SLO LIFE Magazine Dec/Jan 2020

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4 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 PP P Holiday Trolley Downtown San Luis Obispo Fridays - Sundays., 10 am - 6 pm, Nov. 29 - Dec. 22, 2019free rides MissionPlaza Palm Monterey Higuera Marsh MOsos orro Chorro Broad Trolley Stops Palm at Chorro Monterey at Morro Chorro at Higuera Marsh at Chorro Higuera at Osos Higuera at Broad Marsh at Broad Downtown Parking PGarage Trolley loops downtown every 10 - 15 minutes

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 5 Built with care. BUILDALLEN.COM | 805.884.8777 LICENSE REMODELS#503300|CUSTOM HOMES | ESTATES Close your eyes. What do you see? Floor to ceiling windows with endless vistas... Smooth plaster walls with a traditional touch... An open space with warm, cozy woods... Where family memories are created... Finishes chosen with sustainability in mind... A place to call your ‘forever home’? We can do that.

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6 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 6 7 2 H i g u e r a S t . D o w n t o w n S L O J U L E S D . M E N ' S S T Y L E & G E A R


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10 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 SLOLIFE magazine CONTENTS Volume Dec/JanNumber1062020 2016182628 SneakInfo Peek In TimelineBriefsBox 14 PUBLISHER’SMESSAGE 3638 OnFamilythe Rise 3032 Q&AView 40 WENDY WENDT 34 NOW HEAR THIS

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12 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 |54CONTENTS6872HealthRealDwellingEstate 50 COMMUNITY 92 BREW 8678 KitchenTaste 96 Happenings 88 WINE NOTES


Last year, as my wife, Sheryl, was reviewing her list and checking it twice, she realized that she was one gift short for Harrison. I had an idea. She was skeptical when I shared it, but I said, “You’ve got to trust me on this one—I’ve got it.” So, when Christmas morning arrived, and the kids made their way—slowly, one-at-a-time, as is still the tradition—through all of their presents, one remained. It was tube-shaped and tucked behind a now empty tree. After Harrison unwrapped it, I stood up and held the unmarked cardboard cylinder in place while his mother unfurled a Fathead cut-out poster revealing a six-foot-three-inch life-sized version of Patrick Mahomes. Harrison was speechless, overcome with emotion, as tears streamed down his nine-year-old cheeks. I did the same—I couldn’t help myself. Then, I scanned our bombed-out living room, paper and boxes strewn everywhere, to reveal the best gift I have ever received: The entire family was wiping away tears, caught up in a moment of pure and complete innocence and joy. Mahomes, it turns out, did much more than win the MVP trophy last year.


The only thing he could manage to say was, “Wow!” In that instant, Harrison had found his Danny White. Only his name was Patrick Mahomes.

I want to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, most of all, to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you. And, to you and your family, my best wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2020.

Live the SLO Life! Tom tom@slolifemagazine.comFranciskovich



When news surfaced that Mahomes had been drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, overnight Harrison became a die-hard fan, rarely leaving the house without his fire engine red baseball cap, “KC” emblazoned on the front. The whole family now gathers around the television whenever the Chiefs are playing, hooting and hollering and cheering them on to victory. And, Harrison has his future mapped out. He has done the math and figured that he will be a rookie quarterback for the Chiefs during the last year of Mahomes’ career. “That way,” he explains, “I can be his back-up for a year, and we can be friends, and he can teach me everything he knows.” He also adds, “Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I’m going to buy you a condo in downtown Kansas City right next to Arrowhead Stadium, so you’ll never miss a game.”


We had a tradition growing up, which was borne of the lean times. Rather than everyone ravishing through the opening of their Christmas presents at once, we would take turns. Long, drawn-out turns. This had a way of extending our time together at the base of the tree, and it made everything feel bigger and more bountiful than it really was.

It was a few years ago now, my son Harrison would have been six or seven years old, when he and I flipped on a college football game one lazy Saturday afternoon in October. There was a play where the young Texas Tech quarterback scrambled, escaping a collapsing pocket before he scampered around and flicked a sidearm, no-look pass to his running back in the flat. I turned toward Harrison, who had a look in his eyes that I immediately recognized.

Get the story within the story by going to and subscribing to Tom’sBombs to receive the next installment.

One year, I must have been eight or nine years old, I had fallen in love in a way that only a little kid can, with my idol: Danny White. Now, that may sound like an odd word choice, “fallen in love,” but it is the only way I can describe it. I tried writing that sentence a couple of times with alternatives, such as “admire” and “mesmerize,” but only the word “love” worked—brotherly love. I looked up to Danny White as if he were an imaginary big brother. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on him. He was the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and they were locked into battle with the Washington Redskins. When the team was on their own thirty-yard line facing fourth down with seven yards to go, White dropped back fifteen yards to punt the ball. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, a quarterback who was also the punter. Wow! My parents had clued into my Danny White obsession that winter, and after adhering to the family rules for our slow-motion unwrapping of presents— mostly school clothes plus a new football and a kicking tee—I finally made my way to a card with “Tommy” written on the front. Inside, I found a three-by-five note card that read, “Go out to the garage.” I hopped up and the booties built into my pajamas skidded across the linoleum floor as I bounded through the kitchen on the way to the garage. Throwing the door open, I saw it: the chest of drawers my mom had been painting. Only, she was not just painting. She also plastered it with all of the photos of Danny White from the pages I had torn from Sports Illustrated, from that point forward preserving them in perpetuity under a double coat of shellac. Without thinking, I wrapped my arms around that old piece of refurbished, handme-down furniture for a “bro hug”—the same hug I imagined I would give Danny White after he threw me the first of many touchdown passes, that is before I took over for him at quarterback after his retirement.


Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.

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16 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 Elder Placements realizes the IMPORTANCE of listening to the client, in order to find the appropriate: Independent Living Assisted Living Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Homes Let their experienced Certified Senior Advisors take you on a tour to find the Retirement Home or Community that fits your loved ones Medical, Financial and Social needs, at NO Cost to you. Contact us today for FREE placement assistance. (805) elderplacementprofessionals.com546-8777 Nicole Pazdan, CSA, 4251 S. HIGUERA STREET, SUITE 800, SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA info@slolifemagazine.comSLOLIFEMAGAZINE.COM (805) 543-8600 • (805) 456-1677 fax PUBLISHER Tom Franciskovich EDITOR Sheryl Franciskovich GRAPHIC DESIGNER Alexandra Wallace CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charlotte Alexander Erika AndriaPadenFitzgeraldHughesZaraKhanJaimeLewisMcGheeBrantMyersJessieRivasShawnStrong


The opinions expressed within these pages do not necessarily reflect those of SLO LIFE Magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher.

CONTRIBUTIONS Have some comments or feedback about something you’ve read here? Or, do you have something on your mind that you think everyone should know about? Submit your story ideas, events, recipes, and announcements by visiting us online at and clicking “Share Your Story” or emailing us at Be sure to include your full name and city for verification purposes. Contributions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 4251info@slolifemagazine.comS.HigueraStreet,Suite 800 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 17 True Community Banking “You never know what the future holds, but I do know if I need financing in the future, that American Riviera Bank and Jay will be my first call.” Chris Dorn, Merseas Restaurant owner San Luis Obispo Branch • 1085 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.965.5942 • • Paso Robles • San Luis Obispo • Goleta • Santa Barbara • Montecito How can we help your business grow? Line of Credit | Business Acquisition | Equipment Stephanie Marden and Jay Beck, American Riviera Bank, with Merseas Restaurant owner Chris Dorn, on the Avila Beach pier

We ended the shoot in a peaceful courtyard outside of the office. I asked her to run her hands under the water, which somehow seemed sort of fitting with the helping hand logo from First 5. And, symbolically, it was a source replenishment—itof was a warm, hot day—so it just seemed to fit. She said, “After all these years I’ve never tried this, and it’s lovely.” the scenes



Next door to Wendy is Jason, and he is hilarious. A lot of good energy. Wendy said that he does a lot to help her out in her work, and he makes her job better and easier. They’re a strong team. Jason streams a read aloud and music on Facebook every Friday morning. He was wearing a t-shirt, which was part of First 5’s “Talk. Read. Sing.” campaign. You’ve probably heard the jingle, “Talk. Read. Sing. It changes everything.”

We met at Wendy’s office in SLO where she showed me her favorite photo, which was her daughter’s hand mixed in with her schoolmates when she was just a little one. I loved the diversity of the shot, the symbolism—it was powerful.


I noticed a special book, a children’s book, on Wendy’s shelf. One of her friends from Russia had written it and hand-drawn all of the imagery in it. She read a bit of it in Russian. It has a very


20 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 JUNEAU, ALASKA Take us with you! | IN BOX Hey, SLO LIFE readers: Send us your photos the next time you’re relaxing in town or traveling far and away with your copy of the magazine. Email us at MOUNT WHITNEY LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND QUEBEC, CANADA MELISSA LATIMER SUZANNE and GLEN KEITH and SHARIE HAMILTON/ROUSE at Montmorency Falls—the falls are 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls! CHRISTIE RAMSEY

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 21 MAINEPARIS, FRANCE SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA PEINADO FAMILY MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA JEAN and JOHN HYDUCHAK celebrating Jean’s very special birthday! RANDY and KIP DETTMER JEAN RENO, CINDY MCCOWN, ANN MARSHFIELD, and CINDIE RHODERICK started their friendship as youth in SLO. They plan an annual “girl’s gig” and this year’s travels took them to Maine!

22 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 PINECREST, CALIFORNIA AEGINA ISLAND, GREECE | IN BOX SLO LIFE travels! JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING THE GILL FAMILY PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA MICHAEL and NANCY JACKSON SLO LIFE Magazine traveled with a group of teachers, students, and parents from SLO CLASSICAL ACADEMY to England, France, Italy and Greece this summer during our school’s Europe Through the Ages history trip. The FRANKLIN, VERES, and CALLAWAY families camping at the Lair of the Bear.


24 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 You showed us ! NEW YORK CITY TIMES SQUARE ROME, ITALY LOS OLIVOS, HAMPSHIRE,CALIFORNIAENGLAND NICK CASSUN  RICH and CAROL GUENTHER at Highclere Castle, the main filming location for Downton Abbey. JONATHAN YOUNG, LINDSEY YOUNG, PAM COSART, and TAYLOR YOUNG at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in front of the Bocca Della Verità. SLO NEWCOMERS “Glamping Group” enjoying a get-a-way in Los Olivos while taking a moment to enjoy SLO LIFE Magazine!




KENNY LEE LEWIS of the Steve Miller Band with his wife, singer-songwriter DIANNE STEINBERG-LEWIS at San Marco Square.

San Luis Obispo Country Club (SLOCC) USTA Women’s Tennis Team competed at the National Championships against regional winners from throughout the U.S., including Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The National Championship draw placed SLOCC in a tough position, playing the eventual semi-finalist and finalists in the first and second rounds, and only losing by a third set tiebreak. SLOCC went on to finish 12th out of the 6,000 teams competing!

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25 Please send your photos and comments to Follow SLO LIFE on Facebook: Visit Visit us online at Letters may be edited for content and clarity. To be considered for publication your letter should include your name, address, phone number, or email address (for authentication purposes).


905 lbs.



2019 marks three decades for the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, and supporters celebrated with a first-ever Art at the Garden show and fundraiser inHowNovember.muchdid this year’s Great Pumpkin weigh? After spending months caring for his giant pumpkin, Bill Quirk won first place in the fourteenth annual competition in downtown San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza during Farmer’s Market on October 17.

Executive Director Kaila Dettman announcing in November that the The Land Conservancy needs to raise just $423,000 more to complete the $17 million Pismo Preserve project and open it to the public within months.


SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein confirms an alarming increase in deaths from fentanyl overdose in the county. From May to October this year, ten people died from toxic levels of the drug, compared with two or fewer deaths per year in each of the previous four years. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine.

The length of a round-trip walk on the Cal Poly Pier off Avila Beach Drive just west of the San Luis Creek Bridge. Normally only faculty and students get the chance to go the distance, but once a year visitors can attend an “open pier” featuring hands-on touch tanks filled with live marine creatures, microscopes for viewing ultra-small sea creatures, and other interactive displays—at the end of the Pier, of course.

@211slo 40%

@211slo 40% 2,932

Follow SLO County’s own 2-1-1 on Facebook or Instagram. The phone line is a free, confidential one-stop access to health and human services information and referrals twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Bilingual assistance is available, too.

The increase in the cost to build a new county animal shelter, up from an estimated $14.5 million in 2016 to $20.3 million today. The price has skyrocketed, according to county officials, because of the ongoing boom in the building industry, including high demand for contractors and labor, tariffs on materials, and State-mandated skilled labor requirements.

1.2 miles

SLO County commuters burned over half a million calories, removed 14,272 vehicle trips from county roadways, prevented 59.3 tons of CO2, and saved $79,158 by riding the bus, carpooling and making other smart commute choices during Rideshare Week October 7-11. “Now is the time to bring it home for the Preserve.”

Follow SLO County’s own 2-1-1 on Facebook or Instagram. The phone line is a free, confidential one-stop access to health and human services information and referrals twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Bilingual assistance is available, too.

2019 marks three decades for the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, and supporters celebrated with a first-ever Art at the Garden show and fundraiser inHowNovember.muchdid this year’s Great Pumpkin weigh? After spending months caring for his giant pumpkin, Bill Quirk won first place in the fourteenth annual competition in downtown San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza during Farmer’s Market on October 17. 905 lbs.

The increase in the cost to build a new county animal shelter, up from an estimated $14.5 million in 2016 to $20.3 million today. The price has skyrocketed, according to county officials, because of the ongoing boom in the building industry, including high demand for contractors and labor, tariffs on materials, and State-mandated skilled labor requirements.

“Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones overdose.”to


Executive Director Kaila Dettman announcing in November that the The Land Conservancy needs to raise just $423,000 more to complete the $17 million Pismo Preserve project and open it to the public within months.

SLO County commuters burned over half a million calories, removed 14,272 vehicle trips from county roadways, prevented 59.3 tons of CO2, and saved $79,158 by riding the bus, carpooling and making other smart commute choices during Rideshare Week October 7-11. “Now is the time to bring it home for the Preserve.”


26 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 Your source for current air quality conditions and forecasts, as well as advisories that can make a difference for your health, such as measuring the impact of smoke from fires in Northern and Southern California on SLO County residents.


SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein confirms an alarming increase in deaths from fentanyl overdose in the county. From May to October this year, ten people died from toxic levels of the drug, compared with two or fewer deaths per year in each of the previous four years. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine. “Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones overdose.”to

The number of dogs and cats who have received accessible, affordable spay/ neuter surgeries at the Daphne Fahsing Spay/Neuter Clinic in Atascadero during its first year of operation. Opened in November 2019, the low-cost clinic operated by Woods Humane Society provides sterilization surgeries for pets from all over the county.

Your source for current air quality conditions and forecasts, as well as advisories that can make a difference for your health, such as measuring the impact of smoke from fires in Northern and Southern California on SLO County residents.


The number of dogs and cats who have received accessible, affordable spay/ neuter surgeries at the Daphne Fahsing Spay/Neuter Clinic in Atascadero during its first year of operation. Opened in November 2019, the low-cost clinic operated by Woods Humane Society provides sterilization surgeries for pets from all over the county.

The length of a round-trip walk on the Cal Poly Pier off Avila Beach Drive just west of the San Luis Creek Bridge. Normally only faculty and students get the chance to go the distance, but once a year visitors can attend an “open pier” featuring hands-on touch tanks filled with live marine creatures, microscopes for viewing ultra-small sea creatures, and other interactive displays—at the end of the Pier, of course. miles



Breathtaking new construction boasting almost 4000 sqft of living space on a generous, usable 1.5 acres with stunning views. This modern farmhouse, Sea Ranch inspired home includes rustic hickory kitchen cabinetry, local live edge walnut bar, and custom kitchen island built with oak wine flavor sticks. Extensive back and front yard with professional landscaping. Website: HOLLY LIC #01431559 805.215.2884

STANLEY CRAIG BROKER ASSOCIATE, LIC. #00995466 805.305.8882 SUSAN CRAIG REALTOR®, LIC #01431785 805.235.6079

Stunning single level 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2,648 sqft home overlooking Avila Beach Golf Course and the oak studded hills of Avila Beach. Located in the Heron Crest development within the private gated community of San Luis Bay Estates, this property beautifully blends the peace and serenity of country living with the convenience of nearby hiking, shopping, dining, and beaches. Travertine floors, granite and marble countertops, cherry wood cabinets and interior doors, and Milgard windows are featured in the home. Bright and airy great room is adorned with natural light through large picture windows and features 10ft ceilings and gas fireplace. Great room and master suite open to back deck with sweeping views of the golf course and hills.





Bungalow home with detached studio nestled in the heart of downtown SLO. Built in 1921, these renovated homes feature a remodeled kitchen, 3 remodeled bathrooms; new electrical, plumbing, roof, windows. Boasting mature lemon, apple, orange trees, and passion fruit vines. Website: SUMMER WEBER REALTOR®, LIC. #02099729 650.279.2906 WEBER BROKER ASSOCIATE, LIC #01077788 805.550.6405


Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Haven Properties 441 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA 93442 1401 Park Street, Suite C, Paso Robles, CA 93446

3 bedroom 2 bath 1400+ sqft home features an oversized street to street lot with 2 bonus rooms. The home has recently been painted inside with new flooring. The large back yard and patio is fully enclosed for privacy and backyard entertainment. Beach access just blocks away. Website:


The SLO Parks and Recreation Department completes installation of new graphic design wraps on the toll booths at all downtown parking structures. The colorful public art features iconic San Luis Obispo locales such as the Ah Louis Store, the Mission, the Fremont Theatre, and the “Iron Road Pioneers” statue in Railroad Square. The banner art was designed by a local creative firm, (iii) Design, and installed by Quality Tinting and Signs.


Cal Poly students pack up their half of the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade float, shipping it off to Cal Poly Pomona, where students from both universities plan to continue assembling and decorating it in time for the Pasadena parade on January 1. The theme of the 72nd float on which the two universities have worked is “Aquatic Aspirations,” in keeping with the parade’s theme “The Power of Hope.” It features a submarine navigating around a sunken shipwreck that is home to colorful marine wildlife including animated turtles, jellyfish, swimming fish, a rocking ray, swaying kelp, and a thirteen-foot-high octopus waving its tentacles toward the crowd.



Tennessee-based Contour Airlines begins nonstop service four times a week to Las Vegas from San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. Contour’s thirty-seat aircraft serving the route features all-leather seating, complimentary snacks and beverages, and one free checked bag with every fare. The new service brings the number of airline carriers serving SLO residents to four, and the number of cities served to 10/19seven.


Architect, former mayor of San Luis Obispo, and “father” of Mission Plaza Ken Schwartz dies at age ninety-four. A resident of the city for nearly seventy years, the Cal Poly faculty member and 1993 SLO Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” served as mayor for a decade from 1969 to 1979. He is known for spearheading the development of Mission Plaza, working with Cal Poly students to construct a plan that resulted in the closure of Monterey Street in front of the Mission. In addition to his work on the plaza, Schwartz also contributed to the city’s General Plan, Downtown Concept Plan, Capital Improvement Plan, long-term water management plans, sign regulations, street tree planting, and acquisition of the Jack House.




Thieves vandalize a playground in SLO’s Sinsheimer Park by removing a twelve-bytwenty-foot strip of synthetic grass. The estimated cost of repairing and replacing the section that was stolen from the slide hill is approximately $10,000. The SLO Police Department is investigating but no suspects have been identified. round the ounty



Transitions-Mental11/16HealthAssociation and the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo hold an open house for the long-awaited Bishop Street Studios, a visionary project eight years in the making. The project transformed an abandoned orphanage turned juvenile detention center into thirty-three single-occupancy apartments for adults living with mental illness.



A power failure is blamed for an early morning sewage spill from the California Men’s Colony. Some 33,000 gallons of partially treated sewage was released without going through a final UV treatment process. The leakage was stopped within minutes but not before contamination reached Chorro Creek and the Morro Bay estuary. San Luis Obispo County health officials posted warning signs in areas impacted by the spill.

Located at the corner of Nipomo and Palm street, the garage will contain 404 parking spots, forty-three electric vehicle charging stations, and thirty-two bike parking spots. It is funded by the City’s parking fund, while SLO REP is raising the $9.5 million for the 23,344-square-foot theatre that will sit on Monterey Street behind the garage.

County Agricultural Commissioner Martin Settevendemie releases a comprehensive economic analysis that shows agriculture supports nearly 14,000 jobs and contributes some $2.54 billion to the local economy every year. That’s $6.97million per day, or $290,000 every hour, or $4,833 per minute. That also makes agriculture one of the county’s top industries, representing seven percent of the county’s direct economic output.

Hundreds of people attend a vigil to remember Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly student who went missing more than two decades ago in San Luis Obispo. Early on a Saturday morning in 1996, the 19-year-old left an offcampus party to return to her dorm, but has never been seen again. The vigil began at the gazebo in the Village of Arroyo Grande, then moved to the front of the family home of the last person seen with Smart before she disappeared.



The SLO City Council approves a new fifty-foot-tall $1.6 million parking structure as well as a new home for San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre.

A fter years of experience photographing wildlife in San Luis Obispo County, the Central Coast, and beyond, Donald Quintana has learned not to let a foggy day get in his way. This shot of two breaching Humpback whales was captured after Quintana heard from a friend that the massive mammals had been out the day before, frolicking just within

30 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 to the area in the 1840s. It’s also the perfect place to be if you’re a wildlife photographer, he shares, “San Luis Obispo is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities for the nature and wildlife photographer, you just need to get out and about early enough to capture the animals when they are going about their days. We have a lot to photograph around here, from birds migrating through the area to all sorts of marine mammals, coyotes, elk, butterflies wintering in Pismo—there are just so many opportunities. We live in an amazing place.” sight of the San Simeon pier. “People always say, ‘You should have been there yesterday,’” Quintana said. “So, I took a chance in hoping that they would make an appearance the next day and went out to capture them. I was thrilled they chose to make a second appearance while I was there.” But like many an autumn or winter day on the Central Coast, the scene was blanketed in white fog. Where a landscape photographer might call it quits, Quintana only saw opportunity through the misty shroud. “I think that adds to the feeling of the image,” he explained. “Weather shouldn’t deter you from going out and shooting. It’s a factor that can make your images stand out. Fog, or to be more exact, overcast cloudy weather, acts as one of the greatest diffusers of light.” Armed with his Canon EOS 7D and an EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x teleconverter, Quintana was able to create an effective focal length of 700mm to push in on the breaching porpoises from his perch on the pier. He explained that the challenge with photographing whale is simple—you never know where they will surface. Humpback whale, which migrate along California’s coast during autumn and early winter, can hold their breath for up to forty-five minutes, but usually breach every seven to fifteen minutes for air. “Patience is key; you really have to wait sometimes for your subject to show up,” Quintana said. “Learning behavior can help you be in the right location at the right time, but having the patience to wait for them to show up is essential.” Not one to keep his methods a secret, Quintana often leads photographer excursions on the Central Coast and beyond and is a wealth of knowledge—he has literally been across the globe to photograph animals big and small, from grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park to tarantula wasp in Hawaii. But the San Luis Obispo area has always been home for him and his ancestors who, he explained, first came | VIEW SLO LIFE DAY THEATBEACH BY JOE PHOTOGRAPHYPAYNE

JOE PAYNE is a journalist, as well as a lifelong musician and music teacher, who loves writing about the arts on the Central Coast, especially music, as well as science, history, nature, and social issues.



We sat down recently with SCOTT SMITH, the executive director of HASLO—the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo—to talk about how things have changed in the local housing market since he moved here in 1984. Here is some of what he had to say…

If you look at San Luis Obispo, for instance, you’ve got Cal Poly, where many of their students are absorbing the rental housing stock in town, which is causing rent inflation. A working family can no longer afford to rent a three-bedroom house because it cannot compete with six or seven Cal Poly students whose parents are willing to pay whatever price. So, building more oncampus housing will absolutely make an impact on affordability locally. It will help open up supply and bring rents down to the point where permanent residents can go back into those neighborhoods and rent a single-family home.


Can you give us an example of the need that exists here on the Central Coast? We see it every day. It’s a very emotional issue for people. It can be a traumatic issue. It’s a survival issue.

Let’s take from the top, Scott. Where are you from originally? I’m a native Californian. Second generation. My parents were born in LA and wanted to get out of the rat race, so they headed to Santa Barbara. That’s where I was born and raised. I moved around after that: Berkeley, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Washington, DC, before returning. And, what brought me here was a job in housing. Honestly, I had no interest in housing and certainly had no intention of making it a career. I was more oriented toward wanting to help people. I was fascinated by third world poverty issues, so when I graduated from UCLA, I volunteered in Yucatan, Mexico. That’s where I met my wife. Then, off to graduate school. We were expecting our first child, so I was at a point where I just needed a job, and through a friend of a friend, I found something in housing. I realized very quickly that I was dealing with the same thing that I was always interested in, which is to answer the question: “How do you help poor people no longer be poor?”

Housing—permanent shelter—is a basic human need. And, there are programs that offer assistance with housing, but they all have super long waiting lists. I’m not sure the general public realizes this, but we get so many referrals and deal with so many truly heart-breaking cases, but there is a really long line of people that are having tough problems. When we opened up a new apartment complex on Broad Street recently, we received 900 applications for just 46 units. That gives you just a little bit of an idea for the demand. So, we’re all there on the day it opened, and people are showing up to move in with tears in their eyes. That’s when you see that housing is really about people, that it’s a human story. HUMAN STORY

| Q&A

So, how do you help poor people no longer be poor? You start with a roof overhead. We provide affordable housing to roughly 7,000 people every month throughout the county. We actively develop and operate housing locally. We also tackle this issue with the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly called Section 8. A tenant pays 30% of their income toward the rent, and we pay the rest. A lot of these folks are senior citizens or disabled and living on a fixed income. Many of them will get a disability check from Social Security, which amounts to about $900 each month. So, 30% of $900 is $300, which is the amount that the government deems “affordable.” But, where are they going to find something for $300? Maybe in Bakersfield, but not here. So, let’s say their rent is $1,500. We then kick in the balance. Those are federal funds that come into the county to pay for this program—about $20 million each year.

And, what about people who would not be considered poor, but who cannot afford a place to live? My wife and I have three young adult daughters in their twenties and early thirties. And, we’re watching them try to make a go of it and seeing them struggle with the same issues so many of us struggle with as we are impacted by housing, as they ask the question: “How can I afford to stay here?” There are so many aspects to this issue in addition to just the general angst it creates. When you don’t have an adequate balance between housing costs and wages in a community, it has a lot of unintended consequences. It strains families when it becomes increasingly difficult for the younger ones coming up to find housing of their own. And, from a business standpoint, we know that we need workers at all wage and skill levels. So, how do we fill those jobs and retain people in those jobs when they can’t afford to live here? It’s not a healthy thing for the economy when someone has a full-time job but still cannot afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. There is something broken. How do you fix it? There is not one solution to the housing problem. We need a whole bunch of different solutions to keep us whittling away at the problem. And, each community is unique.

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 33 Call us today for your consultation 805 541-1790 What does mom say? Helping you hear the things you love, since 1978 “I want a baby sister and dad is not hearing me”


In their own ways, Repetto and Breshears have been musically inclined from childhood. The former pursued music in a more relaxed fashion, picking up the guitar in the fifth grade, forming a band in middle school, and eventually playing in church bands as well. Breshears went a more traditional route, studying music theory and learning to read music, playing saxophone in the school band. By the end of high school, however, he had moved on to learning guitar and drums while eventually picking up singing in college. It was at this point that the two artists met at a pledge event for the Theta Chi fraternity.

After two years of impromptu jams and dorm room practice sessions, the two Cal Poly juniors officially formed Grand Ave and began playing around town, particularly at the weekly farmers’ market. Their performances quickly attracted attention and soon after, they released their first single “805 Summertime.”

In the time since, Grand Ave has expanded to a full five-man band. Despite both musicians receiving attractive job offers, Breshears and Repetto decided to pursue music full time following graduation. Given that youth lends itself to the successful pursuit of the arts (with exceptions, obviously) and the nine to five grind accepts any willing victim, regardless of age, it makes as much Los Angeles born, SLO County raised, SHAWN STRONG’s passion for the local music scene and artists that have created it, fuels his writing and drives his commitment to living the SLO Life.

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 35 sense as any. Grand Ave continues with steady releases, including two music videos created by local media production agency Platinum Peek Productions and a live performance on local country music station 98.1 KJUG. Additionally, the band is currently recording a five-song album to be released soon. In the meantime, throw on an old pair of wranglers and some flip-flops and hit the beach. Be sure to bring a speaker and some brews, and put Grand Ave’s current catalog on repeat. Fall is on the way but Grand Ave is sure to give you that summer buzz all year round. landscape filled with vast, sweeping stretches of coastal hills, wide-open valleys, and serene mountain ranges, all of which are bordered by some of the most fantastic beaches in California. Driving through SLO County, it becomes obvious that as the terrain gradually transforms, so do the communities occupying these remarkable spaces. There’s a lot of life stuffed into this relatively small region, and despite the short distances between the cities and towns that reside within, the people that occupy them couldn’t be more unique. This is one of the most attractive aspects of the area and something that two local musicians recording under the name Grand Ave have sought to Grandrecreate.Ave is a project that sprung from the collective minds of Cal Poly alumni Derek Breshears and PJ Repetto after meeting during their freshman year. The name itself is a reference to the street on which Cal Poly has been located for decades and was home to the musicians for four long years. With Breshears and Repetto having completed their degrees in Industrial Technology and Packaging, and Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration (RPTA), respectively, the duo has committed to their musical pursuits in full. When questioned about the goals for Grand Ave, the two artists say they’re dedicated to defining a musical genre all their own. A bold new approach to country music and beach pop that they lovingly refer to as “coastal country.” The amalgamation of these two distinct sonic landscapes is what makes Grand Ave so evocative of San Luis Obispo County as a whole. By combining engaging storytelling techniques typical of traditional country music with the tranquil, easygoing sounds of the ocean shore, Grand Ave delivers an undeniably infectious score that plays well anywhere. SLO LIFE an Luis Obispo County covers approximately 3,616 square miles of land that is home to an estimated 284,000 individuals. Within these 3,600 miles is an exceedingly diverse


December 23 (Closed December 2 and 9). Tickets range from $10 to $25 depending on how far in advance they are purchased. Local Tips Book a room at the Cambria Pines Lodge or the Sea Otter Inn. Both offer amazing packages that include tickets to the event. Staying at the Cambria Pines Lodge allows you to walk to the event and many of the rooms have views of the lights. Guests staying at the Sea Otter Inn on Moonstone Beach can take the complimentary shuttle provided for hotel guests only.

PADEN HUGHES is co-owner of Gymnazo and enjoys exploring the Central Coast.

The market is nestled behind and around the Cambria Pines Lodge; the property is completely transformed by over two million lights bringing to life countless Christmas themed scenes connected by a labyrinth of glowing walkways. Wandering into a truly magical world of lights, you could be mesmerized by the splendor if you stayed too long, or finished a second glass of glühwein (German spiced heated wine).

Cool Facts • Last year, the event welcomed an average of 3,000 guests each night


That is, until I heard about a little German Christmas market in Cambria. That is literally how it was described to me. If I hadn’t already experienced one in Europe, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I attended the market in Cambria three years ago and have loved it every year since, watching it expand and become more grandiose. The Cambria Christmas Market is now my number one favorite thing to do in SLO county during the holidays and is hands down my daughters’ favorite as well. Bringing in over 80,000 guests last year from over seventeen states and nine countries (including Germany), this event is truly world class. If you ever wondered about all the holiday selfies taken in a tunnel of rainbow Christmas lights, you now know that was the Cambria Christmas Market.

• This year, the market will be featured on ABC Family’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight”

The two best memories I have of this market are from last year, watching my one and a half year old walk boldly onto a stage in front of a crowd to sing karaoke to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and that same year telling Santa she wanted flying reindeer. To me, a truly great event is one where someone took the time to care about the details, think about how to wow their guests and set each attendee up to create memories they will have for a lifetime. The Cambria Christmas Market has never failed me in this regard.

36 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 of the experience. Wandering through warmly lit aisles where street vendors showcased truly unique items while I drank a hot buttered rum and scouted my annual ornament was a cherished memory I had no expectation of San Luis Obispo county being able to afford me.

SLO LIFE a variety of handmade crafts and traditional German gifts, food, and drinks,” shares Mike Arnold, the mastermind behind the event.

• Twenty-eight local artisan vendors and twelve food vendors


• Two million+ lights

• Cal Poly’s Engineering department partnered with Cambria Christmas Market on a mechanical light display of the advent calendar with twenty-five windows, each with a moving display Dates & Pricing Open 23 nights this season, November 29 through ost of my family lives in Europe and one year, while visiting over Christmas, we went to a German Christmas market and I was captivated by the magic

“Our goal is to create a festive atmosphere for friends and family to relax and enjoy the holiday season. We have local, artisan vendors selling PADEN HUGHES

• The popular train ride addition from last year will be even better in 2019, with a secret light display just for riders

What is one of your favorite memories? My family took a trip to Oahu and I had a blast being able to always go to the beach and surf some of the best waves I’ve ever surfed. Learning about Native Hawaiian culture was also very interesting.

| ON

What do you dislike the most? I dislike when people make excuses, or say that they can’t do something. If you already have your mind made up that you can’t do something, you aren’t giving yourself a fair chance, and likely will not be able to accomplish that thing.

What extra-curricular activities are you involved in? I’ve been involved in the nonprofit organization GleanSLO, which harvests excess produce and donates it to the Food Bank for families in need. I have also been participating in many offseason track practices and going to the gym. There is a long time until the start of the season, but putting in the work now will help me have the best season I can. What do you like to do for fun? My favorite thing to do in my free time is going surfing. It keeps me outside and is a perfect mix of excitement—when I’m riding a wave; and calm—when I’m waiting for one.

Introduce us at

What career do you see yourself in someday? I haven’t completely made up my mind of what I want to do, but I could see myself as an environmental engineer because I like spending time outside, and math is one of my stronger subjects in school.

What is something that not many people know about you? I like to learn about nutrition. I think it is really important to know what you are putting in your body. I think this helps me make healthier choices. LIFE THE RISE


What is it that you look forward to most? I look forward to the college experience of making new friends and exploring all of what my new home has to offer.

If you could go back in history and meet anyone, who would it be? I would go back and meet President John F. Kennedy. I admire his leadership and way with words while leading our nation through serious issues.

What do you want people to know about you? I would like to be known for my work ethic, but also my willingness to have fun.

Evan Jenkins San Luis Obispo High School senior EVAN JENKINS has received numerous academic excellence awards, Medals of Honorary Merit in Latin, the Mayor’s Award for Community Service, and was recognized as a National Merit Scholar. We sat down to ask him a few questions about himself and his future.

Know a student On the Rise?



What experience has influenced you? I had a bone disorder in my elbow when I was playing baseball, and throughout middle school and into high school, I went through 3 surgeries, multiple casts, and an immense amount of physical therapy. It allowed me to realize how much we take our health for granted, and how lucky we are to live with access to many important resources. It pushed me to appreciate what we have instead of looking at what we don’t have.





Beneath the shiny, sometimes dreamlike exterior projected outward toward visitors of this magical place we call home, a place which none other than Oprah Winfrey herself once deemed “the happiest,” lies a dark secret: far too many of its children are not getting what they need. And, by need, we’re talking about the most basic of basics: adequate nutrition, a safe, nurturing home environment, and regular health and dental services. According to the science, it’s those first five years of life, which are so important, and, because that critical period of time arrives before kids attend their first day of kindergarten where they begin to receive some level of oversight, their needs often remain in the shadows, passing unnoticed. On the front lines of this everyday struggle to shine a light is an organization called First 5. We sat down for a visit with its chief executive, WENDY WENDT, a few days following her five-year anniversary with the non-profit. While she continually steered the conversation back toward local kids, and the coalition of people working in the trenches to change their lives, we finally coaxed her into sharing her own journey and philosophy borne of an unshakable optimism. Here is her story… BY PLAKIAS


Did you know all this was happening when you were growing up? For my sister and me, no. We had no clue. But, I will be in a conversation with an old friend from high school or something, and I’ll say, “Can you believe my dad’s gay?” And they’ll say, “Yeah, we all knew it. We all knew it, Wendy. Why didn’t you know it?” But, the fact that now at eighty years old, with his health failing him, he’s in many ways, physically very, very uncomfortable. And, yet, I would venture to say, he’s never been happier.

On some fundamental sort of psychic level, he’s in a loving relationship, he’s got a great house, he’s got wonderful friends, he feels good about himself in terms of the life he’s living. So, in moments when I doubt my own situation or what’s happening in my life, I look at my parents.

et’s start from the beginning, Wendy. Where are you from? I grew up in the Midwest. I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, which is where my dad’s family is from, but, when I was two, we moved to Ohio. My dad got a job at the college there, actually it’s a college and a musical conservatory. And, so that’s where I grew up, in this little town

Wow, a year in Siberia. Then, I came back, taught for a few more years at Andover and realized that I wanted to go back to graduate school, but I didn’t think I wanted to go into Russian. There just weren’t many jobs in that field. Is this too much detail? I feel like I’m talking too much. So, I ended up going back to school again. I got really lucky and had a chance to get a master’s in public administration at Harvard. I was really interested in the intersection between education and the schools and the community. After grad school, I worked at an agency in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Cambridge Community Services. I was the associate director there, and one of my favorite programs that we ran was called City Links. It was a program that was in partnership with a high school. The high school in Cambridge taught a civics government class for kids, who were either themselves immigrants or children of immigrants. And, in conjunction with the civics government class, they also got paid internships in city departments in Cambridge. >>

How did your family end up in the Midwest? I’m Jewish, my mother’s side of the family is Jewish. Her parents escaped the Holocaust when they left in 1938. My mom is of Austrian descent. She was born in Rochester, New York two years after they arrived, before they settled in Indiana. My dad’s side of the family comes from a long line of St. Louis Presbyterians. By the time I was getting ready to have my own family, I was feeling more of an affiliation with the Jewish side, just psychically and intellectually, it was more in line somehow; it just sat better with me. So, when my son had a bar mitzvah and my daughter had a bat mitzvah a few years ago, both my parents came out from Boston where they live now. Dad brought Bill, and my mom brought Peggy. Wait a second, hold up. Who are Bill and Peggy? [laughter] Okay, this is where things get a bit complicated. I was in my mid-twenties when my parents split. They had been married at that point for thirty-three years.

Where the story takes a turn is when they both ended up partnering with same gender people. My dad, his name is Carl, partnered with Bill. And, my mom, Mary, ended up with Peggy. For the most part, they get along really well now, they even go on double dates. I’ll call my dad sometimes and he’ll say, “I can’t talk right now because Bill and I are heading out to meet Mary and Peggy for a beer.” Looking back on it now, I think my mom just had enough of this kind of cloaked secret life with my dad’s sexual orientation, which was the immediate impetus for her to leave, but there were other issues, as well.

What were you like as a kid? I was really into music, and I was verbal, very verbal. I liked to talk. I liked language. I did well in school. My friends used to say we were the nerds in the popular crowd. We hung out with the popular kids, but we were definitely the nerdy ones, the nerdy friends. Everywhere we went, our bikes were the mode of transportation. I rode my bike everywhere. Most everyone in Oberlin seemed to love music, a lot of my friends’ parents taught there also. I played in the youth orchestra, did musical theatre. I wasn’t the greatest athlete; drama was my thing.


of Oberlin—just two miles in diameter—there were about 8,000 people, and it grew to 11,000 when the students were in town. It was truly an idyllic upbringing: kids and bikes everywhere, come home by dark, and no fences between homes, and just a lot of wonderful childhood memories of growing up in that little place.

How long has your dad been remarried? Dad and Bill only got married six years ago, but they’d been together maybe four years before that. So, they’ve been together about ten years now. And, then mom and Peggy, a couple of years before that, three or four years before that. And, Peggy has a daughter in San Francisco who is my stepsister. I’ll tell you, the thing that I took from their experience is that you just never know when you’re going to be the most happy in your life. Does that make sense? Here’s where we are. We’re here, right now. I’m not saying it quite right, but the whole thing has taught me that at any point in your life, something really great can happen that enriches it in ways that either it was meant to be enriched or you didn’t expect it would be. So, during all of those younger years, and I do think that my parents had some pretty wonderful chapters, at least segments of chapters, but there was always something missing. And, they both found it.

Alright, let’s get back to you, Wendy. What happened after Oberlin? Okay, yes, I graduated from high school and then went off to college. I got lucky enough to be accepted at Brown University in Providence. So, I moved to the East Coast for my college experience. My college years were spent studying History and Russian. I became a Russian major, which was somewhat an accident of fate. I picked up a Russian novel in high school, Crime and Punishment, and it caught my interest. I was quite intrigued by how brooding and dark and complicated it all was. And, so I thought, “Who writes a book like this?” I think that, especially during those formative teenage years, there’s something that happens to us, whether it’s a book or a film or a trip or something that just captures our imagination. That’s what happened to me with Dostoyevsky’s book. What came next for you? So, I headed off to college and started dabbling in Russian literature classes. Then, I befriended some people in the Russian department. Finally, I said to myself, “Well, heck, if I want to understand a little bit more about the sort of psyche of these people in this place, I should learn the language.” And, this was during the end of the Cold War, so it also had a little bit of mystique to it. It was dark and dangerous, not at all like London or France or something. This was the ‘80s, so it was the Iron Curtain and scary. I did a term abroad in Leningrad, and when I returned I taught Russian for a year; it was more of an internship, really. Around that time, there was a huge surge of Russian Jewish immigrants who were applying for refugee status coming out of the Soviet Union. So, I ended up moving to Rome to work with a refugee resettlement agency called HIAS.

I became a caseworker there and helped people file their paperwork with the US Embassy Immigration & Naturalization Service. After a year doing that work, I went to an exchange program at a physics and math school in Siberia. I taught English and took care of a group of high school exchange students. I stayed there, in Novosibirsk, for a year.


What a great concept. How did it work? So, each student would work either at the police department, the library, the state clerk’s office, or the hospital. And then they’d bring their experience back to share with the class. So, that’s kind of an example of what I mean when I talk about the relationships between inside and outside of schools. It’s both challenging and, I think, ultimately quite enriching both for the broader community of people, whether they have kids in school or not, and for the students to be able to see the applications of what they’re learning as they go along. I mean, how often do we as parents think, “Our kids are learning all these things in school, but do they make that connection back to why it’s important? Why those things are important.” And we’ve, over the last twenty years, I would say, we’ve done a better job over that period with schools doing that type of reaching out and reaching in. But, it was fun to be part of that back in those early days. And, looking back now, I can trace a line from those experiences to where I am today.

Let’s continue tracing that line… So, then I got married, and that sent me along with my then husband on a journey to follow his career. I was pregnant with our first kid at that time. We were bouncing around from Cambridge to Hawaii, spent a year-and-a-half in Hawaii for his postdoctoral fellowship, and then he got a job in North Carolina. Our son was born in Hawaii, and our daughter was born in North Carolina. Then, a couple of years later, he got a job at Cal Poly, so we came here. It was a tricky time, it’s hard when you are out of your element as the trailing spouse. I continued to do some work for my old employer, Cambridge Community Services, but I was also trying to raise kids and establish myself here, too. I began taking on freelance work with various non-profits. The projects that I took on varied greatly, as I worked on everything from creating strategic plans to facilitating board meetings. We moved here in 2002, and this went on for the next ten or twelve years. Overall, it was a tremendous learning experience. >>


Court Monterey Downtown

Don’t miss the first ever Damon Castillo Holiday Variety Hour A benefit for Big Brothers/Big Sisters December 15, 5pm. Court Street Terrace. Free Tickets available online A community celebration sponsored by The San Luis Obispo Collection




And, why is the focus on those first five years of life so important? Well, I think it’s a more straightforward answer than even ten years ago. There’s a lot to it, but I’ll start with the science. There’s a lot of science that’s come out in the last, let’s say, two decades, that shows what we’ve all known somewhat anecdotally as parents raising children; during those first five years of life, a lot is happening with children’s brain development. And, when positively reinforced, it provides a sort of launching pad for life. And when children suffer or struggle during those early years, it makes it that much harder to fully thrive. So, it’s this unique moment in time, an opportunity to, as a community, as a family, as parents, to prioritize the best possible start. Because, in the end, all of us are better off, our kids are better off, our community is better off, when we all thrive, when we all have a shot at living a better life and growing up to contribute to the greater good.


What’s it like to do this work?

When did you get introduced to First 5? I had been assisting First 5 in the drafting of their children’s bill of rights when the executive director position came open. It just felt like the right opportunity at the right time. And, it also didn’t require me to give up all of my broad-based kind of perspective on things, because pretty much all my projects had more than an organizationally affiliated kind of focus. And, so, it’s very diversified sort of assignment. First 5 itself is the same way. The only thing that binds it all together is the age stage, zero to five. It’s a program that is statewide and is manifested in local programs in all fifty-eight counties. And our job is to be stewards of public investment in public tax revenue from tobacco tax, a fifty cent per pack tax, which was an initiative—Proposition 10— that Californians voted for twenty years ago.

I’m so lucky to work with the staff at First 5, all of them. And, additionally, to work with the broader community of partners in San Luis Obispo County who work on issues related to kids. It’s been such an amazing learning experience, and a humbling opportunity to see the kinds of things people in this community are doing to try to lift the lives of local kids. And, because we get to work in so many different aspects of their lives, we get to spend our days with

incredibly talented and dedicated pediatricians, preschool teachers, family advocates, CASA volunteers, people at department of social services, and other parents. It’s really pretty extraordinary, and also a little bit sobering, because despite everyone’s best intentions, there’s still a ton of work to do all the time. It’s just never ending.

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When it’s all said and done, what will you hope people say about you? My gosh. I think I’ll want to look back and see that by virtue of some of the things I’ve helped set in motion, because that tends to be the job that I’ve had over these many years, is setting things in motion, kicking up a good idea and kind of gathering the right people around the table to move it down the road, I’d like to look back and see that at least some of those efforts have taken hold and that there’s been a collective commitment to moving them forward. And, that it doesn’t have to somehow come back to, “And, Wendy thought that one up.” I almost would rather it not be that, but if I am sitting in my rocking chair and looking back, that I’ll know that I had something to do with the sun shining on that community challenge that has a solution if only people have the understanding, the vision, the courage, the creativity, and the sense of possibility to actually make things happen.

And, what have you learned about yourself along the way? I just feel like there’s always potential for positive growth, learning from mistakes, new chapters. Which, I don’t know, it feels sort of childlike in a way, right? I mean, kids feel that way. Five-year-olds don’t have any sense of limitations, or pessimism, or cynicism. Even the ones who are struggling and have been given a really bad hand when they’re five, they still have this sense that the world has possibility. Because that’s the time when we can really help kids maintain that sense of optimism beyond their fifth birthday and carry that with them, carry that optimism, carry that sense of possibility, and creativity, and fun, and all that stuff that life has a way of knocking out of us. But, you know, I’m often accused of being an optimist. I think you have to be optimistic in this line of work because if you continually throw your arms up and say, “That can’t be done,” or, “We tried that ten years ago and it didn’t work,” then you’re just adding to the problem. We can do better for our kids.

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Mom was certainly proud of her boys, of course, but did not think much beyond the family art table, until her sister, their aunt, had a look. Her reaction was immediate as she declared, “This could be a book.” The wheels began to turn, slowly at first. But, each conversation led to another and, before long, a project was launched with a very specific purpose: to expand access and opportunity by underwriting art classes at C.L. Smith Elementary, a Title 1 school.


A conversation over coffee with Maureen Vazquez, who owns Pipsticks, led to the idea of self-publishing a book with the purpose

The behind the scenes story of books and how they came to be and the inspiration that set the author into motion in the first place are often as fascinating and instructive as the books themselves. That is certainly the case for two recently published homegrown children’s books, both the result of small, dedicated teams of Central Coast residents who never once wavered in their commitments toward making tomorrow better than today.

Lindsey Haring with her sons Jack and Luke

The art table at Lindsey Haring’s house is well-worn. And, if it were up to her, every kid in every home, everywhere, would have the same opportunity to create and explore and expand. In other words, to do this thing we have come to call art.

Last year, Haring’s second-grader, Jack, was showing promise with his burgeoning collection of cat art. The first installment, which he called his “ice cream cone cat,” was a hit with his classmates at C.L. Smith Elementary near San Luis Obispo’s Laguna Lake. Before long, Jack and his younger brother, Luke, had come up with an entire line of whimsical cat characters ranging from “top hat cat” to “donut cat.”



Nancy Ballinger tried everything, every tool she had at her disposal, and none of them were working. Although highly trained as both a marriage and family therapist and hospice children’s bereavement counselor, the situation was almost too much to bear.

Twenty years ago, Ballinger found herself looking into the eyes of two of her youngest clients. They had suddenly lost their mother after she had succumbed to a protracted illness. They were hurting. That’s when the idea struck. And, in many ways, it required reaching back before moving forward.

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 51 of fundraising for the school. A week or so later, after her thinking began to crystalize, Haring attended a PTA meeting where the topic of conversation centered around the need to cutback. Funds were scarce, just like always, and difficult decisions would be required. What should stay, what should go? “That was the night it all came together for me,” is how Haring recalls the unanimous support for her proposal of a book fundraiser. The parents, it was decided, had something tangible to rally around: Cats. With the title, You Can Be That Cat, in place, the numbers came into focus. Haring had done the math and realized how much a successful campaign would mean for the plucky little elementary school by the lake. If they could sell $30,000 worth of cat books, and subtract out the $5,000 or so in expenses (which were kept relatively low thanks to a grant from the Miossi Charitable Trust), the PTA would be left with $25,000—enough money to pay for five years of art classes for all of its 400 first through sixth graders. A potentially life-changing experience, particularly for those who do not have an art table back home. Driven by the vision, Haring willed herself into an unfamiliar role. “It’s been hard to be out in front. I’ve always been behind the scenes,” she reflects, “but I have this passion for it. It’s real; it comes from a real place.” And, with a leader taking the reigns, the team gelled quickly, each of its members offering some missing piece of the puzzle. Kyle Alghren came aboard to do the graphic design. Kendra Aronson raised her hand to handle the photography and videography. A local illustrator, Melissa Ormonde Guzman, pitched in to refine the kids’ creations.

Stories carry an undeniable power. That has always been the case for as long as we human beings have roamed the earth together. First, it was the story of the hunt as we gathered around the campfire. Then, it was the language we used to understand the world around us. For Ballinger, she saw an opportunity to harness that power—the power of story—to reach a couple of fractured souls, two brave cubs.

Authoring a book is generally considered a solitary experience, but that has not been the case for You Can Be That Cat; instead, it has brought people together. And, it has also demonstrated how creativity and effort can bring forth positivity and change, perhaps revealing an example of the adage, art imitating life. As of this writing, the book has raised just over half of its goal. Those interested in supporting the project are encouraged to visit the website, which can be found at

Left to right: Nancy Ballinger, Julie Frankel, Marcy Adams, and Linna Thomas

C.L. Smith Elementary School students Kendra Aronson with the authors


The metaphorical tale flowed to the paper as if delivered >>

personally by the Big Guy upstairs. It was a story that was meant to be, and it needed to be told. The words landed. They found a home in young ears. The kids listened in raptured silence until the little girl exclaimed, “That’s just like our mommy!” Ballinger knew the healing process had finally begun.


Beginning in January, the women are planning to do a nationwide media push to bring attention to our most vulnerable during their time of greatest need. The awareness that comes with the effort, they hope, will lead to bulk sales to large institutions and organizations, such as hospitals and schools and associations. Yet, no matter the scale, even if all of the fuss and toil and effort only makes a difference for just one child, the team agrees that the venture will have been deemed a success.


The author and the illustrator got to work on creating a proper, professionally crafted edition of Two Brave Cubs. “The thing that guided us was the enormity of grief that kids feel when they lose a parent,” Ballinger shares. “Trying to do something to make it better— that’s what propelled us.” And, to be sure, it did get them to a certain point, but they soon learned that publishing a book was not a simple DIY project. They both realized they needed to build out the team. First, they brought on Julie Frankel to take on the graphic design and page layout. Then, they reached out to Linna Thomas, who owns Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay, as well as operates a small imprint. With the foursome firing on all cylinders, Coalesce Press made Two Brave Cubs available for purchase during its “soft launch” early this year. While sales have trickled forth, the partnership has much larger plans in store for the book. They have collectively committed to keeping the price tag as low as possible—currently $9.99 each—and plowing all of the proceeds right back into printing more copies. The goal is simple: Reach as many grieving children as possible to help them begin the healing process.

Over the course of her career, Ballinger had retrieved the book—Two Brave Cubs—when the situation called for it. Grieving children were always the most challenging; she just wanted nothing more than for their pain to end. She wanted it to stop. Nothing ever really worked, but the story always helped. Somehow, it always seemed to come back to the story; it always made things a little bit better and often marked the beginning of the end. The day the sun began to shine again. It has been said before by different people in different ways and at different times: “Some things are just meant to be.” While the total circulation of Two Brave Cubs remained at just one copy for nearly two decades, Marcy Adams had always harbored a thought that just never seemed to go away. She wanted to illustrate a meaningful children’s book. Remarkably, Ballinger and Adams were both involved during the start-up days of Hospice of San Luis Obispo, yet neither could have predicted their future partnership. But, as they say, “Some things are just meant to be.”

If you would like to support the mission of Two Brave Cubs by making a donation or buying a book, you can find it for sale at Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay or online at

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 53 Life at San Luis Ranch is in the heart of the city, but miles away from ordinary. With farmland in your backyard, vibrant downtown SLO, and the city’s job centers just a stone’s throw away, San Luis Ranch is rural redefined. RURAL REDEFINED Join the Interest List – Multi-family and Single family homes starting in Spring 2020. ExceptionalAmenities SpectacularLocation Farm to LifestyleTable A new generation of housing cropping up in Spring 2020.





t seems that everywhere you go these days, people are talking about tiny homes. Having recently hosted a Tiny Home Expo attended by over 6,000 people and making tiny living legal in the city, San Luis Obispo—Tiny Town— is on the forefront of the trend. Often described as an architectural and social movement, “going tiny” encourages a simpler lifestyle in a smaller space. People from all walks of life have determined that a large home and, more specifically, the large cost of living that comes with it, are both unnecessary and often an impediment to happiness. Those opting to downsize are doing so in a deliberate effort to reduce the financial and emotional burden of the all the stuff—stuff we call “stuff.” With all the buzz around this movement, it did not take long for Joe and Betsey Pollon to take notice. Joe’s background as a contractor coupled with Betsy’s natural eye for design and spatial planning makes them a tiny dream team. They have been building, remodeling, and designing since 1992. And, eight years ago they completed the most challenging project, their own home. >>


DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 57 TENOVERSTUDIO.COMThe TEN OVER family at our anniversary celebration.


To all the Clients, Consultants, Contractors and Agencies we have had the pleasure to work with over the years, we are extremely grateful for your support and encouragement. While we are very proud of our completed projects, we consider our true legacy to be the lasting relationships we have developed with you all. Thanks for helping us make it to our 5-year anniversary and for being a key part of our TEN OVER family.

58 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 In researching the tiny home market, they found the largest segment of buyers were single women over fifty years old. They recognized that the elevated sleeping loft found in most tiny homes was not an ideal solution for this demographic, and a single level option was much more desirable. But, since tiny homes must be capable of traveling on public roads, there are certain size constraints. The maximum dimensions allowed, without obtaining a special permit, are eight feet, six inches wide, thirteen feet, six inches tall, and forty feet long. While this is the maximum, it is rare to see tiny houses longer than thirty-two feet in length, as they become increasingly difficult to maneuver. >>

C O M M E R C I A L & R E S I D E N T I A L w w w R a m s e y A s p h a l t c o m L i c # 8 8 1 0 3 0 A /C 1 2 /C 3 2


The question the couple needed to answer was simple: How could the living space be maximized in a singlestory configuration while also maintaining a manageable length? Joe grappled with an answer until it occurred to him that the walls could be made to move. He then designed a mechanism which enabled the kitchen and bathroom section to retract into the bedroom and living space. In that way, when the home had to be moved, it could be done safely and legally. But, when it was parked and set up for living, it could expand to relatively roomy fourteen feet of interior width. Problem solved. And a new business was launched.

“I wanted to create a tiny home that didn’t feel cramped,” he said. “After experimenting with different configurations, we came up with the Corbett Canyon model and Central Coast Tiny Homes was born.”



First, windows everywhere. My favorite design detail can be found on the bedroom and living room walls. The wood siding adds warmth and depth to the space while drawing attention upward. The triangle windows introduce visual interest and let in natural light. With the invention of the slide out design, the couple could now have two entry and exit points as well as four distinct “zones”—kitchen, living, bedroom, and bath.

Nestled in Corbett Canyon just north of Arroyo Grande, their model tiny home is secluded and serene. As I pulled in, my eye immediately searched for the wheels, but could not locate them. Betsy showed me through a gap in the deck boards how they dug out a sunken parking space to hide the wheels and then conceal them with a deck. This served a dual purpose: It enhanced the “curb appeal” of the structure, as well as created additional outdoor living space. After we walked into their 295-square-foot home, I had to confirm the dimensions because it felt much larger, even though it was only a single story. As we took a deep dive into their objectives around the design process, I began to under stand how they were able to achieve this illusion.



not come to mind, an important variable to consider when building a tiny house is weight. Since these homes do need to be transported at times, they must be as lightweight as possible. In this case, all interior materials were analyzed and creative substitutions were made when necessary. For example, they swapped out drywall for plywood in constructing the walls and tile in the shower was replaced with stainless steel sheets. Both of those decisions melted away the extra pounds. >>

Creative storage solutions, as is a common thread in tiny living, has been taken to another level. Murphy beds, barn doors (or pocket doors), and storage within furniture are all found in abundance. Although it is a smaller space, there are plenty of opportunities for customization. For instance, the Pollon’s bathroom has washer and dryer hook-ups ready to go, but also a rod if you would like to opt for more closet space instead. The pair admitted that balancing storage, counter space, and appliances in the kitchen was a challenge, so they were forced to make a difficult trade-off by leaving the dishwasher out Whilealtogether.itmight

DAVID LALUSH is an architectural photographer here in San Luis Obispo.

Joe Pollon views his tiny houses as a potential alternative to assisted living. When family members begin to age they do not always need the full care services many assisted living facilities offer and would prefer to be close to family, he reasons. A temporary backyard for these small structures is an affordable way to keep an eye on a loved one while they retain their independence and their own personal space. And, with growing tiny home rental options, it can alleviate the burdensome cost of building traditional guest house or purchasing a tiny house. Just the second city in California to adopt a supportive ordinance adding tiny homes into its housing mix, San Luis Obispo is hop ing property owners will bring these mobile buildings into their backyards as long-term rental units. While not the solution for everyone, they do offer a cozy, affordable option for those seeking to simplify and unburden their lives—leaving all the extra “stuff” behind.

And, the Pollons understood that life on the Central Coast affords a unique advantage, in that the living spaces do not have to be confined to the interior. A picnic table could host dinner. Yard games for entertaining. A bistro table for a quiet coffee break. Despite its diminutive stature, there does not seem to be anything that cannot be done when compared to a larger, more traditional single-family dwelling. The only difference, it seems, is that some of it requires more forethought and intention.


DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 67 LIGHTING CONSULTANT Corey Stollmeyer Text: (805) Central Coast Lighting Experts Since 1926 LIGHTING DESIGN



Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market 2018


johnsonave *Comparing


Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market 2018 $866,79020$848,56197.90%41 2019 $801,73428$791,42998.71%28 +/40.00%-7.51%-6.73%99.10%-31.71%farmtank


Total Sold Asking Price Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price # of Days on the Market 2018 $892,39738$878,26198.42%29 2019 $902,026$951,4384094.81%46 +/58.62%-3.61%6.62%5.26%2.71%

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market 2018 $850,94451$837,17998.38%36 2019 $756,072$767,7305998.48%31 +/-13.89%-9.69%-9.78%15.69%0.10%


Total Homes Sold Asking Price Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price # of Days on the Market 2018 $867,789$884,1875398.15%45 2019 $805,774$826,4735197.50%33 +/-26.67%-0.65%-6.53%-3.77%-7.15% 01/01/18 - 11/20/18 to 01/01/19 - 11/20/19



Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market 2018 $1,033,59120$996,65396.43%23 2019 $1,022,744$1,061,2951996.37%36 +/-0.06%-5.00%2.68%2.62%56.52%cal areapoly


$1,224,93818$1,181,88896.49%79 2019 $1,455,84025$1,411,58096.96%73 +/38.89%18.85%19.43%0.47%-7.59%countryclub

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market 2018 $897,02046$887,11498.90%54 2019 $830,70262$812,05797.76%42 +/-22.22%34.78%-7.39%-8.46%-1.14%downtown



68 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS® | SLO CITY SLO LIFE

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 69 Don’t wait for the ball to drop! Reach out to us today to get started. Donna Lewis NMLS ID: 245945, CA - CA-DOC245945 • Dylan Morrow NMLS ID: 1461481, CA - CA-DBO1461481 • Maggie Koepsell NMLS ID: 704130, CA - CA-DBO704130 • Phyllis Wong NMLS ID: 1400281, CACA-DBO1400281 • Luana Gerardis NMLS ID: 1324563, CA - CA-DBO1324563 • NMLS ID #2611 (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System • CA - Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight, Division of Corporations under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act Lic #4130699 • Joe Hutson NMLS ID: 447536, CA - CA-DOC447536 Applicant subject to credit and underwriting approval. Not all applicants will be approved for financing. Receipt of application does not represent an approval for financing or interest rate guarantee. Restrictions may apply, contact Guaranteed Rate for current rates and for more information. We couldn’t have done it without our incredible community. Maggie Koepsell VP of Mortgage Lending O: (805) 335-8742 C: (805) maggie.koepsell@rate.com674-6653 Dylan Morrow VP of Mortgage Lending O: (805) 335-8738 C: (805) dylan.morrow@rate.com550-9742 Donna Lewis Branch Manager/ VP of Mortgage Lending O: (805) 335-8743 C: (805) donna.lewis@rate.com235-0463 Luana Gerardis VP of Mortgage Lending O: (805) 329-4087 C: (707) luana.gerardis@rate.com227-9582 Joe Hutson VP of Mortgage Lending O: (831) 205-1582 C: (831) joe.hutson@rate.com212-4138 1065 Higuera Street, Suite 100 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Phyllis Wong VP of Mortgage Lending O: (805) 706-8075 C: (805) phyllis.wong@rate.com540-8457 Thank you for another amazing year!

70 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 Senior Loan Advisor NMLS 395723 1212 Marsh St., Suite 1 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 BEN 805.441.9486LERNER * Top 1% Mortgage Originator | Mortgage Executive Magazine ** Scotsman Guide’s Top Mortgage Originators 2018 holidaysHappytoyouandyourfamily. Equal Housing Lender Member Est. 1987© 2019 Flagstar Bank Contact me today to learn how I can help you purchase or refinance your home. ** | SLO COUNTY SLO LIFE Arroyo CountywideTempletonSantaSanPasoPasoPasoPasoPismoOceanoNipomoMorroLosGroverCrestonCayucosCambria/SanAvilaAtascaderoGrandeBeachSimeonBeachOsosBayBeach(InsideCityLimits)(North46-East101)(North46-West101)(South46-East101)LuisObispoMargarita BY THE NUMBERS 2018 253836029032415157511011914713327043133541015029715112 2019 2591345293333261315271081561202785012051109563372999 REGION NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD 2018 15350476874854437625150783648905943957853 2019 12740558767935441655967804563745845937257 AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET 2018 $1,087,324$1,226,432$766,816$572,134$749,028$949,100$534,509$650,300$738,000$675,367$511,098$971,806$500,712$509,747$675,780$702,730$929,772$424,600$829,711$697,825 2019 $1,224,864$1,395,843$582,846$807,192$925,323$935,357$555,715$672,802$749,541$666,477$520,596$1,169,759$525,429$561,104$722,646$614,710$909,255$510,017$813,759$724,374 MEDIANPRICESELLING SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®*Comparing 01/01/18 - 11/20/18 to 01/01/19 - 11/20/19 REAL ESTATE

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 71 805.215.0428 | | 714.362.4618 @dunn_gardens DesignLandscapePersonalized



Artificial blue light may be wreaking havoc on our sleep cycles—and much more. SLEEP?NIGHT’SBLUELIGHTMAYBEWHY

A recent report from the New Zealand Royal Society suggests that our increasingly “plugged in” lifestyle is wreaking havoc on our internal clocks—and the world at large. Here’s what you need to know before you power-up the brightness in your life. FITZGERALD is a writer and traveler with a healthy addiction to kombucha and kale.

| HEALTH Ever wake up feeling like you landed in a different time zone with a case of jetlag after latenight Instagram scrolling? Or after bypassing the “Are you still watching?” screen on Netflix more times than you care to admit? Well, you may have a blue light hangover.




Our brain receives environmental cues from our eyes, aligning when we feel sleepy or alert with the time of day. Exposure to blue light wavelengths after dark confuses our brain about the time of day. The result: trouble sleeping, morning grogginess, and impaired focus and productivity. Nothing sleeping pills and a double shot of morning espresso can’t fix, right? Well, according to research from Harvard Medical School, basking in blue light outside of our natural circadian rhythm may also contribute to the causes of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer, as well as eye strain, cognitive dysfunction, and depression. Our circadian clocks regulate many important functions, including metabolism, immune function, behavior and mood, and—of course—sleep. When these systems get thrown out of whack, our overall health and wellbeing suffers the consequences. Many of us spend a whopping 10 hours per day glued to a screen, according to a Nielsen media usage report. Not only does this mess with our sleep—but recent studies suggest it may also accelerate skin aging.

Simply explained, blue light is a high-frequency wavelength that appears naturally with sunlight and moonlight. The amount of natural blue light varies based on location and weather but typically peaks in the early afternoon. Like all living things, we rely on this daily cycle of light and dark to wake up, stay up, wind down, and go to sleep. Soaking up blue light wavelengths at appropriate times during the day is good for all life on earth. In contrast, after-hours exposure to artificial blue light from things like energy-efficient LED bulbs and digital screens is cause for concern. The advent of blue light-emitting electronics and lighting is adding blue wavelengths to our environment at mind-boggling speed. In many ways, man-made light makes modern life easier. So what’s the problem?

In 2014, the journal Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, wrote that skin exposed to blue light showed “significantly more pronounced hyperpigmentation that lasted up to three months.” This doesn’t mean you should shun all your blue light-emitting devices and buy a pricey skin serum promising protection from blue light. Experts say there’s still a lot of research to be done on the relationship between blue light and premature aging. In the meantime, stick with your everyday broad-spectrum sunscreen and limit your screen time as much as possible. >>


DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 75 THANK YOU FOR A WONDERFUL 2019, FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS! APRIL DEAN REALTOR® April@HavenSLO.com805.704.3622LIC#01947608 Happy Holidays! Life Moves Too Fast for Traditional Braces! Invisalign offers a quicker, easier way to achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted, delivering life changing results in months. the clear alternative to braces Cosmetic | Laser | Metal-Free Dentistry FREE TEETH WHITENING WITH COMPLETED INVISALIGN® TREATMENT! CALL TODAY! 1250 Peach Street Suite E San Luis Obispo (805) 250-0558 •• •

We humans aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of artificial blue light. Plants, animals, and microorganisms also rely on light cycles to guide behaviors like photosynthesis, pollination, migration, hibernation, and reproduction. Blue light in particular influences circadian clocks in plants and animals.

Artificial blue light is still relatively new on the scene, meaning more research is needed to determine longer-term effects in many aspects of our daily lives. But the good news is, you can avoid it simply by replacing bright-white light bulbs with warmer soft-white ones, reducing screen brightness, using night-mode apps that reduce blue light emission, or better yet, unplugging with a good old-fashioned book.

While modern LED lights are good for saving energy, they can also interrupt natural biological processes that keep our ecosystems healthy. To be a good neighbor, simply shut off unnecessary outside lights and direct light downward so that it doesn’t spill into the night sky.

If you spend a lot of time behind a screen, blue light blocking glasses—or “blue blockers”— also work well to filter blue light. More and more optical brands are offering blue blockers with and without prescription lenses. You can pick up a pair of non-prescription blue blockers for less than $100. As the famous song lyrics go, “I wear my blue blockers at night, so I can, so I can sleep.” (Or something like that. You get the gist.)




As cities grow and switch from traditional orange-yellow light-emitting street lights to white LED ones, we see an increase in blue light at night—which not only confuses the circadian rhythms of our fellow earthlings but also creates unhealthy light pollution. If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky from a crowded city, you may have noticed a starless glow looming overhead. This artificial “sky glow” is a result of scattered artificial light. All man-made light pollutes the night sky but blue light scatters especially easily, obscuring our solar system and altering our natural environment.

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 77 Love your legs again and wear shorts with confidence! 880 Oak Park Blvd., Suite Arroyo201Grande , CA 93420 805.473.VEIN (8346) Kenneth Spearman, M.D. Timothy Watson, M.D. VARICOSE & SPIDER VEIN TREATMENT Covered by most NoLocalNoinsurancehospitalizationanesthesiadowntime TAKE A 1-MIN. SELF SCREENING TEST If you checked any of these symptoms, call today for a FREE consultation!

JAIME LEWIS writes about food, drink, and the good life from her home in San Luis Obispo. Find her on Instagram/Twitter @jaimeclewis.


y friend Sharon Cumberland recently asked if I’d consider writing a column about bread service— you know, the basket of bread that shows up soon after you’re seated in a restaurant. At first, the idea seemed too pedestrian: isn’t all pre-meal bread the same? She patiently described how some local eateries go above and beyond, though, and I realized how easy it is to take bread service for granted. What would happen if it ceased to be served? Or what if

I visited three South County Italian restaurants, all of which draw accolades for specialties like tender butternut squash ravioli, perfect pizzas, and killer cocktails. But it’s the invitation to break bread that interests me here. This welcoming gesture shortcuts to the heart of a restaurant’s philosophy, I’ve learned; in this case, the bread might be free, but it offers a wealth of insight.




Want to understand a restaurant’s culinary philosophy? Look no further than the basket of bread on your table.

M our favorite bread-giving restaurants decided to charge for it? Very likely, a revolution would ensue.

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“The crust often gets criticized,” says DiFronzo. “People say it’s burnt. That’s because they don’t know Italian bread, or they’re not used to bread from the south of Italy. This bread is different. It’s for peasants who can eat it three days after it’s baked, with some olive oil and tomatoes, and call it dinner. It’s been that way for hundreds of years.” >>


Anyone who’s dined at Giuseppe’s knows exactly what DiFronzo is describing: a blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, finely grated Grana Padano cheese, and minced garlic. Guests at Giuseppe’s receive a basket of warm crusty bread and a dish of this addictive dip before their meal.

“You know what’s funny?” says Giuseppe (Joe) DiFronzo of Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. “This concoction is what people talk about, but the bread is really the star.”

“Literally, that’s it, DiFronzo says. “We call it ‘Italian peanut butter’ because it’s so simple. But again, the bread is the star.”

DiFronzo shares how he grew up working in the bakeries of his four uncles in the San Fernando Valley―all of them immigrants from Puglia, a province in southeastern Italy.

The bread his ancestors baked is the same one he baked with his uncles, and the same one he bakes every day for his restaurants. Raised four times over the course of six hours, the bread is crusty on the outside and pillowy light in the middle.

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 81 SECURED CAPITAL FINANCIAL Real Estate ESTABLISHEDLoans1997SCF WE ARRANGE REVERSE MORTGAGES 531 MARSH STREET . SUITE A SAN LUIS OBISPO . CA 93401 P 805.594.1050 F 805.594.0626 NMLS# 345506, 269870 Extra Income . Tax Free Cash Out . No Payments Medical Needs . Retirement Planning Enhanced Lifestyle . Federally Insured All Types of Owner Occupied Properties REVERSEIMPROVEDMORTGAGES LUNCH LIKE THIS y o u d e s e r v e a F O L L O W @ N O U R I S H S L O F O R U P D A T E S O N O U R D A I L Y L U N C H S P E C I A L S O P E N 7 A M 3 P M M O N D A Y F R I D A Y 1 1 2 6 M O R R O S T R E E T , D O W N T O W N S L O p i c t u r e d : n o u r i s h b o w l , a d d c a l p o l y f a r m e g g , a d d a v o c a d o



The setting at Gina’s Italian Restaurant in Arroyo Grande is one of cozy familiarity: a quintessential neighborhood place with exposed wood beams, a copper bar, and dependable comfort food. The restaurant has remained this way for decades, in part because owner Manuel Estrella purchased the property from its original owners and kept everything the same–including Gina’s famous bread and tomato dip. “It’s just tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper,” says Estrella, who started as a cook in Gina’s kitchen. “It’s very simple.” He explains that the French-style bread is baked fresh in house, and then he brings out a basket for me. With the soft, sliced bread, he includes a little dish of tomato dip, which is not unlike a bruschetta topping. The flavor is tangy and tart, with juices that soak into the bread, turning it pink. With a bottle of red or a bottle of white, this simple combination could constitute a very satisfying meal, indeed. >> ALL DEPENDS UPON YOUR APPETITE

DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 83 BELONGING: LOCAL EXPRESSIONS OF BLACK EMPOWERMENT AND POSSIBILITY R.A.C.E. Matters is a community-based organization who amplify the voices of Black and other People of Color; in an effort to build an actively anti-racist Central Coast. A multimedia, multi-location experience February 2020 R . A . C. E. MATTERS RESPONSIBILITY | ACTION | COMPASSION | EDUCATION Check for event updates. Want to support this project? Contact to learn more about our sponsorship opportunities. 805.927.0374 . . LIC # 767033 Drought-Tolerant, Lifestyle Landscapes Celebrating our 20th Year serving San Luis Obispo County Design . Build . MaintainEST. 1999

I nab my friend (e.g. the impetus for this story) and we head to dinner at Del’s Pizzeria in Pismo Beach. When we arrive, owner Ryan Delmore welcomes us from the open kitchen window, and we sit at a table with a red and white checkered tablecloth and a view of the ocean, just down the street. Italian opera pipes through the speakers.


Delmore brings us a little basket of rolls and a ramekin of whipped honey butter. I slather a roll with butter and take a bite. “Oh my gosh,” I say, my eyes rolling back in my head a bit, “this is like a cupcake.”

The dough for the rolls, Delmore tells me, is the same dough for Del’s pizzas, and the honey butter is just that: local honey whipped into Irish butter. “It was Big Ed’s idea,” says Delmore, explaining that his grandfather thought up the rolls and honey butter concept in 1995, two decades after the restaurant opened in its original Shell Beach “Honeylocation.butterisn’t very Italian,” he says. “But honestly, we get more comments on this than anything else.”


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JESSIE’S TIP: This recipe can be adapted to be a little spicy by adding whole Thai chilies, Sambal chili paste, or chili flakes. Add these ingredients as the chutney is cooling with the pectin. Just remember a little spice goes a long way. you are looking to dress up a winter meal or pass along a homemade treat to friends and family, this tasty, colorful chutney is the perfect choice this holiday season.

! ! Whether


HOLIDAY CHUTNEY 4Ingredients:cupsBoscpears or Granny Smith apples, diced ¾ cup cider vinegar ½ cup white wine ¼ cup lemon juice ½ cup golden raisins (optional) 2 cups fresh cranberries ½ cup small diced onions (yellow or white) Add all ingredients, except pectin, to a large non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until the cranberries break down and sugar has dissolved. Take pan off heat and stir in pectin and allow to cool. Pour in heat resistant jars and cool completely. Keep refrigerated until ready to use—the chutney should last a couple weeks. Serve the chutney at room temperature with turkey or pork. Pairs well with root and winter vegetables. 1 Tbs kosher salt 1 tsp allspice ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground cloves ½ tsp ground ginger 5 ½ cups granulated sugar 1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

JESSIE RIVAS is the owner and chef of The Pairing Knife food truck which serves the Central Coast. SLO LIFE

The grapes in SLO are picked laboriously by hand, as they are in most of our county wineries. This process is done early in the morning to prevent fermenting in the bins on the way to the winery. Leading up to and after this point, every decision made is based on the wine to be produced. Winemaker Larry Brooks, a former Tolosa Winery Pinot Noir magician and wine consultant, commented on just how many decisions are made for one bottle of wine. Certainly, 1,000 decisions are not far off.

The best things are made with great care. Wine is no different. What happens from vine to barrel (or tank) that makes winemaking such a difficult profession? Where is all this wine being made? NOTES


Grapes in bins waiting to be juiced need to be taken somewhere close and fast. Here’s the rub. If you have the talent to make wine, you don’t always have the cash to throw down for the expensive machinery. Fortunately, San Luis Obispo County is home to custom crush facilities. I used to think these were for hobby winemaking, and I’m sure they can be, but they are mostly for professional winemakers. These facilities provide a place to take the stems off grape clusters, crush the grapes, ferment the wine, drain the juice from its skins, and maybe even store wine for aging.




ANDRIA MCGHEE received her advanced degree in wines and spirits from WSET in London and enjoys travel, food, wine, and exercise.

Let’s start with the little vines which take roughly two to three years to produce grapes for winemaking. Winemakers and vineyard workers monitor grapes, checking flavor and sugar levels. When the grapes’ ripeness and weather permits, they are harvested.

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Mike’s wine can be tasted at the Sinor-LaVallee tasting room on First Street in Avila Beach (near the playground) and is also poured at many restaurants. Sinor-LaVallee makes a range of white wines as well as Pinot Noir and Syrah. Their white label appeals to a lighter palate, while the black label boasts a boomier taste. As an apprentice to so many winemaking greats, Mike is now paying it forward. Soon to share the Sinor-LaValle facility are up and coming winemakers, Mikey Giugni and Michael Brughelli of Scar of the Sea. Guigni and Brughelli have been producing wine in the Santa Maria Valley, but have been shimmying over to San Luis Obispo County as they have found it is one of the most special places to grow and make wine. You may have seen Scar of the Sea at Granada Bistro in downtown SLO or in some of the smaller shops. Their style is elegant and I can’t wait to taste what their Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pét-Nat from this area are like. You heard it here first. I had the opportunity to help Coby Parker-Garcia and his family sort through grapes for his wine, El Lugar, at Center of Effort’s custom crush facility. Gorgeous Pinot Noir grapes that were freshly picked from Spanish Springs Vineyard at the beginning of the 2019 harvest glistened with dew in their bins. The electricity was evident, even at 6:30 in the morning. Coby, super focused with rare and beautiful grapes in his hands, was sure to make the most of the opportunity. We sorted through de-stemmed grapes to make sure no leaves or green grapes got through. Want a chance to get in on this small production? To be notified of El Lugar’s tastings, join their mailing list at If you can’t wait for one of the pop up tastings, the fun 2018 Pinot Noir Blanc as well as the 2017 Spanish Springs Pinot Noir can be found at Wine Sneak on Broad Street or downtown at Central Coast Wines on Higuera Street. Mike Sinor and Cheri LaValle Sinor also used the Center of Effort crushing facility when they started their own label, Sinor-LaVallee (pronounced la-vahley). While working for many wineries, including Ancient Peaks, Mike dreamed of making wine from the ground up. So, with cleverness and determination, the couple bought a piece of land and grew grapes. Mike noted that although it is great to rent a place that cleans up after the crushing is done, it’s even better to use a machine at a moment’s notice and visit your wine whenever needed. Mike and Cheri recently moved to their own crush pad—it’s like getting your own place after having roommates.


DEC/JAN 2020 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 91 3076 Duncane Lane . San Luis Obispo 805 549 0100 onlivetoarteclectic,smart, 1599 Monterey Street | 805.544.5900 | (at the corner of Grove Street, across from Pepe Delgados) Open Monday - Saturday 10-6pm

aving just returned from the holy land of beer, Belgium, I thought it appropriate to revisit some of the iconic breweries and beer styles in an ongoing effort to brag, errr, educate readers about one of the oldest brewing traditions in the world. Come with me as I correlate travels through the BRANT MYERS



A mere half mile from the central train station in Brussels, Belgium’s capital, you can find one of the hottest breweries in the world—Cantillon. Known for their traditional Guezes and Lambics, you arrive with preconceived visions of a decrepit old farmhouse in the countryside making wild ales in a centuriesold tradition. Yet there you are, plop in the middle of the garment district in the center of town. It’s nondescript except for the throng of tourists taking photos of the exterior, a sure sign of any brewery in an industrial neighborhood. Not many folks take photos of storefronts unless there’s beer inside. Once inside, you’re hit with the distinct smell of invisible microbes

The good stuff is being served in 750mL bottles, and brother, I hope you brought the antacids because it’s going to be the gut Olympics. I plop myself in the only open bar seat right in the middle of two guys feverishly discussing the various merits of the two vintages of Mourvèdre, a Lambic made with a blend of two grape varieties, 75% Mourvèdre and 25% Carignan. I quickly join the discussion while they fill my glass. Much like champagne from Champagne, Lambic is a beer made in Brussels due to the wild yeast and bacteria strains native only to that area. Further, they thrive in specific temperatures that give the brewers only a portion of the year to make the style. This particular pour is nice and tart, with a fruity aroma and acidic bite from the grapes. We move on to Gueze as our group expands to include a brewer from Slovakia buying bottles costing more than his round trip flight. We drink one of every bottle available and get kicked out as they close their doors, but not before I corner owner Jean- Pierre van Roy, and offer him a flabongo of Naturdays, because sharing is caring after all.

Benelux region with the suds they’re intrinsically tied to.


>> | BREW BY

growing, a scent that only musty cellars full of barrel-aged beer can give off. The smell is so unique, like that first whiff of your grandma’s house and fresh-baked cookies flooding you with memories of visits past. I opt out of the guided tour having seen my fair share of barrels in situ and head straight for the upstairs bar.

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Having consumed enough Lambics and Guezes (a blend of old and young Lambics), I wake the next day and jump on a train to Brugge. This fairytale city hasn’t changed in 400 years, except for a better beer selection at the local bottle shops. I can see Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres from my hotel window so before the luggage even hits the ground I’m sampling their red-brown blended beer that mixes Lambic with top fermented ale to create a sweet and sour lowalcohol Flanders Red Ale. It hits the spot and makes me thirsty to try more. I walk past a myriad of stone buildings surrounded by canals filled with weeping willows and white swans. Pinch me. A short stroll down cobblestone streets and through a cathedral I come across De Halve Maan, the Half Moon, brewery and since I know what I’m about, I start with the blonde single cornerstone, Brugse Zot, and quickly make my way up the line to the dubbel, tripel, and quad beers. Now that I’m feeling just fine I befriend the British couple adjacent to my table, and next thing we know we’re at a restaurant having rabbit cooked in Kriek beer, another type of Lambic but with the addition of sour morello cherries. I have to say, the Belgians sure know their beer and I’m not arguing when they put it in everything.

94 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2020 mainly to enjoy the crisp fall air and take in the sights but also to check out some real estate because I could live like this forever. However, the trip is coming to an end and I was able to taste beer styles from around the country that have been brewed for generations before me. And what better place to savor the traditions of centuries past than the areas where they were born? So no matter where you are, make sure to drink local and take in not only the sights and sounds, but the flavors as well.

The next day, I finally find what I’m looking for, the holy grail of beers, Westvleteren 12, referred to as the“best beer in the world”by numerous sources and discerning palates. I drink it out of a plastic cup, much to the chagrin of my friends, but hey, work with what you’ve got (in a brazen act of frivolity, I also shared one directly out of the bottle with an equally enthusiastic Brit, but don’t tell anyone). This beer is not only an amazingly flavorful and balanced quadruple Belgian ale but has an almost cult-level status due to the incredibly rare nature of the beer itself. Brewed by five monks in a monastery of twentysix, they only produce enough to support themselves, they do not distribute their beers, and you have to go there during specific dates and times to get your maximum twelve bottle case. Father Abbott said it best, “We are not brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks.” I’ve been lucky enough to have this beer on only two other occasions, and it lives up to the hype. Truly world-class suds.

There are too many breweries to visit and not enough time, so I make my way to Antwerp where I walk quickly past shop windows full of glimmering diamonds—you can’t drink diamonds!—and find one of the most unique drinking establishments I’ve ever visited, Het Elfde Gebod, the Eleventh Commandment, which deems “Thou Shalt Enjoy Thyself” and I am happy to announce that I did. Only a young 594 years old, this small cafe is adorned from floor to ceiling with hundreds of angel and saint statues and surrealist art. I order a draft De Koninck, a Belgian pale ale brewed two miles away, and the mussels cooked in white wine. It takes a while, so I make sure to do thorough quality control and order a few more while I wait. The beer does not disappoint. Served in an iconic Bolleke glass with a shape similar to a half-round chalice. This glassware is so linked to the De Koninck beer that you can order one just by asking for a Bolleke.

BRANT MYERS is a craft beer veteran and the founder of BIIIG, supporting local businesses in the hospitality industry.

I finish my feast and go for a stroll

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December 21 //


Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, presenting selections from favorite award-winning Hollywood films. Be swept away by some of the most breathtaking and unforgettable scores in movie history, including Casablanca, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lord of the Rings, Dances with Wolves, and more. December 31 //


It’s Christmas Eve and Clara is about to have the night of her dreams. Audiences of all ages will marvel at the magic and wonder of Civic Ballet San Luis Obispo’s spectacular, professional production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet accompanied by live orchestra at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. December 13-15 //

See Downtown San Luis Obispo decked out for “Holidays Around the World” with retailers staying open late for shopping and social celebration. Start at Santa’s House in Mission Plaza and hop on the Classic Carousel, then meander through scenic Downtown streets, where participating stores offer treats and special holiday gift sales. Enjoy live music on street corners and peer in shop windows decorated with the holiday theme.

If you miss the annual Saturday night Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade, don’t forget this year’s non-motorized parade the next afternoon with decorated kayaks, SUPs, small sailboats, surfboards—anything that floats, really!



December 13 //


You don’t have to sing along, but it’s more fun! The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale presents famous choruses from Handel’s “Messiah,” followed by music of brass, choir and the Forbes Pipe Organ at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. This year’s holiday treat features the Westwood Brass Quintet.




The young performers of SLO REP’s Academy of Creative Theatre take on the challenge of the Scottish Play, bringing the classic story to life in an edited version specifically written for students in grades four through twelve. January 10-19//



The Central Coast Film Society presents the winners of its student contest at the San Luis Obispo County Library. Films accepted for competition through December 31, 2019, are limited to three minutes, two characters and one location. January 11 //


ORCHESIS 50 In 1969, Dr. Moon Ja Minn Suhr established the Orchesis Dance Company at Cal Poly, and the first dance performance was held in 1970. Now, fifty years later, the company presents choreography inspired by previous concert titles and program cover artwork. “50” features ballet, modern, jazz, and contemporary performances by Cal Poly faculty and students as well as guest artists. January 17-25 //

Active jazz musician and local favorite Ken Hustad performs music of Giovanni Bottesini, including the Double Bass Concerto No.1 in F-sharp Minor, “Elegia,” and “Gran Duo Concertainte” with violinist Brynn Albenese in this Cal Poly faculty recital. Pianist Paul Woodring accompanies all three pieces. January 17 //




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The fourth annual Women’s March in San Luis Obispo brings thousands of local citizens together with others across the nation and the world to work toward a positive and just future for all. Advocating for women’s rights, human rights, civic engagement, and social and environmental justice, organizers are rallying around the 2020 theme “The Time Is Now,” saying “Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Your truth matters. Now is the time to make them count.” January 18 //


MOURNING GROUP Artists have long used their contemporary practices to wrestle with grief and mourning—both personal and collective. The Cuesta College Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery’s curated group exhibition running through February 27 features work by select artists who deal with these themes in a profound and direct way. It opens with a sneak peek and artist panel, followed by a reception.  January 30 //

In celebration of the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, the Morro Bay Art Association presents its annual collection of fine art paintings and photography depicting the region’s vast array of indigenous species of birds, birds seen around the world, and all things bird-related. The 2020 featured artist is glass sculptor and California Glass Exchange co-founder George Jercich, who taught glassblowing, glass forming, 3D design and sculpture at Cal Poly for more than 35 years. January 9-February 17 //


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