El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Cynthia Robertson


Marcia Van Loy, a volunteer with the master Gardener Association for 17 years, came to La Mesa’s Beautiful annual meeting to talk about how people can grow plants for all types of pollinators. La Mesa Beautiful recognizes and gives awards to residences and businesses for landscaping beauty, most of which are drought-tolerant. 

The Lakeside Library has always been the heartbeat of the community, especially in these last several years with free classes, workshops and events of all kinds, thanks to the Friends of the Library. All eyes are on the future when a larger library will be built on a lot next to the Ottavio’s Italian Restaurant, with construction completed by 2021. 

There is line dance, and then there is line dance with heart and soul. Ed Griffith teaches this sort of line dancing to adults of all ages, and it is making them move to the groove. Griffith has developed a choreography that is unique, which garnered him an award for creativity when he and his Verlosity Team performed just a few weeks ago.

In Baltimore, Maryland after the Verlosity performance at the Union Crew Awards 2018, Griffith received the “Creativity Award” as well as the “Group Award.”

When David Bramley talks, his students listen closely, an advantage of his British way of speaking. When he plays the piano or guitar, they sit, rapt with attention and wait for their turn to drum or strum.

Hailing from England and now living in La Mesa with his wife and daughter, Bramley has found great success as founder, proprietor and teacher of So Cal Music Academy in Lakeside. It was a long time in coming, though.

Whenever kids show up at a Christmas party for them, they get excited. Throw in a magic show and they’re hyped. But you’ve never seen kids get more amped-up than the group of more than 100 gathered in the lobby at the Ronald Reagan Center in El Cajon on the evening of December 22, 2017. 

Alex Toporovsky is an artist in rare form. Not only has he carved out a living for himself, supporting his wife, son and daughter, his art has been hand-picked for an exhibit in a gallery in China. In February, Toporovsky’s work will be shown at the art museum in Guangzhou, that country’s third largest city. 

Naturally, the Santee resident is ecstatic about the opportunity. He plans on going out to China for the opening of the show.

Though the temperatures reached the mid 80’s during the day last Saturday, opening day of the annual Holiday in the Village, when evening fell, the temperatures did, too. La Mesans were eager to go to the annual event, where it’s always about meeting up with family and friends.

There were dancers and singers and entertainers everywhere along the Boulevard. Plenty of vendors kept the shoppers happy, as did the retail stores open until late. Folks from the Fourpenny House, a new Scottish restaurant soon to open, handed out samples of their stew and bread.

Though Amanda Matti seems like an ordinary wife and young mother of two girls, her life story is quite different than many other women her age. The El Cajon resident has served in the Navy and was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005 as a Foreign Affair Liaison Officer and Intelligence Analyst. That was when and where she met Fahdi Matti, who worked alongside her as a translator in the field, and who would eventually become her husband.

High in the hills of Santee overlooking the intersecting freeways of I-8, 125, 67 and 52 are some elegant Mediterranean-style buildings that resemble high-end apartments. In fact, it is Lantern Crest Senior Living, a resort-style retirement community. 

Every year since 1987, the Christmas Story Tree has bejeweled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park during December Nights on the Prado, formerly called Christmas on the Prado. 

“The tree is our church’s gift to the city,” said Paul Plunk, music director of Del Cerro Baptist Church in La Mesa. 

For three days beginning Nov. 26, a work crew from the church worked to build, green and decorate the 34-foot-high tree.