Recent local blog posts

Mind Drumming

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 9:04am

A long time ago I was a drummer in a country and western band called the Southern Playboys, and after that in a kind of Lawrence Welk type quintet. The leader of the band played accordion. I kid you not. I also used to be a painter. I have a master’s degree in art and spent most of my life making art. But then I quit that, too. I still make art in my head, and in bed at night I sometimes have lucid dreams about painting. As for drumming, I constantly drum with my fingers on my thighs or a table top or the steering wheel when I’m driving—to whatever song is in my head at the time. Sometimes I wake up about four o’clock in the morning and start drumming in my head. I will visualize sitting at a drum set with sticks in hand and playing a masterful solo.When I make art in my head it can be as frustrating and as fulfilling as making an actual painting. You see, I remember that when I was actively painting I would often—more often than you can imagine—screw it up; and the more I tried to fix it the worse it got. When this happened (notice I put that in the passive voice: it just happened; I had nothing to do with it) I often had to scrape everything off and start over. You’d think I could avoid stuff like that when I’m painting in my head, but I don’t.Drumming in my head usually goes better. I do things I was never able to do when I was actually drumming. I’m talking like things only a Buddy Rich or a Ginger Baker can do.You’d think that if I do all this painting and drumming in my head I’d want to pick up a brush or a pair of drumsticks and do the real thing, but I really have no desire to do either. I have a pair of drumsticks that sit by the TV. I often think about picking them up but, you know, I’d have to get up and walk across the room.The thing is, doing these things in my head is just as satisfying, if not more so, than doing the real thing. I know I can never be as good as Michelangelo or Jackson Pollock or Phillip Pearlstein, but in my mind I can. Besides, painting is messy. As for drumming, do you have any idea how physically demanded drumming is? At my age and as out of shape as I am I could never last through a couple of rock songs, and I know I could never be another Ginger Baker.But in my mind . . . damn I’m good.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Dillingers: How a Prohibition-Era Bar is Breathing New Life into Olympia’s Security Building

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:39am



By Kelli Samson

greene realtyWhat does John Dillinger, the notorious gangster of the Prohibition Era and the Great Depression, have in common with Olympia? We have to go way back, so stay with me on this one.

olympia history

Walter Chambers and Joseph Swanton had such a successful butcher shop in Lacey that they had to move to a much bigger location on the site where the Security Building now sits. (Image courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society)

John Dillinger was the reason J. Edgar Hoover formed the FBI. The government needed a way to start cracking down on organized crime in the 1930s, and Dillinger’s gang was the biggest thorn in their sides. He was responsible for two-dozen bank robberies, four police station robberies, and the homicide of one police officer. He was known to be wild and proud of his crimes. Dillinger died in a shoot-out with police in 1934.

Dillinger got his start in the world of crime in the 1920s, a time known as the Prohibition Era – think “The Great Gatsby.” It was a time of flapper girls and secret bars (speakeasies) where alcohol was served illegally.

Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen, located at 404 South Washington in downtown Olympia, is housed in the old Security Bank Building, which was built in 1927.

The building is on the corner of Washington and Fourth Avenue and was so tall in comparison to the other buildings at the time, people referred to it as a skyscraper. It’s a whopping five stories tall. Prior to the Security Building’s construction, the corner was home to Chambers and Swanton Meat Market, a full-service butcher.

olympia bar dillingers

The Security Building sits on over 300 pilings over filled-in tidal marsh.

The building’s designer was Abraham H. Albertson, an architect from Seattle who primarily designed buildings for the University of Washington and who also designed Cornish College of the Arts.

The Olympia-based construction company known as the Dawley Brothers, which was owned by Leo and J.M. Dawley, constructed the structure. They also built the Hart-Dawley house in the South Capital neighborhood, which was the home of Governor Louis Hart.

The Security Building was built in the Sullivan-esque Style (think rosettes and pineapple details) and boasts nothing but the finest materials available at the time. There is marble from Europe and granite from Canada, not to mention prized mahogany from the Philippines throughout. The structure has remained sound all these years later, even though it’s built on fill over the natural location of tidal marshes, it rests on hundreds of pilings, and it has weathered two major earthquakes.

olympia bar dillingers

The ladies behind Dillingers’ success: (from left) Sandy Hall, Lela Cross, Denise Alonso, and Sherilyn Lightner.

The style of the building certainly makes an establishment like Dillingers seem like it truly belongs there.

Dillingers is owned by Lela Cross (of the former culinary gems Capitale and Cielo Blu), Denise Alonso (who formerly ran the bakery at Saint Martin’s University), and Sandy Hall (formerly of Batdorf and Bronson). “There’s nothing that compares to the fun, the vibe, or the stress of owning a restaurant,” says Hall.

Dillingers is full of swank. There are bold chandeliers and dark walls with custom-made wallpaper in places. There is a gorgeous bar, designed by Hall, that’s high on gloss. Everything is plush and fancy.

After leasing the space, Hall’s father took one look at the original teller’s booth and into the old bank vault in the back and declared that it brought to mind the days of John Dillinger. Thus, downtown Olympia’s melting pot of hipsters, legislators, and all kinds of people in between was given its name.

“The customers send us things about Dillinger all the time,” says Cross.

The old bank vault and the name helped shape and guide the vision Alonso, Cross, and Hall had for the establishment that opened this past winter. In a building with 1920’s architecture and a name harkening back to the time of bank robberies, and gin joints, there was only one direction to go: Prohibition Era cocktails.

The Prohibition Era is known more for cocktails than food, so the owners were free to bring in their own favorites when it came to planning a menu. The seafood is a nod to Olympia (and supplied by Olympia Seafood Company), while dishes like red beans and rice are reminiscent of Houston, from which Hall originates. Cross is from New Mexico, and she likes colorful foods. Hot Babe Hot Sauce is sourced from Sandra Bocas in Yelm.

olympia bar dillingers

The Security Bank Vault is Dillingers most-requested area for reservations.

The real star on the menu, though, is the whiskey bread pudding. Why? Well, there’s no bread in it, for starters. Instead, you’ll find doughnuts to be the secret ingredient in Alonso’s brilliant “creation that everyone loves.”

The authentically-crafted cocktail menu is divided by the darlings of the Prohibition Era: whiskey, cognac, gin, rum, tequila, champagne, wine, beer, and hard cider. Dillingers uses spirits from local distilleries and breweries. You can, of course, order whatever kind of cocktail you want. But why would you do that when you can put yourself in the hands of these master cocktail craftspeople and drink something called a Mary Pickford, named after America’s first sweetheart of film, instead?

“We have probably the best bartenders in town,” smiles Cross. “They have such a passion for what they’re doing.”

The bar manager is Sherilyn Lightner. She has researched the cocktails of the era by reading old cocktail books. If you’re unsure of what to order, here are the favorites from the insiders themselves:

  • Vieux Carre’: Lightner affectionately refers to this as “The Manhattan’s richer, more-sophisticated uncle.”
  • French 75: Alonso enjoys that this is “pretty fresh and simple.”
  • Blood and Sand: Cross loves this bright nod to the Rudolph Valentino film of the same name.
  • Viejo Verde: Hall describes this as a “smoky margarita.”
olympia bar dillingers

Many of Dillingers spirits are sourced from local distilleries such as Wishkah River in Aberdeen.

Next up for Dillingers is their “Gin Punch Brunch,” which premieres September 14. They also have an artist-of-the-month. Pairing up with the community is clearly important to Dillingers.

Meanwhile, the ladies of Dillingers will continue to enjoy the little moments that make it special for them. For Cross, this happens every night. “I stand out on the sidewalk and I wait for someone to open the door to go in so I can hear the roar of the happy crowd inside.”

Adds Alonso, “I work in the kitchen, which is between the vault and the bar. I love how people stop by and introduce themselves.”

“I really love the way people come together here. They end up making friends or running into people they haven’t seen in years,” shares Hall.

While it’s true that John Dillinger never set foot in Olympia, it is also true that you are not John Dillinger. Lucky for you (for lots of reasons), because that means you can enjoy Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen – perhaps even tonight.

You can learn more about Dillingers by visiting their Facebook page or their website.


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Taking the Plunge: Local Resident Learns to Swim for 70th Birthday at Discover Aquatics

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:10am



By Gale Hemmann

oly ortho logoDonna Killelea is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to, at any age. The Olympia resident decided to take on a life-long goal for her 70th birthday: learning to swim. With the encouragement of staff at Discover Aquatics Swim School, she was able to make this dream happen.

Killelea wrote a moving letter to the Discover Aquatics staff about her experience. She writes, “Six months ago, I resolved to check an item off my ‘bucket list,’ to acquire a skill I had always thought unreachable. I vowed I would learn how to swim. For nearly 70 years, my relationship with the water has been tentative, tinged with trepidation, conditional:  If I could stand up or use the aid of a life jacket, I was fine. Now I longed to delve deeper, to gain the confidence of a true swimmer.”

olympia adult swim lessons

Donna Killelea thanks her Discover Aquatics swim instructors, Peter Emmons (pictured here) and Curran Colins, for helping her transcend her fear of water and enjoy swimming. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

Killelea got the spark of inspiration from an adult education class she was taking at her church, where she participated in an exercise about manifesting your dreams. When she thought about goals she wanted to accomplish, conquering her fear of water and learning to swim was at the top of her list. She also wanted to overcome her fear so she could share a positive attitude about water with her grandchildren.

She approached the staff at Discover Aquatics and immediately felt encouraged by how warm and welcoming they were. She enrolled in weekly one-on-one swim lessons, and step by step (or rather stroke by stroke) worked toward achieving her goal. Her biggest triumph: the moment she was able to cross from the shallow end into the deep end fear-free.

She writes in her letter, “At Discover Aquatics, I met Peter and Curran, who were more than swim teachers – they taught me that the simple act of blowing bubbles could cause panic and fear to melt away. They did more than teach technique: they provided a safe, secure place for me to cultivate confidence and skill. They showed me that with patience, determination and lots of practice, I could leave the safety of the shallow water and explore the depths (and my own abilities) in the deep end. I could swim!”

Killelea’s story is truly inspiring. I met with her and several staff at Discover Aquatics who were involved in her journey. Killelea and I joined owner Holly Nichols, Event Coordinator Debbie Williams, and one of Killelea’s swim instructors, Peter Emmons. Everyone was friendly and positive – it’s no wonder Killelea immediately felt comfortable here.

The staff were all elated to watch Killelea reach her goal. She worked with Emmons for about two months, and then with instructor Curran Colins. Emmons was a competitive swimmer at Timberline High School and combines his strong knowledge of swimming with the ability to relate to people to help put new swimmers like Killelea at ease. He says they moved in steps with the lessons, going a little further in the water each week. Colins swam while at Capital High School and originally learned to swim at Discover Aquatics years ago. While Killelea is quick to praise her teachers, Emmons says she really deserves the credit for her determination.

Killelea describes the process eloquently: “In the last several months, lesson by lesson, I have witnessed my own miraculous transformation from a floundering novice to someone who could venture from one end of the pool to the other. I can do what I never imagined possible: I can tread water. I can float on my back. I can breathe. I can kick. I have options. The pool has become my playground, the warm water my dear friend.”

olympia adult swim lessons

A triumphant moment: Killelea invited her friends and family for a “Splish Splash” party at Discover Aquatics for her 70th birthday. She demonstrated her new swimming skills and says it was an amazing moment. Photo courtesy Donna Killelea.

The final touch to celebrate Killelea reaching her big goal? Hosting an official “Splish Splash” birthday party at Discover Aquatics earlier this month. Killelea notes in her letter, “Yesterday, I turned seventy years old. Over the weekend, my family and I celebrated more than seven decades of a life well lived. I invited them to join me at my very own ‘Splish Splash’ party at Discover Aquatics and witness my new and improved water-capable self as I swam – truly swam – from one end of the pool to the other. It was beyond wonderful. Afterwards, we enjoyed a sweet celebration in the party room orchestrated by a very attentive hostess, Debbie, complete with beach decor, music, cupcakes, and a beach ball for guests to autograph. I will keep that beach ball as a reminder of this unforgettable birthday – a symbol of the not-so-small ‘bucket list’ item I tackled with the help of Discover Aquatics.”

I asked Killelea what words of inspiration she would share with others who want to take on a big goal, whether learning to swim or tackling another dream. She says, “If you have a goal, just try it. Jump in. It’s never too late.” Nichols notes that Killelea was very focused in reaching her goal, which also contributed to her success.

So what’s next for Killelea? She will be continuing swim lessons at Discover Aquatics in the future. She enjoys the senior swim time on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings. She says in her letter, “Who knows what new challenges and depths I’ll reach this year at the pool? I can’t wait to find out.”

Killelea has already talked to other adults who want to learn to conquer their fear of water, and shared her story with them. In fact, if you’re considering learning to swim as an adult, Killelea’s happy to talk with you (contact the Discover Aquatics office to get in contact with her).

olympia adult swim lessons

Donna Killelea (seated) poses with Discover Aquatics staff (from left to right) Peter Emmons, Debbie Williams and Holly Nichols. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

Discover Aquatics offers lessons for all ages, as well as open swim times and special events. One thing that makes their pool unique is that it is saline-based. Many people, including myself, find this a more pleasant alternative to chlorine-based pools. The pool is also kept at a comfy 89 degrees, ensuring that you are comfortable in the water. To learn more about swimming lessons, hosting a Splish Splash birthday party, and pool schedules, visit their website. Adults interested in private swim lessons can also call the office and talk to staff, who will be happy to help them get started.

Killelea says she feels an increased sense of self-confidence now that she can swim and feels more comfortable in social settings where swimming is involved. She says it’s fun to be in with the other swimmers at the pool.

Nichols also notes that swimming is an important life skill. She says six out of ten Americans adults are uncomfortable in water where they can’t touch the bottom. Nichols says it’s a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy the relaxation, therapeutic and exercise benefits of swimming. She says it is very empowering for adults to learn to feel in control and skilled in the water. Nowhere is this more evident than in the joy Donna Killelea exudes when talking about her experience.

As Discover Aquatics reminds us, “Life is great…swimming makes it better.”


Olympia Labor Day Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:09am



Purists will disagree but I consider Labor Day weekend the END of summer. Last minute BBQ’s, shopping for the final few items on the school supply list, packing away the sunscreen, and shifting towards “normal” bedtimes are all tasks that I undertake over the holiday weekend.  I recognize that the “official” end to summer is still many days away but once the school bell starts ringing then it’s back to the grindstone for me.

Three cheers to all the teachers, administrators and school staff that are already back in the classroom… we’ll give you a high five on Wednesday morning.

Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.  Squeeze in some last minute summer fun.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


Northwest Harley-Davidson’s Guide to Essential Riding Gear

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 6:00am



NW Harley Womens ApparelYou’ve got a motorcycle.  You are ready to ride.  Throw on a helmet and you are good to go, right?  Not so fast, say the experts at Northwest Harley-Davidson.  There’s a lot more to safe, comfortable riding than just wearing your helmet.

NW Harley-Davidson wants riders to enjoy their riding time and having the right gear can make or break a good ride.  Check out this list of essential riding gear before your next ride.

Helmet – Yes, wear a helmet.  Always.  Even if it’s not required by law.  But, more than simply wearing a helmet, ensure that yours fits properly by having it assessed by a NW Harley expert.  Fit ensures proper function.  Helmets should also be replaced every three years as padding and straps degrade over time.  And, if you have been in an accident, or even have simply dropped your helmet, it needs to be replaced.  It’s your head – protect it well.

Pants – Experienced riders know that the right pair of pants makes all the difference when logging miles in the saddle.  Comfort is key, but just as important is protection.  Be sure you have heavy duty pants, preferable leather, or are wearing leather chaps.  The protective quality of leather cannot be overstated when making contact with the road.

Gloves – NW Harley-Davidson recommends wearing full finger protective gloves every time you ride.  Not only does it improve your grip on the handlebars, but keeps your hands insulated from wind, debris in the air, and the pavement should you fall.  Even in warm weather, full fingered gloves are best.

NW Harley Womens apparel 2Proper Footwear – Motorcycle specific boots should be worn while riding.  They provide the best protection and comfort for your feet while on the bike as well as having oil-resistant soles.  This added feature is essential when on and off the bike frequently.

Goggles/Glasses – You only get one set of eyes.  Protect them while riding.  You never know when another vehicle will kick up a rock or piece of debris.  Goggles and glasses come in a wide variety of styles and lens tints and NW Harley-Davidson always has a full stock to choose from.

To have a great ride, be sure you have great gear.  If you need a gear update, or to check the fit of your helmet, swing into Northwest Harley-Davidson.  Their staff will outfit you for a great ride.


Summer Shows in Seattle

Olympia Dumpster Divers - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 11:32pm

Seattle has a lot of artists who work with recycled materials.  One of our all-time favorites,  Ross Palmer Beecher, has been making art out of recycled materials since 1980, yet she continues to inspire us with her ingenuity, craftsmanship, and wit.  Her ability to find new ways to reuse stuff other folks throw away was on display this summer at Greg Kucera Gallery.

My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009  23 x 16 x 2 inches

My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009
23 x 16 x 2 inches

Two of our new favorite pieces from this recent show are “My Palette,” made out of tins, paint brushes, paint tubes, and enamel paint, and “My Palette #2.” The former takes the traditional shape of an artist palette and incorporates the traditional paints and brushes in a fresh, recycled-artist-kind-of-way, creating a sampler of some of her techniques and materials. “My Palette #2″ is made out of spray cans, paint tubes, and foil, arranged in a traditional multi-pieced star quilt pattern.  It is this juxtaposition of the traditional images and the non-traditional/unexpected materials that never fails to excite us.  More Ross Palmer Beecher HERE and HERE

My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013 46 x 38 inches

My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013
46 x 38 inches

Another fabulous Seattle artist that works with tin is our friend Jenny Fillius, who had a solo show at Gallery4Culture back in the beginning of June.  The Stranger described her work as “energetic, wall-mountable tin sculpture pieced together from salvaged metal pieces (toys, religious iconography, advertisements). It sometimes looks like it was made by a junkyard savant in a delirium.”  We regret to admit that we managed to miss seeing this show in person, but we can attest to the fact that Jenny knows what she is doing, and she does it with craftsmanship, intelligence, and humor.  See more Jenny Fillus HERE and HERE

Jenny Fillius Stay On the Sunny Side

Lastly, while we are posting about shows in Seattle that we are sad to have missed, we need to tell you about our friend and mentor Barbara De Pirro, whose work was in ”Vorfreude” with Katie Miller at Method Gallery this summer.  Barbara’s current medium is reclaimed plastic bottles, which she transforms into elegant, organic shapes.

Vorfreude is a German word meaning “the joyful anticipation of future pleasures.”
“Vorfreude” explores the anticipation of growth, transformation, and renewal in life through the installations of Katie Miller and Barbara De Pirro … De Pirro examines renewal through using reclaimed materials. The resulting relationship between each installation is the process of transformation, exploring the expected potential of materials, their lifespan, and connection to their environments. The audience is linked with the exhibition as they observe its transformation and await the final event.

Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014

Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014

Our next chance to view Barbara De Pirro’s work will be September 5 – October 12, when it will be part of the group show “Ethnobotany: An Artists’ Study of Plants” at the Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma; this time, Olympia Dumpster Divers vow to be there!  More Barbara De Pirro HERE and HERE

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Saint Martin’s University Receives Major Gift from Community Bank

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:17pm


 Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

St Martins Cebula Hall

Saint Martin’s University Cebula Hall

A $100,000 gift toward the second phase of the Saint Martin’s University Engineering Initiative has been pledged by local community bank Olympia Federal Savings, University President Roy F. Heynderickx announced today. The initiative’s second phase will fund construction of a new $2.7 million industrial laboratory building.

“Olympia Federal Savings leadership gift provides important momentum midway through our campaign effort,” Heynderickx says. “We are very grateful to them for supporting our vision of new facilities to support our growing enrollment in engineering.”

Saint Martin’s University launched its $10.2 million Engineering Initiative in 2010, with the first phase earmarked to fund construction of a new $7.5 million “green” engineering building, Cebula Hall. The cutting-edge, teaching and learning engineering facility – dedicated April 22, 2013 – was designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certification. This past fall, it earned the distinction of being the highest-rated LEED -certified building in the Western Hemisphere.

With the second phase of the Engineering Initiative nearing completion, the University plans to break ground this fall on a 14,000-square-foot industrial laboratory building that will house the facilities necessary for civil and mechanical engineering students to conduct hands-on experiments with fluids, manufacturing, robotics and mechatronics, soils and materials testing. The building also will include a technology classroom, regular classroom and faculty offices.

Olympia Federal Savings has a long history of philanthropy and leadership with Saint Martin’s University.  President and CEO Lori Drummond serves on the Saint Martin’s University Board of Trustees, and retired presidents and CEOs Wayne Staley and Ed Wack also served as University trustees. The bank has been a benefactor of past capital projects, including Cebula Hall, Charneski Recreation Center and the O’Grady Library, and is a staunch sponsor of the University’s community events, such as the Saint Martin’s Gala and Jingle Bell Run 5k.

“Olympia Federal Savings’ commitment to giving back locally is certainly demonstrated with this generous gift,” says Heynderickx, “and we thank them for their ongoing commitment to this institution and its OlyFed cornerstudents.”

Katie Wojke, interim vice president of institutional advancement, says the Olympia Federal Savings gift provides a major boost for the initiative, bringing the second phase total to $1.5 million, more than halfway to the $2.7 million goal.

“We are so blessed to have Olympia Federal Savings, its board members, and employees and customers as part of our greater community. Saint Martin’s University relies on alumni, friends and organizations like Oly Fed to support our efforts in educating the current and next generation of students,” she says.

Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D., P.E., dean of the Marcus School of Engineering, says, “We have seen a 39-percent growth in engineering enrollment since 2009. It is expected that the industrial lab will continue to attract students who want to study civil and mechanical engineering, and engineering management. The industrial lab will also house a technology classroom for those students pursuing a degree in computer science.”


New Officers and Board Members for Providence St. Peter Foundation

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:13pm



Submitted by Providence St. Peter Foundation

Providence St. Peter Foundation Board of Directors has recently elected new officers. Pat Gilmer, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Ear, Nose & Throat Associates SW, was elected to serve as president. Rick Middleton, President/CEO of Anderson-Middleton Company was elected as vice president. Each officer will serve a two-year term. Larry Brooke will begin his third term as treasurer, and Dan Davidson, D.D.S., will serve as immediate past president.

In addition, the Foundation elected four new members to its board of directors. Board president, Pat Gilmer, M.D., says, “All of our board members have a deep passion for the mission of Providence in our community, and we’re glad these four members are joining as new advocates for the work our donors make possible.”

Joining the board are Christophe Allen, vice president and general manager of The Acme Service Group; James Kruidenier, M.D., board certified gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Associates; Annie Iriye, M.D., board certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Group Health Olympia Medical Center; and long-time community member and

volunteer, Katie Hurley.

Each new board member will serve a three year term. “We’re very excited to have these new members joining us,” says Gilmer. “They bring depth of experience from the business, medical, and not-for profit communities, and a deep respect for the importance of having access to high-quality health care right here locally.”

Retiring from the board after a combined 36 years of service are Ken Anderson, Allen Miller, and Wayne Staley.





Katie Hurley James Kruidenier, M.D. Christophe Allen Annie Iriye, M.D.,







Music on the Mounds presents Fluff and Gravy Music Fest

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 8:15pm

Please join us at Music on the Mounds, right outside of lovely Littlerock WA, for Portland record label Fluff and Gravy's Music Fest.  There's music all day Saturday and a gospel set on Sunday for any sinners in attendance. If you reserve a camping spot you can come Friday night.There will be food and craft vendors too. When you purchase a ticket you will learn the exact location.

Saturday Schedule
noon – Special Guest, TBA
1pm – Kevin Lee Florence
2pm – Hillstomp
3pm – Drunken Prayer
4pm – Kenny Feinstein
5pm – Jack Wilson
6pm – Jeffrey Martin
7pm – Mike Coykendall
8pm – Gabriel Mintz and Bill Patton
9pm – The Harmed Brothers
10:30pm – Sassparilla logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Kids Fighting Health Problems Make Progress With HeartStrides

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 3:31pm



By Gail Wood

dkb restorationPerched in a saddle on a horse, the inevitable happens. The child, who is facing a physical or mental challenge, smiles.

At HeartStrides, a therapeutic horseback riding program, it’s one of the rewards for the parents and volunteers.

Since 2010, HeartStrides, which is at Healing Hearts Ranch in Tumwater, has offered therapeutic and recreational horseback riding for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. On the trails at HeartStrides, its a place where people get better.

“It helps in a variety of ways,” said Karen Edison, the financial director for HeartStrides. “It helps with physical, mental, emotional and social issues people have.”

HeartStrides 211It’s on horseback, riding along a trail that a child who is struggling with their mental or physical health, may make an important discovery. In a life where they have little control over what they’re facing, they learn that they can be in control of a situation. Turning and leading a horse along a trail gives the child a new-found confidence.

“Students learn that they can be assertive in a constructive way,” Edison said. “They can learn to control what they can’t control.”

That’s a crucial discovery for someone facing tough health challenges.

“A lot of them can’t control very much at all in their lives,” Edison said. “This is something they can learn to control.”

It’s atop a horse that they gain confidence in themselves.

heartstrides“It really helps their self esteem,” Edison said. “They learn they can control some things. It’s really positive.”

Hippotherapy –  therapeutic horseback riding – was formalized in the United States in 1992 with the formation of the American Hippotherapy Association. It has established standards of practice and formalized therapist education.

The horse’s movement, Edison said, provides physical and sensory input, both rhythmical and repetitive, helping a child who might be having trouble walking. A therapist uses this movement in combination with other treatment. The therapists have seen improvement in gross motor skills for children with disabilities.

Riding horses also provides a workout, working core muscles.

“There are kids who start off with us who have very little core strength,” Edison said. “Just the movement of the horse and the progressions they make we see how they are able to hold themselves straighter.”

heartstridesThere’s a wide range of problems the children face that come to HeartStrides. Edison said they have students with Autism, Down Syndrome and physical issues that impede walking. Being able to help guide a child through a challenge is rewarding.

“Some of the things parents say is so gratifying,” Edison said. “It’s small progress that the student makes, but it’s huge in that student’s life and for that family.”

On that first horseback ride, there can be some anxious moments. Being atop a big, powerful horse can be intimidating and nerve wracking. But that’s part of the breakthrough.

“Some of the parents have said their child was really nervous when they started the program and now they’ve become more confident and assured,” Edison said. “Hearing things like that is so positive, so gratifying.”

The horseback rides are done in groups of three to four. An advanced class, where the riders are more experienced, there are five in that class. With the volunteers helping each group, it becomes a exciting social activity. That encounter, being with and talking with others, is part of the therapy.

heartstrides“There’s a lot of ways people can be benefited,” Edison said.

One of the students is an 80-year-old rider who is fighting a different challenge – age.

“It’s just keeping the thoughts young,” Edison said. “It keeps them moving and the ability to learn a new task. There’s a brain activity there.”

Another benefit from these horseback rides Edison has heard parents talk about has been better sleeping better at night and improved emotional control.

“Parents say that the outbursts are lessened for students who have emotional outbursts,” Edison said. “So, it helps in a variety of ways.”

For more information, to arrange a tour or to make a donation, go to the HeartStrides website. Volunteers play an important role in the therapeutic riding program. Volunteers range in ages from teen to seniors. Not all of them have had experience with horses, but all have a desire to help others succeed.

“They really get attached to the students they’re with,” Edison said. “And the students can be attached to the volunteers. It can be very rewarding.”

On Aug. 30, HeartStrides will have a BBQ fundraiser, which raises funds to help with scholarships and purchase adaptive tack. The event includes live music, games, activities and photos with the horses. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children.


Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 011

K Records - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:15am
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where artifacts are stored and displayed. If it is uniquely K we want you to have an opportunity to discover it. Nothing could be more exciting for us than to offer up this interview and performance with Ruby Fray. On a NW tour which included an appearance at the Helsing […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

An Improbable Peck of Plays 3D

South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 9:29am

TAO is at it again with the third installment of one-act plays at the Midnight Sun. This one’s called “An Improbable Peck of Plays 3D.” Supposedly a peck indicates how many plays, but a peck is not that kind of measurement. It is a dry measure of eight quarts; the fourth part of a bushel, equal to 537.6 cubic inches (8.81 liters). I looked it up. There are eight one-acts in this evening’s festivities, so maybe they equate the number of quarts with the number of plays. Anyway, that seems just the right amount. All eight are so short as to seem more like skits on a television variety show — like something by Sid Caesar and Imogene Coco or Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman. I’m not sure why they call them improbable unless that refers to the main plot points to most of these plays. Debbie Sampson and Ryan Holmberg in “Guido in Therapy”
Stephanie Kroschel and Bobby Brown in “Second Wind”Imagine this if you can: Pygmalion, the Greek sculptor who fell in love with the statue of the goddess Galatea, who comes alive and turns out to be a feminist who berates the sculptor for lusting after her body while ignoring her mind and her spirit. Yep. Pretty improbable. But if a statue of a goddess could come to life in the 21st century, I can imagine it might happen something like this. Novelist, actor, director and playwright Christian Carvajal made this the premise of his play An Imperfect Galatea, directed by Pug Bujeaud. Cheyenne Logan is delightful as the beautiful and headstrong Galatea in this philosophical comedy, and Bobby Brown is equally enjoyable to watch as the bumbling, not-a-clue Pygmalion. Logan plays a similar part in Narcissus and Tiresia by Sammy Scott, directed by Morgan Picton, in which Narcissus (Sam Johnson) hates everyone in the world because people are ugly but Tiresia has an improbably cure for his condition.These plays are all locally written and produced. The writers are associated with The Northwest Playwrights Alliance, which was founded right here in Olympia by Bryan Willis and now operates out of the Seattle Repertory Theatre.
For another comedy based on a totally improbable premise, look no further than the first play of the evening, Second Windby Dan Erickson, directed by the duo of Vanessa Postil and Mark Alford of Harlequin Production’s improve comedy troupe Something Wicked. Valerie (Stephanie Kroschel) is a woman who goes to her doctor (Debbie Sampson) for a checkup. Her tests all come back showing she’s in good health, but the doctor is worried about something else, to wit, there is a man in a swivel chair attached to her by a rope tied around her waist. Apparently the cure needs to be something more than simply untying the rope. I will not spoil it any further by divulging who the man is other than to say that he is famous. Bobby Brown plays the man in the swivel chair and Dennis Worrell plays another character named Tuttle who is rather disruptive to say the least.Improbabilities stack up with skits about people in therapy, or who should probably be in therapy. For example: Amy (Sara Geiger). Amy believes she is living in a Broadway musical. Or, more accurately, a life comprising songs from many musicals. This one was written by Andrew Gordon, is directed by Mark Alford, and also features Jodie Chapin, Maxwell Schilling and Worrell again.  My choice of the most hilarious play of the evening is Guido in Therapy by Beth Peterson and directed by the team of Alford and Postil. This one features Aaron Bredlau as the therapist, Sampson as the patient, Beth, and the unconquerable Ryan Holmberg as Guido. Beth is in therapy because she has an inappropriate relationship with her cat. She takes pet love to a whole new level. Guido is the cat, and Holmberg has the cat moves down perfect — the scratching, the licking, the grooming. I may never see another cat video without thinking of him.Other one-acts filling out the evening are Next Stop: Reckoning by Marcy Rodenborn, directed by Elizabeth Lord; Temperature on Mercury by Bryan Willis, directed by Christian Carvajal; and Scent of a Man by Solomon Olmstead, directed by Pug Bujeaud.
Aug. 28, 29,30,31 and Sept. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m., Sept. 7 at 2:30 p.m., The Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia St.
Tickets: $12.00. Available at door night of show or online at
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Wupatki National Monument, The Grand Canyon and Sedona

Judith Baumann - Play - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:21am

In October 2013, I was invited to give a lecture about my work to students and faculty at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. It was a wonderful experience. NAU has well cared for facilities and Flagstaff and the surrounding area is an adventurer’s dream. Here are images from an overnight to the Grand Canyon, including Wupatki National Monument and a day hike to Sedona, a New Age Mecca.







The Grand Canyon at the South Rim. We arrived in the late afternoon and stayed through sunset. The light was beautiful. We returned early the next morning and hiked several miles along the rim, taking the shuttle to various points of interest. It was so beautiful. Every turn in the path revealed even more spectacular views. The bright, flat light and slight haze made taking photographs difficult, however.






The following day’s hike:





Sedona at one of the Vortexes. Yes, there were white girls doing yoga on top of giant rocks. Yes, I laughed.






Camping outside of phoenix in a beautiful State Park. Sunrise over Saguaros!! Magic.



Here we are now in Olympia (Charles Cross left something out of Kurt Cobain's cities)

Olympia Time - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 5:33am
Here We Are Now by Charles Cross is a fascinating book. Twenty years after Kurt Cobain's suicide, Cross takes a look at how Nirvana and Cobain changed the world, from music to our own region to how we talk about suicide.

For me, the most fascinating chapter was where Cross took a look at the towns most associated with Cobain, his birthplace in Aberdeen and the city he's most associated with, Seattle. Of course, Olympia is in that mix too. Cross' own biography of Cobain includes five chapters set in Olympia, spanning arguably Cobain's most formative years between 1987 and 1991.

Screen shot of Nirvana - Live in OlympiaBut, in this trio, Olympia has always been the silent partner. Olympia isn't like Aberdeen, it isn't the town that he was born in, isn't the town that is the source of Cobain's legendary youthful angst. It also isn't Seattle, a town with a profile large enough to envelope Cobain's legend as soon as it was ready.

Cross seems to acknowledge this silent partnership when he mentions Olympia only in passing in his chapter on how Seattle and Aberdeen have been impacted by Cobain twenty years on. In this chapter, Olympia is a bridge between Cobain's Aberdeen roots and his false association with Seattle. At least using Cross' logic, if Aberdeen spit Cobain out and Seattle sucked him up (once he was good and famous), Olympia was the only place Cobain was truly at home as an artist.

But, that is a pretty over-wrought statement.

Cross in Here We Are Now wasn't making a point about what city impacted Cobain the most. He covered that in Heavier Than Heaven. In this most recent book, the equation is the opposite, what city was most impacted by Cobain?

And, it is worth asking that question about Olympia.

So, if Aberdeen has finally come to terms with their troubled product and have embraced him as a part of their own culture. And, Seattle has become one and the same with a certain type of everyman do it yourself music culture. What is Olympia's Cobain impacted legacy? How did 1987 through 1991 and Kurt Cobain impact Olympia?

Saint Martin’s University Gears Up for #GivingTuesday 2014

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


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beat Happening, Girl Band, I Love You

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

The Shivas – Manson Girls!

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

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

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



By Gail Wood

olympia private school

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

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

She wanted them to learn about their Catholic faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia catholic school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia private school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Piano Tuner John Grace Sees Past His Disability

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



By Tali Haller

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

olympia piano tuner

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia piano tuner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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