Recent local blog posts

Author Mitchell S. Jackson @ the Olympia Library

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 4:15pm
Event:  Mon, 06/01/2015 - 6:30pm - 7:45pm Mitchell Jackson is an all-too-rare success story. He grew in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Portland, Oregon during the crack epidemic of the 1990’s. He went to prison for selling drugs, yet managed to channel his hard times into a book that is already being considered for literary prizes.  "It’s tough to write beautifully about ugly things,” writes award-winning author Victor LaValle, “but Mitchell Jackson makes it look easy.” The story focuses on a man and a woman – his mother - trying to overcome the enormous hurdles life has put in front of them. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that, in this situation, simply doing one’s best takes great courage. All Timberland Regional Library programs are free and open to the logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Sound Shade & Shutter: Outstanding Service Creates Perfect Balance with Sun, Shade and Security

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:01am



sound shade shutter

Roll shutters provide an excellent solution to security and storm protection.

Screens, shutters and awnings provide security to businesses and homes and protection from Thurston County’s seasonal weather changes of warm sun on summer days and blustery wind and rain throughout the winter. Behind these devices is a quality product, person and company. Sound Shade & Shutter is locally owned and operated by Gary Merritt, a home improvement professional who has been in the local industry for over 25 years. Commonly known as the “roll shutter guy,” Gary recognizes that his positive attitude, professionalism and outstanding customer service have been the foundation to his happy customers.

“It is my philosophy that we would never do anything to someone’s home that we would not do to our own. And I provide service with a smile. We do the work right the first time so that we have satisfied customers. I offer professionalism and experience and I think that is why I have so many repeat customers and new customers from friends and neighbors recommending me,” shares Gary.

Jean Muller has worked with Gary through five different projects in three separate homes. She originally met Gary when she bid on an auction item to fit her living room and bedroom with roll shutters. “I liked his work so much that we had him return to fit our screen door. Then when we moved to our second home we knew immediately that we would have to have roll shutters and that we wanted Gary to do it. Now we are in our third house and Gary installed more roll shutters. We just had Gary come back out to put in a motorized sun screen. He has really good products. We have been extremely happy customers for a whole bunch of years. We think Gary is great.”

Sound Shade & Shutter is the premiere local choice for sun control and security needs. They offer the highest quality products in the industry for habitat screens, awnings and roll shutters. Habitat screens are an energy efficient solution to block the sun but not the view while expanding a living space. They are easy to see through and completely retractable. Gary describes habitat screens as sunglasses for your home.

Awnings come in a variety of styles and types, depending upon the need of the patio, window or other enclosure. Customarily, their purpose is to create a living space out of a balcony or patio into the open air.

Roll shutters are a popular and effective product as they are strong, secure and durable and simply glide into place when needed or retract easily into an overhead panel box when not being used. Roll shutters are designed either to be manually operated or with motorized controls and are an excellent solution to protect windows. Sound Shade & Shutter offers generous parts and labor warranties on installed roll shutters, awnings, and sunscreens. Gary strives for every customer to be 100% satisfied.

sound shade shutter

Habitat screens are like sunglasses for your home. They provide solar protection yet are easy to see through as to not compromise your view.

Marjorie Henry is a testament to the longevity and superior service offered by Sound Shade & Shutter. She has been a customer of Gary’s for nearly twenty years when he initially installed roll shutters on seven windows throughout the house. “Gary is a good man and he does excellent work. We have had these roll shutters since 1997 and they are wonderful. We put the westside facing ones down in the summer to keep the house cool. And when we need to protect from the wind, we put them all the way down. Gary recently came out to clean the shutters and just check on them. They still work great and we are so glad that Gary is in the business,” exclaims Marjorie.

Gary prides himself on his superior products and reputable customer service, which is evidenced by products lasting over twenty years and repeat customers. “Sound Shade & Shutter products have truly been a life saver for us,” says customer Jean Muller. “We had a neighbor’s tree come down on our master bedroom in the middle of the night. The roll shutter protected us as it would have broken through our door and on top of us. The sturdy roll shutter simply got a small crease in it and still functions to this day. However, the most impressive thing is how Gary goes above and beyond with his customers. When he came out recently, he realized some starlings had made a nest above the roll shutters and made a humongous mess. Those starlings were persistent but Gary’s follow up was even better. It is a rare company that has that kind of follow up and service.”

Sound Shade & Shutter is a full service company offering sales, maintenance and repair and an authorized Talius and ABC Sun Control representative. To learn more about their innovative sun solutions and security products visit their website. Contact Gary at 360-742-3600 or


Summer Reading Begins

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:39am
Event:  Fri, 06/12/2015 (All day) Summer reading begins! Head to the library and sign up for our annual Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme is superheroes: "Every Hero has a Story" for children, "Unmask!" for teens, and “Escape the Ordinary” for adults. Adults can complete challenges and earn a chance to win one of our exciting grand prizes. The program runs from June 12 through Labor Day, with the Summer Reading Party for kids on August 18. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Capital City Marathon 2015 Photos

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 6:07am



Photos by Shanna Paxton Photography

It was a beautiful morning on Sunday, May 17 for the 34th annual Capital City Marathon.  The route includes a full marathon, half marathon, 5 miler and a kids dash.  For more information on all the community groups that made this event possible, click here.  The next race is slated for Sunday, May 22, 2016.

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Shannon Young’s Long Journey to Running the Capital City Marathon Began with a Diagnosis

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 6:00am



By Gail Wood

Rock FitnessShannon Young had an excuse for not running. It hurt.

Even walking to the mailbox from her kitchen hurt. That’s because Shannon had rheumatoid arthritis. But nobody knew – not even her doctors.

“It took a while to diagnosis it,” Shannon said.

Her legs ached. Her feet ached. Her hips ached.

capital city marathon

With the encouragement of her husband, Shannon Young has taken up running.

“The biggest thing is I couldn’t bend very well,” Shannon said, which meant even sitting hurt. This was a major problem because as a mother of three Olympia High School sons involved in sports, she was going to games and cheering on the sidelines.

“Sitting at a stadium, a cold stadium, would be just like torture,” Shannon said.

She’d often take a folding chair with her to her sons’ sporting events. She couldn’t stand for very long.

“I just felt old in my young body,” said Shannon, a 1990 graduate from Clover Park High School.

The throbbing pain was the worst when she slept, or at least tried to sleep, robbing her of rest. When morning came, Shannon would still be tired from a night of fitful sleep.

“That made the day time just miserable because I couldn’t sleep at the night time at all,” Shannon said. “It was just so uncomfortable.”

Shannon’s best/worst day came seven years ago when her doctor told her she had rheumatoid arthritis. She finally had a “why” to her pain. And, more importantly, she had a cure, medicine to take away the pain. Once a week, Shannon gives herself a shot of Enbrel.

For years, Shannon struggled with the pain. Before going to bed she’d take sleeping pills, anti-inflammatory bills and pain pills.

running with arthritis

Shannon and Alex Young, celebrate the completion of the Capital City Marathon on Sunday. Shannon completed the marathon and has become a determined runner despite her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

“I’d take this giant handful of pills, not knowing what’s going to help or if any of it would help,” Shannon said. “But honestly I’d be taking them and hoping I’d wake up in the morning because there was so many I was taking.”

But she was still miserable. When she began taking Enbrel about three years ago, Shannon suddenly had her life back. She was able to move pain free. And once Shannon could move she hasn’t stopped.

“My husband, Alex, is a cyclist and a runner,” Shannon said. “We’d walk to the mailbox and he’d encourage me to walk around the block.”

But walking wasn’t enough for Shannon, who calls herself a “Type A” person.  Over the years, she had gone to the Capital City Marathon and watched her friends run.

“Every time I was there I wanted to be with them,” Shannon said. “I wanted to be part of that. I loved that it was all different sizes of people. It wasn’t just super fit young people.”

Which was good because Shannon, she admits, was anything but fit. She set a goal – she wanted to run. But before Shannon could run she walked – and walked and walked. After several weeks of walking, she ran to her neighbor’s mailbox.

“It was probably 100 yards,” Shannon said.

It wasn’t too long before Shannon ran a half mile. Then she ran a mile.

“That was a huge milestone for me,” Shannon said. “I couldn’t believe I ran that far.”

running with arthritis

Shannon Young receives a big hug at the finish line of the Capital City Marathon on Sunday, May 17, 2015.

Shannon didn’t have any huge expectations. She really didn’t believe she’d ever run a marathon. Not yet at least.

“I just wanted to start moving,” said Shannon, who is a nurse at Tacoma General Hospital.

Eventually, Shannon and her husband signed up to do a 5-mile run. Signing up for that race wasn’t easy. She worried about what people, spectators watching, might think.

“I didn’t see myself as a runner,” Shannon said. “What was I going to look like? Was I going to be one of those people that they’d say, ‘Oh, good for her. At least she’s trying.’ It’s great to be anonymous when you’re overweight.”

Shannon ran the 5 miles that day and enjoyed it. And she didn’t stop with that 5 miler. Last year, she ran half a marathon at the Capital City. On Sunday, she and her husband ran the Capital City Marathon. It was an impressive feat considering only a couple of years ago Shannon couldn’t even walk to her mailbox without being in pain.

living with arthritis

Shannon Young is pictured here with her husband and three sons.

Shannon, who has lost 100 pounds since she started running three years ago, ran 25 to 35 miles a week in her training for the marathon with her husband. She’s living again. Shannon, who is 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, has her life back.

“I feel like I’m living now and not just surviving,” Shannon said. “Everything is purposeful.”

Shannon’s purpose, her driving motivation, wasn’t just to lose weight. It was to inspire and encourage others. And her road to fitness hasn’t just been about burning calories. It’s also been about reducing calorie intake. She’s tried to be an inspiration to others struggling with their weight.

“The end goal was more than losing weight,” Shannon said. “It’s to be an example for my kids and be an example for people who are struggling to help them keep going.”

Consider it mission accomplished, Shannon.


Capital City Marathon Thanks The Community

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 5:59am



Submitted by Capital City Marathon Association

capital city marathon

Race Director Nona Snell (left), Assistant Race Director Carie Bussey and Finish Line Coordinator Erik Browne greet the last marathoner to cross the finish line, Mel Preedy, 82, of Ravensdale, Washington.

On the third weekend in May every year, the Capital City Marathon unites our community. What’s more, for almost 35 years, it has helped define us.

The Capital City Marathon Association would like to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who made the 34th annual Capital City Marathon possible this past weekend.

Our event is the oldest marathon in the South Sound for one reason: Since the beginning, it has been organized and run solely by a community regarded for its generosity. The event would not happen without: the tireless help of 500+ volunteers; cooperation with and assistance from the City of Olympia, Thurston County, Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, and the route-impacted neighborhood associations and churches; spirited spectators; and, of course, the dedicated runners, who spend months logging countless miles in preparation for an event that lasts a fraction of a day.

Also instrumental to the event’s success are our generous sponsors: South Sound Running, Budd Bay CPA, Zico, Smith Brothers Farms, BodyMechanics Myotherapy and Massage School, DART Container Corporation, The Governor Hotel, South Sound Physical & Hand Therapy, Ultima, Color Graphics, Club Oly Road Runners, Panowicz Jewelers, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., Salter Remodel, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Hanson Motors, Spud’s Produce Market, Harbor Wholesale,, Human Body Works Massage Therapy, Zoe Juice Bar, Capital Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, Vic’s Pizzeria, San Francisco Street Bakery, Bondi Band, and Waterstreet Café.

capital city marathon

Attentive and friendly volunteers — and great cheerleaders — set the Capital City Marathon apart from other races.

The Capital City Marathon Association is dedicated to supporting healthy living through running, good nutrition, and community involvement. Our intent is to provide running opportunities for anyone inclined to run. To that end, this year we were proud to offer our Saturday Kid’s Run for free. And our Sunday marathon, half-marathon and 5-mile races benefit cash-strapped high school running sports and student athletes in our community. In all, $15,000 or more in grants is given to our local high schools.

Congratulations to all of our runners and thanks again to everyone who made the event a success. Whatever your involvement this year – whether you ran a PR or just ran with all your heart, whether you passed out water and food to racers or cheered on runners who looked like they might pass out, whether this was your 100th race finish or you found enough inspiration watching others run to start your own running journey – we hope we’ll see you back for next year’s race: Sunday, May 22, 2016.


Click to view slideshow.

Olympia needs a lot of things in regards to history and knowing itself

Olympia Time - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 5:20am
If I was invited to the historic meeting of historians, I think I would've had something to say.

And, this is it: we do need a lot of things in terms of communicating and preserving our history here. And, a museum would do a lot of things. But, I'm not sure it's the biggest problem we have. Or, rather, the idea with the most potential.

There are at least two other things that I think should enter the discussion at the same level. 1) A new library in Olympia and 2) much more dedication and funds towards bringing public what historic resources are available.

Mostly my concern for a new library is sharpened by my experience on the Timberland Library board (which operates the current Olympia library as part of a five county system). Our library was out-dated as soon as it was built in the late 1970s. And, since then we've only had one serious try at replacing it.

I love the idea of museums, but there is no reason at all a museum (and archive for that matter) couldn't be part of a new, larger Olympia library.

That said, buildings are buildings and knowledge is knowledge. If I had $1 million to spend on Olympia history today, my first stop would be expanding electronic resources available to people who write about history.

Most notably, I'd spend whatever I'd have to of that $1 million to cracking open the Olympian archives (and whatever other newspapers have been digitized) for public use. Most publicly available newspaper archives drop dead after 1922 (after which copyrights can be enforced). But, it is possible for libraries to open up newspaper archives to their patrons.

The Seattle Public Library was able to do this with the Seattle Times archive a few years back. And, at least to me, that one resource has been invaluable. Applying what are usually hard to access newspaper to word searchable archives in incredibly useful. The bias of an individual newspaper notwithstanding, a daily ticktock of the activities of a community, searchable via computer? Now, that would open history to a community.

Then build me a new library. Then build me a museum (if you couldn't fold it into the library).

Family Shelter Residents OK After Morning Fire

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 05/17/2015 - 5:49pm

Above: Kids and adults, many of them barefoot, waited for firefighters to arrive at the Family Support shelter on 7th Avenue in Olympia this morning.
By Janine Unsoeldwww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comEarlier this morning, shortly after 10:00 a.m., Olympia firefighters responded to a report of a fire at the Family Support shelter called Pear Blossom Place, located at 837 7th Ave SE. The shelter, formerly the city-leased Smith Building, is across from the old city hall and opened in June 2014.After the alarm went off, residents and onsite staff came streaming out of the building and waited outside for over two hours. Many children were barefoot and without coats, including a mother and her baby, who was clad only in a onesie. The weather was relatively mild, but became cool at times. Some held onto their dogs, and one woman held her 17 year old cat safe and cozy in a backpack.Olympia and Lacey Fire Dist. 3 crews arrived to find the fire controlled by the buildings automatic sprinkler system. According to a fire department press release, firefighters ensured the fire did not extend beyond the apartment and evaluated two patients, one for a minor burn injury and the second for smoke inhalation. Both patients refused further aid and were released at the scene. No other injuries were reported.Above: Firefighters arrive at Pear Blossom Place. The Olympia Fire Department responded with four engines, one ladder truck, two medic units, and a command unit.  Lacey Fire District 3 also responded and assisted by covering additional emergency responses within Olympia.  One minor firefighter injury was reported and was expected to be seen at Providence Saint Peter’s Hospital for a minor laceration.The Olympia Fire Department remained on scene to assist the residents, remove smoke, water, and investigate the fire.  The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the families.  At this time the cause of the fire appears to be accidental.  Total fire loss is expected to be $20,000.Schelli Slaughter, executive director of the Family Support Center, arrived onsite soon after the firefighters to assist and determine individual needs. She said about 15 families and 60 individuals total are currently living at the shelter, which provides housing for local homeless families with children. She said some units were perfectly fine, others will take more work, and that two units were most affected. A company that deals with water damage was seen onsite late this afternoon. For more information about Pear Blossom Place, and how you can volunteer or help the shelter, go to the Family Support Center of Sound Sound at Kids are excited to receive stickers from firefighters while they waited until they could get back inside the building. 

Alex Parker Creates a Positive Community through CHS Young Life

Thurston Talk - Sun, 05/17/2015 - 5:56am



By Claire Smith, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

Parker took some CHS kids to the Young Life Camp in Malibu, Canada last year. They interacted with kids in other Young Life groups, and spent a week outdoors with no internet or cell phone connection.

Parker took some CHS kids to the Young Life Camp in Malibu, Canada last year. They interacted with kids in other Young Life groups, and spent a week outdoors with no internet or cell phone connection.

The Young Life Organization is a long-standing faith-based group geared towards teens. It provides a way to connect with other teens in their school and meet others from the greater community. It’s a big deal – over 1.4 million kids are involved in Young Life world-wide. Founded in Dallas in 1941 by a Presbyterian minister, Young Life now operates globally and reaches out to many different causes.

In February 2014, Capital High School formed its own Young Life group. The group is run by Spanish teacher Alex Parker. Parker had been volunteering for the youth group at New Bridge Community Church for three years prior, interacting with students from Olympia, Tumwater and Capital High Schools on Wednesday nights. Parker wanted to have a deeper impact; one on kids he saw every day, not just once a week. With help from his wife, who works for Young Life, Parker was able to set up a Young Life program at CHS. He is now providing a youth group for the very kids he sees every day.

CHS’s Young Life is open and welcoming. Parker is very upfront that people of different denominations, and people who might not believe in God, are welcome to come to Young Life. Parker sees it as a way to share with people the word of God. It gives kids the chance to meet kids outside of their church youth group as well as kids of other denominations. It also allows non-Christian kids the chance to learn something new. Some kids might not have an opportunity at home to ask questions and learn more about faith. Parker understands those situations – he admits that he was one of those kids who grew up not knowing much about God.

Many Young Life meetings involve weird eating contests. This was the “Gravy Chug” from the 2014 Thanksgiving meeting.

Many Young Life meetings involve weird eating contests. This was the “Gravy Chug” from the 2014 Thanksgiving meeting.

A typical Young Life meeting lasts one hour and fifteen minutes. The first hour is dedicated to playing games, breaking the ice, letting kids relax and just having fun. The last fifteen minutes takes a slightly more serious turn. That time is set aside for Parker or another adult to give a small talk about the Bible. Parker believes that these fifteen minutes are the most important part of a meeting. During this time, kids get to know more about their faith.

Parker does an excellent job of making Young Life a casual, no pressure environment. He’s discovered that the best way to connect with teenagers is by playing silly games and just letting their guard fall naturally. Most of Young Life is dedicated to relaxing, playing fun games, and participating in wild eating contests. “Kids have lots of pressure between school and family, and getting to play is something that’s often missing,” Parker says. This is one of the reasons why he believes time like this is essential for high school kids.

Young Life also serves as an aid to religious students who may be afraid to openly admit their faith to people at school. During the fifteen minute discussions that close each meeting, staff members at CHS volunteer to talk and share their faith. Parker hopes that this can teach kids of all faiths – Christian, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist and others –you shouldn’t feel like you need to hide your beliefs. Parker hopes that Young Life can connect kids who feel they can’t share their faith outside their home, to staff and other peers who make them feel welcome. Some staff members who have volunteered in the past are football coach and history teacher John Johnson, science teacher Jennifer Finely and her husband, and math teacher Louis Avden and his wife.

At the Young Life camp in Malibu Canada, they compete in Young Life Games. They were dressed up as “Team ‘Murica"

At the Young Life camp in Malibu Canada, they compete in Young Life games. They were dressed up as “Team ‘Murica.”

Freshman Ellie Potts was encouraged to try Young Life both by friends and Parker and frequently attends. She loves it because it gives her a way to relax by playing games and helps her get to know and meet new people. Young Life helped her create positive connections with people she otherwise wouldn’t have met.

If Parker had to boil down Young Life into three words, he would pick fun, positive, and God. He puts an emphasis that Young Life is open for anyone with an interest to visit. In the way athletes connect through sports, kids looking to connect, share and learn more about their faith have Young Life. Parker hopes that everyone who attends Young Life can take away a positive message of acceptance and love.

Capital High School’s Young Life meets Monday nights at 7:27 in Pod A. This is the time when all Young Life groups meet across the globe. The main Young Life website can be found here.  For more information, and dates for CHS’s Young Life click here. The twitter account for CHS’s Young Life is run by Parker, and can be found at @CougYoungLife.


Carl Zambuto – Rainier Telescope Maker Has Eyes in the Stars

Thurston Talk - Sun, 05/17/2015 - 5:52am



By Heidi Smith

mullinax fordIf you’re one of the nine out of ten people who has never seen a planet or the face of the moon through a telescope, a whole dimension is waiting for you, says Carl Zambuto. He should know. He’s created over 2,000 Newtonian telescope mirrors in his Rainier workshop, and today they are in use all over the world. “I am fascinated with the heavens,” he says. “My passion has to do with the optics in the telescope – the primary mirror and the related optics of the Newtonian reflector.”

The primary mirror is “like the engine of the telescope,” he explains. “That’s what gathers the light. The whole thing is set up to hold those mirrors in position so they can gather the light and bring it to a very, very, small point, like a ten-thousandth of an inch in diameter.”

zambuto optical

The mirror-making process begins with cutting 500 pound sheets of raw glass which are 2 1/4 inch thick into squares and rectangles.

His Newtonian reflectors are renowned for their high degree of contrast. “You can have larger aperture, but if you don’t have the contrast, you’re not going to get the equivalent performance out of it,” says Zambuto. “The smaller telescope that has very high contrast can outperform a larger telescope that doesn’t. It can show you better detail and more information.”

Zambuto’s adventure with astronomy began with a defective telescope during the opposition of Mars in 1988. That experience prompted months of research and eventually he purchased a new telescope – and realized right away that it needed work. But when he took it to an optician, he was told, “You really need to grind your own mirror.” Despite initial resistance, he finally did. Then, “I made that six inch mirror and made a telescope for it, I made an eight inch and built a telescope for that, and I just kept going and never stopped,” he says.

During this period, he started doing Sidewalk Astronomy at the yacht harbor in Olympia on summer evenings.  “I’d be out there with the telescope and show people the moon and the planets. It was a lot of fun,” he says. “I’d entertain up to 300 people a night.”

He noticed that for every thousand people who looked through the telescope, somebody would want to build their own. “So I said, ‘Let’s put a class together,’” he explains. “We taught telescope making at my workshop from 1994 to 1997.” At that point, Zambuto and his students were hand-grinding the mirrors, but one of his mentors pointed out that he could achieve the same level of precision using a machine.

zambuto optical

Zambuto uses a glass mill to machine the glass with diamond tools.

“I found the formula where I could get the kind of control I was getting by hand and then surpassed it very quickly. That’s when I knew I could make a living at it,” he says. “My mentor opened the door to two scope makers, and I went in and started supplying them with small mirrors and the business took off like a rocket.” By 1998, he was working full time as an optician.

When he first started, the Newtonian reflector was not typically regarded as a high performance instrument in the amateur astronomy community. “In general, if you go to a star party and look through a bunch of telescopes, with the big reflectors, stars typically look like fuzz balls or balls of snow,” he says. “Really high performance began to develop as we came on the scene, with my mentor before me. He led the way to where you could get much higher performance out of much bigger telescopes.”

The process begins with 500 pound sheets of glass that are 2.25 inches thick. Zambuto and his assistant Chuck Smith cut it into squares and rectangles with a diamond saw, then cast them into round discs in an oven. “Then we machine it on our glass mill in the garage so that it looks like a mirror blank and it’s fairly thick,” he says. “We grind and polish the face and the back.”

zambuto optical

Carl Zambuto holding one of his finished mirrors. He wears a protective mask so that nothing lands on the perfectly clear surface.

Next, they polish the optical curve, which is a parabola. “Technically it’s a paraboloid, because it’s three dimensions and a parabola is just two,” he says. “A parabola will take parallel rays of light which are coming from the universe and bring them to a point.” Finally, they use a vacuum chamber to create a very thin aluminum coating on the front optical surface, followed by a protective glass overcoat.

Once complete, the mirrors go to amateur astronomers and telescope makers around the world, plus a few observatories. Zambuto’s intent is “to create the greatest possible experience for the end user. That’s why people look through telescopes – to have an experience with the universe,” he says. “With our product, I believe that they can go further, they can go deeper and see more. In those rare instances when the veil gets pulled away, that’s when everything’s right. The atmosphere becomes very stable. Then people can see what the optic can really do. That will be the night they remember, the night that changes their lives.”

Even if you’ve never looked through a telescope, you can still appreciate the heavens, he says. “If you just look up, you’re an amateur astronomer. All you have to do is walk out the door and look up. I never learned to spend time under the night sky until I was an adult. Now, every night, if I’m up in the middle of the night, I walk outside and I just look up. I see where the planets are. That’s our universe. It’s really big and really cold and really dark, and it’s fascinating and amazing.”

To learn more about Carl’s work, visit Zambuto Optical Company.


Registration Open for Community Christian Academy’s Summer Camp

Thurston Talk - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 11:38am



Submitted by Northwest Christian Private Schools

Summer Camp CCASummer is just around the corner and if you are like many Thurston County families, you are looking for enriching summer activities for your kids.  If that list includes a fun, Biblically based summer camp then join us on the Community Christian Campus in Lacey this summer where camps are available all summer long to nurture your child’s love of life, and the Bible.

Our summer camp is open to anyone entering grades 1 through 7 with additional options available for Preschool aged children, too.

This year’s theme is “Camp Kilimanjaro Safari”.  As your children safari at Camp Kilimanjaro, they will learn that true wisdom comes only from the one true all-wise God.  Like any great summer camp, our “Camp Kilimanjaro Safari” includes weekly field trips, games, crafts, weekly chapel programs, bike riding, library time, sports, computer time, activity and sport camps, cooking and baking camps and much more!

As in years past, campers will visit the Tanglewilde outdoor pool twice a week for free swimming time and structured swimming lessons are also available for an additional fee.  Once a week campers will head out on a field trip such as a trip to the Tacoma Rainiers, Northwest Trek, Bowling and more.  Once a month our group will visit the Timberland Lacey Library for book check out and summer reading reinforcement. There truly is something for nearly every child.

In addition to all the fun, CCA provides a nutritious lunch for all campers each day.

Complete registration packets including summer calendars are available in the Community Christian Academy office or on our web site by clicking here. Campers can register for  individual days, weeks or months.  Or join us for the entire summer.  If you have any questions please call Linda Cordero at (360) 493-2223.

Child butterfuly CCAIn addition to our Summer Day Camp, we have excellent options for preschool aged children from 2 through 5 years old (children entering kindergarten in the fall).

Our preschool summer program is called “Son-shine Summer”. Take advantage of our educational preschool activities during the summer months, along with fun outdoor activities.  Your child will love taking nature walks, splashing in water play, the excitement of weekly field trips, (Pt Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Spooners Farm, Mini Golf…) and much more. Summer themes include many of your children’s favorites, such as, sea life,  space, and zoo animals,.  Extended learning is encouraged in our developmentally geared activities. Your child will enjoy self-expression in art,  extended learning activities in STEM,  music and creative movement, all while making friends and enjoying the learning centers set just for their age group.

You can learn more about our preschool programs and childcare by calling us at 360-493-2223 or 360-951-3054. You can also access information about our preschool summer program and child care by clicking here.

Our campus is located in Lacey, Washington at 4706 Park Center Ave NE Lacey, WA 98516.



Two Lakes, Two Hikes: Hiking Lena and Upper Lena Lake at Olympic National Forest

Thurston Talk - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 6:14am



By Margo Greenman

lucky dog casinoWith the start of long, sun-kissed days, backyard barbecues, comes — best of all — outdoor adventures.

To kick-off the season, my husband and I decided to celebrate a recent 70-degree Saturday by traversing some of the trails at nearby Olympic National Forest. A little bit of online research led us to a day hike option at Lena Lake, located just off the beaten path on the Olympic Peninsula near Hood Canal. Stunning photos of the lake’s glistening waters cinched the deal and we immediately started packing.

lena lake hike

Stunning sights and sounds await on the trail up to Lena Lake, like this boulder — the result of a glacial formation from years past. Photo credit: Margo Greenman.

With lunch for two, lots of water, and our books du jour securely nestled in my satchel, my husband slung his camera over his shoulder and we set off on our adventure.

Before You Go

Before you leave the house, along with your day hike or overnight gear, make sure your National Forest Pass is in your car. This pass is required for all day-use or entry fee sites in Washington and Oregon. If you don’t have a National Forest Pass and don’t feel like purchasing the $30 annual pass, bring some cash along and pay $5 per-day, on-site. If you plan on pushing forward and making the climb to Upper Lena Lake, you’ll need a Wilderness Camping Permit, which can be purchased for $5 at the Staircase Ranger Station in nearby Hoodsport. Early arrival (especially on sunny Saturdays) is also recommended, as the parking lot fills up quickly.

Hiking Lena Lake

Because the two-and-a-half-mile trek to Lena Lake and its accompanying campground is moderate grade with long switchbacks, the trail to the lake can be enjoyed by hikers of varying skill level. Other than the occasional rock or root, the gradual 1,300-foot elevation gain to the lake is free of most obstacles, making the hike safe for even young ramblers.

lena lake hike

The Lena Lake hike is a great option for families.

As you make your way up the path, keep your eyes and ears open for noteworthy sights and sounds, like the occasional trickle of a nearby streamlet or the impressive boulder situated near the one-mile mark.

As you continue up the trail, you may notice the incline steepen. Don’t worry, this just means you’re getting close. Continue on about a quarter-mile across a wooden bridge and through the mostly old-growth forest until you arrive at a fork in the trail. Here, you’ll want to stay left for the lake — congratulations! You’ve made it to the home stretch. Here the trail levels to soon reveal shimmering glimpses of Lena Lake through the brush.

This first view of Lena Lake is a great place to stop and quench your thirst or appetite. If you would prefer, continue on the path and find a sunny spot to enjoy your lunch or — if you plan on staying the night — set up camp.

Once you’ve found a good spot, enjoy activities like fishing or — on a hot day — swimming. Lena Lake also serves as a great resting spot for hikers who plan on tackling the extra climb to Upper Lena Lake, located an additional four miles up.

Hiking Upper Lena Lake

lena lake hike

While the climb to Upper Lena Lake is challenging, hiker Nyki Delorme (right) says the prize at the top is worth the work. Photo credit: Nyki Delorme.

Feel up for a challenge complete with snow capped peaks and solitude? The hike to Upper Lena Lake, which starts at the trailhead located on the west side of Lena Lake, is taxing but worth it. With a total elevation gain of 3,900 feet, this final stretch of this seven-mile hike boasts a more rigorous trek than the the climb to Lena Lake.

Hiker Nyki Delorme says, if you’re up for the challenge, Upper Lena Lake is a great hike for getting away from the crowd and taking in some mountain-top serenity. Delorme advises, however, that escaping crowds comes at a price. “Prepare to go up!” she warns. “The last mile or so gains a fair amount of the aforementioned elevation — you go straight up with no switchbacks and the trail is fairly rocky.” Delorme notes that at this point, it feels as though the climb to the top will never end. “Keep your feet moving,” she says, “the scene you will soon reach is most definitely worth the work.”

Once you arrive at the top, Delorme says the setting is quiet and picturesque, offering views of snowy Mount Lena and Bretherton and a glistening lake at your feet. Exhausted and ready for a break, you won’t have to travel much farther to find the first-come, first-served campsite of your choice. “I full heartedly love a hike with a moderate to strenuous elevation gain,” Delorme says. “It always makes the prize worth the pain. Throw in an alpine lake and I’m the happiest camper there is!”

lena lake hike

Once you’ve arrived at this alpine lake, find a good spot to set up camp. Photo credit: Nyki Delorme.

With two ways to hike, Lena and Upper Lena Lake offer options for first-time hikers and experienced rovers. But, because safety is the utmost importance for even the most seasoned trail blazers, use the following to help you prepare for your upcoming journey — and be wary of bears and cougars.

What to Bring (from the National Park Service Website)

  • Always carry the 10 essentials: map, compass, flashlight, knife, matches, nylon cord, extra food and water, and rain gear with warm clothes.
  • Map and compass navigation skills may be necessary in places along this trail. Snow may cover higher reaches of this trail in any seasons, so know how to navigate without a trail for guidance.
  • Ice ax and self-arrest skills are necessary to hike this trail when snow covered.
  • Let someone know where and when you are taking your hike. Make emergency plans for them to follow if you do not return.
  • Watch the weather before and during your hike. Storms move quickly. Whiteouts are sudden. Always check the weather forecast prior to your hike.

For more information about Lena, Upper Lena Lake, and other hikes in Olympic National Forest, visit the National Park Service’s website here.

A Legacy of Learning – History of Schools Named Washington in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 6:09am



By Jennifer Crooks

hawks prairie golf logoThe story of Olympia’s Washington Middle School (3100 Cain Road SE) has roots in the community’s early history. Growing out of the original Eastside School, schools with the name of Washington have been a part of the everyday life of Olympia since 1891. In different buildings and locations, Washington Schools have continued their legacy of giving students an excellent education in an ever changing world.

The Eastside School, the predecessor to the first Washington School, served Olympia from circa 1871 to 1891. Located on the north side of 5th Avenue between Eastside and Quince streets, Eastside School served the children from the Eastside section of the booming town of Olympia, even attracting children from the Chambers district who had to walk about two miles to attend there.

olympia school history

Although labeled in this postcard as Washington High School, the high school only shared space in the first Washington School. Photo courtesy private collection.

Concerns about outgrowing the building made Eastside School think of getting a new structure as early as May 1889, but construction would only begin by the fall of 1890 on a site on Eastside Street between Fifth Street and Legion Way. The new school was finished by the end of the year and opened in January 1891. Costing around $25,000 to build, it was named the Washington School in honor of the nation’s first president George Washington and the state’s namesake. A versatile building, when it opened the school also housed the superintendent of the district’s office as well as a high school in addition to its normal first through eighth grades. The high school moved out in 1906.

Built in the Romanesque Revival style (a common style for schools of that era), the first Washington School was designed by architect Willis A. Richie (1864-1931), who planned Olympia’s Lincoln School at the same time. He was perhaps most noted as the architect of the Thurston County Courthouse/Old State Capital (now the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) in downtown Olympia.

Before school started, a number of parents were apprehensive about sending their children to the Washington School because of safety concerns about the building. Their fears turned out to be well founded. On November 14, 1892 a faulty furnace flue sparked a fire that threatened to consume the basement and spread to the rest of the school, potentially trapping students on the upper floors. Tragedy was averted by the timely actions of janitor Joshua Banner, who was able to put out the flames singlehandedly.

olympia school history

The second Washington School, built in 1924, now serves as Olympia School District headquarters and Avanti High School. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

Over the years, the first Washington School deteriorated and there was talk of building a replacement as early as 1919. A $135,000 bond to partly pay for the new school was approved by voters in 1923 and construction was completed a year later. Located down the street from the first Washington School, at what is now 1113 Legion Way, the second Washington School building was designed by noted Olympia architect Joseph Wohleb (1887-1958), who designed over a hundred buildings in the Olympia area including the old Thurston County Courthouse and the Lord Mansion. The building was constructed at the same time as the second (and current) Lincoln School, both in Wohleb’s signature Mission Revival style.

However, by the late 1960s, the school had outgrown itself and the students moved to a new building. But unlike the first Washington School which was torn down in 1936 and replaced by a National Guard Armory in 1938, the second Washington School was converted into Olympia School District headquarters in 1970. Fondly nicknamed “Old Washington,” the building was renamed in 1987 the Esther R. Knox Administrative Center after Esther Knox, the longest serving School Board member (1952-1983). Avanti High School, the Olympia School District’s alternative high school, moved into the lower level in November 1997 and the building was extensively renovated in 2002 and 2003. Most of its historic features were retained, especially its façade.

To replace the second Washington School, a third school was constructed in 1969 as Washington Junior High. Eventually changing its name to Washington Middle School, it was constructed by NBBJ of Seattle in Southeast Olympia at 3100 Cain Road SE. This school served students for over forty years and included a central courtyard and a sunken library. A music room (designed by MSGS Architects of Olympia) was added to the front of the building in 1999.

washington school history

This image shows the current Washington Middle School, renovated in 2006. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

However, the school was extensively renovated in 2005-2006 by Mahlum Architects of Seattle. Although it kept its original footprint, the structure can be considered a totally different school, a “fourth Washington.” The district received a grant to add “green” features such as taller hallways and more windows. Through these modifications, the district planned to save on water and electricity usages and costs at Washington Middle School.

Moreover, Governor Christine Gregoire at a special ceremony on April 8, 2005 at Washington Middle School signed a bill requiring all new major public agency facilities in the state over 5,000 square feet, including schools that receive federal funding, to meet the Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications. Washington Middle School was among the first to meet these qualifications.

Schools named Washington have been a constant presence in Olympia for over a century. Growing out of the Eastside School and taking many forms over the decades, Washington Middle School continues its legacy of providing a good education to the children of Olympia.

Author’s Note: The author and her father are both graduates of the third Washington School. Her uncle attended the second Washington School during its last years of operation.


Cathy Mah Branches into Real Estate with Greene Realty

Thurston Talk - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 6:00am



By Natasha Ashenhurst

cathy mah real estate

Cathy Mah recently launched her real estate business at Greene Realty Group.

Cathy Mah would tell you that life does not follow a straight path, thank goodness, but rather, is lived in stages. She would also agree with the writer Anna Quindlen when she said, “You can probably have it all…just not at the same time.”

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Cathy and talk about her new career as a real estate agent for Greene Realty Group, but what we ended up talking about was the twists and turns our careers can take, how motherhood happily changes our life ambitions and the joy we find volunteering for causes we care deeply about.

Here’s Cathy’s story.

Cathy was born and raised in Olympia. Her mom moved to the area to attend nursing school at Providence St. Peter Hospital, back when the nuns were the instructors. Her dad spied the pretty, new girl in town, and the rest, as they say, is history.

After high school, Cathy wasted no time entering the workforce, doing clerical work for the Washington State Parole Board at the Capital Center building. But at age 20 she decided it was time to leave Olympia.

“I moved to Seattle. Living in a big city was intimidating at first, but then I grew to love it. First, I worked at Blue Cross, but then moved over to SeaFirst Bank, which is now Bank of America. In between working, I went to cooking school at South Seattle Community College. They had an excellent program – with European chef instructors. By this time I was 30, and I discovered that it was hard to make a living as a chef, so I went back to Bank of America,” she said.

When Bank of America downsized, Cathy decided to take advantage of the timing and volunteered for a layoff. She received a severance package and moved back to Olympia. The move changed her life. “In 1991 I went to work at the Office of Financial Management as an Administrative Assistant. I met Doug (Mah) there. He worked in the Forecasting Division. We became friends in 1991, started dating in 1992 and we married in 1993,” she said.

cathy mah real estate

Cathy sincerely treasured the time she spent as a stay-at-home mom to her daughter, Heather.

Doug and Cathy’s daughter, Heather, was born in January 1995. Cathy decided to quit her job and stay home to raise their daughter. “I turned 39 two weeks after Heather was born. I had been in the workforce for 20 years and was thrilled to be able to stay home with our baby. We lived on a single income for years. To make it work we drove old cars and, at first, lived in a tiny house on Tumwater hill. Those sacrifices were worth it. It was fun being a momma—the best job ever. I didn’t miss working, I loved taking care of Heather and taking care of my family,” she said.

When Heather started school, Cathy followed, volunteering in the classroom and wherever the school needed her. She loved getting to know Heather’s classmates and learning about the day-to-day activities at McKenny Elementary.

In 2001, Cathy volunteered closer to home, running Doug’s campaign for public office. Doug was elected to the Olympia City Council in 2001. He was re-elected to a second term in 2005. In 2007, he was elected Mayor of Olympia and held that position until December 2011.

After Doug was established in public office and Heather was a busy student, Cathy slowly eased back into the world of paid work, first working from home for Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts (POSSCA). “That was just enough to keep me busy, yet still allow me to volunteer at Heather’s school. I did that for three years, then decided to work outside the house, so I went to work as the Executive Assistant to Brian Vance at Heritage Bank,” she said. That was when Cathy had a set-back. “I got sick and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was exhausted all of the time. I quit working, and a year later, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Once I was treated I started to feel better,” she said.

cathy mah real estate

Doug and Cathy Mah supported their daughter, Heather, in her various activities while living in Olympia.

Eventually she began volunteering again, joining the board of the Olympia School District Education Foundation. It was a busy time for their family. Heather was on the go with lots of activities and Doug was working all hours of the day, but Cathy decided that it was time for her to return to paid work.

“In 2011, I went to work for the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau as their Executive Assistant. That was a fun job. You get the chance to meet thousands of people coming in from all over the world. I loved helping them plan their visit,” she said.

In May 2014, Doug was no longer working in the public sector and had transitioned to his new career as a consultant working from his office at home. So, Cathy decided that it was time to invest in the next phase of her professional life. “In February 2014 I made the decision to pursue a career in real estate and took the steps to get my real estate license. Once I had passed the tests, I started interviewing prospective real estate agencies around Olympia. When I talked to Jim Greene at Greene Reality, I knew, hands down, that I wanted to work in his office. He has the infrastructure in place that I like, the support staff are wonderful and the office has a very good feel to it. Jim is always available if I have a question, and so is my mentor, Jim Hickman. I know I can text either of them at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and they’ll answer,” she said.

Cathy said that choosing real estate was the first time that she was intentional about choosing a career that worked for her and her family. “The beauty of the work is the flexibility. I can set my own pace. I can also spend a lot of time with my clients, which is important to me. Buying a home is such a big decision and I want to have the time to work closely with clients in order to find the perfect home for them,” she said.

cathy mah real estate

Cathy Mah enjoys supporting local events and charities with her husband, Doug.

Real estate is also a natural fit for Cathy. It draws on her incredible organizational skills, her knowledge gained from a lifetime of living in the region, and her numerous connections in the community. She said, “Ultimately, real estate is about building relationships, promoting our community and paying attention to the details of the deal. I don’t mind working evenings and weekends because I’ve done that as a parent and as the wife of a politician. It is an easy fit for me.”

Cathy has the experience that you couldn’t set out to get if you tried. She has the organizational skills gained from years as an administrative assistant, the financial savvy gained from working in banking, and the good taste of a chef. She has the nurturing skills of a parent, the passion of a volunteer and the politically savvy of a campaign manager. Finally, she has the easy manner of someone who has achieved all that they have wanted to, and the understanding that this next chapter is for the love of the work and nothing more.

To reach Cathy Mah, call 360-528-4160 or visit her website at


Nine Compete for Appointment to Port’s District #3 Seat

Thurston Talk - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 5:30pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Port of Olympia received applications from nine District #3 residents vying for appointment to the open District #3 Commission seat. The deadline to apply was May 8 at 5:00 p.m.

The vacancy is a result of Commissioner Sue Gunn’s resignation due to medical matters. The person appointed will serve until the County-wide election is certified in late November. At that time, the seat will vest in the person duly elected by a majority of the residents who voted.

Applicants for the Port Commissioner District #3 appointment are (in alphabetical order):

·        Jerry Farmer
·        Frederick Finn
·        Lawrence Goodman
·        Bob Jones
·        Michelle Morris
·        Dick Pust
·        George Sharp
·        Bill Wells
·        Elizabeth (E.J) Zita

Commissioners George L. Barner, Jr. and Bill McGregor are reviewing the applications. They will decide which persons they will interview for the position at their regular public work session on May 21, 2:30 p.m.

Interviews of the selected candidates will occur during public meetings on June 1 and 2, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Commission anticipates appointing the new District #3 Commissioner at their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 10 (which is a reschedule of their typical 2nd Monday meeting date). The next step will be the swearing in of the appointed Port Commissioner at the Thurston County Courthouse.

Once sworn in, the appointed Commissioner will participate in all Commission meetings and business, including the regular study session on June 18 and the regular meeting on June 22.

All the Commission meetings described will occur at Tumwater Town Center, 7241 Cleanwater Drive SW, Tumwater.

For information about the process, please contact Jeri Sevier,, 360.528.8003

Don’t Miss the Lacey Spring Fun Fair and Grand Parade

Thurston Talk - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 5:26pm



Submitted by The City of Lacey 

Lacey Grand Parade (2)The Lacey Spring Fun Fair is just around the corner and that means that the Grand Parade is too!  You won’t want to miss this great event which takes place Saturday, May 16 at 6pm.  This year we have over 60 entries, making it the biggest Grand Parade yet!!

Come out and watch as our community struts its stuff.  Highlights from this year’s parade include the Clown Family Red Nose Brigade, Frozen Princesses Anna and Elsa presented by A Simple Wish, our friends at Capital Lakefair and Thurston County Fair, classic cars and off-road vehicles, horses and their talented riders, school groups of all ages, and many of our local businesses and community organizations. Last but certainly not least, we are pleased to announce that our Grand Marshall is Seven Oaks Elementary inline speed skating star, Michaela Renick.  For a full list of parade participants, and to see the parade route, visit the Lacey Spring Fun Fair website.

Make it a complete day!  The Lacey Spring Fun Fair opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday with performances all day on two stages, author Barbara Jean Hicks and her princess friends will be signing books from 12-2 p.m., we have over 50 vendors to explore inside Kidsworld with fun activities for the little ones, and over 100 vendors outside for the adults! As the day winds down grab some food from one of our delicious food vendors and head over to find a good viewing spot for the parade! Festivities begin promptly at 6 p.m., right as Fun Fair closes for the day.  Prime viewing for the parade is on Pacific Avenue between College Street and Bowker Street.  See you Saturday!!

Family Support Center's Comedy for a Cause Dinner Show- headliner Susan Rice!

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:48am
Event:  Sat, 06/13/2015 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Comedy for a Cause 2015

Are you ready to laugh like never before while supporting families in your community?


Join us on Saturday, June 13th   6:00 pm   

Lucky Eagle Hotel & Casino

Enjoy Comedy for a Cause including a full dinner, comedy show and raffle


$40 per person, or $360 for a Table of 10  

 BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE! ( logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Why artists hate Dale Chihuly

South Sound Arts - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 8:27am

Dale Chihuly "Basket Drawing," 2013 in the Dale Chihuly Drawings exhibition at Museum of Glass. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Oxblood Soft Cylinder with Payne’s Gray Drawing,” blown glass. Collection of Tacoma Art Museum, Gift of the artist in honor of his parents, Viola and George, and his brother, George W. Chihuly. Photo: Scott M. Leen, copyright Chihuly Studios.
I saw a poster in the office at the old Commencement Art Gallery. It was a take-off on a dictionary entry: “Chi-hu-ly (chü-hoo-lee) n.  The art of self-promotion.”
Artists hate Dale Chihuly. Not all artists, but a lot of them. They hate that he’s so amazingly successful. They hate that he’s much better than they are at doing what all artists must do if they are to have any chance at popularity and financial success. They also hate that he doesn’t blow his own glass but has a team of workers who do all the work for him. Some resent the fact that he, almost alone, is credited with the rise in popularity of the modern glass art movement, which is almost exclusively a Pacific Northwest movement, when he is but one of many equally talented artists associated with the Pilchuck Glass School, the catalyst for the modern glass art movement. Granted, he was one of the founders, long with Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg. But there are many other Northwest glass artists who are as good as, if not better than, Chihuly. Martin Blank, Preston Singletary, Rik Allen, Cappy Thompson, William Morris and Ben Moore are a few that come to mind.
Back to the idea of not doing his own work. A lot of famous art has been done by assistants. Andy Warhol was notorious for that. So is Jeff Koons. Since the 1970s a major tenent of contemporary art has been that the idea is supreme. It doesn’t matter who did the work or how well it is done. It’s the idea that matters. Blame it on Marcel Duchamp who bought a urinal and entered it in an art exhibition in 1917 under the title “Fountain” and attributed to “R. Mutt”.
Not creating the work with his own hands should not disqualify Chihuly from recognition, but there is something inherently grating about the assembly-line nature of his art.
When I see a large collection of his work all in one place, such as in the current shows at both the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass, I am struck with the notion that he comes up with something good and then has his studio workers repeat it with slight variations thousands of times (reference Warhol again: “I think everybody should be a machine.”)
It also bugs me — and yet I have to begrudgingly admit that it somehow impresses me as well — that what he has accomplished is essentially to take precious craft items and blow them up to gigantic scale. By so doing he has elevated a decorative craft to the level of fine art. Actually that is kind of the basis of the entire modern art glass movement just as elevating pop culture and advertising to the level of fine art was the basis of pop art. Still, it was easier to accept pop art because it was so audacious, and because people like Warhol and Lichtenstein and Wayne Thiebaud were such good painters. It’s not as easy to accept the same premise when it comes to glass art because with glass there’s this niggling idea that no matter how big or how attractive, every glass art piece is really nothing more than a pretty vase or bowl. Colored glass is pretty no matter what you do with it. The only one of the modern glass artist who has pushed his art into a more transformative realm is not Chihuly, but Morris, whose work is monumental, ageless, and doesn’t look like glass at all.
Having said that, Chihuly can also be monumental and audacious. Just not consistently enough. At its worst, his work is mediocre and boring; at its best, it can be so beautiful that it boggles the mind. The best of his best might be the drawings, now on display through June 30 at Museum of Glass. There is also a large and varied collection of Chihuly work on display on extended view at the Tacoma Art Museum.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Theater Review: Time Stands Still

South Sound Arts - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 8:16am

  Troubled Love between a Photojournalist and a War CorrespondentPublished in the Weekly Volcano, May 14, 2015
From left: Jenny Vaughn Hall as Sarah, Matt Shinkus as James, Steve Manning as Richard, and Helen Harvester as Mandy in Time Stands Still. Photo by Scot WhitneyThe wartime love story Time Stands Stillby Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies is now playing at Harlequin Productions in Olympia. It is an intense and intimate portrait of a pair of lovers — Sarah Goodwin (Jenny Vaughn Hall) and James Dodd (Matt Shimkus) whose passionate devotion and equally passionate conflicts are exacerbated by their friend Richard Ehrich (Steve Manning) and his girlfriend, Mandy Bloom (Helen Harvester).
The show takes place entirely within the Brooklyn apartment Sarah and James share. Beautifully designed by Linda Whitney, the apartment appears to be a loft in possibly a former industrial building with a giant arched window looking out over the city. The dim city scene seen through the window is a video projection by Marko Bujeaud. The furnishings appear typical for people who spend little time at home.
Sarah is a photojournalist home from Iraq where she was almost killed in a bomb explosion after which she spent time in a coma. In the opening scene she hobbles into the apartment on crutches wearing a large cast on one leg and with scars on her face. She adamantly refuses help from James, who hovers protectively. In successive scenes we see her with smaller and smaller casts and finally only a knee brace as her leg injury slowly heals. The heavy scarring on her face never heals.
Both Sarah and James are living with post-traumatic stress. She does not want to admit it. What she wants more than anything is to heal enough to go back to the war where she feels her work gives her meaning. James, a war correspondent, was so emotionally scarred by his tour of Iraq that he had to get out, only to go back to help Sarah when she was wounded. Now he wants to marry Sarah, have children, and work on safer writing assignments such as celebrity profiles. He accuses Sarah of being addicted to the adrenalin rush of war.
Richard is Sarah’s photo-editor. He wants them to collaborate on a photo-book about their adventures in the war. Richard’s new girlfriend, Mandy, is 20 years his junior and is seen at first by Sarah and James as empty headed arm candy, but proves to be much deeper than they supposed.
The conflicts between these four friends are monumental, intense, and in-your face. Their arguments are emotional explosions analogous to what we can only imagine they went through in Iraq. Thankfully there is also a lot of comic relief with smart and witty dialogue and the love between the two couples is palpable.
All four cast members are excellent. Hall plays Sarah with controlled intensity and seems ready to explode throughout the play. Harvester transitions seamlessly from playful and goofy to deep burning anger. Manning is solid and down-to-earth, sometimes gruff but mostly walking on eggshells in the face of the others’ explosiveness. Shimkus particularly impressed me with his eye-rolling and smirking reactions to the other three. His performance is award worthy.
I liked the city scene out the window, but when the projected images change for dramatic effect the changes are mostly ineffectual, with the exception of two scenes of war when Sarah was describing a particularly horrible event.
The final scene is something of an extended denouement that trickles to an expected end. I wish the playwright had been able to find some more dramatic way to wrap it up. Nevertheless, Time Stands Still is a powerful drama of love and domestic strife on par with such classics as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I highly recommend it.
Time Stands Still,8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday through May 30, State Theater, 202 E. 4th Ave. , Olympia, 360-786-0151;

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Local High Schools Work Together for County-Wide Food Drive

Thurston Talk - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 7:11am



By Sara Hollar, Olympia High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

Hometown logoWhen Capital and Olympia High Schools co-hosted the Association of Washington Student Leaders conference in fall of 2014, the students didn’t know the effects of the event would be so far-reaching or long-lasting. Teens from across the state were getting to know each other, but leadership students from around Thurston County were also making important friendships. Friendships that would ultimately lead many local high schools to help more of their neighbors in need. The creation of a county-wide food drive encouraged cross-school cooperation and community involvement.

Students at South Sound High School were part of the county-wide effort to raise food donations for the Thurston County Food Drive.

Students at South Sound High School were part of the county-wide effort to raise food donations for the Thurston County Food Drive.

For years, high schools in the area have held food drives to help out the Thurston County Food Bank, often competing within their schools or against cross-town rivals. While swapping stories, advice and encouragement at the AWSL conference, Thurston County leadership students had an idea. They all worked together for the conference and were amazed by the amount of work they could do by banding together. The success of the event motivated the students to keep joining forces. It struck them that they could do a lot of good by collaborating instead of competing.

“We were all together at the conference thinking about how you can make a bigger difference working together versus working against one another,” says Emily Halvorson, Olympia High School’s student body secretary. The leadership classes wanted to put up a unified front and eventually, the county-wide food drive came to life.

Planning and communicating for the drive meant reaching across schools. Luckily, leadership is a group of dedicated students and administrators. Those involved spent the weeks preceding the drive and the time during it swapping emails, statistics, pictures and plans. It was no small feat keeping everyone in the loop but the leadership students managed to keep communication flowing. Updates from individual classes cheered the other schools on and push them to their own success.

All of the schools were working for the same cause but their methods varied. Many had incentive programs for classes with the most donations, ranging from pizza parties to breakfast served by the leadership class. Getting started was often the hardest part. Northwest Christian High School student body president Beka Behrens remembers how their drive had a slow beginning because students didn’t get really involved until the last few days. However, class competitions motivated more students to bring in cans.

Olympia High School Principal Matt Grant promised the student body a video of him rapping if they reached their donation goal. Incentives played a big role in increasing donations, but for many students the reasons for donating were much bigger. A large portion of families in the area receive food assistance from the Thurston County Food Bank on a regular basis. Students knew when they were donating they were helping out a fellow classmate or friend. Food drives are one of the easiest ways for schools to give directly back to their communities.

North Thurston High School students exhibit their school pride with the food they collected during the county-wide food drive.

North Thurston High School students exhibit their school pride with the food they collected during the county-wide food drive.

At every high school, students worked hard to rack up their donations, but some chose more unconventional methods. The choir and band or orchestra classes would sing and play around town for donations. North Thurston High School students also took advantage of new communication methods for their school. The leadership class got the word out about the food drive over their website, Twitter and Facebook. In addition, they set up a collection table in the Grocery Outlet in Hawks Prairie.  The leadership class found everyone there very supportive and was grateful to those who donated items.

Tumwater High School teens also experienced the generosity of their neighbors when they collected cans door to door. Black Hills and South Sound High Schools used their morning announcement systems to keep the whole school caught up on their progress.

The kindness of their peers was enough to motivate any student. One Olympia High School freshman asked her parents for a donation to the canned food drive in lieu of a Christmas present. Students and administration were heartened to see that this kind of selflessness spanned across school lines. Black Hills High School student Alyssa Newmaker said, “The food drive is important to BHHS because we want to show pride in our community by giving back to those in need.” By the end of the food drive the community returned that pride in its teenagers.

As the drive came to a close, all the schools could agree on one thing, it was inspiring to see their student bodies come together to make a difference in their hometown. “The most surprising part of the food drive was at the end when we were boxing up all the donations and seeing how packed the hallway was with all the food boxes,” Newmaker said. Most schools had similar experiences as they watched the food pile up over the weeks but didn’t realize how much there was until the very end. The pride was undeniable as students packed up boxes and loaded trucks for the Thurston County Food Bank.

The work that each individual school did was ultimately part of a much bigger effort, one that spanned the whole county. It was a lesson for the students not only in the joy of helping their community, but of the power of collaboration. Leadership classes and their schools are hoping that the county-wide food drive becomes a tradition for years to come.


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