Recent local blog posts

Liz Colon & Katie Sisson – Two Athletes, One Team, A Shared Dream

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:51am



Submitted by Chris Jenkins

north thurston volleyball

Katie Sisson (left) and Liz Colon are seniors at North Thurston High School. Both athletes will be playing college volleyball in the fall.

What does it take for high school athletes to break into the ranks of collegiate athletics? How about two athletes from the same team? Two volleyball players from North Thurston High School have the answer.

Elizabeth (“Liz”) Colón recently accepted the top merit scholarship and an athletic scholarship to play volleyball for Saint Martin’s University. Katie Sisson committed to play volleyball for Whitman College after receiving a generous financial aid package.

Is it a coincidence that two players from the same high school volleyball program broke into the college ranks? Not at all. In fact it was expected that both would achieve their dreams because their paths have been remarkably similar.

Katie and Liz have both been playing volleyball for years. Though only sophomores at the time, both were on the NTHS squad that made the historic run to the final round of the State tournament in 2012. And both finished their high school careers in the Elite Eight of the State tournament, bringing the 7th place trophy home to North Thurston.

That is just the first of many similarities.

Both Katie and Liz also play club volleyball. At times they were on the same team playing for the same coach. Other years they were across the net from each other playing on different teams with different clubs. Either way they were learning more about the game, perfecting their technique, and improving their volleyball skills.

“Playing club is a unique experience,” relates Liz. “Some club teams travel extensively to play in national qualifier tournaments. This gives you the opportunity to play against teams from all over. I’ve played against teams from Hawaii, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and as far away as Texas because they all come to the national qualifiers.”

“It can be humbling sometimes,” adds Katie. “Some of these travelling teams are so tall, it’s hard to believe they’re in high school. But you learn a lot.”

Both of these college bound athletes also attended college volleyball camps during the summers. “Attending a resident volleyball camp is the best way to get a feel for what playing in college is like,” says Katie. “You live in the dorms, you eat the cafeteria food, you get up early and play volleyball all day. You break for dinner then go back to the gym to play some more. The college coaches are right there giving you world class feedback. The college players are also running the camp, so you can talk to them about what college and college sports are like.”

“I knew early on that I wanted to play volleyball in college,” adds Liz, “and my college camp experiences helped to reinforce that goal.”

It should be no surprise that physical fitness also played a major role in the success of these two athletes. “Volleyball at this level is physically demanding,” says Katie. “You’re a student first and foremost so that means you study and go to class just like everyone else. But you’re also in the gym practicing, sometime until 9:30 at night or later. During the season you’re also playing in tournaments so that means getting up very early if travel is involved.”

“Insanely early,” adds Liz. “If the tournament is in Everett and coach wants you there at 7:00 a.m. because the first match is at 8:00 a.m., well you do the math.”

katie sisson volleyball

North Thurston High School senior, Katie Sisson, signs her letter of intent to play volleyball at Whitman College. Her parents, Ron and Heather Sisson, look on. Photo credit: Chris Jenkins.

Katie adds, “If you don’t take care of yourself, your body will break down under that work load.”

That’s why it’s easy to find Katie and Liz in the gym working on strength and stamina training. In fact, both of them have been given rigorous work out regimes by their future college coaches because both are expected to report to campus next fall in the best shape of their lives.

Jokes Liz, “You might assume that it’s time to relax now that I’m a senior and have signed, but it’s just the opposite. I’ve got to put in some major hours at the gym between now and when I report.”

Whitman expects the same from Katie. Although she is already very strong with an insane vertical, her future coach wants her jumping higher and hitting harder when she reports. So Katie will be “more of a gym rat than I already am” between now and next fall.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that Katie and Liz would play in college,” says Jacqueline Meyer, Head Coach of the North Thurston volleyball program. “Both of these young ladies are committed to the point of being relentless. They both show up for every practice and every match ready to play.”

Coach Meyer goes on to say, “What I am most proud of is that they are team players. They know that volleyball is a team sport, and that you succeed when your team works as one unit. When you watch Ram volleyball, you’ll see that when one member of the team makes a great play, the team celebrates together. There is no ‘me’ with these girls, Ram volleyball is team volleyball.”

“But when the team is struggling, for whatever reason, I could always count on Katie and Liz to rally their teammates,” says Coach Meyer. “We came from behind to win several critical matches because these girls never give up. They are fighters and their grit and determination is infectious. That’s what I love and admire about them the most.”

The harsh reality is that the majority of high school athletes never break through to the next level. Too many good athletes with the talent and ability to play in college never get seen because college coaches and recruiters don’t have enough time to go to every tournament or watch every video clip of game highlights. In fact, just 6.2% of high school volleyball athletes in the 2013-2014 school year actually went on to play women’s volleyball in college, according to

Katie and Liz both understood that it was up to them to aggressively market themselves to prospective coaches.

“I was so impressed with Katie’s organization,” says her mother Heather. “She developed a spreadsheet to keep track of the coaches she contacted, when they would come to see her play, what additional information they requested.” Katie’s father Ron adds, “I’m not sure she realizes it, but she utilized classic project management tools to achieve her goal.”

north thurston volleyball

Coach Jacqueline Meyer is proud of the hard work and dedication devoted to academics and athletics by Liz Colon and Katie Sisson.

Liz’s father agrees. Rafael Colón works with professional sports programs on a daily basis. “Head coaches are insanely busy,” says Rafael. “Recruiting is only part of what they do, so it’s up to the athlete to provide them the information they want when they want it. Liz was on top of the process every step of the way, and that is why she was ready to sign her National Letter of Intent in November.”

Since both athletes had multiple choices, how did they select which college to attend? Once again, Liz and Katie are on the same sheet of music.

“I love the Saint Martin’s campus, it’s so beautiful” says Liz. “And I know that Coach Peterson will push me to become a better player.” Although Liz considered other prestigious schools in the area, Saint Martin’s was always at the top of her list because of its strong academics, small size, and close proximity to home.

Katie echoes those comments. “Whitman and Walla Walla are gorgeous, and I really connected with Coach Helm. I had other offers, but after visiting Whitman I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. When their offer came through I literally jumped up and down screaming.”

Now that they have achieved their goals, what advice do these two college bound players have for young athletes hoping to play in college? Again they are in sync. “Listen to your coach,” says Katie, as Liz nods in agreement. “Push yourself, play at the highest level, even if it means getting beat,” says Liz. “That’s right,” adds Katie. “You get better by playing against good athletes and good teams.”

Katie adds, “Work out and eat right because college athletes are bigger and stronger.”

“That’s right,” says Liz. “Take care of your body because injuries can derail even the best athlete.”

Katie insists, “Above all, keep your grades up. If you don’t have the grades, some doors won’t be open for you.”

“School comes first,” adds Liz. “If you want to play in college, you first have to be accepted. Strong academics are also important because college coaches want to know that a recruit will also be successful as a student.”

Sound advice from two North Thurston volleyball players who set goals, focused like laser beams on the objective, and achieved their dreams.

As their focus switches to playing in college, have they considered the inevitable? Although Saint Martin’s and Whitman are in different conferences, they will play each other in non-conference tournaments. That means that these former teammates, who have played together for so long, will soon be facing each other across the net as members of different teams.

“Can’t wait,” says Liz. “Go Saints!”

“Bring it on,” adds Katie. “Whitman rules!”

Tiny (Carbon) Footprint Communities

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:19am
Event:  Thu, 02/26/2015 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm

From today's inbox:

Tiny (Carbon) Footprint Communities
With Julie Rodwell
Thursday, February 26
6:30 – 8:30 pm, refreshments served at 6:30
Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center
Upstairs Meeting Hall
2326 4th Ave E, Olympia
Please note new meeting location.

NWEBG member Julie Rodwell, will  talk about her forthcoming book: Tiny Footprints: Housing Ourselves Sustainably as We Grow and the Land Shrinks. 

Julie's theme is that part of our construction to accommodate growth and displaced people and businesses should be in new Tiny Carbon Footprint communities. In these places, just by living there, individual carbon footprints are much smaller. Such communities could be nestled in special areas inside city limits, or they could be on brand-new sites.

Tiny Footprint Communities are an essential, urgent part of the solution to the climate crisis. 

Julie F. Rodwell was born and educated in the U.K. (economics and urban planning).  She’s lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years. Her career has been spent in transportation and policy and includes aviation, bus, Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and rail public transportation, national policy, freight mobility, and pipeline safety. She’s the author of two nationally-published books (one on aviation and the other on raw food.)

 She’s a founding member of Winslow Cohousing on Bainbridge Island (the first cohousing in North America) and served on its Board during the construction phase.

The upstairs meeting hall is not handicapped accessible. If you are interested in this presentation but are unable to climb the stairs, please contact Julie Rodwell at for info about upcoming presentations.

Questions? Contact Donna at 360-280-9413 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Timberland Regional Library Kicks Off Family Read & Sing Aloud Events

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 7:34am



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library

Nestled comfortably between two literary birthdays – a dual homage to Dr. Seuss (March 2) and Beverly Cleary (April 12) – Timberland Regional Library’s Family Read & Sing Aloud returns with a robust line-up of programs.

Families, teachers and child-care providers may pick up program materials at any Timberland library beginning Monday, March 2, enter a drawing for prizes, and start reading and singing in every nook and cranny of homes, classrooms and day care centers. Each library will draw a winner for a backpack filled with books.

“It’s no coincidence that we open the Read & Sing Aloud celebration with the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close on the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for generations,” TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator Ellen Duffy said.

According to experts, singing not only helps with builds vocabulary, it helps develop spatial reasoning, pattern recognition and problem solving. Nancy Stewart, creator of “Sing with Our Kids” writes, “Simply singing with a child connects neural pathways, and increases the ability to retain information. Music builds a strong sense of rhythm, which leads to a better ability to understand and produce language.”

All programs at Timberland libraries are free and open to the public. Special thanks to the Friends of the Library groups in all five counties for the providing hundreds of books for this program.


Thurston County

Lacey Timberland Library

Thursday, April 2, 10:30-11 a.m., Bi-lingual Story Time: Spanish

Tuesday, April 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Egg Hunt

Thursday, April 9, 10:30-11 a.m., Bi-lingual Story Time: French

Thursday, April 9, 2-2:45 p.m., Book-It Theatre’s “STAT: Standing Tall and Talented”

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Olympia Timberland Library

Thursday, March 5, 10:15-11:10 a.m., Story Time with Nikki McClure

Saturday, March 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., PAWS to R.E.A.D.

Thursday, March 12, 10:15-11 a.m., The Chicken and the Dog Story Time

Thursday, March 25, 10:15-11 a.m., Sing Aloud with Caspar Babypants

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Tenino Timberland Library

Wednesday, March 11, 3-5 p.m., Dr Seuss Birthday Party

Tuesday, March 31, 4-6 p.m., Family Movie @ the Library

March 17-21, Read & Sing Guessing Jar

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Tumwater Timberland Library

Monday, March 2, 6-6:45 p.m., Stuffed Animal Sing-along Sleepover

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian


Yelm Timberland Library

Thursday, April 9, 11 a.m.-noon, Jeff Evans: Reading Magic

March 23-28, Sing to Your Librarian

WLFN Survey: Yakima Valley Farmers! Go Local!

Olympia Food Coop - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:55am

Hi folks,

We've been asked to participate in a survey by some local farmers to help them plan their crops and and their marketing.

It takes less than ten minutes and will provide great information for small independent Latino farmers in the Yakima Valley -- let's help them out!

The WLFN (Washington Latino Farmers Network), is a non-profit organization that is comprised of first-generation farmers in Yakima Valley, WA, who are exploring how they can build ongoing retail relationships with consumers in Western WA. This work is being funded by several grants from the USDA small farmers program. Click on the link to take the survey!

Thank You for your valuable input!

WLFN Survey Click Here

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Adopt-A-Pet – Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:36am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet

dog adoptionPretzel is a Chihuahua and possibly Terrier mix, about one year old.

Pretzel came to us a little cautious of new places and new people but he is quickly becoming a more confident and playful boy.

We are sure that with more socialization, he will continue to blossom. Pretzel enjoys playing with other dogs.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to join our crew.

Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Olympia School District Players Marks 20th Annual Show This Weekend

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Laurie O’Brien

olympia furnitureDave Rorem almost has a perfect record. Except for 2009, the year he broke his pelvis in a bike accident and had to sit out, the veteran teacher has always participated as a member of the Olympia School District Players annual musical production. This year will mark the Players’ twentieth show and Rorem’s nineteenth. “I’m a little crazy, maybe,” he says. “I did the first one and just enjoyed it. Year after year, I just keep saying, yeah, let’s do it!”

He’s not alone. Every year, up to 80 OSD staff members and their family members participate as part of the Players. For some, it’s a chance to dust off their dancing shoes or stretch rusty singing muscles. For others, it’s a way to step outside their comfort zone – something they ask their students to do all the time. Still others use it as an opportunity to spend quality time with family members, doing an activity they all love. And for all, it’s a chance to have fun and learn on the stage.

osd players

Tiffany Braford (left) was motivated to participate in this year’s Olympia School District Players performance after receiving a letter from Dave Rorem.

Kathy Dorgan, the theater director at Olympia High School, has directed half of the Players’ 20 shows and serves as director for this year’s production, Magical Moments. The musical review will feature numbers from all past shows including Beauty and the Beast, Bye Bye Birdie, Peter Pan, and Guys and Dolls.

“We audition either in December (for a complicated show) or in January right after winter break,” explains Dorgan. The musical director for the show teaches a song to everyone who wants to participate. Then individuals are invited to sing alone if they want to be considered for a lead.

Rorem, who teaches at Washington Middle School, says that he didn’t have a performing background before his first OSD show, but now after so many years, he’s comfortable putting himself out there. He’s been rewarded with some fun parts, too. “I always say, put me wherever you want me.” Then when the cast list comes out, it’s always a nice surprise. A few years ago he played the Cat in the Hat in Sesusical, the Musical, and he’s had featured roles in a number of other shows.

“Sometimes people have a picture of a teacher in this box,” says Rorem. “But we have other lives,” he insists. Stepping outside that box and letting his students see him in a different role is important to him. Participation in the annual musical is one way he can do that.

osd players

The OSD Players is a family affair for the Anders family (from left Kate, Molly and Jennifer).

Tiffany Braford decided to participate this year after receiving a letter from Rorem, inviting other teachers to take part. A first year teacher at Hansen Elementary, Braford has been a musician and performer since she was a young child. She is thrilled that the Players gives her an opportunity to continue pursuing the activities she enjoyed when she was a student. “I don’t have to grow up,” she says with glee. “Plus, I’m getting to meet people I never would have otherwise. The networking aspect is great.”

For the Anders family being part of the OSD players is a family affair. Magical Moments will be the eleventh production for them. 14-year-old Molly was only three when she first appeared in Once Upon a Mattress.

“It has turned into a fun family tradition that we really look forward to,” says Jennifer Anders, a teacher at L.P. Brown Elementary. As a result of their Players’ experience, both Molly and her sister Kate, who is two years older, now participate in theater year round and both credit acting with helping them overcome shyness. “Their confidence and ability to work with adults and other kids … it’s given them a certain comfort level,” says their mother.

osd players

Julia Marzell, Simone Scolaro, Allison Temple and Lily Halvorson are all children of OSD employees. They all are participating in this year’s OSD Players’ Production.

Dorgan believes the rapport the OSD Players develop is important. “They meet people from all over the district. We’ve had teachers, principals, superintendents, support staff. Everyone is equal on the stage, and (they) get to know each other in a fun way,” she says.

“A play needs everyone working together to create an ensemble and put on a show. I think everyone gets a sense of being a part of something bigger than any one person. I also think performers and technicians gain confidence. You never know what you can do until you do it.”

The OSD Players, a theatrical group of teachers, staff, and students from the Olympia School District will perform Magical Moments at Olympia High School’s Performing Arts Center, February 19-22. Featuring hits from 20 years of fantastic musicals, this is definitely a performance that is sure to please audience members of all ages!

The OSD Players musical has been an annual event since 1993; since 2005 all proceeds from the play benefit the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF). The Foundation is a non-profit IRS 501(c)(3) organization whose programs include classroom and tutoring grants, emergency funding for student needs, and outdoor education.

Tickets for the show are on sale now at Seat Yourself. Performance times are as follows:

Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 22 at 2:00 p.m.


Pine Hill Haints “Lady Bug”

K Records - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:37am
The sound of the saw gets me weeping every time. This is Pine Hill Haints in their melancholy mood.   K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Lady Bug” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] is […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Hiking the backcountry, BLM style

Judith Baumann - Play - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:48pm

On August 23, the Tamarind Adventure Club enjoyed its very first daring adventure: searching for a trail that I’m still pretty sure doesn’t actually exist, encountering wild horses, hiking into the BLM backcountry on a dirt road followed by a truck with rifles sticking out its window, climbing a gorgeous sandstone mesa in the scorching heat, and then getting the car stuck in the densest, reddest mud for what felt like an entire afternoon. These images document the beauty of that hike, complete with two lovely photogenic pooches.

What you unfortunately can’t see are the beautiful friendships being formed behind the lens.


















Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Judith Baumann - Play - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 7:27am

Back in August, before classes started, I drove down the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway through the middle of New Mexico. After six months of traversing the state, this route remains my favorite, and in my opinion, the most beautiful by far.  The Salt Missions Trail leads to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, a sprawling circuit of three historical ruins 30 miles apart. This was an amazing initial immersion into the history of New Mexico, its first peoples, and their encounters with Spanish Missionaries beginning in the 17th century. That’s a lot of history. The three sites, Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira each have their own unique history, stories, peoples and architecture. I cannot recommend this monument enough. On that day in August, I was the only person at each of these monuments. The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument cemented my love affair with the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Gran Quivira is the most impressive of the three sites; well worth the extra 25 miles it tacks onto your visit (if approaching from the north). I visited this site first, arriving just as the morning sun was becoming hot enough to cause droplets of sweat to bead on my forehead. The adobe and rock used at this site was white, and against the color of sage and blue sky, the short walk up a hill to the ruin was awe inspiring.















The next site was Abo, and as a Pacific Northwesterner trying to shoot in late summer Southwest sun for the first time, the color is somewhat washed out. Abo was the most brilliant red of the three ruins; truly a site to behold.








Quarai is the smallest of the three ruins, and the mission that is most intact. Portions of this site were semi-rebuilt in the 1800s by later settlers in the area.








The Back Door Bakery: Lacey’s Cake and Pie Shangri-la

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:24am



By Kelli Samson

back door bakery

Alison Kloft’s family and customers send her their photographs of the interesting back doors they see on their travels, and she adds them to her gallery wall.

Let us begin with a question nearly as important as blood type, political affiliation, or how you like your eggs: are you a cake person or a pie person?

Got your answer? Good.

It was really a trick question. Either way, Alison Kloft’s bakery in Lacey has you covered.

The Back Door Bakery is for lovers of handmade desserts crafted with real butter, eggs, and lots of sugar. It’s for the sweet tooth that is ever-craving satisfaction. It’s for the people that miss the pies their grandmothers used to make or the birthday cakes their moms would bake.

Yes, whichever way your dessert loyalties lean, this dessert shop is for you.

The Back Door Bakery is for people who don’t bake, but need to bring a dessert to an event. It’s for couples looking for a treat after a well-earned date night and for students who want to study somewhere much more enticing than the library, as this dessert destination is open until 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On Monday nights they close early.

As a little girl going to the grocery store, Kloft recalls, “I was the kid who would stand and watch the ladies decorate the cakes. In the town where I grew up, there was a shop that sold cake by the slice.” The foundation was set.

She went to college in Oregon, then, naturally, to culinary school. It was there that she met her husband. “We’re very much into food,” she chuckles. The couple now has four children.

Kloft began decorating cakes at Larry’s Markets in Seattle years ago. “That’s where I learned my primary decorating skills. A lot that I do here is a throw-back to what I learned back then,” she explains.

While she was a new mother living in Texas, she and a friend started the Back Door Bakery, baking breads that they would deliver to customers’ doors weekly.

back door bakery

The Back Door Bakery has a “Frequent Slicer Card,” which entitles the holder to a free slice of cake or pie after the purchase of nine.

Not long after Kloft and her family moved back to the Pacific Northwest, she opened her spacious, light-filled brick and mortar location, but dropped breads from the menu in favor of her true passions, cakes and pies.

Doing what she loves most gives Kloft the flexibility to be a successful working mother. Her hours reflect this. After getting her kids off to school in the morning, she comes in before the 11:00 a.m. opening to bake and prepare for the day. She closes on weekdays from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., which enables her to pick up her children from school. She then heads back to the bakery after her kids’ bedtime, staying until her 10:00 p.m. closing and, often, beyond. The bakery is closed on Sundays.

Kloft did this dance primarily solo for nearly a year after the Back Door Bakery’s November 2013 opening. She had a little help from friends and family who volunteered “mainly just to do the dishes and help prep,” acknowledges Kloft. She gets a little more time with her family now that she has hired an employee and also has an intern.

Employee Kiana Diaz “has pushed my custom cakes further than I ever would have gone on my own because she has a really great artistic talent,” relates Kloft. Intern Emily McGregor is just finishing up culinary school.

On any given day, Kloft has a wide variety of gorgeous cakes on domed stands. The Back Door Bakery also boasts little mini-pies, called “Cutie Pies,” which come in traditional and cream flavors.

The chocolate peanut butter cake is probably the best cake I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve tasted more than my fair share. I can also vouch for her 50/50 cake, which is a vanilla cake with orange curd sandwiched between the layers. Her cakes are eye-poppingly pleasant to behold, delightfully moist, and her frostings are light. Nothing is cloyingly sweet.

back door bakery

Part of the reason for the Back Door Bakery’s late hours is that Kloft and her husband noticed there weren’t many options for grabbing a slice of pie after a date.

It is clear she has honed her craft well. “When it comes to cakes, my mindset is very classic. I want to serve you what you’d get from Grandma or your mom,” remarks Kloft.

In fact, Kloft goes about her business with downright precision. “I do everything on my own terms,” she admits.

Quality is key. She does not put anything on her menu that she has not absolutely perfected first. She also does not bake anything that is gluten-free at this time, as she wants to go about doing so in a strict manner to ensure quality, taste, and zero gluten contaminants.

However, if you are gluten-free, she does sell the macarons made by Left Bank Pastries on Thursdays and Fridays. Be forewarned, though: they go quickly.

The Back Door Bakery certainly takes custom orders. They request that you give at least 48 hours’ notice.

And do you knit? There’s a knitting circle that meets here every Wednesday night from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. and is open to everyone.

Kloft would love to see the bakery fill up with students during its later evening hours. It’s located close to Saint Martin’s University, and she’d thrill in serving them cake. “Come see us to study,” invites Kloft.

back door bakery

The Back Door Bakery is located at 4444 Lacey Boulevard SE, Suite B, in Lacey.

The Back Door Bakery would like to be the place where you wind down your evening. To that end, they invite you to bring your local dinner receipt or movie ticket stub in for 10% off your cake.

Or pie.

Or both.

Follow on Facebook (backdoorpies)

The Back Door Bakery

4444 Lacey Blvd. SE, Suite B in Lacey



Family Fun at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:00am



golf hawks prairie

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie strives to be a golf destination for families.

I remember my dad encouraged me to take up golf as a lifetime sport. As a child, I had no idea what he meant by a lifetime sport. At that age I felt like I could climb trees and play tag forever. I do still play tag upon my children’s request. Recently, I have noticed my dad, now a grandparent, opting out of the backyard game of chase. Yet he still plays golf nearly every day. Mostly he plays with his friends but given the opportunity, he would prefer to play with family – me, my sister, his sons-in-law and mostly his grandchildren. Passing on his love for the sport is gratifying but the real reward is spending time with family in a shared activity.

My dad’s philosophy to teach me an activity that I would be able to enjoy throughout my lifetime is the same goal that the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie espouses to the community. Kevin Myers, former General Manger and Head Golf Professional of the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie and currently at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club, both of which are Oki Golf courses, shares “we want to be THE gathering place for families in the community. We want families to consider us the place to go for family golf, junior golf programs and of course even beginning adults, especially women.”

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie has noticed a considerable increase in its participation from junior players, women and beginning adults in the last year. Myers contributes this increase to the focus they have placed on new programs targeted towards these players as well as the new family homes being built along the Woodlands course. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie consists of two distinct, public 18-hole golf courses, the Woodlands which is distinguished by fairways winding through a dense forest and the Links which boasts spectacular views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier. Both courses are just minutes north of downtown Olympia.

Myers explains, “Oki Golf, in general, and the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie, specifically, are changing its programming to make golf more accessible to more people.” Last year, PGA Professional Trent Henning created a Four Hole Ladies Club at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie to include a half-hour of instruction by one of the golf professionals followed by playing golf with the pro and receiving instruction on specific skills. According to Myers, the female golfers loved this program, as it created an opportunity to play in a non-intimidating setting and in a manageable amount of time.

golf hawks prairie

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie adapted the Links course with a family set of tees so that it can be played shorter for youth.

Additionally, encouraging youth to play golf has been an important effort by the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie. A traditional golf course is not set up to be conducive to families enjoying the game together because most of the regulation golf holes are too long for kids and beginners. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie adapted the Links course with a family set of tees, meaning the golf course can be played shorter.

Kids can tee off from 150 yards or closer from the forward tees. The junior links course is designed to inspire play by kids and make the golf experience more inviting and fun for the whole family. Shorter course yardages reward improvement and reduce frustration that inevitably occurs with a beginning golfer. “We really want to make golf fun and affordable for the entire family. Last year we added a community golf pass to lower green fees during the week as well as a family golf club pass with discounted fees. Families continually commented on what a great value it was for the amount of entertainment together out on the course,” Myers comments.

The instructors and courses at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie want families to hit the links together and provide different programs to learn and play the game in a structured yet casual atmosphere. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie is providing an affordable opportunity for new players with limited or no golf experience to access some of the finest playing conditions in the area.

Oki Golf is a collection of eleven premiere Puget Sound golf courses, including the local Thurston County courses of the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie and Indian Summer Golf and Country Club.

The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie

8383 Vicwood Lane

Lacey, Washington 98516



Happy Presidents Day. By the way, Jospeph Lane did not go quietly into that good night

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 5:32am
Joseph Lane is one of the most regrettable characters of Cascadian history. During the debates on how slavery should be treated in Oregon during that state's founding days, Lane was on the hard pro-slavery side. There were a few hard anti-slavery sorts to balance him out. But, most of the state had a pox on both their houses sort of sentiment. They neither liked slaves nor the sort of economics that slavery represented.

But, there sat Lane, one of the state's original U.S. Senators. During the presidential election leading up to the Civil War, Lane was the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party ticket that represented the South. His ticket of course lost, which according to a 30,000 foot reading of history, shot Lane quickly out of politics. 
Even if that didn't, his debate with Andrew Johnson on the Senate floor in 1861 certainly should have.

On that day, Jo. Lane, made a traitorous speech in favor of secession, in which he was personally abusive of Senator Johnson of Tennessee. Mr. Johnson replied. The galleries were crowded to excess. Mr. Johnson opened up by a dissertation on personalities—withering and caustic to his assailant. Johnson turned and looking him in the eye, said, “no gentleman would insult me, and no other person can, and without making any boast of personal courage, I say here that this eye never looked upon the man that this heart feared.” The galleries burst into applause, which was promptly suppressed with an intimation from the Chairman, Mr. Polk, that a repetition would be followed by an order to clear the gentlemen’s gallery.But, even if Lane did not join the rebel cause, didn't migrate to the south, he kept the fight going on his return to Oregon.

He campaigned for Democratic candidates, he campaigned for his son who was running for Congress. Lane was criticized loudly by Republican newspapers, but he stood firm publicly to his convictions:
Once again in 1866 the aging politician campaigned for the Democratic ticket. Personal abuse from the press and threat of punishment had not dampened his adore for the southern cause, which he championed when he could. During the campaign he declared that if Jefferson Davis were elected to Congress by the people of Mississippi, that body would have no choice but to admit him. Being ignored and made fun of by the political establishment, carving out a hole for yourself as a loud political crank, is not the same as retiring quietly from public life.

At one point, he even talked about how Lincoln had offered him a generalship in the Union Army. And, that if he'd taken that position (instead of coming back to Oregon), he would have beaten General Grant to the top of Army of the Potomac, and then there would've been no President Grant.

I'm most intrigued by Lane's run for State Senate in 1880. Only one year before his death, an apparently with the furor of secession finally dying down, Lane ran one last time for office. I found some old newspaper stories about his continued involvement in Democratic politics. How he was elected chair of the party convention that year. But, no story of a race or election involving him. I wonder if its really true, and if so, why he ran.

Local Roller Derby Team Celebrates Heart Awareness Month with Hard-Hitting Event

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 9:50pm



Submitted by Rain City Roller Dolls

  Regularman Photography

Photo Credit: Regularman Photography

February is American Heart Month, and the women of Centralia’s Roller Derby Team, the Rainy City Roller Dolls, know about the importance of heart health.  “This is an intense sport,” says Rainy City president Rebecca Parvin, who goes by the alias “Ivanna Pop a Tart” during the team’s matches. “We want to give our audience an exciting bout to watch, and we spend a lot of hours training to be physically able to do it.”

The skaters, women ranging in age from 20 to 50, spend 4-6 hours a week on skates at the Centralia Rollerdrome, giving and taking body-jarring hits with their hips, shoulders, and chests.  Most spend additional time outside of practices lifting weights, doing yoga, Zumba, boxing, running stairs – “Anything that makes you breathe hard and your heart pound,” says Parvin, “Cardio conditioning is vital to roller derby.”

For team captain Katie Lewis, who goes by Cleo Katra while playing derby, Heart Awareness Month has special meaning.  Her eight year old daughter Lillian Denney was born with a hole in her heart. Lillian had surgery when she was 18 months old at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her family has recently discovered that a second surgery will be needed to close a cleft near a valve in her heart as soon as Summer 2015. Through her several appointments and diagnostic testing, Lillian has faced the news with a strength even some derby girls lack. Lillian is ready to move forward with the procedure as soon as possible.

  Regularman Photography

Photo Credit: Regularman Photography

In honor of Lillian, the Rainy City Roller Dolls plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from their upcoming home bout to the American Heart Association.  Their first home bout of the season, Hits from the Heart, is on Saturday February 21, 2015 at 7:00pm at the Rollerdrome at 216 W Maple in Centralia, WA. Tickets can be purchased online at or from a league member in advance for $10 or at the door for $15. The doors open at 6:30 and the bout begins at 7:00pm. There will be a beer garden for those 21 and older.  More information is available here.

The Rainy City Roller Dolls is non-profit, skater-ran organization that was established in 2007 and has continued to fulfill their mission of advancing the sport of roller derby by encouraging athletic development of its members. The league is dedicated to assisting their local community and offers a welcoming environment for women of all backgrounds to participate in the sport of roller derby.

Working Class Theatre NW Does Cormac McCarthy's The Sunset Limited

South Sound Arts - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 2:52pm

Jack House(left) and
Aaron Bredlau. Photo courtesy Working Class Theatre NW
There were six people in the audience opening night for Working Class Theatre’s The Sunset Limited. Six! What is wrong with this community that they don’t flock to see this mind-boggling play? Has nobody read Cormac McCarthy? Did nobody see the HBO movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson? Every seat in the house should be filled every night. McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited hits raw nerves and challenges the intellect. It is a philosophical and theological debate couched in a highly dramatic confrontation between two men who are as diametrically opposite as two men can be. The men are called Black and White, although Black (Jack House) calls White (Aaron Bredlau) “Professor.” Black is an ex-con with a violent past that found God in prison and is now an evangelical Christian dedicated to helping the junkies who live in his ghetto neighborhood. White is a college professor and an atheist who has lost all hope and only wants to die. He attempts suicide by trying to jump in front of The Sunset Limited commuter train. Black catches him, seemingly coming out of nowhere, and takes him back to his apartment and won’t let him leave until he has done everything in his power to “convert” him—not to any particular religion, but to faith that there is reason to live, reason to hope. There is something mystical, surreal or other worldly about these characters, beginning with their names, which not only highlight racial differences but are obvious metaphors for being complementary (yin/yang) opposites as. This mystical element first appears when White says he looked before he leaped and there was no one there, yet Black caught him. Are they symbols or metaphors, or are they mystical beings—messengers of God or Satan locked in debate over whether or not life is worth living? This is typical of McCarthy. Such mystical characters appear in many of his books, often in the form of satanic avatars such as Judge Holden in Blood Meridian and Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. There is nothing simplistic about Black’s religion. Although his arguments ring with evangelical fervor and are sparked with down-home truisms and street language, his theology is complex and intelligent. White wants nothing to do with his religion. He just wants to die. Over and over he says he’s leaving, and over and over Black insists that he stay a little bit longer. White does not want to be drawn into a theological debate. He says, “Good god, man. Show me a religion that prepares one for death. For nothingness. There's a church I might enter. Yours prepares one only for more life. For dreams and illusions and lies.”Working Class Theatre Northwest is a small company dedicated to producing socially conscious theater. They work on a limited budget, as evidenced by the set for this play, consisting of donated or scrounged furniture and props that probably cost nothing, all of which works perfectly because that’s the way Black lives (the entire play takes place in his tiny apartment). He has no stove, but only a hot plate; he has only two plates, two coffee cups and two glasses—the bare minimum of everything. Tim Samland’s direction is outstanding. He and stage manager Chad Carpenter also run lights and sound (lighting design by Tom Sanders), and costumer Christina Hughes serves as house manager—further indications of what a small budget they operate with. House and Bredlau are totally convincing. House is expansive and expressive, often funny, shouting like a revivalist preacher, and then he becomes quiet and introspective. At one point he becomes as cowed and withdrawn as White, who throughout the play seems to fold in on himself in fear and utter defeat, but then becomes a dynamo of anger and righteous indignation when pressed to explain himself. This is acting of the highest order. These are actors who so thoroughly inhabit their characters that I don’t know how they manage to go home to their families or out into the world after a performance.Performances are Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. through Feb. 28 at Tacoma Youth Theater, 924 Broadway, Tacoma, and March 5-8 at 8 p.m. at The Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia St. in Olympia. Tickets are by suggested donation: $12 for general tickets and $10 for students, seniors, military and union members.
Can you tip?With the exception of reviews reprinted from my monthly theater column in The News Tribune and my weekly art criticism column in the Weekly Volcano, I do not get paid for reviews. There’s a tip jar in the sidebar to the right. Tips help cover my expenses and every little bit helps. Thank you.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Kim Hille Makes Sure Tumwater High School’s Dance Team Includes Fun and Winning

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 7:00am



By Gail Wood

les schwabWith the precision of Olympic pair ice skaters, they gracefully spin and turn across the gym floor, dancing to a jazzy, upbeat song.

Each of the 24 dancers move at the same time as if they’re programed by a computer to perform simultaneously. Their arms point upward. Several pirouette then do a graceful, backward spin in unison.

tumwater dance

Kim Hille has been the Tumwater High School dance coach for 19 years.

For 2 ½ hours on this Monday evening, with coach Kim Hille on her perch watching and coaxing, the Tumwater High School’s dance team practices, doing their two-minute routines repeatedly. Their precision is no accident.

“We practice hard,” said Sharlee Fine, a senior team captain. “I just love it.”

And hard practice – they practice Monday and Wednesday evenings for 2 ½ hours and Saturday mornings for four hours – is part of the secret to their dancing dynasty. They’re Washington’s dancing queens, winners of eight straight state championships and earning crowns on ten of the past eleven. Earlier this month, the T-Birds competed at the UDA National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Florida, placing eighth in the varsity Hip Hop division.

“I like being on the dance team,” Fine said at a recent practice at Bush Middle School. “You make a lot of friends and competing is probably the best part for me. It’s fun.”

About once a month, the team is in a competition. The big one – the state competition – is in March. Besides the competition, they also perform for their school and at other local events. They performed at the halftime of every T-Bird home football game. During basketball season, they perform at least once a week during halftime. In October, they were on a bigger stage when they performed at the halftime of a Seattle Seahawks game.

tumwater dance team

To perfect their routines, the Tumwater High School dance team logs hours of practice time.

But the highlight has been their six-day trip to Orlando. Every other year, Hille brings her team to nationals, paying for the trip with fundraisers. This year, the T-Birds dance team competed at nationals in four divisions—two varsity and two junior varsity. They both competed in pom and hip hop. Tumwater’s junior varsity placed sixth in pom.

“It was really fun,” said Angela Mack, a sophomore who is on the junior varsity squad. “It was kind of stressful when we were practicing there and right before we went on. Your nerves are like taking you over.”

Mack admitted that there was a sense of indebtedness competing at nationals.

“You want to make it count because you’re flying across the country,” Mack said.

The challenge is the same for each dancer. First, there’s the memorization, the digesting of every hand movement, every head nod, kick and twirl. And, to stay in sync, each dancer is clicking off an eight count in their heads, counting “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.” Each number brings another step, another movement.

tumwater dance

With the music playing, Tumwater’s dance team entertains the crowd at a home basketball game.

“Every muscle in your body is doing something,” Mack said. “You have to remember where your hands go and what your foot is supposed to do up in the air.”

The music is like a costume, adding to the mood of the performance.

“Technically, we can count ourselves and do the routine the same without the music,” said Sami Jones, a senior and team captain. “But the music helps add something else to it.”

Besides the memorization, there’s also the conditioning. Dancers are in great athletic shape.

“You can condition on your own,” Jones said. “But we do a lot of conditioning with the team, too. We’ll do the routine full out three times. Then run a lap.”

To build team unity, Hille assigns her older dancers with “sisters,” helping the younger, first-year dancers fit in.

“We have to feed off each other’s energy,” Jones said. “And we have to be in sync with each other. If we’re not on the same vibe, it could throw us off.”

Their friendships, which is grown through summer camps, practice and get-togethers, also helps them perform better.

“It keeps us from arguing a lot,” Jones said. “Everything gets tense when you’re working so hard for something. But knowing that they’re your friends and your sisters and they’re there no matter what it’s kind of amazing.”

tumwater dance

The Tumwater High School dance team performed in front of 68,000 Seahawks fans during halftime.

For 19 years, Hille has coached Tumwater’s dance team, building a winning program that’s become a blueprint for other schools. Hille knows the program from both sides – as a coach and as a dancer. She’s a 1983 Tumwater High School graduate and she turned out for the team and became enthralled with the dancing, friendships and competition.

“It was probably the best part of my high school experience,” Hille said at a recent practice. “It kept me focused. It was such a big team community. It just made high school easier.”

Hille’s experience with the dance team was so rewarding she wanted to share it. And she didn’t have to wait long for that opportunity. As a junior and senior at Tumwater, Hille coached a junior high school drill team.

“My sister wanted to try out for the team and I saw it wasn’t working so I decided to come out and help coach,” Hille said.

tumwater dance

Whether they’re jumping, spinning or twirling, Tumwater’s dance team stays in sync.

After college, Hille got a job as an English teacher at Tumwater’s Bush Middle School and started a dance team there. Soon, she was asked to coach at the high school. And, naturally, she couldn’t refuse. All along, the attraction isn’t just the dancing. It’s also the life lessons her kids learn.

“This experience helps them develop into great, mature adults,” Hille said “All of the things you hope to have in your leaders, they’re developing here – everything from commitment to dedication to perseverance. It’s not easy what I’m asking these kids to do.”

For help with coaching and with choreography, Hille has dipped into her past. Hille’s assistant coach is Corynn Dohrman, who was on Hilles’ team in middle school and high school. Dohrman, who was a Crimson Girl while attending Washington State University, joined Hille’s coaching staff last year. Carrie Smith, a friend of Hille’s and the dance team coach at San Diego State, does the T-Birds choreography.

“She’s a big help,” Hille said. “Choreography is a big part of it.”

tumwater dance

Long practice hours takes commitment but is rewarded with excellent performances and long-lasting friendships.

Dancing in front of 68,000 Seahawks fans takes lots of confidence. And, Hille will tell you, that takes lots of friendships. To pull it off in front of a crowd, they need to support each other.

“That takes a lot of confidence,” Hille said.

Next year, to celebrate her 20th year as a coach at Tumwater, Hille is going to put together an alumni team, reconnecting life-long friends. From August until April for the past 19 years, Hille has been devoted to her dance teams, coaching and mentoring. She’s loved every minute.

“It’s a year around commitment, but it’s my passion,” Hille said. “It’s what I love to do. Teaching is great. I love that, but this is my creative outlet.”

Welcome to Hille’s wonderful life.

Ring In Lunar New Year with a Visit to a Local Asian Market

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

indian summer logoAfter visiting Hong Kong, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore during the long celebration of the Chinese New Year three years ago, we were inspired to create a celebration when it was our turn to host a dinner group. We knew we couldn’t replicate the amazing displays in the Malls in Hong Kong, the red lanterns and the acres of yellow chrysanthemums in Viet Nam, or the Dragon and Lion dances through the streets of China Town in Singapore. However, we made an attempt by searching for recipes similar to dishes we enjoyed at restaurants and market stalls, looking for fresh produce and herbs, and selecting traditional decorations.

Recently I revisited Thurston County Asian markets where we purchased our ingredients and have often shopped. I chatted with the owners about their preparations for the Lunar New Year, 4713. Celebrations for the year of the Goat could last from Wednesday, February 18 (New Year’s Eve) to February 24 (the sixth day of Chinese New Year), but most likely will only be a one-day event for most celebrants in our local community.

Hong Phat Market

1107 College Street SE in Lacey

asian market olympia

A special selection of Lunar New Year gifts are available at Hong Phat Market in Lacey.

Nghic Vuong, owner of Hong Phat Market, told me, “One of the reasons the Vietnamese who live locally like to return to Viet Nam during the Lunar New Year is because of the celebrations you saw.”

He went on to say that most families in the South Sound have to work or go to school during what would be a week-long holiday in their home countries. “We try to keep the important traditions alive, especially for the younger members of the family. We go to the temple and bring food for the monks and offerings for our ancestors,” Nghic explained.

When asked about traditional foods for the holiday, he said, “People usually just make their favorite dishes, which are often vegetarian.” Pointing out a nearby display of beautifully wrapped baskets, trays of dried fruits, and little containers of various candies, he acknowledged, “We do order special gift items for the holiday.” Along with giving small red envelopes with money to friends and relatives for good luck, he said the candies are also considered lucky.

“Ten or fifteen years ago, we had Dragon parades in town, but now, with all the permits we would need and the busy lives people live, we no longer do that,” Nghic told me. “Just imagine if every Asian in the area called in sick on February 19,” he said. We shared a laugh considering that possibility.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without a bag full of ginger, eggplant, garlic, noodles and much more. I ultimately persuaded my husband to make Thai Prawn, Ginger and Spring Onion Stir Fry for an early celebration. After all, fish is a staple of Chinese New Year’s celebrations.


KN Halal Market

7255 Martin Way E in Lacey

olympia asian market

Beautiful produce is displayed at KN Halal market in Lacey.

Down the road, at the KN Halal Market, I picked up the ingredients for the Hot and Sour Broth with Prawns recipe, which had been a hit with our dinner group. Our friends have since adapted the simple recipe using vegetables and various meats.

Zally Mouhamath, who owns the KN Halal Market, with her husband, Esa, paused from adding cucumbers to the beautiful display of fresh produce to echo Nghic’s words. She stressed the importance of the temple, family and good-luck gifts in New Year’s celebrations.

However, she added, “Since I am Cambodian, we and the Thai and Lao people will celebrate our New Year on April 14, but we do share the Lunar New Year celebrations with our families because many of our ancestors came from China.” Celebrations never end.

As I was waiting by the KN Halal’s smaller display of gift items, I envisioned all the wonderful meals the couple ahead of me in line would make with their two huge baskets of groceries. I wondered if they offered cooking classes.


Capital Market

2419 Harrison Avenue in Olympia

chinese new year

Shopping in Singapore during Chinese New Year is a colorful, festive atmosphere.

Later I stopped at Capital Market in West Olympia, where I had purchased red lanterns and small envelopes for our dinner party.

Kim Thai, the owner, showed me a tray of Banh Tet, a traditional Vietnamese sweet and savory cake, which Kim said they have on hand now. She added, “People are also shopping for ingredients for special holiday stir fries and chow mien dishes.”


Olympia Timberland Libraries

After creating your New Year’s dinner menu, you may be in the mood to join the Olympia Tai-Chi and Kung-Fu Club to watch their performance of the traditional Lion Dance and demonstration of the martial art of Kung-Fu.

Olympia Timberland Library, Tuesday, February 17, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tumwater Timberland Library, Tuesday, March 5, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Lacey Timberland Library, Saturday, March 7, noon to 1 p.m.


Set the table with red and gold, find some yellow mums, and make succulent Asian dishes on February 19 to welcome in the year of the Goat!


Thomas Mani – Saving the Day for Busy Beekeepers

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 6:00am



By Heidi Smith

south sound trucksImagine this: You’re environmentally conscious, donate to green groups, and actively work to minimize your carbon footprint. You’ve heard about the steady decline of honey bees over the past few decades and want to help, but maybe your job and family duties keep you occupied. It’s unrealistic for you to tend a hive yourself. What to do?

Into the breach steps Thomas Mani, beekeeper for hire. He resolves this challenge by supplying hives for clients on their property and providing care and maintenance through his business, Bee Forever Apiary. “Now people can own bees without doing the work themselves,” he explains. “It just widens the spectrum of who can participate.”

beekeeping olympia

Beekeeper for hire, Thomas Mani, provides maintenance and extraction services for those too busy to tend hives themselves.

Margo Mansfield has used his services for years.  “I was traveling and I was so busy that I didn’t have time to deal with the maintenance aspect of the bees,” she says. “Thomas would come by and if there was a problem, we would talk about it. He continually educates. When something comes up, he doesn’t just take care of it, he helps you to understand it.” Mansfield first became interested when she heard about the disappearance of bees. “I’m really clear about the role they play,” she says.

Megan Lane took it one step further. After taking a class Mani offered several years ago, she began tending to hives herself, with his advice and support. “I’ve had him come out the first time I needed help with replacing a queen,” she says. “I call him and ask questions. He’s been very gracious about providing information.”

Keeping bees has reaped benefits not just for Lane, but for surrounding households. “I’ve come to understand how much bees do in our environment in terms of pollination,” she says. “Our fruit trees have had been really robust since I’ve had the bees and our neighbors say the same.”

Historically, the main habitat for bees was farms and undeveloped land. Those days are gone, says Mani, at least for now.  “Modern industrialized agricultural land is no longer bee habitat,” he explains. “This has slowly changed since the ‘50s. Bees can no longer live on a farm today.” Honey bees struggle with not only disappearing habitat but also insecticides and parasitic mites that shorten their lifespans. “It’s up to us to provide bee habitat in our environments – rural, suburban and even urban,” he contends.

olympia beekeeper

Mani’s client, Megan Lane, learned how to tend bees on her own, but still calls him for advice.

While hobby beekeepers can make an impact, Mani believes relying solely on that group to maintain pollination levels is a mistake. “It’s a challenge,” he says. “Everyone I know has lost bees. You have to face the loss and be able to overcome these challenges.” As a result, not many stay with it. When Mani started his business, he offered classes and nearly eighty people in the Yelm area became beekeepers. Today, he says, not many of them still do.

Mani was originally inspired by his brother back in Switzerland. “He was carrying a beehive up to an alpine meadow when I was hiking with him, and I thought, ‘That’s hard work,’ but it got me interested,” he explains. Still, after moving to the United State, he was just a casual beekeeper until he attended a retreat at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment in 2007 that shifted his thinking. “We were told that colony collapse was coming and we should contribute to the return of the honey bees,” he says. “That was the moment I said, ‘I can do that.’”

His vision was to create an area with plenty of bee coverage. “That was my dream and it became realized,” he says. “If I look along the highway 507/702 corridor, I cover almost the whole region between Eatonville and Rochester. I cannot speak highly enough of my clients. They pay for my service, but they provide that service for a vast area.”

Along the way, the bees have taught him many lessons. “I always learn from them,” he says.  “They reflect my state of mind. When I am in a hurry, I totally see how they behave differently and respond to my emotional mindset. That’s always an interesting journey.”

For anyone considering becoming a beekeeper, he warns, “People have to be willing to commit to a higher point of view.  Economically, if you calculate the honey you get out of it in one year and what you pay for my service, you’d better go to the store.” It’s not about making money but rather supporting the return of the bees and providing habitat that in turn enriches the whole community. Most hobby beekeepers actually pay money to keep bees. “It is well worth the money and the time that it takes,” says Mansfield. “If someone really wants to get into it, I would immediately suggest that they call Thomas.”

beekeeping olympia

Thomas Mani also enjoys educating people about how to care for bees.

If you want to help but are not in a position to tend a hive, here are his tips on Bee-Friendly Behavior:

  1. Plant bee-friendly plants such as fruit trees, vegetable gardens, herbs, spices, and berries.
  2. Let dandelions and clover grow in the grass and stop pulling them out.
  3. Don’t spray anything. If you do, use a natural product and not hard core chemicals, especially not insecticides.
  4. If you know a beekeeper in your neighborhood, support them. Buy their honey instead of going to the stores that have adulterated honey that includes ingredients like corn syrup, molasses and up to 25% water content. Every beekeeper is happy to earn something.

Thomas Mani can be reached via email at or by phone at 360-894-6038.


Fungi Love Day!

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 1:49pm
Event:  Sun, 02/15/2015 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Celebrate Fungi Love Day! With the Olympia Mycelial Network!


Do you love fungi? Do you want to learn more about fungi and mushrooms in general? If you have an interest in learning to cultivate on a home scale or would like to learn about growing edible or medicinal mushrooms in your yard, you might want to come learn more about the Olympia Mycelial Network! We meet every other week and have a workshop season in the spring and fall when we provide free workshops to the Olympia area to educate about fungi for food medicine and remediation! Check out our website to learn more!


We'll be celebrating "Fungi Love Day" with a meeting! & We'll hug a few mushrooms! Join us on Sunday to have a meeting at Bread and Roses at 1:00pm.  There's so mush to do and so little time. 

& Happy Mycophile day all you joyful sporelettes! 



1:00pm Sunday Feb 15 "Fungi Love Day"

@ Bread and Roses

1320 8th ave SE

Olympia Wa 98501 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Fraser Bill could add Northern Thurston County to Sound Transit

Thurston Talk - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 11:58am



Submitted by Thurston County 

 Washington State LSS

Photo Credit: Washington State LSS

A bill that would give local governments and voters the ability to decide if northern Thurston County will become a sub region within the Sound Transit system was heard today in the Senate Transportation Committee.

“The goal of this bill is to give people in northern Thurston County more transit options,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County. “Traffic studies show that each weekday 15,000 trips are made into the county and 30,000 trips are made out. Add in that half of all the trips through the JBLM corridor get on or off the exits, which leads to the congestion we’re all too familiar with. Local governments and voters should have the ability to consider additional transportation options that can help reduce traffic congestion and improve bus routes north from our region.”

Senate Bill 5780 would allow not only Thurston County residents but also local governments and the voters in counties that border the existing Regional Transit Authority counties, west of the Cascade mountains, to decide if they would like to be annexed in to the Regional Transit Authority, Sound Transit.

“We are a long way off from having light rail or a commuter train come and go from our region,” said Fraser. “This proposal is about giving local governments and the people the chance to determine if they want more efficient bus routes from our county in the short run. I know there is a considerable amount of frustration about the traffic congestion to and from our region. This would make one more option available to consider.”


Western Fastest Outlaws Spring Series to Host Inaugural Season in 2015

Thurston Talk - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 11:53am



Submitted by Ben Deatherage for Grays Harbor Raceway

Photo Courtesy of Malcolm White Photography

Photo Courtesy of Malcolm White Photography

2015 will see the dawn of an exciting new era in 360 Sprint Car racing in the Pacific Northwest as a new touring Sprint Car series will be born. That new series will be named the Western Fastest Outlaws Sprint Series and will continue to bring to Sprint Car fans the best drivers the Western United States has to offer at some of the top tier facilities in the entire country. Be prepared to feel the earth shake as these 700+ horsepower fire-breathing monsters do battle at a track near you. This is something you do not want to miss.  Be sure and don’t miss out on any of the latest news or information by visiting the new site at .

Below this release is the complete 2015 WFO Sprint Series tentative schedule as well as links to the rules, payout, and race format.  A printable copy of the schedule can be found here . Currently as of right now there are fifteen exciting action-packed events scheduled at six different and exciting race tracks in the great states of Oregon, California, and Washington. Each action-packed thrilling main event is $2,000.00 to win and $300.00 to start unless stated otherwise.

Brian Crockett will be appointed for duties of Series Director after several seasons successfully running various 360 Sprint touring organizations in the Pacific Northwest. He brings a wealth of racing knowledge to his position as he is one of the most decorated drivers ever to come out of California.

This exciting and new season will get started in late April at the Cottage Grove Speedway for two nights of action. In May there will be another two nights of action packed racing at two Oregon tracks over Memorial Day weekend which will held at Cottage Grove Speedway and Southern Oregon Speedway.

Don’t miss out on the always thrilling Speedweek Northwest featuring six awesome races in seven nights that attracts some of the nation’s best drivers. Speedweek Northwest for the second consecutive year will start at Yreka, California’s bullring known as Siskiyou Motor Speedway and will trek north eventually concluding at the Cottage Grove Speedway on Independence Day weekend. The Saturday July 4th Speedweek finale at Cottage Grove Speedway $5,000.00 will go to the main event winner and is sure to bring some big names to the table looking to take home the prize money as it is one of the biggest paying 360 Sprint Car races in the West.

A wonderful doubleheader in August will take place between Siskiyou Motor Speedway in California and Southern Oregon Speedway in White City. And the whole season will come down to two exciting nights in late September at the Central Washington State Fair Raceway in Yakima, Washington to crown the first ever WFO Sprint Series champion.

Be sure and stay tuned for more press releases and stories in regards to this new and exciting Sprint Car series. 2015 is definitely going to be a fantastic inaugural season for the WFO Sprint Series. For drivers have any questions regarding the series are more than welcomed to contact Series Director Brian Crockett at (541)-510-0757

Additional Information:

2015 Tentative Western Fastest Outlaw Sprint Series Schedule

April 24th Cottage Grove Speedway Cottage Grove, OR

April 25th Cottage Grove Speedway Cottage Grove, OR

May 23rd Cottage Grove Speedway Cottage Grove, OR

May 24th Southern Oregon Speedway White City, OR

June 28th Siskiyou Motor Speedway Yreka, CA (Speedweek Northwest)

June 29th Southern Oregon Speedway White City, OR (Speedweek Northwest)

June 30th Coos Bay Speedway Coos Bay, OR (Speedweek Northwest)

July 1st Travel Day

July 2nd Willamette Speedway Lebanon, OR (Speedweek Northwest)

July 3rd Cottage Grove Speedway Cottage Grove, OR (Speedweek Northwest)

July 4th Cottage Grove Speedway Cottage Grove, OR (Speedweek Northwest)

August 14th Siskiyou Motor Speedway Yreka, CA

August 15th Southern Oregon Speedway White City, OR

September 25th State Fair Raceway Yakima, WA

September 26th State Fair Raceway Yakima, WA

Printable Schedule-

Series Rules-

Series Race Format-

Series Payout-


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