Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Though only 1100 people lived in the town where I grew up, everyone wore a poppy and everyone honored the service of living and dead members of the military on Memorial and Veterans Days.  I like this poster because it looks to be from shortly after World War I, the war that my father, Dr. James Harrison Sowers, served in as part of the Army Dental Corps.  I suspect this photo is from his college graduation or from his graduation from dental school at the University of Iowa.

By the time my sister and I were born, my father was in his late fifties and we were just coming out of World War II. He managed memories of that war by story-telling, at least the humorous parts and the parts that highlighted the discipline of the Army.  We learned to make our beds with square corners, so flat that a quarter could be bounced off it.  We were taught the Army song, to salute, to turn out and to march. He let us use his Army blanket for picnics and tea parties.

Stored away in Doc's Army footlocker were other souvenirs from his time in the corps, including a terrific black and white photo of his corps, which hung in his dental office for some of my childhood.  He was a lifelong member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for whom we sold the poppies made by veterans.

Doc was buried in the cemetery in Buffalo Center overlooking the rich cornfields of northern Iowa with a formal military salute in 1970.

I am glad that he came home from that war and, later, as a widower, married my mother and had two daughters.  So many did not come home from that war, or all the wars that have followed.  If you see someone offering you a poppy today, take it in memory of someone you know who served our country in the military. Or on behalf of the thousands who no longer have anyone left to remember them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Inspiring Hope 2011

There are no words necessary to describe the joy and pleasure of friends who meet to do good works. On Saturday, we participated in the second annual "Inspiring Hope" 5k/10k walk run to benefit the Komen Foundation.  It is estimated that we raised around $5,000 -- and had a pancake breakfast after the event as well.  Here are a few photos.  You can see from the smiles that we are all happy to be a part of this event.

 Carol Frombach Salo and Ginny Douglas, both survivors, and both 3 Day Walkers.

 No rain, just a bit of chilly wind as the runners begin to line up.

 Runners could opt between 5k or 10k races.

 Here's the event organizer and captain of the Kindred Spirits 3 Day Walk team, Penny Kellam.

 Thanks to Ginny, I am able to tell you that William Kline is the guy in the kilt, who has been walking in 3 Day events since at least 2007, when I first walked.  To  his left is my dear friend Jenny Sinanan in the purple coat.

 We loved these young people and their signs, waving the participants onto the course and welcoming them back.

 Penny invites the walkers to take the course.

 And out they go!  (I played photographer, to spare my right knee.)  ASA Risk Consultants is one of the gold sponsors of the event.

 Coming back in.  He always walks with a pack and in these heavy boots.  Great legs!

 Here is Jenny coming in, wearing her University Street Fair hat that makes everyone smile.

Carol and Ginny cross the finish line without breaking a sweat.
Friends forever left to right:  me, Jenny Sinanan, Lynn Matthews, Ginny Douglas and Carol Frombach Salo.

Such a great neighborhood!

Our neighbors Jo and Charlie Voss have for years invited all of us in the neighborhood to their home on the first Friday of every month.  Folks bring food or drink and relax over conversation.  I spent only about an hour last Friday, but it was long enough to get a photo of an early version of Jo's table, set to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a day late...more and more food just keeps appearing as the house fills up.  This is one of several wonderful traditions in our neighborhood.

On Wednesday evening, I'm one of a number of residents attending an orientation for the Seattle Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP) implementation in our Ravenna neighborhood.  I'll be responsible for the 12 homes on one block of 19th Avenue -- ensuring we have contact information and also can assist any neighborhood residents who might need extra help during an emergency event like a power outage or an earthquake.  I like taking what I know professionally and applying it locally.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My walking hat.

I've walked to raise money for breast cancer in this hat since 2007.  Embroidered on the hat are the names of those for whom I walk.  I will be wearing my hat tomorrow at the "Inspiring Hope" 5k/10k walk/run to raise money for the Kindred Spirits team, with whom I trained and walked in 2007 and 2008.  I'm proud that ASA Risk Consultants is a sponsor of the event for the second year in a row.

I thought I would tell you a bit about each of the persons whose names are on my hat.  On the front are Tracy and Diane, both breast cancer survivors, one my next door neighbor and one my former colleague at Washington Mutual who walks now each year herself,  On the side of my hat that you can see in this picture are three other WaMulians -- Julie, whose humor and optimism in facing down advanced breast cancer was the inspiration for my first ever walk; Denise, who fought pancreatic cancer right down to the end with all the experimental treatments available; and Lisa, who beat thyroid cancer in 2006.  The back of my hat is jammed with names added over time including five breast cancer survivors (Colleen, Cindy, and  Judy from WaMu and Anne, guiding light for so many years at The Seattle Foundation), as well as two brain cancer patients, the composer/musician Andrew d'Angelo and my hero now deceased, Teddy Kennedy, Lion of the Senate; and my colleague Brian, who came back from a virulent form of abdominal cancer.  The fourth side of my hat includes my sister Mary, a breast cancer survivor; my friend Jobeth, who beat uterine cancer; and my old friend Sabine, who was laid to rest last year of brain cancer.

Each of these names represents a real person, whose life was torn apart by cancer.

My hat does not carry the names of the survivors who are members of the Kindred Spirits team, but I wanted to mention our captain, Penny Kellam, who has led this team and walked for something like thirteen or so  60 mile events.  She is the organizer of the "Inspiring Hope" event tomorrow, and a survivor of both uterine and cervical cancer.

This list is way too long.  Our banners say "Everyone deserves a lifetime."  I'll continue to walk and raise funds for screening, early detection and additional research that brings us closer to understanding how to eliminate this horrific disease.