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Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31st

Phil was a gentle hearted, loving father who worked hard at his job and loved the community of Ruston where he lived. He loved his children so and wanted the best for them. He joined the PTA to be involved at their school; he helped them with their homework and read books to them changing the tone of his voice for each character in the story. Pictures his daughter drew hung on the cupboards in his kitchen. He loved to cook and was a master at cooking steak, roast, chicken, salmon, you name it! He was very talented with wood working and built a sturdy step stool for me to stand on while washing dishes. The sink was too high for me to reach and he was thoughtful to notice and find a solution. He loved photography and we often took long walks through Point Defiance Park. He cared about the Town of Ruston so much that he served over seventeen years on the Town Council seeing that the roads were maintained, trees were planted and families were happy.

I can still remember our first date – coffee at the Lobster Shop. I remember asking him later why we had coffee at the Lobster Shop when there are so many coffee shops around and he said he wanted to take me some where special because I was a special lady. My eyes swell with tears as I think back on this.

I still remember Phil and the love he had in his heart. Happy Birthday Phil!


Lorraine sent me an email today that included Nina Simone's rendition of Here Comes The Sun.
Nina is one of the great angels in my life. I saw her live in San Francisco in the late sixties. As she sang, "Young, Gifted, and Black," tears streamed down my face. I was caught up in the joy and pain of my childhood/teenage/young adult memories-- the ups, downs, gains, and losses. And I knew that I wanted to help make life a wonderful experience for all the people I would meet.

Beautiful children

This picture and many more like these can be found on the website,, San Damiano Foundation Collection.

Here is a poem by Nina Stiles that catches the chill and warmth and brightness of this beautiful Monday
Thank You, God
Life can hold such lovely things!
Apple-blossom-scneted springs;
Purple mist of haze and heather;
Books to read in stormy weather.

Common as a cooky jar,
Things I hold the dearest are:
A small white house, a small brown dog;
Sunlight breaking through a fog;
And as sweet as summer rain,
Understanding after pain.
Life holds all these lovely things.
Thank you, God, foir all it brings.

I am thankful
1. I woke up this morning
2. People who care about me contacted me by phone or email
3. Lorraine sent me You Tube with Nina Simone singing with which I am ending my reflection
4. Today I can laugh and cry and live with other living creatures
5. Right now I can help make this world a better place for all of us

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Warm room... March Madness soothing me. Don't call. Don't email me. If you are going to pray for me... let me make two suggestions: 1. that I don't blame myself later for just settling down into this comfy chair for the next few hours and just letting technology numb me to stimulating conversation, enlightening thinking, helping and being helped by others, and just letting life love me; 2. that March Madness will not be followed by April Apathy, or May Moodiness...

Check out this You Tube celebration of technology gone am---!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Going 'green' workshops on "Natural Yard Care"

Free! (the most powerful word in advertising)

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, City of Lakewood, and Lakewood Water District are co-sponsors of a series of workshops for Lakewood residents on the how-to of all the finer aspects of Natural Yard Care.

Each workshop is for two hours (6:30 - 8:30 p.m.) and will be presented as a dovetailed series that begins with natural lawn care, garden pest management, soil basics, backyard composting, sustainable landscape design, and lawn and landscape water management.

  • Wednesday, April 9 Natural Lawn Care and Garden Pest Management

  • Wednesday, April 23 Soil Basics and Backyard Composting

  • Thursday, May 8 Sustainable Garden Design and Smart Watering

Call Geoff Rinehart for advance registration at 253.798.4587.

And did I mention that it's Free!?!

Habitat Restoration and Blackberry Whack

Volunteerism adds a new dimension of depth and richness to a person's life.

Volunteers are needed in ways that are beyond what traditionally may come to mind. will connect you with opportunities that match your geographic area, your areas of interest, and your areas of expertise.

After registering and indicating your preferences, every Saturday morning you'll receive an e-mail list of places and organizations that need your help in the coming days and weeks -- many are simply online so you never even need to leave home to participate as a volunteer. I've subscribed to for years and the opportunities never cease to amaze me.

Two upcoming events in today's list of nearby volunteer opportunities:

Register your interest as a volunteer or the needs of your organization with Volunteer Match.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Attention Cootie Carriers! Stay away.

Tonight I received a phone call from my mother-in-law. She wanted me to make time for her to visit. Unfortunately for her....

....there's a waiting period.

My MIL's household of six has been sick since shortly after Chloe's birth. They have been passing around a terrible bug that nearly sent a not even two year old to the hospital for IV's. The flu. Right before Easter Chloe's doctor insisted I didn't let her near them. She told me it could cost us a lot of trouble for the baby. So we listened. After Easter the in-laws continued to spread their bug around their home and into my Sister-in-Laws home. My husband and I came to an agreement. I wanted to give them time after everyone was better before they could see our kids. He decided he wanted them to stay away for at least two weeks. He also doesn't want to get sick. This didn't sit well with my MIL. A few hours after speaking to me she called my husband. Now he's a sucker. She offered to bring a doctors note. He laughed and informed her that he just doesn't want to chance it. I'm so proud of him. He'd normally cave, but he really doesn't want to get sick. I do agree with her on one thing, "At least she has beautiful pictures to look at.”

I am curious. I know we are a pretty stubborn household. Maybe more so than others, but what kind of cootie steps do you take?




Let me invite you, sisters and brothers, to sit back, get toasty, and welcome one of the great artists of our times Gil Scott-Heron, whose eight minute presentation of this wonderful presentation which I first heard in the late seventies, came to mind as I trembled my way through the chilly snow and rain of the last few days, and shed some light on what I hope will always be the one value we shall choose to share in the bad times and in the good times.


I took my first and only driving lessons when I was twenty eight years old. And this old dog, by then, was much too old to learn new tricks... I stayed right at the speed limit in town or on the freeway. It takes me two thousand years to settle into any parking space. And I cannot remember the last time I even seriously considered driving on the freeway.

Back in the Stone Ages I got caught in a terrible snowstorm in Seattle. That frightening afternoon, as I watched my car slowly sliding down the street and I saw in my mind that I would soon end up on the sidewalk and then hitting a tree, I said this prayer: "Lord, just let me get home this time and I promise you I will never drive in the snow again."

I got home. I stayed off the road during the winter time for years. But I got caught the last few days--- rain in the morning, snow in the afternoon, thick gray clouds cruelly heading my way in the evening.

Check out this not too promising view

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Why oh why, would I even consider going out in these hard times? To impress other folks? Too late for that. All of my friends know that I ain't driving on nobody's freeway and I ain't getting behind the wheel of a car when it snows.

To get over my fears? I've tried positive self talk, hypnosis, self-hypnosis; others have encouraged me, teased me, tried to bribe me... I have got on my aching old knees and prayed... and I am still afraid.

But (watch out, I'm about to go into murky waters here) I still believe that people can choose to help each other (and I do trust myself to friends who love to drive, taxi drivers, shuttle drivers, airplane pilots--- any one who has the care and patience to help me get around).

Folks like these two young barristas at the Firehouse Coffee Shop

Or these two brothers bringing sunshine to each other as they sat waiting for the bus to come on a chilly morning

Always I have found a sister who chose to understand me and help me to get through
the bone chilling times and the dry hard moments. Always I have found a brother wh chose to sit with me and help me to find my way through the daily maze of the ups and downs of life.

And I hope that I can continue to choose to be a brother to each person who comes into my life-- because that is, finally, all I have to offer during these hard times.
Isn't the old saying so very true... the sun always comes back after the rain and the snow?

I invite you to just lay back and stick with Gill Scott for eight minutes... LOVE AND PEACE

Loverly Guests: Follow-up to Kim's post...

It was my pleasure to welcome Kim with her mum and kids to the Aerie! Thankfully, we were given a wonderful sucker hole of sunshine for a tour around the garden. I just love how kids take to the invitation of "walking a thought," and I have to admit, it kept me laughing delightfully for days after...that they kicked Kim out of the labyrinth for taking a cell call!!

Yesterday I received a beautiful card in the mail (oh, yay and thank you!) with pics Kim's mum was kind enough to have made. didn't think I'd use them Kim? Have you never met my wicked twin sister? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Here's a game we'll call, "chase Mummy from the labyrinth."

One moral of this story could be, never trust Lorraine with photographic, let's go for a better one than that. The moral of this story is that a delightful drop-in visit by friends makes a magic all its own...and kids, "get it!" Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Show Me Your Stuff: Kim's Love Fest And Tour

When I was a kid, my mom told that I "flit" like a fly--constantly moving around, looking, and doing. Nothing has changed. I am an observer and I love to look at people's stuff. To me, the stuff is the life story and the life's blood of the owner; I find nothing more intriguing.

Recently, I got the chance to visit the homes of two dear friends (Patty and Lorraine), bloggettes extraordinaire right here in this neighborhood. What a treat!

Patty lives in my neighborhood quite literally. I can walk to her house in less then five minutes, and by car, one minute. We did not know this connection right away. When we found out, we couldn't believe it. Patty has to drive by my house everyday (multiple times) to get to and from her house. She honks when she drives by and I wave to her and her family while I am out walking or running in the neighborhood.

I got to visit Patty's home and it's as fun and charming as she is. She loves birds (I do too!) and the house has decor that reflects this. She's got an amazing collection of dolls (some of which I had as a kid, too, which brought back great memories). Family pictures abound on the walls and table tops and I can tell that she's very proud of her family. I liked the soft pretty colors and the way the light come into the windows, so bright and airy. It was very comfortable indeed!

And speaking of comfortable, I surprised Lorraine with a spontaneous visit out in her neck of the woods on the Key Peninsula. My folks are in the process of moving out there and my kids and I were visiting the area Easter weekend. Lorraine graciously welcomed our happy crew (Mom, I, and the kids) to her home in Home, Washington. I've been excited to visit The Aerie, as Lorraine so lovingly writes about it. So, when Lorraine tells you what a beautiful place she lives in, believe her.

The Aerie has a glorious view of Joe's Bay and a bald eagle soared overhead. Beautiful bright-hued hummingbirds (one was red and yellow, the other green and fuschia) happily buzzed close by us to enjoy the hummingbird feeder. Pretty spring flowers and hidden garden surprises, like fresh herbs and abundant dormant flowering plants (just waiting to get their chance to burst forth later in the spring and summer) were throughout. However, the most interesting feature of the garden, was the labyrinth, an intricate maze. Lorraine told the kids and I to use the labyrinth to "walk a thought." We got our thoughts in place and started walking in the spring sunshine. My cell phone rang and then I got goofed up in the maze, so my kiddos kicked me out ("Mom, you're not doing it right--you need to leave"). They enjoyed walking their thoughts and exploring. Inside the house, all of the windows are oriented towards the amazing bay view. I liked the organic feel of the inside of the house--it felt like the outside environment was a natural extension of the inside and vice versa.

Thanks ladies for inviting me into your homes and lives.

Readers, Bloggers, what does your house say about you? What homes stand out in your mind that you've visited?

The Poet's Corner

A Friend Waits

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast on a rock
at the crossroads
of serendipity,
the journey between,
mine alone,
thy journey thine,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast in the cool
of new morning
that stirs a breeze,
the thoughts between
know and trust
our journeys twine,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast on the banks
of a river
that flows to the sea,
let sorrows between
rest here while
old rivers wind,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast by a fire
in the twilight
of what was to be,
we measure between
spark and flame,
this lighted line,
each and all
through time,

You are the friend
who waits for me.

Learning How To Drive My Blog-Auto

Okay, it's one thing to be able to write and put up a picture...but trying to add a youtube to post has been a severe challenge for this oh-so-last-century gal! Just copy here and paste there...well, it wasn't working. Picture my ankles being gnawed-upon by the trolls I know live in cyber-space. They seem to have an APB out whenever I'm trying to drive my little cyber-car across a new bridge. By this morning I was ready to drive the reeblefrazzinrattafrat computer right off the Home Bridge and watch Blogdom go blub-blub!

Okay, time to make a cuppa, breathe deep and have a little Jack Handy talk into the I'm a good person and...darn it...people like yooztoobies. Steeling myself with good intent, I had another look and thought...hmmm, what if I change gears between the two options for the post....

It was as if I spoke the word, "Friend," at the doorway to the Mines of Moria when I hit the little preview button! To celebrate, I'm going to share one of my favourite musical youtubes, featuring a nice young man from Tacoma, Mark O' Connor, on the fiddle. Did you know that he used to take guitar lessons from Dudley Hill, of Pearl Django fame? Dudley is jammin' with the rest of the Great Band in the Great Beyond now, bless him and his family. The South Sound can be very proud of its musical heritage.

Here's Bobby McFerrin (wrongly named Bobby McPerlin) Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O'Connor, with a version of "Hush Little Baby," guaranteed to make you smile and sway. Maybe someday, I'll even learn how to make a video...and turn it into a youtube...and post it. Ooh-la...I hate the sound of trolls laughing and drooling. Let's listen to some music, shall we? I'll drive.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Sir, I do not own a high pressure bidet!

Ok so picture this. Sitting on my couch, giving my baby a bottle, and watching kid shows with my four year old. When suddenly there's an extra noise in the house that doesn't belong. Oh lord, not again!
I muted the tv, adjusted the baby for proper carrying, and calmed my daughter. What is that? I followed this unusual noise. I get to my bathroom when it stops. As I push open the door my bathroom is covered in water. What happened? My daughter was with me. My husband is at work. I was on the couch. Slightly panicked I put down the baby, calm my freaked out daughter, and investigated. This looked like spray not overflow. So I immediately thought, "Oh No! Sewer back up!" I run to the basement and it is clean. No sewage, I am safe. As I am in the basement I hear the noise again. I run upstairs my daughter has her ears covered and OMG the toilet is spraying everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE!! Then it stops. I think, "Call the water department". There was a low flow issue last week maybe something is wrong again. Nope, no low flow. I am put on hold while the lady asks around. While I am on hold I watch the toilet water sway back and forth until suddenly the sway is rapid. Then BOOM eruptus. There it goes again!(Screams) "I'm hit! I'm hit!" panick again "Hello take me off hold, it's doing it again" as I am on hold I am thinking no one is going to believe me. I run and grab my camera and turn it onto video. I manage to record action and hang up my phone as I am still on hold. I redial and she answers, "It's doing it again...." She suggested that my daughter flushed a toy down the toilet. Yeah right! I wasn't buying that.
After many calls and referrals I finally was told to contact the sewer department. It was their doing. They were jetting the sewers and used alittle too much pressure. Which in turn gave my bathroom a toilet water shower. Afterwards there are few hours of cleaning and replacing items that I will never dare use again. I went through the emotions of panick, anger, bawling, and laughter. I mean come on there is toilet water spraying everywhere! Panick. There is pressurized sewer air blowing into my bathroom. Anger. There is toilet water and sewer air blowing into my bathroom while both kids are crying. Bawling. There is sewer air and pee water blowing into my bathroom. I got it on video. My daughter is freaked. My toilet looks like a over cranked bidet. Laughter.

Toilet Blowing

New Community Group Love Our Parks: Now You Can, Too: Join The Friends of Ferry Park!

I got an interesting e-mail today from a new community group comprised of neighbors who deeply care about our neighborhoods and community parks. They wish to carry on the legacy of legendary local philanthropist, park enthusiast, and Tacoma supporter, Clinton P. Ferry. Mr. Ferry loved the look, feel, and layout of European cities, particularly the way these cities had lots of little parks designed for everyone’s enjoyment and use. He wanted to bring that kind of urban design to our fine city. He also loved art and donated lots of pieces to Tacoma (including the famous ladies and the lions at Wright Park). In 1883, Mr. Clinton donated land to the city for its first urban park, Ferry Park located at South 14th St. between South Sheridan and South Cushman Streets. Ferry Park is getting some improvements through Metro Parks and from a bond passed back in 2005 (to find out specifics, please click here to visit Metro Parks or see the actual park signage at the park’s location).

So, what better location to improve neighborhoods, enhance the community, and bring neighbors together than with Ferry Park enhancements? That’s exactly what The Friends of Ferry Park organization wish to do. This group’s enthusiasm is positively contagious. They want to go above and beyond for this park and this neighborhood. In conversing with the group today, the rally cry reads something like this: We want color! Art! Culture! History! Community Building! All fine ideas indeed, wouldn’t you agree?

Interested South Sound residents? Here are some statements directly from the group and how you can be a part of it.

“The bond passed in 2005. The improvements are coming. Do you care about your local park? If you have a concern, suggestion or dream, please let yourself be heard! A new group is in town, Friends of Ferry Park. Our group wants to help motivate improvements in your neighborhood, starting with Ferry Park, the city’s first and oldest park. This park was donated by Clinton P. Ferry in 1883 to the city. Ferry hoped to spark a trend of pocket parks in every neighborhood, something he believed in deeply, and we do too. So what do you say? Do you want to take part in a new movement to improve your park and your neighborhood? If so, come to our discussion this next Monday, March 31st, at the Fulcrum Gallery, 1308 MLK Jr. Way at 7pm. Questions or comments? Write”

Thank you Friends of Ferry Park for contacting me. You made this Tacoma lover’s day!

Help a Neighbor

A community is a collection of individuals. Each individual has aspirations and goals, things that they love, like and don’t like. Modern communities consists of vast and ever growing numbers of individuals. So often we don’t get to know our neighbors well, and often times we don’t get to know them at all. Yet despite this, our lives are often highly intertwined. All of us seek to live our lives as best as we can. We all treasure our privacy. We all hope that through our efforts we can live a full and hopefully happy life.

A huge and ever growing problem in modern life is the punishing cost of health care. Except for the very wealthy, all of us share the hardship of being able to pay the next health care payment. This worry is doubly true if we become ill and can’t work. I spoke with a neighbor down the street recently. He is a medical doctor and said to me with a look of horror on his face that over 30 million people in the USA do not have health care insurance. This was shocking to me. I used the power of the web to check his statement. He was wrong. According to one source I found, as of 2005, there were 47 million in the USA without health care coverage. Clearly the high cost is the reason that so many go without insurance.

The reason I mention this is that one of the members of my community, whose name is Ky Loop, is one of those without health care coverage. I never met Ky. I first heard about Ky at a recent Community Council meeting. One of the members made a passing reference that there was going to be a pancake breakfast to benefit Ky. I meant to ask about Ky, but there were other items on the Council Meeting agenda, and I forgot. At the next Council meeting Ky’s name was mentioned again. I took a moment to ask about Ky and was given the name of a web site that would tell me something about him. Here is the web site: I urge all to take a moment and look at his site.

Following is a short excerpt:

Greenwater friends are like family—it was as if the boys had dozens of cousins and some of the friendships bonded in those early years just grow stronger with time. The teachers at Enumclaw used to remark how the “Greenwater Kids” took care of each other. If one of the little ones got hurt on the playground, one of the older ones would tend to him or her. It was a remarkable time and a remarkable place.

Ky is fighting Cancer. Like about 47 million of our neighbors, Ky has no health insurance. Ky is a highly motivated person. Ky grew up in Greenwater and went to culinary school at South Seattle Community College. He had to drive around 100 miles for each trip to school. Ky got a job working as the chef at the Café Panini in Enumclaw. He is said to be an excellent Chef!

After reading about him at his web site, I came to realize that, even though I never met Ky, I found that his and my paths have crossed probably thousands of times. The Community College where he learned culinary arts and sciences is a place where I am within 2 blocks of many times per week. I pass right by the Café Panini, where he worked every time I pass through Enumclaw, and, of course, he spent much of his life in Greenwater, doing many of the same things I like to do.

To help pay for some of his expenses, on March 29, there is going to be the first of two benefit events in Ky’s honor. There will be a Spaghetti Feed and Auction at the Enumclaw High School. Registration starts at 4:30 PM and dinner starts at 6:00 PM.

Then, on April 5, 2008, starting at 6:00 AM and continuing until Noon, there will be a Pancake Benefit Breakfast at the Greenwater Community Center.

If you can show up for either or both of these events, please do so. If you can contribute something or even extend some good wishes to Ky he would be grateful for it. If you can, do it for no other reason than in all likelihood, some day, some time in your life you will need the help of others. As we all know, what we give is about the same as what we receive. For those who do give, our neighbors that make up our communities always return the favor.

Note: This article was updated 3-27-08 for corrected dates and times.

Note: A duplicate of this article can be found at where we have a discussion forum.

Immigration Through Photographer's Lens, Teenage Perspectives

Above: Viewers at the opening reception for Becoming American: Teenagers & Immigration at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma on Saturday, March 22. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

Powerful black-and-white portraits of young immigrants hailing from around the globe, with highly impacting text in the subject's own words comprise the traveling show Becoming American: Teenagers & Immigration, opened last weekend at the Washington State History Museum.

The traveling exhibition was developed for circulation by the Smithsonian Institution and is be available for public viewing at the museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue, through June 1, 2008.

Featuring the work of professional photographer Barbara Beirne, the exhibition hopes to give viewers a window into the complexity and diversity of today's immigrant experience through the eyes of fifty-nine teenagers who were photographed and interviewed in their own neighborhoods and communities around the nation.

In addition to Beirne's arresting photos, the exhibition also includes the opportunity to view the short film In Our Own Words, a sometimes dramatic and memorable collection of interviews and recollections with a sampling of adult members drawn from the local Asian-Pacific Islander community.

Left: Visitors examine entry panels at the newly-opened photo exhibition. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

The film made its debut at the opening of the show the evening of Saturday, March 22. It was developed in partnership with Tacoma's Asia Pacific Cultural Center and Bates Technical College.

Both Beirne's thoughtful portraits and locally produced film act as catalysts to stimulate further thought and reflection as to what it means to be an immigrant in today's America. Viewers are encouraged to explore their own family norms, how culture and diversity flow in their families of origin and how both individual and national views on immigration and cultural diversity possibly been impacted by the events of 9/11.

(Author's Note: This blog originally appeared at Liquid Muse-NW.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flying Kites, Fighting Kites On-The-Brain: At Local Weekend Workshop, In Bestseller & Recently Released DVD

Judging from appearances, I'm among the few readers who did not take the time to check out the 2005 bestseller The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Fans of the book may know that Hosseini's book was voted as the top book group selection of the year in a poll conducted in the United Kingdom in 2006. The Kite Runner also made it's debut as a major motion picture last year and the film, directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, 2004) was nominated for a slew of awards including a recent Academy Award nomination for best achievement in music written for a motion picture.

My son, who still lives at home and works for a major corporate chain video store, arranged for my spouse and I to enjoy the newly released DVD edition this evening. For those like myself, who didn't read the book or view the movie when it was in theaters, setting aside a free interval to see the film is certainly well worth the time.

A discussion ensued after the film had concluded at my house because my spouse was born and raised in Japan. A good part of his formative years growing up in post-war northern Japan were devoted to the flying of fighting kites very much like the two Afghani youngsters whose lives are so compellingly told in the movie.

Interesting enough a flier I picked up at a local library produced by the Tacoma Art Museum passed on the news that April is National Kite Month! Which now leads in a roundabout way to plug a timely program commencing only two days from now for local kite enthusiasts from eight years old upwards at TAM on Saturday, March 29 from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. featuring Seattle kite master Greg Kono, of Kono Design.

The program looks to be an ideal way fans of The Kite Runner - book or film, could celebrate a weekend morning learning how to create and build their own eye-catching bird kit. For adults, it's a great theme date! For parents or grandparents of children who are looking to an opportunity to share some stories of their youth as well as an activity with a younger member of the family, this might be the place where a lifelong bond is made!

All this highly specialized and personalized instruction is available for the price of $35.00 for members, $45.o0 for non-members. All supplies are provided. Fees include admission for one child and their adult companion. For those 16 years of age and older, it may be a welcome note that the accompanying adult is not required. To view a portfolio of some of the beautiful and high-flying kites Kono has created click here.

March 26th is my Favorite Day!

Today was a great day! As I write this, it's late at night and I would imagine most of Tacoma is getting ready for bed. Before I go to sleep I want to tell you March 26th is my favorite day of the whole year!

Can you guess why, Tacoma?

Discover Washington Wines: Trillium Creek Winery, Key Peninsula

You can find a terrific local winery right at Home (the town of Home, Washington, that is!) which is right in our own South Sound backyard. The new Trillium Creek Winery, licensed back in 2006, produce Pinot Noir, Muller Thurgau, Gewurztraminer, Leon Millot, and Siegerrebe wines on their 15 acre property. The Syrah and Cabernet varietals are derived from purchased grapes from Eastern Washington (however, all of the processing and bottling is done right there at Trillium Creek). Fruit wines are also a feature of the winery; for these unique wines, Trillium Creek partners with Fairview Acres Lavender Farm (also another delightful attraction in the Key Peninsula that I am longing to visit).

Trillium Creek owners are a husband and wife team, the Garhards. French born Claude and Pacific Northwest native Claudia have been making wines for nearly thirty years as a hobby. Upon retirement from their “first” careers several years ago, they decided to make a go of the wine making business. According to their website, in a tree clearing project on their Key Peninsula property, they decided to plant some grapes. The grapes just took off and a new career was born.

We discovered Trillium Creek really by accident just recently. We were driving around Home to find the property where my dad lived as a child. We saw the welcoming winery sign and decided to check it out. We drove up a pretty woodsy drive and happened upon this darling and immaculate cottage with spring flowers all around. The cottage served as the tasting room. We were promptly greeted by the charming Claude and his lovely daughter-in-law who warmly welcomed us (along with a cute floppy big dog aptly named Champagne). We were invited inside the tasting room and it was wonderful. Inside the warm and cozy cottage there was a pretty wine bar and plenty of wine and scrumptious gourmet cheeses. Claude offered us a complete tour of the vineyards and the facility. We took a rain check as we were on our way to a friend’s home. Claude happily encouraged us to return when we were ready for the tour and he shared with us the history of the winery, the kinds of wines available, and a bit of the wine making process. Claude said (with a twinkle in his eye) that we needed to sample the wines we were interested in before we purchased them. Mom and I sat down at the wine bar and were positively dazzled by the Chardonnay, Syrah, and Merlot (the Merlot was my absolute favorite).

After some relaxed sipping and chatting, we purchased bottles of what we sampled to take back home. I thought the prices were quite reasonable for these delicious high quality wines. Of course, the service was fantastic. However, what struck me the most was that this family owned business was lovingly crafted and cared for. I plan to make Trillium Creek a regular stop on my journeys over the bridge. Please click here for their website (check out the special events section too!) for more information on the winery, their hours, and driving directions. On a special note, from the Trillium Creek Winery site there is a link to go to Fairview Acres Lavender Farm; check out this site too for their fine local products.

More to come from The Key!

Speaking Of The Funny Papers.....

Fellow blogger Lorraine Hart is absolutely right in her post this morning about the important place comic strips have in creating a quality life for true red-blooded Americans in our South Sound. Comics and cartoons feed and address important needs for which our travels in the twenty-four hours that make a day may otherwise easily overlook.

Humor is quite possibly the most necessary component in everyone's life. If we aren't clever enough to stumble over it on our own, thank goodness (as Lorraine says) for cartoonists like Gary Trudeau! I am of course as much in love with the funny papers as anyone.

When I was in elementary school and a frequent candidate for extra dental work, I remember following strips like Nancy, Peanuts and Family Circle at home. It is equally true that comics made it possible for me to rate in that era going to the dentist for silver amalgam fillings hands down over a visit with my friendly family pediatrician!

The dentist we patronized at the time was an older, fully white-haired and bespectacled Japanese-American professional by the name of Susumu Fukuda, who leased a suite of offices on the second floor of the old now older Jackson Building which still stands today in Seattle's International District.

While Dr. Fukuda then looked to be twice as old as most every adult I ever knew at the time, and his English had a trace of a Japanese accent as he'd spent a part of his youth in Japan, he was very astute and quite acclimated to American tastes.

He'd made it a point to subscribe to Highlights for Children. Copies of this magazine were literally stacked in his waiting room most likely to impress all the moms. An equal stack of Archie, Jughead & Veronica comic books, with a little Casper and Bugs Bunny throw-in for good measure, provided some entertainment for the younger set.

But one gets older. There comes a time when Archie, Veronica and Jughead don't always cut it anymore. At some point I moved on to other titles including Lorraine's favorite Doonesberry. Gary Larson's The Far Side and Berkeley Breathed's masterpiece Bloom County.

However, the biggest thrill I ever had in connection with cartoons was when a college acquaintance and a fellow UW Journalism school student I used to know, volunteered to introduce me to his good buddy.

This good buddy, a cartoonist, created a few illustrations along the lines of good-humored college oriented commentary in the mid-seventies having to do with streakers, a phenomenon which had hit campus around the same time especially in the residential area around fraternity row.

The may I say - adorable drawings suggested the giddy, gleeful and unrepentant spirits whose simple, winsome and marshmallow-shaped bodies were drawn dashing alongside and by the otherwise dignified masthead of the student newspaper, The University of Washington Daily, and I had fallen totally in love with these characters.

From that interval onwards I was a life-long fan of their creator, who was one his way to becoming the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's pride and joy, none other than Pulitzer Prize Winning editorial cartoonist, David Horsey.

Horsey's prolific talent and extraordinary take on life - most often in these United States, is well documented and has won him I'm certain millions of fans around the nation, not to mention possibly the entire planet.

And fond as I am of remembering a scant handful of seconds, l was well aware even then, there must have been hundreds if not thousands of people before me who patted themselves on the back to have been so lucky to be ushered in for a brief and abbreviated audience with this gifted and outstanding cartoonist, editorialist, political observer and fellow member of the human race.

In recent years, in addition to tackling those major topics that frame really important issues in the world today, Horsey has taken some good shots at smaller targets including one or two events in my tiny borough of Federal Way, WA as he continues working to educate and entertain his audiences, while managing to elevate or poke holes in everything between the unusual and mundane, soaring to levels most of us can only admire and appreciate.

Drama In The Funny Papers


As I look out my window this morning, big fluffy flakes of cloud-dandruff (I won't say the word, I won't, I won't!) are obscuring my view across Joe's Bay. Excuse me Mama, did you not get the memo about Spring...I mean, we moved the clocks early and everything! Oh I know, I know, it won't last. Who am I to question the grand scheme of things? Usually I'm a go-with-the-flow kinda girl and can remain annoyingly unruffled...but you see...

I'm going through Doonesbury withdrawals.

It's as if a major chunk of my lifetime friends decided to go off on a twelve-week cruise and only left me a quick note in Sunday's Insight section. Perhaps I could've worked up to the adjustment, had Gary Trudeau sent me a personal email, but who am I to the ol' Walden gang? Never mind that I've been a pal of theirs since my teenage years; that's the way things go in the funny papers...oops, Op-Ed page.

I can understand that the daily (and I mean daily) grind of putting out a prize-winning comic, especially one that allowed its characters to grow in real time and events over the years, can get very wearing. On top of that, Gary works phenomenally hard to give the troops real support...and a voice. Google "The Sandbox" sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Gary darlin', I do understand you could use a bit of a holiday. I know you deserve it and, don't worry, I'll be right here when you get back. I'll be's just that it's snaining or rowing outside my window and the paper feels lonelier without my pals to give me liberal laughs.

I need another cuppa. Anyone out there missing BD, Mike, Joanie, Mark, Zonker and the rest of the crew?

Federal Way Festival Blooms May 10-11 (Continued)

Federal Way's Buds to Blooms will run Saturday, May 10 from 9:00 am - 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 11 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Shuttle bus transportation is available to all locations. Other festival guests include: Richie Steffen, Jeanine Smith, Hayley Howell, Jim Day, Cesar Medel, Mr. Darby, Rumples the Clown and Master Gardeners.

Select from your choice of optional activities: tour of the Barker Cabin, Bee Keeping, Ikebana display, blue grass music, banjo band, guitar music, pancake breakfast, storytelling, face painting, free wildflower seeds,wildflower coloring book, crafts and much more.

Festival locations featured during this year's show include:
During the festival no admission will be levied at the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Collection and West Hylebos Wetlands Park. The Rhododendron Species Garden will admit mothers and children only for at no addional cost. Powell's Wood will charge adults who visit the site a regular admission fee. Powell's Wood will not charge an admission fee for children under 12 years of age. Please be aware there is no charge at any time to enjoy the annual Federal Way Farmers Market.

To view a more detailed program and event timetable comprehensive event timetable click here.

Federal Way Garden Festival Blooms At Five Fabulous Venues!

Garden centers are busy stocking their shelves daily in order to fulfill the menu of South Sound gardeners whose tastes are being whet by a burgeoning schedule of calendar dates abloom
with multiple garden sales, tours and other festivities.

This spring also mark the debut of another soon-to-be great garden event when the City of Federal Way kicks-off the first annual Buds to Blooms Spring Garden Festival the weekend of May 10-11, 2008.

Yes, flower and plant enthusiasts, for two great days at five different venues around the city organizers have programmed a festival chock-full of extras headlined by long-time Western Washington garden luminaries including the unfatigable Ed Hume, unsinkable television personality Ciscoe Morris, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer garden scribe Marianne Binetti.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easy Spring Getaway—Visit Key Peninsula’s Joemma Beach State Park!

On a recent visit to the Key Peninsula to visit family and friends, I discovered a true local and natural gem. The remarkable Joemma Beach State Park is a great of example of South Sound beauty. This recreation site was created in 1961 and named the Robert F. Kennedy Recreation Area and opened officially in 1968. In 1995, the property was renamed, Joemma Beach State Park, after Joe and Emma Smith who lived there from 1917 to 1932. This park spans 122 acres right on the salt water of the Southeast Key Peninsula. Its pristine views of Harstene Island and the sparkling salt waterway cannot be beat on a sunny spring day. The beachcombing was AMAZING as my family and I discovered lots of pretty shells, many hermit crabs, and amazing pieces of driftwood that were gorgeous walking sticks or lovely treasures to take home to create art in the garden. Beautiful and lush trees border the park that serves as the homes for glorious bald eagles and other shore bird species. We were lucky enough to come up upon a bald eagle, literally close enough to see his feathers flutter a bit in the light breeze. Awesome! And being the only visitors in the park at the time, we could hear the water gently lapping at the shore and the call of the sea birds. We walked along the beach slowly and steadily and retreated to a welcomed and relaxing beach log to sit and soak up the sun. Unfortunately, this was one of those excursions that was totally spontaneous; and of course, I had no camera with me. But the experience is still etched in my mind.

What stood out to me the most was the cleanliness of the park. Clean, well maintained, and plentiful picnic benches with tables had glorious views. There is a boat launch that is in wonderful condition and gently slopes into the water (it’s $5.00 to launch). Signage told of the terrific salmon fishing and crabbing opportunities that this state park has to offer. The camp sites and bathrooms were pristine and boasted wonderful views, decent privacy, and great picnic tables and benches. Some had fire pits ready to go. For more information on fishing, crabbing, camping, and driving directions, click here or go to Lastly, a quick tip: wear good shoes to walk the rocky beach, particularly when rocks get wet (it can be a little slick).

South Sounders, this is a great day trip for anyone. Explore it. In fact, there's a lot to love about the Key Peninsula. More posts to come!

Monday, March 24, 2008

There Are No Friends Like Old Friends!

Far right: Now that our kids are grown, my long-time good friends Bea and Alice (from left to right) are finally able to aside a little time now and then to just have fun, indulge themselves with an occasional retail therapy date and lunch in a well-appointed tea room.

Below center : Country Village Shops in Bothell, WA has been a popular shoppers destination for years. All pictures that accompany this article are copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

Getting together with friends for a fancy tea is a rare treat on my calendar. So I truly relished a recent gathering at the Peach Tree Bakery & Tea Room at Bothell's Country Village Shops on Saturday, March 15.

That I'd be sipping tea with two old friends, one of whom goes as far back as my sophomore year of high school in Kirkland, WA in the beginning of the 70's.

Beatrice has been there for me in the subsequent years for most all my ups and down. And I like to think I've been somewhere nearby for most of hers. Alice is our most recent friend. We both met her when our kids were in school.

At one point or another, all three of us spent some of our school years growing-up in Seattle with brothers and sisters. So we have other points of reference that we share as well. When Beatrice and I turned thirty, we went to see the Chippendale dancers in Seattle with her mother and older sister.

A few years down the road she lost her first child, a baby son. She got pregnant again and delivered a healthy baby daughter. Then I had a son and lost my bone density. Things were fairly quiet until she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. We held our breath, but things have worked out for the best. Our mutual wish these days is for good health and days to enjoy it.

Left: The charm of the Peach Tree Bakery
& Tea Room is evident from outside the
front door.

Alice was lucky enough to have lived and worked in Hawaii in the years before we knew her. The rest of us know the islands as our most favorite place to visit. One of the most memorable visits I have had with Alice here in the Pacific Northwest was signing up for a weekend workshop Alice and her daughter to learn how to make Korean kimchee at Seattle's Wing Luke Asian Museum about two years ago. At the last minute her daughter could not go, so if memory serves we had some unexpected adult time. Which, in a nutshell, is precisely why it was that memorable!

Recently, she and I shared a good laugh when we discovered that despite our good intentions, to our mutual chagrin - that workshop was the first and only time since we ever tried to make this standard hot, garlic flavored condiment!

During those years since the three of us discovered we had common ground, family life and responsibilities always had to be juggled adroitly in order to meet at all. With our children
now independent young adults - for most hours of the day, Beatrice, Alice and I have far more time which makes a tea room date like this one something at the top of all our lists!

These days our kids thankfully, don't need babysitters. More significantly, they also don't come as a pre-wrapped package with mom! So we've moved from arranging hasty, impromptu coffee and rolls at the nearest Starbucks, to plan something a shade grander along the lines of the St. Patrick's Day holiday themed lunch and scones that we enjoyed the other weekend at the Peach Tree Bakery & Tea Room.

Country Village Shops boast over 40 cottage style stores offering a colorful selection of unique and delightful items for you, your home, your friends or just about anyone! It's conveninently situated along a tree-lined drive just minutes away from Seattle via I-405 at Exit 26. Although the locale for our tea on St. Patrick's Day weekend was determined by its close proximity to Bea and Alice's homes, a second date is now being discussed for an equally charming South Sound venue? Got any suggestions?

Above: The well-stocked bakery lets you bring
home a sample of your special favorites.

An Infinite Game of Creation

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time alone. The rest of my siblings were sent to various boarding schools in England and Scotland while I stayed with my parents in Southeast Asia, too young to be sent away. With a vivid imagination, it never seemed lonely or boring between the holidays that brought my brother and sisters home.

One of my favourite pastimes was to build miniature gardens in containers, such as biscuit tins. I can't tell you how many times my mother opened her find I had nicked the mirror out, in order to have a pond for my tiny, imaginary world! I had a beautifully curved Japanese bridge to put over the pond and then it was just a matter of choosing the right small stones, shells and other found treasures. Tiny branches, taken from bushes around the garden would become trees at the edge of the pond.

When my own children came along, I shared this game with them for an activity. It could be played together or with separate projects, depending on the size of the container. With a large rectangular pan the game became known as, "Infinity," for the endless different worlds we could make. After pouring in a base of sand, each would take turns adding a stone or other miniature something to make the landscape grow. Small pie-pans made great containers for individual worlds. Sometimes a particular creation would be kept for a while; sometimes a world ended as soon as it was made, creating room for another.

So I share this, in the neighbourhood, as a great game of imagination without competition for your kids. All you need is an old pie-pan or biscuit-tin, some sand and treasures, mostly provided by Mama Nature. It is an infinite game of creation, making great connections in a child's growing brain and imagination.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Prostate cancer: then and now

That radiant smile belongs to Willie Stewart. There's more to his story than just a good round of golf...

KTAC 850 AM, Tacoma, carried a long-running program hosted week-to-week by Willie Stewart.

I was the sidekick to J.J. Reagan, the station's morning man, and Sean Carter, in afternoon drivetime.

Synchronicity: KTAC had both Reagan and Carter on the lineup.

I did traffic reporting and news and was the fill-in for News Director Chuck Bolland ("That's the Way the Ball Bounces").

Additionally, I was Public Affairs Director and Public Service Director. Each week I produced two talk shows: one was a live, call-in show with special guests such as Dr. Bob Ettlinger and Dr. George Krick; the other was a program I produced during the week featuring a variety of guests about topics of particular interest to women. "Women's World" dealt primarily with health-related issues.

Willie Stewart came to our studios each week in the Tacoma Mall Office Building to record his own public affairs program that would air the following weekend. I would help set up the equipment to facilitate the recording session. Willie was so organized and professional. He always had all of his program notes outlined on 3" x 5" file cards and was ready to get started.

I recently ran across an old tape with a recording on it of several commercials I had voiced, in 1987, at KOMO. One of the announcements was for a prostate cancer treatment center in the Seattle area. Part of the script proclaims, "Time counts with prostate cancer."

The peculiar irony that struck me is that indeed with the passage of time - more than 20 years since recording that commercial - prostate cancer has become the focal point of my professional life.

April 14, 2008 will mark the second anniversary of my work with William M. Dean, M.D., a board certified urologist with offices in Tacoma and Gig Harbor.
He has been in practice locally for more than 20 years.

Dr. Dean was the first surgeon in this area to undergo advanced training in robotic surgery that is used now for the treatment of prostate cancer and sometimes kidney cancer. Robotic surgery has applications in other medical specialties, as well. It was Dr. Dean who spearheaded the drive to bring the da Vinci Surgical System to MultiCare at Tacoma General Hospital. Even now there are fewer than a handful of doctors locally who are skilled in the robotic technique.

Recently, the Franciscan Health System also acquired the da Vinci Surgical System and it is in place now at St. Joseph Hospital.

When creating content for the Web site, I came up with the name "RoboticAdvantage" quite simply because there are so many advantages for the patient who opts for the robotic surgery:
  • improved cancer control

  • shorter hospital stay

  • smaller incisions

  • less blood loss

  • decreased risk of infection

  • quicker return to work and normal activities

But best of all, most men who undergo the robotic surgery will be able to return to their preoperative level of sexual potency and urinary continence. In other words, a return to their normal sex life (whatever it was prior to the operation), and they won't need to be wearing pads or Depends for the rest of their lives. Those are especially significant issues for younger men.

Prostate cancer is better understood now than in the past. It is now known that prostate cancer begins in the late 20s and early 30s. All men should begin being tested annually for prostate cancer by age 40. If there is a family history of prostate cancer - especially if the family member who has had prostate cancer is the father or brother - then other male relatives (other sons or brothers) should begin testing even earlier than age 40. If prostate cancer has been identified in a close family member, then others in the same family should begin testing in their late 20s.

In the news yesterday, it was announced that former Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles has prostate cancer.,0,4053041.story Graig was only recently diagnosed with the disease, because his younger brother Jim had just been diagnosed with it and his doctor told him that his brother should also be checked. Sure enough, he was also found to have the disease.

Willie Stewart, well-known locally through his 30+ years of service to Tacoma in the areas of public education and service organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club is a remarkable man with a stunning testimonial about the importance of testing for prostate cancer. Willie is an African-American prostate cancer survivor. African-Americans are at significantly increased risk for developing the disease.

After having not seen Willie since 1981 at KTAC, it was serendipitous that I next came in contact with Willie when he presented his testimonial at a prostate cancer screening event held at the Tacoma Nature Center at Snake Lake.

Willie's story is a powerful object lesson: one of his brothers had died. The brother lived in Texas and they were not close, but on learning of his brother's death, he traveled down to attend the funeral.

Upon returning to his office at the Tacoma Public School District headquarters, a coworker who knew that he had been away for a family funeral asked him about how his brother had died. Willie explained that the death certificate said "prostate cancer" but that was as much as he knew about it.

Next the curious coworker wanted to know if Willie had been tested for prostate cancer and explained that if one family member has or has had prostate cancer, there is an even greater risk that other family members will also develop the disease. More concerning though was the high incidence of prostate cancer in African-Americans.

Willie felt fine, but at his coworker's urging decided that it was prudent to get tested. He was shocked when he received the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Willie comes from a large family. I believe he said there were five brothers. After Willie's diagnosis, he contacted his other brothers and encouraged them to all be checked for the disease as well. It turned out that all of his brothers - except one - were also found to have prostate cancer.

Willie is passionate about educating people about prostate cancer and especially about the family connection and need for testing. He is also involved with the Tacoma Prostate Cancer Support Group http:// for men, their wives, and other family members. Contact information for Willie Stewart and Jack Hudspeth (another leader of the organization) is given on the Web site including date and times for the twice monthly meetings. Dr. Dean is a frequent guest speaker at the support group meetings, which are held at the University Place Presbyterian Church.

In the '80s, my knowledge of prostate cancer was simply this: a) men have a prostate gland and, b) men can develop prostate cancer. However, over the past couple of years working with Dr. Dean, I have gained a much broader comprehension of the disease and today's treatment options for prostate cancer. More and better treatment options than ever before.


Do you know the early warning signs of prostate cancer?
That's a trick question.
There are NO early warning signs of prostate cancer.

By the time symptoms develop, prostate cancer can be quite advanced.

When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Inability to urinate
  • Trouble starting or holding back urination
  • A weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs

Last September, we hosted an exhibit in the Expo Hall during the 17-day run of the Puyallup Fair to take the information directly to the public about not only the availability now of the nerve-sparing robotic surgical approach, but also to emphasize that waiting to be evaluated until symptoms motivate an evaluation can be a mistake with serious potential implications.

It was fascinating and alarming how many men who stopped by our booth would remark that they "would just rather die than know" that they have prostate cancer. They didn't want information about the topic. Women would wonder why that is. Men probably know why that is.


Men know that often after having the prostate gland removed, impotence and urinary incontinence will be their lot for the rest of their lives.

  • They don't want to hear about it.
  • Don't want to know about it.
  • Can't bear to think about it.
  • Would rather just not know.
  • Would rather roll the dice...
  • Hope they will never get it...
  • ... and, if they do...
  • ...accept their fate.
We would also ask men at The Fair:

"Do you know your PSA level? When was the last time you had your PSA checked?"

  • Most men we talked with had never heard of a "PSA level."
  • They did not know what a "PSA test" was.
  • They did not know if they had ever had a PSA test.
  • Men know about the infamous, often dreaded digital rectal exam (DRE), but few know about the PSA test.
PSA or prostate specific antigen test is a blood test that is the new gold standard for assessing for the possible presence of prostate cancer. A simple blood test. Yet so many men were/are completely unaware that such a test even exists.

The primary focus of my work today is to increase a consious awareness of not only the risks and assessment of prostate cancer, but also to extend hope by opening the eyes and the minds of those who are so fearful of the diagnosis and historic consequences of prostate surgery that they are shutting themselves off from what is no longer futuristic technology from a sci-fi movie, but is technology that exists today and is available today right here, right now.

Getting the word out to the community, to the public is why we participate in prostate cancer screening events and health fairs; recently at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, in Lakewood, next month at Foundation Health, in Federal Way. Dr. Dean welcomes the opportunity to speak to men's groups, congregations, or other civic organizations. If your group has an upcoming event and you would like to share this information with your members, contact me by e-mail to to schedule Dr. Dean's appearance.

Presently, the outreach is local with our participation in community events, regional with transit advertising. Perhaps you've noticed the "fullback" ads on the back of Pierce Transit buses with the slogan "Maximize your Advantage over Prostate" The images used include an African-American couple and a local couple, Roger and Paula Miller. Roger was retired from a 30-year career as football coach for Fife High School, so is a well-known, high-profile individual locally. He underwent the robotic surgery in 2007. He is enthusiastic about getting the word out to men that they must not wait for symptoms to appear before going in for testing. He had been so absolutely confident that he had no symptoms whatsoever, he couldn't possibly have the disease. But he did. He wants everyone to know they must not wait for symptoms to show up.

Locally and globally our outreach extends with flash banner advertising here on The News Tribune and our primary Web presence where comprehensive information is available including video of the robotic prostatectomy. Site visitors can also request a free CD of the surgery to be mailed to them.

Men need to be aware of their PSA level and follow it from year to year to become more aware of whether or not the number is staying about the same or trending upward.

I created the PSA Tracker. It's a simple card, the size of a business card, that men can carry in their wallets and jot down their PSA level from year to year in the spaces that are provided. By carrying it in their wallets and seeing it from time to time, hopefully it will create a greater awareness and serve as a reminder that it's time to get that PSA test done. The PSA Tracker is available free for the asking:

It is vitally important for men to take an active rather than passive role in the maintenance of their health. Begin annual testing by age 40. Carry the PSA Tracker.

Inertia can be deadly. Move forward with courage, without fear. Let Willie Stewart, Jack Hudspeth, and Roger Miller be your inspiration. Never before have there been so many treatment options for men with prostate cancer. It's a great time to be alive. Just ask Willie, Jack, or Roger...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oxford Reunion

I had the opportunity to take the weekend and drive to my sister's house near Oxford, Mchigan. It's only a 6 hour drive not counting Toronto traffic and the line at the border. You may have heard of the snowstorm that struck the Midwest yesterday. We got a taste of it.

That's looking out toward the road. We eventually got about 3 inches.

This one is looking out into the backyard My sister and her husband owns the house that we grew up in. There are a lot of wonderful memories here from when we were children playing in the fields and woods that surround the house.

Father, Grandfather and great Grandfather. The Old Buffalo is still going strong (There's a story behind the "old Buffalo" name that dates back almost 40 years) and enjoying life and his family.

This perpetually cluttered kitchen table has seen and heard thousands of stories, arguments,tears and laughs. We've solved the world's problems at least a million times as we sat around it, drinking coffee, eating scrumptious meals and playing with the smaller children. My oldest younger sister Cindy (I'm the oldest) and her husband Gordy work on dinner while Kat (Their daughter and my niece) plays with her phone.

Dogs. There's always been a dog here, sometimes more than one. Luck Dragon is the current queen of the house. Despite her rather sad look, she gets more attention than she can handle. She is utterly spoiled.

And while we all sit around talking, Liliana, Kat's daughter, practices her photography under the watchful eye of Papa, as Great Grandpa is known.

Hope you all are well.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally...More Words - What Does Freedom Mean To Me?

The four American-born children of Seattle residents, Koichi & Chiyo Aoyama, immigrants from Japan about 1928. Above: (clockwise from left to right) Henry, Pearl, Anne, Frank. While U.S. citizens. the rights of all four children were denied them in the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Imperial Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Along with their immigrant parents and 120,000 others of similar ancestry they were forcibly removed from their homes, communities and the lives they led prior to the beginning of World War II and imprisoned without benefit of trial to inland interior desert camps surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers armed with machine guns for the crime of looking like the enemy.
Photo from collection of Mizu Sugimura.

"It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams
do not have to come at the expense of my dreams;
that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black
and brown and white children will ultimately help
all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less,
than what all the world's great religions demand
- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Let us be our brother's keeper,
Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper.

Let us find that common stake we all have in one another,
and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

-Barack Obama, speech, March 18, 2008.

Let's Go To France

Well, I thought Mizu had a great idea for taking the neighbourhood on a wee holiday to I thought I would take you all on a quick overseas jaunt. Let's go to my sister's house in the southwest of France, near Limoges. Denna and Brian are wonderful hosts, and there's nothing they love more than a garden much so, they had to build a garden from scratch for us.This is what the property looked like, before and after.

Where you see the umbrella is actually the pool, so don't forget to bring your bathing suit...or cozzy, as we used to call them. Brian will mix us up some spring-time cocktails and we'll wander through.
So, mes amies, adieu from France...but never from the garden.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beauty, Bags & Bordeaux...--A Girlfriend's Gathering

Let's see: you have yummy wine, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts, pretty handbags, stylish eyewear, FREE make-up consultations, skin care tips and tricks, fashion, jewelry, and a gaggle of girlfriends.... ladies, what could be better? And along with having a blast, you can do a lot of good for our local children's hospital and health center. Well, now you have your chance to kick off spring in style and help your community. Beauty, Bags, & Bordeaux...-a girlfriends gathering takes place on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 from 6 to 9 P.M. at the new Cascade Eye and Skin Centers building located at 5225 Cirque Drive West in University Place.

This evening of fun includes a handbag silent auction, trunk show of sunglasses and top name eyewear, free make-up consultations featuring Jane Iredale mineral cosmetics, a tour of the spanking new Cascade Eye and Skin Centers facility, dermatologist led discussions to learn about the newest products and techniques for beautiful skin, fashions, and jewelry. Of course, there will be wine and goodies, too!

This unique event is hosted by the Chambers Creek Orthopedic Guild and benefits Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center. The gracious sponsor for this evening is Cascade Eye and Skin Centers. So, how can you take part and help our local South Sound kiddos?

Simply purchase a ticket for $30 (hurry, after April 5th, tickets are $35) and give your RSVP. Tickets are limited and an advance purchase is required. Participants MUST over 21 years of age to participate in this event.

Contact me, your friendly U.P. Blog Squad blogger, Kim Thompson at for information on how to purchase tickets.

Hope to see you there!

Don't Cry For Me Argentina -- I've Got Asado's of Tacoma

I love excellent food and drink, particularly when great eats come right out of my hometown. And while I don’t eat out regularly, when I do, I love to support one of our fine culinary choices that make it worth every penny. One of my favorite places is Asado Restaurant on Tacoma’s eclectic and groovy 6th Avenue. Asado takes the flavors of Argentina and melds them together with Pacific Northwest foods. The restaurant with it’s sweet, smoky, mesquite smell, the warm and cozy dining area, great service, hoppin’ bar (but not in an obnoxious way and always active whenever I go there, not matter what day of the week), plus the fab, varied drinks that makes this place a winner in my book. My husband and I got the treat of couple time last week and we chose to dine out at Asado’s. As usual, they delivered.

We started out with a breaded shrimp appetizer with aioli for dipping (one mild and sweet and one with a kick) along with some roasted veggies. Both of us were salivating for some of Asado’s fine butternut squash soup that we had eaten on other visits. On the menu we saw “Butternut Puree” so we assumed that had to be soup. So when we requested the “Butternut Puree” BEFORE our entrée our lovely and kind server looked a bit puzzled but happily took our request. We were then served a pile of mashed butternut squash chunks. We couldn’t stop laughing at our ignorance and were too shy to tell our delightful server. I am sure she would have understood if we admitted our gaff. Of course, I like to blame the whole thing on my pre-dinner martini. Let’s leave it at that.

After our squash piles, and loads of laughter, we enjoyed delicious entrées (hubby had steak, prawns, and chorizo sausage with a side of purple Peruvian mashed potatoes) and I had delectably smoky flavorful king salmon with the same awesome purple potatoes. We felt “just right” full.

So, if you’re looking for a real treat, give longtime Asado’s a go. They are popular, so I recommend reservations. Valet service is available if parking is crowded on the avenue.

Enjoy! Even if it's a pile of squash, you'll love it.