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NEIGHBORS : Combing the Stones : A jewelry company operator who is also a rock hound makes some interesting finds on Ventura County beaches.


As head of the jewelry company Fred Joaillier, USA, Sergio Baril knows a high-quality stone when he sees one. But when he combs mountains and beaches in his off hours, the specimens he finds are unlikely to end up in any of his stores.

Baril has taken to hunting for rocks that he can paint or use in sculptures, which he then displays in his home.

A resident of Agoura, Baril partakes of the stony offerings of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Point Mugu area. But he said he finds most of his material on Ventura County beaches.

"You know the RV park? The area between there and the fairground is an ancient riverbed and it has a lot of rounded sandstone," he said. "And you can find quartz and a lot of fossils and different types of minerals. They have perfectly rounded huge boulders and stones."

And you thought it was just dirt.

A couple of weeks ago, Baril collected some specimens on an area of beach near Seacliff. "I picked up half a ton," he said. "Some of those things are 30 to 40 pounds. I have in my garage a good supply of rounded stones and my wife wants to kill me over it."

More on Baril, or: "Is it art or should it be buried?"

Baril recalled two rock-gathering excursions that turned out to be particularly productive--at least from an artist's point of view.

"A little south of Seacliff we found skeletons of three or four seals. We picked up some of the vertebrae and some of the bones and created some sculptures," he said.

Another time, while on a hike at Point Mugu, Baril came across the skull of what he thinks was an opossum. "We put some paint on it and it looked terrific, though a little macabre."

Forget what you've heard about the lack of revealing information at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

The Carol Publishing Group in New York has sent the library copies of two invaluable books: "What Does Joan Say? My Seven Years as White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan" by Joan Quigley, and "A House of Secrets" by Reagan daughter Patti Davis.

Carol Publisher Steven Schragis said he didn't expect the books to be well received. "I thought I would either get nothing or a form letter back. But instead I got a personalized letter clearly referring to the gift and thanking us, with no sense of irony," he said. "I just thought it would spend all eternity in some back room somewhere."

In fact, library Director Ralph Bledsoe said the books have been filed away, as are other gifts, and are available to the public. "We do try to keep as many of the contemporary books written about his administration that are pertinent--some flattering, some not flattering."

As it turned out, Bledsoe said, the library already had copies of the two books.

Ojai's Bernadette DiPietro is at it again. On Sunday, the artist will mark her 15th year of teaching "Pysanka: Ukrainian Egg Decoration."

It's a 2,000-year-old art that involves painting symbolic designs on eggs in batik style. But despite the craft's longevity, there aren't all that many practitioners around. DiPietro said she has gotten calls from all over the country from people wanting to purchase her eggs, which she has had exhibited at galleries across the country.

If you're interested in participating in one of the two classes she holds annually in Ojai, call 646-2539.

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