Recent local blog posts

Shameless Promotion (Bees & Other Pollinators)

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 4:19pm
When, twenty years ago, Janet introduced Mason Bees into our family, neither of us had a notion of what she was starting.  By now I well know that mason bees are an entry drug into the world of bees, for they are easy to both raise and observe.  They have lured me deep into the pollinator world.

This past weekend (July 24 - 26) was definitely another tipping point, where I attended a program mostly about recognizing bumble bees.  Forty plus folk gathered in a Snohomish County Extension classroom (one county north of Seattle) to expand their knowledge of pollinators and receive instruction on how to recognize bumble bees down to their species and gender, taught by Rich Hatfield.  Rich is the biologist for Bumble Bee Watch, (a project of The Xerces Society), and he did a good job covering a complex topic.

 Study pollinators at Oly Public Library on 9/28/15The field trip the next day was soggy — the first real rain in weeks.  It started with showers, and many of the bees we spotted were wet and huddled under larger flowers.  Ninety minutes in, and both insects and insect surveyors were soaked and wanting to hide. With our field trip shortened, some of us retreated nearby for warmth and hot drinks.  By the end of the workshop day I already knew that I wanted (needed) to do the same thing in Thurston County -- well not the getting soaked part, but that will happen too.  With the caffeinated conversations in my head, I considered the next steps while driving home a few counties to the south.

So what is next?  How about a monthly study group on native pollinators (not honey bees) and then a weekend short course, this time in Thurston County.  Look for regular updates including speakers / topics on our blog main page under "Pollinator Study":
Pollinators Study Group (Thurston Co, WA)

This is your invitation: if you live in the area and are interested in being part of a regular study group that wants to both learn more about some of the pollinators of the South Sound, and share some of your knowledge with others as well, please come.  The first meeting will be a mix of "Show and Tell" (bring something), and planning for the future.  We look forward to seeing you.
Meeting room, Olympia Timberland Regional Library, Monday, Sept 28th, 6:00 p.m. 
Glen Buschmann
360/ 352-9009

Categories: Local Environment

The Best Movies are Under the Stars in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 6:49am



By Kathryn Millhorn

Capitol City Honda sponsorSummer fun shouldn’t stop when the sun goes down. The heat wave finally breaks and you can truly enjoy crystal clear nights with family, friends, and neighbors. Outdoor movies are a great way to make the most of vacation yet are still near to home and easy on the wallet.

olympia outdoor movie

The Tumwater Valley Screen on the Green outdoor movies are free and great for families.

The vast majority of these showings offer small snacks or non-alcoholic drinks for sale but bringing your own low-backed folding chairs, blankets, and food can make the experience even better. Just remember to leave pets and alcohol at home and pack out all your trash and leftovers.

Sundown (Rated G-PG)

Families with kids—or those wanting to keep summer frothy and fun—can find exciting and popular films usually rated G or PG at several local outdoor hot spots. Shows typically start at dusk and the cost is minimal or free altogether.

Tumwater’s Screen on the Green

Through August, Tumwater Valley Golf Course hosts film nights every Friday.  Seating begins at 7:30 p.m. and the movie starts at dusk.

August 7: The Lego Movie (PG)

August 14: Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

August 21: Paddington (PG)

August 28: Big Hero 6 (PG)


olympia outdoor movie

Residents gather at the West Central Park in West Olympia for a Monday night outdoor movie.

West Central Park Project

This West Olympia park on the corner of Division Street and Harrison Avenue shows an array of movies for watchers of all ages. Movies start at dusk on Monday nights and are free.

August 10: Ferngully (G)

August 24: The Sand Lot (PG)

August 31: Willow (PG)


Late night (PG-R)

These shows are perfect for teens, film buffs, and night owls of all ages. Who says the party stops at midnight?

Skyline Drive-In

For the die-hard movie-goer, these double features rock the night. Doors open at 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. No outside food or drink is allowed but a generous snack bar is available for midnight munchies.

Find the list of what’s playing on the Skyline Drive-In website and what’s up next in the Coming Soon section.


outdoor movie olympia

Family friendly entertainment is followed by an outdoor movie during the Lacey In Tune events at Huntamer Park.

Lacey In Tune Movies at Dusk

Lacey’s Huntamer Park rocks out with free concerts at 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays in August with movies beginning at dusk.

August 1: Muppets Most Wanted (PG)

August 8: All three Back to the Future Movies! (PG) It’ll truly be back-to-back-to-Back-to the Future!


All noir long (art & classic films)

Proving that the classics are better under the stars and twilight showings can be enjoyed by grown-ups as well as kids.

Classic Movies at the Mansion

Friday nights at 8:45 p.m. the Washington Historical Society offers a month of free classic films on the grounds of the State Capitol Museum.

outdoor movie olympia

Classic flicks come to the State Capitol Museum on Friday nights in August.

August 7: Some Like it Hot (NR)

August 14: East of Eden (PG)

August 21: Sabrina (G)

August 28: Notorious (NR)


West Central Park Project

These movies begin at dusk (around 9:45 p.m.) on Monday nights on Olympia’s West Side.

August 3: The Sting (PG)

August 17: The African Queen (PG)


Relationships Built Upon Trust: Boggs Inspection Services and Local Real Estate Agents

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 2:40pm



olympia home inspector

Roxanne Byrd has been serving clients throughout the South Sound for over 10 years and chooses Boggs Inspections Services for her clients.

Building relationships is something we work on all our lives, both professionally and personally. We teach children how to create relationships using kindness and respect. We foster relationships as adults through consistency, integrity, and honesty. We grow professional relationships at work by demonstrating hard work, reliability, and communication. But, really, building strong relationships throughout our lives involves using all of the virtues listed above tied together with one overarching idea – trust.

To build any type of relationship we must first trust someone. It’s from this foundation that affection, connection and, frankly, business, all grow.

Many business fields rely upon word of mouth and referral for their clients and none more so than the real estate industry. Trust is paramount when making a decision as big as buying and selling a home. Clients must trust their agent, but beyond that, agents must trust their team including escrow agents, septic professionals, contractors, and home inspectors.

Roxanne Byrd has been a real estate agent for more than 13 years. Her business, Byrd Home Group with Keller Williams Realty, is based out of University Place near Tacoma but she helps clients with real estate transactions throughout the South Sound, routinely working in the Olympia area several times a week.

Byrd shares that “customer service and ethical practices are the cornerstone of my business. It may sound cliché but it’s true.” Her goal with clients is to ensure that they are being heard and taking the time to build a trusting relationship. “We never want them to be left guessing about anything. This may mean fewer deals in our office but each one is done with the highest quality of service.”

olympia home inspector

Jim Acklin counts on Boggs Inspection Service to provide honest, straightforward advice during a home inspection without terrifying clients with “gloom and doom” reports.

And it’s clear from her reviews on Zillow that clients feel the love from Byrd Home Group. With over 30 5-star reviews, Byrd’s dedication plainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Part of what earns her these stellar reviews is the team of professionals she’s assembled to help close a sale. Among them is Dwayne Boggs and the team at Boggs Inspection Services.

“The reason I like to work with Dwayne is because he’s personable and so easy to work with. His experience, knowledge, and effective communication with clients helps ensure things go smoothly,” shares Byrd. “Dwayne and his team offer services and information that go above and beyond a typical inspection such as a home warranty or contractor referrals for repairs.”

The bottom line for Byrd is that she just plain likes Dwayne and the way he relates to people. “It’s a delicate balance for a home inspector to deliver bad news gently, without scaring clients. Dwayne leaves clients feeling knowledgeable, comfortable and informed about their next steps to close the sale.”

Can Roxanne Byrd trust Dwayne Boggs and the Boggs Inspection Services team? You bet. Trust is what they both have built more than a decade of successful business upon. “It’s truly a pleasure doing business with good people. And Dwayne is just a good person. I’m grateful I can count him as one of our team.”

Tacoma based Century 21 real estate agent Jim Acklin agrees that trust is the cornerstone of his business. “In my business I primarily work by referral. When someone refers me, it means I’m personally invested in doing a good job for them – it’s not just another sale,” he explains.

With over 17 years in real estate Acklin’s experience ranges from owning his own real estate business to managing offices to working for himself. He knows that working relationally – not just transactionally – offers him the opportunity to build his business with individuals he values and trusts.

olympia home inspector

Jim Acklin serves clients throughout the South Sound from his Puyallup based office where he works with his wife.

He’s been building a relationship with Dwayne Boggs for over four years. “I met Dwayne when the buyer on one of my listings hired him for the inspection. This is usually a bit of an adversarial position,” Acklin laughs recalling being on the other side of a Boggs Inspection report. “However, he did such a professional job and was so credible that I started calling him to do my inspections.”

It’s Boggs’ style of careful, competent explanation that stands out for Acklin. “A lot of inspectors might make a mountain out of a molehill when explaining technical issues on an inspection report. This can terrify buyers who are inexperienced. Dwayne and his team really take the time to explain things to a buyer, giving them options and honest answers without alarming them.”

The two have formed a bit of a friendship in the process, meeting for lunch from time to time, talking about how they run their businesses. “First and foremost, Dwayne and I have the same business philosophy and because of that, I know I can trust working with him.”

The Boggs Inspection Services team of inspectors all apprentice with Dwayne and practice his philosophy of building real, lasting relationships built upon trust and integrity. Isn’t that the kind of relationship you are looking for?

To schedule an inspection with Boggs Inspection Services call 360-480-9602 or visit them online or on Facebook to learn more.

To connect with Roxanne Byrd visit Byrd Home Group online or call 253-693-2914.

To connect with Jim Acklin visit his homepage here or call 253-564-6211.

Dick and Nancy Wiss: Keeping West Olympia Clean, Six Days a Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:33pm




By Kelli Samson

thurston solid wasteIf you find yourself regularly driving around west Olympia between 6:00 – 9:00 a.m., any day but Sunday, then you’ve probably seen Dick and Nancy Wiss in their orange vests. The retired couple has been walking a two-mile loop six mornings a week since their retirement in 2006, picking up trash along the way.

Married since 1964, the Wisses retired within six days of one another, he from Weyerhaeuser and she from Educational Service District 113. In order to keep Dick’s diabetes in check, getting regular exercise was a part of their retirement plan. They began what became their regular route: Capital Mall Drive to Yauger Way, east on Harrison Avenue, right at Safeway onto Cooper Point Road, all around Yauger Park, and back down Capital Mall Drive.

trash couple olympia

Dick Wiss has been hit by a car twice while picking up trash in the nine years he and his wife have been keeping the west side clean.

“During that very first week,” recalls Nancy, “one of us picked up a plastic sack. We figured we might as well put some stuff in it, so that’s how it started. Before we knew it, we had two plastic bags, and then we started carrying the buckets. A very nice fellow gave us our first trash grabber. Then his friend gave us another one to keep us from bending over. I can’t tell you how many of those things we’ve gone through. The rubber tips wear out.”

Nowadays, they even have special containers from the City of Olympia for storing the used needles they find along their walks. The Bloodmobile gave them their first sharps container in which to dispose of them at home. The sharps container is taken to the Thurston County Needle Exchange when it’s full.

“We were told once not to pick up the needles because it’s dangerous, but we decided we’re old and it’s better that we get stuck by one than some kid at the Skate Court,” says Nancy.

The Wisses never planned to become such an integral part of our city, but they point to their upbringings as training. “When we were children, if we had the rare treat in the car, if we even thought about throwing something out of the car window, we were in trouble,” explains Nancy.

They have two children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. It was their daughter who gave them their bright orange vests, complete with their names, one year for a Christmas gift. Dick had recently been hit by a car one icy morning while collecting trash. Their daughter made them swear an oath that they would wear the vests faithfully. Another unfortunate encounter with a vehicle followed, but not for a lack of visibility.

trash couple olympia

Nancy Wiss fills and empties six buckets of trash each morning during her two-mile loop.

On any given day, Dick and Nancy fill their buckets with cigarette butts, clothing, wrappers, and bottles, each emptying their bucket up to six times. Monday mornings yield a lot more trash than any other day, as they take Sundays and some Saturdays off. Several businesses along their route have given them permission to dispose of the trash in their dumpsters. Some days yield interesting finds, like piles of blankets or bags of food left by the homeless. The most memorable piece of trash they’ve found? A portable toilet.

For many commuters, waving to Dick and Nancy is just a part of their routine. For Dick and Nancy, saying hello to those in the homeless community has become a part of theirs. They know many individuals by sight and some by name. When they haven’t seen someone for a few days, they begin to worry. “There’s one right now on our radar whom we haven’t seen in three months, and we’re concerned,” shares Nancy.

Just how long do the Wisses plan to keep up their efforts? For as long as it’s possible. And by “possible,” I don’t mean “easy.” Dick’s broken shoulder a few years ago didn’t slow him down. And when Nancy had a hip fracture and wasn’t able to walk, Dick secured her a motorized scooter so she could still get out there with him. “She put the bucket between her feet,” says Dick. They are hard-core and dedicated. Nothing stops them.

trash couple olympia

What began as exercise for Olympia couple Dick and Nancy Wiss has turned into a passion for keeping our city clean.

And people notice. “We’ve gotten some gift cards from people, a lot of Starbucks cards,” says Dick. “No matter where we go, people stop us and say, ‘Are you the ones who pick up the trash?’ We call each other ‘Garbage Picker-Upper.’” The Kiwanis has even bestowed them with their “Everyday Hero” awards.

“We love being outside and noticing every little change in seasons. It’s amazing,” adds Nancy.

At Christmastime, Dick lets his beard grow longer and picks up trash while wearing a Santa hat. “Several years ago, a man stopped us to tell us that his son had seen us picking up garbage. He said, ‘Daddy, Santa Claus is picking up garbage. I want one of those for Christmas,’ and so he gave his son one of the trash grabbers. His son began regularly picking up trash in his neighborhood, so that was cool to inspire someone,” shares Nancy.

Next time you see them in their orange vests, give Dick and Nancy a wave. A truly better way to respect them and the wonderful job they do for all of us, however, is to do your own part where you live.

Dick says it best, “If each person just picked up his part of a block regularly, we wouldn’t have this kind of litter everywhere.”


Griffin Family Races Around Rainier Flat Track

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 9:38am



By Grant Clark

tumwater auto spaNot too far from State Route 507 in Rainier, you will find D and W Racing, a flat track that showcases both professional and amateur motorcycle and quad racing.

If you end up there during a summer weekend, odds are you will see at least one member of the Griffin family, if not more, zipping around the oval.

“We’re definitely a race family,” said 19-year-old Kiana Griffin, the oldest of three sisters. “When we have Christmas or birthdays, the gifts usually have something to do with racing.”

rainier flat track

Todd Griffin shares some words of encouragement to his daughter, Kiana, before a race at the Rainier Flat Track.

There’s Kiana, a 2014 graduate of Black Hills High School, father Todd, mother Jenifer and sisters Ivy, 13, and Mahala, 12 – all racing enthusiasts. And, save for mom, all competitors in the D and W Racing summer series.

The series runs from mid-May until late September and offers racing for all ages and skill level. A trio of dates – Aug. 8, Aug. 22 and Sept. 19 – remain on the 2015 summer slate with division champions being crowned at season’s end. Gates open at 12 p.m. with racing beginning at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s a small track. It’s very fast and you’re racing very close to each other. There’s not a lot room for error,” Todd said. “The difference between first and fifth could be as little as three-tenths of a second.”

“We usually race until about 11:00 p.m.,” Todd said. “Sometimes you can have as many as 75 heats in one night. It is a big family environment. That’s something you don’t see at any other track. (Owners) Danny and Wayne Cooley really do an incredible job promoting and welcoming that.”

The flat track is almost identical to the one Todd remembers from his childhood. It was here in the late 1970s where he rode his first dirt bike. Not too long after that, it was also here where he won his first trophy.

rainier flat track

Ivy Griffin is very competitive according to her father, Todd.

“I think I still have it somewhere. We have boxes full of trophies now, but I still have that one,” Todd said. “Everything is exactly the same as I remember here. It’s the same place. It’s still great.”

Growing up in Lacey, Todd would frequently make the trip out to Rainier to ride during his youth. He started out in motocross and eventually began adding quads into the mix.

Then a decade or so hiatus from the sport happened.

Quads had a tough go of it in the 1990s, dying down in popularity as many sought to outlaw the all-terrain four-wheelers. Concerns over the safety of the vehicles became more prominent as ATVs were viewed as being more dangerous than motorcycles. Safety measures, including wider spread helmet use among riders, have since been adopted, but at the time Todd just gradually drifted away from racing.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Todd’s interest would once again be piqued when a friend casually asked him to come and ride quads with him.

Todd may have been absent from the track for a lengthy amount of time, but as soon as the invite was extended his passion for racing would be dormant no longer.

rainier flat track

Ivy Griffin is very competitive according to her father, Todd.

“Even before we got out there I knew I was going to be hooked again,” said Todd, who lived in Salem, Ore. at the time. “When I told (Jenifer) I was going to go riding, she just rolled her eyes. She knew.”

Not long after that Todd purchased a bike of his own and soon found himself riding the dunes outside Salem with his wife and oldest daughter Kiana.

“It quickly escalated from there,” Todd said.

Todd started racing quads in Salem in 2010, and by the end of that year daughters Ivy and Mahala, who will be eighth- and seventh-graders, respectively, this fall at Tumwater Middle School, had joined in as well.

“They are night and day different,” Todd said about his two youngest daughters. “Ivy is super competitive and Mahala just wants to be out there riding.”

Recently moving back to Thurston County, Todd once again found himself at his home track, but this time he wasn’t alone as it has since turned into a family affair.

rainier flat track

Jenifer Griffin, pictured riding behind her husband Todd, is the “team mom” for the family at the Rainier Flat Track.

While her husband and daughters compete, Jenifer certainly plays a large role as well in making Team Griffin go.

“She’s the team mom. She’s making sure everyone has everything they need,” Kiana said. “She provides us with a lot of support.”

The weekend routine at the Rainier flat track centers on racing, but has more to do with family and camaraderie than anything else.

“It’s a blast. The girls absolutely love it,” Todd said about the Rainier flat track, which also offers beginner and advance rider classes. “It’s not just about racing. It’s about time with our family and friends. We show up on Friday and are usually the last to leave Sunday night.”

D and W Racing Rainier Flat Track is located at 404 Alaska Street in Rainier.  Find the racing schedule here.  General admission is $8 for adult and $5 for kids with a $25 family pass also available.


Yoram Bauman returns! (Another Carbon Thurston I-732 event)

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 8:18am
Event:  Wed, 08/19/2015 - 7:00pm - 8:15pm

Environmental economist, author, and stand-up comedian Dr. Yoram Bauman - the principal organizer of Carbon Washington's Initiative 732, which would help slow global warming without raising taxes - will be back in Olympia Wednesday, August 19th, for a 7:00 PM event at Temple Beth Hatfiloh, 8th Ave SE. (Please come - and even better, see if you can get somebody who might be interested and isn’t already part of the choir to come with you… It will be very entertaining, as well as educational.)


Yoram is the author (with illustrator Grady Kline) of The Cartoon Introduction to Microeconomics (now translated into 14 languages), The Cartoon Introduction to Macroeconomics (now translated into 10) and The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change (just out!). The YouTube videos from his shows have now had over a million views.

There will be refreshing beverages - and new jokes. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

SCJ Alliance Named One of the 2015 Best Firms to Work for in the Nation

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:21am



Submitted by SCG Alliance

In June 2014, SCJ President Perry Shea cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of SCJ Alliance's new, expanded headquarters in Lacey, WA.

In June 2014, SCJ President Perry Shea cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of SCJ Alliance’s new, expanded headquarters in Lacey, WA.

SCJ Alliance has earned top honors as one of the best firms to work for in the nation. The Zweig Group ranked SCJ as 12th nationally in the Multidiscipline category and 22nd in Civil Engineering.

The Zweig Group produces the rankings for outstanding architecture, engineering, environmental and multidiscipline firms in the US and Canada. The prestigious list is based on workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, and much more, as evaluated in an anonymous survey of firm employees.

SCJ Alliance is a consulting firm specializing in transportation planning and design, civil engineering, landscape architecture and land use/environmental planning. Headquartered in Lacey, WA, SCJ has seen impressive growth since its three-person founding in 2006; it now also has offices in Seattle, Vancouver and Wenatchee, WA, as well as Denver, CO.

“This award is reflective of the incredible team members we have. It’s also an affirmation that we’ve been able to maintain a supportive, collegial atmosphere even with our rapid growth and expansion to multiple locations,” shares Jean Carr, SCJ’s senior vice president and co-founder. Over the last nine years SCJ has enjoyed steady growth and now is a dynamic group of over 60 team members.

The phrase ‘Team Oriented/Collaborative’ was the option most frequently selected by survey participants when asked to identify the firm’s culture. Other top vote getters were ‘Supportive of Professional Goals,’  ‘Focused on Integrity’ and ‘Client Focused.’ “Each of us has an interest in the professional growth and personal well-being of our colleagues. We live by our core values of integrity, stewardship, compassion, freedom and trust,” added Jean.

Creative, real-world solutions emerge from SCJ’s collaborative approach, something enjoyed both by employees and clients. “Our employees take pride in the positive impacts they’re having on the communities we serve,” Jean said. “There’s great satisfaction in helping bring a client’s vision to life.”

To Kill a Mockingbird: As Relevant Now as Ever

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:08am



Submitted by Harlequin Productions

“Theater has always been a mirror to society, a sharp reflection of who we are.”

~Edward Albee

harlequin productions

The audience gives an enthusiastic standing ovation at a recent Harlequin Productions play. 

Live theater has the power to do many things. Theater can entertain us, challenge us, and empower us to make changes. Sometimes theater enriches us with perspectives we’ve never considered before. Other times, it serves as a mirror reflecting to us who we are – no matter how much we might not like what we see.

From August 20-September 24, 2015, Harlequin Productions is staging Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel, at the State Theater in Olympia. Harper Lee’s classic of American literature remains every bit as relevant today as it was when it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960.

Mockingbird became an instant classic due to its bold and honest discussion of issues surrounding racial inequality and prejudice. These are the same conversations we’re having today. The news is swamped with issues from #BlackLivesMatter, to the nation-wide confederate flag debate, to Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Hispanics. The State Theater is situated on 4th Avenue downtown where just a few weeks ago, protesters marched in the hundreds calling for justice following the local police shooting of two black men. Clearly, the issues discussed in Harper Lee’s story are issues we are still struggling with today. And not just nationally, but right here in our community.

Following the matinee performance on Sunday September 6, Harlequin is hosting a forum led by Reiko Callner, whose mother was held in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Callner is a former Commission Chair at the Washington State Human Rights Commission and currently Executive Director of the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct. All those in attendance at the Sunday matinee performance of To Kill a Mockingbird are invited to stay after to take part in this discussion. Anyone with a ticket stub for any other performance during the run may also attend the forum on a first come, first seated basis.

As many great plays do, To Kill a Mockingbird reflects who we are and the issues we’re still struggling with. Let’s look into the mirror, Olympia. We may not like everything we see, but it’s as important now as ever that we talk about it.


Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat dan Singa live in Brussels, Belgium

K Records - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 1:36am
A live extract from an Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat dan Singa performance at Théâtre de la Vie, Brussels, Belgium for the Okraïna Records Night, during “Fête de la Musique” day! Malaïkat Dan Singa, conducted by Arrington de Dionyso, is composed for this event of Tseg (Thomas Giry) on drums, Valentin Portron on electric bass guitar […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Wasp Hunting

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Sun, 08/02/2015 - 10:40pm
Display, Thurston Co Fair Beekeeper booth -- Bald-faced hornetNow is the time of year where the aerial nests of yellow-jackets and bald-faced hornets assume a size of significance, easily exceeding a soccer ball in size.  I respect them, and give the nests wide berth.  Soon, the nests will start producing queens and drones and by September each nest will have started its inevitable decline into chaos.  But for now (early August), each working female is intent on provisioning the young in the ever-growing nest.
This week I put in a stint at the Beekeeper Booth at our county fair,  and read an article by Rusty Burlew / with some of her recent observations of wasps.  So I've been thinking about and looking for them.  But I was not expecting my attentions to lead to the following wasp tale, fascinating if somewhat gross -- and perhaps understandably unphotographed.

Really this tale really started the day before with a malodorous cat gift underfoot -- grumble grumble -- a mishap that put both Janet and me in a state of greater alertness.  Today it was Janet who saw a feline land mine in the middle of our dry lawn.  To those who do not know us, our response was peculiar, for instead of following a disposal plan, we brought out the lawn chairs: two bald-faced hornets were locked in an energetic stinging battle over this apparently valuable resource.

Bald-faced hornet on fennelThis we watched for a while.  I, having hose in hand and perhaps feeling a slight degree of pity for both the battle and for creatures reduced to this as a source of moisture and nutrition, gave both wasps and poo a shot of water.  One wasp circled and returned to the target and lawn -- now fresher and more attractive.  A couple of dozen flies invited themselves to the revitalized bounty. 

With the flies, the battle scene truly became murderous.  The remaining BFH revealed herself to be an adept hunter, adroitly capturing a fly, flying off presumably to her nest, and then returning.  We watched for a while with a perverse sense of appreciation combined with some disgust.  Finally, I removed the hazard.

But the wet lawn, odors, and insect routines remained, and thus Janet and I did not leave either.  The provisioning hunts by this wasp continued — waiting, pouncing, circling, waiting, waiting, darting, pouncing, and in time, success.  With the main nutritive target gone, flies were fewer and more twitchy, and the difficulty of hunting increased.  Our primary knowledge of wasp feeding habits has been learned while seated at the picnic table, when a meal is animated only by its being moved from barbecue to plate to mouth.  This was different.  So we watched the show and speculated, with a running commentary and considerable admiration.

I will still give wide berth to the nest of this wasp, just as I would to a roaming grizzly bear or resting rattlesnake.  But this paper-making hunter has my respect on a whole new level.


Short video by Miklos Bacso of Bald-faced Hornet hunting, similar story -- sorry about the ads.
Photo Credits
Nest photo Paul Henderson for Thurston Co Fair
BFH photo Nancy Partlow
Categories: Local Environment

Celebrate at Garden Courte’s Annual Garden Party

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/02/2015 - 4:00pm



garden courte memory

Residents enjoy the Garden Courte’s namesake gardens.

Few things are more timelessly classic than a summer garden party, especially with the glorious weather we’ve experienced this season. Even writers at the Economist agree that “as soon as someone says ‘let’s eat outdoors,’ the spirits lift.”

Friday, August 7 from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Olympia’s Garden Courte Memory Care Community will hold their 16th annual Garden Party. Dawn Peterson, Garden Courte’s Community Marketing Director, is proud that the event “is totally free to the public. A suggested donation is asked and all proceeds go to help the Thurston County Alzheimer’s Council for educational resources, and Alzheimer’s research.”

Though this party occurs annually, Peterson explains that they choose a different theme every year. This year’s theme is ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ and features the addition of an on-site classic car show organized by Edward Jones financial advisor, Micky DuMont III.

Garden Courte’s famed chef will provide a lavish grilled picnic feast including ribs, chicken, hotdogs, and hamburgers. Local performers Entertainment Explosion bring music, dancing, and laughter to residents, guests, families, and staff. A long-time fan favorite, they are a “non-profit performing troupe, featuring our honored citizens, ages 50 and over.”

Garden Courte is a tremendous resource for caregivers throughout our community. They offer support groups, an educational speaker series, and host clothing and school supply drives benefitting the entire region.

garden courte memory

Green thumbs work hard to get ready for the upcoming Garden Party.

Currently they are collecting coats for kids and non-perishable food for South Sound Meals on Wheels. Check out their monthly newsletter for events, activities, recipes, and updates.

Specializing in Alzheimer’s support, Garden Courte knows that the best care includes not only the patient but their family caregivers and community as a whole. They offer knowledge, resources, and information to anyone needing assistance.

Located at 626 Lilly Road NE, Garden Courte is open 7 days a week for tours or to answer questions. Drop by or give them a call and Peterson and her team will be glad to assist you.

Better yet, RSVP for the Garden Party and experience summer living at its finest.

Join Us for the Final Two Days at the Thurston County Fair

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 8:28am



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair 

There are only two more days to picture yourself at the Thurston County Fair before it closes out another year, but there is still a ton of friends, food and fun to be had on Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3 at the fair.

Saturday, Aug. 1

Saturday’s festivities kick off with the Thurston County Commissioners’ Annual Pancake Breakfast. The Saturday breakfast event is free with admission to the fair, and commissioners serve up the syrup and all of the delicious breakfast treats from 8:30 to 10 a.m. The fun and festivities continue with the Savor South Sound beverage tastings starting at 5 p.m. and the annual Market Animal Sale starting at 6 p.m.

If you’re craving pie over pancakes, be sure to enter Saturday’s Dessert of the Day contest. The annual “Berry Best Pie” contest is sponsored by Spooner Farms, and every fairgoer who brings their “berry best” pie creation gets free admission to the fair on Saturday. Pies using cream, custard, cream cheese, Jello-O, or other ingredients requiring refrigeration will not be accepted. All entries must include the recipe with contestant’s name, address, and phone number. Final judging for the cash prize sponsored by Spooner Farms begins at 4 p.m. in the Thurston Expo Center. Check the 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide for all of the Dessert of the Day contest rules at

Sunday, Aug. 2

Another great year for the Thurston County Fair will come to a close Sunday, August 2, with Holly Starr featured in the annual KACS 90.5 FM Sunday Concert at 4 p.m. on the Main Stage. Sunday also features the 4-H Equine Western Games at 8 a.m., and the Rescue Pet Round Up event where furry friends tall to small will be on parade and available to adopt starting at 10 a.m. at the Hicks Lake Barn.

Sunday also features the final Dessert of the Day contest with cupcakes on the menu. Don’t let their small size fool you—it will be a cupcake cage match where only the scrumptious survive. Bring your cupcake contest entries between noon and 2 p.m. to the Thurston Expo Center and get free admission to the fair on Sunday. All entries must include the recipe with contestant’s name, address, and phone number. Final judging begins at 4 p.m. Check the 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide for all of the Dessert of the Day contest rules at

The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 1, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, August 2. To get the full list of events for Saturday and Sunday, go to  and click on “Daily Events Calendar.”


Driven to Abstraction at B2

South Sound Arts - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 8:04am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 30, 2015
Pacific Palisades” by Vic Wade. Photo courtesy B2 GalleryI’m so tempted to make a play on words from the title of this show, but gallery owners Gary and Deborah Boone beat me to the punch.  Driven to Abstraction showcases the works of three painters whose common thread is abstraction but whose approaches to art are quite diverse. "Composition #2" by Elmore Williams. Courtesy B2 GalleryOne of the three, Elmore Williams, paints in such diverse styles that he’s like four painters in one. He is extremely eclectic, drawing on inspiration from Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and some of the early 20th century American abstract artists like Stuart Davis. His “Composition No. 2” and a similar little painting on the adjacent wall are lovely Davis-like paintings with vibrant colors. Going in totally different directions, there are two gritty little paintings near the reception desk with burlap, ivory and fishnet collage, a pseudo Pollock hung high over that same desk, and a whole bunch of cubist paintings, some with Afro-centric figures and themes, that are nicely designed but too derivative.Picasso stole from everyone and bragged about it, but still, if you’re going to steal from Picasso,the faces and hands should not be so much like those by the master. As for being Afro-centric, he’s just returning the compliment; it was African masks more than anything else that inspired cubism. South Sound gallery-goers are certainly familiar with Becky Knold by now. She’s one of the most prolific and ubiquitous painters working in the area today. And she’s damn good. I didn’t count, but I estimate there are close to 20 Knold paintings in this show. They are all abstract, many inspired by landscape, and they all have rich but nuanced surface textures and color variations. Most of the colors are muted. They are restful but with an underlying intensity like skies with storm clouds just beginning to gather in the distance.  In the central gallery area are three large Knold landscapes. Two versions of “Shimmering Bay” depict water with land in the foreground, sky in the background, all in muted tones of brown and shimmering gold. A third in the series is abstract enough that you can’t tell what is land, sky or water, but has the same feel. All three feature gold horizontal bands in the middle.There is understated expressive energy in Knold’s paintings. The most energetic piece in this show is one called “Unleashed Horizons.” The most highly expressive paintings in the show are two by Vic Wade, “The Caves of Altamira” and “Pacific Palisades.” These are rough, gritty, tumultuous paintings. I particularly like the floating blue shapes and the contrast between relatively flat shapes and dense lines and swathes of color. Like Williams, Wade has included works in quite different styles. A real departure and, in my opinion, one of the best paintings in the show is “Origins of the Universe,” a simple painting with a few roughly drawn oval shapes floating over a dark brown and black background that is locked between two broad bands of green. It is the teetering sense of being almost unbalanced that makes this painting stand out. I heard that future shows with Williams are slated for B2, and I look forward to seeing them because he is a man who knows what to do with paint.Driven to Abstraction, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, through Aug. 15, B2 Fine Art Gallery, 711 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.238.5065]

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

5 Things You Never Knew about Olympia’s Minor League Baseball History

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 6:08am



By Emmett O’Connell

little caesars logoIt is one of those summer-time inquiries that isn’t too uncommon around here. Why doesn’t Olympia (like a handful of other similar sized cities in the Northwest) have a minor league baseball team?

Both Boise and Salem (our sibling Northwest state capitals) have teams in a lower level minor league. And Aberdeen, Bellingham and Yakima have each had their own recent histories with minor league baseball.

So, it would seem that Olympia is a perfect fit for some sort of summer baseball. And, in fact, if you go back far enough, we did have a minor league baseball team here. Between 1903 and 1906 an Olympia baseball team competed in the Southwest Washington League.

So, here are five things you didn’t know about our history with minor league baseball:

olympia history baseball

According to the Spalding Baseball Guide, published in 1903, Olympia finished last.

1.  It was actually a sometimes newspaper reporter, but oftentimes sports promoter that brought baseball to Olympia originally.

John P. Fink rode the wave of interest in minor league baseball in the region, following the success of the Pacific Coast League. While the PCL at the time was a “renegade league,” operating outside the lines of organized baseball, the SW Washington League played inside the rules.

In the four years of its existence, the SW Washington League included entrants from Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Centralia, Chehalis and Montesano, in addition to Olympia.

Probably the most interesting about the league were the names, which included the Aberdeen Pippins, the Olympia Maroons, the Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen (named ironically) and the Montesano Farmers.

2. Athletic Stadium was Olympia’s first real sporting venue, the site of which is now a residential neighborhood.

olympia history baseball

The dark smudge, in the center of this image, is the grandstand of what was Athletic Park.

What is now known as the Carlyon neighborhood (just east and north of the Tumwater Safeway) was not yet a neighborhood in 1903. At the time Fred Carlyon was attempting to make the area a sort of entertainment mecca of the region. He had tried to promote a velodrome (bicycle racing facility) at the area. But, in 1903 baseball promoters adapted his grandstand for their sport’s use.

Known as Electric Field in 1903 (because of its proximity and association with the Olympia Power & Light Company’s streetcar), it was known simply as Athletic Park until 1920. In the 1920s, the field and grandstand had deteriorated to the point that local civic leaders lobbied for a new facility, which turned out to be Stevens Field, just south of Lincoln Options Elementary School.

3.  By the end of the 1906 season, the SW Washington League was no more.

Olympia in particular found that being able to compete was too expensive. In later years when there was a movement afoot to create a new league out of the ashes of the old, Olympia supporters requested that teams only play on weekends. This was an effort to limit the costs of travel and paying players. If players could work during the week, they could earn less money through baseball.

The other cities eventually organized the Washington State League without Olympia, but that league only lasted three summers itself.

4. But, baseball in Olympia did not go away.

olympia history baseball

This 1920 Olympia High School yearbook page gives you a good idea of what Athletic Park looked like.

While actual minor league baseball was no more, Olympia did find a venue that combined baseball that a typical fan would want to go watch and weekend only games. The Timber League was a local semi-pro circuit that the Olympia Senators (and other Olympia teams) competed in through at least the early 1960s.

The Timber League itself is an interesting construction. Described most accurately as a “town ball league,” it was amatuer at its roots and included a combination of community-based and company teams. But, the baseball played was a high enough level to warrant coverage by urban daily newspapers and attract regular fans.

5.  While we may pine for a return of minor league baseball, it will likely never happen.

And, that is because of the rules of baseball. The same system of “organized baseball” that Fink joined in 1903 is also the system that prevents Olympia from ever having a minor league team. The system was established in the early 1900s to normalize the signing of players, preventing rebel leagues from stealing players. But, now these rules  of organized baseball set out how the entire baseball system operates, from the majors down to the minors.

One of the regulations governs where teams can locate. Generally, the rules go like this: Each minor league team has a home territory. In our case, the closest team is the Tacoma Rainiers, whose home territory is Pierce County. On top of that home territory, each team is given a 15 mile buffer zone.

It is that buffer zone that complicates things, because within 15 miles of Pierce County is most of urban Thurston County, where one would logically locate a minor league baseball team.


PETS “Sewing Machine”

K Records - Sat, 08/01/2015 - 1:31am
“Sewing Machine” is from the first PETS vinyl record album, Personal Electronic Transactor Sounds. It features their signature Tri-Cities (Washington) sound, a PETS sound that cannot be denied. Groove on.   View an earlier PETS video for “Can We Share”:   The PETS album Personal Electronic Transactor Sounds (Funkytonk Records) is available now from the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Ronelle Funk Featured on Popular “Treehouse Masters” TV Show

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:00pm



By Barb Lally

treehouse masters

Local Allstate Insurance agent, Ronelle Funk poses with Animal Planet’s Treehouse Master Pete Nelson on the day of filming.

Ronelle Funk, president of Ronelle Funk Insurance, is somewhat of a national celebrity.

Distant relatives in Minnesota recently called her to tell her they had seen her on television. Her Facebook friends have left comments that they saw her also and people on the street or in a local store often stop Ronelle because they recognize her.

If you are a fan of Treehouse Masters, a program on the Animal Planet and Discovery Channels, you might also have seen Ronelle.

After being voted #1 in customer service in a five-state region by Allstate Insurance,

Ronelle was selected to contribute her expertise in one-minute spots during several episodes of the popular show.

She worked directly with renowned designer, builder and star of Treehouse Masters, Pete Nelson who designs treehouses ranging from multi-bedroom homes with elaborate kitchens and bathrooms, to simpler, one-room hideaways. His team has also built unique and almost fantasy-like sanctuaries in the trees that include a spa retreat, a brewery, a honeymoon suite and an Irish-themed cottage.

A local celebrity

Ronelle’s appearances on the show can still be seen in television re-runs or streaming on-demand.

“I have people stop me and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I have seen you on Treehouse Masters!’” Ronelle relates with excitement. “It is a really popular show and it has been a great experience.”

treehouse masters

Television monitors show the action while Ronelle Funk is on location at Treehouse Point. This is the space where they filmed the one-minute spots on a cold day in February.

That experience included filming the short spots at TreeHouse Point, a bed and breakfast in Fall City, owned by Nelson and his wife Judy.

“We filmed at Treehouse Point for an entire day and had a great time,” says Ronelle. “It was in February on Valentine’s Day and it was extremely cold. We couldn’t bundle up while on camera, so between takes, they would bring us coffee or hot chocolate.”

But it wasn’t only hot drinks that made the day warm and enjoyable.

“Pete was hilarious,” Ronelle continues. “He is such a character and helped us relax. He is clearly a down-to-earth guy. When I asked him if he was excited about getting picked up for the next season, his response was ‘Not really, I just want to build treehouses. I am just doing this so I can keep building treehouses.’ While we were there, he and his wife made a Valentine’s Day dinner for the whole crew at their lodge.”

Clips of tips to protect your home

treehouse masters

Ronelle Funk was chosen by Allstate Insurance to be featured on Treehouse Masters because of her agency’s superior record of customer service.

Ronelle’s role as an experienced Allstate Insurance agent in each short scene they filmed was to provide tips for homeowners on how to protect their homes from damage, especially here in the Northwest.

“The first clip we filmed was about the importance of trimming trees around the property, removing branches that might be hanging over structures, houses, cars or garages,” relates Ronelle. “When we had that big ice storm in 2012 branches came off trees like daggers and were slicing into people’s homes and garages like knives. It was very scary. We also discussed cleaning up debris to prevent fire hazards and making sure that there are no exposed roots on walkways where people could trip.”

In the second clip, Pete and Ronelle are up on ladders discussing how to protect the roof of the main lodge at Treehouse Point.

“Pete’s roof was so dirty covered with tree limbs and moss that the producers had to climb on the roof and clean it before we filmed the shot,” Ronelle says. “He made several jokes about his roof and then we got serious and talked about keeping moss off the roof and that people should not pressure wash their roof because it destroys the shingles. They can use zinc strips or detergent to kill the moss or just scrape it off. It is also important to keep the gutters clean. We have big problems with them here with all the leaves and the rain.”

treehouse masters

Ronelle Funk and Pete Nelson discuss tips to protect the roof of his lodge.

In the final clip, Ronelle answered Pete’s question about protecting windows. She encouraged him to remove debris that could fly up in a wind storm and harm the windows. She also recommended impact-rated windows that prevent shattering from baseballs or burglars.

Was it worth it? Definitely, says Ronelle. Despite the cold and only wearing a windbreaker while filming, Ronelle says she had fun throughout the day.

“I still have people stopping me in the grocery store to say they saw me on Treehouse Masters and customers come into the office saying they saw me. It has solidified for them that I am someone they can trust. They are so proud that I am their agent. It also made my dad, Bill Funk, who had been an Allstate agent for 26 years, very proud.”

Ronelle’s agency was voted number one in customer service in a five-state region by Allstate customers. Locally, she was voted the Best Insurance Agency in the Nisqually Valley in 2010 and the 2014 Business of the Year by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce.

Read more about Ronelle Funk Insurance or call (360) 491-3376 for the Lacey office and (360) 458-6061 for her office in Yelm.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 7:02am



August is almost here and I’m left thinking how this summer truly embodies the phrase “Time flies when you are having fun!” Between seemingly endless sunny days and a full calendar of activities and trips, our family has been taking summer at high speed.

However, August looks a bit slower and we are looking forward to more days at local beaches, taking in a few shows, seeking out the best ice cream cone we can find and simply enjoying our home in Thurston County.  If you are looking to enjoy the place where you live, or are visiting the area this summer, you can count on the Friday morning Weekend Event Calendar to be your guide to what’s happening throughout the county.  Visit our full events calendar to see everything that’s going on.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our events calendar.


Mareko Maumasi – Local Bladesmith Hosts Demo and Viewing Party for his Episode on History Channel’s “Forged in Fire”

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 6:29am



By Nikki McCoy

pints logoThere’s an old auto repair shop in Tumwater, just behind Pints Barn. The former garage is filled with out-of-order arcade games, beer signs, and a full forge shop, where Mareko Maumasi, owner of Maumasi Fire Arts, builds masterpieces.

When I arrive for our interview, Mareko is watching a hunk of steel glow in a 2,200 degree kiln. He then manipulates the metal with the blows of a 5-pound hammer. Then back in the kiln it goes.

This is just a small piece of the intensive process of knifemaking. Designing, hammering, hydraulic pressing, grinding and forging are just a few more. It’s hard work, but Mareko has the eye, and the passion.

maumasi fine arts

Mareko Maumasi is an Olympia native. He looks forward to growing his business, Maumasi Fire Arts, and starting a family with his wife, Sarah. “Learning this trade has changed my life and has helped me to discover so much about myself,” he says. “I want to create that opportunity for others. It’s a chance to draw more attention and interest to this city as well as enrich the culture of creativity and art here. It’s my opportunity to try and give back.”

“It’s hard to nail down exactly what my favorite part is,” says Mareko. “I love experiencing the whole process from conceptualizing to having a finished real world product in your hand that’s ready to be used.”

Mareko specializes in culinary knifes, using an ergonomic blend of form and function. Inspired by water, his Damascus techniques (alternating layers of steel and iron, folding and twisting the metal during the forging process) are intricate and detailed, complimented by shape and style of wooden handles.

The 30-year-old Olympia High School graduate has worked intensively with professionals on both coasts, and in 2014 (his first year of competition) Mareko brought home four awards, including People’s Choice and Best Chef’s at the Seattle International Knife Show.

It’s this experience and skill that caught the attention of History Channel producers, and Mareko was invited to compete in the network’s new show, “Forged in Fire.”

The premise of the show is four world-class bladesmiths, with a variety of skill and specialty, compete in time-based challenges to create iconic edged weapons from history. On a recent episode, the two finalists had five days at their home forge to recreate a Rapier, one of the most revered pieces of weaponry during the Elizabethan era.

Smaller competitions are also held, such as designing and forging a blade of choice in three hours, using only the materials and equipment on set.

Whether a competitor is ready or not, the blades are then tested and assessed by a panel of expert judges, including a weapons historian, a Mastersmith with more than 20 years under him, and a hand-to-hand combat specialist. Testing techniques include slicing racks of meat to test for sharpness, or stabbing into steel car doors or ballistics dummies for strength and depth. Based on blade performance, competitors are eliminated. The last man to make the “cut” will win $10,000.

Mareko was flown to Brooklyn, New York for filming. And while he says the subway system was mildly intimidating, Mareko was grateful for the chance to travel, learn and meet new people, specifically the other craftsmen.

“We all got along really well and kind of banded together,” he says. “We all keep in contact with each other.”

Mareko is pleased the show is gaining popularity and appreciates the growing awareness around knifemaking.

maumasi fine arts

Here, an example of Mareko’s craftsmanship, a 225mm Topography Damascus Gyuto with integral bolster and Maumasi western handle sculpted from spalted maple burl. Mareko picked up Best Chef’s and People’s Choice awards at the 2014 Seattle International Knife Show, and his blades continue to garner attention.

In the U.S., he says, most cutleries come from factories in Asia and Europe.

“The amount of people that are doing this in the country is just a tiny speck of the population,” states Mareko. “There are only a total of about 300 certified Journeyman Smiths and Master Smiths in the world.”

It took a move to Colorado, where Mareko was pursuing culinary arts, to see that he wanted to get back into bladesmithing, and become part of that unique population.

“I had gone away from it and thought I was going to get into food,” he explains, “but while I was there, I found myself continually thinking about knives – how to improve on the ones I was using, design ideas, as well as Damascus patterns – thinking of patterns I didn’t see anywhere and wanting to create them. I have notebooks full of drawings – I call them my recipe books.”

It wasn’t long before Mareko moved back to Olympia. With his knowledge of culinary knifes, and his passion for bladesmithing growing, it was a natural progression for Mareko to open his own shop.

maumasi fine arts

Mareko Maumasi feels the heat on History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” a reality competition that puts bladesmiths to the test. Watch Mareko in action in his shop Monday night, followed by a viewing party of his episode at Pints Barn. Those watching from home will want to tune in at 10:00 p.m.

Now, the 5-year plan is to expand into a space where he can start teaching and demonstrating, as well as allowing other fire-workers access to their arts, like welding, metal sculpture, ceramics, glass and blacksmithing.

“Olympia is all about nostalgia for me. It has such an incredibly rich history that you can walk around and still see today,” says Mareko. “This is where I grew up, where I first fell in love, where I first learned how to sail, where I discovered my passion for food and later my passion for knifemaking. This is my home and where my community of friends and family live. I don’t know if it’s the water, or what, but it certainly has my heart.”

“Learning this trade has changed my life and has helped me to discover so much about myself,” he elaborates. “I want to create that opportunity for others. It’s a chance to draw more attention and interest to this city as well as enrich the culture of creativity and art here. It’s my opportunity to try and give back.”

While Mareko can’t disclose the outcome or process of his episode, his does invite the public to watch a demonstration of his bladesmithing, see cutlery prototypes, and ask questions at a pre-viewing party in his shop Monday, August 3 at 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. Following the demonstration will be the premiere of his episode at Pints Barn at 10:00 p.m.

The work is so visually driven, says Mareko, that he invites you to follow him on Instagram, @maumasifirearts, where you can see the wonders of this worldly craft. Or check out Maumasi Fire Arts on Facebook and Twitter.


Dog Bowl Tests Thurston County 4-H Kids’ Knowledge

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/31/2015 - 6:00am



By Madeleine Elliott

Hometown logoHow many teeth does a dog have? (42)

What AKC breed group is the poodle in? (Non-sporting)

What should you feed a new puppy when you first get it? (Whatever the previous owners fed it)

These are just 3 of the several thousand questions studied by Thurston County 4-H kids who show their dogs. The 4-H students study for an event called Dog Bowl, a knowledge bowl competition all about dogs.

thurston county fair

Members of the Kibbles and Bits club and the Diamonds in the Ruff club face off during a round of Dog Bowl at the Thurston County Fair. Photo courtesy: J. Sags Photography.

When people think of 4-H, they usually think of cows and pigs. But 4-H also engages kids in the study and care of dogs, cats, horses, and a variety of other animals. The overall goal is for participants to learn as much as possible about their chosen subject animal. Kids work year round preparing to show their animal at 4-H sponsored events that usually culminate with five days at the Thurston County Fair.

“Dog Bowl is the 4-H version of knowledge bowl,” says Erin Everson, who has been a member of the Steamboat Island Kibbles and Bits 4-H club for nine years. There are dog bowl competitions for 4-H club members at the county and state levels, including the Thurston County Fair. The Fair, which runs through August 2, has the Dog Bowl event scheduled for Saturday, August 1.

Dog bowl has three levels of difficulty, matching the age categories in 4-H. Juniors are fifth graders and below, intermediates are middle school students, and seniors are high school students. The difficulty of questions increases as kids get older. Juniors are typically asked questions about breed groups, grooming, and basic dog care, while seniors face tougher questions about dog anatomy and health. “They throw everything at [seniors],” Erin says.

thurston county fair

Members of Diamonds in the Ruff 4-H club discussing an answer during a Dog Bowl competition at the Thurston County Fair. Photo courtesy: J. Sags Photography.

It sounds serious, but for many 4-H club members it is a relief, a break from the intensity of the meticulous grooming, the stress of dog showing competitions, and the all-consuming busyness of the fair. “I like that it’s a fun way to learn about your animal—to learn about dogs, specifically,” says Emily Hadley, who has been involved in 4-H for nine years, five of them with Steamboat Island Kibbles and Bits. Erin emphasized the same idea. “It’s just fun,” she says. “Compared to [dog showing], which is more serious and time consuming, Dog Bowl is a casual competition.”

It is also a great way to socialize with other 4-H members, within each club and between clubs. The Kibbles and Bits club hosts dinner and Dog Bowl meetings once a month. “We’re split into two teams. Our leader [Jennifer Sagerser] reads off questions—for example ‘What is a dual champion’—and we answer,” Emily says. Most 4-H clubs have similar types of meetings. The meetings are for practice, but they also serve as an excuse to get everyone together and have fun.

And there are county wide Dog Bowl practices too, which serve as a reminder that the Thurston County Dog Project (the 4-H label for all of the dog clubs collectively) is really a team, despite the different clubs that exist within it. “Most of 4-H is very individual.  In Dog Bowl there’s more of a sense of team,” Emily explains.

thurston county fair

Members of Steamboat Island Kibbles and Bits 4-H club get ready for a round of the dog bowl competition at the Thurston County Fair. Photo courtesy: J. Sags Photography.

County level teams can have members all from one club or a mix of different clubs. “You can be on a team with anybody you want to,” Erin says, although each team must compete at the level of the oldest member. Dog Bowl is one of the best ways to get to know members of other clubs, since there is not much talking in the ring while showing dogs. And since everyone has to learn the same questions they often choose to study together before the competition. “Last year we had, like, seven seniors all in the tent [behind the ring] quizzing each other,” Erin recalls.

Participants learn a lot when they compete in Dog Bowl. Club members often find use for the knowledge outside of 4-H, especially what they learn about dog care and health. “It’s a lot of information that’s good to know,” Emily says. And for some participants it sparks a greater interest in veterinary science.

Most of the questions are general knowledge about dogs or 4-H, but sometimes they can be a little silly. For example, how many sheets of plywood does it take to build a dog house? According to the Dog Bowl question packet, two and a half. “They actually asked that at fair,” Erin says. “Our team members just slammed down the buzzers.”

Questions like the plywood question underscore the idea that Dog Bowl is really about having fun. The world of dog showing can be busy and stressful. Especially at the fair, which for 4-H club members is comprised of five long days of showing, waiting, and taking care of nervous dogs. But it is worth it for the experience. “For me, mainly what I like about 4-H is being able to hang out and bond with kids my age,” Erin says. “4-H really became like a second family to me.” Dog Bowl is an important part of the greater 4-H experience – it is part of something that brings people together.

And where else could a kid find out what a nictitating membrane is?

The Greene Realty Group Welcomes Lauren Maguire

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 3:40pm



Submitted by Greene Realty Group

The Greene Realty Group welcomes Laren Maguire to their Olympia based team.

The Greene Realty Group welcomes Laren Maguire to their Olympia based team.

Lauren Maguire was born in Jacksonville, Florida but raised in Olympia, Washington. After Graduating from Olympia High School she went right into running a small business. With her 10 plus years of client services she decided to pursue her dream in real estate.

Lauren comes from a family of well known, and local construction companies, Maguire Construction and Seibold Construction. She loves the town and people  of Olympia and all of its outdoor activities that is has to offer. She looks forward to meeting her future clients and help them, or their families dreams come true.

Specialties: New Construction, Relocation, Residential

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