Recent local blog posts

Saint Martin’s University Gears Up for #GivingTuesday 2014

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 5:00pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Giving TuesdayIf you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. If you think it’s too early to start thinking about holiday giving, maybe you’ll be glad someone’s already planning for the big day. That day is “#GivingTuesday,” Dec. 2, and Saint Martin’s University is becoming a partner in the international event.

#GivingTuesday is a day set aside during the holiday season to celebrate philanthropy, volunteerism and community service, and to be part of the powerful difference people can make when they join forces to help others.  Designated as the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday highlights “giving back,” similar to the emphasis on holiday shopping marked by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The idea is to focus the generous spirit of the Christmas season on gifts of service and support, says Deanna Bourgault, Saint Martin’s director of annual giving. Bourgault will be leading the University’s campaign and working with other area organizations and schools interested in getting involved. She also is working in collaboration with South Puget Sound Community College and The Evergreen State College on a joint campaign.

“Saint Martin’s #GivingTuesday goal is to help bring awareness to our greater community about the importance of giving back during the holiday season.  As a Catholic, Benedictine educational institution, service and community involvement are two of our core values, and we encourage everyone to engage in philanthropy on Dec. 2. We hope that by the three local educational institutions working together on the campaign, we will encourage other organizations to become involved,” says Bourgault. Philanthropy encompasses so much more than charitable giving – we ask everyone to be a part of this international movement by volunteering their time, being an advocate for their favorite cause, making a financial contribution, or just inspiring others to transform how they think about and participate in the giving season.”

Since its inception in 2011, #GivingTuesday has quickly gained momentum. In 2013, more than 10,000 partners in more than 40 countriesparticipated. Through the power of social media, a global conversation ensued, with more than 3 billion people helping to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Most important, the day led to a 270-percent increase in donations to non-profit organizations and countless service projects worldwide, according to the #GivingTuesday website.

The Saint Martin’s #GivingTuesday Campaign will officially begin Sept. 2, when a webpage will be launched on the University’s website, A series of Facebook notices, tweets and other social media efforts will support the campaign in November and early December.

For more information on #GivingTuesday, please go to; organizations interested in partnering with Saint Martin’s can contact Bourgault at 360-438-4586;


Beat Happening, Girl Band, I Love You

K Records - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:09pm
Irish eyes are smiling at the thought of one of their native sons’ covering the Beat Happening classic “I Love You”. The British music paper New Musical Express reports that the Dublin combo Girl Band covers “I Love You” as the flip-side of their new single “De Bom Bom”, due out Sept. 1. “I Love […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Shivas – Manson Girls!

K Records - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 11:45am
The new Shivas album You Know What to Do [KLp252], recorded by Calvin Johnson at Dub Narcotic Studio, is out on K September 30. You dunt need to wait that long to hear a taste of the latest pop basement garage wranglin’ from our Vancouver, Washington rock’n'roll heroes. Brooklyn Vegan has debuted a song from […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

From Kindergarten To College, The Ramos Family Relies On Catholic Schools

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 6:08am



By Gail Wood

olympia private school

(From left) Lucy, Cecilia, Dominic, and John Ramos attend their Chrismation at St. George Byzantine Catholic Church.

In addition to learning how to solve math problems, write an essay or study biology, Maureen Ramos wanted something more from the schools that teach six of her nine children.

She wanted them to learn about their Catholic faith.

And that’s why four of her children will attend Holy Family, one will continue high school at Pope John Paul II and her son will begin at Saint Martin’s University this coming school year.

“I would not send my children to a Catholic institution if it didn’t teach the fullness of the Catholic teaching,” Ramos said. “Pope John Paul does that and so does Holy Family. That is really important to us. And if they didn’t we wouldn’t send our children there.”

The Ramos are a poster family for Catholic schooling. And they’re not the exception.

“It’s fairly common,” said Megan Farrell, the advancement director at Pope John Paul II. “I’d say about 50 percent of our students are coming from the Catholic school system.”

Ramos and her husband, Michael, feel they have the best of both worlds by sending their children to a Catholic school. It’s a plus academically – the teacher-student ratio at Pope John Paul II is 14-to-1 and at Holly Family it is 10-to-1. And it’s a plus spiritually as students are taught the Bible.

“I think we tend to have a remarkable program here for kids,” Farrell said. “One of the big benefits is we’re so young, we’re small and we’re growing. There are so many opportunities for kids to find leadership roles here at school to build programs – to really be invested at an adult level in the success of their school, their teams, and their co-curricular clubs. There’s just a great deal of advantage here.”

olympia catholic school

Lucy Ramos will be a first grade student at Holy Family school in Lacey.

Two of Ramos’ youngest children – Lucy and Dominic – will be entering the first grade. John will be a fourth grader and Cecilia will be a seventh grader. All will attend Holy Family, which is a school for grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Elizabeth Rose will be a junior at Pope John Paul II High School.

Her brother, Matthew, just graduated from Pope John Paul II and will attend Saint Martin’s in the fall, majoring in biology.

Nathan Ramos, the third oldest of the Ramos’ nine children, attended seminary for two years in Connecticut and has transferred to South Puget Sound Community College and plans on also attending Seattle University, a Catholic school.

On September 4, the Ramos family will take part in a regional Catholic mass at Saint Martin’s Marcus Pavilion starting at 10:30 a.m. It’s the first time this regional mass has occurred.

“I think it’s a great demonstration of the strength of Catholic schools in our south sound region,” Farrell said. “It’s a big event. We’re hoping it turns into an annual event that really solidifies, in the community, a sense of the presence of Catholic education.”

Everyone from the kindergartner at Holy Family to the senior at Saint Martin’s will be at the regional mass. The students will actually help in putting on the mass, doing the Bible readings and assisting in laity roles. Archbishop Peter Sartain will be coming down from Seattle to preach and pray.

olympia private school

The Ramos Family finds comfort in the Catholic education locally. Four children will attend Holy Family, one will be at Pope John Paul II High School and the sixth will be entering Saint Martin’s University.

According to a survey taken at Pope John Paul II, the reasons families give for attending a Catholic school instead of public school include four common answers. It’s because of the safe environment, small class sizes, and quality of academics.  But, the number one ranking is the sharing of the Catholic faith.

The Ramos’ reasons for sending their children to Catholic schools is similar to other families. But Maureen Ramos was talking with a family who have their child enrolled at Holy Family even though they weren’t Catholic. They valued the quality of education, not the opportunity to study the Bible.

“I just assumed that everyone at Pope John Paul II was Catholic,” Ramos said. “That’s not true.”

Until 1970, Saint Martin’s had its own high school and it wasn’t until the return of Pope John Paul II a couple of years ago that the area had a Catholic high school. David Spangler, the former Saint Martin’s University President, was involved in bringing back a Catholic high school in the South Sound.

“Saint Martin’s was very interested in developing that school,” said Genevieve Chan, Saint Martin’s vice president of marketing and communications. “A lot of our board members were also involved in the formation of that school as well. For a long long time there wasn’t an option for families to pursue a Catholic education during the high school years. So, we’re very excited that Pope John Paul II is here.”

Ramos, whose husband was in the Navy for 27 years and is now a nurse at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital, homeschooled her three oldest of nine children partly because they were moving so often. And then there was the aspect of being able to teach the Bible to her children. Since moving to Olympia a year ago, the Ramos family now have the opportunity to send their children to Catholic schools.

Farrell said the advantages of attending a Catholic school over a public school include helping students find their talents.

“Our mission is centered on students in a way that ensure that students are recognized and no student falls through the cracks,” Farrell said. “They are given the attention they need to discern their skills and their gifts and they’re encouraged on a personal level to pursue those skills and to advance them.”


Piano Tuner John Grace Sees Past His Disability

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 5:59am



By Tali Haller

providence medical group sponsorJohn Grace has owned his own one-man piano tuning business for over 50 years. As impressive as that is, there’s more – he’s blind. Due to early cataract, an eye disease in which the lens becomes covered in an opaque film that affects sight, eventually causing total loss of vision, John has been blind the majority of his 83 years. By the time he was two, his sight was completely gone.

olympia piano tuner

Being blind nearly all his life hasn’t stopped John Grace. He has owned his own piano tuning service for over 50 years.

However, he still manages to visualize what he’s doing. “I’ll put it to you this way,” he said. “When you sleep at night you have dreams and visions, and in those visions and dreams you see everything as you would see it if your eyes were open. My situation is no different than yours. I visualize everything around me, where people are sitting and, as I talk, I have an idea of what size my surroundings are by observing the sounds.”

Clearly, it’s John’s avoidance of self-pity and doubt that has let him live such a full and active life. Much of this positive outlook and can-do attitude stems from his childhood, where, as one of 17 children – which he described as his “small” family – he was treated the same way as everybody else. “My parents didn’t put me aside and do things for me. I learned to do as everyone else learned to do and there was never a question about whether I could do it or not,” John explained.

Early on he learned all the basic skills: how to feed himself, dress himself, and how to read and write in Braille. “I would often observe [with sound and touch] what my father or mother or sibling was doing when they were working on a project. Then, when they were done, I would examine it, gather the necessary supplies – be it sticks or boards – and then try to duplicate what they had done,” said John.

After moving around a lot as a child, mostly in the state of Georgia, John eventually moved to Vancouver in 1956 to attend the Washington State School for the Blind. It was here that he would find his life occupation.

“I got into tuning because I was looking for something to sustain myself in life,” he explained. He completed two years of technical training, “as anybody else would have” he mentioned, stressing the fact that his situation doesn’t give him the right to special treatment.

olympia piano tuner

Even at age 83, John still services 2-3 pianos a day through his one-man business Grace Piano Service.

After he finished his training, he was hired as an assistant instructor at the school and worked there until 1962, when again he was on the move. This time he landed in the spot that would become his home for the next 50+ years, Olympia.

Right away, he started working with L.W. Hyseum, a piano tuner whose bad health had him looking for someone to take over his clientele. After working with John, Hyseum planned to turn over his business to him when he died, which ended up being just a mere six months later. “From there, I developed the practice by building my own clientele, mostly through word-of-mouth and by networking with other technicians and music teachers in the area,” John said.

Even after 83 years of life and more than 50 years of piano tuning, John hasn’t slowed down too much. “I still train several technicians but I’ve cut down on how many pianos I service, now only two or three pianos a day, so I can leave some time for relaxation,” he said.

In his free time, John sings and plays the piano for fun, mostly spiritual and gospel music. He also does a lot of playing and performing at his church, New Life. One of his favorite pastimes is observing. “I observe the area, the residences as I go in them. I like for things to be described to me as I’m driven down streets and I visualize what my surroundings might look like,” John said.

Although his family never gave him very much special treatment, they’re still inspired by him. “He’s always been an inspiration to me growing up, the things he’s done and the things he’s accomplished in his life are amazing,” said his nephew Lucious Owns, who helps him move pianos.

Grace Piano Service can be contracted at 360-943-3712.

Complete Care For Your Family Through The Debra Daniels Insurance Agency

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 5:41am



olympia insurance

Debbie Daniels opened her insurance agency in 1992 with State Farm.

We all know Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This is all well and good if you know exactly what you’re trying to prevent… I worry more along the lines of author K.M. MacAulay, “You can’t prevent what you can’t predict.”

This is where seasoned insurance providers like Lacey’s Debbie Daniels come in.  Owner of the Debra Daniels Insurance Agency, an Agency of State Farm Insurance, she offers the experience to address any need: past, present, or future.

Insurance issues can be overwhelming.  Debbie and her team handle policies for home, automobile, renters, commercial, life, and just about anything you may require.  A Vancouver, Washington native, Debbie has spent her life in Western Washington.  Recruited to the industry by a former co-worker of her husband, she opened her Agency in 1992, when State Farm was recruiting more women into their workforce.  Though there were only three available positions in the region, she set her sights—and heart—on Thurston County and has thrived here ever since.

Debbie has worked locally for over twenty years, many of those with the same team members.  Now the proud owners of a new office in Lacey, her employees are entirely based in Thurston County.  With staffers who have worked for her for many years, they’re like family.  When her husband joined the business 17 years ago, and nieces and nephews hired for college breaks, they’ve been “a family run business ever since,” says Daniels.

Their goal is simple: “Families are our focus, we love working with families because we are a mom and pop place more than anything else.”  Because of this nothing is too big or too small for their skilled agents to handle.  Debbie hopes people will call, email, or just drop in any time with questions about policy needs.  They always make themselves available to serve the community one need at a time.

With this service mentality at the forefront, Debbie Daniels is a long-time volunteer with the Special Olympics and other community activities.  Staffer TeAnna Thompson, who joined State Farm in 2002, volunteers as Head Committee Chair for the HWY 507 Young Life’s Annual Fundraising Auction, which serves middle and high school students in the Rainier, Yelm, and Tenino districts.  Their Agency received an Agency Achievement award in 2012 and was lauded by The Olympian as a preferred agency that year as well.

olympia insurance

Debbie Daniels has operated her insurance agency for more than 20 years, with many of the same team members.

Throughout, customers sing their praises as well.  Says one happy client, “Been with Debbie for well… decades now and she and her staff are outstanding!  They bend over backwards to help and when you need them, they have your back!  Our daughter is a third generation State Farm Insurance client if that tells you something about the great treatment we have had.”

The Debra Daniels Insurance Agency can be found at 8765 Tallon Lane NE in Lacey, two blocks from the Hawks Prairie Costco.  Regular business hours are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. but after hours appointments can be easily arranged by calling 360-493-8284.

Because they understand local families and the variety of needs which can arise, no question is too silly and all inquiries are welcomed.  You can read customer reviews or frequently asked questions on their Facebook page as well.

Einstein once said that “the only source of knowledge is experience.”  Unfortunately these wise words are often secondary to those of universal Hitchhiker Douglas Adams who acknowledged that “human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”  Debbie Daniels and her team are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to make your life easier – all it takes is a phone call.


JPNSGRLS, robotsvsghosts, Calliope

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 5:00pm

Tuesday, August 26th, doors at 8pm

JPNSGRLS (Vancouver, BC)



Facebook invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

41st Harbor Days Maritime Festival

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 2:54pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Tugs, history, arts, crafts, food and fun for All Ages at Olympia's Harbor Days

Tugs, history, arts, crafts, food and fun for All Ages at Olympia’s Harbor Days

Vintage, working and retired tugboats return to the southernmost tip of Puget Sound for three days of fun at Harbor Days, Aug. 29-31. Experience it all at Percival Landing and Port Plaza on Olympia’s downtown waterfront.

The tugs leave shore on Sunday at noon for the annual Tugboat Races in the deep channel of the Budd Inlet. Many of the tugs offer tours on Saturday.

Port Plaza features Kitsap Live Steamers model trains and a mini Steamer that kids can ride along a 100-foot track! Model tugboat demos, Dragon boats, robotics, Tacoma Railways Centennial celebration, and the Port’s giant-sized building blocks add to the fun.

Browse over 200 arts and crafts booths and enjoy entertainment, festival food and a special area just for kids.

Port of Olympia partners in Harbor Days to celebrate the maritime heritage of our community. For more information:

Plum and prune

The Plum Palate - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:57am
About a month ago I found a flyer hanging on the front gate. I thought it might be an invitation to the neighborhood block party or another solicitation from a hopeful investment adviser. But this one, hanging by a hole shaped to fit over a doorknob, was neither. It had a photo of a pedestrian […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

OlyKraut and Home Fermentation in Olympia – The Flavorful World of Beneficial Microbes

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:03am



By Cara Bertozzi

Edward Jones Block AdFermentation is an ancient method of food preservation and flavor development.  Fermented foods, such as bread, wine, and beer, have long been mainstream. However, raw fermented foods, often termed probiotics, have more recently been commanding real estate on shelves in traditional grocery stores, where they are popular as tasty vectors of helpful live cultures of bacteria.

Sash Sunday, an engaging food activist and the owner of OlyKraut, credits two primary trends in food with creating the market for her pungent raw sauerkraut and fermented brine products. One driving force is the foodie or artisanal demographic.  These individuals are fascinated with the movement away from highly pasteurized, processed foods to more traditional methods of food preparation that result in tantalizing flavors, deemed worthy of the associated extra costs and time.


OlyKraut is brightly colored, crunchy and full of flavor.

The second driver are people who are increasingly convinced of the link between the consumption of raw fermented foods with health and wellness. Many people struggling with food sensitivities, allergies, and disease have turned to cultured foods, including miso, kefir, kimchi, kombucha and yogurt, to replenish their gut flora and heal their bodies. Scientific studies also support the connection between a healthy gut microbiome and mental well-being.

Founded in 2008, OlyKraut has been doubling their production annually.  Sash is quite pleased to partner with largely local farmers.  Last year, she sourced 60,000 pounds of cabbage and employed local workers to handcraft a healthy food that not only electrifies the tongue but also nourish the body.

Sauerkraut was a natural draw for Sunday because of the increased bioavailability of the cabbage nutrients due to the bacterial breakdown, cabbage’s anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and the incredibly simple method of preserving the cabbage through acidification as the Lactobacilli produce lactic acid as a byproduct of their metabolism of lactose and other sugars. Did I mention that it’s delicious?

OlyKraut products are sold in 60 locations throughout Washington and in the Portland area and can also be sampled at a variety of farmers’ markets or purchased as an add-on through many local community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, such as those of Oxbow Farm and Helsing Junction Farm.


Here is everything you need to make a batch of raw fermented sauerkraut.

Consumers in the Olympia area are fortunate to have many high-quality fermented foods at their fingertips. There are also great resources available to get you started if your interests include culturing ferments at home as a low-cost way to add healthy probiotics to your family’s diet. Meghan Hintz, a certified fermentationist and LMP who is deeply interested in digestive healing, recently taught Sauerkraut 101 to a group of 20 budding home cabbage connoisseurs at Eastside Urban Farm and Garden Center (EUFGC).  This is just one of their many great classes offered at the bargain price of $10.

Participants enjoyed tasting some of OlyKraut’s fare while Meghan shared the science behind sauerkraut ferments of anaerobic bacteria and their preferred environments, what types of ingredients work well in sauerkrauts and, correspondingly, which foods to avoid adding.  Then she walked us through the actual method itself by preparing a green cabbage, fennel, daikon radish, and green onion kraut.

We each tasted the salted cut vegetables to familiarize ourselves with the proper amount needed to maintain the crispness of the vegetables – it should be tasty like a chip. I was impressed by the level of questions attendees had regarding the type of kraut equipment to use, the ideal temperature and light conditions for ferments, and tips for identifying unsafe ferments gone rogue. Interestingly, each type of bacteria has its own preferred pH level, and the pH of finished krauts, which typically ranges from 3.8 to 4.2, is incompatible with the dreaded botulinum toxin-producing pathogen Clostridium botulinum.


Ingredients such as blackberries and sage can be used to flavor home-brewed kombucha. Note the SCOBY floating at the liquid-air interface.

This feature of bacterial life contributes to the potency of sauerkraut because you are not only consuming colony-forming units (CFUs) of microbes but you are also ingesting their preferred environment, which may help them successfully traverse the stomach and establish colonies in the small intestine.

Meghan was a knowledgeable and pleasant educator, and the experience gave me one more reason to adore EUFGC, a fantastic local resource for people who want to grow and make their own food. Each day that I pass by my freshman ferment on the kitchen counter, my anticipation grows.

Another easy way to get started with home fermentation is to brew your own probiotic drinks using an organic, live-culture starter kit from Oly-Cultures, another local company started by Julie Kamin after years of helping friends culture kefir and kombucha. In addition to milk and yogurt kefir grains, you can purchase a kombucha symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), and using just tea leaves and sugar, you can propagate your own kombucha.

By performing a secondary fermentation in a closed jar, you can create a carbonated tea that can be flavored in endless combinations. Just don’t let it ferment more than a few days or the pressure may crack your container. Our blackberry sage kombucha was a hit, and the best part is that you can reserve a portion of the previous brew and have an endless supply after your initial investment.

Be adventurous; there are lots of tasty ways to experiment with raw fermented foods, and it just may improve your health.


Sunrise Landscaping: Growing Thurston County, One Yard at a Time

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 6:00am



sunrise landscapingEleven years ago, Heath Howerton started Sunrise Landscaping out of a shed in his parent’s backyard. He was freshly graduated from Washington State University, having studied business entrepreneurship and landscape architect design. He got right to work building his landscaping business and never looked back.

Today, Sunrise has approximately 40 employees including two landscape designers, an architect, and a certified arborist. His tree service, which includes removal, chipping, limbing and animal tree rescue (that’s right cat owners!) averages three jobs a day, five days a week, and his design and install team produce over 300 landscapes a year.

Today, instead of working out of a shed, he has one of the best business locations in Thurston County, right on Martin Way.

sunrise landscaptingHow did Howerton’s backyard business grow so quickly and survive the 2008 economic downturn that hurt so many other local businesses?

Early on Howerton created a simple business plan, which included offering the best service in the region, and focusing primarily on residential landscape design, tree removal and lawn maintenance in Thurston County. He says that he is able to do this by hiring well. “I have some of the most incredible installers that I could ever imagine. They can do anything that is involved in landscaping. I can’t say enough about them,” said Howerton. “We also pay the best rates and hire trustworthy staff that go through background checks. We want homeowners to feel comfortable with our crew,” he added.

Dana Encheff is a licensed landscape architect as well as a local artist, and is on the Sunrise team. His landscape designs are beautiful to look at on paper, but are even more beautiful when they come to life as a vibrant, thriving garden. “Our designers are the best and are perfectionists. I’ve learned a lot working with them,” said Howerton.

sunrise landscapingHowerton is also committed to investing in the community. “We buy our landscaping supplies and plants from local suppliers rather than from large corporations,” Howerton described.  “We could save more money if we bought from those larger nurseries, but we believe in supporting local businesses. Also, the quality of their products is outstanding.”

Business really began booming for Sunrise when he opened his gallery and showroom on Martin Way. Howerton created an outdoor design studio displaying different options in landscape design, including water features, decks, patios, flagstone walkways and fire pits. Step inside the office and you’ll see photos everywhere of completed projects — everything from outdoor kitchens to ladder trucks taking down tricky trees. “We like people to come in and look at our idea books, look around the gallery and walk along our beautiful flagstone paths,” said Office Manager Lynnette.

sunrise landscapingShe said that many people don’t really know what they want their yard or lawn to look like until they see some ideas. The gallery is a great place to start, and it doesn’t cost a thing to look. “For most homeowners the process starts when they give us a call and we send a designer out to look at the project. Sometimes they want a design and other times just a quote. Usually, the project takes a few weeks from the first phone call, to the quote and the work. Our team is very efficient. Tree removal is similar. We can get a crew out to a homeowner very quickly,” she said.

Homeowners call Sunrise for a variety of projects, and recently Howerton and his team have been enjoying fun projects like wood fired pizza ovens, swimming pools and outdoor spas, but they also work on more serious projects like shoreline mitigation, erosion control, retaining walls and stump grinding.

“In the beginning, when I started out, I did a lot of lawn mowing, weeding and spring cleanup. That tapered off over the years, but now we’re getting many requests for maintenance work again. We do one time or annual contracts. Homeowners love knowing that we’ll take good care of their lawns and gardens,” he said.

Howerton and his crew can take on just about any project that customers send their way. “Just yesterday a woman stopped by and asked if we’d take down a dilapidated shed on her property that was close to falling over. I told her I’d send a team over to take care of it for her,” he said

And right there is the real secret behind his success. His team has the tools, knowledge and manpower to do just about any project a homeowner could want.

sunrise landscapingSunrise Landscaping & Tree Removal

6325 Martin Way E, Olympia, WA 98516

(360) 556-3002


Tree removal

Landscape Design

Yard/Lawn Maintenance

Pools & Spas


Plan an Olympia Weekend Staycation

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 5:47am



By Gale Hemmann

xeroxThe last days of summer are upon us. As families prepare for back-to-school and busy schedules ahead, you may find yourself yearning to maximize these last few days. One way to enjoy family time without spending much money is to have a “staycation.”

Staycations have been gaining popularity in recent years because they offer a chance to unwind and enjoy the fun of a vacation without ever leaving town. Whether you plan to literally stay at home and do activities together or take a day trip somewhere, there are tons of ways you can plan to spend your staycation right here in Thurston County. This seasoned “staycationer” explored some unique options and themes for staycations that are easy, affordable, and most importantly, fun.

Planning the Perfect Staycation

olympia beach

Spend a day at the beach. This timeless option is a great, free way to send out the summer Northwest-style.

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to creating the ideal staycation. Sure, you can be spontaneous – but having at least a rough idea of what you want to do in mind is helpful. Involve the whole family in the decision-making – pick a theme or activity that is interesting to everyone. Check out the hours of and get directions to places you may want to visit.

Prepare ahead of time: Go shopping to get any groceries or supplies you may need. Take care of any chores and last-minute “to-do” items before you unplug. Clear the calendar, just for a day or weekend. The goal of a staycation is to relax, and you want to be able to just focus on enjoying the time together with minimal distractions. And of course, here in late-summer Washington, it’s always helpful to have a back-up plan in mind in case of weather changes.

Your options are literally limitless. Of course, you will tailor your staycation plans to best suit your family’s interests and kids’ ages. The key element is this: do something you wouldn’t ordinarily take the time to enjoy. Here are some ideas for sending summer out with style.

Staycation Ideas:

  • Backyard Camping: One option is to head to a local campground for an end-of-summer trip that is budget-friendly. But you can also have a “campout” right at home. You can set up tents in your backyard or even in the living room (or have kids make a blanket tent). Kids can sleep in sleeping bags, and you can make camp foods. You can make microwave S’mores and eat easy “camping” foods like hot dogs or veggie dogs and hot cocoa. During the day, you can take a nature walk in your yard or at a local park. You can also tell “campfire stories” around a flashlight. Get creative: You can make up silly camp songs, give your family camp a name, and make up camp nicknames for each other to use throughout the day or weekend.
  • Tourists in Your Own Town: Pretend you are tourists visiting Olympia for the first time. See everything with fresh eyes. Where would you go? What would you do? Use this day as an excuse to get out and see something you’ve always been curious about, but never had the time to stop by. Visit a new park, a new part of town, or a historical landmark. (Thrifty Thurston checks out local kid-friendly museums here.) Talk with kids about what you see throughout the day that makes your town interesting. Have fun with it: pick up little souvenirs, take plenty of “travel photos,” and even create a trip itinerary for the day. It will make you see your hometown with new eyes and will show kids you can find adventure without going far.
  • ellis cove trail

    We will be hiking the Ellis Cove Trail in Priest Point Park in the Spring.

    Pajama Day: If you’re looking for a more relaxed pace, you can have a family “Pajama Day.” A family I know takes time out of their busy schedules every once in a while to do this and unwind. The rules of pajama day: Everyone stays in their pajamas all day. You eat breakfast-themed foods (kids can help make fun-shaped pancakes, for example). You can play family board games (or make up one of your own), watch movies (or make up a play), read together, or just sit around and talk. Quiet, low-key family days like this can be amazingly restorative. Getting to spend time at home together, without having to rush around, is a rare treat for many of us.

  • Hit the Beach: As someone who grew up in the Northwest, one of my favorite ways to unwind at any age has always been to go to the beach. There is something about the vast swaths of sand, soothing waves and wind in your hair that feels timeless and free. Have kids help pack a picnic lunch, throw in some sunscreen and towels, and hit of the many beaches in Thurston County or beyond. (Check out ThurstonTalk’s pick of local beaches here.) I have always enjoyed the quiet town of Westport in Grays Harbor County too, about an hour’s drive from Olympia – walk the sand, get an ice cream cone, and climb the famous tower overlooking the ocean.  Find even more beach ideas on
  • Get Out Into Nature: Time spent in nature is beneficial to our health and overall well-being. The whole family will benefit from a day outdoors hiking or walking. Put on your hiking shoes and hit one of the kid-friendly (and dog-friendly) trails listed here. And older kids might enjoy a longer hiking day trip.  Check out some great tips and destination ideas here. It doesn’t matter how far you go, just that you’re out spending some time in nature. You can identify different plant species, birds and other things you see along the way.
  • traditions cafe

    Go out for an espresso or a sweet treat. Traditions Café in downtown Olympia offers ice cream, espresso, and more. It is conveniently located across from Capitol Lake, so you can take a walk afterwards.

    Go Swimming: When my niece and nephew come to visit, the top items on their agenda: swim, swim, and swim some more. What better way to end the summer than with a splash at a local beach or pool? Find ThurstonTalk’s pick of outdoor swimming spots here. Another memorable option is the Tenino Rock Quarry Pool. And if it’s a cooler day, check out these indoor pools, including Discover Aquatics. Try somewhere you’ve never been before – that will add to the sense of adventure and novelty.

  • Splurge on a Sweet Treat: One way to get something special to eat without the cost of a full meal is to take the kids out for dessert. It’s a “sweet” way to top off the day. Get ice cream in a hand-made waffle cone and enjoy the old-school, family-friendly charm at Grandpa’s Soda Shop. Get a hand-crafted milkshake or Italian soda at Mud Bay Coffee Company (you can stop in or visit the drive-thru). You can also enjoy the frozen yogurt at locally-owned Twisties in Lacey. Or, try a healthy, eco-friendly popsicle from the Oly Pops cart in downtown Olympia (both Twisties and Oly Pops sell no-sugar-added flavors as well, for any diabetic family members).

Another idea is to check the ThurstonTalk’s weekend event calendar for a range of upcoming events. The ideas are endless – no matter what you’ll do, you’ll have a change of pace and some great family time while going easy on your budget. Older kids can burn off some energy before the school year starts and hopefully everyone will have a memorable time.

Who knows? Your staycation might be so much fun that you make it an annual tradition. Make sure to find some kind of little mementos along the way to save as a reminder of your staycation. It will be like holding onto a little piece of summer memories as the fall approaches.


Community Rights Forum

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 7:49pm
Event:  Sat, 09/13/2014 - 12:00pm - 2:00pm

Help draft a Community Rights Ordinance that will give us the tools to stop the ongoing degradation of the South Puget Sound.  The new Ordinance will allow citizens to reclaim their power, while corporations will be barred from claiming Constitutional rights won by human beings over the years. 

Help us iron out the details.  Bring a mug.  MIXX96 MEETING ROOM, 119 NE WASHINGTON ST., OLYMPIA 98501.

Workshop will be moderated by knowledgeable environmentalists Cindy Beckett and Harry Branch. 

Later workshops will focus on other possible Community Rights Ordinances:   one for citizen civil rights vs. the police, and one which would ban genetically modified organisms in Thurston County.   We will, of course, also welcome your original idea for a CRO!  

All CRO's extend the rights of communities to legislate their own well-being in an environment typically controlled by State and Federal governments.  We're trying to craft the right Ordinance for our community:  one that will significantly change the power balance and help us achieve goals we care about.   Please join us. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Emby Alexander ,,, Middlewav ,,, The Straws ,,, Crowd the Sky

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 5:00pm

Monday, August 25, doors at 8pm

EMBY ALEXANDER … Phoenix chamberpowerpop

MIDDLEWAV … Olympia experimental electrofolk

THE STRAWS … Oly alt groove, multigenre sprawl

CROWD THE SKY … Oly synth sounds, ex-Celestials

Facebook invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rock Around the Block

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:28am
Event:  Fri, 09/12/2014 - 5:00pm - 9:00pm

From today's inbox: logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Timberland Libraries Boost Service Hours

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:44am



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library


Senior - Older couple TRLLibrary patrons in the five-county Timberland Regional Library (TRL) service area asked for longer hours; starting September 2, they’ve got them! District-wide, 26 libraries and the Ask-A-Librarian service will add hours – a total of 58 more each week. The increased schedules come at no additional cost. TRL administration, branch librarians and staff members gathered public comments in the libraries, at public meetings and from online surveys. They counted usage hours, studied peak use times for computers, meeting space and circulation materials. Then they got creative – shifting people and duties into longer open hours and reducing the amount of work done while libraries are closed. Many communities will experience an increase in Saturday hours, resulting in all libraries being open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The new schedule provides more consistent, easy-to-remember opening times and in the largest libraries an extra hour on Friday evenings. “Libraries are at the heart of healthy communities,” Timberland Library Director Cheryl Heywood said. “They have one simple mission: to serve the public.”

“To do this,” Heywood continued, “we have to listen to our communities, understand the issues and make the best changes possible. More open hours,” she added, “is a very good change.”

Foofaraw: Ready….Set….Sail!

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:23am



Submitted by the Thurston County Chamber

Port of Olympia FoofarawFor over five decades, the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce has been honored to partner with the Olympia Yacht Club to host local military personnel, at Foofaraw, an event unmatched anywhere else in the world.  Always the first Friday after Labor Day, we will be shoving off from the Olympia Yacht Club main station for the fifty-second year on Friday, September 5.

One dictionary defines Foofaraw as “much ado about nothing” and, at one point in history the official “purpose” of the day, claimed that a “Foofarite [military attendee] has earned the right to say ‘Foof’ to all duties and responsibilities for one day each year.”

Foofaraw has grown to be well known throughout the United States armed forces including the 62nd & 446th Air Force divisions, the Western Air Defense Sector, Bangor Naval Station, Madigan Army Medical Center, the Washington National Guard and among many others from Joint Base Lewis McChord. Guests are transported by yacht club members to Island Home, where they are treated to a full day of games, served a terrific salmon BBQ lunch, and honored by local dignitaries.  We average two service members to every one civilian.

For the last several years, the Port of Olympia has shown their gratitude of service to our military by arranging an unofficial sendoff including representatives from local police, medic, and fire departments and always hanging a large American flag from one of their cranes.

Sponsor tickets for this year’s event are accounted for; however, we are collecting donations for the free military raffle that takes place throughout the day.

For more information about Foofaraw or other Chamber events, please call the Chamber at 360.357.3362.

Your Healthcare Connection: Oly Ortho Welcomes Dr. Tracy Hamblin

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:03am



oly ortho

Dr. Tracy Hamblin will begin seeing patients at the Olympia Orthopaedics Walk-In Clinic starting September 2.

For the most part, we are a healthy community.  We hike on the weekends, join in community 5K runs and participate in active outdoor recreation in beautiful Thurston County.  And that means for many of us, we may need a quick visit to the doctor from time to time to check out a new ache or pain or possibly an injury.

Whether you have a repetitive motion injury from marathon training or simply played a little too hard with the kids on the weekend there is a quick, easy and injury specific option beyond your primary care doctor:  the Sports Medicine doctors at Olympia Orthopaedics Associates.  The very popular sports medicine physician, Dr. Leyen Vu, has been serving patients at Oly Ortho for the last 2 years with fantastic results.  Patients are seen quickly, assessed by trained injury specialists, and treated by top physicians in the field.  Backed by a comprehensive team of surgeons and orthopaedic specialists, Dr. Vu is able to provide quick and effective diagnosis and treatment including referral to the Oly Ortho team.

And now Dr. Vu has a little help.  Oly Ortho is excited to welcome a new Sport Medicine doctor, Dr. Tracy Hamblin, providing a second physician on site daily to assess patients with sports related injuries and provide care for non-surgical musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

Dr. Hamblin joins the group after extensive training.  A Utah native, Dr. Hamblin completed her undergraduate work at the University of Utah in Biomedical Engineering.  “I always thought when I was a kid that I’d grow up to be a doctor, but I just wasn’t ready when I finished my undergrad work,” she explains.  As a result she enrolled in graduate school at Syracuse University, earning her masters in the same field.

oly ortho

Participating in triathlons is one of Dr. Hamblin’s hobbies along with Pilates and a teaching herself to knit.

“It was my first semester of grad school,” Dr. Hamblin recalls, “when I realized I really was ready to go to medical school.”  She completed her two years of study at Syracuse and moved back to Utah, enrolling in University of Utah Medical School.  She loved being back home in the west and stayed put for her residency in Family Medicine.

It was during this time that she met Dr. Vu as he was completing his Sports Medicine work at the University of Utah.  “We became good friends.  Both of us did residencies in family medicine but we both had a passion for sports medicine,” says Dr. Hamblin.

The pair continued to see each other at professional conferences throughout the next year while Dr. Hamblin completed her fellowship at the John Peter Smith Sports Medicine program in Fort Worth, Texas.  When she was ready to begin her full-time clinical work, she looked again to her friend Dr. Vu for guidance on where she could use her specialized training in Sports Medicine.

Luckily the stars aligned and Oly Ortho was looking to expand their Sports Medicine services and Dr. Hamblin was a perfect fit.  “I really wanted to find a job where I could fully use my sports medicine training to help patients live healthy lives,” she shares.  “I also really wanted to use my unique skills, developed during my fellowship, for fluoroscopic injections to aid patient healing and not all clinics offer that service.  Olympia Orthopaedics not only offered it but was excited about my specialized training.”

Fluoroscopic injections are x-ray guided injections directed at very specific areas of a joint.  By utilizing small amounts of contrast dye in the joint, along with a live x-ray image, Dr. Hamblin is able to pinpoint an injection, directing medications exactly where they are needed, alleviating pain and helping with diagnosis of injury.

oly ortho

Dr. Hamblin embodies a “Life in Motion” with her love of the outdoors, biking and living a healthy lifestyle.

When asked what she is most excited about in her new position at Oly Ortho, Dr. Hamblin shares, “The opportunity to be around so many Ortho docs will be great.  The learning opportunities will be tremendous plus I’ll be able to use the skills learned in my fellowship on a daily basis.  But the most exciting is that this position is 100% Sports Medicine related.  It is my passion and I never tire of seeing patients with injuries and helping them get back to an active lifestyle.”

Dr. Hamblin will also serve as team doctor for many of the area’s college and high school athletes.  “I love working with the students, seeing them grow as athletes throughout the season and helping them through any injury challenges.”

She is uniquely suited to working with students, too, as Dr. Hamblin was a competitive gymnast for over ten years and continues to value an active lifestyle.  She has completed at least one triathlon a year since 2007 and explains, “I’m not out there to win the race, but simply to finish.  It feels good to finish – to accomplish my goal.  That’s what keeps me coming back to races each year.”

It’s this value on staying active and healthy that she hopes to instill in her patients as well. “Olympia Orthopaedic’s motto is to get your Life in Motion. I always try to live my life as an example for my patients – showing them that staying healthy and in motion leads to a happy life.”


Olympia and Thurston should follow Poulsbo and Kitsap's lead (at the very least) and what your PUD candidates think about that

Olympia Time - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:39am
Internet connectivity should be a basic utility, like sewer, water and garbage. Directly speaking, that isn't possible in Washington State. Some local governments can, but PUDs cannot directly connect their customers. They can provide service to businesses that sell retail connections to customers.

So, in Kitsap County, the PUD up there is wiring up the cities of Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island, which then are turning on municipal wifi:
There were four antennas placed in downtown Poulsbo.
“Which was not enough,” Jones said.

An upgraded system will likely equate to more antennas throughout a coverage area.

“I’m willing to put a tower on my house,” joked Poulsbo Port Commissioner Jim Rut-ledge, who attended the May 28 meeting.

“I’m willing to wear one,” quipped Councilman Ed Stern.Improving the system may require KPUD to further expand its fiberoptic system to accommodate additional antennas.A few weeks ago, I asked various PUD candidates what they thought about the Thurston PUD rolling out not only internet service, but reaching out to customers.

Here is my question:

PUDs are allowed by law to become wholesale internet service  providers. With the already limited number of private companies providing internet access abandoning net neutrality, we have the opportunity through our PUDs to help provide inexpensive and fair access.

Do you think the Thurston PUD should enter the broadband market? Here are their responses.

Chris Sterns:
I would say yes, if we could do it with a successful business plan. Each county PUD has entered the Telecom/Fiber Optic wholesale marketplace under their own different business model. This reflected whether or not they were already an electric utility, how big they are and whether or not their model was successful. Noanet is the consortium of PUD's that provides the main conduit of the internet fiber-optic system that everyone already uses including the private telecoms and the cell phone towers which are now hooked up to it! It passes through our county along side of the federal BPA transmission lines. Electric utilities utilize fiber to run their electric utilizes more efficiently (connecting up all their electric substations) that a water utility cannot do. Both electric and water utilities have cut back on Noanet participation due to revenue losses that their electric customers made up. Some had more secure private sector participation, others dropped out since customer density was low in rural counties. I will not enter this business to become a loss leader (lose money just to get into the market). Some other counties had residents who felt this was a good idea, I don't and their commissioners rejected the federal grants to start up services because they felt they couldn't make it work profitably. I have attended along with Commissioner Russ Olsen Washington PUD Association meetings on how each PUD runs their fiber optic system. We are looking closely at what would work best here. The first place to go would be the densest areas in the north county cities. These cities have already laid down dark fiber when they dig up their streets for water line replacement. All it needs is to be connected and lit up. Other areas can be added from a profitable core area. C.S.

P.S. The federal regulators (FCC) are considering overriding our state law that limits us to only wholesale service, we are the only state with those direct restrictions and yet cable remains unregulated. They have better lobbyists! The only other proposed systems are government to government services. Brian Hess:
I am still researching this issue and have found some things that I think the PUD can do to assist with the challenge.  One way to assist is being the repository of information not only about telecommunications, but also water and power.  The PUD should have available data for all within the county to look at and research and then be able to make educated decisions about their choices.  The PUD currently puts out a newsletter, but only to those that receive services from it.  I believe that the newsletter should go out to all residents within the county.  While campaigning it has occurred to me that not many know that there is a PUD and what it does.  This is wrong since each property owner within the county pays taxes to the PUD.

One of the challenges we face with telecommunications, or any other utility, is the infrastructure of such utilities.  I have read a story about how cities are being challenged by the telecommunication companies when the city wishes to install fiber optics within their limits.  I am still researching this issue, but my first response is that it is not right that a city cannot provide infrastructure for its residents.  I am still researching this issue and will hope to have a better response soon.

I have also read about a city in Washington that set-up free WiFi for all within the city limits.  I am trying to find that article again to share with you.  I am also wanting to follow-up on it to see how successful it has been.  This is another way that telecommunications can be provided to all.Hess went on for a lot longer than that, but didn't end up coming back to the internet issue at all.
Basically, Sterns seems more versed on the topic, and makes a great point towards the end. The urban part of the county seems better suited for connectivity soon. Fiber has already been laid and it would just take the PUD to light it up. Since the PUD right now is a somewhat disconnected water utility, it doesn't have the built infrastructure to just add on internet.

Diane Hall Creates a Culture of Kindness at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary and Beyond

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:31am



By Kate Scriven

russell dentistry logoSchool may be out for the summer, but Diane Hall’s students will still be using what she has taught them this year.  As the Reading Specialist at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary in Tumwater, Hall’s students will be diving into new books, reading restaurant menus, looking for street signs and more.  Reading is all around us.

But more than that, the over 550 students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade she taught this year will be practicing creating a “Culture of Kindness” in their daily lives.  Being kind is a concept that Pete G. Schmidt teachers and administrators added to their building wide PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) this year, building on the concepts already in place of being Safe, Respectful and Responsible.

tumwater school

Diane Hall, reading specialist at Peter G. Schmidt elementary school in the Tumwater School District, created a Culture of Kindness program.

Why add being kind this year?  “We added the concept of creating a ‘culture of kindness’ this year to focus on building community in such a large school.  I have a unique opportunity to do that because I see all the students,” explains Hall.  Teaching the concept of kindness came easily to this creative, inspired teacher and mom of two kids of her own.

Combining a need to support writing instruction along with teaching the students to support one another, Hall created a school-wide letter writing project centered on the annual Math assessments.  These assessments were identified by the school counselor as one of the most stressful times for students and Hall’s goal was to ease the stress by creating an atmosphere of kindness and support among the students.

“The classroom teachers have so much work to do,” shares Hall. “To tackle something like our ‘culture of kindness project’ would be overwhelming.  But for me, seeing all the students, I can create a community-wide project and I’m grateful to be able to do that.”

Hall introduced the project to all Peter G. Schmidt students, sharing how they would write letters to students in other grade levels giving support and encouragement for their math assessments.  Letters were then delivered to students just prior to taking their tests this spring.  “The letter writing served several purposes,” explains Hall. “First it builds community.  Second, we were focusing on an authentic purpose for writing with a real audience, part of the common core writing standards.”

The older students were a bit grumbly, Hall admits, about writing a letter to a younger student they might not know.  Hall reframed the assignment, showing them this was an opportunity for leadership and support.  “It’s the first time the third graders take the MSP and the older kids had a chance to support and encourage them at a stressful time.  The big kids really liked that,” Hall shares.

tumwater schools

Over 550 students participated in the letter writing project.

The letters were crafted during time in Hall’s reading classroom and were required to include two things:  words of encouragement and at least two test-taking strategies.  “The encouragement provides community, positive reinforcement, and has the kids simply thinking positively about taking a test,” says Hall. “The strategies allow the letter writer and letter reader a refresher of some of the strategies taught in the classroom prior to taking their own assessment.”

For the younger grades (kindergarten through second grade) the students brainstormed kind words and test strategies and created a poster with their words that was delivered to their buddy classroom prior to testing and displayed proudly.  The goal of formal letter writing is not a standard for the primary grades, so Hall adapted the assignment to fit with goals appropriate for their skill building standards – writing creatively and for a specific purpose.

Here are a few of the letters that students shared with their schoolmates in the “Culture of Kindness” letters:

  • Culture of Kindness poster flower“To my buddy, I told him to make sure to skip an answer and go back later if he didn’t know it.  And just relax.” – Ben, sixth grade
  • “I wrote to be confident, not to be stressed, that you can do it and you know these answers.”  – Malachi, sixth grade
  • “I wanted to encourage other students.  Mine said to keep up the good work.” – Lillian, second grade

Students also shared how receiving the letters just prior to their test made them feel.

  • “I felt very happy to get the poster and read the kind words.  With it in here all the time I just feel happy.” – Violet, second grade
  • “Reading my letter before the test felt like it gave me more courage.” Damon, sixth grade
  • “I always get so worried at MSP time.  Reading my letter sort of felt like someone was helping me get through it and it helped.” – Morgan, sixth grade

Kindness - Madison, JakobWhat have the students learned through this project?  Certainly, they’ve learned they are all in it together when it comes to assessment.  But more than that, the students have learned that their kindness can positively impact others.  Hall hopes the lessons in kindness extend beyond Peter G. Schmidt’s walls, creating children who view being kind and supportive of each other with the same level of importance as all the other skills they learn at school.

Second grade student, Katie, sums it up.  “This is an important thing to do.  It makes people feel happy inside and it’s really important to feel happy, not sad.  It’s just better.”

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