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on tHE CoVEr: Designing a new home and the backyard of your dreams – starting from bare dirt – makes it tough to leave. But that’s just what Visalian Sheri Mierau will do when she downsizes and marries the man of her dreams later this year. Photo by Forrest C avale, Third Element Studios

Ho ME t o u r 20. The Mierau Home Future life: Mierau Finds old Digs no Match for new love

FEBRUARY 2010 P U BL I S H E D B Y Direct Media, Inc. 208 W. Main St., Ste. 1A Visalia, CA 93291


C u lt u rE Q uE St 10. Ethiopia Part two

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letter from the Executive Editor Seasonal: Black History Month Business Cents Charity Event: African Children’s Choir Happenings Wine Country Performances Word Play Fashion

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

hese days there seems to be plenty to complain about, but in the saying, “What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” there is truth. Often we think we have nothing important to give, nothing critical to contribute. What we don’t always recognize is that what is seemingly insignificant to us could be of great value to someone else. Lifestyle Magazine has always felt compelled to provide valuable space and the printed word to support non-profits and charities. It seems like the right thing to do, and we are committed to using our resources and pages to bring awareness, expand understanding, or to encourage giving. However, the real applause goes to you, the individual, for supporting the many positive organizations and events through donations, sponsorships and ticket purchases. One such instance can be found on page 30 where African Children’s Choir recently performed at the historic Fox Theater. Our generous community came out in droves to support the message of hope for the children of Africa. What most of us take for granted (such as education, food and housing) children from war-torn and economically depressed Africa can only dream of – except for those fortunate enough to experience the from-the-heart giving of people such as you. It’s hard to think of these children without thinking of the plight so many of their ancestors endured as they were brought to this country under the most degrading of circumstances – slavery. Although February is generally celebrated for Valentine’s Day and the month of love, it is also Black History Month. On page 14 Milt Morrison takes us through a local history lesson of Edmund Wysinger’s 1888 struggle to have his child admitted to Visalia High School. So while we complain about everything negative in our homes, our businesses and our society, there is still joy to be found. It is in the bravery of individuals, the beauty of giving, and the service to others – all things that the current economic storm cannot take from us, unless we allow it. As we look to the months ahead, let’s do something kind for someone else. Let’s give something back where we can. Let’s remind others, and ourselves, of the joy to be found.


kArEn tEllAlIAn, EXECutIVE EDItor For more information or to submit a story idea email or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909.


BELOW: Girl chopping firewood in Addis.



Tex t and Photos by Cheryl L. Dieter

he week flies by. I visit Children’s Home and Family Services orphanage run by Asnake Amanuel (see www. The work this organization is doing throughout the country is all-encompassing, from starting hospitals and clinics to building schools. Later, I accompany Zemi on a tour of the city. We pass the Lion of Judah Monument, which stands across the street from the train station. It has an interesting history. It was placed in honor of the coronation of Haile Selassie in 1930, but in 1935 the statue was looted by the Italian occupiers and taken to Rome where it remained until the 1960s. The Merkato is next. As the largest open air market in Africa it is teeming with the aromas of spices, food and so many people that it makes me claustrophobic. This is a must see for anyone contemplating a trip to this rich nation. We also drive by the Ethiopian National Museum which features the 3.5 millionyear-old fossilized hominid skeleton known as Lucy (Dinkinesh) as well as thousand-year-old tablets, a timeline of the history of Ethiopia (also known as Abyssinia), and original artwork. Soon Zemi is driving us through small alleys lined with dung, tin and mud shacks. We knock on a door where Fatima, her brother and mother all welcome me. This Muslim family is often shunned due to Fatima’s autism, but recently the Joy Center has helped the family open a small store so that the mother can make a living for her family. The house and store is all of 10x6 feet wide. A three-person bunk bed dominates the room that also holds a lone chair. A wooden door, three feet high, leads into the shop where Fatima’s mother sits. A regal and graceful woman she instructs Fatima to make some tea. We sip and talk and Zemi translates. I am in awe of this family and the everyday struggles they face due to autism. Back at the Joy Center I watch parents rehearse a song for an upcoming festival to educate their countrymen about Autism. They invite me to participate in a traditional snake-like dance. The words and movement blur into one as we dive and whirl to the music. It is a memorable experience that I will always treasure. One of the most amazing days is when our group arranged for the children of Opportunity House to go to the Hilton Hotel for a bit of swimming. Addis lays over numerous natural hot springs and the hotel pools are derived from them. One little autistic boy, who is always raging and ill-suited to his own skin, melts into the water and doesn’t make a sound for over an hour. Turns out that none of the kids or many of their caregivers have ever had the privilege of experiencing relaxing in hot water before. They have never had a warm bath. It is an incredible gift for us to watch the transformation as it occurs. IMPORTANT FACT: If you become ill there is a pharmacy located in the Hilton.



On our last day we head off to do some shopping at a local market where the name of the game is BARGAIN and so I do. I leave with beautiful handcrafted beaded and silver jewelry, woodcarvings and several pieces of original artwork. The 10 of us crowd into the van with our treasures. We pass Addis Ababa University, which was founded in the 1940s. In March of 1975 the doors were closed as the communist Derg forced its 50,000 students into the countryside in hopes of winning support for the new regime. However, many of the students went on to form liberation fronts, which fought the Derg. Today the university is teeming with students and is a thriving institution. HINT: The Ethnographic Museum, a museum celebrating the art and culture of the nation, is located on the campus grounds. RIGHT: Mother and daughter walking along the street in Addis. BELOW: Storekeepers son located across from Layla House Orphanage.

We head north and climb into the mountains passing small villages painted in vibrant colors and glimpse traditional thatched huts. And as we climb higher we begin to notice something peculiar … donkeys scramble along the roads in droves. There appear to be hundreds of them carrying no packs. Yet, coming down the mountain are women and children ranging in age from eight to 70 carrying huge bundles of sticks on their backs; each about six feet in length. Subconsciously, I reach for the aspirin in my purse as I wonder if these women can ever stand upright again. Near the summit we find men chopping down the Eucalyptus trees for firewood and vast swatches of land that have been stripped of all vegetation. As we look down on the valley we can only imagine the forests that once hugged this fragile landscape. Finally we arrive at our destination on Mount Entoto. The whitewashed façade of Saint Mary’s octagonal church captures the sunlight and beams it through the nearby trees. We pay a local for a tour. First we view what we are told is the oldest church in Ethiopia at over 1,000 years in age. Built into a hill, it is primitive and mysterious. Then we head over to Saint Mary’s, which was constructed in 1882 by Emperor Menelik for his wife Empress Taitu. Their coronation was held here in 1889. As impressive as the church is in its simplicity, it’s the inside that captivates us. Bright bold biblical murals line the center of the building. We find paintings depicting the birth of Jesus as well as Jesus healing the blind that are just amazing. Nearby is a museum and the holy spring to which those afflicted with AIDS flock. Soon it is time to head back to our “real” lives and we leave many courageous and wonderful people who are living their “real” lives too – lives without doctors, medicines, plentiful food, parents or adequate shelter. As we climb into the sky I look down at a necklace around my neck that I bought and have yet to remove. It serves as a reminder that I need little and have way more than enough. It is a lesson I plan on carrying with me forever. 12




ABoVE: Edmund Wysinger.

Text by Milt Morrison

ho was Arthur Wysinger? More significantly, who was Edmund Wysinger? The answers to these two questions, except for a few readers, will most likely come as a complete surprise and an interesting corollary to Black History Month (BHM). Arthur Wysinger, not surprisingly, was the son of Edmund Wysinger. In 1888 when Edmund Wysinger took his son, Arthur, to enroll in Visalia High School, Arthur was denied enrollment. Edmund was told by the officials at Visalia High to take his son to the Visalia school for colored children. This “incident” played out in the local and state courts where Edmund eventually won entry for his son in the Visalia “white” schools. Previously, the courts had supported the prevailing “separate but equal” law and school policy. But in 1890, the California State Supreme Court reversed itself and ordered Arthur Wysinger admitted to Visalia High, thus ending California’s and Visalia’s tortured histories of segregation in education.



Edmund Wysinger, obviously a prominent person of black history, is all but unheard of by children in Visalia, Tulare and California schools today. The Wysinger case is California’s version of Brown v. Topeka, Kansas, the 1954 Supreme Court case that struck down the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson. In spite of the temptation to tell the entire Wysinger story here – it is a very interesting one – time and space demand that I stick to the point of this essay. That point is that BHM has value and significance far beyond the familiar elementary school black history units. Negro History Week (NHW) was founded by the renowned Harvard Ph.D. Carter G. Woodson, a black scholar and historian. Woodson founded NHW in 1926 after becoming painfully aware of the dearth of historical records in history texts about the enslavement of Africans in America, the trade in their bodies and labor, their subsequent emancipation, the implementation of the “black codes,” their submission to de jure and de facto segregation in every aspect of life, and the subsequent effects on the human spirit and psyche of these practices.



Unfortunately, what little record of the slave phenomenon, “that peculiar institution,” there was, was frequently interspersed with allusions to how benign slavery was, how fortunate African slaves should have felt to have been brought to American in chains to be civilized and Christianized, and occasionally how African blood was being improved through miscegenation on the part of the slave masters. Finally, there was missing from the history books any reference to the many slaves and ex-slaves who had achieved in spite of the conditions enumerated here. Subsequent to Dr. Woodson’s creation of NHW, elementary and secondary school teachers began to develop instructional units that included the stories of notable blacks (e.g., Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, etc.). The increased currency afforded the stories of significant black achievers certainly served to inform white children and to improve the self-image of black children. Additionally, the histories of major events affecting American blacks were included in Negro History Week: The Emancipation Proclamation, the Fifteenth Amendment, Plessy v. Ferguson, etc., and the succession of Southern states leaving the Union over the right to practice slavery (Civil War), are examples of the kinds of materials included by teachers. 16


Obviously, these lessons were implemented significantly more frequently and in significantly more depth in the segregated black schools, North and South, East and West, than in the white schools. NHW prevailed as mostly an academic phenomenon through 1976 when, somehow, it evolved into Black History Month (BHM), occasioning in February. Originally, Dr. Woodson chose the second week in February as the week to celebrate Negro history. Reportedly, he chose the second week because of its proximity to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.* So when NHW changed to BHM, February remained as the month to celebrate black history. BHM became notable for its number of festivals, conferences, speeches, banquets, church activities, civic events and other activities that occurred during February. BHM has developed significantly more currency in our general society that did NHW. NHW seemed limited to schools and educational activities; whereas, BHM has broader social and cultural applications. Questions about the continued relevance of BHM have begun to be asked. The thinking seems to be that given the level and amount of scholarship and awareness around black history, there is no longer a need to set aside a time to be particularly concerned with it. It appears that the concerns which formerly prevailed about the complete absence of or disingenuous reporting of black history in American textbooks no longer remain.

Youthful Solutions

More and more frequently in journals, academic tracts, newspaper editorials, and other forms of inquiry, many scholars, historians, feature writers, and others of every racial and political persuasions record, analyze, and report the entire scale of social, political, and educational contributions and machinations of American Blacks. Consequently, the original need for NHW, and to some extent BHM, seems to have dissipated. So then, what really is the usefulness of Black History Month? By now, good teachers are integrating historical information and facts about African Americans into their regular lesson plans, so the specific attention to African Americans attendant to Negro History Week and Black History Month may be mostly unnecessary and, it is to be hoped, superfluous. In these times, referred to by many social scientists and political writers as “postracial,” some have suggested that BHM is, itself, a racist pursuit, reverse racism, unnecessary, no longer valid or useful. I feel that BHM may be the most viable, the most sustaining, the most validating time of the year for African Americans. Admittedly, that assertion is presumptuous because it takes in Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Emancipation Proclamation Day, “Juneteenth” (Black Texans’ Emancipation Day), Kwanzaa, and any other American celebration of black contribution that may not be accounted for here. The real value of BHM may be in another area – what might be referred to as “collective black social consciousness.” One of the primary components of collective black social consciousness is an internalized, deeply rooted need for acceptance by the majority population (i.e., white people in America). That acceptance is one that would be suffused with admiration and respect for blacks. Consider that the overwhelming number of blacks, when they hear a report of a particularly heinous or egregiously vile crime, will think to themselves about the perpetrator: “I hope he wasn’t black” or “Lord, whoever this monster is, don’t let him be black” or “They dislike – or hate – us enough already. Please don’t let this monster be black!”

It is the desire, the need, to be accepted that causes blacks to abhor racial association with a perpetrator who has committed some antisocial horror. To be racially associated with such a perpetrator, in the minds of American blacks, diminishes their acceptability by the greater society around them; it feels like an indelible scar that screams guilt by association, the most binding association, the most inexorable association: race. (The unreasonableness and illogicalness of this line of thinking is itself indicative of the depth of this imperative for acceptance by many blacks). An equally time-consuming and time-wasting manifestation of collective black social consciousness is evidenced by blacks’ almost never-ending claim of identity with famous, accomplished, popular white people who may or may not have the requisite “one drop of black blood” to qualify them as black. “(Insert name of any prominent white here) is black. My barber’s sister is his/her maid/butler. She/he checked it out. It’s a fact!” “Cid Clarisse is black; you can tell because she dances so well, and she has big lips.” These kinds of claims – they are numerous in the black community – emanate from what is being called here collective black social consciousness. Again, here is the collective black socially conscious need for identification with success and acceptance. A final example of this phenomenon is the pride generally felt among many blacks when a prominent white publicly dates or marries an American black. Many blacks will admire such a white person. Apparently, little thought is given to the possibility that the subject white simply “likes” that one black and not others. BHM speaks directly to the collective black social consciousness. It seems to say, on the part of the majority population, “We dedicate this month to the history of American blacks.” BHM, in addition to a period conducive to recollecting and celebrating the black American story, clearly asserts acceptance of black people by its very existence. BHM is set aside to recognize American blacks and to celebrate their accomplishments. Most blacks like that. *Those unfamiliar with Frederick Douglass are encouraged to research and read his speech to the citizens of Rochester, NY, on the 4th of July, 1856.





on tHE SPrEAD: A baker’s paradise, the kitchen designed by Sheri Mierau for her northwest Visalia home is outfitted with just about every amenity an enthusiast needs.

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Tex t by A aron Collins | Photos by Forrest Cavale, Third Element Studios



BEloW: the family room of the Mierau home is all about tactile comfort and the muted harmonious hues of nature. the adaptable leather ottoman at center can be used for a variety of functions, including additional seating, a footstool, and makeshift table.

e spend considerable resources shaping our homes: Time, effort and money are poured into forming an environment that suits our lives and meets our needs. We want them to mean something. So we invest ourselves not only financially, but creatively, as well. At some point along that course, a house becomes a home. We say we’re “putting down roots,” but we might also liken it to a vessel, an ark in motion across time upon which dreams and ideas are freighted along with history and aspirations and memories.





rIGHt: A variety of evergreens and other plant specimens frame the setting sun in the backyard designed by Sheri Mierau of northwest Visalia. Mierau designed the backyard herself, having purchased the Cobblestone Estates subdivision home before construction was complete.

Those latter things are non-material but they are still assets, derived from returns on an emotional investment which plummeting real estate values don’t necessarily reflect. Our emotions are not impervious to the financial aspects of home values, of course, but we value them for much more, in good times or bad. Visalian Sheri Mierau invested herself in shaping her home, a spec-home in the Cobblestone Estates subdivision, which was already under construction by contractor Ron Hudspeth in 2004 – eight weeks from completion when she found it. She took control of the ship and steered it in a new direction, adding features and upgrades that she wanted, removing some ideas that didn’t reflect her needs. Sometime between the concrete setting and paint drying, she made it her own in every respect. Now it’s time for Mierau, 42, to move on. Her job and a family history in the area – even the current economy – were no match for a prevailing force that is perhaps just as great, if not greater: love. Mierau’s fiancé, David, lives in Southern California. They will marry in Newport Beach this coming September – her first marriage; his second. But even so, letting go of such a personal project as the home she created may take some effort. “I would love to say this will be my permanent home,” Mierau said, but that is not to be. Even so, she’ll have a toehold in Visalia even after the move. 24


That’s because good jobs such as hers are much harder to come by these days. So she’s hanging onto her work in Dinuba, remaining in a region which she has known since she was seven years old (having relocated to Reedley with her family from the Bay Area). Soon she will commute from the Mission Viejo/ Laguna Niguel area, but downsize her life in Northwest Visalia in favor of keeping a smaller, lower-maintenance place here as she starts her new life in Southern California. For the time being, she will enjoy the home that she situated for her social style. “I love to entertain so I looked for a home with an open floor plan. Having the dining room facing the backyard and off the kitchen offers great views and a great way to entertain, while still being able to work in the kitchen,” Mierau said. More proof of the creative endeavors she’ll soon leave behind is found in the backyard. “I designed and planted most of the backyard. I wanted a pool that was functional, but also a water feature for visual appeal.” She said that creating a space that has numerous sitting areas and is functional for barbecues and large groups was essential, uses that are reflected in her design. “I love my backyard and have tried to use unique trees and rocks to make it another room of the house,” said Mierau. “Mixed in with the redwoods are red Japanese Maples, weeping Blue Atlas Cedars, very small bonsai olives and roses for color. I wanted a backyard that was an extension of my house and as comfortable as any room in my house.”

Along with letting go of the house, she’ll soon leave behind a neighborhood, a place of many ties that she developed along the way. “My neighbors here are great,” she said. “There are several groups that get together regularly for movie nights, holiday parties or just a summer barbecue.” She’ll miss the area she describes as somewhat unique in its diversity of young children, empty-nesters and singles alike, who she said all enjoying each other’s company despite their different stations in life. She can’t take the neighborhood along, but some of the interior – which reflects her eclectic tastes and many shopping trips – will make the move. “My style is more eclectic. I love to shop for home accessories and really buy what I like and then find a place for it. I am more into deeper colors that blend easily into any design style. I have several favorite shops – Janeen’s in Visalia, being one of them – that I love to visit often to see what is new and get ideas to change a room,” she said. More traces of her lifestyle are found in the kitchen. “The large open kitchen has dual ovens, great for baking. I do a significant amount of that at Christmas and the multitasking dual ovens offer a great time saver,” Mierau said of her longstanding holiday tradition of hosting a Christmas party. “Anyone who has been to a party or over for dinner will agree, you can’t go hungry at my house. If you do, it’s your own fault,” she thinks. “I am the only one in my family who still bakes my grandmother’s recipes and they all look forward to the bags of cookies I bring during the holidays.

ABoVE: Various elephant figurines, collected on her many travels around the world, as symbols of good luck in certain Asian cultures. toP rIGHt: this seating area features Visalian Sheri Mierau’s fondness for richly textured upholstery fabrics and whimsical pattern. Mierau will soon leave the home for a new life with her husband-to-be in Southern California.

Naturally, she planned for lots of storage for her myriad serving dishes and party essentials. The granite countertops and stainless appliances she chose are also among the items she’ll miss from a home that she’ll remember fondly, one that she describes as “very comfortable. It is nicely decorated, but very comfortable. Although, I do not have kids of my own, it is very kid friendly.” Well, no children unless you count Sophie and Sammy (her two papillons, both 5), who are definitely coming along or her future husband’s two actual children who are about the same ages (5 and 8). So Mierau is heading for a new home, as well as a new title in addition to “wife,” that of step-mom. Also keepers will be her growing elephant collection, a subject Mierau likes for the symbol of good luck in Asian culture. Her varied work history in the produce business means that the changes might pose less a challenge for the mobile Mierau. “I will definitely miss the house, the layout and the neighborhood. But, I have always embraced change and look forward to the new opportunities,” she said. The couple hopes to find a home that has similar aspects and entertaining capacity. In her career in sales and marketing, she has worked in various aspects of the industry, including retail and in various commodities as well as for an industry association – even a stint in high-tech during the dot-com boom. She has lived on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Monterey and Orange County, California, among other locations. LIFEST YLE | FEBRUARY 2010


Now she has come full circle back to the company she worked for as a teenager, a major area packing house. She has also served on a number of industry association boards and committees in her professional capacity, including United Fresh Produce, Produce Marketing Association, Produce for Better Health, The Alliance for Food and Farming, as well as a few smaller groups. Aside from work, Mierau has traveled extensively, two favorite destinations being Italy and Hong Kong, a place of great personal connection and history since it’s where her parents met. “Hong Kong is very small but it offers some amazing scenery that most are unaware of,” Mieraus said. “I was able to travel with coworkers who had lived there for six years and saw a unique side of the island that is very lush and quiet,” in contrast to the more familiar and notoriously bustling urban aspects of the Chinese socialism’s heart of capitalism. “I love the food in Hong Kong and the city life. It’s a really fun and safe city with lots of great shopping and food,” she said. “Hot Pot is my favorite meal there. You order all kinds of meat and vegetables and cook them in a pot of soup at the center of the table – great flavors,” she recalled. Bangkok and Beijing are her two favorite cities for shopping (“One of my favorite pastimes!” she exclaimed).



“My father was a Navy pilot and his carrier was docked in Hong Kong. My mother was a flight attendant and on vacation with a girlfriend,” Mierau recounted. “Dad was from Reedley and mom from Minnesota. They married two years after they met,” she said, and the rest is history. Her parents now reside in Lake Tahoe half time (Orange County the other half, which is another draw of the upcoming relocation), where her husband-to-be recently trekked through one of California’s biggest snowstorm in recent memory in order to meet them and make a good first impression (which he did successfully, by all accounts). Besides, if love can move mountains, what’s a little passing snowstorm? ABoVE: Sheri Mierau’s five-year-old papillons, Sophie and Sammy, will definitely come along later this year when she leaves the home (which she helped design) for her new life as wife and stepmom in Southern California. However, Mierau will keep a smaller place in Visalia to be near her job in the ag industry.




FINANCIAL STRATEGIES FOR WOMEN INVESTORS Tex t by Andre G. Goddard, Vice President - Investments, Wells Fargo Advisors

oday, women are playing an ever-increasing role in making important financial decisions – whether for themselves or for their families. While many of the basic rules of investing hold true for all investors, some life events will affect women differently than they will men, and these can also have an impact on investment decisions. Following are a few areas of special consideration for women investors: Longer life expectancy. People in general are living longer these days, and conventional wisdom will tell you that women tend to outlive men. Studies have, in fact, confirmed that this is the case. According to CDC statistics from 2003, women outlive men by an average of more than five years.* So women in particular often end up facing more years in retirement. To be prepared for such a situation, women need to take special care to implement select strategies catered to their possible long-term needs. Being on your own. Statistics also show that women have a very high probability of being on their own at some point in their financial lives, not only as a result of a spouse’s death, but also because of divorce or simply remaining single. Dropping from two incomes down to one would obviously require making some adjustments, so it’s important to think about alternatives and options in the event you should be faced with a similar situation.

Time spent out of the work force. When caring for children — or even an elderly parent — women tend to spend more time away from work than men. Some surveys have shown that, on average, women spend more than a decade out of the work force. The implications for women with regards to investments are clear: they will have less time than their male counterparts to contribute to their retirement nest eggs. While these are just some of the many important considerations for women investors, there are also several simple steps women can take to come up with an effective financial strategy. For starters, you should look for ways to educate yourself about investments. The financial press and financial web sites are loaded with information about investments and alternatives. It’s important to remember that not every source is the most reliable, but the bottom line is that there is plenty of information out there. You may also want to seek advice from a professional. The act of enlisting a Financial Advisor to help with your investments does not take away from your ability to make the final decisions. It does, however, provide you with someone you can turn to for guidance as you make those important decisions. One of the most important things you can do is make a list of your financial goals and then develop strategies to meet those goals. Taking the time to assess your current financial situation will help you get a clear picture of where you are, and then you can envision where you want to go. Keeping in mind the special circumstances we mentioned earlier, you can chart a course of action that will enable you to meet any challenges that may arise in the future.

* CDC, NCHS, Table 27.





A NIGHT WITH THE AFRICAN CHILDREN’S CHOIR Tex t by Tiffany Pryor | Photo by Taylor Vaughn

n 1984 Ray Barnett, a human rights activist, envisioned a message of hope and a future for the children of Africa. Over 25 years later his dream has been realized in the continued achievements of the African Children’s Choir. Beginning in a war-torn Uganda, the choir was comprised of about 30 children ranging in ages from seven to 12 years old. Originally, the singing group members hailed from Uganda, however, over the years the program has expanded to include singers from Kenya and Rwanda while funds raised by the choir stretch as a far as Nigeria, Ghana, the South Sudan, and most recently, Nkomazi. Since the time of its inception, the choir has performed alongside international superstars such as Sir Paul McCartney and Mariah Carey and in venues as far reaching as the White House, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show to name but a few. Most recently the young singers arrived in Visalia for a January 19 concert at the historic Fox Theater. “I have never seen so many ticket sales in one day,” commented Ryan Stillwater about the overwhelming outcome of the event. The choir itself is a non-profit organization and all monies raised from the sale of tickets to their events are used to aid in the continued improvements to education, health care, mental health, and basic needs such as food and housing in their home countries. Visalians were treated to the music of the children’s homelands as well as spiritual hymns that are recognized the world over. The ability of the choir to sing in English begins with their training back in Africa. 30


Before becoming members of the musical ensemble the kids start at a camp known as Music for Life. It is here that the children, most of them orphans due to the plagues of hunger and AIDS in the countries, are taught music basics, crafts and games. Those with sharp musical talent are then invited to the Makindye Training Center in Kampala, Uganda, where they are brought up to speed on their education, taught English, and prepped for the life of touring. Thanks to the organization, the kids in Africa have received basic educations as well as musical training, computer studies, and lessons in Swahili. More than 500 youngsters have been enrolled in the Music for Life Primary School while others have benefited from the continued efforts of the foundation to break the cycle of poverty through knowledge and advancement of studies. For those who missed the choir’s performance in Visalia but wish to experience the joy of the children’s music their collections can be found online along with more information regarding their organization at: www.africanchildrenschoir. com. Like ticket sales, profits made from compact disc sales are donated to the continued efforts of the program as well as to the future of Africa’s children.



Recipes by Chef Tony Garcia, Visalia Country Club | Photos by Erin Davis, Studio 317

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raising is a cooking technique combining both dryand moist-heat methods. It is desirable for less lean and tender cuts of meat, and imparts and intensifies flavors to the dish. Braising nearly always requires searing the meat before poaching it in the cooking liquid. Searing of the meat should take place in a hot, thick oven-proof pan. Browning the meat will help to seal in the natural juices and flavors of the meat while it undergoes the long period of poaching. The time it takes to sear the meats will depend on the heat from your stovetop, the size and thickness of your pan, and the amount of meat you are preparing. You can assume that it will take 10-25 minutes for the portions suggested in these recipes.



Braised Orange Fennel Short Ribs Recipe Serves 6-8 Ingredients: 3 lbs. beef short ribs 1 large onion, chopped medium 6 garlic cloves 4 oranges, zested (remove juice and reserve) 2 T fresh ginger, mashed 1/2 C soy sauce 2 C chicken stock 1 can OJ concentrate 1/2 C rice vinegar 1 C beef stock 3 fennel bulbs 1/4 C cilantro 3 T extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Season ribs lightly with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat olive oil in oven-safe roasting pan until smoking. Add short ribs and sear until well browned on all sides. Add onions and garlic; sautĂŠ over moderately high heat until tender (about 15 minutes). Add orange zest, ginger, orange concentrate, soy, rice vinegar and both stocks. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes; reduce heat. Add fennel bulbs. Simmer covered until meat is tender, about one hour. Add cilantro and serve.



Apple Lamb Shanks Serves 4 4 14-oz lamb shanks 2 jumbo yellow onions, chopped medium 1 large carrot, chopped medium 2 stalks celery, chopped medium 4 Granny Smith apples, chopped large 1 gallon apple juice, (reduce by half) 4 cloves garlic 1 T fresh thyme 2 bay leaves 750 ml white zinfandel 1 gallon beef stock 3 T extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

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Season lamb lightly with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat olive oil in oven-safe roasting pan until smoking. Add lamb and sear until wellbrowned on all sides. Add apples, onions, carrots and celery; sautĂŠ over moderately high heat until tender (about 15 minutes). Add thyme, bay leaves, wine and apple juice; reduce until volume reaches about half original volume (about 10 minutes) on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add beef stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about one hour. Check the meat for tenderness to taste. If not to taste, continue cooking until desired tenderness is reached. Remove meat from stock, return stock to boil for five minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve sauce over lamb.

Zinfandel Poached Pears Serves 4 Ingredients: 4 pears, peeled and cored, cut in half 2 lemons, zested (reserve juice) 1/2 C sugar 1 cinnamon stick 2 C white zinfandel 1 tsp. cloves



Place pears in shallow pan, cut side down. Add wine and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until pears are tender. Remove pears; add cloves, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice to zinfandel/sugar syrup. Bring to a boil, and reduce until sauce thickens. Check flavor for desired sweetness and adjust if desired. Serve onto small plates with sauce over pears and top with dollop of whipped cream.



Bowl for Kids Sake

Sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters to raise crucial funds for local children

February 27 Create a team of five, help raise funds, and enjoy an afternoon of bowling and prizes, including the possibility of a four-day Baja cruise. Feb. 27, 12 noon. AMF Visalia Lanes. $70/bowler raised by paper or online donations. or 877-343-7812. THE ATE RPERFORMANCES


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F E B Charlotte’s Web. A pig named Wilbur, a rat named Templeton, and a spider named Charlotte are just a few of the fantastic characters in this classic tale by E.B. White. Feb. 13-14, 19-21, 26-27. Evening performances at 7 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m. Enchanted Playhouse Theatre. Tickets available at www. F E B Tulare County Symphony. “Favorite Showpieces.” Shostakovish, Chopin and Respighi, with pianist Domonique Launey, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m. Visalia Fox Theatre. 625-1369.

Jerry Seinfeld. Comedian will appear at William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno. March 25, 7 p.m. $44.25-$75.25. www.ticketmaster. com or 559-445-8200.






Max Choboian Memorial Road Race. The Tulare Youth Services Bureau will hold its 35th annual Max Choboian Road Race. Six different races for pre-kindergarten runners and walkers through adults, a tri-tip barbecue, live music, carnival, car show, raffle and other entertainment. March 7, 11 a.m. International Agri-Center, Tulare. 686-9772 extension 201.


15th Annual Walk for Life. Hosted by Tulare-Kings Right to Life. Proceeds, in part, go to funding educational forums such as AfterCHOICE, various health fairs throughout the Valley and special presentations by CALife, Latinos4Life and The IRMA Network. There will be live music, food, games and special prizes. Anyone who raises $150 or more will receive a free T-shirt. The grand prize is a 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise for two. Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m. Plaza Park, Visalia. 732-5000 or




Sundale School 6th Annual Car Show. Car show starts at 10 a.m. Bounce house, food, 50/50 drawing. Saturday March 20. Fun family event. Sundale Union School District. 13990 Ave. 240, Tulare. (559) 688-7451.


Tulare Emergency Aid Council. Donate your gently used items to the new Thrift Store, volunteer your time or donate food. TEAC has been providing emergency services for working families with minor children since 1954. Visit them at 424 N “N” St., Tulare. (559) 686-3693. Care and Share FoodLink Food Drive. The community is encouraged to donate food that will be distributed to low-income families of Tulare County. Foodlink, 7427 W. Sunnyview Ave., Visalia. 651-3663.

The Best of the Valley

The Best of the Valley, quilts, wearable art and cloth dolls, will be held April 9-11, at the McDermont Field House, in Lindsay. This year’s Featured Artist will be Anna Koelewyn of Hanford. Also on display a collection of 2009 Hoffman Challenge winners. These quilts and wearables are part of a traveling exhibit, which visits various venues throughout the United States. General Admission is $10/daily or $15 for a 3-day pass. Children under 12 are free, when accompanied by an adult. For more information (559) 625-5430. AR TEXHIBITS People and Places Close to My Heart. Muralist Colleen Mitchell Veyna’s artwork will be on display with Creative Center student artwork through April 16. Michell Veyna is well known for “Orange Harvest” mural in Exeter. Creative Center’s Jon Ginsburg Gallery. (559) 733-9329. The Splendor of the Japanese Screen. Japanese folding screens occupy a special position not only as works of art but also as functional pieces of furniture. These “wind walls” had many different uses that are connected to their impressive size in combination with their elegant expression. This exhibit will showcase single screens and pairs of screens of different size dating from the 17th century to the 21st. $5 for adults, $3 for students. The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture. Feb. 6-April 10, 2010. (559) 582-4915.




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Miss Tulare County Pageant. The winner will represent Tulare County at the 2010 Miss California Pageant. Saturday, March 6, 7:30 p.m. Champagne reception 6-7 p.m. Visalia Fox Theatre. $30/VIP; $20/ General Admission; $10/Students.


A P R Baskets and Gourds – Containers of Our Culture. Third Annual Basket/Gourd Conference. Art reception, classes, vendor booths and displays, dinner and special speakers; noted author and artist Ginger Summit and renowned Washoe basket maker Sue Coleman. Sign up for classes on basket making, gourd basketry, ancient vessel stamping, jewelry making, masks, and much more. April 16-18. Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Avenue. For complete schedule and details on classes, visit

Co lle ge of the Sequoias Theatre Dep artmen t PRESEN TS


Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb At the COS Theatre 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 19 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20 2 p.m. Sunday, March 21 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 26 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27 Tickets go on sale March 1 $22 General Admission, $18 Students/Seniors COS Box Office (noon to 5 p.m. M-F) 730-3907 For additional information, call 730-3754.

Contains some adult language L I F E S T Y L E | F E Band R U A R Ymaterial. 2 0 1 0 43




CASA volunteer orientations. Held Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays, noon-1 p.m. at the CASA office, 1146 N. Chinowth, Visalia. Sid Loveless at 625-4007.

Agventures at Heritage Complex. Agricultural Learning Center and Farm Equipment Museum with nearly 15 professionally designed interactive displays. International Agribusiness Center. Tulare. M-F, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (559) 688-1751.

Tulare City Library Used Book Sale. $3 per regular bag, $4 for oversized bag. Saturdays, 11 a.m., until move to new library. (605) 685-2341.

Boys & Girls Club of Tulare County. Offering a variety of youth development activities and classes, Monday-Friday, 12-8 p.m. 215 W. Tulare Ave., Visalia. $10 per year. 625-4422 or The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias. Offering classes for children of Exeter and Farmersville ages 6-18. Development and training in computer technology, life skills, sports, art, music and homework assistance. Annual fee $15. Exeter Club located at 360 East Pine. Farmersville Club located at 623 N. Avery; Freedom Extension site at 575 East Citrus. 592-2711.

Harvest of the Valley. Free weekly event open to the public featuring live music, kids activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Sequoia Mall, Sears parking lot.

Book Sale. At the Tulare County Library the first Saturday of the month in the courtyard, 10 a.m.2 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. ImagineU Children’s Museum Story Time. Parents are invited to bring their children for the museum’s weekly interactive story time. Fridays at 10 a.m. 708 E. Main St. 733-5975. Preschool Story Time. At the Tulare County Library every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Call the children’s desk at 733-6954 ex. 209.

If you would like to have your event considered for a free listing in our “Happenings” section, please email your submission to , Attention Happenings. Please note, we do not guarantee listing of any submission. Submissions for the March 2010 issue must be received by February 20.





Text by Robert Whitley

nother year, another several thousand wines to taste. Not bad work if you can get it, but there are a few things I would change if I were king of the wine world – 10, to be precise.

No. 10: Ban the trendy ultra-heavy, ultra-thick wine bottles.

I realize the intent is to impress with the additional heft, but more than anything else, heavy bottles are simply annoying. Try lifting a case of them. Try squeezing one into a racking system designed for a standard 750-ml Bordeaux bottle. Hey, if a winery’s looking to cut costs, this one’s a no-brainer!

No 9: Eliminate the huge fudge factor on stated alcohol content.

As it currently stands, wineries can legally understate the alcohol in a bottle of wine by as much as 1.5 percent. In a wine listed at 14.9 percent on the label, the true number could be well above 16 percent. Some of those monsters that actually list alcohol at 15 percent plus are more likely closer to 17 percent. I’m sorry, that’s Port territory. A variance of half a percent is the better measure, and the technology exists to ensure that what it says on the label more accurately reflects what’s in the bottle.

No 8: Protocols for “wine bars.”

Hoping to cash in on the growing popularity of wine bars, many newer restaurants now include the term “wine bar” in their signage and promotional materials, just because they offer a few wines by the glass. This is misleading and pathetic. A wine bar may well serve very refined cuisine, but its focus should be wine. 46


No 7: Waive or reduce restaurant corkage fees.

I realize a restaurateur invests precious resources to stock a wine list, and most would prefer if you bought from the list rather than bringing in your own. But the real bottom line for any business is to attract enough customers to pay the bills and realize a reasonable profit. People are sick of shelling out more for their wine than their meal, and there’s a growing tendency to pack a bottle from the cellar at home when dining out. Restaurants that cater to this trend by waiving or substantially reducing the fees they charge for opening and serving your wine are snagging a huge share of the dining-out crowd. I like this trend!

No 6: More decanters, please.

Restaurants by and large stock young wines that would be better with additional cellar time. One device that helps is the decanter. Decanting a young red wine exposes it to air and softens the frequently harsh tannins, allowing the fruit to shine.

No. 5: Drink local wines.

Wines are produced in virtually every corner of the United States. Chances are there is a decent wine being made near you. I’ve had fabulous wines from New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Idaho as well as the usual suspects – California, Oregon and Washington. I’m not suggesting a steady diet of the local swill, but you might be surprised how good it can be.



No 4: Resist the urge to uproot Syrah.

I realize Syrah is a hard sell for many wineries, but the potential for world-class domestic Syrah is very real. For one thing, Syrah is that rare grape variety that excels in both cool and warm climates. Wineries that have tapped into the vast potential of Syrah – such as Alban, Bonny Doon, Edmunds St. John and Truchard – have done very well. It’s way too soon to give up on this fabulous red-wine grape.

No. 3: Chardonnay 101.

The bandwagon for Chardonnay with lower alcohol, less oak and greater minerality seems to be growing. I’m loving it, but we still need more winemakers to hop aboard. You can do your part by visiting your favorite wine merchant and asking for Chardonnay in this style. Nothing speaks to wineries louder than grumbling from important wholesale wine buyers.

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value. Domaine de Nizas 2007 Le Mas Rouge, Vin de Pays, France ($14) – This property in the south of France, near the village of Nizas in the Languedoc region, is owned by American John Goelet of Napa’s Clos du Val winery. The Le Mas Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot – grapes that thrive in the area – exhibiting lush black fruit aromas, hints of spices and herbs, and a touch of minerality. It’s well balanced, an exceptional food wine. Rating: 89.



No. 2: Marketing 101.

Value is the most important virtue of a successful winery in today’s economic environment. A wine must over-deliver on quality for the price, whatever that price may be. One consequence of the current recession has been the discovery of Argentine Malbec by the average wine drinker. It tastes really, really good and it’s not very expensive. That’s the new benchmark. You want those customers, so you better come up with something that tastes as good or better at a price that seems reasonable.

No 1: Bordeaux 101.

It was Bordeaux that inspired my love of wine. There once was a time when I purchased virtually every vintage of every First Growth, and many of the Seconds. That ended in 1989 when Bordeaux prices soared beyond my ability to keep pace. I still buy the occasional Chateau Margaux or Cheval Blanc, but those purchases are now few and far between. I wonder what will happen to Bordeaux when an entire generation of wine enthusiasts has missed out on the experience of a mature classified growth from a glorious vintage? Will anyone care if no one outside the auction salons of Sotheby’s has partaken? Bordeaux, it’s time to come home.

Alois Lageder 2008 beta delta Chardonnay Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy ($25) – Alois Lageder is certainly one of the most eclectic and innovative winemakers in all of Italy, a country renowned for its eclectic and innovative winemakers. Lageder is a convert to biodynamic farming in the mountainous Alto Adige region at the base of the Alps, in a part of Italy that belonged to Austria prior to World War I. His wines uniformly offer a striking balance of fruit, minerals and mouthwatering acidity, and the beta delta Chardonnay Pinot Grigio is an example of Lageder at his very best. This wine is clean and refreshing, with a refined mouth-feel and depth of flavor that goes well beyond its overall delicacy of palate weight. Aromas of citrus and exotic fruits are vivid and inviting, but it’s the backbone and structure that speak of the rocky terroir and cool climate. Simply superb. Rating: 92.


Pocka is a bitch she is a mean kitty she kills bunnies

Lar! Selection of F"ntains 26300 N. Mooney Blvd., Tulare, CA 559-688-0086




f you, as a lover of symphonic music, were asked, “What are your favorite pieces?” you could list at least four or five. But then, if you were asked to narrow it down to your favorite show pieces, your list could be very different. What kind of showiness do you value? Cast of thousands? Virtuosity? Majesty? Dr. Bruce Kiesling, new music director of the Tulare County Symphony Orchestra, asked himself that question, and his answer is embodied in the Saturday, February 20, 7:30 p.m. concert “Favorite Showpieces” at the Visalia Fox. Thrilling Fanfare Festive Overture may be a standard in the orchestral repertoire, but it’s also historically significant. Composed by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1954 and premiered at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, Festive Overture commemorated the 37th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. Some speculate it also secretly celebrated the 1953 death of Stalin. Shostakovich’s entire creative life had been dogged by official criticism and a rigid straitjacket of cultural acceptability imposed by the dictatorship. For those who remember the 1980 Summer Olympics (Moscow) it may sound familiar because it was featured there. The overture’s musical value lies beyond its historical context. Expect a bonanza of auxiliary brass to add punch to the fanfare. Shostakovich also cleverly combined a lyrical melody and a fournote motif in a thrilling and upbeat tempo. Because You Love the Piano One so rarely has the opportunity to hear a live symphonic performance of Frederic Chopin’s enticing music, for he composed mostly for solo piano. Here is your special chance! Kiesling has programmed Chopin’s Concerto No. 1, Op. 11, in E minor, featuring virtuoso pianist Domonique Launey. Not too long ago she enchanted a lucky few during a benefit recital in a local backyard. That occasion included her rapturous interpretation of Chopin’s Sonata #3 in B minor. Lucky for us, she will return to perform more Chopin, in honor of Chopin’s 200th birthday. At the February concert, the concerto’s three movements include a majestic “Allegro,” a gently introspective “Romanze,” and a rollicking “Rondo.” You’ll be transfixed by every turn, trill and arpeggio when Ms. Launey demonstrates her mastery of the tonal and expressive possibilities of the piano.



Pines with Panache What could possibly follow such a tour de force? Can you imagine vivid music augmented with more auxiliary brass? Kiesling found the perfect score in his list of favorite showpieces: Pines of Rome. This music, by Italian Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), might have been written for a film. However, in Pines (1924) he “painted” four tonal pictures with such dramatic flair and brilliant orchestration, you need only to close your eyes to “see” scenes. At the concert, “ride” through the Pines with Kiesling as your chauffeur. First, an explosion of brass, a flourish of winds, and the excited klinging of percussion introduce “The Pines of the Villa Borghese.” Careen down the hills until you reach a village. Observe a faint hint of dawn and a solitary trumpet line gradually developing into a full-blown depiction of historical figures processing in “Pines Near a Catacomb.” For the third movement, the piano, a solo clarinet, muted strings, and a solo flute expressively conjure “The Pines of the Janiculum.” Respighi also exploited the tonal colors of solo oboe, solo cello and harp to perfect effect while painting this magical scene with soaring strings and real bird calls. It’s an ornithological treat for nature lovers and a peaceful interlude before re-boarding the Pines express. Lastly, experience “The Pines of the Appian Way.” Hushed “footsteps” in the distance grow louder as the marchers, led closer by the English horn and bassoon, come into view. Are they Imperial soldiers? The march grows even louder and more insistent as the horns and trumpets trade “messages.” Speed past the procession, wind through hairpin turns, and spin into triumph, just as the volume of every instrument is maxed out. With a master orchestrator like Respighi, artificial amplification isn’t necessary. Words fail to fully communicate the electrifying experience awaiting you in the Visalia Fox when Dr. Kiesling and musicians of the Tulare County Symphony take you for a wild chariot ride through the Pines of Rome on February 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Visalia Fox. Hang on! Of course, you need a ticket for this incredible ride! Quick, call 732-8600 to reserve your seat before they are all snatched up by other music lovers flocking to hear Favorite Showpieces by Shostakovich, Chopin and Respighi. It’s live, it’s local, it’s lyrical.




on tHE SPrEAD: Aurora Borealis photographed in Arctic norway.




here do you go when winter arrives with its surly winds and plummeting temperatures? Some people dream of a Caribbean beach with soft ocean breezes wafting through the palm fronds somewhere above their heads. Others, like me, look forward to something more adventurous and head north – and then farther north into the Arctic Circle. I’m not recommending a hardship trek across frozen wastelands like Roald Amundsen’s of a century ago. My preference is someplace more fun and scenic with food that goes beyond barbecued ptarmigan.

The best place to fill that bill is Tromso, Norway. Not only is it located above the Arctic Circle, but it is farther north than Labrador, Iceland, or even Fairbanks, Alaska. Yet Tromso, which sits on an island in a fjord, rarely gets iced in, and when I was there in late winter, the temperature didn’t dip below the 20-degree range. Snow swirled about, yet it wasn’t all that cold. I felt the weight of the humidity more than the sting of the frost. Tromso, a growing community of near 70,000 people, is a university town and a center for polar research. It also boasts some interesting architecture of a century ago, surprisingly excellent restaurants and cafes, and a number of museums.



My first choice was The Polar Museum, which showcases the history of polar exploration. It’s a bit quirky, with displays such as the stuffed and preserved lead dog from Amundsen’s polar expeditions. My next stop was the Polaria, an aquarium dedicated to Arctic marine life. The architecture is extremely modern and looks like collapsing dominoes. It isn’t large, but it does its job of showcasing Arctic fish well. Tromso is surprisingly popular in the winter with some segments of the tourism industry because it is one of the great places to see the aurora borealis, or northern lights. This nighttime spectacle is best seen outside settled areas and away from ambient light, so many visitors eventually journey away from the city into the countryside. The region boasts just about every winter activity – from skiing, extreme skiing and dog-sledding to ice fishing, glacier hiking and even some sports such as reindeer sledding that are found at only a few places on Earth. During my visit it snowed every day, almost 24 hours a day, but the roads in northern Norway are excellent and as well maintained as possible considering the atmospheric conditions. Also, the communication systems are up to date. I got better reception on my BlackBerry in the rural areas of Arctic Norway than in some places in the United States. 54


For my outdoor adventures, I was recommended to an outfitter called Lyngsfjord Adventure, which is a cooperative where individual entrepreneurs with specific skills such as dog-sledding market cooperatively with someone who does snowmobile safaris. Lyngsfjord Adventure is based about an hour and a half southeast of Tromso in an area called Camp Tamok. In a period of 24 hours I did dog-sledding, snowmobiling and Sami (native peoples of Northern Scandinavia) activities that included reindeer sledding and receiving a tutorial on reindeer lassoing. Probably the most unusual thing I did in that 24 hours was stay overnight in a tent at Camp Tamok. It sounds insane because of the frigid Arctic weather, but I was comfortable. The idea was to approximate the nomadic ways of the ancient Sami. The tent was large and tepee-shaped. Instead of a fire in the center it had a diesel-burning heater, which kept the tent reasonably warm. The floor was covered in twigs so that as the snow melted off my boots and clothes, it didn’t accumulate into puddles. On top of the twigs were reindeer skins. I was warm enough to take off my outer clothes once I was in my sleeping bag. A sauna was available and a towel and robe were provided, but I arrived to the tent very late at night and was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. ABoVE: Fishingboats waiting to go fishing. lying at a pier in tronso, norway.



An excellent surprise was that northern Norway boasts unusual but excellent cuisine that is indigenously based. The night I stayed at the tent, a local Sami guide cooked up a delicious reindeer stew. After overnighting at Camp Tamok, I drove back along the east coast of Storfjorden, which eventually meant taking a ferry from Olderdalen across the fjord to the town of Lyngseidet, where I stayed the night at a guesthouse called Stigen Vertshus. The owner cooked me up a terrific two-course dinner of baby goat (served over mashed potatoes and a swirl of mushrooms and red peppers) and Arctic catfish that was breaded, fried and served under grated carrots. In Tromso, at a restaurant called Fiskekompani, I ordered the very seasonal molja, which is cod served three ways: a meaty filet, the roe (in its own skin and sliced like pieces of sausage) and the liver (steamed separately and delivered in a separate cup). As the appetizer, I ordered the shellfish soup, which came with chunks of cod and shrimp floating in a blue mussel broth – the perfect complement to my Arctic adventure.



IF YOU GO Tromso: Amalie Hotel, a small boutique hotel,, or Grand Nordic Hotel, a businessperson’s hotel with a good casual restaurant, Camp Tamok: for Arctic adventures and Sami tenting experience, Lyngsfjord Adventure offers numerous outdoor activities and will arrange transport from Tromso a s well as outfit you in Arctic wear if you need it. Lyngseidet: Stigen Vertshus, a barebones guesthouse with excellent cuisine, ABoVE toP: the modernistic Polaria aquarium in tromso, norway, is a showcase for Arctic fish. ABoVE BottoM: Visitors can take part in the unusual sport of reindeer sledding near tromso, norway. ABoVE lEFt: tromso, norway, above the Arctic Circle, is an excellent destination for a winter vacation. Photos courtesy of Steve Bergsman. LIFEST YLE | FEBRUARY 2010



Tex t by Diane Slocum

rom athletes’ bodies to marinated cooks, Valley writers have been busy publishing and promoting their books over the past few months. Kingsburg nutritionist Marie Dunford co-wrote The Athlete’s Guide to Making Weight: Optimal Weight for Optimal Performance with Cincinnati Reds and Bengals sports dietitian Michelle Macedonio. The book offers a four-step process for achieving the best weight for the athlete’s specific sport and position. Whether it’s for the power of a body-builder or the endurance of a marathon runner, the authors provide ways to balance muscle gain and fat loss. Thriller author Bonnie Hearn Hill is making her debut in a new line of books geared to young adult readers. She will be at Barnes and Noble in Fresno on Saturday, March 13, to sign copies of Aries Rising. This is a story of high school sophomore Logan who finds a book on astrology that gives her ideas on how to win over the cutest boy in the school and the cantankerous English teacher whose approval she needs to attend a summer writing workshop. The second novel in the Star Crossed series, Taurus Eyes will be released in May. Hearn Hill, a native of Hanford, lives in Fresno. Marie O’Byrne, of Kingsburg, published a novel, The Cart Full of Holly, based on her memories of her Irish homeland. Tulare County prosecutor Dick Isham used his legal expertise to write the thriller The Court’s Expert, a story of murder charges and inheritance battles. In a more humorous vein, Al Fisher’s Marinate the Cook! blends recipes with jokes. The Visalia businessman has published three other books of jokes. Visiting Authors Jeff Savage, author of more than 100 non-fiction books for children, will be visiting Royal Oaks School on Feb. 24. Many of his books are biographies of sports figures and entertainers. He is also a sportswriter. The Visalia Learning Center has brought 43 authors to local schools since 2001. Savage has been here during two previous years. Other repeating authors are Alexis O’Neill (Estela’s Swap), Ralph Fletcher (How to Write Your Life Story), and Wendelin Van Draanen (Confessions of a Serial Kisser). Francisco Jimenez is another author who has visited Visalia schools. As a child, he picked cotton in Corcoran and grapes in Fresno. The Circuit, his collection of autobiographical stories, won about a dozen awards including ones from the California Library Association and the American Library Association books for young adults. Authors in Schools speakers’ bureau lists poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, storytellers, illustrators, musicians and entertainers who are available to make presentations to schools.



Contests The 12th Annual Poetry Contest of the Campbell Corner at the Sarah Lawrence Language Exchange welcomes poems of lyric intensity. Top prize is $3,000 plus publication and winners are invited to read at the college. Deadline is March 15. Fee: $25. Details at: http://pages. The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction will accept entries of short stories until March 12. Prize is $1,500 and publication in the Colorado Review. Final entries of any theme or length will be judged by Andrea Barrett. Details at: http://coloradoreview. Conferences “Inspiration: Finding the Spark, Unlocking the Doors” is the theme of the 2010 American Society of Journalists & Authors Writers Conference to be held April 23-25 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Early registration deadline is March 21. Keynote speakers include Jane Chesnutt, former editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day, and Peter Shankman of PR Week Magazine. More than 100 editors, authors, literary agents and publicists are scheduled to participate in the programs. Details: Old Poetry Check the Web site Ernesto%20Trejo?order=popularity to read some of the popular poems of Valley poet Ernesto Trejo who was part of the “Fresno School” of poets. “Some Sparrows” and “The President is up before the Fruit Vendor” top the list. Publishing Another newspaper cut back – The Washington Times discontinued its Sunday paper at the end of last year and now only publishes Monday through Friday. While the printed pages are being cut, more emphasis will be given to the electronic media. Also going electronic is Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass. Instead of books, the school library lets its students check out Kindles. With these wireless reading devices they can choose from millions of digitized books to download instead of being limited to the 20,000 paper volumes the library contained. Personnel changes abounded throughout the publishing industry in 2009. To name a few: Editor Stephen Adler left Business Week for Thomson-Reuters. Josh Tyrangiel, managing editor at, took his place. The New York Post fired gossip columnist Liz Smith who went on to work for Variety. Washington Times reporter Matt Mosk left for ABC’s Investigative Unit. The Last Word “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.”—Kate DiCamillo (1964 - )


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Text by Sharon Mosley

t’s not just Hollywood celebrities who have “red carpet moments.” Hopefully, we all will have a few of those “golden,” glamorous times in our own lives, whether it’s a wedding, a bat mitzvah or a gala charity event. But if anyone can give us some tips on making the most of those red carpet moments when they do come our way it’s Melissa Rivers, who through the years has witnessed the performance of hundreds of celebrities on their big day (or night)! In her new book, Red Carpet Ready: Secrets for Making the Most of Any Moment You’re in the Spotlight, Rivers gives us some surprisingly personal insights into the life lessons she has learned from her experiences growing up in Los Angeles and sharing the red carpet and TV cameras with her infamous mother, comedienne Joan Rivers. “What I’ve learned in watching thousands of celebrities have their red carpet moments,” Rivers said, “is that nobody turns in a star performance in the spotlight by accident.” And she admits that while it’s critical to “be comfortable in your own skin,” “show grace under pressure,” and “be nice on the way up,” she has also found that “every woman cares about looking great when she’s having a red carpet moment. Appearance matters.” In a season of awards shows, here are a few of Melissa Rivers’ fashion pointers that we can keep in mind:

Don’t let the dress wear you.

“When you know an outfit isn’t right for you,” she said, “it’s impossible to carry yourself with the confidence that makes you truly gorgeous. You look self-conscious and everybody knows it.”

Weep once; buy quality.

“My uncle always said, ‘Buy quality and weep once.’ That means the price might be a shock to your credit card, but you won’t suffer the extra pain of having to replace what you bought in a year because you went cheap. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, and it’s not a bad idea to bargain-hunt for something you’re going to wear only a few times, but you’ll never go wrong spending on quality for the go-to items in your wardrobe.”

Take care of your shoes.

“Nothing ruins your put-together look like shoes that are battered, scuffed or just old-looking,” said Rivers. “It’s so easy to clean and polish any decent pair of shoes that I’m amazed more women don’t take the time.”

Test-drive your haircut.

“Leave nothing to chance,” cautioned Rivers. “If you’re going to try a daring new cut, test it out a few weeks beforehand. That way, if what looked so good in the salon turns out in daylight to look like a dead cat sitting on your head, you can have some time to make changes.”

Make important changes before panic time.

Forget losing 10 pounds two weeks before the big event, said Rivers. “Instead, prepare for the spotlight months in advance with a healthy lifestyle: good diet, exercise routine, skin care and so on. That way, you can approach your red carpet moment with the confidence that comes from knowing you look healthy and radiant, and you’re as prepared as you can be.”

Flaunt what you’ve got.

While Rivers admits that there are some celebrities who look good in anything they wear, most of us “have to dance with the body that brung us.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t look your best when you find yourself in the fashion spotlight. “Everybody has something about them that’s exceptional,” she said. “Figure out what that is for you and work it.”

“Be a well, not a fountain.”

One of my favorite chapters in Rivers’ surprisingly thoughtful book deals with showing grace under pressure: “Until you’ve walked down a few red carpets in someone else’s designer pumps, don’t assume you know what they’re dealing with ... Don’t spill your guts to everyone you meet about how much life sucks at the moment. Everyone is carrying their own baggage, and they don’t appreciate the weight of yours. Have some good people in your life you can lean on, and be stoic and brave to the rest of the world.” Now that’s a great piece of red carpet advice for all of us. LIFEST YLE | FEBRUARY 2010




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February 2010  

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