El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Cynthia Robertson

The war in Afghanistan and Iraq is hellish, seemingly never-ending. Yet U.S. troops see some hope in fighting the Taliban and insurgents through help from the people who live there and sign on as interpreters. They do so, risking their own lives to help the soldiers and sailors who are doing their best to bring stability into a country wracked with fighting. 

On July 9, La Mesa Beautiful gave twelve residents of La Mesa Spirit Awards for their creative home landscapes showcasing drought-tolerant plants and other water-saving features. 

“The purpose of La Mesa Beautiful,” explained President Sharon Fitzpatrick, “is to promote, coordinate and advance beautification activities to make La Mesa a more beautiful place to live.”

 The summer is long and lazy, and sometimes you just want to read or relax for a couple of hours with an iced frappuccino or a cup of joe and a tidbit. Brew Coffee Spot is the new favorite go-to place for locals.

In many ways, Alexandria Freeman, a student at St. Martin’s Academy in La Mesa, is very much like other 13-year-old girls. She likes animals and hanging out with her friends in her Girl Scout troop. Yet she is one of only fifteen girls in the world selected to attend an immersion trip to India with the Girl Scouts Destinations travel program. 

Ever seen an alpaca? Perhaps all you know of them is that they spit at people, like the famous closing scene in “Evan Almighty.” But in reality, these animals would be hard-pressed to do so. With wool as soft as angel clouds, alpacas are more likely to be your friend.

When George Miladin started taking piano lessons at 6 years old, he had no idea he would one day be not only entertaining people, but nicknamed the “Piano Playing Pastor.” He lives up to that name to this day, enthralling people with ballads, classical pieces and jazzy arrangements.

The audience at the monthly senior luncheon at Del Cerro Baptist Church on May 16 was already familiar with his piano playing; he plays for the church’s Joymakers group each week.

Each spring, the Student Art Exhibition at the Grossmont College Hyde Gallery is a happy occasion. This year, on May 16, the exhibit felt very much like a party. The reception was a celebration of the students’ achievements in art as much as it was of the gallery’s re-inventing of itself.

“Everyone whose work is on the walls is to be congratulated,” said Suda House, long-time professor of photography at the college.

If you’re looking for a good hike for the early morning or late afternoon in the Lakeside area where you will be rewarded with refreshing shade and peaceful woodlands along the way, Oakoasis Open Space Preserve is the trail for you. Located off Wildcat Canyon Road, the preserve encompasses 397 acres of chaparral and oak woodlands. Part of the preserve trail system is included in the 110-mile Trans-County Trail being developed between Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

At the El Cajon Library last weekend, teenage girls were walking away not with an armload of books, but with their very own prom dresses. The event, organized by Youth Services Librarian Miko Osada, was the Prom Dress Giveaway.

Osada said that the first year she held the event at the library, they did not have enough dress donations. This year and last, however, Princess Project has partnered with the library and is now the main sponsor for the dress giveaway. The organization is the major donor of dresses of all sizes and colors.

Even before Hezhi Naseem had finished unloading her cart of books at the Traveling Stories tent last Thursday at the El Cajon Farmers’ Market, kids were already choosing what books they wanted to read. It’s a typical scene each Thursday afternoon.

Naseem is the field director of Traveling Stories. She is grateful for the overwhelming response by parents who bring their kids to the StoryTent, and by kids telling each other about it.