Griffin Athletic Fields

Griffin Athletic Fields TrailWe checked out the Griffin Athletic Fields and trail on Steamboat. Imagine playing baseball, soccer or football in a clearing in the woods. That’s what it felt like. I had the “build it and they will come” feeling.

There are three fields and a small playground with playground equipment. The fields have a large paved lot and there is a portable toilet. Dogs are permitted on a leash and dog parents need to pick up after their dogs. There are several signs reminding people that dog access is a privilege, not a right. So please, keep your dogs leashed and pick up after them.

There’s a trail through the woods that is quite beautiful and we enjoyed a quick hike. We will go back and try to cover more ground next time. If it weren’t for the sound of traffic you would forget where you were.

Griffin Athletic Fields TrailLocation: 6924 41st Avenue NW, Olympia

Hours: Most Thurston County Parks are open 9 am to dusk

Go outside and play!

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: Warm-ish but a little rain, nothing terrible. Even pulled out my sunglasses for the midday dog walk!

I heart coffee

There are a number of coffee shops and stands around Olympia and I have resolved to try as many as possible on my 365-day discovery of Olympia. I decided to start my coffee stand exploration with the neighborhood coffee stand, Steamboat Island Coffee. I was not disappointed! In fact, I wish we had stopped there sooner It has two drive-up windows which honestly is an amazing design for a drive-up place. We walked up because we had Mr. Barky with us. The guys working were super nice. I got a very good American and my better half got a chai. They even gave us a dog cookie for Mr. Barky. (He liked it very much and he is picky about treats.) Something for everyone!!

Location: 3403 Steamboat Island Road Northwest, Olympia, WA 98502

Hours: 6 am – 6 pm, Monday-Friday, 7 am – 6 pm on Saturday and 7 am – 4 pm on Sunday.

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: No rain! Highs in the 50s. It’s 56°F at about 4 pm. G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S!

Our state flag

One of the things that surprised me when I moved to Washington was that all of the road signs that had George Washington’s likeness on them. I guess I should not have been surprised since the state is named in honor of our popular first president, George Washington.

One of my regular readers asked me to do a post about the state flag and I learned a few interesting tidbits. (Thank you, Wikipedia!)

Washington became the 42nd state in 1889, but the flag was not adopted until 1923. The Washington chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution designed the first flag and pushed for its adoption. It has changed a bit over the years to standardize the colors and there was an update of the seal in the late 1960s.

It’s the only green state flag in the United States (but, hey–we are the Evergreen State) and the only one to depict a U.S. president. This depiction is also Washington’s state seal.

 

Yummy food ahead

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I love Vietnamese food. When I was a student at ASU, there was a great little place near campus. I could have eaten there every day. So I was happy to try Da Nang Restaurant on 4th Avenue in downtown Olympia. They have an extensive vegetarian menu and can make things vegan. We had a hum bao appetizer, a steamed bun that was fluffy white and filled with vegetables and tofu. I have never had this type of dumpling before–it was very good.

We shared the Tofu Phở and the Mock Chicken Stir Fry with Ginger. Everything was very fresh and the stirfry was flavorful without being heavy. I love Phở and am always excited to find a vegetarian version. As leftovers the next day, everything was just as good.

The fortune cookies, sadly, are not vegetarian but we enjoyed the fortunes nonetheless.

Good service and fast, nice interior. About $16.00 per person + tip. We are definitely going to be repeat customers.

Address: 116 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501, (360) 534-9200

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 am-11 pm, Sunday Noon-10pm (always a good idea to call to confirm hours)

Ăn ngon miệng nhé!

Love,
Oly

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Today’s weather: Might have been wishful thinking but it felt like spring today. Temps in the 50s again and no rain. It was great. 🙂

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More on Habits and Rituals

I just finished the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book features the work habits of over 150 artists, writers, composers, musicians and poets. The common thread throughout the book is the ritual of going to work as an artist. Many of the people featured in the book had a very set schedule and many were absolutely dedicated to the schedule. There are always outliers of course but I was more fascinated by the people who held rather traditional 9-5 jobs and found time to do their art and writing.

Something that I learned from both my Learning How to Learn class and Productivity Hacks for Writers is that you really do need to rely on habit (AKA  your zombie brain). We have limited stores of willpower and will quickly run through it if that’s the only tool in the toolkit. Habit, on the other hand, becomes more automatic. After taking the productivity hacks class, my latest habit has been to get up every morning at 4:30 am and write. And amazingly, I have kept this up for weeks now. Even more amazing – I even look forward to it. I have blogged every day in 2018  for my Olympia blog. So now I am on the lookout for anything that helps harness the power of habit to get things done. (My other early morning habits are meditating, gratitude journaling and unloading the dishwasher and the drying rack. On even days, I add a workout to the routine.) Believe me when I tell you that it’s easier to do things every day or on a regular schedule.

Last week I read a post on cleaning your house in 20 minutes a day in the Apartment Therapy blog (which I love and recommend: no apartment required). And you guessed it: it relies on habit, making cleaning an everyday habit. But before you get the wrong idea, it’s not a clean your house in 30 days and never have to do it again recipe. Instead, it’s a habit-forming plan to make cleaning an everyday thing so that it doesn’t pile up or leave you with a full Saturday of housecleaning chores. The post includes a 30-day checklist of chores and we started it on February 1. (I know, I know, that’s funny.) So far, so good. It’s easy to do and it makes a difference.

A little nature therapy

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We visited the Yashiro Japanese Garden in Olympia this week. The garden was completed in 1990 as a joint project of the Olympia-Yashiro Sister City Association and the City of Olympia. It’s one of the many parks and trails maintained by the City of Olympia. It’s just under three-quarters of an acre tucked in beside the Olympia Municipal Court on Plum Street in downtown Olympia. We’ve driven past it several times and we finally arranged a time to stop and check it out.

Even in early February, the park was quite beautiful and the hellebores were in bloom! Actually, a number of plants had buds and I felt like we were standing at the edge of early spring. The park is a small but tranquil oasis.

The park was designed by Robert Murase, a landscape architect. Born in San Francisco in 1938, Murase was a third-generation American of Japanese descent. When he was just three years old, his family was imprisoned in an internment camp during World War II. After his family’s release at the end of the war, they returned to San Francisco. Murase later earned a landscape architecture degree from UC Berkeley. Murase furthered his study at Kyoto University in Japan.  When Murase passed away in 2005 his colleague John Nesholm called him a “poet of stone and water.”

Learn more about the sister city association. This website also lists volunteer opportunities for those interested in helping to maintain the park. (I thought the origins of the modern sister city concept was interesting.)

Location: 1010 Plum Street SE
Admission is free, hours are dawn to dusk. Download a park brochure and map.

Nature = joy. Get outside!

Love,
Oly

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Today’s Weather: What a difference 5-10 degrees makes! It’s drizzly today but not cold. Makes me happy. 50°F for the morning dogwalk! 52 at about noon.

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State Bird of Washington

Whenever I move to a new place, I always try to learn the local birds. One of the first birds we saw when we moved here was a bald eagle which feels to me like winning the bird watching lottery. A very large owl landed on a tree in my yard and took an uncomfortable interest in my dog. Since then, I am cautious even though my dogs weigh in at 50 lbs. or more. That owl looked like he wanted to earn his badass merit badge.

The state bird of Washington is the Willow Goldfinch also known as the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). The goldfinch was selected as the state bird by school children in 1951 (1). I recently bought a Nyjer thistle seed feeder and I am glad to know there is somebird that will enjoy. (I realize I should have done that the other way around. I got excited.)

I read an article that suggested feeding birds in the winter so they will help you would with pests in the spring and I thought that sounded like good advice. I love birds, my parent’s influence, I think. When I was younger they were part of the rare bird alert calling tree and would go out and look for rare birds. I thought that was pretty nerdy but now admit that I might do the same thing. Only now, we would just text the rare bird alerts. There is some controversy about bird feeders but I listen to my birder mother’s advice and feed birds in the winter. The rest of the year, I try to provide plants that offer food and protection to my bird friends. And it looks like the goldfinch population has benefitted from humans and their feeders.

Special thanks for the goldfinch photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash.

Be kind to our bird friends.

Love,
Oly

PS Please support free access to information by supporting the Wikimedia Foundation.


  1. McAuliffe, Emily (2003). Washington Facts and Symbols. Capstone Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7368-2277-0.

Get thee to the Farmers Market!

Farmers Market

It’s Groundhog Day (Marmota monax) and you may be wondering if there are any groundhogs in Washington. From this range map it looks like we might have some in the upper northeast corner of the state but none in the Olympia area. And yes, Punxsutawney Phil saw his dreaded shadow so 6 more weeks of winter according to lore. Yay. I am going to don my “Wake me when winter is over” hoodie and grumble a little today.

Where were we? Ah, yes! The Olympia Farmers Market. If you ask anyone in Olympia about places to go here, they will mention the Farmers Market.

The Farmer’s Market is a large indoor/outdoor market that is going into its 43rd year. There are farm vendors, artisan foods, crafts and entertainment. The website has a lot of information about the vendors and you get a good idea of the breadth of offerings. It’s huge and it may take you a couple of times through to see everything. It’s a great place to walk through and you will certainly find something to delight you.

My favorite thing from the Farmers Market so far is the Kiwi Berries. I had visions of putting them on salads but I think we just ate them all right out of the container.

And if your brother wants you to pick up some apples, better get some details because the number of varieties is a tiny bit overwhelming in the fine state of Washington. 🙂

Located at 700 Capitol Way N in downtown Olympia. (360) 352-9096

Hours: Open every Saturday through March, 10 am-3 pm and then Thursday-Sunday, 10 am – 3 pm, April to October. There’s plenty of parking. Don’t forget to visit the demonstration garden on the east end of the market.

Spring is coming — it might just be taking the scenic route.

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: more rain: surprise, surprise. But! It cleared up in the afternoon with temps over 50. Woohoo!


A special shoutout for Groundhog Day (affiliate link). Buy the movie and resolve to make a fresh start every day, even when it feels like the same thing over and over again.

Uprising!

Seed shopping

My Uprising Seeds catalog came in the mail yesterday. I didn’t know it was possible to be in love with a seed catalog — until now. Uprising Seeds is locally owned and operated in nearby Bellingham, Washington. One of the things that I don’t think I fully appreciated until I became dependent on open source software is the importance of open source anything, and that includes seeds. Open pollinated seeds contribute to plant diversity by encouraging seed saving and sharing. I never get tired of hearing the backstory on a seed’s origin. In the U.S. where most of us shop at grocery stores, it’s easy to believe that what’s in the grocery store is it, when in fact there is an unbelievable array of vegetables and fruits from all over the world. A lot of what is grown for the mass market is grown because it keeps well, ships easily, produces standard-sized fruit, etc. — not because it’s necessarily the best-tasting variety.

I already knew that I was missing out if I was only eating (or trying to grow) the standard American cucumber. But I didn’t know about Le Puy lentils. Then I read the entry for the Le Puy lentils in the Uprising Seed Catalog.

It is indeed true that these were not grown in Le Puy en Velay, France where they have been grown for over 2,000 years. They were grown here people, which means you too can grow them! (You cannot hear this but I am shouting with excitement!)  Sown a bit earlier in the Spring and harvested several weeks earlier than our earliest dry bean, these began as an experiment and ended as an incredibly beautiful seed crop. A seed crop we are having a hard time not eating because we grew lentils!! Low growing (to perhaps 1’) slender plants with seed pods encasing 1-2 beans. Speckled blue/green little lentils which readily soak up all matter of deliciousness you may throw at them. Rich, nutty, and eminently satisfying.”

Now I have to grow lentils! I have no idea what that entails. And threshing? Never done it–it sounds painful doesn’t it? But I am going to use my grit and give it a try.

I am also going to try watermelon this year. Again, their ode to seeded watermelon made me question why seedless watermelon is so popular. Are watermelon seeds really that much of an inconvenience? Have we lost all sense of fun? So I am going to grow seeded watermelon, spit my seeds and revel in it. You should, too.

Uprising Seeds is online but there’s nothing better than the feel of a seed catalog in your hands.

Ready, set, grow! Spring is coming!

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: Rain, rain and more rain. When you have to change your clothes after a dog walk, that’s when you know it’s really coming down. About 44°F at 6 p.m.

The Masters

Gardening icons

Get to know your local Master Gardeners

The Thurston County Extension Service is one of the hundreds of county extension services in the United States that are provided by each state’s land-grant colleges or universities. The original land grants were established by the Morrill Act, named for US Representative Justin Smith Morrill who proposed the act. The act was proposed to make higher education available to the industrial classes and it opened the doors to college for many Americans.

The Morrill Act sought to provide a college education “without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”

Additional land-grants were added via amendment in 1994. In Washington, the land-grant colleges are Washington State University and Northwest Indian College.

The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 added federal funding of cooperative extension, with the land-grant universities serving as agents in virtually every county in the United States. Today, the mission of cooperative extensions is to “advance agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities.” Cooperative extensions use a research-based approach to improve health and well being.

When it comes to being a gardener, there are many resources provided by cooperative extension offices. This is a great way to get information on proven methods for your area. As is true in many counties across the U.S., Thurston County offers a Master Gardener training program. Master Gardeners go through an intensive training program to learn about the best gardening practices for the country where they live. Once upon a time, I went through the training in another county and the main thing I learned is that you very often have to unlearn what you have learned when you move to a new place. What worked in one place may not help you in another.

After the training, Master Gardeners commit to ongoing volunteer work to train and advise the public on best practices, garden and pest troubleshooting, and they help maintain demonstration gardens.

Demonstration gardens provide great plant and layout ideas for novice and experienced gardeners alike.

In Thurston County, there are three demonstration gardens:

  1. Dirt Works Demonstration and Composting Garden in Yauger Park
    Located in West Olympia near Capital Mall.
    Open Tuesdays,  9 am- 1 pm, April–October and on select Saturdays. Check the website for details.
  2. Closed Loop Park Demonstration Garden at the Waste and Recovery Center
    Hours:  Closed Loop Park is open the same hours as the Waste and Recovery Center. Visit http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/solidwaste/garbage/garbage-hours.htm  for hours. When available, Master Gardeners staff the garden April-October, Fridays and Saturdays, 9 am to noon.
  3. Olympia Farmers Market Garden. Located on the east end of the Farmer’s Market in downtown Olympia.
    Hours: The garden is open from dawn until dusk, year-round. When available WSU Master Gardeners and/or Thurston County Master Recycler Composters staff the garden during the days and times the Market is open April-October, Thursday through Sunday 10 am – 3 pm.

WSU Extension also provides an online library on many topics including gardening. For example, see this PDF download on bumble bees in the home garden. Yay, pollinators! There’s a lot to learn at the extension site and it’s a great way to get specific gardening questions answered.

And, if you have a composting question, you can call the “Rot line”: 360-867-2163 or email [email protected]

Happy gardening, composting and learning!

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It was another build the ark day. Temps in the low 40s each time I looked.