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Judith Spitzer: Hit songwriter Laurie Klein finds new voice in blog, poetry


I love my job. I am grateful and always surprised by people I meet whose stories touch me. I truly believe the adage that everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share.

And then there are those few who seduce and inspire us by sharing astonishing new ways to view the world – without a lot of ego.

Laurie Klein is one of those women.

At 60-something, Klein is a mother, artist, songwriter, photographer, grandmother, poet, as well as a self-described child of God. She lives with Bill, her husband of 43 years, about 20 miles north of Spokane.

These days Klein has added the title blogger to the many hats she wears.

Klein was signed up for my Inspirational Blogging class at Spokane Community College, but she didn’t need me to teach her how to write. She’s been published many times over. She took the class to learn about social media. Having written a soon-to-be-published book of poetry, she was determined to conquer the Internet world. Or at least some of it.

The technical parts of blogging are typically only about half of what I cover in the class. Fear, on the other hand, is one of the abiding themes – fear of social media, anxiety at the vulnerability in sharing one’s words and photos, and fear of the unknown.

From the very first class, Klein was relentless. She picked up the fear, put it under her arm and marched forward.

As I read her writing, it was clear she had a gift, and when she added photos to the blog she shined. She takes the perfect image to illustrate a post, as well as chooses commonplace objects and scenes that anyone else would walk right past.

I watched as her self-confidence grew and the fear subsided.

One of the students’ first assignments is to create a Facebook page, and start connecting with people. Before long, Klein had an avalanche of old friends from her school days in the Midwest.

Reading the comments, I felt like I was with Garrison Keillor visiting Lake Woebegone. She actually went to high school at St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota.

After the class ended, I kept reading her new blog and realized that 40 years ago Klein had written a song called “I Love You, Lord.” 

“It is so simple, just four lines,” she said. “The simplest little song. But it went global. I was flabbergasted.”

“Forty years ago, weary and bone-lonely, I wrote that little song while our baby slept. People around the world still sing, ‘Let me be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear,’ ” Klein said.

When she wrote the song in 1974, she and her husband, Bill, were living in a mobile home in Central Oregon, existing on $400 a month – she tended a new baby while he attended college.

“Back when I was a new mom savoring a few quiet moments, braided hair slung over a shoulder, arms cradling a cheap guitar … that day I had been bone-lonely. Sick of my own voice. Emptied of hope,” she recalled.

“I prayed Lord, give me a song you want to hear,” she said. “It came to me whole. Easily, the way grace does when we’re stuck: pure gift.”

Today, the song has been released on some 80-plus recordings, and has emerged in at least a half-dozen dialects around the world.

“It leaves me speechless,” she said. “I still have requests to record the song.”

Klein said her discovery of social media, and the fact that her new blog has caught fire, has opened her life up to hundreds of people, old friends and new ones.

I’m a loyal follower of her blog these days, watching as she tackles tough subjects with a charming sense of humor, self-deprecation and gratitude. She revels in topics like delight, wonder, grace and surrender.

It typically stirs me to wonder at the most mundane and ordinary of things, transformed through her eyes into a quest for truth and the divine.

What a gift, this woman.


New store will take used gear in trade

Jake Pinger, left, and Jared Fields are partners in the new Play It Again Sports store in the Five Mile shopping center on Francis in North Spokane, shown Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Jared is the managing partner in the store, which stocks new and used sports gear for fitness, many different sports and accessories. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)playitagain_t1170

With three kids under the age of 10, Jared Fields and his wife, Shvonna, know only too well how expensive buying equipment can be when a child wants to play hockey, baseball or almost any other sport. Not to mention the money spent when said child decides they don’t like one sport, and want to try a different one.

Fields, 39, is the co-owner of Play It Again Sports, a national franchise, which opened in late August. Located at 1808 W. Francis Ave., Fields has five to six employees at any given time depending on the season.

The sports franchise wasn’t new to Fields. More than 10 years ago he worked at a Play It Again Sports store in Spokane, under another owner, while he attended college. Then he took a job managing a Spokane restaurant, but said he missed the retail sports scene.





Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016

Violet Humble is 8, but the Spokane girl has already volunteered more than most of us ever will

srx_humble_002_tt-jpg_t810Violet Humble helps load a truck with members of VOLT and the Music and Art Movement (MAC) charities on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Spokane, Wash. Humble, 8, coordinated with the charities, as they planned to send supplies to the Pine Ridge and standing Rock Reservations. TYLER TJOMSLAND tylert@spokesman.com (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Violet Humble loves just about anything with glitter, sequins or the color pink. At 8 years old, she is also a fan of mythical creatures, “The Walking Dead” and Taylor Swift, whose birthday and sparkly cat-ears headband she shares.

Your typical preteen? Well, not really.

Domestic violence deaths on the rise in Spokane County and state despite new approaches to addressing issue


Where to go for help

The YWCA Alternative to Domestic Violence program is funded by the state, city, county and private contributions. It’s Spokane’s only state-recognized domestic violence program for victims and survivors.

The YWCA crisis line answers about 3,800 calls per year, and assists more than 13,000 survivors and children each year. The YWCA offers help with shelter and housing services, legal services, counseling, and clothing.

The 24-hour helpline is (509) 326-2255.


Collaboration, costumes nab Civic Theatre’s Kearney Jordan a nomination for arts award

Collaboration, costumes nab Civic Theatre’s Kearney Jordan a nomination for arts award. Kearney Jordan stands in the costume storage area at the Spokane Civic Theatre on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. She has been nominated for an arts award for her service to the theater, as well as to many nonprofits whom she helps find costumes for events and fundraisers. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)


Free cupcakes draw attention to campaign to end domestic violence


Creating Community: Art group transforms itself


Marian Herzer, co-founder of Monarch Arts, has some of her group’s paintings stored in her Spokane Valley apartment, shown Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. The group promotes arts events and projects. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Irene Dahl, 83, is a German-born psychotherapist who witnessed the death of her father in Nazi Germany when she was 7 years old.

At 69, Karen Harwood is a longtime attorney and teacher at Gonzaga University who is now retired.

Betty Bradley, 77, is a retired Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, a Roman Catholic religious congregation.

What brings these three very different Spokane women together?

The answer is simple: art.


 Italian American Club to mark 50 years with new Sister City

Italian American Club to mark 50 years with new Sister City


Italian American Club recording secretary, left, Judy VanDyke, poses with, Ron Anselmo, club president, and Spokane Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza, club orator. (Judith Spitzer Special to The Spokesman-Review)

Ever heard the names Deena Caruso, Joe Albi, Father Joseph Cataldo, Pat Cozza, Victor Felice, Peter Jacoby, Victor Forni and Mike Lamanna?

They are among a long list of Italian Americans who have lived in and loved the Spokane area.

The names may ring a bell because they all helped create the city of Spokane we know today. And all were members of the Italian American Club over the past 50 years.


Sisters’ Gathering a place where women connect, listen to each other


Women have gathered in sacred circles – beside fires in prehistoric times, in 1970s rec rooms in consciousness-raising groups, and today online – to share their lives, listen to one another’s stories and spiritually connect in community.

That’s the intent of the Sisters’ Gathering in Spokane, a group that has met monthly on a Saturday evening since early 2014, said Chenoa Durheim, one of the group’s creators and facilitators.


When dinner bell rings at Rockin’ B Ranch, get ready for fiddlin’ and fun


On a late summer evening, the Rockin’ B Ranch just south of Interstate 90 on the Washington-Idaho border was living up to its raucous name. There was some yodeling, some pickin’, lots of fiddling, a cowboy shootout and a good old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes supper.

“We got taters and beans, chicken, beef and ribs, and you meat eaters … we know you have specific ways you like your meat cooked, so move on in there and tell them what you like,” said Dusty Bicuspid, the gnarly-looking toothless cowboy. “And they’ll completely ignore you.”http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/aug/31/when-dinner-bell-rings-at-rockin-b-ranch-get-ready/

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 17, 2016, 11:21 A.M.

This book club tastes what they readsrx_book_001_tt_t1140

Once a month Brian and Beverly Anderson, a Spokane couple in their early fifties, host what could be called dinner and a book.

It’s a book club with a twist, an edible twist.

At each month’s gathering the Andersons plan and serve an evening meal, the theme of which is dictated by the book the group is reading.

July’s book of the month – “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown – is a nonfiction book about the University of Washington rowing crew which, against the odds, narrowly beat Italy and Germany to win the gold medal in Berlin in the 1936 Olympics.

The evening’s menu included German potato salad, grilled bratwurst with German mustard, homemade buns and German chocolate cupcakes decorated with tiny American flags, as well as a German apple strudel.

Honor Point Military Aerospace Museum Finally Opens

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/aug/03/honor-point-military-museum-finally-makes-its-debu/Museum Makes Its Debut

George White, 97, pays a visit to the new Honor Point Military & Aerospace Museum, July 15, 2016. White was an employee for Northwest Airlines for 23 years. A Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) display is at left. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

In a dimly lit basement room at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture there’s a treasure trove of historic military items – World War I trench art, a priest’s travel kit from World War II, gas masks used in the Gulf War, and prisoner of war jumpsuits worn in Vietnam.

Now those artifacts are one step closer to a permanent home.

After about 15 years of fits and starts, a couple of name changes and dashed hopes for ownership of a high-visibility site on the West Plains, the Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum opened in June at Spokane’s historic Felts Field.


Creating Community: Finding peace and tranquility with Tibetan singing bowls


A gentle breeze flows through an upstairs room at the Souls Center near Kendall Yards. Debbie Miller is seated near the center of the room, surrounded by Tibetan singing bowls, more than a dozen of them, in different sizes and various shades of metal.The mood in the room is tranquil as six or seven people lie on colorful woven mats in a fan shape around Miller, while others sit cross-legged on chairs or cushions on the outer edges of the room.
After a short introduction Miller invites participants to sit or lie back, and relax by breathing deeply as she begins to play the bowls with a mallet or striker. Sound washes over participants and fills the room with reverberations.
On a recent Friday morning, a handful of minivans lined the cul-de-sac next to Polly Judd Park, a neighborhood park tucked away on the lower South Hill. It was the weekly gathering of the Attachment/C… 


Creating Community: Stitchers find spiritual connection

It’s early on a Wednesday evening and the conference room at Forza Coffee Co. on Spokane’s South Hill is filled to capacity with about 20 souls. The group of mostly women are knitting, crocheting, …

Sheryl WuDunn says people rarely give away money as intelligently as they make it.

Helping people is often harder than it looks, and much charitable giving isn’t very effective, said WuDunn, who’ll be the keynote speaker Monday at the Women Helping Women Fund luncheon in Spokane.

Second Harvest cooking classes help build skills, health and community

It’s 5 p.m. on a Wednesday and Jandyl Doak is directing volunteers, answering questions and peeling red beets into one of the sinks in a streamlined kitchen reminiscent of a Food Network cooking show….ECOND_HARVEST_COOOKING_CLASS.JPG_8rSRW2x_t1140

The word “bibliophile” – a noun describing a person who loves or collects books – fits Linda Bond to a T. If something “fits to a T,” then it’s perfect for its purpose. And Bond, who works at Auntie’s Bookstore, loves words that fit perfectly.

Sharing food and fun with the Rat Pack


Left to right, Debbie MacDonald, Stan Wright and Tina Owen share hors d’oeuvres March 24, 2016, at the Our Thai House. The local Meetup group the Rat Pack hosts a “Dinner Around the World” event once at month at a different restaurant. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The pungent scent of lemongrass, ginger and warm curries fills the air at Our Thai House on North Hamilton Street on a recent Wednesday evening – the restaurant packed to overflow by a group of fun-loving souls called the Rat Pack.

Modern Quilt Guild melds traditional, contemporary design



Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 in Voices


When people think of quilts, they likely imagine a classic quilt like grandma used to make … conjuring up visions of women gathered in circles, quilting by hand, using traditional print fabrics in classic colors.

Not exactly the same image was elicited by women who gathered on a recent rainy Saturday afternoon in a room at the Spice & Vine Mercantile on East Sprague Avenue.

In the midst of tables covered with small piles of soft fabric pieces of every color and shape, several sewing machines and tools of the quilting trade, 15 or so women were busy making quilts – modern ones.

Modern being the key word, the women are members of the Inland Northwest Modern Quilt Guild, a local chapter of the national Modern Quilt Guild, which organized here a little over two months ago. 

211 Service got a workout during November Windstorm 

Page 1a; Jan. 4, 2016


“Just listen and be there,” said Collin Keating, information resource referral specialist for Spokane’s 211 call center at Frontier Behavioral Health. (Kathy Plonka)


Woman’s Club of Spokane to be renovated, refurbished

December 31, 2015 Voices section


Members of the Silver Spurs, a folk dance troupe that rehearses at the Woman’s Club in Spokane, starts their rehearsal with a contra dance before working on their upcoming performance at First Night Spokane. The Woman’s Club received a grant that will allow them to update the building and add bathrooms and a kitchen upstairs. (Jesse Tinsley)


EWU Letter on Sexism Goes Viral

Jared Mauldin


mulvany_t300EWU engineering student Jared Mauldin wrote a recent letter to the editor of the student newspaper saying female engineering students aren’t his equal because they weren’t given the same encouragement he had growing up. (Colin Mulvany)

Jared Mauldin, a senior at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, didn’t expect the avalanche of responses he received after penning a letter to the editor of the school newspaper.

Mauldin wrote of his perceptions on sexism in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The letter was published in the Easterner on Sept. 30.

A 34-year-old mechanical engineering major at EWU, Mauldin began his letter: “While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal. Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal?”