About lesliedinaberg

When she's not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Leslie Dinaberg writes feature articles, columns and grocery lists.

This Way to the Orchid Trail

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaOrchids are an exotic and fascinating species, with a lavishly colorful array of flowers in bloom in Santa Barbara County. Along with being the home of the renowned Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (scheduled to be back in-person for the 76th annual festivities on March 11-13, 2022), the region between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean has seeded an industry that produces more orchids than any other part of the country. This stretch of the American Riviera is known as the Santa Barbara County Orchid Trail, and there is no better way to traverse the region and discover it for yourself.

Cal-Orchid Inc. Orchid Trail, American Riviera Media

James and Lauris Rose have owned this boutique nursery since 1987, and its diverse inventory reflects their keen eye for the unusual. “We have an insatiable desire to improve on what people generally see in the marketplace,” says Lauris. Known for their unique line of Epidendrum hybrids, particularly the Reed-Stem Epidendrum hybrids, Cal-Orchid’s breeding program focuses on “taking something that’s average and making it very special is a passion for us.” she says.

1251 Orchid Drive, Santa Barbara, 805/967-1312, www.calorchid.com

Gallup & Stribling Orchids

A premier supplier of orchids to the world for more than 60 years, Gallup & Stribling’s home farm occupies close to 50 acres in Carpinteria. Now owned by the Van Wingerden family, who emigrated from Holland to the Central Coast in the 1960s to bring generations of farming knowledge to the area’s cut flower industry, Owner Case Van Wingerden says they have diversified their holdings over the years to include orchids and cannabis, as well as a variety of fresh produce that is available for sale on-site. “Gallup is probably the last commercial Cymbidium orchid grower left in the county.” he says. They also offer a wide selection of Phalaenopsis (the biggest selling orchid in the country) as well as Galilea Orchids and Lady Slippers.

3450 Via Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-1998, www.gallup-stribling.com

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaWesterlay Orchids

A third-generation family business with Dutch roots, Westerlay Orchids specializes in Phalaenopsis in tons of beautiful colors, says Paige Harmon, who manages the retail shop of this 21-acre operation. As restrictions on gathering begin to lift, keep an eye out for announcements of in-person flower arranging and orchid care classes. Growing approximately three million orchids a year, Westerlay puts an emphasis on giving back to the community as well as on sustainable practices. Using innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies and systems have earned it an MPS “A” rating for best practices to minimize its impact on the planet.

3504 Calle Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-5411, www.westerlayorchids.com

Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

The newest grower on the trail, Ambriz Kingdom of Plants’ Owner Joe Ambriz mostly focused on the crowds at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and some wholesaling to local nurseries until the pandemic hit last year. Now open to the public, his greenhouses focus on Lalias Anceps and Cattleyas and generally temperature tolerant orchids, i.e. “ones we can grow outdoors here in our climate.” As a self-avowed “lover of the entire kingdom of plants,” in addition to a collection of rare and unusual orchids, Ambriz also has rare and unusual cactus succulents and South African plants for sale.

4998 Foothill Road, Carpinteria, 805/570-5792, www.facebook.com/ambrizkingdomofplants/

This story originally appeared in American Riviera Media.American Riviera Media, Fall 2021

Bowlfuls on the Way

Health-conscious eating meets socially conscious business at Balfour’s Kitchen (balfourskitchen.com), a new plant-based-meal delivery service launching in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties later this year. Taking its name from organic food pioneer Lady Eve Balfour (1898–1990), the new venture will offer a selection of meals in a bowl—such as Cauliflower Shakshuka, Green Pea & Asparagus Soup, and French Ratatouille With Quinoa—which will arrive ready to heat and eat. They’re designed to be mixed and matched to provide what founder Danny Burgner says aims to be,

“the perfect balance of PFF—protein, fat, and fiber—and of course carbs.”
The company kicked off the test- marketing phase of its charitable model late in 2020 and early this year by donating more than 1,000 meals to Sarah House, a Santa Barbara nonprofit that provides residential housing for low- income individuals receiving hospice care, and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, which provides meals, shelter, and recovery programs to homeless and addicted individuals. And when Balfour’s Kitchen opens its doors: “For every bowl purchased,” says Burgner, “we’ll give one to a person in need or make the equivalent donation to a food-centered nonprofit.”

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

Follow the Herd

A colorful collection of artistically painted horses is making its way around Santa Ynez (santaynezchamber.org), thanks to a collaboration between the community’s chamber of commerce and a team of local artists. Each of the nearly life-size plywood cutouts has its own personality and aesthetic. One, titled, Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, bears a landscape designed by Maryvonne LaParlière. Another, by Laurie Owens, takes cues from 1960s pop art flowers. A third, painted by 12-year-old artist Faith Ortega, is adorned with Chumash-inspired symbols.

“I was happily surprised at how unique each one is,” says Linda Small, executive director of the Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce, who came up with the idea and plans to keep the horses on display through the fall. “We just wanted something joyful to inspire people to smile as they drive or walk around town.”

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

Vintage Finds in the Funk Zone

Mid-century modern style comes to Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone with the recent opening of SB Mid Mod (sbmidmod.com), an eclectic collection of vintage home furnishings and artful objects. Owner Tracey Strobel has been restoring and selling mid-century pieces for almost 20 years and is enjoying the connection with fellow aficionados of the timeless modern designs in her first retail store.

“Overall, the reception for the shop has been incredible,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for nicer neighbors, and the energy in The Funk Zone is awesome. I feel incredibly grateful for this space and the people I’m meeting and getting to work with.”

 

 

 

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

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.

Step Up to Help Seniors at the Family Service Agency

Providing a voice to the vulnerable is the role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman representative, a volunteer program of the Family Service Agency (fsacares.org).
Through regular visits to Santa Barbara County’s 14 skilled nursing facilities and 119 assisted-living facilities for the elderly, Ombudsman representatives get to know the residents and advocate to improve their quality of life.

The program covers the entire county, from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, with more than 5,000 people under its watch. “We are the extra pair of eyes and ears who help them and advocate for them,” said Marco Quintanar, who started working in elder care as a kitchen worker in a long-term care facility 30 years ago. Today, he is a leader in senior care and advocacy as the supervisor for the Ombudsman program, visiting facilities himself as well as providing training and support to volunteers.

Retired aerospace engineer Mike Leu would be considered a “super volunteer” by any measure. “I was looking for a way to stay active and reapply my skills to something that was new and useful,” said Leu, who stumbled on a newspaper article about the program
(run by a different agency at the time) about 10 years ago and thought it looked interesting. He reached out, was trained, and jumped right in, enjoying the work so much that he now covers 23 different facilities and puts in about 70-80 hours a month in volunteer time.

But both Ombudsman superstars caution that prospective volunteers should not be intimidated by Leu’s level of work. Volunteers can commit a little time, or a lot, depending on their interest and availability. “Part of the beauty of the Ombudsman program is you can scale it up or you can scale it down pretty much as far as you want,” said Leu. “If you only want to put in a few hours a week at three or four small facilities, you can. And then, if you’re like me and you’re out of control, you put in a lot!”

Today, there are just seven volunteers covering the entire county, so Quintanar hopes to double that number at his next Ombudsman volunteer training this fall. “You have to be wanting to help other people,” said Leu of what they’re looking for in volunteers, which
also includes being self-motivated, comfortable in communicating with people, and then ready to solve problems in complex situations. “The reward in this thing is you’re demonstrably improving somebody’s quality of life.”

In his 30 years, Quintanar has seen a wide range of residents and issues. “Nowadays,
because of the advances in technology and everything, people are living longer,” he said, which means caregivers have to deal not just with aging but with advanced mental illnesses, like someone living for 20 years with Alzheimer’s. “That makes things harder because … they have some behavioral challenges. It is hard on the families, and it is hard on the resident and hard on everybody who is around them. It’s not their fault, but they need care. So that’s why we are there.”

Both men agree that this work is very rewarding. “If you make a difference in the life of someone, even just listening to that person, that makes you feel very good,” said Quintanar. “And you don’t need anybody to say thank you.”

To learn more about becoming a Certified Ombudsman volunteer, or other ways to support Family Service Agency’s programs for seniors, call Marco Quintanar at (805) 922-1236 or visit volunteer4seniors.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.

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

People of all ages benefit from music therapy, with especially positive changes for people with autism; visual, motor, emotional, hearing, or cognitive disabilities; or high stress levels. With these benefits in mind, the residents and staff at Summer House —which is the memory-care unit at Vista del Monte retirement care community (vistadelmonte.org)
— regularly participate in drum circles.

“The sound waves and the sound of the drums and the feel of the drums are very
powerful for those who have cognitive issues,” said Helene Hellstern, the life
enrichment director for Vista del Monte, where residents gather in a common area called The Alcove every Tuesday and Thursday. “When we tell people we are doing a drum circle, they are very willing to come to that activity, and we typically have at least a dozen
people if not more.”

First are exercises to warm up their hands and get energized. Then Hellstern uses a 70-inch computer screen to broadcast images of nature or from a particular country or culture that’s especially stimulating. “Then we start the drumming,” she said, explaining that groups are typically led by Karen Rojas. “We’ll just do different rhythms, and we’ll have the residents repeat those. And we always incorporate having the residents do their own little rhythm, and so it’s just one person doing their rhythm, and we all repeat it.”

The music, the exposure to community, and the physical activity are all beneficial. “A lot of our residents have mobility issues or are non-ambulatory, so we tend to just use hand movements — although if people want to tap their feet, that’s definitely encouraged,” said Hellstern. “The movement of the arms or the drumming itself is a really good movement. It energizes the whole body and the sound waves, because the drum is on their body—they really feel it as well as hear it.”

And there’s science as to how this helps people with memory issues. “They have
determined that music in particular sets off most areas of the brain,” she said. “And not just drumming, but other music often triggers their long-term memory.”

The drums have become a therapy tool beyond the circles as well. “Sometimes, we will just get the drums out if whatever we have planned isn’t quite working — everyone responds really well to that,” she said. “A truly holistic healing approach, group drumming breaks down social barriers, promotes freedom of expression, nonverbal communication,
unity, and cooperation.”

See vistadelmonte.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.

Westmont Living’s Nutrition Tips for Brain Health

Diet and exercise is the key to good health at any age, but particularly as you grow older. Current research says a brain-healthy diet encourages good blood flow to the brain, is low in fat and cholesterol, and includes vibrant foods rich in antioxidants. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients to function well. To be most effective, a brain healthy diet should be combined with physical and mental activity and social
interaction.

Peter Do, senior director of Culinary Services at Westmont Living (westmontliving.com), which owns Mariposa at Ellwood Shores in Goleta, says there are a variety of foods that help to maintain brain health. He recommends:

· Eat in moderation; increase intake of protective foods that may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and protect brain cells.

· Avoid artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol that can put you at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. “Remember to stay away from trans-fats, and stick with mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil or avocado oil that are very good for you,” said Do. “The preferred preparation is to bake or grill and not to fry. But if you want to fry something, then use canola oil, which is cholesterol-free. Also, when eating something like chicken, it is okay to grill it with the skin on to keep the meat moist, but remove the skin before serving and eating it.”

· Eat dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, which have the highest levels of naturally occurring antioxidants. These include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets, red bell pepper, onion, corn, and eggplant. “Celery is also a great
source of antioxidants,” said Do. “Garlic also plays an important role in healthy eating. Chinese dishes have a lot of ginger and garlic, both of which makes them more healthy.”

· Choose vibrant, antioxidant-rich fruits such as plums, prunes, raisins,blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, red grapes, and cherries.

· Cold-water fish containing beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are the best. Some
examples are halibut, mackerel, salmon, lake trout, and sardines.

· Eat nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts, which are a good source of vitamin
E, an antioxidant. “Nuts can be a good substitute for people who need omega-3
but do not like the taste of seafood,” said Do.

When asked about nutritional supplements, Do explained, “Not all food experts mention supplements because they are focused on a healthy eating program. However, we know that there are supplements which are especially supportive of brain health such as vitamin E, or vitamins E and C together, vitamin B12, and folate. All may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A brain-healthy diet will help your body use these vitamins effectively. Remember, for the best absorption, always take vitamins with food. You should check with your medical provider about which vitamins and how much are
safe for you.”

Westmont Living communities such as Mariposa at Ellwood Shores customize their dining program and take advantage of seasonal produce. “Santa Barbara has great
local produce, and we work with many local companies,” said Do, who frequently offers
salmon and fresh fish from nearby waters. “Our residents enjoy the trout and halibut
and love tuna. There are also more vegetarian options such as tofu and eggplant dishes.”
The facility’s Dine Your Way program connects culinary directors with residents
on a monthly basis. “So there are no one-size fits-all menus,” said Do.

See westmontliving.com.

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.

Borrowing Medical Basics from VNA’s Health Loan Closet

The concept of helping patients get the services, assistance, and equipment they need during an illness or injury is so simple. But as anyone who’s ever navigated our health-care system can tell you, the reality can be incredibly complex and frustrating.

The Loan Closet — owned and operated by VNA Health (vna.health) and serving Santa Barbara County since 1908 — is the exact opposite of most health-care hassles. Staffed
by David Moorman and Megan Cameron, with support from VNA’s COO Dusty Keegan and administrative assistant Susi Torres-Cruz, this warm and welcoming crew serves more than 4,000 residents each year with free short-term loans of basic medical equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches, knee scooters, walkers, shower seats, and more.

While appointments are preferred, Moorman explained, “We welcome walk-ins. You never
know when trauma is going to occur. We never turn anyone away. If someone shows up with a broken ankle, we try to help them. We take care of everyone. The benefit of an appointment is that we can make sure we have the equipment that they’re looking for
and have it ready for them.”

Getting things ready includes sanitizing and repairing an impressive array of equipment to make sure it’s all in tip-top shape to be ready to loan out. “We really try to make sure that when people get equipment that it’s up to snuff,” said Moorman, who does most of the
repairs himself. “They’re not just feeling like they’re coming down here and getting something for free and it’s junky. We actually take time and put a lot of money into our supplies to make sure that the things are refurbished.”

Fitting the equipment and training people on how to use it — including sending them home with written instructions — is also an important part of the service, which is
completely supported through private donations and contributions.

In fact, people don’t always know exactly what they need until they come in, like understanding the difference between wheelchairs and transport chairs. “You can
be pushed in either, but wheelchairs are for people that are strong enough to be independently mobile and are much heavier to move in and out of cars,” said Cameron. “It’s 20 pounds versus 50 pounds.”

That means asking the right questions. “There’s not one cookie-cutter answer for everyone, so we try to nail that down and get to the bottom of it,” said Moorman. Added
Cameron, “Often we have them try out what’s going to work at home, and they can see all the different shower chairs and benches and work with the walker and be able to figure out what really works before they purchase it later on.”

As a free community service, the Loan Closet is open for anyone. “We get Hope Ranch; we get Montecito; we get the Eastside; we get the Westside; we get the entire community,” said Moorman. “We try to take care of everyone to the best of our ability.”
See vna.health.

Fun Facts about the Loan Closet

Most commonly borrowed items: commodes, shower seats, and walkers

Most surprisingly useful items: grabbers, sock aids, and leg lifters

Hardest to come by and often requested item: “Bed rails are gold.”

Unusual items: Hoyer Lifts, which help those with mobility challenges get out of bed or the bath without the assistance of another person; and U-Step walking stabilizers, which are designed to prevent falls for neurological conditions like Parkinson’s

Surprising item that’s always needed: tennis balls, to put on the bottoms of walkers.

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.

Stimulating Senses to Stimulate Wellness at Villa Alamar and Alexander Gardens

An innovative sensory stimulation program — involving nature, scents, sounds, and colors to constantly provide pleasant sensory stimuli that promote wellness — helps assisted-living and memory-care residents at Villa Alamar (villaalamar.com) and Alexander Gardens (alexandergardensal.com) maintain their high spirits and positive outlook.

Developed by owner/partner/administrator Mitch Leichter, this Sensory Integration Program for the Advanced Stages of Dementia is seeing great success.

“Our staff is consistently engaging the residents in a proactive manner, where in the past it was reactive,” reported Leichter. “The staff has learned how to interpret body language
from nonverbal residents and have implemented appropriate reminiscent and redirection opportunities predicated on sensor stimuli criteria. In many incidents, an increase in medication has not been needed for some residents experiencing behavioral situations, and in other cases, medications have actually been decreased.”

Leichter explained more about the program to me below, and what follows is a portion of our conversation, edited for clarity and length.

Do you use the sensory integration techniques for both memory-care and senior assisted-living patients? We’ve really focused a lot on Villa Alamar, which is our memory care. It’s a translucent theory that can apply to anyone, but I’ve had more success in the implementation with memory-care dementia residents in the years
that I’ve rolled it out. This is really nice to see the effect.

What are some of the different impacts with people in memory care? The whole focus of sensory integrations is to rethink traditional care. If you try to create a traditional
activity program with a resident that has dementia, you’re making poor assumptions. You can’t assume they are cognitively able to do it, for example, if you say “move right; stand
up; sit down.” We have a huge, beautiful courtyard at Villa Alamar, and we let nature be our program. We have wind chimes, bird feeders, fountains, gardens, our furniture is multicolored for sensory pickup, and we also have classical music playing. The theory is you want to create a Zen moment for your dementia residents. If Mrs. Johnson is sitting down by the fountain and she’s watching the birds eating out of the bird feeder, you want to create that Zen moment, and then you want to perpetuate it. Even at lunch time. Rather than stop her from getting in the moment, we work together, and we allow that moment to perpetuate. And we’ll bring lunch to her and not upset what we tried to do to begin with.

By doing that, we can decrease the behavioral medication, because we’re not moving them around. The staff has been taught to be part of the program, not depart from the program. We let nature do the work, and it’s just magnificent.

That sounds like a very humane approach. Does it help everyone? I have incredible employee retention across both of my properties. Because if you walk into a place that smells good and sounds good and looks good, and the staff realizes that I’m not a corporation — we’re independently owned — they know that we’re focusing on a wellness program. And it’s not just a wellness program for residents; it’s a wellness program for the employees as well. And it works.

It’s the same philosophy in a different situation that we use with the residents, and also when the families come in. It basically slows your cadence down. It slows your heart
rate down, it slows you down, and that’s the whole theory of sensory integration. The term I use is “holistic modalities,” and the fact is that we can reduce the amount of behavioral medications by modifying our program. It works wonders.

Is there anything else we should know? When a family has to place a loved one in memory care or assisted living, there’s a lot of guilt and anxiety. Our job is to provide the
sensory integration approach so that they can calm down and also feel good about their choice. It’s been remarkable at both of our properties — we get the comments all the time. “What’s that smell?” And “Oh my gosh, look at that bird feeder, and that wind chime sounds magnificent. When can I move in?” So I hear that and I’m thinking, “Okay, good, it’s working.” [Laughs.] We want to be holistic in our approach and not force medication onto anybody unnecessarily.

See villaalamar.com and alexandergardensal.com.

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.