Page 1


CreekSide Day Spa & Skin Center

www.creeksidedayspa.com


H OM E T OUR 20. The Mendenhall Home

Where Your Heart Is

Home Design Provides Creative Avocation for Visalia Cardiac Physician

NOTEWORTHY 10. Mike Wilson

LITER A R Y A R TS 36. Sharon Lathan

Seeing the Face of God in Every Student

Loses Her Heart and Wins an Audience

CULINARY ARTS 32. Seared Scallops with

TR AV ELER ’ S TR EK 52. Downtown Corpus Christi, Texas

Pancetta over Avocado and Wasabi

ON THE COVER: A collection of vessels surrounds the fireplace and focal point of the family room at the Visalia home of Dr. Byron and Mrs. Pam Mendenhall, who relocated to Visalia from Southern California to join Kaweah Delta Medical Center staff earlier this decade.

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8. Letter from the Executive Editor 16. Business Cents 18. Word Play 30. Charity: Night At The Races 42. Happenings 48. Women of Wine 61. Fashion


JUNE 2010 P U BL I S H E D BY DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291

BU S I N E S S M A N A GE M E N T MALKASIAN ACCOUNTANCY LLP GARY MALKASIAN CPA JEFFREY MALKASIAN EA Bookkeeper MARILYN HARRIS Office Administrator MARIA GASTON

E DI T O R I A L Executive Editor KAREN TELLALIAN Copy Editor DARA FISK-EKANGER Calendar DARA FISK-EKANGER Editorial Assistant TAYLOR VAUGHN

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AARON COLLINS DIANE SLOCUM SHARON MOSLEY BRIAN ICENHOWER CRYSTAL R. R. EDWARDS CHERYL DIETER

A DV E R T I S I N G S A L E S 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 See us online at VisaliaLifestyle.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

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RACK LOCATIONS Borders Books Music & Cafè Direct Media, Inc. Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare Marcela’s Home Store Party City Tazzaria Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Coffee Company Visalia Convention Center 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 Smiles by Sullivan Tiffany’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.


EDITOR NOTE

O

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

ver the past few months we’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of professional people who are relocating to Visalia from other parts of the country. It’s always interesting to hear their reasons for choosing Visalia, when clearly they could choose to live anywhere. The reasons range from the quality healthcare we are able to deliver in what is still considered a rural community, to the breathtaking scenic views from atop the hill, to the still-affordable home prices. But what always stands out as the biggest draw is the overwhelming sense of community they feel here. Caring, compassion, generous giving – these are the qualities that make our community so special. Stand up and give yourselves a hand, because bringing such new people to our community – bright, educated, talented healthcare and business professionals – will continue to enrich the lives of everyone who lives here. If, like many people, you are doing more with less these days, consider for a moment the struggles of our local charities and non-profits. Donations are down, sponsorships are down, and grants and fundraising in general is more of a challenge. For some of us, tightening our belts might mean delaying a major purchase, but for others, it impacts the basics of everyday life. It’s why support for these organizations, these people who dedicate their careers to making life better, is so important to us at DMI. We want to use our “voice” to encourage as many people as possible to serve, give or support our local charities in any way you can. This month we are proud to highlight one such organization, Happy Trails Riding Academy and its very successful Night at the Races. Staff and volunteers of Happy Trails work tirelessly in providing programs and services to some of the area’s most deserving kids and people with disabilities. As you’re reading this story on page 30 please take a few extra moments and think about how you might contribute to this or other organizations in the next few months. It’s great to be informed, but it’s better to be involved. While you’re reading, make sure to check out Lifestyle’s Happenings. There you’ll find a most comprehensive list of places to see and things to do – enough to keep the most active person busy over the next couple of months. And, if you’re now convinced to become a part of the success of a local non-profit, you’ll find some interesting opportunities there as well.

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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 | JUNE 2010


NOTEWORTHY

Mike Wilson Seeing the Face of God in Every Student

Tex t By Cheryl L. Dieter

earing the students at Golden West High School yell out the words that describe their drama teacher, Mike Wilson, is reminiscent of seeing a production of Charlotte’s Web. “Humble,” “enthusiastic” and “hard working” are just a few of the accolades that these students use when describing their teacher. Given this day and age, it’s pretty amazing that an entire classroom of kids has such a uniform love and respect for the man who has taught them more than just blocking, accents and projection. As the students explain, drama class with Wilson has not just given them the opportunity to act, it has also taught them about fundraising, perseverance and deadlines. And it has helped them grow both personally and professionally. Ninth grader Indya Messier explained it best when she said:

“Mr. Wilson taught me to look at all the different sides of a character, which has allowed me to broaden my own perspective about what is going on in my own relationships and in the world.” Growing up in Palmdale, Wilson attended Chico State where he met his wife and majored in English. But it was having Sam Anderson (Forrest Gump, Lost) as drama teacher at Antelope Valley Junior College that forever changed his life.

Photo by Ashley Machado

Mike Wilson with students from his 2010 Drama 3 Class

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NOTEWORTHY

Photo by Becca Chavez

Photo by Shelby Griffin

“Sam was the first teacher who related to me as a person and had me dig deep inside to discover who I was and who I wanted to become. He encouraged me to write and he was so engaging that he made learning exciting, which of course spilled over into class and into my own life. He was the one who told me that I needed to be a teacher,” said Wilson. “I like to think that if you see me teach, you see part of Sam teaching too. That was how big an influence he had on me, and that is the kind of influence I hope to have on the kids coming out of Golden West.” Wilson arrived in Visalia in 1975. He started teaching English at Mt. Whitney, but when Golden West opened 31 years ago he was tapped to be the drama teacher. He’s been at it ever since. And he’s the first to tell you that he has the best job on earth. “There has never been a day that I didn’t want to come to work. I absolutely love what I do. I have so much respect for the other teachers who teach math and English because they are the ones in the trenches. I have it easier because my kids all want to be in class,” said Wilson. “Education today has such a black eye and public perception of what we as teachers do is often distorted. I am proud to be a teacher and I am even more proud of what teachers are able to accomplish, especially with students who may not truly understand the importance of having an education or the ones who are having difficulties at home. Teachers do more than just teach; they often become surrogate parents and try to inspire kids to something more than they see outside their own window.” 12

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Photo by Becca Chavez

For Wilson, one of the primary purposes of education is to make sure that students become kind and responsible adults. One of the ways he feels that drama class contributes to developing a well-rounded person is through the hard work, responsibilities and deadlines that are required to put on the yearly musicals. Senior Hailey Cook explained how the process works. According to her, students join the drama club and officers are chosen. Then the officers for the coming year read several scripts with Wilson and they all make a decision on which musical will be done by determining where the next year’s talents lie. And because the students are making key decisions, they have ownership of the production, which Wilson believes has been the key to their success. But for Cook, the most important thing she has learned from Wilson is, “Being professional may not be the easiest road, but it’s the best road to take. That is true not just for theater but in all aspects of life.”

ABOVE PHOTOS: Golden West High School’s 2010 production, “Beauty and the Beast”


LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

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NOTEWORTHY

The particulars of putting on the average high school musical are not well known to the general public. Wilson stated that the average high school play costs $25,000 to produce. For this year’s musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” the royalties alone cost $6,000. Add to that costume rental out of Chicago, the building of elaborate sets, and scripts, and it is easy to see how quickly expenditures can add up to a grand total of $50,000. It is even more extraordinary when one considers that the school district allots just $2,000 for the event. “It’s a huge endeavor,” explained Wilson. “But I am always impressed with the ‘can do’ attitude of the kids. Not one of them flinched when I told them how much fundraising they would have to do to put on this year’s production. And they did it with no complaints and 100 percent dedication.” According to Wilson the students sold roses, hosted a bowla-thon and had back stage tea parties so that little girls could have tea with their favorite characters. In this way, the future thespians learned about all aspects of theater from the ground up. And when all was said and done, the production made over $20,000 profit.

Wilson credits the availability of lots of area talent including locals Silva Garoian, Teresa Vidak and Paul Raheb, for their years of devotion and working with the kids to bring out the best in each participant. Wilson also makes sure everyone knows that it is not a one-man gig but a tremendous team effort by all participants that makes the event appear to come together effortlessly on opening night. As if teaching and producing musicals isn’t enough, Wilson has managed to author two books, Scenes From Shakespeare and More Scenes From Shakespeare, which include plot synopses and detailed character analyses of selected short scenes of the playwright’s works. He has also been a member of the 10-piece rock band Run4Cover for the past 18 years; which he admits is a lifetime in terms of band longevity. Besides playing at local venues the group has shared the stage with such legendary performers as The Temptations, Chicago, and Huey Lewis and the News. When asked about the key to his success, Wilson immediately credits his wife, Celeste, and his children, Jared and Vanessa, for always supporting him in all his endeavors. As for the future, Wilson cannot fathom retiring anytime soon. When pressed, the self-professed workaholic could imagine a stint teaching at a local community college with cane or walker in hand. But perhaps, if one tried to sum up Wilson’s love of theatre and the kids who have shaped his life as much as he has theirs, it would be best to refer to his favorite line from his favorite play, Les Miserables: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” For that line is the essence of what Wilson truly believes and tries to put into practice every time he sets foot in the classroom.

ABOVE: Golden West High School’s 2003 production, “Les Miserables” LEFT: Golden West High School’s 2005 production, “42nd Street”

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5530 Avenida De Los Robles • Visalia (West of Applebee’s) LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

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B BUSINESS CENTS

al Estate Ro e R a i n r llerc o f i l a oa C e ster h T Bria t by Te x

nh n Ice

ower

he year 2010 brings to a close one of the most volatile decades in the history of the California real estate industry. Median home prices increased at an unprecedented rate to all-time highs five years ago, while the second half of the decade witnessed the sharpest decline in home prices ever recorded. It’s hard to imagine that the same 10 years that saw homes being purchased sight-unseen at 20 percent above asking price also experienced widespread foreclosures and lofty inventories of properties for sale. Home builders that were once purchasing as much land as they could find were soon abandoning partially-completed developments. Homebuyers that once struggled to find a home they could afford were suddenly availed to a wide array of reasonably-priced houses. So now that the California real estate rollercoaster has rapidly taken us up and down, what does the future hold? Excitement aside, it seems safe to say that market stability would be much more favorable when compared against the extreme fluctuations experienced over the previous decade. Thankfully most real estate economic indicators over the past several months do point toward a leveling out of housing values. However, the primary concern in the back of every real estate professional’s mind is whether a second wave of foreclosures will negatively impact housing values in the near future. Should we be ready to pull back the safety bar and lift our arms in the air to prepare for the next plunge on the rollercoaster? This determination should begin with an analysis of two of the most prominent real estate market statistics: housing sales and median prices. A look at California home sales shows that between 500,000 to 600,000 single family residences have been sold each month in the state for the last year-and-a-half consistently. These stable statistics are well above the trough of 254,650 home sales that occurred in October of 2007. So given the current high levels of affordability compared to the peak years of the housing boom, a dramatic drop in the number of homes sold seems very unlikely.

A quick examination of California median home prices during the first quarter of 2010 may initially raise fears of a potential double dip as housing values decreased from $306,820 to $279,840. However, it is important to note that the median price of $279,840 was actually 14.1% above the median from a year ago. Affordability is also more than double than the levels of a few years ago when the median home price in California exceeded $550,000. The fact that more buyers can afford to buy homes should continue to drive demand and prevent a significant decline in home prices. When applying the law of supply and demand to housing values, one must assess the number of homes for sale in order to ensure that this supply, or housing inventory, does not exceed the current level of demand. The first quarter of 2010 revealed a housing inventory of 6.3 months – the time it would take for all of the homes currently on the market to sell at the current rate of sales activity. Although this figure may seem large, California’s long-run average is seven months of inventory. Accordingly, inventory levels below seven months have always fueled year-to-year price gains in the past. So if inventory levels can continue to be contained, housing values should begin appreciating again in the near future. Housing inventory is what leads us to the primary quandary as to whether record breaking loan default notices over the past year will lead to yet another wave of foreclosures that will ultimately be re-sold by lenders in bulk. In theory, this could dramatically increase housing inventories beyond demand and cause another drop in home prices. Fortunately this event seems unlikely now that both banks and the Federal Government are increasingly working hard on various levels to promote foreclosure avoidance through loan modifications and short sales. These efforts in combination with recently instituted housing tax benefits, increased affordability, low inventories and increased demand should all help to counter the effects of future foreclosures. So even though most patrons don’t enjoy a relatively slow and stable rollercoaster, it is safe to say that most Californians welcome the idea of this ride becoming a little safer and predictable. Brian S. Icenhower, Esq, BS, JD, CRB, CRS, GRI, ABR is the CEO of Keller Williams Realty Tulare County, a real estate broker, an attorney, President-Elect of the Tulare County Association of REALTORS, a California Association of REALTORS State Director, a real estate litigation expert witness and former real estate law instructor at the College of the Sequoias.

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CHARITY EVENT W WORD PLAY

Tex t by Diane Slocum

J

une is usually portrayed as a pleasant month, a time for weddings and vacations before summer hits with a vengeance, but it is also the official start of hurricane season. Frank Lloyd Wright led the public life of a brilliant architect, but underneath was a tempestuous soul of similarly grand proportions. The Women by T.C. Boyle (Viking – 2009) is the story of four women in Wright’s life, as told through the eyes of a fictional Japanese apprentice. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Knopf - 2008) brings the titular girl – an investigative, computerhacking Asperger sufferer – together with a once-respected but now disgraced financial journalist to solve the 36-year- old disappearance of a rich man’s niece. This is the first in a trilogy which also includes The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for History went to Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed (Penguin Press 2009). While the book deals with the bankers whose control of finances led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the parallels to events of recent years are enough to give us pause. Great Valley Books

Authors of books pertaining to our valley might consider Heyday when looking for a publisher. Through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation, this house has an imprint devoted to Central Valley topics ranging from art and literature to history and politics. Among the books in this collection is Visalia author Janet Nicholls Lynch’s young adult novel, Peace Is a Four-Letter Word. In 1990, while valley agriculture withers under a killing frost, the rest of the country prepares for war in Iraq. Teenage Emily Rankin is drawn out of her complacency and forced to make challenging decisions. Awards

Fresno poet Peter Everwine added another achievement to his illustrious career. He was one of the 2010 award-winners of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He and six other distinguished writers received the Academy Award in Literature, given to honor exceptional accomplishments in any genre. The award includes a $7,500 prize for each recipient. Everwine translated Aztec poems for his latest book, Working with Song Fields. This book from the Eastern Washington University Press includes warrior songs, odes to spring and reflective works.

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Library events

As a part of its “Water Your Mind Adult Summer Reading Program,” the Visalia Branch Library will hold a book discussion on Greg Mortensen’s Stones to Schools. This book continues the story begun with Three Cups of Tea where Mortensen and determined Afghani villagers promote peace through education, by building one school at a time. The one-hour discussion will begin at 7 p.m. on July 6 in the Purple Room. Eight copies of the book were available at the Library. The discussion is limited to 20 people. Another program, “What Are You Reading Now?” is scheduled for July 22. Attend and share a book you enjoy. Contact Judith Wood at 713-2706 for library events. Conferences

The Tin House Summer Writers Workshop will be held July 11-18 at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. This intensive week of writing aims at people who are very close to producing publishable work. Applicants are accepted based on the promise of their writing samples. Details at http://www.tinhouse.com/workshop/ index.htm. The Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference offers four days of workshops on all these topics from August 12-15. The event is held at the Book Passage Book Store in Corte Madera. Registration ranges from $635 to $920. Details at http://www. bookpassage.com/content.php?id=45. Publishing

The Wall Street Journal took breaking news in a new direction when it used Foursquare to announce that portions of Times Square had been evacuated during the SUV bombing attempt. Foursquare uses phone applications or text messages to alert users to things of interest near them. Several French publishers are suing Google because it has scanned their books making them available online. Google lost one of the suits and it is currently on appeal. The Last Word

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” (Lord Byron, 1788-1824)


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WHERE YOUR HEART IS Home Design Provides Creative Avocation for Visalia Cardiac Physician Tex t By A aron Collins | Photos by Forrest Cavale of Third Element Studios

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octors are known to flock to a certain variety of hobbies familiar to those in the profession. Certainly golf and tennis would top the list of obvious choices, or maybe aviation, or sailing, at least in certain coastal areas. Dr. Byron Mendenhall considers one of his hobbies to be the rather demanding and time consuming pursuit of home remodeling. Anyone who has ever undergone a home renovation will wonder how he manages to serve these twin masters. But after completing several home remodels over the years, it appears that he’s managing just fine. However, the latest project was a whole different animal, says Byron of the home he built from the ground up along with some input from wife Pam, a registered nurse. They chose a lot, which Visalia realtor Gail Riley helped them locate, in the subdivision called Cobblestone Estates in northwest Visalia, which until recent decades had been agricultural land.

The new home was completed in 2005 following the couple’s relocation from Long Beach to Tulare County in 2002. After the Southern California hospital where the Mendenhalls both worked began to fail in 2002, according to Dr. Mendenhall, the couple needed to look elsewhere for their livelihood and the next steps along their career paths. Dr. Mendenhall accepted the position of Medical Director for Cardiac Anesthesiology for Kaweah Delta Medical Center, while Pam took the job there as Bed Coordinator, continuing their experience of both working for the same employer. “We moved in and have not looked back, says Byron of the arduous undertaking whose results and style Byron describes as “Old World comfortable.” ON THE SPREAD: Dr. Byron Mendenhall of Visalia gets credit for much of the home design, his hobby, but says “The only part of the house I cannot take complete credit for is the kitchen. Pam is a great cook and really wanted a large space in which to perform her magic,” he credits, well aware that having a well-equipped, happy chef may be in his own best interests. ABOVE: A herringbone pattern brings Old World character to the recentlycompleted Visalia, home of Dr. Byron and Pam Mendenhall, transplants from Southern California. Coffered ceilings and elaborately-detailed cabinetry are found throughout the home.

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Starting from scratch posed a whole new set of challenges for one who was more accustomed to revamping existing structures. “Building from the ground up was a whole new experience,” the Mendenhalls discovered during the major project, which was begun in 2004 and took nearly a year to complete. A blank slate can be just as daunting, or even more so, than working within the given parameters of a typical remodel. “Warren [Oldfield, the project’s builder, whom Riley suggested] was very patient with us and completely understood what we were trying to achieve,” Byron says, “even though it took a little longer than we anticipated.” Surely, that prolonged time-frame comes as no surprise to someone whose two main rules are that everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as first projected. Although creating a home is typically a collaborative effort involving a variety of skilled crafters and artisans, the new Mendenhall home is really the outcome of Byron’s vision in most ways, he says. “The only part of the house I cannot take complete credit for is the kitchen. Pam is a great cook and really wanted a large space in which to perform her magic,” he credits, well aware that having a well-equipped, happy chef may be in his own best interests. “She also insisted that it look out into the great room so when we entertained we could visit and prepare at the same time,” so her wish was granted on that as well. According to Byron, Pam insisted on having state of the art appliances including an industrial Thermador cook top, built in Monogram refrigerator; Monogram double convection oven combination and an industrial strength Dacor ventilation fan. “I did get to add a Viking wine refrigerator though,” he says, adding that Pam has “put the kitchen through its paces through the years with many a happy customer.” In addition to the well-appointed kitchen with its extensive custom millwork, the home features many other distinctive details and materials throughout, including considerable stonework, from which the home got the aforementioned Old World character. “The level of detail we were able to achieve is incredible,” Byron feels.

TOP RIGHT: The master bedroom of the Mendenhall home in Visalia. BOTTOM RIGHT: The traditional touches in the Mendenhall dining room include a coved ceiling, ornate wall and crown moldings, and intricately-patterned stone flooring.

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LIFESTYLE | MARCH 2010

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The interior finds extensive use of very heavy crown moldings, wainscoting and wall moldings that “make people say ‘wow’ when they see the place for the first time,” according to Byron. “Every horizontal surface is covered in either granite or marble. The hand scraped hickory wood flooring came from Oregon. The coliseum marble stone flooring has a handmade mosaic border,” further proof of the sizable team required to realize any vision for a new home. There are hand-painted tiles from Sicily on the wall in the guest bath. Most of the lighting fixtures came from design houses in San Francisco and New York. The Master suite is large but cozy with a view of the backyard and pool. The heart of the master bath is a multiperson Jacuzzi tub for relaxing after a hard day at the golf course. “The entire space is covered in marble and slate. The walk-in glass block and marble, multi headed shower is a great place to cool off during the hot days of summer,” Byron says. “The stereo speakers allow some great music to be piped in while dressing for the day or getting ready to go out to dinner,” among the other features the Mendenhalls enjoy daily.

ABOVE: The master bath of the Mendenhall home in Visalia features a spacious Jacuzzi tub, ornate custom cabinetry, and generous use of stone, among other amenities.

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“Coming from Southern California, Pam and I were not used to having anything like a large backyard and certainly not a backyard that would accommodate a pool,” Byron compares. The pool basically takes care of itself with a floor-mounted jet sweeping system; the system even makes its own chlorine. Fountains and lighting effects are controlled via a Polaris remote system. Byron says “I never knew a pool could be so easy to own. When the fountains and waterfall are turned on at night with the lights shining, it is fantastic.” Custom capstones were created locally for the top of the fountain wall around the pool and the top of the built in barbeque island, which Byron feels brought the two structures together very nicely, a well-integrated look that ties the grounds together with the architectural style. The blank canvas may be daunting, but it can also be exhilarating. “Always the best part of designing for me: having a blank slate and then to start filling in those blanks,” Byron says. “All in all, I don’t think we would change a thing if we had to do it over again. Much to the chagrin of Pam, this probably won’t be the last time I take on a project like this! It’s my hobby and I enjoy doing it!” Even after 20 years of marriage, there is plenty of time for more. “My wife and I have made a few trips to Europe over the years but we prefer to spend our free time at the coast in the Pebble Beach/Carmel area,” he says of the place where he and Pam were married: The Lodge at Pebble Beach on the 18th hole of that world-famous golf course. “Even after going there for 20-plus years, we still think that area is the most beautiful place in the world and never get tired of being there.” The Mendenhalls may not have looked back after completing their Visalia home, but – like anyone who has caught the building bug – they are definitely looking forward.

LEFT: The recently-completed Mendenhall home features many distinctive details and materials throughout, such as these arches and stone patterned flooring from which the home gets some of its Old World character. “The level of detail we were able to achieve is incredible,” Dr. Mendenhall feels.

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NIGHT RACES at the

he Visalia Convention Center was abuzz with good cheer, great food and plenty of horse racing excitement Saturday evening, May 15, as Happy Trails Therapeutic Riding Academy put on a “Night at the Races” to benefit it’s programs of equine-assisted activities and therapy for children and adults with disabilities. Over 400 supporters renewed old friendships and made new ones while enjoying the delicious dinner prepared by Sue Sa. The cool jazz of Fritz and the Cats entertained diners, a mellow lead-in to the excitement of the rest of the night. Before the races began, David Hyde and the Hyde family were recognized as Winners Circle sponsors of the event. Their generous donation allowed Happy Trails to reduce ticket prices from $50 to $40 in recognition of the hard economic times. Kim Oviatt was also recognized for his philanthropic efforts towards many non profit organizations in Tulare County, specifically for the support of the Sence Foundation

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toward Happy Trails over the years. His generosity included a donation of $100,000 last November toward Happy Trails’ Covered Arena project. Oviatt was also presented with an honorary Kentucky Colonelcy, was obtained from the governor of Kentucky with the help of John Higgins. Higgens helped present the award with his own son Nick, who has ridden at Happy Trails for the past eleven years. The evening took a touching turn when Board member Steve Franklin shared how involvement with Happy Trails has benefited his family, specifically his daughter Meghan; she has overcome many of the obstacles of her diagnosis due to the confidence and encouragement she has gained at Happy Trails, a brilliant testament to the healing and positive outcomes available to all students there. It was then off to the races, when thoroughbred races shown on two big screens took the crowd to an exciting interlude. The horses were introduced before each race, with many renamed to recognize the many sponsors who helped raise close to $50,000 for Happy Trails. After “wagers” were placed and the race was run, all the winning tickets were collected. One random winner was then selected for each race. Race prizes included a trip to wine country on the coast, an iPod, a 32” flat screen television and the chef ’s dinner for eight at the Orange Blossom Junction. The seventh and last race was a delightful surprise. It had been filmed at Happy Trails itself, and it included four riders mounted on their trusty steeds. As they quickly walked through their race course, the convention center echoed with cheers for each young rider. The looks of determination on their faces mirrored the concentration many show during their lessons. Lessons at Happy Trails help riders focus on following directions and challenged them to meet their full potential, both physically and mentally. Many riders, like Nick Higgins, benefit from the positive, self-esteem supporting relationship with horse and volunteers at Happy Trails. Riders with physical disabilities are benefited by the rhythmic movement of the horse, which imparts a full-body exercise, often results in increased strength and balance. Those who are cognitively challenged see improvement in attention and concentration, improved sequencing and planning skills, increased vocabulary and enhanced critical thinking skills. All this exercise and progress takes place in the open air on the back of a horse, while smiles abound and laughter echoes across the arena. Many students gain the confidence and desire to continue to “walk on” and meet the daily life challenges they face, which are made a bit easier due to their experiences at Happy Trails. For more information on Happy Trails Therapeutic Riding Academy, visit their web site at: WeAreHappyTrails.com. Anyone interested in volunteering in the arena can call (559) 688-8685.

Andre Gaston encouraging people to bet on the races! LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

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ift together a pinch of hockey player, a tablespoon of au pair, and a dash of professional model. Fold gently with a top-rated chef, and who do you have? Food Network’s own Danny Boome, the break-out and, dare we say it, hot chef of the decade. From his acclaimed series “Rescue Chef ” to his new ivory tower-busting “Dorm Storm,” his fresh take on exciting, practical dishes have kept American audiences captivated for years. He began his journey as a professional hockey player, captaining the English team by the age of 16. He then tackled his passion for cooking while working as a nanny for a family in Switzerland. He moved to an intense apprenticeship at Canada’s acclaimed West Wind Inn, then trained at the Grange Cookery School in England.

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Danny Boome Food Network’s Rescue Chef

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He bounded before the cameras in 2003 with a Canadian foods program called “Wild and Fresh,” then moved onward to U.S. television, bringing with him practical, dinner-saving techniques and optimism that have kept his fans encouraged in their kitchens for years. His recipes feature restaurant quality foods cooked using no-fuss, simple methods, proving that even basic American cooks can become masters of taste in their own kitchens. His May appearance at the 2010 Sequoia Foodie Fest (a benefit for The Boys & Girls Club of The Sequoias) in Exeter was a great success, as Kitchen Stadium was packed with fans and aspiring chefs alike. He demonstrated basic “rescue” techniques, showing again the quick thinking and boundless energy that made him a success on the ice. His informed perspectives on food production – how it gets from the grower to your table – gives his recipes and fixes the extra boost that turns them from Mom’s basic Sunday dinner to “Wow! Did you do this yourself?” Lifestyle Magazine is pleased to present a recipe from Danny’s kitchen.

Seared Scallops with Pancetta over Avocado and Wasabi INGREDIENTS:

3 avocados 3 teaspoons wasabi powder ½ lemon, juiced Salt and freshly ground black pepper 12 slices pancetta 1 tablespoon butter 1 garlic clove, smashed 6 large sea scallops ½ red bell pepper, finely diced for garnish DIRECTIONS:

Halve the 3 avocados and remove the pits. Spoon out flesh into a food processor and add wasabi, lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste. Process until it’s a smooth consistency. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Cook pancetta until crispy and fat has rendered. Remove pancetta from pan reserving the fat and add butter and garlic. Once the butter has melted add the scallops to the pan and gently sear until lightly browned. About 1 minute per side. Spoon some avocado puree on each plate, arrange pancetta on top followed by the seared scallops. Dice your red pepper finely and garnish.

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Sharon Lathan

H

Loses Her

eart

and Wins an Audience Tex t By Diane Slocum

hen Sharon Lathan fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, her life changed; she progressed rapidly from being an enraptured fan to creating a fan base of her own. A few years took her from daydreams to three published novels. In November of 2005, Lathan went to see a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She walked into the theater thinking she would have nothing more than a fun evening, but she was totally smitten by the time the movie ended. She couldn’t get the characters voices out of her head. She wanted to know what happened next, and her own imagination provided appealing scenarios. Even though she often pictured the ongoing stories of characters she had seen in books and movies, none of them had grabbed her so thoroughly. She wanted to find some way to keep the Darcys in her life. Jane Austen never wrote a sequel before 36

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her death nearly 200 years ago, so she provided no help. In her search for more, Lathan came across fan fiction. Other fans of Austen’s work had created websites to discuss their beloved characters, and yes, many of them had written their own ideas of scenes to continue the stories. None of them, though, matched up with what Lathan believed would have been the ongoing saga of the Darcys. She wanted to see the happily-ever-after that the ending of Austen’s story made her imagine. She started writing down scenes that had played out in her mind and posting them on the websites. Readers complimented her on her stories and eagerly awaited more. The stories were hard to find scattered around the web, so Lathan’s husband suggested she consolidate them on a website of her own. There she could post all her stories in one place for her growing kernel of faithful readers. Even then, Lathan didn’t think of her assembled chapters as a potential book.


THE CLEAR ALTERNATIVE TO BRACES


She had never dreamed of becoming a writer, even though as a student she had enjoyed writing assignments for her classes as she was growing up in Frazier Park, near Lebec on the Grapevine. Science was her primary interest in school and she pursued a career in nursing when she went on to college in Bakersfield. Following graduation, she spent one year with her family in New Mexico before moving to Santa Cruz where she met her husband. Twenty-one years ago, they moved to Hanford where she worked in the neonatal intensive care unit. She is currently a registered nurse employed by Kaweah Delta Medical Center with the same assignment. Already engrossed in a challenging and rewarding career, with a family to raise and a husband she calls her own version of Mr. Darcy, Lathan didn’t dream there could be more. The talented Miss Austen showed her there was. In the two months after losing her heart to the movie, Lathan read everything she could find by and about Jane Austen, including the fanfiction websites. She researched the Regency period when Austen and her characters lived so she could have an understanding of the details of their lives. While writing her stories and posting them online, she thought of this indulgence as a hobby, even when readers said she should publish her work. As 2006 moved from summer to fall, the publishing bug began to nibble at her and she looked into what it would take to follow through.

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“I had no writing experience,” she said. “I had to learn everything, because I didn’t know anything about publishing. I didn’t know how hard it was supposed to be. Ignorance is bliss.” Her first step was to organize the 50 chapters she had penned into a novel format. She was shocked when she learned that she actually had written enough material for two novels. By early 2007, she was still looking for a publisher, still writing and by now, she had three novels. At this point, not being used to the pace that the book publishing world normally takes, she decided she had waited long enough to attract an agent and a traditional publisher and jumped into the self-publishing pool. Her first novel, Two Shall Become One: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy came out on Lulu.com on May 26 that year. As thrilled as she was to see her book in print on that auspicious day, her greater moment of excitement was yet to come less than a month later. Lathan will always remember June 25, 2007 as the day Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, Inc., called to say she wanted to publish her book. “I now realize that my success came incredibly fast,” Lathan said. “Now, I look back and totally pinch myself that it happened so quickly.” She wrote the material for her first three novels in only nine months and in barely twice that time, had a publisher.


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Sourcebooks initially made all three novels available for print-on-demand and marketed them through online retailers by June 2008. Simultaneously, they produced the first novel for traditional publication. This involved the usual lengthy process of editing and designing. Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One was released in March 2009. Loving Mr. Darcy came out in August last year and My Dearest Mr. Darcy published this January. Lathan’s fourth Darcy Saga novel is due out in October and she expects to have yet another book, a novella this time, printed in November. Sourcebooks is an independent publisher founded in 1987 by Dominique Raccah. Like Lathan, Raccah’s success in the cutthroat publishing industry has some of its own fairytale qualities. She left a successful position at an advertising agency to begin operating her company from her upstairs bedroom in Illinois, cashing in retirement money to fund her venture. Lathan said her publisher is now the largest woman-owned independent publisher in the country. Yet, she said, the company has not lost its personal touch. While it is virtually impossible to get the attention of anyone at a major publishing house without an agent, even as the complete novice she was, Lathan managed to get her book through to an interested editor at Sourcebooks. That editor, Werksman, not only was willing to look at the book, but also was open to helping Lathan work through all the details of editing and planning to get it ready for market.

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“It was divine providence that got me here,” she said. One advantage Lathan and other Austen fanfiction writers have over fans of many other books is that Austen’s copyrights have long expired. Still, this was another area where Lathan’s publisher gave her immeasurable assistance. Lathan’s original inspiration came from the movie, so she and Werksman scoured the stories for anything Lathan might have picked up from that source rather than the original text. Lathan no longer has to worry about borrowing someone else’s lines as her head continues to spin out ideas. She has another book almost finished – a romance novel involving Darcy’s sister. She may someday branch out and write historical novels that have no link to Jane Austen, but even then she doubts if she will abandon her original inspiration. She expects she will always have the Darcys somewhere in her thoughts.


Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey present

Barnum’s Funundrum! July 11 Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey present Barnum’s Funundrum! Tickets from $15 - $70. When: Wednesday, July 7 through Sunday, July 11 Where: Selland Arena, Fresno Convention Center Contact: Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com AR TEXHIBITS

THE ATE RPERFORMANCESMUSIC J U N E Real Jazz Quintet Join the Real Jazz Quintet for an evening of smooth sounds and soulful songs. No cover charge. When: Thursday, June 24, 6PM –8PM Where: Patio Café, Fresno Contact: 243-1074

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J U L Y Backstreet Boys “This Is Us” Tour Pop vocal group Backstreet Boys comes to Fresno for one night on their world concert tour. When: Thursday, July 1, 7:30 PM Where: Save Mart Center, Fresno Contact: www.savemartcenter.com or www.ticketmaster.com

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J U L Y Blues, Brews & BBQ Listen to free live music by Blackwater Blues Band, with delicious summertime barbeque, and refreshing beverages available for purchase. When: Friday, July 2, 6PM -10PM Where: Garden Street Plaza, 300 E. Main Street, Visalia Contact: 732-7737 or www.bluesbrewsandbbq.net

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J U L Y Rockin the Plaza Come listen to some great rock music by Motel Drive (Rockabilly). It’s free with beverages and food available for purchase. When: Friday, July 16, 6PM - 10PM Where: Garden Street Plaza, 300 E. Main Street, Visalia Contact: 732-7737 or www.downtownvisalia.com

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J U L Y Paula Poundstone Enjoy the razor-sharp wit and entertaining observations of a critically acclaimed comedienne. Tickets from $22.50 in advance. Ask about Charitable Events/ Opportunities When: Saturday, July 17 Where: Tower Theater, Fresno Contact: Tower Theater Box Office, 485-9050

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Concert in the Park Enjoy great free music. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. When: Every Wednesday, 7PM – 9PM Where: Zumwalt Park, corner of E. Tulare Ave. & M Street, Tulare Contact: 685-2350 or visit www.tularechamber.org (calendar)

J U L Y “Summer Splendor” Quilt Exhibit The Tulare Historical Museum is hosting a reception and quilt exhibit by Ann Hinman and Debbie Van Fossen. $5 adults, discounts for seniors, AAA members, children and members. When: Thursday-Saturdays, July 1–September 4, 10AM - 4PM; reception Thursday, July 1, 5:30 PM - 7PM. Where: Museum Heritage Room 444 W. Tulare Avenue, Tulare Contact: Terry Brazil, 686-2074 or www. tularehistoricalmuseum.org

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J U L Y First Saturday in Three Rivers Bring the family to downtown Three Rivers for art, music, dance, storytelling, food and drink. When: Saturday, July 3, 10AM – 5PM Where: Downtown Three Rivers, CA Contact: Nadi Spencer, email nadispencer@yahoo.com

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6TH Annual Central Valley Corporate golf Championship

July 24

The Boys & Girls Club of Tulare County hosts this yearly fundraiser, where teams from various businesses and entities compete for the valley’s corporate golf title. Register now. When: Saturday, July 24 Where: Valley Oak Golf Course, Visalia Contact: www.bgclubtc.org for online registration or call 625-4422

DIVERSIONSEXCURSIO NS J U N E June Toy Train Meet The Toy Train Operating Society (Central California Division) hosts this event, featuring multiple operating layouts and opportunities to buy, sell, or trade. Adults $5, Childrenunder 12 free. When: Saturday, June 26 at 10AM Where: Fresno Fairgrounds-Industrial Education, 1121 South Chance Avenue, Fresno Contact: 674-2313

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J U L Y Exeter’s 4th of July Celebration Independence Day celebration includes arts and crafts, 10k run and 2-mile walk, food, entertainment and fireworks presented by the Lion’s Club. When: Sunday, July 4, 7AM – 3PM; fireworks 6PM Where: Exeter City Park & Lion Stadium Contact: 592-2919

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F UN- RAIS INgE VENTS J U L Y Calvalcade of Elegance A Visalia YMCA event presented by Service Masters by Benevente. Enjoy a beautiful display of spectacular automobiles. Delicious food and wine tasting will be available, with music and dancing. Tickets $50/guest before July 9th or $65/guest at the door. When: Saturday, July 24, 7PM - 11PM Where: Visalia Convention Center Contact: Visalia YMCA, 627-0700 or www.goldenstateymca.org

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CLASSESWORK SHOPS J U N E Guest Chef Series Family Services of Tulare County invites you to an exotic evening of Moroccan cuisine and culture. Featuring Chef Jason Loeb from Chez Panisse. Tickets $125 per person When: Saturday, June 26, 6PM – 9PM Contact: 303-3997

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J U L Y Digital Photography: Making Great Images Open to beginner/intermediate photographers with SLR digital cameras. Bring camera, manual, card reader, and laptop if you have, and a few photographs you like. Registration deadline June 25. $45 Saturday or $75 both days. When: Saturday, July 24, 3PM; Sunday, July 25, 12:30 PM Where: 1418 E. Laura Court, Visalia Contact: Jeri Burzin, 967-8635 or email jeriburzin@clearwire.net

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Art Classes for Adults & Children Visit Arts Visalia’s website for summer art classes for children and year-round classes for adults. When: Summer 2010 Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA Contact: (559) 739-0905, email info@ artsvisalia.org or www.artsvisalia.org CASA Volunteer Orientations When: Mondays - 5:30 p.m. & Thursdays, 12:00 PM -1:00 PM Where: CASA office, 1146 N. Chinowth, Visalia Contact: Sid Loveless at 625-4007

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J U L Y Hot Dog Festival at the Museum Hot Dogs, Corn on the Cob and Root Beer Floats. What more could you want? Sponsored by Three Rivers Historical Society and Three Rivers Volunteer Firefighters. When: Saturday, July 17, 10AM – 3PM Where: Three Rivers Historical Museum – 42268 Sierra Drive, Three Rivers Contact: 559-561-2707 or www.3rmuseum.org

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Visalia Farmers’ Market Harvest of the Valley Weekly event open to the public featuring free live music, kids activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. When: Thursdays, 5PM - 8PM, Downtown Visalia; Saturdays, 8AM 11:30 AM, Sequoia Mall, Sears parking lot Contact: 967-6722 or www.visaliafarmersmarket.com Sequoia National Park - Ranger Programs Free ranger programs include walks, talks and evening programs. When you arrive, check visitor centers and bulletin boards in each area for program details or schedule changes. When: Daily & Weekly Programs Where: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers Contact: Call 565-3341 or www.nps. gov/seki for times and locations.


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CHILD HO ODMONKEY BUSI NESS

CHILDHOODMONK EY BUSINESS

Zoo Adventures Camp – Summer 2010 Sign up your young zoologist for a fiveday camp experience, which includes an encounter with an Education Department animal or behind-thescenes with a zookeeper. Children will rotate through theme, bio-facts, literature, and crafts sessions. Includes a morning and afternoon snack. Please bring your own lunch. When: June-August Where: Fresno Chaffee Zoo, 894 W. Belmont Ave., Fresno Contact: Education Office, 498-5920 (M-F) or www.fresnochaffeezoo.com

Agventures at Heritage Complex Agricultural Learning Center and Farm Equipment Museum with nearly 15 professionally designed interactive displays When: Monday-Friday, 9AM – 4PM Where: International Agri-Center, 4450 S. Laspina Street, Tulare Contact: 688-1751 or www. heritagecomplex.com/AgVentures

J U N E Teen Yoga Classes Join the FREE yoga classes for teens ages 12 to 18. Bring your own yoga mat or beach towel to class. When: June 25, July 16, & July 23, 3PM Where: Tulare County Library – Blue Room, 200 West Oak Avenue, Visalia Contact: Children’s Desk, 713-2732 or www.tularecountylibrary.org

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Preschool Story Time When: Wednesdays, 10:00 AM Where: Tulare County Library – 200 W. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: Children’s desk at 733-6954 ext. 209

WRITERSREAD ERS J U L Y Book Sales by Friends of the Library Exeter Library Friends are hosting a book sale during the July 4th Celebration. When: July 4, 2010, 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM Where: Exeter City Park Contact: Judy Purdey, 592-2276

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The Boys & Girls Club of Tulare County offers a variety of youth development activities and classes for children of all ages. Annual Fee $10.00 When: Monday-Friday, 12PM - 8PM Where: 215 W. Tulare Ave., Visalia Contact: 625-4422 or www.bgclubtc.org The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias Offering children ages 6-18 development and training in computer technology, life skills, sports, art, music and homework assistance. Annual fee $15. When: Monday-Friday, 2PM - 6PM Where: Exeter – Farmersville – Porterville Contact: 592-2711 or www. bgcsequoias.org

Imagine U Interactive Children’s Museum Imagine U offers a variety of weekly interactive exhibits, events, and activities designed to entertain and engage your preschool child. Cost: $4 ages 2 & up When: Wednesday-Friday, 10AM 4PM; Saturday, 12PM - 4PM Where: 700 E. Main Street, Visalia Contact: 733-5975 or www. imagineumuseum.org

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 July 2010 issue must be received by June 28.

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SOIREE

Women WINE OF

Tex t by Crystal R. R. Edwards | Photos by Ashley Machado

he pop of a cork and the bouquet of aged grape: these are the immediate sensations of a evening wine tasting. But what happens when you add laughter, the taste of fine foods and the nearness of friends? You end up with Women of Wine, Visalia’s answer to the men-only wine tasting groups. Cindy Gregory started the group in 2006 when she was told she could not participate in a local men’s group. “Why can’t we do that?” she asked her friend, Nina Clancy. “It will probably be better than the men’s group anyway!” Nina readily agreed and within a matter of months, the first gathering of 20 women met. And these aren’t just ordinary women. Teachers, lawyers, bankers, retired business women, and even a mother of triplets populate the roster. These smart, savvy, and energetic members come together to taste particular varietals or pairings, each lending 48

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her own insight and opinion to the mix. Member Terri Paden describes it succinctly: “The common denominator is we all like to enjoy wine and the day’s stresses are left at the door.” Wines are selected by small groups of three or four women who are hostessing for a particular month. Along with venue, food pairings, and entertainment, these women choose a theme. Member Wendy Mitchell explains, “For example, my May group wanted the ladies to compare wines within the same price range, rather than an expensive compared to an inexpensive wine. How can you even compare? We primarily chose reds. Some groups choose wines from a specific region, all whites, all reds, or all syrah.” This republican method of wine selection has resulted in some intriguing results. One member described a wine straight out of the barrel at only 2 months, which exhibited a “definite


SOIREE

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SOIREE

tangy grape-juice taste.” Elizabeth Knudson describes a wine she discovered at an event at Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux, France, which produces one of the world’s finest and mostexpensive wines. “While there, I sampled a ‘76 Château Lafite double magnum. It was as if velvet married fruit,” she says, “and it is the best wine I have ever tasted. But there are some California wines without nearly so much aging that amaze me all the time.” “We do have rules,” says Cindy Gregory. “The wines have to be accessible by all and the event planners must provide information about the wines, the cost, and where they purchased the wines. The hostessing group presents the wine to us. Often times that is the most difficult part, due to having that many women being at the same table and not having talked with each other in a month.” As for rating, “our noses and taste buds” seems to be the general consensus. Initially the group used rating sheets, but eventually the group found the rating method “tedious,” as 50

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Gregory recalls. “We found it seemed to get in the way of our social event. Now we make a bigger deal of drinking the wines and talking with each other about which ones we like best. We can get pretty serious about that, asking ‘Hey sister, I liked the first one best. What about you?’ There are some in our group that really do have a good palate and can describe the wine.” Wendy Mitchell agrees. “The group became more of an enjoyable evening out, meeting new friends and seeing old ones.” She adds, “I have purchased several wines we have sampled over the past three years, and I do discover what I do like and what I do not like. It’s fun to talk about the tastes with the other ladies.” So is Women of Wine better than the exclusive men’s groups? Nina Clancy has the last word. “Did you know the men spend all their time actually rating the wine?” TOP LEFT: Mary T. Hill and Cindy Gregory MIDDLE LEFT: Lori Rudis BOTTOM LEFT: Mary Florio


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DOWNTOWN CORpUS CHRISTI, TEXAS Tex t by Cheryl L. Dieter

ABOVE: The City of Corpus Christi

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Text by Irene Morse

I

had no expectations. Nothing. Nada. Usually when I travel, I research where I am going and plan everything down to the tiniest detail. Not this time. I decided to visit Corpus Christi’s downtown with no agenda. Instead, I decided to let the city’s charms unfold for me at her own pace. With a downtown rich in history and a glorious stop-and-stare waterfront, it turned out that city was a delightful surprise.

First stop, The Blue Ghost – also known as The USS Lexington, which is docked downtown. Commissioned in 1943, the aircraft carrier served longer than any carrier in U.S. Naval history. Legend has it that Tokyo Rose herself gave the ship her moniker after she reported the ship sunk numerous times only to have it come back to life. With self-guided tours to just about every area of the carrier, it gives visitors a realistic idea of a sailor’s life aboard the ship during WWII and beyond. Exhibits include the Captain’s Quarters, the Sick Bay and period uniforms and artifacts. LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

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But the most impressive displays are the 20 vintage aircraft housed within and on the Lexingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flight deck. From SNJ-5 Texans and N3N Yellow Perils to the recently retired Tom Cat; the carrier comes alive with the stories of these planes from days gone by. In addition, visitors can choose between two films being shown at the Mega Theatre housed within the ship, as well as experience being launched into battle via the state-of-the-art flight simulator. But perhaps the most poignant moments are when you have the privilege of witnessing an elderly veteran with a tear in his eye as he stares up at the memory-laden place he used to call home. A short jaunt from the Lexington is the Texas State Aquarium. We started our tour of the facility watching the divers hand-feed stingrays, angel fish and the huge elusive moray eel that would slither out to snatch some food and then retreat. Touch pools, a bevy of graceful sea turtles and an Amazon Rain Forest are just a few of the attractions that make the aquarium such a find. But for kids it was the dolphin exhibit that made their faces glow with excitement. With above- and below-water viewing, as well as dolphin training shows, it is a marvelous way to spend the day. Kids also have the opportunity to become Trainer for a Day. The program teaches them how to train dolphins and after some practice they then experience being 54

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an associate trainer during the show. With picnic benches and a small snack shop, the facility has everything a family could need to make a day of exploring this vast underwater world. Just across the bridge from the aquarium youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find the Texas State Asian Cultures Museum, the Art Museum of South Texas, and the Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History and Columbus Ships. First I visited the small but quaint Asian Cultures Museum, one of only five Asian museums in the United States. Featuring art, sculpture and pottery from several Asian countries including Japan, India, China and Korea; its exhibits allow you to experience first-hand the diversity of the various regions. For me, the most interesting exhibit was an incredible collection of Haniwa figurines from Japan. Haniwa are clay figures that were buried in the tomb of the deceased during ancient times. Previously, when noblemen died, their servants were often

ABOVE LEFT: The Blue Ghost ABOVE RIGHT: Dolphin Show at the Texas State Aquarium


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buried alive with him in order to accompany and serve him on the other side. But during the reign of Emperor Suinin this practice was discontinued and the clay ware was substituted for live persons. Items such as dogs, human effigies and monkeys have been discovered within the tombs. The Haniwa alone are worth a visit to the museum. Directly across from the Asian museum is the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. I have to admit that when it comes to shipwrecks I am as giddy as a kid at Christmas. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the museum has displays and artifacts from the oldest scientifically-excavated shipwreck in the Western Hemisphere. The ships went down off Padre Island in 1554 and their treasures include guns, coins and tool as well as personal items of the sailors. Displays are varied and are sure to catch the interest of the young at heart. But perhaps the best exhibits are the Columbus Ships, built by Spain to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World. Using the same materials and craftsmanship as 15th century shipbuilders, the vessels came to Corpus Christi in 1993 and are available for guided tours given every half hour. I highly recommend these informative presentations that will challenge all you have been taught regarding Columbus and his adventures. Just a hop, skip and a jump from this tourist haven is Heritage Park, which features numerous historical homes – many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places (stroll through the Art Museum’s Water Garden to get there). Also contained within the park is the Cultural Center, which provides numerous cultural programs during the year, as well as the Museum of Hispanic Culture, located in the Lichtenstein House. Unfortunately, when I visited the docent tours of the homes were suspended due to renovations, but they arewere scheduled to begin again in May. This is a great place to spend a couple of hours. And lest I forget, right behind the park I

happened to happily stumble upon the practice facility of the Corpus Christie Ballet where ballerinas were rehearsing for their upcoming performance of Dracula. Another wonderful downtown activity is the self-guided Bayfront Art Tour. Since 1987 the city has allocated 1.25 percent of construction costs to be used for the sole purpose of acquiring works of art. On the tour you will see murals, sculptures and other media, both indoors and out, but if you want to optimize your experience take the tour Monday through Friday when the public buildings are open. My personal favorites were the three stainless steel wind sculptures titled Orion’s Belt by artist Robert Perless. Pick up a walking brochure at the Visitor Center. If walking isn’t your style, you may want to ride on the cheap, using the almost-free Trolley Tours which drive by many of the outside art and deliver you to all the great attractions around downtown. Other attractions you won’t want to miss include South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Water Street Market for fantastic shopping as well as the Texas Surf Museum (free admission), and the Texas Maritime Museum. In addition, dolphin watching, whooping crane and birding boat tours, sunset dining excursions and deep-sea fishing can also be arranged with local touring companies. And let’s not forget the food. On Padre Island, try Island Italian Restaurant. Don’t let this mom and pop hole-in-the-wall fool you. It serves the best Italian food you will find outside of Italy. While on the Island take a spin on the drive-on beach. Back in Corpus, another local favorite: Snoopy’s, featuring dining on the pier and fresh seafood. I learned something new this trip. Not the usual historic facts and figures sort of thing, but that wonderful sense of freedom that comes from learning that you don’t have to plan everything down to the minute to have an incredible vacation. All you have to do is look around and be open to the possibilities that come your way. Corpus Christi, Texas is a great way to do just that.

LEFT: One of the historical homes in Heritage Park

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Front L-to-R: Monica Peterson, Amy Gunn, Penney Sick, Jim Wohlford Back L-to-R: Sherri Rigney, David Sharp, Lupe Sanchez

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FASHION

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f you’re not into wearing wispy, floral print dresses or metallic leopard miniskirts and prefer to wear the pants in your family, then you’ll want to stock up on some new favorites this spring and summer. From short shorts to capris to skinny jeans, there are plenty of reasons to take up the slacks in your closet. But before you head out to buy that smokin’ pair of hot pants, take note of these tips to keep your bottom half as your better half: It’s all about the legs. Let’s face it, many of us would love to again wear those groovy hot pants we wore decades ago, but it’s time to pass the short shorts – a.k.a boy shorts and tap pants – on to a new generation ... preferably one who hasn’t shown evidence of spider veins yet, if you know what I mean. For those with svelte gams, go for it. The cuffed printed versions are the most fun and can be dressed up or down with jackets and T-shirts. And what about those leather shorts? A little steamy, don’t you think?

Watch for the danger zones. Most of us have a flattering “zone” when it comes to our legs. And when it comes to wearing capris, that “mid-calf ” area can make or break you. Don’t be afraid to have your cropped pants hemmed to give you the best look for your legs. And then we have cankles. Yes, those heavy calves that just seem to blend right in with our ankles. There are ways to camouflage this particularly detracting feature. Cover it with longer length pants – perhaps a slim-fitting white pair of jeans.

The Hot Pants of Summer Tex t by Sharon Mosley

Do it on the dark side. Yes, you can wear dark-colored pants in the summer. If you have a pair of perfectly tailored black slacks that you love to wear, go for it. Just layer brighter colors on top – a filmy, chiffon tunic top would instantly lighten your look. Ditto for dark blue or black jeans and leggings made of thin Lycra.Go for the flare. By now, most of us know that a gentle flare at your pants’ hem is generally a great look for all body types, especially those of us who have curves. The flare provides balance to the hips, and we all need a little more balance in our lives, right? Don’t get stiffed. Another way to loosen up your pants wardrobe is to stick to drapable fabrics. I love soft linen cropped pants. Silky pajama pants are another warm-weather favorite. And there’s nothing better than a pair of jersey pants for those long plane flights. Ditch the stiff stuff and go with fabrics that flow – right over those cankles! 60

LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

Print it! Printed floral pants are all the rage this season, but don’t get too excited. Remember those loud Hawaiian printed shirts? Take note: the fashion scourge of the American tourist was the rap they got. Cheer for chinos. Don’t forget the backbone of your wardrobe – those pants that go the distance week after week – the ones you can pair with everything from your favorite T-shirts to your favorite work jackets. Look for military-inspired narrow chinos to do all the work as your new basics. The cargo styles are perfect for more casual occasions. Puff away on cigarette pants. There’s nothing quite as “cool” as wearing a pair of slim pants in a slightly shorter silhouette – the cigarette style on a balmy night with just a tank top and pair of slip-on sandals. Tres chic a la of one of my favorite style stars: Audrey Hepburn, a fashion icon that wore her pants very well.


LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

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LIFESTYLE | JUNE 2010

June 2010  

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

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