Recent local blog posts

Scott Rowley & Erin Pratt – Friends with Olympia Area Rowing, Competitors during Olympia Traverse

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Tom Rohrer

oly ortho logoMost people agree that a friend will be there to help, whenever needed. A friend supports decisions and choices, even if they challenge their comrade along the way.  But some friends will go to great lengths to defeat each other in competition, no matter how close the relationship has been over a number of years.

For longtime buddies Erin Pratt and Scott Rowley, the line between friend and competitor is blurred.

The best friends met as ninth graders at Hoquiam High School.  Now Olympia residents, the duo competes with Olympia Area Rowing as teammates but will compete against each other in the fifth annual Olympia Traverse on Saturday, July 26.

olympia traverse

Scott Rowley will be competing in his fifth Olympia Traverse race. He will row for the paddle leg. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

Both Rowley and Pratt are undertaking the rowing portion for their respective four-member relay teams, the perfect platform for a showdown in the water.

“It’s a healthy competition,” said Rowley.  “You know you’re friends more than anyone else in the field, so of course I want to beat Erin.”

“There’s another gear added to the competition,” Pratt added.  “You’re pumped up already for an event like this, but seeing your buddy, that adds some more motivation.”

Rowley began rowing as a college student, later taking a break from the sport during dental school and the early years of his marriage.  Since taking a sculling class four years ago, Rowley has been a member of the Olympia Area Rowing Masters Team.  A year and a half ago, he invited Pratt to take the very same class.

“He had the right body type and (OAR) is always looking for new blood,” said Rowley.  “It’s been awesome having him there, just a great guy and a great teammate.”

“Everyone in the club and (the local) rowing community is very encouraging and they share knowledge with you,” Pratt said. “Everyone’s looking to see you improve.”

Last summer, Rowley and Pratt got their wish for a relatively head-to-head competition.  While Pratt’s cycling teammates gave him a little bit of a head start over Rowley, the five time Olympia Traverse participant closed the gap at the end of the 3.5 mile leg near Swantown Marina.

“I started a little ahead, but turning around, I could see him coming up,” said Pratt. “That put some more energy in my stroke.”

olympia traverse

Erin Pratt was introduced to rowing by his close friend, Scott Rowley. The duo rows competitively with the Olympia Area Rowing masters team. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

“Just being able to see each other throughout (the stage), that was pretty awesome,” Rowley added. “We wanted that measuring stick so to speak and we were right there.”

The waters around Budd Bay have long had a choppy and challenging reputation within the OAR and local rowing community.  Last year, the winds blew south-to-north on the water, creating quite a unique set of circumstances for the Olympia Traverse rowers.

“You’re heading east and the winds are completely crossing you up,” said Pratt.  “It’s a challenge.  You’re trying to move forward, stay on course, all of that at the same time.”

Thanks to their consistent training with the Saturday morning group at OAR and on the rowing machine, the two friends can handle whatever the weather throws their way.

“There are few ideal days out on the water around there,” said Rowley, who has competed in the Bellingham Traverse as well.  “You get used to the choppy conditions, the wind.  For us, it’s normal.”

For many athletes such as myself, the best part of completing a physically challenging event is the finish.  A competitively friendly event such as the Olympia Traverse naturally has a beer garden at the conclusion of the race, a perfect rendezvous point for the wary competitors.

“It is 35 to 40 minutes of straight rowing,” Pratt said. “You’re exhausted after you finish, so obviously, all you want to do is get on land and relax.”

olympia traverse

A quad, which includes Rowley and Pratt, glide through the water during an Olympia Area Rowing practice. Many team rowers will be on the water during the Traverse. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

“That is the enjoyable part of the Traverse,” said Rowley of the post-race social event. “You can talk to other competitors and just relax as friends.”

Rowley earned yearlong bragging rights after last year’s Traverse.  A year later, the competition continues to drive Pratt and Rowley.

“All I really care about is beating Scott,” laughed Pratt. “I just want to beat him.”

“I just started getting back into shape last week.  I imagine Erin is probably training, so I better get started,” Rowley said with a sudden pause.  “I would say more, but I can’t let Erin know all my secrets.

For more information on the Olympia Traverse, which will be held on Saturday, July 26, click here or visit the event’s Facebook page.


Fungi Perfect at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

lacey mushroom festival

There will be plenty of fun with fungi for the whole family during the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival.

Mushroom enthusiasts from all over the globe will gather at Lacey’s Regional Complex Center July 26 – 27 for the seventh annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival. This year, the Hawks Prairie Rotary presents the culinary event with two days packed full of chefs, speakers, food, and fun with one goal…to enjoy fungi perfection.

“Every year the festival gets bigger,” explains festival co-chair, Corey Lopardi. “I’ve met people from as far away as England who made it out to enjoy the event. Every year we try to add more to satisfy so many people. We have a lot to offer our community this year.”

The fungi festival begins on Friday evening with a 5k Glow Run. The 5k race features four glow zones and festive glow items. “We added a kids run for ages 10 and under that will include glow water,” says Lopardi. “We even have Party Medics DJ playing music and food available after the run.”

On Saturday, children ages twelve and under are welcome to the Kid Zone.  Admission is free for these kids, making the festival the perfect place to take the entire family. The Kid Zone includes Radio Disney at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, The Sounders Women Soccer Team, a fishing booth, Ronald McDonald, bounce house, balloon animals, and alpacas!

lacey mushroom festival

Line up to sample mushroom ice cream or bacon mushroom bites from savvy local chefs.

The featured speakers are one of the main event highlights. “These are people known for their vast knowledge of mushrooms,” describes Lopardi. Some of the experts hitting the stage include KING 5’s Ciscoe Morris, instructor Tom Keller, Christian Kaelin of Provisions Mushroom Farm, and author Langdon Cook.

Despite all this excitement, the focus of the Mushroom Festival is the food. Cooking demos from some of the best chefs around will be spotlighted all weekend long. There is also plenty of food to sample. The “Shroom Feast” features some of the best culinary offerings around. Just $10 will buy you seven tastings. Mushroom ice cream and Bacon Mushroom Bites are just two of the tantalizing offerings available during the feast.

The Mushroom & Wine Event is a major fundraiser for Hawks Prairie Rotary. For $25, guests will sample seven tastes and receive a commemorative wine glass. Beverages, including selections from Scatter Creek Winery, Hoodsport Winery, Stottle Winery, Stina’s Cellars, Mill Lane Winery, Northwest Mountain Winery, Kastellan Brauerei, and Top Rung Brewing  will be paired with delicious mushroom hors d’oeuvres. Live music and a silent wine auction will also be part of this main event.

“The best part about the Mushroom Festival is what happens afterwards,” says Lopardi. “All of the money raised from the weekend helps local causes. Every dollar in profit is turned around and invested back into our community.” Some of these worthy causes include: The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Homeless Backpacks, Hawks Prairie Heroes, education scholarships, clean drinking water projects, and worldwide polio vaccines.

The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is so much more than an event to highlight mushrooms. “It’s a completely volunteered event,” explains Lopardi. “My favorite part of the whole weekend is when someone thanks me for putting it on. It gives a lot of families the opportunity to go out and enjoy what our community has to offer.”

To have fun with fungi, check out the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival July 26 and 27 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.  Complete event details can be found at


Gile Blueberry Farm Offers Flavor and Fond Memories

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

dkb restorationThe ghosts of summers past haunt Gile Blueberry Farm. Ken Gile, the current proprietor, can readily recall the long-ago days when crowds of neighbors and school children hired on as summer berry pickers. Everyone’s bare feet would turn black and itchy from roving all day over the meticulously tilled earth. Back then, people picked for a nickel a pound, working towards their daily minimum of 20 pounds apiece. It’s how many local kids earned money for their school clothes. “I always got fired,” Ken admits. “I was kind of terrible. But it would only last a couple of days and then I’d get sent back to the field.”

gile blueberry farm

Ken and Marie are two of Claude Gile’s eight children. They currently operate Gile Blueberry Farm.

The farm, says Ken, was his father Claude’s dream. Originally from New York, Claude Gile moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. He paid $500 for his first two acres of land. “This was all brush and trees way back when,” explains Ken. “Dad was a longshoreman and when there were no ships in he’d bring a crew over and they’d clear the brush by hand.” At that time, Claude paid his fellow longshoremen 15 or 20 cents an hour for their labor.

After a brief stint of blackberry farming–which was soon deemed too troublesome–Claude switched to blueberries. As the baby of the family, Ken doesn’t remember much about the early days of the farm. However, he can still recall the labor shortage they experienced during the Korean War. Claude solved the problem by hiring a company of soldiers from Fort Lewis. “That was quite a time,” Ken chuckles. They had a mess hall for the military blueberry pickers, and “there were always G.I.s trying to sneak off to town for a drink or two.”

Claude and his wife Laura had eight children: Juanita, Leon, Tiny, Marie, Jean, Betty, Ann, and Ken. At one time or another, everyone was somehow involved in the farm. Marie shares her memories with dry humor: “I was a row boss, riding my broom through the fields and telling them to pick their berries clean.” She took on her leadership position around age 14 and didn’t miss a single season until she was married. “And then I made the kids go out and pick berries,” she reminisces.

gile blueberry farm

The Gile Blueberry Farm intermixes its varieties. Berries on different plants will ripen at different times.

Marie and Ken both agree that their father Claude was quite particular in his expectations of pickers. He demanded meticulous attention to detail and “was kind of a tyrant about no berries on the ground.” When he blustered too much, the family would banish Claude to the house. He’d then hover in the dining room (which offers an excellent view of the fields) and bang on the windows if he saw subpar workmanship.

Throughout the 1950s, Claude took his berries up to the Sunny Jim plant in Seattle. Ken says, “He used to run the old Dodge up there, sometimes twice a day… which was a fete in and of itself.” Later, Claude joined forces with other local farmers to form the Producer Marketing Company (PMC). This cooperative effort was located in Mossy Rock. Until 2006, PMC processed local blueberries and then sold them to companies such as Smucker’s.

When Claude died in 1965, brothers Tiny and Leon split the farm. Ken took over Tiny’s portion in 1993, which is when the Giles first instituted U-pick.

Ken appreciates how U-pick offers berry lovers a chance to tailor purchases to their individual palates. “You can eat on the different bushes until you find one you like,” he says. He estimates that the property currently boasts 30 to 40 different varieties, if not more. “There are a lot of varieties that you probably can’t get anymore,” he says. Plants and their fruit evolve as farmers seek to improve berry yield, size, and taste. Yet some of the bushes on Ken’s property trace back a full century; they began as cuttings from Eberhardt’s on Steamboat Island, which some sources say was the first blueberry farm west of the Mississippi River.

gile blueberry farm

U-pick is open in late July at Gile Blueberry Farm.

Come for a taste from a bygone era and you’ll also see some old-style farming. The Giles planted their fields before modern irrigation practices grew widespread. And in contrast to the current common practice, the plant varieties on their farm are intermixed to promote cross-pollination. It means that berries in a single area ripen at varying rates, rendering large scale machine-picking impractical. Consequently, Gile berries get picked by hand. Ken describes the current pickers as “a senior citizens’ crew of six to eight.” Not surprisingly, that crew includes his sister Marie.

Want to enjoy the fruit of their labor? It’s $2.25 for pre-picked berries. But I recommend trying out U-pick or, at the very least, taking a walk around this beautiful old farm. The land and the people are well worth a visit!

Gile Blueberry Farm will open the week of July 21st for the 2014 season. Hours are 8:00am to 6:00pm. Updates and contact information can be found on the farm Facebook page.



South Sound Arts - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 2:31pm
If you would like to publish your short-short story, essay, review or poetry to this blog send a brief query to

The focus of this blog is the arts of Western Washington, primarily Seattle to Olympia, including artist profiles, news and reviews. I will occasionally publish works of more general nature. I do not pay for articles. I will include a brief author bio and links to your website or blog.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Writing Workshop: Creating Original Worlds

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:25am
Event:  Tue, 08/26/2014 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Are you a budding writer or a reader amazed at the creativity of the fantasy genre? Join local author Lindsay Schopfer as he guides you through creative world building methods, and shares a variety of techniques to make your worlds as original as possible. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Lakefair Royalty Story Time and Meet and Greet

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:23am
Event:  Thu, 08/07/2014 - 10:30am - 11:15am

Join this year's Olympia Lakefair Royalty Court at the library for a story time and meet & greet! Bring a camera for an opportunity to take photos with this year's queen and princesses, who are amazing local high school students. The Capital Lakefair Royalty Scholarship Program is one of the most prestigious and longest running scholarship programs in the local area. The Program began in 1958 and has provided more than 240 participants with over $250,000 in scholarship funding. This event is part of Summer Reading, a Timberland Regional Library districtwide program. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Make Bath Fizzies with Deb Petersen

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:22am
Event:  Thu, 08/07/2014 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Blending art and science, create a bath fizzie with soap maker Deb Petersen. Test your fizzie in your next bath. Teens welcome to attend with a parent or other adult. Please call or register in person at the library's information desk starting July 24. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Hot? Might Be Time to Call Chehalis Sheet Metal

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 7:25am



chehalis sheet metalSummer in Washington is hit or miss. Some years the thermometer just manages to push past 90 degrees while in other years there never seems to be a reprieve from the heat. 2014 is shaping up to be more like the latter than the former. Trouble is we never know which kind we have until it’s here. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare.

Chehalis Sheet Metal has been helping Western Washington residents stay cool since 1962. A key to the company’s longevity is service. “I can’t think of a time that we haven’t bent over backwards to do what it takes,” says Chehalis Sheet Metal’s Sharon Tisler.

Doing what it takes starts with a free estimate. The professionals at Chehalis Sheet Metal work with you to determine the right type of heating and cooling system for your home. The size of a house goes a long way toward determining the proper unit. A small air conditioner placed in a large home will not produce the desired results. In situations like these, the air conditioner ends up running continuously which can dramatically decrease the unit’s lifespan.

chehalis sheet metalAn option that is growing in popularity is the ductless heat pump. These are smaller, more efficient systems that serve both heating and cooling functions. The US Department of Energy estimates 30% of energy generated by traditional duct systems is either wasted or lost.  You won’t notice much of a savings in the summer because of our unpredictable summers.  The real benefit comes during the winter when you’re running the heater for long stretches of time.

Another plus to installing a ductless heat pump is the cost.  Rebates can actually make these systems cheaper than other heating/cooling units.  There’s a program running right now that can save you up to $1500 if you have a cadet or baseboard heater.  The exact figure may vary but the team at Chehalis Sheet Metal can walk you through the finer points and can even help with financing.

Once you’ve chosen a heating and cooling system you’ll want to stay on top of maintenance. “Your system needs to be maintained just like a car,” says Tisler. Chehalis Sheet Metal offers different plans to fit your needs. With proper care there is no reason why your unit can not last a long time. “Instead of a seven year system or a 10-year system you end up with a 15-year system,” says Tisler. The added benefit of routine maintenance is that it keeps your warranty valid.

Cooling down your home is one way to beat the heat. A major factor in determining your home’s internal temperature is your roof. A standard, dark colored roof can reach temperatures of 150 degrees in the summer. A cool roof utilizes materials that reflect sunlight off the house.  The effect is a roof surface that can be 50 degrees cooler.

chehalis sheet metalChehalis Sheet Metal uses the same process for roofs as it does for heating and cooling systems. An employee will inspect your roof for signs of wear, looking for cracked, curled or missing shingles and checking for shingle granules in your gutters.  Water stains may also be a sign that your roof needs fixing.  Most people don’t want to climb up on their roof.  If that’s the case don’t hesitate to call and a CSM professional will be happy to assist.

“As far as roofing, now is the time to get it put on,” says Tisler referring to the summer months. The rationale makes sense when understand the role heat plays in helping a new roof settle. “When it gets hot like this the tar adheres better to the shingles,” says Tisler.

You may not need a ductless heat pump to cool your home or a new roof. Chehalis Sheet Metal offers a variety of other services including window, door and siding installation. To find out more you can visit their website or call (800)201-9221 or (855) 659-4328.


Capital High School Students Take Europe by Storm – Year after Year

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 7:18am



By Kelli Samson

capital medical centerHere’s what I love about travel: one has to be absolutely, fully present within each moment.

You don’t want to miss a field of sunflowers or your Metro stop. Traveling requires one to leave home and the familiar behind (and sometimes even wi-fi), to immerse into places and experiences and smells and tastes. You can’t do anything about what’s happening back home, so you’ve got to let it go.

And that’s just typical travel. Trekking across Europe for a couple of weeks each summer with a bunch of students from Capital High School (CHS)?

high school europe trip

Capital High School students high above Umbria in the hilltop town of Orvieto.

It’s not for everyone.

But I am so thankful it is just perfect for me.

Many of my colleagues in the teaching field might say I am crazy, but I completely love traveling with my students. It doesn’t matter that the school year just ended and perhaps by then I am a little excited for my seniors to move on. The unadulterated bliss of seeing something for the first time is addicting, even when it’s through the eyes of a teenager who is not your own.

CHS has a rich tradition of student travel that reaches back twenty years. Starting in 1994, when their own daughters were high school students, teachers Wayne and Kathy Sortun began the legacy that continues today. The Sortuns organized the annual trips through 2007.

“We loved watching the growth that most of the students made as far as being independent problem solvers. In three weeks time we felt the students learned so much,” explains Kathy.

Since 2008, CHS history teachers Mike Deakins and Steve Hamilton have been at the helm.

high school europe trip

Rome’s Spanish Steps capped off a busy night of gelato eating.

This summer’s trip marked Hamilton’s tenth with students. Agreeing with the Sortuns, he states, “I enjoy watching kids who have never been out of the United States slowly open up to the idea that there is a great big world outside that they can learn from.”

This year, thirteen eager travelers (ranging from upcoming juniors to recent graduates) visited six countries over 17 unforgettable, exhausting days. Hamilton and I got the pleasure of starting our hard-earned summer with eleven of the classiest young women in Olympia. Also along for the ride were gentlemen Brent Chapin and Braydn Cox, a pair of best friends from the CHS golf team.

CHS has traveled under numerous educational tour groups in the past, and this year we paired with the folks at Education First.

Our trip began with time in Germany while the Germans were playing in the World Cup. The people of Munich ran around with smiles and wigs of black, yellow, and red. The majority of this year’s group enjoyed our time in Munich the most, “especially riding through the English Garden on bikes,” says Hannah Wahlmark, an upcoming senior.

We traveled in a pink charter bus, affectionately dubbed “Big Pink.” Our students made friends with our tour mates from Pennsylvania and played soccer at every rest stop. Says Hamilton, “I love watching kids forget the social classes that are in high school. They all feel out of place. Kids are more human when they’re traveling.”

high school europe trip

Bradyn Cox (left) and Brent Chapin (right) pose atop the Eiffel Tower.

From Germany, we spent an afternoon in the Austrian city of Innsbruck, then pushed on to Italy. We sweltered together in Venice, Rome, the hilltop Umbrian town of Orvieto, and Florence.

We rejoiced at the stunning beauty of the Swiss Alps along Lake Lucerne. Our comfortable hotel was in the farming town of Seelisberg, high above the lake, where we took great delight in an amazing thunderstorm one evening, hearing only cow bells and the low rumble of thunder. Upcoming senior Cox marks playing soccer in the Alps near our hotel as the highlight of his trip.

From Switzerland, we made our way to France, hanging out in the smaller towns of Colmar and Munster. This year’s trip ended with time in the great cities of Paris and London, where we made it up the Eiffel Tower with almost no line because everyone was busy watching France play in a World Cup game.

Though the trip is fast and keeps up a furious pace, it gives students a little taste of many places that Europe has to offer. Many return on study-abroad programs in college or on extended vacations when they’re older. This year’s group especially wants to return to London and Paris.

Priceless Life Lessons:

“The trip helped me become comfortable with the uncomfortable.” – Katie Davis

“It helped me learn how to do things on my own.” – Rachel Erickson

“It helped me become a more independent thinker.” –Taylor Kerr

“From here on out there will be a lot of references to Europe in my education and life that I will be able to understand more from being there myself.” – Torie Mount

high school europe trip

CHS students pose in front of the Eiffel Tower.

“I feel future solo travel and going to college are way less terrifying now!” – Paige Whitener

“It gave me a different perspective on cultures and their histories.” – Bradyn Cox

“This trip has shown me that there is so much more to the world than what I was experiencing before.” – Carolina Watts

“This trip has made me more aware of money and how hard it is to manage life.” – Madi Peoples

At some point along the way, Wahlmark said, “We’re like a big, traveling family.” And it really does feel like that. Our roles as teachers have to shift in order to allow the students to soak up all of the opportunities. We have to trust and learn things together. I love that I get to know them in a way which I would not have been able had we only interacted in one of my English classes.

These kids make me excited for when my own two girls are teenagers, and that is saying something.

For more information on the 2015 CHS Europe trip (which will have a Greek and Italian focus), follow the Facebook page CHS 2014 Europe Trip, which will soon change to the year 2015.


LAKE, House Show, Olympia!

K Records - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 1:01am
There are so many house shows going down in Olympia these days that it is hard to keep track of what when where. LAKE have played several this spring into summer. When I called Mark Morrison (in above photog with fellow LAKE members Ashley Eriksson and Andrew Dorsett) about this particular event I witnessed in […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Recent Photos July 2014

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 6:11pm

Pads on the Pond, at McLane Creek

Recent photos include that amazing sunset during the thunderstorm from last Sunday, the 20th, as well as a picture of an oil train going over the Nisqually River trestle, night train operations at Rich Road, where Tacoma Rail was transferring cars over to BN, and a photo of the Aster K during log loading operation. Here's a quick time-lapse video from the sunset thunderstorm with lightning. I'm hoping to find time to edit more video to show some of the lightning strikes with sounds of thunder, and sunset colors...Also night train operations. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Log Ship Loading

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 5:47pm

Aster K, most recent log carrier to call at port. Some questions: Where did these logs come from? What kind of environmental impacts have there been? logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Young Frankenstein at Tacoma Musical Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 4:09pm
From left: Igor, Frau Blüche, Dr. Frankenstein and Inga. Photos by Kat Dollarhide

Monster and blind manDr. Frankenstein, Inga and Igor
Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” is one of the funniest musicals ever written. The stage musical, which came after the popular movie by Brooks and Gene Wilder, premiered at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2007 before going to Broadway. I reviewed it then for The News Tribune and said it was outstanding, but other reviewers did not rave, and it had a less than stellar run on Broadway.

The local production at Tacoma Musical Playhouse drags a bit in the first act, but the second act more than makes up for any shortcomings in the first.

Both the 1974 movie and the play are spoofs of genre horror films with upbeat song-and-dance numbers and Borscht Belt humor. The scenario is that Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Stephen Bucheit), grandson of the notorious Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein, creator of the monster, is a well-respected Dean of Anatomy at the Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine in New York. Upon the death of his ancestor, he visits the family castle in Transylvania and is seduced by the lovely Inga (Allyson Jacobs-Lake) into taking up his mad grandfather’s work. With help from his grandfather’s house keeper, Frau Blücher (Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson) and humpbacked servant, Igor (Jeffrey Bassett), he creates a new monster (played by James Walters, who also doubles as the ghost of the original Dr. Frankenstein).

The early scenes are contrived and seem to be straining for comic effect – particularly the going away scene with Frankenstein and Elizabeth (Dana Johnson). Elizabeth’s song, “Please Don’t Touch Me” is a great comic idea that doesn’t quite work. But things get livelier when Dr. Frankenstein goes to Transylvania and meets with Igor and Inga. Igor is one of the best comic characters of all time, and Bassett plays him beautifully, rivaling the great Marty Feldman, who played Igor in the movie; and Inga’s hayride song, “Roll in the Hay” is the first spark to enliven a play that until that moment had been plodding like the neighing horses that pull their wagon (and who neigh hilariously and oddly every time Frau Blücher’s name is spoken). Inga’s yodeling in this song and later in the love scene, cracks the audience up.

Things get much livelier once the monster comes alive and insanely brilliant when the monster and the ensemble sing and dance Irving Berlin’s “Putting on the Ritz.” This number is proof positive that Brooks is a comic genius, and the cast and crew (and let’s not forget Jeff Stvrtecky’s orchestra) do it to perfection.

The blind hermit vignette with John Miller (who doubles as Inspector Hans Kemp) belting out a great and passionate rendition of the poignant “Please Send Me Someone,” is like something out of Monty Python but with a huge hearts – moving enough to forgive his ludicrous wig and beard. After an unexpected plot twist in a cave in the deep forest, Johnson sings the love song “Deep Love” with conviction, dropping the nasal lisp she adopted in earlier scenes, and later still, Walters, an accomplished operatic tenor, belts out the reprise of “Deep Love” with even more passion.

The first act is a moderately funny extended set-up for the explosive and joyous second act, which is so great I would sit through a reading of the phone book to get to it.

Kudos also to Bruce Haasl for a great set and as always to Stvrtecky for his fabulous music.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 3
WHERE: Tacoma Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
TICKETS: $20-$29
INFORMATION: 253-565-6867,

Coming up: a review of Animal Fire Theatre’s outdoor performance of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and Harlequin Productions’ “Middletown.”

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Help the City of Olympia Choose a New Playground for Sunrise Park

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 1:22pm



Submitted by City of Olympia

The playground equipment at Sunrise Park, a neighborhood park in West Olympia, has reached the end of its life and will soon be replaced. Five different vendors have submitted design proposals and the City wants your help selecting the most best one!

Visit to watch a short intro video, view the five design proposals and tell us which design you think would be the most FUN for the kids at Sunrise Park. If you do not have access to a computer but still want to provide input, contact Jonathon Turlove, Associate Planner, at 360.753.8068. This forum will be open through August 15, 2014.

Sunrise Park is located several blocks northwest of the corner of Harrison Ave. and Division St. at 505 Bing St NW in Olympia, Washington. The park was opened in 1995 and the existing playground equipment is 18 years old.

In addition to the playground, Sunrise Park features a community garden, a basketball court, a restroom, and a sledding hill. For more information about Sunrise Park, please visit

Port Invests in Small Cities’ Economic Development Projects

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:14am



Submitted by Port of Olympia

Bucoda Mayor Alan Carr addresses members of the Thurston  Regional Planning Council in the new Bucoda Community  Center. The Port’s Small Cities Program has helped the town  create a center that contributes to local economic development.

Bucoda Mayor Alan Carr addresses members of the Thurston
Regional Planning Council in the new Bucoda Community
Center. The Port’s Small Cities Program has helped the town
create a center that contributes to local economic development.

Projects in each of Thurston County’s small, incorporated cities will receive an economic boost from Port of Olympia in 2014. Bucoda, Rainier and Yelm will each receive $10,000 and Tenino will receive $5,000. The Port Commission approved the funding awards at their July 14th meeting.

The intention of the Port’s Small Cities Program is to assist with projects that will contribute to local economic development. The program requires an equal cash match from the city. A city receives the funds after completing the project and submitting the required information to the Port.

This was the second year that all four of the County’s small cities–Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino and Yelm–applied for funds through the program. Small cities are defined as incorporated cities within Thurston County with a population of 10,000 or less.

On July 8, the Board of Directors of the Port Economic Development Corporation reviewed Finance Director Jeff Smith’s analysis of the cities’ applications, qualified the eligibility of the projects, and recommended that the Commission approve the funding awards.

Here is how the cities will use their 2014 Small Cities Program funds:

·        Bucoda’s renovation of the historic Oddfellows Building into a community center will receive funds for the fourth year. Two rooms will be restored for a free clinic, museum and other uses.
·        Rainier will use the Port funds to plan for a waste water treatment facility so that commercial development can go forward in a cost-effective manner and generate new jobs.
·       Tenino will enhance the prospects of additional jobs related to tourism by using the Small Cities’ funding award to prepare a Tenino Park Master Plan.
·        Yelm is planning a new community center which will bring activity and regional customers into the historic downtown. The Port funds will assist with project design.


Troy Nichols Named Executive Office of Olympia Master Builders

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:08am



Submitted by Olympia Master Builders

Olympia Master Builders (OMB) announced that Troy Nichols has been selected, and will begin serving, as Executive Officer of the five-county region building industry association at the beginning of August.

Nichols comes to OMB after nearly 20 years of experience in government and political affairs, including the past five years as the Director of Policy Development for the Washington State House Republican Caucus.

“I am very excited to have Troy join the OMB family,” said John McKinlay, 2014 OMB President. “Troy’s legislative experience along with his other outstanding qualities will be an asset to OMB and our membership as we continue our mission of keeping housing affordable.”

Nichols replaces Laura Worf who led OMB for seven years, including successfully guiding the association through a severe, nationwide housing recession.

“The recession hit homebuilders especially hard, but hopefully the worst is behind us,” Nichols said. “It is truly a privilege to be able to advocate for this fantastic group, and I’m looking forward to fighting on their behalf to create jobs and grow our local economy.”

Nichols expects membership will rebound as OMB continues to advocate for better housing policies, provide members with educational and promotional opportunities, as well as the better performing return on industrial insurance program.

Mark Shaffer chaired the selection committee in a search facilitated by the Specialized Recruiting Group, a division of Express Employment Professionals. “I’m pleased that we were able to find such a well-qualified candidate for the role of executive officer. I’m excited for this new chapter at the OMB to begin,” Shaffer said.

Formed in 1959, Olympia Master Builders is a professional trade association dedicated to improving the construction industry and providing affordable housing for people in all economic segments.  OMB provides services in 5 counties:  Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Mason.


Meals on Wheels Calls for Help, Funding Cuts Leave Seniors Hungry

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:58am



Submitted by Senior Services for South Sound

Elizabeth Raybould prepares fresh fruit to be included in a lunch at the Olympia Senior Center.

Elizabeth Raybould prepares fresh fruit to be included in a lunch at the Olympia Senior Center.

On July 9, Senior Services for South Sound (SSSS) started a waiting list for seniors in need of Meals On Wheels (MOW) in Mason or Thurston Counties. This means that community elders in need of a home-delivered meal who are not already enrolled in the program as of that date will not be served until additional program funding is secured. People need Meals On Wheels for a variety of reasons, including that they can no longer safely drive to the grocery store or stand long enough to cook their own meal. Some are just being released from the hospital or nursing home and need meals on a temporary basis. In addition to the Meals on Wheels waiting list, they are currently considering closing meal service days at two of our community dining meal sites.

“Our program provides seniors with nutritious meals, social support and a chance to have fun. We run an efficient and effective program, but we can’t tighten our belts any further,” said Cathy Visser, Senior Nutrition Director at Senior Services for South Sound. “More seniors than ever are in need of our services…unfortunately, food and fuel costs continue to increase and traditional funding streams are decreasing. Last year we lost federal funds.  This year, the decreases are being seen locally as community priorities have changed. It’s the perfect storm. At this point, I feel that the community needs to step forward and say enough, we support our community seniors!”

Each year, Senior Services for South Sound serves over 100,000 meals to 2,700 seniors in Mason and Thurston Counties. The meals are planned by a Registered Dietitian to meet 1/3 of a seniors daily dietary needs; and are modified to meet special dietary restrictions. The emphasis is on serving freshly prepared food and includes at least three servings of fruits and vegetables per meal. The program provides more than just food.

“Our Meals On Wheels volunteer delivery folks spend time with Meals On Wheels clients and develop friendships with the people they serve. For some of our more rural clients, their volunteer driver may be the only person with whom they have human interaction for the day or week. Our drivers provide a check on the welfare of seniors they serve…more than once a driver has arrived to deliver a meal and found a senior in distress. We’ve called “911” on a senior’s behalf twice in the past 6 months.” Cathy stated.

Senior Services for South Sound is now reaching out to the general public for help. “We can’t solve this problem in isolation,” said Eileen McKenzieSullivan, SSSS Executive

Rick Miller helps prepare chicken salad for Meals On Wheels lunch.

Rick Miller helps prepare chicken salad for Meals On Wheels lunch.

Director. “We want the local community to know that there is a need for meals for seniors and we need their support to make it happen.” Eileen explained that they cut Friday meals in Olympia and Rochester last year when a portion of their federal nutrition funding was lost. At that time, they reached out to the local senior assisted living community for help. “We were lucky to have a number of local Senior Living centers such as Evergreen Convalescent, Bonaventure, Capital Place and Puget Sound Health Care provide us meals for our site. We thought we would need their help for a few months, but they have continued to support Friday meal service at our Olympia Senior Center.”

Cathy and Eileen both explained that there are many ways to help. “While making a donation is a direct way to support our program, we are also in need of volunteers to prepare, serve or deliver meals. There are eight meal sites in Mason and Thurston County, stretching from Yelm, Tenino and Rochester in Thurston County up to Belfair in Mason County.” Eileen continued, “Every dollar really helps. While the meals are provided to clients for a suggested donation of $3-$6 per meal, they cost nearly $7 to prepare and the average donation we receive per meal is less than $2 dollars.” Eileen and Cathy both also mentioned that they are grateful for the ongoing partnership they have with the Lewis-Mason-Thurston Area Agency on Aging. “Really without their partnership, we wouldn’t be able to continue serving the meals we do.” Eileen stated.

If you would like to donate to the Senior Nutrition Program at Senior Services for South Sound or learn more about volunteer opportunities please call them at 360.586.6181 or visit their website at



Olympia Lakefair Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 7:08am



You know it’s summer in Olympia when the classic Lakefair ferris wheel starts going up.  Whether you choose to spend an hour or ten hours as the Olympia festival, it’s without a doubt part of the fabric of our community.  The parade flows through Olympia on Saturday at 5:00 pm and the fireworks extravaganza end the weekend on Sunday night at 10:00 pm.  And, if you opt to avoid all the Lakefair hustle and bustle then use this link to find out all the road closures and plan your route efficiently to other Olympia destinations this weekend.

  • Get the skinny on how to enjoy Lakefair on a budget in this article.
  • Keep the Yashiro Japanese Garden clean at a work party on Friday morning.
  • Check out the Lakefair car show on Friday evening at Marathon Park.
  • Celebrate 20 years of Bagel Brothers with a special event at their West Olympia storefront on Saturday.
  • Donate a bike to Alaffia and help a girl in Togo get to school.  The bike drive is happening at Ralph’s Thriftway on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Get more details here.
  • Take a tour of Olympia’s public art.  Meet at the Farmers Market at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.
  • Follow the Lakefair parade on Saturday beginning at 5:00 p.m.  The route can be found here.
  • Dance to a free outdoor concert during the Lacey in Tune series at Huntamer Park.  Tunes begin at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.  Find the complete schedule here.
  • Enjoy the Lakefair fireworks on Sunday night at 10:00 pm.  Get complete details here.
  • Plan ahead for Marine Creatures Monday at Boston Harbor Marina.  Advance reservations are required.  Click here for more information.
  • Catch a performance of Harlequin Productions‘ Twelfth Night all weekend.
  • Plan your summer with our list of 25 free things to do with kids around Olympia.
  • Find a complete list of summer camps around Olympia here.
  • Visit an open house event this weekend.  Click here to see the list of Van Dorm Realty’s open houses.

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.


Sisters Annie Johns & Amy Evans Treat You Like a Guest at Spruce and Bon Lemon

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 6:56am



By Kelli Samson

heritage bankI am a fiercely loyal customer. No one was more surprised than me when I broke up with my decade-plus aesthetician after just one visit to Spruce.

And why? Well, it’s a combination of things that all add up to feeling pampered. Why would anyone want to feel anything less?

Annie Johns, founder of Spruce, opened her doors in 2009. Massage therapist and friend Alison Herd of Kneaded Relief joined Johns at her location. “We’ve got a really good working relationship,” smiles Johns. It wasn’t long before John’s sister, Amy Evans, turned the duo into a trio of adjoining, female-owned businesses by opening up her well-curated shop, Bon Lemon, in an adjacent space.

spruce bon lemon

Spruce owner Annie Johns and Bon Lemon owner Amy Evans are two sisters lucky enough to share a work place.

The businesses have unique products at a great value that I do not see anywhere else in town. The hosts are charismatic and positive. “We are aware that we wouldn’t be here without our customers. We feel like they are family, and we want to give them a special experience,” says Amy Evans, proprietress of Bon Lemon.

Adds her sister Annie, “Our clients aren’t lucky to get in. We are lucky that they chose to be here. We never want to take that for granted.” This customer-based philosophy is amplified at the recently-opened new location of Spruce, Bon Lemon, and Kneaded Relief, located together at 4419 Harrison Ave NW in Olympia.

The strong customer base of each woman’s business has lent itself well toward what Evans calls “a very symbiotic” model where the three institutions easily share clientele.

The rest is a sparkly, well-polished history. “We’re lucky,” chime the sisters.

Annie Johns is a woman with a quick laugh and a twinkle in her eye. A self-described tomboy growing up, she is now a busy mama of two small children. She used to be an economist, but that didn’t make her heart sing. “I worked at Hoopla for three years, and I loved being there and helping women. I liked connecting with people. I decided I wanted to use my brain for creating a business that could go in many different directions, so I went to esthetician school.”

spruce bon lemon

For a full line of Votivo candles and other gifts to delight your friends, Spruce and Bon Lemon is your one-stop gift shop. You may as well get a facial while you’re in!

“Annie’s really good at the business side of things,” boasts her sister.

Spruce employs the cheeky mantra “We are not high maintenance, just well maintained.” These words guide the customer’s experience while receiving services. Makeup, waxing, and other skin care regimens are not presented as guilty-pleasures. Rather, they are smart, routine maintenance procedures for today’s modern woman (or man).

Spruce’s clinical skincare products are located on one side of the concierge’s desk, and Bon Lemon’s baubles can be found on the other. The space is very intentional. Spruce boasts a plethora of lotions and potions for everything from eyebrow care to sun blocks, serums to the perfect remedy for ingrown hairs. “I only stock natural, clinical skincare, which can be really hard to find,” explains Johns.

Evans, a former lawyer who has currently been filling in as the interim executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, embraces the motto “when life gives you lemons, put on something sparkly.“ Bon Lemon’s products include all kinds of jewelry at reasonable prices. She even has a jewelry bar where customers can choose from a selection of charms to make their own, customized necklace.

spruce bon lemon

The new location for Spruce, Bon Lemon, and Kneaded Relief was a labor of love.

In addition to jewelry, Evans showcases scarves, champagne glasses, and fun tank tops. She teams with Sarah Quartucci and Brenna Weaver in deciding which items to buy for the shop. She has a special set of shelves just for the things she is currently in love with, and they consist of eye candy (and real candy) at its finest.

“Altruistic capitalism” is very important to Evans. “I believe that meaningful employment is what changes communities.” She currently donates 25 percent of Bon Lemon’s profits to charity. “We try to support charities in all the places where we have customers,” explains Evans.

“I admire that my sister is so philanthropic,” says Johns.

What’s refreshing about Evans is that she shows that women can be socially conscious and still have fun. Every Friday she hosts a happy hour from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., complete with champagne and 20 percent off of selected items.

And did Johns and Evans, sixteen months apart and both graduates of Capital High School, ever envision themselves sharing a business space?

spruce bon lemon

Spruce carries quality candles, makeup, and skincare products.

Not at all.

Like many sisters, they irritated one another growing up. But family ties run deep, especially in their clan, and they found their way back to one another.

The sisters are very different, but they have a strong commitment toward both their relationship and business. “We want to be generous with one another,” says Evans. “We both want to be professional but fun. We really want success for one another,” adds Johns. “Amy’s a risk-taker, and I am more conservative. It works out.”

All three businesses recently made the move from a space on Limited Lane. The location was charming, but they were out-growing it. Spruce had recently expanded from three to four estheticians with the recent hiring of Natalie Hubbard in order to better meet the demand for their services.

The new location was funded and constructed by the Morris family, owners of JA Morris Construction and MPH Holdings. “They really partnered with us and shared our vision. Everything came out exactly as I expected,” explains Johns. The location features a modern ambiance – lots of windows, vaulted ceilings, and funky fixtures. The treatment rooms are all separated from the lobby area so that Johns, Hubbard, Chelsea Bouchee, and Ryane Bensley can be serving guests quietly.

The sisters’ dad has hand-constructed many of the fir-accents in the shop, including shelves and stump end tables, each contributing a unique and earthy feel to the space.

spruce bon lemon

Bon Lemon owner Amy Evans takes a cue from Oprah with her “Favorite Things” shelf. She explains, “The little luxuries are what life’s all about.”

“Our family has always been interested in design, and the design of this whole space has been a family activity,” states Johns.

Another bonus? The new location will give the trio of businesses much greater exposure to the public.

“Right now, this is super fun for us,” concludes Evans. “Who knows what the next chapter will hold?”

You can help the sisters celebrate their official grand opening by dropping in anytime from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. on August 12 to fill the new space with lots of sparkle. You can learn more about Spruce at and Bon Lemon at

Spruce, Bon Lemon and Kneaded Relief

4419 Harrison Ave NW in Olympia

Appointments: 360-701-1380



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