Advertise Here


Posts tagged: EndNotes

Flying Fido? Perhaps reconsider

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

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

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)

Bishop hits the Windy City

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

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

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”

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?

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

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 .)


Mental health crisis

We walk the streets of our communities and at any time we see them: persons who have mental illness.

When one of these persons commits a crime – or is it a crime if they have limited awareness? – they are arrested and put in jail. While waiting for appropriate care, psychiatric care at a hospital, many of these people spend months in jail. And their mental health status deteriorates.

“Mental-health advocates are seeking class-action status in a federal lawsuit arguing that holding these patients in jail violates right to due process and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Many hope the Legislature will intervene with more funding,” writes Andy Mannix in a Seattle Times story.  

Our society has lost its way in caring for people who cannot find their way.

(S-R archive photo)

September 11: we remember

We remember where we were, the images on television, the accounting for friends and family who live in New York City. My sisters and I frantically called each other to learn about my brother-in-law. He was in Lower Manhattan on business.  After sixty minutes, he called home from a post office where cops had ushered pedestrians inside as the sky rained debris.  He witnessed the second plane hitting the tower.

Thousands of families lost loved ones to the reigning terror of hate.  People who worked hard to provide a life for their families, for themselves, were suddenly lost to madness. Cops, fire fighters, investment professionals, service workers, a priest who rushed in to help - his lifeless body carried out by first responders. Lovely people, gone.

In the months following, victims’ families found each other, sharing anguish, telling stories. The families gathered in a room with a view, in a spartan office space at a 54-story tower: 1 Liberty Plaza, twenty stories above Ground Zero.  While cleanup workers and tourists moved frantically below, the unnoticed Family Room evolved into sacred space. People brought their unfathomable pain, artifacts representing loved ones and their stories. The unplanned space became a sanctuary of grief and hope.

This summer the Family Room was replaced with a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The artifacts from the original room were offered back to families. Some people reclaimed the items while others donated their holy objects to the New York State Museum in Albany.

The exhibit – honoring 1,000 victims – is the most singular collection of the faces of those who died that day. One item, a pair of wire-rimmed eyeglasses, has an accompanying note: “So you can see in heaven.”

September 11. A day we can see on Earth that love transcends all evil, love cannot be destroyed.    

(S-R photo: A woman places a hand on the names engraved along the South reflecting pool at the Ground Zero memorial site. )

Cleaning up and letting go

My husband and I cleaned out the storage area above the garage – without marital discord. He likes to toss, while I like to “consider” how an item may be useful, still. Add in the his/hers factor: as comedian George Carlin said, “Please move your crap so I have room for my stuff!”

After we sifted through the home repair remnants of paint cans, wood trim and unidentifiable weird stuff, we found collections of our younger years: camping gear, cross-country skis and lots and lots of baby items.  We know we will never camp again (his back issues); I insisted we keep the skis; the baby items are a time capsule for our son.   Soon I will open the plastic bins and show him how his mom dressed him in his infancy and toddler days. Then the little clothes will go off to someone else’s little person.

My husband discovered several boxes of notebooks from work.  Now retired, he happily tossed notebook after notebook from the upper level of the storage area down into the trash can below. “The final letting go,” he declared.

I felt sadness in my throat – and a bit of relief - as I watched artifacts of our younger years hit the ground. The cleaning out was a letting go of stuff and an era, recognizing we are entering a new stage of life: only the essentials, just practical tools needed for our senior years. 

(S-R archive photo)

Retirement home cuisine? Five-star delight

The baby-boom generation is moving into their elder years and bringing their great expectations – like fabulous food. And many senior living facilities are seeking to meet that expectation.

In the Chicago area, the Mather, a senior living community, the chef creates duck breasts and pork chops worthy of a five-star restaurant menu. Catholic retired sisters across town at Mercy Circle drink fruit-enhanced water and enjoy whipped butter on house-baked rolls.

And why not? Senior housing seeks to accommodate the needs of its residents. Fresh, healthy food provides a therapeutic advantage over tapioca from a blender as well as a reason to gather in community and break bread together – really good bread, that is.

(S-R photo)


Cancer drug success

The FDA has approved a new class of drugs to fight cancer. The first drug – Keytruda - was approved for patients with advanced melanoma, patients for whom other treatments have failed. Other drugs in trials have been successful against kidney and lung cancers.

The drugs allow one’s own immune system to attack the cancer. As success continues with this new group of drugs, we may see fewer cancer patients prescribed chemotherapy, so toxic and debilitating.   For all cancer patients comes a message of hope.

(S-R archive photo: In the movie “50/50,” the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt undergoes chemotherapy, sees a therapist and ultimately survives.)

Joan Rivers

America’s funniest funny woman has died. Joan Rivers, 81, died one week after she suffered cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.

She leaves a daughter, Melissa, and a grandson, Cooper, and a nation who couldn’t help but laugh at her quick wit, her outrageous comments.  She never stopped - until today.

Heaven welcomes home another star. Joan Rivers joins Robin Williams – what a reunion.

(S-R photo: Melissa and Joan Rivers)

Kick-off to fall

Fall is really here now. School busses lumber through our neighborhoods, the cool morning air heralds change. And tonight the Seahawks kick off the professional football season against the Green Bay Packers.

Enjoy the melancholy of autumn, when crisp leaves skitter across cement, marching bands with their drummers beat out cadence; a new rhythm arrives in September. The chaos of summer wanes. Our journey continues.

(S-R photo: Russell Wilson, Seattle quarterback)

Off the menu

Tracking and living by the “experts’ findings” on food choices can make one’s head – and perhaps stomach – hurt.  Low carb? Low fat?  Vegan? A new major study claims that people who avoid carbohydrates and eat fat – even the saturated kinds of fat – will lose weight and have fewer cardiovascular problems. Trans fat is the exception.

Somewhere in the midst of seeking the magic equation for good health, we may benefit from following our ancestors’ habits: eat a variety of unprocessed foods, then go outside and burn off the calories – harvesting the farmland or hitting tennis balls. 

(S-R archive photo)

Retired and restless?

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, the question emerges: “What are all those people doing now?”

Many boomers are selling their homes, shedding possessions and hitting the road – or check-in gate. Last year 360,000 Americans received their Social Security benefits at foreign addresses. Seems travel and travel and travel is a retirement activity.

With limited funds, seniors are having  great times – far away from home. Instead of sleeping at the Ritz-Carlton, seniors are snoozing at short-term vacation rentals or even couch surfing; yes, there is a couch-surfing website for those over 50.

Decades ago many boomers hitched rides across Europe with only a backpack and their youthful fitness; even at 60 or 70-something, it is not too late to see the world. Just don’t leave home without your AARP identification.

(S-R archive photo)

School blues?

When the first day of school started each September my mom put out the American flag. She was delighted, okay, ecstatic, watching her four daughters return to class; she welcomed routine.

But no one ever wondered about the family dog’s response. Seems our canine creatures may suffer separation anxiety when children leave for the school bus. If your puppy barks, howls - or worse - destroys furniture, shoes, toys, he may just be anxious and lonely.

Tips to help: keep departure time happy with treats or toys; create a comfy place of repose for your dog; start the new routine with a few practice days. If the house continues to receive the wrath of Fido, consult a veterinarian.

Our dogs give us unconditional love and acceptance and we reward them with our attention. No wonder they react when we withdraw and head for the classroom. Happy September.

(S-R archive photo) 

When cops shoot

With a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the last few weeks have brought great conversation, protests and violence. The attention on police shootings has been from the perspective of citizens, not police officials.

Writer Sean Robinson of the Tacoma News Tribune examines the history of police shootings in Pierce County (Tacoma area) and details the process law enforcement must implement following an officer-involved shooting. While citizens often believe eye witness accounts,  those accounts are not always accurate.  Instead, science can provide accurate evidence regarding a use-of-force event.  

Get blog updates by email

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

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here