Recent local blog posts

Hot Flame, Patient Hands, Colorful Designs: An Olympia Couple’s Passion for Lampwork Bead Making

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 6:00am



By Doris Faltys

capital medical centerLampworker Ernie Wagner and his wife, designer Darcie Richardson, have been making glass bead creations for about 12 years.

“Many people think we are blowing glass or fusing glass,” Ernie explains. “What I am doing is lampwork – basically melting glass.  As early as the 1500s, people were making beads by melting glass in the flame of their oil lamps. That is where the term lampwork comes from. The Italians and the French used oil lamps with a pump to make huge numbers of beads for the African bead trade. Now people scour Africa looking for those old beads to bring back and sell.”

Lampworker Ernie Wagner and designer Darcie Richardson work together in their Olympia studio.

Lampworker Ernie Wagner and designer Darcie Richardson work together in their Olympia studio.

When asked how he first discovered the craft, Ernie describes his first lampworking experience. “We were visiting a friend who has a business selling glass on eBay. Our friend thought that Darcie would really like bead making and had her sit down to try it out. Well, Darcie sat down and wasn’t too thrilled. But I sat down, made one bead, and got hooked.”

“After that initial introduction,” Darcie adds, “Ernie set up in our garage here in Olympia. He would go out in the garage, in the middle of winter, and work with a blanket over his legs.”

“I am primarily self-taught,” says Ernie. “I watched some tutorials and bought a really good book, Passing the Flame: A Bead Makers Guide to Design and Detail, by Cornia Tettinger.”

Darcie creates jewelry with both beads she has collected and Ernie’s creations. “I had done some work with beads,” Darcie shares. “All of a sudden, I had this bead source!”

They invite me to sit and watch as Ernie creates a bead.  “I use a propane tank with an oxygen booster,” he explains as he lights his flame. “This gives a hotter flame, over 1000 degrees.”

Darcie hands me a pair of dark glasses and instructs me to put them on.

‘The glass I work with,” Ernie continues, “has a lot of soda in it, which flares when put into the flame.”

He holds a cane of colored glass into the flame and it does, indeed, begin to flare. “The flare makes it hard to see what you are doing, so I wear dark glasses. Then I can see exactly what I am doing.”

 Doris Faltys

Ernie adds a different color glass to the hot base bead. Photo Credit: Doris Faltys

Ernie picks up a small stainless steel rod called a mandrel. It is about 1/16 inch in diameter. “When the glass cane begins to melt,” he explains, “I catch it on the mandrel and simply wind it around.”

It looks simple, in a complicated way, as Ernie allows a drop of melted glass to fall on the center of the mandrel. He then rotates the mandrel between his fingers and the molten glass wraps itself around the rod.

“Here is a very simple base bead,” he says. Prior to melting the glass, Ernie coated the mandrel with a kind of clay-like material called bead release.  This prevents the glass from bonding to the metal.

“I can go back into the flame and add more glass, until I get the bead shape that I want,” he continues.

He takes an extremely thin cane of a darker color and touches it to the hot bead in the flame. A tiny dot appears.

“Sometimes, I take a thin cane of glass called a stringer and melt-on a dot. I can leave the dots raised up if I want or I can make them flat and put another color on top. Or if I want, I can draw with the stringer,” he explains as he shows me how the thin cane can be melted onto the hot bead in a squiggle line.

Ernie makes his own stringers by heating up the end of a cane of glass. When the tip of the cane has a molten spot about the size of a pea, he takes tweezers and grabs into the molten blob and begins to pull.  The faster he pulls, the thinner the stringer. When the glass starts to get stiff after just a few seconds, he stops pulling and breaks off his stringer.

“Everything about bead making takes time. You spend more time melting and heating the glass to  temperature than anything else. I have to keep the whole thing hot all the time, as well. If it is out of the flame for too long, it will crack.”

 Darcie Richardson creates fun and fanciful jewelry combining the lampwork beads with interesting and antique beads she has collected. Photo credit Doris Faltys

Darcie Richardson creates fun and fanciful jewelry combining the lampwork beads with interesting and antique beads she has collected. Photo credit Doris Faltys

To assist with keeping the beads hot Ernie uses a small kiln with only about one square foot of interior space.  He puts the beads in the kiln to cool slowly and avoid breakage when they cool too fast.

Ernie gains inspiration from the natural world, patterns he observes while out and about, suggestions from Darcie, or special orders. “One of my favorite things,” Darcie tells me, “is when somebody says I have an outfit and I really want a special necklace to go with it.  It’s so challenging and it’s so much fun.”

Ernie also creates memory beads.  “If you have had a pet or a loved one pass away,” explains Darcie, “Ernie can take some of the ashes and integrate it into a bead.”

“I take a bit – a gather - of molten glass and roll it in the ashes,” he says.  “I then pull a stringer. I melt that stringer that is imbedded with the ashes into a bead.”

Creating lampwork glass beads is truly an ages-old art form. “It is all about temperature and working in and out of the flame,” says Ernie. “It is a very meditative process.”

You can view some of Darcie Richardson and Ernie Wagner’s work at The Artists’ Gallery, or contact them at 360- 456-8716 or by email at to view their work or commission custom items.

Jenell Arnold Builds a Business of Beauty at Touché Beauty Bar

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 6:00am



By Morgan Willie

indian summer logoWhen Jenell Arnold was a young girl, she was constantly getting into her mother’s makeup. Jenell’s mother struggled to keep her daughter’s hands out of her cosmetic bag.

Nothing could deter Jenell from her love of blush and eye shadow and when she turned 25, she enrolled in school to pursue an esthetician’s license.

After receiving her license, Jenell spent seven years working for a spa, building up a strong, sizable clientele. And, although she was satisfied with this employment, Jenell knew there was a specific calling and purpose for her particular skill set.

Jenell Arnold has always had a passion for makeup and skincare. She’s been a small business owner since 2011.

Jenell Arnold has always had a passion for makeup and skincare. She’s been a small business owner since 2011.

In 2011, Jenell became a small business owner with a partner and by 2013, she was ready to fly solo. That year, Jenell opened Olympia’s Touché Beauty Bar, a boutique-like spa that caters to both women and men in need of skincare and waxing services.

Today, Jenell’s business is thriving. In the past year, she’s taken on 10 new employees and she’s added a full-service nail salon to the spa’s already substantial menu of treatments and amenities.

“It was a scary jump to go out on my own, but I did it,” Jenell shares. “I was just so passionate about caring for people and loving-on them, so it came naturally. I think people feed off of your energy, and I’m pretty social, so it was easy for me to connect with people.”

Touché has a distinct and refreshing ambiance. Bright colors and chic decor bring a fun, flirty vibe to the beauty bar. And customer service is second to none. The staff members are incredibly personable and sweet, taking the time to really get to know you.

“We create special bonds and friendships with the clientele at Touché. They have become our family,” Jenell says. “People want to come here to see how we’re doing, and because they love the way they feel when they leave. If someone falls off of my books and I don’t see them for a couple months, I’ll reach out to them. It’s about treating people like individuals, instead of just clients, and remembering their stories.”

 Jasmine Olson

Touché supplies a number of different skincare and makeup products in the little boutique at the entrance of the spa. The brands and lines change regularly as the staff sees fit. Photo by: Jasmine Olson.

Jenell feels lucky to work among a generally upbeat crowd, clients and staff members alike.

“I’m surrounded by beautiful women and lovely women who want to come to me. They aren’t coming in because they have to – they’re visiting because they want to be here,” she notes. “Here, all the stress kind of just melts away. Sometimes you can feel people’s tensions, but by the time they leave, they’re giving you hugs and telling you they love you.”

Esthetician Rebecca Cochran absolutely adores working for Jenell. She had nothing but positive things to say about Touché.

“I love the work environment – it’s beautiful here! I love my coworkers because we are a team, we support each other, and we help each other grow,” she explains. “It’s just the best place ever.”

And, massage therapist Brooke K Bell feels similarly. “I love working here. I like the diverse clientele, the freedom we have as practitioners, and the trust that Jenell gives us,” Brooke beamed. “I’m a mother, and I have four kids. There are always things that come up concerning my children. Jenell’s been amazing at showing my family compassion and understanding. I love the creativity and vision that she has for this place.”

 Jasmine Olson

Jenell incorporated a full-service nail spa in May of 2015 so that clients would have a chance to spruce up their fingers and toes after a massage or facial. Photo by: Jasmine Olson.

Touché offers a variety of massage styles and packages to have you completely at ease. Some spa favorites include the Lomi Lomi Massage, using flowing, continuous strokes, and the M’lis Detox Body Contour Wrap, which provides 90 peaceful minutes of holistic treatment.

Jenell is proud of her beautiful and friendly shop. She’s looking forward to expanding the spa in future years as business grows.”I just keep moving forward and doing what I love,” Jenell says.

Jenell Arnold is an example of someone who has turned her passion into a career. When you stop in at Touché, you can feel assured that you’ll be in excellent hands.

“Making people feel good,” Jenell said, “is what makes me feel good.”

Browse through Touché Beauty Bar’s wide selection of treatments or book an appointment here and keep up to date with new specials on Touché’s Facebook page.

Touché Beauty Bar


1912 State Ave NE, Olympia, WA 98506

Monday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m

Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Getting Back to Basics: Event Features Community Reskilling Workshops

Janine's Little Hollywood - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 5:16pm

Above: A reskilling event in Olympia in 2012 gathered over 150 very engaged community members to watch demonstrations on beekeeping, cheesemaking, basketmaking, candlemaking, building rocket stoves, and creating pop or beer can solar collectors.
By Janine
A hands-on, community event featuring reskilling demonstrations and workshops will be held on Saturday, September 12, 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. at West Central Park on Olympia’s west side. The park is located on the corner of Harrison and Division. The local bluegrass band, The Pine Hearts, will also perform.The event is free and open to the public.
The event will have short demonstrations and activities related to old-fashioned, common sense skills such as pedal-powered grain grinding, knot-tying, making and cooking on rocket stoves, seed saving, managing waste with waterless toilets, and more.
Seeing a community need for such an event, an organization called Transition Olympia founded the popular festival several years ago. Pulling together skilled, local artisans to coordinate about 15 workshops, organizer Gita Moulton says that climate disruption is one of the most, if not the most, critical issue facing our planet and our community.
“….I don't see any indication that most folks are aware of just how uncertain our future is,” says Moulton. Moulton, 83, possesses extensive knowledge of carpentry and urban farming skills including chicken raising, abundant year round food production, and effective weatherization of old homes. She is eager to share her knowledge.
“I would love to see the skills concept not only continue but expand, because I think the need for young people, especially, to learn to use their hands for something besides texting is going to be really important for their future,” says Moulton.
There are many books that review reskilling and community survival concepts, but Moulton recommends starting with The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience by Rob Hopkins.
“….As for skills, Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skillsis a good place to start. My copy was originally published in 1981 and was updated in 2008. It has a lot of good information on specific skills,” suggests Moulton.
Transition Olympia was based on implementing the concepts in the Transition Handbook, but is presently inactive. 

“We chose to use the funds left in its account to sponsor the reskilling event. We are not charging for event participation, so there won't be anything coming in to replace the money for future events,” says Moulton.
Moulton hopes individuals and organizations will step up to help organize future events.
Above: Sara Vautaux will demonstrate her back to basics skills with a pedal-powered grain grinding workshop at the reskilling event on September 12. Vautaux also grows her own chamomile flowers to make into tea. The chamomile can be fresh or dried, and contains relaxing properties that can calm one's nerves.
Back-to-Basics Workshops
PEDAL-POWERED GRAIN GRINDING: The hand mill using two flat stones to grind grain into flour is one of the most primitive utensils in the world. The hand crank grain mill was certainly a great improvement, but grinding grain is much easier if you are using your feet rather than your arms. Try taking turns pedaling a bike which is hooked up to a grain grinder which turns whole wheat into flour. (Sarah Vautaux)
KNOT TYING: Knowledge of knots has been useful for hundreds of years, not only for boating and fishing but for many outdoor activities. It’s also useful for emergencies. Try your hand at some of the basic knots and pick up a diagram to take home so you can practice. (Mark Bock)
COOKING ON A ROCKET STOVE: Rocket stoves are low tech, ultra-efficient, clean burning, low cost, and easy to build. The technology, which was originally designed for third world countries running out of fuel, can also be applied to heating space or heating water. Find out how to make your own simple rocket cook stove with discarded tin cans.  (Gita Moulton)
Above: Tim Thetford demonstrates the efficiency of his homemade rocket stove at a reskilling event in Olympia in 2012.
FERMENTATION: Aside from the health benefits of the probiotics in fermented foods, interest in fermentation, one of the oldest forms of food preservation, is growing today as a way to prolong the life of food and preserve its quality without refrigerating or adding chemicals. Making sauerkraut and kimchee will be demonstrated. Maybe there will be samples! (Joanne Lee)
NATURAL BUILDING: There is a movement away from conventional resource intensive building with wood to straw bale and cob construction using local renewable resources. Joseph Becker has been experimenting and will bring his Rumpelstiltskin machine to make some "insulating earth" or "light clay straw." It’s fun to watch! (Joseph Becker)
MAKING FIRE: Knowing how to start a fire without matches is an essential survival skill. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need a fire, but you don’t have matches. And whether or not you ever need to call upon this skill, it’s just really cool to know you can do it. Watch a quick and simple demonstration on how easy it is to do using just a piece of flint or quartz and a piece of carbon steel. Try it for yourself!  (Glen Buschmann and Janet Partlow)
CANDLE MAKING: How many of us are prepared with candles for light when there is a power outage from windstorms or other emergencies? Having a supply is easy if you have old crayons or candle stubs on hand. And even if you don’t, it’s easy to make your own with local beeswax. Here’s your chance to see how it’s done and give it a try.  (Scott Bishop)
PINCH POTS: A pinch pot is a simple form of hand-made pottery produced from ancient times to the present. Simple clay vessels such as bowls and cups can be formed and shaped by hand using thumb and forefinger, a basic pot making method that’s good for beginners. Try making one! She might even fire it for you if you ask. (Jen Olson)
TOOL SHARPENING: Tool sharpening can be an intimidating skill to master but it’s also an important one to learn. You simply can't do many jobs with a dull tool, and you can perform any cutting task much better and more easily with a sharp one. Watching Rama can give you an idea of how to start with maybe a kitchen knife before tackling the pruners or a hatchet. (Rama Lash)
WEAVING ON A FRAME LOOM: Weaving is one of the oldest surviving crafts. Long before looms were invented to make cloth or rugs, the concept of interlacing fibers was applied to using branches to create fences for protection or twigs to make baskets. Working on a simple frame loom, which you can easily make yourself, is a good way to explore the concept of weaving or maybe make a handbag or placemat. (Barb Scavezze)
WATERLESS TOILETS: There are many good reasons to think about waterless toilets, especially now as we continue with our drought, but primarily, they conserve water. They also manage waste on site or they can convert the waste into fertilizer. Many models, like the one Pat will show you, are available commercially, but you can also build your own. (Pat Holm)
BIKE REPAIR: Economic instability, ever-increasing climate change and the environmental risks associated with oil extraction are three of the many reasons why riding a bike is an excellent reliable alternative to driving. But it won’t be reliable unless your bike is in good working order. If you bring your flat tires or other minor adjustments or problems, Tim and Michael will help you fix them and give you good tips on tune up and maintenance. (Tim Russell and Michael Loski)           SPINNING WITH A DROP SPINDLE: There is evidence that drop spindles were used to spin fiber as far back as 5,000 BCE. They were the primary spinning tool used to spin all the threads for Egyptian mummy wrappings and even the ropes for ships for almost 9,000 years! It’s a little trickier to learn to use, but a $6 drop spindle will give you yarn just as good as you can get with a spinning wheel. Try your hand at it and maybe pick up a spindle for further practice at home. (Shannon Rae Pritchard)
SEED SAVING: All domestic crops were once from wild seed which Stone Age farmers saved to protect their food supply from unfavorable climate conditions or invading tribes.  Learn how to protect the seeds that perform best on your own land with your own unique growing conditions, and protect them from corporate control. It’s not difficult. (Tanner Milliren)
For more information about the event, contact Gita Moulton, (360) 352-9351 or  Above: A cheesemaking workshop with Kim Gridley at the reskilling event in 2012 was very popular.
For past stories and photos at Little Hollywood about community resiliency and reskilling events, go to www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comand type key words into the search engine.

Oil Train Forum

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 11:12am
Event:  Thu, 09/03/2015 - 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Running the Risk: Washington’s Fight Against Oil by Rail

Thursday, September 3rd, 6:30-9:00 pm

Olympia Center 222 Columbia St, Olympia


Join us for a free community forum and discussion on the oil industry’s plan to build five new processing facilities in our state, and how oil transport threatens our community, our waterways, and our livelihoods. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Nearly 100% of Evergreen’s 2015 Master in Teaching Cohort Finds Employment for September

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 10:30am



Submitted by The Evergreen State College 

Evergreen State CollegeNearly all the students who graduated  Evergreen’s Master in Teaching (MiT) program last June are enjoying the last weeks of Summer, as they will not be unemployed for long.

By mid-August, 30 out of the 31 MiT Class of 2015 graduates have accepted teaching positions across Western Washington and Oregon, and even abroad. While most of the new teachers stayed in the region – Olympia, Tacoma, North Thurston, Puyallup, Hoquiam, Hood Canal and Shelton School Districts, others ventured to Beaverton, Portland and Sweet Home, Oregon, to Neah Bay and to Nablus, Palestine.

They will teach subjects as diverse as visual arts, math, Spanish and Robotics, at levels everywhere between second grade and high school.

According to MiT’s associate director, Maggie Foran, the program’s placement rates have been historically strong, but for a dip during and immediately after the Recession. “The number of retirements went down, class sizes grew and first year teachers were being laid off,” said Foran. In 2012 placements increased as schools began replenishing their teaching pools and reducing class sizes.

The Evergreen program requires two student teaching internships – in fall and spring of year two, where most programs require only one.  Foran pointed out that, “fall student teachers participate in the opening of a school year, as communities, rules and expectations are established.” She noted, “Research shows that teachers who did fall internships tend to do better their first year.”

The program sometimes attracts returning students who have significant achievements in other fields. Heather Claiborne (nee Littke), ’15, of the Snoqualmie area, had spent five years in geological mapping for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Geology Division. Beginning September 9, she will teach seventh and eighth grade Life/Physical Science and Robotics at Nisqually Middle School, where she did an internship. “I learned so much from the Evergreen program,” said Claiborne. “I was working with rocks and rocks don’t talk back.”

Joking aside, Claiborne said she was, “a blank slate,” when she started her masters, and, ironically, she said, “I feel more humble now. As a teacher there’s so much to learn every day.”

She is thrilled to be teaching science to middle schoolers. “Kids are so interested in the natural world,” she said. She feels that the Evergreen program prepared her to take her own classroom next month, “and that’s an awesome feeling.”

Katie Schuessler, ‘15 had previously taught art in Palestinian refugee camps and wanted to go back. She returns to the city of Nablus this month, where she will teach art to grades three to 11 at the nonprofit Pioneers Baccalaureate School.

Even in a country where people struggle to meet basic needs, Schuessler believes art plays a critical role. “The arts promote problem solving,” she said. “They offer valuable skills that are often overlooked. And they give students an opportunity to learn in a different way, away from language and words.”

Schuessler, who speaks some Arabic, will teach in an English immersion program. “I’ll be assessing my students’ language abilities and teaching a bit of English and art vocabulary,” she said.

At Evergreen she learned a great deal about English Language Learners as well as cultural competency and sensitivity, efficient classroom management and student empowerment. “I don’t have a hero complex,” she said. “If students can come into my classroom and feel safe expressing themselves in healthy ways, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Schuessler, of Seattle, originally had to mitigate her parents’ concern about political instability in Palestine, but reported that they are planning to tour Palestine and Israel while she is there. “They support my decision,” she said.


Rob Rice Homes Meets Feverish Demand for Quality Homes

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 8:17am



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

Homes like this popular rambler floor plan at Chestnut Village are one of the reasons people love Rob Rice Homes.

Homes like this popular rambler floor plan at Chestnut Village are one of the reasons people love Rob Rice Homes.

While this summer’s housing market is hot, the demand for quality Rob Rice Homes has come at a blistering pace.

Rob Rice Homes has experienced a 17% jump in sales in the 2nd quarter over last year. That increase is after a 46% year-over-year jump in the first quarter

As the area’s largest local home builder we have seen unprecedented sales in the Rob Rice Community of Kensington in Lacey, where we have sold out of all of our completed homes and, for the first time in our history, will not even have a model home to show there because it sold. Current showings in the community will now be by appointment only.

“This whole year has been very busy,” says Realtor and community manager Lucia Arroyo about the sales traffic at Kensington. “We have had a big wave of sales because people are truly drawn to our community with its beautiful homes, the lovely area and great accessibility to community amenities—parks, shopping, trails and so much more. They love it.”

In the Rob Rice Community of Chestnut Village in Olympia, we are seeing the same high volume of sales and in the Villages at South Hill in Puyallup, homes are being sold at a record pace with an amazing nine pre-sales since the opening of Phase II of the community just weeks ago. There, we are not able to sell our model home and move to a new one (something we typically do) because all the new homes we have built have been bought.

Buyers moving to our Villages at South Hill are finding the luxurious features they want in a home.

Buyers moving to our Villages at South Hill are finding the luxurious features they want in a home.

Why so much demand?

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) that serves 23 counties in our state reported that this July is the best on record with closed home sales up 20%.  In June, they had reported a double-digit drop in inventory in most of the counties.

That lack of current inventory is driving up home prices, especially in King County where it has dwindled down to a 1.18 months supply in July.

Nearly half our recent pre-sale buyers at the Villages at South Hill in Puyallup are homeowners choosing to moving south from King County because they are finding everything they want in a home and more, for much less.

Why Rob Rice Homes?

While the shortage of inventory and hot market conditions might explain some of the reason for our high sales volume, clearly there is more that has fueled the demand. Many have made us the number one choice for their new home and they tell us why:

  • Selection of floor ideal plansRob Rice is one of the few local builders that have a wide array of rambler and downstairs master floor plans that are in huge demand. The Best of South Sound builder continues to add to his selections in response to the desires of his buyers, many of whom are repeat buyers of our homes.

“I was told that for quality and price you cannot beat a Rob Rice home. We have finally found what we have been looking for. Every small detail in the home is thought through. You can see it in the floor plans.” – Buyer at Villages at South Hill

  • Premium features come standard in Rob Rice Homes.

    Premium features come standard in Rob Rice Homes.

    Premium features – Home buyers are frequently shocked when they find out that our homes’ luxurious features—granite or quartz countertops, hardwood flooring, designer backsplash tile and stylish lighting fixtures—are all standard. And, buyers who purchase a home in a pre-sale in many of our communities can make their own design choices by visiting our Design Center before their home is built.

“How much do these extras cost?” asked a recent visitor at Chestnut Village. “These are standard features, what you see is what you get. They come with the price of the home,” answered Vonna Madeley, Coldwell Banker Evergreen Realtor and one of the sales managers at the community. “Really?” the buyer asked again. “So these features don’t cost more? Because that’s what happens at other places.”

  • Incomparable price – All of homes come at what many consider an amazing price, especially our many buyers from King County who find everything they have dreamed of in one of our homes. One of those homeowners recently shared her thoughts with us.

“Our current house is 2000 sq ft and we are selling it for just under $500K. We are buying the Spruce plan at Villages at South Hill with 2000 sq ft on the main floor alone and another 400 sq ft upstairs and a 3-car garage and it is all in the upper $350,000 range. We are getting much, much more for our money.” –  Buyer, from Mill Creek

  • Every built home at  our community at Kensington in Lacey has been sold. There are still un-built lots available.

    Every built home at our community at Kensington in Lacey has been sold. There are still un-built lots available.

    Homes with lasting value – Rob Rice has distinguished himself as a local developer of 20 highly-desired communities and builder of more than 3000 quality-built homes since he started in 1985. Whether the first house or the 3,000th home, he puts the same care and attention to detail into each home. Rob Rice Homes is known for its consistent superior construction, expansive landscaping and green space and long-lasting home values.

“We have looked at other communities Rob Rice has built and they are still gorgeous.” – Buyer at Chestnut Village

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013 and 2014. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons, Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.

For more information about a Rob Rice Homes community please visit our website.



Sandstone Distillery Welcomes Andrew Landers to “Whiskey Nights – Music at the Stills”

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 7:11am



Submitted by Sandstone Distillery

Sandstone Distillery GroupSandstone Distillery is at it again, bringing yet another great night of summer music to the distillery for their “Whiskey Nights – Music at the Stills!”  The first two events, featuring country rock powerhouse Littlerock Band and the profoundly talented Ethan Tucker, were sold-out successes!

Sandstone is excited to welcome another locally-grown, nationally known artist, Andrew Landers and his band on Friday night, August 21 at 6:00 p.m.  Remarkably talented and versatile, Andrew has spent two decades living out his story in the unsung Americana Folk genre.  He’s a premiere singer songwriter who has shared the stage with countless nationally known artists.  His music has been heard all over the United States, in Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

sandstone distillery whiskey nightsNo superfluous lines, he tells the truth with soulful conviction that sets the table to see the world with more hope and beauty.  “Music is my compass, it teaches me about who I am, it guides me in who I long to be, and it leads me into providential moments that dare to see the world with fearless hope.” Come on out, dance and laugh and enjoy some Music at the Stills!

Tickets are available online and admission includes a complimentary four-flight tasting of Sandstone craft spirits and a gift bag filled with coupons, invitations, and a deliciously decadent Bacon-Whiskey Chocolate Truffle, courtesy of Aunt Kates’s Chocolates.



Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 6:58am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

Heidi is the Adopt-A-Pet dog of the week.

Heidi is the Adopt-A-Pet dog of the week.

Heidi is a 5 year old mix breed dog that is a favorite of the volunteers at the shelter. She is sweet, affectionate, loves attention from everyone, knows her basic obedience commands and is very smart. Heidi’s turn in sheet indicates that she is OK with kids but can sometimes be possessive when other dogs are around. For this reason, we recommend that Heidi be the only dog in the family. Heidi has not been cat tested.

The wonderful volunteers who take Heidi for her walks say that she walks well on leash, has been non-reactive to other dogs but appeared to be frightened by automobiles. This is something that we will continue to work on with Heidi. Heidi will make a wonderful companion for the family who can give her a home where she can continue to flourish. A secure fenced back yard would be perfect in addition to her daily walks.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them.  Visit our website at or contact Adopt-A-Pet, on Jensen Road in Shelton, at or (360) 432-3091. Join us on Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington”.

Neighborhood Notes – Get in Touch with Your Creative Side at Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Madeleine Elliott

van dorm sponsorHidden in the trees of Holiday Valley, the Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat is a place removed from noise and chaos. It was created as an artistic escape for women and has since become an oasis for scrapbook parties and bridal showers alike.

“It’s a rental space for women,” says owner Kim Bridges. “It caters to crafters, but it’s also a place for specialty birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, girlfriend getaways and luncheons” — among other things. The cottage is versatile. With two living rooms, two bedrooms, a reading nook, a kitchen, a laundry room and both an indoor and outdoor porch, a wide variety of groups find that the venue meets their needs.

Queen Bee Art Cottage

Kim Bridges is the owner and operator of the Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat.

The little cottage is set on the edge of a 26-acre farm. Both forests and fields are within walking distance of the retreat, which is a bonus for artists looking to get inspired by nature. “[Renters] can walk across a wooden bridge over Schneider Creek to a field with walking paths,” says Kim.

While exploring the grounds, guests are also encouraged to visit the sheep and pygmy goats on the farm. “There’s an abundance of deer watching and there might even be some wild wiener dog sightings,” she adds with a laugh.

For groups that want an indoor getaway, the cottage offers something else. “It’s not your usual rental space,” Kim says. The cottage is filled with décor reminiscent of the French countryside, including rustic furniture and antiques all with a soft pastel color palette. The distinct style helps create an atmosphere of timelessness. A weekend spent at Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat is far separated from the stress and constraints that exist in the outside world.

With the assistance of her friend JoNelle Quinten, Kim opened  Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat four years ago with artists in mind. “We had a party where we embellished shoes for the table decorations for a friend’s birthday party,” Kim says. “Everyone had so much fun at that embellishing-shoe-get-together that we decided that would be something fun we could do and create a place for women to come to create and do art classes.”

Queen Bee Art Cottage

The main floor of the cottage has a dining room with a table that is perfect for scrapbooking.

However, while the cottage was created in support of the idea that women must have time and a space of their own in order to make art, Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat has evolved into a place for all kinds of women, whether or not they are using it for artistic purposes.

“For girlfriends getaways we have a flat screen TV with chick flicks,” Kim says. “And we have a posh menu, where I can do some meals or all the meals, and I can arrange for a masseuse to come in.” However, most groups that come choose to bring their own food and take advantage of the full kitchen available on-site.

“Normally people rent it for day use if they’re doing a shower or birthday party,” Kim says. “Or women rent it Friday through Sunday if they’re doing a girlfriend weekend or scrapbookers’ weekend.” Summer and weekends are the busiest time for Kim, and reservations for those coveted spots must be made months in advance. Kim says to make a reservation, prospective cottage-goers just have to give her a call. Kim’s phone number can be found on the cottage’s website, along with information about directions, pricing and events.

Kim usually welcomes guests to the cottage with goodie bags or fresh baked cookies. Her goal is for renters to have the most relaxing weekend or the most artistic inspiration possible during their stay. She wants guests to have more than an event, she wants them to have an experience — a retreat into a world without obligation. The Queen Bee Art Cottage and Retreat was designed to be just that — a retreat. An immersion into a microcosm of peace and tranquility.


ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER – Impaired Vision Could Affect Your Child’s Ability to Learn

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 6:00am



Dr. Craig Rouse and daughters

When Dr. Craig Rouse isn’t caring for the eyes of his ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER patients and members of the community at the Sunrise Lions Club of Lacey, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Deliah, and their two daughters.

How old were you the first time you had your eyes checked? I was 13 and struggling to see the board at school. My vision had been deteriorating for some time, but it wasn’t until that first overdue visit to the eye doctor that I was declared nearsighted and prescribed what would be the first of many pairs of corrective lenses.

Vision disorders are the fourth most common disability in the US and the most common handicapping condition during childhood. Early detection and intervention are particularly important in children because of the rapid development of the visual system in early childhood and its sensitivity to interference. When disorders such as lazy eye and crossed-eye are undetected, the long-term consequences can be serious in terms of quality of life, comfort, appearance and career opportunities. In addition, the cost of providing appropriate treatment for longstanding eye and vision disorders may be significantly higher than the cost of detecting and treating these problems early in life.

“Unfortunately, undue reliance on vision screenings by schools, pediatricians or other primary care physicians may result in the late detection of a vision disorder,” explains ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER’s Dr. Craig Rouse. “The shortcomings of vision screenings are hereby recognized; and therefore, children must receive a comprehensive eye health examination by a competent eye care provider beginning at age 6 months and then at regular intervals as prescribed by the eye care professional.”

ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER in Lacey is a local leader in children’s eye health and encourages parents to bring their child in for a comprehensive eye exam before his or her second birthday. “Eighty percent of what kids learn is through the visual system,” says Dr. Rouse. “If this stimuli is incorrect, the brain can’t develop properly.”

Dr. Rouse says even if your child has had his or her vision checked by a pediatrician, it’s important to visit an eye care specialist who can provide a comprehensive look at your child’s total eye health. Regular visits to the eye doctor are just as important as scheduled trips to the dentist’s office, and recording a history of your child’s vision and eye health can be your child’s ticket to preventing bigger problems later on in life.

With an emphasis on children’s eye health, ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER invites parents and their children to experience the benefits of total eye care. To learn more about ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER or to make an appointment, visit ROUSE EyeCARE CENTER online or call the office at 360-455-4425.


Evergreen Archaeologist and Ultra-Runner Dr. Ulrike Krotschek Digs for Bush Homestead History

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

sunset airDr. Ulrike Krotscheck was anticipating 50 or so artifacts, but the archaeological dig, which hasn’t even been completed, has surprisingly produced more than 200. The pieces, all from the Bush Homestead in Tumwater, have been delicately cleaned and now rest in neat rows on metal sheet racks in the back of a lab at The Evergreen State College.

The dig is like one giant jigsaw puzzle. Krotscheck and her team of 15 Evergreen students and four volunteers have spent their summer gathering all the pieces. Now it’s time to start putting things together with the hope that when it’s completed, some new light will shine on the history of Washington and Thurston County.

Evergreen professor Dr. Ulrike Krotscheck works with a student at the archaeological dig site at the George Washington Bush Homestead in Tumwater. Photo by Shauna Bittle for The Evergreen State College

Evergreen professor Dr. Ulrike Krotscheck works with a student at the George Washington Bush Homestead archaeological dig site in Tumwater. Photo by Shauna Bittle for The Evergreen State College

Krotscheck plucks one of the items off the sheet. It is a smooth piece of porcelain not even half an inch in size, featuring a portion of a maker’s mark on the back. It’s all she needs to place a timeframe and a value around the piece.

“You can tell from these pieces, they were a family of means,” Krotscheck says.

Dissecting the artifact’s history has begun.

Each piece present, every broken chunk of china, every weathered wedge of glassware, has a story. But it’s the individual charged with uncovering each item’s tale who actually has the most interesting story there.

Krotscheck, who received her master’s degree in Classical and Prehistoric Archaeology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany and her Ph.D. in Classics and Archaeology from Stanford, usually spends her summers digging around Europe. This year, however, she has traded in France and Spain for Tumwater where she and her troop are studying the George Washington Bush Farm – the original pioneer family in this area who first settled locally in 1845.

Archaeological digs are a delicate process. It takes time and patience to unearth the smallest of finds. It’s quite the meticulous process with all its details, but Krotscheck has uncovered the perfect way for her to recharge her batteries – running.

It wasn’t until she arrived in Palo Alto to begin pursuit of her Ph.D. that Krotscheck truly discovered the sport, and while she had never previously ascended beyond a casual jogger up to that point, the activity was the perfect remedy to tackle the high-pressure environment.

Dr. Ulrike Krotscheck poses following the Beast of Big Creek Half Marathon Trail Run on August 8, 2015.

Dr. Ulrike Krotscheck poses following the Beast of Big Creek Half Marathon Trail Run on August 8, 2015.

“I actually started running in grad school as a way to really gather my thoughts,” said Krotscheck, who has taught at Evergreen for seven years. “There’s an element of meditativeness to it because it’s a regular movement. It serves as both a way for me to personally de-stress and a way for me to think about my work all by myself, and come up with new ideas for research questions. And now it helps with my teaching.”

While it started off as a simple way to recharge her batteries, it turned out Krotscheck was actually extremely gifted at long-distance running.

“I’ve lost count,” Krotscheck declared when asked for the tally of completed marathons. “My friends figured it out for me and we believe it’s 17.”

That’s more than 445 miles. Or the equivalent to running from Olympia down across Oregon’s southern border and into California where you wouldn’t stop until you ran 10 miles south of Yreka. It’s a very long way even if you’re driving the distance, much less running it.

But, she was a natural right out of the gate. Her first marathon was the 2004 Nike Women’s Marathon, a difficult course even for veteran runners as it takes place in San Francisco and features numerous hills.

Krotscheck not only completed her inaugural 26.2 mile race, but her final running time qualified her for the Boston Marathon.

Her resume includes a second Nike Women’s Marathon, two California Internationals, a pair of Vancouver and British Columbia Marathons, three Victoria Marathons, a marathon in Missoula, Pike’s Peak in Colorado, a top 10 finish in the Portland Marathon, two Capitol City Marathons (where she finished second in 2009) and a victory in the Haulin Aspen Marathon in Bend, Oregon.

“It’s a long-drawn out preparation period,” Krotscheck says about the process for both running and conducting a dig. “You commit to race, or in the other case, submit an application to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Once you do those things you’re committed to do it. And then you train. You start building all this information or running over an extended period of time. [At the Bush Homestead dig] I feel like now I’m in the middle of the race where I’m working very hard. I can see the finish line, but I’m sort of in the middle of what it was I was striving for.”

Evergreen students lead kids in an archeology dig at the Bush Homestead in Tumwater.

Evergreen students lead kids in an archeology dig at the Bush Homestead in Tumwater.

While the focus in Tumwater is on the past, Krotscheck has her sights equally set on the future. She has moved away from marathon running and into the world of ultrarunning.

“I used to be pretty fast but have changed gears and gone towards ultrarunning which is any kind of run that is longer than a marathon and usually on trails,” she said. “This is a new challenge for me. You go from trying to beat everyone else to essentially enjoying yourself in nature.”

She plans to run the Bunker to Bonneville 50K – a 31-mile trail run along the Columbia River Gorge – during Labor Day weekend, before tackling the Grand Canyon where she will do a 44-mile rim-to-rim-to run in October.

“I’m just doing it for my 40th birthday,” Krotscheck said about the Grand Canyon trail run which will feature a 14,000-foot evaluation gain and loss over its course.

She tuned up for her latest venture by winning the women’s division at the Beast of Big Creek Half-Marathon Trail Run on August 8.

“One of the things I love most about being in Olympia and a member of the Evergreen community is I get to volunteer for a lot of different events,” Krotscheck said. “I volunteer for a lot of children’s races because they are so excited. One of my favorite things about this dig site are the kids who come and they see something and say, ‘There’s a piece of glass. I’ve found something. Is this old?’ That kind of enthusiasm is really refreshing.”

The Bush Homestead dig will be finalized on August 27. Public tours are available in the afternoons on August 19 and 20. More insight can be found on the Evergreen blog related to the Bush Homestead project.


Run Like a Dog 5K Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 6:00pm



By Grant Clark

oly ortho logoThe number really didn’t have any meaning. It was just something the group threw out there – almost in jest.

It was a couple years ago that Candy Oliver and her fellow Run Like a Dog event volunteers were discussing what the cutoff number of participants should be for the fund-raising fun run.

“We came up with 450 runners,” Oliver said. “I’m not sure how we even decided on that exact number, but that is where we placed the maximum at. We didn’t think it was even possible to come close to reaching that at the time.”

That ceiling, originally viewed as being out of reach, is likely to be reached during this year’s edition of the canine 5K.

The Run Like A Dog 5K race, sponsored by South Bay Veternary Hospital, is in it's 10th year of canines and owners running together.

The Run Like A Dog 5K race, sponsored by South Bay Veterinary Hospital, is in it’s 10th year of canines and owners running together.

The 10th annual Run Like a Dog Fun Run will take place Saturday, August 22, beginning at South Bay Veterinary Hospital – the event’s title sponsor. The event includes a 5K race and 5K fun run/walk with your dog.

A total of 430 participants of the two-legged variety – a record for the event – were registered last year.

According to Oliver, this year’s figures are slightly ahead of the 2014 numbers, meaning for the first time in the race’s history the number Oliver and company randomly selected as the limit may be reached.

“It is incredible how much this event has grown over the years,” said Oliver, who serves as the event’s organizer this year after volunteering the previous four races. “We set a goal a while ago thinking it wasn’t obtainable, but we should be close to it this year. It’s just a really fun, family event that serves a great cause.”

The race, set to begin at 9:00 a.m. at South Bay Veterinary Hospital, benefits the Thurston County Humane Society. Last year’s race raised nearly $8,000 – also an event record.

The donations help assist the Thurston County Humane Society with spay and neuter costs at a licensed Thurston County veterinarian in an effort to help reduce pet over-population in the area. Donations also help provide educational materials, promote awareness programs and contribute to animal welfare and animal service programs.

“Even if you’re not an avid runner,” Oliver said, “you can always make a donation or volunteer to help. We have a lot of different groups involved – 4H clubs, Boy Scouts, rotary clubs. We have a lot of people just asking, ‘How can I help?’”

People and pooches of all sizes turn out for the annual run.  This year they expect to reach 450 runners.

People and pooches of all sizes turn out for the annual run. This year they expect to reach 450 runners.

With high temperatures the norm this summer and late August noted for its typical heat, the event boasts the inclusion of kiddie pools. Not something you see at every fun run. Prior to the start of the race, which includes sections on the Chehalis Western Trail, event volunteers place pools along the course and fill them with water.  These provide a makeshift cool-down method for the fun-running pets.

“We weren’t sure how popular they would be at first,” Oliver said about the pools, “but the dogs seem to love it. They sprint right into them. Their (final running) time is little slower, but the dogs are happy.”

Registration, including group registration of 10 or more runners, can be made online at Contact information about volunteering for the event can also be found on the event’s site.

“We see a lot of people come back the following year after running in it for the first time,” Oliver said.
“It doesn’t really matter how fast you are. We have an owner run it in every year with her two basset hounds. If you know anything about that type of dog breed, you know they are not really interested in running, but they always finish. Usually the owner is carrying one of them across the finish line, but they finish. We have runners of all shapes and sizes. We have dogs of all shapes and sizes. Everyone is just out there supporting each other.”

Registration packets can be picked up on Aug. 21 between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at South Bay Veterinary Hospital located at 3600 South Bay Rd NE in Olympia. The 9:00 a.m. race will be followed by an awards ceremony at 10:00 a.m.

In addition to South Bay Veterinary Hospital, the event is also sponsored by South Sound Running, Take Aim, Grateful Dog Grooming, Biobag, Elanco Animal Health, Comstock Physical Therapy, Johnson-Carr Insurance Agency, Marchetti Wines, Wanda Buckner of Healing Energy Services, Phillips Pet Food and Supplies, NW Remedies, Minuteman Press and the Oly Rollers.


Aaron Ritter’s Love of Nature Nurtured by His Second Nature – Hardwood Flooring

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 6:00am



Ritter Flooring Family

Aaron Ritter and his wife Maechell spend as much time as they can in the outdoors with their daughters. Photo credit: Ben Leavitt.

With five daughters under the age of 10 (three biological, two foster), Aaron Ritter and his wife Maechell are busy. But the couple always finds time to get into nature with their girls.

“Trails, rock climbing, hiking, floating rivers – we’re a very outdoorsy family,” says Aaron, noting some of their favorite places to visit are Olympic National Forest, and local places like Millersylvania State Park and Priest Point Park in Olympia.

Aaron is able to share his love of nature with his family by turning his second nature – custom hardwood flooring – into his home business, Ritter Flooring, LLC.

Initially learning the trade from an Italian craftsman, Aaron has more than 15 years of combined industry experience.

“It takes a long time to learn,” remarks Aaron. “My method is original and old-school. I nail by hand rather than by pneumatic tools.”

Aaron has a strong connection to the outdoors, with a childhood filled with camping and hiking around Washington. And Maechell, a child therapist, grew up on five acres in Lake Stevens. After joining the US Army and being stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord, the Ritters moved to the Olympia-area, where Aaron has been growing his business.

From million-dollar homes in Ruston Way, to tiny houses in Tumwater, Aaron does it all – and he does it with pride. He enjoys the custom work he does on transitions and around corners, wrapping pillars or edging fireplaces.

ritter flooring

Some of Aaron Ritter’s work: A 1,600-square-foot home using pre-finished maple flooring 3/4″ thick, 5″ wide, with solid nail down hardwood flooring.

“I once did an acacia floor… a ¾” 1,300 square-foot nail down,” he reminisces. “That is the best, most beautiful floor I’ve ever done.”

Consulting is a big part of the service Aaron provides, and he admits that sometimes he has to coach people into thinking outside the box.

“Most people try and get flooring that matches cabinetry and trim, and that’s absolutely what you do not want to do,” he says. “Typically, I will go to a client’s home, see what they are looking for, take measurements, talk about what works best, like thresholds for transition, soft woods versus hardwood or vinyl plank for water-proofing or kids. Then I send them to a store to pick up what they want.”

“I will do everything in my power to find the best product for them at a good value,” he concludes.

It’s this type of attention that sets Ritter Flooring apart and keeps Aaron looking forward to a positive future. Doing business with a customer means they are treated like family, he says.

Aaron hand nails all the hardwood floors he installs, a skill nearly non-existent in today's world of power tools.

“My method is original and old-school. I nail by hand rather than by pneumatic tools,” says Aaron Ritter of his work with hardwoods.

“My values are family first always,” he explains. “With my business, it is customer first. So in a sense, my customers are kind of like family.”

Family and work balance is a must for the big family, and Ritter finds a way to reconnect by getting into nature.

So what outdoor adventure is the Ritter family up to next?

A family favorite – a camping trip to Salmon La Sac near Ellensburg, where the sounds of kids playing in the woods is inspiration to Aaron to keep striving for the best, both with his family, and his business.

Contact Aaron Ritter at (360) 338-2740 or visit


Of Toads and Mountains

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 3:54pm
Mount Baker from Boulder Creek     Last week Glen and I went camping at Baker Lake, just southeast of Mt. Baker in northern Washington state.  Over the years we’ve been on a mission to camp near each of the major peaks in the Cascade Range.  This year, Mt. Baker was our goal.
     We camped at Panorama Point campground, which is along southeastern border of the impounded Baker river.  This river/lake is eight miles long and sits right at the feet of Mt Baker, so there is a lot of snow and rain draining into this lake.  Our campsite was sitting near/on a wetland that adjoins the lake, so  it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find (and hear) amphibians.  
Western Toad Bufo Boreas  (photo L. Halleck)
     One night after a thunderstorm and soaking rain, we were walking over to the Sani-can facility to do our evening ablutions, prior to turning in for the night.  I had my flashlight trained on the ground, watching for trip hazards.  Suddenly, along a path that I had come to know well, we saw a weird lump sitting right smack in front of us.  I trained my flashlight on it and found:  my first ever Western Toad Anaxyrus (Bufo) boreas.
     It was dry skinned and warty, light gray, with dark blotches near the warts.  The most distinctive field mark was a thin creamy-white line running down its spine from neck to vent.  It was about 3 inches in length, which is an average size;  apparently they can get up to five inches in length, with females being bigger.  
    It sat in our path;  it blended very well with the gravel that surrounded the Sani-can.  It remained very still, doing its best to blend in like a rock.  Finally it blinked and revealed itself to be a living animal.
     Over the evening and next morning we saw it several times, always near dusk or dark, always near the Sani-can.  We speculated that it might be territorial:  the smell of the Sani-can definitely attracted insects and so for the insect-eating toad, this is prime habitat.  Also the nearby wetlands and Baker Lake itself are excellent feeding and breeding habitat sites.  
    I was charmed.  As a birdwatcher, we always are on the look out for “life birds”.  This was a life amphibian for me, and as such, a real treat.       Janet 
Resources:•  Washington Herp Atlas•  Toad photo by L. Halleck from The Herp Atlas•  Mount Baker photo by Glen
Categories: Local Environment

86th Annual Pet Parade

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 3:40pm

Above: Yelm Prairie Elementary students won the Best Group award today at the Pet Parade in downtown Olympia.

By Janine
The weather cooperated for the 86th annual Pet Parade, which got underway this morning with music performed by the American Legion Band in downtown Olympia. 
Costumed chickens, dogs, cats, turtles, and horses walked, were carried, or rode on decorated floats related to this year’s theme of “Under the Sea.” 
It’s all about having fun, appreciating our pets, and receiving a little bit of local recognition that can last a long time in a person’s memory. A woman sitting near me on the corner of 5th Avenue and Washington Street with her grandson recalled that she won the Pet Parade’s award for having the Smartest Cat in 1961.
After the parade, everyone went to Sylvester Park for free ice cream, pet-related goodie bags and awards in special categories. The Best Group entry was won by Yelm Prairie Elementary schoolchildren. They received a $250 gift certificate from Mud Bay Granary.
Angie Patton said she and her family, including her daughter, Ashleyn Colten, have been participating in the Pet Parade for over 20 years.
Today, they won the Judges Choice award in the Wheels Category with their float called Finding Nemo. Their toy poodles, Lexi, 3, and Sophie, 5, were Dori and Nemo, respectively, while Lola, their three year old mastiff, was Bruce the Shark. Colten said they worked about two weeks on their float and were up until 3 a.m. this morning finishing it.
As for Lexi and Sophie, the special dye used to color their fur will last for about two or three months, so if you see them out and about in the community, be sure to congratulate them on their award!
The annual event is sponsored by The Olympian newspaper, the Olympia Downtown Association, and many local businesses.

Above: Ashleyn Colten, left, with Lola, a mastiff, and Colten's mother, Angie Patton, with toy poodles Lexi and Sophie in Sylvester Park after the Pet Parade today.

Olympic National Forest Fire Activity Prompts Trail, Road Closures

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 1:04pm



Submitted by The Olympic National Forest

Two of the three fires that were reported at Olympic National Forest are still actively burning.  A minimal amount of rain was reported yesterday.  A Type 3 Incident Management Team and additional firefighting personnel and equipment have been ordered to assist.

The Gold Fire, located approximately six miles northwest of Quilcene and ten miles south of Blyn, grew more active yesterday.  It is estimated to be 10 acres in size.  To ensure public and firefighter safety while suppression actions are underway, a temporary closure has been implemented in the Gold Fire area:

  • The Little Quilcene Trail (# 835) is closed to public use between the Little Quilcene Trailhead and Tubal Cain Trailhead.
  • The Mount Townsend Trail (#839) is closed to public use from the top of Mount Townsend north to the junction with the Little Quilcene Trail.
  • The entire portion of Forest Service Road 2820 and Forest Service Road 2820-100 is closed to public use.  This closure is in effect until further notice.

The Cabin Creek Fire, three miles northeast of Lena Lake and the Hamma Hamma campgrounds, is now eight acres in size.  It is burning in very rugged and inaccessible terrain.  Smokejumpers continue to staff the fire.

The Zion Fire that was reported on Mount Zion is now out.

Firefighter and public safety remain our highest priority as suppression strategies continue.

Olympic National Forest Announces Salal Permit Sale Dates

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 9:54am



Submitted by the Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest’s Special Forest Products Program Manager announced today that permit sales for salal will begin in September.  Salal (Gaultheria shallon) is an understory shrub commonly used in the floral industry.  It grows in dense thickets throughout western Washington and Oregon.

At least one piece of high-visibility clothing is highly recommended while harvesting salal.  Permit holders will be limited to no more than 200 hands per day in possession.  Harvest unit boundaries are defined by roads or recognizable land features and a map of the harvest areas will be distributed with the sale of each permit.

Permits will be issued from the Forks, Quinault, and Quilcene offices during business hours on the following dates:

  • September 9, 2015
  • November 4, 2015
  • January 6, 2016
  • March 9, 2016

A total of one-hundred permits will be issued with a maximum of fifteen permits for each harvest unit.  Fifty permits will be offered from Quilcene for harvest areas located within Mason County and the east side of Clallam and Jefferson Counties.  Twenty-five permits will be offered from Forks for the west-side of Clallam County.  Twenty-five permits will be offered from Lake Quinault for harvest areas within Grays Harbor County and the west side of Jefferson County.

A lottery system will be used if the demand for permits exceeds the supply.  Each permit will cost $150 and can be used for up to two months.  A valid United States picture identification will be required at the time of purchase and those buying the permits must be at least 18 years of age.  Cash or checks will be accepted, but no credit cards or debit cards will be accepted.

For additional information about salal permit sales, please contact David Perez at 360-956-2316.  For general information about Olympic National Forest, visit


Westport Winery Earns Double Gold in Denver

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 9:08am



Submitted by Westport Winery

2015 Shorebird FrontWestport Winery’s Shorebird Chardonnay earned a Double Gold Medal at the 2015 Denver International Wine Competition held on June 6 and 7 in Broomfield, Colorado. Grapes for this wine were harvested from Connor-Lee Vineyard near Othello, Washington. A portion of the proceeds from this wine are donated to the Grays Harbor Audubon Society.

Swimmer’s Petite Sirah earned a Gold Medal at this event. The grapes used to craft this wine were grown at Jones Vineyard in Washington’s Wahluke Slope AVA. Some proceeds from this wine are contributed to Grays Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.

Both Captain Grays Gewurztraminer and Night Watch, a chocolate Merlot blend, earned Silver Medals. These wines benefit the Grays Harbor Symphony and Harbors Home Health and Hospice, respectively.

When you visit Westport Winery Garden Resort be sure to explore the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why four times this has been voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

These award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at


Olympia Jazz Central presents Dmitri Matheny Group at Rhythm & Rye

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 8:32am
Event:  Mon, 08/31/2015 - 8:00pm - 10:00pm

Renowned jazz artist Dmitri Matheny will celebrate the international release of Sagebrush Rebellion, his tenth album as a leader, on Monday, August 31 at 8:00 pm at Rhythm & Rye in Olympia Washington.

The Olympia Jazz Central-sponsored appearance, part of a 100-city tour of the United States, will showcase selections from the new album, balancing fresh, original works with familiar jazz classics, hard bop, west coast cool and beloved standards from the Great American Songbook.

The Dmitri Matheny Group, directed by flugelhornist and composer Matheny, features Brian Kinsella on keyboard, Jeff Johnson on bass and Greg Williamson on drums.

“The Dmitri Matheny Group is a cohesive and seamless unit,” writes All About Jazz, “serving up equal parts soulful expression, caressing phrases, imaginative asides, and dedicated lyricism.” logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Four Romantic Lodging Locations Around Hood Canal

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 8:10am



By Douglas Scott

lucky dog casinoIn the shadow of the Olympic Mountains along the picturesque waters of Hood Canal exist five incredible romantic getaways, perfect for that saccharine escape you and your special someone have been pining for.

Situated perfectly between wilderness and society, these enchanting locations offer everything from solitude to pampering to everything in between. With limited light pollution from the cities along Interstate 5, spending a night or two along the Hood Canal will create the perfect spark to either rekindle your relationship or start lifelong memories with a new special someone.

Stunning views are just one of the attractions that make Alderbrook so getaway-worthy. Photo credit Douglas Scott.

Stunning views are just one of the attractions that make Alderbrook so getaway-worthy. Photo credit Douglas Scott.

Just a short drive from Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle, Hood Canal offers access to pristine wilderness and some of the best resorts and lodges in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you are traveling on a budget or looking to splurge on a serious romantic getaway, Hood Canal rekindles romance with incredible places to stay and explore.

Alderbrook Resort and Spa

Alderbrook is consistently named as one of the best resorts in the Pacific Northwest. Over the past five years, the resort has been revered as one of the best wedding destinations by Seattle Bride’s “Best Of” awards, and it’s consistently is recognized as the best resort in the Pacific Northwest by Condé Nast Traveler readers. With a full spa, golf course, kayak rentals, swimming, dining, yoga and three miles of on-site hiking opportunities, staying at Alderbrook allows you to be as secluded or as social as you want.

Located directly on Hood Canal, both sunrises and sunsets here are spectacular, as are the rooms, dining areas and grounds. Alderbrook is a high-class destination, offering the finest of everything. If you are looking for the premiere place to wine, dine and gaze at the beauty of the Olympics, staying here is a must.

Fall in love with the incredible views at Potlatch. Photo Credit Waterfront at Potlatch.

Fall in love with the incredible views at Potlatch. Photo Credit Waterfront at Potlatch.

Houseboats for Two

If you have ever daydreamed about having a romantic getaway on a houseboat, the aptly named “Houseboats for Two” at Pleasant Harbor make for an ideal romantic vacation destination. Located near the center of Hood Canal, this section of the Olympic Peninsula feels as remote as you can get, while still being close to all the amenities you will need. However, few who stay here leave their personal, private watercraft.

Set in a secluded, wooded cove, stay on the water while enjoying the night sky. Or, if the weather is cloudy, retreat indoors and enjoy a private 28-jet heated spa while listening to music, watching a movie or just enjoying in conversation with your loved one. Houseboats for Two is a unique experience made even better thanks to the tranquil setting the Hood Canal provides. With Mount Walker only four miles away and a myriad of waterfalls a short drive from the boat, you can experience mountains, forests and the salty waters of the Pacific Northwest all while rekindling your love.

Waterfront at Potlatch

Located just a mile and a half from the fantastic small town of Hoodsport, the Waterfront at Potlatch offers a handful of opportunities to escape for a romantic vacation. With cabins, a motel and an RV park, staying on Hood Canal has never been easier. While the resort does offer two bedroom deluxe vacation homes, the best bet for your romantic getaway is the one bedroom cabin. Fully furnished and boasting incredible views of the waters of Hood Canal, the one bedroom cabins are an ideal retreat for lovestruck couples in need of a getaway. The site is perfect for sunrises and even has a private deck where you and your companion can sit and enjoy the day. Wake up to seagulls, eagles and blue herons, smell the salt air and watch for seals, porpoises and even a rare orca, all from your cabin. If the cabin isn’t what you want, stay in the motel rooms or bring your RV for a night, week or even a full month! The Waterfront at Potlatch is a great place to stay and is the perfect setting for creating memories you’ll remember for a lifetime — no matter how long you stay.

 Willcox House Country Inn.

Enjoy the most stunning and romantic sunsets over the Olympic Mountains. Photo Credit: Willcox House Country Inn.

The Willcox House Country Inn

The most common thing guests say when they enter the Wilcox House Country Inn is, “Oh, Wow!” Located on the eastern side of Hood Canal on the Kitsap Peninsula, the Willcox House Country Inn is one of those destinations that seems too good to be true. Considered to be one of the top 12 Inns in North America, the Willcox House gives stunning views of the splendor of Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains.

Guests enjoy the inn’s traditional 1930’s mansion atmosphere paired alongside modern amenities like WiFi. The grounds of the Willcox House are like wandering through your own private garden. The entrance to the inn is breathtaking, as is every corner of this stunning property. While it might not be located on Highway 101, staying here is the classic romantic getaway that is sure to get you some quality time together far from the noises and distractions of the city. Talking to the owner, the views here have had quite the impact on guests, making it an ideal romantic getaway. During a weekend in August, there was a man who planned and carried out a proposal to his girlfriend down on the dock. Proposals are very common at the Willcox House, and that is just one of many reasons to come here.


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