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Central California Life Magazine

In the Winter 2016 Issue

Dec 15, 2015 01:32PM ● By Kevin
Welcome to another issue of Central California Life Magazine. Winter is the most starkly contrasted season — it is the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. Our writers continue to best themselves as they bring stories from the heart of who we are. These stories reflect the change within the season. The Sweet Nectar Society reaches out to the youngest members of society as they face life-threatening illness and the Garden of Innocence memorializes those babies and children who passed away unnoticed. In contrast, local honor flights celebrate the freedom so dearly purchased by those in the December of their lives. Tony Robbins noted, “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy.” Reading through these pages will reveal story after story describing how our friends and neighbors experience this joy through dedicating themselves to making life better here in Central California. This is what Central California Life is all about — real people and real life in Central California. Our resolution in the New Year is to continue to bring you inspiring — and accurate — stories. On that note, please visit our web site to see a revised story, “Leading in Love,” with updated information featuring Fresno State’s First Lady Mary Castro.

Karen Maroot

On the Cover

The General Grant tree at Kings Canyon National Park – Fresno’s tradional “National Tree.” Photo by Quang-Tuan Luong.


Brad Polzin, Photographer

Brad Polzin is a Fresno-based photographer and artist, drawing inspiration from a wide range of interests and experiences. He studied at the French École des Beaux Arts, The Arts Institute of Chicago and the Art Institute of Seattle, among others, and has taught photography, art and digital technology for more than 25 years. His travels have taken him to 30 countries, including Egypt, where he was a Fulbright Seminar Scholar.

My favorite thing about Central Valley winters is … I appreciate all the aspects of winter, from the crisp chill of the air, rain and fog to the warmth of winter festivities.

One thing that people don’t know about me is … I was once held hostage in Morocco.

The one person who most influenced my life is … My mother.

Cindy Wathen, Writer

Cindy Wathen is the public relations specialist for Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library and a Fresno Art Museum board member. She has degrees in marketing, psychology and a Juris Doctor of Law. She has worked as an editor and publicist for McGraw-Hill, The University of California Press, and Quill Driver Books. She’s also the co-author of Remembering Cesar: The Legacy of Cesar Chavez, the first book to be endorsed by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation.

My favorite thing about Central Valley winters is … Snow on the mountains.

One thing that people don’t know about me is … Cindy Lane (aka Candy Cane Lane) is a street that my father, Spalding Wathen, originally named for me. He named one for each of his daughters and several of his family members. Who knew Cindy Lane in Clovis would become what it is today.

The one person who most influenced my life is … Like many people, my father was the most influential person in my life. He was a brilliant businessman, and I’m still in awe of everything that he achieved in his life.

Kim Leonard, Writer/Photographer

Kim Leonard is a Fresno native who has only lived elsewhere for two years, but she came running back to the open arms and open fields of the Central Valley as quickly as she could. This place has substance, promise and real, good people. She blogs (31 Days of Fresno, Downtown Fresno Blog,  Anzula and The Alpha Blonde), creates handmade books and has participated in panels and workshops about zinemaking and given zine readings as LA Zinefest as a featured writer. She works for Bertz-Rosa Strategy & Creative as a project manager, and she’s the owner of The Central Valley Buzz, a local television program that airs every weekday on KAIL. 

My favorite thing about Central Valley winters is … I’m a summer girl at heart, so I really appreciate that throughout most of winter, we can get away with wearing cardigans and leggings without having to have heavy jackets and boots for every trip out to the mailbox. I also love the colors of winter here. White Christmas doesn’t apply to us: We have bright, clear blue skies in the crisp afternoons, green and orange citrus trees, and that thick, velvety gray fog that turns everything into a monochromatic, Instagram-filtered scene.

One thing that people don’t know about me is … Don’t be fooled by my ultra-cool exterior (ha!):  I’m a huge fan of the ‘90s band Hanson. I’ve seen them live at least 10 times, have a Hanson tattoo, and even once asked Zac to predict the sex of my unborn baby. Thankfully, security was not called. 

The one person who most influenced my life is … My lovely best friend, Aurora, who has always been the best cheerleader, server of realness and source of inspiration for me. There’s not a single endeavor I even think of attempting without first consulting her. The way that she constantly works to keep her life artful and every action she takes ultimately fits into her personal philosophy makes me want to do the same. 


A Few Cool Things

We Keep Our Tree Up All Year - Dec 16 2015 1056AM

We Keep Our Tree Up All Year

Since Christmas 1926, people have made the annual “Trek to the Tree,” as it would come to be called, and park rangers lay the traditional wreath at the base of the General Grant. Read More » 

An Encantada Christmas - Dec 28 2015 1114PM

An Encantada Christmas

Hearst Castle, formerly the home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and now a state park and museum, is six miles north of Cambria. Read More » 


The cockpit of a 1965 Bell UH-1D Iroquois known as the Huey helicopter one of the aircraft you can visit up close and personal at the Warbirds museum in Paso Robles Photo courtesy of Estrella Warbirds Museum

Estrella Warbirds Museum and Woodland Auto Display

The nonprofit museum, one of the fastest-growing in California, is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles and memorabilia of those who served in arme... Read More » 

Keeping the Faith

A Holiday tradition unlike any other Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite has been holiday tradition for nearly 90 years  - Dec 21 2015 0342PM

A Holiday tradition unlike any other: Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite has been holiday tradition for nearly 90 years

Faith Sidlow has wanted to attend the elegant Christmas dinner at Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel, since 1985 and finally had an opportunity 30 years later. Read More » 

Stories From the Heartland


George Sheklian who passed away last December is pictured repairing a customers shoe He operated Sierra Shoe Repair at various Fresno locations since 1963

A Shoemaker’s Spirit

Arsen Sheklian continues father’s legacy of kindness, generosity and quality craftsmanship. Read More » 



Sweet Nectar Society provides comfort for families of children with diseases

A Guiding Hand - “Sometimes, a butterfly doesn’t know the beauty of its own wings.” Read More » 


Skip Essick  the Radio Artist - Feb 08 2016 0620AM

Skip Essick the ‘Radio Artist’

Election Day in 1968 was Skip Essick’s first day of full-time employment on the air. It was also the first time he ever cussed on the air! Read More » 



Exploring mining towns in Mariposa County - Feb 12 2016 0322PM

Exploring mining towns in Mariposa County

Mariposa, is the largest community in the county with a population of 2,200. Several deep mines worked underground veins during and after the gold rush years. Read More » 


Channel your inner artist in downtown Fresno - Jan 13 2016 1205PM

Channel your inner artist in downtown Fresno

Thanks to the Fresno Arts Council’s Art Hop activating the heck out of the Cultural Arts District, South Stadium and pockets along the Fulton Mall, more and more people are recognizing do... Read More » 

Health and Wellness

The psychology of gift giving - Feb 14 2016 0349PM

The psychology of gift giving

With the arrival of functional brain imaging, scientists have now seen that the act of giving a gift activates the reward center of our brains. Read More » 


Fighting the flu comes naturally - Feb 13 2016 1225PM

Fighting the flu comes naturally

Whether or not to get the flu vaccine is a sensitive subject. Passions tend to run high on both sides. Read More » 


Just some of Sue Kendalls nearly 400 rose bushes

Take time to smell, and maybe prune, the roses

Home gardening: Preparing roses for winter dormancy may not be as hard as you might imagine. Read More » 


Quick and Cheap Eats in Central California - Feb 06 2016 0438PM

Quick and Cheap Eats in Central California

Central California Life magazine introduces its new regular Savor feature, Cheap Eats. Read More » 


New Restaurant Review The Annex Kitchen  - Jan 11 2016 1240PM

New Restaurant Review: The Annex Kitchen

Amy Guerra recaps her visit to the former home of Pardini's Cafe in Fresno. Read More » 


George Widjaja Little Leafs owner and sole bartender flanked by his artfully displayed liquor inventory

Little Leaf Expands Tea Room to Bar

Little Leaf Bar’s evolution from its parent tea room, also named Little Leaf and accessible through the always-open connecting door, was an organic development. Read More » 

Arts and Entertainment

Kate Schatz author

Bay Area Author Publishes Book on 26 Diverse Women Throughout History

“Rad American Women A-Z” was written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl. This New York Times-bestselling book documents America’s famous and unsung heroines. Read More » 


A tiny doll left by an unknown mourner rests on a headstone at the Garden of Innocence in Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno

Fresno’s Garden of Innocence volunteers lay forgotten children to rest

Held, and loved, babies find final peace; from the Winter 2016 edition. Read More » 

Calendar of Events

Photo courtesy of Jorge Figueroa on Flickr

January Calendar of Events

From the Winter 2016 issue.


February Calendar of Events - Feb 10 2016 0554PM

February Calendar of Events

From the winter 2016 issue.


Check out our digital issue and insert below and keep checking back for articles to appear online to read one at a time!

Winter 2016 Issue

Discover Fresno Monsters - Winter 2016

Upcoming Events Near You

It is the mission of Cen Cali Life Magazine to spotlight what makes our Central Valley a unique and integral part of the Golden State. To learn more about us and our mission, click on the "About Us + Advertising Link" at the top of this page.

Happy Reading,

Karen Maroot