Olympia

My How You’ve…Changed

Before Mike and I lived in any new city, on any continent, we researched the area as best we could on the internet. We tried to find other expats who lived in the area so that we could ask them pointed questions about life in that city. We located grocery stores, bakeries, fresh markets, the local library, banks, and transit centers on a city map. If possible we also tried to locate information on crime statistics in a certain city.

Because we were heading back to Olympia, Washington, and we had only been away for seven years, we figured we knew enough about the area. Thus, we did no prior research. Before arriving we had planned to find something to rent in or near the downtown Olympia core.

Somehow, somewhere and without many people noticing, downtown Oly became a not-so-nice place to live. They even managed to turn my much-loved and often-visited Olympia Farmers Market into a tourist hot spot where the prices are now so outrageous that it is no longer a must-visit experience for many locals as it once was.

A walk through Sylvester Park in central downtown on a beautiful warm day had us walking through a maze of people, young and old, strewn all over the lawn, smoking and drinking. Many of the cities homeless now congregate on the lawns and under the trees. It was no longer a nice place to sit and enjoy a good conversation or a cup of coffee. When a city loses a place for families to play with their children, they have a problem.

Also, while walking around the city center Mike and I were shocked over the increased number of tattoo parlors we found spread throughout the city. When a city has more tattoo parlors than bookstores, they have a problem.

To better understand what happened here, I walked into several downtown businesses and chatted with the owners. I learned that over 80% of the downtown housing was now section 8 low income housing. Eighty percent is a major saturation. No one had been paying any attention to the housing infrastructure during the past seven years, and low income housing became the standard. When people run out of Section 8 assistance, they become homeless. Homeless people tend to remain where they are familiar and comfortable, and that equated to the downtown park.

We also noticed that there were no grocery stores to buy everyday staples in the city center. We wondered, where are people supposed to shop? We were told that they had to head out of the area to nearby Lacey or Tumwater to buy groceries or they had to pay the incredibly high end prices at the only grocery store in the area which is nearby but not located central to downtown.

Many of the businesses we had frequented and shopped in were no longer around. Many of the buildings are vacant and waiting for someone to come along and fill them. We learned that much of the turnaround was due to the type of people who fill the streets at night in Olympia because of the homeless situation and people no longer felt safe walking the streets at night. If people with money no longer want to dine at, shop in or even walk through your city center, how can one expect the restaurants and the businesses to thrive?

Is it too late for there to be a turnaround? Can something be done to lesson the number of section 8 housing options and to equal out the type of people they want to draw to downtown?   In a special three part report in The Olympian entitled Taking Back Downtown Olympia, several people are reportedly trying to do just that. Will they succeed? I hope so. Olympia is after all the state capitol of Washington, and it should be a bustling, vibrant, fun and safe place to live. I hope they can make it happen.

Until they do we will be living further north in Bellingham, Washington, where the statistics and our research indicate Bellingham is one of the best cities in not only Washington to live in but also in the United States. We therefore have learned our lesson. Just because we are American and just because we think we know our own country better does not mean we shouldn’t be doing our research on a city or a location with as much depth and clarity as when we researched for a safe place to live on four other continents. The mindset really does need to be; once an expat, always an expat.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

 

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A Walk amongst the Art

I love art. When Mike met me I owned quite a few paintings and sculptor pieces. He had never actually met anyone who would go to an art show and drop $1,000 or more on a painting, until he met me.

This coming weekend here in Olympia is the forty-ninth Olympia Arts Walk. Mike is doing his best to remain calm and while he won’t be able to keep me away at least he knows I do not have it in my mind to buy anything. Honest.

The city of Olympia has hosted these events twice a year for the past 24 years, one event in the spring and one in the fall. For this event 96 local and small business owners have opened their doors and they will be displaying artwork from mostly local artists in their establishments.

Over this two-day event, Friday, Oct. 3 from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 4 from noon to 5 p.m., I will be armed with a map of the participating downtown businesses and I’ll be strolling along the arts walk path.

Cover art for the forty-ninth Olympia Arts Walk.

Because there are over ninety artists participating there is no way for me to see all of the artwork, most of which will be for sale. It will therefore be enough for me to just walk amongst the art for a time, to get to meet some new and hopefully interesting people, and to see some of the new businesses that have opened in the city’s core during the past year.

There will be food for sale, musical performances by various bands scattered throughout the downtown area and a new event, a Culinary Throwdown, to keep everyone entertained.

The Arts Walk was created as a showcase for local talent and it is a signature event here in Olympia. Many of the younger entrants of the event have actually gone on to study art at a university because of the positive feedback they have received from participants. There are many ways to give back to ones community and providing encouragement, and even becoming a patron of an aspiring artist isn’t a bad way to go.

Raised as I was in Buffalo, NY, I was exposed to the world-renowned Albright – Knox Art Gallery and I even took art classes there as a child. While the teachers were nice it didn’t take long for everyone to see that I wasn’t the second coming of Grandma Moses. I have however always appreciated artistic talent in others, no matter the medium.

The Arts Walk is not just a showcase for painters. There will be sculptures, Native American art, bead work, pottery, jewelry, photography, woodworking, blown glass and perhaps thee-dimensional art pieces.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I have always found this to be true. Good works of art move me and take me away to other places, to other times, to other dimensions. I am therefore looking forward to my walk amongst the art.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

What’s Brewing?

Recently I chatted with Dean and Carla Jones the owner / proprietors of Encore, Chocolates and Teas. This unique shop located in downtown Olympia, WA sells not only loose leaf teas but also artisan chocolates.

Why the name Encore? After being semi-retired for four years Dean and Carla realized that sitting home just wasn’t for them, besides they are very much people persons and Dean loves to chat. Encore is a word best associated with a second act or a new beginning and this shop is just that for Dean and Carla.

Owner / Operators Dean and Carla Jones.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Owner / Operators Dean and Carla Jones. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Currently there are 220 teas available for purchase. They receive teas from 10-15 distributors receiving tea shipments from around the world. The teas are sold by the ounce and weighed while you wait. The teas range in price from $1.40 an ounce for the cheapest blend to $7.25 an ounce for the most expensive blends.

They sell 220 different varieties of teas in this store.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They sell 220 different varieties of teas in this store. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They sell steeping pots and filters and if asked Dean will show you the best way to make an excellent cup of tea.

They sell steeping pots and filters and if asked Dean will show you the best way to make an excellent cup of tea.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They sell steeping pots and filters.  I bought the one on the left that looks like a tea leaf.   © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Here are some tea facts;

  • If you want a stronger cup of tea you add more tea to the steep process, you do not let tea steep longer to make it stronger that only makes the tea bitter.
  • With the first steep of any tea you get the most antioxidants.
  • Most teas can be steeped multiple times.
  • Any tea can be made an iced tea.
  • Many herbal teas are made with stevia leaves so they do not need sweetener.
  • Put loose leaf teas in an air tight container and keep out of sunlight. Light affects the tea and makes it less flavorful.
  • Tea should never be frozen.

Dean did give me a few pointers in the art of making an excellent cup of tea.   My favorite is white tea.

  • Boil the water and then let it sit for three to four minutes to get to the right temperature (best at 175 degrees for white tea).
  • Take 2 tablespoons (or about 3-4 grams) of white tea leaves for every two cups of water. Place the leaves in a tea maker.
  • Place the 175 degree water over the tea leaves and wait 2 minutes. Remove the water from the tea leaves.
  • Add your sweetener of choice (for a vegan alternative add rice syrup).
Best Steep Times for Tea Varieties Black teas = 4 minutes Green teas = 3 minutes (at 180 degrees or less) Herbal teas = unlimited steeping time Oolong teas = 3 minutes White teas = 2 minutes (at 175 degrees or less) © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Best Steep Times for Tea Varieties
Black teas = 4 minutes
Green teas = 3 minutes (at 180 degrees or less)
Herbal teas = unlimited steeping time
Oolong teas = 3 minutes
White teas = 2 minutes (at 175 degrees or less)
© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

To stop brewing tea you remove the leaves from the water. Each tea variety has a ‘best’ tea steep time. For example black teas should steep for four minutes, green teas for three minutes, and white teas for only two. Because the best cup of tea comes about from the boiling water being able to surround all of the tea leaves the small tea balls so many people use are not recommended. Infuser pots such as these shown here are best and allow the leaves to breath and be surrounded by the water.

Dean and Carla sell everything you need to make a great cup of tea.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Dean and Carla sell everything you need to make a great cup of tea. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Some of the tea varieties available in the store include; Black, Herbal, Oolong, Green and White teas. This isn’t all however. Under Green Teas for example they have Jasmine, Mint, Fruit and Spice. Under Herbal they have Chai, Fruit, Mate, Mint, Spice and Wellness. You can spend hours in this store browsing the tea varieties and the combinations available. It is hard to pick just one tea to take home at a time.

Some very interesting combinations of leaves to try.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Some very interesting combinations of leaves to try. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

There is currently only one tea plantation in the United States which is owned by Bigelow Teas and located in South Carolina, it is called the Charleston Tea Plantation.

Several other states have tried to grow the leaves necessary for tea but their yield is small and sporadic mostly due to soil and weather conditions. This link shows a list of other American growers of Teas.

Teas being imported into the United States are checked for herbicides and pesticides. Drought, pollution and weather conditions all affect the quality of the tea leaves.  Currently the best black teas come from India, the best Oolong from Taiwan and the best Green teas from China and Japan. Dean has personally tasted each of the teas he sells in his store.

They always have one to two teas available to sample.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They always have one to two teas available to sample. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Prior to opening the store Dean and Carla did a lot of market research and figured that their customer base would be those 45 years old and older. After opening the store on November 29th, 2013 they have found that their largest customer base is actually those in the 20 – 40 age bracket. These younger shoppers like the various tea blends available and they prefer the bulk buying of their teas over traditional teas sold in grocery stores.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Encore, Chocolates and Teas is filling a niche vacated in Olympia when The Tea Lady closed her shop on June 14th 2014. She had been an Olympia landmark for 20 years.

This is part one of my interview with Dean and Carla Jones from Encore, Chocolates and Teas. Part two, where I write about the Chocolate half of their store, will be posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 on my Lean, Mean and Vegan blog.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

The City of Murals

Having traveled to four continents and over 28 countries thus far I have to say I don’t think I have ever lived in a city with more murals than can be found here in Olympia, Washington.

A mural is defined as any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. It is most common in a mural for the architectural elements of the given space to be harmoniously incorporated into the picture.

Olympia is home to the world’s largest solidarity mural. This 4000 square foot mural begins with a giant olive tree with branches and leaves. These leaves are called talking leaves with each one representing an organization from around the world which represents solidarity, activism or community service. The mural was erected in honor of Rachel Corrie who was born here in Olympia but killed in Gaza. The artists who participated in creating this mural were local, national and international artists and activists.

This mural is 4000 square feet.  It is the largest solidarity mural in the world.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This mural is 4000 square feet. It is the largest solidarity mural in the world. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It was created in memory of Rachel Corre who was born in Olympia but died in Gaza.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

It was created in memory of Rachel Corrie who was born in Olympia but died in Gaza. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This website, for the Olympia Rafah Solidarity Mural Project, has a wonderful interactive aspect which tells you which organization painted and supported the mural ‘leaves’.  It will also allow you to see the leaves close-up.  Rachel Corrie was a young activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while defending the home of a Palestinian family in Gaza. The mural is located on the corner of State Street and Capital Way.

Not all murals are political in nature.  This one is for a local Italian restaurant - called, you guessed it, Trinacria.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Not all murals are political in nature. This one is for a local Italian restaurant – called, you guessed it, Trinacria. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Trinacria is a Sicilian restaurant located on Capital Way.  It is open only for dinner and doors open at 5:00pm. I can personally attest to the fact that the cannoli’s are made fresh when ordered and the owner, who is from Sicily, uses good rigotta cheese.

This mural is located near a local Thai restaurant.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This mural is located near a local Thai restaurant. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In almost every alley in between buildings you can find a mural.  They are literally everywhere in this city.  You just need to keep your eyes peeled.  This one is located near a local Thai restaurant.

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Some murals are two murals in one. This building is so large they put first one mural here and then used the second half of the building for the other. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

One of the other famous murals in Olympia.  This one is found on the side of The Old School Pizzeria.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

One of the other famous murals in Olympia. This one is found on the side of The Old School Pizzeria. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mural depicting all of the Marvel Comic Book Hero’s was copied from a 300 piece puzzle entitled the Marvel Super Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle.  Can you name all the super hero’s?

Some art is frustration art.  It can be beautiful however.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Some art is frustration art. It can be beautiful however. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This mural is located on the same stone wall as the mural for Trinacria.

Participating in the painting of murals is a big deal here in Olympia.  This past August 24th was the 4th Annual Community Mural Painting Project.  Residents and painting enthusiasts meet and help to paint a new mural every year.  This year the mural was located at the Olympia Little Theater.  I will have to make it over to the site to take photos of the finished project and I’ll share them in an upcoming post.

I could not find a website to tell me how many murals there are in Olympia.  As I see and find more I will record them in snapshots and then share them from time to time.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

Meet Rebecca Howard, First Female Business Owner in Olympia

Rebecca Groundage was born in Philadelphia in 1827. In 1843 she married Alexander Howard. In 1859 she and her husband had moved to Olympia, WA where they opened a hotel and a restaurant which they called Pacific House.

She and her husband ran Pacific House and Restaurant from 1859 to 1866. It has been recorded that The Pacific Restaurant quickly became very popular with travelers since Mrs. Howard was an excellent cook, had a keen wit and a sharp sense of humor.

They entertained dignitaries such as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman; and a parade of legislators and other visitors to the capital city and in 1880 she even hosted then President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy. She was however not impressed by politicians.

Mrs. Howard was said to be stern but also a caring and giving woman. In June 1862 she and her husband signed an agreement to care for Isaac I. Stevens Glasgow. Isaac was part American Indian whose father, Thomas Glasgow, mistreated his son. In 1877 the Howards adopted Isaac and changed his name to Frank A. Howard.

After retiring Rebecca moved her family to Priest Point, outside of Olympia, and her husband was able to set up his farm. After selling Pacific House Rebecca continued to promote business endeavors in Olympia and she donated 100 acres of land to the campaign to gain a railroad terminus in the city.

While retired, Mrs. Howard continued to build her wealth by buying property. According to the tax records of 1870 there were 221 taxpayers in the Washington Territory at that time. All were men, except for Rebecca Howard whose wealth was recorded at $50,000.

In 1870, after only 4 years of retirement Rebecca opened a boarding house and then reopened the Pacific Hotel and Restaurant.

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© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Rebecca died in 1881 after suffering a stroke; she was 52. She left an estate valued at $1 million dollars.

In 2012 Rebecca Howard was honored with a mural on the south side of the building on Capitol Way where her Pacific House Hotel and Restaurant once stood. The building now houses a very popular Olympia eatery known as the Bread Peddler.

In 2012 Rebecca Howard was honored with a mural on the south side of the building on Capitol Way where her Pacific House Hotel and Restaurant once stood. The building now houses a very popular Olympia eatery known as the Bread Peddler.   © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

Yes, Rebecca Howard was not only a pioneer woman but also African American. She flourished in this part of the country at a time when not only most woman but African Americans were still dealing with the after affects of slavery and the Civil War.

Being a female business owner is tough enough. Being a female business owner, a pioneer and an African American woman should have placed major roadblocks in her path. They did nothing of the sort.

I am used to walking around cities and taking pictures of interesting things. Olympia is a city filled with murals (of which I will be writing another story) but this one mural struck me as unique and different and I wanted to learn more about the woman who stood so tall and regal on the side of this building. So I returned home and began my research.

A very long time ago there was a reporter named Paul Harvey who would tell great human interest stories about interesting people most of us had never even heard of. He always brought these people to life and he made their story larger than life, sort of like the mural of Rebecca Howard. I will end the way Paul Harvey always did when he finished telling one of his stories, by saying, ‘and now you know the rest of the story.’

Florence Lince

about.me/florencelince

Wanted: A Boss With A Good Sense of Humor

Come this August, and for the first time in 3 years, I will be looking for work.  We have been traveling internationally this whole time.   Because a resume is a list of jobs one has held and its death they say to have gaps in your employment history I know for my resume I’ll put those 3 years down as life experience.  During our time away we traveled to 4 continents and over 24 countries.  I have photographic and video proof of where we’ve been so when a job recruiter tries to search for proof of my claims they will be able to see it on my YouTube channel.

I’m rethinking the traditional job search thing however.  I’m going to approach my job search like I am planning a really great vacation.  I have come to realize that work is a lot like travel planning.  You pick the occupation you are interested in, you plan how to get there, you gather the resources you need to get the job done and you go and enjoy your time within its walls. 

No longer is a job someplace that I need to be just because.  A job is to help me get the resources I need to keep traveling.  We won’t be buying a home when we get back to the US, we will rent so that we are free to move around if need be.  We won’t have a car to further burden us so that we can experience how the locals live by traveling by bus or walking everywhere.  We won’t be buying groceries or supplies in bulk but we’ll live in a small apartment with very little furniture and we won’t be going on shopping splurges to fill closets with items we can’t pack into a suitcase.  Ever present will be the life on the road mentality where we can pack up and go when vacation time comes and we’re not stressed out about having to protect the valuables we leave in our apartment because there won’t be any valuables in our apartment to worry about.

I therefore need a boss who knows that I’m going to work hard.  I’m going to be one of the hardest working people they have on staff because I’m also going to be the employee with their eye on the main prize, my vacation time.  I need a boss who has lots of projects they need done because I’m a fantastic multitasker who can plan, organize and facilitate events and projects better than most and I’m not shy about knowing my worth to an organization.  My work history is filled with my success in a myriad of industries. 

There might be gaps in my employment history because of the all the travel however I think in many ways this has only sharpened my employment skills.  I know the real worth of social media to a business and I know how to generate it.  I know the real worth of life on the road and how to get others excited about travel.  I know that working hard can lead to travel to fun and new places.  Mostly what I have learned however is empathy; I have learned about different cultures and its people and what their struggles and concerns are.  I can talk to people in a very different way from many because I have lived with and among them and my perspective on things is different than most.  To many businesses this should be of huge benefit.

Therefore if you have a job that you need a highly motivated employee for contact me; if you have a job that others have tried to master but failed at contact me; if you have a job that might seem too wild to contemplate then contact me.  I need a challenge; I need a new adventure to sink my teeth into; mostly I need a boss who can see the value I bring to their organization.  I have about 10 years left in my working life, longer if I find the right job and the right boss.  I know the right job fit is out there for me just like I know that I’m not done traveling yet.  I guess what I really need is a boss who likes getting post cards from great travel destinations.

 

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

There’s no place like home…

I just don’t know where that is exactly

I was born in Buffalo, NY.  I escaped when I was 18.  That’s a joke based on years of dealing with harsh winter weather.  Buffalo is a beautiful city with a great history and warm people.  And the food!  I think what makes people laugh is that when they tell me that they are going to Buffalo we recount all the places they need to visit to eat some of the best food in the US.  Yes, they call that Buffalo Proud.

I moved from Buffalo, to Glendale, CA in 1978.  I stayed in CA until 2005.  I had homes and family in Nevada by then so I was going between the two states.  In 2005 I met my husband Mike (on a singles cruise to Alaska) and he was living in Washington State.  In December of 2005 I had sold both of my homes (one in Nevada and one in CA) to be with Mike full time in WA.  We made Olympia our home.  It was a beautiful little city and is actually the capital of WA.  I enjoyed my time in Olympia very much.  They have an awesome farmers market and they host the yearly northwest a cappella competition which Mike and I attended.

In 2007 Mike wanted a career change and we moved to Redmond, Oregon.  It was a nice little town with a very homey and comfortable environment.  We lasted until 2008 when Mike took a better job based in Salem, Oregon.  I really liked Salem.  It has a great university town feel and is again the capital city of the state.  We lived across from the weekly farmers market and the city was central to all things cultural.  What was hardest on me was the white supremacist feelings in the neighborhood and with my clearly ethnic looks I never felt safe unless Mike was around.  I had never lived in an area of the US with such a feeling and while I was angry as hell about this situation it also made me incredibly sad that in this day and age stupidity and bigotry ruled the day.

By 2010 I had had enough of cold weather and we moved to Las Vegas.  Now, you can move to Vegas on two conditions.  One, that you do not like to gamble and two that you like it warm.  Mike and I do not gamble.  In fact in the two years we lived in Vegas Mike never stepped into a casino unless he was going to a buffet to eat.  Not too many people can do that in Vegas.  The second factor, liking it warm, really takes a lot of learning.  It’s not always scorching hot in Vegas, they do get some cool evenings.  It’s just that having it warm outside all the time is exhausting, so you have to learn to adjust.  Mike did a great job of it.  The real problem with Vegas is that making friends is really hard.  The attitudes of people in Vegas are just not geared towards anyone trusting someone else.  They are so used to people scamming them or cheating them that they don’t trust.  When Mike decided in 2011 that he had enough of the working life and wanted to retire I wasn’t all that upset over it and we looked forward to the next adventure.

I guess you can say I’m lucky since I have always enjoyed every place I have lived.  I can find something good about every place.  I just have never felt that I belonged in any of these places long term and no place has ever felt like home to me.  I have always had a bit of the wanderlust that people talk about.  Most people in my family stopped asking me “how are you” ages ago, they learned to ask, “where are you now”.  As Mike and I keep moving from country to country we have met some great new friends and have lived in some wonderful countries, but home?  I’m not sure what that is exactly.  If home is a place where I feel comfortable and happy and have everything I need then I guess every place we’ve been is home to me.  I think I’m lucky in this regard.  It helps me to want to keep traveling and seeing new places.  Maybe some day I’ll be a homey and have roots and one place to call home.  Until then I’ll just make the world my home…

Florence Lince

www.6monthers.com