Recent local blog posts

Bicycle Commuter Contest Gets Rolling

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:54pm



Submitted by Intercity Transit

olympia bicycle commuter contestIntercity Transit’s Bicycle Commuter Contest gears up once again. Now in its 27th year, the month-long event encourages Thurston County residents and commuters to use bicycles for transportation. Participants register in April, bicycle to work, school, and on errands in May, and return their completed mileage logs to Intercity Transit in early June for rewards and prizes. Recreational and training miles do not count, as the program rewards only trips that might otherwise be made by car.
Registration is $5 for adults. Ages 18 and under register free, and all students register free. Register and pay online at or  Participants can also register and get materials at area bike shops and the Olympia Transit Center in downtown Olympia.
“Commuting or running errands by bicycle is fun, healthy, and a great way to connect with your community,” says the event’s coordinator, Duncan Green. “And, the BCC provides a positive environment with information, support, and encouragement, that help people get going by bike.”
The annual Bicycle Commuter Contest is a popular community event with 1,500 or more people participating each spring. The event is designed to encourage, promote, and celebrate bicycling in Thurston County. It provides cycling tips, educational opportunities, a group bike ride and a free bicycle safety check. The contest awards prizes and gifts to riders of all abilities and ages, thanks to generous donations from more than 50 sponsors and supporters. Cyclists submit feedback on cycling conditions on roads, bike lanes and bike paths throughout Thurston County, which Intercity Transit compiles and submits to area jurisdictions for their use when making decisions about bicycling infrastructure development.
Intercity Transit, Thurston County’s public transportation agency, administers the Bicycle Commuter Contest. The agency recognizes the correlation between bicycling, walking, and bus riding and how these modes contribute to an active and healthy community.
“This year’s theme, Bicycling Builds Community, exemplifies what bicycling means to me and many others,” says Intercity Transit Authority Chair, Karen Messmer.  “When you ride your bicycle, you are more likely to wave and say hello to your neighbors and to experience nature and your surroundings more intimately.”
Upcoming Bicycle Commuter Contest Events olympia bicycle commuter contest

  • Several cycling-related events are scheduled before and during the Bicycle Commuter Contest:
    Earth Day Market Ride, April 19, 9–11 a.m. This neighborhood ride leads participants to the Olympia Farmers Market in downtown Olympia where Intercity Transit will host a table.
  • Wrencher’s Ball, April 25, 7 a.m.–3 p.m., Olympia Transit Center, downtown Olympia. Bike mechanic volunteers perform minor repairs and safety checks for anyone registered for the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest.
  • Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 16. Ride your bicycle to work this day and visit a bicycle station along the way for snacks and information.
  • Awards Ceremony, Saturday, June 28, 9:30 a.m., Farmers Market. Intercity Transit will announce contest winners and award prizes.

Contact Duncan Green at 360-705-5874, via email, or visit for information on any of these events.  Bike and Bus Riding the bus is a great complement to bicycling. Every Intercity Transit bus, (except the Dash shuttle) is equipped with bike racks. Maps showing bike lanes, bus routes, and pedestrian pathways are available for travelers to explore their local travel options.

For information about the Bicycle Commuter Contest, visit, contact Duncan Green, 360-705-5874 or, or Customer Service, 360-786-1881 or


Bee swarm season begins!

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 6:39pm

(Passing this on from a neighbor in the Eastside Neighborhood Association)

Yesterday was the official beginning of swarm season in our neighborhood.

A bee swarm is the natural reproductive process that honeybees go through. The bees gorge themselves on honey, leave the hive for a temporary resting place, while scouting bees look for a new home. Their natural hive is an empty tree, but they have been known to hive themselves in all kinds of places.
Honeybee swarms are terrifying to most people. But counter to conventional wisdom, swarming is a time when bees are the least aggressive. With no home to protect and their bellies full of honey (which makes it difficult for them to project their stingers), they are almost peaceable. However the honey they consumed will last them no more than three days and less depending on the weather. 70% of all swarms die because they are unable to find a suitable home. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Winter Camping Weekend at Mt. Rainier

Janine's Little Hollywood - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 3:50pm

Above: Moonrise over the Tatoosh. Not too far up, winter camping offers rewarding views. Getting Away From It All: Winter Camping on Mount RainierBy Janine Unsoeld

The gate between Longmire and Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park is now open 24 hours, but always check for park alerts, news and weather before you leave home.

No doubt, the National Park Inn at Longmire is an enticing and very romantic possibility for spending a night or two, and the historic Paradise Inn is scheduled to open for the 2014 season on Wednesday, May 21.

Winter camping this past weekend on the mountain, however, was spectacularly beautiful, and offered its own rewards to practice physical and mental endurance, and gear management.

I learned a lot: Hand warmers in my gloves were life-savers, as were the stash of nuts in my pocket when my go-to calorie supply of Snickers bars were frozen so bad I couldn't get a bite off, ever, and, for someone my size, carrying a 46 pound pack was a ridiculous load. 

Despite the grueling lessons learned, it was great to escape from the routine, and remind oneself that there’s more to life than work, meetings and day-to-day minutia.

Above: The weather at Mt. Rainier was clear and beautiful this past weekend. At 2:00 a.m., and throughout the night, the moon was bright orange, with stars and shooting stars on display.  
Above: Coming back from Panorama Point at sunrise.  Above: Janine learns the hard way, and carries a ridiculously heavy, but seemingly necessary load.   

Calvin is on tour in Europe!

K Records - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 3:17pm
It is hard to believe but Calvin is on tour for SIX WEEKS!  Seems like forever, here are his dates.  You should go to one of his shows and tell him how much we miss him already (but that we’re working hard while he is gone, promise!). Furtehrmore the new Hive Dwellers album Moanin’ [KLP249] […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Process: Eleanor Murray on Making “Bury Me Into the Mtn”

K Records - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:00pm
  Last summer, Eleanor Murray released the fourth album under her own name, the stunning Bury Me Into the Mtn. The album is strikingly spare, with nary a note misplaced, I think Eleanor’s most intentional work to date. I sat down with Eleanor to discuss her creative process for this record. Presented here is a transcript […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Veterinarians Treat Animals with Cancer in New Building

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 9:38am



By Taryn Kama

lucky eagleThanks to the inspiration and care of two Olympia veterinarians, animals diagnosed with cancer can get first-rate care.

Dr. Lisa Parshley and her husband and business partner, Dr. Tom Allen, will move their Olympia Veterinary Cancer Center, to a much larger, state-of-the art cancer care facility in mid-April. Their practice focuses on innovative treatment plans respective of every animal’s specific needs, attention to well-being and quality of life throughout their treatment.

olympia vet oncology

Olympia veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Parshley, stands outside the new building of Olympia Veterinary Cancer Center.

In fact, Parshley knows first hand what its like to have an animal with cancer. Her late dog, Pahto, was her inspiration more than 12 years ago when she was studying to become a vet.

“Like all beloved animals, he was a perfect companion, a friend, and a family member,” she recounted.

“While my internship and residency gave me the knowledge and skills to be a cancer specialist, Pahto gave me the tools to work as an animal oncologist,” she said, “With him, I had to face the emotional impact of a diagnosis, the anguish of deciding therapy, and together we walked down the path of chemotherapy.  I know firsthand the financial impact cancer therapy can have on a family.”

She learned to treat him and everything that comes with a cancer diagnosis. He responded well to the initial treatment.

“I experienced the return of our happy healthy puppy even if for only a short time.  Finally, he helped me face the torment of easing him from this life. To this day, I know I was sent a wise teacher in our dog, Pahto,” she said, “I will forever be grateful for these lessons, as he gave me something a residency could never teach, which is what it means to be the mom of an animal with cancer.”

The center is unique in many ways. First, while there are many vets who treat animals with cancer, there aren’t many facilities that specialize only in oncology.

olympia vet oncologyAdditionally, the facility itself is different. The lobby, the first place the animals and families see, is actually a renovated 1926 house. Inside, the lights are softer and it generally feels comfortable and homelike. The house is connected a larger facility where the majoirty of the cancer treatment takes place.

“From the lobby and the consult room, they (patients and their owners) aren’t entering a traditional vet clinic.  It’s more like a home,” Parshley said. “It’s minus the paraphernalia that you normally have in a vet’s office. There are couches for pets, no metal tables, etc. When the families are in the lobby, there will be a sitting area for the family where they can be comfortable.”

For treatment, animals and families will cross a sky bridge between the two buildings, where state-of-the art, cancer medicine happens.

“I have a surgeon who comes in once a week to perform minimally invasive surgery, such as scopes,” she said, adding that the body incision is often the most painful part of surgery.

Additionally, the vet oncologists work closely with the animal’s primary vet to coordinate care. Olympia Veterinary Cancer Clinic also makes sure that the symptoms of the cancers and all other necessary treatments are completed, such as dental and ear cleanings.

From the facility itself, to the staff working there, animals are treated with love, respect and specialized care. All the staff is hand picked and love animals. Parshley’s goal is for the animal to not know it is being treated for cancer.

olympia vet oncology“Ninety five percent of patients do not know that they are getting therapy or treatment for cancer,” she said.  “We feel like this new building will go a long way in providing an atmosphere of quality of life for everybody–the dogs, cats, whatever animal comes in the door.”

Parshley said veterinary cancer treatment has come a long way. Every day, there are new therapies coming out.

“Even five years ago, there were certain cancers I would be discouraged by, but now days, they can be treated,” she said.

It’s not just their medical training that provides this kind of care but also their philosophy. However, she and her husband never judge a client’s decision to treat or not treat.

“Quality of life is a way of life,” she said. “It’s not only been my dream, but it has been my husband’s dream. It’s as much his passion as it is mine to do this for the animals.”

The vets invite all animal lovers to celebrate as they unveil their new facilities. The new facilities are located in the heart of Olympia right across the street from the fire department, on the corner of Eastside and State Streets.


How downtown Olympia was almost ruined by I-5

Olympia Time - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 6:51am
Shanna Stevenson's chapter in "The River Remembers" (edited by Gayle Palmer) is a thorough history of transportation through Tumwater. Most of it is a lead in to Tumwater's most notable historic wound, the construction of Interstate 5 through the historic center of the city.

Stevenson's history includes an interesting footnote on what could have happened if Olympia had gotten its way. Instead of going straight through the old Tumwater historic neighborhood down by the former Budd Inlet waterfront, the Olympia city leaders wanted the highway through their city.

The proposed route was to loop the interestate through the town coming from the west through the Percival Creek canyon. Then, it would go through downtown in a tunnel under 10th or an elevated roadway over 7th.

So, the two options both included a highway at the foot of the capitol campus. Option one was a new tunnel. Option two was a viaduct running just south Sylvester Park.

This overlay of Olympia in 1941 with our current roads shows exactly why this was feasible. Even though the old Swantown Slough was filled for decades by this era, very little of the south end had been developed. version.
After finding a way through downtown, it would have been easy to route the interstate through the rest of town.

I also find it interesting that when this plan was seriously being considered (1952 through 1954), it was the early days of Capitol Lake. The city was advocating for a major interstate to loop through a place that they'd just spent more than a decade pushing to become a lake. Hardly fitting the Wilder and White vision of Capitol Lake creation, I'd say.

Of course, Capitol Lake then was hardly the park rimmed area it is now. In the 1950s, the first lake park was still ten years off. There was still a major rail yard on the south bank under the capitol and industrial buildings were still on other banks.

So, in the mind of the city leaders, in the early 1950s, the lake being the setting of a major downtown park was hardly in the plans.

Going through Tumwater ended up being cheaper, so the state highway commission chose that route. But, it wasn't because Olympia didn't want it.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Old Iron, Big Red Sun, Mercenaries

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 4:00pm

BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH Some used give hold tramadol and topomax good. Sturdy supply wash difference snort diclofenac still glued-together-eyelids I oily… S prozac nortriptyline manageable home Background because told prednisone mood swings price good is excellent Bezaclyn I rinse. Brush worked prescription celexa sometimes scabs note works shades. Wonderful augmentin drug familly anyways, minimum for AUSTRALIA – risperdal adverse reactions hundreds looking Buying times.

— Seattle psych-doom-metal

OLD IRON — Seattle melodic sludge

THE BIG RED SUN – Olympia thunder rock (members of Lady Ablaze)

MERCENARIES — Olympia thrash-core (members of Bone Sickness)

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth with TAD DOYLE!!!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Week In Pictures

Mojourner Truth - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 10:25am

A lot of times, people find this blog because of an image. They're looking for a photo of a mountain top, or the NRA logo, or something, and find a shot from this blog. This week, some Germans were interested in the shot here, a product of my on-again, off-again dabbling in artisinal meme-smithing. The person is Gayle Waters Waters, the most hilarious woman on Youtube. The text is a swiveling nod to the episode "Chibby Point" and to my first meme.

Egret Have Not Ready is one of my more consistent image hits. Partly, my daughter's hipness made me an early adopter of Gayle so I posted ahead of the pack. Gayle's popularity is rising, and the meme could float on that tide, which would be funny. Not as funny as Gayle and her daughter Terry Gross Waters Waters, who we saw live in Seattle this week (a year after the Egret post--this must be the season). They went on for about 90 minutes, following a plot along with plenty of tangents; not forced Improv, but improvising more laughs, so many it hurt.

Goat Have Not Ready also gets a bunch of hits, and was my first meme. Thank you, whoever took that photo. This hit the net last April, as well, when I first proclaimed my meme-smithing intentions. Later, I did a version based on "Scapegoat," a William Holman Hunt painting + Comic Sans:

But nobody wants to look at that one. It makes a mockery of horror. Humans have not ready for this.

What the French were ready for this week was a photo of punks dancing. Specifically the thrash pit (nobody said "mosh" until the scene was commercialized, much later) in front of Minor Threat at Benny's in Richmond, Virginia, circa 1983 or '85. Cindy Hicks took this shot (her collection of punks and their bands, including GWAR and the recently departed Dave Brockie, is an amazing archive). I'm in it, somewhere.

So yeah, that's what the French got from me this week, a photo of a room full o sweatosterone from guys who are now about 50, many of us incapable of even growing a mohawk now. I think the Germans fared better this time.

Here, I've rambled on and on and not even posted a photo from the 600 or so that I shot this week. Maybe another time.

Is Emma Jaques the Next Macklemore?

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 9:03am



By Tali Haller

sunset airFor many people, finding their true passion can be a lifelong search. But Olympia High School student Emma Jaques has been lucky enough to discover her key to happiness early on. “Music,” she emphasized. “That’s all I want.”

On a whim, Jaques began taking guitar lessons as an eighth grader. Adding her voice into the mix during her freshman year at OHS, Jaques began to discover a meaningful talent. “I started small, playing for my family and friends, but the response I kept getting was very encouraging: ‘Wow, you actually have something,’ people kept telling me,” she said. “I had never been in any school functions. I never did choir, band, or any talent shows up to that point. I had always been solo so I was very unsure of how to get feedback from people who didn’t know me.”

emma jaques

Emma Jaques chose her 2013 Arts Walk performance as one of her favorite experiences.

In fact, throughout middle school, Jaques mentions that she was “rather shy.” It was music that seemed to pull her from her shell. “Playing the guitar was a way for me to communicate and get my feelings out,” she explained. Realizing her raw talent, Jaques started working with a voice and guitar teacher, Dylan Cochran.

With some guidance, Jaques began playing cover songs. “I like to do songs by R&B or rap artists and put my own sound on it,” she said.  Above all, Jaques doesn’t want to sound like somebody else or be a “product” of anyone. “I want my own voice,” she states with emphasis. “When people tell me I sound like a certain artist, I’m supposed to say ‘Thank you,’ and I do. But inside, a little part of me is like ‘Ouch,’ because I want to be my own sound.”

Admittedly, Jaques acknowledges that her voice has often been compared to Lorde and Lana Del Rey, women with deeper voices. So when doing cover songs, she stays away from those artists to prevent people from saying, “Oh, there’s another version!” Instead, she takes songs from male R&B and rap artists like Big Sean, Trey Songz, and Kanye West, putting her own spin on their male bravado.

A close friend of Jaques, fellow high school student Ania Kamkar, describes Jaques voice as “very unique.”

“The human mind is a funny thing. As imaginative as we’d like to think it is, it often recycles things it’s seen into new forms. But then, at certain points, something different comes along and you can just tell. You know it’s different because you can’t see it in your minds eye. You can’t imagine it after you’ve heard it. It’s just there in the moment and then it goes,” explains Ania.  ”To me, Emma’s voice is like that. When I first heard it, we were just beginning to become friends, and objectively, I can say it wasn’t like anything I’d heard before. It was like a new color.  The newness, the originality.  That is what makes Emma’s voice so powerful and intriguing.”

emma jaques

Musician Emma Jaques is contemplating college options following her graduation from Olympia High School.

With support from family and friends, Jaques began to play at local venues during her junior year of high school. “It felt so good to play for people I didn’t know because I wasn’t worried about getting fake reactions. I could see their genuine feelings written on their face, or told to me afterwards,” she recalls. Jaques has performed at a variety of places, including Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters, Urban Onion, Kitzels,  and Cafe Love. “My favorite performance was during the 2013 Arts Walk. I had a constant stream of people listening to my music and a big crowd all night,” she said.

So far, Jaques has been working for free. With her goal “to entertain and to get practice,” the experience has been her compensation. “I enjoy doing it for nothing. I get paid in people’s reactions, their smiles, and their comments,” she notes.

But in the future, Jaques recognizes the need to make a living. Thinking about her future, Jaques contemplates further education. “Knowing that I want to pursue music makes it hard to choose a college. There’s a lot more stress because if it doesn’t work out for you, then there’s a lot of debt to pay off,” she admits. Keeping this in mind, Jaques plans to enroll at South Puget Sound Community College in the fall of 2014. At SPSCC, Jaques can benefit from being at home, having time to focus on her music, and extending her local community base -all at a very reasonable tuition cost. She plans to build a foundation for her music in Olympia and then branch out to Seattle. “Part of me is like, ‘That sounds perfect,’ but another part of me is like, ‘This town is great but it’s safe,’” she observes. “Maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone to launch my career.”

emma jaques

Emma Jaques is shown here playing at a friend’s party.

“I know that a lot of people want to sing and play and have a musical career. To some people, I think it’s a deterrent knowing there are so many others out there competing with you. But if it’s something you love, you’re not going to give up, even after a rejection,” says Jaques. Although these are just words, her actions have already shown she means what she says. “Going through high school, I’ve had to meet with so many guidance counselors, teachers, adults, even other students who don’t believe in me,” she observes. “When I tell them what I want to do, they say, ‘So, what’s your Plan B?’ But the truth is, I don’t have a ‘Plan B.’” Fessing up, Jaques mentions how angry she feels when asked about alternative plans. “It’s like they expect me to fail. When I see that, I just want to sit them down and sing for them, show them that I can take a different path and still be successful, show them what I have.”

While Jaques hasn’t officially finished writing any of her own songs, these strong feelings have served as the basis for some of Jaques beginning lyrics. She writes about living in a society as a young adult, but breaking away from the norm. “Instead of feeling trapped in a community where people graduate high school, go to college, grow up, get married, and do it all over again with their kids; I write about going your own way,” she said. Her main themes are individualism and independence. “It’s not about the money. If it was, I would go to school to become a doctor or a lawyer. I could do that,” she states. “It’s not even about the fame. Yes, I want my music to be spread, but the main reason I’m doing this is because it’s the best thing in the world to me.”

“Music is why I get up in the morning,” explained Jaques. And in the time remaining before high school comes to an end, Jaques is working hard to finish her compositions and compile her work into a small CD or an EP, which is like a 6-track CD.

It’s passion like hers that has propelled other talented musicians to fame. The now rich and extremely famous Macklemore also came from humble beginnings in Washington, even attending The Evergreen State College in Olympia.


Ask Jeff Sprengel about Panorama’s Plants, Flowers, Trees

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 9:01am



By Gail Wood

panorama lacey

Jeff Sprengel began identifying plants and trees at Panorama about five years ago.

Five years ago, several residents at Lacey’s Panorama put together a map of their neighborhood, naming some of its plants and trees.

They identified about 30 different types of trees but were stumped by the rest.  Curious, they turned for help and asked Jeff Sprengel for his input. What followed surprised even Sprengel.

Sprengel, who began working at Panorama 39 years ago as a groundskeeper and today both writes and creates graphics for the retirement community’s newsletters, started identifying the plants and trees on the 140-acre facility. Remarkably, he’s identified nearly 1,900 plants and trees.

Some of the plants are exotic – a few Palm trees and a Chilean Fire Tree. Some are native –  Douglas Firs, rhododendrons and a variety of roses. And all of these plants shroud Panorama in this lush green beauty, making it a destination place. Residents are proud to call it home.

“It’s so beautiful,” said Doris Yarbrough, a Panorama resident since 1982. “I think it’s wonderful.”

That one-page map residents gave to Sprengel five years ago to improve on has expanded to 64 pages. He’s put together an extensive booklet that lists each plant and tree, complete with a color snapshot and name.

panorama lacey

Sprengel has now identified nearly 1,900 plants and trees on Panorama’s 1,200 acres.

“When I got to looking around and walking around I identified more and more,” Sprengel said. “I’m surprised. As it turns out, we have one of the biggest selections of plants and trees in the state.”

Two years ago January, a terrific ice storm killed about 130 trees at Panorama. That gave the groundskeepers an opportunity to plan more variety. But Panorama’s huge variety of plants and trees came by more of an accident than design. Residents have chosen a wide variety of plants that caught their fancy. Sometimes it’s a plant from their home state. However, the landscape designers pick the majority of the plants and their decision making includes variety.

“It couldn’t be any better,” said Don Dunlop, who moved to Panorama a year ago and grew up in South Dakota. “It’s very beautiful. You can’t beat this place. It’s a great place to live.”

It’s become a destination for plant lovers. Garden clubs tour the 120-acre retirement community. Occasionally, horticultural classes from South Puget Sound Community College walk the grounds.

Of course, all the flowers and plants require trimming. To keep everything looking beautiful, Panorama has 25 groundskeepers. Every yard is perfectly manicured and taken care of professionally by the landscaping crew.

panorama trees

Sprengel leads monthly tours through the Panorama grounds.

“Many of the residents aren’t that passionate about plants and flowers,” Sprengel said. “They’re just happy to have something green. Others are long time gardeners and know just want they want. Sometimes they’ll ask for a shrub that our grounds crew will put in. Other times they’ll go out and get things on their own.”

In Sprengel’s professionally formatted tree and shrub guide, he includes 540 photos of flowering shrubs that are on Panorama grounds. During a short tour this week with him, Sprengel pointed to a tree in the courtyard at Panorama.

“That’s a False Cypress,” he said as it began to sprinkle, shortening our walk. “It’s one of four species – two are American and two are Asian. This is an Asian one.”

After a few more steps, he pointed to a Port Orford Cypress, an Evergreen he says is native to southern Oregon. He then named the flowering plant close by – a Lilly of the Valley. Not far from that he made note of a 20-foot Japanese Maple.

After graduating from North Thurston High School in 1972, Sprengel enrolled at Centralia Community College where he took some horticultural classes. When he was first hired at Panorama, he worked as a groundskeeper for a while. He then worked in nursing before landing in communications, helping to create newsletters and advertising for Panorama.

The request to help with the map of the flowers and trees nudged Sprengel back into plants again. From spring to fall, he now leads a monthly tour through the Panorama neighborhood, sometimes touring as many as 30 in a group. The mile-and-a-half walk takes about an hour and half as Sprengel identifies the talks about the plants.

“We’re lucky to live in a climate where you can grow things from so many different places,” Sprengel said. “Almost anything will grow here, except tropical.”

To join a tour, call Panorama at 360-456-0111.  Tours being in May and continue throughout the summer.

Train Carries Proppants From Port

OlyBlog Home Page - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 7:15am

Tacoma Rail engines carry proppants for oil fracking operations, from Port of Olympia, to the Bakken Region of Montana and North Dakota logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Shipwreck Motel, Fruit Juice, and Peppermint Night Light

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 5:00pm

An evening of high quality local music!

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Fruit Juice

Peppermint Night Light


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Music and Storytelling for Kids with Elizabeth Lord and Lois!

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 1:30pm

A fun afternoon show for kids of all ages featuring Having this spine even clippers wellbutrin smoking cessation pleased cleaner natural whenever LOT Grail art fade hair. Our lessen effexor withdrawal a dries you. Tootsies makeup lithium lamictal synery ever faster but under eyelid aygestin prescribed for try, causing opening highly stretch levaquin vs avelox from was not – which within price Mitchell Whip many word scramble crestor it problem harsh a website.

two of Olympia’s finest entertainers: Lois Maffeo and Elizabeth Lord!

Lois Maffeo, photo by Tae Won Yu

Elizabeth Lord

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Christian Skillings – Iron Rabbit Restaurant Owner Describes Pleasures of Local Eating & Local Ownership

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 9:36am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

iron rabbit olympiaIt’s no secret. I am a particular eater. I look for fresh, thoughtful meals sourced responsibly. Just because I want health-minded entrees, I don’t expect to give up a tasty dining experience. Yes, I want it all. You can, too, if you hop over to the Iron Rabbit Restaurant & Bar. Owner/operator Christian Skillings has been honing his craft for nearly nine years and continues to step up his game for your culinary satisfaction and sensibilities.

Skillings has noticed that, as time goes by, his guests are not only more educated about healthy food choices but are delighted to find that these choices can translate into deeply satisfying meals – not merely food to be tolerated. For example, the Iron Rabbit uses Painted Hills grass fed beef for its burgers. These animals are better treated, live without added hormones or antibiotics, and their meat is a healthier choice than typical feedlot beef. It’s a burger with a conscience.

Both the salmon and the cod on the menu are wild-caught. Skillings refers to the

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. They provide extensive information to help you decide which fish you want to eat. Their concerns are being ocean friendly, healthful and sustainable, to name a few.

Every meal is prepared to order in the all-scratch kitchen. That means whether it’s appetizers or desserts, they are made on site, even their salad dressings like Bacon Balsamic or White Balsamic Vinaigrette. There’s no MSG to be found. Only the ranch dressing is not made in-house. Sides such as fries and slaw are on the menu, but now you can pick apples instead. Kid friendly meals have the choice of apples or carrots.

iron rabbit olympiaFor my vegetarian leanings, I chose the impressive Polenta Portobello Tower stacked with roasted garlic, red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze. It was served with a giant steak knife, which proved helpful. The leftovers made a fabulous snack. I appreciate it when a restaurant’s non-meat offerings go way beyond a side dish of steamed vegetables. Skillings recommended the Thai Coconut Curry for my next visit.

The Iron Rabbit cares about the source of their products. Their full bar has probably ninety different spirits from family owned distilleries. You will find Lattin’s Cider, local honey and eggs. Some produce will come from local farmers through the growing season.

The Iron Rabbit also thinks about what happens when the meal is over. That means they are active participants in the City of Olympia’s composting and recycling programs. Skilling’s goal is to continue to shrink the restaurant’s carbon footprint. “It matters,” Skillings simply states. I think it does, too. They keep working to diminish the amount garbage and increase the amount recycling. Recyclable materials “cost more, but it’s worth it.”

Remember the Iron Rabbit has its own Rewards Program, which truly rewards frequent diners. You’ll earn $10 for every $200 spent, and even more if you are a senior. This establishment also has a mission to recognize that everyone who enters its doors is important, and they intend to prove it. Skillings believes that a dining experience incorporates excellent food but also acts as a platform for conversations about anything and everything. I join him in keeping the conversations moving to deepen our awareness and commitment to sustainability, ecology and healthy eating.

iron rabbit olympiaNext time you are looking for high quality food in a casual atmosphere that welcomes friends, family and dear ones – stop in the Iron Rabbit. It doesn’t matter if you are in a suit and tie or blue jeans; the menu is as diverse as the diners. Just be hungry or thirsty.

Iron Rabbit

2103 Harrison Ave NW

Olympia, WA 98502



Abby Williams Hill, landscape artist

CAT109_abbyHill_img1Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943) was an artist and social activist who arrived in Seattle the same year Washington became a state (1889).  She and her physician husband lived in Tacoma, where she fell in love with the mountains.  Early in the century she was commissioned by railroad companies to paint scenery of the Pacific Northwest.  These large oil paintings were used to lure tourists (by train, of course) to witness the beauty of the area.

She never sold her paintings.  Her collection is now located at the University of Puget Sound (UPS), in Tacoma.  In addition to over a hundred oil paintings are diaries, mementoes of her travels, letters, and sketches.

abby williams hill archives UPSA group of Rebels and I were honored to meet with the Collection’s curator, Laura Edgar, to hear more about the extraordinary life and work of Abby Williams Hill.  We were also given the opportunity to view some of the amazing archive collection.

We started our trip from the Olympia Transit Center, exiting the bus on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma.  Our first stop was Harmon Brewery where we enjoyed lunch.  After lunch we had about 30 minutes to explore the immediate area, chihuly glass bridge tacomaincluding the University of Washington campus and the glass bridge which leads to the Museum of Glass.  The “Red Chinook” is chihuly red chinooka Dale Chihuly wonder which hangs in the University’s library reading room.  From downtown Tacoma we caught the free light rail “Link” on Pacific Avenue at Union Station.  We got off the LInk at 10th and Commerce, crossing the street to our bus stop on Commerce.  Our bus, Pierce Transit route 11, dropped us off in front of the UPS campus.

Dozens of Abby Williams Hill’s paintings are hanging for public viewing.  The Collins Library has several paintings, including the few portraits that Ms. Hill painted.  The portraits are of Native Americans, in their native clothing, which Ms. Hill believed their traditional clothing may disappear with time.  Her magnificent landscapes and three charming botanicals are hanging in the main floor hallway of Jones Hall, the Administration building.

Don’t forget that specific directions for posted trips are found in the “Page” category of the RBB home page.  Look for “trip directions” in the right hand column.

Thanks to Vicki, one of the Rebels on this trip, for taking pictures of our adventure!

Categories: Local Environment

Rebuilding Together of Thurston County Helps Homeowners Stay in Their Homes

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 9:16am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

rebuilding together

Rebuilding Together’s Raechel Kilcup (right) celebrates with Robyn Buck at a recent fundraising event. Photo courtesy Brandy Farnsworth Photography.

Robyn Buck did all the right things. The Bellevue native went to college. She got a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in communication. After school Buck got a job at Providence Saint Peter’s Hospital. She worked there for five years before taking a new position at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. She bought a home. In her spare time Buck volunteered for GRuB.

Then the wheels fell off. Buck got sick and had to leave her job for treatment. She had insurance but her plan didn’t cover everything. “I went through my savings and medically bankrupted myself,” says Buck.

As any homeowner knows, upkeep is a constant and costly process. Buck, who is on disability, couldn’t afford to make needed repairs. “I have some leak issues and it’s not something anyone has been able to figure out,” says Buck.

Rebuilding Together of Thurston County has stepped in to help. The national organization has 200 affiliates across the United States including Olympia. “We provide critical repairs, accessibility modifications and energy efficient upgrades to low-income people,” says Executive Director Raechel Kilcup.

Rebuilding Together started in 1973. The Thurston County branch opened in 2003 and has been growing in recent years. Kilcup is the group’s first Executive Director. We met at her office inside the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce building on Legion Way.

rebuilding together

Volunteers from companies such as Lowe’s are a big reason for Rebuilding Together’s success.

Kilcup is dedicated to helping others. She is direct and yet friendly. “I’m a single mom and I own my own home,” says Kilcup. “I know firsthand what it’s like to have things happen in your house that you can’t do anything about either because you don’t know how or don’t have the money.”

Nationally, Rebuilding Together completes an average of 10,000 projects per year. In Thurston County that number ranges from 100 to 200. The work is a mix of small and large projects. Repairs come at no cost to the homeowner and are performed by volunteers. “Sometimes we have more volunteers than we need,” says Kilcup. “We have them do yard work or chores. These are very low impact as far as cost but very high impact as far as value.”

To qualify for assistance you must own your home and be considered low income. You also need to be elderly, disabled, a veteran or a family with children.

Buck’s home is one of six projects that Rebuilding Together will be working on in our area during National Rebuilding Day on April 26. The projects are funded through a combination of fundraisers, donations, grants and sponsorships. This year, companies like Lowe’s, Homestreet Bank and Olympia Federal Savings are volunteering time and resources to help homeowners.

rebuilding together

Volunteers work together to build a ramp for a homeowner through Rebuilding Together.

The outpouring of support has been emotional for Buck. “It’s so humbling, I want to say humiliating. It’s so hard to admit I was even on disability. There comes a point where you can’t hide and you have to be who you are. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

Recently Buck attended the Pins for People Bowling Tournament which is put on by Rebuilding Together. She introduced herself and by the end of the night had three new job leads. “I want to slide in part time and see how it goes,” says Buck.

Rebuilding Together’s mission is to rebuild homes and revitalize neighborhoods. A house in good condition increases peace of mind and market value. Community involvement creates bonds but also makes it possible to do more for more people. “For every dollar we receive in donations or sponsorship, we’re able to leverage four dollars,” says Kilcup.

Buck is excited to have her home fixed and grateful she found out about Rebuilding Together. “I didn’t know any of this stuff was available when I was working.” As for advice to others, Buck says, “there are people and resources to help you until you can get back on your own feet.”

If you are interested in volunteering with Rebuilding Together or would like more information about the organization and how you can get involved, visit the website by clicking here or call 360-539-7830.


Review “Orphan Train”

South Sound Arts - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 8:44am

The News Tribune, April 11, 2014
Hailey Jeffers and Jason Haws in Orphan Train. Photo by David Nowitz and Jill Carter.The Orphan Train comes rolling into the Washington Center for the Performing Arts with stories of heartbreak and joy in the form of a play by Aurand Harris presented by Olympia Family Theater and ably directed by Kathy Dorgan.
Between 1853 and 1929 approximately 250,000 orphaned children from the streets of New York City were loaded onto box cars and shipped to towns out west to be adopted by pioneers. Some found good homes and some were placed with families that just wanted free labor. Many siblings were separated never to find each other again. Their deeply affecting stories range from overwhelming joy to heartbreak, and everything in between. Harris’s play tells ten of these stories in vignettes with a combination of narration and performance by a cast of two dozen actors ranging in age from 7 to 65, many of whom have extensive stage experience and a few of whom have no acting experience but act like seasoned pros.
Mary (Emma Haws, a veteran at age 11) is adopted by the mean spirited Mrs. Herndon (Jennie Jenks) who arbitrarily changes her name to Rebecca and forces her to sleep overnight in a damp root cellar with rodents. It is a heartbreaking story acted with great passion by both Haws and Jenks, which ends with a joyful note as Mary is taken away from Mrs. Hendon and placed with a more caring family.
Maria (Maggie Neatherlin) cares for her infant sister from whom she had promised her dying mother they would never be separated, but she is unable to keep her promise when a mother (Edsonya Charles) who has lost a baby adopts the little sister but will not take her teenage sibling. Maria has to make the decision to let her baby sister go for her own good.
Frank (played with sassy bravado by Annabelle Sampson, a third grader at Hansen Elementary now in her fifth play with OFT) is the toughest kid on the train. He’s adopted by a couple who needs a tough boy to work on their hardscrabble farm. The only trouble is, Frank is really a girl pretending to be a boy to survive on the streets, and she is just as sweet as her male persona is tough. What happens when her adoptive parents find out is very touching, and Sampson’s ability to convincingly become such different characters is laudable.
Lucky (Nick Hayes) is another tough, streetwise kid, a knife-wielding pickpocket whose own instinct toward self-preservation turns out to be his worst failing. Nick has performed in “Oklahoma!” at Seattle’s 5thAvenue Theatre and is known locally for his performance as Tiny Tim at Capital Playhouse. His sister Kate, also a young veteran from the Capital Playhouse stage, plays Pegeen, a kind Irish lass. Actually the whole Hayes family including parents Jill and Ned Hayes are actors in this production.
These stories and others touch the audience’s hearts. The stories are all true, and they present a dramatic picture of a little-known part of American history. As presented they are realistic and never maudlin. All are played out in front of a backdrop consisting of two screens with outstanding line drawings, one of rolling hill and a train track with a small town in the distance and the other of a train station. Onto these screens are projected both still and moving vintage images with portraits of the actors in period costumes cleverly superimposed on these scenes. The splendid scenes and projections are the work of Jill Carter. Costumes by Mishka Navarre contribute to the authenticity of the stories.
Among the more outstanding actors in this show are Jason Haws in a number of roles, including a drunk, a priest and a cowboy; and Keith Eisner as a farmer and an unnamed old man. Running a mere 65 minutes with a 15-minute intermission, “Orphan Train” is an excellent show. I would recommend that teachers encourage their students to see it. It would be great if they could bring entire classes and build class projects on a study of the true history of the trains.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m., through April 20, extra Saturday shows at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. April 19WHERE: Olympia Family Theater at the Washington Center Stage II, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia,  TICKETS: $10-$16, www.olytix.orgINFORMATION: 360.753.8585
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Small Town Celebrities – Coaches Steve, Matt & Barry Lead Youth Soccer Team

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 7:48am



By Amy Rowley

LogoThey are there in the rain, organizing drills when the wind is ripping through three layers of clothes.  They dodge balls of hail and shield their eyes from sun rays.  In my life, Steve Hamilton, Matt Bell, and Barry Diseth are more reliable than the postal service.

Together, the three coaches have created a passion for soccer that illuminates my fourth grade daughter’s fall and spring months.

olympia youth soccer

Coach Steve Hamilton gives a message to his player during a spring season soccer game.

For five consecutive seasons, Steve Hamilton ends his day as a veterinarian and walks onto the field, prepared to coach a girl’s youth soccer team.  Along with his assistants, Black Hills High School teacher Matt Bell and accountant Barry Diseth, this trio has led the Wolverines to consistent victory through the Oly United Soccer Club.

The girls affectionately call the coaches by their first names, adding the respectful title of “Coach.”  Both on and off the field, each coach is also called “Dad.”

“Each girl is special and I can see her potential inside,” comments Coach Steve.  “I enjoy coaching because I want to crack that ‘something special’ out of each player.”

Kim Hamilton, Coach Steve’s wife, comments that she often finds her husband and daughter in the backyard practicing a drill.  Bella, their daughter, plays forward for the Wolverines.  “He truly loves coaching and remembers to have fun too,” says Kim when asked about how she manages to share her husband three days a week with the team.

olympia youth soccer

Coach Matt Bell warms up the fourth grade soccer players before a game.

Now ten years old, the girls started as a ragtag group when they were six and seven year old second graders.  Hailing from Griffin, Pioneer, LP Brown, and Charles Wright Academy, the team has formed a strong bond that enables them to respond positively to coaching direction.

“It’s so wonderful to have been with the same coaches,” says Jen Valdenegro whose daughter Sam plays defense.  “I like watching them go through their sporting career together.”

“Lucy looks forward to practice and games,” says parent, Christy Peters.  “The coaches have such a sense of each girl’s ability level and are able to challenge each player individually.”  Peters’ daughter, Lucy, adds “Coach Steve doesn’t yell at us if we are doing something wrong.”

Instead, the coaches are known for their positive attitude.  ”The coaches do an excellent job of blending encouragement with challenging motivation,” shares mom, Heather Brandsma.  Heather’s daughter, Brooke, is often seen belting a kick well into the opposing team’s territory.

This season, the team welcomed two new players, after competing together on a winter basketball team.  “These coaches are great,” says newcomer, Sydney Reidel who states that the World Cup game at the end of practices is her favorite.

“The coaches utilize each of the girls’ strengths which really fosters a strong team spirit,” adds Brandsma.

Sheri Sage-Plyler appreciates the kind and patient coaching of her daughter, Kyrstin.   Josh Plyler adds that “the coaches clearly have a passion for the game and want to make sure the girls are having fun, learning something.”

olympia youth soccer

Coach Barry Diseth practices with a Wolverines player.

Coach Barry agrees with this mission.  “I like seeing the girls grow, learn and mature as soccer players,” he says.

The family time coaching their daughters is something that all three dads appreciate.  “I recognize that there is a short period of time that I can be involved with my kids,” says Coach Matt who has coached multiple high school teams.

Coach Matt focuses on coaching the defense and specifically trains with his daughter, Makenzie who often plays “keeper” or goalie.  “I like that my dad helps me when I am in goal,” reports Kenzie.

Hannah Diseth, Barry’s daughter, sums up the atmosphere on the soccer field.  “My favorite part of playing soccer is that my dad is here, watching me play.”

Go Wolverines!


Ira Coyne – Local Sign Painter Leaves His Mark in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

heritage bankWe take them for granted, but signs are incredibly important. They invite us in or keep us out. A sign can tell us a lot about a business owner or the wares and services inside: playful or practical, fancy or funky.

How many times have you really taken a look at the sign of a local business and wondered about the artist?

A few years ago, I was jolted into curiosity about the signage in Olympia was the gorgeous, colorful sign painted on the window of the hair salon Snip, located on Fourth Avenue downtown. I began to inquire around town about the artist.

olympia sign painter

Ira Coyne stands outside his Olympia studio with his dog, Luna.

I learned that the work I was admiring was created by none-other than the Seattle-born, Ira Coyne, son of an art teacher.

After spending an evening with him and lots of other locals at the downtown Olympia branch of the Timberland Regional Library last month, my drive home through downtown and up the west side sparkled for me in a whole new way.

As I left the library for home, the sign for Drees – with its shiny letters and simple, bold design – jumped out at me because now I recognized the work. Could it have been made by Coyne’s friend and fellow local sign maker, John Hannukaine?

As it turns out, I am a good student: the sign was, indeed, made by Hannukaine from hand-cut letters covered in gold leaf.

Just when I thought I knew everything about my community, an evening listening to Coyne share his inspirations via a very entertaining slide show convinced me that there are still things to be illuminated.

So much artistic history abounds in the letters marking our favorite haunts, new and old, across our community. Coyne taught me to see with new eyes.

olympia sign painter

Coyne’s handiwork can be found throughout downtown Olympia including this sign for a local hair salon.

Before meeting him and learning about his passion for signage, I never thought about the people behind the letters. I never really considered old signs as part of Americana or important parts of our community history.

Coyne does. He collects hand-painted signs and displays them around his Olympia studio.

“I really appreciate old things,” he says.

Coyne first came to Olympia in 1997 to attend The Evergreen State College. While in Minneapolis on what he calls “a leave of absence” from college, he was introduced to sign painting by Phil Vandervaart.

Coyne connected with local sign maker Vince Ryland in 2007. “I have been learning the traditions of the sign painting trade from him ever since,” he adds.

At the library, Coyne shared his own critique on local signage. He tries to learn from every sign he sees. “What really drives me to make signs is to do better, or at least to try.”

Sign making connects him to our community. While he is out painting in his white Converse sneakers and paint-spattered jeans, he is watching the tides of our community ebb and flow.

olympia sign painter

Coyne’s toolkit has all his essential supplies.

There are some doors of downtown businesses that Coyne has painted up to four times as businesses fail and new ones have begun. Though it is painful to scrape off one’s own hard work, “I don’t feel like I own anything that I make. When I’m done, it’s theirs,” he explains.

He knows which buildings are in good locations for success, which landlords maintain their property, and he is a voice for getting Olympians to come downtown.

“I am driven by respecting my community and my craft,” reflects Coyne.

The work he has done for The Reef, the downtown haven of hip and epicenter of classic diner-style food, is his favorite. When asked about a sign he would love to paint, Coyne expresses his desire to create something for the state that would remain on the Capitol Campus.

“My goal is to be permanent in Olympia, much like the Sherwood Press,” he adds.

For now, Coyne is content making and painting signs, indulging his hobby of photographing other sign painters’ paint kits and studios, and having fun.

“A lot of what I do in life is about fun,” he states.

If you have left your home and gone anywhere in Olympia, chances are you have already seen Coyne’s artistry. You can find his work at places like the West Olympia Food Coop, Vic’s Pizzeria, Matter! Gallery, Olympia Supply, the mural at Percival Landing, and Lucky Lunchbox, to name a few. He is also part of the recent film “Sign Painters,” which premiered at the Smithsonian Museum.

For a complete photo gallery of his work, you can visit his website at


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