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Archive for June 2013

Summer sizzle

With the temperatures outside rising, we need to heed advice to stay well and prevent illness or injury.

So, stay cool inside and keep your cool by limiting strenuous activity to those cooler times of day.

Avoid the sun and use sunscreen when you do venture outdoors. Protect your face and head from the sun. Big-brimmed hats are more than fashionable – they offer a shield from direct, powerful sun rays.

Dehydration sneaks up on you when you forget to drink lots of fluids – water is best – and may result in a trip to the ER for IV fluids.

Use air-conditioning, if you have it, but do not overuse your electricity since it may cause a community power outage.

Eat small meals, large ones increase internal heat aiding the digestive process.

And, most importantly, keep children, pets, vulnerable and dependent loved ones with you – not in the car to wait in “comfort.” That car will lose its comfort in an instant and become a life-threatening sauna.

Happy summer! See you at the pool, in early morning or cooler evening, of course. 

(S-R archives photo: A dog's coat is like insulation, warding off cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Trim, but don't give your dog a crew cut or such a close shave that it takes away that protection. Dogs can get sunburn and skin cancer, so never cut fur shorter than an inch.)

New York’s Freedom Tower

I just returned from a week in New York City, visiting family. My niece's office is near where the Twin Towers used to be, and as we rounded the corner to her office, she pointed through two buildings to the new tower, finished just in May.

Its official name is One World Trade Center.

According to the New York Daily News: “Reaching heights of 1,776 feet, One World Trade has surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in New York City. Previously dubbed the Freedom Tower, the building proudly stands tall in Lower Manhattan as a reminder of the resilience of New York City after a grave act of terror. The installation of the silver spire topping One World Trade Center was finished in May 10, 2013, bringing the iconic structure to its full, symbolic height of 1,776 feet.”

It felt eerie to look at the building. About a year ago, my husband and I walked through the very lovely memorial at Ground Zero and saw the building in progress.

I hope the building, and the people who work in it, will remain safe.

When I got home, I happened upon a box that had cityscape snow globes, collected in my younger years, when I traveled all the time for my job with USA Today.

I gave all of them to Goodwill, except my New York City snow globe. The Twin Towers are still in that snow globe, after all. How could I ever throw it away?






Tied Forever

You may not remember his name, but you will remember his work. Gary David Goldberg, who died of brain cancer in Montecito, Calif., on Saturday, a few days before he turned 69 years old, created the hit series “Family Ties” which ran in the 1980s. “Spin City” followed in 1996 with Michael J Fox once again a main character.

We often mark our own life’s journey with cultural touchstones such as specific music or artists – or television programs. Goldberg leaves us with his artistic legacy that recalls milestone moments in our own lives. 

(S-R archives photo)

Lunar beauty

Did you see it? The moon? The super moon that looks like it is so close you can reach out and touch it. The moon offers a romantic backdrop for lovers and dreamers and children – and inspiration for writers and singers.

When you gaze up into the sky at a full moon, where do your thoughts go?

(S-R archives photo: In this Saturday, May 5, 2012 file photo, a “supermoon” rises behind the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, Greece, southeast of Athens. The phenomenon occurs when the moon passes closer to Earth than usual.)

Talking across the country about Tony Soprano

Flying from Spokane to New York City people were chatting on the plane about the sudden death of “Tony Soprano.” Now in a cab to Long Island, our cab driver said he drove the actor once. A nice guy, he said, and a big guy, too.

In this culture of 500 cable channels, it's surprising how many watched “The Sopranos” and feel it a shame a good actor gone too soon.

Good news made early

The Monroe Street Bridge in Spokane is a regular part of my commute to and from The Spokesman-Review. It was supposed to be closed for two weeks for repairs and for infrastructure work necessary for the Kendall Yards development.

Then, last Thursday, the city of Spokane announced that the bridge would reopen three days early. It was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Like when the doctor tells you it will be a week before you get test results and you get them in two days, or when the much-awaited package shows up overnight instead of the anticipated three days shipping or when you're waiting for a table at a busy restaurant and they tell you an hour and 30 minutes later, you're eating.

When good things happen ahead of schedule, everyone's happy. City government folks might have had this in mind when the bridge opened three days early.

Either way, it made a lot of commuters happy. But doubtful anyone thanked City Hall. Here's my thanks.

(S-R file photo)

No Father’s Day

“Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die: It happens again every single morning.”      ― Anna Quindlen

Many of us will miss our fathers this weekend as families observe Father’s Day. But we did have our time: Dad sitting in the audience as we sang, recited, walked across the stage to receive a diploma or took his arm to walk down the aisle on our wedding day.

Many children will miss their fathers, but sadly fathers will miss their children – taken too soon by gun violence.

A national campaign  startedby PICO National Network's Lifelines to Healing Campaign, urges citizens to send e-cards to Congress, urging them to pass legislation that would create universal background checks in an effort to end gun trafficking.

No father should have to bury a child. And no child should have to worry about his life ending because citizens acquire guns easily in our country – no matter who that citizen is or what their intentions or mental health may be.

May those with heavy hearts on Father’s Day find hope in the days ahead; hope that common sense and compassion dictate the acquisition of firearms.  

(S-R archives photo: A U.S. flag flies at half-staff on Main Street in Newtown, Conn. on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in honor of those killed) 

Healing garden filled with music and memories

If you've never walked through the garden behind Providence Center for Faith and Healing on the Sacred Heart campus, treat youself this summer. Every Thursday, starting Thursday until Aug. 15, the garden will be the scene of summer noon-time concerts.

Across town, Holy Family Hospital will have three Tuesday noon concerts this summer.

I wrote about it today.

Steven King, U.S. national giutar champion, will play the first concert.

He told me: “I play songs from different eras from people’s lives because you can think about a place in your youth where you haven’t been in a while…I like to surprise them with songs they’d never expect in guitar – like ‘What’s New Pussycat’ or the ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Harry Potter’ themes.”

When he said “What's New Pussycat” — the Tom Jones 1965 classic — I was immediately transported to fifth-grade summer, dusting furniture (one of my summer chores) listening to the radio.

(S-R Jesse Tinsley photo)

Call 911

I spent most of yesterday in a Red Cross CPR and first aid training class as part of my Spokesman-Review safety committee duties.

About 30 years ago, I took a CPR class and so much has changed.

I was surprised how hard you have to do the chest compressions. It's a good sign if you hear the ribs cracking, the instructor told us.

A panel on the mannequins lights up if you are exerting enough pressure, and I often wasn't. It was exhausting.

The instructor stressed to always have someone call 911, and in the class, I felt so grateful there is a 911. In an emergency, if no one else knew CPR, I hope I would have the courage to do CPR.

But I hope I never have to, thanks to 911.

The legacy of music

If you play a musical instrument, even if you don't play as well as you think you can, pass this gift/skill onto your children.

Music embeds itself in our hearts and memories, and so if you teach your children, or grandchildren, how to play a musical instrument, your legacy lives on whenever they pick up the instrument. It's a deep, profound and long-lasting connection.

This week, all week, we celebrate Street Music, the brainchild of the S-R's own Doug Clark. All over downtown, from noon to 1, musicians will be playing on nearly every street corner. And in the Garland district, too.

Near the Olive Garden restaurant today, I passed by Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley and sons, playing music together, as shown in this photo. Wish you could hear them.

Beautiful, bold, a family legacy in the making.

Phone worry: Our suspicious phone activity

The news that the U.S. government has been monitoring phone habits, especially through Verizon, gives me a laugh ( you gotta laugh some about this stuff) imagining government spies analyzing the phone records of me and my sisters.

We sometimes talk for two hours at a time (and we all live in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.) And we sometimes do three-and-four way calls. We talk about family plans, our mother, TV shows we love and hate, recipes, and memories from childhood, often with some disagreements about those memories. 

I always clean while we talk. It's the easiest way top get chores done. One sister usually eats on the phone because she eats dinner later than the rest. One sister, I suspect, is looking at her computer or watching TV while we visit.

But two hour phone calls are not that unusual.

The government, seeing  the length of these three-ways, might wonder what the Nappi sisters are up to. My husband sometimes calls us family terrorists, but we're benign.

Hey Uncle Sam, can you hear us now? We're debating whether you should ever put onions in spaghetti sauce.

Graduation…a mother’s blessing

My son graduates today…we will gather with friends and sit in the auditorium and cheer. He asks me if I will cry. Of course.  But first, in the intimacy of our home, I will read these words, a look back, a blessing forward. With love, Mom…

We are here – graduation day – when we celebrate you: Alexander.

Somehow the years carried us to this moment: with you growing from an infant, to a toddler, then a child, now a young man. We have marched too quickly in this parade of life.

When you were three, I called you, “Son.”  You smiled at me and asked, “Like sun-shine?”  Yes, like sunshine…and still like sunshine through 19 years.

School may have taught you what you need for life, most likely not. The quizzes and papers and tests feel more like hurdles then bridges today. No matter, you never let school discourage your passion. Nice work! A+

May you take with you some life lessons learned along the way, lessons we discovered in our journey through your childhood.

Together, we discovered time is precious – so why waste it on chores when we could build forts, swim at the pool and read books? The weeds and dusting waited patiently while we played. Our days filled up with laughter and giggles and imaginative journeys to distant lands. We traveled together– through forts and Moon Horse rides into the night.

Sometimes, we had to travel through real-life sadness – losing Grandpa, Uncle Art and Sister Carolyn. You brought kindness on those trips, easing our way.

You taught me simple gestures of love transform us: when you were five, you insisted we take flowers to the hospital patients who were not discharged home for Christmas. You took carnations and put them in paper-cup vases; you brought joy to the bedside. I learned of your tremendous compassion for strangers.

In second grade, you asked if I ever stood up for justice like Martin Luther King, Jr or Rosa Parks; and did I ever meet Rosa Parks and what did I actually say to her?  In that moment, I learned people are more important to you than theories and your heart understands suffering.  You remain a wise soul seeking what is right in the world.  

While the classroom often confined you, the stage has not. Cast as an iguana, a carriage driver, a dyno-bug, Amonasro – and many other characters – you delighted us and found self-confidence.  While singing in Fame, Footloose and Phantom, you found your own voice at Creative Theatre Experience, Kids at Play and in the Catskills. Your courage to listen to your own spirit taught me to listen more closely to my own voice. I am grateful.

God has blessed you with gifts you will soon share with the world. Today I offer these gifts for you:

For your journey, may you take faith – for times of joy and confusion – knowing our God who created you, walks with you – always.

May you take hope – for all your dreams and adventures. You have taught us to see possibilities when discouraging voices whispered into our life. May your hopeful heart guide you to joy-filled destinations.

May you take love – many people loved you through these years - and left their love within your heart. May their love inspire and comfort you, may that love give you strength and delight.

No matter where your dreams lead you: to school, the stage, with new friends and places: our love follows - through eternity into forever.


Congratulations, Alex!  Love, Mom

(S-R archives photo)

Temple wisdom

Yes, I know, it's weird that Costco even has its own magazine — the Costco Connection - and weirder that sometimes, the articles are good.

In the June issue, there's an interview with writer Temple Grandin, who has written eloquently about life along the autism spectrum.

She's 65 now and said this about aging:

“I used to be able to able to stand in a forklift truck loading dock at the feed yard and I could jump up on the ramp. Gosh, there is no way I could do that now. But one of the things that getting older does give you is wisdom and a perspective that you didn't have before because you've been to a lot of places and you've seen a lot of things. That's why, in a lot of societies, they look up to their elders. In elephant society, younger elephants look up to the matriarchs. Why? Because they know where to find the water from 50 years ago.”

(SR file photo)

Are you model material?

Today's Boomer U article was about the prediction (and hope) that boomer age men and women will be in greater demand in the next few years as models and actors in TV commercials, as companies finally wake up to the fact that boomers have some money to spend, a lot more, in fact, than the 20-something folks advertisers are so hot after.

My thanks to models Trudy Raymond and Joyce Cameron, both stunning looking women, who often donate their time on the runway for nonprofit fashion shows.

And with this blog post, I make my pitch to all boomer-age people. If you are asked to “model” or be on TV for whatever reason, and you think you're not young or good looking enough, reconsider.

The more people in society see “real” aging, the better off we'll all be.

Give it a shot!

(Photo of Joyce Cameron courtesy of Eric Chamberlain)

Earth: Hit the reset button?


The gigantic asteroid didn't hit Earth yesterday, nor was it expected to, but the sci-fi lover in me allowed my imagination to go far, far into another galaxy.

If the asteroid had hit, wiping out much of Earth, it would be an astonishing reset button for our planet which might need a rest from overcrowding, pollution, global warming.

Just a thought. And a reminder we all come and go, but Earth has survived. We should look to her for some survival lessons.

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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