Recent local blog posts

Northern Closure

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 7:59pm

Northern will be closing its doors at the current Legion Way location and reopening in late January or February as part of the Midnight Sun. Stay tuned for more news! And remember, Northern loves you.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Northern Craft and Rummage Sale!

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sat, 12/06/2014 - 12:00pm

Once again, Northern is providing you, the consumer, with a premiere hyperlocal shopping opportunity that will empower you to find all of your perfect holiday gifts in one convenient location. Vendor’s table fees support Northern/the Olympia All Ages Project as we prepare for our next new adventure hosting shows at The Midnight Sun?. There will be beverages, snacks, and good cheer abounding for this evening shopping experience.


Antiquated Future
Antiquated Future is a store for independently-created artifacts of the heart. Zine distro, tape label, and pop-up shop out of Portland, Or. and Olympia, Wa.

Blissful Wunders
Hand rolled chocolate truffles, dairy, vegan, diabetic friendly, gluten free/wheat free.

Catacomb Collectibles
Vintage and oddities for the masses.

Chelsea the Baker
Chelsea the Baker sells comics for all ages and one-of-a-kind illustrations drawn right before your very eyes. She takes requests, too!

Community Print
Letterpress and other fine printing from the Community Print collective, an Olympia arts institution for over 20 years. Help us to raise money for our upcoming move! Ask us about our proficiency classes!

Cuddle Manor (aka Mike and Sunday)
Olympia’s most unremarkable couple bring you the Bad Neighbors card game (incredibly easy to learn and playable in 15 minutes or less!) and Sunday’s first novel in print, the acclaimed* E Galactic Mu (*almost a dozen reviews!). One look and your friends and family will know you “bought local” this year!

Duck Duck Bags and Accessories
Handmade goods by Kailey Dawn, thoughtfully designed and crafted for the Northwest with cotton duck canvas, recycled sail cloth and waterproof vinyl.

Little General Food Shop
Food gift baskets in a variety of sizes for your grandma, your sweetheart, or your colleague.

May Day Press- Catherine Alice Michaelis
May Day Press is a print shop creating artist books & prints using a variety of techniques since 1992.

Mercy Me Designs
Handmade clothing and accessories using organic and natural fibers.

Oddfellows is a mother daughter run business. We specialize in handmade canvas bags and cold pressed soaps. We make the soaps and the bags in our homes. We also curate small gift bags that include lip balm, spoon butter (for oiling wood), hand towels, kitchen towels and aprons. We make all our products from hand using fine and exquisite materials. Our bags are made from quality, durable canvas and our soap making process is palm oil free.

Polly’s notecards and calendars are handprinted using linoleum blocks, on 100% recycled paper with high-quality inks using handcarved linoleum blocks. The designs are inspired by nature and what Polly finds around her West Olympia home throughout the year.

Pope Press
Pope Press Olympia is a Letterpress and Book Arts teaching studio in Olympia, Washington. Pope Press offers classes and workshops with local artists, press rentals and open studio hours. Come and learn how to print with us!

Roni Moran
Roni makes paintings, coffee tables & a lamp or two. Once in awhile she has an Etsy listing- but usually her mom buys it.

Roseroot Herbes: Community Supported Apothecary
Offering a variety of botanical products made exclusively with plants grown on our farm in NE Olympia or ethically wildcrafted from local forests. These include tinctures, tea blends, salves and balms, infused vinegars and honeys, bulk herbs, spice blends, elixers and syrups, and flower essences.

Space Diamond Jewelry
Space Diamond jewelry designs are made with a vision of simplicity; combining antique and new pieces alike to compliment one another; joining both time and space to jewelry pieces. The result is in each piece, simple yet bold designs which are each unique. Most all pieces used are antique and not one piece is exactly the same.

Tea Time, Inc.
Tea Time, Inc makes clothing inspired by anything Victorian, Edwardian, Steampunk, Lolita, Sci-fi, Gothic, or related to maps at all.

Tea Toast Threads
Caps for sale! Wool caps and other apparel to keep you and your friends toastea.

The Twisted Twigster
A variety of beautiful handcrafted wooden housewares. Natural or live edged, made from locally sourced wood. Ramon makes most of his own finishes, all natural with no petroleum products.

Vinny and Vernelle
All available pieces from The Black Market Collection of one of a kind reworked vintage jewelry will be up for grabs as well as my new fine silver work

Warm Shape
Solid color knitwear from Lindsay Schief.

northern craft 2014


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

New Saint Martin’s Team Ranks 4th Among Northwest Schools in Ethics Bowl Tournament

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 12:49pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin's University's Ethics Bowl Team - (l-r) Matthew Tietjen, Alyssa Hancock, Simone Smith, Evan Lake, Steven Smith, Father David Pratt, and Michael Artime, Ph.D.

Saint Martin’s University’s Ethics Bowl Squad – (l-r) Matthew Tietjen, Alyssa Hancock, Simone Smith, Evan Lake, Steven Smith, Father David Pratt, and Michael Artime, Ph.D.

The Saint Martin’s Ethics Bowl squad made a strong showing this past weekend at the Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl competition at Seattle Pacific University. Saint Martin’s finished as semi-finalists in a field of 14 teams from universities that included the University of Puget Sound, Gonzaga University, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Montana, the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and Whitworth University.

Representing Saint Martin’s were students Evan Lake, Simone Smith, Steven Smith, Matthew Tietjen, and Alyssa Hancock. Additionally, accompanying the students were squad head coach, Michael Artime, a lecturer in political science, and squad director, Father David Pratt, assistant professor of philosophy.

Saint Martin’s dominated in the preliminary portion of the debate, achieving an undefeated record of 3-0. In their first debate, Saint Martin’s defeated Gonzaga University in an evaluation of the ethical implications associated with at-home genetic testing and the use of physician-assisted suicide for minors in Belgium. In their second debate, Saint Martin’s defeated the defending national championship team from the University of Montana in a discussion of the use of an untested nutritional supplement for food aid and the ethical concerns surrounding the commercial sale of robots designed for sex.

In the final preliminary debate, Saint Martin’s defeated the University of Puget Sound in a contest that featured discussions of environmental practices that killed certain species in an attempt to save others and the degree of responsibility held by the United Nations for the spread of cholera in Haiti linked to Nepalese peacekeepers.

Advancing to the semi-finals, Saint Martin’s eventually lost to the University of Alaska-Anchorage in a close, split decision.  This result means that Saint Martin’s is ranked 4th among all northwest schools in the Ethics Bowl competition. This is an important achievement for Saint Martin’s squad competing in only its second tournament.

“This was a tremendous tournament for our students,” said Artime. “We finished as one of the top teams in the region and won many competitive matchups, including one against the reigning national championship squad from Montana. I could not be more proud of our students and I am so happy that their hard work was recognized this past weekend.”

“Our team did a marvelous job with some very thorny cases,” Pratt stated. “I think the best praise came from a number of judges and coaches who praised our students for their grasp of moral theory and exciting arguments, as well as their command of biology, psychology and business. It was a joy to see our people being both intelligent and persuasive in an important regional competition.”

The Ethics Bowl squad will compete again in April at a tournament hosted by the Independent Colleges of Washington in Seattle.

Uhlmann to Expand Under New Name at New State of the Art Dealership

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 12:40pm



Submitted by Uhlmann Ford and Uhlmann RV

olympia rv

Uhlmann RV is conveniently located at Olympia’s Auto Mall.

Uhlmann Ford and Uhlmann RV are happy to announce they will be renamed to Awesome Ford and Awesome RV effective December 1, 2014. The name change is part of a rebranding initiative to better align the company’s name with its current operations and take the company into the future.

Heidi Pehl, owner of I-5 Auto Group, says “Our name change will better differentiate ourselves from the competition and allow us to market ourselves in the manner in which we currently operate. Our customers are Awesome, and our services are Awesome. That is the message we want to convey to all of our customers and employees. We take great pride in continuing the Uhlmann family name for so long, but it is now time for a change to better meet our current business and carry us into the future.”

The name change coincides with a major remodel of the existing Uhlmann Ford and Uhlmann RV facility located on Interstate Avenue in Chehalis, Washington. The Ford Service and Parts Department will relocate from their current location at I-5 Toyota, finally joining the Ford Sales Department that had previously relocated with Uhlmann RV.

Both the Ford and RV dealerships will open under their new name on December 1, 2014. The newly remodeled dealership also will include the all-new I-5 Tire Center, which will provide all vehicle maintenance needs, including brakes, tires, and batteries on all makes and models. Awesome Ford and Awesome RV look forward to the next generation of selling and servicing Fords and RVs in the Northwest.

Awesome Ford and Awesome RV are part of the I-5 Auto Group, which employs 193 people and consists of I-5 Toyota Scion, South Sound Trucks, South Sound Trucks of Olympia and Volkswagen of Olympia. For more information on these dealerships, visit


Science Café - "Plastic: It’s what’s for breakfast"

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 12:04pm
Event:  Tue, 12/09/2014 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Plastic: It’s what’s for breakfast
Peter Hodum, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
University of Puget Sound

7:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Orca Books; 509 East 4th Avenue, Olympia

The issue of plastic debris in the oceans is of growing concern globally, with plastic accumulating in marine habitats from the equators to the poles and from coastlines to the middle of ocean basins.  Although patterns of plastic ingestion by marine wildlife such as sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds are increasingly well documented, the consequences of ingestion remain poorly understood.  The pervasiveness of marine plastics, especially micro-plastics, throughout marine food webs is also unknown.  In this talk, Peter Hodum will discuss the magnitude of the marine plastic pollution issue, the impacts of plastic debris on marine wildlife, and the use of biological indicators, ranging from seabirds to mussels, to better understand the impacts of plastics on marine ecosystems.  He will also talk about the challenges and opportunities of dealing with this global environmental issue.
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Thrifty Thurston Stays Entertained with Holiday Concerts and Shows

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 6:14am



By Gale Hemmann

capital heating and coolingThe holidays are quickly approaching. Social gatherings, Christmas wish lists, baking, and the feat of finding the perfect tree loom ahead in the coming weeks. It’s never too early to plan in some fun – the kind you can just take in and enjoy. And parents are looking for ways to keep kids entertained on rainy Washington days and over the upcoming winter break.

One way to get in the holiday spirit is to attend a live concert or performance. Fortunately, Thurston County offers many affordable options for family-friendly entertainment, from traditional (think Christmas carols and orchestras) to contemporary (like the Olympia Family Theater’s How the Slug Stole Solstice). There are also some wonderful multicultural offerings, such as a Hawaiian Christmas music event.

I took a look ahead at some of the holiday events in our area. Most of these events are free or low-cost. Some do have a moderate cost, but would make a great special outing, and many benefit a good cause. From sing-alongs to bagpipes, ballet to youth choirs, there’s something for every age and interest.

Thurston County Holiday Concerts and Entertainment Highlights:

The annual Signing Santa event at Chambers Prairie Elementary School provides a day of fun and entertainment for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, their families, and the local community. Photo courtesy of Signing Santa

The annual Signing Santa event at Chambers Prairie Elementary School provides a day of fun and entertainment for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, their families, and the local community. Photo courtesy of Signing Santa


  • Carols and Tree-Lighting: Listen to traditional carols by local school choirs and watch the old-fashioned tree lighting ceremony at Huntamer Park on Thursday, December 4, from 6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Fee cocoa from Olympic Crest Coffee, Santa on a Santa-mobile, and an animated holiday display make this event a good bet for families.
  • Sounds of the Season: Saint Martin’s University Chorale, the South Puget Sound Community College Choir, and the Washington State American Legion Band come together for two concerts in their “Sounds of the Season” show. One concert takes place on Friday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Saint Martin’s University (see “Olympia” section for additional listing). Admission is free, with donations accepted. The concerts will include carols from the 1500’s to the present, and a group sing-along portion.
  • Orchestra Concert: The South Puget Sound Community Orchestra and the Rose Garden Singers will be giving a free concert at the Lacey Community Center on Tuesday, December 9, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. This classical music event might be a good bet for older school-aged kids and teens.
downtown olympia holiday parade

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the live music at the Downtown for the Holidays event on Sunday.


  • Olympia Family Theater: Come see the lively comedy How the Slug Stole Solstice at the Olympia Family Theater from November 28-December 21. Recommended for ages five and up. Prices range from $13.00 to $19.00.  You can also catch The Elves and the Shoemaker at three daytime shows from December 1-7. This fun, half-hour long show is great for all ages. Tickets are $5.00.
  • Harlequin Productions: Harlequin Productions always puts on a good show, and The Stardust Christmas Commotion looks like fun. This holiday musical comedy has a rating of “BTF – Bring the Family.” The show runs from November 28 through December 31, 2014 (including a Christmas Eve show). Tickets are $20.00 to $32.00.  Read a full article about the show here.
  • An Irish Christmas: Kids love learning about other cultures, and An Irish Christmas promises an authentic good time. This PBS-featured show of dance, music and storytelling happens on Wednesday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $16.00-$42.00 and can be purchased here – this one is more of a holiday splurge, but would make a great gift experience. (You’ll also get a special viewing of the Gingerbread Village in the lobby.)
  • olympia holiday concerts

    You can hear concerts performed by and for all age groups around Thurston County this holiday season. Plenty of family-friendly entertainment awaits. Photo courtesy of Olympia Youth Chorus

    SPSCC Jazz Band and Orchestra: Is something jazzy more your style? The South Puget Sound Community College Jazz Ensemble and the new South Puget Sound College Orchestra will be giving a holiday concert on Friday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the college’s Minnaert Center for the Arts. The Lakewood Community Jazz Band performs “Swingin’ Nutcracker.” Tickets are $8.00-$10.00.

  • The Nutcracker: A Christmas classic, Ballet Northwest will once again be presenting The Nutcracker at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Featuring over 200 local dancers, the show runs from December 12-21. Tickets range from $14.00 to $33.00, with youth and other discounts available (purchase tickets here).
  • Olympia Choral Society: Catch a free performance by the voices of the Olympia Choral Society (OCS) at the “Night of Joy, Night of Peace” concert at the Koval Center for the Performing Arts from December 12-14. The Olympia Youth Chorus joins in the show. Donations are accepted to benefit the OCS scholarship program.



  • Christmas in the Park: Come enjoy a free day of holiday entertainment sponsored by the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce at Christmas in the Park on Saturday, December 6. Held at the Yelm City Park, this year’s theme is “Snowflakes and Icicles Sparkling on the Prairie.” The holiday parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Entertainment will be provided by several school bands and choirs from around Thurston County throughout the day. The day culminates in a Community Blessing and tree lighting.

I know it’s early in the season. But, with so much spirited entertainment in store, can I get a “Merry Christmas?”

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


Cut Down a Christmas Tree in Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 6:12am



By Katie Doolittle

south sound trucksWhen I comb through memories of childhood holidays, one image pleasantly repeats: my family’s annual pilgrimage to the local Christmas tree farm. We always started with a humorous competition to identify the most inappropriate tree possible (think gargantuan behemoth or sad little snag). And our outing always ended rather abruptly after my brother and I began pushing each other into the wet trees and then whining about the chill.

But whether adorable or obnoxious, I treasure all of these remembered rituals. It’s therefore no surprise that my own little family continues to favor U-Cut Christmas trees. As my children grow older, I look forward to putting a new spin on the tradition.

If you’re hoping to start a tree-cutting tradition of your own, a positive experience requires a bit of pre-planning. First and foremost: always dress for cold, wet, and muddy conditions. Need a holiday photo? Throw on some Santa hats, too! Generally speaking, assume the farm will provide handsaws and twine. Finally, plan to pay with cash or check unless otherwise noted.

u-cut christmas tree

Holiday hats are a great idea, as in this snapshot from Ames Christmas Tree Farm.

The list below offer a wide range of tree-cutting experiences. With so many options, you’re sure to find a farm that meets your family’s needs!

Trees, Plus Holiday Happenings

If you want some (jingle) bells and whistles to augment your tree-cutting experience, visit one of these three farms… and come on the weekend. Yes, you’ll have to brave bigger crowds. But this is when farms offer their full range of activities. Each one offers wagon rides, Santa visits, refreshments, and holiday boutiques. Check their websites for further details, and find out about unique aspects of each farm below.

Clyde ‘n Dale’s Holiday Trees and Gifts (10712 Tracie Court SW, Olympia – off Delphi Road) is perfect for horse lovers. Bob and Dutch, two Palomino Percherons, pull a trolley through this 10-acre family farm. There are four varieties of fir available, ranging in price from $29 to $49. The 2014 season lasts from November 28 through December 21, Friday through Sunday only. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Unique amenities include live music and an on-site BBQ truck. Check the website for details, or email Phone: 360-480-0515 or 360-352-8733.

u-cut christmas tree

The perfect tree, cut at Hunter’s Family Farm.

Hunter’s Family Farm (7401 Yelm Highway, Olympia) boasts four types of fir and two varieties of spruce, with prices ranging from $4.25 to $7.25 per foot. No checks, but credit cards fine for purchases over $5. Be sure to visit the real, live reindeer while you’re here! Open from November 28 through December 23, weekday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They open at 9:00 a.m. on weekends. Email or call 360-456-0466.

Schilter Family Farm (141 Nisqually Cutoff Road SE, Olympia) is the place to go if you want your tree flocked with artificial snow. All Douglas firs are $29.99. Nobles, Frasers, and Grands are priced by the foot. This farm hosts a lighted Nativity in their 140-year-old barn. Check their Facebook page for details and coupons. Phone: 360-459-4023.

Just the Trees, Please! 

If you want a basic and budget-friendly option, consider the following list. Less stimuli makes for a laidback tree-hunting experience.

u-cut christmas tree

Hunting for “the one” at Sprouffske Trees. Photo courtesy of Katie Velazquez.

Ames Christmas Tree Farm (4115 Baker Ames Road NE, Olympia) is an excellent locale for tree-cutting if you hope to bring your dog (just bear in mind that other customers may also have pooches along for the adventure). Noble firs cost $25, Grand firs are $20, and Douglas firs are $15. There are also $15 wreaths for sale. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to dusk, through Christmas Eve. This family-run farm usually opens before Thanksgiving; check their Facebook page for an exact date. Phone: 360-357-3155 or 360-943-3216.

Beaver Creek Tree Farms (1647 Beaver Creek Dr SW in Olympia) is a small mom-and-pop farm that grows Cultured Nobles that are hand trimmed.  Wreaths and custom rustic crafts round out the farm’s offerings.  Hot cider is on the stove and the owner’s grandson is frequently nearby with a candy cane.  Trees range from 5 – 15 feet and are all priced at $30.  Find more details on their Facebook page.

Black Lake Trees U-Cut (Delphi Road at 62nd Avenue SW, Olympia) provides over 20 wheelchair-accessible acres studded with trees of all sizes. Varieties available for cutting include firs (Noble, Douglas, Grand, and Fraser) as well as spruce (blue and green). They also sell wreaths, swags, and pre-cut trees. Prices start at $20 for Douglas firs. Credit cards are a payment option here. Open Friday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to dusk. Monday through Thursday, it’s 2:00 p.m. to dusk. Phone: 360-866-4125.

Campbell Family Christmas Trees (1 1/2 miles north of Littlerock off Littlerock Road on Gifford Road) grow their trees 100% naturally.  Their trees are not sheared, nor sprayed or treated with any fertilizers or pesticides.  Families (and dogs) are welcome.  Wander through several patches of trees.  Trees are U-Cut, but assistance is on-site to help with cutting trees as needed.  If you want try cutting your tree, there are a couple antique saws available for use, or you can bring your own saw.  Open on weekends from December 6 through December 21 from 9:00 a.m. to dusk.

Christmas Valley Tree Farm (11540 – 183rd Avenue SW, Rochester) offers ten varieties of trees, ranging in height from three to fifteen feet. Don Tapio, proprietor, is a knowledgeable horticulturalist who prides himself on his selection. His trees are also beautifully groomed. The farm opens on Thanksgiving Day and closes on Christmas. Daily hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: 360-273-6196

u-cut christmas tree

Sprouffske Trees, located in Rainier, opens the day after Thanksgiving.

Olympic National Forest provides the purest form of tree-hunting! Drive out to the woods and hike about until you find a good tree. For this option, you do need to bring your own saw and twine. Also, obtaining a $5 permit ahead of time is key. As there are multiple points of entry to the forest, it is not included on the map below. Click here for details on the permit process. Phone: 360-956-2300.

Sprouffske Trees (14020 Finian Road SE, Rainier) planted their first seedling back in 1965. In addition to three types of Christmas trees, this family-run farm also sells fresh wreaths and swags. Trees priced by variety: Noble and Grand firs are $35, while Douglas firs cost $25. You can use credit cards here. The farm opens the day after Thanksgiving, remaining open through Christmas Eve. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Email: Phone: 360-446-2212.  Read a full story about Sprouffske Trees here.

Olympia Family Theater’s How the Slug Stole Solstice will Steal Your Heart

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

Alley Oop LogoOn the heals of the success of last spring’s youth production, Orphan Train, Olympia Family Theater (OFT) is turning its gaze toward something a little closer to home. Their latest main stage, youth-focused play focuses on something that most of us don’t give much thought to, past, “Eww, gross!”

Something that eats our gardens.

olympia family theater

Meredith Morgan, a third grade student at Hansen Elementary School, plays Sally the Slug. Photo credit: Dinea de Photo

Something that sometimes rides into my house on the fur of my dog.

Something that Bellingham playwright Drue Robinson wrote in such a way as to make it quite cute for audiences.

A slug.

That’s right. Make room in your holiday schedule, and in your heart, for spending time at OFT’s new location with one of those slimy critters. Prepare to be touched by this tender story about one slug’s wish for more sunlight and the ways she learns to find light in the ever-growing darkness.

If you think that title sounds a little familiar and, perhaps, Seuss-esque, you’re right. It’s a play on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the lines are also written in rhyming verse.

Some lines from the original production were turned into lyrics by local songbird and frequent OFT actress Terri Charles for the OFT show.

Kate Arvin, director of How the Slug Stole Solstice, grew up acting under the tutelage of Drue Robinson at the Bellingham Children’s Theatre. She made her theatrical debut at the age of nine in one of Robinson’s productions, playing the part of an alien.

The Evergreen State College is what first brought Arvin to Olympia. “There’s a higher density of theater-loving people in Olympia. It’s kind of marvelous,” explains Arvin of her decision to put down roots in the Olympia community post-graduation in 2008.

Nowadays, Arvin keeps busy splitting her time between theater jobs here in town and touring as a technician on the Russian National Ballet’s annual U.S. run. “I have my fingers in as many pies as possible,” she says. “There isn’t a theater space in town where I haven’t worked at this point.”

Olympia family theater

Sally the Slug is assisted by two “thug bugs” (Dante and Eros Faulk), a ladybug (played by Reese Sigman), and Punch (played by Linus Gordon) in her journey to bring the sun back early. Photo credit: Dinea de Photo

Arvin is fresh-faced, humble, and absolutely gob-smacked to have found herself going from a theater technician at OFT to the director of this season’s holiday production. “There’s a lot to fall in love with here at OFT,” she gushes.

She loves the ways in which Robinson has woven little tidbits of our distinct, Pacific Northwest culture into her productions. For example, this is a play where a character wears socks with sandles in the winter.

“It’s completely charming. It’s very Northwest-y,” smiles Arvin. “It takes place in a Northwest forest, and the main character is a Banana Slug named Sally.”

As the winter solstice approaches, Sally is having difficulty with the decreasing daylight hours. She goes on a journey to find the sun and bring him back early. Along the way, she meets all kinds of critters who explain how they find light and happiness amidst the ever-lengthening darkness, a message not lost on us as the days have grown shorter.

“We make our own light for each other,” says Arvin.

Making her theatrical debut as Sally the Slug is Hansen Elementary School’s Meredith Morgan, age eight. She was inspired to pursue acting through her admiration of Christine Goode, her kindergarten teacher at Centennial Elementary and a frequent actor at OFT. “She would invite us to come see her, and I wanted to do what she was doing,” explains Morgan.

Prior to this production, the young actress attended camps at OFT and participated in two summers of Creative Theater Experience. Her dream role would be playing Jane Banks in Mary Poppins. She loves theater because “I’m really loud, and in theater you’re supposed to be loud.”

Sally the Slug is “kind of a ‘fraidy-cat, and I like playing that,” explains Morgan.  “Sally’s pretty determined. And I love all my lines.“

olympia family theater

The sun is played by Andy Gordon. Photo credit: Dinea de Photo

Auditioning, which may sound terrifying for many of us, was “super-exciting” for Morgan. “It’s so cool,” she assures me. “It’s really fun getting to act with all these great people. I’ve made a lot of new friends. And it’s really fun to come here and watch a play because it always turns out to be magical.”

Grab a little bit of that magic for yourself and your family. How the Slug Stole Solstice runs November 28 through December 21, weekends only.

Visit OFT’s website or follow them on Facebook.

Olympia Family Theater

612 4th Ave. E in downtown Olympia

(360) 570-1638


Happy Thanksgiving, Olympia 1852

Olympia Time - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 5:27am
A far as my lazy bones are concerned, 1852 is the earliest point you can really go and see what Olympia was all about. The Columbian (between 1852-53) is available online via a searchable database.

And, from that source, we can see what Thanksgiving was like in that early Olympia fall:

Olympia existed, but it was still a part of Oregon itself, the Columbia or Washington Territory was still yet to be born the following spring. A convention had just been held advocating for secession from Oregon. And, yet, even still, the governor of Oregon couldn't bother to let Northern Oregon know when Thanksgiving was going to be.
The late date of 1852's Thanksgiving in the unified Oregon is a nod towards the squishiness of our most American holiday. Only six years before had a Thanksgiving campaign been started and it wasn't until the 1860s that Lincoln got around to the national holiday.
If you then scroll back to near where we celebrate Thanksgiving now (the Saturday, November 27, 1852 edition), the Columbian features a letter to the editor that marks a much more important celebration for Olympians. The Monday before had been the first day of school in the city.

Set aside the "idleness of Indians" (because Indians weren't and aren't idle), the letter spells out a pretty interesting vision of America, education and civic life.

To a point Thanksgiving has now retreated back into the family. Like that, education is often seen as a benefit to family (if I don't have kids, why should I pay for schools?) and not the community. This letter seems to point out that there was always that sort of short-minded counter argument to public education:Think of it ye calculating men on this side of the continent, who let a few dollars (perhaps a single day's work), stand in the way of educating your children. Do you say there is less need of education now than two hundred years ago? Will there be no need in the future of intelligent men and women?The letter writer harkens back to the educational standard set by the most New England of New Englanders, the Pilgrims. And, of course, Olympia in 1852 was at the moment being settled by communitarian New Englanders and individualistic Appalachians. This debate on education was part of the friction between the two groups that eventually made us the way we are today around here.

And, yet, we still have the debate. Enshrined in the 1889 state constitution is the paramount duty of education, carried forward by the Pilgrim tradition written about in 1852. Hardly anyone argues that we shouldn't have schools at all, but we're working hard to avert our eyes from the promise our state made. And, the pressures that keep us away from that promise certainly are the same ones that talk about low taxes, smaller government and the power of the individual over the community.

So, happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful some New Englanders opened a school in late November 1852. Otherwise we'd wouldn't be "a people too enlightened to be enslaved, too virtuous to be bought."

Great Food, Great Company at Barb O’Neill’s Thanksgiving Dinner

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:07pm

By Janine
For 45 years, the Barb O’Neill’s Family and Friends Thanksgiving Dinner has served the community, and did so again today from noon to 5 p.m. at The United Churches in downtown Olympia. Just before 5:00 p.m., it was estimated that 1,500 meals had been served.Volunteers with community resource organizations such as GRuB, Safeplace, the Thurston/Mason chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Quixote Village handed out potentially life-saving literature and information. Kitchen volunteers monitored the food line often and quickly exchanged empty bowls, pans and platters with full ones. Everyone had their plates full of hot turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, deviled eggs, and stuffing. Some came back more than once. One volunteer who served food was Gracie Anderson, 15, a student at Olympia High School. She’s been serving meals at the Thanksgiving gathering for five years, and sees a future for herself in social work. She is involved in several clubs at school, including the National Honor Society and debate. She says she loves to talk about local issues. With her mom and little sister serving desserts nearby, Anderson served garlic bread and extra butter and I served celery sticks and pickles. Although I cheerfully offered both options equally, the pickles were popular and we ran out them by mid-afternoon. The articulate teenager exuded enthusiasm and told me a few stories. I asked why she keeps coming back to help serve. “It’s a humbling experience to be able to help people who can’t always help themselves,” she said. She says she breathes a sigh of relief when she sees the same people back year after year because at least she knows they are O.K. She wonders if the children she sees are homeless. Anderson says the nice thing about the Thanksgiving Dinner is that anyone can come, so there’s no stigma to coming and being served a good meal. She says that although she feels comfortable around people in need, it also helps for her to visualize that within everyone, there’s a child. “Sometimes it helps to see the child instead of the adult….and everyone has a story….One year, about two years ago, I got into a heart-to-heart conversation with a woman who said she had cancer and couldn’t afford treatment. I could tell she was weak. I’ve never seen her again…She was amazing,” said Anderson, her voice trailing off in thought. Anderson said she read a book last year, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,” by Dr. Gabor Mate, and recommended it to anyone who wants to learn more about people and their addictions. She said her mom read it too. “It was life changing, and gave me a new perspective on what I do here,” she said. Asked if she’s seen a shift in demographics of those who come to be served, she said she thinks she sees more older children and not as many little kids. “But maybe it’s because I’m more involved and mature and see things with a new perspective.” Gracie Anderson has also served food for the Barb O’Neill’s Family and Friends gathering at Christmas time and Easter. “I love Christmas – I helped kids pick out free presents for their parents, and I made about 450 friendship bracelets and gave them all out,” she said. Anderson’s little sister came over and pulled a few of the friendship bracelets out of her pocket. Anderson tied one on my wrist. “It’s fun when people come back and I see them still wearing their bracelet,” she said. We were relieved of our posts about 4:00 p.m., and a fresh group of volunteers took over our duties, while a steady stream of visitors still came in to receive food. Everyone was being served. Some visitors had been there for hours to enjoy the food, company, the live music, coffee, pop, and water, and a warm place to hang out. I enjoyed a meal and several meaningful conversations. One guy with a great sense of humor told me his life story but warned me that he probably won’t remember our conversation if we see each other again due to a brain injury. A former long haul truck driver, he suffered a brain hemorrhage 13 years ago while at his truck stop on Mottman Road. His license was taken away and he has not worked since. “After a while, I told my wife I was bored. She said I wasn’t allowed to say I was bored. So I go to the doctor and he tells me I’m depressed! Well, let me tell you, I’m bored with being depressed!” he laughed. He is very proud of his 27 year old daughter who is a dancer. Saying goodbye, having made a few new friends, Rodney O’Neill greeted people coming and going at the door. I got a big hug. Pointing Gracie out to him, I told him how wonderful she is. “That’s what inspires me so much, is seeing the same faces every year,” he said with a smile. Serving celery sounds simple, but it was harder than it looks, and behind that is a lot of hard work. O’Neill and a solid team of volunteers, many of them teenagers, including a young man named Ian, had been there preparing and cooking food since 8:00 a.m. About 4:15 p.m., Rich Smith, kitchen manager, gave O’Neill a quick update on the food situation. One more uncooked turkey remained. It was decided to not cook it. Over 1500 meals had been served today.
“That’s 25 dozen deviled eggs, 140 pounds of mashed potatoes – all hand peeled and hand mashed – 200 pounds of stuffing, and 30 smoked turkeys. Safeway donates all the desserts and breads,” Smith laughed, and headed back into the kitchen.

All Your Friend’s Friends: Luvva J Kitchen Freestyle

K Records - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:02pm
Luvva J making an appearance at the K office in Olympia, Washington, Oct. 2014.  An Olympia hip hop icon, Luvva J is an artist, activist and has a radio show on community station KAOS-FM, Live from I-5. More information about Luvva J can be gleaned from the ver informative Oly Icons: Luvva J. Luvva J […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Isthmus Building Demolition Set to Begin on December 1

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:39am



Submitted by City of Olympia

The City of Olympia, in a collaborative joint training opportunity with Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM), will be demolishing a 7,900 square foot commercial building located at 505 4th Avenue starting Monday, December 1, 2014.

The JBLM 555th Engineering Brigade will be deconstructing the building in two phases:  Phase One – Interior Demolition, and Phase Two – Exterior Demolition. The project is expected to take approximately two months.

The City of Olympia would like to thank the funding and training partners for this project:  JBLM 555th engineering Brigade, Thurston County, and the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation.

OP&L's 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Olympia Power & Light - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:48am

(Note: to see the pretty pictures of these items, pick up a paper copy of OP&L)

Buttons make great gifts! We have the best button selection in town. . .shells, wood, leather, metal, glass, vintage, sparkly. . .one of a kind. 

Lady Lynn's Fabrics, 1715 Harrison Ave NW  360.943.3074


Instructions on wrapping coffee as a gift:

1. Buy the Batdorf and Bronson Coffee gift tube containing three bags of remarkable coffee (Familia Fernandez, Holiday Blend, Dancing Goats). 2. Done.

Batdorf & Bronson,


Simple Cloth stocks Ergobaby doll carriers, which are perfect for toting beloved dolls and other toy friends. A perfect gift for any child, especially big brothers and sisters who want to wear their baby just like Mom and Dad! $25

Simple Cloth, 210 4th Ave W, 360.753.2420


Become a member of Olympia’s only bakery share program. Members receive an assortment of tasty baked goods each week. Gluten free, vegan, or traditional options are available!

8 Arms Bakery,


The Rudy Tiki Head Tissue Box Cover.  Why look at an unsightly tissue box when it’s so easy to class up your décor. $25

g. miller, 510 Capitol Way S, 360.786.6634


The gift of Yoga! In a beautiful historic building overlooking Capitol Lake, Yoga Loft, Find Yourself Here.... Any denomination

Yoga Loft, 219 Legion Way SW, 360.870.7876


At Archibald Sisters experience the miracle of a PNW Christmas. Capture your very own Bigfoot Christmas Ornament! See joy on your friends and families faces when you relocate Bigfoot to the protected habitat of your Christmas tree.

Archibald Sisters, 406 Capitol Way S, 360.943.2707


Give them more Green this holiday season with Aveda Wellness and Beauty, at Olympia’s Premiere Salon & Spa

Premiere Salon & Spa, 111 Market St NE, 360.753.3299


This unique incense is a natural solution for creating a relaxed atmosphere in the home. Great to enliven social settings, or deepen yoga and meditation practices. Shoyeido’s pure incense is timeless way to enhance atmosphere.

Radiance Herbs & Massage, 113 5th Ave SE, 360.357.5250


Hand bound journals, handmade flax fiber covers, linen sheets, archival acid free and a joy to hold in one's hands.



Tickets for a live performance!  Either select a show for your loved one, or give a gift certificate and let them choose a show.  Available in any denomination through our box office.  Easy-peasey!!

Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 360.753.8586


Danger Room comics has the Chibi Tarot for sale. They're legit tarot cards, but done in a Mario Brothers/video game/chibi art style. Made by a local web designer!

Danger Room, 201 4th Ave W, 360.705.3050


The Belgian Farmhouse Ale is a festive brew well-suited to any celebration or special occasion. And don’t forget: Le Voyeur t-shirts are wacky as hell all the time.

Le Voyeur, 404 4th Ave E, 360.943.5710, 


A fresh, artistic floral arrangement is a beautiful gift without obligation to wear, eat, or even keep it. We offer delivery, gift certificates and subscriptions.   

Capitol Florist, 515 Capitol Way S, 360.357.5757/800.761.9321


“Two years ago I gave a group of 4 friends of mine the gift of a great meal on me.  A few months later we made reservations at Basilico, invited another couple or two and had a great time with wine, appetizers and the works.  It was better than me getting gifts for $25 or more each and not quite hitting the mark.”


Hot new titles from Olympia authors, including Heather Lockman's comic novel "Indian Shirt Story”, "Little Is Left to Tell”, experimental fiction from Evergreen professor Steven Hendricks, and Mary Gentry's collection of humorous essays ”Quite Contrary”.

Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E, 360.352.0123,


Ruby Re-Usable upcycles soda pop tops and pull tabs from cat food cans to make statement jewelry with an elegant and artsy eco-conscious message. Available at Duck the Malls!


The Brotherhood’s FREE and stylish 2015 calendars will be available starting Nov 26, in addition to Broho tees and tanks, and the ever-popular casual gift option of buying a round for your pals.

The Brotherhood Lounge, 119 Capitol Way N,


“OlyRaw is going to release Elderberry Kefir soda, which tastes awesome by the way.

And I really want a mini keg of Citrasaurus double IPA from local microbrewery Triceratops Brewing Company (occasionally on tap at Rhythm and Rye or Vic’s).”


“For those peeps that  you don't like: I just found out a gift worse than coal, where you can send poop anonymously: - SWEET revenge at its finest.”


Fremont Dark Star from Gravity Beer Market: it’s a bourbon-barrel-aged oatmeal stout available in either “coffee” or “spiced”.

Gravity Beer Market, 1001 4th Ave E, 360.352.5107


Crain’s Office Supply has a Sheaffer fountain pen with an all-metal barrel that comes in a variety of colors. Bonus: name-brand quality gift at an affordable price. 

Crain’s Office Supply, 1006 4th Ave E, 360.754.1055


One of a kind chairs! Repro Eames Howard Miller lounge chair, original 50s butterfly chairs with brand new handmade leather covers, Harry Bertoia original 60s dining chairs. Plus lots more midcentury modern furniture and decor.

Peacock Vintage, 512 E 4th Ave, 360.250.0885


Finders Keepers is 42 stores under one roof! Something for every taste and pocketbook.

Finders Keepers Antique Mall, 501 4th Ave E, 360.943.6454


Olympia Olive Oil has smoked brown sugar (try saying that without salivating). Perfect for seasoning holiday hams, or adding some out-of-the-ordinary class to your favorite recipe. It only takes a little!

Olympia Olive Oil, 321 4th Ave E, 360.878.9571


Excellent stocking stuffer idea for your favorite metalhead: five-buck cassette tapes! A variety of metal bands on tape. Nostalgic yet undeniably relevant.

Funk Fuzz Records, 302 4th Ave E, 360.754.3491


Give unique! You’ll never see someone else wearing the same wool or flannel shirt, or toasty winter jacket, as the one you bought at Dumpster Values. Men’s and women’s. A ton of them!

Dumpster Values, 302 4th Ave E, 360.705.3772


This Neiman Marcus vintage western dress from Fashion Nation. Plus cool shoes, purses, jewelry and more! Men’s and women’s fashions, very affordable — many gift possibilities.

Fashion Nation, 207 4th Ave E, 360.350.0682


Awesome lamps by Joe Carnevale including Squid, Umbrella Bot, and Goldar. Made of welded steel transmission parts, worn out interior components that were bound for meltdown … until they became functional art!

Matter! Gallery, 422 Washington St SE, 360.943.1760


Festive holiday decor! Light up a room with illuminated signs made from distressed metal in seasonal designs, from a snowflake to a deer, to the words “Faith” and “Eat”. Made in the USA.

Red Door, 430 Washington St SE, 360.357.7799


Blabla kids knit dolls include elephants, sheep, cats, people, and Luigi the Frog. For those who prefer landforms to animals, there is a stuffed mountain range made by Three Bad Seeds. Staff pick? Magnet tiles.

Captain Little, 121 5th Ave SE, 360.352.5441


Noodler’s Ahab flex-nib fountain pen uses piston-filling technology, so it’s cartridge-free! Add Noodler’s ink and Midori paper, and you’ve got a splendid gift package. The most pens and markers … of any place!

Olyphant Art & Media, 119 5th Avenue Southeast, 360.943.1295


Self-Care Clutch! A ‘purse’-onalized gift bag that could include such goodies as decadent scarves, gift cards, black lipstick, perfume, self-love spray, and tarot cards, among other things.

Psychic Sister, 109 5th Ave SE, 360.943.9595


Authentic crystal ball made of leaded crystal, 150 or 200 mm sizes. Mesmerizing clarity, hypnotic beauty, an enchanting object. 

Druid’s Knook, 528 Capitol Way, 360.878.8901


This wicker trunk could be filled with other high-end, gently used, good quality stuff from Blue. For example, a Burberry  suit that would normally cost thousands of dollars, or these shoes, or that fur-lined coat over there…

blue Boutique, 534 Capitol Way S, 360.705.0843


Desigual bags from Spain (in Europe everyone has them), a variety of Stop Staring dresses, over-the-knee panda socks, and t-shirts with whimsical messages such as “The Pope Abides”.

Hot Toddy Apparel & Jewelry, 410 Capitol Way S, 360.753.0868


An acoustic guitar that traveled with Patton’s troops, carved with the names of the cities it visited, is not for sale. But there are others from the 60s and 70s with stories of their own. 

Capital City Guitars, 108 4th Ave E, 360.956.7097


Art Expressions! Beautiful, unique pieces of art created by members of the Capital Recovery Center, our local peer-run mental health agency. Support art! Support positive outlets for mental health recovery in our community!


GVWM has wines on special for holiday entertaining and gift-giving needs! Try something new at complimentary tastings Fridays and Saturdays, and don’t miss our special Champagne tasting on December 12th!

Grand Vin Wine Merchants, 1003 4th Avenue E, 360.350.4896


We’ve moved! Come see our new location across from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. and find the perfect book for winter. Order new & used books for Christmas. Trade-ins welcome anytime.

Last Word Books, 111 Cherry St NE, 360.786.9673


The twisted turmoil of tentacles on these hand blown glass octopi make each one unique. Available in a sea of colors, gift giving just got eight times more fun!

Childhood’s End Gallery, 222 4th Ave W, 360.943.3724


POP! Figures include an unprecedented variety of properties, from Disney to Game of Thrones, Star Wars to Star Trek, Seahawks to Supernatural. Everybody’s got a favorite character, and chances are, you’ll find it here.

Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics, 4230 Pacific Ave SE, 360.459.7721


Rachel’s Ginger Beer, made with so much fresh ginger and whole lemons, is a welcome addition to any holiday gathering. Pictured here with Nineveh pickled beet and turnip. Also, custom gift baskets for all tastes!

Little General Food Shop, 313 5th Ave SE, 360.352.3663


ION Max LP record player: plays your music, can digitize your beloved record collection. Has its own speakers, and you can hook it up to anything. Plus browse a huge collection of new vinyl!

Rainy Day Records, 301 5th Ave SE, 360.357.4755


Neometal “snap together” thread-less jewelry is an alternative to standard threaded jewelry. Machined from solid titanium with crimp-set gems, no glue used. Beautiful and effective it's the perfect holiday gift.

Metro Body Piercing, 215 4th Ave E, 360.352.5114


Give someone you love the gift of Creativity and Self-Empowerment! Give them a Sewing class experience at (re)Fabulous and the results will make them smile all year long!

(re)Fabulous, 1025 Black Lake Blvd 2D, 360.489.1852


What is soft, stylish and fits almost everyone?  These fairly traded alpaca arm warmers keep the students, the drivers and all the women in your life warm and happy.

Traditions Fair Trade, 300 5th Ave SW, 360.705.2819


Local, sustainable, canned tuna! For the local, sustainable seafood lover in your life... Olympia Seafood has the convenient pop-top habanero tuna - a stocking stuffer with heat!

Olympia Seafood Company, 411 Columbia St NW, 360.570.8816


The Olympia Farmer's Market offers our Olympia Community an array of unique, handmade and locally grown delights from our many talented artisans, processors, and farmers.

Olympia Farmer’s Market, 700 Capitol Way N, 360.352.9096


Courtyard Studio 721 is new DIY Home Decor Studio with a great class room for teaching Home Decorating. Gift Certificates available. 

Courtyard Studio 721, 721 4th Ave E, 360.489.1340

Sports City: Oly Town Artesians prove Olympia could be a contender

Olympia Power & Light - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:30am

    It was a stark contrast in terms of history: the Tacoma Stars – the current incarnation of the most storied indoor soccer team in the Pacific Northwest, originally founded in 1982, and once featuring Brian Schmetzer (now assistant coach with the Sounders) and Preki – were up against the Oly Town Artesians, who were playing their first game. As in, their first game ever.

    It was not to be a Cinderella story. Tacoma won 8-5. But that’s not the important part. The important part is that Olympia has a semi-pro indoor soccer team: the Oly Town Artesians.

    Indoor soccer is, well... soccer played indoors, on a field that resembles a hockey rink, including clear plexiglass walls. It’s fast like hockey, too, as the ball can go up the field, back, off a couple of walls, up the field again, and back again, all in a few seconds.

    The Artesians are the brainchild of Brandon Sparks, also the guy behind the blog. He previously helped out with the Tumwater Pioneers, which lasted only one season two years ago. “With a little more effort, [the Pioneers] could have had good crowds and a lot of fun,” says Sparks.

    So this time, he became General Manager, and recruited the money guy: owner Tim Smith, who formerly owned The Loft. They set up shop at a former warehouse in the industrial area near the Tumwater airport, Olympia Indoor Soccer, also the home of indoor tennis. The bleachers, folding chairs, and old couches (Sparks says, “I donated my couch”) can hold a crowd of about 300.

    The newly formed Western Indoor Soccer League includes five teams: Tacoma, Bellingham, Wenatchee, and Arlington (Snohomish County), in addition to Olympia. 

    Finding players was easy. “Once I announced it, [players] were interested,” says Sparks. “We’ve got three college  programs. There are a lot of guys who want to play in the winter.”

    Led by player-coach Nate Salverson, most of the players are recent graduates of Evergreen, SPSCC, or St. Martin’s. They don’t get paid, but some may aspire to joining minor league professional soccer teams, indoor and outdoor, such as the Seattle Impact or the Kitsap Pumas. Others are still in college, plus a couple of high-schoolers.. 

    “Hopefully, [the audience] will be a lot of families,” says Sparks. The atmosphere certainly seems family friendly, with lots of kids’ entertainment during breaks in the game. But when the ball’s in play, most of the kids are glued to the action. With ten or more goals scored in a typical game, the action is pretty constant.

    And the culinary selections are pretty good, too. Offerings include pulled pork sandwiches, chili, and hot dogs, as well as the essentials: the espresso stand and the beer garden.

    Sparks’ ambition doesn’t end with indoor soccer. He would like to form a semi-pro outdoor team as well, that would likely play at a high school stadium. Plus, “I would love minor league baseball, but there’s no stadium around here.”

    At the game against Tacoma, the fans seemed to leave happy despite the loss. Sparks says, “the challenge is to get new fans out here.”

    “Olympia hasn’t had good luck with semi-pro teams,” says Sparks. “I want to prove that Olympia can be a minor league city.”

    “I think we’re gonna put on a really good show and have some fun.” ◙


The Oly Town Artesians play at Olympia Indoor Soccer, 7845 Center St. SW, Tumwater. They have home games on December 6, and January 3, 24, and 31, all at 6 PM. Tickets are $7 advance, $8 door, $5 kids under 13, and kids under 5 free. Find more info at 

Stardust: 21 Years of Musical Christmas Cards by Harlequin Productions

South Sound Arts - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 7:39am
Published in Thurston Talk Nov. 26, 2014

Emile Rommel Shimkus, Bruce Haasl, Jerod Nace, Amy Shepard and Robert Hume will get your groove on during Harlequin’s The Stardust Christmas Blizzard. Photo credit: Harlequin ProductionsFew theater companies in the world have ever produced a long-running series of plays such as Harlequin Production’s Stardust series. Stardust is a series of stage musicals set during Christmas, mostly in the same New York nightclub, with loosely connected stories covering a decade in the lives of many of the same characters. Each “episode” has been written by Harlowe Reed and features a galaxy of the best and most popular of local actors across generations, beginning in 1993.

Read this history of Stardust on
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Fleshworks Makes Their Mark on Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 7:00am



By Kathryn Millhorn

little caesars logoThe term “Fleshworks Mob” conjures up images of villagers with pitchforks on a dusky Transylvania hillside.  Instead they’re a force for good throughout Olympia, helping the less fortunate and coordinating tremendous change for the better.

The Mob is comprised of friends, fans, and clients of Fleshworks Tattoo Studio and its owners Travis and Cynthia Brown.  The Browns moved Fleshworks from Arizona to Olympia eleven years ago “to be with family and to enjoy the beauty of the Northwest” says Cynthia.  This move has paid off.  The shop just won first prize in the Best of Western Washington competition, beating more than 160 other tattoo parlors around the region.

fleshworks tattoo

Travis and Cynthia Brown are the heart and soul behind the Fleshworks Mob, a charitable group working to clean up Olympia.

Always an artist, Travis began tattooing and opened up his first shop in Arizona when he was 19.  Says Cynthia, “Travis continues all kinds of art including painting, but it’s nice to be able to do what you love as a career.”  This passion shows in his amazing original work, as well as traditional tattoo designs.  Personally, I sought him out with only a vague idea in mind.  My one-on-one consultation ensured that the finished piece was much more than I imagined.  His years of skill can be seen in deft cover up’s of scars, damaged, or regretted tattoos.

Once I’d signed on as a client, I noticed the Mob’s tremendous fan-base and level of community spirit.  Their events are free, open to all, and some of the most welcoming in town.  (Keep up with events by following their Facebook page.)

With finances tight for everyone, it’s nice to be able to participate in a fundraiser that asks for only a few dollars of donations.  Canned food, gently used coats, and sale toys are something even my humble budget can contribute.  At their recent wildlife fundraiser this past summer, my lowly $10 rewarded me with a wine tasting at a local winery!

As successful small business owners, the Browns quickly realized they “really wanted to give back to the community.  As a local business we believe that if you want change, you have to create change.  We realized how much support we had as a business and wanted to encourage the community to be more involved.  We have a close-knit Fleshworks Family (aka The Fleshworks Mob).  They are always eager to get involved in giving back and we always include them in our events; it’s amazing and we appreciate the constant support.  The Mob is growing bigger which only means more helping hands to give back.”

fleshworks mob

The Mob recently organized to pick up trash and discarded drug needles from parks and green spaces around their West Olympia tattoo studio.

Through stand-alone fundraisers, Fleshworks has given to such hands on organizations as For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless, and the Providence St. Peter’s Hospital No One Dies Alone program.  Along with Oly Memes, the Fleshworks Mob also participated in cleaning up Olympia neighborhoods by picking up garbage and used drug needles discarded around their West Olympia shop.

The Browns also facilitate vital supply, coat, blanket, and toy drives for needy populations around Olympia.  They are currently hosting a toiletry drive for our local homeless population, seeking socks, cash, playing cards, and first aid supplies.  In the past they’ve partnered with the Cedar Creek Corrections Center to collect toys donated to children with incarcerated parents.  They even sold cupcakes from their shop with all monies sent to help Oso mudslide victims.

This tremendous spirit of community service has not gone unnoticed.  At the recent For Heaven’s Sake fundraiser, many local companies stepped up and donated goods and services.  Brown is proud that “several local businesses donated including Eastside Big Tom for the food, The Bearded Lady for desserts, Pockets Full of Pie for a pie, San Francisco Street Bakery for baked goods, Home Depot Tumwater for trash bags, 1-800-Got-Junk picked up the trash and donated a dump load to the raffle, Jusby the Clown donated his time, Island Johnny donated the Port A Potty, Tugboat Annie’s gave a gift certificate for the raffle, we gave away tattoo sessions, Wild Birds Unlimited provided a gift basket, Northern Highlights sent hair products, and Papa John’s on the Westside brought pizza coupons.  Other prizes included donated photo shoots from local photographers, and a buffet from the Red Wind Casino. During this event we raised $1,200 for the animal shelter.”

The Pew Research Center’s 2013 report puts the number of tattooed Americans at 45 million.  This growing demographic tends to be passionate about their favorite artists and shops, sharing photos of new pieces far and wide.  Travis and Cynthia Brown wisely harnessed this kind of word-of-mouth advertising to significantly improve their city.

Their shop is located at 1015 4th Avenue West, Suite J, in the green Medical Arts Center Building.  Photos, testimonials, and donation information can be found either on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.  Stop by to chat about their current fundraiser or portfolio of work any time; they’re open from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily.


Meet Heather Rowell at Boggs Inspection Services

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:40am



boggs home inspection

Heather Rowell serves as the Office Manager for Bogg’s Inspection Services, keeping the inspectors on time and the office running smoothly.

Teamwork.  We all know it’s the hallmark of success in so many arenas.  On the field or court, teamwork is essential to get the “W” at the end of the game.  As families, we know that together we all accomplish more, and have more fun, when we work together.  And in business, the overall goals and success of the group can only be achieved with a solid team backing each other up.

Teamwork is at the heart of Boggs Inspection Services.  Not only does owner and founder Dwayne Boggs rely on his team of talented inspectors to complete timely and accurate inspections, but he relies on the exceptional support of his office manager, Heather Rowell.

For many years, Boggs was a one man show and he knows how lucky he is to have Heather keeping the expanding business running smoothly.  From scheduling inspections throughout the South Sound to managing paperwork to visiting realty offices around the area, Heather truly is an invaluable part of the Boggs Inspection Services team.

Heather joined the Olympia-based home inspector after many years as a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters, ages eight and ten.  Despite loving her time at home, she had her eye out for an opportunity to add to the family’s income, yet remain flexible enough to still be a mom first.  A friend had worked with Boggs previously and when a life-change took her out of the area, she recommended Heather for the position.

Heather and her husband have lived in Olympia for 11 years.  She teaches Zumba at Lacey Ultimate Fitness where she’s been leading groups in the fun fitness class for three years.  While she hadn’t worked in a typical “office” job before, she learned quickly and enjoys keeping the “boys” on track.

“I do anything and everything office related for Dwayne,” she shares. “I manage the marketing, scheduling, website, and all the paperwork.”  Not only is she managing the in-office tasks, but reaches out into the community on behalf of the busy inspectors, meeting with real estate agents, running errands, and being “the face” of Boggs Inspection Services.

“It’s not an industry I ever thought I’d be in, but I’m so grateful to be a part of this group.  I’ve learned so much about not only the home inspection side, but about the whole process of a real estate transaction,” she shares.

Heather manages the busy schedules of Boggs Home Inspection’s three inspectors – Dwayne Boggs, Tom Hitchman, and Keith Bowman.   The inspectors range within an approximate 60 mile radius of their Olympia home-base reaching as far north as Renton and Kent, throughout Pierce County including Gig Harbor and reaching south and west into Grays Harbor County and Lewis County.  Coordinating such far reaching locations takes savvy and Heather does it with ease.

boggs home inspection

Heather is just one valuable member of the Bogg’s team, working together to provide quality home inspections throughout the South Sound.

But when asked what she likes most about her role working for Dwayne Boggs it’s not about the tasks she completes.  “It’s been a wonderful experience working for Dwayne.  He has helped us go from a single family income to a two income household,” she explains.  “But the best part is he loves my kids and loves my family – if I need to stop what I’m doing to help my kids or go to their school he understands and having that flexibility allows me to work and still be there for my kids when they need me.”

Heather was able to set up a home office and utilize her cell phone to stay connected to the inspectors and the office line when needed.  “It feels like he is a part of the family.  He’s respectful of family time and encourages me to include my kids whenever possible,” she says.  “He really is caring and considerate – really, he’s just a big teddy bear.”

Local real estate agents may have a chance to say “hi” to Heather in person soon.  She’ll be visiting local offices to deliver poinsettias for the holidays, a way to say thank you for a positive partnership through the years.

When not representing Boggs Inspection Services, Heather and her family can be found enjoying the outdoors camping and riding ATVs.  “We are camping from the time the sun comes out in the spring until the snow hits the ground,” she laughs.  “We just spend a lot of time together – family time is really important to us.”

And Heather now has another family with the Boggs Inspection Services team.  “We all work together so well – it’s a true team effort.”

And when asked to reflect about her boss, Dwayne, she smiles.  “Dwayne just wants to do the right thing.  He wants to make people happy and help them when they need it.  He’s all about helping solve problems for people.  It makes me excited to be a part of it all.”

To chat with Heather, or schedule a home inspection, contact Boggs Inspection Services at 360-480-9602.

Spend Small Business Saturday in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:30am



By Katie Doolittle

descoConfession: for the past few years, my holiday shopping has been an unpleasant and stressful obligation, usually carried out at the last minute. Picture me strolling through a crowded store on December 23, desperate to find something marginally sufficient and irrationally annoyed by other customers doing the exact same thing. After several hours jockeying for parking and waiting in line, my Christmas spirit always dwindles to pathetic Grinch-like reserves.

olympia shopping

The friendly staff at Compass Rose is ready to help you find the perfect holiday treasure. Photo courtesy of Compass Rose.

But this year, I want to experience gift giving as the joyful celebration it’s meant to be. That means I need to shop early in a location I actually enjoy. Which is exactly why fellow fans of downtown Olympia may bump into me during Small Business Saturday shopping around town.

Nationwide, Small Business Saturday occurs the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it promotes patronage of small and local businesses as a thoughtful consumer alternative.

I love the idea that my money stays in the community. I want to support my neighborhood business folk… especially since they, in turn, support so many local causes and groups. In terms of personal benefits, the idea of shopping downtown is much more appealing than trudging about under the fluorescent lights of a big box store.

It begs the question: why haven’t I changed my shopping habits before now?

Sad but true answer: I’m cheap.

As it happens, I am (or was) also ridiculously uninformed. I fell victim to the noxious myth that local stores are more expensive than chain retailers. Not true! A little pre-shopping research revealed that I can spend $35 or less for each person on my list and, in the process, get something lovely and unique.

Here are just a few Olympia shops I recommend for your own gift-giving needs:

The All-Stars

At the quirky Archibald Sisters store in downtown Olympia between 4th and 5th Avenue, you can find anything from toys to custom cosmetics.

At the quirky Archibald Sisters store in downtown Olympia between 4th and 5th Avenue, you can find anything from toys to custom cosmetics.

Archibald Sisters has been my favorite downtown store for over 20 years now. They really do have reasonably priced goodies for everyone. Go for the silly (stick-on mustaches), the kitschy (Elvis mugs), or the hilarious and unique (I’m thinking of their well-stocked stationary section). My personal favorite: the bath and skin care products you can order in your preferred scent.

Compass Rose sells gorgeous imports alongside lovely locally made goods. From books to baby gear and jewelry to kitchen goods, the unifying theme in this eclectic store seems to be that I want to take everything home. Bonus: Compass Rose annually donates 10% of its income to nonprofits and NGOs.

Shopping at Radiance Herbs and Massage actually feels soothing (and we have already established that I am not the calmest of customers). Take home some of that peace in a bottle; the essential oils and personal care products at Radiance are fantastic. Plus, their support of fair labor practices makes every candle and stick of incense smell all the sweeter.

Get a double bang for each buck by picking up a bag of locally made dog treats from One Spoiled Dog Treat while shopping at locally owned The Pet Works, located in the old Olympic Outfitters building.

For The Littles In Your Life

Captain Little is my go-to store for non-toxic toys (a must for my baby, who likes to put everything in his mouth). The sales staff are hard-pressed to recommend just one item within my price range. “We have a ton of stuff for $30 or under: games, art supplies, puzzles, toys, beautiful books, Klean Kanteens, and lunch boxes.”

Simple Cloth sells baby carriers and natural parenting items in addition to cloth diapers. For $32, you can gift new parents with a two-pack of Aden+Anais Swaddling Blankets. Julie Triplett, store owner, says, “They are large enough to work well on a big or long baby and they’re lightweight for multiple uses.” If swaddling equates to better sleep for baby, this gift is truly priceless!

olympia shopping

Alayna Joelle Chamberland and Michael Tempke enjoy their inventory, including these hats from Elope. Photo courtesy of Captain Little.

Poppet Olympia is chock-full of mint-condition consignment merchandise for babies and kids. It feels good to give new life to a gently used toy or outfit; scoring big ticket items at half their retail price certainly doesn’t hurt.

For Chefs and Foodies

At Olympia Olive Oil, it’s $12 each for any of their 200 ml bottles. I recommend the Persian lime olive oil and blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar. Pair these two together for a super salad dressing.

Buck’s Fifth Avenue sells spices, teas, and exotic cooking tools. Overwhelmed? You can choose from their pre-created kits and gift packages. Currently, I’m wavering between the sea salt sampler ($22.40) and international curry sampler ($28.50).

For the Artistically-Minded  

Art supplies purchased at Olyphant make great stocking stuffers, and the staff can help you find budget-friendly items in any artistic medium. Want to know more? Check out this past article.

olympia shopping

Painted Plate gift certificates provide loved ones with an enjoyable artistic experience.

A gift certificate to Painted Plate is perfect if you want to give an experience rather than an object. Bisque pottery pieces start at just $6.

Right next door on Washington Street, Let’s Paint!  offers scheduled classes (some costing only $25) that give budding painters a chance to explore their talents using acrylic on canvas.

As you leave downtown Olympia, swing up to DescoAV for the music lover on your list.  Bring a turntable and five records to be professionally cleaned during their vinyl event on Small Business Saturday.  Get more details here.

For the Personally Fashionable  

Hot Toddy offers modern fashion with a retro soul. For under $30, you can take home novelty T-shirts, accessories, or jewelry. As another option, makeup lines in the store include Besame cosmetics and Butter LONDON nail lacquer.

Bon Lemon, in their new location in West Olympia on Harrison, is a great stop for jewelry, scarves, and gift items.  See their items online before swinging into the shop.  Proprietress Amy Evans’ is constantly changing her stock to ensure that the latest trends and fresh ideas are available for sale.

Newcomer LOLA Lifestyle Boutique can outfit the fashionably conscious female on your list.

Don’t forget the sartorially splendid men in your life! Though g. miller menswear has lovely items in my price range, if I splurge anywhere it will be here. Two words, folks: custom tailoring.


Stardust: 21 Years of Musical Christmas Cards by Harlequin Productions

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:00am



By Alec Clayton

sunset airFew theater companies in the world have ever produced a long-running series of plays such as Harlequin Production’s Stardust series. Stardust is a series of stage musicals set during Christmas, mostly in the same New York nightclub, with loosely connected stories covering a decade in the lives of many of the same characters. Each “episode” has been written by Harlowe Reed and features a galaxy of the best and most popular of local actors across generations, beginning in 1993.

Counting this year’s The Stardust Christmas Commotion, which opens Nov. 28, there have been 19 Stardust shows in 21 seasons. That includes a couple which were revised. All but Operation Stardust (1996 and revised in 2007) and Stardust Cavalcade (2003) have been set in the Stardust Club in Manhattan during World War II. Typically, the entertainers and workers in the club are stranded for one reason or another, and as their stories play out they find opportunities to sing and dance to the hit tunes of the day – the swinging big-band songs of Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers, and the Andrews Sisters. Exceptions to the rule were Operation Stardust, in which the gang found itself stranded in a supply depot in Tunisia during the WWII campaign in North Africa; and Stardust Cavalcade, in which the gang performed a variety show in another theater.

harlequin stardust

Christian Doyle plays a beatnik poet in The Stardust Christmas Blizzard. Photo courtesy Harlequin Productions.

Stardust Serenade in 2011 was billed as the final show in the series. In it, a Charlie Chaplin-like character (impersonated by Christian Doyle, who has been in the last three shows in the series) had a running battle with IRS agent Hobson Bierce (Scott C. Brown, a dramatic actor who was hilarious in his first musical role). But it wasn’t the last in the series, which was quickly revised and updated to the 1950s with rock and roll instead of swing music in Stardust Blizzard in 2013. Now they’re back with another rock and roll Christmas musical, this one set in 1958 with many of the same actors returning in the same roles.

Harlequin’s Artistic Director, Linda Whitney, says the series was inspired by two events. The first being an ongoing series at Seattle’s Bathhouse Theater and second being Harlequin’s production of 1940s Radio Hour in their second season. Linda says, Bathhouse’s artistic director at the time, Arne Zaslove, “is a genius of originality and has done an astonishing amount of impressive theater,” and he produced an annual holiday offering for more than 17 years called The Big Broadcast. “These were recreations of the golden age of radio and they were hugely successful and highly entertaining. We were inspired by the possibility of literally inventing an alternative holiday entertainment on this model. But, unlike The Big Broadcast, we wanted the shows to each have their own plot and narrative line.”

1940s Radio Hour did well, so they began to explore other options for revisiting the 1940s every Christmas. Discovering that there were very few holiday scripts set in the 40s, they opted to originate their own series — necessitating the invention of playwright Harlowe Reed (named after Linda’s paternal grandfather).

“Setting it in a small nightclub in Greenwich Village seemed the most natural choice from the beginning because of all the story possibilities that neighborhood affords. It’s one of the oldest American communities and has always been home to influential writers, artists, performers, and musicians, not to mention the social activism that was born there,” says Linda. “Largely these shows have been situation comedies about the back stage life of performers and people trying to hold the business of entertainment together. They are Christmas card romances with happy endings that families can share. They are also alternatives or additions to traditional holiday entertainment fare.”

harlequin stardust

Mark Alford, Maggie Lofquist, Jerod Nace and Christian Doyle perform in The Stardust Christmas Blizzard. Photo credit: Harlequin Productions.

Linda’s brother-in-law, Bruce Whitney, has musically directed almost every one of the shows and has played the part of band leader Nikolai Feyodorov, a Russian expatriate musician, which has provided him with rare opportunities to solo on a variety of instruments and have speaking roles (with a heavy Russian accent, no less).

“As with Linda, I can’t quite remember how many Stardust shows I’ve been involved with, but all of them have been a privilege and a delight,” says Bruce. “The operative word every year is ‘fun!’ Fun music, a fun, somewhat schmaltzy (in all the best ways) story set in lower Manhattan with a gang of performers who all have ‘fun’ on their resumes. For many years, it was set in the ‘40s – what a rich source of musical material! Now we’ve moved to the late ‘50s where the music is so different but still so great. The hardest part in developing each show is choosing which songs not to do. It’s also amazing what a rich source of wonderful musicians and performers we have right here in Olympia.”

“I feel very fortunate to be part of a company whose mantra for musical productions is, ‘Let’s make up our own show,’” continues Bruce.  ”Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the standard musicals, but the vast majority or our music shows – the summer rock revues and these Christmas Stardust original plays – are built from the ground up by selecting and arranging a great mix of songs and casting a great mix of performers. And this year is no different. Every night during rehearsal, at least one person can’t help but exclaim, ‘This is so much fun! I’m so glad we get to do Stardust again!’”

The 19th production in the series, Stardust Christmas Commotion, is once again set in the Stardust Club. It’s mid-December 1958 and the club has been hired to host a hurry-up wedding reception for a mysterious couple. It’s a race to beat the clock, further complicated by the arrival of a social worker looking for a fugitive from a foster home. But the show must go on, and the gang sings and dances some of the greatest rock and roll songs of the era in their search for holiday magic.

The story focuses on a teenaged boy played by 17-year-old Jackson Jones. He’s knocking around Manhattan and has a part time job at the Stardust Club. Mark Alford reprises his role as Baxter, the overly enthusiastic sound man at the Stardust. Maggie Lofquist once again plays the part of Joy, the club’s no-nonsense business manager. Amy Shepherd, Christian Doyle, and Bruce Haasl are all back again to reprise their roles from last year’s The Stardust Christmas Blizzard. Also featured are Leah Scofield and Edsonya Charles. Musical offerings will include such early rock classics as “Makin’ Whoopee,” “Lollipop,” “Come and Go with Me,” “Sugartime,” “Three Cool Cats,” “Do Ya Wanna Dance?” and Christmas songs such as “Home for the Holidays.”

harlequin stardust

Emile Rommel Shimkus, Bruce Haasl, Jerod Nace, Amy Shepard and Robert Hume will get your groove on during Harlequin’s The Stardust Christmas Blizzard. Photo credit: Harlequin Productions

Alford says, “What continues to strike me about Stardust is the intensity of peoples’ connection to the series. Stardust is a well-established family tradition and I’ve spoken with Olympians of all ages who have seen them many times and absolutely love them. I was at the Reef a while back and someone came up to me and told me their son calls me ‘Runs Crazy.’ Apparently they had seen last year’s show and his son started calling me that, and whenever they see me on the street they say ‘There’s Runs Crazy!’ Then a few weeks ago I was at a sales event and, when a woman in her 20s saw my Harlequin name tag, I watched as her eyes misted over and she told me her family had gone to every Stardust for years. There was a very specific mixture of nostalgia and joy in her voice. I recognized it as the way I talk about my family’s camping trips when I was growing up, or of watching the Mariners with my dad in 1995.”

Linda says, “Another aspect of the experience of putting these shows together is the opportunity to learn a lot about mid-twentieth century America. World War II figured large in the earlier shows and that is an intense realm of study. Now getting into the ‘50s and learning how – in the midst of all the cheer and optimism – the stage was being set for the upheavals of the next decade. With the advent of television a new realm of entertainment opened up to a new generation. Big band era stars became television sitcom stars and rock and roll found its way into the home through the tube.”

The Stardust Christmas Commotion runs Nov. 28 – Dec. 31, at Harlequin Productions’ State Theater, 202 4th Ave E in Olympia. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here or by calling the box office at 360-786-0151.


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