Active Aging in 2021: How to Live Well into Your Later Years

Santa Barbara is a great place to live no matter your age, but it takes many people a number of years — and perhaps a successful career or two — to start calling our shoreline home. That means there are plenty of people living their best later lives here, which is why we started our Active Aging Guide in 2018 to help navigate the endless options for staying healthy, striving for wellness, and living even longer.

This is the fourth annual edition of this promotional section, in which sponsors suggested trends, techniques, and talented experts from their organizations to our editorial team. Then Leslie Dinaberg took those nascent ideas, put on her reporter’s cap, and turned
them into engaging articles that cover a wide range of topics, from bone, brain, and sexual health to volunteering, nutrition, and even drum circles.

Read on, and age well.

The (Drum Circle) Beat Goes On at Vista Del Monte

Westmont Living’s Nutrition Tips for Brain Health

Step Up to Help Seniors at the Family Service Agency

Borrowing Medical Basics from VNA’s Health Loan Closet

Connect, Discuss, and Explore at Vistas Lifelong Learning

Stimulating Senses to Stimulate Wellness at Villa Alamar and Alexander Gardens

OsteoStrong Builds the Bones of Skeletal Health

Turner Medical Arts Offers Treatments for Inside and Out

Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.

OsteoStrong Builds the Bones of Skeletal Health

My mother was taller than me when I graduated from college, but now I tower over her.
Not because I had a twentysomething growth spurt, but because she’s been plagued by osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bone.”

This horrible condition, which causes the bones to become more porous and fragile, greatly increasing the risk of painful and often disabling broken bones, is a tough one to treat and an impossible one to cure. They think my mom’s osteoporosis was caused by chemotherapy, but genetics and aging are factors too. So naturally I was intrigued when I wrote about OsteoStrong (osteostrong.me) for last year’s Active Aging guide. But at that time, because of the pandemic, the wellness studio was closed to the public, and I wasn’t able to try out the machines for myself.

This year, I finally got to check out the rather novel bone-building exercise approach designed to stimulate bone growth through delivery of high-intensity loads. A franchise operation owned by Yvonne and Jim Parsons, the OsteoStrong program uses special exercise machines that deliver intense bone-stimulating loads through four nearmaximal
isometric exercises.

“The most important thing is that you compress the bone and the axial,” explained
Yvonne of how it works. “And if you noticed, when you were doing each piece of equipment, nothing moves. We get into position and it’s robotic in that sense, but once you get on, nothing moves except you, and it’s the compression of the bone that stimulates the adaptive response.”

The circuit itself takes only about 10 minutes, which is certainly efficient. I didn’t work up a sweat because, as Yvonne explained, “It’s only about the adaptive response. A good
analogy is that it’s like if you walked into a dark room and your pupils expanded. You go
to a gym to get your muscles strong, but you go here to get your skeletal strength.”

The machines work on the principle of “osteogenic” loading. These super-resistance
machines cover every section of the body—a chest press, leg press, core pull, and skeleton stressing vertical lift—and they resemble weight machines with feedback monitors. Clients come in once a week, stand on vibration platforms to warm up, then exert 30 seconds of all-out force at each workout station.

All in 10 minutes! Seriously, I saw at least three people cycle through as I interviewed
Yvonne.

Although my one session at OsteoStrong was not enough time to report any results,
nothing hurt afterward, and the people I saw come in seemed to be all smiles with
a little extra spring in their steps. There are certainly loads of happy customers, as their video testimonials attest to (osteostrong.me/video-gallery).

“People love it,” said Yvonne. “It’s fast, it’s very safe, and it’s so efficient. It seems like it’s not real, but it really is. We can’t say that we cure anything or anything like that, but we have many members who come in and they’ve had their T-score [a measure of bone density] measured, and they come in, and the next year when they get it again, the T-score has improved and bone density has improved. … When your bones are stronger, you’re not having that fear of fracture if you fall. It’s like when you walk off of a curb, people go, ‘Oh no, I don’t have any problem with that anymore.’ Their balance and agility has improved.”

Check it out yourself for free. Call (805) 453-6086 or email santabarbara@osteostrong.me to set up an appointment. See osteostrong.me

Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.

Connect, Discuss, and Explore at Vistas Lifelong Learning

Learning new things and maintaining a vibrant social life are two of the key pillars that experts say will keep our brains sharp and healthy. This is exactly what the nonprofit Vistas Lifelong Learning (vistaslifelonglearning.org) offers to the community.

This volunteer-run organization, which started in 1999, is dedicated to keeping aging brains nimble with ongoing educational programs on a wide variety of topics. Recent
courses included Foods That Changed the World (exploring foods that have changed the world in profound and delicious social, political, and economic ways); Unpacking
the Dementia Epidemic (current thinking about the causes of dementias, dementia management, and how to stay on top of new developments); and Politics and
Religion in Verdi’s Operas (with audio and video extracts from modern performances of the operas).

The depth and variety of the programming is impressive, but the social component of Vistas is equally important to its success. “I think of all the connections that people find through Vistas,” said President Jim Hemmer. “There are two book clubs; there’s a short story class; there are memoir writing classes. And in our in-person programs — which moved to Zoom during the pandemic and will resume in the fall — there’s always a 20-minute coffee break in the middle so people can socialize and see old friends and meet other similarly situated people.”

For Hemmer, who retired from a career as an attorney in Chicago and moved to Santa Barbara with his wife, Francine, in January 2017, becoming part of Vistas has been a great way to engage his brain and find a community. Though it’s not a requirement, many of the Vistas presenters are members as well.

A longtime history buff, Hemmer found his way to the organization through a presentation on the Silk Road that he made to a luncheon group called The Cosmopolitan Club (sbcosmo.com). A Vistas member suggested he present to that group, and the response was so positive that Hemmer ended up teaching three different courses on the journey of the historical Silk Roads through China’s current efforts to reinvigorate them today.

“Vistas really attempts to satisfy this desire to learn things, and being a presenter is a wonderful way of doing that,” said Hemmer. “Taking other people’s classes is also great. I find that because I’m busy preparing presentations, I don’t have time to take all the classes I’d like to. I’ve been very busy during the pandemic, and it’s just great.”

Vistas is a small group, explained Hemmer, fluctuating between 300 and 400 members, and is not affiliated with any college or other institution. Programs are open to the public for a small fee, and the fees are less for members. (Annual membership fees are $40 per person for email-only communications and $50 for snail mail, with individual classes averaging $9 per session for members and $14 for nonmembers.)

“It’s a really varied and interesting group of people,” Hemmer says. The mostly retired members come from very diverse careers, ranging from former judges, teachers, and
docents to social workers, librarians, and secretaries, just to name a few.

Upcoming programs in the fall include a reprise of the Silk Road series; the short history of cryptography; the writer James Baldwin; climate change and the impact on the Great American Waterways; criminal procedure; economic issues; and the social safety net in the U.S., with additional courses and details still being finalized.

“We have a very, very wide palette. There’s somebody for everybody,” said Hemmer. “It’s a wide variety of programs on science, history, current events, music and fine arts, and so on.” Research suggests that humans learn better in social environments. “The brain is triggered more through discussion and questions than from solitary activities such as
independent reading,” said Hemmer.

“So it turns out that Vistas’ cooperative spirit that we’re all in it together and we get our ideas from other members is particularly beneficial in the case of seniors.”

See vistaslifelonglearning.org.

Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.

sbmidmod Brings Mid-Centry Style to Santa Barbara

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

An appealing array of home furnishings and artful objects—featuring the mid-century modern motifs of clean lines, bright colors, organic and geometric shapes, bold patterns, mixed textures, and contrasting materials—are on display at sbmidmod, a new addition to the Funk Zone. Located on Anacapa Street next to the popular Mony’s Mexican restaurant, this eclectic retail space showcases the timeless appeal of the design style.

A self-described research geek with a degree in ancient history, owner Tracey Strobel has spent almost two decades collecting, studying, restoring, and selling mid-century pieces. She got started hunting down furnishings for her own home. “Then it became a situation where I had one or two too many pieces and I thought I could maybe sell them … and it
snowballed into a business rather rapidly after that … and 18 years later, ta-da,” she laughed.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Strobel began selling in the early days of eBay. “I’ve done the grunt work,” she said. “I worked estate sales, I’ve had spaces in antique malls—including a current space at the Antique Center Mall—and I’ve been incredibly grateful for those experiences because you
learn a lot from the people around you. One of the things I love the most about this job is that you’re constantly learning.”

She finds her inventory everywhere, from online searches to estate sales to tips from her network of antique dealers. As to what excites her about the mid-century modern aesthetic, Strobel said, “I love the minimal lines. I love the simplicity, and honestly, I view all of these pieces as functional art. It’s a lamp, yes, it gives you light, but it’s beautiful to look at and it inspires an emotional reaction for me. I can’t explain it better than that.”

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

The research geek that she is, Strobel added, “There is also the component of knowing who the designers are and having the opportunity to research and learn about someone new.” The other appeal of the era is the craftsmanship. “It’s so well-made,” she said. “When you take care of these pieces, they will last for generations. It’s also important to me—though it’s pretty simple and rather obvious—that antiquing and buying vintage/used furniture helps the planet.”

As to the risk of opening up a new retail space during the uncertain days of a pandemic, Strobel said it was really a matter of stumbling onto a building that spoke to her. She was out on a bike ride in February when she spotted the “For Lease” sign in the window of a gutted building. “All I could see was the brick and the studs,” she said. She quickly made an appointment for a walk through. “It just landed with me,” she said.

Strobel signed a lease two weeks later. The timing was good. “I was really ready to have a
place where people could come in and shop, but also where I could research and do my work,” she said. “This is essentially my office that people can come and shop in.”

“It’s definitely an obsession,” she laughed. “You’ve got to have a passion for this in order to make it last a long time. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work.”

Santa Barbara Independent, June 24, 2021.Originally published in the June 24, 2021 issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. To see the story as it originally appeared in print click here.

Spirited Soaps

Spirited Soaps, originally published in the June 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Piney juniper with a hint of citrus. Sweet fruit and spice with a touch of bitter orange. These may sound like flavor notes in popular cocktails, but they’re actually fragrance combinations in a line of handcrafted soaps. For two of its sudsy bars, Etta + Billie (ettaandbillie.com), a Ventura-based maker of small-batch body-care products, takes olfactory cues from libations.

“I’m constantly inspired by the food and beverage world,” says CEO Alana Rivera, “so I wanted to capture the essence of some of my favorite classic cocktails— the gin and tonic and the negroni.”

After what she describes as “years of pushing paper around in corporate America and feeling deeply unsatisfied and utterly uncreative,” Rivera received a book about soapmaking as a gift from her mother. She credits it with sparking her creative, entrepreneurial journey.

“I combine highly effective natural ingredients to create products that are centered around my love of farm-to-table food culture and the connection it brings,” she says.

805 Living Cover June 2021, photo by Gary Moss. Originally published in the June 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine. Cover photo by Gary Moss. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

Strength in Elegance

Strength in Elegance, originally published in the June 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Having worked for decades as an entertainment-industry visual-effects artist, Santa Rosa Valley resident Kevin Prendiville says he has always been a maker at heart. When his wife Jerami requested that he create a bag for her to bring to the barn where she boards her horse, he was inspired to create a handcrafted leather equestrian-themed tote with a removable saddlebag. It became the first product of the couple’s new brand, rebar works (rebarworks.com).

“So many people said, ‘I want one of those,’ that we redesigned it and made it even better,” says Jerami. More leather goods are on the horizon, as well as home furnishings and whatever else catches their creative spark.

“We consider ourselves a luxury lifestyle brand, and we like to cater to people who appreciate beauty, clean design, high-quality materials, and detailed craftsmanship.,” Jerami says.

“We’re bringing a unique voice to it, too,” adds Kevin. Taking inspiration
from the steel rods it’s named for, the company’s mission is to harness the
strength and integrity of understated elegance.

805 Living Cover June 2021, photo by Gary Moss. Originally published in the June 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine. Cover photo by Gary Moss. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

Home and Garden: Special Issue

HAPPY HOMES & GLORIOUS GARDENS

Architects, Antiquers, Nursery Pros, Chefs, and More Celebrate Indoors & Out in 2021

From private homes with public impact to public gardens offering private inspiration, our annual Home & Garden special issue for2021 celebrates the many design and decorating options for residential life in Santa Barbara. We hope you find something that works in your living situation, whether that’s a small tree to plant on your patio or a complete remodel of your mansion.

Here is the whole package of stories:

Sheltifying Santa Barbara

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration

Seasons Star in Lush Life Cookbook

Bringing Brass Ring to Home Decor

Indian Pink Pillow Power

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Sheltifying Santa Barbara

Architect Jeff Shelton Delights in the Details, photo by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Joy oozes through the walls of every Jeff Shelton project — the delight is in the details. From the Moroccan tile carpets of Pistachio House to the Escher-like staircase of El Jardin, the Suessian shapes of Ablitt House, and the quirky art-covered Vera Cruz building, touches of his fairy dust are sprinkled around town. The artistry and zest for life infused in Jeff Shelton’s buildings are hard to miss.

While there’s some debate about whether Pearl Chase, Bernhard Hoffmann, James Osborne Craig, and the other founding fellows of Santa Barbara’s aesthetic would be toasting Shelton’s evolution of the town’s traditional style or tearing out their hair out by its Spanish-Mediterranean-Moorish roots, there’s no doubt that this native son has made his mark on our town. After almost 30 years of “Sheltifying” Santa Barbara’s cityscape, he
shows no signs of slowing down.

Current projects in the works include residences in Mission Canyon, Carpinteria, and on
Cota Street, as well as the State Street undercrossing project (expect to see vibrantly tiled columns  and fancifully loopy iron fences guiding pedestrians from the beach to downtown), and a tequila bar at the corner of Ortega and State.

“I just try to find good clients,” said Shelton. “It’s no fun with clients that don’t understand the process. I’ve been pretty lucky. Clients are the ones who make it work. They pay for everything, but they also have to have faith in this crazy bunch of people they’re getting into working with.”

Mary Beth Myers, whose Tower House was the first to be rebuilt in Montecito after the 2018 mudslides, had nothing but raves about Shelton and his team. “Jeff’s just a peach — he’s so creative, he has such minimal ego, and is so cooperative,” she said. “After all is said and done, the building process was an absolute joy. They’re just like a group of happy elves.”

From “Sheltifying Santa Barbara,” photos by Erick Madrid and sketches by Jeff Shelton. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Chief among the Shelton collaborative team — they call themselves a “guild” but have no
financial connection — is Dan Upton, the contractor who (with Leon Olson) offered Shelton a project at 1021 Laguna Street in 1994. They’ve worked together ever since.

“We are problem solvers,” said Upton. “Jeff comes up with these optimistic, fun ways of thinking and fun ways of building and … we are just happy to do the fun things. He sketches, and we say, ‘Make it as fun and interesting as you want, and we’ll figure out how to build it.’”

For a man who specializes in the curvy and colorful, Shelton’s a pretty straight shooter. He loves his town, his team, and his work—and it shows. As for his method of staying true to his artistic vision and navigating his way through Santa Barbara’s notoriously complicated approval process, “I just do what I think is best for each building and each lot,” he explained. “My palette is the code and the site and the city and the people around the
neighborhood. It’s an art, but ultimately nobody cares about all those details in the end. They just want to be able to have a glass of wine comfortably and happily in their house.”

A GUIDE TO THE GUILD
“First the tractors come in, and they grade the site,” explained Shelton of how one client
described the work of his guild, “and then this merry band of artisans show up, and they laugh and they enjoy the work, and it’s like that until they leave.”

It certainly sounds like a joyful process. The Upton Construction team has played a huge part in Shelton’s work, with Matt Metcalfe recently taking over the day-to-day business as founder Dan Upton is mostly retired.

Jeff’s brother’s architectural ironwork, lamps, and other elements from David Shelton Studios are an integral part of Jeff’s buildings. “I just say, ‘Dave, I’m going to do a balcony.’ I don’t even need to draw, and he knows what to do,” laughed Shelton.

Jeff’s wife, Karin Shelton, an accomplished fine artist in her own right, wields her brush on various architectural projects and also helps with the Shelton line of fabrics, tiles, and books. Their daughter Mattie Shelton is part of the team as well, working on the fabrics, tiles, and her own line of unique shelters called Shelton Huts. (Their other daughter, Elena Shelton, works as a doula.)

The “merry band” also includes sculptor/mason Andy Johnson; woodworker David Moseley; window and door specialist Royce Woodbury; lamp shades by Saul Alcaraz of
Santa Barbara Art Glass; ceramicist Linda Hail Godlis; California Pottery & Tile Works; Villa Lagoon TileSpecialty Team Plastering; and artists Richard Wilke, Court Johnson, Katie Upton, and Ben Ciccati, among others.

For about the past 15 years, the group has been meeting at the James Joyce on Tuesday afternoons. “Jeff keeps a really accurate tally of who shows up at James Joyce and when they come,” said Upton. “And at the end of the year, you get a medal if you were there the most frequently or least frequently.”

“I’m a big believer in pubs,” said Shelton. “They should be every half mile, like a community living room that’s a place where people of all ages can meet and hang out.”

Added Upton, “It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to have this collaboration with Jeff to build the buildings that we have built.”

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper, photo by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Unlike many of today’s cheaply manufactured products, antiques were built to last a lifetime. These high-quality items can be a chic, unique, and eco-conscious way to furnish your home. But you need to know what to look for.

Antiques dealer Anne Luther founded Raggedy Anneteques at age 14, selling her wares at flea markets and swap meets. She shared some tips during a recent walk through the Antique Center Mall on Hollister Avenue, where her collections are on display (she also has space at the Summerland Antique Collective).

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER: “Don’t think because you see a rack of
Hawaiian shirts when you walk in that there won’t be anything in the store for you,” said
Luther. “Multi-dealer collectives often have a mix of dealers with a range of items to offer. Shopping at these kinds of places saves you time and helps you develop your own style.
Dealers will sometimes have to buy an entire estate or box at auction to get the items they really want. So make sure to look closely. That Asian art dealer may also have a small
box of English china in the corner. You never know.” This is also a good way to find bargains, she said.

LOOK CLOSELY: You may be surprised by what you spot. “Make sure to look both up and down when you’re in an antique collective,” she said. “Real estate is expensive, and dealers take advantage of every inch of space, hanging things from the ceiling and tucking them under tables.”

TOUCH THINGS: “You’re not in a museum,” said Luther. “Feel an item and its weight. The heavier the piece of furniture — specifically chairs — the more likely that it’s a period piece from the 18th century.” Her pro tip: If you reach your hand underneath the front of a chair,
you can feel the raw wood. If it’s smooth, it’s been machine-cut, and the chair was made after 1860. If it’s rough, then it’s hand-cut, and the piece is likely much older. For china, pottery, and glassware, she advised, “Check for chips and cracks with your fingers as well as your eyes. Run your finger over all of the edges.”

DISCRIMINATE, BUT DON’T HOARD: “It takes three of something to make a collection,”
said Luther. If you have tabletop items, like lion figurines for example, “when you display them at home, you want to put them on a tray to give them a little more presence and interest. And you don’t want to buy every single lion you ever see: This is how hoarders get started. Be discriminating, buy the best quality you can afford, signed pieces or pieces
manufactured by well-known names. Keep refining your collection, replacing inferior pieces with better quality ones.”

Antique Center Mall, 4434 Hollister Ave., (805) 967-5700, antiquecentermall.com; Summerland Antique Collective, 2192 Ortega Hill Rd., Summerland, (805) 565-3189, summerlandantiquecollective.com

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants, photos by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

There’s no signage outside his unassuming digs, but an urban rainforest’s worth of living treasures is tucked into Joe Ambriz’s Carpinteria greenhouses. Everything from orchids (he specializes in Laelia anceps and Cattleya) to air plants, as well as a tempting variety of succulents, flowering cacti, and caudiciforms lines the aisles of Ambriz Kingdom of
Plants, many of which have been raised from seed by the man himself.

“I have a love that spreads across the whole plant world,” says Ambriz, showing off a tableful of exotic pot arrangements, some of which he’s been cultivating for almost a decade. “I try to do as much as I can from seed because a lot of the oddball, rare stuff isn’t easy to find in abundance, so by seed I’m able to create a whole bunch of rare plants.”

Ambriz got his start with orchids — a friend gifted him with a cymbidium, and when it died a year later, he was determined to learn how to keep it alive. That sent him into a deep dive into the world of horticulture: first as a hobbyist — at the time he was working as the percussion director for Santa Barbara High, his alma mater — and then working for 7 Day Nursery, with a small area for cultivation at Island View Nursery. When that property sold,
his current spot became available, and he leaped at the opportunity for a kingdom of his own about five years ago.

Until the pandemic hit, Ambriz made the bulk of his sales exhibiting at orchid shows, including the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, which was shut down for the past
two years. Since then, he’s pivoted his efforts toward retail sales, and that loss is a gain for local plant lovers. While there are certainly plenty of colorful orchids on hand, the oddball assortment of agaves, aloes, bromeliads, tillandsia, and multitudes more are all equally
exciting.

4998 Foothill Rd., Carpinteria, open by appointment, (805) 570-5792

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.