Recent local blog posts

Radical Mycology: Sapwning Mycelial Networks

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 10:01pm
Event:  Tue, 10/28/2014 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Join the Radical Mycology Collective for a presentation on the many ways to learn from and ally with the fungal kingdom for personal, societal, and ecological health. Concepts of fungal ecology and mushroom cultivation will be tied with the means for creating resilient lifestyles and communities to present a novel worldview based on the cooperative relationships found throughout the fungal kingdom. The fungi decompose old ways of being to create new life infused with resistance and symbiosis. What do the fungi have to teach you?

$5-30 suggested donation
(no one turned away for lack of funds)

New Moon Cooperative Cafe
113 4th Ave W, Olympia, WA

for more info visit: logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Melany Vorass presents her book "The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting, and Cooking the 30 Most Common Urban Weeds"

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 8:33pm
Event:  Sat, 09/27/2014 - 3:00pm

A free author event at Orca Books (509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia).

Melany Vorass will be talking about her new book, The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting, and Cooking the 30 Most Common Urban Weeds.

Her book brings DIY harvesting right to your door, making foraging easy, accessible, and fun for everyone even in the middle of the city or suburbia. From the yard to the parking strip, in city parks or along municipal thoroughfares, food is abundant and free for the taking!

The Front Yard Forager invites all of us to take control of our food by entering into the fun and delicious world of foraging. A concise field guide and recipe book, it showcases the 30 most readily found edible urban weeds. From dandelion to day lily, nipplewort to nettle, and pineapple weed to purslane there's a salad bowl full of fresh edibles just waiting to be collected and put to good use. Each plant profile features an easy-to-use field identification guide, including photographs, as well as where to find the plant and what to do with it in the kitchen. Recipes range from simple and classic to practically gourmet, while introductory chapters and sidebars cover the hows and whys of foraging: ethics, nutritional information, harvesting, precautions, and more. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Eric Ayotte and the Gadabout Film Festival

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:00pm

Thursday, September 25th, 8pm

Eric Ayotte and The Gadabout Film Festival will be touring together this fall for 3 months going to over 75 cities in the US before continuing to Europe for shows in 15 other countries. Presenting a special evening of music and film in each town for one night only.

The Gadabout Film Festival has had a long standing tradition of DIY ethics matched with really cool filmmaking. Since 2002, the Gadabout has been touring with a new batch of films each year, brining film to non-film settings, screening an extremely inspiring and talented program of short films. Growing out of a DIY music scene, the Gadabout seeks to prove that “Do It Yourself” doesn’t have to mean any lack of quality. With equipment and technology more accessible, filmmaking is a more attainable medium, and yet we typically consume it through very tiny screens with poor audio. So, not only is there a curated element, but there is also respect given to these fantastic short films as they are presented on a big screen with good sound!

Eric Ayotte has been touring and releasing music for over a decade. His sincere songs bring a political message as well as an emotional truth. Thistour will be supporting his 4th full length record “Transparency”, a full band album that explores the concept of honesty, and wanting more open communication from his community, government, friends, religions, and himself.

Gadabout 2014 poster

Eric and Charlie promo 2

Luminaris STILL

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Nightmare Before Improv

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 4:28pm
Event:  Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:00pm - 9:30pm

On Wednesday October 15th starting at 8:00pm, Harlequin Productions presents a haunted improv show with their celebrated improv comedy troupe, Something Wicked. The Nightmare Before Improv is Something Wicked’s annual Halloween spectacular! Those brave enough to attend can expect frighteningly funny Halloween-themed improv comedy, a costume contest, and an evening of ghostly delights. Guests are encouraged to come dressed up and join the fun as Something Wicked puts the “Ha!” in Halloween. Prepare to laugh yourself…to death!!

      WHO:         Harlequin Productions presents Something Wicked

     WHAT:       The Nightmare Before Improv

     WHEN:       Wednesday October 15th from 8:00–9:30 PM

     WHERE:     The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Percival Plinth People’s Choice Award Winner Announced

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:10pm



Submitted by City of Olympia

percival plinth

Illuminated One by Leo E. Osborne, winner of the 2014 Percival Plinth Peoples’ Choice Award. Photo courtesy of City of Olympia.

Illuminated One by Anacortes artist Leo E. Osborne is the winner of the Percival Plinth Project Peoples’ Choice Award, and will be purchased by the City of Olympia following exhibition on Percival Landing.

Voting began July 25 with an opening kick-off that allowed the community to meet the artists of the loaned sculptures exhibited along Percival Landing. Voting concluded on August 31. A total of 481 votes were received during the voting period. With 179 votes, Illuminated One by Leo E. Osborne of Anacortes was front runner, with Origami #3 Totem by Ken Hall of Lacey coming in as runner up with 71 votes. The remainder of the votes were distributed among 11 other sculptures. Comments regarding why Illuminated One appealed to voters include the quality of craftsmanship, the theme (the cormorant is a bird found in the Pacific Northwest), and the variety of texture incorporated into the work.

The winner was announced at the Olympia City Council meeting on September 23, 2014. 

The exhibition of loaned sculpture will remain on Percival Landing through next spring. Following the exhibition, Illuminated One will be temporarily relocated to City Hall for one year before permanent placement somewhere else in the community. Mr. Osborne is also the sculptor of Rainforest Dream, the 2013 People’s Choice selection currently installed at City Hall.

For more information about the Percival Plinth Project, or to inquire directly with an artist about purchasing a displayed sculpture at the conclusion of the exhibition, please visit


Fitness Ablaze Training Center-Becoming a Better Version of Yourself

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 7:13am



olympia gyms

Fitness Ablaze Training Center members stretch out before starting their “Team Training” group session.

Appreciating that Fitness Ablaze Training Center is not just another gym requires understanding the values and approach of owner Andrew “Bo” Tinaza.

Tinaza, a former standout athlete from Shelton High School and the Skokomish Indian Tribe, started college with the intent to train elite athletes. He graduated from Western Washington University in Kinesiology (Exercise Science) with an offer shortly thereafter to train the collegiate athletes at Washington State University. It was then that Tinaza realized he wanted to make a bigger difference in the health and fitness by reaching more people. Tinaza returned to the Olympia area with hopes of helping a larger demographic of the population achieve their fitness goals.

In just two short years after opening Fitness Ablaze Training Center, Tinaza has guided hundreds of people toward improving their health and fitness. Abiding by the Japanese philosophy of kaizen, Tinaza believes in continuous improvement for himself and clients.

Tinaza feels strongly that he serves as a coach to his clients not just a trainer. “Anyone can make someone tired in a workout but not everyone can make a person feel better about themselves and help them discover the true meaning of their fitness goals,” explains Tinaza.

olympia gym

Fitness Ablaze Training Center coach and owner, Andrew “Bo” Tinaza helps people discover the true meaning of their fitness goals.

“My education qualifies me as a trainer. But my core values and approach make me a coach,” he continues.  “I understand how to inspire people, help them gain confidence and believe in themselves. It is when they start believing in themselves that they can truly accomplish their goals and become a better version of themselves.”

Tinaza clearly distinguishes that it is not about changing oneself or comparing to others but rather upgrading oneself to become a better version of who you really are.

“I consult with clients on what their ‘big why’ or ‘it’ is in order to discover the deeper reasoning for their goals.” Tinaza explains a common scenario of someone wanting to lose weight.  He admits while the goal of losing weight is common, the reason for this goal is different for each person. For example, one of his clients who came to Fitness Ablaze Training Center to lose weight discovered her ‘big why’ and ‘it’ came out of fear of not being able to keep up with her children-especially in the event of danger.

Alternatively, another client’s weight loss goals focused on keeping a low body fat ratio in order to be competitive as a collegiate athlete. As an all-inclusive training center, Tinaza develops customized training plans for each individual based on their fitness level, goals and what is identified during strategy sessions.  Tinaza also offers nutrition advice and body fat testing. Tinaza administers a private social media page for members so that they can directly ask him questions or schedule strategy sessions.

Tinaza’s expertise in fitness has been recognized well beyond the walls of the Fitness Ablaze Training Center. He recently co-authored the book “The Rapid Body Makeover” in which Tinaza contributed the chapter titled, “Female Strength Training: Do You Want a Leaner, Stronger, Better Body?”  Tinaza was selected to author this chapter because of his mixture of power training, strength training, functional training and conditioning expertise.  Tinaza comments that “the majority of who I train are females and I wanted to dispel the myths of female strength and power training.”

olympia gym

Stong(HER) women from Fitness Ablaze Training Center complete deadlifts and chinups during small group training.

Tinaza reflects on the last couple of years after opening Fitness Ablaze Training Center and how rewarding it has been to help so many people look, feel and move better. “I love training the general population. I can get more results with more people. It is so satisfying knowing that you are helping people change their lives by how the feel inside. The result might be weight loss but watching their confidence grow and how they smile more-the difference is crazy.”

Click here to learn more about Andrew “Bo” Tinaza and Fitness Ablaze Training Center or all 360-529-3925.

Fitness Ablaze Training Center

2727 Westmoor Court SW Suite 100

Olympia, WA 98502


Doing Her Share: Ada Sprague Mowell, Community Activist in the Early Twentieth Century

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 7:12am



By Jennifer Crooks

volkswagenAda Sprague Mowell is an important figure in the history of Olympia and Thurston County. In the early 20th century she was active in community life and left a large mark on the region.

olympia history

This November 23, 1916 Morning Olympian portrait shows Ada Sprague Mowell (1867-1953). Originally a school teacher, Mowell was a prominent community leader in early twentieth century Thurston County. Photo courtesy Washington State Library.

Ada was born in Ada County, Idaho, to Alfred D. and Wihelmina (Sager) Sprague on November 22, 1867. Moving to Thurston County in December 1869, the Sprague family, including Ada and her nine siblings, eventually settled on a homestead on Black Lake. However, times were far from easy. Albert died in 1875, leaving the family in difficult straights. The older children and their mother took over care of the farm. Ada was a good student and the family’s children moved into Tumwater each winter to attend school.

At a young age, Ada became a teacher. Graduating from the University of Washington, she taught in Thurston County schools for over a decade, ending her career as principal of Lincoln School in Olympia. A much smaller school than its modern offspring, Ada also taught a full load of classes.

On June 15, 1898, Ada’s life changed directions upon her marriage to 37-year-old Dr. John Wilson Mowell. Though the Mowells had no children, Dr. Mowell had one son from his previous marriage to Shelley Earl Mowell (1884-1965). Dr. Mowell was very active in community affairs, serving on the Olympia City Council and as Olympia Health Officer. He aided in the establishment of Industrial Insurance and was the first Medical Director of the Washington State Industrial Insurance Commission, from 1911-1917. Dr. Mowell maintained an active medical career until his death on July 7, 1925.

Ada Mowell needed little encouragement to be just as or more active in community life as her husband. She had a determined character. For example, in July 1897 she climbed Mount Rainier in a large party including her future husband. Ada was described by lifelong friend Goldie Robertson Funk as “full of a conquering laughter—you know, the kind that hurdles obstacles, reduces difficulties, and makes everybody feel better. But more than this: she came of a blood stream charged with the desire and the will to know and to do; she was eager to get from Life all it could be made to give.” Over her long lifetime, Ada Mowell was a member of the Ladies’ Relief Society, Woman’s Club of Olympia, Civic Improvement Club, Eenati Club, History Club, Thurston County Educational Club, and the Tuberculosis League. In addition, she helped organize the Daughters of the Pioneers and was a charter member of their Thurston County chapter.

olympia history

The Mowell Home, 200 Union Avenue, was considered one of Olympia’s finest homes when it was built in 1908. Over the decades it has undergone extensive renovation and now houses the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. Photo courtesy author.

Through her extensive club memberships, Ada became involved in many contemporary issues. A Progressive Republican, she supported social reforms such as women’s suffrage.  While her husband worked for Industrial Insurance for workers, Ada Mowell supported efforts to ban child labor. For example, at the June 1903 annual Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs conference in Everett, Mowell presented a paper entitled “Child Labor.”

The biggest impact Ada Mowell made was through the Woman’s Club of Olympia. Becoming a member in 1898, she immediately took an active role. Serving first as Corresponding Secretary, she would eventually serve as Recording Secretary, Trustee, Custodian, and Parliamentarian. She also served as chair of many Departments, such as Arts and Crafts, Travel, and International Relations.  Most significantly, she was president for eight terms, 1901-1903, 1909-1911, and 1914-1918. She did all this despite suffering several life-threatening illnesses over the years.

During World War I, Ada Mowell served as the Chairman of the Woman’s Work Committee of the Thurston County Council of Defense, making her both the sole woman on the Council and the head of the county’s “Minute Women” volunteers. In this role she helped implement government homefront programs during the war period. This included promoting voluntary rationing, selling Liberty bonds and raising money for the Red Cross. After the war Ada was a leader in the Minute Women Association of Thurston County which ran for decades promoting patriotic causes.

olympia history

This c. 1910 postcard shows the Abbie H.H. Stuart House at 1002 Washington St SE. Constructed to be the Woman’s Club of Olympia’s headquarters in 1908, Ada Mowell chaired the committee that organized its construction. It is now on the National Register of Historical Places. Photo courtesy private collection.

Ada Mowell died on January 6, 1953 but her legacy continues.

Perhaps a good way of thinking about her impact is to use her home as a metaphor. The Mowell house, 200 Union Avenue, was built in 1907. A classic Foursquare, it was considered one of the finest homes in Olympia. Over time, the building has gone through extensive renovation, but it survives and now serves as the headquarters for the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. Like the house, Olympia has changed very much since Ada Mowell’s time yet her legacy survives through the continuing contributions of the groups she shaped and supported such as the Woman’s Club of Olympia.

Ada’s philosophy can be best summed up by her simple statement that “I couldn’t belong to any group and not do my share.” She certainly did more than her share and Olympia has reaped the benefit.


Thrifty Thurston Welcomes Fall at Lattin’s Cider Mill

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 7:11am



By Megan Conklin

heritage bankNothing epitomizes fall in Thurston County like a trip to Lattin’s Country Cider Mill and Farm. Without a doubt, the best time to visit Lattin’s, a family owned and operated farm that has been churning out both award winning cider and tons of fun since January of 1956, is during their Fall Apple Festival.

Carolyn Lattin raised her four children on the farm and describes those early years as “tremendous, hard work.” Yet, she speaks of twenty hour days filled with school runs, food preparation, and building a business with a contented smile on her face. “It is still really fun, and really, really busy,” Lattin explains. She manages the cider mill and farm with the help of her two daughters, Sherrie and Debbie, and ruefully admits, “When you are as old as I am and still can’t wait to come to work every morning, well, there must be something wrong with you, right?”


Lattin’s Country Cinder Mill and Farm has been operating in East Olympia for almost 60 years.

There is actually something very right happening at Lattin’s. The family atmosphere at the farm is evidenced in all that they do from the ready, helpful customer service to the amazing array of activities for families to enjoy. Held every weekend in October, those activities multiply during their yearly Apple Festival event when, in addition to the year round delicious treats and adorable animals, there is music, apple bobbing, face painting, a petting farm, an animal train, wagon rides, and more.

One of the most delightful aspects of the 22 acre property is the old timey country store that sells produce straight from the family garden located a few yards away. It also houses the gigantic wooden boxes of apples, which are all locally grown, new crop, and sell for only $.89 a pound during Apple Festival. One might also pick up a fresh loaf of apple bread, pies, cakes, honey, jams, and, of course, the many, many varieties of doughnuts and pastries.

Lattin’s Pumpkin Patch is an oft visited local favorite and the tractor drawn wagon ride out to the patch is appropriately bumpy and rustic. The patch is large and offers a variety of pumpkins from tiny to gigantic. A year round maze, water pump powered duck race, and Goat Walk also provide ample entertainment for visitors of all ages.


It all starts with the apples. Local, crisp, and juicy, they become fritters, crisps, pies, and cider at Lattin’s.

When I visited Lattin’s recently with three of my children in tow, it brought back happy memories of my son Charlie’s many birthday celebrations there. Because Apple Festival is such a busy time at Lattin’s, we could never book an actual, hosted birthday party there, but each time I would call to ask if I could celebrate my son at the farm, and bring along twenty or so of his little friends as well, the response would unfailingly be yes. “The more the merrier” seems to be a universally held sentiment at Lattin’s Farm. So, Charlie, my only child to be born in the fall, celebrated his first four birthdays with a candle stuck in a Lattin’s apple fritter and still counts that as his “official” birthday cake.

About those fritters – folks come from far and wide to buy, often in large quantities, Lattin’s famous apple fritters. Aggravatingly addicting, these are not your average, grocery store fritter. Made with fresh, local apples, on site, and all day long, they melt in your mouth with a sugary tartness that leaves you wanting another (and another).  Be sure to call ahead if planning to purchase a large quantity of fritters, especially on a weekend, because they have been known to sell out.

Lattins Cider Mill Olympia Farm (7)If they don’t sell out, they donate any leftover apple fritters (because they would never sell a day old fritter!) to surrounding fire stations as a thank you to the men and women who serve our community. This is typical of the kind, community minded spirit to be found at this family farm.

Though the fritters reign supreme in many people’s minds, Lattin’s is just as revered for their wide variety of ciders and has been using the same, slow, methodical, and supremely effective cider making process since 1976. A cider making venture that began, modestly, so long ago, now uses over 125,000 pounds of apples to produce 7,250 gallons of cider – for a mere three day supply in October. The apple cider, and many other varieties such as blackberry, strawberry, raspberry and spiced, can be purchased straight from the farm or at local stores such as Spuds, Bayview Thriftway, or Ralph’s Thriftway.

Lattin’s Country Cider Mill and Farm is open year round, and the not-to-be-missed Apple Festival begins Saturday, September 27 and continues every weekend in October from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Lattin’s Country Cider Mill and Farm

9402 Rich Road SE

Olympia, WA 98501



Smith Troy project. This guy is facinating

Olympia Time - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:27am

I've been poking around for the last few years, learning everything I can about Smith Troy, one of Olympia's most infamous politicians. This is one fascinating guy. I'm going to write way more about him as I start to bring focus on my own thoughts about him. But, just to get started, here are some Smith Troy facts:

1. He was appointed Washington Attorney general when he was 33 years old. And, this is after years as the Thurston County prosecuting attorney. So, he started really young.

2. At one point in the 1930s, Smith was both the prosecutor and the coroner. Also, the sheriff was taking some time off, so he filled in there too. He was the law.

3. His wife committed suicide when she jumped out of a window at the old St. Peter's Hospital on the westside.

4. After he lost reelection in 1952 for AG, he was the lawyer behind Lemon v. Langley, which brought back dozens of state agencies that had moved from Olympia to Seattle.

5. In addition to being a track star at the University of Washington, he was a student leader in the effort to fire long time and legendary Husky football coach Enoch Bagshaw.

6. After 20 years of political retirement, Troy came back in the 1970s and served as the Thurston County prosecutor again.

River Otters Feast on Salmon at Capitol Lake

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:32pm
By Nancy Partlow 

Text in Red Bold is a clickable link to video.
A family of river otters has been putting on quite a show at Capitol Lake recently.  They've been catching and eating Chinook salmon in full view of the public. 

Janet’s friend Cynthia told her she’d seen a mother otter and three pups chomping on salmon near the train trestle at Marathon Park.  We decided we  had to check it out.  Unfortunately, when we got there, no otters could be seen. 
So the next day, on a hunch, I decided to peruse the area along the lake near the 5th Avenue dam.  A few years ago we had seen otters in this vicinity in late November.   Sure enough, as I walked along the lakeshore, through the shrubbery I spied two otters slither off a log and move out into the lake.  As I entered Heritage Park, out in the middle of the north basin, five heads were just discernible poking above the water.
I began to film them.  So intently was I watching three otters masticating salmon that I only slowly became aware of people nearby saying things like, “Oh, look, it’s got a salmon head!”  Turning around, I was very surprised to see a mother otter and her pup on a log in the water about 15 feet away.  The mother had a salmon head she was biting into with obvious relish.  The look on the face of the salmon was one of astonishment with perhaps a touch of, “I came so far, was so near my goal, and then this!”
   The Chinook salmon in the lake are following the fresh-water scents of their natal streams, the Deschutes River and Percival Creek, to their long journey’s end.  But for some, the odyssey terminates just short of "home".  For years, we have watched harbor seals corral and devour salmon on the north side of the 5th Avenue dam, which forms a bottleneck and gauntlet through which the salmon must pass before entering the lake.  It never occurred to us that the waters on other side of the dam could also be a kill zone.  For one thing, we didn’t think that river otters could catch and dispatch something as large as a king salmon, which may be as big, (or bigger), than the otter itself.  But according the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s page on river otters, they do eat salmon, among many other prey items:
 River otters are opportunists, eating a wide variety of food items, but mostly fish. River otters usually feed on 4- to 6-inch long, slowly moving fish species, such as carp, mud minnows, stickle backs, and suckers. However, otters actively seek out spawning salmon and will travel far to take advantage of a salmon run. 
River otters can smell concentrations of fish in upstream ponds that drain into small, slow moving creeks, and will follow the smell to its origin, even in urban areas.
  River otters also eat freshwater mussels, crabs, crayfish, amphibians, large aquatic beetles, birds (primarily injured or molting ducks and geese), bird eggs, fish eggs, and small mammals (muskrats, mice, young beavers).
  Salmon heads must be a particular delicacy, because the mother otter didn’t want to share it with her pup.  In surveying the whole scene, I surmised that perhaps the mother had killed the salmon, bit off the head, then left the kids (most of them, anyway) out in the middle of lake to eat the body while she came near shore to nosh on the best part in relative peace.
  The two otters on the log seemed not at all perturbed by the small group of humans watching them from a few feet away on the bulkhead.

A couple of folks thought the otters might be nutria, which are an invasive species in the lake.  But nutrias are vegetarians.  One woman said, “What a blessing!”, about being able to watch the mother and pup so close-up. Another man related a story of how, many years ago in front of Genoa’s restaurant (now the Hearthfire), he had seen two otters mating very loudly.
  According to WA DFW, “River otters digest and metabolize food so quickly that food passes through their intestines within an hour.”  This could explain why, when I returned a few hours later, the otters were still hunting and eating, with  four otters now on the half-submerged log.

I couldn’t tell whether the mother was among them, although one was again eating a fish head. Three of the otters were playing and nuzzling each other. 

When the trio swam off together, the fish eater didn’t want to follow, only reluctantly diving into the water with the salmon head in tow.  Later, as the day moved toward sunset, Janet told me she saw the whole family swimming toward the railroad trestle. 
I had heard an intriguing rumor that river otters had been seen in the fish ladders at Tumwater Falls Park, so I decided to stop by the park on my way home.  I spoke with a DWF employee there, asking if he had seen otters in the fish ladders.  He said he hadn't.   
He did say though, that in the spring when the fish tanks are full of small salmon ready to be released into the river, young otters enter the tanks and eat many of them.  They've tried to block the otters from getting in, but the clever mustelids end up climbing over the chain link fences.
As it turns out, the story about the fish ladders was partially true.  It was referring to the fish ladders at the 5th Avenue dam. Not surprisingly, otters move with ease back and forth through the open dam to access both the fresh and salt waters of the lower Budd Inlet.  That is why the otters are frequently seen at the West Bay lagoon and elsewhere along the Olympia waterfront.
Now that the rains have returned in earnest, opportunities for watching the salmon-eating otters may decrease. A slug of fresh rainwater flowing into the Deschutes River and Percival Creek systems could trigger the salmon to make a final rush to their ultimate objectives.  Such is the cycle of life.  We here at the end of the Salish Sea are indeed blessed to be part of it.

All words, photos and videos by Nancy Partlow ©
Additional video:
An otter eating a salmon head with gusto:
Other Resources:
WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife page on river otters:
Categories: Local Environment

CD Safari: Fall’n'Love!

K Records - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:56pm
What two things go together better than “Fall” and “Love”? Your autumn’s done come and as the leaves fall, so will your heart. If you’re back to school, don that sweater and start roving. If you’ve been involved in a May to September romance, your due for some serious rebound action. We here at the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 015

K Records - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:26pm
This week the Pink Elephant’s Graveyard explores essential K both new and from the revered past. We listen to and discuss the Treepeople album Guilt Regret and Embarrassment [KLP069], Mecca Normal Jarred Up [KLKP018], Wandering Lucy Leap Year [KLP053]; new releases by Ruby Fray (Grackle [KLP251]) and Pine Hill Haints (The Magik Sound of the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia’s Captain Little: a Toy Store You’ll Never Outgrow

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:07pm



By Kelli Samson

heritage bankRemember that day last winter when we heard that Wind Up Here was closing? Thurston County families were totally devastated. But then we all saw the sign go up in the papered windows, that cheerful sign announcing that the good folks of Compass Rose had picked up the pieces of our broken hearts and were prepared to put them back together.

I knew then that they would do us one better. Compass Rose has been an icon of style, whimsy, and function in Olympia (and, as of 2013, Tacoma) for decades now. It’s shangri-la for my girlfriends and I.

olympia toy store

The toy store’s logo was designed by Yas Imamura of Portland and painted by local sign painter extraordinaire, Ira Coyne. “He’s actually also making a mural for us,” says Carr.

As it turns out, their new toy store, Captain Little, has got that same appeal. And not just for the little tykes. My family and I decided to visit for the first time the day after their Grand Opening last month. Let me illustrate this for you: I have two little girls (ages five and nine) who have a bad case of the “I Wants,” and one husband (who is a kid on the inside) who has never stopped loving board games. But you know what? I was the last one of us out of the store that day. Me. The mom.

There are so many things to see inside what I am officially declaring it “The Best Toy Store in the World.” There are books. All of the best books. And the books you never knew were the best books. There’s a huge selection of all the supplies you could ever need for packing lunches. There are games. There are baby things. There are lovely greeting cards and crafts. There are fancy things and simple favorites.

“We really wanted to work with companies that cater to independent toy stores,” explains Alana Carr, an Olympia native and co-owner of Captain Little. “We want our toys to focus on imaginative play.”

Captain Little is located on the bustling corner of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue in the historic Martin Building (1904). Renovator Dan Martin, grandson of the original builder, exposed the original concrete floors, along with the original Fir columns.

Prior to the Martin Building’s existence, this corner was the home of Doane’s Oyster House, which was named after its owner, Captain Woodbury Doane. Carr landed on the name Captain Little as a nod to the history of the spot.

Carr and Compass Rose owner Paul Shepherd serendipitously met at the coffee shop he owns in Oaxaca while she was living in Mexico after college. He offered her temporary employment at Compass Rose while she figured out her next step, and the rest is history.

olympia toy store

There is an art station in the store to give kids (and adults!) a quiet space to create.

When Shepherd learned of the closing of Wind Up Here earlier this year, he surprised even himself with his idea of giving us a new toy store in its place.  He shared the idea with Carr, made her a partner in the venture, and she sprinkled her magic and creativity all over it. They quickly hired long-time Wind Up Here employee Michael Tempke to help fill them in on what it takes to run a toy store.

Carr’s philosophy that guided every decision in the creation of Captain Little was, “Don’t age out of the toy store! I wanted to be certain that wouldn’t happen to our customers.” That’s why there is literally something for anyone inside its walls.

Opening day on August 16 proved that our community is ready to support this new venture. Shepherd describes the day: “For a time, the mayor actually contemplated calling the fire marshal to help control the crowd. But how do you control a crowd of excited, playing, screaming children? In the end we decided: you don’t. You just let them play.”

olympia toy store

The shop is spacious, colorful, and bright, with goodies at every price point.

The Olympia Film Society has partnered with Captain Little for the next few months on their Saturday family matinees. The neighboring businesses saw a way to work together to bring families back downtown, showing everything from Jim Henson to Miyazaki films.

What’s next for this fabulous toy store? More community events.

Captain Little will soon implement a regular story time. The holiday shopping season is also coming up, and this will be a perfect opportunity for us to show our new gem some love by giving them our business.

“We really hope to draw families back to downtown Olympia. I feel so grateful for all the support our community is giving us,” says Carr.

And, so, lovers of all things Olympia, don’t be sad for what we lost last year. Rejoice and be proud that we are lucky enough to have the world’s best toy store right at the bottom of the hill. Not only that, but they give away free stickers of that cute little mouse.

All’s well that ends well.

olympia toy store

Captain Little’s name is a nod to Captain Doane’s Oyster House, which was located on this corner long ago.

Captain Little

121 5th Ave. SE in downtown Olympia


Find Captain Little on Facebook

Find Captain Little on Instagram

Pine Hill Haints on The Bluegrass Situation!

K Records - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:24am
Songs from the new Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] are streaming on The Bluegrass Situation website, including “Ms. Pacman”, Galaxy Buffalo” and “Rattle Them Bones”. You can check into it HERE. The Bluegrass Situation, which bills itself as “The home of everything bluegrass, folk, and Americana” is […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Design Smart Home Staging & Redesign: Upscale Design Services for South Sound

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 6:00am



lisa poundstone

Lisa Poundsone holds a PhD and an Accredited Staging Professional designation.

Everyone loves a makeover. Reality shows like “Designed to Sell” and “What Not to Wear” are popular because they show how design can be transforming for a home or an individual.

The exciting local company Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign, LLC , voted the Best of South Sound in Interior Design, does those transformations daily for homes, rooms, offices and individuals.

Their team of Design Smart experts is in high demand. The hot trend in home staging, now considered a magic ingredient to selling homes within weeks, if not days of being staged, has become a necessary step in a real estate marketing plan.

Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign is not only the go-to company here for Home Staging but has been applauded area wide for its other home design and personal style services. Here are the premium services offered by this sophisticated and stylish company in our own back yard.

Home Staging to Sell: Home Staging enhances a home’s assets, so that buyers can envision themselves living there. It is not home decorating, it is arranging and accenting the home with color and furniture venues to show off the use of a home’s space. It is a powerful marketing tool. Once staged, homes fly off the market!

Home Staging has become a “must-do” that many Realtors are offering their clients.

Listen to what, Jodi Ashline, from Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, one the area’s top brokers has to say: “Design Smart is a very effective tool in my bag of marketing techniques! Lisa and her team know how to bring out the best in a home, to help accentuate its finest features. First impressions are very important, and the magic of Design Smart can be key to putting the home’s very best foot forward, right from the beginning!”

design smart table and kitchenLisa Poundstone, the company owner, studied directly under Barb Schwarz, the creator of the Home Staging® concept and is an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP®). She posts the amazing results of Home Staging on her Facebook page.

“The investment in Home Staging is always less than the first price reduction a seller has to make because their home won’t sell,” says Lisa. “No matter how beautiful a home is, if it is vacant, it just looks empty and boring without the professional touch of Home Staging. There is an art to it and it works.”

“Staging to Live” Consultation: You don’t have to sell your home to benefit from Design Smart’s Interior Design and Decor services.

Design Smart can rearrange your existing furniture and accessories to create a completely new feel to a single room or multiple rooms in your home. They call it “Staging to Live,” a creative way to give your room or entire house a fresh new look.

Staging to Live is also known as “redesign” or “use what you have” design.  It is for those who need design assistance without the expense of buying all new furniture and accessories.  One customer says “brilliant design.  I really love my home.”  Joel, another customer adds, “you have done a great job and I am really amazed.”

design smart bedroomOrganizing and De-Cluttering: When your environment is cluttered, science has shown it restricts your ability to focus. The clutter around you distracts you from processing information as well as you would in an uncluttered, organized, serene environment. 

Professional Organizing and De-Cluttering services are for those homeowners that have messy, chaotic, and disorganized spaces in their home and are ready to clear the stress away.

Color Consultation:  We know. It is hard to decide on colors once you have mustered the courage to paint your stark white walls. Your collection of paint chips is rivaled only by the many splashes of color you have tested on your walls.

In a Color Consultation, Design Smart experts will help you take the guesswork out of which colors would suit your home.

They will help you with colors for a room with advice on coordinated window treatments, furniture, pillows, lighting, art, and accessories for an updated color palette that revitalizes your home.

“I love all of the colors – You are a color genius,” says a happy customer, Tiffany.

design smartbathroomWardrobe/Styling Consultations: Design Smart’s wardrobe and style consultations are for those people that want a new look, whether it’s for a one-time special occasion or for a completely new look for a new stage in life.

Are you a professional who wants a new image or an on-the-go Mom who wants a way to look “put together”? Design Smart helps men and woman who are in a life transition like weight loss, a new career or relationship and want to dress for the “new them”.

Consultations are custom tailored to clients and are based on what is currently in their wardrobe.

The best in town
“We provide these premium design services that are unrivaled in the South Sound,” says Poundstone who has seen great growth in her business. “It is a privilege to provide transformations to homes and to people that can often be life-changing.”

Learn more at Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign, LLC or contact the Design Smart team for a consultation at (360) 480-5810.


Brian Doyle: Mesmerizing Northwest Author to Present at Saint Martin’s University

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:56am



By Lisa Herrick

“We are starving for story, our greatest hunger,” writes Brian Doyle in his most recently published novel, “The Plover” 

saint martins speaker

A new lecture series is named after Saint Martin’s University English Professor, Les Bailey, PhD.

Every night, I go to bed ravenous. Not because I have not eaten enough or that I am empty of food but, rather, because I am craving stories. On my night stand is the book “Mink River.” If a book gets promoted to my nightstand, it is a must read. “Mink River” and the one or two other books that, at any given time, get upgraded to nightstand status, often do so because it is one of the nearly 100 novels my voraciously reading mom savors per year.

My mother selectively recommends books to me, knowing that my pace of reading pales in comparison to hers. I likely read one to her 10. How beautiful that we are now of the age where we can share in the reading and discussion of great works of literature such as from author Brian Doyle, who penned “Mink River.” The novel tells of a small, fictional town on the Oregon coast.

Even more poignant for me, I just “inherited” my dear Aunt Bettye’s signed copy of “Mink River.” She recommended the book to her multi-generational book club. It seems if an author can resonate as Doyle did within my family — spanning three generations of readers and being selected for discussion within each of our book clubs — then he is likely well worth the time to read and meet. I will be inviting my book club to join me on October 8 at Saint Martin’s University to meet the highly acclaimed author.

Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of 14 books.  He recently published “The Plover,” the story collection “Bin Laden’s Bald Spot,” the nonfiction books “The Grail” and “The Wet Engine,” and many books of essays and poems. Doyle writes about marriage, struggle, his son’s heart defect and the surgeons who helped him, Oregon pinot, writing and grumpy saints.

Doyle will be Saint Martin’s University’s inaugural speaker for the Les Bailey Writers Series. The title of his presentation reflects his witty language play and the topics he will address: “Grace under duress, stories as food, laughter as a weapon against the dark, courage when it doesn’t make any sense and minor further discussion of basketball, writers, hawks, headlong children, the prevalence of miracles and thorny holiness.” Doyle is known to provoke deep thought as well as create laughter.

saint martin speaker

Author Brian Doyle will be the speaker in the inaugural Les Bailey Writer Series at Saint Martin’s University on October 8.

The series is presented by the Saint Martin’s University’s English department with funding from the Leslie G. Bailey Endowment. The endowment honors the gifted and inspiring Saint Martin’s University English Professor Les Bailey, Ph.D. A 1964 Saint Martin’s alumnus, Bailey returned to his alma mater in 1975 as a faculty member, continuing to teach until his death in 2010.

Associate Professor of English Jeff Birkenstein, Ph.D., who chairs Saint Martin’s English Department, says the University could not have found a more suitable author for the inaugural session of the series. “The writers series is a fitting part of Les Bailey’s legacy and Brian Doyle is a natural author to bring to Saint Martin’s,” Birkenstein says.  “I have used his work in my own classes, most notably his excruciatingly beautiful poem about the morning of 9/11, “Leap.”  In just a few prose paragraphs, he captures so much that is, no doubt paradoxically, good about that horrible morning. Mr. Doyle has much to teach us.”

The event will be held Wednesday, October 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the University’s Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE. It is free and the public is invited to enjoy the lyrical, unique and alluring style of the award-winning author as he talks about his craft and reads from his works.

After seeing Doyle, I plan to enjoy a conversation with my mom about Doyle’s books and presentation. Doyle once commented via email to the Mother Daughter Book about the value of parents reading the same book as their children: “Oh man the shared time, the shared voices, the shared adventure – isn’t that all a language of love? And they will be so soon gone, so soon launched – what could be cooler than swimming in story together?”

Come swim in Doyle’s stories – his poems, novels and essays, whether as an independent dip, a book club float or a parent-and-child splash.


Author Brian Doyle

Saint Martin’s University’s Les Bailey Writers Series

Wednesday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m.

Norman Worthington Center


Support the Olympia Theater Arts Community – See Great Shows for Free as a Volunteer

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:46am



By Doris Faltys

heritage bankTheater companies in Olympia could not thrive without the assistance of committed volunteers.

“They put in between 5,000 to 7,000 hours per year at 350 events,” says Chad Carpenter, Director of Events Services at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. “They are the ones who make the show. Some volunteers have been with us since the day we opened 27 years ago.”

Ann Rockway has been a volunteer usher for Harlequin Productions and The Washington Center for the Performing Arts for ten years.

olympia volunteer

Ann Rockway has been a volunteer at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts and Harlequin Productions for ten years.

“I wanted to help out,” she says. “A friend of mine was an usher and said it was fun so I decided to give it a try.”

Rockway shares that her favorite performances to usher are modern dance and contemporary theater. She also likes to usher in The Washington Center’s Back Box for jazz or comedy performances. The benefits are many, according to Rockaway. “I see live theater for free while supporting the arts and meeting interesting people.”

Each company has its own way of training volunteers. Training sessions might be formal and offered on a regular basis once a month, or more relaxed, where the volunteer is assigned to shadow someone else for training.

“We have 6-9 volunteers per show. New volunteers are usually brought in by a friend,” describes Korja Giles, Volunteer Coordinator for Harlequin Productions.  New volunteers are welcomed by email and then assigned to a mentor.  “It is a great way to see a variety of shows and help support the arts in Olympia,” adds Giles.

Olympia Little Theater was founded in 1939 and boasts the title of the oldest live theater in Olympia and one of the oldest in Washington State.  According to the Olympia Little Theater, “the volunteer opportunities here are extensive as volunteers not only make the show, they run the company.”  Volunteers can select to assist as House Manager, Director, Lighting, Props, Actor, Hair Design, Fundraising, Photography and Gardening.

olympia volunteer

Olympia Film Society volunteers, Elaine Vradenburg and Sue Smiley, hang out in the OFS projection booth. Photo courtesy Olympia Film Society.

Olympia Film Society, (OFS), is a nonprofit film, music, and art community staffed by volunteers.  Before counting back of the house volunteers, OFS utilizes more than 100 volunteers per week.  Approximately, 15 films are screened per week with two Ticket Takers, two Concessionaires, one Lobby Supervisor, and one or two Projectionists. People also assist as Office Volunteers, Gallery Curators, Housekeepers, Committee Members, Program Writers, and much more.

The OFS was formed in 1980 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Its mission is to “enliven and enrich the community by presenting and fostering the development of independent and underrepresented film, music and allied arts.”

“We wouldn’t have an OFS if not for its volunteers. The many hours of volunteer work make it possible for OFS to screen movies and produce concerts that you would not be able to see anywhere else in the area,” shares Tim Sweeney, Vice President of the OFS Board.

olympia volunteers

Hilary Joseph, Steph Smith, and Rocky Perrot share a laugh while volunteering at The Washington Center. Photo Credit – Chad Carpenter.

“Each volunteer is an ambassador for the arts in our community,” says Carpenter from The Washington Center. “Not a single day goes by,” he adds, “that a volunteer doesn’t teach me something. They come from all walks of life. I even have a retired rocket scientist. They have a lot of fun. They make me laugh.”

Whether your passion is musical theater, drama, jazz, dance, foreign films, or comedy there is something to fit the bill here in Olympia. If you have the time and energy to put in a bit of volunteer time, the cost is free, but the benefits are many.

Here is contact information for four Olympia theaters that rely on volunteers.

  • Harlequin Productions - Volunteer  – 360-705-3375
  • Olympia Film Society - Volunteer or 360-754-6670
  • Olympia Little Theater - Volunteer or 360-786-9484
  • The Washington Center for the Performing Arts and The Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts - Volunteer or 360-753-8585


The Rain is Back, and So am I

Mojourner Truth - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:07pm

All of a sudden, I see it's been months since I posted here (if that makes any sense). Today, we've finally returned to prototypical Northwest weather: rain, the horizon blurred by a liquid sky, drizzle-drop-drench. I was just talking to my kids, and they agree, it's a relief.

So we must be fully acclimatized to this place. Last week, even though it was a full 20 degrees cooler than "sweltering" in the land of my birth, I was sweating, unable to keep count of how many sunny days we'd had in a row. The girls agree: too many days of bright blue skies in a row becomes oppressive. We welcome the wet blanket now.

Summer rarely reaches the white-sky, humid hellishness of a mid-Atlantic summer here, and it's true that we all soak it up, enjoy it, and retreat from the indoors. It's no accident that Northwesterners spend so much time hiking and camping and such. (OK, not me, but other people, whose jobs keep them inside most days.) This summer more than most, I took a hiatus from blogging and other trivialindoor pursuits. Instead: gardening, fieldwork, and gazing into the yard that became my own, and moving.

So, a new season, a new (old) house. Through great willpower, I've managed to put off doing yardwork at the new place, but that's about to change. For one thing, the communal/community garden is starting to wind down. For another, who the hell wants to dig up the yard when it is hot(ish) and the ground is hard? For yet another, there were side gigs and wildfire-chasing to do while the sun was out.

Now, as the drizzle softens the glacial outwash that is my yard, it's time to dig in. Now, as the Equinoctal threshhold has been crossed, there will be time to write. (As opposed to just clicking in photos at Anthrowback, my minor-effort summertime diversion.) Now, as Winter wrings the glare of Summer sun into a pool of mild Autumnal reflection, it's time to seek shelter under roofs and with kin.

Need donated clothing racks for donation room at Family Support Center!

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 3:26pm
Event:  Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:00am - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 3:30pm

Family Support Center is looking for clothing racks so we can organize our donation room! If you have one you can spare, please email or bring them to our downtown location: 201 Capitol Way N (corner of State and Capitol Way). logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Get Your Arts Walk Map in Downtown Olympia

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:50pm


  Submitted by The City of Olympia Night Spirits by Kristen Etmund graces the cover of the Arts Walk map this fall.  Photo Courtesy of City of Olympia

Night Spirits by Kristen Etmund graces the cover of the Arts Walk map this fall. Photo Courtesy of City of Olympia

On Friday, October 3, from 5-10 p.m., and Saturday, October 4 from 12-5 p.m., 96 downtown businesses will open their doors to showcase the wonderfully rich and diverse resource of visual and performing arts of the South Sound Region. Arts Walk maps are NOW available at these participating locations, The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW and Olympia City Hall, 601 4th Ave E. A digital map can be found at here.

Enjoy two days of drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, photography, fibers and other visual art. Take in diverse performing arts, from family theater to a variety of musical styles and dance from Ballet to Butoh, Blues to Barbershop! Check out the gastronomic arts in the Cajun Culinary Throwdown! Whatever art form moves you, chances are you’ll find it downtown during Arts Walk.

For youth and families, the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Department sponsors a hands-on activity area with the Hands on Children’s Museum. Stop by Friday, October 3, at Washington Street and 5th Avenue between 5-9 p.m. for kid’s face painting and art making.

The Arts Walk map cover this fall features the artwork Night Spirits, by Kristin Etmund. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Kristen studied art and art history at The Evergreen State College, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2003. While at Evergreen, she had the opportunity to work with great professors and experiment with several different printmaking methods, eventually falling in love with the woodblock medium. Kristen has been creating and showing her work, often inspired by the beautiful flora and fauna of the Puget Sound, in Olympia for almost ten years.

Arts Walk is sponsored by the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Department and the Olympia Arts Commission, with support provided by Art House Designs, Capitol City Press, Mixx 96 FM, and the Washington State Employees Credit Union along with participating artists and businesses.

For more information, please contact Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation, at 360.753.8380

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