O’Kelly the man behind the mural / part 2

by Jennifer Tipton

Michael O’Kelly’s artistic vision turned to ceramics sometime around the year 2000 when he became interested in architectural design. “That’s the oldest archeological art you can dig up, you’re gonna find bones and you’re gonna find clay!”, he laughed. Starting with “a little mural here and a little fountain there”, it went well until the year 2008 when he lost everything due to the recession.

Michael’s work can be seen at the Camarillo library, the Santa Barbara Zoo and 65% of the ceramic tile on the front of Watermark (now Limon y Sal), along with “stuff all over town and throughout California”. He did the facade of the Star Lounge for Mark Hartley and the work at Café du Suro on Main Street, “people think it’s been there since 1903, but we did it in 2006”.

In 2016 when Ventura celebrated its 150th anniversary, it was Christy Weir that encouraged Michael O’Kelly to design a mural that would represent the history of Ventura. “It began with an idea that produced a work of art that would bring the community together, a consensus was then formed to trust an artist to perform those goals”, he told me. Once they decided to go through with the project, they had to go after funding and Michael proudly stated, “the beauty of it is, 99.9% of the mural was paid for by people in the community and those that donated materials and time, I think it’s quite extraordinary to have this all put together by the public”.

It was Cynthia Thompson, “a very sophisticated historian in town” that put together the spread sheet and created the chronology, “I couldn’t have done it without her”, he said.

“Since I started the mural 3 years ago, five sponsors and people depicted in the mural have passed away, including my son, Devin.” It was Devin’s shared passion for the arts that inspired Michael to keep going. “There were a lot of delays, holding me up as an artist, and now I’m grateful”, he said.

I asked, “because now you are able to dedicate it to your son?” With tears he whispered, “yes”.

“If the mural had been done on time, I would have walked past it every day and wished my son was in there, now he’s in there 5 times”, he smiled. This includes Devin with his mother, Gisele looking back across the entire mural.

“It’s almost like the mural itself is a publication, as it was being done, things were happening in the city and as they were happening, they found their way into the mural, including the Thomas Fire.”

In the mural, a Norman Rockwell paperboy can be seen holding the Star, “why not the Breeze?”, I asked.

“I don’t think the Breeze was around in 1930-1940”, he grinned.

After the completion of the mural, Michael O’Kelly has plans to do film, he’s already done a documentary on Ray Bradbury and plans another on the history of Ventura. He’s started a company called “Dirt and Fire” (website up soon) and confided, “I’ve got another community project, a monumental bronze sculpture to be done here in Ventura but can’t give details”.

“You are not forgotten”

The Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County is proud to announce the hosting of the Moving Wall.

Two memorials honoring fallen members of the U.S. military branches will be on display at the Ventura County Government Center. The Remembering Our Fallen photo display will be located on the Main Plaza inside the Hall of Administration, and The Moving Wall, a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica, will be on display on the large lawn along Victoria Avenue.

The Remembering Our Fallen California Memorial is a traveling display honoring military personnel from California who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The display is one of 20 state and one national displays that tour the country as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by service personnel who were killed in the war against terrorism. The California memorial recognizes almost 750 service men and women.

An opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 19, in the Lower Plaza Assembly Room in the Hall of Administration.

The Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County Inc. (VVVC) is proud to announce the hosting of the “original Moving Wall” from June 21 through June 25, at the Ventura County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave.

The Wall will be available for viewing 24 hours a day for the duration of its stay here in Ventura.

“The Moving Wall” is a half-scale mobile replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Washington DC.

“The Moving Wall” was founded by Vietnam Veterans John Devitt, Gerry Haver and Norris Shears, and first placed on public display at Tyler, Texas in 1984.

There will be a Memorial Ceremony commencing on Saturday, June 23, at
11:00a at the Veterans Memorial at the corner of Victoria Ave and Telephone Rd. honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The focus is to pay homage to the 111 casualties from Ventura County.
There will be a separate display honoring those 111 Vietnam Veterans from Ventura County whose names are etched on the Wall.
Volunteers will be present to assist those who need help finding names and provide rubbings for those who have friends or loved ones listed.

For those people who wish donate or volunteer please visit or or