Recent local blog posts

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 6:59am



I count the summer weekends based on the school schedule.  Even though we’re likely to have gorgeous weather after September 3, it doesn’t feel like summer anymore once the kids are back in school.  This means that we’re down to four summer weekends.  Spend it wisely, my friends.  Choose from our section detailing family-friendly activities or pick an event from the list below.  Cheers!

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, click here.


Helsing Junction Sleep Over: Woolen Warrior, Naomi Punk

K Records - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 1:08am
The Helsing Junction Sleep Over (three days of music, films, orchard hopping, river jumping, dance frenzying and local food enjoying) is coming up fast, August 15-17, 2014. Here are profiles of two of the musical acts participating, Woolen Warrior and Naomi Punk. Woolen Warrior is the folkistic pop-powered thoughtful glee-filled hum and hawing of Dub […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

While You Were Out

OlyEats - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 8:02pm
I’ve been away from this blog for quite a while. I have reasons, excuses, justifications, rationalizations, apologies, extenuating circumstances and just about any other synonym you can think of, but none of them are particularly interesting. I think a little food for thought might be better. Besides, we’ve all dropped out of life at some […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Violent Vickie // Garlicman & Chikn // Vibrissae // Nightspac3

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 5:00pm

Thursday, August 7th, 8pm. More info soon!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thurston Solar Tour 2014

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 4:39pm
Event:  Sat, 09/13/2014 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

From today's inbox. (Go to the event Facebook page for details and to sign up.): logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

The Villages at South Hill: Charming Cottages are a Solid Investment

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 2:19pm



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

Villages @ South Hill Legacy Collection - Rob RiceThe homes in the Rob Rice Community of Villages at South Hill in Puyallup are attracting buyers who want a home with uncompromising quality and long-term investment value.

Unique to this community is its Legacy series or “cottage homes.” With low maintenance living and a reasonable price, these homes have become a popular choice for first-time homebuyers, military families, retired couples and professionals like nurses and teachers.

These charming cottage homes include bungalow, craftsman and prairie style homes that are nested around a park-like green space creating community and convenience. The community lawns are fully maintained and the homes have welcoming and spacious front porches suitable for summer lounging.

An Opportunity to Own your Own Home

Whether looking to retire in the much sought-after area of South Hill or seeking to exchange rent payments for mortgage payments, homebuyers find these quality-built cottage homes a solid investment for their hard-earned money.

“They are perfect for people who have been renting a townhome or a condo,” says Heather Keating the sales manager at the new home community. “For the same monthly payment or even less they get into their own home and have a personal investment that builds equity up over time. There are also the tax advantages to homeownership that can save homeowners thousands of dollars every year.”

Heather has had several military families decide to buy a Legacy home because of their low maintenance living.

“Military families can move in for four years and then rent their home when they are transferred without having to worry about lawn upkeep,” says Heather. “The homeowners’ association takes care of it. If a homeowner is deployed, there are no concerns about lawn maintenance.”

Heather has also seen many retired couples, often previous Rob Rice Homes buyers, who are drawn to the quality and convenience of the Villages.

“One retired couple who lived here moved to Montana. When they returned to Washington they bought a rambler in a senior community but eventually sold it and moved back to the Villages at South Hill!”

Upscale Features all in the Price of the HomeRob Rice Homes South HIll Legacy

Whether buying a home from the Heritage series, the community’s larger homes on oversized lots or a cottage home from the Legacy series, homebuyers who pick their lot and purchase their home in a pre-sale have a choice of features that are considered upgrades by most builders.

There are no extra costs for the choices in fashionable flooring and surfaces in the homes at the Villages—rich cabinetry finishes, handsome hardwood floors, shiny granite countertops, designer backsplash tile and stylish lighting—to make a home unique to a each buyer’s taste.

There are more than 6 acres of open space to enjoy in this coveted community. It even has an off-leash community dog park and a fun picnic and play area. There are sidewalks for evening strolls that thread throughout the neighborhood.

So much Convenience in One Lovely Spot

VSH dog park - Rob RiceMinutes from shopping, the highway, entertainment, city parks and cultural attractions, the location of the Villages at South Hill is ideal.

It is a quick walk to Sunrise Elementary  and close to a brand new Group Health complex. The South Hill mall is only a mile and a half away and nearby downtown Puyallup offers its own adventure and ease in shopping.

Close by is a YMCA, a nearby Lowes, and Pierce College. It is a short trip to Bradley Lake where there are acres of walking trails, a picnic area, ball fields and a beautiful lake.

The Villages at South Hill is minutes from downtown Puyallup and the Sounder train. There is easy entrance onto Highway 512 and quick access to I-5. Even Seattle buyers are seeing the unparalleled value and moving to the convenience of a home in the Villages of South Hill.

Find what you are Looking For

A new homebuyer, an employee of Microsoft in Redmond, explained why he and his wife are moving to this Rob Rice Community in Puyallup.

“It is so convenient with easy access onto the highway and we can get twice the home here for our money.”

His wife, who had done her homework asking friends and Realtors about the quality of Rob Rice Homes, is convinced of their new home investment.

“We have been renting and looking for a home for a year and a half and made the decision to buy a home in the Villages,” she explained. “I was told that for quality and price you cannot beat a Rob Rice home. We are so glad he came to Puyallup. We have finally found what we have been looking for. Every small detail in the home is thought through. You can see it in the floor plans. It is not just building to make money. It is heart.”


Nancy J. LaPointe’s Top 7 Financial Tips

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 1:43pm



Submitted by Nancy J. LaPointe, MBA, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CASL® for Navigate Financial

I was asked at a social wine event, “What are the most important tips you have learned that people typically don’t know, but need to know?”   That is a loaded question and very subjective.  Basically, you are asking me Nancywhat I think people need to know and giving me permission to get on my high horse.  That sounds like fun!

1)      Real Estate agents and Mortgage Brokers do not pay your mortgage, you do.  Don’t buy beyond your capacity to live your day to day life well, or in a manner that compromises your future.

2)      Do not nickel and dime your life away.  Saving and acting to achieve meaningful goals is more valuable then instant gratification.

3)      If you are still here, it’s not the end.  You can, with focus and discipline, change the track you are on.

4)      Compound interest is to be cherished and sought.  Paying interest is to be avoided.

5)      The market will always be in flux and will be volatile and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It can be beneficial when you’re in the accumulation phase, for you are buying and not selling.

6)      Life insurance is not an investment.  It is a tool to fulfill your commitment and financial responsibilities to those you love when you’re no longer here to do the work yourself.

7)      You do not always have control of your life, so set up Plan B for the “just in case”.  Disability insurance and long term care insurance help take care of you when you can no longer provide for yourself and your loved ones or you need assistance.  Accidents and illnesses happen.  You are not immune.  Your choice is to provide yourself with a parachute or not.  You don’t choose if the airplane has an issue.


Nancy LaPointe is a financial advisor located at Navigate Financial, 4520 Intelco Loop SE, Suite 1D, Lacey WA 98503. She offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. She can be reached at 360-628-8175. This communication is strictly intended for individual residing in the states of AZ, CA, GA, IA, MT, NM, OH, OR, WA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.


FS: Bogen Parts, Tubes, PA

K Records - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 12:11pm
Hello. We’re selling some Bogen parts, chassis, and one working PA unit. Buyer pays shipping, local pickup is an option if you live in Western Washington. If interested  or if you have any questions please email Tubes: x3 Bogen (by Mullard) EF86, $30/each Tested and working. No boxes   x1 Sylvania 8417 x1, $25 […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

WSECU Uses Plastic Bag Ban as Springboard for Donation

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 8:22am


Submitted by WSECU

Plastic Bag BanWSECU counts Olympia, Wash. and the surrounding Thurston County area as its home “neighborhood” – the location of the credit union’s corporate headquarters and greatest number of branches. When most of the county implemented a retail plastic bag ban July 1, WSECU used the change as a chance to get branded reusable bags into their members’ hands and donate to a local non-profit.

Each local branch put out 100 of the WSECU shopping bags on a self-service table. The credit union asked members for a $1 donation per bag and then promised to match the money raised and donate it to Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB), an Olympia non-profit organization working on food sustainability issues with a particular emphasis on youth involvement.

“It just hit me that we should capitalize on this ordinance change and in one fell swoop we could help members, market the credit union and support a great local partner,” said Ann Flannigan, WSECU’s Vice President of Public Relations.  “We quickly distributed the bags to the branches and they just as quickly flew off the table.”

The result? A $1,506.34 donation to GRuB.

WSECU is increasingly implementing opportunities to give back to the community through its relationships with business partners. Asking the credit union’s members to participate in a similar way was new. Flannigan said she expects WSECU will continue to build on the success of this pilot effort.

“Our members are community-minded,” Flannigan added. “They loved getting the bag and didn’t hesitate to pitch in to donate to GRuB. We are already thinking of what the next giveaway-donation promotion will be. It’s a powerful testimony of how by banking together we can do more together.”

She added that seeing the WSECU name on bags around town at local grocery stores is the “icing on the cake.”

Founded by seven state employees in 1957, WSECU has grown to 200,000 members, 20 branches and more than $2 billion in assets. With an unmatched dedication to members’ success, membership is now open to all residents of the state of Washington.


Harlequin Productions Presents Middletown, a Comedy by Will Eno

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 8:12am



Submitted by Harlequin Productions

Harlequin Productions proudly presents Middletown, a profound comedy by Will Eno. Directed by Aaron Lamb (last season’s acclaimed Five Women Wearing the Same Dress), this startling new comedy shines its spotlight on the inhabitants of a tiny town whose insignificant and bumbling lives somehow manage to reflect and remind us of the vast wonder of life and the universe we all live in. Inspired by Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town, it will challenge your convictions about birth, death, and everything in between.

“We talk about the miracle of birth and the mystery of death. But, by definition, all of our lives take place in the middle of those two sort of unknowable events, in this great and often unexamined middle. So I wanted to write a play that put some thoughts and feelings in the air… that alluded to deep and unknown forces. But then really just have people going to the store and fixing the sink and going through the normal things of looking for love and getting up in the morning. Because that’s how we live.” – Will Eno, playwright

WHO:        Harlequin Productions

WHAT:      Middletown by Will Eno

WHEN:      August 21st-September 13th; Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM

WHERE:    The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501

PRICE:      General: $31, Senior/Military: $28, Student/Youth: $20

Rush tickets available at Box Office ½ hour before curtain

DEALS:     Pay What You Can Night: August 27th, Ladies’ Night Out: August 29th, Pride Night: September 5th

TICKETS:  Call for tickets and info: 360/786-0151 or visit

RATING:   BYW – Bring your wits, and keep them about you! Contains strong language.

Harlequin Productions is a professional not-for-profit theater company in Olympia, WA, dedicated to the creation of stimulating and enriching theatrical experiences by producing an eclectic season of new works, “buried treasures,” and unconventional treatments of classics. Through a dynamic selection of extraordinary material, we explore the human adventure in search of theatrical magic that stretches the mind, nourishes the soul, and inspires human empathy.


Quarter-Point Fog

Maria Mudd Ruth - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 7:11am
Quarter-point clouds...the harbinger of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.       (Photo by MM Ruth)

Quarter-point clouds...the harbinger of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.       (Photo by MM Ruth)

Standing in the middle of an early August day, I know fog season is just around the corner. My yard is at its warmest, ripest, driest, and deciduously greenest. Plants are not growing or blooming, nor are the fading or drooping. They are just there in the dirt waiting. Songbirds are few, the dawn chorus is silent, nestlings have fledged. There is an eerie stillness in which a few languid bees buzz. Something in that stillness that tells me the earth is exhausted and can no longer hold onto summer. The fogs are rolling in from the Pacific over the Black Hills. Our warm landscape, clear skies, and cool nights create the possibility of patchy fog in our fields and valleys and over our lakes.

    This is the feeling of the quarter point, cross quarter, or the seasonal cusp.

    There are four quarter points a year. Today, August 7, is the halfway between the summer solstice (June 21) and the autumn equinox (September 22). When I mention this to friends, they say they have noticed something, too—something in the air or in the quality of light—but they didn’t know it had name.

   We don't celebrate these quarter points, but ancient cultures did as these were important times to plant, to harvest, to move, to stay, to respond to the living planet. Each quarter point has a Gaelic-Celtic name:  February 2 is Imbolc, May 5 is Beltane, August 7 is Lughnasa, and November 11 is Samain.

You may have heard of these names if you are familiar with things Celtic, pagan, or the novels of Mary Renault. I had only heard of Lughnasa (spelled in various ways, but all pronounced Loon-na-sah) because of the 1998 movie Dancing at the Lughnasa, starring Meryl Streep and Michael Gambon. The movie, based on a 1990 play, is set in 1936 in County Donegal, Ireland, during a summer of personal "turning points" for five sisters.

  Lughnasa marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. (Though our calendars mark September 21 or 22 as the first day of autumn, that day of equal day and night really marks the peak of autumn and the beginning of winter. (In the same odd way, when we celebrate our birthday we say we are turning 39 or we are 39. In fact, we have completed our 39th year and are beginning our 40th).

    Every morning now is a noticeably darker, every night a little cooler, and there is nothing the earth can do about it. Resigned, the earth simply lets go and releases its summer into the autumn air. But not all at once. Slowly, and in a long series of sighs and exhalations.

On still, cool nights you can hear the tired earth sighing. In the morning, you can see the fog it has exhaled. 

Welcome Autumn!

Categories: Local Environment

My less than meaningful Top Two primary (Imagining a better WA10 candidate)

Olympia Time - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 5:57am
On my primary ballot, there was only one race that really mattered. Even technically mattered. I live in the central portion of the county, so neither PUD race that actually had a primary was on my ballot. I also don't live in Lacey, so a very important fire levy was also not on my ballot.

The only race that had more than two candidates was the congressional race, incumbent Denny Heck versus a Republican (Pierce County councilmember) and two independents.

I was going to write this post to criticize those two independents, but I really only think one actually deserves criticism. Sam Wright is a typical crank sort of candidate. Not putting much of any effort into campaigning, shooting for a high profile position with no real effort behind his campaign. Enough about him.

On the other hand, Jennifer Ferguson is fascinating. She only ended up getting just about 5 percent of the vote, but I hope this doesn't end up being her last race. Like Sue Gunn two years ago, I think Ferguson should aim lower next time, and get her foot in elected office somewhere else.

In some pretty interesting ways, Ferguson really does represent the WA10. I wrote awhile back how WA10 really is a military base community district, and in a lot of ways she speaks to that community.

From her website:

Do you want someone to serve you that values people and quality of life?  Would you want someone to represent you that has a community track record of service and commitment such as volunteering 2500 hours in less than 13 months at Madigan with soldiers in acute distress and other mental health disorders to include PTSD?  Would you like someone to serve you and represent you that believes in standing up for what is right and has shown it over and again such as going to congress when the PTSD program at Madigan was shut down causing a congressional investigation? Would you want someone to serve and represent you on a large scale that has served and represented their entire life as a volunteer in the military community and in University Place PTA, President of UP Soccer Association, University Place Sheriffs Academy, and the list goes on?

In her work as a mental health provider, Gigi has worked with youth on drugs, youth in gangs, women as domestic violence victims, and families who have lost their children to the state for many reasons. Jennifer is a hard worker and committed to making this a better place than she found it.  Jennifer is committed to her faith which causes her to touch hearts, minds and lives where she goes.  Don't get me wrong, I really like Denny Heck. I voted for him this week and I'll vote again for him in November. He does a great job on JBLM and other WA10 issues and is a polished and intelligent politician.

But, there is something about Ferguson that strikes me as very authentically WA10. We're a very new congressional district, so our political identity is still being developed. But, she seems to speak much more clearly to the concerns of base communities.

So, not this time around, but I think she should take a crack at another local office. Like, who is taking on Doug Richardson next year?

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 008

K Records - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 1:45am
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where we store all the cultural artifacts which are uniquely K. Host Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers) interviews Yonatan Gat and his trio of improvisational power and light. They visited Olympia, Washington to play a show at Northern and then stopped by the Dub Narcotic Studio to record an interview […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment


OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 5:20pm
Event:  Thu, 08/21/2014 (All day)

This startling new comedy shines its spotlight on the inhabitants of a tiny town whose insignificant and bumbling lives somehow manage to reflect and remind us of the vast wonder of life and the universe we all live in. Inspired by Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town, it will challenge your convictions about birth, death, and everything in between. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

More Than 36,000 Attended 2014 Thurston County Fair

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:03am



Submitted by Thurston County Fair

Thurston County Fair 2014 (82)The Thurston County Fair was once again a sizzling summer hit in its 143rd year with a total of 36,700 people enjoying fun for the whole herd between July 30 and August 3. That’s up from 33,500 attendees in 2013 and 28,800 in 2012—nearly 8,000 more attendees in just two years.

The 2014 fair showcased all of the traditional fair favorites—animals, agricultural exhibits, sweet treats and savory snacks. The Live and Local Concert Series and the Savor South Sound beverage tasting events also were back for their second year with some new vendors and some new performers. And new to the fair this year was the Rescue Pet Round Up event, bringing fresh faces to a community event that reaches back to 1871.

“So many staff and volunteers work tirelessly all year long to make the fair a success. We are grateful to everyone who helped make this year’s fair successful and so much fun,” said Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela. “I was particularly pleased with the Savor South Sound event this year. It was great to see so many of our local brewers, vintners and cider-makers and taste what they have to offer. It’s a great showcase for our local agriculture.”

“County fairs like this are a lot of fun, but they also play a critical role in promoting local economic development and local agriculture,” said Commission Vice Chair Sandra Romero. “Many thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s event special, and a special thank you to the 400-plus of the youth who worked so hard on the projects and displays that made the fair fun and educational.”

“I always enjoy visiting the fair, and particularly the opportunity to meet so many fair volunteers at the Commissioners’ annual pancake breakfast. It’s our way of thanking them for all of their hard work to make the fair so much fun for the community,” said Commissioner Cathy Wolfe. “I want to thank all of the sponsors who recognize the value of this event and who helped make this another great community celebration.”

Thurston County Fair 2014 (33)The 36,700 fairgoers brought in more than $200,000 in revenue for the fair, up about $5,000 compared to 2013 fair week revenue based on early estimates. The 2014 estimated revenue also beats the 2012 total of $178,000 by $23,000.

Since 2009, the Thurston County Fair has been a self-funding program of Thurston County government, with all of its operations paid for by the revenue from fair week, along with other activities and events throughout the year, such as RV and boat storage, the annual Secondhand Safari community garage sale in May, and the Holiday Bazaar event in November.

The biggest increase in attendance compared to 2013 was on Friday, August 1. A drizzly, wet day in 2013 kept attendance at about 5,000, but this year’s dry weather and sunny skies attracted more than 6,300 fairgoers on Friday.

2014 Thurston County Fair Attendance:

  • Wed, July 30 attendance – 9,450 …….. (9,300 in 2013 – 8,400 in 2012)
  • Thu, July 31 attendance – 7,200 …….. (6,500 in 2013 – 6,100 in 2012)
  • Fri, Aug. 1 attendance – 6,300 …….. (5,000 in 2013 – 5,100 in 2012)
  • Sat, Aug. 2 attendance – 7,850 …….. (6,800 in 2013 – 5,700 in 2012)
  • Sun, Aug. 3 attendance – 5,900 …….. (5,750 in 2013 – 3,500 in 2012)

Thurston County Fair 2014 (70)Other 2014 Thurston County Fair Highlights:

  • The 2014 “One Buck Wednesday” food drive event shattered the record for the amount of food collected from generous fairgoers. The Thurston County Food Bank received a staggering nine and a half pallets of food, smashing the old record of eight pallets of food collected in 2012. Each pallet contains about 1,000 pounds of food, which means that 2014 fairgoers helped collect nearly 10,000 pounds of food for needy families in the Thurston County community.
  • Approximately 900 Military Appreciation Day discount admission tickets were sold—up from the 800 Military Appreciation Day discount tickets sold on a soggy Friday in 2013, and matching the total from 2012.
  • 2014 saw the grand re-opening of the Hicks Lake Barn. The barn was a total loss after a fire in February 2013, and a large tent was used in its place for the 2013 fair.
  • New in 2014 was the Rescue Pet Round Up on Sunday, August 3. Six animal rescue groups participated in the event, and many are looking forward to an even bigger event in 2015. Families are currently being screened for three of the dogs brought by Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, and applications were accepted for one adoptive home for a horse and for one new foster home by Hooved Animal Rescue. Dogs on Deployment was also able to reach many military personnel and local families and educate them about their program that provides foster homes for pets owned by active duty military personnel on deployment.
  • Winners for this year’s Dessert of the Day contests include:
    • Maoreen McLemore, 2014 winner of the Chocolate Cake Contest—Adult
    • Jackson Scofield, 2014 winner of the Chocolate Cake Contest—Youth
    • Sarah Osborne, 2014 winner of the Cookie Contest—Adult
    • Yumi Sawabe, 2014 winner of the Cookie Contest—Youth
    • David Reister, 2014 winner of the Spooner’s Berry Best Pie Contest—Adult
    • Stephanie Larsen, 2014 winner of the Spooner’s Berry Best Pie Contest—Youth
    • Cindy Cartwright, 2014 winner of the Cupcake Contest—Adult
    • Bree Ask, 2014 winner of the Cupcake Contest—Youth

Join us at the Thurston County Fairgrounds for the Holiday Bazaar in November, Secondhand Safari on May 2, 2015 and for the 2015 Thurston County Fair July 29 through August 2. For more details about these events, facility rentals, and other events and occasions at the Thurston County Fairgrounds throughout the year, contact the Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit


Orianna Clarke: Boldly Achieving Her Dreams

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:40am



By Barb Lally

SCJ alliance logoThough she has faced many challenges, Orianna Clarke has emerged stronger, more confident and able to pursue the dreams that she has had all of her life. A big part of her success was finding a place where her best talents could be applied, where she could learn and grow in her own individual strengths.

Growing up, Orianna had been unhappy in public schools because she didn’t fit in and found it difficult to learn. She says she was socially awkward, had a hard time making friends and constantly butted heads with authority.

orianna clarke

Orianna has overcome obstacles to pursue her dreams.

“I was different. There were times in school that I felt like a criminal,” Orianna explains. “I felt beaten down. I knew I deserved better, I knew I could do it.”

Finding an alternative

She and her mother sought alternative schooling where Orianna would be more comfortable and capable of learning.

They found that at the Sudbury School in Olympia. Though the school has since closed, it provided a greater chance at learning for Orianna because it gave her the reins to do what she knew she could.

However, the school was not accredited and when her scholarship ran out her sophomore year of high school, she had to look elsewhere to get her diploma. Orianna didn’t want to jump back into a traditional high school where she knew she would not fit in.

A place to learn

That’s when her mom found Secondary Options in the Tumwater School District with an “alternative approach to educating youth in a caring environment,” according to its head instructor Jeanette Holocher.

Holocher explains that their classrooms are wherever there is learning. For example, the school has no formal lab, so local parks serve as great classrooms for Biology. A Friday field study class that met last quarter compared the ecosystems of McLane Creek, Tolmie, Burfoot, Priest Point Parks and the Mima Mounds.

Orianna was reluctant to attend the school at first and wondered about the weird types that might be part of its student body, but she soon found that she fit right in.

“There were all types,” explains Orianna. “There were students who had straight A’s in traditional high school, and home-schooled kids and adults. I loved that we were all different. We affectionately called ourselves the ‘Island of Misfits’ but we all really respected one another.”

Taking on the challenges

tumwater alternative high school

At Secondary Options, learning takes place in untraditional classrooms. Orianna Clarke worked double time to finish four years of high school in two years time.

A huge challenge and potential roadblock to her education was that she transferred into the program her junior year with .5 credits and needed 21 to graduate. It was a lot to make up in two years.

Typically, Secondary Options students attend one class a day for two and half hours with an equal number of hours in independent studies. Orianna took on two classes a day earning 3.75 credits every quarter completing four years of high school in two years’ time.

It is a remarkable feat for this amazing young woman who also became a chief caregiver in recent years for her mom who was diagnosed with a disabling neurological disorder.

Orianna graduated with her Secondary Options class of 38 this past June.

“Secondary Options is amazing,” says the new graduate. “They take their time with you as an individual. They knew us, how we got there and how we learned so we could succeed. We were not just another chair in a big classroom.”

“Needless to say, her determination and ability to work is impressive,” says Holocher about Orianna. “She has always made any class she was a part of better because she causes her peers to think about what is important, reminds them to be grateful, and encourages them to be the best part of themselves. She will be a blessing to the classrooms and workspaces she enters in the future.”

Fired up for the future

Orianna has always dreamed of being a firefighter and sees it as an opportunity to give back to her community.

orianna clarke

Orianna wants to give back to her community by becoming a firefighter.

To pursue that dream, Orianna sought the help of the Community Youth Services CareerTREK program before she graduated from high school. Her case manager there found her a firefighter’s internship program.

Having completed her internship with the Littlerock Fire Station this summer, Orianna is now applying for the The Fire and Emergency Technology Services Program (FEST) that offers students hands on experience while working toward their Fire Protection Technology degree.

“She picked us for her internship,” says Lt. Lanette Dyer, the Public Information Officer for the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority in Littlerock. “She could remember the lights and sirens of the Littlerock fire trucks going by her home when she was a kid. It is why she wanted to intern here.”

A firefighter herself as well as the Emergency Medical Services Officer, Lanette acknowledges Orianna’s advantage in helping people.

“All of the challenges Orianna has overcome will make her a unique responder for her community, with a perspective of what people go through. We are very excited about being part of her amazing journey.”

Despite the many things she has had to overcome, this unique young lady is now looking forward to a bright and promising future. Orianna has proven that being “different” is a good thing and she is grateful to friends, family, a great school and a fire station who understood that and have believed in her.


Gourmet Camping Meals to Feed a Crowd Under the Stars

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:24am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

uhlmann rvYou may think camping is all about roughing it – pit toilets, well water and smoky clothes. Nevertheless, there’s no need to lack luxuries in the food department. Consider upgrading your camping life with gourmet touches. The benefits are outrageous (eating like royalty) and you’ll likely have time to savor every bite. By taking only a few extra minutes of preparation before you head down the road, you’ll be surprised how much fun is found with your camping meals.

Scott McHugh, Store Manager at Boston Harbor Marina, eagerly offered suggestions. He recommends buying a whole fish such as a salmon, putting it in a grill basket and then letting the coals do their magic.

camping meal ideas

Scott McHugh recommends fish for your camping trip. Stop by and see him at Boston Harbor Marina.

The day I visited the Marina there was fresh tuna. Boston Harbor sells fresh crab and clams that McHugh said you can “boil right in the sea water!” Tuck a few lemons in your picnic basket for your seafood feast. Bring along a local loaf of artisan bread and a stick of butter. Better make that two loaves. Being outside all day revs up the appetite. By the way, Boston Harbor Marina has beer tasting on Fridays from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. You can stop by, taste, pick your fish and head out for your camping weekend.

Rather have beef for dinner? A few days before you leave, marinate steak cubes in a plastic bag then freeze. Add the frozen bag to your cooler. It will help to keep other things cold and will be largely defrosted by your second day out. Then skewer your seasoned cubes and pop on the campfire.

Vegetable lovers will do well by chopping up carrots, potatoes, onions, broccoli, and zucchini (anything you choose). Lightly coat with olive oil.  Portion into aluminum foil pockets. Top with rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. Wrap tightly to create another item for your toasty embers.

If you are ambitious, you can make individual salads in glass jars. Layers of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce look pretty and the work is done at home. No jars? No problem. Put these same ingredients into a plastic bag (except the lettuce) and your salad will be almost ready to serve. A bag of miscellaneous greens will allow each person to take the right amounts. Select a bottle of dressing that you don’t usually have at home. Sometimes a little change is the remedy to enliven an otherwise standard dish.

camping meal ideas

Oakland Bay Farm’s Jason Dexter shows off strips of bacon for sale at their stand in the Olympia Farmers Market.

Who wants cold cereal on a cool summer morning? Not me. Soar to new heights of culinary delight by cooking a griddle laden with Oakland Bay Farm’s bacon. It’s thick and stays flat upon cooking. Eat as-is or cover each cooked piece with pancake batter that you have premeasured at home. Milk is in one container and the eggs in another. Now you have a bacon-infused pancake. Top with real maple syrup or berry jam. Way more fun than soggy breakfast flakes.

Do you need a cup of coffee (or two) before endeavoring to cook breakfast? Coffee professionals at Batdorf and Bronson have as many ideas as varieties of coffee. Graeme Smith gave me a taste of Skye’s Mountain Blend, which he thinks makes a fine dark roast for your first outdoor cup. Adam Carter suggested the Bohemian Blend, another dark roast. Knowledgeable, jolly and helpful, Batdorf and Bronson hosts are on hand to find a coffee to satisfy your desires.

Don’t stoop to instant coffee crystals. Carter showed me the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker, a small, unbreakable option that would look mighty fine on your picnic table. It’s similar to a French Press, but easier to clean and sends fewer particles in your cup. If boiling water is the extent of your cooking skills then brew up a pot of concentrated coffee ahead of time. Store in a tight-lidded Mason jar and then add your hot water to a small amount of the concentrate. You can also use the concentrate for iced coffee. Have cream and sugar on hand.

camping meals ideas

Matt Buehler (left), Graeme Smith (center) and Adam Carter (right) from Batdorf and Bronson share their best coffee flavors for a caffeine fix after sleeping under the stars.

Are you taking along starving children? Or hike-hungered adults? Mix up refried beans with a can of chili beans, cream cheese, chopped peppers and salsa. Bring a huge bag of tortilla chips and a bag of baby carrots. Perfect snacking.

Another fun snack is popcorn. Yes, you can buy a pre-popped bag of someone else’s, but I say pack your own oil and a sack of Orville Redenbacher’s corn. Make sure you have a decent pot with lid and cook on your camp stove. All you need to add is a few shakes of salt. Remember to bring festive beverages such as sparking cider, a bottle of Prosecco or your favorite wine.

Finally, dessert.  Lug a whole watermelon – and bring a sharp knife. It tastes fabulous on a hot summer afternoon. For a more intimate crowd, pick up a small sized yellow (on the inside) watermelon. I used to make a 9×13 pan of cookie bars. They survive travel and can be cut into any sized pieces. The inclusion of nuts, raisins, and oats gives the illusion of health.

The best thing for us about camping is the time and space to disconnect from the usual demands at home. It always seems like work to get ready  – packing up the gear and fixing the food, but when the sleeping bags are unrolled and the fire is laid, there’s a collective sigh of relief. Once you’ve made your gourmet preparation, all you need to do is decide what to eat first.

Eat Well – Be Well


Parents, Get Your Cameras Ready: From Tutus to Turnout, Johansen Olympia Dance Center Has an Exceptional Class Schedule Planned for the 2014 – 2015 Year

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:45am



olympia dance classes

Young ballet students perform the classic “Picking Flowers” routine during a recital for Olympia Dance Center.

Watch a ballet recital for students at the Johansen Olympia Dance Center and you’ll find yourself asking this question: How do the dance instructors at the studio manage to transform those teeny tiny and oh-so adorable four and five year olds flitting around the stage into advanced dancers en pointe?

“It is a process, one which we’re improving upon every year,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Director of the ballet school that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Walk into the lobby of the Olympia Dance Center during the academic school year, and you’d see the first step of their teaching process. It is a simple one — clusters of dancers, from the very young in pink leotards to pink skirts, to dancers a little older in lavender leotards, a little older in royal blue, burgundy and so on. For boys it is the same no matter what class they are in — white shirt, black tights.

Uniformity in leotard color by class is just one example of the many innovative programs implemented by Ken and Josie Johnson, the husband and wife duo that directs the ballet school. “We implemented leotard color by class a few years ago and our students and parents have really embraced it,” said Ken.  “The kids love promotion to a new color every year and it makes it easier for our dance instructors to teach.”

olympia dance class

Olympia Dance Center students perform annually at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

The leotard color system is also a visual representation, of sorts, of the curriculum taught at the school, a curriculum that promotes fundamental skills at each level of dance allowing students to rapidly progress from year to year, instructor to instructor, from flitting three year olds to advanced dancers en pointe.

Before implementing the curriculum, the Johnsons attended the American Ballet Theatre in New York to receive certification to teach the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, from the primary level through level five. The curriculum consists of a comprehensive set of age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines to provide the highest quality ballet training to dance students of all ages and skill levels.

“The certification process was intense and rigorous and not everyone who was accepted into the program made it through. When we completed the program we had a huge sense of accomplishment,” said Josie. The Johnson couple returned to Olympia and implemented the curriculum across all ballet classes at the studio.

olympia dance lessons

Ken and Josie Johnson are co-dreictors of the Olympia Dance Center.

“The American Ballet Theatre curriculum is a clean and healthy technique that enables dancers to dance a variety of styles. The instructors who designed the curriculum have travelled all over the world and have had the opportunity to see what types of instruction work and what doesn’t. This curriculum gives our dancers a strong foundation that will allow them to dance a variety of styles,” said Ken.

In addition to dance, the certification process involves instruction in child nutrition, child development and physical therapy. “We use this curriculum to give our instructors a road map for what their students need to accomplish at the end of the week, month and school year. Yet at the same time, teachers have an incredible amount of flexibility in how they reach those goals,” said Josie. “We know that at the end of each year all our students in each grade level will have received the instruction they need to move on to the next level with outstanding technique and skill.”

The Johnsons know quite well that terms like turnout, technique and rigor are not appealing to aspiring ballerinas age three and four. Younger children dream of pink tutus and pirouettes. The Center’s pre-ballet teachers have trained at the nationally renowned Creative Dance Center which features an innovative training system that is great for the kids developmentally.

olympia dance classes

Olympia Dance Center is incorporating the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum into classes for its youngest students.

The Johnsons also recently discovered the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum, which compliments the current syllabus in place. “The program creator, Beverly Spell, has a great understanding of where kids need to be at that young age. The structure of the curriculum creates a learning environment seamlessly integrated with pure fun,” said Josie.

Originally created by author Katharine Holabird in 1983 as a series of books, the wildly popular dancing mouse even has a musical in New York City. The Johansen Olympia Dance Center joins more than 120 studios throughout the United States and Canada offering weekly classes based on the dancing mouse. The school offers a 34-week program inspired by the animated series Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps. The classes focus on one storybook per month.

The Johnsons were able to first implement a shortened version of the program over the summer during a week-long day camp for young dancers. Just picture groups of girls dressed head to toe in pink, complete with mouse ears, led through a series of simple ballet moves.

With these innovative training programs, the Johnsons have received great feedback from Master Teachers they bring to the studio from around the region, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Oregon Ballet Theatre, University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts. Josie said, “The instructors that we bring in to teach our Master Classes tell us over and over how impressed they are with our students. These instructors can teach anywhere, yet they come back to Olympia because they enjoy these kids, their positive attitude and their skill.”

For more information and to view the class schedule, visit


Win New Summer Wheels with Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 5:30am



lucky eagle giveaway

One lucky player will drive off with a 2014 Chevy Camaro LS courtesy of Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel.

You know what would help combat the dog days of summer?  A new car.  And that’s just what you could win this August, courtesy of Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel and their Turn Up the Heat Camaro Giveaway.

Through August 24, members of the Lucky Eagle Players Club are automatically entered when they use their club card with special bonus multipliers occurring every Tuesday.  By simply playing their favorite games, Club members can increase their chances to win based on that Tuesday’s multiplier amount.  For the same amount of money, you can double, triple, or even quadruple your entries.

The highlight of the Turn Up the Heat celebration will be the prizes!  Players could win up to $5,000 and a 2014 Chevy Camaro LS with lifetime free oil changes courtesy of Olympia’s Titus-Will Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac.  This fantastic giveaway takes place amidst the festivities on August 24 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Lucky Eagle Marketing Manager Lindy Waring says the casino is proud to partner with Titus-Will again; they’ve paired “on a few other car giveaways over the last couple years.  They are a great company to work with.”  Recently recognized as the best car dealer in Olympia in the 2014 “Best of South Sound” competition, they offer a wide array of vehicles, services, and competitive pricing.

Joining the Players Club is free and easy to anyone over the age of 18.  If you have a summer birthday, stop by the Players Club window for a free lunch buffet during your birth month.  For everyone else, enjoy the discounts available for food, game play, and hotel bonuses.

While in the flashy car mood, visit Lucky Eagle on Saturday August 9 to enjoy the Olympia Street Rod Association Annual Summer Car Show.  This family fun event will showcase more than 400 classic cars on display, live entertainment, a DJ, and hourly drawings for Free Play and prizes.

This time of year we’re all dragging a little.  Whether it’s the long, hot days or the tired, underfoot kids, sometimes it’s nice to get away for a while.  The Lucky Eagle is always available to be that close to home escape.  Their array of amazing food, games, concerts, events, and contests are sure to keep you cool and break the lazy summer routine.

Visit the Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel at 12888 188th Ave SW, Rochester, or call 800-720-1788 with any questions.


Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 007

K Records - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 5:28pm
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where we store all the cultural artifacts which are uniquely K. Host Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers) interviews Brian Tighe and Allison LaBonne of the Starfolk (from Minneapolis, MN) and their tour mate Holly Munoz. They discuss the Starfolk and some of their other musical entities the Owls and the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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