Apr 28, 2012

Last week or more, Long Beach, Wa.

 Here are a group of pix from the last two weeks before going to Chicago and before getting sick all this week.


Black Lake kid's fishing derby, Ilwaco, Wa.

First time outside in five days, went to the fishing derby that my councilman, parks n rec'r, all-around super volunteer wife helped organize this year. Great turnout, lots of fun and lots of fish caught.

Wyse and I had no luck, but he did catch a boy.


Apr 23, 2012

Windy City, Chicago, Ill.

This weekend I was in Chicago for the Pictures of the Year and had the opportunity to make my way around a bit, either by foot or train. I love this city, it is really beautiful and hope I have an opportunity to return someday.

It was very nice to meet you Chicago

Apr 19, 2012

Rescued bald eagle, Ilwaco, Wa.

Last night while cooking dinner at home I was notified by my daughter that our new neighbor had a juvenile male bald eagle in the back of his truck, having rescued the bird after it had electrocuted itself on one side. As it would happen, he works at Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria, which rehabs injured animals.


Apr 14, 2012

Mud, blues and track - Niawaikum River, Ilwaco and Naselle, Wa.

Adventurous types played in the mud this afternoon during tours with Brian Atwater of the US Geological Survey — co-author of “The Orphan Tsunami of 1700” — who showed signs of past tsunami's in the local area, by way of the color of mud. Pretty cool. Above we have State Rep. Brian Blake helping Jackie Sheldon back up the ankle deep muddy mud bank.

Then to the River City Playhouse for a benefit blues show.

Thursday was yet another wet track meet — I'm three for three on these so far this year.


Apr 9, 2012

Clams & eggs, Seaview and Ocean Park, Wa.

Saturday morning was one of the last clam tides of the season, and the weather was perfect as the sun started to peak over the hills on the Seaview beach approach.

Saturday afternoon was the Beach Barons annual Easter egg hunt at their field in Ocean Park.


10 Years On, Remembering Brandy Stroeder

Twelve years ago, just a week after starting a new job at the News Register newspaper in McMinnville, Or., I was assigned to shoot a picture of a sick local girl at a Portland hospital. There is no way I could have fathomed at the time how much this girl, and this story would mean to me.

Brandy Stroeder, fighting cystic fibrosis and the Oregon state health plan that denied her the triple transplant she needed to survive was a titan, despite her diminutive stature. I called her kid whenever I saw her, despite the fact that I was only a few years older than her when we met in 2000. Writer David Bates and I were given essentially unfettered access to her and her wonderful family almost immediately and just about as quickly we saw that this would be a long term story.

For the next two months David and I would spend usually a few days a week with Brandy, her mom Karen, and other family and friends, like Charry (below). Hospital stays, family card games, graduation and parties. We were one of them, and it was an honor that we did not take lightly.

In July of that year, thanks to the unusually generous financial support of hotel magnate Mark Hemstreet, Brandy was flown to Stanford University for tests that would get her onto the transplant list that the state of Oregon denied her. That afternoon Brandy would drive us from Palo Alto to downtown San Francisco on the freeway, with my writing partner turning a number of sickly shades as we went — Brandy was a free spirit behind the wheel. To David's relief, I would drive us all back.

That's the kind of relationship we all had. When Brandy was to meet with state senator Gary George at the capitol building in Salem, we went in my car — just me, Brandy and David. Not the usual protocol for reporter-subject, but we were essentially doing a story about a friend, and when a friend needs a ride, you offer.

After turning 18, Brandy moved out of her mom's house and tried living alone for awhile, but she found that without the regular oversight she wasn't as vigilant with taken her meds on a daily basis — she had 16 that she took on a regular basis.

At the end of 2001, things begin to take a turn for the worse. Brandy would begin return visits to Doernbecher Hospital in Portland again as her health continued to slide. She even flew out for a possible triple transplant, only to find once there that one of the organs was unusable. After that her spirit was lower than I had ever seen.

Brandy died on April 8, 2002, of respiratory failure at a Portland hospital. She was 19 years old and at the top of the transplant list. 
This picture, which I made on the day after Christmas 2001 is my favorite of the hundreds I made of her over nearly two years.

A week later I photographed her funeral, my final assignment for the News Register before moving to Washington. It seemed fitting in a way, though, truth be told, I really didn't want to. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I owed it to her.
When I came over to the family's house on the evening she passed, I gave her mother Karen the wall plaque I received from the SPJ for the first place photo story about Brandy I had won the year before. It seems an odd thing in a way, but it had both my name and hers on it. I wonder if she still has it?

The first installment of our story was published on June 25, 2000. David wrote a wonderful prologue that ran on the front page, before jumping to B1 and two inside pages. Feature page editor Racheal Winter didn't usually design the front page — and I don't remember if I lobbied for her to in this case, though that sounds like something I would have done back then — and did a beautiful job with the four page package.

It was Rachael again with the front page the day after Brandy died, with a look that echoed that of Chance for a Lifetime. It looked elegant, which she deserved, and we ran the picture that was my favorite.

On page 2 we ran a Letter to Readers in each edition, and I volunteered, as I had a number of things I wanted to say. And while it may not be the most eloquent thing I've ever written, it was an honest assessment of my feelings.
I debated a long time about whether or not I was going to post this stuff or not, but looking at it all again makes me realize that while it may not be the best work I've ever done, it may be some of the most important. At that time, to a lot of people, Brandy was a sick girl with the audacity to stand up for herself, and a great story. I think we wanted to do, and hopefully succeeded in, was showing her as a genuinely interesting person who just happened to be sick.
I hope that if you are interested you will look up Brandy online to read more about her, and if so inspired, may get involved in CF research and funding.