Topanga Whimsy for the Holidays and Every Day

Compiled by Flavia Potenza
Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza      December 24, 2020

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Topanga Whimsy for the Holidays and Every Day
Photo by Flavia Potenza Left: The Menorah lights all the candles on eighth day of Chanukah. Nelow: The Menorah Mitzvah Mobile. .
No one ever said Topangans don’t have a sense of humor. Much of it manifests in surprisingly whimsical ways where you can’t help but smile and wonder how it got there and who are the people behind it. I hope this comes as a pick-me-up for our battered spirits and helps us lighten up as we tough it out until things change for the better. It’s essential that we find the joy in the season and carry it into the New Year. Photos by Flavia Potenza unless noted otherwise.
Photo by Jane Hammond
Tumbleweed Christmas
For years, Jane Hammond has created her own pagan ritual to celebrate Christmas. Instead of a pine tree, she saw promise in the lowly, unwelcoming tumbleweed, tightly wrapped into itself with thorns that warn, “Don’t you dare!” Hammond not only dared, she did. In her first encounter, she succeeded in wrestling a plant stubb ornly rooted in the ground. She ended the match triumphant but exhausted, bloodied and bruised. Its final triumph was refusing to fit in the car. Since then, Hammond wisely forages only for those that have freely tumbled their way into a fence or alongside the road with fellow travelers. She has also learned to wear gloves. This year’s decorations include a Halloween spider.
The flower box
his flower box planted with pink petunias, and now blue ones, appeared out of nowhere last summer on Valley Drive off Old Canyon. Passersby were enamored and, little by little, added tiny toys. Skyline walkers who walk the two-mile loop on a regular basis, can’t resist rearranging the scene as more toys appear. A few holiday decorations were recently added: a red ribbon and ball for Christmas, and pinecones in honor of the solstice and obscure pagan rites, perhaps.
Photo by Jane Hammon
Photo courtesy of Rabbi Dovid Weiss of Topanga Chabad
Chanukah On the Road
Did you notice the Menorah Mitzvah Mobile tooling around Topanga during the eight days of Chanukah? In keeping with CDC rules during the pandemic while honoring Jewish tradition, Rabbi Dovid Weiss of Topanga Chabad lit up the giant menorah secured to a truck and delivered Chanukah gift boxes, Chanukah In A Box, for people to celebrate this joyous holiday at home. Inside the kit were a Menorah with a box of candles, a chocolate donut (instantly consumed), a bag of Lindt assorted chocolate truffles (still unopened), a dreidel and foil-wrapped chocolate “coins” and a paint set to amuse the children. Simply put but with deeper meaning, Chanukah celebrates “the miracle of light over might.”

Note: A mitzvah is a good deed done from religious duty; any good or praiseworthy deed.
The Topanga Nutcracker
The Topanga Nutcracker misses us as much as we miss him. Sherry and Bob Jason, founders and producers of this annual favorite, wish everyone the joys of the season however they present themselves, and look forward to resuming production next year
Max in regal repose. That is not a real bunny in front of the bench and certainly not a dust bunny (who don’t like their pictures taken, ever). Photo by Robin Stroll
Mysterious Theft in Small Town
Agoura Hills, CA, Dec. 9—Ms Robin Stroll, 72, reported the theft of a large quantity of dust bunnies from her condominium today.
“They have been living with me and my cat, Max, for many years,” the distraught woman told sheriffs. “This morning when I woke up, they were nowhere to be found.”

A Cat Whisperer (CW) who interviewed Max said the cat was distressed. “He has always found comfort under the bed, where he was surrounded by the lovely creatures,” the CW reported. “Without them he feels disconsolate.”
Investigators found no sign of forced entry and said the only change in the victim’s routine was work done by a home cleaner the previous day, who, the victim said, has an excellent reputation. Neighbors who have employed her confirmed this assertion.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department requested that anyone with information relating to the strange occurrence contact them.
—Robin Stroll, Agoura Hill
Editor’s Note: Dust bunnies (or dustbunnies), in American English, are small clumps of dust that form under furniture and in corners that are not cleaned regularly. They are made of hair, lint, dead skin, spider webs, dust, and sometimes light rubbish and debris held together by static electricity and felt-like entanglement. The movement of a single large particle can start the formation of a dust bunny. EEEWW FACTOR: They can house dust mites or other parasites and can lower the efficiency of dust filters by clogging. Wikipedia. Text under CC-BY-SA license
Kilroy Was Here
This “whimsy to the max” graffiti (top) appeared in late summer on a wood fence just north of Valley Drive. It reminded me of the “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti (above) that went viral during World War II, long before viral was a social media term.
“Kilroy Was Here” is an American symbol that became popular during World War II. Its origin is debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle became associated with GIs in the 1940s: a bald-headed man with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with his fingers clutching the wall. (
The graffiti can also be found in two locations at the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC, intentionally carved into granite. (Waymark Code: WM4FOR; Published by Team Farkle)
Most sources and historians think that the origin of the tag was James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector. He was a riveter paid by the rivet. Workers marked their rivets with chalk, and Mr. Kilroy didn’t want anyone taking his credit so he marked his rivets with the statement “Kilroy was here.” (
According to Charles Panati, “The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up.” It is not known if there was an actual person named Kilroy who inspired the graffiti, although there have been claims over the years.
If you want to read the many “Legends of Kilroy Was Here”:
Old Canyon Kitty
Old Canyon Kitty changes costume with each season and every holiday. S/he has become a landmark on Old Canyon, inspiring smiles and, perhaps, making someone’s day that much better.
Flavia Potenza
      December 24, 2020

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