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Flying Fido? Perhaps reconsider

Sept. 30, 2014 6 a.m.

As pets accompany their owners more places, the friendly skies are often not so friendly for our pets.

In the last four years, 62 animals have been injured or died while in transit on Alaska Airlines. Only Delta – with six times Alaska’s air traffic - has more injured or killed critters at 74 animals.

Alaska Airlines does transport more creatures, including birds, hamsters, turtles and non-venomous snakes, while JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and US Airways will not transport dogs or cats as cargo. So the stats may be misleading.

We love our pets dearly; sometimes that means leaving them with a trusted caregiver or taking a pet-friendly form of transportation before we haul them around the country above the clouds.

(S- R photo: Flagpole painter Warren Hinrichs, 73, holds his dog Stitch )


Sign of Scorpio

Sept. 29, 2014 7:30 a.m.

The FDA has approved the use of scorpion-derived venom in human trials on brain cancer patients.


The re-engineered protein from the scorpion is mixed with a fluorescent molecule “flashlight;” the product, called “tumor paint,” illuminates tumors or areas so small a physician may be unable to detect them.  It is the scorpion protein that binds to the cancer cells.

The first trial will be used on estimated 21 people with a glioma, or tumor in the brain or spine.

(S-R photo: A scorpion)


Ashes to ashes to jewelry

Sept. 27, 2014 - Updated: 8:59 a.m.

Christine Hansen did not intend to become a partner in the healing of others’ grief, but she is. Hansen is a glass artist who lives near Olympia; she takes cremains (people and pets) and incorporates the ashes into glass memorial beads.

Some of the beads allow the ashes to be seen – sort of floating within the bead - while other creations incorporate the ashes into the colorful bead itself. What ashes are not used in the beads Hansen returns to the families.

She has become a “conduit for healing and closure,” with her sacred, artistic creations; a tangible, unique remembrance of someone well-loved, now gone.

(S-R archive photo)


Three 9/11 heroes die on same day

Sept. 26, 2014 6 a.m. - Updated: 8:15 a.m.

Three retired firefighters who rushed in to assist people when the World Trade Center was hit by terrorists, died on the same day – all from cancer.

In the years since the attacks, many first responders have suffered from respiratory illness. Many have died from cancer. Health experts assert that the toxic dust from that day – and the months after – may contribute to the illness so prevalent among those who worked at ground zero.

The men, Lt. Howard Bischoff, 58, and firefighters Robert Leaver, 56, and Daniel Heglund, 58, died within hours of each other earlier this week.

America remains grateful to these men for their unrelenting commitment of service.

(S-R photo: The Tribute in Light rises behind buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center in New York. )


Bishop hits the Windy City

Sept. 24, 2014 11:10 p.m. - Updated: Sept. 25, 9 a.m.

Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich, perhaps some of the best evidence yet of the “Francis effect,” has arrived in his new home - Chicago. Cupich, reportedly more moderate than his Chicago predecessor Archbishop George, leaves a diocese of 100,000 Catholics to take on the Chicago Archdiocese with its 2.2 million Catholics. An interesting cultural adjustment.

As Spokane’s bishop, Cupich focused attention on social justice issues and not issues of – as some call it – “pelvic theology” (abortion, same-sex marriage). He seems a leader of conscience and kindness.

For American Catholics, the future offers mystery, but with Archbishop Cupich in Chicago, perhaps some winds will shift from a cold, dogmatic squall to a warmer, more pastoral, breeze. 

(S-R photo: Blase Cupich, the newly appointed archbishop of Chicago, greets the media in Chicago.)


Providence Mission serving Washington

Sept. 22, 2014 8:46 a.m. - Updated: Sept. 27, 8:54 a.m.

Providence Health & Services celebrates its humble beginnings this week, honoring the foundress of Providence, Blessed Emilie Gamelin.  She died on September 23, 1851.

Emilie married a man who was decades older than she was; they had three sons. The happy couple shared a vision of caring for Montreal’s poor. But soon Emilie was alone – losing her sons and husband to disease. Somehow she continued to find hope and care for the people of Montreal. But the Sisters of Providence and their care and compassion were needed far beyond Montreal. Soon women were summoned to the Pacific Northwest.

In December 1856, five brave women, including pioneer Mother Joseph, arrived at Fort Vancouver, Washington. They immediately began caring for the poor and vulnerable: Native Americans, orphans, injured loggers, abandoned women – all those who presented themselves with urgent medical and social needs.

Today Providence serves people in Washington, Alaska, California, Oregon, Montana, including the Spokane community. Its Mission: “…(to) reveal God’s love for all, especially the poor and vulnerable…” responds to contemporary challenges – medical, social, spiritual needs – with a commitment inspired by Blessed Emilie Gamelin and Mother Joseph. And that remarkable legacy deserves a celebration.

(S-R archive photo: Sister Rosalie Locati, director of mission and values for Providence Sacred Heart and Providence Holy Family hospitals, stands beside Ken Spiering’s sculpture in Riverfront Park. It commemorates the arrival of the Sisters of Providence, who built Sacred Heart on the banks of the Spokane River in 1886. Locati is the only Sister of Providence still working full time at Sacred Heart Medical Center.)


Polly Bergen, 84, dies

Sept. 20, 2014 7:46 p.m. - Updated: 7:51 p.m.

Beloved actress and singer, Polly Bergen, died Saturday at her home in Connecticut. She was 84 years old. Bergen won an Emmy in 1957 for her portrayal of singer Helen Morgan – an alcoholic. Fifty years later she was nominated again for a role on “Desperate Housewives.”

In 1962, she starred with Gregory Peck and Roberts Mitchum in “Cape Fear.” She was nominated for a Tony Award when she played a former showgirl in Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies.”

Polly Bergen created and sold her own product lines: cosmetics, shoes and jewelry. She advocated for women and their rights, especially reproductive rights.

Polly Bergen lived with determination and the ability to recover from setbacks – like some of the roles she starred in. She was a Hollywood starlet from the classic era,  leaving a lovely legacy.

(S-R archive photo: The Hollywood sign is seen above palm trees on Sunset Boulevard.)


Yes, Pope Francis, “I do”

Sept. 18, 2014 6 a.m. - Updated: Sept. 20, 8:44 p.m.

The pope witnessed 20 couples’ wedding vows at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica last Sunday.  Some couples live together; some of the betrothed had been married before. One bride is a mother -  all unusual for Catholic weddings.

Pope Francis advised them that marriage is real life – not some television show. Forget Hollywood “sexpectations” (my interpretation).

The Catholic Church has beautiful theology on the Sacrament of Marriage: the union of a man and woman as a sacred relationship where God is present. Somehow this message gets lost in the mess of dogmatic legalism.

Next month the Vatican hosts a meeting on family concerns. If Pope Francis invites me to the discussion and asks: “Do you believe the Church should welcome remarried, living-together Catholics, parents-before-marriage Catholics to all Sacraments?”

I could only answer, “I do.”

(S-R photo: Pope Francis)


Bob Crewe - who?

Sept. 17, 2014 6 a.m.

You may not know his name, but you know his lyrics. Bob Crewe wrote songs for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as well as other music legends. His lyrics marked our rites of passage. Boomers remember.

Bob Crewe died last week at the age of 83, in Scarborough, Maine.

When asked about Crewe’s inspiration for many of his songs, his brother, Dan Crewe, replied, “…he had an intense love affair with words. He told stories.”

What a wonderful legacy.

(S-R photo: John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli in Warner Bros. Pictures' musical “Jersey Boys.”)


Miss America

Sept. 15, 2014 6 a.m.

The whole strutting one’s body in a swimsuit in hopes of “winning,” goes against all my sensibilities. Have to say.

Still, I smile when I think of the Miss America pageant. As a little girl, I watched the annual cattle call-like festivities with my grandmother and she would ask, “Cathy Ann, who should we root for?” We kept score and wrote down our favorites. I loved the event because grandma and I hissed and clapped through the two-hour program. And I got to stay up late.

Some traditions have little inherent value, except for the memories. And that means everything.

(S-R photo: Miss Montana Victoria Valentine displays her shoe during the Miss America Shoe Parade at the Atlantic City boardwalk .)


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