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Central California Life magazine

Guide to Central California wines Mariposa’s symphony orchestra Berkeley in 2015 (it’s groovy!) Fresno State’s First Lady ... and more

Autumn 2015

Fortitude and Faith A family overcomes adversity

Volume 2, Issue 4

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA LIFE

AUTUMN 2015

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Reflections

H

ave you ever looked at a lemonade stand and thought about how that is so representative of the entrepreneurial spirit America is known for. Think about it. An ambitious young person armed with mom’s

recipe for lemonade and the belief that it will keep people coming back for more. Almost every business you see started in a similar way- loosely speaking. Nowhere is that more evident that here in the Central Valley and our wineries- the adult version of the lemonade stand. In this issue of Central California Life, we look at the Central Valley wine industry’s accomplishments and seek out experts to provide us with some education. Highlights in this issue include a talk with Mary Castro, the First Lady of Fresno State University, and Bud Elliot’s heart-warming story about how a typical fall day in 2005 was anything but typical for one valley family that found out just how strong family can be. The seasons change four times during the year. So why is it that the fall stands out as the season of change? I believe the turning of the foliage, the shortening of the days, and nearing the end of another year are all poignant reminders of the finite nature of life that cause us to pause and reflect. We recall chilly Friday night football games, perfect Halloween festivities, and traditional Thanksgivings that have seen the addition of new family while we hold dear the memories of those who have gone before us. As we fill these pages with future memories of our valley, remember “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.

Karen Maroot

Cover Photo

The Hall Family, featured in our Cover Story, beginning on page 24: Jean and Amber (seated L-R), Brandon and Brian (standing L-R)

Photo by Rose Waterfield/ Raw Graphics Photography 2 |

Central California Life

Karen@CenCaliLife.com


Our Mission “The mission of Central California Life magazine is to spotlight what makes this region a unique and integral part of the Golden State. We do this by telling the stories of the people who live, work and play here—artists and entrepreneurs, farmers and elected officials, educators and athletes, and so many others who call California’s heartland “home.” From short profiles of ordinary individuals who are making extraordinary differences to in-depth stories about our history and more contemporary matters, our team of experienced writers produces content that is informative, relevant and interesting. Their work is complemented by talented photographers and graphic artists. We also provide comprehensive event listings, restaurant reviews and art and entertainment news. We are the only magazine that covers the central San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast, and count among our targeted readers those who live both within and outside the region.”

CenCaliLife

For subscription info or advertising opportunities visit CenCaliLife.com or call 559.691.1004 Central California Life

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For subscription information or advertising opportunities visit CenCaliLife.com or call 559.691.1004

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Ione 108 Vacaville 5 ark Jackson 88 Galt Fairfield 160 San Andreas C a l a v e r a s uma Tuolumne 49 Solano Novato Lodi 12 Rio Vista Marin Vallejo Angels City San Joaquin Sonora Rafael Martinez Concord Tuolumne City C o n t r a Berkeley C o s t a Stockton

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24 Brian and Brandon Hall

A family beats the odds

18 The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

What’s Inside Reflections

2 Publisher’s Letter

Contributors

8 Getting to Know Us

A Few Cool Things

10 What to Do in Central California

Keeping the Faith 14 Keeping connected Faith Sidlow

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Central California Life

34 Mary Castro

Fresno State’s First Lady

Stories from the Heartland

18 Les Marsden’s Mariposa Symphony Orchestra Valerie Shelton 24 The Brian Hall family: triumph over tragedy Bud Elliott 34 Fresno State’s First Lady leads with love Andrew Veihmeyer

The Wish List 38 Fall Gift Ideas

Destinations

44 Berkeley beyond the stereotypes Kelty Bolin-Propst


64 Book Review

72 Hanford’s Sweet Palette Bakery

76 Oakhurst’s Idle Hour Winery Health and Wellness

48 When you aren’t ready to retire Dr. Bradley T. Wajda 52 RawFresno: A healthy, delicious alternative Megan Ginise

Sports

56 Trainer Rhonda Murphy’s journey of transformation Madeline Shannon

Arts and Entertainment

60 The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series Andrew Veihmeyer 64 Book Review: Stephen H. Provost’s “Fresno Growing Up” Jeffery Williams

Sip and Savor 68 Limón Amy Guerra

72 Culinary Artist: Jose Sanchez Judith Menezes 76 Sip: Idle Hour Winery Bryce Alderton

Spotlight

80 Milestones and Events in Central California

Calendar of Events 90 Fall Happenings

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Contributors

PUBLISHER Karen Maroot karen@cencalilife.com ADVISORY BOARD Bud Elliott, Karen Maroot, Kelley Campos McCoy, Richard Melella, Faith Sidlow EDITOR  Kelley Campos McCoy kelley@cencalilife.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Madeline Shannon CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bryce Alderton, April Bolin-Propst, Kelty Bolin-Propst, Bud Elliott, Edgar E. Dunn III, Amy Guerra, Madeline Shannon, Valerie Shelton, Faith Sidlow, Andrew Veihmeyer, Dr. Bradley Wajda, Jeffery Williams, Desiree Herroz CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Bud Elliott, Amy Guerra, Dan Minkler, Marty Solis, Rose Waterfield/Raw Graphics Photography, Mark Bouldoukian, Belen Gomez, Andrew Martin, Michael Quintero DESIGNERS Beth Greene, Gary Hoffman PR & EVENTS DIRECTOR Tania Kasparian-Herroz TRAFFIC DIRECTOR Priscilla Urias CREATIVE CONSULTANT Edgar E. Dunn III INTERN Miriam Del Campo VOLUNTEERS Derek Andre Marines Copyright © 2015 by Central California Life magazine. All rights reserved. Central California Life magazine accepts or assumes no liability for the material contained herein. This magazine is for entertainment only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any product or service. All statements and expressions are the sole opinions of the writers. Central California Life magazine reserves the right to edit any editorial, photos or ad submissions for the purposes of clarity and space.

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Central California Life

April Bolin-Propst Photographer The best part of fall in Central California … is relaxing with family and friends at Thanksgiving and watching the children play. My favorite fall beverage is ... hot spiced apple cider with a shot of brandy. The candy I most wanted when I went trick or treating as a child was … a PayDay or a 100 Grand Bar. The most important lesson I’ve learned in life is … to cast aside judgment and look at others through compassionate lenses. It will give them the opportunity to grow and give you reason to forgive yourself when you make a mistake that hurts others. People would be most surprised to know ... I was heavily involved in the performing arts in junior high through high school. It is something that I fantasize about doing again someday.

Bryce Alderton Writer The best part of fall in Central California ...when I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, we used to head downtown Thursday nights for the farmers market. In the fall, vendors lined the streets with pumpkins for sale. My favorite fall beverage is ... a glass of hearty red wine, such as a Cabernet sauvignon or Malbec. The candy I most wanted when I went trick or treating as a child was … Three Musketeers. Loved the combo of dark chocolate exterior and creamy mousse-like interior. The most important lesson I’ve learned in life is … don’t worry about what other people think of you. Be you! People would be most surprised to know ... I can recite the winning team of nearly every Super Bowl.

Kelty Bolin-Propst Writer The best part of fall in Central California ... is the leaves changing color and falling. My favorite fall beverage is ... hot apple cider. The candy I most wanted when I went trick or treating as a child was … Mr. Goodbar. The most important lesson I’ve learned in life is… everything that happens is a lesson to be learned. People would be most surprised to know ... I have performed at Carnegie Hall twice. •


Central California

Lifemagazine


A Few Cool Things

African Adventure opens at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo

A new exhibit at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo will feature 18 acres of natural exhibits and new species of wildlife not currently among the animals at the park. African Adventure will showcase a pride of African lions, elephants and white rhinos. A feeding station for gi-

raffes and a new cheetah run will also be part of the first phase of building. Hungry visitors will be able to satisfy their appetites at Kopje Lodge, a new restaurant at the center of the new attractions. Want to help support this important expansion? Consider purchasing

an African Adventure Trail Tile. Tiles are $500 each and measure 12” by 12”. Get it soon as African Adventure opens October 15. For more information, call (559) 498-5910 or go to fresnochaffeezoo.org.

Sudz in the City celebrates 21 years Raise a toast to Sudz in the City turning 21! Sudz in the City, one of the year’s most anticipated local craft beer festivals, will feature more than 30 local breweries, live music, and food from local vendors on the Fulton Mall on October 24. Festivities will run from 12 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 a person. The price of admission includes a commemorative shot glass that festival participants can use to sample some of the best beers on the West Coast. A $10 meal ticket that can be redeemed at any participating food venue on the mall is also part of the package. Tickets can be purchased online at downtownfresno.org.

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Central California Life


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Visalia arts festival

highlights Valley cultures & heritages On October 17, Downtown Visalia will be the site of a street fair celebrating the diverse cultures that have become part of the Central Valley’s artistic landscape. Taste the Arts is hosted annually by the Arts Consortium, Tulare County’s official arts council, and is free to the public. This year’s event will run from 12-6 p.m. and feature the work of more than 70 local artists, including sculptors, steelworkers, photographers and jewelry makers. Attendees will have opportunities to create their own masterpieces at various hands-on art stations. Local food vendors are even hosting a “Fun with Food” sculpture contest. Numerous children’s activities will also be available. For more information, call (559) 802-3266 or go to artsconsortium.org.

Downtown Lompoc

unveils unique crosswalk Located along scenic Highway 1 and in the equally stunning Santa Ynez Valley, the city of Lompoc now has the distinction of being the only place between LA and San Francisco to feature street art that uses crosswalks as canvases. The four crosswalks, located at the intersection of H Street and Cypress Avenue, include depictions of wine bottles, grapes and the state flower, the California poppy. The stencil paintings took four hours to complete and feature the winning designs submitted by local residents. The new designs were paid for by a $30,000 grant provided by The Santa Barbara Foundation. City officials are hoping to expand the street art project to other busy intersections downtown. Local residents hope the new installation draws more people from the area to Lompoc for the various festivals and events held there. • 12 |

Central California Life


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Keeping the Faith

Keeping connected

by Faith Sidlow

O

Faith Sidlow teaches broadcast journalism at Fresno State. She spent the last 28 years as a news reporter and morning anchor at KSEE-TV, where she produced a series called Extreme Faith.

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ne of my favorite pastimes is scuba diving, and one of my greatest frustrations when diving is my inability to communicate underwater. I have found myself in many situations with my husband and dive buddy, where I’ve tried to explain something to him underwater but couldn’t. I’ve even resorted to ripping the regulator (breathing apparatus) out of my mouth underwater to yell the words. It doesn’t really work. Then I met scuba divers Nancy Delich and Stephen Roberts. Delich lost her hearing when she was 11 months old. As a little girl, she was terrified of water. “If I closed my eyes, I lost contact with the world because of my hearing loss,” Delich says. “That time was horrible for my parents, because if they washed my hair and I closed my eyes, I would scream bloody murder.” Delich overcame her fear of water through swimming. As a teen she began swimming competitively and, when she was 19 years old, she was

Central California Life

one of 21 American athletes to compete in the International Deaf Olympics in Budapest, Hungary. Delich went on to earn a master’s degree in social work and was working on a second master’s degree in transforming spirituality in Seattle when she met Roberts, a Fresno State communicative disorders professor, pediatric audiologist, scuba instructor and dive shop owner. They realized they had a lot in common, including their dedication to advocating for the deaf culture. The two struck up a friendship. They emailed each other – Roberts in Fresno and Delich in Seattle – while she completed her master’s degree and then a doctorate in educational leadership. The discussions often turned to scuba diving. “He told me about his passion,” Delich says. “And I could trust him. So I was willing to try it. And it was just a whole different world underwater. “You can’t understand it until you experience it.”


Randi Pechacek (top) with dive buddies Kevin and Tristan Lewis off the Channel Islands.

Stephen Roberts taught Nancy Delich how to dive and Delich, who lost her hearing at 11 months old, helped Roberts improve his fluency in American Sign Language (ASL).

Roberts certified Delich as an open water diver. She fell in love with diving and couldn’t get enough. She went on to earn certifications in navigation, deep diving, night diving, as a rescue diver and finally as a master diver. All the while, as Roberts was teaching Delich to dive, she was helping him improve his fluency in American Sign Language (ASL). When Delich suggested a tutor, Roberts tried one and his sign language improved – so much so that they began using a form of ASL while scuba diving. Other students saw them communicating underwater and they wanted to learn. “The deaf community takes great pride in communicating easily under water. They have an advantage underwater,” Delich says. With the help of SeaSigns Underwater Communication in Florida, Delich and Roberts created a sign language specialty course for scuba divers. It’s an adaptation of ASL with only 140 signs, but it’s enough to communicate more and enhance the diving experience, Roberts says. Delich says that sign language started with fourth-century monks who took vows of silence but still communicated using a form of sign language. It wasn’t ASL, but it worked, much like the sign language Delich and Roberts use to teach their scuba students. “We don’t have philosophical discussions under water,” Delich laughs. “And that’s one of the things I tell the students. They are somewhat intimidated. ‘Can we learn what we need to know in four hours? And can we remember?’” Roberts and Delich make it easy for students to learn. She has students connect to the reason for each sign. It could be something as simple as, “Look – there’s a yellow star fish with a broken arm,” Delich says. “I can go right to it and see it, and I can go back and say ‘Yes, I see what you’re talking about.’” About the same time Delich was earning her certifications at the Central Valley Scuba Center in Tulare, Roberts was certify-

ing UC Davis pre-med student Randi Pechacek, who went on to take more advanced classes, including navigation. That’s where she met Delich, and the two teamed up as buddies. “I dove with her and it was strange not being able to communicate with her,” Pechacek says. Delich wears cochlear implants, which she can’t use before or during a dive. Delich began teaching Pechacek some signs that the two could use underwater, and eventually Pechacek took the underwater sign language class from Delich and Roberts. Pechacek says learning to sign made diving more fun. “It opens a world of communication. You can discuss details of your dive, whether you want to go up or down, or turn at the starfish. It’s incredibly helpful for not only navigation, but just describing what you’re seeing.” “When she learned how to sign, she got so excited,” Roberts says of Pechacek, laughing. “I couldn’t get a sign in edgewise.” There are limitations to underwater sign language. Dark, thick gloves make it hard to differentiate between one finger and two, especially against a dark wetsuit. Facial expressions are difficult if not impossible to read because the regulator covers the mouth, and the dive mask obscures the eyes. Without those important cues, a message can easily be misunderstood. Roberts and Delich say that after students earn their recognition card, they need to practice the signs and dive with a buddy who has also taken the course. Delich says students also need to continue to be aware of their surroundings, and remember to enjoy their dive. “It’s a hazard to take this class,” she says half-jokingly, adding that sometimes all divers want to do once they learn underwater sign language is talk with each other. “We’re diving. Don’t forget that.” • The Central Valley Scuba Center is located at 2025 E. Tulare Ave. in Tulare. For more information about the sign language for divers course, call (559) 687-8266 or go to centralvalleyscuba.com/Sign_Language.html. Central California Life

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Stories from the Heartland

Melody for the monoliths: The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra by Valerie Shelton photos by Dan Minkler

T

here’s nothing quite as enchanting as the natural beauty of Yosemite National Park. Hiking along its trails, strolling through its dew-kissed meadows and peering down from its highest peaks, you are constantly reminded of what makes this place magical. The granite masterpieces of Half Dome and El Capitan. The majestic waters that flow from Yosemite Falls. The stunning wildlife that roams the park. Few things can calm the soul as effectively. Except for maybe music. It’s the combination of both wonders that conductor Les Marsden dreamed of when he founded the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in 2002. Now, Marsden’s orchestra carries the distinction of being the only symphony orchestra in the history of Yosemite to be allowed to play in the national park. WILD DREAM TO REALITY The story of the creation of the 18 |

Central California Life

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra is, to put it simply, awe-inspiring. In a town with a population under 2,000, the formation of such an ensemble seemed impossible to the few residents who lived there. A symphony orchestra in Mariposa? Marsden said the first reaction to the idea was laughter. People thought it was a wild dream, he said. But not only did the musicians come and play, they played extremely well, warranting the residents of the small town speechless after one performance. Membership in the orchestra boomed following its successful debut on Dec. 21, 2002, Marsden said. By its second performance, the group couldn’t even fit on stage at Mariposa’s 369-plusseat Fiester Auditorium. What began as 10 musicians is now a full-blown orchestra with more than 60 members. Musicians in the orchestra hail

from five counties, with half coming from Mariposa County and others traveling to rehearsals from the cities of Merced, Oakhurst, Fresno, Coarsegold, Turlock and beyond. Famous guest soloists have included cellist Ira Lehn, violinists Ann Miller and Dr. Lewis Wong of New York, pianist Patrice Stribling Donald and trombone virtuoso Dr. Tom Ashworth of the University of Minnesota. Perhaps its greatest accomplishment has been its relationship with Yosemite. Marsden said it took a lot of convincing, with literally years of polite but firm needling of his friends in both Yosemite’s administration and Delaware North, but once he finally got park officials and the park’s concessionaire to budge on the idea, it took off. The orchestra’s first performance over a decade ago was so successful, he said, that the officials saw the advantage of offering


“Whether you are in a large metropolitan area or in a rural area, investments, private or public, in the arts are known to boost the economy with one of the highest returns on any investment.” regular concerts of the MSO at the Ahwahnee Hotel on an annual basis. “I evangelize on the power of the arts as an economic engine,” Marsden said. “Whether you are in a large metropolitan area or in a rural area, investments, private or public, in the arts are known to boost the economy with one of the highest returns on any investment.” He said that once the word got out about the MSO’s first concert, the Ahwahnee Dining Room was swamped with reservations. “The wait staff of the Ahwahnee’s dining room was extremely happy,” Marsden recalled. “After the concert, they told me it had been one of their best

tip days ever. “That is only one small display of the economic power of the arts.” Growing up in Fresno, Marsden said he has always been in love with the glorious park. “After traveling and seeing so many other international sights through my years, it only confirmed my love for that extraordinary place,” Marsden said. “And that’s why when I had to retire at an early age, it was something of a no-brainer that my wife Diane and I wanted to live in close proximity to Yosemite. “Mariposa County is the home of Yosemite, so that’s all it took.” AN ACTOR AT HEART, A MUSICIAN FOR LIFE Amazing as the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra is, it’s hard to believe that if it weren’t for a tragic career-ending accident Marsden may have never moved to Mariposa to found the ensemble. Marsden has always been gifted with musical talent. “The story goes that when I was three or four years old, I heard a commercial and then sat down at the piano and plucked out the tune,” Marsden said. “At that point my parents decided to get me lessons.” At 9, he added trumpet and other brass as well as string and wind instru-

ments to his repertoire. By age 11, he was a credentialed piano teacher. Marsden considered himself to be a pianist and concert grand (pedal) harpist primarily but he played trumpet well enough as a teen to be the principal player for many local ensembles, including the California Honor Orchestra and the Fresno Junior Philharmonic. At 13, he composed his first symphony. Despite his natural talent and vast experience as a musician at a young age, the profession Marsden had longed for since early childhood was acting. As a college student at Fresno State, he decided to pursue his dream to become an actor. “There is something about the ability to express oneself through acting, to alter yourself and become a different human being,” Marsden said. “All art disciplines require the mind and the heart. You have to not only know what you’re doing in your head – the technique of any artistic discipline – but also be able to submerge yourself emotionally into it.” Marsden also wanted a challenge. “My draw to theater was, seriously, the fact that it appeared to be an even tougher field in which to make one’s living than music,” he said, noting how less than 1 percent of the 160,000 memCentral California Life

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Marsden has composed numerous works for the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra during the last several years. His most recent work, “American Anniversaries,” celebrates the historical events that have shaped the preservation of Yosemite and other national parks.

“Even as an actor, there was that little voice inside my head that asked if I would be happier doing music.” bers of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are working at any given time. “That and the challenge of communicating with the audience, to perhaps be able to pull them to laughter one moment and spin on a dime and have them crying the next.” While still in college, he wrote, produced and starred in his own oneman show, “A Night at Harpo’s.” The show was booked internationally directly from college and catapulted Marsden into professional show business. He made a name for himself playing the dual role of Harpo and Chico Marx in Arthur Marx’s play “Groucho: 20 |

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A Life in Revue.” In addition to playing both brothers, Marsden stunned audiences by playing lengthy piano and harp solos in each of the brothers’ distinctive styles. The show was highly successful in New York and London, where Marsden was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award, arguably the highest stage-acting honor in the world. Marsden is careful to point out that playing the Marx brothers was only a sideline to his mainstream career, a career that consisted of more than 3,000 performances of works by artists as varied as Shakespeare, Cole Porter, Neil Simon and Chekov. In 1999, he had an onstage accident that resulted in permanent injury to his left leg. Disabled, he was no longer able to perform his trademark highly physical roles and retired from acting at 42. It was then that he and his wife Diane and young son Maxfield returned to California from New York and made their home in Mariposa. Marsden said he was retired “for all of five minutes” when he waltzed into the Mariposa County Arts Council just

to chat with the executive director. He said the council immediately snatched him up and put him on the board. His idea to start the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra was born. Although he was devastated that he had to step away from the stage, Marsden said it gave him the chance to get back to his musical roots. “Even as an actor, there was that little voice inside my head that asked if I would be happier doing music,” Marsden said. “That’s human nature, I think, to question whether the grass is greener. “So that is the one good thing, what happened gave me the opportunity to indulge in a great discipline I’ve always loved and still love.” AMERICAN ANNIVERSARIES: PLAYING MUSIC FOR YOSEMITE IN YOSEMITE Marsden has composed numerous works for the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra during the last 13 years. The orchestra has also performed the works of Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Sibelius, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and many other great composers. Currently, Marsden and the


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orchestra are receiving acclaim for premiere performances of Marsden’s new large-scale symphonic cycle “American Anniversaries,” written in celebration of the historical events that have shaped the preservation of Yosemite and other national parks. Three of the four pieces comprising “American Anniversaries” have made their debuts. The first is “Wildness, Our Necessary Refuge,” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The second is “Hope in a Time of Tragedy,” commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. The third is “Yosemite!” celebrating the 125th anniversary (which is October 1, 2015) of the national park. The fourth piece, which will commemorate next year’s centenary of the National Park Service, will premiere in the spring of 2016, completing the entire cycle. Marsden said few experiences compare to performing works written about a place in that very place.

Part of “Yosemite!” was inspired by the fire falls that took place at Glacier Point from 1872 to 1969. The fire falls occurred on summer nights at 9 o’clock sharp with one rare exception. When President Kennedy was visiting and had to take an important phone call, the fire fall was delayed a half-hour so he could enjoy it. The fire fall involved two voices, one echoing from Glacier Point and another calling up from the valley below. The exchange, Marsden said, was this—“Hello Glacier Point!” “Hello Camp Curry.” “Is the fire ready?” “The fire is ready.” “Let the fire fall.” “The fire falls.” At that point, the man atop Glacier Point would take a steel rake and push the embers of a fire off the massive monolith. In “Yosemite!” Marsden recreates this scene musically and he and one of the orchestral musicians voice the famous exchange. “There is nothing like booming out those words and conducting the entire orchestra in a massive tutti while you can

The mountain town of Mariposa has fewer than 2,000 residents.

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actually see Glacier Point,” he said, using the Italian term that describes when the whole orchestra begins to play. “And next year when we perform the entire cycle in Yosemite and tour the MSO in a series of performances in the gateway counties surrounding the park, our audiences will be able to share in that experience.” A grant was awarded to the orchestra in recognition of “American Anniversaries” and the orchestra’s economic impact on the region. The grant will help fund the orchestra’s 2016 multi-county tour of concerts presenting “American Anniversaries.” • For more information about the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra, including its upcoming performances, go to tinyurl.com/MariposaSO. Valerie Shelton has worked as a reporter and editor for several Central Valley publications. Currently, she is the editor of the Clovis Roundup, a community newspaper covering news and events in the growing city of Clovis.


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Stories from the Heartland

From tr agedy to triumph: A family overcomes the odds

I

t wasn’t a premonition, exactly, but I just knew something was wrong.” Jean Hall watched as a Life Flight helicopter skimmed slow and low over her West Fresno backyard and lumbered into a threatening late September sky. “The kids were in the backyard, playing,” she recalled. “We watched for the longest time -- it seemed to take forever to finally fade out of sight.” The chopper was flying to Mendota, 40 miles west of Fresno. Somehow, Jean Hall already knew that. “Twenty minutes later, the phone rang,” Jean said. “It was Dave Righthouse, Brian’s boss at the Mendota biomass power plant.” The message was heart-stopping and direct: “Jean, there’s been an accident. You need to get to the hospital.” “I was awake and talking the whole time,” Brian Hall

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by Bud Elliott

recalled of being airlifted through a violent thunderstorm to the emergency room at University Medical Center. “I asked them not to intubate me or put me to sleep until my wife got there. I knew I was badly burned and might not wake up,” he said. “I just wanted to say good bye; that seemed really important to me at the time.” But the burn unit trauma team could not delay; there was immediate and painful work to be done. Brian was put into a deep sleep. He wouldn’t awaken for nearly five weeks. Jean Hall arrived a few minutes later.

An ocean of orange The AES Mendota co-generation plant burned agricultural waste to produce electric power. On the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2005, the plant’s biomass boiler had been shut down for two days because a huge wad of molten slag was stuck


One of two cyclonic converters at the biomass (co-generation) plant near Mendota. Brian Hall was standing on a metal catwalk roughly 50 feet off the ground at the time of the accident. The plant was shut down last year. Photo by Bud Elliott

“I remember the shock of seeing an ocean of orange through the grating below my feet. It was rushing up toward me.” inside one of two 100-foot tall cyclone separators. A subcontractor, North American Industrial Services, was called in to clear the obstruction with dynamite. Such a procedure had been used successfully at a similar plant in Woodland but never at the facility in Mendota. Everyone agreed that it was a dangerous yet necessary option because all other efforts had failed. Brian Hall, the AES fuel yard and safety team leader, was stationed about 50 feet above the ground on a metal catwalk hard against the separator. Several employees were deployed with fire hoses at strategic locations around the behemoth machine. The carefully controlled dynamite blast successfully dislodged a 2,000-degree clog, but the force of the explosion unexpectedly blew molten material out of the container. As it mixed

with outside air, a fireball of superheated gas and flames exploded, hitting the ground then splashing upwards. “I remember the shock of seeing an ocean of orange through the grating below my feet. It was rushing up toward me,” Brian recalled. He described the heat as “incredible.” He knew he was completely exposed and in terrible trouble. Several of his co- workers shouted at him – “Run! Run!!” – but he couldn’t hear them above the roar. “There was this enormous ‘whoosh’ sound and unbearable pain for a few seconds, then incredibly almost no pain, at all,” Brian said. “That’s apparently when the deepest burns destroyed a lot of nerve endings. “Somehow, I made it to the stairway and stumbled down. The rubber

heels of my work boots melted and started sticking to the stairs but I kept going. My shirt was burned away, only the collar remained. My hardhat and safety glasses actually melted onto my head.” Halfway down the stairs, he noticed skin dripping off his hands and arms. “They were no longer hands, actually – more like charred claws,” he said. His denim jeans would withstand the initial fireball, but spray from the fire hoses soaked them and scalded both legs due to the intense residual heat. Several people who witnessed the accident were astonished that Brian managed to survive the fireball and get to the ground at all. “I recall shuffling to an open area and then sort of sinking to my knees. One of my men approached me with a Central California Life

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From tragedy to triumph fire hose. I shouted, ‘No! NO! Don’t do that!’” he said. “I was afraid the spray would wash away more skin. Jimmy Smith, my co- worker and good friend, was closest to me. He called 911.” Brian looked around at the small circle of men waiting with him for the emergency crew to arrive. “The look in their eyes said it all,” he recalled. “There was absolutely nothing that anyone could do for me at that point. Absolutely nothing.”

The long night “When I finally got to the ER, Brian was already in a coma,” Jean Hall recalled. “All of his personal items were in a plastic bag hanging from the gurney. There was his singed skin all over the bag, as well. “He was not yet bandaged, so I could see that his burns were awful. His face, neck, hands, arms and torso were already beginning to swell terribly.” That’s when Jean Hall learned her first lesson about those who are frightfully burned. “We had to perform what’s called an escharotomy right away,” said Dr. William Dominic, one of the nation’s premier emergency burn surgeons. “Full thickness circumferential burns like Brian’s form a tough, inelastic mass of tissue which must be relieved, and quickly.” Burnt tissue, called eschar, continues to press inward on healthy muscle and tissue, in effect choking off blood vessels and lymphatic structures. If poor blood flow, known as schemia, persists longer than six hours, irreversible damage can be done to underlying muscle and connective tissue. “One of the first nurses on duty that night was named Mike, a navy vet. We hit it off because we’re both Navy,” Brian recalled. “He told me all about 26 |

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the procedure many weeks later, when I finally woke up.” As a fierce thunderstorm bounced around the Central Valley that evening, Brian’s arms were raised above his head. His wrists were secured to stanchions attached to the ceiling of the green-tiled, 1940s-era operating theatre. Then, like a side of beef, he was partially lifted to a semi-upright position while doctors used a No. 10 surgical scalpel to draw long and deep slits from palm to armpit, then from armpit to pelvis. It was done to save his life. “This was a very critical burn,” Dr. Dominic recalled. “Even for a young, healthy person, which he was, there was no assurance that he would survive even the first night.” The surgeon estimated that Hall’s chances of survival were “probably no more than 50-50.”

Brian Hall being led to a physical therapy session. Photo courtesy of Jean Hall

No atheists in a foxhole “That night, while Brian was in surgery, one of the ER nurses asked, ‘Jean, is there anything we can do for you? Anything at all?’” Jean Hall recalled. “And I just said, can we pray? I don’t think they’re even allowed to do that, but there we were, a frightened little circle holding hands in the hospital corridor – Dave Righthouse, Brian’s boss and me, and two nurses. “And this nurse prayed out loud, ‘Tonight I come to you Lord, and ask for the strength and wisdom and everything I’ll need to take care of Brian so that we can have him back.’” “People would say to me, ‘You are so strong, how do you cope?’” Jean recalled of the first weeks and months of Brian’s recovery. “Well, I have faith, very strong faith.” The daughter of a North Dakota Lutheran minister, she has always been close to her church. “The day after the accident I sent

Dr. William J. Dominic. Photo by Bud Elliott

Sandra J. Yovino, RN. Photo by Bud Elliott


Brian and his daughter, Amber. Photo by Rose Waterfield/Raw Graphics Photography

Amber, dressed in scrubs and booties, marched up to her dad who was swaddled head to toe in gleaming white bandages and announced, “Hi, Daddy. It’s Amber. Don’t worry; it’s only skin.” out an email note to a bunch of people. It said, ‘It’s with a heavy heart that I am writing to let you know that Brian’s been burned very badly, he’s in the hospital at UMC and it’s too early to tell if he’s gonna be able to pull through it.’ “I think I got 70 replies in the first hour!” she said. “The next day it went viral with hundreds of people offering condolences and prayers and support. It was pretty amazing.” Brian Hall, whose faith had never been as strong as his wife’s, nearly died on the operating table that first night and on two other occasions. But each time he refused to quit. Through endless days of deep sleep and delirious dreams, he reformed his own relationship with God. “You know the old saying, ‘There are no atheists in a foxhole?’ That’s

doubly true for patients in a burn unit,” he said. “One profound, very lucid dream I had ended with me flying over a green field, ending on top of a mountain. I was holding hands with someone, whom I now believe was God. On the other side of the mountain was Brandon, our son. He is autistic and naturally requires special care. And Brandon turned to me and said, ‘I’m OK, Dad.’ Since that dream, I’ve never again questioned whether he’s gonna be OK.”

We have something here A couple of days after the accident, family friends Jimmy and Rhonda Smith went to the Hall’s home and insisted that Jean talk with a lawyer. Through a process of referrals and suggestions

she found herself in the office of Fresno attorney Rick Watters. “In early October she came in here and she looked like a shell-shocked Afghanistan war victim and she needed my help,” Watters recalled of his first meeting with Jean. “I didn’t meet Brian until three or four months later but I decided almost immediately that I could help this family.” A few days later Watters called Jean to report that he had done preliminary research on the case and there was solid reason to believe that “this is going to be a really big case. We have something here.” A little more than two years later they would discover exactly how big.

The deepest burns Central California Life

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From tragedy to triumph

Five-year-old Brandon was first to jump up on Brian’s bed when the children were finally permitted into the intensive care burn unit. Brandon Hall, then 5, visits his father at the hospital. Photo courtesy of Jean Hall

For roughly 35 days, Brian Hall slept through a series of complex surgeries to save his life and repair his gravely damaged body. Jean Hall, on the other hand, barely slept at all during those first dreadful weeks. The journal she began out of despair on the first night grew each day as she recorded her hopes and fears, frustration and anger, small victories and crushing defeats. She was Brian’s constant companion through countless reconstructive surgeries and grafts, always there to assist and reassure, to soothe the excruciating pain of the simplest bandage change or bathroom trip. Early on, Brian contracted sepsis, the great mystery disease of hospitals everywhere but predictable in his case “because in burn patients, every aspect of the immune system is compromised or destroyed – including the body’s first line of defense against infection, which is the skin,” Dr. Dominic, the surgeon, explained. Brian fought pneumonia twice. In mid-November he underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured intestine. The first operation to repair it failed, as did an emergency ileostomy. A third operation stabilized the situation but supporting abdominal tissue was so badly dam28 |

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aged by the fire that doctors had to use mesh to hold Brian’s gut together. For 10 months, Brian was forced to accept what he considered the indignity of an ileostomy bag. Five-year-old Brandon was first to jump up on Brian’s bed when the children were finally permitted into the intensive care burn unit. It was around Halloween 2005. For weeks, Jean had pleaded with hospital staff to allow Brian, who was emerging from his medically-induced coma, to see his children. Brandon, autistic but irrepressible, and Amber, wise beyond her 7 years, had been forewarned that “Daddy looks a little different” and must be handled with care. So, Amber, dressed in scrubs and booties, marched up to her dad who was swaddled head to toe in gleaming white bandages and announced, “Hi, Daddy. It’s Amber. Don’t worry; it’s only skin.”

From “The Dream Team” to a nightmare Early in 2006, after 135 days in the burn unit and 70 pounds lighter, Brian Hall was discharged from the UMC burn unit to begin rehabilitation at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. It was to be the darkest period in

the Hall family’s long journey. Sandra Yovino, a registered nurse and the director of burn services at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Medical Centers, said that the transition from around-the-clock care to rehabilitation at a different facility is the most difficult adjustment most burn patients will ever face. “When a patient is in our care, we throw all of our resources into their treatment and recovery, 24/7,” she said, noting how members of the Burn Unit staff at CRMC – the surgeons, nurses and specialists in nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and emotional and family support – have collectively been referred to as “The Dream Team.” “We even have a special team that just changes dressings and bandages because that is so painful and so critical and requires infinite skill,” she said. “We treat not only the physical burns, but also the broken hearts and minds and spirits of severely injured burn victims and their families.” When a patient leaves the Fresno burn unit they are walking into a whole different world. “Harborview is a huge medical complex and because of that the staff sometimes seemed distant and imper-


Back Row: Kelly Dern, Sandra Yovino and Jean Hall. Front row: Pete Dern and Brian Hall. Photo by Bud Elliott

Paying it forward:

Brian Hall & Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern On a late August afternoon, as the heat of the Fresno summer finally began to abate, Brian and Jean Hall flew south from their home in Vancouver, Washington to meet for the first time with Pete Dern and his wife, Kelly. Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern was badly burned in a March 25th garage fire and was a patient at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center since the accident. A widely-seen video showed him as he fell through the roof of the structure in a shower of sparks and flames and into a hotbed below, where he was trapped for several minutes while firefighters worked frantically to get him out. Capt. Dern suffered deep tissue burns over 60 percent of his body. His hands and arms were critically burned, much the same as the injuries suffered by Brian Hall. “Only those who have these kinds of burns can relate,” explained Sandy Yovino, RN, director of burn services at CRMC. “That’s why it’s so important that burn survivors like Brian and Jean continue to mentor those patients who are just beginning the very long journey of recovery. “Peer survivors are a critical support mechanism every step of the way.” Brian and Jean Hall committed early on to “pay it forward,” a term used to explain their low profile financial and personal support of a long list of charitable causes. Foremost among them is the Phoenix Society’s S.O.A.R. program (Survivors Offering Assistance and Recovery). Brian spent more than two hours behind closed doors with Pete, explaining that the coming months and years of rehabilitation will be difficult and painful, but ultimately successful. Capt. Pete Dern was released from the hospital on Sept. 9, 2015 after 169 days of intensive care treatment.

sonal, more like a big bureaucracy than a health care facility,” Brian Hall said diplomatically. “ “While in the hospital, I’d wake up each day and realize I was looking at eight hours of pain. I was slipping into a depression,” he continued. “After I was released from the hospital, Jean would take the kids to the beach or somewhere for a couple hours of respite. I would use that ‘alone time’ to scream and rage and beat the walls with my ruined fists. “The doctors weren’t telling me much. We all hated it. There were a couple of times in there that I seriously contemplated suicide. It was Jean who pulled the family through. She kept track of medications and scheduled treatments, while dealing with doctors, nurses, hospital staff, insurance, and caring for the children in a rented home in a strange city. The stress and strain and emotional toll on Jean was enormous and unrelenting.

A marriage in trouble On April 26, 2006, after just four months of treatment at Harborview, the Halls decided to move back to Fresno where Brian underwent many more surgeries to repair his still badly damaged hands and skin. The trauma of the accident and what followed had exacted a terrible toll on more than Brian’s body. “By December of 2006, I’d had enough,” Jean confessed. “I was deeply depressed. I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted out. Our marriage was broken, just plain broken. “The emotional and physical strain on both of us was just unbearable.” As luck would have it, they found Dr. Judith Knapp, a Fresno psychologist, perhaps the only person in the world who, at that moment, might be able to help heal their relationship. “In January, we said ‘let’s give it a try,’” Jean recalled of their decision to try to save their marriage. “I told her, ‘We are so broken, I don’t know how to fix our lives.’ “But she did. Over the course of the next 12 months, Judith Knapp helped to heal our marriage.”

The largest personal injury award in the history of the Eastern District In October 2007, nearly two years after the accident, the Hall’s lawsuit against North American Industrial Services, the dynamite subcontractor, was heard in U.S. District Court with Judge Oliver Wanger presiding. Attorney Rick Watters explained why he initially sued for only $7-million in damages. “The company’s insurer, AIG, had covered them for only $7 million. We made a ‘Limit Demand,’ meaning a demand for their entire $7 million policy,” he said. “They turned it down and offered to settle

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From tragedy to triumph for $1 million before the trial started. We said no. The trial got underway and lasted five weeks. Close to the end, they offered $2 million to settle. We said no.” The jury awarded Brian and Jean Hall $27.5-million – the largest award in the history of the Eastern District of California. It would also be the largest award of Watters’ career, which spans 93 jury trials. The amount was reduced twice, first by Judge Wanger and then during the settlement phase. Rick Watter’s only advice to the Halls when he gave them the check: “Pay it forward.” Less than three months after the Halls collected their award from AIG, the company went bankrupt. Soon after, the U.S. and world economies began to unravel, catalyzing this country’s deepest recession since the 1930s.

A normal childhood After the settlement, the Halls moved back to Vancouver, Washington where Brian had worked prior to accepting the job in Fresno. They purchased a house on five acres across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Brian is able to travel easily to medical centers in the vicinity for routine check-ups and procedures while still commuting to Fresno several times a year for continuing medical treatment with Dr. Dominic and Dr. Randi Galli, who has performed more than a dozen operations on Brian’s right hand. Ten years after the industrial accident that could easily have ended his life, Brian has regained much of what was taken from him by that 2,000-degree flash from hell. At age 52, he is thankful that he can walk, talk, think and feel. He has undergone at least 60 surgeries. He no longer has a gall bladder, one kidney or a complete intestine. His gut is trussed 30 |

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“My parents’ greatest accomplishment was making sure that we kids still had a normal childhood.” –Amber Hall Amber and Brandon were ages 7 and 5 when their father was in the industrial accident that would change their family forever. Photo by Rose Waterfield/Raw Graphics Photography

by a surgical mesh. His aorta contains six stents. Most of his skin started out somewhere else on his body. He will always experience pain, which cannot be extinguished. But there is much to be grateful for, including a loving wife who gave 10 years of her life to help him heal while raising two beautiful children. Amber, now 17, will finish her senior year at Camas High School and then attend a university somewhere on the east coast. “My parents’ greatest accomplishment was making sure that we kids still had a normal childhood,” she said. “Looking back, I don’t feel that we were

deprived of anything, or traumatized. We have a lot of great memories.” Fifteen-year-old Brandon will attend the Maplebrook School in Amenia, New York this fall. The school recruits kids like Brandon who are challenged in certain ways and helps equip them for life in the wider world. The Halls have rented a house a half-mile from the school. Jean and Brian will take turns living near their son while he is at the school. • Bud Elliott retired in May 2014 from a broadcast journalism career that spanned 49 years, including 27 years at KSEE¬TV in Fresno. He is currently a freelance writer.


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www.my1680.com Central California Life

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Stories from the Heartland

Leading in LOVE:

Fresno State’s First Lady by Andrew Veihmeyer

“S

er amor” is tattooed on her right forearm, Portuguese for “Be love.” She’s one of the busiest volunteers in the Central Valley. And her favorite pastime is board games with family. Her name is Mary Castro and she is officially known as the First Lady of Fresno State, supporting President Joseph I. Castro’s goals and initiatives. Unofficially, she’s known for her hugs. “It’s kind of a running joke across campus,” Castro said. “You’ll get people saying ‘She will be hugging you while you’re here.’” Such warmth is rooted in the small town of Laton, about 20 miles south of Fresno, where Mary Borges Castro was born into a farming family. “My mom went into labor with me while my dad was milking cows late at night,” she said. The simplicity of the rural lifestyle molded her as an individual and shaped her values, especially as they pertained to helping others. “We would share things,” Castro said of the tight-knit community. “If someone had milk … nectarines … you bartered and traded.” She fondly remembers her grandmother, Josephine Borges, hosting many family gatherings at her home. It was a time for fellowship and eating together. “I once thought everyone had that,” Castro said. 34 |

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Mary Castro and Fresno State president Joseph I. Castro at the unveiling of the Armenian genocide monument on the university campus. Photo courtesy

Mary Castro and Joseph I. Castro and their son Jess. The Castros have two other children, both in their 20s – son Isaac and daughter Lauren. Photo by Marty Solis

of Mary Castro

...while attending a catered campus event during her first semester at Fresno State, she noticed hungry students peering in through the windows. “When I saw them, I said ‘Come on in.’ ” Castro went to high school at Riverdale Christian Academy, where she was involved in a number of activities including speech and debate, volleyball, music and theater. She worked part-time to pay for her tuition. She also helped her parents with household expenses. While working at Burger King her senior year, she met a young man who was in his first year at UC Berkeley. Joe Castro encouraged her to continue her education, which she did, enrolling in Dominican College in San Rafael and studying musical theater. Mary and Joe married and spent the next several years supporting and working alongside each other at University of California campuses, where Joe held positions of increasing responsibility. “We were willing to go where the positions were,” she said, “but our goal was always to come back here and serve our own community.” That opportunity presented itself in mid-2013 when Joseph I. Castro became president of Fresno State,

succeeding John D. Welty. It wasn’t long afterward when Mary Castro began identifying meaningful ways to engage with the campus and larger communities. “What first came to our attention was that many of our students go through food insecurity” – skipping meals during the day because they don’t have the resources to buy them, Castro said. In response, she led the effort to establish The Student Cupboard, a pantry on campus where current students can receive free food and hygiene products. It was important to Castro that the resource be structured in a way that preserves their dignity, so all that’s asked of them is where the resources are going and how many are in their household. The desire to help students in need was also behind The Catered Cupboard. Castro got the idea while attending a catered campus event during her first semester at Fresno State. She noticed hungry students peering in through the windows. “When I saw them, I said ‘Come

on in,’” Castro recalled. Students who sign up for the Catered Cupboard receive a push notification on their mobile devices, indicating where they can go and eat the untouched portions of food left over from catered staff luncheons and events. It’s first-come, first-served, said Castro, and any Fresno State student can get the notifications. “You’ll find that I’m a person who asks ‘Why?’ or ‘How can I invite the students?’” Castro said. In November 2013, Castro was approached by Julie Logan, program director for KFSR, the non-commercial public radio station operated on campus. What Castro thought was a one-time request to appear on a segment was actually a request for Castro to have her own weekly program. “As a radio programmer, I immediately recognized an opportunity for both KFSR and Fresno State,” Logan said. “Mrs. Castro is in a unique position of having her finger on the pulse of the university.” After some brainstorming sessions Central California Life

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with Shirley Armbruster of the university’s communications office, Castro recognized that the show could be a way to tell the stories of individuals committed to the campus. First Lady’s Focus airs Sundays at 10 a.m. and will enter its second year in January. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president of Academic Mary Castro has hugged hundreds of Affairs, was an early graduating students since becoming guest. First Lady of Fresno State. “It’s personal,” “She’s able to make she says, “and it matters that they know we care.” Photo courtesy of Mary Castro people feel so comfortable,” Zelezny said. “And Mary is tireless. She’s largely at every Fresno State function to help our campus.” Many of those functions are held at University House, the official residence of Fresno State presidents and their families. It was the site of KFSR Fest, the first-ever summer benefit concert series to support the campus radio station, and is where the Castros host an annual reception coinciding with Christmas Tree Lane. More recently they opened their home to a barbecue for new faculty and their families. “We enjoyed meats prepared by our meat processing facility by students on our campus, ping pong tables and a bounce house,” Castro said. Castro believes that inviting faculty members’ families to campus functions is important. When a faculty member is newly hired or returns for another academic year, the entire 36 |

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family is affected, she said. It’s fitting to start the year with all of them attending. “She wants to address people in the context of the family,” Zelezny said. “It’s a powerful message she’s sending.” As chair of the psychology department, Zelezny worked closely with Castro on the establishment of the Autism Center @ Fresno State. She said Castro played a key role in sealing the university’s partnership with Valley Children’s Hospital, a relationship that led to the opening of a satellite autism center at the Madera medical facility in July. “It was because of Mary’s passion that we were able to expand,” Zelezny said. Castro seems to derive particular joy from watching students accomplish their personal and academic goals. Two weeks before the 2014 Latino Commencement Celebration, Castro talked to students who would be receiving awards and other special honors. A few told her that their parents would not be in attendance because they lived too far away, needed to honor other commitments or had passed away. Castro was determined to make a difference somehow. On the day of the commencement ceremony, she asked the dean if she could hug the first student who took to the stage. “I felt overwhelmed with joy for them,” Castro recalled. “I couldn’t hug just one!” Since then, she has hugged hundreds of graduating students. “They shake the hand of the president,” Zelezny said, “[but] I’ve seen some of the students jump into her arms. “I think they need it, the encouragement.” Said Castro, “It’s personal, and it matters that they know we care.” • Andrew Veihmeyer was news editor of the campus newspaper while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in communication at Fresno State. Most recently, he has worked as a marketing intern for several companies and nonprofits in the Central Valley.


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The Wish List

Fall Gift Guide United Carpet One

4950 N. Crystal Avenue, Fresno (559) 225-5100

United Carpet One (UCO) has been providing quality flooring products and services to Central California clients since 1957. A third-generation, family-owned business, UCO is now under the leadership of Julie Kerkochian. With showrooms in both Fresno and Clovis, customers can choose from a vast and distinctive product line.

UCO backs its products and installation services with a oneof-a-kind “Our Beautiful Guarantee,” whereby if you aren’t satisfied with the way your new floor looks, UCO will replace it for free, including installation. UCO’s product line includes the following:

Photos courtesy of United Carpet One

Lees Carpet

H2O™ Vinyl Plank

Hardwood Made in the USA

The Lees Carpet brand has been known for its durability and high quality for more than 160 years. Offering an unprecedented 25-year Stain Protection Warranty, the Ultra25 Stain Protection protects carpet from stains caused by wine, coffee, grease and pets.

Invincible H2O Enhanced Luxury Vinyl Plank is a breakthrough in flooring technology, providing waterproof protection, outstanding durability and high-end, handcrafted, designer good looks. The ceramic-infused finish and waterproof construction means this flooring is approved for pet-friendly homes. This enhanced product is backed with UCO’s Titanium Warranty, which includes lifetime coverage for wear, fade, stain, discolor, damage and installation.

Rich, strong and welcoming, a hardwood floor is the time-honored choice for the American home from modern to traditional. UCO offers a large selection of hardwood styles all proudly handcrafted in the U.S. Three popular choices are 7-inch wide hickory flooring in a variety of colors, 6-inch wide wire-brushed oak flooring, and 5-inch wide crafted maple hardwood flooring.

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Landfill Dzine 1735 Dockery Ave., Selma (559) 891-1885 www.landfilldzine.com After years of research and experimentation, Joshua and Heather Carpenter discovered how to re-purpose “lay flat” irrigation hoses that farmers have in abundance but are unable to recycle. They converted this very durable material, along with other recycled materials, into an eco-chic line of purses, flip-flops, belts and more. Now conscientious consumers around the world can help save the planet without compromising style or quality thanks to the Carpenters’ business, Landfill Dzine. If wine is your bag, then this item is for you. Landfill Dzine’s eco-conscious wine bag fits most wine bottles and is 100% up-cycled, made from reclaimed “lay flat” ag irrigation material. The result is a sleekly designed, sturdy bag to gift yourself or someone special.

Photos courtesy of Jacoby Productions

Three’s never a crowd in this handsome wine bottle carrier. Easily remove the Velcro-attached dividers and it becomes a gym, beach or shopping tote. Made of reclaimed, shiny black irrigation hose secured at the top with soft, cotton-webbing handles, this sturdy tote can hold three of most wine bottles with ease. $30

$47

Styled with up-cycled class, this glamorous clutch demands attention while complementing any attire. The perfect accessory for any social event. An artful, bamboo turn-lock closure secures the contents. 9” W x 6” H x 2.5” D; strap to 23”. Waterproof. $100

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Fall Gifts

Westbrook Wine Farm

Fresno State Winery

(559) 868-3499 Madera westbrookwinefarm.com

(559) 278-6619 fresnostatewinery.com

Westbrook’s most well-known wine, the Fait Accompli, is fermented in the same way as reds from Bordeaux. Touting a complex flavor and rich color to boot, it’s definitely one of the best local wines with which to celebrate the fall and winter holidays. The 2005 Fait Accompli costs $60 a bottle, with prices going down with each successive year. The Sauvignon Blanc is also a seasonal favorite, priced at $18.95 a bottle.

Show your school spirit with Fresno State wine. The 2009 San Joaquin County Petit Syrah is one of the university’s featured wines, made from grapes grown on the Duarte Vineyard in Linden, two and a half hours south of Fresno. The cost is $9.95 a bottle. Other featured wines this year include the Sauvignon Blanc and the Barbera, both $9.95. The Solare is $15.95.

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Central California Life


Winner of the

• People’s Choice Award • The Best of the Best Wedding Photographers, Central Valley • Bride’s Choice Awards • The Knot Magazine

Pamela Leeds Photography & Company Premier Wedding Photography 3087 W. Bullard Ave.

Southwest corner of Bullard and Marks next to Ovidio’s Italian Restaurant

559.432.2466

Pamela.Shootproof.com Driven by the Lord, powered C e n t r aby l C Canon alifornia

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Fall Gifts Cardella Winery Mendota (559) 655-4216 cardellawinery.com

Another favorite local winery, Cardella Winery in Mendota, makes excellent wines. Some favorites this year include the Barbera, the Syrah and the Boccale. The Barbera and Syrah are both $16.95 and the Barbera is $17.95. These fine wines and more may be purchase at the Sierra Nut House www.sierranuthouse.com 7901 N. Blackstone Ave. Fresno, CA  93720 559-432-4023

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Central California Life


Who says a psychiatrist can’t be funny and still be effective? Tune in to Radio Psyched hosted by Dr. Brad, “The shrink with a wink,” every Saturday from 1-2 p.m. Pacific time on AM1680 in Central California. You can also go to www.my1680.com and tune in online. To send your questions to Dr. Brad ahead of the show’s broadcast, you can tweet, Facebook or email him at info@radiopsyched.com.

RadioPsyched ™ is a mark of Radio Psyched

www.RadioPsyched.com Central California Life

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Desti nations

Berkeley: Beyond the stereotypes by Kelty Bolin-Propst

I

have fond memories of growing up in the Central Valley farming town of Hanford. Through my childhood lenses, the world beyond my hometown was foreign and unpredictable. Berkeley in particular – with its reputation for hippies, drugs and war protests – was a place to avoid. Still, I was as intrigued as I was frightened by what I heard from the adults around me about what is arguably the Bay Area’s second most well-known city after San Francisco. Little did I know then that Berkeley would one day become a place I would refer to as home and that I would come to think of myself as a hippy of sorts. When I think of Berkeley now, I think of more than tiedye and peace signs (although plenty of that abounds). I also think of music and community. I think, “Go, Cal Bears!” I absolutely adore this charming yet eclectic college town. If you take the time to explore what it has to offer, I think you will, too. Tourists visiting Berkeley naturally gravitate toward Telegraph Avenue, a four-block section south of the university where students new and old gather. Street merchants sell jewelry, incense and beautiful bonsais. Aspiring henna tattoo artists proudly display their work on body limbs and bare chests. A former ’60s activist strolls casually down the avenue. A weekend visit to this lovely town will leave you longing to come back for more. 44 |

Central California Life

Emeryville Marina, where the Barkissimo bed and breakfast is docked. Photo by April Bolin-Propst

If you are a boat lover looking for a weekend adventure, you might consider lodging on the Barkissimo, an 80-foot trawler yacht converted into a bed and breakfast. Docked in Emeryville, which borders Berkeley, the Barkissimo features three levels with incredible views of the San Francisco Bay. Personalized service, comfortable rooms and delicious food will make you feel like royalty. If your trip happens to include young children, Tilden Park is a must-see. Situated in the Berkeley Hills, the park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, offering an array of natural and man-made wonders that promise to be fun whether you are 5 or 55. Grab yourself a bag of celery and lettuce and head for the Little Farm, where the kids will get a big kick out of feeding the cows, pigs, goats and rams. Careful, though: The goats are especially greedy and prone to a harmless nibble of a wee hand. Tilden is also your area if you enjoy hiking, with well over 2,000 acres of natural beauty. One of the happy cows at Tilden Park’s Little Farm. Photo by April Bolin-Propst


4th Street is a cozy, dog-friendly corridor in the city’s Elmwood District.

(below) Bette’s Ocean View Diner on 4th Street serves up the perfect Reuben sandwich. Photos by April Bolin-Propst

Not far from the park is the Lawrence Hall of Science. Its hands-on science exhibits make it an educational but fun adventure for kids. Exploring nature, while beautiful, can be exhausting. I enjoy winding down on Berkeley’s 4th Street off University Avenue, a cozy, dog-friendly corridor of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and gift shops tucked away in the city’s Elmwood District. Bette’s Oceanview Diner is a local favorite. Especially popular is the Reuben sandwich with corned beef, melted cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye, complemented by a tasty chicken salad. On nearby San Pablo Avenue is the Albatross Pub, Berkeley’s oldest pub and a favorite hot spot among locals. The

Albatross Pub is the city’s oldest pub and a popular hot spot among locals. Photo by April Bolin-Propst

outside of the nondescript establishment is deceiving; after you enter, you’ll discover an ambience that is both fun and relaxing. You can enjoy your favorite beer or the pub’s signature Biscayne Bomber cocktail in front of a warm fireplace, grab all the popcorn you can eat for a dollar, and enjoy a game or two of Taboo with friends. There are also darts and a pool table. The pub features live music on the weekends and a Trivia Night on Sundays. It’s crowded, but you’ll have a blast. During a recent visit to the Alba-

tross, I asked Ali, the vivacious young bartender, to offer a simple description of this female-owned and operated pub. “The crowd is so diverse and friendly with a lot of great stories. Travel stories, relationship stories,” she said proudly. “People don’t linger. They come in and enjoy the moment.” Are you a dog lover? Check out Point Isabel in the neighboring city of Richmond. Operated by East Bay Regional Park District, Point Isabel is 23 acres of fun for dogs and their humans. Central California Life

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Cesar Chavez Park, located in Berkeley Marina, is one of the area’s best places to watch the sun set.

IF YOU’RE GOING… BARKISSIMO 3310 Powell Street C-26, Emeryville 94608 (510) 619-8081 Barkissimo.com

TILDEN PARK 2501 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Orinda 94563 (510) 544-2747 ebparks.org/parks/tilden

LAWRENCE HALL OF SCIENCE 1 Centennial Dr., Berkeley 94720 (510) 642-5132 lawrencehallofscience.org Don’t worry about your dog rolling in the dirt after jumping into the inlet from the Bay; Point Isabel offers dog grooming at Mudpuppies Tub and Scrub while you Skates on the Bay in Berkeley Marina features enjoy a pastry and coffee at the Sit and fresh seafood and breathtaking views of the San Stay Café. Francisco Bay. Be sure to get a window seat. A trip to Berkeley wouldn’t be Photo courtesy of Skates on the Bay complete without a visit to the Berkeley Marina and Cesar Chavez Park. With spectacular views of iconic bridges, Alcatraz, Angel Island and San Francisco, the marina is one of the area’s best places to watch the sun set. I recommend taking it in during a scenic stroll through Cesar Chavez Park and polishing off the experience with a meal at Skates on the Bay. One diner I recently spoke with, Terry from the Contra County town of Hercules, raved of Skates: “The view from the window seats, even on a dismal day, is enchanting: birds fly by, boats glide across the water and the San Francisco skyline is visible between the two bridges. “If you want a water view, Skates is the place to go. And for sunset dining, there isn’t a better place in the East Bay to watch the sun sink into the horizon.” A lot has changed in the years I have called Berkeley home. The People’s Park is not as vibrant as it was during the 1960s and 1970s, the young people are not as politically revved up, and some of our most cherished, independently-owned businesses have been financially crushed by corporate entities. But Berkeley will never lose its charm. Contrary to what I was led to believe as a child, there is something for just about anyone here and there is absolutely nothing to fear or dislike. You might ask, “Where are the hippies?” We’re still here. We’re just older, wiser and more introspective. Berkeley is our oasis and now we get high off the beauty that surrounds us. • Kelty Bolin-Propst is a technical support/project leader for an information management company. Born and raised in the Central Valley, she has lived in the Bay area for the past 30 years. She returns to the Valley several times a year to visit family.

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Central California Life

BETTE’S OCEANVIEW DINER 1807 Fourth St., Berkeley 94710 (510) 644-3230 bettesdiner.com

ALBATROSS PUB 1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley 94710 (510) 843-2473 albatrosspub.com

POINT ISABEL 2701 Isabel St., Richmond 94804 (888) 327-2757 ebparks.org/parks/pt_isabel

MUDPUPPIES TUB & SCRUB 1 Isabel St. Richmond 94804 (510) 559-8899 muddpuppys.com

SIT AND STAY CAFÉ 1266 Washington Ave., Richmond 94804 (510) 527-1011

BERKELEY MARINA AND CESAR CHAVEZ PARK 11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley 94710 (510) 981-6700 ci.berkeley.ca.us

SKATES ON THE BAY 100 Seawall Dr., Berkeley 94710 (510) 549-1900 skatesonthebay.com


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Central California Life

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Health and Wellness

When you aren’t ready to retire: The best may be yet to come by Bradley T. Wajda, D.O.

A

During his 25 years of practicing in the Central Valley, Dr. Bradley T. Wajda (aka “Dr. Brad”) has amassed extensive experience in adult and child psychiatry, as well as comprehensive substance abuse treatment. Catch “Dr. Brad” at RadioPsyched.com. You can also read more from “Dr. Brad” at EsanoHealth.com.

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Central California Life

n actress finds herself out of a career at age 65 due to illness. A 50-year-old civil servant finds himself at his retirement goal which was set long ago. A 58-year-old is downsized out of a job. Many people find themselves in retirement, either voluntarily or involuntarily. This major life change raises similar financial and psychological issues regardless of the circumstances. Among the latter challenges are losing a sense of identity and purpose, thinking we want to retire when we really want a career change, and not being prepared psychologically to give up our careers. It is this last point that I want to focus on. Entire books are devoted to this subject so we will just touch on a few of the high points. Retirement looks much different to us than it

did to our grandparents. Due in large part to the uncertainty of Social Security, the traditional retirement plan of yesteryear has been replaced by 401(k)s and self-planning. Many of us are working longer because of worry that we can’t afford not to. Surveys of nonretired adults have found that the average American expects to retire at age 67 – a leap of four years compared to those polled in 2002 and seven years for those polled in the mid-1990s. Some, primarily those in certain public service jobs, will find themselves retiring when they are literally in the prime of life whether they are ready or not. How unnerving is it to find yourself with nowhere to go before you are ready? You may find that your entire social life is at work. What will your social network look like in


People who found fame after 50,

Harland (Colonel) Sanders

Charles Darwin

and sometimes much later.

Julia Child

Laura Ingalls Wilder

retirement? Do you have hobbies or interests that will lead to a sense of fulfillment during retirement? It isn’t realistic to believe that you will “find” a social life or hobbies as soon as you retire. To add to our consternation about retirement, research shows that people who have meaningful careers and stay productive have the longest lives. To inspire those of us who find ourselves in the angst of mid-life (or later) interruptions to our careers, I would like to provide the following list of people who found fame after 50, and sometimes much later.

• Harland Sanders, better known as COLONEL SANDERS, was 62 and broke when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952, which he would sell for $2 million 12 years later. • At age 55, DUNCAN HINES wrote his first food and hotel guides (including one that mentioned Sanders Court and Café, the original restaurant owned by Harlan Sanders). At age 73, he licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes. • CHARLES DARWIN spent his lifetime as an obscure naturalist. He was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species in 1859. Whether or not you agree with his theory, the book has immortalized him. • RAY KROC spent his career as a milkshake machine salesman before buying McDonald’s at age 52 in 1954 and turning it into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.

Taikichiro Mori

Grandma Moses

• JULIA CHILD was 51 when she launched her career as a celebrity chef with a television debut on The French Chef. • The husband-and-wife team of TIM AND TINA ZAGAT were corporate lawyers when they first started printing their restaurant guides. At age 51, Tim left his job to manage the business. Google bought Zagat for $151 million in 2011. • LAURA INGALLS WILDER didn’t publish her first novel until the age of 65. The 12-book Little House on the Prairie series became an instant children’s literary classic. Of course, it later was the basis for a stunningly successful TV show by the same name. • TAIKICHIRO MORI was an academic who became a real estate investor at age 51. His real estate investments made him the richest man in the world in 1992 with a net worth of $13 billion. • Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as GRANDMA MOSES, began her prolific painting career at age 76. Grandma Moses’ original interest was embroidery but, once her arthritis grew too painful for her to hold a needle, she decided to give painting a try. She lived another 25 years as a painter. In 2006, one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million. These examples encourage us to consider that some of our greatest accomplishments may yet be ahead, no matter our age. Even unexpected endings can be great beginnings. • Central California Life

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DEFENDING YOUR FREEDOM At the Law offices of Amy K. Guerra, we think the most effective representation comes from strength in trial, but also in negotiations and motion writing. For that reason, we practice aggressive and conscientious representation on misdemeanors, felonies and appeals  in the following areas (both adult and juvenile): DUIs Theft-Related Crimes White-Collar Crimes Domestic Violence Serious & Violent Felonies Murder and Attempted Murder Gang Crimes Drug Crimes ...and more.

The Law Office of Amy K. Guerra

2014 Tulare Street, Suite #310 Fresno, CA. 93721 (559) 898.2889 (mobile) (559) 264.8872 (office) (559) 264.8875 (fax)

The Camp Recovery Center For 30 years, The Camp has been a leader in the field of drug and alcohol treatment. It’s nestled on 25 acres in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In such a majestic setting, the healing is wholesome, holistic and fun. Our substance abuse treatment program combines experienced counseling and medication management with 12-step recovery principles, art therapy, recreational and experiential therapies to facilitate change and build a base of recovery. Our clinical team creates individualized treatment plans as everyone has unique circumstances which have led them to their addictions. Fully accredited, we have built a national reputation and long-standing relationships with the medical and therapeutic communities. The Camp’s affordable treatment is covered by most insurance plans.

3192 Glen Canyon Road • Scotts Valley 800-924-2879 • www.camprecovery.com

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Heavenly Inspiration Wellness Center A Natural holistic approach for all Your health care needs

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Clovis Office 777 Minnewawa Suite 9 Clovis, CA 93612 559-323-4175

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www.heavenlyinspirationwellnesscenter.com Like us on Facebook Central California Life

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Health and Wellness

RawFresno: A healthy & delicious diet alternative

by Megan Ginise

A

fter Naomi Hendrix’s son passed away nine years ago, she went on a mission that has transformed not only her life but the lives of countless foodies across Fresno. Ian Zachary Smith died on Aug. 27, 2006 at the age of 21. He had suffocated in his sleep after experiencing a major seizure. Prior to his death, doctors had no idea what was causing the seizures. Just this year Hendrix discovered what had been ailing her son: gluten intolerance. Hendrix always suspected it was his diet. As a single mother, she said, she made macaroni and cheese out of a box just like everybody else who couldn’t afford to make more expensive meals. “Ian died, which killed me, but it saved my life and now it’s given me the platform so that I can help others save their own sons, daughters and grandchildren,” Hendrix said of her decision to focus on educating others about the benefits of eating healthy. Less than a month after her son died, Hendrix was diagnosed with dysbiosis, a bacterial imbalance in the gut or intestines caused by many things, including an imbalanced diet. “According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 60-70 million people suffer from some type of gastrointestinal disease,” said Dr. Lisa Herzig, director of the dietetics and food administration program at Fresno State, noting that depriving the body of important nutrients can exact tolls both physically and mentally. For Hendrix, the diagnosis had far-reaching implications. “My doctors said I had to go gluten, sugar, dairy, soy, yeast and vinegar-free,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘What’s left?’” Hendrix was at a standstill, unable to eat processed food and forced to plan and make every meal at home on her own. That’s when she started RawFresno. Hendrix took her experiences with veganism and vegetarianism and decided to do her own research by taking an 18-month online course through Immune Nutrition, an online healthy living school based out of New York. She learned that cooking vegetables can decrease some of the vital enzymes necessary for maximum nutritional benefit. 52 |

Central California Life

Photo by Dan Minkler

Hendrix’s mission with RawFresno is to make a difference through education and great food. “The amount of time that the vegetables are exposed to the heat will dictate the amount of nutrients lost,” Herzig explained. “The shorter the time, the more nutrients retained.” Hendrix began offering a class at Whole Foods to show others many of the recipes she had learned, soon moving from the patio to the kitchen. This success helped to bring awareness to Fresno about raw foods, and her clientele slowly started growing. In time, she began delivering her own green smoothie mixes to customers on a daily basis. Hendrix’s mission statement for RawFresno is simple: to share knowledge of health and healing and make a difference through education and “great food.” Four years ago, the Kaiser Permanente Farmer’s Market contacted Hendrix about being one of its vendors. She’s had a presence there ever since.


Photo courtesy of RawFresno Photo by Dan Minkler

Photo by Dan Minkler

Hendrix’s son, Ian Zachary Smith, whose tragic death at the age of 21 was the catalyst for RawFresno. Photo courtesy of RawFresno

“It helped raise awareness about plant-based food – clean food – [that can] be purchased as a ‘grab-and-go’ just like [with] any of the other food trucks,” she said of her presence at the weekly market, adding that RawFresno’s offerings are healthy, too. Two years after Kaiser’s invitation, Hendrix found one of the great loves of her life: Minerva The RawMeister, a utility truck she saw on craigslist. Named in honor of her grandmother who passed away a few months shy of her 100th birthday (Hendrix’s 10-year-old grandson contributed “RawMeister”), the truck cost $35,000 to renovate. “It’s been my second summer on the road now, and I’ve just loved it,” she said. Hendrix focuses on preparing prepackaged, organic, locally grown food. These gourmet plant-based meals, appetizers, entrees, desserts, fresh juice and smoothies use sustainable practices, honoring what she calls a constant connection to the earth. Hendrix’s wife, Rio Waller, has lost 85 pounds on her journey to better health through raw foods. She says she and Hendrix did it together.

“I was overweight for what felt like my entire life,” Waller said. “So I had kind of resigned myself to that’s just how life was supposed to be for me. “When we found raw food, we had this moment where I realized what was happening.” What was happening, Waller said, was that she had not been eating enough nutrient dense food. All her body had been craving the entire time was more nutrients. Waller said that Hendrix inspires her and that it’s hurtful when skeptics pass Minerva the RawMeister without giving the food truck a second glance. Those that do look twice and stop are pleasantly surprised. “What I’ve seen is once they try it, they’re like, “Shit that’s good.’ And I tell people, ‘Trust me, if it didn’t taste good, I wouldn’t eat it,’” the self-proclaimed foodie said. RawFresno’s menu is vast, ranging from breakfast pudding and Caribbean tacos to stuffed mushrooms and what Hendrix called “Happy Tummy” cheesecake – all raw, all organic, and all affordable and filling, she said. Green vegetables figure prominent-

ly in almost every dish on the menu and is a key reason why the fare is so healthy, Hendrix said. She used the analogy of a silverback gorilla, who eats only leafy greens as its diet yet can grow to weigh more than humans. But humans are the priority, and RawFresno appears to be making an important difference in the lives of many. “In the nine years I have been doing this, I can’t even tell you how many people have come to me and said I’ve saved their life. I’ve had a couple of young women that were seriously on their deathbed,” Hendrix said. “I’m just thrilled that God has put me in this position, open to receiving the knowledge … that this is my passion and purpose in life.” “I was born and raised in Fresno and I want to help my community,” she added. “And that’s why I decided I needed to share what other people seem to be looking for.” • For more information about RawFresno, call (559) 250-5292 or visit rawfresno.com Megan Ginise will be graduating from Fresno State in spring 2016 with a degree in mass communication and journalism and honors from the Smittcamp Family Honors College. She works as a public relations specialist for several Fresno non-profits. Central California Life

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Your “Go To” Source for organic groceries, vitamins, and natural products

F

or more than 30 years Kristina’s Natural Ranch Market has been serving the Central San Joaquin Valley with our brick and mortar store located in Fresno, CA. We have long been a “go to” source for organic groceries, natural health products, vitamins, supplements, and natural beauty products. If you are in the area please come in to visit with our knowledgeable staff and learn about our amazing selection. If you live far away please use our online store by going to kristinasranchmarket.com to shop thousands of your favorite products!

Kristina’s Tip of the Month 10 Healthy Tips For Taking Care Of Yourself 1. 2. 3. 4.

Take control and learn to love yourself. Don’t eat just because food’s there. Make sure you’re walking – park far from the entrance. Stop being concerned about aging. You can’t change the fact that you have a birthday every year. 5. Have as much fun as possible. 6. Drink green juice – 16 ounces can contain as much as half your daily vitamins and nutrients. 7. You have to put time for yourself on your calendar. 8. Even if you don’t adopt a raw foods diet, include more of them in your diet. 9. Don’t eat processed foods. 10. If you eat the box, a lot of times you’d actually get more fiber than what is in the product inside.

7 6 1 E . Ba r s t o w F r e s n o, C A 9 3 7 1 0 559-224-2222

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Sports

Photos courtesy of Rhonda Murphy

Trainer Rhonda Murphy:

Journey of transformation by Madeline Shannon After a car accident in 1993 that ended her A year after a confrontation with a female firefighting career, Murphy took to the water bodybuilder who implied Murphy could to do physical therapy. never get back in shape, Murphy worked out every day for a year to become a successful bodybuilder herself.

U

As a certified member of AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), Rhonda Murphy is part of the world’s largest fitness education association. With over 25 years of experience, Rhonda has become one of the most sought after fitness consultants in Central California. She is the owner of Rhonda’s Fitness Center and hosts “Workout Wednesdays” on ABC 30. As a personal trainer, she motivates and gives inspiration to anyone who wants to gain a higher level of health and fitness. For more information, visit rhofit.com or call (559) 431-3600.

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nless you knew better, you would never guess that a nondescript building on Bullard Avenue is where a special group of people has created a family made up of the broken and the bruised. Many have battled serious illnesses, accidents and injuries. They come here – to Rhonda’s Personal Training – not only to build their bodies back up, but also to cultivate a sense of community with those around them. Rhonda Murphy, the leader of the pack, is a personal trainer and founder of the gym. She started the business 25 years ago after a much-loved firefighting career ended early. “I used to volunteer at the PTA up in Three Rivers,” Murphy said. “I was driving back home in Sequoia National Park one night when a drunk driver hit my car and I broke my lower back.” Murphy was extracted from her car by the same firefighters she worked with. They were crying. She had ruptured at least one disc in her lower back and her scalp had been peeled back. Those were just two of her injuries. “That’s why I like to work with the broken and the bruised,” Murphy said. “I was the broken and the bruised, too.” As a firefighter for the California Fire Department, Murphy fought forest fires during the summers in Sequoia National Park. She moved on to the Hot Shots, now called the Interagency HotShot Crews, and eventually found herself working as a firefighter for the National Park Service. “After the accident, I tried to go back to work, “ Mur-

Central California Life

phy said. “I had to go back to training and pass the test, and I couldn’t do it. My back was too much of a problem.” The setback was a big one. When she went to work as a firefighter in the early 1980s, she was the only woman to pass training and enter the advanced ranks of the HotShot crew. When it became clear that firefighting was no longer a career option, Murphy sank into apathy and sadness. She gained weight, withdrew into herself and, as she likes to say, “threw my own little pity party.” The party didn’t last long. Murphy, always interested in physical fitness, attended a bodybuilding show in Fresno in the early 1990s and saw a woman competing in the show. The woman was ripped – muscular, toned and the epitome of what it meant to be fit. Murphy was impressed and, after the show, went up to the woman and asked her one of the most important questions she would ever ask in her life: “What would it take for someone like me to be that fit?” The woman gave Murphy the onceover and a look. A look that said, “You could never.”


“This business has never been just about me. My success is because I’ve wrapped myself around these amazing trainers and, over the years, we’ve all become good friends.” Murphy helps a client stretch during a workout regimen. Photo by Dan Minkler

The look stuck with Murphy for a long time. Not long after, she decided to prove the woman wrong. Getting back into shape was key and, after working out for hours every day for almost a year, she lost more than 60 pounds and turned her body into one that was muscular, toned and strong. Her passion for fitness compelled her to do more. Knowing that she wanted fitness to be part of her work, she became a trainer, working at other people’s gyms and helping others to reach their fitness goals. In 1996, she opened her own gym, Rhonda’s Personal Training. Business boomed within the first few years. Realizing she could no longer take on all her clients herself, she hired a few other trainers to help her handle her client load. The training staff has since expanded to nine other trainers. “This business has never been just about me,” Murphy said. “My success is because I’ve wrapped myself around these amazing trainers and, over the years, we’ve all become good friends.” Murphy’s friendships extend to her clients, as well. Last year, Murphy even traveled to Jamaica with a longtime client-turned-longtime friend.

Her personal touch with clients doesn’t just end with their physical fitness. “She works with emotional people, too,” said Deborah Alfors, a client of one of Rhonda’s trainers for a year and a half. “I had just gone through a divorce and I found Rhonda to be very supportive with this new phase of my life. “My trainer, April, has told me she isn’t going to let me quit.” When Alfors started experiencing an unnamed health issue earlier this year, the first people she told were Rhonda, April and her friends at the gym. “I didn’t want to share the news with too many people,” Alfors said. “They were very supportive and told me I could call them or text them anytime. “Everything turned out OK, but they were a big support during that time.” Even those who haven’t experienced illness or injury and are just interested in staying fit come here not only for the exercise equipment but also the emotional support. “This place is perfect for someone like me,” said Brian Sanders, a client of Rhonda’s. “I’ve tried a number of larger gyms here in town and this one is unlike the others – it’s not a pick-up place. “The people here are very support-

ive, and I’ve met a lot of good people here. There’s a great bunch of people here.” It’s fitting that years after Rhonda met her fitness goals, she ran into the woman who gave her the dirty look at that bodybuilding competition all those years ago. “Remember me?” Murphy asked her. “Nope,” said the woman. While it’s possible that the woman Murphy met years earlier who had inadvertently inspired her to get into shape just didn’t care enough to remember her, it can also be said that maybe Rhonda was just a totally different person physically than she used to be. Her transformation has been stunning – a fact which inspires her clients to meet their fitness goals, as well. Ever modest, Murphy is quick to share the credit with her trainers. “Just like it takes a village to raise a child, so it is with trying to run a little facility like we have,” she said. “We’re a family here, and sometimes it takes friends and family to make things happen.” • Madeline Shannon is a graduate of Fresno State’s journalism program and works as a freelance writer for several publications. She is also an active blogger.

Central California Life

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“We don’t just build websites, we build businesses” 2015-10-27 4:33 PM


Central California Life

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Arts & Entertainment

Photo courtesy of Howard Watkins.

A history of F engagement: The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series by Andrew Veihmeyer

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or more than 75 years, the dedicated volunteers of the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall have brought world-renowned figures to the region for its lecture series. The long-standing tradition began with a woman straight out of Nashville, Tennessee. Women have played key roles in the organization ever since. Clio Lee Aydelott, a well-respected intellectual in her social circle in Tennessee, moved to California and married a Hanford native named George Cortner Aydelott. They had three children. Clio established herself as a writer and an ongoing supporter of arts and culture. “She had connections with authors and was an author herself,” said Town Hall historian Al Evans. The Aydelotts’ home, known as


Town Hall historian Al Evans. Photo by Dan Minkler

Kilmers Trees, was touted as a cultural center for writers and artists in the area. In addition to writing several books, Clio developed a program called Children’s Hour that encouraged young people to find their creative voices and express themselves. Most importantly, Clio was an original founder of the San Joaquin Chapter of the League of Western Writers, which would be the foundation for the lecture series. Her position with the organization required that she travel frequently to San Francisco. During one of her trips, she met Dr. Alan Rappaport, who had founded a lecture series. In 1938, after some convincing by Clio and her colleagues, he brought his speakers to Fresno. Although the event was called the Fresno Town Hall Forum, Fresno was one of several U.S. cities to host Rappaport’s lecture series. “It was kind of a traveling show,”

Town Hall president Julie Beecher. Photo by Dan Minkler

said Town Hall president Julie Beecher. “They took the same eight speakers from city to city.” The women of the Town Hall Forum soon wanted more independence and to handcraft a local event that would be distinct and pertinent to the Valley. The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall of Fresno was established in October 1946. In 1961, it became a tax exempt nonprofit corporation with a mission of simplicity: to operate “… exclusively for educational literary, and scientific purposes…” “It’s a great example of the leadership of women here in the Valley,” Evans said of the prominent role women have played in the organization since its earliest incarnations, adding that every Town Hall president from 1941 to the present has been female. The elevation of women in the organization seemed an intentional choice.

“Originally, it was created for women by women,” said Kristen Telles, vice president of programs. “I don’t think men were allowed on the board, and the lectures reflected that by being in the morning [when men were at work and wouldn’t be able to attend.]” Board members have become more diverse over the years. The selection of speakers has developed into a more collaborative process. Telles said audiences are encouraged to submit their ideas. She, along with co-vice president Hillary Bell, narrows down the pool of possible speakers from hundreds to just seven. “We talk to them or their agent about what we expect,” Beecher said of initial discussions with potential speakers. “We want them to educate, not just give us a life story.” Brochures from previous seasons are sent to candidates to communicate the caliber and reputation of previous Central California Life

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visitors to the lecture series. The names are impressive: Henry Kissinger, Margaret Mead, Ray Bradbury and Condoleezza Rice, to list a few. “I think anyone wants to hear a dynamic speech,” Beecher said. “Our audience members are intellectual people looking to learn from others at the top of their field.” One of Beecher’s favorite lectures was by Dr. Edward Diener in 2009. “He came to talk about the study of what makes people happy,” she said. “The psychology of this is all cutting edge. For me, that was the most fun speech of the season.” For Evans, last season’s opening speech by Robert Edsel “was really moving.” Edsel is the author of Monuments Men, a story about art enthusiasts who rescue priceless masterworks from the spoils of war. The book was later adapted into a major motion picture. “They ventured into Europe during war time for such a noble purpose,” Evans said of the story’s protagonists. “That choked me up.” This year marks Town Hall’s 79th season. It opened with an evening lecture by Steve Wozniak, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist known for his design and co-founding of Apple Computers. The daytime series will feature animal expert and renowned television media figure Jack Hanna, TED Conference contributor and esteemed 62 |

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free-thinker Sir Ken Robinson, and former White House correspondent Ann Compton. It will conclude with a timely visit from statewide water solutions expert Daniel Nelson, well-known author and professor of religion at Boston University Stephen Prothero, and American global combatant commander and NATO leader Admiral James Stavridis. Most audience members buy season tickets to see all the speakers, but tickets for individual speeches are also available. Students with an I.D. can attend the lectures for free. Beecher seems especially proud of the opportunities the Town Hall gives students, some of whom take advantage of the luncheons directly following the lectures and interact with the guest speakers. “They get to meet someone from history or ask for advice for their own life,” Beecher said, adding that such interactions can be life-changing. “It makes you want to get more involved on a world stage.” • For more information about The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, this season’s schedule of speakers, or to purchase tickets, call (559) 444-2180 or go to valleytownhall.com. Andrew Veihmeyer was news editor of the campus newspaper while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in communication at Fresno State. Most recently, he has worked as a marketing intern for several companies and nonprofits in the Central Valley.


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Arts & Entertainment

Book Review

Stephen H. Provost’s

Fresno Growing Up by Jeffery Williams Photos courtesy of Stephen Provost

Manchester Center shoppers in 1966.

L

ooking back on the good old days of Fresno might seem a strange exercise to some, but if you lived there between 1945-1985, you just might empathize with Stephen H. Provost when he says he misses the Fresno that used to be. Provost recently published Fresno Growing Up (Linden), a nostalgic look at the city’s coming of age. A native son of Fresno who now lives on the Central Coast, Provost got the idea to write the book because he found himself “missing the Fresno I’d grown up with,” he said. “I keep boomeranging back to my hometown – Fresno – which led to my big idea.” “No one has ever focused on this period of Fresno’s history. Most writers have looked at the pioneer days, founding fathers and politicians,” Provost continued. “I wanted to explore the growing years of Fresno I have such fond remembrance of. “So I decided to write a nostalgic book that reflected my interests in the Fresno of the past.” Provost chose to focus less on politics, agriculture and crime – the typical subjects a journalist would be inclined to write about. (Provost is a veteran journalist and currently serves as editor of a weekly newspaper 64 |

Central California Life

Al Radka, otherwise known as “Mr. Fresno,” was one of the city’s most beloved television personalities for several decades.

based in Cambria.) The three-part book looks instead at the growth of the city (“Fresnocentric”), pop culture (“Fresnostalgic”) and sports and recreation (“Fresnolympics”). Provost was surprised to learn how many former Fresnans he wanted to interview now live on the Central Coast. Even more striking to him was the wealth of information he uncovered about Fresno – discoveries that he said left him “utterly fascinated” and provided numerous “I never knew that” moments. Among the factoids he discovered: • Cher attended Fresno High until she was 16. • Kirk Kerkorian left Fresno to become a billionaire investor in Las Vegas. • The idea of universal credit cards was first tested in Fresno.


“The Fresno I grew up in was smaller, before all the freeways and commercial chains. There were more locallyowned businesses and places with [an] identity, like the Tower District.” The groundbreaking ceremony for Fig Garden Village in 1956.

The old Fresno County Courthouse.

(above) The Nocturnes in 1965. On the far right is Steve Perry, who would become one of the 1980s’ most iconic rock stars.

• The identify of the arsonist who set a dozen fires in the city during a four-hour period on June 10, 1953 remains one of Fresno’s great unsolved mysteries. • The best-known local band of the 1960s, the Road Runners, released several hit songs on 45 records. Born at the old St. Agnes Hospital, Provost lived in Fresno until he was 9 years old. He returned to Fresno when he was 15. He attended Bullard High School and Fresno State, where he served as sports editor of the campus newspaper and earned a journalism degree in 1986. Provost knew firsthand much of what made Fresno unique during the 1960s-1980s. He patronized well-known local establishments such as Me-n-Ed’s, Di Cicco’s, Lauck’s Bakery, Harpain’s Dairy, Coney Island, Perry Boys Smorgy and The Upstart Crow, a coffee house in Manchester Center. “The Fresno I grew up with was smaller, before all the freeways and commercial chains,” Provost recalled. “There were more locally-owned businesses and places with [an] identity, like the Tower District.” Fresno Growing Up shines a spotlight on several influential figures in local radio and television, including entertainment personality Al Radka and journalists Roger Rocka and Gus Zernial. The book also looks at radio programmer Bill Drake, who perfected the Boss radio format with Gene Chenault at Fresno station KYNO. The format, with its emphasis on fewer records that would be played more frequently by “boss jocks” who spoke sparingly, was wildly successful. Hip Central California Life

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< The Road Runners perform at Gottschalk’s in 1968.

radio stations throughout the state soon followed suit. Quarterback Daryl Lamonica, Indy 500 racecar driver Billy Vukovich, and professional baseball pitchers Tom Seaver, Jim Maloney and Dick Selma are among the local athletes Provost showcases. He also recalls the growing success of the Fresno State Bulldogs at the national level – the NCAA title won by the women’s softball team, the NIT championship won by the men’s basketball squad, and the many bowl victories garnered by the football team. Such successes contributed to the expansion of Fresno State athletics overall and the creation of new, larger stadiums for Bulldog softball, baseball and football. 66 |

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The vision behind the Fulton Mall is explored in the book and attention is paid to the sculptures and architectural features of the thoroughfare. Provost believes the initial popularity of the outdoor mall was undermined by the need to beat the heat of Fresno. In contrast, Fashion Fair, built several years later in the city’s growing north end, offered patrons a completely enclosed mall with air conditioning. It quickly overtook Fulton Mall as the place to shop. Provost celebrates Fresno’s rich ethnic diversity and traces the arrival of various immigrant groups to the city, including the Armenians, the Mexicans and the Hmong. He also describes the hardships many of these communities faced. He notes how Fresno was the site of two camps, one at the fairgrounds and another in Pinedale, used in the Japanese American internment program during World War II. One of the book’s most interesting stories concerns the arrival of migrants from the Midwestern Dust Bowl states. Turns out the former Bible Belters are often credited with influencing the cessation of “unsavory” establishments for gambling and prostitution in the city. Provost is already at work on a new project. The Golden Road: Memories of Highway 99 in California, will look at the significance of the state’s first major highway to the Central Valley. Provost lives in Arroyo Grande with his wife, Samaire, who is also a published writer. “She has always been an encouragement and inspiration to me,” Provost said. He has written several other books under the pseudonym Stifyn Emrys, including dystopian novels, a collection of historical stories and an old-style romantic children’s book he wrote for his wife. Fresno Growing Up is available at All Things Fresno, A Book Barn and Petunia’s Place, where Provost will have a book signing on November 28. The book can be purchased online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. • Jeffery Williams has been a high school English teacher for 27 years. He is also a freelance writer and the award-winning author of the novel “Pirate Spirit.”


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Savor

Limón

Story and photos by Amy Guerra

Pollo a la Brasa

“Y

ou‘ve been here before haven’t you?” Luz Trigoso asked, smiling as she sat us at a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows at Limón, her restaurant in the Villagio shopping center at Friant and Fort Washington roads. “You sat on the patio, right?” I had, indeed. While that day was unremarkable in most ways – not particularly hot and not especially cold, nor did it fall on or close to any holidays – my quiet lunch with colleagues was memorable because of the food and the affable Trigoso. I remembered the way she had taken the time to explain each entrée and how my colleagues and I, trying Peruvian cuisine (affectionately referred to as nuevo-Latino fusion) for the first time, had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I didn’t expect Trigoso would remember me. Then I realized that the careful detail she pays to each dish, she pays to her guests. The simple but modern décor of the restaurant is bright and inviting, but Trigoso and her wait staff are the ones who create the 68 |

Central California Life

restaurant’s atmosphere by easily transforming each menu item into a cultural experience. Our waiter knowledgeably explained to us that Chica Morada is a sweet Peruvian drink made from purple corn, that yucca fries are good for digestion and that many of Limóns dishes are accompanied by a pepper sauce commonly referred to as aji amarillo huacatay. Chef Aldo Escribens had chosen several dishes for us. First was an appetizer – Ceviche de Pescado y Camaron – featuring thick, mild chunks of red snapper mixed with shrimp, sweet potato, red onion, large white corn and fried yellow corn in a vibrant citrus-based marinade called leche de tigre (“milk of the tiger”). Yucca fries came next, balanced neatly over Huancaína, a sauce that our waiter playfully said


Adobo de Carne

Pan-seared salmon

Ceviche de Pescado y Camaron

I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expect Trigoso would remember me. Then I realized that the careful detail she pays to each dish, she pays to her guests. Pan-seared duck breast

Peach bread pudding Central California Life

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was made from “yellow pepper, cream cheese and other things – but that’s our secret.” When it was time for the entrées, we were glad Chef Escribens had selected them. It would have been difficult for us to decide given the diverse and interesting menu choices that included vegetarian and gluten-free options. The first entrée to arrive was panseared salmon over chimichurri-roasted potatoes and topped with spaghetti zucchini, all set on a red pepper sauce. The delicate balance of flavors was exquisite and the dish was perfectly prepared. We were then served Adobe de Carne, a braised boneless beef short rib over truffle mashed potatoes. Flavorful and tender, it was the perfect choice for anyone who enjoys a more traditional option. The third entrée we tasted was Pollo a la Brasa, a traditional marinated Peruvian chicken with three aji sauces. The popular crispy-skinned chicken was split on the plate and accompanied by the traditional side dish of papa fritas, more commonly known as French fries. Chef Escribens’ last entrée was the evening’s special: pan-seared duck breast in a Cabernet pineapple demi-glace served with polenta and zucchini halves. Each entrée was as delicious as the one before, so it was impossible to turn down the Peach bread pudding that was offered as dessert. Like everything else at Limón, it didn’t disappoint. • Limón, located at 9455 Fort Washington Road in Fresno, is open seven days a week starting at 4:30 p.m. For reservations, go to limonfresno.com. Amy Guerra is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Fresno. She has written for several publications throughout California and enjoys writing about the law, food, travel and all things Fresno.

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PAIN Prescription Abusers In Need

The P.A.I.N. organization has the charge to communicate the truth about prescription drug abuse to teenagers and young adults. Founded in 2009, P.A.I.N. elevates awareness and individual assistance. Family consulting, facilitating support groups, speaking at schools, and community service groups are the primary methods by which P.A.I.N. reaches communities. Through community partnerships and resources we help the prescription drug user begin the rehabilitation process, and help their families by providing support services. P.A.I.N. proposes to reach the 80,000 students throughout the region, serving not only Fresno County, but additionally Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tlare County School Districts.

Prescription Abusers In Need 83 E. Shaw Suite 202 Fresno, CA 93710 WWW.GOTPAINUSA.COM Flindt.Andersen@gotpainusa.com (559) 579-1551 (559) 978-9239 Central California Life

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Jose Sanchez taught himself how to bake by trial and error and watching Julia Child on PBS. The Avenal native has built a large enough following in only two years to expand his business into a nearby vacant space.

Savor

Culinary Artist: Baker Jose Sanchez Story and photos by Judith House Menezes

R

emember the days when bakeries were small and local and the flavors were fresh? When glass cases were filled with so many treats it was hard to choose, and you were handed your order in a crisp white paper bag? In an era of pastries in pre-packaged in plastic from big box discount stores, supermarkets and chain bakeries, one small bakery on Hanford’s Irwin Street is doing business the old way: Sweet Palette Bakery. Jose Sanchez, who has combined his love of baking and art, owns the bakery. His slogan is “Art You Can Taste.” Depending on the day, customers might find strawberry pizzas, chocolate covered fruit, caramel apple tarts, flan, cheesecake, napoleons, scones, pies,

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cream puffs, cookies, cupcakes, rice pudding, bread pudding and Hawaiian bread. Sometimes he makes Mexican bread pudding with sugar cane and molasses, a more syrupy version than its American counterpart. “I like to eat. I enjoy food. When we got together food was a big part of it,” he said of his family. Raised in Avenal, Jose has no formal culinary training but taught himself to bake by trial and error and by watching Julia Child on PBS. “I’d never pay attention that I was learning,” he said. “I just knew these things.” His other interest was art and when it came time to think about a career he left the Central Valley for the Seattle

Art Institute. He specialized in murals, airbrush work and portraits. When a full-time career in art did not pan out, he ended up in financial services in Seattle. Family brought him home. He had planned to open a finance business but came up with a better idea. “I looked around and there is no good bakery here,” he said. “Macagno’s (a long- time Hanford bakery) was in the process of closing. I looked around and said ‘maybe I could do this.’” Sweet Palette Bakery has been open for almost two years and will soon expand into a nearby vacant space to provide Jose with a larger work area. With the addition, the bakery will feature breakfast and lunch items such as quiche, soup and salads, croissants and artisan


Jose said Sweet Palette is about food, celebration and sharing. breads. He has a loyal following. Customers come in for a treat to go. Others sit in a small seating area. “I know a lot of them by name,” Jose said. “I think people know I’m passionate with what I do. They always see me here.” Nancy Cecil of Hanford called Jose’s baking “awesome” as she enjoyed a slice of strawberry pizza. Referring to his extensive talent and creativity, she said, “he’ll do anything.” For the bakery’s grand opening, Jose baked an 11-foot cake with 20 different flavors and a 4-foot base. It barely fit under the ceiling. Customers were lined up around the corner to have a piece of cake and to take advantage of his “one day, one dollar” sale on anything in the bakery. Other local businesses have been supportive. Leprino Foods in Lemoore ordered 2,000 cookies. The local hospital ordered an assortment of cookies for employee gifts. Jose has donated chocolate baskets, roses and fruit for the Hanford

Guild of Children’s Hospital of Central California. Valentine’s Day is big and so is Thanksgiving when he bakes pies. “Instead of Starbucks cards, they want something fresh,” he said. “We do everything fresh. That helps.” His day begins at 2 a.m. and sometimes lasts for 18 hours. His sister helps, as do two interns from the culinary program at the Institute of Technology in Fresno. He still draws portraits but most of them are on cakes, a medium he likes. He also likes working with chocolate and has created intricate chocolate roses, chocolate feathers and edible arrangements. He researches recipes and visits bakeries when he travels for new ideas. “We do a lot of the things they do in big cities,” he said, noting a customer favorite: his edible mocha mousse cups. Jose said Sweet Palette is about food, celebration and sharing. “Everybody has his or her favorites,” he said of his customers, adding they often want to “show off what they like” to their families and friends. •

Scones COMBINE: 2 cups of flour ¼ teaspoon of salt ¼ cup of sugar ¼ teaspoon of baking soda 1-¼ teaspoon of baking powder

DIRECTIONS Cut in one stick of unsalted butter, 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Work the dough gently. To this base, add your choice of items such as blueberries, orange zest, bananas, cinnamon, or raisins, chocolate chips. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Moist ingredients may need more time to bake. Sweet Palette Bakery is located at 701 N. Irwin St. in Hanford. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call (559) 530-3001. Judith House Menezes is a professor of journalism and adviser to the student newspaper at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Central California Life

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Sip

Anna Marie Dos Remedios sources her grapes from vineyards throughout California and releases new wines twice a year.

Idle Hour:

Oakhurst’s first winery is thriving

by Bryce Alderton photos by Dan Minkler

T

he Idle Hour Winery website calls the business off Highway 41 in Oakhurst a “hobby gone wild.” Gauging the smiles from patrons filtering into and out of the beer garden and wine bar on a late August Saturday night, word about the 7-year-old winery – Oakhurst’s first -has spread and business is humming right along. Winemaker Anna Marie Dos Remedios and business partner Deb Payne own and operate the accompanying Queen’s Inn By The River, an eight-room inn within walking distance of the winery. Idle Hour’s story is also one of a career change. Dos Remedios was a photojournalist for the San Jose Mercury News but had friends who were winemakers, so she started asking questions. Her inquiries fueled a stronger interest and Dos Re76 |

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medios began taking online winemaking courses from UC Davis. She earned a certificate from the university and met Payne, whose family has owned the property off Highway 41 since 1964. The two women decided to go into business full-time. They also operate a tasting room in Carmel Valley. They named the winery Idle Hour after a fishing vessel owned by Dos Remedios’ paternal grandfather. The family spent many hours sailing on the boat near Hong Kong, where Dos Remedios was born. The inn is named after Payne’s grandmother, Naomi Ashby, whom the family called “Queen.” Ashby’s memory is close at hand. A 1950 photo of Ashby walking along the sand in Coronado adorns bottles of the Queen’s Pinot Gris from Wulf Vineyard.


Dos Remedios releases new wines twice a year. “We don’t want to make the same wines.” Each of Idle Hour’s bottles has a label designed by Tim Cantor, a professional painter based in San Diego. Dos Remedios sources her grapes from vineyards throughout California, including the Central Coast and Madera and Sacramento counties. Payne admitted they don’t want to pick grapes when asked if the Oakhurst property has any vines onsite. Dos Remedios crafts wine with precision and a hands-off approach, using native yeast, gravity flow and neutral French oak barrels. She learned winemaking methods from renowned pinot noir producer Josh Jensen from Calera Wine Company in Hollister. Payne walks us into the tasting room and we start with a 2013 cuvee blanc from Wulf Vineyard in Madera. It boasts three types of grapes – Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne. The wine is crisp and clean, with a hint of acidity and subtle sweetness. Next come the reds, and Idle Hour has plenty of choices. Some pinot noirs can be too jammy, but the one Payne pours tonight – a 2013 from Sarmento Vineyard in the Santa Lucia High-

lands – is not as powerful as other reds. It’s a smooth wine that begins with blackberry flavors and gives way to cherry notes on the finish. A 2013 cabernet franc from Heringer Estates vineyard in Clarksburg, like the pinot noir, would be equally enjoyable on its own or paired with food. The wine boasts white pepper, plum and berry flavors. Dos Remedios releases new wines twice a year. “We don’t want to make the same wines,” she says during a phone interview. Idle Hour doesn’t serve food, but customers often order pizza delivered to the outdoor patio. Dos Remedios and Payne book musicians on weekends May through October. Everyone is in a good mood around here. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a glass of fine wine and a slice of pizza. • Bryce Alderton is a staff writer for Times Community News covering city government and education in Laguna Beach and has written dining reviews for Southern California-based magazines.

IDLE HOUR WINERY 41139 Highway 41 Oakhurst 93644 (559) 760-9090 The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

CENTRAL COAST TASTING ROOM 9 Del Fino Place, Suite 101 Carmel Valley 93924 (831) 298-7526 The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, go to idlehourwinery.com.

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Kings Sanger R. Parlier Reedley San Joaquin 245 Selma Dinuba 198 Kingsburg 33 145 Woodlake Visalia Hanford 43 198 Tulare Lemoore Exeter Tulare Coalinga Huron Lindsay 41 Corcoran

Gonzales Soledad Greenfield

Monterey

Mammoth Lakes

Mariposa

Coarsegold

Mendota

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120

Mono

Yosemite Village

140

140

Firebaugh

Salinas

Marina

167

Lee Vining

Mariposa

Los Banos

Hollister

Watsonville

182

120

120

49

Merced

Morgan Hill

Santa Clara

395

Bridgeport

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Palmdale

Los Angeles

Santa Clarita

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58

Lancaster

Adelanto

Victorville 138

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Helendale 15

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Spotlight by Madeline Shannon

Angels with green thumbs

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he San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust recently hosted a special group of locals for a day of volunteering. The Gardening Angels program provides an opportunity for members of the community to assist with picking up trash, pruning plants along the river and otherwise maintaining the river and the riverbank. The Parkway and Conservation Trust’s volunteer day included picking up downed palm fronds, weeding flowerbeds and trimming trees and vines. “Those of us who volunteered cleaned up the River Center, where they have weddings and events,” said Tania Kasparian-Herroz, who joined several members of Central California Life’s staff during the Day of Volunteering. “We touched it up, cleaned it up and made everything look nice.” The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust works to restore stream-side forests and habitats for wildlife that live in and along the river, teach members of the community about the importance of the river to the area, and provides recreation opportunities to locals who want to experience the great outdoors along the riverbank.

Food trucks join the fight against cancer

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he American Cancer Society hosted its first annual Food Trucks Against Cancer event at Tachi Hotel and Casino in Lemoore in late August. The event featured popular food trucks in the area including La Pepita, Big Kahuna, Wet Hog and Cast Iron Catering. Another local organization, Relay for Life Lemoore, played a pivotal role in organizing the event. “Relay for Life of Lemoore recently had their signature fundraising event – a race – with The American Cancer Society,” a Tachi Palace representative said. “The goal was to raise $186,000, but it fell short $86,000.” One of the Relay for Life Lemoore participants thought that having a food truck event might be a good way to raise remaining funds. “We had 11 food trucks and several non-food vendors selling scented candles, origami and jewelry,” the representative said. “Some vendors were on the Relay for Life committee and gave a portion of whatever they made that day. “We asked for 20%” Many food trucks weren’t specific to the Lemoore area. Some came all the way from Fresno and Visalia. In addition, the City of Lemoore donated tables and a local DJ donated time to the event. All funds raised were given to The American Cancer Society.

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Spotlight

Woodward Shakespeare Festival mixes it up

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he annual Woodward Shakespeare Festival wrapped up its 20th season with abridged performances of all of the Bard’s plays, performed over the course of several nights between August 27-September 19. Two different casts took on the challenge, as well as two-time festival director Aaron Spjute. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was a new play that delivered all of Shakespeare’s famous plays in 97 minutes. A spoof on Shakespeare’s works, Complete Works (Abridged), featured three actors performing short excerpts of all 37 plays. “The play features four different versions of Hamlet,” said Greg Taber, executive producer of the Woodward Park Shakespeare Festival. “The second act consists entirely of Hamlet in various versions, and we even do a rendition of Hamlet backwards.” There were a total of 60 cast members but only three actors were on stage at any given time. More than 100 people turned out for the first performance.

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P. A . I . N . P r e s c r i p t i o n A b u s e r s i n N e e d Cordially invites you to the

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MORE INFO, CALL 559.579.1551

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Spotlight

Aram, Aram

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ocal filmmaker Christopher Chambers wrote and directed the film “Aram, Aram,” which premiered in October in Fresno. The film, about an Armenian boy whose sudden loss of both his parents prompts him to go live with his grandfather in Los Angeles, is a coming-of-age story about a boy trying to find himself amidst loss and trying to navigate two cultures in two very different lands. Local actor John Roohinian, 14, plays the lead role of Aram. “I really enjoyed working on this film,” Roohinian said. “The cast on set was really like one big family.” Other actors featured in the film include Levon Sharafyan, Sevak Hakoyan, David Villada and Mike Ghader. This movie, an important one for the local and national Armenian community, is the first independent film in the U.S. to explore the Armenian-American community in Los Angeles. •

Actors Sevag Roohinian and Sevak Hakoyan pose with other actors from the film at the premiere in Fresno in October. Photo by Michael Quintero

Director Christopher Chambers poses with an actor from the film, Sevak Hakoyan, at the film’s premiere. Photo by Michael Quintero

Director of Aram, Aram, Christopher Chambers, poses with lead actor Sevag Roohinian at the film’s premiere. Photo by Michael Quintero

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Spotlight

Central California Women’s Conference

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he Central California Women’s Conference on September 22 brought women across the San Joaquin Valley to the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center for a day of networking and camaraderie. Television personality Leeza Gibbons was the keynote speaker. The conference’s breakout sessions focused on a variety of topics including health, fitness, fashion, beauty, finance, digital media, real estate and relationships. Session speakers included a number of experts in their fields, from author Jane Hight McMurry and finance expert Kate Eiland to Wells Fargo financial advisor Elise Kausen and local fitness expert Rhonda Murphy. “This year’s fabulous breakout sessions thoroughly supported our theme of igniting your body and spirit,” said Betsy Hays, public relations coordinator for CCWC and one of this year’s conference speakers. “We shattered the work-life balance myth and talked about the very important differences between men and women when it comes to heart disease.” The conference drew more than 3,400 attendees. More than 100 businesses and non-profit organizations supported the event.

Photos by Howard K. Watkins

For more information about the CCWC, please visit ccwc-fresno.org.

Leeza Gibbons takes a question from reporters during a press conference for the Central California Women’s Conference. The well-known TV personality was the event’s keynote speaker.

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Central California Life


I

f you love a beautiful, efficient garden that doesn’t take a lot of work, Eddie, the Lazy Landscaper’s your guy!

For sage advice on how to enjoy nature’s best while taking a rest, please “Like” Eddie’s new Facebook page at facebook.com/lazylandscaper. Enjoy the Lazy Landscaper’s gardening tips and great sense of humus! You already know Eddie can be funny while sharing valuable gardening facts, if you’ve seen him on TV or heard him on the radio. eddie@thelazylandscaper.com TMs are marks of Paradigm Shift Marketing © 2015 All rights reserved

Gardening Made Easy ™

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Spotlight

Fig Fest serves up fun local entertainment

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lovis celebrated the end of its annual fig harvest with the 12th Annual California Fig Fest. One of the events biggest attractions was Bravo TVâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, who promoted his new show, Global Bites. Local chefs cooked fig-inspired recipes that brought out the best of the local harvest, and many local winemakers and craft brewers came out to sell their latest concoctions to the public. More than 50 vendors took part in the event, which also featured a VIP tent where participants could cool off and take a break from walking in the hot Valley sun. Music was provided by local band Wheelhouse. There was also a cooking competition with figs as the main ingredient.

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Calendar of Events

OCTOBER truly change their lives. West African cuisine and an unlimited selection of wine will be served. Tickets range from $30 for one person to $95 for couples. For more information, please visit wavschools.org. 3rd Annual 5k Run for Meals: October 3, 7 a.m.-11 a.m. This fundraiser benefiting Poverello House in Fresno gives local runners the chance to run for a good cause! Event participants have two events to choose from: the 5K run or the 2-mile walk. Either way, it is a great way to do something active with family and friends and benefit those in need. Tickets for children 12 and under are $10, and adult tickets cost $25. For more information about this fun and beneficial event, please visit poverellohouse. org/5krun.

Central Valley VISALIA Oktoberfest Visalia, October 1, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Come celebrate the fact that the worst heat of the year is over with Visalia’s Annual Oktoberfest celebration, which will feature live performances by local bands The Patrick Contreras Band, Richfield, Ryan Dean and the Polka Dots. Local restaurants, vintners and brewers will be out in droves selling some of the best local food and drink around. Tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door. For more information about Oktoberfest Visalia 2015, visit visaliachamber.org. Russian Grand Ballet Presents Swan Lake: October 7, 7:30 p.m. This classic ballet comes to Visalia’s Fox Theater to delight local audiences with the beautiful story of the love between a woman, a man, and the other woman. Choreography for the ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.Tickets range from $19 for children under 18, and go up to $39 for adults. For more information, please visit Foxvisalia.org. FRESNO Yellowman: October 2, 7:30 p.m. A poetic and brutal play, Yellowman follows a man and a woman as they face racism and violence throughout their lives. The play will explore issues of race, racism and slavery, and is sure to be a compelling and thought-provoking performance. Ticket prices start at $10 for students and go up to $17 for adults. For more information about this play, visit fresnostate.edu. Dine and Discover West Africa 2015: October 2, 6-9 p.m. Moravia Wines in Madera will play host to this year’s WAV dinner banquet and wine tasting. Tickets purchased to this event will help to fund West African Vocational Schools, an organization based in Fresno that gives men and women in Guinea-Bissau the opportunity to acquire vocational skills that 90 |

Central California Life

Newsboys Concert: October 3, 7 p.m. One of Christian rock’s most popular bands comes to Fresno to perform for local crowds. The concert, taking place at Warnor’s Theater, will open with a performance from Hawk Nelson and Ryan Stevenson, another pair of prolific Christian singers. This latest stop on the “God’s Not Dead” tour is sure to be a favorite early autumn concert for local audiences. For more information, visit warnors.org. Inaugural Beard and Moustache Competition: October 17, 4 p.m.-11:30 p.m. The Fresno Beard and Moustache Club will host its inaugural beard and moustache competition in which hundreds of participants from up and down the West Coast are expected. There will be seven categories for men to compete in, and one for women to create the best fake facial hair. Three places will be awarded for each category. Be sure to join the first facial hair competition in Central California at Full Circle Brewing. For more information, please visit Inaugural Beard and Moustache Competition on Facebook. Bully Boo! Walk: October 18, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fresno Bully Rescue, a local animal rescue organization that benefits pit bulls, is hosting its 5th Annual Bully Boo! Walk, in which all breeds are welcome. This family-friendly event encourages families and individuals to dress up in their Halloween costumes, as the holiday is just around the corner! A two mile walk through Woodward Park, face painting, and vendor booths are all part of the festivities. For more information, go to fresnobullyrescue.org. Monster Mad Dash: October 31, 8 a.m. This year’s spooktacular Halloween run at Woodward Park is sure to get lovers of this holiday into the Halloween spirit! Adult runners get to choose between walking and running the 5k, and younger runners can do the Little Monsters Dash. Of course, being a ghoulishly good time, participants are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes! For more information, visit monstermashdash.com.


For more events, visit CenCaliLife.com

TULARE Happy Trails Riding Academy “Round Up” Fundraiser: October 2, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. The Happy Trails Riding Academy in Tulare will be hosting the 5th Annual Round Up fundraising event to benefit children and adults with mental and physical disabilities who participate in their program. Tickets to the fundraiser include a Cowboy BBQ, live music, an opportunity to buy local wines and horseback riding demonstrations. All proceeds of the event will directly benefit the Happy Trails Riding Academy Program. For more information about this event, visit happytrailsridingacademy.org. Tulare County Symphony Presents: Celebracion!: October 3, 7:30 p.m. The Tulare County Symphony is proud to perform some of the best Latin music to local audiences, which have demanded more of the local symphony’s popular encores featuring the genre in past seasons. This season, classical and modern Latin music will be performed, and Symphony attendees are sure to get a real treat. For more information, please visit foxvisalia.org. 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s: October 3, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Mooney Grove Park plays host to this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an event organized by The Alzheimer’s Association. This nationwide event is the largest event in the world to raise awareness about this debilitating disease and to raise funds that go towards developing a cure. The Tulare-Kings walk is just one of 600 events held across the country. For more information, please go to alz.org. EXETER An Evening Under the Oaks: October 2, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Kaweah Oaks Preserve is hosting its second annual Evening Under the Oaks event, with KMPH Fox 26 anchor Rich Rodriguez acting as the Master of Ceremonies for the night. The Vintage Press will be providing dinner at the event and Visalia Community Players will be performing and providing entertainment for guests. Tickets cost $100 for each guest. For more information about this event, please visit sequoiariverlands.org.

Central Coast CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA Taste of Carmel: October 1-4 Some of the best of California’s bohemian culture started in the quaint beachy town of Carme-by-the-Sea, and it is a culture that is still very much alive. Experience it at this year’s Taste of Carmel, an event featuring a Wine Walk-By-The-Sea, local food served up by the area’s best chefs, and live music performed by the best Central California bands. There will also be plenty of shopping opportunities. For more information, visit tasteofcarmel.com. GILROY Graffiti Nights Car Show, October 15, 5-8 p.m. One of the most anticipated car shows on the Central Coast, The Graffiti Nights Car Show, will feature some of the best cars in the state, as well as some of the best food. Take a ride to Garlic Town, and participate in this much-anticipated event (which is also free and family-friendly). For more information, visit gilroywelcomecenter.org. SAN LUIS OBISPO SLO Stangs Car Show: October 24, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Some of the best model cars from around the state will make their way to SLO County, home of the CalPoly Mustangs, for one of the most anticipated car shows of the season. Now in its third year, the show was started to give local car enthusiasts a chance to show their cars or to hunt down one of their old favorites, which makes this car show one that is not to be missed. Those interested in participating should register online at slo-stangs.org.

Mountain Areas OAKHURST Oakhurst Fall Festival: October 10-11, 10 A.M.-4 P.M. The Oakhurst Fall Festival, one of the most popular events of the year up in the mountain areas, will feature wine and beer tasting while also serving chocolate, nuts and other kinds of appetizers for guests to fill up on. Local craftspeople and artisans will be out selling their locally-made merchandise, and it all takes place in the heart of downtown Oakhurst in Oakhurst Community Park. For more information, visit oakhurstchamber.com. YOSEMITE Coolwater Concert: October 24, 7 p.m. Singers Tim and Myles Thompson will be performing for local crowds at this month’s Coolwater Concert, where music lovers in the mountain areas have a chance to listen to old and new favorites. Coolwater Ranch, where the concert takes place, provides a comfortable place to listen to great acoustic music. The venue is small, so be sure to get there early! For more information, visit coolwaterconcerts.com. Central California Life

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Celebrating our 20 year th

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Calendar of Events

NOVEMBER Winter Jam 2015: November 10, 7 p.m. This annual Christian rock concert will feature hit Christian performers, including Lincoln Brewster, Family Force 5, Sadie Robertson, Skillet and For King and Country, among many others. Unlike many concerts of this nature, no tickets are needed--just pay $10 at the door. For those who are interested in attending this steal of a concert, download the Winter Jam app on your smartphone. For more information, please visit Savemartcenter.com.

Central Valley FRESNO Trail of Two Cities Marathon: November 1, 6 a.m. The Annual Trail of Two Cities Marathon will be in full swing on November 1, so be sure to map out alternate routes to get to where you’re going if you’re not a runner! The race starts at 6 a.m. and lasts for the better part of the day. If you’re an early bird, register to run in this fun race that brings the Fresno-Clovis community together. For the non-runners out there, come out and support family and friends in one of the most popular races of the year! For more information, go to twocitiesmarathon.com. Wicked Wine Run: November 7, 3:15 p.m. Engelmann Cellars once again hosts one of its most popular events, featuring a 5k run and a 1K walk. Event attendees can choose to participate in one or the other, or both! Keep in mind that those who choose to run in the 5K must finish in less than an hour. The 1k walk starts at 4:30 p.m., and much merriment is to be expected afterwards! The only local race that advertises itself as a race with a drinking problem is sure to be fun for all who attend. For more information, please visit wickedwinerun.com. Ronald McDonald House Annual Red Heart Ball: November 7, 5-11 p.m. One of the biggest events put on by this amazing charity, Ronald McDonald House will be hosting its Annual Red Heart Ball to benefit sick children and their families. Among the many activities featured at this years event are gaming tables, live music performed by the Marie Wilson Band and a gourmet dinner. Many other fun festivities will be included, so don’t miss out on one of the best and most beneficial events of the year. For more information, go to fundraise.com/ redheartball.

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Central California Life

Riverdance: November 16, 7:30 p.m. One of the best Irish step dancing performance groups in the world, Riverdance, brings immense talent and passion for their culture to Fresno audiences. Come out for a night of incredible dancing and experience a bit of Irish culture at its best. For more information, go to ticketmaster.com. The Moscow Ballet Presents The Nutcracker: November 29, 3 p.m. The famous Russian ballet company will be performing perhaps the most famous of all the ballets. Just in time for the Christmas season, this performance is not to be missed. This performance would make a wonderful early Christmas present to the ballet lover in your life. Tickets for the ballet $28 to $102, and the sooner you buy your tickets, the better, as this performance is sure to sell out. For more information, please visit warnors.org. PARLIER Cat House on the Kings Autumn Open House: November 2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. One of the best places for homeless cats to go in Central California, Cat House on the Kings offers its annual Autumn Open House to those curious about the famous Cat House and its residents. Guided tours, live music, a silent auction and the possibility of finding your new furry best friend are all reasons to come out and experience this great event that gives so many cats a chance to find their new forever home. For more information, go to cathouseonthekings.com.


TULARE Tulare County Symphony Presents Fire and Ice: November 21, 7:30 p.m. This popular local symphony will be performing works from the composer Sebelius to commemorate his centennial. Musician Danielle Belen will be featured on the violin, and she will play not only the works of the Finnish composer, but also the works of Beethoven. Tickets range between $30 and $39.50. For more information, go to foxvisalia.com.

PISMO BEACH 37th Annual Marching Band Review: November 7, 9 a.m. Come out for a fun weekend in Pismo Beach and support high school marching bands from all over California. Hundreds of schools compete in several divisions in this annual event, and spectators can watch the various marching bands perform on Dolliver between Hinds Street and Main Street. This event is family and pet-friendly. For more information, please visit visitsanluisobispocounty.com.

Central Coast

Mountain Areas

OXNARD 46th Annual “Galaxy of Gems” Expo: November 7-8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Oxnard Gem and Mineral Society hosts their annual Galaxy of Gems Exposition, which draws attention to the many minerals and gems on display at the facility, and educates the public about the earth sciences. Children who attend this event will get a polished rock, collect 36 different dinosaur trading cards, and have the chance to participate in The National Park Service Paleontologist Junior Ranch program. Admission is free to all. For more information, please visit oxnardgem.com. BIG SUR Big Sur Half Marathon: November 8, 6:55 a.m. One of the best running events in California with some spectacular views, the Big Sur Half Marathon is sure to be on every local runner’s calendar. The top eight finishers of this race will be given $20,000 as their first prize, and the top three American finishers get an extra $500 bonus. Every winner who qualifies for the Olympic Trials at this race will also receive $500 bonuses. For more information, please visit bigsurhalfmarathon.com. Big Sur Food and Wine Festival: November 5-7, TBD Travel and Leisure Magazine have called this popular festival “one of the top ten food and wine festivals,” and for good reason. This annual festival will be serving wines from California vintners, including Bonny Doon Vineyard, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Hahn Estate and the Fink Family Estate Vineyard. Some of the area’s best local chefs, such as Domingo Santamaria, Dyon Foster, Kari Bernardi and David Lawrence will be serving their latest dishes. Many different musicians and performers will be providing entertainment at this must-go event. For more information, please visit bigsurfoodandwine.org.

KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK Hidden Trails of Kings Canyon: November 1, 10 a.m. John Muir Lodge co-sponsors this extraordinary opportunity to hike in some of the most picturesque scenes in Kings Canyon National Park. Whether you’re hiking to the top of a waterfall, to a local lake or into a large grove of sequoias, visitors to Kings Canyon will have a chance to take in some of the best views of this storied national park. Visitors who participate in this hike must be 16 years old or older. For more information, please visit sequoiahistory.org. Ghosts of the Giants: November 6, 5:30 p.m. For those who have always been curious about what life was like in the sequoia groves of Kings Canyon National Park before tourism, business and modern technology became part of everyday life, look no further. Stories will be told about what life was like back then, and what Native Americans who lived amongst these trees saw, heard and experienced. For more information, please visit sequoiahistory.org. Central California Life

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