Sea Sights

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill
We are in the mid-stretch of the Olympic Games. Where dreams are gold in Rio. In the excitement of champions being made, Dream Team USA inspires a new generation. As Michael Phelps moves through the water like a dolphin in a speedo. Since 776 BC, when the Ancient Greeks held their first Olympiad, the games have been a part of human history. (Although it is believed the games were held earlier, the first written records of the ancient Olympic Games date back to 776 BC, when a cook named Coroebus won the only event of the games – a 192-meter footrace called the stade (the origin of the modern “stadium”) and became the first Olympic champion). Over the next 12 centuries, the Games expanded, adding other athletic events up until AD 393, when Emperor Theodosius I decided to shut them down. Just because he thought they were too ‘pagan’.

Of course, the Olympics did rise again. But, not until the late 1800s.  The first modern Olympics was held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. Thanks to Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France,who founded the International Olympic Committee.

Now, while the world was watching the Games in Rio last week, I was making friends with sea horses. I know that sounds a little odd – considering seahorses or “horse sea monsters” are mainly found in seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, and mangroves, and not on city streets where my car likes to roam. I suspect any connection to the Olympics may appear a bit far-fetched to you too. However, as it turns out, seahorses are world record holders. They are considered to be the slowest-moving fish on the planet. Being that they are such well below average swimmers, they tend to rest a lot. Usually, at the bottom with their prehensile tail wrapped around a stationary object.  It is a bit of an odd fish – as fishes go. Read the rest of this entry »

Midsummer Hotspots for Fun

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

Now that we are moving into mid-month in the summer stretch, it is a fine time for celebrating outdoors. Last week, while Britain weighed out of the EU and then the MPs seceded too – by resigning their posts in large numbers – an outdoors tradition stayed calm and carried on without a hitch. Proving that in times of troubled waters, Royal Ascot and our habits help keep us on course.

Last week the ‘Top Hat & Thoroughbreds’ event saw the usual set of horse-loving Royals and my cousins – who were dining on poached salmon and drinking champagne on the scrappy lawn in the Royal Enclosure within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guest Tent. (Being a members-only section of real estate, you have to cut the mustard to be afforded the chance to dine outdoors on the scrappy lawn within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guests tent. This requires that you submit an application and be sponsored by a member first to be granted admission.) At Ascot, the dress code is excellent attire.While hats on parade are required. It’s very dignified, however. If you do attend you will see the most beautiful horses in the world strut their stuff around the racetrack and the Queen making her entrance with a carriage ride down the course. The only foible is the weather which can turn on you in a flash. Ruffling all that fussy plumage.

I remember fighting the wind with my over-sized hat when I attended Ascot. I never hated a hat so much as I did that hat after that day of struggling so hard to keep it on. Meanwhile the rest of my clothes were mounting a ‘war-drobe’ rebellion.When I wasn’t pulling my heels out of the ground, I was tackling with my jacket, trying to make it stretch. A feeling deep in my bones settled in on me. A feeling yearning for a blanket. I thought about southern California on the other side of the rainbow. “Where the Turf Meets the Sands,” 20 miles south of San Diego, I imagined Del Mar basking in the California sun as it prepares for its 79th season. The Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day will be held July 15, this year. It is a hat day to remember. One that is loaded with broad brims.   Read the rest of this entry »

Orlando On Parade

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

We begin this week in June in the aftermath of tragedy. Which, thankfully, has motivated a backlash of kindness. Let’s reflect for the moment. It is clear to us that an oily darkness is dimming our pockets of light. Attacking spaces where all kinds of people like to congregate for the sole purpose of feeling happy. Nothing wrong with that. I mean wanting to be happy. Now at the epicenter for family fun…the other OC(There are nine Orange counties in the US.)lies Orlando and it is loaded with more than a dozen theme parks, most notably Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. It is also the town where 49 people died in the deadliest mass murder in US history. And set off a tidal wave of bad luck. Read the rest of this entry »

Hot to Trot Week

by Robyn Wyman-Dill

Another hotter than ever week trickles in, bringing humidity to southern California.  Much to everyone’s discomfort and surprise. Yet, according to the Christian Science Monitor, heat waves coupled with high humidity have been on the rise(in terms of frequency and intensity) for more than 20 years here. It’s just taken this long for everyone to notice.

Let’s talk about the weather. Heat waves come in varieties. Southern California has two.  A daytime heat that tends to be dry and a nighttime heat that holds onto the high humidity throughout the day.  It’s the nighttime heat that gets you every time.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to affect the festive spirits here.  Because, during all this oppressive heat, there are happy feet dancing ‘moderne’ at the Laguna Dance Festival, models strutting their stuff on the catwalk at Style Week OC and the finest horses jumping fences to win the ASPCA Regionals at Blenheim Equisports Park. I coined it, ‘a hot to trot week’ for obvious reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

In the Mix

by Robyn Wyman-Dill

Along southern California’s coastline, toes are tapping to the beat of night music this week.  There’s summer concerts in the parks almost every night, stirring up the dust with happy feet.

Last eve, The Ritz-Carlton/Laguna Niguel rolled out the red carpet for doggie night on Dana Lawn.  Yappy Hour is a monthly event for a ‘pedigree’ crowd and their devoted companions. (With the Hotel’s 4.5 star service in attendance to pamper the guests with assorted biscuits and treats. Bacon, cheese, chicken, meat and liver flavored waters were also on tap. The proceeds are slated for the Wounded Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence and Canine Companion’s Southwest Region puppy raising program.) While next door in Bluff Park,  Moonsville Collective was sending a string medley – rooted in American music –  across a silver and blue ocean.  Bound for Catalina.  As the pink sky fades to black, a feeling of carefree blows in the wind.

I decide to make a blue cheese grilled sandwich. Read the rest of this entry »

The Plastic Wrap

by Robyn Wyman-Dill

It’s been brought to my attention we have far too much plastic in our lives. Producing an estimated 32 million tons of plastic waste annually.  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, only 9 per cent(or less than 3 million tons) actually gets recycled. Making all that conscientious sorting of my weekly garbage equate to 81 per cent pointless. Or, is it?  I decided now is the time to educate ourselves on plastic matter.

The marriage of man to plastics can be traced as far back as 150 BC.  To Mexico.  Read the rest of this entry »

In Times of Troubled Waters

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s August and the world is stirring up a stewpot of troubles again. No need to guess who’s coming to dinner to cause us loads of displeasure. It’s that unwelcome guest named Ebola.  Ebola, who likes to be on a first name basis with everyone.  Ebola, who likes to make contact through bodily fluids and other social media.

Now if that’s not enough to scare the socks right off of ya, don’t look up.  Because looming over our heads is a universe of confusion with meteors, comets, astroids and goblins, oh my.  There’s a whole lot of  geeks in space capsules up there too. Doing stuff we don’t know about…yet.

Like tracking a six-sided hurricane brewing – since 1980. So big it can swallow four earths. Whole. Make that Holy.  On the brighter side, only one person died after eight people were ‘electrified‘ by a rare bolt of lightning near the pier at Venice Beach on my birthday.   Hmmmm.  Mark Twain came into life on Haley’s Comet and died on the day after it made another rare appearance – 74 years later.  Could a rare bolt of lightning be a special sign of mine?

I am heading down to the waters with my rubber boots – to find out.

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Seven Enchiladas

blog and photos by Robyn Wyman-dill

Ay, Caramba! A Mexican restaurant just opened in Laguna Beach. Upping the count to twenty.  in a resort community of less than 25,000 residents.  The only highway into success here is to bring something better than anyone else – to the table. And Tortilla Republic does just that, starting with their enchiladas. Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome Ayres of Manhattan Beach



photos and blog by Robyn Wyman-dill


It’s a holiday weekend in Southern California.  Which means beach barbecues and backyard grills will be in full swing, cooking the cuisine I like to call ‘pure Americana’.  (Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, cole slaw and potato salads.)   While the ‘barbies’ are being prepped, we head for the sands of Manhattan Beach, a well-heeled coastal community south of  Los Angeles International Airport.  My hometown for 15 years – which I am visiting 14 years later.

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Art Attacks

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

Coming back from pleasurable Palm Springs into the high-wired pockets of Orange and Los Angeles countries has put me in a funk – as I struggle with my soulless surroundings.  Here territories of monotonous tract housing cast shadows of malaise – dulling the breathtaking beauty of the terrain. And native plants – like California Chalk Dudleya – are readily uprooted to make room for non-native English gardens and Cape Cod mansions. Turning landscapes – ripe with character – into manicured perfection.  Maintained by a monopoly of Mexican gardeners.

A marine layer of conservative thinking now hugs the shoreline.  Erasing signs of individualism with Botox injections.

My unsettled senses remain vulnerable to my discontent.  Especially with the people.  Here rudeness is the new polite. Embraced by a stronghold of self-centered, clipped to perfection residents.  And, I ponder…  am I one of them – rude, rushed, self-absorbed and superficial – or is my parachute a completely different color?  

To lighten my funk, I turn my focus away from this republic of rude people to seek the greener pastures of artistic expression here – starting with the Along the Coast Artists Studio Tour.

Read the rest of this entry »