Recent local blog posts

Dylan Kuehl: Healing the World and Living the Dream through Music

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Leslie Merchant

creative officeWhat’s your dream? Are you living it today? If you are like me, you probably have it stored up on a shelf in your “someday” closet. I recently met a young man named Dylan Kuehl who lives his dreams every day. Dylan is 31-years-old, and a quick look at his resume makes me feel like I have some serious catching up to do.  Published artist, motivational speaker, visual and performing arts company owner – these are some of the hats Dylan wears every day. He also wears an advocate’s hat because Dylan happens to have Down syndrome.

“My mother taught me early in life not to be afraid to reach for my dreams and celebrate my abilities,” says Dylan in a YouTube video he created with members of his YES team. YES teams are Dylan’s secret to success. He explains, “I began building YES teams of support, surrounding myself with special people who believe in me.”

dylan kuehl

Dylan Kuehl is the lead drummer in Living the Dream Band.

One of these YES teams helped Dylan realize his dream of being a drummer in a band. Dylan received his first drum set at age three and began taking private lessons at age 11. His teacher told him that he was good enough to be in a band. “Dylan never let go of that concept,” says Terri Rose, Dylan’s mother. She says, “Those people that say ‘yes’ at the right time, that’s what this is all about.” Rose and Dylan found Mark O’Brien, owner and instructor of Rhythm Fire School of Music and Performance, and he began to mentor Dylan. “I knew immediately that he had skills as a drummer,” says O’Brien.

The death of iconic pop star Michael Jackson in 2011 prompted Dylan to action. O’Brien says that Dylan was relentless in his pursuit of a band to carry on Michael Jackson’s legacy and heal the world with music. O’Brien was so impressed with Dylan’s ambition and vision that he joined Dylan’s YES team. And the Jackson Memory Band was born.

The band began as a vehicle to spread Jackson’s music and message, but Dylan and his YES team quickly saw the greater opportunity it provided. Rose explains that their dreams of engaging the community to support a common interest (music and inclusion) had arrived in the form of the band. “When the group came together they didn’t realize the connections they had with people with special needs. Their lives are touched with people with disability, so it’s not hard to see it everywhere.”

dylan kuehl

Dylan Kuehl enjoys spreading Michael Jackson’s music.

She explains that several band members had autism and Down syndrome in their own families. Dylan is the only person with a disability in the band. Rose calls the four principal members the “Core Four.” They include two local high school singers, Kailey Schlenz and Karli Brown, Mark O’Brien on keyboard and guitar, and Dylan on drums. Current band members also include percussionist Manfred O’Brien and bass player Don Parr. The band looks for other community members to join them for performances. This has been the catalyst in spreading the band’s mission to bring positive awareness for people with disabilities and to advocate for the inclusion of all people in all facets of life.

The band and its message have been such a success that they have changed their name to reflect their progress. Now known as Living the Dream Band, they hold fundraisers and concerts to support their tour and mission. At each stop they always give a percentage of collected donations to local disability groups to encourage others to follow their dreams. Rose says, “We would like to go to other communities and countries and take our example outside of our own backyard.” To that effect, they have already successfully toured throughout the state, opened for the Special Olympics, and toured in Maui.

Gini Koshelnik-Turner is living her dream. She is a 24- year-old singer also living with Down syndrome. Gina is going to be the lead singer for the band’s upcoming Music Extravaganza and Dinner Auction later this month. She is an example of the band’s mission to prove that Down syndrome and other disabilities are not the obstacles they are often perceived to be.

On Friday, November 21, the Living the Dream Band along with Billy Farmer and the Cavaliers will hold a benefit dinner and auction at Indian Summer Golf & Country Club at 6:00 p.m. Proceeds will go to operational expenses and to local non-profit Kokua Services, which provides supportive services to citizens with special needs. Tickets are $35 per person.

For tickets or more information on Living the Dream Band, please contact Terri Rose at healtheworldtour or call 360-701-9880.


Trista Nesbit-Evans’ Red Velvet Bakery Hits Your Sweet Spot

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Kelli Samson

putnam lieb logoA couple of years ago, the state legalized the operation of cottage bakeries, setting forth a long-awaited host of guidelines, rules, and regulations. There were hundreds of us who couldn’t wait to get certified to sell goodies out of our own kitchens, but very few bakers saw the entire intimidating process through.

Thankfully, Tumwater High School alumnus Trista Nesbit-Evans, proprietess of Olympia’s Red Velvet Bakery, became one of approximately twenty or so in the state who has jumped through all of the hoops. She made her dream a reality with the certification of her home bakery.

red velvet bakery

Trista Nesbit-Evans is a Tumwater native.

She’s been satisfying many dessert lovers’ cravings across Thurston County ever since.

Trista herself has always had a sweet tooth.

She grew up baking with her grandmother and her mother in Tumwater. “Everything I know I pretty much learned from my mom. My house was the place to be after school because we had all the goodies,” recalls Trista. “We’d bake pies and use the apples from the trees out in the yard. We’d pick berries together and make berry pies and jams. I grew up picking recipes out of the Betty Crocker cookbook and trying them out.”

When she became a mother (her kids are 11-year-old son Gage, eight-year-old daughter Andin, and six-month-old son Nash), she wanted her kids to have those same fond memories that can only be made in the kitchen.

“I always have cooked with my kids because I think it’s a valuable thing for them to learn. It’s a little bit of a lost art. I want them to have those skills as they get older so they can be self-sufficient and not live out of the freezer section at the grocery store,” explains Trista.

She also found that the kitchen was a place for her to unleash her creativity. “When I get stressed, I bake. There’s something comforting about it,” she adds.

She began her baking career when her two older children were both in elementary school. “When I finally had some extra time on my hands, it seemed like the right time to pursue my dream,” says Trista.

red velvet bakery

Trista is the baker you need for your next Seahawks game-day treats.

She started with simply giving her abundance of treats away to friends and family. “I unloaded all of my goods on everybody because they loved them,” she laughs. “My friends and family have always been so supportive. Sharing baked goods brings happiness to everyone and sharing my gift brings me happiness.”

When the opportunity arose to become a licensed cottage bakery, she jumped in with both feet. Beginning her career at home this way gives her the flexibility to still be active at her older children’s school and to care for baby Nash.

Becoming licensed to sell baked goods from your home is no small accomplishment. In addition to the home kitchen meeting incredibly high standards set by the state’s Department of Agriculture, all recipes must have a certain degree of shelf stability. For example, nothing can be sold that needs refrigeration. The requirements are actually more stringent than they are for storefronts selling baked goods.

In order to meet these guidelines, Trista spent hundreds of hours pouring over the recipes she had already perfected for her family and friends. She had to figure out ways to tweak the ratios of the ingredients found in her over two-hundred time-honored classics in order to satisfy the regulations.

She desired to set her bakery apart from others with a name that evokes images of rich, classy confections. That is how she landed upon the apropos moniker Red Velvet Bakery when she opened a little over a year ago. “I also have a whole line of red velvet items that are very popular,” adds Trista.

red velvet bakery

The most popular item on the Red Velvet Bakery’s menu? It’s the cake version of a peanut butter cup.

The best part? “My goodies are fresh, homemade, and preservative-free,” she explains. She uses local and organic ingredients when she can.

The Red Velvet Bakery’s website will make anyone’s sweet tooth swoon. Her menu boasts everything from pies to breads, cupcakes to scones, and just about everything you can dream of in between. If you see something you like, you should place your order at least a week in advance of your event.

Her chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting is her number-one seller. “It’s actually gone for $500 at an auction before,” she shares.

And if you’re gluten-free? No problem. She’s got a section on her menu for those folks, too.

With the holidays coming up, Trista is starting her plans for her highly-coveted cookie platters. These boast a mouth-watering assortment of treats and are always a big hit. They’re perfect for teachers, co-workers, and hungry family members.

Meanwhile, Trista has visions of a storefront dancing in her head. With the support of her community, it’s surely just a matter of time.

You can visit the Red Velvet Bakery online at or via Facebook.  To place an order, contact Trista at (360) 556-1468 or email her at


North Thurston High School Students In Motion for an Avalanche of Canned Food

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

hanson motors sponsorBrady Olson’s Advanced Placement Government & Politics students at North Thurston High School already have schedules filled with classes, sports, jobs and after school activities, but they’ve taken on an extra challenge.

The three classes of NTHS seniors have set an epic goal to collect over 12,000 cans of food for the Thurston County Food Bank before school closes in December for winter break. That’s more than enough to fill a garage. It’s more than enough to fill a few empty pantries.

north thurston high school

Tyler Reece leads the AP Government classes at North Thurston High School in organizing their ambitious food drive.

Over thirty students met after school for their first organizational session. Tyler Reece stepped up as facilitator. Reece has already been accepted at the United States Military Academy West Point where he will likely be studying chemistry. He is following in the footsteps of his parents.  His father also attended West Point and his mother also served in the Army.

“I want to see how a group of students can come together to make a difference,” he said grinning. It’s an opportunity to practice his leadership skills, suggested Mr. Olson, who was also present for the after school meeting. In short order, jobs were enumerated and assignments taken as the enthusiasm continued to build.

Over the course of the next month, please keep your eyes and hearts open to this thoughtful group of students. They’ll be standing in the damp breezy weather in front of grocery stores and canvassing Lacey neighborhoods for your extra cans of food. All the food collected heads directly to our local food bank.

The entire North Thurston High School will be participating in the canned food collection, but Mr. Olson’s students plan to raise the stakes, in fact, surpassing all previous achievements. Four years ago, his AP seniors exceeded their goal of 10,000 cans by over a thousand. That’s a lot of cans.

During the food drive, other local high schools will also be collecting for the food drive. According to Carol Vannerson, who has volunteered at the downtown food back for more than five years, this school food drive is second in volume only to the postal carriers’ drive. She stressed that the food bank truly depends on these donations.

Here is a list from the Food Bank of more nutritious and desirable possibilities. Do keep the ramen to yourself.

  • High protein food such as canned chili, peanut butter, beans, or canned meat
  • Pasta and macaroni and cheese
  • Canned fruit and vegetables
  • Soup
  • Baby Food and formula
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that store well in a refrigerator. Home-grown produce is most welcome. Please see the produce page for more details.
north thurston canned food drive

Seniors work together on their own time to map out strategies and plans for the food drive.

If you are interested in learning more about everything that happens at the food bank or want to become a volunteer, click here.

Focus your attention on these young people who going out of their way to help their community. Many of the students know other students who are regular beneficiaries of the food bank. Did you know that approximately half of the food distributed is handed to individuals who are 16 years old or younger? These food donations address hunger right here. Thank you for filling up your sacks and passing them along.


Annual “Reindeer Run” Benefits Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 9:33pm


Submitted by Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers 

jingle bell run lacey

Run to be held December 7 in downtown Olympia.

Runners and walkers of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in the annual “Reindeer Run” in support of the Olympia-Thurston County chapter of Crime Stoppers.  The event will feature a certified 5K run as well as a free one-mile Candy Cane Run.

The Reindeer Run is set for 9 am on Sunday, December 7 at the Hands On Children’s Museum, 414 Jefferson St. NE Olympia.  Runners can register on-line at or   In store-registration can also be done at South Sound Running-3405 Capitol Boulevard in Olympia.

The day will feature a Christmas themed costume contest, a visit by Santa Claus and lots of other fun.   Sponsors include the Hands On Children’s Museum, South Sound Running, On the Run Events and Club Oly Running.

All proceeds from the run will benefit the non-profit programs of Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers.

Some background on this chapter-

Over the past 20 years-

  • More than 900 suspects have been arrested
  • 922 criminal offenses were cleared
  • 829 rewards were paid for a total of more than $160,000
  • The value of stolen property that was recovered was more than $1.8 million
  • Nearly $7-million in narcotics were taken off the streets

For more information on the “Reindeer Run” please call 360-561-0266

Structure Fire at Black Lake Elementary School

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:25pm



Submitted by Scott LaVielle for Tumwater Fire Department

Assisted by mutual aid units from East Olympia Fire District 6, Griffin Fire District 13, McLane/Black Lake Fire District and West Thurston Regional Fire Authority, Tumwater Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at Black Lake Elementary School, 6345 Black Lake Belmore Road SW.  The call came in at 11:58 a.m. with the first unit arriving at 12:04 p.m.

Upon arrival, the school was evacuated.  Upon initial investigation, crews found a small amount of smoke emanating from the SE corner room of the school in the roof area.  The room contained a kitchen with a stove, microwave and small hood and duct system.  Upon entry, fire personnel found a small amount of fire burning on the top of the stove and cupboard area just above the stove.  The fire was extinguished and confined to this area.  Crews confirmed there was no fire extension, and quickly worked to ventilate the building of residual smoke.

The cause of the fire was determined to be someone turning on the left rear burner which ignited combustibles left on the stove.  The fire progressed to an adjacent microwave oven which ignited cupboards above the area of origin.  Damage is estimated to be approximately $60,000.00.  Two school staff were treated for smoke inhalation and released at the scene.  There were no other injuries to school personnel or firefighters.

Ang P, MG! The Visionary, Afrok, Puget “Work Is the Principle”

K Records - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:25pm
“Work Is the Principle” is the third video from the All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] Northwest hip hop compilation. It features Thee XNTRX MCs Ang P, MG! The Visionary, Afrok and Puget. Shot around downtown Olympia by Red Williamson of Newspin Films. View the other All Your Friend’s Friends videos: “Jumpkick the Legs” and Heddie […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa Paws, and Holiday Bazaar - December 6

Griffin Neighborhood - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 1:37pm
Feline Friends will hold a Cat Adoption Day and Holiday Bazaar at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters, 10 AM to 3 PM on Saturday, December 6.

This is an annual bazaar with over 20 tables filled with great gift ideas for the season. Santa will be available for pictures!

Crafts include hand blown glass art, Christmas wreaths and decorations, handmade soap, jams and jellies, candles and many other unique items.

There will also be a bake sale.

Join us for fun and to support this special cause.

Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa Paws, and Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 6
10 AM to 3 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

What do you see in this chart? Mason County changing?

Olympia Time - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:31pm
This is a chart tracking partisan returns in the 35th legislative district between 1992 and 2014. The lines track the two house seats and the dark dots, the senate. What I'm tracking here is how successful Democratic branded candidates have done over the past 20 years.

An important note before you look any further. For 2014, I switched Sen. Tim Sheldon for his challenger Irene Bowling. In you own consideration, feel free to totally ignore that, but for the sake of argument, and to make an interesting chart, I did that.

So, here's what I see: Throwing out two uncontested years, the Democratic brand in the 35th (greater Mason County) has been eroding.

Mason County always struck me as an interesting place, the furthest inland outpost of the "Coastal Caucus" political type. I sort of wrote about this, the most non-partisan of Washington's political regions, here.

I've also been thinking a lot about two other rural western Washington counties, Lewis and Grays Harbor. These two places share a river (the Chehalis), but party speaking, one is very Democratic, the other is very Republican. I've been wondering (baring very few other differences) why Lewis votes almost always Republican and Grays Harbor even more often Democratic.

And, I think we might be seeing that difference in action in Mason County. In the past, it seems that Shelton was very much like Grays Harbor. But now, as we move through several elections, Mason County is becoming more dependably Republican. This is the first time since at least 1992 that the 35th have returned three state legislators that won't caucus with the Democrats.

But, what are the factors behind this label change? You can argue that the Democrats Mason County sent to the legislator were always more conservative. Sure, I can take that. Other coastal Democrats were always different than King County Democrats. At least in the modern sense.

But, why the label change? Here's on theory: one other thing has happened in the last 10 years, urban Democrats have been focussing energy on Mason County and Tim Sheldon.

Sheldon's break with urban Dems has been at least ten years in the making, since he chaired Democrats for Bush in 2004. He also led a rebellion against a Democratic budged in a few years ago and then famously caucused with Republicans during the last two legislative sessions. And, since then, Democrats in other parts of Puget Sound have been taking a harder and harder aim at him. The high point was this year when a traditionally funded Democrat faced off with Sheldon in the general, and lost.

So, maybe this really isn't an act of Mason County voters changing their stripes, but a slow-motion erosion of the old-style coastal Dem with a modern conservative Republican.

Petition to place The Evergreen Gallery back onto The Evergreen State College’s state operating budget

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 11:05am

Petition  to place The Evergreen Gallery back onto The Evergreen State College’s state operating budget. Please let the college know how important the gallery is to our curriculum and what it can offer to the intellectual and cultural life on campus and to the rest of Olympia.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Free "Naturescaping" Class, Thursday November 20

Griffin Neighborhood - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:26am
The WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project and Stream Team Program are sponsoring a free "Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife" class this Thursday, 6 PM to 9 PM at the Tumwater Fire Hall.

Topics in this class include:

  • Planting for four-season interest
  • How to attract birds, butterflies, & amphibians
  • Landscaping for tricky areas, including slopes
  • Easy ways to minimize lawn area
  • Water-wise ideas for your landscape
  • How simple changes can save time and money

"Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife"
Thursday, November 20
6 PM to 9 PM
Tumwater Fire Hall
311 Israel Rd. SW, Tumwater

Register online at

Questions? Contact or (360) 867-2167.

Six Ways to Celebrate A Holiday Office Party around Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:49am



By Lisa Herrick

harold carrHoliday office parties are highly anticipated for the attendees yet can be a challenge for the party planner. The group’s size, interests, and budget will determine the type of celebration that would be suitable for the office holiday soiree. Year-end festivities are an excellent opportunity to bring co-workers together to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments as well as strengthen employee relations. Finding the ideal location or event for the holiday party can be time consuming on top of  regular daily duties. Fortunately, Thurston County offers a plethora of venues and activities fitting for a diverse array of office holiday fetes.

Dinner and Theater in Downtown Olympia

harlequin productions

The audience gives an enthusiastic standing ovation at a recent Harlequin Productions play. Harlequin plays have long been crowd-pleasers for Olympia audiences.

The holidays are an optimal time of year for a theater excursion. The cold weather beckons us indoors while local theaters offer amazing performances. Combining a social outing and an event will appeal to a broader set of people within the office. Groups of six or more are eligible for a discount making theater a more affordable gift for an organization. Plus downtown Olympia businesses will be sparkling with window decorations creating a festive atmosphere to stroll from one of the many downtown restaurants to either the Harlequinn Productions of The Stardust Christmas Commotion or Ballet Northwest’s The Nutcracker at The Washington Center.

Celebrate by Giving Back

The best of holiday office parties makes us feel good about the place we work. Celebrating with our co-workers by giving back to our community generates a positive team spirit. Charitable giving celebrations can be as simple as an in-office canned food drive or blending the holiday party around a special cause by organizing a fundraiser.  Alternatively, companies can do hands-on volunteering with many community organizations. For example, arrange a holiday party for the Olympia Union Gospel, help sort holiday food donations at the Thurston County Food Bank, or host a Toys for Tots drive at the office or provide extra hands in the local warehouse.

Enjoy Outdoor Festivities

jingle bell run lacey

Participating in the Jingle Bell Run at Saint Martin’s University can be a great way to celebrate the holidays with your work team.

Many work groups would prefer celebrating through physical activity and being outdoors rather than a traditional holiday party. Organizing a hike with a picnic may be an ideal celebration for an outdoorsy and fit group. Similarly, participating in a community race such as Saint Martin’s University Jingle Bell Run encourages friendly, fun competition as well as a silly, creative outlet by dressing up in outlandish festive attire. The holiday course is for runners or walkers who then join together upon completion to sip hot cocoa.

Revelry in the Office

Sometimes keeping the holiday office party simple and in the workplace is the best and easiest option. Throwing a party in the office can reduce the expenses of renting out a venue. It can also make it easier for people to attend by simply transitioning from the workday straight to the gathering. Adding a theme can make this transition from work to party more pronounced, festive and jolly. Keep things lighthearted and effortless with something like an ugly holiday sweater theme, which not only creates a natural ice breaker and diverts conversation from the every day work issues but is a wardrobe change. Offer nibbles from a local caterer like Budd Bay Cafe, pick up treats from Phoebe’s Cafe or schedule one of Olympia’s food trucks to be on site.

Join an Existing Event

Skip the planning and simply purchase a ticket to an existing event where the decorations, entertainment, gift bags and meal are all included. Take advantage of events such as the Providence Saint Peter Foundations Silver Bells Breakfast by celebrating with your work team over brunch and supporting a community charitable cause.

olympia tourism

Mix up the traditional office party and take your work friends on a night out on the town in Olympia.

Additionally, our area offers one of the most unique and majestic events during the holidays through the Olympia Yacht Club’s Lighted Ship Parade. Snack on appetizers from Bayview Thriftway while viewing the boats. The parade of boats sails out along the east side of Budd Bay to Boston Harbor and returns along the west shore of Budd Bay back to the Olympia Yacht Club.  Either reserve a spot at one of the local restaurants to view the parade or bundle up and watch from the Port Plaza. Then proceed to a local watering hole, like Dillingers or Three Magnets Brewing, for a cozy cocktail to warm you up.  Note that the boats are traveling on December 6 so make your plans earlier in the season.

Finding the Right Venue

The most common office holiday party involves dining, conversing and celebrating with the people we spend time with every day on the job. Celebrating with coworkers in a festive and charming setting provides the opportunity to break from the every day norm and have fun with our work friends. While there are many restaurants, event spaces and banquet halls that can be rented throughout Thurston County there are also quaint lcoations nestled just outside the Olympia downtown core such as The Albee’s Garden Parties, which accommodates small and large groups for holiday parties within their indoor and outdoor garden space decorated lovingly for the holidays.


Spend a Day in Olympia for the Holidays

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:19am



By Kate Scriven

VCB logoThe leaves are off the trees, festive lights are being placed in the empty branches and shops are full of gorgeous displays of gifts and specialty items.  Yes, the holidays are officially here.  To help you get in the mood, and check a few things off your list, spend a day in downtown Olympia.  Not only will you come away feeling “in the spirit” of the season, but you’ll find unique, quality gifts while supporting local small business owners.

Downtown isn’t just for shopping, though.  Take advantage of the special seasonal celebrations throughout the coming month including concerts, parades, tree lightings and of course the Nutcracker.  Make your visit to one of these events an occasion by grabbing a cup of locally roasted coffee, a warm bowl of homemade soup, or a special sweet treat at Olympia’s many eateries and cafes.

holidays olympia

Compass Rose is one stop on your downtown Olympia shopping tour.

Stroll, enjoy, and connect with those you love.  Live the true spirit of the season by spending a bit of time together in the vibrant core of our state’s capital.   Below are just a few of the highlights for a day trip to Olympia.

Shopping and Gifts

Archibald Sisters – For the wacky jokester on your list, or for the best stocking stuffers around, visit this long-standing emporium of all things fun.  Don’t miss the custom lotions and bath products bar to customize the perfect scent for those on your list.  Hit the “Oly” wear section for locally themed tees and sweatshirts showing your local-love.

Compass Rose – Imports abound alongside local treats in this treasure trove of gifts and décor.  From handmade jewelry to BPA-free baby toys, you’ll head out the door with something you didn’t expect, yet couldn’t imagine leaving without.

Hot Toddy – Visit just because the shop’s name is fantastic.  While you’re inside, browse for unique women’s clothes and accessories with a vintage vibe.  Have an urban hipster niece on your list?  This is your store.

Red Door InteriorsLara Anderson and her mother Kathy Lathrop curate this fantastic collection of new and refurbished items for your home in this corner shop on 5th and Washington.  Pick up just the right accent pillow to pull a room together or add a little bit of bling for your holiday table.  Affordable jewelry and accessories make perfect gifts and don’t miss their signature item – the RD Shady.

Captain Little Toy Store – Imagine the modern vibe of an Apple Store combined with quirky, quality toys and the best stuffed animals you’ve ever seen.  That is Captain Little.  Opened this summer in the former “Wind up Here” storefront, this newcomer is quickly becoming the go-to spot for hip, fun toys.  Go beyond a Barbie and delight the littles in your life with gifts of imagination hand selected by the store’s experienced owners.

olympia baby store

Simple Cloth, located in downtown Olympia, stocks a variety of diapers to meet customers’ differing needs and budgets.

Simple Cloth – While the tiny storefront may not scream “holiday shopping here” if you have a new mom (or mom-to-be) on your list, you can’t go wrong with the thoughtfully sourced selection in this 4th Avenue favorite.  Cloth diapering supplies are just the beginning.

Olyphant – In their new location on 5th Avenue, Olyphant offers high quality art supplies for the aspiring, or experienced, artist.  Staff can help guide your selection to something any artist can use in their case.

Buck’s 5th Avenue – For the culinary connoisseur on your list, stop into Buck’s and have the staff organize a spice sampler or tea medley.  Their selection can’t be beat and the aroma of the store alone is worth a visit.

Little General Food Shop – Another foodie haven, Little General offers up specialty eats perfectly made for hostess gifts, holiday entertaining, and stocking stuffers.  Hungry?  Ready to eat items are available to help keep your shopping stamina up.


olympia holiday parade

Downtown for the Holidays includes a popular parade at 3:00 p.m. on November 30.

Holiday Events

Downtown for the Holidays – Held on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, this annual event, centered around Sylvester Park, includes activities for kids and adults alike, music, the Holiday Parade and the Tree Lighting.   Local merchants join the fun with specials and celebrations throughout downtown.  The event begins on November 30 at 12:00 p.m. and continues until 5:00 p.m.  The downtown holiday parade steps off at 3:00 p.m.

Holiday Concerts – One of the best ways to enjoy the spirit of the season is through song.  Our thriving local arts community showcases its talent at a number of shows throughout December.  Here are just a few classics.

  • Olympia Choral Society – Holiday Classics will delight with three shows on December 12, 13, 14 at the Koval Center.
  • SOGO Ho Ho – Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia’s annual Victorian Holiday concert will be held December 14 at First Christian Church in Downtown Olympia (2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. shows).
  • Sounds of the Season – SPSCC Concert Choir and Puget Sound Community Choir entertain with holiday favorites on December 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the  Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on the SPSCC Campus.

Seasonal Theater

nutcracker olympia

Plan your day around a performance of the Nutcracker in downtown Olympia.

The Nutcracker Ballet – No need to travel to Seattle, and spend hundreds, to see a stunning performance of holiday favorite, the Nutcraker Ballet.  Olympia boasts several performances leading up to Christmas that will delight young and old alike.  Ballet Northwest’s production is at downtown’s Washington Center for the Performing Arts from December 12 through 21.  Include a matinee in your day downtown or enjoy dinner at one of the area’s excellent restaurants and walk to the show for a special night out.

Harlequin Productions “The Stardust Christmas Commotion” – Now in its nineteenth season, this 1950’s musical set in The Stardust Club is a local favorite.  Each year, audiences delight in a new rendition of rat-pack rock n’ roll and holiday spirit.  Shows run Thursday through Sunday beginning on November 28 and continuing through December 31.

Visit Olympia’s downtown this holiday season and delight in the unique shops, locally-sourced foods, and cheerful holiday entertainment.  Stroll the tree-lined streets with your family or make it a day with your friends.  Olympia is a treasure not to be missed this holiday season.


Debra Daniels Offers Insurance Advice about Homeowners Insurance and Personal Articles Policies

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:00am



olympia insuranceYou finally save a little extra money for that special purchase, be it a high-tech digital camera for the bird watching hobbyist or a stunning Chihuly centerpiece, but in one brief clumsy moment your treasure lies in pieces on the floor.

If you’re covered under a ‘Personal Articles Policy’ like the ones offered by the Debra Daniels Insurance Agency in Lacey, your tears are only temporary.  Many Homeowner’s policies don’t cover fine art breakage, and damage to possessions counts as a claim against your policy, subject to deductibles and raised rates.  With a Personal Articles Policy, in addition to your Homeowner’s policy;  art, cameras, and expensive items are covered, at a fraction of the cost, with or without a deductible,  in the event of damage.

A Personal Articles Policy isn’t just for the 1%, either.  This addition covers your household’s computer equipment, sports equipment, jewelry, and musical instruments as well.  This blanket coverage extends to kids at sports or music camps, college-aged children both home and in the dorms, and travel between it all…anywhere in the world.

Should you be lucky enough to inherit Aunt Mabel’s estate, you can also cover furs, silverware, fine art, oriental rugs, and collectibles!

Because such a policy is in addition to your normal coverage, it’s best to call your agent to discuss specifics.  Their knowledge can guide your decision-making towards the best coverage for your family’s needs.  As with any change in policy, chatting early is always best…just in case.

Debbie Daniels and her team are always available to chat, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at their 8765 Tallon Lane NE, Lacey offices, located 2 blocks pass Costco on Martin Way .  Should you have late night questions, you can email their offices or file a claim online and she’ll even arrange appointments off-site or after hours as needed.  Their phone number is 360-493-8284 and they’d love to hear from you.


How I Lost My Hearing

Mojourner Truth - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 10:52pm
That's me in the striped shirt, appropriated from grand-dad 30 years before McLemore made it cool to do that.
So yeah, I was a punk. Back in the early to mid-1980s. Then the migraines got too intense, or I fell in with some deadheads, or I got married to a non-punk, or I just didn't have the time and money to goto punk shows anymore.

Today, I went to the Olympia Film Festival to see "Salad Days," a documentary about the punk scene in DC, the harDCore scene of which I was a brief and inconspicuous part (1982-1985, more or less). The movie, which is apparently one of several returning to what are now days of yore, covered a lot of ground, but didn't seem to tell much of a story.

And neither did my experience. I was never in a band, and I ended up being a government archaeologist.

But I also got a sense of what it meant to be free, to just go do what you were interested in. I was not interested in releasing a record, but in the years since I've gone ahead and written academic papers, facilitated outlaw land actions, carved wood, written innumerable unedited essays, and preserved landscapes because I felt like it, and would not accept experts telling me I couldn't.

Being a punk made me deaf to the many "NO's" kids and young adults will hear, and I'm thankful for that.

Being a punk also made me deaf to sounds. Mom may not have been right about the value of joining the church youth group (dominated by drunkards and stoners at a time when I was straight edge), but she sure as hell had a point about loud music ruining my hearing. There's a video to prove it.

Look here, and you'll see me at age 18, right in front of the stage at a White Cross concert in Richmond, VA. White Cross was the local headliner punk band at the time, and were reknowned for being extremely fucking LOUD. The last band was already loud? No problem, just crank it up higher. Even if they'd never used a distortion pedal, their sound turned eardrums into tattered curtains whipped by hurricanes.

You can hear it in the video, which turns out to be better quality than some of the stuff in Salad Days. It sounds so rough because it was, because it was so loud that the microphone sould not cope. From about 2:35-3:40, you'll see me in front of the stage, shirtless and sweaty, singing along, commencing in a close-up of my mesomorphic self that makes me shudder to realize how much I looked like an actual--rather than mockingly ironic as intended--skinhead. By 7:50-8:24, I was on stage, crouched and resting, carrying on a conversation while the band raged a few feet away. At 9:00, and especially 9:33-9:37, you see me in front of the PA system, my left (now almost totally deaf) ear a few inches away from a 15 inch woofer.

Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool's 3rd Annual Dinner & Silent Auction, December 6

Griffin Neighborhood - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 9:38pm
Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool's 3rd Annual Dinner & Silent Auction

Saturday, December 6
6:00 PM
Griffin School Cafeteria

Featuring a 50/50 Raffle, Silent & Live Auction, Kids Music Feature, Photo Booth, Arts & Crafts, Face Painting, Ice Cream.

General Admission: $15
Members, Alumni, and Children under 12: $10

For more information, call (360) 866-1819 or

Teamwork Pays Off with Olympia’s Visit to the State Volleyball Tournament

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:31am



By Gail Wood

Edward Jones Block AdCall them the unexpected guests.

With a 5’6″ middle blocker, with a 14-8 record and placing fourth in the 4A Narrows League standings, Olympia High School’s volleyball team did the unexpected when it qualified for the state tournament.

In a winner-to-state match at district, Olympia beat a Timberline team that beat the Bears 3-0 twice during the regular season. It was a defining win for a team that struggled to find that winning formula.

olympia volleyball

Olympia scrimmages in preparation for the state tournament.

From the first match of the season, Laurie Creighton, Olympia’s coach for 36 years, has preached “get better.” The building block to success was to improve each game. Win or lose, it was all about not quitting.

“There’s not a lot of replacement for experience,” Creighton said. “We were hoping to get enough of it before we ran out of time. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking, gosh we might run out of time. We just hadn’t consistently shown the progress I was hoping that we would show.”

A turnaround moment for Olympia came at a team meeting midway through the season when coach and players challenged everyone to get better. And instead of losing dividing the team, it brought them together.

“We really came together,” said Hannah Adams, a 6’2″ outside hitter for the Bears and a team captain. “We weren’t afraid of anything. We just had fun – just knowing there was nothing to lose and to go all out and play hard.”

Another factor in Olympia’s surprising turnaround was tradition. Nearly every year, Olympia’s volleyball team earns a ticket to state. Last year, Olympia’s string of seven straight seasons of qualifying for state was ended. They were determined not to extend that string.

olympia volleyball

Olympia volleyball coach Laurie Creighton talks to her team about team goals.

In Creighton’s 36 years at OHS, the Bears have reached state 22 times. Without that winning tradition, Jona Spiller, a third-year varsity player and a team captain for the Bears, didn’t think Olympia would have made it to state.

“It’s a whole different story if you take the tradition of our program out of it,” Spiller said. “Because we don’t have the best skill compared to the other teams at state. That’s huge part of why we’re at state now.”

With the 5’6″ Lydia Soto playing middle blocker, Olympia had to make a strategy adjustment. The Bears weren’t going to be able to play power, smash-mouth volleyball. They were going to have win with finesse, not power.

“Lidia is a great all-around volleyball player,” said Creighton, who was inducted into the state’s Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008. “But she doesn’t have a lot of height. So, she’s going to get matched up against a lot of bigger girls.”

Without the big, inside blocker, Olympia compensated with hard serves, putting an opponent on the heels and not allowing them to go on the attack.

olympia volleyball

Olympia coach Laurie Creighton watches her players practice shots at the net.

“Our goal is to serve tough so the middles on the other teams don’t get a lot of opportunity,” Creighton said. “If we can serve them and force them into less than perfect passes, it’s hard to run a middle.”

With each serve, Olympia’s goal is serve a bullet and place it so an opponent can’t set up their middle blocker for a rally-ending spike.

“We don’t use the middle as much offensively as we have in past years,” Creighton said. “But we use it hopefully enough to keep other teams honest. If they don’t pay attention to our middle, we’re going to sneak one by them. Hopefully that will open up some opportunities for our outside hitters.”

Olympia made its unlikely run to state with teamwork. It had just three all-league players. Adams made first team, Spiller made second team and Julia Fleener made honorable mention. Without a cast of all-stars who will be playing in college on scholarships, Olympia won with teamwork.

“We have a team that understands their role and are committed to filling that role to the betterment of the group,” Creighton said. “There might be teams with a lot of great players, but we’re a great team.”

olympia volleyball

In preparation for the state tourney, Olympia works on accuracy drills with its hitting.

From their first match of the season, Creighton has made sure that her team’s focus has been on getting better, improving with every opportunity.

“This whole year, coach has made sure we focus on the process rather than the final outcome,” Spiller said. “It’s been one practice at a time. One game at a time.”

In this turnaround season for the Bears, they’ve learned never to give up.

“To earn a berth after a lot of people had written us off, it’s really rewarding to be enjoying this extra week,” Creighton said.


Joe Batt at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 7:58am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 13, 2014

Over the past year Salon Refu has established itself as the edgiest art gallery in Olympia, if not the edgiest south of Seattle. But being in the avant garde is not enough for gallery owner Susan Christian; she also insists that the art in her gallery be skillfully crafted — no carelessly thrown-together art for this gallery.
And that brings us to the current installation by ceramicist Joe Blatt, which is outstanding in almost all aspects but slightly thrown-together in some small parts.For some time now I’ve been fascinated with Batt’s strangely anthropomorphized animals and child-animal hybrids. Now he offers a complete environment comprised of ceramic children and charcoal drawings. It’s a world of satellites and cellular phones — surreal and futuristic, yet very much the world we live in, a world in which everyone is connected via satellite, in which every hand holds a smart phone and heads, eyes and brains become television monitors.
Batt creates this world by placing ceramic children throughout the gallery, some on sculpture stands, a couple on ladders. Most are unpainted red clay, but there are spots of color here and there, such as the little girl with yellow pigtails and a pink jacket walking in too-large high heel shoes. There are children whose faces become view-screens, children that are cute and loveable and simultaneously horrifying.
Hanging from the ceiling are satellites and satellite dishes, while others hang on the wall, some drawn in charcoal on paper and others drawn directly on the walls. As a final strange touch, little cut-out clouds in charcoal on Foam Core board are scattered about the floor along with broken keyboards made of ceramics.
The marvel of all this is how beautifully and humorously the ceramic sculptures and charcoal drawings contrast and harmonize with one another in content as well as style work. In many ways this may be one of the most completely realized installations I’ve seen in a long time. While studying the show I kept thinking, “ET, call home,” but in this case it was everybody call ET.
This installation is funny, inventive, and a telling commentary on contemporary society (and perhaps a dire warning of a future in which people are indistinguishable from their technological devices).
But now I have to mention the hastily thrown-together aspect that I alluded to in the opening. Although the charcoal drawings on paper are exquisite, those drawn directly on the wall are crude and look unfinished, as if the texture of the wall presented a challenge the artist was not up to or as if he did not give himself enough time to finish them. And the little cloud formations on the floor are silly and uninteresting. Having said that, I now must say this is an installation like no other and you really should see it.
Joe Batt , Thursday-Sunday, 2-6 p.m. through Nov. 26, Salon Refu 114 N Capitol Way, Olympia,
Joe Batt will talk bout his installations Nov. 23 at 6 p.m.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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