Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31- Fresno is full of people who actively work to make it a better place.

As evidenced by how many people stepped up to the 31 Days of Fresno challenge, read along, commented and talked about it, Fresno has some amazing people living here who want things to be great. We are not a stagnant community, we're not interested in standing still, we're always looking for ways to breathe even more life into this place. Fresno is an easy place to make a difference because we do have that "Small Town Feel", anyone who wants to try something just needs to put the effort and heart into it and usually Fresno will show up. We have Pecha Kucha Night, Poetry Jams, and now kickball, all of these things because people took a chance on an idea to bring something new to Fresno. I love it.

I've heard its used as an insult that Fresno turns out in mass for new restaurant opening or new places, but how is that bad? We're curious, we see the shiny and have to check it out- it beats being wary of new things and never going, causing all new ideas and places to fail immediately. Or worse- no one trying new things at all.

We're in this city together, and ultimately the place you live is only as great as you make it. I'm glad that so many Fresnans* are up for the challenge.

Watch this video Ryne and I made to sum up our 31 days and explain how 31 Days of Fresno is going to continue on through the rest of the year. A hint- it'll take some participation on your part to make it work...



*What, a girl can't link to her friends?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 30- Fresno is a place where things are made.

On the Fresno flag, one part of it is agriculture, another sunshine, and the other part shown is industry. I didn't think it would be fair to that very important side of Fresno to make it 31 days without giving a nod to the cool stuff that is made here.

Pelco is the obvious company to mention first- you can find Pelco's systems all over the world, and you also see license plates all over Fresno that read PLCO. Its pretty huge, and even with the lay offs and hits that the economy has given it, it is still one of the most recognizable brands out of Fresno.

That said, I want to talk about a company that isn't as well known (which I can't understand why...* ) Keiser Sports and Health Equipment. Keiser manufactures fitness equipment, and the whole process from engineering to shipping the pieces out is done here in Fresno. Keiser was started in 1976 by brothers Dennis and Randy Keiser, and if you wanna talk about real smarties, well, I can't even seem to make my own breakfast but every year it seems like there is a new piece of pneumatic-awesomeness, or an addition to the pre-existing awesomeness that the duo and their engineering team come up with.

Worldwide Keiser is becoming a major force in the fitness world (force... that's funny because they sell a force machine.) and being recognized for its merits- being able to train consistently because there are no weights, its all pneumatic, the minimal equipment needed because, well its all pneumatic, and gosh golly gee, the inherent safety of using it because its... okay you get the picture, pneumatic. No weights dropping on your foot!

Keiser has been putting Fresno on the map in fitness equipment, LT uses Keiser equipment** (That's right, I know enough sports lingo to know that LT isn't just a sandwich missing its most important ingredient...) and the M3 bikes are selling like (lowfat) hotcakes because it does one thing so many other stationary bikes don't do- it S'sTFU! Its quiet, its smooth, its like riding a bike through butter (Margarine? Olive Oil?) and its just plain pretty. And, hot damn, its all Fresno. Also interesting, Keiser hasn't fared too poorly during the recession, a lot of their business is overseas in Spain and China.

I worked for Keiser for a year, and it was just so cool to see the process of manufacturing these things and becoming aware of the fact that everything we use is somehow part of someone's livelihood. I had never considered that side of things even though my dad has worked in the field his whole life. I really started to appreciate all of the small locally run businesses that operate out of downtown Fresno and how they work together and help each other out.

I think that this is one thing I love the most about industrial Fresno, they buy each others products, they support one another, and they take care of Fresno by using those downtown buildings. Fresno Tent and Awning operates out of the first brewery in Fresno, and they are so proud of that fact and of their place.

I was only a receptionist, so you know, my real knowledge of the manufacturing of stuff is pretty limited (as proven by my use of the technical term "stuff"- I put warning stickers on parts for machines when the phones weren't busy- that's how I got my hands in.) but it is one thing that Fresno can and should recognize. We have so many men and women working behind the scenes on things that people the world over can appreciate and use- Fresno plays a major part in protecting important places and also in training elite athletes in major sports***, among the thousands of other businesses in Fresno with equally important and wide reaching work, which I think we should really take immense pride in.

(Picture from Keiser's web site.)
*Seriously... come ON local gyms- this is top notch equipment with great customer service and like, the best bearded guy to supervise the assembly aspect, like, ever. I can testify that there is a lot of care and attention put into this stuff, but would you expect any less from a Fresno company? We're hard workers. Buy local!
**11 seconds into the video you can see some hot Fresno-made action.
*** DREW BREES. Major, like superflippinbowlmajor.
Super PS- this was mostly typed with a sleeping 1 year old in my left arm, so please excuse any glaring errors, I'll fix 'em as soon as I've regained use of all of my typing appendages.

Day 29- Woodward Park

I haven't covered enough North of Belmont this month, so I really am excited to make day 29 all about one of the most beautiful places in Fresno, Woodward Park.

Located, as I like to say it, way the hell out there at Friant and Audubon, Woodward is always worth the drive for me. (Which has been shortened thanks to the 180 which comes right to my doorstep- takes me 12 minutes if traffic is nice!)

The beautiful rolling hills, the calm water, the evil geese*- its all part of the Woodward Park experience. Woordward park has been a place to party, a place to relax, a place to enjoy music and performing arts, and I won't lie, a place to make out. Oh come on , you know you've had more than a few dates there! The picnic, the stroll through the park, the secluded romance of the whole thing makes for a perfect date spot. (Until all of the Clovis Unified cheer squads invade your peaceful spot to take their team photos. Its hard to fall in love to the sound of hundreds of UGGs being removed.)

The Shinzen Gardens are an extra special part of the park, and my favorite thing about Woordward. I love the trees and the colors. The whole thing is maintained so beautifully and created to be a real meditative and tranquil experience. Plus, koi are the coolest fish ever.

The trails that go through the park are wonderful, they overlook the San Joaquin River below and are a lovely way to get in those darned recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day.

I've seen my fair share of concerts there- Kiss Country always blows my mind with the acts they bring in for the $5 concert series- remember seeing Billy Currington when he was just an (adorable) opening act? I remember going as a kid and dancing with my mom to oldies cover bands during the concerts in the park. I can recall the smell of the late summer in Woodward Park even now, in winter. Dust and those silvery green weeds that grow all along the parking area for the concerts, kind of bitter, kind of sweet, but completely comforting.

Another cool thing that happens at Woodward is the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. Theater out under the sky, classic works brought to life all summer long here in Fresno. What better way to get our kids and youth started on these pieces (That they'll have to read anyway in English class) than to see them performed by enthusiastic, passionate and talented actors here in Fresno? Love it.

No matter how you look at it, Woodward is a place where good memories are made in Fresno. Even if the Geese are completely nuts.

(photo from Shinzen Garden website)
*I once got bombarded by geese, hissing and honking at me for bread or blood, so my date and I jumped up onto a picnic table, only to be completely surrounded by a sea of angry feathers. Some kindly bicyclist managed to get their attention off of us and we scampered away. I never followed through on it though, I hope he survived.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28- A place to put your roots down

It's getting close to the end of the month, so the topics I've considered a lot more work or more personal have all been pushed to the last few days here. That said, tonight is going to be on the personal side- it is probably the number one reason that I love Fresno so much.

Both of my parents have families that have been in Fresno for generations. My Dad's parents started out in Oklahoma and moved to Madera in 1946 when my grandpa was out of the Navy, and then they moved to a house on Clovis Avenue in 1957.

My maternal Great Grandmother came to America from Russia in the Early 1900's. Our family are Volga German, a colony of Germans who lived in Russia along the Volga River. Catherine the Great brought them into Russia, promising them that they could live according to their German traditions, but when she passed the promises were no longer kept and the Germans started to immigrate to America. A large group of Volga Germans have settled in Fresno since they first arrived in 1887, and with them, my family.

My Great Grandparents Mollie (Bitter) and Jack Lust bought the land that I live on now in 1935, and started out with just a shack that was already here. Their whole house was the space of my living room, and my grandma remembers that there were gaps between the slats of wood. In time, they added on and built up the house, and it became the house I live in today in 1947. The photo I used today is of the cement in our back yard that has PB 7-46 written into it by my great grandmother's brother, Peter Bitter. We just remodeled the bathroom and found remnants of the original wallpaper behind the sheetrock, and in the cabinets, my great grandpa's signature.

Something I've heard often this month has been that people love Fresno because it is a place they chose to live out of everywhere else in the world. I'm so glad that Fresno has that same draw as a place to put down roots now as it did when both sides of my family were looking for a place to settle. My roots are so deep now that even if I were to move (gasp!) I'd never be able to fully leave, nowhere else would feel like home. I love Fresno because it is a place where generations of families stay by choice and add on to their family histories from the still bountiful Central Valley. I think it makes for a rich and beautiful chapter in my family's story.

I wanted to end today's topic with a few of the quotes from people who have decided to make Fresno their home.

Bill Sidhu

Grew up in London lived in Washington DC, been to Paris Rome Madrid too many to name all..... and Fresno was my CHOICE

Petra Wolf

From Hamburg, Germany straight to Fresno...15 years ago. I really got to like this town!

Ryne Santos (From his Heck Yes Fresno Tumblr!)

I’m technically not a native of the city. I was born in San Diego as a US Navy child; thus I’ve lived everywhere with San Diego yielding the fewest years I’ve stayed in one area at approximately 2 years. I’ve also lived in Guam (5 years), Adak, Alaska (2-3 years), Bremerton, Washington (3 years), Yokosuka, Japan (4 years), and now this is the longest I’ve ever been grounded in one place at 8 years and counting.



Glad all of you decided to put down roots!


(Photo by me, of my concrete.)
(We named our daughter Mollie after my Great Grandma. I really wish she would have hyphenated her last name, how cool would the name Bitter-Lust have been?)
(I love hearing about how people ended up here- every family has their own story, please share yours with me in the comments!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27- Vintage, Vintage Everywhere!

Anyone who has ever seen my wardrobe probably has noticed one major trend- I don't really shop very often. I think half of my closet is roller derby t-shirts*, a good quarter is outlandish outfits I might wear once a year- you never know when a Marilyn Monroe dress, a gypsy scarf-skirt, or a Final Fantasy Tactics White Mage** cloak might come in handy. Or hot pink cowboy boots.

That last quarter is blissfully vintage. I say blissfully because that stuff just doesn't wear out, and when you hate looking for new clothes as much as I do, this is really important.

Truth be told, the only stores I haven't hyperventilated in, had a nearly-homicidal episode, or broken down and bawled my eyes out in the fitting room have been vintage shops. Its easier to blame something not fitting on the "weird sizing they used back then." instead of late night chocolate chips and popcorn.

Fresno luckily has some awesome vintage and secondhand shops.

Yoshi Now!
is kind of a paradise for anyone who collects and appreciates funky old junk. I love going in and seeing what awesomely weird stuff they've brought in since my last trip. It almost feels like a pop-culture history lesson going in and seeing the tables, chairs, dishes, and clothes upon clothes upon clothes that fill this emporium of the retro. A very cool thing about Yoshi Now! is that they're more than just a crazy vintage shop, they're also a venue and a flea market. Several times a year, they open up their parking lot to anyone who has something to sell to set up shop and peddle their wares for free. FREE, FOLKS! They always provide live music from some of the coolest bands in town, hold raffles and make it more of an event that a flea market. In addition to that awesomeness, my girlcrushfavoritepersontoeverholdaukulele*** always makes sure to do a quick set at Yoshi before she performs a full set elsewhere when she makes a tour stop through Fresno. Why? Because she, a world traveler, thinks that Yoshi is just the coolest.

Just down the street from Yoshi Now! is a whole block of thrift stores on Van Ness. I like to hit these up when I'm looking for a particular item, if you have no luck at one, at least there are many more racks to comb!

Okay, now I'm going to interrupt day 27 with a soapbox-y rant. Bear with me. I love Retro Rag in Tower District. It was my first experience with vintage clothing, and I still have the first vintage shirt I ever bought there- a lavender T shirt that says "50 isn't old... if you're a tree" on it. What? I was 16 and I thought I was clever. I like that it is more of a boutique than other vintage shops, and they carry new clothes -a great way to compromise with a shopping buddy who never buys anything pre-owned . What I don't like is news I just got from Corie, my favorite Retro Rag employee- that they're having a hard time in this economy. I know I'm definitely not shopping like I used to- which was already pretty rare- but the thought of a Fresno without Retro Rag is almost unbearable.

I don't know if you guys are familiar with the 3/50 project, a national campaign to save mom and pop stores by asking people to identify which places would be sorely missed if they closed their doors forever. From that list, you're encouraged to choose 3 places and spend at least $50 a month among those, putting money back into the local economy and saving your favorite haunts. Money is tight, but if everyone even dropped in to their favorite shops or restaurants and spent 10 dollars that would be something. We're all in this community together and we need to ensure that these places that add local flavor survive this economically bad time. Retro Rag isn't the only place affected by the economy, many of the staples of the Olive strip have been seeing decreased sales.

Where would you miss? When was the last time you stopped in?

/rant.

*Whew* it feels good to get that off my chest. Buy Vintage. Buy Local. Love Fresno!

(Photo Credit to Ryan Smith/The Collegian. Google Image Search is a lifesaver! )
*Not for the faint of heart. Derby Girls have a warped sense of humor. Just sayin'. Don't say I didn't warn you.
** Shut up it was a long time ago. But I did a SUH-weet job on it. My ex had the matching boy version. You can all geek out appropriately now. Or just shake your heads and unfriend me on Facebook.
***If you were too lazy to click the link, Its Uni and her Ukelele. Shame! You're missing out on playsuits and muppetesque puppets and ultimate cuteness!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26- Fresno is a great place to raise kids

I've said it before, but let me echo that I am so happy to be bringing my children up in Fresno. There are a lot of kid friendly programs and places and a whole lot of support for moms.

I'm fairly new to the mommy scene here (Almost 3 years) but I've been impressed with all of the things my toddler could be doing on any given day. There are toddler soccer classes, play groups, dance classes, and much more that I haven't even unearthed yet.

There are some great parks and trails in Fresno and the Fresno area. We go to to the park at Clinton and Brawley all the time because it has great play equipment and is covered, plus it's close. When I'm more motivated to buckle the kids up and go for a drive out to Clovis, I love taking the kids out on the Clovis trails, which have a bazillion parks dotting the way.

And of course, the zoo membership has kept me sane and my kids busy for the last year and I look forward to many more years of membership.

Also cool is Central Valley Moms. Part blog, part forum, part AWESOME, CV Moms is a way for moms in the valley to connect, share and get through this adventure called parenthood together.

Like I said, I'm relatively new to the parenting scene in Fresno, so what do you like to do with your kids? Where do you find support?

(Image of my son Cary playing at a park in Clovis off of the trail. Taken by the paparazzi.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25- PANCAKES.

I like to think with my tummy, and my tummy thinks that Fresno has some pretty fantastic breakfast spots.

Oh come on, you know you wish you could have breakfast every meal. Don't act like I'm the crazy one for making Pancakes a reason to love living in Fresno.

I have to say my big super ultra mega top pancake experience comes from Batter Up. You can basically put anything they have in their pantry in a pancake. In the morning everything is just static to me, but I can always very clearly hear my husband when he says "Mumfubuzzmmuuhmmnnnhhuyushhhhmmmmzzzz Bacon cheddar pancakes?" Uh yeah, do velociraptors get repelled by grape juice? (Answer is: Probably. Very likely.) Their short stack consists of two pancakes the size of my head. Maybe even the size of Doug's head. Also, they're kid friendly, they have a chalk board in the corner for kids to go nutZ on and then come back to the table covered in fine pink and blue and green dust for optimal enjoyment of pancakes.

Mak's Landing in the Chandler Airport gets a close second, though. Once again, pancakes the size of the plate that turn into sumptuous morsels of doughy syrupy joy, but with the really cool added bonus of getting to watch planes land and take off just outside the window.

For the fine-dining pancaker, of course there is Patio Cafe in Fig Garden, which in addition to perfect pancakes has some of the best dang omlettes ever. The atmosphere reminds me of having breakfast at a restaurant on the coast... casual but at the same time really special. And I'm pretty sure you should order a mimosa with your pancakes. Why not? Be sure to click the link, you're gonna love the music. I'm finding myself swaying back and forth muttering "Pancake" in a very seductive, Barry White way.

Everyone has a place they go for those pancakes that haunt their dreams, where do you pancake it up?

(Photo by me of a Batter Up masterpiece!)
(I know you're questioning my judgment on the whole bacon cheddar pancake business, but don't knock it until you've tried it.)


Publish Post

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24- Luftenburg's Bridal

I just got home from the wedding of two wonderful people, so I decided to dedicate day 24 to newlyweds Shelby and Doug MacNab and make the theme of the day a bridal one.

Luftenburg's is a triple threat, made of win on every front. It's in the Fulton Mall. It has been in business for 67 years (as evidenced by the kick ass signage). It's locally owned and not part of a chain. I love it because its such a staple of the Fresno wedding experience and it has been that way for so many brides throughout the years.

I found my dress there*, I told them what I wanted and somehow they pulled the image I made up in my fantasy world out into reality for me. No, really, I think they have a Kim's Fantasy World Portal there. It wasn't even out on the racks, they said it had "Just come in"... yeah, a likely story.

My mom and I made every trip down there an adventure and we'd sample all of the restaurants and stop in at the shops along Kern, it really made the experience unique and special and very, very Fresno.

My sister will be getting married in October and after hitting up all of the shops in town, she found the perfect dress there, as well as great service. I'm hoping she decides that she wants to get the bridesmaids dresses there too just so I have more excuses to go in.

I worry that people might be hesitant to shop there, its not all ritzy glamor like many of the other shops in town are. I can say that the times I've gone in I've had such a positive experience with the staff and they way they worked with me that I recommend it to everyone to at least go and check out while hunting for the perfect gown. If nothing else, it'll get you downtown and give you the ideal opportunity to stop a few blocks away at Cosmopolitan afterward for a tasty sandwich. Mmm, or hit up the farmers market. Ooooh, or drop in down the street at Teazer. Lets face it, Luftenburgs is just a great bridal shopping destination that gives you all kinds of excuses to get your grub on.

And really, isn't that what life is all about; trying on pretty things and then chowing down, while basking in the glory of supporting mom and pop businesses?

(Photo pilfered from The Luftenburg's website)
(CONGRATS SHELBY AND DOUG!)
*Okay, so maybe that marriage didn't last, but that dress was A-MAZING. And I've gotten plenty of mileage out of it, and always looking for more chances to put it on. Seriously. It has a hoop skirt and everything, I feel like Little Bo Peep. And you know, the other good thing about the location is that its right by the county clerk's office, so you're probably gonna end up downtown ANYWAY, might as well shop there, too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 23- Central Unified School District

I wouldn't feel right ending 31 days of Fresno without putting Central Unified School District in there somewhere. (I can hear my husband groaning already. Clovis, what can you do?) As a Central High School Alum*, I'm pretty proud of the little district that could.

I'm not the only one in my family though that went to Central- my mom was a Grizzly, as were my grandparents (Sweethearts!). Right now we're living so close to Madison Elementary, where my Grandma was a student, and then my mom and aunt were students. I am so excited for my kids to start kindergarten and be 4th generation Central kids.

I also experienced Central from a different perspective, I worked for a few years as an aide with the After School Program at Madison. I loved it even more when I saw behind the scenes and got to know the teachers and administration. Fate and a lot of chaperoned field trips has made my dad close friends with most of the science department at Central West, and I've been able to see how much heart they all put into their jobs as teachers.

I remember as student the teachers who went that extra step, and they're still some of my favorite people. Heck, even the teachers who I didn't like were probably great in retrospect, they just taught crappy subjects. Not their fault that they were good at math and made a career out of it.

I know this is probably pretty universal, though. There are a lot of great things to be said for Fresno Unified, and I'll even cave just this once and admit that my husband's alma mater Buchanan, and Clovis Unified are pretty great too. We have educators who work with shrinking budgets and dwindling paychecks and yet still bring their love of learning and passion for what they do with them every day into their classrooms.

Karen Marguth posted this**, and even though it is about Fresno Unified, I think it really speaks to all of Fresno; "Working as a teacher in the Fresno area means that you are helping to make a difference where it's really needed. You are a part of something important, at a time and in a place where so many lives can be improved."

So, to the educators and administrators of Central Unified and beyond, I applaud you. You're doing a great job.

(Image from Central Unified School District's website.)
*Yes, that is from my sophomore yearbook. Yes those are pull tabs from soda cans in my braids. No, I do not regret the Payless knock off Doc Marten wannabe boots with sparkly nail polish over the black fakey leather and the "Goddess" laces. The Zac Hanson braids may have been a bit much, though.
**January 2nd in the comments on my blog for the day.
(Also, if I don't blog tomorrow, its because Doug killed me for putting that link up to... wait... I guess you'll have to click it to figure out the mystery of the missing Burly. Also also wik- Bowl cuts are hot.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22- Fulton Mall Art and Architecture


Have you been down to the Fulton Mall lately? No? Why not?

Its worth the drive downtown just to check out the public art and the cool buildings. I didn't realize how cool until this summer when the Downtown Associaton had a viewing of a film from the 1960's called "A City Reborn" and there was an awesome walking tour of the mall before the film was shown.



Did you know we have a sculpture by Renoir? Like, the Renoir? Its one of only 6 in the world like it, and of those six, its the only one you can actually go up to and touch. Pretty rad.

Stan Bitters, an artist who has pieces at the mall, is apparently a distant relative of mine, and every time I go to the mall, my mom reminds me of this. Its a good thing I like his art.

People always say Fresno doesn't have the skyline of a big city, and our buildings don't wow them, but I think that many of the buildings on the Fulton Mall are beautiful and definitely wow-worthy. The details that were put into the design to make these buildings stand out blows me away. The extent of my architecture knowledge is solely from reading The Fountainhead, so I don't think I can really say much beyond "Ooooh pretty!" But I can direct you to The Downtown Association's Historic Buildings, and awesome Fresno Architecture Blog, Arc Hop.

I love These buildings, and the history behind them. I hope someday we can take care of our mall and bring back that vision in the 60's when the mall was a hub of entertainment and community activity. I wish I could have seen it in its heyday.

(Photo by me of the Bank of Italy building.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21- Tacos!

I may not be the top taco connoisseur in Fresno, but my tummy knows a thing or two about tasty tacos in the Fresno area. It seems like almost every shopping center has at least one Mexican restaurant, which is fine by me- and there are always new places springing up to try out. There are a few stand out taco places here though that I'd like to mention in particular in my ode to Fresno's tacodom.*

Al Rico's Taco's on Ashlan and Marks was the first place I fell in love with aacos. I was in high school and my boyfriend and I would walk there and nomnomnomnomnom the heck out of their 2x$1 deal. Now the price has gone up to $1.25, but its still a steal- and they're open til 10- in fact my husband is trying to talk me into driving there as I type this.

Chris' Meat Market
on Kern downtown is another delicious destination. How many 4 AM adventures ended up there when I was still cool enough to be out until 4 AM? Too many tacos to count, my friends.

My Husband got me hooked on Tacos Tijuana on Ventura- another midnight cravings place with some incredible food. Killer carne asada.

I know there are many, many more, but quite frankly I'm fried from the wee one crying (its bedtime) and I'm thinking about nipping out for a taco myself. Share your favorite taco haunts! Tacos make the world go round and are part of the yummy side of Fresno!


(Found the image on Ebaums world. Couldn't resist posting it. You know how that goes.)
*This is just a quick overview, I wasn't even planning on doing tacos today until I started thinking about how badly I want one! If you wanna know more about any of these places your best bet is just to go. Tacos are dirt cheap, anyway so its not like you'll be out anything and you can check "Taco Adventure" off of your bucket list.

(Also, there's a new place that just opened on Belmont and Marks, anyone been yet? I'm planning on going very soon to check it out! Tacos that are within an arms reach? (if I had 2 mile arms) YES PLEASE!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 20- The Tower District

The Tower District once was described by one of my friends as "the only place in Fresno that has a scene." While I don't completely agree that its the only place, that has stayed with me through many years- well, at least long enough that I've forgotten who said it. The truth to that statement is that Tower really does have its own flavor, attitude and feeling. Driving down Olive you can perceptibly feel the atmosphere change as you get closer and closer to the Tower Theater- that beacon of what I would consider to be Fresno's live entertainment district.

I wanted to save Tower for later in the month because it really is just such a big undertaking to do it justice, however, here at day 20 I'm no more prepared to gush about all of the great things Tower has to offer than I was on the first. With no clue which direction to take first- art, food, music, people, events.... I'll begin with the strongest statement I can make about the Tower District and how I feel about it in relation to Fresno: If a friend were visiting Fresno for the first time, I would take them to Tower first.

I would like people who have never seen Fresno to at least leave with thoughts of a street lined with (mostly) locally owned businesses, beautiful public art and fun people in their mind.

Tower has everything that I look for in places I go to visit. I realized this while my family was vacationing in Morro Bay last weekend. All of the places we all go nuts for over by the coast are here in Tower, but better and less tourist-generic. No seriously, just for one example; my dad will go to the coast, not to see the waves but to buy as many cheap albums on vinyl as he can convince my mom that he needs, never mind that we have an awesome record shop here as well as all kinds of thrift shops to check out.

I am very proud of the Tower District. I love when there are parades and people line the streets to watch and celebrate whatever the occasion is together. I love the sit down dinners and the on-the-go options. I love that, in the rare event that my husband and I get a date night, we can always find something to do- sometimes its hard to choose between the venues. I love that there are always a handful of people that I've never actually seen sober, but can be counted on to be in the Livingstones patio. I really love that I can get a yummy coffee drink or a delicious tea- or both, one in each hand if my mood dictates. The Tower may not be the only place with a scene, but the scene there is definitely exciting and unique and one that I wish I could spend more time in.

What do you love about the Tower District?

(Photo credit to the absolutely awesome Joe Osejo. Who rules? Joe rules. For realz.)
(I hope all of the places I linked to are still open, its hard to tell with the way places keep closing thanks to the economy. Makes me sad!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19- Yogi Shalom

Anyone who has taken a yoga class at Fresno City or Fresno State in the last 30 years probably is familiar with the voice of Yogi Shalom filling the room from his recorded hatha yoga sessions. The founder of Yoga of the Old Masters and The Yoga Center here in Fresno, Yogi Shalom has dedicated his life to helping other people find balance and live healthy lives. He's all the proof that you need: he practices what he preaches and it gets the results he promises, at almost 88 years old he's in better shape than most twenty-somethings I know.

If you've ever been to one of his classes at The Yoga Center, you're familiar with the comfortable, comical atmosphere that he brings with him wherever he goes. More times than I can count he's cracked jokes before class starts, or sometimes in the middle of a session, but it never detracts from the relaxing feel of the class. In the last year he's stopped making the bi-weekly trek down from Auberry to teach, but he's still living a holistic lifestyle and spreading the gospel of Yoga and healthy eating from his yoga studio he's set up in his home.

Something that makes Fresno super-ultra-mega-rad in this situation is that the local learning institutions have been using their yoga curriculum from someone who is also from the community instead of ordering yoga sessions from somewhere else.

I also probably should mention here that Yogi Shalom is also known as Charles Schoelen, or in other words, my grandpa. This makes day 19 special for two reasons- one being that I absolutely love yoga, the Yoga Center and his CDs, and two being that Fresno is a place where my whole family lives, and that makes Fresno important to me. This is a place that he and my grandmother chose to settle down with their family, and I am so happy that they did. I love a city that supports their local yogis!

(Photo from The Yoga of the Old Masters website. So are these photos:

Totally awesome. Yeah, can YOU do that? Well, you can if you do yoga, I guess...)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18- Central Valley Talk

I'll admit, I really had never watched much Central Valley Talk up until a month or two ago. I didn't know it existed.

Now that I've been educated in the awesomeness I tune in at random throughout the day to see what I can see, and I think its is just too cool. People who aren't necessarily career TV personalities have a major voice here and do a great job hosting shows that cover parenthood to Fresno nightlife.

What strikes me as 31-days-worthy is the dedication the hosts of the show and people who make it happen behind the scenes have to Fresno, the various 'scenes' in town and promoting the things that make Fresno rock. If you're having a hard time figuring out what bands are up and coming, which events are going to be hot, or what the meaty issues are in Fresno, chances are you'll be able to hear about them on CVT. I've had the opportunity to go the Central Valley Buzz with Chuck and Joey and just from hanging out in the studio with them I've come away feeling like my Fresno IQ is higher- they know exactly whats going on in town, down to what kind of hot dog to order at Tower Dogs!

These shows regularly bring in local artists, musicians, poets, and weirdos like me and give them a chance to get their name, ideas or product out there. What an opportunity!

Central Valley Talk is on Digital Channel 33.1, or can be viewed on their website at any time. For more information on CVT and who they are go here. And then watch a broadcast, or just listen, but either way, check it out. I didn't know it existed until a few months ago and I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who have yet to hear about it so spread the word and let your friends know about this awesome locally produced media gem.

(Photo is from another PRT SCRN magic trick I did, because I can crop. Watch on the web and you'll likely see this same image!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17- Tri Tip

Anyone from Fresno has probably at least once experienced the confounded look on an out-of-towner's face when talking about tri tip. This is fairly common- the use of this cut of meat wasn't really done for much other than ground beef up until the 50's when some smarty in Santa Maria decided that it was the best cut of meat ever and it should be enjoyed.

Though it is gaining popularity, tri tip is still mainly found along the central coast and ding ding ding! Right here in Fresno and the valley.

Its so popular that everyone you know has the best recipe for the most tender and flavorful roast. My husband likes Pappys, my dad uses wine and garlic, my mother in law swears by local seasoning maker Raven. Its discussed at bar-b-que's out of hearing range of the host and shared on internet forums, where people from near and far all ask "Okay, so what cut is it?" Tri tip is definitely a tasty Fresno food, so how do you prepare yours?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16- Huntington Boulevard

Today is devoted to the second street in my 31 days- Huntington Boulevard.

Huntington is a beautiful, well loved and cared for neighborhood that is on the cusp of downtown and it is a beaming example of what taking care of our beautiful historic places can be.

I chose Huntington because I spent a year living in the condos at the end of the boulevard at R street. I loved walking it, with its full trees and homes full of character. I loved skating it when we were just starting to form a roller derby team and I had to prove to myself I still could stand up. I loved syaing hi to people as I went by, and there being an abundance of people to say hi to. Huntington is a very busy walkway, and its easy to see why.

As a kid we would always check out the lights along Huntington instead of Christmas Tree Lane because it was geographically closer to our house and we could walk it on any night we chose. I can still see my favorite displays even now years later in my mind.

A quick Google search turned up the Historic Huntington Boulevard website, which has a detailed history on the street, and it even gives a virtual tour of the neighborhood homes. Its wonderful to see a neighborhood that takes such pride in where they are and where they came from.

(Photo from the Historic Huntington website)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 15- Valley Burlesque Society


I'm not sure if this is as opposite as two days can be from one another, but today I choose Valley Burlesque Society as one of Fresno's gems.

Most recently I saw VBS perform at the Fresno Beehive party, and the routines were great, a perfect combination of fun, tease and well, fun again.

Before you get all moral high-horsey on me and say "What? She chose stripping as one of her favorite things?!" I just want to clarify, burlesque isn't stripping. Its more of a playful and (mostly) tasteful removal of clothing. It brings back a lost art of waiting and anticipating but never quite seeing all that is there, leaving the best parts to the imagination. Its all in the tease.

Valley Burlesque Society teaches this art and holds performances several times a year, including participation in the Rogue festival. They welcome all women of any level of dance experience and body type, emphasizing that burlesque is for real women with real bodies.

What I love about this is that it is a way for the women of Fresno to feel empowered and sexy while being active. They don't require the Basics of Burlesque students to perform, though it is one of the perks, and students come away with knowledge of how to make a burlesque costume.

So next time someone complains that there is nothing cool to do in Fresno, point them to a Basics class, or one of their shows. I think they might change their tune before that first satin glove even falls to the ground.

(Image from the VBS website and blog.)
(What, you were expecting N00DZ? You'll have to go to the show!)

Day 14- Break The Barriers

One of my favorite non-profit organizations in Fresno is Break the Barriers, a gym that integrates children (and adults!) of all abilities. What started as a backyard gym for Deby and Steve Hergenrader to work with disabled gymnasts has become one of the most unique and thriving organizations in Fresno, and in the nation.

That's right, folks, I said nation. The vision of Break The Barriers to integrate all levels of ability is one that is thus far not matched elsewhere.

And this gym is hoppin'. I find my way down there at least twice a week and there is always a buzz of activity and fun when you walk through the doors. In addition to gymnastics, BTB offers dance, sign language, martial arts, personal training and a brand new Wii workout program.

My son is in the Creative Movement and Tap class for 2 and 3 year olds and is actually just starting his 3rd term. It has been awesome watching him learn to listen to other adults and interact with other kids. I also go there to work with their personal trainer Lamont Nash and it has been a very positive experience for me- one that has lost me almost 13 lbs so far!

But all of these things are just a small part of what is so amazing about Break The Barriers. The other side of what they do is have a really kickin' performance team, The Barrier Breakers. The team has traveled all over the world bringing a message of ability awareness along with a great show.

Plus, they have some of the loveliest receptionists on the planet.*

I love Break the Barriers because they do so much for so many in Fresno.



(Photo from Break The Barriers webpage.)
*My sister is one of these receptionists. Of course she's lovely, she's related to me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13- Triangle Drive In

I hate to use two pictures of myself in a row- but this is me in my natural habitat. Triangle Drive In is on Belmont right by the 99 and is one of my long standing reasons for loving this city. They blast KJewel, they have Coca-Cola memorabilia everywhere, the tables have green benches outside, and the burgers are fantastic.

I know, this is also the second hamburger to appear in my 31 days so that probably says a lot about me, but if you haven't had a jumbo cheeseburger from Triangle then I just really don't think you can judge me.

Triangle has been in business since 1963, situated on a triangular lot across from the cemetery and up the street from Motel Drive. Sure you might see the occasional pimp conducting his business, but really, you'd just be at home watching it on COPS anyway, why not get a live show? The milkshakes are worth it, as is the friendly service and food that hasn't slipped in quality at all since I've been a patron- a least 25 years- I know my parents were bringing me there as soon as I could gum french fries.

There aren't a lot of healthy options on the menu, but you can count your calories another day, the chicken burger is just too delish for that kind of nonsense. Plus, the breaded mushrooms rock and the clam strips are to die for.*

Its a great little spot, one where I always run into people I know, and one where I'm constantly bringing people to try. No one has left disappointed yet.

(Photo Credit to Jennifer Emerling. Burger credit to Triangle.)
* I'm super allergic to shellfish. I'm pretty sure that if the doctor ever tells me I have one day to live, I'm just going to have a Triangle clam strips bender and go out in a blaze of anaphyllaxis glory.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12- Storyland

I love Storyland.

It is such a cool place to go- gigantic mushrooms? Okay! A castle, a chapel, and the cutest bathrooms in the universe? Even better.

When I was a kid I was in a play there in the theater. I was there so often one summer, I remember thinking I was so cool like I was the queen of the kingdom. I was cool. I am cool.

Its great that I can still go and feel the exact same way as an adult as I did as a kid, the allure of brightly colored houses and stories being told at the turn of brightly colored keys is just too much. I can't resist going and feeling like a real fairy tale princess.

I love that there is this little enchanted oasis in the middle of our city that kids and adults alike can escape to and satisfy their need for fun, funky fairy tale houses and waist high fairy tale characters. Storyland is a real treasure and is something that I really love about living in Fresno.

(Photo by Jennifer Emerling. Photo of myself, Aurora Armijo and my sweet little Mollie still in the Belly. If you want to impress your best friends on their birthday, plan a picnic and head over to Roeding. After you've avoided/taunted/had your sandwich stolen by/run away from the geese, Storyland is the best. Ah, memories.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11- Produce and Agriculture

I went to school for two years in Orange County and I never appreciated the abundance of produce in Fresno more. You'd think "Yeah, a county of oranges, SUH-weet!" about OC, but yeah... not really. I remember a lot of the produce I consumed was kind of... soggy. Maybe it was just dorm food (likely) but it was absolutely nothing like I was accostomed to. (Read as: spoiled by.) I became a total produce snob, when it was cantaloupe season I got offended that it wasn't as sweet. When it was time for grapes I was mad that they weren't as crisp but already well on the road to raisinhood.

The real kicker, though, was bringing home one of my boyfriends who was from Southern California to meet my family and see Fresno. We're driving along the 99 and he asks me "So are we going to see some grape orchards?"

Orchards, folks.

Now, I'd like to think that was an isolated event and not all SoCal folks are like that but even so I am proud to be from Fresno for the plain and simple fact that I can recognize with some level of accuracy the difference between vines and trees, and am able to identify them properly.

Its pretty bad ass, in fact, that all I'm going to need to do to tell my children about the food they eat is take them on a walk down our street. We'll be able to see apples, oranges, cherries, peaches, apricots, persimmons, lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, pecans, almonds, pomegranates, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. And thats just between our house and my grandmother's house 3 doors away. Everything can grow here, we are able to enjoy delicious fresh fruit and veggies all year long in Fresno without even having to go to the grocery store. (Though we do, because that's how we roll in 2010.) Our farmer's markets are always full of seasonal delights, all it takes is driving, biking, or walking to one and BAM! You're in fresh produce heaven.

I'm pretty pleased that living in Fresno has helped me to be more aware of the origins of the stuff I put on my plate. And then shortly after its on my plate, into MAH BELLEH.

(Picture taken by me of the late Chairman Meow, inspecting the bounty of the land. He is pleased. May he rest in peace.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10- Fresno is a Faithful Place

Something that makes Fresno a unique place for me is its faith communities. I'm not just talking about the fact that you can find a church on every corner in some parts of North Fresno, either.

One of the things that I hear a lot from out of towners is the assertion that Fresno is the Bible Belt of California, and maybe we are, but I don't see that as a negative thing like their tone of voice implies. We have soul and spirit and faith. We have a huge cultural mix, which means that our collective religious environment is influenced by many backgrounds, styles of worship, religious practices and opportunities for spiritual enrichment. For the most part, these faith communities all get along and work together to make Fresno a better place. I worked at The Big Red Church for about 5 years and I saw a lot of this interdenominational and interfaith cooperation firsthand.

One look at the Church World Service CROP WALK Fresno page will tell you that multiple congregations come together for this annual walk to combat hunger and poverty. Every year it is hosted by a different congregation, past walks have been hosted by Memorial United Methodist, Islamic Cultural Center, United Christian Church and Westside Church of God. Click the links, I dare ya, you'll see four very different congregations- and those are just the hosts for the last 4 years!

Another collaboration of note between churches is Fresno Metro Ministry. From their website, FMM "is an ecumenical and interfaith non-profit engaged in community problem-solving, advocacy and community organizing around several primary community issues." Fresno Metro Ministries is very active in nutrition education and obesity prevention, cleaning up the air, and making sure that the city of Fresno is using its land wisely. Pretty cool stuff for a bunch of church people, if you ask me.

One of my favorite faith-based organizations is Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, or FIRM. FIRM helps refugees make Fresno their new home by providing employment services, working with the elders to help them pass the US citizenship test, advocacy and even community gardening. They work with 6,500+ Southeast Asian, Slavic and African refugees in the Fresno area annually. Its very cool to see everything a small non-profit is able to do in our community. I highly recommend volunteering some time or donating to FIRM, they're an absolutely amazing example of what our church communities can accomplish when they work together.

The youth of our city are also proving that getting along and celebrating diversity in Faith is possible with the Interfaith Youth Alliance. Coming up on January 23rd is their Concert for Unity, which will give patrons a chance to experience sacred music from Sufi, Hebrew and Christian traditions while supporting IFYA. Bullard, Hoover and Clovis East high schools even have interfaith clubs.

One more thing that happens every year that pulls in people from all over the Fresno faith map is coming up at the end of this month. The annual Taize Prayer Weekend is January 29th and 30th at University Presbyterian Church. If you've never heard of Taize, its a style of worship that comes out of the Taize monastic community in France. The music is simple and repetitive so that one can sink deeply into it and find a peaceful place to engage in prayer. Its a very different experience and one that is restorative and inspiring, and its pretty rad that here in Fresno we have a group of people who are passionate about sharing it.

For those of you reading this and going "Yawn, I'm not into fiction" Fresno has a, well, not faith community, but you know... a community for you too! Central Valley Alliance of Athiests and Skeptics is a group of people who, "believe that human rights and ethical questions are best examined from a human perspective, and that morality makes better sense when it is based upon empathy and sympathy for others instead of being based on blind religious dogma." (from the CVAAS website.) I appreciate that there is a secular group of people who are asking those questions and working together within our community, promoting a more positive view of Atheism. For many, Atheism is an important part of who they are and how they identify themselves, its great that there is a community to share that with.

As you can tell by the super extendo blog length, I've touched on one of my greatest passions, and one of the main things I love about living in Fresno.

(Photo by Frank Saxton of Earth Prayers, local photographer-philosopher.)
(I really really wanted to use the phrase "Fresno is a place to get your God on" as the title, but I refrained as some might find it offensive, even though it CLEARLY is awesome. So I'm putting it down here because no one ever reads the crap in the parentheses anyway.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9- The Beehive


There are some seriously great blogs in Fresno, a whole lot of them, but one of my favorites hands down is The Fresno Beehive. Gossip, news, local interest, celebrity bashing, local celebrity bashing, humor and MADE OF WIN, the Beehive does it all.

It gets its readers involved (heck, it even gets all of those other cheeky bloggers involved, too!) and sometimes stirs up controversies and brings things to light that otherwise might go unnoticed.

I made sure to holla at the BH today because tonight they're celebrating their 5th birthday over at Full Circle Brewery in a gigantic bash that promises to be the party of the year. For free. Yeah, I know, how can you go wrong?

People get very involved with the Beehive, some of the comments in hot topics go on for miles and miles. I like seeing that kind of involvement from folks that are all over Fresno with completely different viewpoints.

I love reading the blogs on the Beehive because it shows the snarky sides of the writers of the Fresno Bee. Totally entertaining, very engaging, and better than reading a cereal box, I like to start my day off with some Fresno Beehive action. Scoopy's got my heart, what can I say?

(Picture from my to-do list. I mean, www.fresnobeehive.com)
(Its late, my kids are crazy and I'm a little loopy so if you have a blog that I didn't link to, please leave it in the comments. I may not even know about your awesomeness, and I'll have a whole new reason for not doing my laundry or dishes. Please give me more excuses to put off my cleaning. Please?)
(Also, check out Fresno Beehive's Facebook Page!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8- Chaffee Zoo

Wild animals, beautiful vegetation, and all of the wonder and learning that comes with it- That is what I love about the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

We go to the zoo all the time- when the weather is nice we go weekly. I have 2 kids under 3 years of age, the Chaffee Zoo is a lifesaver. It gets us out of the house, we can try out new words, practice our animal noises, and run a little wild ourselves. We have a family membership, and are beginning our second year as members. Even without a membership, its cheap entertainment, adults are $7, kids $3.50.

I personally love the cute little black footed cats, I could watch them all day. My son is a big fan of the "Oh-Fwents", and we have to head over to them first thing every time. The bird shows are great, the rainforest is amazing, the petting zoo is fun, even the gift shop is awesome.

The zoo is open almost every day of the year, they have fun after-hours things like Zoo Boo and Zoo lights, and my favorite part- in the summer they open an hour earlier for members. All summer long we still went weekly, but at 8 AM instead of 9. I absolutely love the wild side of Fresno.

(Photo taken by me, of my son, You can see my husband in the background, probably pretending to be with another family. I would if I were him.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7- Art Hop

I know what you're thinking. ArtHop huh? Didn't you say you were gonna leave the art to the big leagues? Okay, so I lied. I am a crafter, but I do appreciate art. Fun Kim + Art story: I seriously just spent 10 minutes trying to write out ArtHop all fancy-like to use as a picture before giving up and settling on this map pilfered from The Downtown Association. I know my limits.

ArtHop is just cool, though. Local artists get a chance to shine. People who may not be comfortable just walking into a gallery on any other day have a chance to come out when they know there will be an event. It gets people involved as a community in the arts. Plus its art, who doesn't love art?

And its tonight! Get out, grab something artsy, some fancy tea or a latte from one of our local shops, and go hop it up. This is something that makes Fresno very unique and adds a bit of adventure to an otherwise mundane day of the week. I mean seriously, Thursday, WTF? Its not like it has a fun nickname like "Hump Day" Its just stuck between the hump and the fan favorite day, so go show Thursday some love and respect and get out and discover some of the incredible artists we have here in town.

(Photo by Google, via The Downtown Association, plus some clever Prt Scrn button magic. That's right I can crop, which is underrated as an art form, by the way. I got especially artistic with the one border on the side. Or maybe I just didn't notice it until now... You'll never know, I'll never tell.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6- The Evening Eclectic



This is something I've only recently fallen in love with in the last year, but Day 6 definitely has to go to The Evening Eclectic on KFSR 90.7. I really fell in love, okay?

Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that I can shake my booty to Lady Gaga and The Jonas Brothers like any other preteen person, but when I'm looking for new music, local bands and commercial free radio, I find myself tuned in on weeknights.

What I like about listening to EE isn't the super duper indie-elite feeling I have after correctly identifying 3 bands in a row, even though that is a total bonus since I've never known how people stay on top of all of those bands. No, its the passion that each of the DJ's bring to their sets for the music, sharing backstory on the bands and sometimes even bringing in musicians to do live sets in the studio. They give local musicians a way to get their music out there, and they help people like me who don't get out very often keep abreast of the local music scene.

I also like that they post their playlists. Because so much of what is played is stuff I've never ever heard, its nice to be able to go back and say "Okay, I remember that song about the guy killing his kids*... so it was 3 songs after that..." My iTunes downloads went from just Imagination Movers and Blues Clues episodes to being totally cool and you know... indie. Now I'm that girl who when you get in the car with her you have no clue what is playing, but it sounds awesome. Thanks KFSR, you make Fresno sound great!

(Image is straight up swiped from KFSR's website, like I could make anything that nifty. Check their other programming, they have something for everyone, from Jazz to Bluegrass to Mediterranean-coming soon. Oh, and I really love that they play A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor rules.)

*This was playing on my way home from derby practice Monday night 9:30ish. I was like, "OMG THIS IS SO ECLECTIC!" and didn't fight the feeling. Of course, I think I may have seen this song as a free download at Starbucks so maybe its not the most indie choice out there. My favorite recent artist that EE has turned me on to is Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. Oooh and Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. And local band Wheels of Fortune. Awesome.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5- The Cheddar Burger at Cosmopolitan

I have to admit, I was the most excited about day five of this project because it meant that I got to break my diet and order my favorite food in Fresno guilt free. (I did it for the greater good... right?)

I love Cosmopolitan. The food is excellent and consistently OMFGAMAZEBALLSGOOD, the staff is friendly and the service is surprisingly fast for the amount of customers they get for the 12 o'clock hour every afternoon. I love the bar with its Old Fresno feel, I love the framed articles clipped from the Bee over the years that they have on the walls while you wait to order. I love when they have specials that blow my mind like pulled pork sandwiches or pot roast. I love that they don't get too upset when my kids make a mess with the saltines that were intended for my #2 special (Soup and half sandwich and a drink) and oh boy do I love that Cary, my 2 year old, said Cosmo as one of his first words.

But more than all of this, I love the Cheddar Burger. Its gigantic, juicy, flavorful, and it would even make cocky old Carl's Jr. feel pretty damn junior. I dream about it. I make my friends order it. I lick my fingers, and if no one is watching, the paper on the tray as well. It is my absolute hands down favorite burger in the universe. And its in downtown Fresno, and I love it even more for that.

(Photo taken by me just before I had a cookie-monster-esque moment on it and grunted and slobbered my way through the whole thing. Be lucky I'm not licking the computer screen right now.)

Cosmopolitan is located at 1546 Fresno Street, at the corner for Fresno and G.
(559) 266-8662

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4- Fresno is a Foggy Place


It may not be so great in that I-drive-a-fog-silver-car-down-Kearney-every-day sort of way, but gosh golly gee, I really love the Fresno fog.

I like when it gets all socked in and I can pretend that I live inside a cloud. I like watching it descend, and noting how certain parts of my street get denser fog than others. I love that everything feels quiet and calm like the world has been wrapped in cotton batting.

I am probably close to alone in this. (I only say close, because someone else posted Fog as a favorite thing!) Fog is dangerous, people don't take it seriously and drive without their lights on, there are a lot of reasons to dislike Fresno fog.... but gosh golly gee...

When I was in high school I remember living for foggy days. I think every student that goes through Central High School, or any district that has foggy day schedules, becomes an expert fog-predictor. We'd all get so excited when it was a bright sunny day after a soggy wet one, praying it was enough to make a plan C or D- enough to give us 3 extra hours to sleep in, make out with boyfriends, or torment teachers who probably wished we hadn't come in early and had stayed home making out with our boyfriends.

When I was in 6th grade at Roosevelt Elementary, I remember playing hide and seek out in the soccer field before school one day- no need to find cover! Fog was a magical shroud, and it just came down to luck and being able to stay still and quiet enough not to be detected.

Every Christmas I love looking at Christmas lights in the fog, seeing the halos of light in the mist. Its so much more beautiful. The midwest can keep their white Christmases, I want a gray one.

(Image from weather.com)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3- Fresno is a Crafty Place!

There is always a lot of buzz about Fresno's art scene, which is truly awesome, hence the buzz. However, I am not an artist- I'll leave that territory up to the folks who are able to draw a straight line and I'll just go and admire their talent at Art Hop. I'm a crafter, so I'd like to take a few moments to share about the awesome environment for crafty folk like myself here in town.

For the longest time I would only think to go to specialty yarn shops while traveling out of town- it never hit me that there might be local yarn stores just as well stocked with unique yarns as those along the coast. Then I stepped into Janna's Needle Art at Fresno and Shaw. Gorgeous yarn wall to wall, people in the back working on projects and love for fiber arts through and through. Not much later, I was walking through the Tower District and realized that I'd walked by a yarn shop hundreds of times without knowing it was a yarn shop. Ancient Pathways is not just a yarn shop, though. You can learn how to spin your own yarn, buy yarn that is locally crafted and hand dyed, and become part of a real crafting community.

Recently Twee, a brick and mortar store of handmade goods, opened up in Tower. Only a few steps away from Ancient Pathways, Twee specializes in all things cute and local. They operate on a 60/40 consignment basis, 60 to the artist, and provide an alternative to Etsy and other internet sites for local crafters to peddle their wares.

Speaking of Etsy, this fall I found out about the Fresno Etsy Especial group, a band of Etsy sellers located here in the city who joined forces to make awesome things happen such as the Cirque Du Noel, a handmade bazaar that took place in December.

There are also tons of places you can go for beads, scrapbooking, stamps, and all kinds of DIY projects- I know I'm missing a lot in here. I'd love for you Fresno crafters who are in the know to leave those places and their locations in the comments so I can just go out and find more and more things to love about being a crafty lady in Fresno.

(Photograph taken by me of my bag of goodies I bought tonight at Twee. Yes, your vision is great- that IS a City of Fresno flag necklace, $10. They have magnets, too!)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 2- Fresno LOVES Roller Derby


You may not have heard yet, but Fresno is the home of two roller derby leagues, NoTown Roller Derby and Central California Area Derby.

I play for NoTown, so you know that this had to be one of my favorite things about Fresno. In fact, playing derby has made me even more keenly aware of my love for this place.

That said, I can very confidently say that Fresno loves Roller Derby, enough to support two teams in numbers that surpass what many other cities pull in. Last season both teams were able to play to crowds of at least 500, and up to 900. The fans cheer, get involved and with each bout, are learning the game more and more. Roller derby is a very in your face (in your lap, if you sit in the suicide seats on the ground by the track) fast paced sport, its just as athletic and physical as it is entertaining. Its pretty exhilarating to watch and easy to get involved in, even if you still haven't learned all the rules. Its even more exciting to play.

When I've traveled to out of town bouts, even though the fans are engaged, they never seem to be there in mass like our home bouts. My theory is that Fresno just gets behind its sports teams. The Monsters Hockey team is new, but already has a great and loyal following. During any season, you will find people wearing Grizzlies hats, and every sport from Fresno State is supported year round, lots and lots of red in our city. Its pretty sweet to live in a city that backs up their teams.

Its just cool that Fresno has so many sports options. I actually never liked sports until I got involved with roller derby in 2006, but I found one I was able to do despite my complete lack of grace. Now I watch football, baseball and hockey without bringing something else to do (I used to bring philosophy homework with me to Angels and Lakers games when I lived in OC) and I get into the games. Also, if Fresno wasn't a place conducive to roller derby, I'd never have been able to stomach falling in love with a Raiders and Giants fan meathead! Thanks Fresno for helping me to appreciate sports and athletics. Without you, I wouldn't have my pretty babies.

Photo of Betty Rocker #13, NoTown Roller Derby by MFV Photography

(If you haven't seen a Roller Derby bout, NoTown is playing in Paso Robles vs Central Coast Roller Derby on January 16. We all love that Fresno is only a few hours away from everywhere, right? If you can't make that, our home season starts in February, the season schedule should be up soon! CCAD has a pretty full season as well!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1- Kearney Boulevard


I want to start off my 31 Days of Fresno with something that has been one of my favorite things since I was a kid. I freakin' love Kearney Boulevard. As a little girl, it seemed to be the epitome of being a Californian, what says sunshine and glamor more than a street entirely lined with majestic palms? We'd drive to my Great Grandmother's house (now my home) and I'd stare up at these perfectly spaced glamazons, interspersed with oleander and eucalyptus and I knew I was cool. Just real cool.

Kearney Boulevard leads up to Kearney Park from Downtown Fresno, and for about 20 Miles it dots the Fresno skyline with palms until it hits Kerman. Sure its on the West Side, bit I'm on the West Side, too. West side doesn't mean the same thing to me as it does to most Fresnans.

When I learned about M. Theo Kearney and the history behind my favorite street in Fresno, I was drawn in by the romance and glamor of having a REAL socialite, someone who went to only the best spas in Europe and hung out with only the social elite. He saw Fresno as a remarkable place for agriculture and did everything he could (and he was filtystinkinrich, he could do a lot) to make Fresno the capital of agriculture. He was the Prince of Fresno. And he had a Dreamy McDreamerson beard. Slap me with an aristocratic happy stick.

Kearney wasn't just a hunk with a lot of money, though. He was smart too- Smartagious even. Starting from scratch, his main ingredient for wealth was in Raisins. And he didn't stop there- hHe wanted this place that he had decided to live to be the best place to live- especially if you're into agriculture. He left his entire estate to the University of California to benefit agricultural education. Badass.

I'm bummed that Chateau Fresno never was realized. The Mansion is great, but how awesome would that place have been? I almost wonder how Fresno would be different if it had been built? That, my friends is World Class.

I know it goes through a part of town that most people won't even go near, and it has quite a reputation with some of the sites along the way (Running Horse, the whole effing West Side... My house) but its a pretty cool drive on a sunny day, and if you have nothing to do, its nice to put on some community-supported radio, roll the windows down and just drive the whole stretch.

I love you, Kearney Boulevard!

(Photo credit goes to me and my car, driving down Kearney this afternoon. You know you're amazed at my skillzzzzzz. Oh man, I should win like, photographer of the DECADE.)