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ON THE COVER: Spring finds the wisteria abloom and the Shishmanians heading outdoors. Their north Fresno home is profiled for this month’s Lifestyle Home Tour. Photo by Bob Marcot te, Marcot te Photography

H O ME T O U R 20. The Shishmanian Home Living Proof, Personal History

APRIL 2010 P U BL I S HE D B Y DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291

BU S I N E S S M A N A G E M E N T MALKASIAN ACCOUNTANCY LLP GARY MALKASIAN CPA JEFFREY MALKASIAN EA

Lifestyle Magazine Distribution List

C U LI NA RY A RT S 32. New Zealand Lamb

RACK LOCATIONS: Borders Books Music & Cafè Direct Media, Inc. Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare Marcela’s Home Store Tazzaria Coff ee & Tea Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Coff ee Company Visalia Convention Center

Bookkeeper MARILYN HARRIS Office Administrator MARIA GASTON

E DI T O RI A L

BU SI NE SS P RO F I LE 38. Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa Make Your Escape an Experience

Executive Editor KAREN TELLALIAN Copy Editor DARA FISK-EKANGER Calendar DARA FISK-EKANGER Editorial Assistant TAYLOR VAUGHN

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS: 210 Cafe Advanced Laser Clinics Bravo Farms Cheese Factory Country Club Mortgage Creekside Day Spa & Wellness Center Downtown Visalians Exeter Chamber of Commerce Holiday Inn Kaplan Financial Services Kaweah Delta Hospital Koster Financial Services Red Carpet Car Wash Richard Rumery, Attorney at Law Party City Smiles by Sullivan The Lifestyle Center Tiff any’s Luxury Medispa Tulare Chamber of Commerce Tulare County Library V Medical Spa 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.

T RAVE LE R’ S T RE K 52. BERLIN City on the Move

AARON COLLINS MARK ROWE LISA LIEBERMAN TONY GARCIA DIANE SLOCUM SHARON MOSLEY DARA FISK-EKANGER CAROLE GREENING LESLIE DAVIS

A R T & PRO D U C T I O N Creative Director MARK FLEMING

A DV E RT I S I N G S A L E S

8. 10. 16. 18. 28. 30. 44. 48. 56. 60.

Letter from the Executive Editor Charity Event: Mardi Gras Faces & Places: Max Choboian Road Race Word Play Faces & Places: Elks Lodge Business Cents Happenings Performances Faces & Places: Miss Tulare County Fashion

DARLENE MAYFIELD 559.738.0907

SALES OFFICE 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.738.0907 • Fax 559.738.0909 E-mail: lifestyle@dmiagency.com

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 Direct Media, Inc. or its advertisers.

Circulation of this issue: 15,000 © 2010 DMI Agency


EDITOR NOTE

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

e normally avoid the spotlight, preferring instead to showcase others’ talents and accomplishments. But every once-in-awhile something so significant happens that we ask for our readers’ indulgence. This month is one of those times. We are nothing if not evolving and growing, and we’ve recently taken a little bit of our own medicine. In case you haven’t heard, marketing and publishing firm Direct Media, Inc. – the Visalia-based agency that has long branded and communicated on behalf of our clients and also publishes Lifestyle – has crafted itself a new brand identity: DMI Agency. Same company. New name. The relaunch is a result of our desire to streamline the contact and communication process. But more importantly, the new identity better reflects what the company is all about: The content and identity we create for a number of high-profile clients throughout California. The brand of Direct Media, Inc. has served us well. However, there were instances in which it was confusing to the public. In an effort to simplify our message and distinguish our venture within a crowded field, we chose DMI Agency – the perfect acronym for exactly what it is we do: Design, Message, Ideas. This also allows for a new URL and email contact: dmiagency.com. We believe the new name will better express the scope of our services: develop advertising campaigns, television and radio commercials, marketing programs, produce award-winning design, and publish award winning magazines. Most recently, DMI won a gold ADDY® for Lifestyle feature entitled “Moon Goddess,” which profiled the second home of local resident Cindy Gregory on exclusive and private Hat Island. A silver ADDY® at the District level – our first such win at that higher level – was received for the Lifestyle feature entitled Cocktails – competing against publications in much larger markets such as Sacramento, San Francisco, Nevada and Arizona. We are very proud to have been recognized amongst such a distinguished group of publishers. Simultaneously with the new corporate identity, we’ve also moved to expanded headquarters at 801 W. Main St. in Visalia, which will accommodate future growth and offer us greater visibility. Our doors are always open, so when you’re in the neighborhood make sure to check out our new home. Several of you have already stopped in after noticing our Main Street sign, and I think we might have put one or two of you to work as we unloaded boxes! But don’t be afraid, I think we’re almost finished with the heavy lifting.

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KAREN TELLALIAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR For more information or to submit a story idea email Karen@dmiagency.com or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909.

LIFESTYLE | APRIL 2010


Text by Lisa Lieberman | Photos by Peter Amend, Amend Photo

he famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that human beings have two basic sets of needs: primary needs and higher needs. Primary needs include the need for food, water and shelter. Higher needs involve the need for love, affection and friendship. The highest level of need, though, according to Maslow, is to “self actualize” – that is, to fulfill one’s highest creative potential. Not everyone self actualizes in their lifetimes. But some people, especially those with physical and mental disabilities, never even get the chance to try. The Creative Center in Visalia is unique because it gives developmentally-disabled adult students a place to be and a place to create.

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For instance, Maria Hernandez: When she first came to the Creative Center 20 years ago, she hardly spoke to or looked at anyone. Now she is one of the center’s biggest social butterflies. She helps feed physically disabled students during lunch, is one of the center’s most prolific artists, and works part time at a neighboring adult center as a peer counselor to other adults with disabilities. “At first it was scary, but then I got up the nerve to do it,” Maria says. The Creative Center has given many of their 94 students, ranging in age from 18 to 76, the courage to try and excel at all sorts of things. There’s John, wheelchair-bound and unable to use his hands, who paints with his mouth using the center’s new touch screen computerized paint program. There’s also April, who helps write, direct and star in some of the center’s theatrical productions and recently completed her first solo singing performance at the center’s Mardi Gras fundraiser ball.


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RIGHT: The Creative Center crew. BELOW LEFT: Mark and Karolina Perry, Dennis Lipson. BELOW RIGHT: Brian Icenhower, Christine Aleman, Jill Icenhower, and Carlos Aleman.

This year’s Mardi Gras fundraiser, held at the Visalia Convention Center, had a cruise ship theme. The event featured other performers from the Creative Center and drew an audience of over 600. Setting up for the ball was a huge challenge this year says Kathleen Remillard, the Creative Center Foundation’s executive director. “When you walk into the room [at the Convention Center], you look at the tall walls and the ceiling which is way up there – and it’s all blank.” Despite the large amount of setup required, she succeeded with the help of 146 volunteers and many of the Center’s students. The ball also featured a gaming casino with blackjack tables, craps, and Texas Hold ‘Em poker. “The casino made sense because we were supposed to be out in international waters,” Remillard says. “It went over really well because it gave folks who don’t dance and normally leave the ball as soon as the music gets started something else to do.”

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Overall, the creative center grossed $72,000, approximately $12,000 more than the center was hoping for. The center plans to spend the money on a down payment for a wrought iron fence which is being erected around the center. Over the past several years, the center has had problems with vagrancy and minor incidents of vandalism. In addition to providing additional security, the fence will enable the center to design more on-campus activities for the students to participate in, including gardening and outdoor sculpture classes. Students from the center raised an additional $3,200 from their own artwork, which was displayed at the ball. The fact that the students sell their work like other professional artists is one of the things that makes the Creative Center especially unique, says Jeanette Steck, the head of the center’s visual arts department. “Most creative centers for adults teach students arts and crafts, but here we work with students to create gallery-level art,” Steck says.


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Although the paintings and drawings may only sell for $10 to $100, every dollar the students earn means a lot to them. “When you’re a student and you see something you’ve created is in someone’s home or office and you got paid for, you get the feeling a lot of us get by going to work every day and earning a pay check,” Remillard says. Providing this sense of personal accomplishment to students singles the Visalia Creative Center out as a premier vocational hub in the Central Valley. The students who come to the center have a range of disabilities, Steck says. Some were born with Down Syndrome. Others were born with physical disabilities, while others have had accidents that have left them physically or mentally challenged. Some students dance, sing and act. Others draw, create printmaking, silk screening, weaving, or sculpture. One blind student paints three dimensional figures and sculptures, Steck tells Lifestyle Magazine. “He knows what he’s painting by touch,” Steck says. “He wasn’t born blind. He can visualize in his mind what he wants to paint. He’s basically trying to copy what he sees in his mind.” To help him do this, the art teachers will add different materials such as sand to different-colored paints so the student can identify which color is which.

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Another art teacher, Ginger Allen Barszcz, found a way to work with a student who only scribbled circles on pieces of paper for years at a time. One day Barszcz was walking through an arts and crafts store when she saw a packet of marbles and decided to pick them up and give them to the student. “It took the student a long time to do anything with the marbles, but ultimately she picked one up and put it over one of her dots and began realizing that there were more things she could make with circles than just dots,” Remillard says. The student then took the next step and made a design of circles and put them in a concrete stepping stone, which she sold at an art gallery. “After years of making circles, she finally got a paycheck from something she made, and it was a way for her to start moving forward,” Remillard says. LET: Dena and Richard Cochran FAR RIGHT: Jerrod West and Jennifer Pendergraft, 2010 Mardi Gras King and Queen.


Sculpted Solutions By Ale ex Lechtman, M.D., FACS

Board-CertiďŹ ed Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

All follow-ups are performed personally by Dr. Lechtman at the Aesthetic Center. ASPS CareCredit Financing accepted.

Be Well

Visalia Medical Clinic LIFESTYLE | APRIL 2010

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FACES & PLACES

35th ANNUAL MAX CHOBOIAN ROAD RACE Benefitting the Tulare Youth Services Bureau Congratulations Dominic Krohn for coming in first overall.

Photos by Ashley Machado Photography

Dominic Krohn

Stefani Alamill

Kiley Langford and father

Michael Gonazales

Carol Berryhill

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CHARITY EVENT W WORD PLAY

Tex t by Diane Slocum

ark Twain died on April 21, 1910. If you have never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it’s about time. If those are your only experiences with the writings of Samuel Clemens, it’s also time to sample a few more. Mark Twain: Mississippi Writings includes Tom and Huck plus Pudd’nhead Wilson and Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain’s own favorite of his books was Joan of Arc. He spent 12 years researching the history of the maid of Orlèans and two years writing it. He liked the book all the more because the time he spent on it gave him so many years of pleasure. Innocents Abroad is a favorite of Amazon.com reviewers. Its barbed wit is aimed at both the boisterous American travelers and the entrenched European cultures. Michael Shelden’s Mark Twain: Man in White – the Grand Adventure of His Final Years (Random House, January 2010) offers a rollicking portrait of the iconoclastic author in his last years. Pulitzer Prize finalist Shelden uses Twain’s journals, letters and own accounts to reveal the personal side of the popular showman. LOCAL WRITERS

Visalia Endodontist Alan Sproles tied for third place in the $50,000 Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters for his The Translator. Dr. Sproles and his writing partner Lizanne Southgate shared the $10,000 prize with Johnny Davis who penned Lion of the North. The $15,000 second place went to Sherry Cook for The Shoebox. The team of Dwight Carlson and Gregory Carlson took the top prize of $25,000 for The Good Doctor. The monetary prizes are just the beginning for these scripts, according to Dr. Sproles. Chosen from about 450 entries, all four of the winners are sent to top studios such as Disney, Warner, Fox and Sony for consideration. Sproles said shortly after the prizes were announced he heard from the agents of three A-list actors who were interested in his script. “This is the kind of script actors like to get because they can sink their teeth into the character,” Sproles said. His script centers on William Tyndale who was an ordinary priest in England at the time of Henry VIII. Tyndale realized that the church was not giving people accurate information about what was in the Bible – which was in Latin – and he wanted people to be able to read it for themselves in their own language of English. Tyndale defied the law to follow his beliefs, incurring the wrath of the king along the way. Sproles and Southgate have collaborated on 13 screenplays in as many years and are hoping this one may give them their big break. 18

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AUTHORS’ EVENTS

The Friends of the Tulare County Library is sponsoring an Author’s Fair at the Visalia library on April 23 beginning at 7 p.m. Local authors representing a variety of genre include Sharon Lathan, Janet Nicholls Lynch, Sylvia Ross, Monty Sands, Marilyn Meredith, John Bergman, Chris Brewer, Larry Lewis, Louise Jackson, Ron Hughart and Ed Kesterson. Tickets for prizes that include Disneyland admissions are available. Funds raised will support library projects including the Children’s Summer Reading Program. Go to http://tclnews. blogspot.com/2010/03/free-local-authors-fair.html or call 713-2709 for more information. Bonnie Hearn Hill will be signing her latest young adult novel, Taurus Eyes, on May 8 at Barnes and Noble in Fresno. This second in a series continues the astrological adventures of Logan McRae as she weaves through mystery and romance while simultaneously attempting to write the most impressive article at a young writers’ workshop. Hearn Hill’s signing for Aries Rising in March sold all copies in the store. Also on May 8, the Fresno Chapter of the Jane Austen society of Northern California will celebrate the author and her Regency period at its first festival. The event will take place at the St. Paul Newman Center at 1572 E. Barstow Ave., Fresno from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hanford author Sharron Lathan will be signing all three of her Darcy Saga novels at the event. Details at: http://www. jasnacenvalcal.com/id16.html. READ THE BOOK

Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid was released as a movie of the same name last month. The book is formatted as the cartoonillustrated diary of middle school student Greg who finds it hard to fit into the difficult culture of that age group. Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley tells a very different story of teenagers who are on the fringe of their society. Sophomore Nathan moves to a southern rural county with his abusive father. He develops an attachment to Roy, the popular senior next door and their relationship blossoms into love. THE LAST WORD

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. (Mark Twain 1835-1910)


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LLIIFFEESSTT YYLLEE || AAPPRRIILL 22001100


OPPISITE: The Jack Becknell-designed garden of the Fresno home of Dr. Leo and Arminee (Armo) Shishmanian is a peaceful world and era far removed from the genocide faced by their forebears in their ancestral homeland of Armenia. BELOW: One of the many cast bronze sculptures by Arminee Shishmanian, who found her calling as a sculptor later in life, once the Shishmanian kids were reared.

Tex t by A aron Collins | Photos by Bob Marcot te, Marcot te Photography

he Swedish government recently caused an international diplomatic skirmish by officially using the G-word – genocide – to label the 1915 extermination of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey. The official gesture by the Swedes may have registered as little more than an abstraction to the average American more concerned with Tiger Woods or health care reform. Not so for the Armenian diaspora in America, for whom such sanctioned acknowledgments strike a very deep chord. Similarly, a similar non-binding resolution simmers in U.S. Congress but has long languished due to Turkey’s ongoing strategic importance to U.S. wars in the Middle East. As with all politics, timing is everything. National security of the moment trumps early 20th century atrocities, no matter how grave. But for Armenian immigrants who now call America home, the genocide isn’t so remote in the long arc of history. Imagine if your present reality were still very much shaped by the real and very concrete consequences 90 years after the worst of it came to an end. Or if the family photos on your wall daily reminded you of a grandfather or great uncle who is no more, dead at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Such evidence makes international politics very personal. Your picture wall would be a display of family heirlooms, but also a monument to things that never were: lives unlived, marriages and offspring that never materialized, accomplishments snuffed out before they could happen.

Dr. Leo and Arminee Shishmanian call the San Joaquin Valley home now in some ways because of that genocide – their parents’ good fortune in avoiding it, to be accurate. Like other Armenian-Americans in places like Fresno and other concentrated Armenian communities in New York, Detroit or Glendale, the Shishmanians, now in their 70s, descend from people who were rounded up, executed or marched into the Syrian desert and left for dead, if they made it that far at all. Leo’s father was a Turkish-born Armenian who fled before WWI, and headed for the U.S., settling in Providence, Rhode Island. Leo’s mother was also born in Turkey to a physician father who was slain by the Ottomans. She was raised in a convent and eventually came to America, where she met Leo’s father. Arminee (known as Armo to her friends) also lost family members. Her Turkish-born mother and family were in Constantinople (now Istanbul) and thus avoided the fate of her relatives in Armenia when the authorities forced them into Syria, sealing their fates. Her mother met a nice young man in Constantinople, who brought his new love to the U.S. where they married in 1922. Like other immigrant groups, many Armenians have done well for themselves in America. As have the Shishmanians. Leo went to University of Rhode Island, USC, and UC Irvine medical school. After a five-year general practice in Fresno and radiological residency in Long Beach, the Shishmanians returned to Fresno where he established successful practice at Sierra Hospital. Later he established Fresno Imaging Center and eventually became head of the Radiology Department at St. Agnes Hospital, where he retired in the mid-‘90s (although he continued working part time until four years ago).

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BELOW: Arminee Shishmanian produces her art from her home studio in north Fresno. Among her proudest accomplishments is sculpting a tribute to fellow Armenian American the late William Saroyan, Fresno’s favorite literary son, which was produced in collaboration with the William Saroyan Society.

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BELOW: Contemporary and traditional flourishes mix at the Shishmanian home, where artist Arminee Shishmanian’s sculpture and paintings are displayed throughout.

Arminee’s college experience came later in life, at 60, long after completing the primary child-raising stage of life. After rearing their four kids, she studied art at Fresno City College and CSUF, and is now an artist who works in a variety of media, including sculpture and painting. The fruits of her labor reveal traces of her Armenian heritage, as seen throughout the Shishmanian home. Armenian dancers and other lively figures swirl, clap and gesture, though frozen in the age-old alloy of bronze. Her work was included in an exhibition in the California State Senate chambers. Another particularly notable accomplishment was a piece she created in collaboration with the Fresno-based William Saroyan Society to honor the 100th birthday anniversary of Saroyan, Fresno’s most notable late literary citizen. Entitled Under the Apple Tree, the piece’s title originates from a traditional Armenian folk song, Khndzorin Tzarin Daguh. The commission was particularly poignant, given her family’s personal acquaintance with the notable writer. The St. Louis-born Arminee says of her later-in-life endeavor, “I’ve actually become an artist and have had people request my work,” she says with more than a little amazement. “My sculpture has been described as full of motion and emotion. I love to sculpt figures in action but have also done portraits of children and adults. Many of my pieces have been influenced by my Armenian background, although they have universal appeal,” she says. TOP LEFT: The Jack Becknell-designed garden of the Shishmanian home in north Fresno. TOP RIGHT: Spring beckons and treats lure guests outdoors into the garden at the Shishmanian home, where Arminee has kept their family heritage alive with traditional Armenian cooking.

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ABOVE LEFT: Traditional Armenian dancers are a recurring theme in Fresno sculptor Arminee Shishmanian’s work in which she explores a variety of traditional themes in cast bronze. TOP RIGHT: Another example of sculptural work by Arminee Shishmanian. ABOVE: Arminee and Dr. Leo Shishmanian with Bebe, their beloved Havanese.

Her studio is located at the family home in Fresno’s Bluffview neighborhood. “When we first moved to Fresno in the 1960s this area was totally olive, fig and citrus groves. Now of course,” says Arminee, “if you saw a fig tree it would be a wonder.” The home faces the main park around which the neighborhood was designed. The lush and inviting grounds were designed by Jack Becknell, whose other projects, the Shishmanians believe, have been completed from Hawaii to Disney World. An elevated terrace features fountains, an array of plotted plants with bursts of color and teak furnishings that were designed by Kip Stewart. A gazebo covered in wisteria provides a scenic view from the house, “a beautiful sight and a relaxing retreat,” as Arminee describes it. “Our garden is in full spring bloom right now. The sound of the water from our fountains gives us a sense of quiet and peace when we sit outdoors.” Frequently seen enjoying the garden is Bebe, the family Havanese who “is almost like another grandchild to us,” says Arminee. “She was a Christmas gift to us from our children two years ago and worked her way into our hearts immediately. And as any grandma would do, I must boast and tell you that she is beautiful and very smart!” says the proud dog lover. Built in 1989, the home has been modified slightly since then, including removal of carpet and the addition of Saltillo tiles. The kitchen features hand-painted glazed tiles in a contemporary tulip motif, with bone enamel woodwork. 26

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“We were fortunate that when we purchased our home, it was in the final stages of construction. We were able to choose all the special features such as tile, flooring, window treatment, light fixtures, and landscaping which really gave the house our character,” says Arminee. That character, like so many California homes, defies categorization, at least for the Shishmanians. “I would describe our home’s style as eclectic. You can’t say that it has a particular style like contemporary, cottage or traditional,” according to Arminee. “To me, it means that I have a wide range of things that I’m attracted to. I just feel that if you find something pleasing to the eye, you can usually make it work in your home whether it is of a particular style or not.” The home may defy classification style-wise. However, there is no doubt its inhabitants hold dear their Armenian heritage, as well as value their many travels, proof given by so many mementos of a life well-lived, with interesting objects collected from jaunts around the world from China to the former Soviet Union and beyond and, of course, to the motherland itself: Armenia. Even Turkey was on their itinerary, no doubt proving a poignant visit, history aside. As if one can say history is ever an aside, their own considered.


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FACES & PLACES

6th ANNUAL ELKS LODGE WINE & FOOD TASTING Benefitting CASA of Tulare County

Photos by Becca Chavez

Carolyn Blair and Cass Cornelius

Marilyn Barr; Executive Director CASA, Sheri Jefferies and Steve Farnsworth

Rhonda Michalk and Joyce Theis

Ron Brooks and Gene Day

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Jim Cooper and Sue Gunderman

Candy Hilvers and Carolyn Stoebig

Jim and Lisa Ford, Vadie and Mike Ford

Tiffany Nielson and Laura Wilson

Tennille and Scott Tunnell


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B BUSINESS CENTS

CONVERT OR NOT CONVERT? Converting Your IRA or 401K to Roth IRA Tex t by Mark J. Rowe, CLU, ChFC of Lewis & Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc.

s part of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act that was signed into law by President Bush in May of 2006, Congress eliminated many of the restrictions for converting to a Roth IRA. Because a Roth IRA can be a pretty sweet deal, anything that makes the conversion option available to more people is a good thing. The main advantage of a Roth IRA over a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan is that future withdrawals from the plan can be totally income tax free; this potentially increases the amount of net income you and/or your family could receive in the future. Strangely enough, Roth IRAs only account for about 5% of all the retirement plans currently being used. One of the main reasons they have been under-utilized in the past was the income limits for allowing conversions. For example, in 2009 for an individual or married couple having an Adjusted Gross Income of over $100,000 the conversion was simply not an option. Other than an IRA inherited from someone besides your spouse, any type of IRA can now be converted to a Roth, whether it’s a traditional deductible, nondeductible, a rollover IRA or, even a SEP or SIMPLE IRA. In addition, your 401(k), 403(b) or 457 accounts from former employers may also be eligible for this transfer. THE 2006 LEGISLATION OFFERS THREE MAJOR GOODIES:

First, while you will have an income tax consequence due to this action, Congress has implemented favorable tax treatment for you. Usually if you convert from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you are burdened with the tax owed that current year. But for anybody that converts in 2010, the tax laws allow you to defer your tax and only have to pay half of the tax burden in 2011 and the remaining half in 2012. Essentially, that means you are spreading it out over a three year period. 2010 is the only year that this exception is allowed. Starting in 2011 the rule reverts back to the original way where all the tax is owed in that year. However, if you think you’ll be in a lower tax bracket in 2010 than later on, you can elect to recognize the income this year.

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Second, while Congress kept the rule that prevents you from making annual contributions to a Roth if your income exceeds certain thresholds, the new Roth conversion rules give you an easy way around this restriction. Just contribute to a nondeductible IRA – which anyone with earned income can do – and then convert to a Roth. Third, the income restriction for converting to a Roth IRA has been totally eliminated allowing anyone with a qualifying account to make the conversion. If you couldn’t open a Roth IRA in the past because you earned too much, you now have a chance to convert, creating an exciting opportunity for those that have been on the outside looking in at the benefits of the Roth IRA. Consider 2010 as everyone getting their VIP access to the tax free party of the year. Scratch that – the decade. In addition, many IRA accounts values have declined substantially, so converting and declaring the tax now while your accounts are at a lower value might be a way to reduce your ultimate tax burden even further. Plus, if your accounts rebound and begin growing again all the future growth in the Roth IRA could be income tax free. As for whether there’s a time limit to new conversion rules, well, Congress didn’t include any expiration date. And since looser restrictions are likely to lead to more Roth conversions, hence, more tax dollars in the near term for the boys and girls down in DC to play with, it would seem unlikely that our legislators would turn off the revenue spigot anytime soon by tightening the restrictions again. These Roth IRA conversions essentially are providing additional tax dollars for Washington in 2011 and 2012 that they normally would have had to wait many years to see. But don’t ever consider any tax rules permanent. Given Congress’s predilection for re-writing the tax code, the word permanent really doesn’t apply to taxes at all (except in the sense that taxes of some type will probably always be with us). So while you certainly don’t want to rush into a conversion – in fact, it’s a good idea to check out a calculator to see if it makes sense for you – there really is no reason to dawdle if you think a conversion is appropriate. Please remember to be smart and consult your tax advisor before making a decision of this magnitude, but it would be a shame to miss out if Congress changes its mind again.


y Cl ub | Ph Vis al ia Co un tr To ny Ga rc ia of ef Ch by es Te x t an d Re cip

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s El em en t St ud io va le of Th ird by Fo rr es t Ca os ot Ph | ub y Cl

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s our weather turns from winter to spring, we begin to see our landscape green. Wildflowers emerge and the first of a new season of our area’s vast array of crops appears. Until recently this was the only season lamb was readily available. Improved breeding practices and the importation of lamb from the southern hemisphere now permits year-round lamb. Today, most U.S. lamb is fed only on grain, reducing some of the characteristic flavors of the meat. New Zealand lamb is pasture-fed, but it is slaughtered at about 4 months, slightly younger than most U.S. lamb. This allows more of the traditional lamb flavor to emerge, while still achieving good tenderness & mildness of flavor. Our menu this month features a Stuffed Leg of Lamb, Grilled Asparagus & Prosciutto (taking advantage of the sweetness of new asparagus), and Apple Bread Pudding for dessert. Pair these with your choice of starch and a light salad, perhaps incorporating baby carrots, for a terrific celebration of spring flavors! LEG OF NEW ZEALAND LAMB STUFFED WITH CRIMINI MUSHROOMS & SPINACH

Yield: Makes 2 servings Ingredients: 6 oz boneless leg of lamb 1/2 large shallot, thinly sliced 4 large crimini mushrooms, sliced 1 tsp rosemary 2 tbsp olive oil 1.5 oz spinach 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 tsp thyme Salt and pepper to taste

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Preparation: Pound out lamb thinly and evenly, approximately 3/4 inch; set aside. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in sauté pan. Add shallots, garlic and criminis; sauté until softened. Season with salt & pepper. Add in spinach and set aside. Spread mushroom and spinach mixture evenly over lamb & roll tightly. Rub remaining olive oil over lamb, then rub with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Broil on the grill at moderate heat, turning occasionally. Cook till done to desired temperature. Slice rolled lamb into five pieces and serve. Shallot-Zinfandel Sauce Yield: Makes 2 servings Ingredients: 1 thinly sliced shallot 2 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp zinfandel 3 tbsp beef stock 1 tsp tarragon Salt and pepper to taste Preparation: Saute shallot in olive oil over moderate heat until tender. Deglaze pan with zinfandel. Reduce slightly over low heat. Add beef stock & tarragon. Reduce on low heat for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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GRILLED ASPARAGUS, PROSCUITTO & SHALLOTS

APPLE BREAD PUDDING WITH APPLE BRANDY SAUCE

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Thicker spears of asparagus should be lightly peeled from tips to end of stalk to remove fibrous skin (this is not necessary if spears are pencil thin or thinner). Regardless of thickness, you should snap off the end of the spears; they will naturally break in the right place. Avoid asparagus that appears woody or shriveled. Select spears with undamaged tips that appear plump.

Ingredients: 1/2 whole Granny Smith apple, diced medium 2 tbsp butter 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2 tbsp sugar 4 cups bread (any leftover bread will work), cut into 1” squares and toasted 1 cup heavy cream 2 eggs

Ingredients: 10 stalks asparagus 2 – 1/2 oz pieces prosciutto, thinly sliced 4 long scallions, lightly grilled 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper Preparation: Prepare asparagus by bundling spears (five spears per bundle). Wrap each bundle with sliced prosciutto. Tie each bundle with scallions, (one at each end of bundle). Place on grill and drizzle with olive oil. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Grill evenly, turning as needed, for 4 minutes.

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350°F. Sauté apples with sugar and cinnamon in butter till tender. Whip eggs lightly. Mix apples, bread & cream into eggs, continuing to whip; blend well. Spray small loaf pan with shortening. Add mix. Cook at 350°F for 25 minutes. APPLE BRANDY SAUCE

Ingredients: 2 cups apple juice 1/4 cup brandy 2 tbsp sugar 2 tbsp heavy cream Corn starch Preparation: Combine ingredients into sauté pan. Reduce over moderate heat about 1/2. Thicken as desired with corn starch. Pour sauce over bread pudding and love your life!

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Photos by Forrest Cavale of Third Element Studios

ou close your eyes and try to relax. Your daydreams take you far away, to a place designed to pamper and rejuvenate both body and spirit – like a spa in London, New York or San Francisco … suddenly the shrieks of children or the ringing of your desk phone interrupt, and you sigh as you come back to reality. You feel tired, frumpy, harassed. You know that if you could escape the rat race for just a while, your outlook, your energy level, your attitude would all improve. But how? If this sounds familiar to you, you must have read the mind of Tiffany Smith-Edmonds, who recently opened a premium “destination spa” – Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa in Visalia. From the moment you’re helped into your robe and sandals, you’ll begin to feel a calming serenity. As soon as you walk through the doors of Tiffany’s and experience the 6,000 square-foot oasis, the ambiance of soothing water features and mellow music, your stresses will fade away.

Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa is the brainchild of SmithEdmonds. “I used to travel to Las Vegas for the ‘luxury spa experience.’ For years I dreamed of bringing that elusive experience to the Central Valley,” she said. She is quick to point out the goal of her spa is to give every woman the ability to tap into her full, beautiful potential, and give every man the opportunity to enjoy the pampering he deserves. How about a caviar facial? It’s just one of the deliciously decadent and wonderfully rejuvenating experiences you’ll find at Tiffany’s. Or you can try SmartLipo, a revolution in fat removal, giving realistic meaning to the phrase “it melts fat away.” SmartLipo uses a low-pain, highly efficient process instead of the bulky tubes and uncomfortable office visits required of traditional liposuction. LEFT: Dr. André Edmonds and Tiffany Smith-Edmonds. ABOVE: Hydrotherapy tub. .

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It utilizes smaller instruments and specialized technology to zap fat cells. So they can contour and reshape areas of the body including the abdomen, love handles, backs, thighs, hips, knees, arms, neck and chin. The exceptional service menu includes spray tanning, laser hair removal, teeth whitening, manicure and pedicure, couples’ and individual massage, hair salon, vein therapy, and body wraps; a host of treatments for every person, on any budget. At the vanguard of the anti-aging movement, two of the most exciting and innovative treatments you’ll discover at Tiffany’s are Pearl Fusion and Pearl Fractional skin resurfacing. The Pearl procedure combines the impact of lasers with the gentleness and safety of non-invasive procedures to treat aging and sundamaged skin. Pearl reduces wrinkles, uneven texture and solar damage with fewer treatments and less overall recovery than other technologies to provide a healthy, pearl-like glow.

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“I’m so excited about the Pearl treatments,” said SmithEdmonds. “I’ve never seen a procedure that leaves clients with such gorgeous skin. It’s truly luxurious.” On the other side of the spa, Tiffany’s offers a full service beauty salon, with 12 stylists attending to clients whose needs range from simple color fixes to overall style makeovers. Make sure to ask for Wendy, their lead stylist who specializes in color. They lovingly refer to her as their “Lady Fixer.” A graduate of Westmont College in Santa Barbara with a degree in Economics and Business, Smith-Edmonds has been an active business owner in the Central Valley for more than 17 years. But, her goal to provide local clientele with a world-class spa experience is highly personal.


ABOVE: Infrared Sauna.

“I love to help people feel better from the inside out,” she said. Her vibrant smile and quick wit charms you in conversation, but it is quite obvious that she’s more than a pretty face. Overcoming a myriad of obstacles that would have stalled the average business person, Smith-Edmonds was determined to deliver on her promise of opening the door for every man and woman in the Central Valley to the therapeutic benefits of a spa experience, otherwise found hours from home. The medical staff of Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa has more than 40 years’ combined experience, ensuring professional results under the most stringent hygienic conditions. Dr. André Edmonds leads his team of nurses and therapists to properly care for clients while delivering beautiful aesthetic results. A crucial difference in the quality of a medispa experience, you’ll always find a medical staff member on duty at Tiffany’s. Consultations are free, and this accomplished staff will analyze your skin, hair, nails, musculature, aches and pains, to recommend the best procedures and services for you. When you walk out the door, you’ll feel younger, sleeker, more relaxed and more confident. 42

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“We practice true body and mind therapy, in the spirit of renowned European spas, where royalty would go to ‘take the waters,’” explained Smith-Edmonds. “I researched spas in France, Switzerland, Germany … famous spa towns like Gstaad, BadenBaden and Marienbad. Some of those spas are like palaces that devote themselves to their clients’ well-being. I wanted to bring the same philosophy and caring energy to Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa.” From the sheer elegance of the property, to the unparalleled degree of professionalism you’ll find at Tiffany’s Luxury Medispa, you can feel the healing energy. The Infra-red sauna, the Hydrotherapy tub, the skills of the manicurists and massage therapists – no detail has been left to the imagination. No surprise there. Tiffany’s really is a true luxury spa. It’s a retreat – a place to relax and get away, without having to travel to a destination spa/resort. Whether you’re a local resident or here on vacation, Tiffany’s is the perfect afternoon escape to leave all the cares of the day and immerse yourself in a cozy world of pleasure and indulgence. Caviar facial? But of course!


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May 14th The 5th Annual Birdhouse Auction benefiting Habitat for Humanity has been moved to the Budweiser Stage at the Tulare County Fair Grounds. The auction takes place on May 14th from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and features other live auction items such as a Brett Favre autographed helmet and resort and spa getaways. Call 559-734-4040 for more details.

THE ATERPERFORMANCES

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M AY David Allen Coe. Renown singer/songwriter David Allen Coe will be performing at the Visalia Fox Theatre on April 15 at 8:00 p.m. Mr. Coe has written country hits for George Jones, Johnny Cash, The Oakridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, and many other celebrated singers. For ticket information, call 559-584-7823. SELAH. The Christian musical group SELAH will be performing one night only on May 16 at the Historical Fox Theatre in Visalia. The concert will be a part of the celebration of 89.7 KARM’s 20th Anniversary. The popular trio has won the Dove Award for “Inspirational Album of the Year” four times and has repeatedly hit No.1 on Christian radio. For more information on tickets, please contact Visalia Fox Theatre at (559) 625-1369 or www.karm.com.

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CHARITABLEEVENTS

AR TEXHIBITS

Once Upon A Dream Dinner & Auction. CASA of TULARE COUNTY invites you for the 16th Annual “Once Upon A Dream” Dinner and Auction on April 24th at 6:30 pm at the Visalia Holiday Inn. Auction items include sports vacations, CYMA watches, gourmet dinners with limousine service, art work, home décor and more. Call today to reserve your ticket at 559-625-4007.

APRIL

Bible Stories in Icon Art. From April 29 to June 26, Tulare Historical Museum will be hosting an exciting exhibit which endeavors to create religious icons patterned after the techniques used by the old masters dating back to 3rd Century A.D. Artists reception April 29 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in the Heritage Room. Reception free to public. Tulare Historical Museum, 444 Tulare Avenue, Tulare. Hours of operation 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Call 559-686-2074 for more information.

APRIL

M AY Relay for Life of Exeter 2010. Join the fight against cancer by joining with Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Team Captain meetings April 21 and May 5 at Exeter Unified High School. Call Patty Spott at 559-592-9411 for more details. Relay for Life event held May 22 & 23.

SPECIALEVENTS

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5K Earth Day Trail Run/ Walk. What better way to show your appreciation for your local landscape than to get outside and take a jog or a stroll along oak and sycamore-lined trails at Kaweah Oaks Preserve? If you’ve been wanting to try out trail running, but were afraid of the hills, then this is the race for you. April 24, 8:00 a.m. Pre-registration (before April 15) is $20, and $25 thereafter. More info at http://tinyurl.com/SRTRunWalk . APRIL


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CLAS SESW ORKSHOPS

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A P R I L Art for Kids. The Art for Kids class provides an introduction to the basic elements of art, emphasizing painting, drawing, & basic art processes, for children 7-9. This class encourages individual expression and an understanding of the creative process. April 13 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact Arts Visalia at 559-739-0905.

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A P R I L Handmade Paper-Making Workshop. April 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Elsah Cort’s studio in Three Rivers. Sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers. Fee is $55, $45 for Arts Alliance members. Additional fee of $15 for materials. Call 561- 4671 for more information.

DIVERSIONSEXCURSIONS

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M AY Paddle the Parkway. Explore Friant Cove from your canoe as you join Paddle the Parkway, sponsored by The River Center in Fresno. Starting at 9:30 a.m. on May 8th, this easy 1-hour session is suitable for both beginners and experienced canoers and for groups with children ages 6 and up. For more information, call 559-248-8480 or visit http://riverparkway.org.

CONTESTS

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Photography Contest. “How do you view your landscape?” Deadline October 4, 2010. Sponsored by Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Prizes will be awarded in five categories in two age brackets. All 22 winners will appear at Arts Visalia gallery in November during Kaweah Land & Arts Festival. Entry fees are $5 and $10. More information available at http://tinyurl.com/SRTPhotoContest.

WRITERSREADERS Local Historian Book Signing. Terry Ommen will be speaking at Tulare Historical Museum’s Sunday @ 2 program on April 18th, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. in the museum’s Heritage Room. The programs title is “Community Pride Continues to Celebrate and Honor Local History”. Mr. Ommen will also have a book signing as part of the program for his new book Visalia Then and Now. Refreshments will be served and the program is free to the public.

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Central Valley Authors. Join historians, mystery authors, novelists and storytellers for an evening of signings and discussion. Books available for purchase. Friday April 23, 2010, 7:00 to 900 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. Visalia Branch Library, 200 W. Oak Avenue, Visalia. For details, including a full author list, contact Sheryll Strachan at 559-713-2709.

If you would like to have your event considered for a free listing in our “Happenings” section, please email your submission to lifestyle@advertisewithdirect.com or fax to 738-0909, Attention Happenings. Please note, we do not guarantee listing of any submission. Submissions for the May 2010 issue must be received by April 25.

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uring its 50th Golden Anniversary Season Finale on Saturday, April 24, the Tulare County Symphony will continue its tradition of showcasing local talent. Dr. Bruce Kiesling will begin with Ludwig von Beethoven’s joyfully festive Symphony in F Major, Op. 93. It was Beethoven’s eighth, penultimate symphony and listeners will find it charming, warm, and full of delightful humor. Also on that night, Kiesling and the symphony will collaborate with Dr. Jeff Seaward, the COS Concert Choir, the master mhorale, and four vocal soloists to perform Joseph Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, also known as the Lord Nelson Mass. SURPRISES

Surprise one: The Nelson Mass (1798) is one of 14 masses composed by Haydn. The orchestra plays a prominent role in this Mass, composed for the Royal Austrian Esterhazy family. Surprise two: Due to an accident of history, it is called the Lord Nelson Mass. Haydn actually named it Missa in Angustiis, or Mass in Time of Distress. Along with other Austrians, Haydn was terrified when Napoleon won four major battles with Austria. Napoleon’s armies crossed the Alps and threatened Vienna in 1797. n May 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt. Subsequently, Haydn’s Mass premiered in September 1798. By then, Austrians knew that British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson had defeated Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile in August 1798. The work’s nickname was cemented when Lord Nelson visited the Esterhazy palace in 1800. BE DAZZLED BY GREATNESS

One need not be religious or understand Latin to appreciate the soaring choral sections, intricate soloist lines, and orchestral harmonies. The instrumentation is spare: strings, tympani, and a handful of winds. Haydn’s artistry in combining and contrasting vocal and instrumental resources carries the listener from despair to joy; from Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo, to Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.

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LOCAL VOCAL SOLOIST

Another treat for attendees is the featured local talent. Ms. Julia Grizzell will sing the demanding Soprano solos of the Nelson Mass. Julia grew up in Visalia. Her parents are musicians; in fact her mother Janet plays violin with the Symphony. Julia plays piano and violin and discovered her passion for singing at Golden West High School. She is versatile, having sung back-up in LA recording studios and lead roles in musicals and operas. Her degrees are from Biola and Florida State University. In 2008, at the concert honoring Dr. David Andre, she sang an Aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Transfixed by her pure tones and coloratura agility, listeners gave her an enthusiastic standing ovation. Julia has completed studies with the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and has won Fresno Musical Club’s Young Vocalist Award. Recently she recorded a CD of operatic, classical, and Broadway tunes. She sings at Visalia’s Little Italy Ristorante. Knowing that Julia will solo in Haydn’s Mass heightens interest in the Symphony’s 50th Anniversary Season Finale on Saturday, April 24, 7:30 p.m. at the Visalia Fox. Music Director Dr. Kiesling’s pre-concert talk begins at 6:45 p.m. This blue ribbon concert wraps up the Golden Year. ABOVE: Ms. Julia Grizzell.


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FACES & PLACES

MISS TULARE COUNTY PAGEANT 2010 Congratulations Anne Nicole Baker on becoming our 2010 Miss Tulare County.

Photos by Ashley Machado

Anne Nicole Baker

Sabrina Ziegler

Desiraee Olvera-Smith

Gina Gayton

Carly Yoshida

Lauren Hurt

Tia Marie Eager

Caitlin Linch

Casey Cochran

Rachel Fanjul

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FACES & PLACES

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BELOW: Brandenburg Gate. BOTTOM: View of Berlin on Spree River.

Text and Photos by Leslie Davis

ne of the most exciting cities in the world, Berlin catches you in its grip and surrounds you with a, irresistible vibrancy. The clamor of evening traffic and people echoes off the concrete buildings during the weeknight. On Sunday mornings the quiet grips you as you walk the hushed streets, and you think perhaps this is the real Berlin. This is the city my husband and I enjoyed for three days.

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Traveling internationally is always an adventure and Dave and I experienced our fair share during our recent eighteen-day trip through Germany. After more than 24 hours of traveling, we arrived at our hotel in Berlin’s Kurfurstendamm District (Ku’damm for short) wanting only to dump our suitcases and collapse. But Dave and I are not the kind of travelers who arrive at an international city and fall asleep, regardless of how tired we are. After a break we were striding down the street to the main shopping area, also called the Kurfusterndamm.


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BELOW: The Berliner Dom and Berlin Tower.

People thronged the streets, some carrying designer bags, others dining in sidewalk cafes. The energy inherent in Berliners vibrated in the air, but we realized they also possessed the ability to enjoy their kaffe and pastries or beer while relaxing with friends. Finding dinner was our first priority; we searched for a restaurant with a menu we could read among the many sidewalk cafes lining the avenue. The sidewalk café is relatively new to Berlin, coming into vogue about 11 years ago. We noticed that in most cafés, regardless of the number of people sitting at a table, the patrons sat facing the street. Dave and I decided to be typical Berliners that night by eating in a sidewalk café before returning to our hotel. The best way to see Berlin is by foot and their excellent public transportation system. The next morning we purchased our “Welcome Berlin” tickets, which gave us three days of unlimited travel around the city and to Potsdam. ABOVE LEFT: Alexanderplatz. ABOVE RIGHT: Unter den Linden.

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We began the following day by taking a bus to the Reichstag (Parliament). We were not prepared for the crowds. People were everywhere. They waited in line to take the elevator to the top of the Reichstag, lounged on the grass, passed through the Brandenburg Gate. We walked through the Brandenburg Gate to Pariser Platz on the eastern side. The square teemed with people. Mannequin actors in costume, musicians, and jugglers all vied for the attention of the crowds. We strolled down the Unter den Linden, the district’s main boulevard. Much of the former East Berlin has changed. Many of the buildings have been rebuilt, several consulates, including that of the United States, have relocated to Pariser Platz, but remnants of the Soviet rule still remain. Bullet holes mar buildings that survived World War II. Tourist shops selling merchandise commemorating the Communist era line the Unter den Linden on one side while Ferrari and BMW dealerships line the other.


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LEFT: Dome at Sony Center.

As we made our way to the Spree River and into the Nikolai district, we noticed the blend of architectural styles, from the 1960s concrete buildings to those surviving from the 19th century. Sections of the Nikolai district have been restored to their medieval origins and are charming. It’s a small area consisting primarily of restaurants and shops.

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From there we joined the street scene at the Alexanderplatz, once the center of East Berlin. The buildings here were constructed during the division of Germany and are mainly unattractive, yet the platz carries the same energy as the rest of Berlin. The Alexanderplatz houses the Berlin Tower, the tallest structure in Berlin. We continued our walking tour of Berlin until evening, when we again strolled along the Ku’damm. The night before we’d noticed the incongruous sight of a bombed-out structure sitting amidst the 1960s era buildings. This structure is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church had been destroyed during the bombings of World War II; Berliners decided to leave the nearly-destroyed edifice as a memorial to the devastation of war. The red sandstone is still blackened by fire. Empty pockets remain where stained glass windows once ornamented the steeple. It is a very sobering sight. In 1961 a church was built at the base of the tower, the irreverent Berliners dubbing this church the lipstick and powder box.On Monday we continued our exploration. We started out early for the Reichstag, and after a short wait took the elevator to the top of the building. There we took in the panoramic vista of Berlin and the Spree River. We climbed the ramp to the top of the glass dome for an even more spectacular view. From there we walked through the Brandenburg Gate again where we enjoyed fewer crowds than we did on Saturday.


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BELOW: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Everywhere you travel you catch glimpses of Berlin’s history: the exhibit at the site of Hitler’s bunker, the display at Check Point Charlie. You can follow the line in the street marking the location of the wall. We arrived at the Sony Center and were thrilled to find pieces of the wall that had survived the fall. Graffiti still marks the barricade; gum is still stuck to the cement. It is a fascinating and moving experience. The Sony Center is in what used to be East Berlin in Potsdamer Platz. It is a commercial center with shops and restaurants and a 10-story office building, but what makes the center so unique is the architecture. The outside, although interesting, is nothing compared to the inside. It features a dome that dominates the building. It was late and raining, and Dave and I were cold and tired. This was our last night in Berlin and we spent it on the Kudamm, playing the perfect tourists. We bought hamburgers for dinner, watched the rain fall, and prepared for the next phase of our vacation.

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Text by Sharon Mosley

hen spring fever starts to sweep through your office building, chances are that your prescription will be to throw all fashion caution out the window and get comfy in your cropped jeans and tunic tops. But before you get too carried away with dreaming about tiptoeing through the tulips in your flip-flops, there are plenty of ways to look professional and still loosen up a bit. “With business casual, you have the freedom to be a little more stylish and a lot less conservative,” says Jill Martin, TV personality, style expert and author of Fashion For Dummies. Of course, what you wear to work depends on the particular business environment in which you are employed. However, Martin believes that “business casual” may be one of the most common forms of dress these days. “Instead of the traditional business suits,” she says, “you can wear pants, blouses, skirts and dresses. These selections make business casual more comfortable and give you the opportunity to inject some more of your personal style.” Still, it can get complicated. Waking up every morning and putting on a suit requires much less thinking – pulling on an entire outfit that is comfortable, but not sloppy, is a whole other matter. “If you’re the slightest bit confused about what to wear as far as business casual goes, take a cue from the men in your office,” advises Martin. “If they’re wearing khakis and polo shirts, you can use that standard, even though you don’t want to wear exactly that. Your goal is to distinguish yourself in a way that makes you look both stylish and feminine.” She suggests wearing sharp wool gabardine slacks or Capri linen pants with a fitted shirt in a soft pastel, instead of the traditional polo that a man would wear. “Don’t forget a great pair of shoes,” adds Martin. “Ballet flats are always chic yet comfortable.” The more options you have when you get dressed for work this spring, the better; putting them all together is the trick. Here are some more tips from Martin on how not to be a fashion dummy: Keep a few items in your office to throw on when you need to. Perhaps a cardigan in a neutral color and/or a scarf. Keep a perfect pair of black pumps and a perfect pair of black flats at work. “You’ll be glad you have the flats if your feet are killing you, and if last minute plans come up, you can dress up your outfit with the black heels.” Even if your workplace doesn’t require you to dress formally, show up decked out from time to time. “It helps people see you in a different light, which never hurts,” says Martin. “And when people ask why the change, just say with confidence, ‘I felt like getting dressed up today.’” Don’t go overboard. “You can be playful,” admits Martin, “but make sure it doesn’t turn from playful to too sexy.” Wearing a tight skirt that keeps riding up during a business meeting is not something you want to worry about – or to be a distraction to your clients.

Are shorts ever OK? “The easiest answer is a simple no,” says Martin. “Even if the policy is ‘anything goes,’ you must remember to always dress appropriately.” But in the most casual of offices, long, tailored shorts paired with a blouse or sweater set and heels can be casual yet chic, according to Martin. How about jeans? If the dress code at your office is on the creative casual side, then jeans are often “the go-to” item, says Martin. “Some jeans scream casual, while others can be chic and appropriate.” She suggests sticking to a pair of nicely fitted, dark denim jeans paired with a sophisticated blouse or sweater set. Forget the jeans with the holes in the knees. Just remember, she adds, to “make sure you have a few great pairs of heels and at least one fabulous work tote to pull an outfit together and make you look ‘done.’” Accessories can also be a way to relieve spring fever at the office. “Aside from wearing more comfortable clothing,” says Martin, “business casual dress is an opportunity to wear clothes with more flair. A scarf, earrings and a nice pair of sandals can totally transform your work look. Accessories can be a quick fix when trying to make an outfit pop.” And last but not least, there’s one universal rule of dressing in any business setting, says Martin. “It’s always better to be a little overdressed than under-dressed. You can never go wrong if you follow this advice. In fact, people will end up looking to you to set the standard.”

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April 2010