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THE VANNETTE HOME Michigan Midwestern Meets California Charm





Family Style Brunch

April 2014


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thursday, may along with the creekside team there will also be door prizes & Hors-d'oeuvres. HorsHors -d'oeuvres.

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day spa

Skin & Laser Center Est 1998





24 HOME TOUR The Vannette Home


Celebrating Mother’s Day Family Style Brunch




Letter from the Executive Editor

10 Business Cents: Increasing Your Home’s Value 12

Word Play


Community: Blue Ribbon March on Main Street


History: An Important Building and a Respected Man

22 Holiday: Celebrating Mom


It Just Comes Natural A Homecoming Concert for Terra Bella

50 Literary Arts: Family and Friends Guide Poet’s Path 54 Kudos 56 Happenings


40 T R AV E L

Close to Home, But a World Away The Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park PAGE

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ON THE COVER: With pops of yellow, the Vannettes welcome spring into their kitchen with a cheerful floral arrangement. PICTURED: The Vannette’s Michigan-style home features a large wrap around porch, column-lined steps and a simple grey, smooth stucco finish.

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DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare Tazzaria Coffee & Tea Tulare County Library The Lifestyle Center Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS

210 Cafe Cafe 225 California Fitness Academy Creekside Day Spa & Wellness Center Courtyard Aesthetics Details Party Rentals Exeter Chamber of Commerce Exeter Golf Course Fast Frame Franey’s Design Center Frank’s Appliance Hobbs-Potts Associates Holiday Inn Pita Kabob Kaweah Delta Hospital Red Carpet Car Wash Smiles by Sullivan Tulare Chamber of Commerce V Medical Spa Valley Financial Group Velvet Sky Visalia Community Bank (Downtown) Visalia Eye Center Visalia Imaging & Open MRI Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Wildflower Cafe-Exeter Williams, Jordan, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc.


Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia and Exeter. An additional 2,000 copies are distributed at various distribution points around both communities. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers.

Circulation of this issue: 15,000 © 2014 DMI Agency


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LEFT: Shaded by mature trees, the backyard is a perfect place for the Vannettes to relax after a day at the dairy.


Photo by Becca Chavez | Hair and Make-up provided by Velvet Sky

It’s been a great month for us at Lifestyle Magazine, with the addition of several new Gold ADDY Awards for excellence in creative design in publishing. No matter how many issues we’ve published or how many awards have been bestowed, there’s always such a sense of accomplishment when we’re recognized for the work we do here in the South Valley. Although it’s our name on the plaque, we are only a small part of the team it takes to produce a beautiful, award-winning feature. As an example, several of our Culinary Arts entries were gold winners. What one sees in the final version of Lifestyle is a beautifully plated dish that many can’t wait to replicate at home. But, the first steps are not found on the printed pages as they start within the creative minds of our contributing chefs. These talented and skillful masters of cuisine spend hours conjuring up delicious recipes that must also photograph beautifully. Often, they do test runs to make sure no adjustments are needed. Next they write down the list of ingredients and detailed instructions that our readers can easily follow. The day of the shoot, these chefs chop, slice, dice, prep and execute each dish for the lights and cameras. Our photographer captures the best angles, makes any necessary color corrections and submits the images for layout. And let’s also not forget that on occasion, we get to taste test. What our readers, and the judges, see is the culmination of hours of behind-the-scenes work in one grand editorial spread. The award, which might seem trivial to some, represents a small token of recognition for the hard work and talents of many people and encourages them to continue in the quest to do, to be, even better. This month’s culinary feature is absolutely spectacular so make sure you to turn to page 34. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and there are numerous community organizations working tirelessly to advocate for abused and/or neglected children, but none more so than CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates. Earlier this month, CASA of Tulare County, along with members of the community, walked down Main Street in Visalia to bring awareness to how much is needed here in our community. Walkers wore cutouts of sweet little hands with numbers, but the message was far from cute. The numbers represented the scores of children waiting for someone – anyone – to advocate for them as they move through the court system. They are often scared and feel like they have no one to speak up on their behalf. Thanks to executive director Marilyn Barr and the hundreds of trained volunteer advocates, approximately 1,500 of these children currently do have someone who cares. For more about the walk, and the upcoming 20th Annual Gala, see CASA’s Blue Ribbon March on page 14. You know it’s coming – it’s April – and I only have one thing to say – baseball. From the first pitch to the final out in October, it’s a full-on battle between our staff with the majority of us rooting for our beloved Giants and the one staffer, who just happens to be our Art Director, who likes “those other guys.” As the season begins, we look forward to the ceremonial broom being moved from office to office and the occasional picture of the winning pitcher printed and taped to the restroom walls. I’d like to say it’s all in good fun, but honestly, I’m not a very good sport when it comes to baseball. If you’re not a baseball fanatic, you’ll probably know how the Giants are doing by either the grumpy or lighthearted tone of my letters. From all of us here at Lifestyle Magazine, we wish you a happy and healthy April, and we look forward to seeing you on Facebook. KAREN TELLALIAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR For more information or to submit a story idea email or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909.


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3 1 6 W. M A I N , V I S A L I A

559.73 4 .7079

T- F 1 0 A - 5 : 3 0 P S AT. 1 0 A - 4 : 3 0 P

M I C H A E L S C U S T O M J E W E L R Y. C O M


Increasing Your Home’s Value Text by Erik Anderson, Keller Williams Realty Tulare County


ike most Americans, your home is probably your single largest investment. While things such as location, size, condition and amenities largely determine the value of your home, there are still steps you can take to maximize its worth. First, you need to evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to put it on the market. Cutting corners could hurt rather than help your prospects, but you don’t want to go overboard either. Your home’s value should be no more than 20 percent above the average. That means a $10,000 kitchen improvement project might be a better idea than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if no other homes in your area have hot tubs. In other words, it’s best to keep changes simple. Here’s a list of remodeling projects that buyers are likely to find valuable: Add a bedroom. Three and four-bedroom homes are most desirable. Install a master bathroom. When a bedroom has a bathroom, it means extra value. Install a new shower. A new shower says a modern home. Change your fixtures. Get a faucet that adds a decorative element to the bathroom. Re-grout the tile. If the tiles are in good shape, a new grouting does wonders.

Install new kitchen cabinets. Even just a paint job and some new handles will give your cabinets a fresh look. Improve functionality. If you’ve got the space, an island is the way to go. New appliances make a difference too. Expose the floors. Remove old carpet and show off the original floor. If you don’t have hardwood floors, consider new carpeting. Install new doors. Doors set off a room and make a great difference. Paint the interior. A new paint job speaks volumes. Good colors to use are white, off-white and a light yellow. Add new light fixtures. Replace any that are damaged or outof-style. Add a fireplace. Even if you don’t plan on using it much, it adds great value. Take advantage of unused or underused space. If you can convert a basement or attic into a useful room, do it. Landscape. A few strategically located plants and a neatlooking yard will impress. Add a deck. It’s a great use of exterior space because it increases your total entertainment area. Dress up your porch & entrance. A freshly painted door with a new door handle can make a great first impression. Replace the windows. New windows not only give your home a new look, they can also lower your energy bill. Remember, when it comes to your home, it’s important to keep pace with your neighbors. Don’t let your home become the most expensive on the block - but don’t fall behind either. This is a case where it’s best to be right in the middle. Erik graduated from the University of Utah with majors in mass communication and film/media studies. He began his career in real estate in 2008 in his hometown, Visalia. Erik is a top-producing REALTOR® and real estate trainer at Keller Williams Realty Tulare County.






assover and Easter overlap in April this year with Passover from April 14-22. Easter week runs from Palm Sunday on April 13 to Easter on April 20. The Mysteries of Judaism (Gefen Publishing) by Israel Drazin will be available May 1. Drazin is a former U.S. Army chaplain with the rank of brigadier general. He also has a Ph.D. in Judaic studies, master’s degrees in psychology and Hebrew literature and is an attorney and a rabbi. He has published 22 books, with his latest describing how Judaism today differs from its origins while he challenges many basic assumptions. Let Us Keep the Feast: A Christian Passover Celebration (CreateSpace, March 2013) by Daniel F. Flores and Thelma Herrera Flores. The reverends Flores both hold multiple degrees in religious and other subjects. Their studies, coupled with family experiences, drew them to create a Passover experience with Jewish and Christian traditions. Easter Trivia Challenge (CreateSpace, March 2014) by Jonathan Ozanne asks more than 100 questions about the secular and sacred customs of Easter. Though they are written to avoid trick questions, they can be challenging even to those with a reasonable knowledge of Easter customs. Valley Writers Exeter author Ron Hughart’s The Place Beyond the Dust Bowl won best autobiography at the Great Southeast Book Festival and his novel Deja vu of a Skeptic won best book in the Wildcard category in the Great Southwest Book Festival. Hughart was thrilled to claim his gold stickers for both books at the East meets West festivals in Hollywood last month. Clovis author Margarita Engle has a busy schedule sharing her insights into children’s literature. April 21-23 she will be speaking at The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson. On May 17, she is scheduled to speak on a children’s author and illustrator panel at the Fig Garden Women’s Club Brunch in Fresno. She will be speaking and signing at the San Joaquin River Parkway in Fresno on July 17 as part of the Respite by the River series. Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish and Silver People are her latest books. Naming Characters If you really love the names Liam, Jayden or Madison, that would be fine if your character was born in 2012. But 1912? You probably would be better off with George, Charles, Edward, Margaret, Helen or Alice. (Liam might work if he’s from Ireland). A Texan born in 1960 would fit right in with the names David, James, Mary or Cynthia, while a Massachusetts character would be more at home with the names of John, Michael, Susan or (once again) Mary. Top names that don’t


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date a character over the last 100 years? James and Mary. All this and much more is available from the Social Security website. Look for it at: Workshops and Classes One of the tutorials offered online by Writer’s Digest is “How to Find Grants and Financial Resources to Fund Your Writing.” This course encourages writers to use their writing skills any way they can to build a career and earn some income as they work toward their eventual goal of getting that novel published. The ideas include writing magazine articles, speaking for honorariums, applying for grants and copywriting for anyone. The Algonkian Novel Workshops will be held on June 18-22 and include tuition, meals, private room, agent sessions and online forums for $1,095. Eight to 12 writers may attend the sessions in Sterling, VA for over 45 hours of workshop time. The three areas of emphasis will be premise, platform and execution. Details at: Writing Contests The 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition will accept early-bird entries until May 5. Early-bird fees are $25 for the first entry and $20 for the second in the same transaction. Poems are $15 and $10. Entries after May 5 are $5 more in each area. Prizes will be awarded in 10 categories including inspirational writing, magazine feature article, rhyming poetry and more. The grand prize winner will be announced on the cover of Writer’s Digest, receive $3,000 cash, a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest conference and other prizes. Details at: The New Letters Literary Awards offer $1,500 each for the top short story, essay and set of poems. Deadline is May 18. Fees are $15 for the first entry and $10 for the second and include a subscription to New Letters. Entries must be unpublished and will be considered for publication in the magazine. Fiction and essays have a maximum of 8,000 words. Poetry entries may include up to six poems for one fee. Judging is anonymous by writers outside the magazine staff. Details at: The Last Word “Faith and doubt both are needed – not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve.” – Lillian Smith (1897 – 1966)

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Blue Ribbon March on Main Street Text By Lisa Lieberman


t started off as a cold overcast day, but the sun broke through the clouds long enough on Garden Street Plaza in Visalia to help make it a special, festive day to celebrate the annual “March on Main Street” to prevent child abuse. The event, which was held on April 5, was sponsored by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children along with the Tulare County Office of the District Attorney and Tulare County Child Abuse Council. Amidst bunches of brightly colored balloons, face painting and drum lessons for children, Marilyn Barr, executive director of CASA, spoke about the importance of fighting child abuse and how CASA has played a key role in giving abused and neglected children a voice in the community. During her address to the audience, Barr quoted some startling statistics about child abuse. Every day, across the country, 8,200 children are reportedly abused, neglected or abandoned. In Tulare County alone, one-in-11 children are reported as a victim of child abuse. Currently, there are 1,500 abused



children living in foster care or under court supervision in Tulare County. More than 900 of these abused children are removed from their home for their protection and placed in foster care. Social workers do what they can to keep them safe and well but caseloads are high and demands are many. These children need special help in an overburdened system. While social workers visit with the children monthly, it is difficult to build a relationship with each child and know their special needs. This is where CASA steps in. CASA volunteers are specifically trained to become court appointed officers who advocate for what’s in the best interest of a child in the court system. Volunteers usually visit the child once a week for a period of at least 18 months. CASA’s primary role is to build a relationship with each child to determine what is truly in the best interest of each child. Foster children may have to move several times; a CASA volunteer is often the only consistent, caring adult in a child’s life. “Homes may change, social workers may change, but the CASA volunteer sees them every week and gets to know them on a very

personal basis,” Barr said. Barr adds that knowing there is at least one person who will show up for them on a consistent basis and take the time to listen can make all the difference in the world to these children. As an example of this, Barr told the story of one child a CASA volunteer was working with. When the volunteer went on vacation, she sent postcards to the child. However, by the time the postcards arrived, the child had already moved to a new foster home. The volunteer then tracked down the child’s new address and showed up at the front door upon her return. “When she knocked on the door, the child came running up and grabbed her knees and said, ‘Jeannie! Jeannie! I knew you would find me,’” Barr said. Right now, CASA is serving 400 children in Tulare County with volunteers and another 350 with its own staff. There are still several hundred children on the waiting list and there is a critical need for more CASA volunteers. Volunteers don’t have to be teachers or professionals of any kind. They can come from all walks of life. They just need to be 21 years of age, have


clean criminal records, a desire to help children and must successfully complete 40 hours of training. CASA volunteers are responsible for visiting a child once a week for at least 18 months and writing reports to the court with recommendations. CASA workers play a key role in making sure that children get the right care, including getting immunizations, receiving proper medical care and attending school. But more than just ensuring their basic physical needs are met, volunteers also form emotional bonds with children that help them learn to trust again. “They give hope to children who so desperately need it who have suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of people who were supposed to protect them,” Barr said. Julie Scaife, a CASA volunteer since 2008, said that working with children has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She got involved with CASA when her youngest child left for college and she wanted to do something meaningful for the community. “This experience has meant so much to me. It’s really affirming to have a little kid [look] up to you when you arrive at their front door with their arms outstretched so you can scoop them up,” Scaife said. Gaining trust from a child who has suffered years of neglect and abuse isn’t always easy though, said Ed Jones, a longtime advocate for CASA. “It usually takes a couple of months of being with these kids to gain their trust,”


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Jones commented. “Most adults have been bad for them. Some of them have been abused physically. All of them have been neglected emotionally and mentally, and some of have been sexually assaulted. So, they’re very, very skeptical when another new person shows up. You can’t act like you’re some knight in shining armor. You’ve just got to be there to be their friend and be someone they can talk to and depend on.” Consistency is a key part of the equation in gaining a child’s trust, Jones said. “I always meet with them every week and sometimes more. When they know you’re going to be there a certain day at a certain time, it makes a world of difference to them,” Jones added. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of male advocates, like Jones in CASA right now. “A lot of boys need a male figure in their lives. Many of them have had negative experiences with men in their lives and it’s important for them to see what a loving type relationship with an adult male can be like,” Jones said. “For me, as a man, I can relate more personally to these boys’ emotions and what they’re going through.” Jones also said that it’s important to spend time having fun with the children. Sometimes he’ll take a child out for ice cream or a soda or to Adventure Park, or to Exeter to race electric cars. “I’ll also take them to antique stores where we can look for secret treasures or just out to a movie or to get something to eat. It’s good to do a variety of things.

Sometimes we just want to have fun and not worry about anything. Other times, I’ll say, ‘Look you’ve got reading assignments and math homework that you’ve got to get done’, and I’ll go to the library with them to help them with their studies. It just varies from day to day. The important thing, though, is that they know I care for them and that I’m there for them,” Jones said. CASA does not bill for services. As a local nonprofit, CASA relies heavily on community support–both for volunteers and for funding. This year, CASA is holding its 20th annual gala on Friday, May 16 at the Visalia Convention Center. The event will include dinner from the Vintage Press, live music and live and silent auctions. For more information about the gala or how you can contribute to CASA, call 625-4007 and ask for JoAnn Bol. Marilyn Barr can also be reached by e-mail at


Reflections A N I M P O R TA N T B U I L D I N G A N D A R ES P ECT ED M A N

Text by Terry L. Ommen



e are fortunate that downtown Visalia has a nice collection of fine, old buildings that are structurally sound and well maintained. These old relics of bygone days have become wonderful ways for all of us to get a look at the past. Many times these architectural landmarks are so connected to historical individuals that the buildings and people cannot be separated. Also, in a few cases, buildings have played a significant part in the development and advancement of an important business. Such is the case with the 91-year old Security Title Insurance and Guarantee building on the northwest corner of Locust and Acequia. We have a great building, and an important man, J. Pierce Gannon, connected to it. The business of searching property ownership records and documenting the findings for real estate transactions dates back hundreds of years. Visalia’s first experience in abstracting, as it was called, began in 1872. In 1892, the Visalia Abstract Co., a business devoted exclusively to property record searches, was incorporated. It

was likely the first abstract company in Kings and Tulare counties and probably the oldest company of its kind in the southern San Joaquin Valley. It operated out of the 2-story brick building still standing on Center Street just west of Court. As the business of real estate transactions increased at the Center Street building, it became clear that the Visalia company was outgrowing its quarters. In February 1923, the already established Security Title Insurance and Guarantee Co. bought out Visalia Abstract. With the acquisition, insurance was added guaranteeing real estate buyers a property title free of defects. It was an important addition to the business. Due to crowded conditions at the old building, Security Title decided to build a new one. Harry W. Michaels was hired as the architect and Edgar G. Noble was selected to be the general contractor. Both men were from Visalia. In September 1923, the brick and concrete structure was finished and on the 22nd it opened to the public for inspection and a PICTURED: The Security Title Insurance and Guarantee Co. builing in 2014.


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H HISTORY reception. Refreshments were served as a local band played. The visitors loved the building and appreciated the company officials on hand to greet them. The Visalia Morning Delta called its construction an “epoch-making” improvement to the town and added that it set the standard for future buildings. The structure wasn’t huge, but was respectable measuring 100’x33’. Its plaster finished exterior, marble decorated entrance, two massive glass doors and concrete eagle mounted above the entrance gave the $60,000 building a grand appearance. The interior of the building was even more impressive. Steel desks and counters of the latest design were placed throughout, and the interior wood finishings were mahogany. The floor was covered with quality inlaid linoleum ordered directly from Scotland in a square pattern in dark and light gray colors. Steel filing cabinets of the finest design, complete with ball bearings on the drawers were placed throughout the building. The 40’x40’ basement was equipped with vaults and shelves to hold company records. One of the proudest features was the cooling system. The newspaper reported, “The ventilating system is one of the latest pattern and keeps a constant flow of cool, fresh air in circulation throughout the entire building, including the basement. Standing on the mezzanine floor, the current of fresh air is not unlike the breeze from the ocean as it sweeps along the ceiling. A five-horsepower electric motor keeps the giant fan in constant revolution while the continuous spray of water on the blades cools the air swept into the fan by vacuum and this cool, clean air thus circulated makes it a pleasure to work within the building even on the hottest days.” For cold weather days, the building was equipped with a

modern heater with radiators placed throughout. Restrooms, cloak rooms and lockers were included for the convenience of the employees. After its final review, the newspaper boldly reported that Security Title Insurance and Guarantee Co. had “the finest building equipped for this kind of work in California.” When Security Title moved into its new building, a 27-year old employee named J. Pierce Gannon moved with them. Born in 1896, Gannon moved to Visalia with his family in 1902. He attended Visalia schools and graduated from Visalia High in 1915. A year after graduation he began work with the Visalia Abstract Co. and by the time Security Title took over, he was an experienced veteran in the business. Gannon distinguished himself both inside the company and in the community. Within the company, he was promoted several times rising to the position of branch manager and eventually executive vice president of the northern company offices. He retired in 1965 after 50 years of service. Upon his retirement, the Security Title Insurance and Guarantee President, Ernest Billman, called Gannon a respected man in the industry and a credit to the company. Gannon was also a respected community leader serving as Visalia mayor for six of his eight years while on the city council. In 1939, he became president of the Visalia Rotary Club, and 1967 he received his 50-year pin from the Visalia Elks Lodge #1298. J. Pierce Gannon died in 1994 at the age of 98. He had been an integral part of the changing title business in Visalia and spent many hours in the beautiful building at Locust and Acequia. In about 1972, Security Title left their building and since then a wide variety of businesses have occupied 119 S. Locust.

LEFT: J. Pierce Gannon circa 1950. RIGHT: Security Title interior circa 1923.


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ph: 559.734.7035 | fax: 559.734-2890 215 E. Caldwell Ave., Ste. B, Visalia, CA 93277 |


Text by Steve McCracken

Celebrating Mom


he life story of my mother ended on a Thursday, ironically on the same day her life began 73 years before. She was born into a hard working Irish family in south central Kansas. She was proud to tell us how her family endured the dust bowl and the subsequent troubles of being poor – horribly poor. Yet, I can remember her eyes twinkling with memories of everyone sharing the same troubles. Mother’s Day to me had always been about my mother – until I married my wife. I doubled the joy of celebrating two special women. My “other mother,” how I lovingly refer to my motherin-law, had a different path that took her from riding on a 1938

add, not detract from true feelings. People say you cannot replace love. I counter with love is an infinite quality; the more you share the more you get. There will always be an uneven playing field between mothers and their children. As children grow they rely on their mothers for everything. For me, the word mother is more than a noun; it is the name for God on the hearts and lips of small children. Grace and complete love are what children receive ideally. As the years go by there are subtle changes in this relationship. Slowly but surely, there is modification. One helps the other cross the metaphorical street, and then the other repays with the same

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” - Mark Twain Rose Bowl Parade float, to graduating from Stanford University. Yet, with all the differences there is a fabric of shared experiences. They both had multi-colored bowls that made homemade meals that are still talked about fondly; each lady had a special recipe box that was full of memories and shared good times. My mother’s journey ended too soon. It’s hard to forget someone who gave me so much to remember. My other mother, now just six houses away, reminds me there are no words for the ability to seek wise council and wisdom from someone you respect. Now as the “golden years” are filled with doctor’s appointments and Costco runs (don’t forget the hot dog), I truly cherish these times. There is no replacement for quality time that didn’t happen with the frequency I wished with my mom. Nevertheless, Skip-Bo games and the allure of Costco hot dogs 22

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much later. It is with pride that I assist my other mother across the curb into Alejandra’s for lunch after church on most Sundays. My life troubles are few compared to my mother’s and my other mother’s. My eyes now twinkle as I think of helping others who gave so much to their loved ones. Robert Frost said, “The father is the Republican towards his child, and the mother is always the Democrat.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that my other mother and I have had some boisterous discussions that usually leave her shaking her head in a knowing way. There is a truth in “it takes a village.” Family takes care of family. Daughters and sons chip in to ease the aging process. There is nothing more soulful than supporting families through the aging process. The greatest gift a mother can bring is life itself. Happy Mother’s Day.




PICTURED: The warm wooden cabinetry and flooring give the Vannette’s kitchen a rustic look brimming with charm.




ERN ALIFORNIA CHARM Text by Jordan Venema | Photos by Taylor Johnson





adillac Ranch is not a typical name for a dairy, but then Judy and Phil Vannette aren’t your typical dairy farmers. Judy grew up on a dairy in Southern California, but she pursued a career in teaching. And unlike Judy, Phil did not grow up on a farm, and before Cadillac Ranch his only professional relationship with cows was limited to the leather upholstery that was sold in a furniture shop he owned in Southern California. But the furniture shop “was never really his thing,” says Judy, and in 1991 they leaped at an opportunity to lease a dairy in Tipton. They liked it well enough because in 1996 they bought their own dairy just outside Hanford. The transition must have been easy enough, because now Phil identifies himself as a farmer. “Yeah, he’s Cadillac,” laughs Judy. Or, to be formal, call him Mr. Cadillac. “Phil gets into what he’s into and gives it like 150 percent,” she explains. “He really got into cows. He’s like a cow lover. It’s kind of cute.” It might be unusual to call a farmer cute, but then there are

TOP: With French doors opening to the wrap around porch, the Vannette’s dinning room accommodates large family gatherings. BOTTOM: Featuring a corner bench, the breakfast nook highlights the kitchen’s French country feel.


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PICTURED: High ceilings and large box-paned windows in the living room add the Michigan-inspired design of the home. RIGHT: An oil painting purchased in Venice served as Judy’s inspiration for the home’s color palette.



HOME TOUR H not many farmers called Cadillac either. The name of their farm is a homage to an old Cadillac they bought for $600 from a neighbor. You could say they drove that Cadillac into the ground, cruising the fields and farm in Tipton. “When we bought the dairy in Hanford it was always called the Phil Vannette Dairy, but one day he said, ‘I think I’ll call it Cadillac Ranch.’” Judy liked it. So when Phil proposed that they and their four girls move to Visalia, Judy was shocked. “I was like no, no, no way,” she recalls. Judy wanted space, she wanted the farm, she wanted Cadillac. However, the girls were getting older and more involved with school. “You just kind of live in your car when you are out on those dairies,” says Judy, “driving all the time.” School, soccer, friends; the 25 mile drive was admittedly a little much. And then there was the lack of privacy, the constant bustle of the dairy, the smell and the flies. And ultimately, says Judy, “Phil just really wanted to live in town with the girls.” So she agreed. Judy’s biggest concern about the move to Visalia was losing the open space. So they bought the last available lot in Quail Run, a neighborhood that surrounds a large, oval park. “The park was really the best thing about this lot,” explains Judy, so they made sure to build a house with plenty of windows looking out onto it. “It’s a Michigan thing,” she explains, describing the old look and feel of the box-paned windows that are found throughout the house. It was a natural decision for the Vannettes to build a Michigan style home since they both met there while studying at Calvin College. “Phil being from Michigan, we really wanted a Michiganinspired home,” says Judy. “So we started with that,” the design for a two-story home with a wrap around porch and box-paned windows.

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H HOME TOUR Besides wanting a Michigan-inspired home, the Vannettes’ blueprint was simple: “a place that is comfortable to have people over,” says Judy. They had other guidelines though, which included putting the girls’ bedrooms upstairs and the master bedroom downstairs, an open living room and kitchen, and a traditional dining room. The Vannettes hired Rudy Witschi, whose home was featured in last month’s issue of Lifestyle, to build their house. “He was a great help with different things that he added here and there,” says Judy. Witschi’s handiwork can be seen in little touches throughout the home, like the stuccoed arches between doorways and the custom, multiple-layered crown molding in the living room. The outer facade of the home is finished with a simple grey, smooth stucco that at first glance looks like concrete. The Vannettes chose the smooth stucco because “it’s almost like a barn finish,” adding to the Midwestern feel. They built the home on a wood foundation because they wanted a raised, wrap around porch. The porch is bare except for two black wooden rockers, where Phil likes to sit on rainy afternoons. “Phil’s a rain guy,” says Judy, another Michigan thing. The black trim of the roofing accentuates the gray facade, and a columned and gabled portico extends above the porch steps. Just inside the front entranceway and under the eave of the staircase, hangs a framed oil painting that Judy bought on a trip to Venice. “I bought it on the side of the street while running to a boat.” The painting depicts a Venetian canal and bridge, but it was the colors - not the Venetian backdrop - that have been a source of inspiration to Judy. “That’s what I designed the colors of the house after, that is what I started with, right there,” she said, gesturing to the picture. “I loved the golds and the blacks and the burnt red color,” she continued, describing some of the same colors that

accentuate her home. Another interesting aspect about the house is its layout. There are multiple entryways in the house: double glass doors leading from the dinning room to the north side of the porch, another exit by the back hallway, a glass door on the south side of the porch to Phil’s office, and double glass doors between the kitchen to the backyard. The Vannettes also built a second, out-of-the-way staircase that leads from the back hallway and directly up to a large game room. “I built [the game room],” says Judy, “so that when the girls had slumber parties I could just shut the door. Also I put our bedroom way over there,” she laughed and pointed in the direction of the master bedroom downstairs. Now that their four girls are out of the house they do not have to worry about noise from slumber parties, but they do have two grandchildren and the game room still gets plenty of use. The staircases and entryways were built for convenience, but they also create a continuous flow throughout the house - it is entirely possible to circumnavigate the home without backtracking. The Vannettes built their house just 14 years ago, but it has the character of an older home. It is possible that the Michigan ideal may also have influenced the Vannettes’ choice to lay wooden floors throughout the first story. The cabinetry in the master bathroom and kitchen also lends the impression of an older carpentry because of a slightly weathered finish that includes details like etched grooves and rosettes. Judy designed and decorated the kitchen to incorporate a “French country feel,” with black and white checkered tiles that line the oven hood, and a breakfast nook with a table and corner bench. The kitchen opens to the living room, a high-ceiling space with a stone-facade fireplace that is bordered by dark wood cabinets. The Vannette house also has an office space for Phil and,

PICTURED: Complete with dark-wood cabinetry and a cowhide rug, the home-office serves as a headquarters for Cadillac Ranch.



H HOME TOUR towards the back of the home, a workout room and bathroom that Judy calls “Phil’s section of the house. With all these girls and their friends,” she explains, “that’s his hang out spot.” Phil’s office has a few images of an iconic lighthouse from Holland, Michigan, a cowhide on the floor, and “High Herd” awards given by Select Sires. “Phil’s a humble guy,” says Judy, “so he wouldn’t tell you [about the awards], but I can.” The small workout room is decorated with some of Phil’s interests: photos of Indy 500 racing, a road bike and a large print of a pink Cadillac. When the Vannettes moved to Visalia 14 years ago, Judy was reluctant to leave the dairy. But ask her now? “You know, I don’t miss it that much,” she admits. As for Phil, who initially wanted the move? “Phil loves to go out and see his cows. He goes out a


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lot.” Perhaps Phil suggested the move in order to get the dairy all to himself? Judy jokes that the scenario is entirely possible. But for now, the Vannettes plan to stay in their home for a very long time. “We moved six times [before moving to Visalia] and I said this is going to be the last time. I really wanted this to be a home where we would all be together for a few years.” So while Judy may joke about Phil needing a getaway from the girls or about the game room being a place where they could shut them in, the truth is that both she and Phil have never lived in any one place longer in their adult lives. Judy puts it simply, “if you love your home, it’s home.” And the Vannettes plan to keep it that way so long as their daughters are nearby. Anyway, Judy points out, they already have two grandchildren and “hopefully we will have lots more.”

HOME TOUR H LEFT: Covered in ivy, the outdoor fireplace is a gathering spot for many of the family’s backyard barbeques. BOTTOM: The large backyard gives the Vannettes the open space of a country home within the city.









Recipes by James Jessen and Ryan Lucas, Tazzaria Photos by Taylor Johnson


eading up to Mother’s Day, many of us are thinking about how we can make this day special for the significant woman in our lives. In this month’s Culinary Feature, the chefs at Tazzaria have made it a no-brainer with these sweet and savory recipes. What better way to say, “You’re the best” than with a home-made, rustic, Italian style brunch.

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Focaccia bread, sliced Fresh arugula 1 egg, poached 1 heirloom tomato, sliced Prosciutto di Prama 2 T fresh basil pesto (for spread) Fresh mozzarella, sliced Directions

Slice bread and spread a good layer of the fresh pesto on both slices of bread. Then simply layer the other ingredients and place into panini press until toasted on both sides.

QUINOA SALAD Ingredients

1 red onion, thinly sliced 1 T red wine vinegar 1 T Maldon sea salt 2 C quinoa 5 plum tomatoes, oven dried (seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) 3 T olive oil 1 garlic clove, crushed  4 T Italian parsley, chopped 4 T chives, chopped 4 T dill, chopped 3 oz. mild Gorgonzola  Black pepper, to taste Directions

Place red onion in a bowl. Add vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt. Stir and set aside for a few minutes until the onion softens. Place quinoa in boiling water and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Once cooked, drain and add the onions. Add olive oil, garlic and pepper, stir and set aside to cool. Once cool, add the fresh herbs and mix well. Crumble Gorgonzola cheese over the top and garnish to taste.


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4 T butter 2 T garlic, chopped 1 C heavy cream Handful of parsley Parmesan cheese to taste

2 C mascarpone cheese 2 T vanilla extract Powdered sugar to taste Fresh berries


Whisk cheese, vanilla and sugar in mixing bowl. Once desired flavor has been achieved, use another bowl and layer the cheese mixture and berries onto each other. Top with lemon or lime zest for freshness.

If you already have a fresh pasta recipe, just substitute one egg for a ¼ C beet purée.

FRESH PASTA Ingredients

1 ¾ C all-purpose flour 6 large egg yolks ¼ C beet purée 1 ½ tsp. olive oil 1 T milk Directions

Mound flour on a board and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with sides about 1-inch wide. Pour the egg yolks, beet purée, oil and milk into the well. Use your fingers to break up the eggs. Begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. Occasionally push the flour toward the eggs. When the dough begins thickening, incorporate the remaining flour by lifting the flour up and over the dough. Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball. Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands. Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times. Let the dough rest for a few minutes and continue kneading until the dough becomes silky smooth. The kneading process can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. It is important to work the dough long enough to pass the “pull test.” Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine. The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding. When dough is ready, divide into tennis ball size. Flatten and run through a pasta press. Start on the largest setting and gradually decrease until you have reached your desired width.


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Heat pan on medium-high heat. Put the butter, parsley and garlic in the pan. Once butter has melted and garlic is fragrant, add heavy cream and reduce for 1-2 minutes, until creamy. Add pasta and toss with sauce.


1 C all-purpose flour 2 T granulated sugar ½ tsp. salt 1 large egg ½ C whole milk Canola oil for frying Powdered sugar for dusting Directions

Combine flour, sugar, egg, milk and salt in mixing bowl and whisk together. Once whisked, heat 1½ inches of oil and drop the batter into the oil. Forming small irregular shaped zeppole, cook until golden brown. Once cooked use a skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer them to paper towels to cool. Stack zeppole on a serving platter and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.



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M MUSIC Text by Jordan Venema




isalia has imported its fair share of great musicians, and now it’s exporting one of its own. On April 5, Nashvillebased Terra Bella headlined at the Visalia Fox Theater, but for Joseph Costa and Martina Otterbeck the show was more like a homecoming. The married country duo didn’t just get their start in Visalia, it’s also where they met and fell in love. It’s the kind of story that makes for a good country song - in their case it just happens to be true. Terra Bella describes themselves as a high-energy, story-telling country band, whose influences range from Buck Owens to the Beatles. You could point to Joseph’s guitar or Martina’s powerful voice, but the duo’s greatest asset, perhaps, is their own relationship. “We definitely bring our marriage on stage,” says Joseph, and their chemistry can be downright contagious. For some performers, the occasional kiss or an exchange of playful words might seem



scripted, but watching Terra Bella there’s never any doubt they’re just acting naturally. They met five years ago when a mutual friend told Joseph he should meet this girl who could really sing. “Yeah, because all singers should hang out,” laughed Martina. At the time Joseph was playing with band Crossing Caldwell but Martina just sang karaoke. “I got a chance to sing at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace with the house band for my birthday, and after one song I was hooked,” says Martina. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” to perform. “But before that I was just a hairbrush singer.” Whether the friend had in mind to set them up for a date or to form a band didn’t matter to Joseph. “I knew she was pretty, so I didn’t really care if she could sing or not.” But as the guitar was passed around and Martina sang along, Joseph remembers thinking, “Man, this girl can really sing.”

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From the start, Joseph wanted to date her, but Martina felt differently. “He was shy and hid behind his guitar,” she laughs. She even told her friend that she never wanted to see him again. But their initial differences turned out to be their respective strengths as musicians. “We’re opposites,” says Martina, “but we bring out the best in each other.” Joseph writes his songs and tells his stories from behind that guitar, and he admits, “I’m much more comfortable singing to people than talking to them.” Martina, on the other hand, looks comfortable just about anywhere on stage, which she roams freely with a wireless mic. Martina grew up listening to the country greats, but she’s also been influenced by pop musicians like Beyoncé and Pink, whose ability to entertain an audience has always impressed her. Not long af ter they started dating, they played together under their own names and later with a full band as Chaparral. Through playing locally and opening with touring bands, Joseph and Martina net worked with other musicians who encouraged them to visit Nashville. They flew out, signed a management contract, and then moved to the country capital of the world. “It was the best move we could have made,” says Martina. “In the last seven months we have finished our EP and written over 20 new songs.” Their move to Nashville also coincided with their new name, Terra Bella. “We wanted to start fresh,” explains Joseph, “and we wanted to stay true to our roots, because of our background in agriculture and farming,” added Martina. Terra Bella means “beautiful earth,” and that concept, the beauty of the land from the perspective of a farmer, is a regular theme in their songs. The move to Nashville was a natural fit for Terra Bella. According to Joseph, the people, the place, “it’s really just like home out here.” And of course there’s the musical connection, too. If Nashville is the country capital of the world, then Bakersfield, the home of legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, is its sister city. Joseph and Martina have been called third generation California country, linking them directly with the music of the South Central Valley, music that has


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influenced bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But unlike the rock music it has influenced, the country genre is more down to earth, without the larger than life personalities. Joseph points out that the biggest selling country artist is George Strait, and “he’s just a normal dude singing good songs.” There’s something about country, says Terra Bella, that is more authentic than other genres, and that works for the married couple. “Country music allows one to be more vulnerable, so what better way to express that than with someone you love?” asks Martina. In general, Joseph thinks country is a more family-oriented genre, and it’s not difficult to think of famous married country duos: Johnny and June, George and Tammy, Faith and Tim. These aren’t larger than life personas, they’re just normal folk singing songs together. “We are no different than any other working couple,” says Martina, they just happen to spend “every waking moment together…but it works,” she adds, “I couldn’t have asked for a better business partner, or a better husband.” They may be just a normal couple singing songs, but on stage at the Fox Theater, Terra Bella looked like rock stars with their sunglasses, sequins and skinny jeans. But that didn’t stop them from being themselves while playing in front of fans, family and friends, who waved signs from the main floor and balcony. One of the show’s highlights was when Martina brought their niece on stage, and held her throughout the song. After setting her down she said, “I’m not used to carrying a kid around. God bless all of you who do.” They dedicated songs to friends by name and songs to “all you cotton farmers out there.” Martina didn’t hesitate to speak directly to the crowd, at point even telling her dad to close his ears. While on stage, their display of emotions ranged from laughter to tears, “well it was bound to happen,” said Martina. During the performance they joked together, sang next to each other, Martina even complimented Joseph, “you’re such a talented songwriter, husband.” They also played one cover by the great Buck Owens, “Act Naturally,” which was fitting since that’s what they’ve been doing all along.


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Text by Marsha Roberts


y travel articles vary widely in nature. Some of that eclecticism is due to liking a wide variety of destinations, but much of it is a sign of what it takes to have a long and happy marriage – compromise. I prefer exotic and bizarre locales that allow the opportunity to interact with locals, often while bartering for goods. That process allows me to understand the people more than any museum or vista ever could and gives me a suitcase full of treasures to remember the experience as well. My husband favors history, remarkable human engineering, archeology, majestic landscapes and spots as far from any form of commerce as possible. So these travels of ours are the result of embracing, albeit somewhat reluctantly at times, each other’s divergent notion of the perfect trip. Wilderness, mountains, glaciers and wildlife? Clearly my

husband’s pick. But as I have learned before, some of the best experiences aren’t the ones I would have normally chosen. The differences I expected to be subtle when comparing Canada to home were actually quite remarkable and striking at times. And even though Glacier National Park is located in the U.S. (a destination often combined with a Canadian Rockies trip), Montana might as well have been another country. One of the overriding and lasting impressions of Canada is its huge size. With only 3.3 people/sq mile, the population is sparse, especially outside any city. So this already large country (second only to Russia in size) has fewer people with a lot more room around them. The result is that everything seems that much bigger. So much so that it’s a real struggle to try to control excessive use of oversized adjectives in descriptions. The other reality of this L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014



Photo by Cheryl Levitan

LEFT: The silt carried down from the movement of the glaciers along the Icefield Parkway causes many lakes to be a vivid turquoise color. When the light enters the water, most rays of light pass through. RIGHT: The original 1920s boat on Lake McDonald. These wooden plank boats still cruise the waters of Glacier National Park, Montana. They allow visitors to see areas not accessible by road.

trip is that lodging is much like Forrest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates (although these would probably be maple flavored treats instead). Pulling up to each new hotel was like a tour through time and a study in contrasts. Magnificent castles with breathtaking views and beautiful décor, chalets with rustic mis-matched furniture and miniscule showers, and some modernized 1960s-style motor lodges were all in the mix. As for the ever present taxidermy, it was a case of fewer people but lots of extra and oddly watchful eyes. We followed a route that began by flying into Calgary, traveling south through Waterton Lakes National Park (the Canadian side of Glacier National Park), dipping south into Montana to visit Glacier National Park, curving north again to re-enter Canada in the province of British Columbia for Kootenay National Park and then back to Alberta Provence for Jasper and Banff National Parks, as well as the Icefields Parkway and Athabasca Glacier. The largest city in Alberta, Calgary still sits alone surrounded by a vast prairie. Until oil was discovered in the late 1940s, it was little more than scattered homesteads. Most growth occurred after the 1970s oil boom when tall buildings quickly replaced most of downtown. Realizing that oil and gas were volatile markets, the city diversified in the 46

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1980s. Transitioning from a mid-sized and unexceptional prairie city, by 1988 Calgary was a major cosmopolitan area that hosted Canada’s first Winter Olympics. With the largest network of buildings connected by enclosed and heated overhead pedestrian walkways, winter shopping can be done without a jacket. Boasting clean air and low unemployment, the city has the first windpowered public transit system - and it’s free. Despite its modernization, Calgary retains a feel of the west. The police uniforms include cowboy boots and hats, and the city’s largest festival is an annual rodeo called “The Stampede.” What it does lack, however, is a feeling of history. Little remains that’s more than 50-years old - even its residents. After leaving Calgary, our next stop was Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump. Located where the foothills of the Rockies meet the Great Plains, this is a preserved site used by Aboriginal people for more than 6,000 years. Annual stampeding of bison over the precipice provided meat, clothing, utensils and weapons for the rest of the year. As you might imagine, I got a lot of mileage out of that name and it’s tongue-in-cheek insinuation as the better choice than staying in the occasional dreadful lodging. Traveling southward, Waterton Lakes National Park was our next stop. Remarkable for being an extremely narrow

Photo by Cheryl Levitan

ecosystem, wildlife and plants from the prairie, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest all coexist. With the highest annual precipitation in Canada, it also lays claim to being Canada’s windiest locale with 60 mph winter Chinook (warm) winds being commonplace. The most memorable sight was the Prince of Wales Hotel. Sitting atop a flat green hill projecting out into a lake and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, this magnificent multi-storied chalet looked like a vividly colored painting come to life. Last in a chain of luxury hotels built throughout the Rockies for affluent 1920s visitors, this muti-storied beauty set up unrealistic expectations for some of our chalet accommodations to come. A quick walk confirmed its number one wind ranking when a turn around a corner nearly blew us off our feet. Continuing south into Montana, we entered Glacier National Park. With more than 150 glaciers in 1850, a mere 25 remain with expectations it will be glacier free by 2030. Boat tours along its lakes are a must. Many of the same wooden planked vessels from the 1920s remain in service, with those on Lake McDonald continuously operated by the same family. The most remarkable ride, however, is in a Red Jammer. These buses resemble elongated red cars with roll-back canvas tops.


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T TRAVEL LEFT: A sunny summer day turned into a sleet storm once on the glacier INSET: Riding in an original 1930s red jammer bus is the best way to see the scenery in Glacier National Park. With its roll back canvas roof, everyone gets a perfect view.

Photo by Cheryl Levitan

Photo by Cheryl Levitan

Built in the 1930s, 30 are still in operation. The name came from their red color and the sound of the gears when drivers double clutched on steep mountain roads. Those transmissions were replaced in 1989 to remove the “jamming” sound and in 2000-2002 they were revamped to run on propane. We rode these buses to traverse the aptly named Going-To-TheSun-Road, an engineering marvel that took 30 years to build. This road spans the 50-mile width of Glacier National Park, winding through spectacular scenery, and finally crossing the Continental Divide at 6,646 foot high Logan Pass. Leaving Montana to once again travel north into Canada, the drive was made all the memorable with a quick coffee and doughnut stop at the First And Last Chance. (I couldn’t make up all these names if I tried!) Sitting feet from the border with Canada, this circa 1960 establishment was no kitschy replica meant for tourists. This combination bar/ pool hall/duty-free shop playing Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline hits on the juke box was like entering a surreal time warp. So authentic, right down to the items for sale and old hound lying beneath the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sign, I had the eerie thought that we might not 48

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revert to “real-time” once outside. At least the regulars were not up and about that early in the morning. With Montana behind us, we traveled north into Canada along the Icefields Parkway. Connecting the national parks of Banff and Jasper, this road parallels the Continental Divide. Superlative adjectives can not adequately describe the beauty. Mountain bowls cradling glaciers high above and alpine meadows below act as backdrops for impossibly vivid turquoise-blue lakes. It’s hard to believe that something as mundane as glacier silt refracting light could create water so stunningly beautiful. The parkway derives its name from the Columbia Icefield, a large glacial area that is visible intermittently in the mountains. Greater than 1,000 feet deep, it has six projections down at lower altitudes. One of these, the Athabasca Glacier, can be toured with snow buses whose large low pressure tires make driving onto the ice possible. Receding 6-10 feet per year, crevices abound so it’s wise to tread carefully. The glacier also has its own climate zone and our sunny summer day quickly turned to sleet. Just as everything in Canada is large, so is the wildlife. Moose, elk and bears

are familiar sights. Fenced and vegetated overpasses specifically built for grazing have allowed highway access to the area’s natural beauty without fragmenting wildlife habitats. It also ensures that fewer animals are killed while crossing large roads. These animal overpasses are mutually beneficial; collisions between vehicles and large wildlife didn’t bode well for two legged animals or their cars, either. Moose and elk stay clear of humans but bears find us a bit more enticing. As a deterrent, we had “bear bells” to carry when we ventured off the beaten path. I chose to stay in a group and open areas instead. If a bear attacked, I figured I had a pretty good chance of running faster than at least a few people. My plan also reduced the chances of meeting a bear who mistook my bear bell for a dinner bell. Once again my husband was right –a perfect trip. We even stocked up on maple cookies and Ruffles, “all dressed” potato chips in order to bring a little Canada home with us. If you now crave a similar adventure, contact the Visalia Chamber regarding their August 9-15 tour. If seeing the area by rail is more your style, look into the Rocky Mountaineer at



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F A M I LY & F R I E N D S

GUIDE POET’S PATH Text by Diane Slocum



arisol Teresa Baca began her journey as a poet at her grandfather’s knee. He had studied Federico Garcia Lorca for his master’s degree and when she was very young, he read his poems and talked about poetry to her. He encouraged her to participate. “I would sing songs and write little things,” she said. “He would record a lot of stuff that I would write.” Her interest in poetry continued all through school. She enjoyed Shel Silverstein and other children’s poetry and literature. Lorca appealed to her when she was very young and she appreciated other Spanish poets as well. “Poetry always gave me so much more than all the other things I was interested in,” she said. Her understanding of Lorca deepened as she grew older and when her grandfather died, he left her his notes on all the books he was working on about the poet. This was a treasured gift. Another gift provided by her family came when she was about 18 and went to San Antonio to live with a family friend, Carmen Tafolla. Tafolla is a senior lecturer and writerin-residence at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In 2012, she was also the first poet laureate of San Antonio, the first city in Texas to have its own laureate. She has published six volumes of poetry and numerous other works. One of the many positions she has held at universities was associate professor of Women’s Studies at Fresno State. “Carmen started to teach me a lot about poetry,” she said. “About that kind of lifestyle. I was really interested in it. She was definitely a major influence on me.” Baca was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When she was 3-years old, her family moved to Ecuador for about a year and a half. Her father had a Fulbright in education. Following this adventure, they returned to New Mexico until moving to Fresno when Baca was entering the third grade. Her father taught education and curriculum at Fresno State for 22 years. Baca went on to attend Fresno State herself, where she majored in English and benefited from its stellar group of poets and writers. She took one summer workshop with Philip Levine (another poet laureate-to-be). “They have a great program here at Fresno State,” she said. “I felt like I was around a lot of really good authors. I was also good friends with a group of writers.” Tim Hernandez, Mike Medrano, Juan Felipe Herrera and Margarita Luna Robles are among the valley poets that Baca has had the good fortune to know. “There is definitely a Fresno voice, a distinct characteristic to Fresno poetry,” she said. “I’m happy that I’m surrounded by such a good community of writers.” While attending Fresno State, Baca won the Andres Montoya Poetry Award. Fresno State Professor and author of five poetry collections Corinne Clegg Hales worked with Baca as an undergraduate and encouraged her to see what was out there that might work best for her in terms of continuing her education. Baca wound up going to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, for her Master of Fine Arts. She was attracted, among other things, by the small program.


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“There were only eight of us and we worked under Ken McClane, Alice Fulton, Phyllis Jonowitz and other writers that taught there,” she said. “I got a lot of attention in grad school. I got a lot of mentoring and that helped to define my voice as a poet.” While at Cornell, she received the Robert Chasen Poetry Award and edited the award-winning EPOCH journal. Despite her east coast educational experience, Baca came back to Fresno seven years ago. She was still impressed by the community of writers in and from the valley. She began to teach part time at both Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias as an adjunct faculty member. She teaches English, mostly in composition courses. For her, teaching is definitely a two-way street. “Poetry has a huge influence on the way I teach,” she said. “Poetry made me very aware of looking at the smaller things and being able to communicate clearly. The number one thing I teach my students is how can you better communicate through writing? Poetry was the way I came about that idea.” On the other hand, her students help her all the time. Even when she may be tired from reading essays, their creativity can come back full circle, energizing her own



creativity. From her early efforts encouraged by her grandfather, Baca has continued to write poetry all of her life. She first experienced the joy of seeing her work published in her high school journal. She was also published at Fresno State while an undergraduate. Since then, her publications include: Chicanos in Higher Education; Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets; Indigo; Accentos Review; Opus 42; Riverlit; and the anthologies Ixhua and Mosaic Voices. “It’s nice to see my work out there,” she said. “Because after writing for a long time and being rejected a lot, you realize that there is a place for your work.” She has written a manuscript for a book of poems titled Revelato, which was a finalist for the Black Lawrence Press First Book Prize and she is now looking for a publisher. “Revelato” is the title poem of the book and is Italian for “to reveal”. Other poems also relate to learning about identity and self through family and place or being startled by things revealed to you. She looks at all the different places she has been and what that says to her as a poet. “My poetry reflects the familial, the poetry of place,” she said. “The mysterious quality of landscape, culture and tradition.”

She has also found an appreciative audience for her poetry by doing readings. The Fresno area has had a strong community of poets that also perform their works, even at the time when Baca was attending Fresno State. She likes the idea of performing poems because it not only gives validation when the audience appreciates the work, but causes her to look more critically at her writing when she thinks of presenting it to people who may or may not like what they hear. She has performed for the League of Mexican American Women in Visalia and recently had a performance for an International Women’s Day function. She has also performed her poetry in New York City at Bryant Park, AWP and the Intersection of the Arts in San Francisco as well as in coffee shops in Fresno. “It’s always nice, even if it’s one poem, to connect with the people who would listen to you,” she said. “I write a lot, I read a lot of poetry and I have done so ever since I was young. I always believed that my experience was tied to poetry, that my voice was attached to it, so I just keep writing and reading it and it has allowed me to pursue the things I want most in life. I guess I’ve gotten to where I am by being my genuine self and by trusting in my poetic voice – never giving up on it.”


L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014



Visalia Irish Fest Craft beer enthusiasts and local community members gathered on March 15 to celebrate the Visalia Irish Fest, presented by Visalia Breakfast Lions Club, Pita Kabob & Grill and Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company. Held at the Visalia Rawhide stadium, more than 30 breweries were on location pouring for the guests of the event. This annual event has grown year after year, making it an event locals look forward to each year. With live music, fresh food and more than 900 people in attendance, the event was a success.


Leadership Visalia Golf Tournament On March 21, the Visalia Chamber of Commerce hosted the sixth annual Leadership Visalia Golf Tournament at Valley Oaks Golf Course. With close to 80 players at the event, the day was a huge success. The Wells Fargo team took first place, while the Rabobank team took second and the Buckman-Mitchell team came in third. The event also included several silent auction items provided by local businesses. The Leadership Visalia Program serves as a resource for emerging leaders in developing their leadership skills, values, knowledge and community awareness. Sponsored by the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, the goal is for these leaders to serve as influential men and women in our community.Â


L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014


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VISALIA CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL Sample beers from craft breweries near and far, listen to live music and enjoy some delicious snacks from food vendors at this 21 and older event. Tickets are $30, $10 for designated drivers.

When: Apr. 26, 1-5p Where: Mooney Grove Park, Visalia Contact:



Peter Rabbit lives happily in the green meadow, eating from Farmer Brown’s carob and cabbage. His sole concern is his name, Peter Rabbit. He doesn’t like it. Watch his journey with friends of the meadow as he sets out to discover a new name. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7 p.m.; Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m. When: May 2-4, 9-11, 16-17 Where: Enchanted Playhouse Theatre, 307 E. Main St., Visalia Contact: 739-4600 or visit


Presented by the College of the Sequoias theatre department, the play Metamorphoses is adapted from the classic Ovid poem. Written by Mary Zimmerman and directed by David Rasner and Chris Mangles, this will be a show you don’t want to miss. General tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors. When: Apr. 25-27, May 1-3 Where: College of the Sequoias Theatre, 915 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia Contact: 730-3907 or visit


Presented by the City of Visalia, the Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Visalia Convention Center, this event will consist of amazing southern gospel music, powerful devotionals from artists and speakers as well as a meet and greet with the artists. When: May 1-3 Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: or visit


L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014

MAY 13


As one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry, The Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of country hits and have earned Grammy, CMA and ACM awards. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition. When: May 13, 7:30p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 Main St., Visalia Contact:


4635 W. Sweet – Enjoy the beautiful and quiet lifestyle Cobblestone Estates has to offer. The sparkling pool is wonderfully relaxing during the hot Visalia summers, and the nearby outdoor entertaining area makes for a great space to host family and friends. This Mediterranean-style custom home also features separate mother-in-law quarters with private bathroom and access, crown molding, and granite counter tops. $779,000.

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Slide Show Presentation on May 14th at 12:00 -1:00 pm Roundtrip Airfare from LAX Features: Siem Reap, Angkor Thom, Banteay Srei Temple, Angkor Wat (UNESCO), Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Mekong Delta Boat Trip, Thien Hau Pagoda, Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Hall, Hanoi, Old Quarter Cyclo Taxi Ride, Ho Chi Minh Memorial, One Pillar Pagoda

November 3-12, 2014 For pricing or registration details call the Visalia Chamber of Commerce at 559-734-5876 or visit Chamber Explorations CST# 2048841-40 L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014




APR 26


The Tulare-Sequoia Gourd Patch presents a weekend series of workshops and demonstrations offered by some of the leading artists in the fields of basket weaving and gourd art. Artists throughout the United States descend upon Visalia in order to study the techniques of these contemporary masters. When: Through Apr. 26 Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 739-0905 or


Each Saturday, join Lynn’s la Fuente art studio and wine tasting Saturday Expo. Enjoy wine tasting from Peloton Cellars from Avila Beach and art featuring local artists. Watercolor, oil paintings and other forms of art will be on display. When: Apr. 19 & 26, 12p Where: Ed’s Fountains, 26300 N. Mooney Blvd., Visalia Contact: 679-7151

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L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014


APR 19

APR 24


Join the Visalia Naz Church in their annual event. Enjoy a day with the family while participating in the egg hunt while taking train rides, bouncing in bounce houses, and eating at their food court. Don’t forget about the pony rides and petting zoo! When: Apr. 19, 9a-12p Where: Visalia Naz Church, 3333 W. Caldwell Ave., Visalia Contact: 734-1117


Join three Central Coast wineries and two local restaurants for one great night. The opening reception begins at Jack & Charlie’s at 6:30p and continues across the street to The Depot at 7:30p for dinner. Come join the circus! For reservations, please call The Depot at 732-8611. When: Apr. 24, 6:30p Where: Jack & Charlie’s, 204 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 732-0577



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EXETER GARDEN WALK Bring the whole family outside as you enjoy the 10th annual Full Bloom Garden Walk where you will get to enjoy the sights and scents of flowers in bloom. Enjoy refreshments and get all your gardening questions answered as you discover downtown Exeter and all it has to offer. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at By the Water Tower Antiques, 141 South B, or the Exeter Chamber of Commerce at 101 West Pine Street in Exeter.

When: May 10, 9a-2p Where: Downtown Exeter Contact: 592-2919 or


The annual California Antique Farm Equipment Show is a celebration of California’s rich agricultural heritage, with antique equipment collectors from all over California and the US showcasing their prized possessions for the public to see. $5 general admission, children 12 and under get in for free. When: Apr. 25– 27, 8a Where: International Agri-Center, 4450 S. Laspina St., Tulare Contact: 688-1030

MAY 23

Weekly event open to the public featuring free live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. The market also accepts EBT and WIC. When: Thursdays, 5-8p; Saturdays, 8-11:30a Where: Thursdays, Downtown Visalia; Saturdays, Sears parking lot Contact: 967-6722 or

Enjoy the 66th Annual P.R.C.A. Rodeo in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada mountains along with wonderful entertainment, fantastic food and the thrills and spills of world class rodeo action. When: Apr. 25 – 27 Where: Springville Sierra Rodeo grounds, 34754 Highway 190, Springville Contact: 1-866-RODEO49 or visit

APR 26


Bring the whole family for this free event as you enjoy the spring celebrations and “Porterville in Bloom.” There will be arts and crafts, food and commercial booths, free entertainment on three stages, a beer and wine garden, the cool rides car show and the third annual chili cook-off. A free shuttle service will be provided from each location. When: Apr. 26, 9a-5p Where: Downtown Porterville and Sutton’s Iris Gardens, 16592 Road 208, Porterville Contact: 784-7502 or

L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014

Beat the summer heat by attending this event where you can purchase soft drinks, brews, delicious BBQ and other summertime favorites. This family-oriented free music event will benefit the Visalia Emergency Aid Council. Music by Brad Wilson. When: May 23, 6-10p Where: Garden Street Plaza, Visalia Contact: 732-7737






APR 26


Valley Oak SPCA is seeking sponsors, vendors, donors and walk participants in their annual fundraiser. It will be a funpacked day with a 3-mile walk around Plaza Park, with doggie contests, raffle prizes, awards and information to benefit the Valley Oak SPCA and the homeless animals in our care. When: Apr. 26, 8a-12p Where: Plaza Park Contact: 713-4694


I can



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L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014



KENTUCKY DERBY Come out and experience the excitement of the Kentucky Derby live on large screens. Enjoy appetizers, sparkling beverages, auctions, fancy hat contests, music and more! Tickets are $40 for this 21 and older event. All proceeds from this event will benefit food and nutrition programs provided by FoodLink, the food bank for all of Tulare County.

When: May 3; 1:30 – 4:30p Where: Visalia County Club, 625 N. Ranch St., Visalia Contact: 651-3663

APR 26


Presented by Kaweah Delta Health Care District Guild, this annual event will feature a fashion show. There will also be a social hour, lunch and a bountiful of drawings and prizes to be won! Tickets are $30 for this all ages event. The deadline to reserve your spot is April 20. All proceeds will go towards purchasing patient care equipment for Kaweah Delta Hospital. When: Apr. 26, 11a Where: Lamp Liter Inn, 3300 W. Mineral King, Visalia Contact: 635-9225



MAY 16



Join Visalia Harley Davidson as they ride for Happy Hearts, benefitting the Children’s Hospital of Central California. When: May 4, 9a-2p Where: Visalia Harley Davidson, 30681 HWY 99, Visalia Contact: 733-4647

Presented by CASA of Tulare County, the 20th annual gala will consist of a dinner by the Vintage Press, live and silent auction and dancing to the tunes of “Borrowed Time.” When: May 16, 6:30p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: 625-4007

L I FE S T Y L E | A PR I L 2014

MAY 19


Join the Visalia Sunset Rotary’s 10th Annual Adventure Park FUNdraiser. Tickets are $20; available from all members or that night at the door. All proceeds go mostly to youth-oriented groups and nonprofits throughout the year. When: May 19, 5-9p Where: Visalia Adventure Park, 5600 W. Cypress Ave., Visalia Contact:

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April 2014  

Style, Art, Culture and Events of the South Valley.

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