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Five Tulare County Men Tackle Grueling Endurance Event CULTURE QUEST

YOM HASHOAH The Courage to Remember

February 2012

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Conquering the Ironman Five Tulare County men tackle grueling endurance event


Letter from the Executive Editor

10 Business Cents 12 Word Play 14 Local Adventure: Bicycle Trails & Paths 16 Visalia Visual Chronicle 32 Literary Arts: Art Coelho



42 Next Gen: Rosalinda Verde 50 Professional Profile: V Med Spa


52 Fashion

The Calzone

56 Happenings

Savory spinach and sausage

54 Performances


36 C U LT U R E Q U E S T

Yom HaShoah:

The Courage to Remember


44 4


ABOVE: On watch at the Sandy Serpa home is Treana, a four-pound toy Pomeranian.

FEBRUARY 2012 PUBLISHED BY DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 EDITORIAL Executive Editor Karen Tellalian Assistant Editor TAYLOR VAUGHN Copy Editor DARA FISK-EKANGER Content Editor Kyndal Kennedy ART & PRODUCTION Art Director ROSS YUKAWA Senior Graphic Designer CHRIS BLY CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Aaron Collins crystal r. r. edwards Diane Slocum elaine dakessian kyndal kennedy lisa mcEWEN MARK J. ROWE Marsha Peltzer Sharon Mosley BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Malkasian Accountancy LLP Gary Malkasian CPA JEFFREY Malkasian EA Operations Manager Maria Gaston


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 Advanced Body & Laser Center Creekside Day Spa & Wellness Center Exeter Chamber of Commerce Exeter Golf Course Holiday Inn Kaweah Delta Hospital Red Carpet Car Wash Sequoia Laser Aesthetics Smiles by Sullivan Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa Tulare Chamber of Commerce V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Community Bank (Downtown) Visalia Eye Center Visalia Imaging & Open MRI Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Wildflower Cafe-Exeter Dr. Keith Williams Williams, Jordan, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc.

ADVERTISING SALES Advertising Director Bridget Elmore SALES OFFICE 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.739.1747 • Fax 559.738.0909 E-mail: VIEW THE MAG ONLINE!

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 © 2012 DMI Agency



ON THE COVER: Handcrafted by her son, Jeremy, the gate at the entrance of the Sandy Serpa home is one of her favorite features. LEFT: The tranquil sound of a flowing water fountain makes the front courtyard at the Sandy Serpa home a place of peace.




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


here’s nothing like a little fire to help figure out one’s priorities … or so it seemed the morning we were making the preliminary edits to this month’s issue of Lifestyle. We had no more than walked into the building when our internal smoke detectors went off (our noses) and within three minutes the Visalia Fire Department arrived on the scene. Forget the purses, but whatever happens, save the magazine and client files! Thankfully, it was nothing serious, but our heartfelt thanks go to the red and yellow for their quick response and concern for our safety. Thinking about how fortunate we are to live in a time when public safety and civil liberties are such priorities, I wonder how often we take these for granted? If that causes you to pause for even just a moment, you’ll want to read “Yom HaShoah: The Courage to Remember” about another place and time … Nazi Germany. True, there have been many stories recounting the horrors of the Holocaust, but Lifestyle recently attended a local Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) held at the Congregation Beit Shalom in Visalia. Survivor Henry Epstein gives readers a glimpse into what it was like growing up in Bresslau, Germany, and his experience of being shipped off by train to a labor camp. As another survivor, Myriam Farris, begins to describe how at five years old she fled Bordeaux, France, her memories cause her to stop mid-sentence. If it’s been a while since you’ve given thanks for living in America, don’t miss this article, found on page 44. How different was the youth experienced by Henry compared to this month’s NextGen feature, Rosalinda Verde, a Redwood High School graduate. Rosalinda grew up singing and performing in local theatre before enrolling in Point Loma Nazarene University where she studied classical vocal performance. Rosalinda’s passion for the Arts led her to start Visalia’s first opera company, and did I mention her tender age of 26? Her story begins on page 42. Today, as we make the final edits to our February issue, the weather is expected to reach the low ’70s, the sun is shining, and the skies are clear. It’s enough to make us want to go for a bike ride. If you are so inspired, be sure to catch “Bicycle Trails & Paths” on page 14. We are looking forward to another great year, especially for our loyal advertisers. When our readers patronize the local businesses found inside, it makes it possible for us to continue to provide the best in culture, arts and style for our community. When shopping or buying services, please remember to tell them how much you appreciate their financial support of Lifestyle, because as a free publication, without them we would be silenced. Enjoy the beautiful weather, and we’ll see you next month.

Karen Tellalian, EXECUTIVE EDITOR For more information or to submit a story idea email or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909. 8



Finding the Right Financial Planner Text by Mark j. Rowe, Lewis & Associates Insurance Brokers Inc.


e’ve become a nation addicted to contract labor and “outsourcing” to someone else without a second thought. Our lives seem so busy and stressful we are willing to pay someone to do just about everything but brush our teeth for us. Some of us spend so many hours at work that it’s easy to think there just isn’t time to handle everything else without help. But in one area of your life it’s imperative to do as much of the work as possible, rather than turning complete control over to someone else: your finances. Let’s cut straight to the bottom line here: what happens to your money should affect the quality of your life more than your financial advisor’s life, your banker’s life, or your insurance agent’s life. So it’s essential that you understand what is going on and are able to make informed decisions. However, you may still want to have help managing your finances, so do the homework to make sure you hire someone good. A really talented financial adviser is an incredible asset; but a bad or even mediocre planner is going to create a mess for you and put your financial security at risk. So let’s talk about how to find the best planner. And if you already have an adviser, read along to see if your pro meets the high standards you deserve. Here are some important “first impressions” to look for: • If you live with a spouse, a good financial planner will ask to meet both of you. The planner’s job is to truly understand the total financial situation of your household, which means he or she should want to be familiar with the needs, wants, and risks of you both, individually, and as a couple. • A clean office/desk. A planner who isn’t organized often isn’t the right person to handle your money. • A planner who works on a “fee-only” basis or fully discloses their commissions. You can’t necessarily trust someone who makes their living solely based on how often you buy and sell investments or insurance. As for the interview itself, you’ll want to keep track of what is being covered. There’s something you should keep an ear out for right at the start of your talk: a prospective adviser who immediately launches into stocks, mutual funds or insurance you should buy is someone you should run from. How can a person know what you should buy before they know anything about you? Before a planner tells you what to invest in, they should have talked to you about: • The importance of a Will and Living Revocable Trust. • Whether you have any debt other than a mortgage, such as credit card debt, student loan debt, and so forth. • Whether you anticipate needing to provide financial assistance to your parents and/or receiving an inheritance from them. • Your plans for a family, especially whether you intend to send your children or grandchildren to private school and to what extent you intend to finance their college education. • Whether you rent or own a home, and what your goals 10


in this area are. Do you want to trade up to a bigger place or different neighborhood, or downsize? • Your life insurance needs, if anyone is dependent on your income. • Retirement investments you already have, such as 401(k)s and IRAs. • What you want to achieve with your investments, what your investment horizon is and how much risk you are comfortable with. Here are some critical questions for a potential financial planner: • What’s their background? Did they do the work to become a certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered financial consultant (ChFC)? What other formal training do they have? And how long have they been in business? Ten months, or ten years? Experience matters a lot. • Do you recommend Term Life or Cash Value policies for most of your clients? You better hear Term. If someone starts extolling the virtues of Cash Value life insurance, you should consider stopping the interview right there and politely leaving. Life Insurance and Investment Accounts are best left separated for many reasons that can be explained by an experienced and knowledgeable financial planner. • Do you use Index mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds? You want to hear YES. They don’t need to use Index funds or ETFs exclusively, but you want to know that indexing is part of the mix. Very few actively managed mutual funds consistently beat the indexes. Good no-load index funds have super-low costs, and the less you spend on fees, the more you will have left in your account. • Do you recommend most of your clients have just a Will, or do you suggest a Will and a Revocable Living Trust? A living revocable trust is such an important document and you should be wary about any planner who doesn’t think it is useful. In summary, take a good look around before you jump into the sea of people looking to get a piece of your money. Don’t hesitate to challenge your advisors – in today’s economic environment they need to work harder than ever to earn your business. Also, do not be afraid to research the online options offered by major investment houses – they are growing and opening more local investor centers for a reason.

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t’s time to make up for that almost six hours we left out of each of the other three years of this quadrennium by adding a day to this month. That extra day might be used to catch up on books like Peter Cameron’s Leap Year. This debut novel written in 1998 covers the Leap Year of 1988 with a cast of quirky characters in New York City. A divorced couple, still in love but seeing others, a villainous director of an art gallery, the super-rich owners and others try to make their way through an earthquake, kidnapping, voodoo and a murder trial. Or as an alternative, Cameron’s latest novel, Coral Glynn, is being released just in time for Leap Day. This one takes place in England in 1950 and involves a young woman who goes to the countryside to care for an elderly invalid. The year 1988 seems to be the leap year of choice for writers – Steve Erickson chose the same year to dissect the presidential campaign in his 1991 book also titled Leap Year. None of the candidates of that year escape his scrutiny. The latest from the author of nine novels and two non-fiction books is These Dreams of You which came out in January. It involves a couple’s search for the answer to the mystery of their adopted daughter’s life. Valley Writers Art Coelho will be featured in the anthology Gàvea Book of Portuguese-American Poetry, to be published this year by GàveaBrown Publications at Brown University. Gàvea-Brown was founded to increase the availability of Portuguese literature to readers of English. David Oliveira, born in Lemoore and raised in Armona, reads his poems and talks about his poetry, his Valley roots and his Azorean heritage on the Askew Poetry Journal on at Valley poet Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, who passed away in 2007, was also recorded for posterity in an Askew segment at 0RFHsE. Hazel Dixon Cooper and Christopher Allen Poe are featured as Fresno writers to watch in 2012 at Poe’s The Portal has been nominated for the International Thriller Writers Best Debut Novel award. Fifty Unified Years Building a Tradition of Excellence in Clovis Unified Before, During and After Unification features illustrations by Pat Hunter and writings from 17 Valley writers including Janice Stevens and Charlotte Hutchison, edited by Susan Wise and Kelly Avants. Conferences Crime fiction will be under investigation when the Get Lit! Festival meets in Spokane, WA, April 10-15 this year, but other genres will not be neglected. Headliners include Susan Orlean, most recently the author of Rin Tin Tin, the Life and Legend, and 12


Steve Almond, whose latest book is God Bless America, a collection of short stories. Details at: The Orange County Christian Writers Conference will be held May 18-19 in Irvine. Details at: Contests The finalists closest to the Valley in the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton contest were from San Francisco and Placerville. Surely the Valley can come up with someone with a twisted enough sense of humor to place in the competition to produce the worst opening line for a novel. The next deadline is April 15. Go to www.bulwer-lytton. com for details and to enter. There is also a quiz to see if readers can tell the difference between Bulwer-Lytton, whose “Dark and stormy night” inspired the contest, and Charles Dickens, one of history’s most celebrated authors. See if it is as easy as it might seem. Deadline for the Milton Center Postgraduate Fellowship is March 15. Writers must have at least an MA in English, the humanities or creative writing. Fellows receive a $16,000 stipend and work with a mentor. The fellowship lasts from September through June at Seattle Pacific University. Details at postgraduate-fellowship. Karen Brown is the winner of the University of Nebraska Prairie Schooner award for 2011 for her manuscript, Leaf House. Published and unpublished writers may enter the 2012 contest for novellas and short story or poetry collections. The entry fee is $25. Winners receive $3,000 and publication. Entries must be postmarked by March 15. Details at: Writing Opportunities According to, a lucrative field to get into is medical writing and editing. The field offers good opportunities for those with a strong scientific background who can develop their writing skills or for those with the journalistic ability to interpret complex issues and understand the jargon. Other openings listed recently on the website include an advertising operations manager in Santa Monica, a senior projects manager in Sherman Oaks and a commissioning editor in San Francisco. The Last Word “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” – Robert Cormier (1925–2000)




Bicycle Trails & Paths


he weather has been so nice lately; being outdoors has been a lot easier to brave this winter than winters past. For this reason, getting out in the fresh air, doing something we all learned to do when we were young is the perfect activity for this month’s local adventure. Taking a ride on a bicycle is a great way to experience our city and its surrounding views from the vantage point of a windowfree bicycle seat. Why not bring out the old beach cruiser, road bike or mountain bike and go for a ride! Instead of running some of your errands by car, map out a route for you and a friend to take by bike and spend the day getting things done, exercising and doing a fun activity all at once. If many of your errands are in the Downtown area of Visalia, spending a couple hours shopping, eating, drinking, and biking to and from makes for a great weekend afternoon. Don’t just stop there; make a trip around town if you have the time. There are many bike paths throughout Visalia to explore. In fact, Visalia Parks and Recreation has created a Bicycle Map* indicating where each path is located. The map also designates the paths with different demarcations such as “bike paths,” “bike routes,” “shared use paths,” “shared use sidewalks,” and “bike rider recommended” routes. Each one of these has the capability of taking the rider to the very north, south, east and west of the city. Many of these also take the rider through the numerous parks in town. Stopping off at one of the parks with a sack lunch, and perhaps a baseball and glove, can make for another memorable day. Simply fill up a backpack, grab a helmet and hit the road. Another way to spend time on two wheels is by following a bike trail. Tulare is home to the Santa Fe Trail.** The 4.5-mile trail extends east to west across the central portion of Tulare, connecting residential areas at each end with the downtown commercial area. The Tulare Santa Fe Trail occupies a wide corridor, with newly planted trees and landscaping, separate biking and equestrian components, trail lighting in the central business area, distance markings each mile, and multiple rest stops featuring benches and drinking fountains – making it many bike riders’ ideal place to get in exercise and enjoy the outdoors safely. So, next time you are sitting at home, wondering what to do for the day, take a cue from your childhood and get back up on your bike for an adventure you make for yourself – pedal by pedal.

* Visalia’s Bicycle Map: recreation/waterways_n_trails_/ **Tulare Santa Fe Trail:






Closer to Poetry Text by Aaron Collins


f “History is a great deal closer to poetry than is generally realized: in truth, I think, it is in essence the same,” as A.L. Rowse once said, the Visalia Visual Chronicle might be considered a time capsule. A message in a bottle. Random love letters to anonymous future generations. The growing Visalia Visual Chronicle can be likened in many ways. Perhaps the best allusion is the obvious implication in the art collection’s name: Think of the Visual Chronicle collection as a collective artists’ cumulative journal, a historical record of a place as creatively documented via the visual arts. The Visalia Visual Chronicle is an ever-evolving account of the myriad and distinct ways that our artists see – and will someday see – Visalia, California. For the final installment in Lifestyle’s six-part series about the Visual Chronicle, we’re celebrating the sponsors who are assembling the art collection by underwriting purchases from artists to establish the Valley’s first publicly-owned, privatelyfunded fine art collection that is devoted to a city’s icons, people and places. The Chronicle’s burgeoning patron list shows diversity among types: Businesses, organizations, families, individuals and ad hoc coalitions comprise the philanthropists – even some first-time arts patrons – who have joined the effort. Proof of what a civic minded town Visalia truly is, the following diverse group have joined in visionary support of the Chronicle in its first year: Founding sponsor McMillin Homes; founding co-sponsor DMI Agency (publisher of Lifestyle Magazine); the Jeff and Sandy Carl Family; Visalia arts advocacy nonprofit First Arts (known for the erstwhile

Saturday Arts Market, but also for behind-the-scenes activism that led to Visalia’s current public arts funding); Judy Lawsen and Susan Zachary-Kreps (two friends who banded together for a donation); Anonymous; and the Visalia Men’s Breakfast Group (an informal social group that pooled resources to underwrite an art purchase, consisting of George Pilling, Brian Newton, John Colbert, Don Stone, Mark Ahlstrand, Lew Griswold, Doug Snider and Scott Timmons). While the Visalia Visual Chronicle is currently a period collection in its nascent state, given the short span of its inaugural year, it is becoming the resource it was intended to be. How quickly a few years give way to decades. And before you know it, Visalians will have preserved the best of its own cultural treasure, thanks to the above sponsors who have stepped up to help write a history that’s closer to poetry than some musty history book. If you know these prominent and civic-minded people, please thank them on behalf of your children and grandchildren and our region’s prized, accomplished visual artists. To view and sponsor available candidate works for the 2012 Visalia Visual Chronicle, see the collection’s visual.chronicle, or contact Aaron Collins:, or (559) 359 1305.

ABOVE: Sequoia Auto Theatre by ©2011 John Friedrich; photograph (16x20"). Image courtesy of the artist.




conquering the

ironma Text by Lisa McEwen





ith spring knocking at the door, fitness goals set at the beginning of the year may have already fallen by the wayside for many, victims of over-scheduling, misplaced priorities or a lack of discipline. But five Tulare County men could make no excuses for their exercise schedules in 2011, as they were training for one of the most competitive and demanding sporting events that exists: the Ironman triathlon. Training for such an endeavor leaves no room for uncertainty; commitment to the goal must not waver. An Ironman competition requires both mental and physical strength, a strength that must accumulate slowly and methodically in order to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles – all in one day. So, more than a year before the November 20, 2011, Ford IRONMAN® Arizona, Tulare residents and cousins Eric Blain (featured mid-training in Lifestyle Magazine, July 2011) and Kevin Blain, Visalia residents Justin Levine and Brian Icenhower, and Exeter resident Carlos Aleman paid their entry fees and began to lay a foundation to ensure their success in a grueling race that tests the human body’s limits on every level. All men agreed that training was the single most important aspect of preparation. Rising early in the morning to fit in a run or swim session before heading to the office for these professionals was an every-day occurrence. Weekends were not spent living it up at their favorite restaurant with friends; time was precious when it came to accommodating all the responsibilities of life, including family time and running successful businesses, on top of 10-11 hours of workouts each week.

an LEFT: The first part of a three-part race, the Ironman triathlon open-water swim measures 2.4 miles.




PICTURED: The training hours this past year paid off as Visalia's Justin Levine tackled the final stretch of the Ironman triathlon – a 26.2 mile run.




“Fitting in all the workouts, you do have to sacrifice some things. I didn’t want it to take over my life, but you definitely have to call a Friday or Saturday night shorter to be sure you get enough rest for the next day. With the alarm going off at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, it’s harder to get up if you haven’t had enough sleep,” said Eric. For Carlos, a realtor with a wife and three children, preparing for the Ironman meant leaving home at 6 a.m. each day, working all day, then catching up with his family in the evenings. His family’s support meant a lot to Carlos, who competed in the 2008 IRONMAN® Coeur d’Alene. However, he did promise his wife, Christine, that he wouldn’t compete in another Ironman for at least two years because of the training time required. Carlos, a Desert Storm veteran, started his fitness journey about seven years ago with weightlifting. “I realized that was good for my core, but it was really boring,” he said with a laugh. He then turned to running, entering a 10K and building his stamina to compete in an Olympic distance triathlon, the Wildflower competition in San Luis Obispo County. (An Olympic distance event includes a .93-mile swim, 24.8mile ride, and a 6.2-mile run). Now, training is even more fun as his son, Sam, is one of the highest ranking triathletes in the country in the 18-under age bracket. Carlos spent the majority of his training hours with Kevin Blain and Brian Icenhower, his co-workers at Keller-Williams Realty. Eric Blain and Justin Levine, owner of California Fitness Academy and the Visalia Triathlon Club, teamed up for training every week. “Our training time was about 450 hours, and I spent a large percentage of those with Eric,” Justin said. “We built a great friendship in that time.” Members of the Visalia Triathlon Club have access to the pool at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, so much of their swimming took place there. However, Kaweah Lake was the spot for open water swimming practice in the spring, summer and early fall for all five athletes. Tulare County’s geographical features make it an ideal place for triathlon training. “This area is my playground. We have one of the best outdoor experiences around,” said Justin. One of the longest – and most beautiful – rides Justin tackled during training was getting dropped off in Coalinga and arriving in San Luis Obispo. For Brian, long rides through Yokohl Valley in eastern Tulare County yielded several wildlife experiences.“Up there, we had to negotiate cowboys herding their cattle, where we had to get off our bikes and wait for 200 cattle to cross the road,” he said. “We saw wild boar, deer, lots of tarantulas and rattlesnakes. But most of all there were dogs. They like to chase people and bikes and it’s actually kind of fun because they could never catch us.” TOP TO BOTTOM: Carlos Aleman, Eric Blain, Brian Icenhower.




The athletes helped each other when injuries threatened to derail their plans. Putting the body through such arduous, repeated exercises commonly results in injuries for triathletes. For example, both Eric and Kevin suffered from knee inflammation that kept them from training as hard as they would have liked just two months before the race. Despite the injury, “I am thankful for the experience. I feel blessed I was able to do it and able to complete the race. My plans are to stay active and fit until I die. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle,” Kevin said. Arriving in Tempe, Arizona, a few days before the race to acclimate to the surroundings, the athletes visited the race site and waited for the day to arrive, along with the 2,565 other athletes, aged 18-80-plus, who represented 32 countries. Seeing their family and friends throughout the race provided immeasurable support for the men, they said. Eric woke up that day feeling good. “I was confident that I had put in all the training that I needed to. I got up that morning, ate two bananas, a bagel with peanut butter and drank some Gatorade. I used CarboPro during the race, which is like a thick liquid drink with 1,200 calories to ensure I got my calories. You burn 200-300 calories an hour during the race.” Justin was not nervous when he arrived at the race, but felt anxiety knowing it would be a long day ahead. “I was confident in the training we had and I had my race execution plan mapped out.” However, for this race, Justin left his watch and tools for tracking his progress behind – on purpose. “I decided to go by feel all day,” he said. “Most triathletes are into their numbers and are kind of geeky. I took everything off and set it aside and focused on my exertion and energy levels.” True to plan, the men finished the race, crossing the finish line with completion times ranging from 11 hours to 15 hours. Upon finishing the race, “My perspective changed in the fact that anything can be worked on – whether it is your marriage, business, fitness levels – it is all manageable with the right mindset. Completing an Ironman truly gives you a determined mindset to accomplish your goals,” said Justin. The athletes are unanimous in their plans for the future, with more Ironman competitions ahead. But for now, they’ll take some time and train for a variety of other races, from halfIronmans to local marathons and triathlons. TOP: Tulare's Kevin Blain is focused during the 112mile ride portion of the Ironman triathlon in Tempe, Arizona. BOTTOM: All five Tulare County men were grateful as they agreed that the support of their friends and family was critical to their dedication, both during training and on race day.




The Sandy Serpa Home

BUILDING ANEW Text by Aaron Collins | Photos by Forrest Cavale, Third Element Studios




The story of one woman’s transformative year building a new home, a new business and a new life.

ON THE SPREAD: The the inviting layout of the kitchen in the Sandy Serpa home is a place for entertaining friends, one of Sandy's favorite things to do.





fter successfully raising four kids, this last year presented big life changes for Sandy Serpa, and her task was a tall order: find a brand new home and create a new life, perfectly suited for her next chapter. “After being married for the majority of my life, beginning on my own was an overwhelming, scary thought. I wasn’t sure where or how to begin,” Sandy said. Building a brand new home solo while satisfying one’s needs and tastes brings a hundred choices and so many decisions to make. Doing all that while starting a new business? Well, that just makes everything doubly challenging. But that’s exactly what Sandy did this past year. In addition to building her new home and launching her business, she recently welcomed her first grandchild, Madison Elizabeth. So there are the three sound answers to the proverbial question,

“Where does the time go?” Born and raised in Tulare, Sandy’s life has had many recent changes, but, “A very wise man told me once that if you have a great attitude, you can accomplish anything.” So, as captain of her own ship, she set out to start her own property management business, SS Property Management, of which she said, “I am very proud and excited. I had managed personal property for years and always loved doing it. And I never went one month without renting those properties out. I also love meeting new people,” she added, demonstrating a perfect preference and temperament for someone in her line of work. Getting things right with Sandy’s new house in McMillin Homes’ 292 North community in Northwest Visalia was made easier with the professional advice of seven-year Sales Advisor Steve Pitts. “It was very nice working with Sandy,” Steve recalled. “She was very positive at every step, from picking colors to visiting ABOVE LEFT: At the Sandy Serpa home in McMillin's 292 North community, the backyard boasts plenty of room for a backyard get together.




the home throughout construction. In the beginning, we walked [through] her home at the framing stage in the rain. And I think from that point on she could see how the home would look when finished.” After one of the wettest winters in recent memory with lots of rain delays, Sandy moved in last spring. “Here it is a year later and people continue to come in and say, ‘What plan is that home on the corner? It’s beautiful,’ or ‘do you have a model of the home on the corner,’” Steve said. For inspiration, Sandy drew from her many travels to mainland Europe and particularly points all around the Mediterranean. “I’ve traveled to Rome, Monte Carlo, Venice and Barcelona, to name a few. And I was inspired by European culture and their decorating style, which is warm and comfortable,” as Sandy described it. That feel is what she set out to recreate in her home. “I chose the Mediterranean style because, to me, it’s a very

romantic style, and one that my family and friends also would enjoy. When they walk through the door, that romantic and warm feel is what they most often describe,” Sandy said. Reds and earth hues dominate, with an emphasis on lush textures and ornate, traditional Old World patterns for the fabrics. Heavy contemporary takes on antique Italianate furnishings take up the slack where modern minimal construction architectural details are kept to a minimum. She has decorated many homes large and small over the past 10 years, but this home may be one of her favorites. “It reminds me of a Tuscan villa, and I love my neighborhood and the neighbors, who are all very nice,” said Sandy, who shares the place with her canine companion Treana, a toy Pomeranian who demands little space, weighing as she does at just four pounds. “She weighed two pounds when she first arrived seven years ago. We flew her here to live with us from Missouri,” Sandy said (adding that throughout

MIDDLE: Sandy Serpa gathers her romantic decorating style from all points of the Mediterranean. (Top) The dining room table; (Bottom) The master bedroom.

ABOVE RIGHT: The front courtyard of Sandy Serpa's Northwest Visalia home.




her daughter’s pregnancy, Treana always wanted to sit on her belly and was very protective of her, despite her diminutive size). “I did a lot of upgrades, changed all my fixtures to give my home that Tuscan or Mediterranean style. One of my favorite fixtures is the crystal chandelier bar lights. I added two beautiful fountains in my courtyard and one in the backyard which gave it a romantic touch,” Sandy said, pointing out that the sound of flowing water provides an important and soothing sensory element to the exterior environment. But perhaps the more sentimental outdoor feature was a piece handcrafted by her son. “My son, Jeremy, made my beautiful iron gate at the courtyard entrance, so that’s very special to me,” she said. Building a new home is exciting, but the people in her life are what give it meaning, not the material aspect, Sandy said. “I have

been blessed with wonderful children, a gorgeous granddaughter, and amazing friends. Family, friends and an unconditional acceptance for who we authentically are and for what is right” are the important things, she feels. “It is found in those we love and those who truly love us. These relationships are the most valued in my life. Family and friends are the irreplaceable part of our existence and absolutely the biggest blessings of my life.” But a well-appointed home does help to facilitate that enjoyment. Among her favorite venues in the home are the kitchen and dining area, with its wine cabinet and Tuscan-style dining table, which Sandy said are perfect for entertaining, as is the living room, whose highlights include a leopard chaise lounge. Now that the new home is complete, one might expect some second-guessing, some details that might have gone differently?

ABOVE: Sandy Serpa spends much time in her home office as she navigates a new business, SS Property Management, but her favorite time is spent with family and friends, whose loving support in her life's new venture has been immeasurable, she says.



H HOME TOUR “I would not change a thing,” Sandy said. “I am very pleased with everything about the way my home turned out. I have enjoyed piecing together every room and creating an inviting home, just as I have enjoyed piecing together my new life with unexpected happy experiences and blessings,” Sandy said. “What I thought to be the ‘end’ has turned out to be just a new beginning and I am so grateful. My life is taking off.” After completing the process, Sandy feels the outcome



makes it well worth the effort, and that her new house has finally become a home. “I love coming home to my peaceful, welcoming and relaxing villa. It has offered me a newfound place of serenity. I am grateful for those who have helped to make it my own and I’m looking forward to a fabulous future in this little piece of paradise.”


The living room at the Sandy Serpa home in Northwest Visalia features, among its Mediterranean flair, a unique leopard chase lounge – one of Treana's (Sandy's toy Pomeranian) favorite spots to hang out.





Diversity Gives Valley Writers Unique Character Text by Diane Slocum By Diane Slocum




rt Coelho calls Valley poet Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel his “Okie” mother. His Crow mother gave him the name Seven Buffaloes. The Azorean government paid his way to come to the island home of his ancestors to share his poetry. He fulfilled a dream as an artist when he visited Van Gogh’s St. Remy. Such is the amalgam that is Art Coelho – artist, poet, novelist, publisher, restless traveler from the San Joaquin, now settled in Big Timber, Montana, working ten-hour days on a log cabin or churning out poems and paintings. Many a writer of the San Joaquin owes him a debt of gratitude for publishing his or her sagas of the soil and toil of California’s heartland when big city publishers brushed them off as “too regional.” Through his Seven Buffaloes Press, he has published at least 20 volumes with roots in the Central Valley. Gerald Haslam, William Rintoul, Dorothy Rose, David Mas Masumoto and Richard Dokey are among those with collections in his catalog. Coelho’s own Central Valley pedigree goes back to all of his grandparents who migrated from the Azores to join others of Portuguese descent in dairy farming, one of the major industries of their homeland. Members of his family settled in Tulare and Hanford, spreading out to Visalia. Coelho himself grew up west of Riverdale. His father worked farms on the Valley’s west side, first with dry farming, then with irrigation. Art was only 11 years old when he started driving a tractor pulling a grain trailer, helping his dad with the harvest. His dad employed about 20 workers, so he grew up rubbing shoulders with farm hands. They also had a dairy at their home place, even though his dad no longer operated it. “I’ve always had a strong land base in my work, whether Montana, the San Joaquin Valley, the Southwest, Spokane, Texas, New Mexico, or the Azores,” he said. He also grew up steeped in the culture of his grandparents. The tradition of the Holy Ghost Festival, a major celebration from the Azores that honors the poor, continued to be celebrated in Riverdale. Life wasn’t easy for the family. Coelho’s parents divorced when his mother tired of a husband always away in the fields. His older brother committed suicide on Coelho’s graduation night. “The strength I have to bear life, I think, comes from my father, who had to walk in on Ronnie’s death and see the blood and the death of his son,” he said. “I had to write two novels and poems to deal with Ronnie’s death. But now, with other family problems, that same strength I got from the Valley is still there. The contrasts of life and death paralleled in the Valley have made the tough love so strong, so unbreakable as we live each day for some kind of deliverance in the future.” Writing wasn’t a profession Coelho’s father expected his sons to pursue. He thought he would set young Art up in the fertilizer business. As it turned out, not only Art, but his brother, Mike, chose to leave the farm. It was Mike, also known as Badger Stone, who started writing first and awakened Art to its allure. Death continued to stalk the family as Badger also died young, as did another brother, Gene, and their mother. Partly because of Ronnie’s death, partly because of other family dynamics, Coelho left home when he was about 20. He spent the next years rambling through most of the states. For five years


in his mid-20s, he lived as an adopted member of the Crow tribe, or as they more properly should be called, the Children of the Raven. He became immersed in their culture. Many were fire fighters and he joined in that occupation, flying throughout the west with them in World War II planes. He worked on farms and ranches with them, too. He even joined in their ritual Sun Dance in 1971, where he was the only white dancer in the midst of 106 Crow. When he eventually settled down at age 33 in 1975, it was not far from the Crow reservation – his home in Big Timber. His early years in the San Joaquin, his Azorean heritage, his travels, his Crow years, all make their way into his poems and stories and his art. His Native American writing includes two novels, four short stories, and poems such as these lines from “The Sun Dance”: The drums pound through the leaves of the arbor and makes the hot air sweet with prairie rhythm. The people gather with their offerings to the Great Father above. And the dancers feel the earth trembling naked at the bottoms of their feet. He outlines his career by saying that he started writing prose at 20, poetry at 23 and novels at 27. At 34, he focused on publishing even though he had no experience in owning a press. He kept his day job in carpentry to pay the bills, and kept writing, but put his heart into turning out books. Though he knew he wasn’t printing for a broad audience, he felt his publications were filling an important niche. “I did it because rural America and the working class had never been represented in the American mainstream or even non-mainstream,” he said. “I published literature that I understood. I eventually had connections with writers and poets across the country. But it was my destiny to go in that direction because all I knew about was rural people.” His first Valley feature in his Black Jack series included only four writers – Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, Gerald Haslam, Badger Stone and himself. “Wilma and I had a very special relationship as far as the destiny of my work,” he said. “Our work kind of paralleled one another. She was somewhat of a mentor because of that Okie thing.” McDaniel was known for her poetry depicting the lives of the Valley’s Dust Bowl immigrants from Oklahoma and other states devastated by the droughts during the Depression. The Dust Bowl and Azorean heritages




mingled as families, including Coelho’s, intermarried. “Our connection to the Valley included the Dust Bowl big time,” he said. “The migrant things I write about are native to Central California.” Coelho attributes the richness of the literature from this area to the multiplicity of ethnic groups in the Valley. Each of the groups that came to the Valley had to struggle in its own way. Coelho, born into the third generation, had a better life. “But we were associated with them and understood what they



were up against,” he said. “The culture was common humanity dealing with people from day to day. In school, in sports. You got to know people intimately. We had to get along. I think that’s the big strength about Valley culture. It came out of trying to survive. All that survival got into our writing. It was a grand experience as far as material to write about. In the Valley we were the melting pot of California. Being born in the Valley put a stamp on us that was unique. It had its own kind of enlightenment. If you had the guts to follow your dream, you could pull it off.”





calz 36



PIZZA DOUGH Directions


1 1/2 C warm water, 100 to 110 degrees F, plus extra as needed 1 (1/4-oz) packet active dry yeast 5 C all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt Olive oil, for drizzling

EGG WASH Ingredients


Whisk together 1 egg 1 T milk and brush calzone all over with pastry brush before going into the oven.

Put the water in a small bowl. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, one tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, one tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, until the dough has doubled in size, about two hours. Using a fist, deflate the dough in the center and cut it into three equal-sized pieces. Form the dough pieces into three balls and put into three oiled bowls. Cover each bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for one hour. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for up to one day.

zone Recipes by El aine Dakessian | Photos by Taylor Vaughn




SAVORY CALZONE (For Calzones: Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. If you don't have a stone, simply grease a baking pan. Roll or spread the dough discs into 10-inch circles, leave the dough slightly thick so that the filling will not ooze out.) Ingredients:

2 T olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 lb baby spinach, washed and dried Salt and pepper 15-oz ricotta 1 C grated Parmesan ½ C shredded fontina ½ tsp nutmeg 1 egg ½ tsp red pepper flakes 1 lb mild Italian sausage, removed from casing Directions:

In a sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook two minutes until lightly browned. Add the spinach, season, and continue to cook until wilted, about five minutes. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out the excess liquid. If necessary, drain the ricotta in a sieve to remove excess moisture also. Calzone filling should be fairly dry, because it may leak out or make the dough mushy. Combine spinach, cheeses, nutmeg egg and pepper in a large bowl and mix together. In another skillet, break up sausage with spoon and brown in a skillet for about 10 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain and add to stuffing mixture. Spoon a quarter of the filling onto one half of the dough round. Brush the outer edge with egg wash to help seal the dough. Fold dough over to enclose the filling and form a large turnover. Press edges together with knife to close tightly and prevent leaking. Cut a few slashes in the top to allow steam to escape during baking, then brush top with egg wash. Repeat with remaining rounds. Sprinkle stone (or prepared baking pan) with cornmeal and carefully transfer the calzones. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Let the calzones rest 10 minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to set. Serve with marinara sauce.



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1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil 2 small onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 (32-oz) cans crushed tomatoes 2 dried bay leaves




In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. SautĂŠ until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about one hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made one day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)


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Text by Crystal R. R. Edwards | Photo by Becca Chavez

he great film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli said, “I have always believed that opera is a planet where the muses work together, join hands and celebrate all the arts.” Now Visalians have a glimpse into that other world, brought to them in the lovely form of Rosalinda Verde. Verde, a 26-year-old graduate of Redwood High School, now sits on the founding committee of the newly established Visalia Opera Company, along with Lim and Chavaleh Forgey, and Edna Garabedian. Verde grew up singing in choirs and theater as a child, and she often performed at county fairs and other festivals. “I asked my mom to put me on stage when I was three. My family was supportive of me, and I began basic voice lessons in elementary school. More serious lessons came later when I was in high school. My thing was jazz,” she laughed. “I also wanted to be Selena or Shakira.” When she enrolled in college at San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University, she was introduced to classical vocal performance. Suddenly, her life changed. “I had some professors who opened up to me a brand new world. I fell in love with it.” During her classical training there, Verde sang with the San Diego Opera Company. “I was star-struck by the opera divas, the whole culture,” she recalled. She then joined the Fresno Opera Company, but her thoughts kept returning to Visalia. “There was so much talent all over. I thought, ‘Why not move home to Visalia? We have people who enjoy the arts here. We have the talent.’” There seemed to be no good reason, in her mind, why Visalia could not gather its resources together and provide the city with its own opera company. She moved home and joined the Visalia Arts Consortium, which provides support to the arts community as a whole, and advocates on behalf of both the visual and performing arts. She also began singing with a group called 3s A Crowd, performing at festivals and venues including Visalia’s Taste the Arts shows. “I really focused on putting my roots down here in the Valley and expanding what I want to do in the arts here. I enjoy this area. I enjoy being a part of its arts community. It’s very tight-knit, and even in San Diego I didn’t have the good fortune to have this close

of a community. Visalia has a very strong arts pulse. It’s not what people would think, being a so-called `farm town´. But we have people here working wonders and I felt very supported coming in. When we began talking about the Visalia Opera Company, the Arts Consortium was welcoming. If I need anything, they go above and beyond what’s required to find answers, or in some cases even help me themselves.” The Visalia Opera Company will present fully staged opera productions. Its current home is the Enchanted Playhouse and the first opera, Hansel & Gretel, will debut in September during the 2012 Taste the Arts season. Performing artists for the lead roles will be recruited locally, and the smaller roles and ensemble will be filled through an audition process. The musicians for the Company will be recruited from the Tulare County Symphony. As if starting Visalia’s first opera company doesn’t keep her busy enough, Verde is also the activities director at Hanford Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. When asked if she sees opera as a full-time career, she replied, “Oh, what a dream that would be!” She recounted a point in her early classical training, however, when this did not seem as likely. “There’s so much pressure on the art form that it becomes scheduled work instead of something you love and a way to express yourself. I remember at one time thinking that I didn’t want to do this anymore. The training was taking away the passion. My vocal coach told me to take two days off. And by ‘off,’ she meant I wasn’t to sing at all. No singing in the shower. No singing in the car. Nothing at all.” Her voice fell as she described what those two days were like. It is obvious this break had an impact. “It took away the essence of who I am. On top of anything else that I’ve done in my life, being a singer is my identity. When that was taken away, you cannot imagine what it felt like. You have these struggles during training, but because we love this art form so much we always return to it. It’s part of who we are, so it’s what we do.” For more information on the Visalia Opera Company, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rosalinda Verde at LIFEST YLE | FEBRUARY 2012



Yom HaShoah:

THE COURA Text by Kyndal Kennedy | Photos by Taylor Vaughn





here is a well-known anecdote about a boiling frog: A frog placed in hot water will jump out; but a frog placed in cold water will not recognize the danger of water heating slowly – resulting in its certain death. “Nazi Germany, 1933. We were in the pot of water and for the next 11 years, they slowly turned up the heat,” said Rabbi Larry Friedman. Known in Jewish culture as Shoah, the Holocaust was a systematic genocide at the hands of Hitler and Nazi Germany that took the lives of six million Jews for over a decade throughout Europe. No one would be to blame for trying to forget the agony of 1933 to 1945, but instead, it is intentionally remembered by those connected to its grim memory. This year, Congregation Beit Shalom in Visalia observed Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on January 22, 2012. Although Yom HaShoah is one day set aside (usually in April) for observance, Beit Shalom Treasurer Tom Simonian explained that remembering the events of the Holocaust is a year-round practice. “It’s not something that we can put in a box and take out one day a year. That’s because it’s part of our fabric; it’s part of our DNA; it’s a part of our living and breathing Judaism.” Rabbi Friedman went on to educate the small audience with a brief timeline of events that unfolded from 1933 to 1945. Events such as: Adolf Hitler coming to power, the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, WWII beginning with the invasion of Poland, German occupation throughout Europe, construction of the Lodz and Warsaw Ghettos, the opening of Auschwitz, the Wannsee Conference, the “Final Solution,” mass executions, liberation of camps, and the Nuremberg Trial. Yom HaShoah is not merely a history lesson about the events of the Holocaust and WWII – it is more important that throughout the world and in every community, the event is remembered; to remember the six million Jews that were innocently executed. There is a prayer said during Yom HaShoah that transcends all religions: “I have taken an oath: to remember it all, to remember, not once to forget … an oath, lest from this we learned nothing.” A priceless gift is hearing the story of a Holocaust survivor in

LEFT: Rabbi Larry Friedman reads a memorial to guests at the Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 22 at Congregation Beit Shalom in Visalia.



C CULTURE QUEST their own voice. Two survivors were in attendance this day at Beit Shalom. “These are the people we need to listen to. These are the people whose words you need to share with the people who say it never happened, because it did happen,” said Rabbi Friedman. It happened; many died, but some lucky few lived to tell about it. There’s power in a single story, for it echoes the voice of the millions who will never tell theirs. One voice out of the silenced millions is Henry Epstein, 86 – a man who exuded a youthful demeanor and wore a contagious smile, despite the circumstances of his younger years. Henry began his story by first giving guests a glimpse of what it was like growing up in Bresslau, Germany, where no one was making very much money. “Hitler blamed the Jews for making Germany as poor as it was when he took power,” said Henry. He remembered a very important and early catalyst for what was to come: Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass,” when Nazis went throughout Jewish businesses and smashed in all the glass of their window fronts. “I can tell you myself that even today I can remember that time. The whole sidewalk was completely spread out with glass, broken glass. Windows were broken, businesses were destroyed, and all that glass was on the sidewalks. Also, the synagogues were burned. The synagogue that was in my hometown had that same fate,” Henry said. Soon after this night, Henry and his father were arrested in their own home and shipped by train to labor camps. Fortunately for Henry, his age rendered him useless to the Nazis at the time he arrived at the camp; he was not fit to do the labor they would have needed from him. “I was about 14 or 15 years old,” said Henry. “If this would have happened five years later, for example, they would have simply killed me because I was useless for them. But in those early days they simply sent me home.” Eventually, his father was able to leave the camp as well; Henry’s grandmother had passed away, and at this early time of Nazi control, his father was allowed to go home to say his goodbyes. For whatever reason, Henry’s father never had to return to the camp. Soon after, the Epsteins realized it was urgent to leave Germany in order to salvage some kind of life and future. Henry and his brother were desperate to learn something, anything, they could make a life out of. The circumstances made it almost impossible to live, let alone learn. Daily and nightly air-raids meant all windows had to be blacked out so no light could reach the outside and disclose their location. In 1940, with help from an uncle who was working in Shanghai, China, the Epsteins (Henry’s father, mother and brother) were able to purchase a train ticket from Berlin, Germany, to Shanghai, China. They were four of the 20,000 TOP LEFT: Holocaust survivor, Henry Epstein, shows his passport to guests as he takes them through his journey as a young boy captive in Nazi Germany. BOTTOM LEFT: A close-up look at Henry Epstein's German passport. ADJACENT PAGE: One of the posters in the The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945 – a traveling exhibit on display at Beit Shalom in Visalia, courtesy of the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance.



CULTURE QUEST C Jewish refugees that escaped at this time. Though the likelihood of their survival was more promising as every passing town took them further away from Nazi-occupied territory, conditions on the train were still detrimental to their health. “There was no eating or dining, or anything like that. No bedrooms. We had rough wooden benches,” recalled Henry. “The people that came to the train station were mostly Jewish people themselves and knew about these refugees that came through. They brought bread and sausage and stuff like that which was more-or-less the cheapest you could find at the time, and we ate that. Now I can tell you, without that, we would all [have] starved to death, that’s sure.” Henry stayed in Shanghai for eight years until he was lucky enough to receive his papers to leave for America. But even that posed a problem – the trip would cost $250 – money Henry, a Jewish refugee, did not have. Fortunately, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a large welfare group in San Francisco, was helping refugees make their way to the United States. From them, Henry received a loan of $250 dollars. He arrived in America “rich” with $20 in his pocket, he joked. He found an old Jewish friend whom he had met in Germany and was given a place to sleep and food to eat. Henry proceeded to attend school, work, and has since lived throughout California, now calling Stockton home. Not all Holocaust survivors are as emotionally free as Henry has become to tell their story. Myriam Farris was the other Holocaust survivor in attendance on this day. She stood facing the crowd and began to share her experience, which ended just after a few minutes. Myriam described the time when she was only five years old living in Nazi-occupied Bordeaux, France. She had to hide during the day;




she could not be outside on the streets for fear of being picked up by the Gestapo (the secret Nazi police). Finally, the time had come for her and her family to flee for their lives. “My mother had my little brother, he was only 10 days old, when we escaped on foot. We had to walk several miles and stop at each farm, wherever we could, so we could have little water until we got to where we were stationed,” said Myriam. They were fleeing to North Africa to board a boat that would take them away from the turmoil in their beloved France. One night after leaving Bordeaux, Myriam, her grandmother, uncle and other small children, were transported under a tarp in the back of a truck, while her mother and little brother sat in the front seat with the driver. “[The driver] said to my mother, ‘If the Germans stop us, you say that you are my wife.’” With that overwhelming memory, tears formed in her eyes and she couldn’t continue telling her story. She apologetically sat back down and quietly uttered, “I’m a survivor.” That she is. Henry and Myriam, like the few other survivors still living, pass on their stories in hopes the world will never forget the tragic events of the Holocaust. Others like Rabbi Friedman, who is the son of a survivor, make it their mission to pass on the stories of their relatives who no longer can. Rabbi Friedman’s father left Europe in 1938 and came as a stowaway to the United States, leaving behind a wife and four children. He found work in New York and was able to send money to his family to keep them fed and safe as long as possible. Unfortunately, like the fate of many, his family was captured by Nazis and taken to a concentration camp. “A cousin, saw her and the four children go into Auschwitz, into the gas chamber. So we know that they did not survive the war,” said Friedman. Forever in their hearts and minds – forever remembered. It is the hope of Yom HaShoah that those who hear these stories and firsthand facts about the Holocaust will not soon forget –­­ lest we learned nothing. 48


TOP: Curious guests, Debbie Borne and Richard Snyder, examined the detailed Holocaust posters, courtesy of the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. BOTTOM: Myriam Farris, Holocaust survivor.





V Med Spa


ince opening in July of 2007, V Med Spa has focused on its ability to provide a friendly and comfortable spa environment for its clients. Keeping a small staff of only three, Margaret Vassilev, M.D., provides quality and personal care to her patients in an environment as relaxing as home. Alongside Dr. Vassilev are two Registered Nurses, Jennifer Caposella and Patricia Lira, and Licensed Esthetician and Office Manager Frances Rogriguez. “We’ve been working together from the beginning. We are just like family,” said Dr. Vassilev. It is the comfortable, family-like nature that each staff member puts forth that makes V Med Spa a friendly and welcoming environment. Dr. Vassilev is the one in charge of the procedures people find nerve-racking – procedures like Botox and other injectables. Some people are nervous to get Botox and injectables, so while other places have qualified nurses on staff who do these types of procedures, Dr. Vassilev sees to it that her clients are comfortable by performing the procedures herself – reassuring her patients that they are in good hands. “We make it simple, and safe, and people come back again and feel comfortable,” Dr. Vassilev said. Beyond injectable treatments, V Med Spa has had great success in providing Visalia residents with state-of-the-art skin tightening 50


1644 S. Court St. 559.739.1024 and rejuvenation procedures. The most highly demanded procedure at the spa is skin resurfacing, using their new Matrix laser. Many of their clients are over the age of 40; this procedure is delicate yet effective, and gets these women back to work quicker, without the downtime of more extensive treatments or surgeries. “We know it’s a hard time [financially] for everybody. We try to keep our prices in the range that makes it possible for people to come. We try to serve the professional woman, the one who works a lot and doesn’t have time to take care of herself,” Dr. Vassilev said of keeping costs down in this tough economical environment. In addition to the working woman, many younger clients are coming in to receive treatment for their acne problems. All ages and genders can find something at V Med Spa that can help improve their appearance and their life. V Med Spa cares about getting their clients the results they desire, and perhaps it’s because the staff at the spa love what they do. Dr. Vassilev said, “I enjoy doing this. The nurses enjoy it, Frances enjoys it, and we try to make a good environment for the people.” ABOVE: (Left to Right) Frances Rodriguez, Patricia Lira, Jennifer Caposella, and Dr. Margaret Vassilev, M.D.


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Fashion Pieces Text by Sharon Mosley


ant to have a winning wardrobe? Then you've got to have a winning game plan. You don't need a closet stuffed with clothes. You just need the right clothes. Know what pieces score for you and put together a fashion plan that will perform for years to come. The super jean. Whether it is skinny leggings or tailored trouser styles, the darker jeans are a must-have. Choose the most flattering shape for your body. Of course, most of us have more than one pair, but you should have at least one favorite go-to pair that you can dress up or down. The super jacket. Another must-have in your wardrobe. You'll probably have several, but a black blazer is one of the most versatile pieces you can have in your fashion game plan. Long or short, this is a jacket that you can wear all year long if you choose a versatile fabric. You can layer it in the winter and even wear it by itself over a slinky camisole to a cocktail party. The super dress. Start with a little black dress. It's a no-brainer, and now they come in all shapes and sizes. It's always in style, and it's always appropriate for a wide variety of occasions. It's also the perfect backdrop for statement piece jewelry. Team it with your favorite black jacket and voila – you're ready to play the field in style. The super skirt. Again, one the best pieces to make sure you include in your wardrobe is a black skirt. The pencil skirt is my favorite silhouette and a great classic that will mix and match with that black jacket or go it alone with a dressy blouse or basic button-down. Keep the hemline right around the knee and have it tailored to flatter your legs. The super shirt. This is a personal choice. There are lots of options out there. A classic white button-down is a good choice, but it's a little too preppy for my more bohemian look. However, I've found a creamy white silk button-front that is more of a tunic length and a good layering piece under my black jackets and over jeans. This is a great place to give your wardrobe a unique twist. The super shoe. Yes, black pumps may go with everything in your closet, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring. However, I like to look for a "super shoe" every year that will really give all those basics some new life. The super handbag. This is another must-have that may change with the seasons. And if you need a clutch for after work, tuck it into the bigger bag during the day. The super statement jewelry. Find a favorite piece of jewelry – a chunky necklace, a giant cocktail ring, a swingy pair of earrings – and make them your style statement that you wear often. The super trench. The trench coat is another classic that will score big in your fashion game plan. It never seems to go out of style and always evolves so you can find new versions of the old favorite. The super scarf. Scarves are another accessory that can change your outfit in an instant. Colorful pashmina wraps are easy ways to add a chic twist to your basic blacks and whites, but larger, cozy blanket shawls are good ways to winterize your wardrobe, too. 52






UP, UP AND AWAY | Saturday, March 3 | Visalia Fox Theatre | 7:30p If you attended the Symphony’s February concert you were not only entertained musically, you were treated to the majestic photography of Ansel Adams projected on the large screen above the stage – one of Music Director Bruce Keisling’s innovative programs this season. The March concert promises yet another pleasant experience for the senses as you sit back and enjoy the image-making music of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” Night on Bald Mountain. Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) tried many times to write the music that we know today as “Night on Bald Mountain,” and he never got it into satisfactory form. In l867 Mussorgsky told Rimsky-Korsakov that he had completed what he called a “tone-picture” for orchestra, now titled “St. John’s

The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement in the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. With the exception of Earth, which is not observed in astrological practice, all the planets are represented. Holst drew on his knowledge of astrology and mythology as well



Night on Bald Mountain.” He was very proud of this music and considered it a “wicked prank of mine – a really Russian and original achievement.” It never met with success, however – a great disappointment! After Mussorgsky’s death at age 42, Rimsky-Korsakov took everything he considered the best and most appropriate of Mussorgsky’s work to create a coherent and workable concert piece. It is this version that will be the opening piece at the March concert. It is best known for its inclusion in “Fantasia.” Keisling explains that the piece is extremely colorful and he has tried to balance the challenge of “The Planets” with the fun and relative ease of the Mussorgsky.

as the Greek idea of Music of the Spheres when writing about the Planets. He became quite a devotee of the subject and liked to cast his friends’ horoscopes for fun. He also used Alan Leo’s book What is a Horoscope? as a springboard for his own ideas, as well as for the subtitles (e.g., “The Bringer of”) for the movements. Each of the seven planets and its corresponding astrological character are as follows: Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; Neptune, the Mystic. The suite has been enduringly popular, influential and widely performed and recorded since the work’s premiere in September of 1918. It was actually the inspiration for the iconic movie Star Wars. Although “The Planets” remains Holst’s most popular work, the composer himself did not count it among his best creations and later in life complained that its popularity had completely surpassed his other works. According to Wikipedia he was, however, partial to his own favorite movement, “Saturn.” Bruce Kiesling’s comments on the suite: “It is definitely one of the great orchestra showpieces. I love how colorful the orchestrations are and how buoyant and joyful the music is.” This concert promises to inspire the imagination and please everyone’s musical palette! Come early for Maestro’s pre-concert talk at 6:45p. Ticket Information: Symphony Office (559) 732-8600


An evening of cocktails, live & silent auction, dinner and comedy. March 31, 2012 at 5:30pm Heritage Complex, Tulare

Magician: Dana Daniels or Call 592-4074




Theater & Performances

FEB 24 MAR 3


BUILT TO SPILL Built to Spill is an American indie rock band based in Boise, Idaho. The band has released seven full-length albums. Their most recent album, There Is No Enemy, was released on October 6, 2009. When: Feb. 24, 8p Where: Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369 TULARE COUNTY SYMPHONY'S UP, UP AND AWAY This concert will be a feast for the imagination. Holst drew on his knowledge of astrology and mythology as well as the Greek idea of Music of the Spheres when writing about the seven planets. The piece was the inspiration for “Star Wars.” The concert also features Mussorgsky's “Night on Bald Mountain,” a powerful imagemaking piece. When: Mar. 3, 7:30p Where: Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369


MAR 7 MAR 10

GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS A blues-rock guitarist who draws his inspiration from Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, and Chuck Berry, George Thorogood never earned much respect from blues purists, but he became a popular favorite in the early '80s through repeated exposure on FM radio and the arena rock circuit. When: Mar. 7, 7:30p Where: Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369 IN THE MOOD: A 1940'S MUSICAL This 1940’s Big Band Musical Revue, is a celebration of America’s Greatest Generation through the music of The Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, The Dorseys Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and other big band greats with costumes, arrangements and swing dance routines that are as authentic as it gets. With a 13-piece big band orchestra, and six singers and dancers (including a high energy swing dance couple), IN THE MOOD revisits the music that moved a nation's spirit and helped win a war. This era was the last time when all of America was listening and dancing to the same kind of music. When: Mar. 10, 7:30p Where: Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369


7TH ANNUAL FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE Dads are invited to escort their daughter(s), ages 4-16, to a night of music, dancing and refreshments. This year's theme is ''Night at the Oscars.'' Live music, prizes and a complementary photograph help to make this a night to remember. One picture per family, additional photos are available for purchase. Photo Booth will open at 5p. When: Feb. 24, 6-9p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: 713-4365

MAR 16

DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man—with a lot of loose ends. So begins Dead Man's Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative new comedy about how we memorialize the dead—and how that remembering changes us. By Sarah Ruhl; Directed by Ryan Pullen. When: Mar. 16 – 18, 23 – 25, 30 – Apr. 1, Evening: 7:30; Matinee 2p Where: The Ice House Theatre, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: 734-3900 COLIN QUINN From Socrates to Snooki, Quinn is at his satirical best, taking on the attitudes, appetites and bad habits that toppled the worlds most powerful nations. Long Story Short proves that throughout human history, the joke has always been on us. When: Mar. 16, 8p Where: Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369

Art Exhibits

FEB 29


ALLIANCE OF CALIFORNIA ARTISTS: 2011 OPEN JURIED COMPETITION Each year, Arts Visalia plays host to the Alliance of California Artists Open, a juried exhibition that draws some of the Central Valley’s most talented artists to submit their latest creations for consideration by independent jurors. Awards are presented in categories including Oils & Acrylics, Watercolor, Pastel, Mixed Media, and Sculpture. When: Feb. 29 – Mar. 30; Reception: Mar. 2, 6-8p Where: Arts Visalia, 214 East Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 739-090 FIRST FRIDAYS ART TOUR An interactive, progressive art show organized by the Arts Council of Tulare County, this art infused event is fueled by local artists and venues and takes place the first Friday of each month. Art lovers and enthusiasts fill Downtown Visalia to meet and greet with the artists and enjoy the reception and music. Restaurants, studios, galleries and other venues dawn their blue lanterns and open exhibitions to the public for this free event. When: Mar. 2, 5:30-8:30p Where: Downtown Visalia Contact:



ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE Hosted by the Events Visalia Foundation, the parade will come alongside many other fun activities in Downtown Visalia. When: Mar. 17 Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: or

Diversions & Excursions

FEB 27

MAKER'S FAIRE A Maker’s Faire is a festival celebrating the spirit of personal ingenuity and innovation The Faire will consist of Makers who demonstrate and teach their talents & Crafts. Some Makers will have products or kits available for purchase. When: Feb. 27, 10a-2p Where: Anthony Center Main Room, 345 N. Jacob St., Visalia Contact: VISALIA FARMERS’ MARKET – HARVEST OF THE VALLEY Weekly event open to the public featuring free live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. When: Saturdays, Sequoia Mall - Sears parking lot, 8 - 11:30a Where: Sears parking lot at Mooney and Caldwell, Visalia Contact: 967-6722 or



Charitable Events

MAR 10

VISALIA ELKS LODGE 8TH ANNUAL WINE AND GOURMET FOOD TASTING In addition to wine, food, music and dancing will be a silent auction. This event benefits Elks Children's Charities and CASA of Tulare County. Tickets available at Visalia Elks Lodge. When: Mar. 10, 6p Where: Visalia Elks Lodge, 3100 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 734-6762 or 936-0489

Writers & Readers TULARE COUNTY LIBRARY First Tuesday Book Club (Mar. 6, 6:30p) Mystery Readers (Mar. 21, 6p) Where: Tulare County Library, 200 W. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 713-2700 or

Event Listings If you would like to have your event considered for a free listing in our “Happenings” section, please email your submission to or fax to 738-0909, Attention Happenings. Please note, we do not guarantee listing of any submission. Submissions are due six weeks prior to publication.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like the sparkle and shine of a brand new home!

February 2012  

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

February 2012  

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