May 27, 2018

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!


Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

The Adventurettes, an alternative Girl Scout group, sang festive carols before passing out home-baked cookies to the Sages. Front row (L-R): Olivia Irwin, Gianna Giangregorio, Üla Deltac, Simone Sarfaty, Sasha Beuerlein, Clara Polsky and Sierra Friday. Back row (L-R): Jessica Deltac, Anna Giangregorio, Kris Adams and Karen Beuerlein.

More than 100 Sages, family and friends gathered on Sunday, Dec. 2, for a holiday feast and musical fest that kicked off the season in true Topanga style.

The Topanga Community House (TCH) shone silver and gold and was fragrant with greens. A fire roared in the fireplace just as it did in the days when “Wild Bill” Speer bent his back to the task at every winter event. The evening was a flat-out good time, and proved once again that the Sages aren’t your mama’s senior group.

The event was co-hosted by the Canyon Sages (sponsored by the Topanga Town Council) and the Topanga Community Club (TCC).

Dozens of volunteers helped make the event a success with the mellow Lisa Villasenor, former president of the TCC and coordinator of the event for 17 years, in charge. Karla Morrison, who has organized monthly and holiday senior dinners for 15 years, was at her side.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Karla Morrison, one of the tireless staff of kitchen volunteers who prepared the delicious dinner, gets scrumptious desserts ready to be served.

“I have to tell you,” said Morrison, “back quite a few years ago, we used to get a lot of people. Then it tapered off and now it’s back again!”

In 2009, the Sages took over the dinners. A re-engergized TCC backed them and paid for the main dishes, while Sages volunteers provided side dishes.

Along with Morrison and Villasenor, the Sages asked Prudential realtor Karen Dannenbaum, who was chief organizer for two years, to step in once again.

The evening began with Morrison’s elaborate hors d’ouvres, featuring fresh shrimp and smoked salmon canapes.

As the crowd gathered at the tables, the Topanga Symphony Quartet—Jeanne Mitchell on violin, Kathy Shaw on viola, Margreet Ray on oboe and Gavin Koon on cello—played holiday tunes.

Gabrielle Lamirand, led the decoration team of Mary Arden, Kelly Meehan-Tabotabo, Rene Tabotabo, Becca Barkin, Jenni Klemp, Dayna Miller, Stacy Sledge, Sabrina Culver, Tam Taylor and the Topanga homeschool kids, who helped serve.

As part of the table decorations, Morrison spent hours wrapping party favors for everyone—“Rhythms of Topanga” CD of Topanga bands and note cards by artist Linda Bolhuis.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Linda Hinrichs (on stage in background) thanked the kitchen volunteers for all their hard work. (L-R) Karla Morrison, ? Villaseñor, Elizabeth Villaseñor, Lisa Villaseñor, Frank Villaseñor,? Villaseñor and Randy Just.

The kitchen crew put the finishing touches on the side dishes while Greg Safanov carved the turkeys. As tradition has it, Morrison roasted four turkeys at home, while Jackie Safanov and Rosi Dagit each did one. There was plenty for everyone and more for folks to take home.

Villasenor’s family joined her in the kitchen—husband Frank, daughters Frances and Elizabeth and Lizzie’s friend, Joseph. Karen Dannenbaum, the dessert specialist, organized the pie-making team and Tam Taylor, Gabe Seelig, Chryssa Lightheart, TCC president Mark Nygard and Andrea Makshanoff filled out the kitchen team, cooking and serving.

Karen Beuerlein, leader of an alternative group of nine-year-old girl scouts took the stage with her girls and moms to sing a capella holiday songs. The girls were tuneful and fun, ending with a swinging version of “Rudolph.”

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Linda Hinrichs read poems from Nancy Wood’s “Spirit Walker” and paid tribute to our beloved Roberta Kirby who passed away in November.

Linda Hinrichs, former president of the TCC, offered Native American prayers in honor of Roberta Kirby who recently passed away, wishing us all the gifts of courage, endurance, wisdom and humility. Roberta’s loving husband Dan was there with her niece to hear the tribute to his wife. He plans a memorial for her after the first of the year.

Nygard announced the unveiling of a bench on Community House grounds in honor of Ivy Mumby, a Topanga legend who used to ride her horse to work at the Topanga Post Office. Mumby left a generous bequest to TCC that will be used for enhancements to the TCH building.

Then steamer lids were lifted and the crowd lined up for a feast that Toni Colvin said was better than the Thanksgiving dinner she’d ordered from Whole Foods.

After an interlude of music by Flute Charlie, long a Topanga Center fixture, the music went upbeat, with Alan Boivin on guitar and vocals, Scott King on guitar, Jim Myers on drums and Tom Mitchell wailing on harmonica.

Some of us, including Topanga Historical Society librarian Ami Kirby, Geri Kenyon and Messenger editor Flavia Potenza, hit a nice harmony with “Silver Bells” before the band left the holiday songs behind and segued into a bluesy rock. People gave up their space in line to dance in the aisles and the spirit of the season went into high gear. Nice.

The evening ended with a raffle. Messenger subscriptions, Topanga Homegrown and Pat’s Topanga Grill gifts, Trader Joe’s certificates donated by Prudential Realty, and movie tickets donated by Karen Dannenbaum and Rei Shore, went to lucky diners, including some favorite Topangans—Michelle Acker, Doug Thomas, Gabrielle Lamirand, Ellie Carrol and Jordan Lederer. Kudos for the dinner came in from Ami Kirby who said the night had a “good vibe.” Linda Dubin was “impressed and touched by what the volunteers had done.” Chryssa Lightheart raved, “What an evening, ever reminding me of how special Topanga is.” Karla Morrison simply said, “Really, truly, it was fabulous.”


Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

(Right) Lydia Frank (r), in festive garb, and Bob Frappia soaked up the warm atmosphere before dinner.

Look for Sages to go back into full gear in January. For more information on upcoming programs: for the Town Council’s calendar; to join the Sages; Topanga Messenger’s Dateline; (; or (310) 455-1319 to receive regular alerts. And please, support the Topanga Town Council by applying for your 2013 Topanga Resident Access Cards, on sale January 1, 2013.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Dan Kirby (who lost his wife Roberta in November—who was a festive fixture at past Holiday dinners) visits with family and friends. (L-r) nephew Jeffrey Dybas, niece Danae Dybas, Dan Kirby and neighbor Alan Boivin.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Rebecca Landau and son Jacob Trout Landau serve nuts before dinner. They’re part of a group of homeschoolers who’ve been volunteering at Canyon Sages’ dinners through-out the year.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Volunteers laugh and get into the Holiday spirit (L-R) Curtis Caddell, Andrea Makshanoff and Greg Safonov.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Jenni Klemp and her team of homeschoolers served Roy Miles plate-loads of delicious Holiday fare.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

A quartet gave Holiday songs a lovely, classical flair. (L-R) Jeanne Mitchell, Margreet Ray, Gavin Koon and Cathy Shaw.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Greg Safonov serves Sharon O’Halloran and Toni Colvin turkey.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Flute Charlie - as he’s been known in Topanga for many years -played God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman and other Holiday favorites.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Mom Jessica Deltac who’s part of a group called Adventurettes (“Daring Daughters Exploring Nature, Fun & Friends”) along with daughter Üla (L) and friend Simone Sarfaty (R) handed-out all their home-baked cookies.

Sages Holiday Dinner Shines!

Alan Boivin along with Scott King (back) played Holiday favorites plus more contemporary songs including ones by Van Morrison.