Recent local blog posts

Dr. Louise Boxill at Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine Now Accepting New Patients

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:19am



Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine

Born in Barbados, Dr. Boxill is from a family that lives very close to the land, believes in nurturing healthy relationships, and promoting healing by natural means when possible.

She chose to pursue degrees in Naturopathic Medicine and as a Nurse Practitioner because of her desire to serve, listen, teach, and coach women and families to reach their highest health goals and obtain appropriate tools to make informed choices for their own health and the future well being of their respective families and communities.

In her practice Dr. Boxill focuses on full-spectrum Family Medicine.

This includes -

Dr. Louise Boxill - Hirsch

Dr. Louise Boxill

Women’s Health

  • Annual Exams
  • Birth Control Options
  • Gynecologic Issues
  • Menopause, Peri- and Pre-menopausal Issues

Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement



Gastrointestinal Problems


Hormone Balancing

  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal
  • Sex Hormones
  • Homeopathy
  • Medical Acupuncture

When she is not at the office, Dr. Boxill enjoys dancing, singing, cooking, gardening, sewing, knitting/crochet, latch key, arts and crafts, outdoor time, family and friend gatherings, listening and making music, having a good laugh.

If you are searching for a new primary care provider or if you are interested in learning how integrative medicine can help you live your healthiest expression, schedule a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment.

To learn more about Dr. Boxill or about our unique integrative approach, go to Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine.


Westport Winery Creates Wave of Hope

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:52am



Submitted by Westport Winery

Kim Roberts and Jeff Kramer the Vice President of Resource Development from Mercy Ships.

Kim Roberts and Jeff Kramer the Vice President of Resource Development from Mercy Ships.

As part of their outdoor sculpture garden Westport Winery has commissioned four new sculptures to commemorate their recently launched line of hard apple ciders benefitting Mercy Ships. All of these sculptures will be installed in the winery’s new Inspiration Garden. The four ciders are named Mercy, Courage, Grace and Hope. This new one acre garden will include many of the Roberts favorite inspirational quotes from such divergent sources as Emerson and Thoreau to Robert Heinlein and Dr. Seuss.

The first sculpture was designed by winery co-owner Kim Roberts and is titled Wave of Hope. “I wanted to create our own version of Tibetan prayer flags in front of our Dune Garden to resemble a breaking wave. We’ve woven high tensile wire through posts to form a modern take on the traditional waddle fence. At our August Aloha Festival we will ask our guests to write their messages of hope on ribbons we’re providing and then have guests tie them on the wire.”

This is not the first interactive sculpture in the winery’s extensive gardens. Last summer a musical fence was installed within their one acre grape maze. It is one of the many features that make this winery a unique destination for all ages.

The Roberts family has commissioned Elma artist Frank Ratte to create a sculpture for Courage, their apple and sweet dark cherry cider. Ratte, who owns Say It Westport Winery CiderWith Cement, has created two other sculptures in concrete for them previously. He first did Night Watch several years ago which is located within the Dune Garden. Last year he designed a Buddha for their Japanese Zen Garden.

North River artist, Sherryl Jackson, was asked to design the Mercy sculpture. Jackson, whose first piece called “Love” is located in the winery’s lavender labyrinth. Her second contribution to the public art display is “The Kiss” in the Formal French garden. She also created a garden cyclist with her Newfoundland in the English Cottage garden.

Jeffro Uitto of Tokeland has been asked to create the Grace sculpture. Uitto has contributed several pieces to the estate previously including a giant clam for Dawn Patrol in homage to the long gone Dunes Restaurant. He also replicated the guitar Kurt Cobain designed for Fender to commemorate the wine called Nirvana. He carved a self-portrait tiki for the Tropical Hawaiian Garden. And he carved the giant Wizard Chess Set in the Knot Garden.

The garden itself will be divided into eight segments with each dedicated to one of the winery’s Eastern Washington vineyards. A traditional Indian Medicine Wheel will be the centerpiece for the garden utilizing rocks from the various vineyards. The Roberts family have enlisted their friend and Cowlitz spiritual leader Roy Wilson to design the medicine wheel.

Tail Grace FrontThe winery’s gardens are open to all ages (and dogs on leash). It is free to tour the gardens. According to Kim Roberts, “We want to develop our gardens to become a destination of distinction similar to Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. We have a very similar climate and we are easily accessible to those from Seattle and Portland, not to mention visitors from other areas.”

Westport Winery and Vineyards By-the-Sea Gardens with the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Tour in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

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

Harlequin Production’s Scenes in Progress: Student Showcase

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:30am



Submitted by Harlequin Productions

Harlequin - Youth ProgramThe students of Harlequin Productions’ Conservatory for Young Actors have spent six weeks studying subjects including Scene Work, Voice & Diction, Movement, Monologue, Classical Acting & Rehearsing, Shakespeare, Improvisation, Stage Combat, Costume Design, Set Design, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and more! On July 30, these students will present their final showcase performance: Scenes in Progress.

The showcase will include performances of eight scenes that the students have been working on for weeks, followed by the entire 5 act of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a particularly challenging piece of theater that will demand all the skills they’ve gained in the Conservatory – including swordfighting! Program Coordinator/Instructor Maggie Lofquist and Instructor Christian Doyle describe the showcase as the students’ chance to display the skills they’ve gained during an intensive six weeks of hard work. The event is open to the public and Harlequin is encouraging anyone to attend who’d like to be amazed by the work of the students and cheer them on!

The event begins at 7:00 PM on Wednesday July 30th at the State Theater. It is free to attend but space is limited. Please call the Box Office to reserve your tickets at 360/786-0151.

WHO:        Harlequin Productions

WHAT:      Scenes in Progress

WHEN:      Wednesday July 30th at 7:00 PM

WHERE:    The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501

PRICE:      Free – call ahead to reserve your tickets (space is limited)

TICKETS:  Call for tickets and info: 360/786-0151 or visit

Harlequin Productions is a professional not-for-profit theater company in Olympia, WA, dedicated to the creation of stimulating and enriching theatrical experiences by producing an eclectic season of new works, “buried treasures,” and unconventional treatments of classics. Through a dynamic selection of extraordinary material, we explore the human adventure in search of theatrical magic that stretches the mind, nourishes the soul, and inspires human empathy.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

First Fair Contest Due Dates Approaching Fast

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:24am



Submitted by Thurston County Fair

Home Arts, Preserves, Beverages Due July 21 Several open class contest entries are Monday, July 21 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Be sure to get your open class home arts, preserves and beverage entries in for your chance to win!
  • Open Class Home Arts: Monday, July 21 from 3–7 p.m. Let your spectacular sewing, needle art and fiber art do the talking in dozens of home arts contests. Quilt blocks for the 2014 Quilt Block Contest are also due today. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Beverages: Monday, July 21 from 3-7 p.m. Ales, beers, ciders and wines are all welcome in the beverage contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.
  • Open Class Preserved Foods: Monday July 21 from 3-7 p.m.  Enter your canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sauces, jams and jellies, vinegars, meats, and dehydrated foods, plus many more preserved foods. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories. Open Class Preserved Foods are also accepted Monday, July 28.
It’s not too late to enter the fair’s new Tattoo Art Contest or to register your collectible treasure for the Antiques Appraisal event. But hurry, the fair’s opening day is almost here!
  • NEW! Tattoo Art Contest on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m. Local tattoo artists will be showcasing their incredible skill this year at the fair. The contest on Heritage will be tons of fun with serious prizes—cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in contests for permanent tattoos and temporary tattoos. It’s not too late to enter!—contact Fair Board President Ann Shipley at (360) 791-6086 to learn more.
  • Antiques Appraisal event on Friday, Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. A professional appraiser will entertain and inform with analysis and evaluation of collectibles and antiques provided by local residents. There is no fee to enter an antique or collectible item for appraisal, but all antiques owners must be present at the August 1 event and pay gate admission for the fair. It’s not too late to enter!—contact Fair Board President Ann Shipley at (360) 791-6086 to learn more.

Advisory Posted at Burfoot Park Beach

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:21am


Submitted by Thurston County

Beach remains open, but advisory signs posted   Thurston County health officials are posting swimming advisory signs at the beach at the Burfoot Park as a precaution after recent testing showed elevated levels of bacteria in the water. The beach is not closed, but health officials are recommending that people and pets stay out of the water. “We want park visitors to be aware of the situation and use their best judgment about whether they go in the water or stay dry,” said Art Starry, Director of the county’s Environmental Health Division. “The health risk at Burfoot Beach is relatively low for most people, but there is a slightly higher risk of illness for young children and people with compromised immune systems, so we’re reaching out to make sure people can make informed decisions.” Health officials also recommend that nearby beachfront property owners avoid contact with the water until tests show that bacteria levels have dropped. All other facilities and areas at Burfoot Park are unaffected and are open to the public, including the trails, picnic areas and playground. For more information on protecting yourself, your family and your pets from common swimming and water-borne illnesses, visit the county health department’s web page at For more information about wastewater treatment and how the Washington State Department of Ecology protects and monitors Washington’s waterways, visit  You can also get updates from the Washington State Department of Ecology blog called “ECOconnect” at


The History of the Thurston County Fair: Bringing the Community Together Since 1871

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 7:07am



By Gale Hemmann

thurston county fairImagine it’s the year 1871. As you rode to the fair with your family in your horse-drawn wagon, you would probably be excited. This was the first local fair and a big deal. Washington was not yet a state, and the fair aimed to get settlers excited about moving to the area by showcasing the best livestock, industry and other goods Washington Territory had to offer. You could look forward to seeing a poultry exhibit, dancing, and socializing.

Fast-forward to 2014. We enjoy the Thurston County Fair every year for its elephant ears, live music and modern carnival rides. We also still enjoy echoes of earlier days, such as 4-H animal exhibits, crafts, and baked goods. While it may be a popular local attraction (drawing over 30,000 visitors a year), few people know about its long and storied history.

thurston county fair history

Members of the South Bay Girls Canning Club pose with their homemade goods at the fair in the early twentieth century. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

Did you know that the fair has been held in 17 different locations? Or that, in the early days, you could win a ribbon for the “best bowl of oatmeal?” I learned this, and many other facts, by talking with Ann Shipley, the Fair Board President.

A Labor of Love: Unearthing the History of the Fair

Shipley has spent over a decade capturing the Thurston County Fair’s history. She spent ten years researching and writing a book about it, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. I ventured out to the fairgrounds to meet with Shipley on a busy pre-fair day this summer.

She’s been involved with the fair since 1976, when her daughter was in 4-H. Shipley has served as a volunteer on the Fair Board for over twenty years. She says a conversation about the fair’s origins sent her searching through decades of microfiche at the local library.

Serving as fair historian has been a labor of love. She says what’s most fun about the project has been all the quirky facts she’s found along the way. She also notes that the fair reflects changes in technology over the years, from the advent of the car to the modern sewing machine.

Shipley showed me around the fair museum, a small building on the fairgrounds that is definitely worth a visit. Among the carefully-preserved items are historic photos and fair ribbons dating back to the 1930s.

So, ThurstonTalk readers, I invite you to enter a time machine with me. Can you imagine being at the fair during each of these years?

thurston county fair history

Live animal exhibits were a huge draw at early fairs. These ostriches were exhibited at the 1913 fair, which was held where the Lacey Post Office now stands. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

Through the Years – Thurston County Fair Highlights:

  • 1871: The first fair is held in the Columbus Building, now the home of the 4th Ave Tavern in downtown Olympia. (You can still see “Columbus Building” engraved above the doorway today.) The upstairs was filled with exhibits of birds and fowl, including Captain Percival’s pet cockatoo. Downstairs, fair-goers could take in agricultural exhibits and dance.
  • 1874: The fair is held at Sylvester Park (then called Town Square). Large livestock arrive for the first time. Entertainment included both horse races and foot races. Captain Percival exhibited his famous cranberries.
  • 1876: In the year the phone was invented, the fair was robust with contests offering cash prizes. You could win the category of “best handmade shoes,” “best two-horse wagon,” or “best collection of canaries.” Reflecting tastes of the period, you could also win “best catsup and chow chow” (a pickled vegetable dish) or “best variety of pickled fish.” Whether it was woolen stockings, bricks, or model ships, the fair had a category for just about everything. Prizes ranged from $1.00 for “best crochet shawl” to $2.00 for “best display of candies and confections” to $5.00 for “best collection of grain.”
  • 1879: A newspaper advertisement tells us that you can enjoy a “grand display” on the “superb fair grounds near Olympia.” You are promised “trials of speed” by horses over “one of the finest race courses on the West Coast.”
  • 1881: After a decade of construction, the first fairgrounds were completed, where the Tumwater Safeway now sits.
  • 1882: A baseball tournament is held with cash prizes. An ad boasts that “ample provision has been made for the display of mechanical handiwork, farm products and livestock.”
  • 1884: The fair is held in Chehalis, and will be the last fair held for over a decade.
  • 1891-1901: No fair is held locally. Local residents sent their wares to be judged at bigger fairs in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
  • 1912: The same year that the Titanic sinks, the Washington chapter of 4-H is established, which will be a staple of the fair for over a century to come.
  • 1913: Everyone’s focus is on World War I. The fair is held at the site of today’s Lacey Post Office, where the Wonderwood Track once stood.
  • 1926: The Thurston County Fair is back after over a decade of hiatus. It is held in Tenino, where it will stay for several years. In 1927, the fair closes with a wedding ceremony for a local couple.
  • 1937-1946: During World War II and its aftermath, it is difficult to hold a fair, but 4-H groups hold camps at Millersylvania State Park and local schools instead. The fair is renamed “Harvest Festival.” The official fair is back in 1946.
  • 1956: With Elvis topping the charts, the 1956 fair was held at the South Bay Grange. A newspaper advertisement boasted that the fair would have “253 animals” on display and “rides for the children.”
  • thurston county fair history

    This fair advertisement from 1960 cheerfully entices fair-goers with promises of many animals and exhibits. While times have changed, these two elements of the fair have remained popular. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

    1957: The fair concludes with an “all livestock parade,” which is a huge hit – there were over 630 4-H entries.

  • 1958: The fair is moved to its current location near Long Lake, where it has been ever since.
  • 1964: The fair builds the innovative new Cloverleaf Building. Shaped like a four-leaf clover, the building is unique but presents many architectural challenges, and is soon dismantled.
  • 1970: During the year the Beatles disbanded, the food court was built on the fairgrounds. A pet porcupine escaped an exhibit and was not found.
  • 1970s: A highlight of the fair during this decade was the landing of a hang-glider on the fair grounds. The fair board voted to purchase a then-high-tech adding machine for the fair manager.
  • 1976: In honor of the United States Bicentennial, the play 1776 was performed twice at the fair.
  • 1983: The Miss Thurston County pageant was held on Opening Day at the fair.
  • 1990s: During the decade of the internet’s rise, the Horticulture Building is added to the fair and the Horse Arena is updated. A layered cake contest is held.
  • 2000s: In 2003, “Pocket Pets” are added as a new 4-H animal category. Dog exhibits are gaining popularity, and a “homemade dog biscuit” category is featured one year. The new air-conditioned Expo Hall is built.

Bringing the Fair into the Modern Age

As the Fair staff and volunteers ramp up for the 2014 fair (July 30-August 3), they have both traditional and modern points of interest planned for you.

Shipley notes that it is an exciting challenge to bridge the traditional and the new, and to keep appealing to new segments of the community. This year, alongside the classic 4-H exhibits and rides, you will also find a first-ever tattoo contest. There will also be an “Author’s Corner” showcasing local writers and a “bee-friendly garden.”

thurston county fair

The Thurston County Fair has featured rides such as the carousel since at least the 1950s. Though there weren’t cell phones with cameras then, the children’s delight has no doubt remained the same. Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Fair

So, as you take in the fair this year with your friends or family, take a moment to step back in time in your imagination. Enjoy browsing the museum, and the chance to discuss this piece of local history with kids (or just impress friends with your knowledge). You can learn more about the fair’s history here, and by purchasing Shipley’s book, Memories: The History of the Thurston County Fair.

Shipley notes that the fair would love to gather even more photos and memorabilia from past fairs for their collection. If you have any items of interest, you can contact the fair office.

A sign that the fair is thoroughly in the modern era? You can check out their website or “like” their Facebook page.

Thurston County Fair – “Fun for the Whole Herd”

July 30-August 3, 2014

At the Thurston County Fairgrounds

Get information about admission here and view the daily event calendar here.


Nothing about LakeFair. You should all be proud (Olyblogosphere for July 20, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:27am
1. It isn't just LakeFair that makes us tick. There were some great things at Pride too.

2. Ken obviously let's people write without using their real names. This particular post seems to toe the line of acting like a kid in civil discourse. And, reminds us that the entire isthmus planning group is a poorly held public secret.

3. I usually like local blog talking about local things, but one other will do. This time a local blog talks about cultural appropriation.

I should note here that the original poster found it useful to say something to the tune of “most Africans are doing it wrong”. If anyone is doing it “right”, I’d say it’s them. His whole rant was … startling. Now, I am not disparaging this young man at all. He was speaking most vehemently based on the information he had. There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet and I can’t fault him for falling prey to some of it In fact, I remain strangely unemotional about the whole exchange. But it did set me to thinking…

Should I be angry that someone from a culture other than my own is telling me about my culture in authoritative ways? I am not. I am … simply pondering a world in which this happens so regularly that we can’t even recognise it.
  4. Who can just take away a park from members of our community, who just happen to be homeless?

Your Healthcare Connection: Lisa Bowling Creates a Caring Community at Oly Ortho’s Physical Therapy Clinics

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:22am




oly ortho

The youngest of 10 kids, Lisa Bowling grew up in Spokane, Washington, learning the ropes of health care with her father who was a physician.

Olympia Orthopaedics Associates is well known throughout the South Sound as a comprehensive provider of musculoskeletal care.  Essential to that service are the large, state-of the-art physical therapy clinics housed at their Westside and Eastside Clinics.  Since early March, those clinics have been under the experienced direction of Lisa Bowling, PT.

Bowling is a Washington native who grew up in Spokane, Washington, the youngest of 10 kids.  Her mom stayed at home keeping things running for the big family while her father saw patients as a physician.  The family relocated to California in Bowling’s sophomore year and it was then her interest in Physical Therapy began.

“During my high school years, in 1979 specifically, I began working in the field partly with my dad in his clinics and in nursing homes,” Bowling shares.  “I knew I had an interest in the medical field early on, but I didn’t have a name for it. It wasn’t until my mom gave me a book written by Joni Eareckson, an autobiography of a swimmer who broke her neck resulting in paralysis/quadriplegia, that the field of physical therapy was defined to me.  Reading about the process Joni went through, how she progressed through her therapies and became a successful artist, writer inspired me to want to be part of this process.”

During aptitude testing done in high school, Bowling’s career path came up either teacher or physical therapist.   “Well, you do both when you are a physical therapist,” she realized and her career path was born.   Her interest blossomed into formal training at California State University, Northridge where she graduated in 1988.

oly ortho physical therapy

Lisa Bowling brings 36 years of experience to Oly Ortho as a physical therapist.

Bowling’s experience over the years has taken her through a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings.  Most recently, she spent over 11 years working with injured workers. She has done subcontract review work with LNI. Prior to moving back to Washington, Bowling worked in Georgia with a neurology practice as director of their associated rehabilitation center.  She also owned her own practice, working with local California orthopaedists.  These multi-disciplinary settings gave her a wide breadth of knowledge in the varied types of physical therapies patients may need.

Returning to Washington in 2000, Bowling settled her family in Olympia.  OOA knew her experience would be a good fit for the position of Rehabilitation Services Director when it came open last year.  “Throughout my career, I have always worked very closely with doctors and it was something that was missing in my past jobs,” says Bowling.  “I did that with my dad and other work experience, and it’s what I’ve always loved about being a therapist.”  The inclusion of physical therapy clinics within the Oly Ortho locations facilitates this close relationship, one that is valued by Bowling and patients alike.

“Working with doctors who are excited about what they do and want to teach is amazing,” she shares. “Even after 36 years in the field, it’s pretty exciting to feel like you are always learning.  That was the main draw here.”  Additionally Bowling sites the potential to grow the clinic, serving the wide variety of departments at Oly Ortho, as a big reason for her interest in joining the group.

When asked what her favorite part of being a physical therapist is, Bowling doesn’t hesitate.  “It’s my clients.  I love taking care of people and educating them.  The ability to educate and empower someone through their own rehab and on their own journey back to health and function is such a boost for a therapist.  Helping reduce their pain and their restrictions – honestly is kind of a rush,” she shares with a smile.

Bowling and her team look at each patient as a puzzle.  With 36 years in the field, she has seen enough to say with confidence that she has “never seen the same thing twice. The uniqueness and what happens with each individual body during recovery keeps my interest piqued.”

oly ortho physical therapy

For Lisa Bowling, Life in Motion means teaching people better movements to lead a full life.

Currently, Bowling is doing some client care but as the new director her day-to-day work is more administrative.  Her role will develop towards education of clients in pre-operative care as well as some post-operative needs. While she does miss the patients, she knows that the behind the scenes work is invaluable to the care the fifteen therapists on staff deliver each day.

The Westside clinic now has a new Hand Therapy Center, serving patients with three hand therapists and an assistant; partnering with the talented hand surgeons at OOA. Five physical therapists work in the West Olympia clinic and six work at the Eastside clinic on Lilly Road.  Bowling oversees both areas, travelling between sites.

“Olympia Orthopaedics is unique in that there is so much direct contact with the doctors.  Their want and desire to work with us, and our ability to literally walk over and talk to them to clarify an issue or get direction, makes a huge difference,” Bowling explains.  Additionally, she cites a dynamic partnership among all physicians and therapists, moving toward using meaningful descriptors to define standard protocols of care, producing quantifiable outcomes for patients and ultimately consistent healing.

Bowling is committed to the Olympia Orthopaedics goal of getting patient’s Life In Motion. “What we do in physical therapy is completely based on motion,” explains Bowling.  “Life in Motion to me is not only helping people deal with the pain and fearfulness that comes with injury or surgery, it’s teaching them better movements – preventative care and adaptability.  Injuries can leave residual effects, emotionally and physically.  We help them find satisfaction and a full life.”


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

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



By Tom Rohrer

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

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

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

olympia traverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia traverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia traverse

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fungi Perfect at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival

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



By Alyssa Ramsfield

lacey mushroom festival

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

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

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

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

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

lacey mushroom festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Gile Blueberry Farm Offers Flavor and Fond Memories

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



By Katie Doolittle

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

gile blueberry farm

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

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

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

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

gile blueberry farm

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

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

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

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

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

gile blueberry farm

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

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

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

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


Categories: Local Food Blogs


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

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

Writing Workshop: Creating Original Worlds

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

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

Lakefair Royalty Story Time and Meet and Greet

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

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

Make Bath Fizzies with Deb Petersen

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

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

Hot? Might Be Time to Call Chehalis Sheet Metal

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



By Kelli Samson

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

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

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

high school europe trip

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

It’s not for everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

high school europe trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

high school europe trip

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

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

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

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

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

Priceless Life Lessons:

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

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

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

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

high school europe trip

CHS students pose in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LAKE, House Show, Olympia!

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

Recent Photos July 2014

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

Pads on the Pond, at McLane Creek

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

Log Ship Loading

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

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