Living Columns & Blogs

Merced Life

Ozarks, Breaking Bad and other reasons I’m not a drug dealer (#spoilers)

If there is anything I have learned from watching AMC and Netflix over the years, it is that I never want to work for a drug cartel, no matter how much a potential boss might offer to pay me. My commitment to this life motto has been reaffirmed recently while binge-watching Netflix’s Ozark, a show about Marty Byrde, who lives in the Ozarks while laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel.

Sarah Lim: Museum Notes

Singing Love, Home, and Politics

The Courthouse Museum’s “Singing California” exhibit is now on display at the UC Merced Library and its digital content will soon be added to Calisphere. Our UC Merced students will have a chance to view the beautiful vintage sheet music covers and enjoy the “sound” of the past. Growing up with female artists like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, the students will be surprised to find out that women songwriters are largely absent from this exhibit and they may ask this question, “Where are the women songwriters?”

Merced Life

Dealing with the Vulture Tree

George Pena and I are standing beneath my neighbor’s tree, the huge pine that I have come to think of as the Vulture Tree. He is telling me about his peregrine falcon, Nitro, who died after landing on a high voltage wire. I had met Nitro years ago, and I tell George I am sorry to hear about the falcon’s death. Peregrine chicks are expensive, costing as much as $2,500 to purchase, and then they must be trained for six months before George can use them in his bird abatement business. But it isn’t the financial loss that George is thinking about when he mentions Nitro.

Sarah Lim: Museum Notes

A decade of Art Hopping

Since their first solo event held in 2008, Kevin Hammon and Kimberly Zamora have worked tirelessly to promote the arts in the Merced area. They had a shared vision of what they wanted to see happen for Downtown Merced. As a businessperson and an artist, respectively, the two organizers set off to boost economic growth for businesses in the Downtown Core and help foster a creative and supportive environment for local artists.

Merced Life

The vultures in my Merced neighborhood

There are few things in this world as graceful as a bird in flight and, among birds in flight, vultures might be the most graceful of all. While clumsy on the ground, vultures aloft are able to ride thermals for as long as six hours, rocking back and forth on the wind and never flapping their wings.

Merced Life

New adventures in old re-modeling

Twenty-six years ago, when my husband Matt and I married, we visited Matt’s college friend’s home in Geyserville, a small community along the Russian River. It was a lovely home, located in a neighborhood of towering pines and winding roads, where the houses were close enough to each other to suggest coziness but far enough apart to maintain a sense of privacy. And the homes! They were upscale cabins, really—vacation houses for the wealthy, except these homes were lived in year-round.

Sarah Lim: Museum Notes

Merced: City on the Rise

Nowadays, the popular city slogan is “Merced is a city on the rise,” which is a catchy and clever way to coin the changes taking place in our historic town. Old-timers will remember that they witnessed another “renaissance” (borrowing the term used by Mayor Mike Murphy) back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Sarah Lim: Museum Notes

Grazie America! From Italy to Merced County

Columnist’s Note: After more than a year of preparation, the Merced County Courthouse Museum opened the “Grazie America! From Italy to Merced County” exhibit on March 16, 2017. The exhibit collected personal stories from more than 130 contributors. As this successful exhibit came to an end on August 6, the process of documenting and preserving their stories continued. This resulted in the publication of a 2-volume book with the same title which will be released this Saturday, July 14, at the Courthouse Museum at 1:00 p.m. The following is Ezio Sansoni’s story, one of the many sweet memories and enduring struggles of the Italian Americans in Merced County.

Merced Life

Blue Collar jobs disappearing

My dad, who died in 2004, was a typical blue-collar man of his generation. He dropped out of school after the eighth grade and when he was 17, he took the GED, joined the Navy, trained as a mechanic, and spent the next 20 years in the Seabees, eventually retiring as a chief petty officer. He was stationed near Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a suburb of Paris, when he met my mother in a bar one night. She also had ended formal schooling after reaching the age of 13, after which she trained as a domestic.

Sarah Lim: Museum Notes

Singing California exhibit opens at the Courthouse Museum

What do George Lucas and Joseph Meyer have in common? They are both Modesto-born artists who made the San Joaquin Valley famous. While Lucas brought Modesto into the national spotlight with American Graffiti (1973), Meyer gave California an unofficial state song titled “California, Here I Come” (1921), which became singer Al Jolson’s signature tune.

Merced Life

Reclaiming the person I once was

As I raised my children, somewhere along the journey I seemed to forget that I was ever a person in my own right, and then at some point I realized that, over all of those years, I had stopped doing many of the things that had once brought me joy. Before I became a mother, one of my favorite pastimes was meandering in the outdoors— sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback— discovering trails, and places off trails, that often held surprises. Though I was never an intrepid world traveler, I was the kind of person who wandered close to home, finding the small hidden places that were easily accessed, even if no one else bothered to look for them. For a period of time in late spring one year, I rode my horse every evening to a spot less than a half-mile from my home, in the middle of a suburban neighborhood still being developed, to watch an owl tend to her nest. I had a favorite weir in a canal just a few minute’s ride from my house, where I enjoyed letting my horse eat a little grass while I sat by the cascading water. Sometimes I hiked the roads in the designated wetland parks, stopping to watch waterfowl through my binoculars. Occasionally, I enjoyed trips into wilder, more remote places, although I do not want to give the impression that I was ever an experienced backpacker or hiker.

Merced Life

Enjoying the Lake Yosemite Sailing Club

Twenty-six years ago, when my husband Matt and I were still newlyweds, we launched our Santana 21 at Lake Yosemite for a day of cruising on the water. We intended to put the boat back on the trailer after we had finished sailing, but just as we were coming up to the ramp, a man flagged us down.

Merced Life

Why I’m excited for the Merced Mall renovations

Recently, I have been thinking about shopping malls. You might have caught on to this if you read my last two articles for this column. I think this interest began when I visited a couple of upscale malls in southern California; if you have seen these malls, walked around in them and realized that there isn’t really one single thing you can afford to buy, you might have begun to think that everyone in southern California lives better than we do here in the Central Valley.

Merced Life

I’m pulling for the Merced Mall. And I’m dreaming big!

Go to YouTube, type in “Dead Malls,” and you will be able to view a series of depressing videos featuring dying and already dead malls throughout our country. Ask anyone under the age of 30 about the popularity of malls in America today, and you will receive confirmation that malls are no longer the social hubs of commerce they were just 10 years ago.

School stories, a new Sun-Star column from Sara Sandrik

This new column comes in the wake of my own personal “breaking news.” After nine incredible years as the North Valley reporter and weekend anchor for ABC30 (and 16 years in television news altogether), I am excited to now be the first public infor