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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rescue dog melts hearts

When I brought Schatzie, a female miniature Double-Dapple Dachshund home this week on a ‘rescue’ basis, it was strictly temporary -- just until I could find a good home for her.

I posted an urgent notice on Facebook about her immediate availability. Surely among my Facebook friends, many of whom are dog-lovers, I was confident she’d be on her way to a permanent home in no time.

And I was right.

All it took was a couple of hours.

When I saw my husband Charles playing with her, hearing the mirth in his laugh, as though he was a young child again, it melted my heart.

Our son Jonathan came over to ‘meet his new sister’ and after playing with Schatzie and taking her for a walk, he proclaimed: “You’re KEEPING her!” His tone of voice implied that it was unthinkable to even consider letting her go to someone else.

Early Saturday morning when the alarm clock went off for me to get up to go to a networking meeting, I groaned, rolled over, turned off the alarm, and decided I’d skip the meeting and go in to work later in the morning.

But just at that same moment, Schatzie appeared beside our bed with her eager, smiley little face and her tail wagging so vigorously fast, back and forth, she almost threw herself off balance. I could not resist smiling back at her and realized I needed to wake up, get up, and embrace the day.

I rolled out of bed with a smile on my face inspired by Schatzie, who immediately won our hearts and a permanent home – right here with us - and the day was off to a great start.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Self Portrait of A Gritty Tacoman

South Sound Gritizen at cocktail hour. Cheers Tacomans and surrounding neighbors! Happy South Sound Summer.

Taken by eight year old Thompson daughter, Anderson Island, August Inn

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Locally Based Global Relief Agency Offers Insight on AIDS Impact

World Vision is a Christian based,  international relief, advocacy and development agency that is located right here in Federal Way. They have created an exhibit called World Vision Experience: AIDS that explores the impact of AIDS on African children. The long-running and free exhibit will be in the Tacoma area beginning at the end of this week and will be available for viewing until early August. If this is something that would interest you, click HERE for the location, dates,and ticket information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ummm! Hah!

Hot dusty days... and here's those tools... digging and shoving and pushing... all in the name of Self Directing: taking responsibility for making things happen in one's own life for one's own well being
I remember those late teenage years when I got out there, working as a swamper on a St. Vincent de Paul Truck back in the fifties...getting to work at 7:30 am in the morning, pushing, pulling, and shoving at boxes and various kitchent utensils...
First week I was working, I was sure I was not going to make it... dropping things, pushing on a stove or a refrigerator and not getting the item to budge...
After one month I knew I could handle any challenge the truck driver threw at me... I can remember him smiling at the end of the second month..."you're learning, son, "you're learning..." I wonder what thoughts were racing through the young woman's mind in this picture... easier, happier times... hard times ahead, friends and family... or just: "I am going to make this work right now!"

Moments I recall from every summer... that first paycheck and I knew I had sweat blood to earn every cent... and saying goodbye at the end of the summer... feeling both relieved and sad...
I gave the work my best shot and I knew I had hung in there through a very long, hot, and exhausting summer...I congratulate my friend, M--t, for getting up every day and giving this tough task of replacing the old wooden steps going down Bellarmine Prep's Hill with new ones... M--t, you are A Okay with me!!!!!

Let's give every hard worker you and I know a big hand...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hart, Smith Make For Sublime Summertime Memories in Vaughn, WA

Above: Darden Smith reaches for a glass of water during his evening performance last night on the Key Penninsula.
Copyright 2010 by Mizu M. Sugimura.

What do some of the folks who write on the "In Your Neighborhood" blog here at TNT do in their spare time? Kim Bennett Thompson, our ever active Gritty City Woman was spotted yesterday at Word & Music's simply enchanting evening featuring poetry by the Neighborhood's amazing, Lorraine Hart , and soothing sounds by the talented and personable night's Texan headliner, Darden Smith.

Above: Kim Bennett Thompson.

Smith, an all-around singer, composer, and musican who traveled up from the great state of Texas, is no stranger to the land of lumber, laptops and latte. He mentioned at least two of these products at several points in his equally sharp, mostly humorous and self-depreciating running commentary.
Above: Darden Smith, a Texan who truly appreciates a mug of Northwest Joe.
Photo by Mizu M. Sugimura.

To link with Darden Smith's website and details on his latest work click here.

Apparently Smith's performing skills are not limited to the stage and recording studio. In addition to at least eleven studio albums and CD's under his belt, he is a gifted teacher as well. Prior to his performance it was shared that was mentioned that many youthful converts had been made during prearranged workshops for area boys and girls sponsored just the day before.

Access information about Words and Music click here.

Above: Lorraine Hart.

The folks at Word & Music deserve many showers of accolades for carving out a cultural island of beauty and creativity and energy in the South Sound and Key Peninsula. And in an ideal world, it's the opinion of this writer whose first introduction to the group was also yesterday night, that every community ought to be as fortunate!

Above: And the setting sun played the very last notes of the day. Copyright 2010 by Mizu M. Sugimura

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Puget Sound Island Life is Good for You!

Want a little (or big!) taste of Washington State island life and an easygoing getaway close to home? If so, I’ve got just the right program for you and its name is Anderson Island.

Accessible by boat or a short ferry ride from Steilacoom, it is the southernmost island in the Puget Sound. Small, wildly scenic, and peaceful, this island sparkles with Puget Sound magic. Islanders/locals are kind and laid back and the nature, plus animal life, and marine landscape will take your breath away. Just on the ferry ride alone, stress simply melts. 


And speaking of “ah,” the August Inn, a longtime, established inn mere minutes from the ferry landing, helps you celebrate island life to the fullest. Situated right on the water with a truly spectacular and unobstructed view of Mount Rainier, you can watch the water gently lap the shore, sea birds soar in the sky, and  enjoy the beach which is rich with shells and sea life.  After you marvel at the property, the inn itself is so well appointed with three different options to make your stay just terrific. 

There are two suites (The Rainier and The Heron) that boast stunning views, with comfortable, luxurious and romantic settings. The Beachfront unit is the largest and has the same commanding views as the suites. It features two large bedrooms on the lower floor and a loft with darling twin brass beds and family room/den. The living room on the main floor is super comfortable and stylish with a nice indoor dining area that captures the view and a kitchen that features any kind of cooking and dining implement you could ever think of! My favorite part of the August Inn are the large decks with plenty of seating for all. It’s here that great conversation, quiet contemplations, or scrumptious picnics and wine tasting occur. Priceless. 

Speaking of priceless, during the mini-heat wave a couple of weeks ago, my family and I had the chance to stay in the Beachfront unit and it was fantastic. We got a perfect reprieve from the oppressive heat of the city with cool, soothing salt air breezes. We reveled in the slower pace and soaked in the explosion of nature surrounding us. I went for a run one morning along the country roads. Surrounded by tall trees, meadows of sweet daisies, a bright blue sky and shiny sun, and two bald eagles soaring gently above me, I got blissfully lost in the absolute quiet and peace of this scene. Being early enough in the morning, the sunrise blazed deep orange and salmon pink over the water. Serenity!  

And you can feel this way, too! 

Check out the links (noted above for Anderson Island and August Inn). Booking is easy, the ferries are plentiful, so go explore!  Bring friends or extended family and create your own affordable and easy getaway. Or bring your loved one and sip wine at sunset. Or come on your own to read, think, and relax. Any way you do it, you too can have island life in your own backyard. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sharing A Summer Sunset

Photos copyright 2010 by Mizu M. Sugimura

Local voters may not agree on this year's candidates whose signs are popping up once more like pesky fungi on the sides of well-traveled roads and the corners of busy intersections, but if a vote were taken on the welcome aspects of summer sunsets a majority might easily be gathered to agree!

My TNT blog neighbor Lorraine Hart in Home, WA has previously posted some lovely photos showing what day's end looks like in her neck of the woods. Tonight from the far south-western corner of King County my camera caught a bit of tonight's colorful nod to the day both above and below.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neighborhood Patrol July 24th, 2010

The Safe Streets Neighborhood Patrol Academy is instructed by experienced professionals and law enforcement officials. Learn how to start and sustain a neighborhood patrol. This one session will teach Tacoma and Pierce County residents how to safely and effectively make a difference in neighborhood safety.

July 24 , 2010

1:00 pm to 5:30pm

Tacoma Police Department Headquarters
3701 South Pine St., Room 1209
Tacoma, WA 98409

Email: or
Website: (News & Events)
Phone: 253-272-6824

For more information about forming a block group in your neighborhood, please contact your Community Mobilization Specialist.

East Side: Moni Hoy,
South End: Darren Pen,
South Tacoma: Rose Perrino,
Eastern Pierce County: Rich Palladino,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Warm Memories

I shared a few heart touching moments with Bellarmine High School Graduates of 2000 Saturday evening. They had come to enjoy each other's company at their tenth reunion.
I spent some precious time with the planner of the liturgy or Mass, who also led the singing at that Mass, along with a guitar player and a pianist. All three were graduates of Bellarmine.

(Did you know the word Mass comes from the Latin word, mitto, mittere, which means sent? The last exchange between the priest and the congregation in Latin was this: "Ite, Missa est.--Go, the Mass is ended---" to which the congregation responded "Deo Gratias..." Thanks be to God." The meaning of this was now that we have, in the presence of God and each other, celebrated, in word and song, the life, death, and resurrection, let us leave this place and go out and, in word, thought, and deed, lovingly support others as Jesus would.)I volunteered to preside at that Mass and enjoyed every moment of it...

After the Mass, those who attended joined the other graduates outside for lively conversation and a tasty barbecue meal.

I found this to be a wonderful warm day... thanks you, Bellarmine Graduates, 2000!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Freeway fire visible for miles around Tacoma

The billowing black smoke drew a large turnout of concerned neighbors to see just what was happening and where the smoke was coming from. The smoke could be seen for miles on Saturday evening against the backdrop of the bright blue sky and the setting sun.

No one seemed to know just what sequence of events led to the fire, if anyone was injured, or whether anyone survived.

By the time I snapped these pictures, the fire was under control and most of the smoke had dissipated.

The throng of onlookers stood mostly in solemn silence with worried looks on their faces. The most often heard comment was, "I hope they made it (out alive)."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Be An Artist Program..Calling Young Songwriters!

Kids in the Gig Harbor, Key Peninsula area are about to get a real treat this month. Have you dreamed of being a songwriter and singer? Have you dreamed about someone saying, "Let's do this song," as an idea for words and music slipped into your mind? If you have this dream and want to give it a try, you're going to want to take part in a special program at the Gig Harbor Y.M.C.A. July 23rd.

Singer-songwriter Darden Smith, from Austin, Texas, began something wonderful in 2003 called, "Be An Artist" program, to foster creativity in students across America and western Europe. He has dedicated so much of his time, talent and energy to the next generation of Artists, that he can claim a true influence on the future, a legacy of young minds tuned-in to the craft we love so well.

So, the classes run like this: Friday July 23rd.
9-12 years of age...11am to noon and 1pm to 2pm
12-15 years of age...2pm to 3pm
15-18 years of age...3pm to 4pm

Oh, have I mentioned...that it's a FREE PROGRAM? Well, yes it is! If you want in, or know someone who would, call this number...(253) 534-7855 I would like to thank Darden Smith, for his time and talent, and thank Jerry Libstaff for bringing him to us. Jerry is a Key Pen hero to young writers...and old ones, as it turns out.

Saturday night, July 24th. will be the next in Jerry and Pamela Libstaff's house concerts, "Words & Music." and we all get to relax and listen to Darden Smith perform. I may be a tad nervous that night...y'see...I am to be the "Words" portion of the program, thanks to Jerry's encouragement. It's written on our calendar as, "Lorraine tries something different!"

If you would like to be a part of this happening, please call (253) 778-6559 or make reservations online at... There's more going on, this side of the double bridges, than one might think! Check out Darden Smith at his website

Here's a beautiful Darden Smith song, Drowning Man

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Federal Way's 4th Gets Crowd Vote

(Above) Photo by Mizu M. Sugimura copyright 2010.

While citizens in the King County suburb of Federal Way, WA have not completely united behind the voter's choice to change the form of their city government, if a vote were held last Sunday among residents and families attending the anuual city sponsored fireworks display - they surely would have garnered unanimous support!

Pictures snapped during the hours leading towards the scheduled 10:15 pm display give ample testimony to the size and composition of this year's holiday crowds who gathered together from 6:oo pm surrounding the soccer playing field at Celebration Park.

Food, fun and games kept the crowd amused in addition to scheduled performances by local bands, opportunities to meet, greet and pump hands with upcoming candidates for city Mayor, state Senate and House of Representatives among others.

All photos by Mizu M. Sugimura copyright 2010.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sun and Rain

I have been waiting for that sweet cooking sun to take over for a while... I remember last week making sure I kept my umbrella with me... going to work, coming outside, seeing that the streets were still wet with rain, which had given up, and now quietly soaked into the ground as the sun poked with smiling face out of the thick grey clouds...
Umbrella not needed...
Friday evening I was at a dinner at my friends' home. Muggy it was... and one of the folks there asked that the host to open the windows in the front room, where twelve of us were sitting and talking... and, whoosh, drip, drip... the wind started blowing, the rains came heavily, heavily, falling down...
Still two hours later, when we got ready to leave, the rain had stopped... Umbrella not needed...
Saturday... overcast with the sun dancing across my window sill all aftertoon
Sunday... dry in Tacoma, rain falling sporadically during the day in Seattle...
And the Moon Goddess ran away, terrified, Sunday evening, when the fireworks got working... umbrella not needed

But this Tuesday... Father Sun took over and people (probably with lots of groans and moans) got moving... They were moving down Sixth Avenue:

Moving on the Hilltop on 19th... freeway headed? banking or getting a hamburger and a strawberry shake or going to a meeting at the county city buildihg or the public library (like me)... no mind reader here... but folks were moving...back to the ups and downs of the week that is for sure!!!!!

Yes Indeed... It's Sunshine Time here......... for the moment

Monday, July 5, 2010

Street Fair part of Steilacoom's Old Fashioned 4th of July celebration

Perhaps due to the economy it seemed that more people stayed home in the local communities to celebrate the 4th of July instead of traveling out of the area.

The annual tradition of the Old Fashioned 4th of July festivities in Steilacoom saw a larger turnout than in years past and with a significantly larger number of food vendors, crafts for sale, and politicians (hopefully not for sale).

The parade featured everything from military units and marching bands to classic cars and the Steilacoom puppets making their tenth appearance in the parade.

Despite the blanket of clouds and a brisk breeze that kept flags flying, not a drop of rain fell. People were celebrating and enjoying the day from 7 a.m. setup onward, helping each other, reconnecting with old friends, and welcoming the opportunity to sample a variety of foods from the traditional to the unusual, all in a spirit of good fun.

One of the new vendors this year was Union Jacks "incredible British edibles with the wow factor" serving Jacket Potatoes (gigantic baked potatoes) loaded with toppings that were extraordinary.

Our Home Town 4th. of July Parade!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th. of July. Here in Home we did it up right, with our Home Parade along the water on A Street. This was my first July 4th. parade and, let me tell you, we do it our own way in Home! Everyone gathered by ten and soon we were engine, pirate boats, sparkly prince and princesses, tractors, ride-on lawnmowers, bicycles, wagons, bright and happy people, flags waving, bubbles, and (be still my beating heart!) Navajo, a beautiful apaloosa who is friend to my friend Janet.

This was a different feeling for me, rootless as I have been for most of my life. I knew my neighbours and we welcomed each other with hugs and smiles. Everyone was united in our stand for the August Fire Levy (more about that and the lies of a certain Fire Commissioner in another blog to come) and signs were everywhere. My good friend Chuck West, running for the Pierce County Council, a wonderful advocate for our Key Peninsula in every way possible, was there with his lovely daughter Lilly. I also met Anne Nesbit, courageous female firefighter...right on! She is also a very kind soul who gave my husband and I a ride back down A Street, when my hips couldn't make the walk back down. Squeeeeee! I was in a fire engine!

For the first time, I have a Home town. I can feel the comfort, finally, of roots happily digging their way into the very soil, and grabbing the rock below. I am embraced by a community...and embrace them back. Yeah, this is the right Home for me, full of good folks doing good deeds, a thriving Arts culture and so much more. Throw out your rural myths and legends of the Key Peninsula. We have characters out here alright, and we're proud of being so! We do it our way, in a tight and loving community. We allow ourselves to be different, and give each other the respect due. We work it, like America is supposed to. I may not be able to afford the official price of admission, but I'm home.
Oh yeah and stay tuned, we're having our very own Woodstock Weekend in early August. Peace, Love...and Music for everyone! Happy Birthday America, thanks for having me.