Recent local blog posts

Redfin Brings Customer-driven, Technology-based Realty to Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 6:44am




Sheila Bueche is an Olympia-based realtor with Redfin, a Washington-based, customer-driven, technology-focused real estate company.

Summer may be winding down, but the real estate market in Thurston County is robust. According to recent data, the median price of homes is up 7.5 percent from last year and total sales are up 20 percent. This means there are a lot of people in the market and many of them have discovered a new way to buy or sell their home. They’ve found the technology-powered real estate brokerage called Redfin.

Sheila Bueche first discovered Redfin in 2008. She was an Olympia-based real estate agent during the start of the recession. In order to weather the economic downturn, she followed real estate opportunities to Arizona. It was there that she first discovered Redfin.

“I worked with Redfin agents for the first time and was really impressed,” Bueche said. “I started using with my clients and continued to do so when I moved back to Olympia while working for a local broker. At that time Redfin did not have a local office.”

Based in downtown Seattle, Redfin operates in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The brokerage works with buyers and sellers in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, as well as Bainbridge Island. Expanding to Thurston County was a natural progression.

“When I found out there was an opportunity to join Redfin as an Olympia/Thurston County agent, I didn’t think twice about it,” Bueche said.

The Redfin Difference: Technology, Customer Service and Savings

When Bueche talks about what impressed her enough about Redfin to join its new Olympia office, she says there are three main features that caught her attention.

First, she says that Redfin is reinventing real estate with its incredible technology. “Redfin is now the most popular brokerage website in the U.S. We have powerful tools, like ‘Book It Now,’ which allows clients to instantly schedule home tours online,” she explained “We have a team approach and this tool helps us maintain organization.”

The other Redfin tool Bueche believes is changing the business is ‘Hot Homes,’ a feature that highlights newly listed homes that are likely to sell quickly. To create Redfin ‘Hot Homes,’ Redfin data scientists developed a mathematical formula, or algorithm, that analyzes hundreds of attributes about the homes themselves, such as square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The algorithm also layers in buyers’ preferences for those attributes. “Tools such as ‘Book It Now’ and ‘Hot Homes’ are especially useful in our competitive market, and this technology gives buyers an edge over the competition,” Bueche said.

Redfin Listing

Prospective home buyers and sellers enjoy working with Redfin due to its high level of customer service and the money they save.

Saving Money at Closing

Redfin has a fee structure that is different from traditional brokers. When you sell your home with a Redfin agent, you pay only a 1.5 percent listing fee, rather than the usual 2 to 3 percent. When you buy with a Redfin agent, you are refunded a portion of the buyer’s agent commission, saving you thousands at closing. Redfin agents receive a salary and high-end health benefits, as well as bonuses based on customer satisfaction. Every client is surveyed, whether a deal closes or not, and every review is published on

“Some clients prefer to work with one agent,” Bueche explained, “and others have a few that they work with. We are very flexible and our clients just love that. The team-based approach means that someone is always available and that our clients feel catered to.”

High Level of Services

Bueche says whether a customer is already familiar with Redfin or simply stumbles upon the company’s website for the first time, homebuyers and sellers choose to work with Redfin agents because they love the high level of customer service they receive and the money that they save.

“Once someone goes on a tour, we begin relationship building,” Bueche said. “And, yes, the market is hot and homes are selling within two weeks, but we are very patient when it comes to someone’s search for a home. We understand that the process can take months, but finding the right home is worth it. This is what I mean by relationship building. It is very important to me, and it is very important to Redfin.”

Buying or selling your home is a big decision, which is why knowing that you’re in experienced, caring hands through the process is important. If you are in the market to sell or buy a new home, Redfin invites you to explore its website (no registration required), connect with a real estate agent, and schedule a tour of what could be your next home.

For more information about Redfin, its agents and Olympia-area homes for sale, visit Redfin online or call 888-973-3346.


Timberline’s Hannah Barker Lives up to Expectations in the Pool and the Classroom

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/09/2015 - 6:33am



By Gail Wood

infernos pizzaHer potential was obvious.

Before Hannah Barker swam in her first meet for Timberline High School last year as a freshman, before she even showed up to her first high school practice, she was already fast enough with her club team to qualify for state.

The question that remained to be answered was: Could this young swimmer keep the pedal down? Could she fulfill her potential? Or would she be cocky, over confident and not work hard? The answer came quickly.

Hannah Barker stands next to a display showing the 6 school records she set during her freshman year.

Hannah Barker stands next to a display showing the 6 school records she set during her freshman year.

“Hannah is a hard worker,” said Marie Ratcliff, Timberline’s swim coach. “She knows if she puts in the work, she’s going to get results.”

With her relentless work ethic – she trains year around and completes two-a-day workouts during the high school season – Barker broke four individual school records and swam in two relays breaking school records last year. That’s six school records. And she qualified for state in four events.

And all when she was a freshman.

“Being in club swimming for 8 ½ years helped,” Barker said. “I knew I had the potential to become a state swimmer, so I wanted to do my best and not to be cocky.”

Barker is anything but cocky. She’s confident and driven.

“My parents and my coaches would know I’m coasting, that I need to go faster,” Barker said. “They would tell me you are not doing your best. That is not what you are capable of. I want to do my best, so I can keep the pedal down and not stop.”

And Barker’s success in the pool hasn’t been a distraction in the classroom. She’s a 4.0 student with her last “B” earned in grade school. Her commitment in the pool has a spillover effect to the classroom.

“Swimming taught me how to create great time management,” Barker said. “I’ve learned how to manage my time.”

The Timberline Swim Team is full of talent, placing 16th in State last year and aiming to top that this year.

The Timberline High School swim team is full of talent, placing 16th in State last year and aiming to top that this year.

And she’s had to. With her busy schedule – three days a week she’s in the pool at 5:30 a.m. swimming with the Evergreen Swim Club for a 90-minute workout – it’s been sink or swim with her school work. There’s little time for goofing around. She’ll maybe watch television two to three hours a week, not a day as some teens do.

“I’m busy, but I’m used to it,” she said.

Barker is fish-like in the pool. No one has swum faster in the 43-plus years of Timberline’s existence. Her school records are in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.7), 100 freestyle (55.9), 500 freestyle (5:12) and the 100 backstroke (1:02.6). She swam a leg on two record-breaking relays – the 200 freestyle relay (1:46.8) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:56.3) as well.

Three of the four legs on those school-records relay teams return. Joining Barker, there’s Payten Goodwin and Elaine Rocamora. The fourth leg, Rebecca Thomas, has graduated.

Coach Ratcliff is known for pushing the team to work hard at each and every practice and it shows in their outstanding race results.

Coach Ratcliff is known for pushing the team to work hard at each and every practice and it shows in their outstanding race results.

Timberline, placing 16th at 4A state last year, is again loaded with talent. Another school-record holder returns for the Blazers to join Barker as well as Marie Dhanens, school record holder in 11-meter diving with a score of 318.85.

Goodwin is inspired by Barker’s work ethic.

“She’s one of our best,” Goodwin said. “I admire her so much. Being so young and having so much success so quickly was amazing. She really embodies what it means to be a swimmer. She’s all hard work, all talent. She’s just really good at what she does.”

Radcliff, in her fourth season as the girls head coach, has a reputation for being a task master, pushing her swimmers to work harder. Yet she’s not all grit and go and leaves room for fun. The team has lots of out-of-the-pool get-togethers such as bowling, laser tag, the RAC obstacle course and eating pizza.

“She reminds us where we are and who we are,” said Goodwin, a team captain. “When she’s pushing us she’ll tell us the season isn’t as long as we think it is. She always tells us we have to push hard.”

Hannah Barker is looking forward to a strong second season swimming for the Blazers.

Hannah Barker is looking forward to a strong second season swimming for the Blazers.

However Ratcliff, a 1999 North Thurston High School graduate who swam at state, isn’t just seeing success in the pool. She was also named “Teacher of the Year” in her role as Health and Physical Education teacher at Timberline last year.

“Coach pushes us harder than we think we can go. It all takes hard work. It was so exciting to break the record last year,” said Rocamora of her participation on the record-breaking relay team.

With the get-togethers, Ratcliff has created what she calls a family.

“We are a huge family,” said Ratcliff. “We’re very, very close. It’s crazy how close these girls are.”

Contributing to the family atmosphere is Ratcliff’s dad, Stan Ratcliff, who serves as her assistant coach. John Meyer, a long-time Timberline coach, works with the divers.

“We joke that I have the two old men on the deck and I get paid to yell at them,” Ratcliff said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun.”

For Ratcliff, who has worked as a juvenile correctional officer before getting into teaching and coaching, it’s all about doing the hard work.

“These girls will tell you I push them. I have huge expectations,” Ratcliff said. “I’m not a real, I guess, touchy, feely, big talker type of coach. Do the work. You’ll see the results. That’s how I roll. They know that.”

Hannah Barker knows, as do her teammates.  And with recent results in the pool, it’s obviously a winning formula for the Blazers.


Marcia Fromhold Joins Providence St. Peter Foundation Board of Directors

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:28am



Submitted by Providence St. Peter Foundation 

Marcia Fromhold was elected to the Providence St. Peter Foundation board of directors, and will serve a three-year term.

Marcia Fromhold was elected to the Providence St. Peter Foundation board of directors, and will serve a three-year term.

Providence St. Peter Foundation announced today that Marcia Fromhold was elected to its board of directors, and will serve a three-year term. Fromhold has spent much of her professional career in the field of education, having spent time as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in Washington school districts, as well as advocating for stronger education in Washington State. Fromhold has also served the community as a board member supporting many organizations including South Puget Sound Community College Foundation, Olympia Symphony Orchestra, and more.

Compassionate health care is also of long-time importance for Fromhold. Marcia’s husband, former four-term Washington state representative Bill Fromhold, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in February 2010 and passed away seven months later. Marcia expressed her appreciation, “The people of Providence cared for Bill, and for me and my family throughout his treatment.  I am so grateful that during one of the most difficult times of our lives we could experience the Mission of Providence in such a deeply personal way.”

Foundation Executive Director, Peter Brennan, welcomed Fromhold to the board, saying, “I look forward to working with Marcia on major programs that affect the health of our entire community.”Fromhold joins a board of 28 committed individuals from a variety of backgrounds and professional fields.

Retiring from the board after a combined 30 years of service are Dan Davidson, D.D.S., and Jay Rudd, M.D.  In his 18 years on the board, Dr. Davidson has been a generous volunteer, board member, board president and event sponsor.  Dr. Rudd joined the board in 2003, and he and his wife, Carla, served multiple times as Christmas Forest co-chairs –years that resulted in great growth in the event.


Providence St. Peter Foundation develops and provides philanthropic resources that help assure that compassionate and quality health care is available to the communities we serve, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. In the last three years, the foundation has distributed more than $4.6 million to local Providence ministries including St. Peter Hospital, SoundHomeCare and Hospice, and Mother Joseph Care Center.  Learn more at


Olympia’s Recycling and Yard Waste Drop-off Site at a New Location

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:25am



Submitted by The City of Olympia

Effective Saturday, September 5, 2015, the Saturday Drop-off Site will be located ½ mile north on Eastside Street from the previous location, at 1000 10th Avenue SE.

The acceptance list and charges will remain the same. We accept yard debris and waste for a fee and clean scrap metal and traditional recyclables for free. You can visit our website for additional information along with a map to the new location at .  Saturday drop-off is open each Saturday through November 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Guidelines for what is accepted at the drop-off location are listed below.

Recycle Non-Appliance and Clean Scrap Metal

Are you cleaning out your barn or garden shed? Have any metal waste, such as tools, fencing, fenders, wheels, posts, tanks, wire, car parts or outdoor furniture? Bring them to Olympia’s Saturday Drop-off Site, where we accept clean, non-appliance scrap metal. There is no fee for scrap metal disposal. Please note the following:

  • All plastic must be removed.
  • No fluids or gasses of any kind. For safety reasons, an attendant will check that all units containing oil, hydraulics or transmission fluids, gasoline, other fuels or gasses, etc., have been properly   drained or otherwise cleaned. See the web site listed below for more information.
  • Sorry, no paint cans or batteries.
  • No refrigerators, microwaves, television sets, washing machines or other appliances.

Yard Debris and Waste

Olympia residents may bring grass, garden clippings, prunings, brambles, brush, and branches. Wood is also acceptable as long as it is untreated and unpainted (nails are okay). Rates are assessed on load size and type of material, cash and check accepted. Customers are required to unload their own vehicles, so bring only what you can physically handle.

Traditional Recyclables

Do you have extra recycling from a special clean out, a recent move, or simply more than your cart can hold? Olympia garbage customers can now bring their extra recyclables at no charge to the Saturday Drop-off Site:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum and tin cans
  • Plastic bottles, jugs, dairy tubs
  • Plastic rigid flower pots
  • Plastic buckets
  • Glass bottles and jars


Return of the Reading Buddies

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 10:18am



Submitted by The United Way of Thurston County

Amber Mark, Branch Manager at Anchor Bank in Lewis County, is a Reading Buddy.  Amber meets with her students once a week.  She enjoys seeing them build reading confidence and building confidence.

Amber Mark, Branch Manager at Anchor Bank in Lewis County, is a Reading Buddy. Amber meets with her students once a week. She enjoys seeing them build reading confidence and building confidence.

The school bell is about to ring and United Way’s Reading Buddy program is ready to go – Back to School! Now in its fourth year, the program, places Reading Buddy volunteers with elementary school students who need extra reading practice. Our local schools welcome community engagement. Last school year, we placed 125 Reading Buddies in 8 districts, 24 schools in 3 counties. But we need more.

Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states nationwide, and phased in over the last several years in Washington State, was fully implemented in Language Arts and Math and the first full year of Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing is in the books. It is known that Common Core levels the student playing field. Using this approach standardizes year end proficiency that each student must achieve per grade level whether you live in Arkansas or Washington. The SBA testing emphasizes real life demonstration and application of concept proficiency in Language Arts and Math. The goal is to align our students with learning aptitudes and principles in place around the globe. The overarching goal is that the new learning standards will better prepare students when leaving high school, to compete for college and the job market in a global economy.

Our schools worried that with new testing there may have been a back slide with test scores. But the first round of testing beat predictions with higher than expected numbers. While our schools are working very hard, adopting new programs to aid more students to reach graduation, they still need community volunteer help.
Reading Buddies can help our schools and students close the achievement gap. Their one on one and small group tutoring aligns with supporting their goals. When students read at grade level by 3rd grade, they are 4 times more likely to graduate on time.

Once strictly a part of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program sponsored by United Way of Thurston County, college students and working adults are getting involved. Businesses such as Anchor Bank, Townsend Security, WSECU and Umpqua Bank provide their employees paid time off to serve their community. Amber Mark, Branch Manager at Anchor Bank in Lewis County, is a Reading Buddy. Amber meets with her students once a week. She enjoys seeing them build reading confidence and building confidence.

Being a Reading Buddy is a simple way to serve while making a great impact. Another reading buddy shared, “We all think someone else will take care of our communities problems, but who is that someone else? It’s us, it’s all of us.” About an hour a week during the school year is all it takes. Please join us at our upcoming orientations to learn more about this viable cause. You too can make a difference.

September orientation dates are set in Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties. We aim for a start date of October 1st after teachers have completed student assessments. For more information, call Jennifer Thompson, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Coordinator serving Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties at 360-943-2773, ext. 21 or email



Tumwater Automotive Shares how Primary Fluids Keep Vehicles Safe and Efficient

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 8:59am



Submitted by Brett Hardcastle for Tumwater Automotive

tumwater automotive

Brett and Denise Hardcastle own neighboring businesses Tumwater Automotive and Tumwater Auto Spa, keeping your vehicle looking good and running well.

Your vehicle uses several types of fluids to operate safely and efficiently. Two of the primary fluids are motor oil and coolant (antifreeze). That’s why these two critical fluids are monitored on your instrument panel.

Motor oil cools your engine, seals your engine from dirt, lubricates to prevent wear, and keeps impurities like moisture in suspension. If you lose your oil pressure you may only have a few seconds to shut your engine down before major damage occurs. Motor oils have additives that burn off with use, especially at high temperatures. Failure to change your oil in many vehicles causes sludge. Not maintaining your oil within your owner’s manual recommended limits can get expensive – very expensive.

Your engine coolant, also known as anti-freeze, comes in a very close second place in importance to your oil. If your engine overheats, turn off the engine before damage occurs. Your engine coolant plays a critical part in removing heat from your engine. There is enough heat in your engine cylinders to actually melt the metal in your engine. The only reason your engine does not melt down or seize up is because your coolant is so great at removing that heat quickly from critical areas. It is the job of your radiator, water pump, hoses and thermostat to control and move this critical fluid properly so it can do its job the way the vehicle designers intended. Any flaw in this system can put you and your vehicle on the side of the road with steam coming out from under the hood.

Failure to keep your coolant fresh and vital can be costly to your engine. Ask your shop the cost of a new or rebuilt engine and/or internal parts and you’ll find out about the saying, “…ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.”

So, if you see your engine temperature gauge go up higher than it usually does, see the engine heat light come on or see other signs like steam from under the hood of your vehicle get it looked at right away. Stop as soon as it is safe to do so and call for help or a tow truck.

Warm summer temperature damage can show up later in the cold of winter. Check your vehicle now for safe fall and winter driving. That includes new belts and hoses.

tumwater auto spa

Tumwater Auto Spa is located next to Tumwater Automotive on Capitol Blvd.

We are prepared to help you.

  1. We will alert you to needed maintenance and repairs.
  2. We will listen to you and your car, using our trained knowledge, searching for the little things before they grow to be big problems.
  3. We have the equipment to service today’s sophisticated vehicles.
  4. We have the years of experience, training and access to the information to avoid the inconveniences along the road.

Just give us a call and trust us to treat you and your vehicle as part of the Tumwater Automotive family – a legacy of caring for others. We pick you up and take you back to work or home five days a week. And, we’re nice people too!

Feel free to call us for advice. Many of your co-workers already do.

Visit us online at and
Brett Hardcastle is the owner of Tumwater Automotive, located at 6020 Capitol Blvd. SE. Brett and his staff can be reached at (360) 943-9097, Mon-Fri – 7:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. with free shuttle to and from home or work. Visit our Tumwater Auto Spa Car Wash next door to keep your vehicle looking good and running great – inside and out.

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 8:01am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

Prince is Adopt-A-Pet's Dog of the Week.

Prince is Adopt-A-Pet’s Dog of the Week.

Meet Prince, a 9 year old Beagle. Don’t let that smile fool you, Prince has recently had some heartache when his loving owner died and Prince had to come live with us at the shelter. He has adjusted quickly to his new environment but his heart wants to have his very own family again.

Prince is a sweet loving boy who really enjoys car rides so he can look out the windows to see everything. He does well on leash when he goes for walks around the neighborhood. He loves kids, belly rubs, and Netflix movies while he is snuggled up beside you on the sofa where he can catch those stray pieces of popcorn that you drop. A secure fenced back yard would be wonderful for this boy.

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

Stillwater Dental Wellness Center: “Give me a Botox injection after you clean my teeth!”

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 6:00am



olympia dentist

Dr. James Telloian opened his first practice in Tumwater in 1990. He moved to the current Black Lake location in 2005.

Lately I’ve noticed that more and more dentists are offering a variety of cosmetic dentistry options, from teeth whitening to Botox and Juvederm. When I stopped in to see Dr. Jim Telloian at Stillwater Dental Wellness Center I just had to ask him why he offers Botox and Juvederm to patients, products once reserved for the dermatologist’s office, not the dentist.

He explained, “Let’s talk about Juvederm first. It is a facial filler, developed specifically for the lip and mouth area. It is a smooth gel injected using an ultra-fine needle. The gel fills in lip lines and wrinkles, but the injections are painful. The bonus of having our team do it is we can get you numb first, which we do very well.”

Dr. Telloian adds that dentists are also highly trained in facial anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology of the products. This advance training in the oral and maxillofacial areas (chin to forehead) makes dentists well suited to delivering these products to patients.

He explained that Juvederm is a great supplement to cosmetic dentistry, so when he makes someone’s teeth look younger he can help their face look younger too, but he won’t overdo it.

Dr. Telloian first started offering Botox at his wife’s suggestion. Most people have their teeth cleaned every six months, and that is the same timing for Botox and fillers, like Juvederm. It is easy to have everything done at once, in one spot. “After my wife asked us to start offering it, I took some classes and have been offering it ever since. It is one more thing we can offer here that makes people look great,” he said.

To learn more about Botox, Juvederm, call Stillwater Dental Wellness Center at 360-352-0847.


Thicker than Water: The Gift of Friendship Saves a Life

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

volkswagenKailyn McIrvin is no stranger to Puget Sound-area hospitals — she’s been a frequent visitor of them most of her life. At age 13, Shelton native Kailyn was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency (OTC). OTC affects the way proteins are broken down by the liver and causes excruciating headaches, fatigue, nausea and encephalopathy (a broad term for brain disease). Since her teen years, Kailyn has been prescribed a variety of medications to help control these symptoms with very little success.

Life-long friends, Kailyn McIrvin and Jaime Cuzick, will undergo the first adult living donor liver transplant at UW Medical Center later this fall.

Life-long friends, Kailyn McIrvin (left) and Jaime Cuzick (right), will undergo the first adult living donor liver transplant at UW Medical Center later this fall.

After years of dealing with the ongoing effects of OTC, Kailyn started on her search to find a permanent solution. “Brain scans were showing damage from my high ammonia levels,” says Kailyn. “It seemed to just be getting worse every time I had to visit the ER.”

Tired of frequent emergency room visits, Kailyn and her family traveled across the country to Washington D.C. in search of a solution. They met with a team of doctors willing to examine Kailyn and provide some insight into her condition. By the end of the trip, the option of a liver transplant deemed the most successful for her future.

There were two possible options for Kailyn’s liver transplant. The first option was the use of a cadaver liver, which included waiting on a lengthy list for a donor and dealing with the risk of an organ that didn’t work properly. The other option was to find a living donor — someone willing to go under the knife and give a fraction of his or her own liver to Kailyn.

“My family stepped up right away,” says Kailyn. “My mom, dad and sister all wanted to be tested to see if they were a match.” Unfortunately, doctors advised against this. “Doctors warned that the recovery time for the donor would be difficult and to have two patients in one house might not be the best idea,” Kailyn recalls.

While Kailyn and her family weren’t sure what to do, the solution was clear to Kailyn’s life-long friend and Shelton neighbor, Jaime Cuzick. “Jaime was with me when we found out about the option of a living donor, and I could see the lightbulb go off in her head,” says Kailyn.

“Before going to the appointment, I started thinking about how I could help with the process,” says Jaimie, friends with Kailyn since childhood and living just down the road from each other in their current Shelton neighborhood. “Kailyn asked me to be her caretaker after surgery, and I was more than happy to do that. I just wanted to do the best thing possible for Kailyn whether it was caretaker or donor,” she adds. “When the doctor said the best option would be a living donor, I knew what I needed to do.”

After countless appointments and evaluations, Jaime turned out to be a nearly perfect match for the transplant. “There aren’t very many qualifiers to be a donor,” says Jaimie. “Blood type and anatomy are the biggest pieces that matter. Kailyn and I have very similar body types and we share blood types. At that point, I knew I had to talk to my husband.”

Kailyn’s reaction to the news was emotional. “When Jaime told me she wanted to donate her liver, I started to cry,” says an emotional Kailyn. “I tried not to cry in front of a room full of people, but it was hard to hold it back. It’s such a gift to be willing to give. It is really going to change my life.”

 Cooper Studios.

Jaimie Cuzick will give the gift of life to life-long friend, Kailyn McIrvin, by donating a portion of her liver.
Photo credit: Cooper Studios.

This adult living liver donor transplant will be the first ever performed at the UW Medical Center. “Our surgeon is from Canada,” says Kailyn. “This isn’t his first time doing this transplant. He has built a team at UW for living donor transplants. These types of transplants are done a lot at children’s hospitals. It will just be the first one performed for adults at UW. It’s pretty cool to be a part of their medical history.” The surgery is scheduled for October 5, 2015.

There are risks involved with the surgery and recovery time will be long. If the surgery has zero complications, the two friends will spend seven to ten days in the hospital before being released to a transplant house near UW where they will both live for several weeks, in case any complications arise.

Fundraising is in full effect for Kailyn and Jaimie. With post-transplant treatment, there will be a multitude of expenses. Nearly $35,000 will be needed to cover loss of work, medications, and day-to-day living expenses. The friends have a transplant fundraising team that has already hosted a successful garage sale and they’ve also coordinated an auction, which will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

“Our families are very supportive,” says Jaimie. “I have two kids. I know the risks. I also know about the scar and recovery. I also know this is what I want to do for Kailyn.”

To help support Kailyn and Jaimie during their road to recovery visit: or take part in the fundraising auction happening on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Tickets are $25 each. Visit Jaimie and Kailyn’s Facebook page for details.  

Olympia Celebrates Harbor Days 2015

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/07/2015 - 6:00am



The 42nd annual Harbor Days celebration filled the boardwalks of Percival Landing and waterways of Budd Bay this Labor Day weekend. Crafts, artisans, live music, and of course, boats provided 3 days of family fun for Thurston County families.  The festivities culminated in the popular tugboat races showcasing the power and beauty of working tugs.  Thanks to Shanna Paxton Photography for capturing the fun and spirit of this Olympia tradition. Thank you also to readers Diane Waiste and Drew Phillips for contributing photos.

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Kids and Plants Thrive at the Dirt Works Children’s Garden

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Eric Belgau

sunset airThis story begins at the end, with my daughter, Franny – age 6 – coming into the house with a bunch of freshly picked tomatoes from our garden and asking if she can donate them to the Thurston County Food Bank.  I blame the fairies.

Every year, the Master Gardeners of Thurston County run a Children’s Garden at Yauger Park’s Dirt Works community garden.  For eight weeks, participants in this free program learn about everything from beneficial critters to compost and spend an hour a week harvesting food from the demonstration garden.  The Master Gardeners donate that food to the Thurston County Food Bank, providing a steady stream of high-quality, garden-fresh fruits and vegetables to needy families in our area.

Franny wins the competition to harvest a kohlrabi.

Franny wins the competition to harvest a kohlrabi.

If my kids are any indication, the students jump in with both dirty feet.

The classes themselves are as fun as play time, something the program’s organizers make a top priority.  Months in advance, volunteers begin planning games, craft projects, lessons, and even opportunities to dress up in costumes.  The results speak for themselves.  Whether it’s origami in the garden or a class about snakes (which my son Stephen, age five, talked about for weeks), the sessions blend learning with doing, keeping kids engaged while enriching their knowledge of both horticulture and health.

The class about Fairies, Franny’s favorite, made the garden magical.  We now have an elaborate fairy home under our fig tree, where real live fairies are, presumably, very happy.

But it’s the focus on produce – and production – that makes the program so special, and will keep us coming back summer after summer.  Harvest time at the Children’s Garden is full of excitement.  The discovery of a bean, hidden behind leaves, thrills even the older students when the pods first begin to appear.  When a big beet (or carrot, or radish) comes out of the ground, it’s cause for celebration.  And pulling a kohlrabi makes the younger kids swell with accomplishment.

The Dirt Works Children’s Garden combines fun with learning.

The Dirt Works Children’s Garden combines fun with learning.

The harvest buckets fill with lettuce heads and kale, root veggies, cucumbers, those sometimes-elusive beans – even edible flowers like borage and geranium.  When one reaches the brim, students jockey for the privilege of carrying it over to the harvest table where volunteers sort, weigh, and package everything, preparing it for the Food Bank.

Then it’s watering time. Students play with the two greatest toys ever invented:  water and dirt.  They run around with watering cans, saturating the garden beds, while volunteers pass out pointers –“water the roots, not the leaves” – that benefit even the adult novice gardeners who stand watching nearby.

In this year of hot weather and record-breaking harvests, the Children’s Garden grew 900 pounds of produce for the Food Bank.  That’s high-quality nutrition, something the beneficiaries of assistance programs often don’t see.  The value of that contribution isn’t lost on the children who participate.  It gives them a sense of community.  They earn a sense of accomplishment.  They become smarter around the table at home.

The Master Gardeners benefit as well.  A “Master Gardener” is a community volunteer, trained through the WSU extension to educate their communities about land stewardship, sustainable practices, and the health benefits of gardening.  By participating in the program, Master Gardener volunteers gain access to the WSU knowledge bank, a premier agricultural resource that helps them become better gardeners – and better teachers.

Stephen holds a harvest bucket up for all to see.

Stephen holds a harvest bucket up for all to see.

It’s all about cultivation, whether it be of plants, people, or whole communities.

These volunteers are active in the community throughout the year.  Thurston County Master Gardeners operate three demonstration gardens – Dirt Works at Yauger Park, the Demonstration Garden at the Olympia Farmers Market, and Closed Loop Park at the Thurston County Landfill.  Volunteers staff clinics at the Olympia Farmers Market, Lacey Community Market, and at the Master Gardener office located just off Highway 101 on Harrison Blvd in West Olympia.  And a wide range of classes are available year round, from planting and cultivation tips to composting.

Next year, the Children’s Garden will be up and running once again in July and August, cultivating a new batch of future gardeners and a new harvest for the community.  As Cindy Cartwright, who facilitates the activities says, “All of us who help make this happen consider it a great honor and privilege to garden with children.  They are, after all, the gardeners of tomorrow.”

Check the ThurstonTalk events calendar or go to the Master Gardeners homepage for all upcoming Master Gardener events.  If you’re interested in becoming a master gardener, click here.  And to keep up to date on events planned for next year’s Children’s Garden, check this page regularly.


Brats, Brews and Bands — The Perfect Combo for End of Summer Fun

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

 Jeffery Ott.

We’d be lying if we said we’re going just for the music. Lots of craft beer will be on tap at the festival, along with a small selection of wines. Photo Credit: Jeffery Ott.

#IwantmyBBB. That’s the hashtag for this month’s Brats, Brews and Bands event — a trifecta of good food, drinks and music, all in the name of charity.

Taking place Saturday, Sept. 12, from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Brats, Brews and Bands will be held in and around the Student Union Building (Building 27) at South Puget Sound Community College. Tickets cost $10, and all proceeds go toward supporting local charities, some of which have an international reach.

Jerry Farmer, charter member and president of the Gateway Rotary (the group that organizes the event), says, “The reason why we do this is to earn money for local charities. Our motto is, ‘Service Above Self.’”

This is the rotary’s fourth year hosting the event and raising money for local, mostly youth-focused, charities. “[Donations] have been diverse and youth-focused,” explains Farmer. “Our idea being, if you help the youth of your community, you help the future of your community.”

Cool Jazz Clean Water, which provides shelter boxes to clean water projects in Africa and South America, Homeless Backpacks, Lacey Police Explorers, Rebuilding Together Thurston County, The Gold Star Wives of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County have all been supported by the event.

“Ultimately, we’re interested in investing in youth in a positive way,” affirms Farmer.

Exit 88 is one of nine bands to play the two-stage festival, Brats, Brews and Bands. Expect great rock 'n' roll and dancing. Photo courtesy of Exit 88.

Exit 88 is one of nine bands to play the two-stage festival, Brats, Brews and Bands. Expect great rock ‘n’ roll and dancing. Photo credit Barb Lemke.

Aside from being a charitable event, Brats, Brews and Bands stands out from other beer festivals in another way: the music.

Farmer says, “It’s nice to have a top-tier chef in charge of your brats — and for a $5 brat, it’s really gourmet — and all the brews are $5 for a glass or three tastes. But most importantly, we have bands.”

Exit 88 is one of the bands set to perform. With a set list chock-full of “all things rock,” event-goers will enjoy everything from AC/DC and old-school Stones covers to the band’s rendition of more modern rock hits.

The rest of the line-up, which includes eight other bands, is along a similar vein: rock ‘n’ roll originals and classic covers. Split between an outdoor and indoor stage, event-goers have the freedom to roam freely and enjoy live music from a variety of bands.

“Music is the glue that binds the event together,” says Eric Rowe, president-elect of Gateway Rotary and chairman of the event. “It’s a great chance to showcase local talent. Not to mention, what goes better with beer and brats?”

Gateway Rotary Club members show off their new Brats, Brews and Bands T-shirts. Join them Saturday, Sept 12, for an end-of-summer hurrah that helps benefit local youth.

Gateway Rotary Club members show off their new Brats, Brews and Bands T-shirts. Join them Saturday, Sept 12, for an end-of-summer hurrah that helps benefit local youth.

Speaking of which, this year’s brat-meister is Chef Ricardo from Ricardo’s Restaurant in Lacey.

While all the classic toppings like sauerkraut and onions will be on hand, Chef Ricardo has also created a signature “B3 Brat” for the event.

“It’s not every day you get one of South Sound’s top chefs to barbeque for a great fundraising event like Brats, Brews and Bands,” says Rowe.

Craft brews will pair nicely with the eats, and in the words of Farmer, the event is a great opportunity to have fun. “Have some brews, have some brats, hang out and enjoy a little bit of dancing,” he says.

Lodging for the event is available at nearby Red Lion Hotel. For reservations, call 360-292-0976. A special room rate applies with your paid ticket. Event tickets are $10, and tokens will be sold during the festival, which can be used to purchase brews, brats and soft drinks. Pie and Italian sodas will be available as well. In addition, your entry ticket is valid for a chance to win a door prize each hour.

 Jeffery Ott.

Craft beer paired alongside one of Chef Ricardo’s gourmet brats sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer. Photo Credit: Jeffery Ott.

Ticket information can be found online.

The Gateway Rotary Club is the newest club in Thurston County and will be 4-years-old come festival-time. Rotary is an international service club, open to all, whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. An informational booth will be present at the festival, or visit the Gateway Rotary’s website for more information.

Gateway Rotary wants to remind you, please drink responsibly — don’t drink and drive. Free coffee and soft drinks are available for designated drivers.

Don’t Let Bad Credit Hold You Back from Buying a Vehicle

Thurston Talk - Sun, 09/06/2015 - 6:00am



Qualifying for a car loan is the first step in getting behind the wheel on back on the road to good credit. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Qualifying for a car loan is the first step in getting behind the wheel on back on the road to good credit. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Life is expensive, and sometimes it’s hard to pay for it all. Between rent, mortgage payments, student loans, groceries, bills and the other necessities of life, sometimes those last few pennies just aren’t there. When the bills are more than you can pay, bad credit begins.

Whether you’re currently struggling to make ends meet or the ghost of bad credit continues to haunt you years after economic hardship, bad credit can make it hard to qualify for the loan necessary to make a large purchase. This is especially challenging when you need to purchase a new vehicle.

At Washington Auto Credit, Special Finance Director Ryan Garrison and his team work together with I-5 Cars dealerships, to help people with bad credit qualify for the loans needed to get back behind the wheel of new car, truck, jeep or SUV.

With limited public transportation available in and around Thurston County, a personal vehicle is almost always necessary. Whether you need your vehicle to commute to and from work or to haul the kids to soccer practice, Washington Auto Credit works with you, your budget, and your transportation needs to match you, and your family, with a vehicle you can afford — no matter your credit history.

Garrison says bad credit isn’t always a sign of financial delinquency. It’s usually a sign of hardship. “We often help people that have lost their job, had medical issues or went through a divorce,” explains Garrison. “These are people who used to be able to pay their bills on time, but they hit a rough patch and are trying to rebuild.”

Wanting to help people stuck between a rock and a hard place, Washington Auto Credit and I-5 Cars makes it their mission to help those enduring hardship get back on their feet — and the road. “We work on finding a loan based on what the customer can afford,” says Garrison. “We make sure the payment works with the customer’s budget.”

Bad credit doesn't have to hold you back from getting the vehicle you need to haul your family from point A to B. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Bad credit doesn’t have to hold you back from getting the vehicle you need to haul your family from point A to B. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Unlike most dealerships, Washington Auto Credit looks at the customer’s credit first to find out what loans the customer qualifies for before the customer steps on the lot. By doing this, customers don’t end up falling in love with a vehicle they can’t afford. “We try to figure out the numbers before the customer even looks at the car,” says Garrison. This saves the customer money, time and — usually — grief.

Once Washington Auto Credit determines the kind of loan the customer qualifies for, Garrison or another team member will narrow down the customer’s vehicle options based on the monthly payment and their transportation needs. While the final vehicle may not always be the customer’s first choice, it’s a start, and a great step toward establishing good credit.

Rebuilding credit doesn’t happen overnight, but Garrison says after one or two years of on-time car payments, customers re-apply for a better loan, which, could allow them to upgrade their rig or refinance. With this level of service and customer care, Garrison explains that many customers who start out with bad credit continue coming back to Washington Auto Credit even after their credit score improves. “We have lots of previous customers who don’t have to buy from a ‘bad credit car loan’ type of dealership because their credit has improved so much, but they liked working with us, so they come back,” he says.

Whether you need a car to commute to work, run errands, or shuttle your kids to and from soccer practice, Washington Auto Credit and I-5 Cars can help you get back in the driver's seat. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Whether you need a car to commute to work, run errands, or shuttle your kids to and from soccer practice, Washington Auto Credit can help you get back in the driver’s seat. Photo courtesy of Washington Auto Credit.

Washington Auto Credit and I-5 Cars invites Thurston County-area residents of all income levels and credit histories to meet with one of its finance experts. With payment plans that work with a variety of budgets, Washington Auto Credit doesn’t only help customers get behind the wheel, it helps customers on the road to better credit, one payment at a time.

Interested in applying for a car loan? Take the first step toward car ownership by visiting I-5 Cars or Washington Auto Credit online, or by calling Ryan Garrison and his team at 800-652-7115. If you would rather talk to the Washington Auto Credit team face to face, come see them in person at their South Sound Trucks Olympia.


Experience an Underwater Adventure at Hood Canal

Thurston Talk - Sun, 09/06/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

lucky dog casinoFor those unfamiliar with Hood Canal, the region is full of stunning views, amazing hikes and some of the best sunrises and sunsets in the Pacific Northwest. Above the water of the Hood Canal, glaciers recede, mountain goats pose and Olympic National Park begs to be explored. Fantastic restaurants, spas, hotels and camping line the shores sea level, though they seem few and far between thanks to the large swaths of nature in every direction. However, if you’re looking to explore one of Hood Canal’s most prized features, you’ll need to don your diving gear.

Nearly all the best dive spots on Hood Canal are right next to Highway 101! Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

Nearly all the best dive spots on Hood Canal are right next to Highway 101! Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

Below the surface of the Hood Canal exists and entire world dependent on the tides. And it isn’t just the spot shrimp, salmon, geoducks or the occasional orcas that are bringing in visitors. Scuba enthusiasts from around the world come to experience Hood Canal’s stunning dive areas, undersea animals and the local history that dwells within its chilly waters. Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from Highway 101, getting in the water is close and convenient.

However, despite being well-known among the scuba community as one of the premier diving destinations in the Pacific Northwest, few have ever experienced the underwater world of  the Hood Canal firsthand. Hoodsport N Dive can change that, though, thanks to the numerous certification classes it offers. With locations in both Olympia and Hoodsport, getting the information you need to begin your underwater journey is as easy as popping into one of Hoodsport N Dive’s two locations or browsing its detailed website.

For those already certified, there are dozens of destinations that are waiting to be explored, each offering views more unique than the last. From anemones and rockfish to wolf eels, squat lobster, octopus and more, it seems like there is a never-ending supply of awesomeness right below the surface of the Hood Canal.

Seeing a wolf eel on a dive is almost guaranteed. Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

Seeing a wolf eel on a dive is almost guaranteed. Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

For many, the most popular spot to go is Sund Rock, a destination boasting some of the best animals, underwater views and even a shipwreck. Located in the Sund Rock Marine Preserve, access to this destination is limited to those who go. The easiest access point is owned by Hoodsport N Dive who helps keep the area protected by charging a $16 fee. The fee is a drop in the bucket for what you get out of the experience. This area attracts both technical and recreation divers thanks to its location away from any currents.

“The fee goes into general maintenance of the site,” explains Anita Floyd, a scuba instructor at Hoodsport N Dive with more than 19 years of diving experience under her belt. “The fees help move rocks back into place after storms or large tides, parking lot upkeep, and maintaining the restroom.”

“Sund Rock is an incredible site to dive,” Anita adds. “There are four distinct locations. There is a shipwreck that is only 45–50 feet underwater, a large wall with wolf eels, a fishpond wall that is a 100-foot dive and the south wall that is known for Giant Pacific Octopus sightings.

While Sund Rock is a favorite Hood Canal dive spot, many divers get their start diving off of Potlatch State Park. Though Potlatch may lack the stunning sites of Sund Rock, it does have a steady sloping bottom that goes over one hundred feet deep. It also reveals a variety of creatures that live in the sand, including — but not limited to — starfish, sea pens and moon snails.

Wolf Eels can be up to six feet in length, and are common in Hood Canal. Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

Wolf Eels can be up to six feet in length, and are common in Hood Canal. Photo by Hoodsport N Dive.

Octopus Hole is another designated conservation area along Hood Canal that is incredibly popular among divers. Just three miles north of the popular community of Hoodsport, Octopus Hole is also one of the more accessible places to dive along Hood Canal. Offering stunning glimpses at octopuses, lingcod, wolf eels and more, diving the walls out there are easily accessible and free. This site is said to be great for all levels of certification.

Finally, one of the all-time classic diving spots along Hood Canal is called The Pinnacle. The destination here is a giant irregular rock. The rock is is approximately 80-feet-tall and is located four miles away from the Pleasant Harbor Marina. The Pinnacle is massive and is home to numerous large creatures that hang out in the waters of Hood Canal. Squat lobsters, crabs, wolf eels, rock fish and octopuses are commonly seen by the open water and advanced divers who explore the area.

Diving in Hood Canal is an adventure and one of the best experiences the Pacific Northwest has to offer. With stunning underwater views and incredible ways to enjoy the natural world above, it’s no wonder why those who know about the beauty in the region keep coming back. Where else in the world can you stand on the top of a summit to watch the sun rise over Mount Rainier and end the day watching the sunset over the waters you just explored? Only Hood Canal.




Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Sat, 09/05/2015 - 5:09pm
King Salmon on the Deschutes estuary     In early September in the Pacific NW we got some of the first deep soaking rains for several months.  A prolonged hot and dry series of months finally broke to an unseasonal fall storm, coming several weeks earlier than normal.
     Normally we moan about the rain, but nearly everyone I knew was profoundly grateful.  I could almost feel the trees drinking it up and the rain-washed leaves finally able to collect sunlight more efficiently. The amphibians started to move too: Glen and Nancy and I went out on a couple of very warm, rainy nights and watched tiny froglets leave the breeding pond for the winter woods.   Birds are starting to form winter guilds;  I watched chickadees, bushtits and nuthatches forage in a group, gleaning scale insects off of our Mock Orange.  The wheel of the season turns and this year it is rain that is turning that wheel.
     But that’s not all.
     For several weeks now, adult salmon have been coming in Puget Sound.  They head for the streams & rivers in which they were born and they wait for the right conditions to run the rivers.  Well, it turns out that rain triggers these movements:  the fresh rainwater cools the rivers, raises the water level and sends the strong unique scent of each river out into Puget Sound.  All these things make the migration possible.  So the salmon wait.
      Our local watershed is the Deschutes river and there are several types of salmon that are born in that river and return to it late in the summer.  There is a dam they have to pass through in order to get into the river, and they can only do so at high tide.  After the rains came this week, Nancy went to the dam and got these great pictures.  The salt water was unusually clear and almost teal-blue, no doubt because of the fresh rainwater coursing out of the dam.
     These are King (Chinook) salmon: the huge size, spotty blue-green backs and dark gums are distinctive to this species.  In late July into September, they leave the North Pacific ocean, head down the Straits of Juan de Fuca and into Puget Sound;   finally they head south to Olympia, to the Deschutes river where they were born.  A couple of hours before high tide, the dam closes, so they are forced to wait out the tidal cycle.  Today I went down at high tide and watched 60+ fish circling restlessly, trying to find a way through the dam and up into the impounded river.

     They don’t wait alone.  In the waters around the dam, Harbor Seals lurk.  Normally the fish can easily elude the seals, but in the enclosed waters near the dam, the seals are much more effective in catching them.  Here is a photo Nancy took: a Harbor Seal munching on its salmon catch, with a gull nearby hoping for scraps.

    Nor is it just the Harbor Seals that wait.  During the running of the salmon, there are always many people hanging over the rail, fascinated by this yearly event.

    Here are some sobering statistics:  a female salmon may lay as many as 4000 eggs, usually in a gravel bed nest or redd.  Of these eggs, maybe four will make it to adulthood and return to run the river to spawn.  What we see here are those rare survivors, returning once again to our waters, turning the wheel of life once again and bringing the promise of future generations.

Resources:  All photos by Nancy Partlow
Categories: Local Environment

Rainier Therapeutic Riding: Harnessing the Healing Power of Horses

Thurston Talk - Sat, 09/05/2015 - 7:30am



By Heidi Smith

van dorm sponsorEveryone at Rainier Therapeutic Riding wants one thing perfectly clear: despite the word ‘therapeutic’ in the title, the only psychiatrists on site are around sixteen hands high and weigh about 1,000 pounds.

“Nobody here is a trained psychologist,” says Gregory Neufeld, an army veteran of 22 years who did three tours in Iraq, two in Bosnia, and one in Afghanistan.  He started as a volunteer before completing the organization’s 8-week program, continuing to assist today. “No one will push you or say, ‘Tell me what you’ve been through.’ The horse is a therapist. I tell anybody who comes out here, ‘Tell it to the horse, brother.’”

Cheryl Corrigan is a certified P.A.T.H. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) trainer and the Herd Manager for Rainier Therapeutic Riding.

Cheryl Corrigan is a certified P.A.T.H. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) trainer and the Herd Manager for Rainier Therapeutic Riding.

The relationship between horse and human is at the core of the organization’s mission to facilitate physical and emotional healing for veterans and active duty military members suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and other combat-related issues. “It’s really all about establishing the connection,” says Executive Director Doug Pfeffer, recently retired after a 20+ year career in the U.S. Army.

Rainier Therapeutic Riding (RTR) leases space from Serenity Farm in Yelm, offering ample stables and a large arena. Local riders board their horses at the farm where they’re heavily vetted before being allowed to participate in the program. “Even our biggest horses are extremely gentle,” says Pfeffer. Similarly, all of RTR’s trainers are either certified or in the process of receiving certification through P.A.T.H. International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship).

The program is free for veterans, funded by a combination of grants, monies through the Wounded Warrior Project, and private donations. “The funding doesn’t go toward people’s salaries, it goes toward operations,” says Pfeffer. “When you talk about having to board the horses, feed, and everything that goes into general maintenance, all of that has to come from private funding.”

After volunteering with RTR, army veteran Gregory Neufeld went through the eight-week training and has continued to assist with the program.

After volunteering with RTR, army veteran Gregory Neufeld went through the eight-week training and has continued to assist with the program.

For the first half of training, participants never leave the ground, spending time on basic skills plus care and grooming. “As they progress through the program, they become more confident and the horses trust them, which is really what it comes down to – that trust, that bond that’s formed,” Pfeffer says.

By the end of the program, miraculous transformations have occurred, says Program Director Erin McMicheal. “We have some folks who come in here and either don’t want to or are unable to interact. In a lot of cases they’re overmedicated. They come in and they’re staring at their shoelaces and won’t make eye contact with anybody, won’t talk to anybody. By the end of the next week’s session, they’ve really come out of their shells. It’s nothing that we do; it’s really because of the horses. It’s amazing.”

Neufeld explains the transformation from a veteran’s perspective.  Her returned from his last deployment to discover his wife had bought a rescue horse, boarding it with a group of other highly trained horses. “But every time I got around them they were amped up,” he says. “They were not acting like well-trained horses at all. At some point the head trainer pulled me aside and said, ‘You understand that it’s you that’s making them like this.’”

The bond between horse and human is the heart of RTR's program. For the first four weeks, participants stay on the ground, only riding the horse when that connection is truly established.

The bond between horse and human is the heart of RTR’s program. For the first four weeks, participants stay on the ground, only riding the horse when that connection is truly established.

Going through RTR’s training, he came to understand how horses act as mirrors for humans’ attitudes and energy. “I love my dogs at home, but when I get nervous and maybe a little amped up, they get aggressive,” Neufeld explains. “When you get that way around a horse, they’re looking to get away.”

The tools Neufeld has learned translate into life beyond the stable. “When you’re working with a horse, you have to stop and think about what you’re doing before you do it,” he says.  If you’re riding and you want to turn left, you have to start thinking left before you get there. You have to learn to control your movements, your thoughts and your reactions. The horse is looking to you to be a leader.”

“My reaction to everything in fight or flight is, we’re going to fight, because that’s what I’m trained to do,” he continues. “But that doesn’t work here. It doesn’t work off this farm either. The training helps with how you react to everything around you. I can take a second and figure out what I’m going to do before I do it. It’s very, very helpful.”

In addition to the 8-week program, RTR occasionally offers intensive workshops, with participants flying in from all over the country. At a recent event Cheryl Corrigan, a P.A.T.H. Instructor and the organization’s Herd Manager, got to witness the culminating show.  “When the participants first arrived, they were very different from each other and were stand-offish,” she says. “They didn’t talk to each other and they would just work with their horses.”

But on the last day, participants perform an obstacle course demonstration. “Everybody went out individually and went over obstacles and they all watched each other,” she says. “They all cheered each other on. It was so inspiring to see. At the end they were all getting each other’s emails.”

At the end of each program, participants get a chance to demonstrate their skills to each other and their trainers.

At the end of each program, participants get a chance to demonstrate their skills to each other and their trainers.

The obstacle course is significant, she says, in how it relates to larger challenges. “If they can work with that horse to get through the obstacles, that helps them to get through obstacles in life.”

This year’s season will wrap up in October, with the winter focused on program development. One goal is creating trainings for families and children with special needs, says Pfeffer. “To expand the family program and expand community involvement, we need more community support.”

For any active duty or military veterans considering the program, Neufeld has a message. “Coming to a program like this does not mean that you’re broken. There’s nothing wrong with you,” he says. “PTS, I don’t want to call it a disorder. It’s not a disorder; it’s just a natural reaction to an incredibly stressful situation. There’s nothing wrong with you, coming out here to learn how to deal with your natural reaction. Come on out and take a look.”

Rainier Therapeutic Riding is hosting its 4th annual Heroes, Horses and Hope Dinner Auction on September 26, at the American Lake Conference Center, featuring Colonel Scott D. Sanders, U.S. Army Retired, as the guest speaker. Tickets can be purchased at


Homes First! Home Fosters the Dreams of a Happy Family

Thurston Talk - Sat, 09/05/2015 - 6:00am



By Barbara Lally

oly fed sponsor

To visit with David and Ocean Gooze and their three children, Mariah (12), Aubrey (9) and Keegan (7), in their new home, it is hard to believe that just a few months ago they were rain-soaked and cold, living in Capitol State Forest and clinging to their hope for a better future.

Today, the Gooze family rents a cottage-like home that was bought and rehabilitated by the local non-profit Homes First! The home, which exudes warmth and love, is a fitting match for the family that has demonstrated unrelenting optimism, compassion and resilience throughout everything they’ve endured.

Not long ago, the Gooze family had been living in Lakewood where David was a model employee in a sheet metal company. Life was less than ideal though, as they were living in an apartment the couple describes as “worse than camping in the forest.”

The Gooze family at their new home pose with partners that helped them get there.

The Gooze family at their new home pose with partners that helped them get there.

David lost his job, but the family saw it as a catalyst for change in their lives. They decided to focus their efforts and resources on starting a business that could help others, a notion David and Ocean were all too familiar with. The couple, who has been together for 15 years, first met as teenagers working at a summer camp in Texas for children who were disabled.

Though David and Ocean poured everything they had into the business, it wasn’t bringing a return, and they lost their home. But this persistently hopeful family again saw it as an opportunity. When the day came that they had to leave, they were fully packed and ready to start a trip they had been dreaming of for years — a family bike trip to Washington’s coast. Hauling about 500 pounds of gear in trailers behind their bikes, the family headed for their ultimate destination, Ruby Beach.

They stayed at camp sites and motels along the way, but eventually it was time to return home. The only problem is that they didn’t have a home to return to. The Gooze family ended up pitching a tent in the Capitol State Forest, which served as their temporary shelter while David continued to work on his business.

Despite having no home, the family was grateful for all the kind people they met. “We encountered so many good people on this journey,” says Ocean. “Angels would often show up with a blessing.

During the six weeks the Gooze family spent living in the forest, David would bike to the library to work on his business and search for a shelter for his family. The last two weeks in the forest it rained and poured, and their tent, clothes and bedding were all wet. It was cold and everyone got sick.

Despite the circumstances, David continued to search for a safe place for his family and connected with “Out of the Woods,” a small shelter that provides sustainable housing for families with children for up to 90 days.

David gratefully describes shelter living as “warm, dry and clean.” But the Gooze’s had concerns for their family.

“I was terrified,” says Ocean. “I wondered if we would be able to make our own decisions for our family. We needed to ask for help, but did not know what to expect.”

All of Ocean’s fears were extinguished when she met Brett Rader, the shelter manager for Out of the Woods.

“He is an amazing human being,” says Ocean, “From the beginning, he was respectful and compassionate. It was huge to feel that respect.”

Trudy Soucoup (left) with Washington's First Lady, Trudi Inslee, (right) who will be the keynote speaker at Homes First!'s 2nd annual breakfast on Wednesday, September 16.

Trudy Soucoup (left) with Washington’s First Lady, Trudi Inslee, (right) who will be the keynote speaker at Homes First!’s 2nd annual breakfast on Wednesday, September 16.

“Every week we would sit down with Brett and discuss our goals and progress,” adds David. “He always had suggestions and advice and many resources to refer us to.”

One of those resources was Homes First!, an organization that for more than 25 years has owned and managed affordable rental homes in Thurston County. At the time, Homes First! was rehabilitating a home, putting in new floors, painting, landscaping and more.

The home’s bright neighborhood was perfect for the cheery family.

“We loved it from the first moment we walked in,” says David. “Everyone worked together to make it happen, it felt like a group effort.”

Today, the Gooze family is all smiles in their home. Mom homeschools the children during the day before welcoming dad home after a long day at work at a job he enjoys. The home also provides him the office space he needs to continue working on launching his own business.

This happy family will share their experience at the Homes First! 2nd Annual Homes Matter Breakfast on Wednesday, September 16, which celebrates the more than 25 years Homes First! has provided affordable rental housing in Thurston County. The special guest speaker at the event will be Washington State’s First Lady, Trudi Inslee, an enthusiastic advocate for affordable housing.

“This home was the place for us and we knew we could do good things here,” says David.

Those good things have certainly begun for this family now that they have a great home. It is evident by the joy in their smiles and the plans they have for a bright future.


The City of Lakewood Celebrates Lakewood Playhouse Theatre Day

South Sound Arts - Fri, 09/04/2015 - 9:38am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 3, 2015 poster for A Few Good Men, art by James StoweBy way of celebrating a local treasure, the City of Lakewood has proclaimed Sept. 18 Lakewood Playhouse Theatre Day. The day will be celebrated with a special ribbon cutting ceremony presented by the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and with a reception with food provided by Carr’s Restaurant and a house full of local dignitaries and actors from previous and current Playhouse shows.The company was founded in 1938. The building that now houses the theater was built in 1965 by the Lakewood Community Players and the Lakewood Arts Foundation. Since opening its doors 50 Years ago, it has presented more than 300 productions on both its main stage and through its Lakewood Institute of Theatre Education Program (established in 2002).  During those 50 years, the Lakewood Playhouse has hosted special presentations by hundreds of local groups including The Lakewood Senior Players, the Pierce College Theatre Group, Last Ditch Efforts, New Muses Theatre, The Outfit Theatre Group, the Asian Film Festival and countless number of music groups.A true community theater that provides education for youth and performance opportunities to local actors, Lakewood Playhouse has always striven for professional level performances. Former Managing Artistic Director Marcus Walker, who died March 11, 2011 of metastatic melanoma, often told me he wanted me to review their shows with the same strict criteria I would use when critiquing a professional company such as Seattle Repertory Theater. That is indicative of the level of professionalism Lakewood Playhouse has always insisted on. And by-the-way, I reviewed My Name is Asher Lev, the last play Walker directed, at both Seattle Repertory Theater and Lakewood Playhouse, and the Lakewood play was the better of the two. The theater’s current manager, John Munn, is only the sixth managing artistic director in the theater’s 50-year history. This season is Munn’s fifth at the helm. He says he is proud to be supported by a staff of “incredibly creative and dedicated professionals and artists.”“We have assembled an amazing array of shows this season with something for everyone,” Munn says. “The directors for each of the productions have such a passion and vision for their shows that we can’t wait to share them with you.”Munn says he has no formal training as an artist. Outside of a few years in college and in high school, his training comes from working in local community theatres over the past 40 years in more than 100 shows as either an actor or director.  “When I sit inside our 172 Seat Theatre, and I start to think about all of the shows that have happened under its roof, it is both staggering and humbling to know that we are the caretakers of that. Just stop and think of the lives that were changed here by either being in a show or by seeing one. I know that almost sixty thousand people have seen our shows over the last four seasons that I have been here. Imagine that number over this Playhouse's 50-year history. Consider all of the actors whose lives were forever changed by being a part of that "one show." There you have to realize all of the amazing stories that have been told by the thousands of creative artists who have made them possible. Fifty years. One building. Only made for one purpose. To house a rich theatrical history. We are all a part of that. You. Me. Folks that are reading this article and smiling. All of us. With this next season, we begin the journey of the next 50 years ... and who wouldn't want to be a part of that?”The 2015-2016 season kicks off Sept. 11 with A Few Good Men, the military court drama by Aaron Sorkin, winner of the 1990 World Theatre Award. A Few Good Men will be followed by the live radio show of the horror classic The Birds Oct. 23-25. This will be the eighth of the Playhouse’s live radio shows. They are always wonderfully fun entertainments. Next up will be Treasure Island, followed by Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the ever-popular Noises Off, and finally the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q. “We have so many other 50th Anniversary Surprises in store for you,” Munn continued, “You won’t want to miss a single thing.  And, as you know, we always look forward to welcoming you home soon!”The ribbon cutting ceremony and reception on Sept. 18 is scheduled for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Guests are invited to come back later that evening for the 8 p.m. performance of A Few Good Men.Lakewood Playhouse Theatre Day, Sept. 18, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, 253.588.0042
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

A Fun New Pop-up Show at B2

South Sound Arts - Fri, 09/04/2015 - 9:34am

New show has a Little of Everything Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 3, 2015
“Love Forty,” acrylic on cotton rag by Hiawatha D. Courtesy B2 Gallery
The difference between what B2 Gallery is calling it’s “Pop-Up” shows and its regular shows is 1) the Pop-Ups don’t run as long and 2) the art is more reasonably priced. As for the quality of the art, there is little or no difference.
The Pop-Up running through Sept. 26 features art by Hiawatha D, Leah Fitts, Francesca Fuller, Joe Gallagher, Hossein Peigahi, Becky Knold, and jeweler Delores Weir. It’s a fun show.
Peigahi’s colorful and stylized landscapes dominate the large front room. They are playful and simple with few details, and look a lot like they could be children’s book illustrations. One of his nicest pieces is “Twin Barns of Nisqually.” The barns are ghostlike in pales tones of yellow, blue and green that are almost white. They seem to be shimmering in the heat. They sit on a field of hot orange grass. 
Also by Peigahi is a little 12” x 12” untitled landscape that is pseudo-pointillist but not as precise as the pointillism made famous by  Georges Seurat. Above this painting is “Garden,” an oil and monotype of about the same size with flowers depicted in large strokes as if the pointillist dots from the painting below have blossomed into fast strokes like a section ripped from a Van Gogh. His “Summer Day” has marvelously hot: orange, blue, pink and green colors. Near it is the hottest and best of his paintings, a Giclée print called “Fall” picturing a single line of trees with orange leaves on rolling hills that are almost the same color as the leaves. This is a stunning little painting.
Hiwatha D’s acrylic-on-cotton-rag paintings of jazz musicians look more like illustrations than serious paintings, but they grow on you in a wonderful way. These musicians (as well as the people in all his other paintings) are almost genderless, and they don’t have faces, hands or feet. They are decorative and nicely composed. His other paintings are scenes that have the feel of the jazz age. Among these is a matched pair, “Bastile” and “Love Forty” — a man in one painting and a woman in the other, seated in a bar with wine glass and bottle on the table and their chins rested on see-through hands. The contours of these figures are nicely curvilinear, which is stylistically enhanced by the see-through aspect of the hands. His other paintings depict groups of people in urban settings.   Fuller is showing a set of paintings of flowers with metal sheets screwed to the surface, combining delicate flower petals in transparent washes with minimalist abstract forms created by the metal sheets. The combination is original, startling, and quite attractive.
Fitts’ work is mostly abstract. She has nine paintings of expressive circles and lines and other highly gestural marks on fields of shallow , amorphous spaces and one outstanding landscape of a line of trees with almost identical clumps of orange leaves and sky and ground that look like the background on her abstracts but more nuanced. (I understand that my description of this painting might read like my earlier description of Peigahi’s “Fall,” but the only thing they have in common is that they are two of the best paintings in the show.
Gallagher’s paintings of humorously surrealist bodies, faces, fish, octopi and mermaids are colorful and childlike, although I can see that to many viewers they may look ominous. 
Knold is showing a group of paintings from her recent show at B2. They are all nice paintings, but not among her best. The richness of texture and the contrasts of thick-thin, opaque-transparent that is a trademark of much of Knold’s paintings are not so much in evidence here.Weir’s jewelry nicely combines tribal and contemporary looks with images such as faces and complex beadwork.
Summer Pop Up at B2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, till 9 p.m. Third Thursdays, through Sept. 26, 711 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.238.5065.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/04/2015 - 6:00am



September is upon us and the later sunrises and earlier sunsets remind us that fall is truly just around the corner.  However, we can all squeeze one last weekend of fun out of summer before the back-to-school, back-to-reality routine hits.  And, although there is a noticeable chill in the air and the days have been a bit wet, it appears Mother Nature will bring back a few rays of sun for our long weekend.

For those of you sticking around for an Olympia “staycation”, there are plenty of happenings throughout the county to keep you busy.  I recommend embracing the spirit of Labor Day weekend and celebrate hard work by doing none at all – truly play this weekend.  We’ve got some great options to keep you in vacation mode listed below.  And for a listing of all the options, visit our full events calendar here.

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, visit our events calendar.


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