It’s Jai time

Sometimes it is just too late. That is what the President said earlier this week, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King at a press conference on the UN climate summit.  You can wait too long for something and miss your chance.  So, one has to be informed and ready to act.

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As I have mentioned previously, we missed the time to purchase a fantastic condo in Downtown LA. Today, they are too expensive for anyone but the truly wealthy.  We missed quite a few desirable places on the Central California coast — but that’s because I hadn’t known how great they were. Luckily, we can still afford Ventura, but I am not sure for how long.

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Ojai is a different story altogether. It is so remote, not as the crow flies — only really 30 miles or so north of us right now — but via any kind of viable roadway.  When we went there in October to snap pictures and do some early Christmas shopping, we took the “back way” — Route 30 off the 126 that runs from the 5N to the sea. Making that right hand turn up into the high mountains felt like a real adventure.  It is a narrow, two lane road just barely paved enough to make it pleasant and just labyrinthine enough to make you feel like you are stepping off the known path and into the abyss.  The whole way there, which took 90 minutes, we were careening around hairpin turns and climbing steadily up to dizzying heights. On either side were farms and ranches selling everything you can imagine from eggs to pistachios to cactus jam to cattle.

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But, these rustic little 200 to 2000 acre spreads are deceptive. No shacks, no huts, just dynastic low sprawling luxury manses — Western style. No one who doesn’t have an independent stream of income can support themselves in these places.  So no one tries.  For a long time, decades in fact, Ojai and its surrounding mountains and valleys have been the domain of gentlemen farmers and dude ranchers.  Not to say that there aren’t some serious agriculturalists there. There are, since the area provides a lot of the produce we love and associate with Mediterranean climes: pistachios, olives, grapes (wine and table), avocados, dates, figs, and all sorts of fancy produce delicacies like heirloom lettuces and wild greens for the upscale eateries in nearby towns like Ojai center, Santa Barbara, Montecito and SLO.

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The town is an art and music haven. People walk around casually. Vendors and shops put costly goods out on unmonitored tables. You pick something up and see a price tag that makes you take a step backward and hastily put it down, lest you drop it!  Around every corner is a gourmet eatery or deli. Music lightly drifts from hidden niches and there is a sense of quiet celebration all around. One of my favorite stores is Rains, which has been in Ojai for 100 years and sells an upscale array of merchandise from handmade gardening accessories to ski wear. Exquisite clothing boutiques abound.

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All this is just 12 miles from the sea, if you head out of town on the West side and take the main route down directly to El Camino Réal/Highway 101. It drops you in Ventura. And truth be told, that is the way we usually go to and from Ojai, as it makes the trip much shorter and easier.  On those back-way winding mountain lanes you have a few minutes here and there with your heart up in your throat as there aren’t always good guard rails and the turns are sharp and unexpected, placing you at the edge of a many foot drop with one wrong move.

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But what about my opener regarding time? Ojai is in peril.  Seated in a low valley at the floor of its surrounding high mountains, it is almost burning to a crisp most of the year now. It is drying up too. How will these ranches and farms continue to irrigate when the water levels are receding steadily at an alarming rate? How will this little hidden jewel continue to draw its loyal clientele when the food is no longer local, fresh, gourmet and seasonal, but has to be gotten where everything else we eat is purchased: supermarkets with tasteless fruits and vegetables from South and Central America, fish from Vietnam and Indonesia — none the better for the long trip they take and of heaven-only-knows what quality and sanitation.

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The US is alone among 200 nations that are meeting right now, in facing stiff opposition to common sense measures, easily affordable and subsidized by a group of wealthy countries, aimed at stemming the rise of global temperatures, especially the seas, before it is too late. We couldn’t manage it for Kyoto.  Will Paris be any different? It is a shameful feature of our politics that we put the profit of the fossil fuel industry above saving this planet.  Even the US military is alarmed and demanding action, on the knowledge that droughts and floods produce desperate migrations and foster terrorists, who exploit these disasters, imperiling civilization.

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Ojai will be a casualty. So will many Islands around the world. As will areas that are undergoing other forms of extreme weather right this minute.  The wet getting wetter and wilder and windier. The dry getting hotter and tindery. Even the Kochs refuse to admit they are behind the network of false prophets who claim that the science is unclear or wrong about this man-made warming trend. In an Emperor’s-clothes maneuver of epic dimensions, they have hoodwinked the American people into believing this is a myth. That man cannot affect his environment in catastrophic ways. Oh no? Tell that to the frogs and bees that are disappearing due to Monsanto’s nefarious greed.  We have obliterated dozens of species due to our own human activity, short-sighted and blundering.  The science is clear, by peer-reviewed research. Please do not send me sham articles from bogus opinionaters. How stupid can we be to believe these “reporters” know more than the 150 world leaders meeting in Paris or 99.9% of scientists?  The earth is spherical and spins around its star. Global warming is fact. Get over it.

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a good deal of time in Ojai in the ’70s. They considered buying a spread near town.  John would perform impromptu at local venues and even Yoko got up and did her signature bird calls, unasked.  They decided not to live in Ojai ultimately. How I wish they had — John might have been with us to this day, had they.  J. Krishnamurti established his institute and schools there and they remain, havens of tranquility, education and repose, to this day. Teddy Roosevelt fell in love with Ojai. Paul Stokey of Peter Paul and Mary fame lives there today, anchored by its many rustic charms.  And every so often, you look across a path and see a musician, a Hollywood celebrity, some politician, other stars, the beautiful people just slipping up there for a relaxing stay at one or another of its luxury spas.

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Ojai today looks as it did, 100 years ago. It still delivers on its alluring promise.

But not for long.

Images: Chez BeBe: Ojai October 2015, click them to enlarge




27 Comments on “It’s Jai time”

  1. Another wonderful mini-travelogue about your lovely surroundings. I do hope that some positive news comes out of the Paris meetings. At least we now have a PM who is willing to admit that climate change is a thing.

    You keep educating me about all these places I’d love to visit. Unfortunately it’s not likely to happen any time soon- between the gun violence and the pathetic Canadian dollar… the US has been bumped from the travel-plans list for the foreseeable.

    Have a great weekend! xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cole, I agree with you. I wouldn’t set foot in this place with all these gun-mad fools around. I am reluctant to leave Valencia and even here, I no longer go to the mall or the movies. It is a national disgrace and I am ashamed of how people defend their selfishness here. Enough is enough.
      Thank you for the kind words about this blog. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello lovely. Yours is the 1st post I’m reading in a few days, as pop is in Hospital, I am with him now as he sleeps.. Oh yes people there is climate change, wake up! We have similar situations over here in our country -farm states. Droughts, causing many farmers to cull their animals. Our summers are brutal, rain is scarce in the places it is required the most. Irrigation systems pathetic in most cases. Thank you for allowing me to travel alongside you through beautiful Ojai. What a magical, historic, quirky (& overpriced spot) it is. Love that Delicatessen. It is simply beautiful and as always your photographs and attention to detail are superb. Love Jen ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Jen, I am sorry to hear about your pop! He is so lucky to have you there and I am honoured that you are visiting here and commenting.

      I think Valencia could be transferred right to Australia. I think our problems are very similar as our climate is as well. It wasn’t always like this. I remember what it was like even when we moved here — this is very serious and growing.

      Thank you for the kind words about my pictures. Thank heaven for lovely places that I can escape to and forget the sobering events that are happening all around us these days. Somber times.

      A hug to you Jen and I am pulling for your dad, too.


      Liked by 1 person

            • I would like to know, Jen. At least it must give her intermittent peace.

              My mother-in-law is advancing toward that state. She seems neutral on everything now.

              I would even welcome her sharp tongue back. It comes out unexpectedly. At a party last month, I said that I have to constantly reorganise my home because I seem to collect and gather things all the time. She blurted out, “Are you a kleptomaniac?”. Sigh. xo xo xo

              Liked by 1 person

  3. What a gem of a place, Beth. It’s like stepping back in time or being in many different locations, looking at the variety of scenes. These pictures are postcard perfect.
    It’s difficult to imagine, here in wild, windy, rainy Glasgow (non-stop for the last week or so) that spots such as this can exist. Despite the contrast, or perhaps because of it, it’s even more difficult to imagine that there are those who deny the science of global warming when the evidence abounds.
    The fact that even Pope Francis has written on the subject is telling, the Catholic Church not being noted, in the past, for its acceptance of scientific evidence.
    So many changes are needed all over. Interesting that you mention military concerns re climate change/migration/terrorism. We have to ask difficult questions as to whether the policies and actions of richer countries and corporations, now and in the past, (on oh so many subjects) have not contributed widely to much of our current problems. The answers might mitigate a lot of what we are witnessing if we could be honest in our reflections.
    I fear that history will condemn us bitterly for what we did not ask or refused to acknowledge and make good on.
    I sincerely hope that our leaders weigh up the fact and fiction and act in the best interests of the human race and the planet rather than a select minority. Not as hopeful as I’d like to be, I have to admit, but surely there has to come a time when sanity prevails. Surely.
    Have a great weekend, Beth, despite the weighty concerns of our world. The little things keep us sane at the moment.x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Anne-Marie. It is striking how different our weather is. It is so dry here that I have to slather cream all over myself just to be able to smile and move. We are experiencing unprecedented hot weather. It is supposed to be almost 40C here today, in December. I am rather fed up with it. So, Ojai and Valencia — that is what it looks like here, sunny, hot, parched all the time.

      Curiously, just this morning one of our premiere newspapers published this article about how our agricultural practices are dooming bananas. They will likely be gone altogether in just a couple of decades:

      Americans seem to want to be lied to. I shake my head at this country. I feel a citizen of the world. My English cousins are telling me to move back home and I can see why. Just the events of the last 14 days are enough to make me consider it.

      Thank goodness Christmas is upon us to give us something else to think about.

      You are the best, Anne-Marie. Thank you for taking time to chat with me about all this here. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Beth. I’m just glad to know that, despite what main stream media and certain sections of politics would have us believe, there are many more people than we might think who are trying to see the bigger picture. It’s heartening coming to your blog and knowing that you’re over there making a difference. I think it will be from the ground up that the changes occur, people power putting the pressure on.
        Reading that article, it strikes me that we never really know the wider ramifications of seemingly small decisions and practice. That can work for change for the better too and, as Robin says, each person playing a small part may have profound effects. We still have cause to hope.x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel the average citizen of many countries doesn’t consider the ramifications of their own personal “bad” habits, Beth. Not everyone recycles, not everyone realizes spraying their hair, insecticide on plants and farms enters the atmosphere or not sharing car rides doubles and triples fossil fuel usage.
    Of course, there is a shortage of plants, green forests as we build and spread out around the world but we need to become proactive. Global warming is on anyone’s computer, films made by detailed scientists and researchers. Anyone with family younger than themselves should be concerned as bout our next generation and our legacy. ♡
    I liked the tour of Jai, I love that Yoko Ono and John used to perform and entertain, I like the beauty of it being in a valley, arts, music and lovely spreads of land abound. I am not sure about wells and water tables but do understand there are many areas around the world facing drought which need some form of assistance.
    Beth, I wish I knew the answer for Jai and everywhere else! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember Rachel Carson? The Silent Spring. She warned us and did we pay enough attention?

      No more bananas, bees, polar bears, frogs, the list goes on and on. Oh, and melons and almonds. They require too much water and the places that have water, are too cold to raise them.


      Ojai is a delight. A haven for those who know about it. We love going there just to feel the peace and joy of the town. I hope you get to visit it some day.

      Meanwhile, you live in the part of this country that still reflects Norman Rockwell. Maybe we have improved some things on those days, but there was something good, old fashioned and innocent there too.

      I miss it.

      You are a constant comfort to me Robin. And I come to your blog the way I go to places like Ojai — to hear and see the goodness that remains in the world. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve just had the worst flooding in Cumbria, I managed to get on the last train out of London on Friday at 1830 they were cancelled until today due to flooding on the main line from London to Glasgow.
    London has crazy prices right now like you mentioned in LA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are proving my suspicion that the wet places are getting wetter while we are drying up here from lack of rain. Just today it was 40C in Valencia. That is double what it usually is in December. Crazy!

      Oh, how I wish I could afford London. My cousins are there, the rest of my English family are in Cardiff and Lancashire. My barrister cousin paid a king’s ransom for her flat. I could not manage it no matter how much I wish to.


  6. I love Ojai. After reading Krishnamurti while living in San Diego decades ago, I traveled to Ojai. But it wasn’t quite the touristy place it is today. It was cool, though. I really like that you write about these places, and your photos…always a treat!!! Love the Mini Cooper in front of the old mission-looking building!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a big fan of Krishnamurti. His story is almost unbelievable and it is wonder that no one has made a movie of it. Note to self.

      Ojai isn’t really touristy at all. Not like Solvang or SLO. It feels very local and quiet, like a secret retreat for people who know it and live elsewhere in Central California. The people in the shops are locals, and as I said, the occasional celebrity in street guise. That is what I like best about it. I hate the entire tourism industry as the antithesis of urban anthropology, which I prefer to consider myself.

      Whatever you remember, it is still like that but happier.

      Thanks for the compliments. I am experimenting more and more with processing my photos so I don’t bore you to death.

      Have fun in the Maldives. I cannot wait to hear and see all about it! 😀


  7. Every time I just feel I have been with you to see all these things, but without your knowledge I am there with you.
    I feel so, I enjoy your posts as if I was there.
    You bring so much to be seen and enjoyed.
    Thank You,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shiva, what a nice thing to say! Thank you so much for your faith in me and appreciation for my blog. I hope I can always deliver that type of experience.

      I value you as part of my circle here very much.

      Thank you as well! 🙂


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