Thurston Talk

Syndicate content
Writing Positive Stories About Our Community | Olympia Events Information Advertising
Updated: 13 hours 13 min ago

Rolland Geppert – Snapping Lasting Impressions of Mount Rainier

Sun, 06/29/2014 - 6:10am



By Carolyn White

NW prosthodonticsMount Rainier—a Pacific Northwest icon—is the feature of many pictures, snapshots, and photos. Yet the foreground of forests, lakes, rivers, meadows, wildflowers and wildlife are frequently overlooked in their supporting role. Often, the mountain appears out of context with its natural surroundings.

What’s the difference between photography and picture-taking? Photography is an art married with a technical aspect. With contemporary digital devices, such as iPhones, anyone can be an arm’s length photo-taker. A picture eternalizes the moment—it communicates a slice of space and time. Will that photo leave a lasting impression, or will it be a blip in time? Does that one image convey a story of a thousand words?

roland geppertThe soul of the photo that leaves a lasting impression lies in the principles of composition—the “art” elements. Whereas the artist who creates an image with brush and canvass can rearrange the landscape to suit their message, the photographer must live within the constraints of the moment as well as anticipate that moment. Armed with the technical know-how, the photographer-artist brings to bear their unique perspective of space and time.

We in the South Sound are most fortunate to have such a photographer who possesses the skills of the technician and the heart of the artist molded by an intimate relationship with nature.   An Olympia resident for over 42 years, Rollin (Rollie) Geppert has dedicated most of his life to preserving and chronicling the beauty and majesty of Nature.

In 1963, a serendipitous convergence occurred—Rollie obtained a summer job with the US Forest Service in Arizona and he purchased his first camera to chronicle this experience.  This synergy led him to pursue a major in forestry. He continued his studies, earning a Master of Science degree in forest tree physiology and plant ecology. Along the way, he developed his photographic talents and fine-tuned his skills.

roland geppert

Photo credit: Roland Geppert

During his career working in natural resources research, protection and management, Rollie kept his camera ever ready to capture the moment. His work provided opportunities to visit many places in the United States and Europe. Only fighting a forest fire could prevent Rollie from capturing the moment with his camera. He has over 50,000 photographs that chronicle his life’s work and travels. Before 2007, when he started using a digital camera, all of his photos were taken with a variety of film cameras.

The quintessential photographer is always ready for the shot when the moment presents itself.  Rollie tells of a time where he and his camera were waiting in line at a coffee shop. Across the room sat a long-robbed priest clad in white tennis shoes. The image enticed Rollie to capture that moment. As he set up and adjusted his camera, a dilemma arose in his thoughts—when photographing other people, what is the balance between capturing the candid shot and violating an individual’s private space? Asking permission to photograph the person often creates a staged response.  Being covert might compromise the subject’s privacy. Rollie’s conundrum resolved itself when the priest rose, turned away, and walked out the front door. In anticipating the moment, Rollie captured the priest’s flowing robes and white shoes walking out the door while preserving the gentleman’s anonymity.

roland geppert

Photo credit: Roland Geppert

This photograph, along with thirty-three others, will be part of a solo exhibit at The Hardware Store Restaurant on Vashon Island this fall. The theme is “Out of Doors,” with black and white photos featuring windows and doors as transitions zones. An aluminum print of an old-growth forest highlights this exhibit, bringing to awareness Rollie’s deep connection with this precious resource.

If you are hiking the backwoods in Western Washington, you might see a man carrying a ten-foot broad-based camouflage green aluminum ladder and a camera bag. That would be Rollie. To capture a unique perspective of the old-growth forests, he created this platform with a special camera mount.

Rollie shares his years of experience as a naturalist and photographer in two, one hour classes offered by South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). This course, Photographer’s Guide to Mount Rainier, is based on Rollie’s eBook  Photographer’s Guide to Washington’s Best Views, Volume I, Mt. Rainier.

In this course, he shares his 44 favorite locations for photographing Mt. Rainier via a one-hour slide show.  This show provides participants with the incentive and ability to locate these visual treasures of nature. Armed with information and inspiration, students can then to go on to explore with the knowledge that more special places may be just around the next bend.

roland geppert

Photo credit: Roland Geppert

These locations, selected from a 40-year collection, represent the optimum vistas—the “magic spots”to view the mountain from within and outside Mt. Rainier National Park.  Class participants receive a handout that provides the location’s name and the GPS latitude and longitude co-ordinates.

Essentially, Rollie discloses the exact spot to place your tripod for that optimum view of Mt. Rainier. All locations are within a 60 mile radius of the summit. Each site is easily accessed by automobile. Most of these locations are open to the public or by permission from the landowner.

Once you reach that “magic spot,” how do you take that stunning picture?  In the second half of his class, Rollie discloses his photo-taking tips for capturing the moment.  According to Rollie, if you want to photograph the moon rising over Mt. Rainier, the optimum time is the day before the full moon. Then, the sun provides ambient light as it is still above the horizon during moon rise. The moon is full enough that it will appear “full” to the observer’s eye.

Why does Rollie teach this class? If you contemplate a subject, you are engaged with that subject.  By contemplating the mountain and its foreground of forests, lakes, rivers, meadows, wildflowers and wildlife, perhaps you will develop a deeper appreciation of Mother Nature. Rollie’s class inspires you to get out and observe the landscape. This greater awareness may evoke the insight that everyone  on this planet is responsible for preserving Nature for generations to come.

roland geppertRollie’s eBook, Photographer’s Guide to Washington’s  Best Views Volum I, Mt. Rainier, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Sony. He has plans to release a full-color book version of Volume I. He envisions this book as a field guide to the various photo locations in the book as well as a source of information on roads, where to eat, etc.  There’s also a plan to release Volume II, which will cover Mt. St. Helens. As well, you can purchase Rollie’s individual digital photos from his website.

After Rollie retired in 2007, he wanted to inspire future generations to be professional stewards of the forests and land that he had protected, managed and appreciated. In 2010, he founded the Ecosystems Scholarship Fund , a component fund established through the The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. Supported in part by the sales of Rollie’s photos and eBook, this scholarship assists students pursuing careers in natural resources and land use planning.

roland geppert

Photo credit: Roland Geppert

To qualify for consideration, candidates must have declared their major in natural resources or land use planning and be sophomore status or above at either the University of Washington, Washington State University , Western Washington University— Huxley College of the Environment or The Evergreen State College. Additionally, candidates require a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

As long as recipients pursue studies in natural resources or land use planning they may apply their scholarship funds, which may be up to $5,000, for tuition to any four-year degree educational institution located in the United States.

The Ecosystems Scholarship Fund is Rollie’s way of giving back to our community. Supporting future generations of natural resource custodians will help preserve nature’s precious gifts, just as Rollie has preserved nature’s majesty through the lens of his camera.

All photographs in this article copyright Rolland Geppert. Used by permission for this article only.  For more information, contact Rolland Geppert via email at or through his website.



Gather, Eat, Drink: Little General Food Shop

Sat, 06/28/2014 - 9:41am



By Jennifer Crain

van dorm sponsorKim Murillo remembers climbing down a weathered wooden staircase as a child, one that led from her family’s apartment to the grocery store they operated beneath it, in hopes of getting a popsicle.

Her grandfather bought the family grocery and hardware store in the village of Silverton, on the shore of British Columbia’s Slocan Lake, in the 1960s. He and his wife ran the store along with their three sons. Murillo’s father returned to settle there as an adult to help run the store, her mother became the butcher, and the small scenic town became Murillo’s birthplace and the source of her earliest memories as well as her work ethic.

olympia food shopping

Kim Murillo, right, opened Little General Food Shop this spring in downtown Olympia. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

“Everybody was there and everybody took care of the work,” she remembers.

Perhaps it’s Murillo’s early exposure to a small community’s close-knit character and homespun buying habits that makes her a dream-seeker when it comes to her own retail store, Little General Food Shop, which she opened in downtown Olympia in the spring. Though she didn’t want to re-create the past, Murillo says her desire to open the store was influenced by her Canadian hometown and the distinct personalities of neighborhoods she’s experienced in larger cities.

“Visiting Vancouver and other places, some of the neighborhoods are more defined because people don’t have to leave them to get the amenities that they need. I was sort of going for that kind of a thing,” she says, adding that she thinks downtown can use a general store to serve those who work at the Capitol, visitors to the city, downtown businesses and, perhaps, become a catalyst for would-be downtown dwellers. “If you can make it more appealing and easier to live downtown, then I think people would.”

olympia shopping

Murillo partners with local businesses, such as The Bearded Lady and Nineveh Assyrian, to cater to the lunchtime tastes of her customers. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

The store’s open design and tempting merchandise makes it an ideal meet-up spot. Here is a place where you can browse and buy, nibble and chat, lunch and people-watch. The latter happens best while tucking into a paper-wrapped sandwich from The Bearded Lady, seated on a bright orange metal barstool at the wooden lunch counter that’s nestled along a bank of windows at the front of the store. It’s a neighborly place, even if you’re only grabbing a solo lunch.

Murillo credits the store’s welcoming vibe to local designer Roussa Cassel, who conceptualized the interior. Cassell, who also designed the Capitol Boulevard location for Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, says her role was to help Murillo figure out the flow of the space. The two decided to remove some interior walls, take out the lowered ceiling, and incorporate glass into the divider that separates the back area from the main shop. Cassel is the one who placed the counter at the windows, noting that she and Murillo prioritized “opening it up as much as possible and creating a connection between the outside and the inside.”

olympia shopping

The shop’s special collection of artisanal foods and drinks make it a go-to spot for unusual or gourmet items. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

The bright color scheme and whimsical nature of the interior is homey and sweet. The orange barstools are matched by light fixtures of the same color and the back wall is painted by Olympia artist Scott Young in William Steig-style miniature scenes. The woodwork, bins, and shelving are light maple and the store is studded with a few antique finds, such as a giant wooden spool Murillo bought from a lumber dealer in Shelton—a find she adorns with pussy willows and stacks with jams and English crackers.

As far as stocking the store, Murillo operates from a single, simple idea: to sell the kinds of foods she likes to eat. Little General’s coolers contain a broad range of delicious looking finds from near and far. There are plenty of local and regional delicacies, such as Olympic Provisions charcuterie out of Portland, Flying Cow Creamery’s yogurt from Adna, and Peace, Love and Raw’s RawNaimo bars, made three streets over. But what makes the store a wonder, and different from other food retailers in town, is a broad selection of imported specialty foods, from the decadent (Italian buffalo milk butter, anyone?) to the quirky and fun.

“I have a weakness for coffee in a can,” Murillo laughs, picking up a tiny Illy can, like the ones she drank from in Japan.

olympia shopping

The coolers are filled with regional delicacies and small-batch, local products. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

Bottles of drinking vinegar are on a shelf on the far wall, a throwback to the days before carbonation (people mixed vinegar with simple fruit syrups to make a drink that’s enjoying a comeback, called a shrub). The shelves are also full of small bottles of artisanal goods, what Murillo calls “dish makers.” These are the sauces and condiments that make something like sautéed vegetables into a meal with character.

There are specialty mustards from Seattle’s Mustard and Co., for instance, tomato and garlic relishes, chutneys, and fine vinegars. These may cost more than the corresponding supermarket versions but they aren’t meant to be everyday purchases. A little bit of honey curry mustard goes a long way.

But Little General has plenty of everyday items as well. They carry selected fruits and vegetables, cheeses and crackers, and staples such as quinoa, couscous, and masa flour. Their most popular section is the grab-and-go cooler, with a wide array of foods made in Olympia. There are sandwiches from The Bearded Lady, plenty of salads from Nineveh Assyrian, and ready-to-eat pot pies from Pockets Full of Pie. Top it off with a RawNaimo bar or one of Cobb’s Treats’ peanut butter cups.

 Michael Hartley.

The store where Kim Murillo spent her first years, in Silverton, British Columbia. Photo credit: Michael Hartley.

Drinks are covered, too. They stock a careful selection of wines, a number of beers, and specialty drinks such as local ciders from Whitewood Cider Company.

Murillo says she’s already brought in new items at the request of her customers and is working closely with businesses such as Nineveh Assysrian to customize the experience for shoppers.

“There’s a really good communication channel already it’s great to be able to have that symbiotic sort of local business relationship,” she says. “It’s one of the best things that’s happening. I’m hoping things like that (offer a way of) changing the way people do the grocery shopping experience.”

Little General Food Shop

313 Fifth Avenue SE in Olympia




Categories: Local Food Blogs

Energy Efficiency First – Optimal Efficiency and Comfort Starts with the Building Envelope

Sat, 06/28/2014 - 6:00am



home energy auditThe “building envelope” sounds technical, but it simply refers to the barrier between the outside environment and the inside of your home – the walls, floor, roof, and any pipes or ducts that carry heated air or water.   Maintaining building-envelope integrity ensures protection from the outside elements, reduces heat transfer from inside to outside, and provides ideal comfort inside.  In other words, a good building envelope serves as an adequate water barrier, air barrier, and a thermal barrier.

Energy Efficiency First recommends a step-wise approach to making sure the integrity of the building envelope is maintained.

Inspecting and maintaining the outer surfaces is important because it serves as your first line of defense against water intrusion.  The home must shed moisture to prevent building components from being damaged over time by moisture.  A good roof with correctly installed flashing and proper gutters and drainage will shed water away from your home and not into the attic, foundation and crawl space.  Properly flashed windows will also prevent moisture damage to walls.  Routinely inspecting plumbing and appliances to assure they are not leaking into walls, floors, or ceilings is also a good idea.

The building envelope must also breathe properly and allow vapor to escape so that excess moisture does not become trapped inside.  Breathability is a complex issue that can pertain to wall-assembly-construction methods.  For example, some builders, 30 years ago, constructed wall assemblies for maximum energy efficiency.  But the walls could not breathe and the wood inside has decayed.  When identified, these should be repaired.

healthy homeThe breathability of a home also can pertain to appropriate crawl space and attic ventilation.  Foundations and low building members must be protected from improper water drainage and moisture.  If moisture is building up in your home due to inadequate ventilation or drainage, it can easily collect in the attic and cause mold and decay that can become costly to your wallet and health.

The floor, attic, and walls, windows, doors, HVAC ducts, and water pipes must be properly air sealed and insulated to prevent unwanted air infiltration and heat transfer.  Air sealing should come first, followed by properly insulating the floor, walls, and attic.

In addition, the HVAC ductwork is a major source of concern when assessing a home’s efficiency.  Ducts are typically metal sections connected together to allow heated or cooled air to distribute throughout your home.  Anything joined in sections will have cracks and ducts are notorious for leaking.  In fact, the average home loses 30% of the air they pay to heat through leaks in duct work.  EEF can address the problem of leady ducts in three main ways.  The first is applying mastic, or a liquid sealer, to all the joints in your ductwork so they do not leak air.  Second, EEF ensures all ducts are properly insulated.  The third option is to install ductless heat pumps in your home, eliminating the need for ducts at all, thus eliminating loss of thermal energy through those ducts.

For more information about building durability and maintaining the integrity of your home’s building envelope, contact Energy Efficiency First at 360-239-9684 or visit them online.


Dancing the Night Away at the Dixieland Jazz Festival

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 7:38pm



The Dixieland Jazz Festival continues throughout the weekend.  For a complete story about the family-friendly event, held annually in Lacey, click here.

jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey jazz festival lacey


Relay for Life of Thurston County – A Cancer Survivor’s Story

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 9:16am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

sunset airCancer is indiscriminate; it doesn’t care about your age or gender, whether you’re married or single, a teacher or a State Supreme Court Justice. In December of 2008 Justice Mary Fairhurst found out she had colon cancer.

I meet Justice Fairhurst at her office inside the Temple of Justice. The building and its name are intimidating, Justice Fairhurst is not. She insists I call her Mary. I expect her to be stern, straight-laced and possibly wearing her judicial robe.

“I didn’t want to be sad, even though I might die.  I wanted to be making good, positive memories with people,” says Fairhurst. I’m used to equating cancer with sadness, with loss and pain. There is certainly a lot of this with the disease, but not here. “Every day you stay alive is another day closer to finding a cure,” says Fairhurst.

On Friday, June 27, Mary and a few hundred others will gather at Timberline High School to participate in Relay for Life. This is the fundraiser’s twenty-fifth year in Thurston County. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. with the survivor’s lap. “This is a way for us to celebrate and honor those we know who beat cancer and those who didn’t,” says Relay Co-Chair Kaitlyn Rebbe.

relay for life thurston county

Justice Mary Fairhurst will be walking during Relay for Life of Thurston County. The survivor’s lap is slated for 6:00 pm on Friday, June 27.

Fairhurst has a long history with cancer. Her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles all had the disease.  Some made it, some didn’t. Shortly after her diagnosis, Fairhurst underwent six months of chemotherapy. Things looked good, her scans came back normal. Then, in 2011, the cancer returned and had metastasized in her lung.

The news was disappointing but Fairhurst refused to let it change her attitude. “The oncology nurses told me if ‘if you can sit up, sit up, if you can stand up, stand and if you could walk, walk. Every day I gave it the very best I had for that day.’”

Fairhurst underwent another round of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation. That was more than two years ago. I ask her if she worries about the cancer coming back for a third time. She says, “I can worry about cancer and miss all these days being worried about something that may or may never happen again. I do the best I can and if that’s what ultimately takes me then I will have given a good fight.”

Rebbe is no stranger to cancer. Her mother and grandfather were both diagnosed with the disease. Her mother survived, sadly her grandfather passed away. For Rebbe, Relay for Life is a way to build relationships, to help others. “I try to tell people to stay positive and remember we are finishing the fight. We are making cancer a thing of the past.”

This kind of support helped Fairhurst. She says friends, family and colleagues offered prayers and positive thoughts. These kindnesses are not lost on Fairhurst. “When I have had others that I know, friends and colleagues, that have cancer I have been able to help them in a way that I might not have been able to if I didn’t have this experience,” she reports.

Every year more than eight million people worldwide die from cancer, but this isn’t the image to leave you with. Instead, let’s focus on the millions more who survive.

Justice Mary Fairhurst loves the Mariners and Gonzaga basketball. She’s on the board of the Thurston County Food Bank and has a large extended family. The first time I talked to her was on the phone. I could barely hear her. She apologized.  Fairhurst was talking to me on her phone while driving (hands free device). The sound I heard was the wind. The day was beautiful and Fairhurst had the top down.

To learn more about Relay for Life of Thurston County, click here.


Thurston County Urges Safe and Sane 4th of July

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 9:03am



Submitted by Thurston County

Thurston County firefighters and paramedics are reminding residents that fireworks safety is the key to having a 4th of July celebration to remember instead of a tragic accident you’d rather forget.

Thurston County Director of Emergency Services Steve Romines said the arrival of Independence Day each year also brings the unfortunate arrival of fireworks-related injuries. Each year, Thurston County 9-1-1 Dispatch logs hundreds of fireworks-related calls, some of them involving serious injuries.

“The safest bet by far is to leave it to the pros and enjoy one of the licensed public fireworks displays,” Romines said. “But if you’re going to light your own fireworks, following a few basic safety rules will save you from injury, and could even save your life.”

The sale of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County is legal only at inspected and approved stands from noon on June 28 through 9 p.m. on July 4. Daily sales before July 4 are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.  It is legal to discharge fireworks only from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The sale and discharge of fireworks is not allowed in the cities of Olympia or Lacey.

If you plan to use legal fireworks this 4th of July, following a few fireworks safety tips can help keep your holiday fun, safe and sane.

  • Keep lit fireworks away from flammable materials like grass, wood, pine needles, and structures like houses, garages or barns.
  • Keep a water source handy to deal with potential fires and douse all fireworks to make sure they are out.
  • Use only “safe and sane” fireworks. In Washington state that means no bottle rockets, no firecrackers, no cherry bombs and no missiles.
  • Do not hold or throw fireworks after they are lit and do not relight unexploded fireworks.
  • Have an adult present at all times when fireworks are being set off, and young children should never light fireworks.

To learn more about fireworks safety and injury prevention, go to the Washington State Patrol website at The Washington State Patrol website also has a list of public fireworks displays in Thurston County and throughout the state.

  • Fireworks sales in unincorporated Thurston County: June 28 through July 4 between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Discharge of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County: July 3 and 4 ONLY between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 7:00am



My fingers are wrapped around my hot mug of coffee as I peek outside this morning at a cool, gray, rainy dawn.  It’s possible the dreaded “June-uary” is sticking around for a bit longer.  However, this weekend’s calendar is loaded with options, inside and out, that will make you forget the gray skies and put a smile on your face.  From tapping your toes at one of Thurston County’s biggest events, America’s Classic Jazz Festival, to cheering walkers around the track at our annual Relay for Life event, you are sure to be inspired, forgetting the bit of drizzle kicking off our weekend.  Be a true Olympia resident – get out and enjoy the weekend gray skies or blue.

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.


Nature’s Tapestry Nursery: Family-Run Nursery Keeps it Local, Offers an Artistic Touch

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 6:00am



olympia gardening nursery

Walking through the Nature’s Tapestry Nursery at Tsuki Gardens is a lush, sensory experience, filled with surprising and unique plants, and handmade garden accent pieces. Photo by Gale Hemmann.

The sun is upon us here in Thurston County. It’s garden season, and perhaps you’re looking for a perfect addition or two to round out your summer garden and enhance its beauty. Or maybe you’re getting your garden winter-ready, and looking for a few unique and hardy perennials. What could be better than a summertime drive out to Nature’s Tapestry Gardens? Located on ten tranquil acres on Henderson Boulevard (just across from the Briggs Community YMCA), Nature’s Tapestry Gardens at Tsuki Nursery is like walking into a peaceful, vibrant paradise.

The folks at Nature’s Tapestry have over eight years experience in the nursery business, and they offer an experience like no other: expert guidance, one-of-a-kind plant selections, and a focus on sustainable, organic gardening. They are family-run, and put their hearts into a holistic approach to plants. From sourcing local plant starts, to caring for each and every one as if it were their own, this nursery cares about your garden from the moment you bring a plant home to giving you advice over the years to come.

I went out to visit Nature’s Tapestry, and as a plant enthusiast, I have visited my share of nurseries. However, none have been as thoroughly exciting and enrapturing as this one. When you arrive, you immediately walk into a lush, inviting space. Outdoors, Japanese maples and unique perennials catch your eye with their brilliant hues, and are arranged into charming “garden-scapes,” with plenty of unique nooks to explore (it was so cozy, I could imagine sitting down with a book to read). Soft music is playing, and a black lab, Jack, is happy to greet you.

Inside, a vast selection of all kinds of edible and decorative plants awaits. I was greeted by owner Tracey Kosenski (she, along with her husband, Lenny, and daughter, Jo, run the nursery). Tracey is a Washington State Certified Professional Horticulturist, and her expertise shows. She knows about every single plant in the nursery, and is happy to help customers pick just the right ones. As I admired the many “display garden” areas set up (clusters of plants with decorative touches like driftwood benches and sculptures), she noted that she likes to set up these nooks to give customers an idea of how they could set up gardens in their own yards.

olympia gardening nursery

An important part of the “staff,” Jack the dog is ready to greet customers and assist you in your plant selections. This friendly, mellow lab loves people of all ages. Photo by Gale Hemmann.

Tracey and her family are truly hands-on, managing every aspect of the nursery. They tend the plants and curate the selection thoughtfully, with a care and dedication you won’t find in a big-box store. As you browse the vast selection, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the beauty and color surrounding you.

Japanese maples are one of the most stunning trees, and Nature’s Tapestry has them in abundance. In fact, they have the largest selection in Thurston County, and Lenny is a Japanese maple expert. (Tracey notes that one customer comes all the way from Wenatchee for the unparalleled selection and well-cared-for trees.)

Another unique specialty at Nature’s Tapestry is bonsai trees. Bonsai are charming, classic, and provide long-term satisfaction to grow. The folks at Nature’s Tapestry are happy to help you select the perfect bonsai from their large assortment and give you expert tips on caring for it.

Other specialties include unusual and hard-to-find perennials, dwarf conifers, ferns and hostas, and native plants. They also feature elegant hanging and potted terrariums, which are a hugely popular gardening trend that will also work in any space.

olympia gardening nursery

It’s in the details: Throughout the nursery, you’ll find charming vignettes such as this window frame display, showcasing some of the elegant, locally-made gift items for sale. Photo by Gale Hemmann.

All the plants at Nature’s Tapestry are nurtured organically. Organic vegetable and herb starts mean that you can be sure your food is GMO-free. They only use heirloom seeds and cuttings for their edibles. Their plants are sourced locally, from within Washington and Oregon. They only use and sell organic fertilizers, composts and potting soils. Clearly, the focus here is on quality and sustainability.

In addition to plants, Nature’s Tapestry is unique in that they also sell locally made art, decorative and gift items (woven in with the plants, you will also find lovely displays of handcrafted jewelry, cloth shopping bags, birdhouses, and garden accents). “We don’t just order off the internet; everything we bring into the nursery is carefully selected and locally obtained,” Tracey notes.

Tracey and Lenny are long-time Thurston County residents. This fact, combined with Tracey’s horticulturist training, means she has a deep understanding of the local climate and how to make plants thrive here.

In fact, gardening has been a life-long passion for Tracey. She started planting her first plants at age eight. “I would spend my allowance money on houseplants instead of toys,” she said. What she most enjoys about running a nursery is seeing the excitement people have as their new plants grow. “We get a lot of first-time homeowners and new gardeners – it’s wonderful to see their excitement,” she notes.

olympia gardening nursery

Nature’s Tapestry specializes in Japanese maples: they feature the biggest selection around, and have an onsite Japanese maple expert. Photo by Gale Hemmann

Nature’s Tapestry is not only family-owned, but family-friendly, too. Bring the kids – they will have fun feeding goldfish, playing with Jack, and traipsing through the colorful aisles.

The Kosenski’s love being a part of the local community. They get to know their customers, and have regulars who stop by after work just to browse and take in the tranquil environment. Sitting in a beautiful handmade lawn chair in the nursery, it’s easy to see why this place is such a hidden gem – one could easily relax and spend hours here.

As we wrapped up our visit, I realized I didn’t want to leave. I could easily imagine browsing the plants for hours, discovering something new in each little nook of the nursery. It’s the kind of “Zen” place that makes your day a little brighter just visiting. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family about this find.

You can learn more about Nature’s Tapestry Garden on their website, join them on Facebook, or check out their gorgeous photos on their “Our Nursery” board on Pinterest.


Patrick Nugent Reflects on U.S. Open Qualifier, Looks Forward to Future

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 6:00am



By Tom Rohrer

heritage bankPatrick Nugent’s life revolves around golf.

The Olympia resident begins his day on the course and usually finishes it up on the links as well.

“I go out and play in the mornings because I work (at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie) in the afternoon,” said Nugent, a member at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club. “I’m out on the course at 8:00 a.m. practicing and trying to get in 18 holes before I go to work.”

This dedication and strong work ethic has guided Nugent to a successful high school, collegiate and post graduate career that has a potential to grow even more.

patrick nugent

Patrick Nugent finished fourth at the recent Capitol City Amateur tournament.

A standout golfer during his time at Olympia High School and then Grays Harbor College, Nugent attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open in May by competing in the Oregon Sectional qualifier held at Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell, OR.  Nugent earned a bid in the sectional qualifier after finishing eighth in a local qualifier at Royal Oaks Golf Club in Vancouver, WA in early May.  The top seven finishers would earn a bid to compete in the sectional qualifier, and while Nugent finished just outside that range (he bogeyed the first playoff hole of the local qualifier to finish eighth), he was the first alternate once an individual withdrew from the competition.

Last year, Nugent failed to move past the local qualifying round, making the run towards a 36th place at sectional tournament his best slate of golf yet.  While he was unhappy with his play in Creswell, Nugent believes his best golf lies in front of him.

“I think part of it is maturity and part of it is practice habits,” said the 21-year-old Nugent. “After high school, I practiced a lot harder and with more purpose and became at a better player.  Now, I’m working on the next step.  The U.S. Open, the professional tours, those are the goals of every golfer and I’m trying to work as hard as possible to get there.”

patrick nugent

Patrick Nugent was named Male Athlete of the Year while playing golf for Grays Harbor College.

After teaming up with current Stanford University Golfer Dominick Francks (whom Nugent remains close friends with) at Olympia, Nugent headed west to Aberdeen, where he starred at Grays Harbor College.  Nugent quickly made an impact for the Chokers and eventually was named the school’s male athlete of the year following his sophomore season.

“That was a big honor and I took pride winning it over the basketball and baseball players,” said Nugent.  “Did I think I would be in that position while I was in high school? Not really.”

What changed in Nugent’s play from high school to the collegiate level was his approach to the game.

“With tourney golf, there’s some pressure involved. Before when I was younger, you want to play well and not play bad.  That’s all you think about,” he said. “When I play now, I feel no pressure. I go out and the play game and just see what happens.”

Nugent grew up playing at the Tumwater Valley Golf Course with his father and would eventually play in tournaments outside of high school around the Pacific Northwest region.  A three sport athlete throughout middle school, Nugent hung up his basketball shoes and put down the baseball bat to focus on golf prior to enrolling at Olympia.

patrick nugent

Patrick Nugent (in red) is a member at Indian Summer Golf Club where he practices daily.

“I knew I could make something of golf.  Do I regret not playing ball in high school? A little,” said Nugent. “But golf is my passion.”

Nugent recently competed in the Capitol City Amateur Tournament and finished tied for fourth place with Jack Whealdon behind champion Ryan Earl, runner-up Tom Herrick and third place finisher Ryan Kelly.

Growing up, Nugent would compete in local tournaments such as the CCA, and the experience of playing in front of his family in his hometown has never gotten old.

“It’s always ran so well and it’s got some hometown appeal to me,” said Nugent of his 141 at the tournament. “This year, I was just happy to shoot under par.   Going into Capitol City, I thought I had played poorly in the (sectional qualifier).  I just put myself into contention. I know I could’ve putted better, but it was still a fun tourney.”

Nugent will continue his tournament slate next weekend at the Seattle Amateur and will compete in the Lewis County Amateur Tournament at Riverside Golf Course in Chehalis later this summer.

The competition and pressure that stems from golf tournaments is enjoyed almost uncomfortably by Nugent, and could be the edge he needs to take his game from a local level to the national scene.

“There is a lot more focus, a lot more on the line and you can just feel that in the air,” said Nugent.  “When you’re in a tournament, you have to block out that pressure and just play. If you can do that, it’s just a fun game.”


Lacey Fireworks Spectacular and Freedom Concert Scheduled for July 3

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:48pm



Submitted by City of Lacey

Lacey continues its tradition of kicking off the area’s Independence Day celebrations with the Lacey Fireworks Spectacular on Thursday, July 3. The 15 minute display will be launched from William Bush Park, 4400 Chardonnay Drive NE in Lacey, beginning at 10:15 p.m. Bush Park will be closed to preserve a safe zone for the fireworks launch, but the display will be visible to most residences located within 3/4 miles. Additionally, the public is invited to view the Spectacular from the Lacey Crossroads business area at Yelm Highway and College Street.

A public concert will also be offered this year to further celebrate the patriotic holiday. The Freedom Concert will be held in the Lacey Crossroads parking lot from 6:30 to 10:15 p.m. and will feature performances by the Mud Bay Jazz Band, the 133D National Guard Band, DJ Tony G, Andy Landers, and Gayla Duerr. The concert is free of charge and spectators are encouraged to bring their own seating.

Road access in the area will be limited during the event. Yelm Highway SE in the vicinity of Bush Park will be closed at 10:00 p.m. At 10:15 p.m. College Street and Rainier Road near Yelm Highway will be closed for approximately two hours to ensure pedestrian safety and to allow fireworks traffic to exit the area following the show. Detour routes will be established using 66th Avenue SE, Ruddell Road SE, Mullen Road SE, 37th Avenue SE, and Wiggins Road SE.

More information and a complete map of planned road closures can be found on the city’s official website at


Amazon DuPont Ships First Customer Order

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:43am



Submitted by Amazon

amazon dupont

An associate in Amazon’s DuPont, Wash., fulfillment center prepares the first item shipped, a reversible poly tarp, for shipment to a customer in South Carolina.

Amazon confirmed today that its new 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in DuPont, Washington, has shipped its first customer order, a reversible outdoor tarp, to a customer in South Carolina. Amazon has hired more than 150 full-time employees at the fulfillment center and expects to continue hiring.

Median pay inside Amazon fulfillment centers is 30 percent higher than jobs in traditional retail stores. Employees also receive a comprehensive benefits package, including health care, 401K and company stock awards. Amazon offers full-time employees innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

To find more information about Amazon’s hiring plans for the DuPont fulfillment center, click here.

The fulfillment center specializes in shipping large items, such as canoes and televisions to Amazon customers.

Mayor Kmet Appoints New Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:36am



Submitted by City of Tumwater

tumwater fire

Tumwater Fire Chief Scott LaVielle

Mayor Pete Kmet announced the appointment of Tumwater’s new Fire Chief Scott LaVielle. Mr. LaVielle has over 30 years of experience in fire service, significant academic achievements and credentials in the industry. During his career, Chief LaVielle served as fire chief for the City of Pullman and King County Fire District No. 11, where he had previously served as a fire marshal and shift battalion chief. Mr. LaVielle’s appointment is subject to City Council confirmation at their July 1, 2014, meeting.

Mayor Kmet stated, “Mr. LaVielle has great qualifications to provide the leadership necessary to take the Tumwater Fire Department to the next level.”

Chief LaVielle has earned Associate in Arts degrees from Bellevue College in several fire-related fields and Bachelor degrees from Antioch University in Public Administration and Psychology. In addition, Chief LaVielle is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

Appointed Chief LaVielle said, “I look forward to getting started and making a difference in the lives of the fire service personnel and the people we serve and protect together.”

The new chief replaces retired chief John Carpenter and will begin working for the City in mid-July.


Sustainable Thurston Plan Wins Governor’s Award

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:45am



Submitted by Thurston County

sustainable thurstonA special awards ceremony was held in Spokane today for this year’s winners of the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards, which included the Smart Vision Award for Comprehensive Planning given to the Thurston County Sustainable Thurston Vision and Action Plan. The awards ceremony was part of the annual Association of Washington Cities conference.

The Governor’s Smart Communities Awards launched in 2006 and are presented each year to local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to quality of life in Washington. The Sustainable Thurston Vision and Action Plan was developed by the Sustainable Thurston Task Force with support from the Thurston Regional Planning Council.

“Serving on the Sustainable Thurston Task Force affirmed what I’ve long suspected,” said Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela, who represented the county on the task force. “We must all re-double our efforts and re-think our strategies to achieve a more sustainable community for ourselves and future generations.”

While developing the Sustainable Thurston plan, the task force sought input from thousands of local residents, plus stakeholders and leaders from local governments, businesses and non-profits. The plan includes recommendations on transportation and land use, water quality, health and human series, public safety, and other issues. The goal of the plan is to achieve a community-driven and approved vision for a vibrant, healthy and resilient future in Thurston County. By implementing sustainable practices, the plan is designed to enhance quality of life, foster economic vitality, and protect the environment while balancing our needs today with those of future residents.

“At a meeting earlier this week where we reviewed the county-wide policies first developed in 1992, I was struck by the number of policies and comments that addressed the idea of sustainability, and how today’s sustainability task force has continued to build on that effort. Our region does indeed have a long range, unified vision for sustainable communities and quality of life issues,” said Dennis McVey, Rainier City Council member and member of the Sustainable Thurston Task Force. “I have to thank my fellow task force members, and all of the participants who helped guide us and who had a hand in developing this award-winning plan. They did a great job!”

To learn more about the Sustainable Thurston plan, visit and click on “Sustainable Thurston.” To learn more about the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards and the Smart Commuinities program, visit

Sen. Karen Fraser Receives Inaugural Washington Water Leadership Award

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:40am



Submitted by The Office of Sen. Karen Fraser

Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, has been awarded the inaugural Washington Water Leadership Award by The Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) for her continuing commitment to responsible water policy and the environment.

“I am honored to accept this award, and I appreciate this recognition of my efforts over many years,” said Fraser. “Water is essential for all known forms of life and is a precious resource we all must share and protect. As we advance water policy in our state and region, I believe it is important to make sure that our policies are consistent with both the U.S. and State Constitutions; that we use the best available science; and we fairly balance the many competing demands for this limited natural resource.”

The inaugural Washington Water Leadership Award honors individuals and organizations who publicly advocate for sustainable water resource stewardship throughout Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.

The Center for Environmental Law & Policy was founded by University of Washington Law School Professor Ralph W. Johnson in 1993 and continues to be a strong voice for water resource management and preservation in our state.

Vendors Wanted for the 2014 Thurston County Fair, July 30 – August 3

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:27am



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

thurston county fairWhether you sell clothing or crafts, tools and gadgets for home and garden, or toys and trinkets that are just plain fun, the 2014 Thurston County Fair has the perfect place for vendors of all kinds to get noticed and get customers. Vendors throughout the South Sound are invited to reserve a booth at this year’s fair, which opens Wednesday, July 30 and runs through Sunday, August 3.

Spaces throughout the fairgrounds are available, including inside spaces, covered outdoor spaces, and uncovered outdoor spaces, as well as spaces reserved for food concessions. Electrical and water hook-ups are also available. Contact the Thurston County Fair Office to find the best booth to fit your needs.

A booth at the Thurston County Fair is a great investment for any vendor, with more than 30,000 fairgoers enjoying the sun and fun of Thurston County’s signature summer event each year.  Local South Sound growers, artisans and business owners can get the best bang for their marketing buck with a booth at the fair where vendors can talk directly with customers and make sales on the spot.

For more information on the 2014 Thurston County Fair and to apply for a vendor booth or food concession space, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit

“Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!” July 30 – Aug. 3

YWCA of Olympia Seeks Women of Achievement

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:24am


Submitted by The YWCA of Olympia

20th Annual Effort Honors South Sound Women Making Positive Impact in the Community

The YWCA's Women of Achievement honors women throughout the South Sound who have inspired and shaped the community.

The YWCA’s Women of Achievement honors women throughout the South Sound who have inspired and shaped the community.

The YWCA of Olympia is pleased to announce that nominations for their 20th Annual Women of Achievement Celebration are now being accepted. Past honorees have included Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Karen Fraser, Governor Christine Gregoire, Olympia City Council Member & Vivala owner, Cheryl Selby, and Olympia Federal Savings President & CEO, Lori Drummond.

The YWCA of Olympia will once again honor women throughout the South Sound who have inspired and shaped the community. Nominees will be considered based on: 1) professional achievement, 2) peer recognition, 3) personal growth, 4) demonstration and inspirational involvement in the community, and 5) how she models her life in accordance with the YWCA of Olympia’s mission to empower women and eliminate racism through education, advocacy, service and leadership opportunities.

This year a special category is dedicated to women who are committed to the elimination of racism and promotion of racial justice.  The YWCA’s commitment to racial justice is one of the common threads that unites YWCAs across the country. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the YWCA was one of the first institutions to defy accepted societal opinions on race. Eliminating racism is one of the two central principles of the YWCA mission, along with the empowerment of women. And, at the core of the YWCA’s work is the recognition that not all women, or all people, are treated equally. For this reason, the YWCA of Olympia seeks to honor a South Sound woman who works towards racial justice in the South Sound.

Nominations are due to the YWCA of Olympia by 5:00pm on Friday, July 25th.  This year nominations will be accepted via online application. Additional forms of the Nomination Application (Word, PDF) can be obtained by calling the YWCA at 352-0593 or sending an email to

Honorees will be formally announced to the community in August.  The 20th Annual Women of Achievement Gala will take place on Thursday, November 6th from 5:30pm – 9:00pm at the Red Lion Hotel Forest Ballroom. The event is open to the public and tickets will be available by contacting the YWCA of Olympia at 352-0593 or online at Once again Titus-Will has stepped up as the WOA Presenting Sponsor with WSECU and Lucky Eagle for serving as our Sustaining Sponsors.

For more information about the Women of Achievement Celebration Gala, contact Cherie Reeves Sperr, Special Events & Communications Director at 352-0593 or


2014 Fireworks Shows in Olympia, Lacey + Tumwater

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 9:14am



xeroxCelebrating the nation’s birthday with fireworks is a classic American pastime.  Thurston County residents love their fireworks shows.  Start the barbecue early and then transport your crew to one of these local fireworks shows.  Each show features professional fireworks with some outstanding scenery.



olympia fireworks

The Boston Harbor fireworks show explodes over the water.

Boston Harbor Marina

July 3 around 10:00 pm

This annual show started small, just a few neighbors coming together to celebrate.  It may have grown, but is still a show for the local community supported 100% by donations.  The best seats in the house are on the water, so launch the boat and motor over to the Boston Harbor Marina to get a good spot.  If you do come by car, be respectful of the neighbors and park outside the Marina area, being cautious not to block driveways or intersections,  and walk to a viewing spot.  It’s a great stroll through a beautiful neighborhood.  Be sure to bring a few dollars to add to the donation cans located at the Marina and at the corner of 73rd and Commercial.  If you love the show, let the hard working Boston Harbor Association know it with your support.


Lacey 3rd of July Show

July 3 at 10:15 pm

Bring a picnic and settle in for an evening of family-friendly entertainment at Bush Park in Lacey.  The music begins at 6:30 pm to get your family in the spirit of celebrating Independence Day.  The fireworks spectacular launches at 10:15 pm and is expected to last at least fifteen minutes.  Local businesses have joined with the City of Lacey and Lacey Chamber of Commerce to sponsor this show.  Use this map to find out how you can see the Lacey fireworks from neighboring communities around Bush Park.  Traffic will get tight around the popular community event.  Get parking information here.



tumwater 4th of july parade

Celebrate Independence Day in Tumwater.

Tumwater Artesian Festival

July 4 at 10:15 pm

The community loves to spend a full day celebrating Independence Day in Tumwater.  A full day event, the Tumwater Artesian Festival begins with an Independence Day parade at 11:00 am.  Find the parade route here.  The festival gates open at Tumwater Valley Golf Course at 6:00 pm.  While the event is free, there is a $10 parking charge per car so plan to carpool or take public transportation.


South Sound Speedway

July 5 after the races

Watch the races at South Sound Speedway and then stay for the huge fireworks show.



lakefair fireworks

The Grand Finale of Capital Lakefair is the fireworks show near the Capitol.

Capital Lakefair

July 20 at 10:00 pm

Take a short break from fireworks extravaganzas and then rekindle your love for sparkly shows with the annual Capital Lakefair fireworks show.  The fireworks show marks the grand finale of the annual summer festival at Heritage Park next to Capital Lake.  The fireworks are synchronized with a soundtrack provided by KGY AM 1240.


As a reminder, some fireworks may not be permitted within city limits.  You can find specific fireworks regulations for Olympia, Lacey, and  Tumwater by following the links.


Revealed – The Life of Legendary Olympia Farmers Market Palm Reader Amelia Romoff

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:00am



By Tali Haller

Budd Bay logoShe arrives at the Olympia Farmers Market around 9:30 am on most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. With impressive precision, she quickly sets up an umbrella, a table, and three folding chairs. Facing outward towards the market, the luscious garden acts as a backdrop. As ten o’clock rolls around, a customer strolls up and sits across from her, opening his hands and showing Amelia Romoff his palms. Soon, other customers are eagerly milling around just beyond her umbrella, ­­forming an informal line.

Amelia Romoff is a psychic palm reader. At the Olympia Farmers Market, she has become a bit of a legend. Indeed, upon sitting down with her for a reading of my own, I immediately recognized her uniqueness and authenticity, which spreads far beyond her stand at the market.

palm reader farmers market

Wanting to experience the magic for myself, I sat down with Amelia Romoff for my very own reading.

Her story starts right at the beginning.  When she was born, she died. The doctors had to do an emergency C-section, resuscitating her. “Physically, I had passed away,” she recalled. According to Romoff, she remembers this pre-human “place” she was in as her true home, a place she yearns to go back to. “I remember a non-physical form that had an identity and was connected to everything. It felt so comfortable and so beautiful,” she said nostalgically.

In fact, Romoff speculates that it may be this miracle entry into the world that could be responsible for her psychic talents. “I believe that I am not gifted. I believe that I have kept the talent of ‘baby language’ – that I ‘hear’ the way a child does. I use the full communication spectrum, which includes seeing and understanding energy frequencies that become invisible to most of us as we get older. To me, it’s another language, just one that most of us have lost,” Romoff explained.

As a child, “being human” was very difficult for Romoff, who longed to go back to that “home place.” Romoff, a shy and quiet child according to her mother, was initially considered autistic. “I lived in the moment and I had a lot of trouble with school,” she recalled.

In fact, it wasn’t until she was left alone to her own devices that she began to thrive.  “When I was given up on educationally, I could finally let my imagination run wild, and that was when I began to succeed academically,” said Romoff. Those around her, wondering how Romoff had metamorphosed into a gregarious, talkative reader, were amazed. “Were you faking?” many of them asked her. “The thing was I didn’t have a lot of self-awareness. I never realized I was quiet or shy. I just felt like I didn’t have the words yet to articulate what it was I wanted to say,” Romoff explained.

palm reader farmers market

Amelia Romoff found her passion early on: connecting with others via palm reading.

Romoff has been told that she started palm reading when she was seven. But she doesn’t remember that. What she does remember is a particular party where a woman, through her palm reading, was telling people what she herself had already told them. “With her, they were very receptive (they had been upset with me), and I realized it was the permission,” she recalls. From there, Romoff began pretending that she could palm read out of a desire – “a need” – to tell people things about themselves. “The library became my best friend and my greatest teacher,” laughed Romoff. Initially, she did readings for grown-ups with the support of those around her, particularly her mom.

“It was never something I thought I would do as career,” recalled Romoff, who wanted to be a writer or a social activist in her younger years. While she attended the Evergreen State College, she barely did any palm reading. Then she began working with autistic people, which she loved. “They taught me a lot about using my imagination and other forms of communication besides verbal. The people I worked with were really good at astral projection, separating the mind and the body to commune in another realm. Most of it was imagination, but it seemed very real,” she said.

It was in this line of work that Romoff developed her imagination. And it is her imagination that she taps into whenever she delivers a reading. “It blows my mind that I say whatever comes to my mind and I’m almost always right. To be honest, I don’t really understand how it works,” she confessed.

Yes, Romoff recognizes how strange this may seem to many people. Throughout her life, she has found many ways to come to terms with what she does. “I realize that whatever I’m saying or thinking may be just my imagination, but if it is, so what? I see people living in their own alternate realities all the time and sometimes those realities are miserable,” she explained, taking on a serious tone. “It’s all a choice: do I want to be sad or happy? I have the power to pretend and that is huge. I can believe in fairies. People believe in the most disturbing things, why can’t I believe in what I want to?”

palm reader farmers market

Although Romoff can’t remember her first palm reading, her mother has told her she started at the tender age of seven.

As Romoff continued working with autistic people, she became increasingly sensitive. “It got to the point where I would walk around and I could just read everybody. I could see and feel their story,” she explained. Without any awareness, she would share what she could feel with people. “My friends would tell me, ‘You just told that person to finish their novel and call their mother,’ and I would have no recollection of it,” she remembered.

“I figured I better start palm reading as a career,” Romoff laughed. At first, Romoff worked part-time and only for trade. “For me, the idea of taking money for what I did was really upsetting,” she explained. But as more people came to her, through word of mouth, and asked what she wanted in return for a reading, the answer “I do trade,” was met with confusion. “I would say ‘give me art, or yard work, or food,’ and people would ask to just give me money.”

After a few years, she finally began to feel okay with accepting money. “As far as professional palm readers go, I charge barely anything. But I do need to support myself,” she said. In addition to her palm reading venue at the market, Romoff is also available to do longer, more in-depth readings or group readings at parties through her business, Amelia’s Tree.

Although Romoff doesn’t earn a lot financially, she is blessed in the fact that she has a calling, a purpose. “I see it as my quiet way of activism. I love that I can empower people, that I can see their good when they sit in front of me, that I can love them for that, and help them love themselves,” Romoff explained.

With her gift, one that relies so heavily on feeling, it can be easy to get disillusioned by the world, by violence and war. “At times, I don’t want anything to do with humans. I just want to go home to my farm, which is nestled besides a lake in Tenino, sit with my chickens, and tend to my bees,” she confessed. In fact, Romoff spends 90% of her time alone. In addition to her readings, she works at a pottery studio on Wednesdays (just for trade) with a potter who also sells at the market. She also sings, creates art, and writes poetry – all for fun with friends. “I live a life of leisure,” she said with a smile. “I live the life of a poor person who is really rich in the things that matter.”

palm reader farmers market

To get your own reading done, visit the market on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

While Romoff now lives leisurely, life hasn’t been a cake walk. In fact, it took Romoff a long time not to consider herself “retarded” because that was what she was considered throughout her childhood. To console herself, she recognized that a lot of the world’s geniuses were suspected of being autistic – from famous musicians, Beethoven and Mozart; to writers, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, and Emily Dickinson; to scientists, Einstein, Darwin, and Newton; to politicians, Hitler and Jefferson.

At times in her life sadness and desperation have been overwhelming and “so, so loud. When I was little, I wasn’t shielded from the atrocities of war. I grew up in the 1960s right alongside the Vietnam War. To be able to stay alive and be part of the human race, I had to figure out coping strategies that would allow me not to feel ashamed to wear skin,” she explained, the gravity of what she has been through seeping into her voice.

One of her main philosophies is that evil is a divine agreement. According to her, people encompassing evil are fallen angels who sacrifice their happiness and enlightenment to show the rest of humanity a life without love. “They’re awesome teachers, showing us the difference between love and hate. We can only become our highest self when we’re faced with evil. We all get tested regularly. If I can choose more often than not to love, to be joyous, to forgive, then I am doing it right,” she said.

When you view someone as unique as Romoff, many people’s first inclination is awe and perhaps jealousy, a wish to be able to “read people” as well as she does. However, understanding her whole story, the strengths and weaknesses of her gift, is crucial. There are pros and cons. She has incredible empathy, inspiring compassion, and an amazing imagination. But it’s important to recognize that her imagination acts as both entertainment and as a shield, protecting her from things that may hurt too deeply otherwise.

farmers market palm readerAccording to Romoff, this imagination has allowed her to accept her human form. “I’ve always found trees to be my best friends. I like to listen to them. They tell me stories – ancient times, modern times, they teach me about love, harmony and being together,” she explained. As she’s gotten older, she can speak more openly about these “stranger” parts of her life. “It could be real or it could not be. I don’t care. It makes me happy. When I don’t listen, I don’t want to be human. I don’t want to wear skin,” she said smiling.

After listening to all types of beings, from trees to humans, Romoff emphasizes that “humans are pretty freaking happy,” we just don’t often realize it. “That’s the one thing I really love to do: remind people of their happiness.” Her bright, glowing aura has driven repeat business to her over the years.

If you wish to visit Amelia Romoff, stop by the Olympia Farmers Market or check her website for more specific times and locations.


Thrifty Thurston Digs 7 U-Pick Farms Near Olympia

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

Capitol City Honda sponsorWhy do U-pick? When I asked my friends for their perspective, I expected to hear about the practicalities–the break in price point, for instance, or the quality control benefits of personally hand-selecting each berry.

Yet while these are certainly valid factors, the main draw is emotional. “I still remember doing U-pick with my grandparents as a kid,” Bethany Bidwell reminisces. “We had fun doing it. We also were proud of my grandmother’s jam because we ‘helped pick the berries.’”

olympia u pick farm

One of the benefits of visiting a U-pick farm? You can taste the berries as you go.

Sara Hanna, a local mother of three, concurs. She points out the pros of U-pick from a parenting perspective. “I think the benefit of U-pick berries—and going to a farm to get veggies—is teaching your children where food comes from. For those of us who don’t have an area for a garden, U-pick is a great place to teach our kids that berries don’t come in a plastic container from a store. They are grown on bushes and in the dirt.” She adds, “How lucky are we that we live in this beautiful state where we have the opportunity to experience that with our families?”

Megan Conklin, another local parent, has some practical tips for first-time families picking. Time and amenities should definitely be considered. How long will picking take? Should the need arise, can you buy pre-picked berries? Does the farm have restrooms available for pickers? Conklin says, “We love to go pick strawberries at Spooner’s. With four kiddos, it is by far the easiest berry to U-pick. They are so big that you are done in fifteen minutes!”

Some additional advice: it’s always best to call ahead or check the website to see if the crops are ready for picking. Unless otherwise noted, assume that you should pay with cash. Finally, if you’re looking for a farm outside the Olympia area, check out; they offer a detailed list of the nation’s U-pick farms, organized by state and county.

Without further ado, here are seven Olympia area U-pick farms.

Strawberries and Raspberries

strawberriesStrawberries are generally available in June and July, although weather and demand affect the season. U-pick raspberries tend to be available in July and August.

Spooner Berry Farms (3327 Yelm Highway, Olympia) opens daily from 8am to 6pm for strawberry picking. The 2014 price for U-pick is $1.65 per pound. Portable toilets are available for pickers. A tractor pulls the Berry Express from the U-pick pay station to the U-pick plants. The farm provides wire baskets lined with cardboard cartons for picking; you take the berries home in the carton. Pay by cash, check, or card. Phone: 360-456-4554.

Pigman’s Organic Produce (10633 Steilacoom Road SE, Olympia) offers U-pick for both strawberries and raspberries. As the name suggests, they are certified organic. Generally, they are open for picking Monday through Wednesday, 10am to 5pm and can also open by appointment. U-pick strawberry prices for 2014 are $2.75 per pint, $14 for 6 pints (a half-flat), and $27 for 12 pints (a flat). Phone: 360-491-3276. Email:


Depending on weather and the specific berry varieties grown on a farm, blueberries can be available as soon as mid-July and as late as early September.

olympia upick farmThe Black Lake Blueberry Farm (3105 – 54th Ave SW, Olympia) doesn’t use any pesticides on their crops. Restrooms are available for pickers. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. Please note that the fields are closed on rainy days. Pay by cash or check. Phone: 360-480-2452 (no calls after 8pm, please).

Carr’s Blueberry Farm (3844 – 1/2 Gull Harbor Road NE, Olympia) is certified organic for all crops grown on the premises. The 2013 U-pick blueberry price was $2.25 a pound. Pre-picked berries are also available. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. Open seven days a week, dawn to dusk. Pay by cash or check.  Phone: 360-352-3622.

Friendly Grove Blueberries, formerly known as Dan and Crown Blueberry Lane, (3102 Friendly Grove Road NE, Olympia) grows organic blueberries. The 2013 U-pick price was $2 a pound for most of the season, but at the end of the season they sold for $1 a pound. These farmers loan sunhats to pickers. Phone: 360-357-3837.

Gile Blueberry Farm  (3641 Gull Harbor Road NE, Olympia) is open daily from 9:00am to 8:00pm. They have containers for picking and, if necessary, boxes for you to take home your berries. lists their 2014 per pound prices as $1.50 for U-pick and $2.25 for pre-picked. Phone: 360-352-4847.

Teddies Berries (6344 – 123rd Ave SW, Olympia) minimizes use of pesticides and other chemicals. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. 2013 pricing was $1.30 a pound for U-pick, with $1 “retro pricing” at the end of the season. Pay by cash or check. Phone: 360-357-8370. Email:

strawberriesThrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  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.


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Westport Winery Adds “Hope” to Mercy Ships

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 8:41pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

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

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

Blain and Kim Roberts were honored on Monday, June 23 by a visit at Westport Winery with Jeff Kramer the vice president of resource development from Mercy Ships who flew in from Dallas to meet them. As a surprise Westport Winery announced that Mercy Ships will benefit from a new cranberry wine called Hope which joins their three ciders Mercy, Grace and Courage that benefit the Mercy Ships efforts in bringing medical care West Africa.

The Roberts were first introduced to Mercy Ships in a television program by Dana Perino, former President George Bush’s press secretary. That inspiration prompted them to create the three hard apple ciders in early 2014. Hope is now available for tasting exclusively at Westport Winery. Like the ciders, Hope, features original label art by Kim Roberts.

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

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