Strapped in for fun at Meadowbrook

by on Apr 14, 2014

We have a 12-year-old gent in our household this week, so we old people have been doing some things that we don’t normally do.

R’s son (whom we will refer to as R2 for the purposes of this blog) is an athletically gifted kid who spends a lot of his time on the ski slopes. He can do a standing backflip, something amazing called a “720” on a mogul course (a move that makes him look like an upside-down helicopter) and now here in Yakima, God forbid, he’s working on his skateboarding skillz. (The ‘z’ here is my lame attempt to indicate my level of hipness and connection to skate culture.)

Now, I have three grown sons, including identical twins who would regularly do things like fling themselves out of second-story windows when they were R2’s age. But I never got used to this kind of behavior. There are some things that I’m very good at as a mother—and one of them happens to be the ability to remain calm during injury emergencies (doctoring exposed leg tendons after bad horse accidents is good for this sort of thing). I’ve bandaged amputated fingers. I’ve witnessed what happens to a kid’s eye when his brother accidentally sprays WD40 into it.

I once tried to treat a bizarre gardening accident involving my ex-husband all by myself…at one point trying to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to pry huge orange chunks of carrot wedged up underneath his thumbnail while he hopped around telling me how much it hurt (he wound up in the ER, by the way, and will forever be known to the staff at Samaritan in Moses Lake as “the carrot guy”). R. has also managed to require my services on several occasions. He’s an impatient cook, which means he often manages to slice and dice more than onions and red peppers.


R2 gets ready to rock on the Meadowbrook go-cart course

But it’s all the anticipatory stuff that I can’t stand—the standing by and watching a kid jumping his skateboard off a 4’ drop onto hard concrete. I know risky moves are a regular thing for R2 (by the way, we do make him wear a helmet and pads). But watching his antics makes every nerve cell in my spine fire. It’s as if every knee scrape, every dislocated tailbone, every busted bone, burn and concussion flashes in front of my eyes. (And thanks to living with all these pillars of testosterone the last twenty years, that’s a lot of flashing.) After we took R2 to the skate park along 40thAve.  Sunday morning, I was starting to hyperventilate.

I had to shake my head when we got home. Don’t get me wrong; R2 is a good kid, even if his shins are covered with bruises from his ski boots and skateboard flip-mishaps. He cheerily eats potato chips and M&Ms by the bucketful,  hauls around our mellower cats (they’re nearly as big as he is), and insists that he’s of “mature audience” caliber when it comes time to decide whether we’re going to watch something that’s PG-13 or not.

But it was rather a relief when R. decided to treat R2 and his buddy to a round of go-carts Sunday afternoon. At least, I told myself, they’d all be strapped in.

Naturally R2 and his friend had a blast, even though they both skidded out around the same corner (they blamed it on the wet track). I was surprised to see how many fun things there were to do at Meadowbrook Fun Center—I had no idea they had bumper boats as well as a mini golf course, batting cages, and an arcade tucked back in there south of Nob Hill.

So I think we might be taking R2 back over there at some point this week. Mini golf has a nice, peaceful ring to it…don’t you think? No helmets or pads required…at least if there aren’t any identical twins involved.

Meadowbrook Fun Center is located at 7200 W. Nob Hill Blvd, tucked back behind Dairy Queen and the shopping center. More information on prices and hours of operation can be found at

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Out to Lunch–Get Zombiefied at Shorty’s

by on Apr 10, 2014

I’ve always wanted to try a cheese zombie at Shorty’s, and thanks to a friend at work (Playdate coordinator Trish Henning), I finally got the chance this week.

Trish was in the know about when to show up at the little bakery (it’s right around the corner from the Herald’s office) on zombie day which meant a) we got a place to sit and b) we also got zombies. You’ll have to get to Shorty’s before noon if you want to try one, because they usually sell out.

ZombifiedThe Zombie Combo is a thing of comfort food beauty…it consists of a cheese zombie (more on what a zombie actually is in a moment), a cup of tomato soup, a drink, and a dessert. Basically, it’s enough food to get you through the next apocalypse. (Linda Davis, the owner, is known in these parts for her inventive cookie/bar recipes, and some of her bars are big enough that they could more accurately be called “slabs.” I’ve personally spoiled my appetite for dinner on more than one occasion with a Shorty’s lemon “slab” while on an afternoon walk. )

Apparently I missed the zombie era of school lunches and/or I grew up in the wrong part of the country. The closest thing to a zombie we had back in my day in Colorado was something called “runza”….basically a roll with an onion/meat mixture baked inside. (A true German knows these as “bierocks,” and in a traditional bierock, diced cabbage makes up part of the meat filling. I suspect our school runza did not contain cabbage, given the pickiness of our middle-school palates.)

But zombies are simpler. Basically it’s a dinner roll with a generous slather of American cheese in the middle, and it tastes divine when paired with tomato soup. Three employees were kept hopping trying to keep up with the demand  with phoned in and walk-in orders at Shorty’s when we were there, and Trish says it’s not uncommon to see a a line out the door at Shorty’s on Mondays. (By the way, Shorty’s offers other lunch fare later in the week, like baked potatoes on Tuesday.)

You can read more about Shorty’s (and even get a recipe for cheese zombies) here.  Shorty’s Sweets, Treats and Cakes is located at 115 N 3rd St. Call before 9:30 a.m. if you want to guarantee a zombie for your lunch at (509) 969-1334.

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Maryhill Concert Lineup Announced

by on Apr 8, 2014

Maryhill’s 2014 summer concert season information was just announced this week, and there are some household names in their lineup (at least for those of us of a certain age).

Concerts this summer include Styx and Foreigner, Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy, and Ian Anderson will be performing the Best of Jethro Tull.

“The talent that has crossed our stage over the years has been incredible, and this year is no exception,” said Craig Leuthold, owner of Maryhill Winery. “We started the summer concert series 10 years ago with a pop-up stage, but quickly realized that by combining great music with our stunning location and exceptional wine, Maryhill could become more than just a winery for our fans. It’s now a tradition.”

The summer concert lineup includes the following musical acts:
•  Aug. 2 – Styx and Foreigner, 7 p.m.
• Aug. 23 – Frampton’s Guitar Circus featuring Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 13 – The Best of Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson, 8 p.m.

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery

Located along the Washington border of the Columbia River Gorge, Maryhill Winery boasts seating for 4,000 built into the natural slope of the outdoor lawn.In addition to its summer concert series, Maryhill Winery also offers free live music on the terrace every weekend from 1 to 5 p.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The winery’s tasting room, which closes 90 minutes before gates open on concert days, is open throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with the Reserve Room hours varying by season.

Maryhill has been a popular summer hotspot for nearly a decade and continues to add new attractions, such as four world-class bocce courts and a Reserve Room. Maryhill is the tenth-largest winery in Washington State, and produces nearly 40 different kinds of wine.  

Tickets for the concerts will go on sale this Friday, April 11 at 10 a.m., via Ticket Fly and the Maryhill website. Prices range from $49-$150.

Concertgoers take in the show and the view from the rail section of the Maryhill Winery concert venue in 2010. Photos by Andy Sawyer.

Concertgoers take in the show and the view from the rail section of the Maryhill Winery concert venue in 2010. Photos by Andy Sawyer.

Photo courtesy of Maryhill Winery

Photo courtesy of Maryhill Winery


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Ready for a Walk?

by on Apr 7, 2014

We asked folks last week what their favorite thing was about a Yakima spring…and, not surprisingly, several people mentioned flowers.

I took a spin around Yakima last Friday and took some pictures of some of the gorgeous trees and flowers we’ve got blooming here in town. Some of these were shot downtown; others were shot at Calvary Cemetery and in the historic Barge-Canal neighborhood.

It’s too bad we don’t have smell-o-vision on the blog, but let your imagination do the work for you. I don’t know of a better way to spend a gorgeous spring afternoon than driving around enjoying all the hard work of other gardeners. Enjoy.

St Joes





Tulip tree

MLK trees


Rock garden


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April is Earth Month–Are You Ready?

by on Apr 6, 2014


There’s never a better time than springtime to think about turning over a new leaf, and we’ve got some great tips and tricks to keep your household (as well as your conscience) clean and green this spring.

Marci Veneble is a recycler, but she’s a recycler with a strong practical streak. As Yakima Solid Waste’s program coordinator, she’s got a host of low-cost suggestions for people looking to recycle in Yakima County.  “There are so many things that people can do that are easy…you just need to get set up and make it a habit,” she says.

Veneble’s first recommendation for people interested in recycling is to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste that you bring into your household. “There’s a lot of power behind making purchasing decisions,” she explains. Simple changes like switching to reusable grocery sacks and using nylon or metal coffee filters make a big difference over the course of a year. “If you stop and think about it, if you go out for coffee a few times a week, all those disposable cups add up. A lot of places even offer discounts now if you bring your own cup.”

She also suggests people actually take a look in their garbage can and see what waste they’re generating. “I know it’s gross,” she said. “But if you’re really pulling your recyclables, you should really be down to just used Kleenex and that sort of thing.”

Veneble also highly recommends inexpensive curbside recycling (it’s available in many areas here in the Valley). “I encourage people to really go for the low-hanging fruit,” she says. “The fact is that the easier something is for people to do, the more likely they are to do it.” (Check out the county’s info page to find out if you’ve got a curbside program in your area.)

She noted that the county frequently hears complaints about how recycling is free on the west side of the state, but notes that in other cities, recycling fees are often embedded in regular garbage collection fees. “The bottom line is that someone’s paying for it,” she said. “There are costs for hiring drivers and shipping around recyclables, and sorting and processing them…but we can’t fill our landfills forever.”

If you don’t have a curbside program, or you don’t want to pay for one, there are other options. Consider asking your employer if you can use their recycling containers (if they are available), or you can take recyclables to other businesses that offer it. Veneble noted that one of our local churches, the Wesley United Methodist Church on 48th Ave, is the largest recycler in Yakima County (they receive 60,000 lbs. of recyclables each month).

Veneble would also like to see people think about reduction in the garden as well. “Lawn clippings are full of nitrogen and nutrients,” she said. “It’s a total myth that they cause thatch. They’re very beneficial for lawns.” If you’re not set up for curbside yard waste recycling, the county actually will accept your unbagged clippings and yard waste (under 12” in diameter) at half the normal rate of regular disposal fees…they run those materials through a grinder, and the resulting fine mulch is available free to residents for composting.

Composite decking and patio furniture made from recycled plastic

You can even chose composite decking and patio furniture made from recycled plastic, as shown here in Marci’s beautiful backyard.

You can also consider completely ditching the use of pesticides in your yard, and if you’re willing to take an online pledge, the Washington Toxics coalition will even send you a free ladybug sign like this one.

Ladybug sign

Sign up for a free ladybug sign from Washington Toxics Coalition

Yakima Solid Waste also accepts hazardous household wastes for free. If you’re cleaning out your garage this spring, keep in mind that you can bring any of the following things to the free hazardous disposal site at Terrace Heights Landfill from Wed.-Sat. from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (They also take old nail polish and other beauty products, like old cans of hairspray.)

Auto BatteriesIf you’ve got unused (or half-used) paints and stains, automotive products, gardening chemicals, or household cleaners, keep in mind that the county can place these on their “Ready to Reuse” shelf. These donated products are then available FREE for any individual, business, or service group that can use them. This type of recycling saves chemicals from entering the landfill, and helps others who need a product for another use. (The reuse shelf is open the same hours as above.) “Reusing is even better than recycling,” Veneble notes.

So if reusing is better than recycling, why not try a little reusable crafting? (Hey, here at Yakima Magazine, we’re all about nifty DIY crafts.)  Here are some excellent instructions for making wrapping-paper bows out of recycled materials. If you’re like us, you know a lot of folks who have birthdays coming up…so it’s the perfect time to try making some bows out of old magazines.

Happy spring, everyone. And happy reduce, reuse, and recycle-ing.


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