Friday, November 20, 2009

At least there's HOPE

I'm optimistic. Always have been. Even when there doesn't seem to be much hope, I'll hold out because I know how strong hope can be.

Right now, barring some miraculous bending of the space/time continuum, my friend Codi's cancer will continue to spread. Her treatment has been stopped and so we're left with hope...and with love. What else can you do? Hope and love can come from anywhere and everywhere and carry a power stronger than any cancer. Cancer can destroy a body, but hope and love carry the soul and grow stronger and stronger with time.

Codi is only 20 years old but she has touched countless lives already. Her compassion is unyielding, her sparkle undeniable and when she looks you in the eye, she connects. Anyone that has ever had the good fortune to meet her will remember and comment on her eyes. They're filled with hope, and love is what overflows. I'm not just saying this now for words of comfort. I've told it to her personally more than once. She has always had this warming, calming presence where you just feel at home when you are with her. Knowing her family, it's easy to see where she learned that from.

Codi will now have to rely heavily on her family and friends to surround her with love...and with hope. If you wouldn't mind sending along some of your own, I know it would be put to good use. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Old Knucklehead!

Look at that big as a catcher's mitt. It wasn't until he was almost 90 years old that he couldn't crush my hand in a regular handshake. I was thinking about Captain Lynn Campbell today because he recently turned 99 years old. He lives about 30 minutes from me and is still going strong. He's been slowing a bit in recent years but still can tell an old salt tale like no other.

I first met him in 1975 when I was the little kid working at the aquarium on Pier 56 arranging fish tanks and feeding whales, dolphins and seals at the age of 16. He owned Seattle Harbor Tours next door and would pop in to the aquarium from time to time. He was vibrant, charismatic, and looked like some famous Hollywood actor would someday be portraying him in a movie. He was 65 when I first met him. That's unbelievable to me. I didn't even get to know him until a few years later when I became his sidewalk barker in 1978. Sorry...but I feel compelled to share a photo.

Yeah, that was me in 1980 actually, doing my barking routine. I'd convince people to go on the harbor tours during the day and then bartend on the party cruises at night; it doesn't get much more fun than that for a 21 year old.

Captain Campbell has been a famous person in my life, worthy of much more than a random blog post. But today, a blustery day in November, a day that, well, when back in the day I'd be running around on one of his boats in late fall, setting up, cruising around the harbor with nary a passenger to be found, I was thinking about Captain Campbell and remembering his smile, his quick wit, and those crushing handshakes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh and one more thing!!

I just realized in glancing at my last post that I somehow completely left out one of the most unique details about our Luau...Codi had absolutely no idea that it was going to happen or that Hawaiian shirts were packed in her weekend luggage. All of the planning was done quite sneekily behind her back. She thought she was coming up to my Poulsbo studio from Bonney Lake to have some family portraits taken and knew that her family would be spending the night at the Manor Farm Inn B&B directly across the street from me.

So that night while she was getting settled in to her room, Tiki Torches were being lit and the party was beginning. All we needed was our guest of honor. As her car drove up the driveway her jaw dropped and then she broke into a flabbergasted smile. Her camp friends surrounded her and were cheering as Codi’s dad wheeled her into the Luau.

"Go to an authentic Luau"?

Yes Codi, you can now cross that off your list!

Monday, November 9, 2009


It started with a wish. A wish passed on to me from a loving mother desperately trying to see what she could do to help her daughter.

A wish expressed by a young woman only 20 year’s of age but already in her fourth battle against Ewing’s Sarcoma. Codi is by no means throwing in the towel in her fight. In fact, her motto is “Bring It!” It is important for her though to still get her ducks in a row, so she has written out her Bucket List. Her mom Lisa was sharing the list with me a few weeks ago and naming off a few of the items that Codi has crossed off and a few others that she hadn’t. On the top of her list was, “Die without regrets”. Further down was, “Take a breath-taking picture”, “To help a stranger” and “To go to a Luau”. I realized that I might be able to help her cross off a few things. I knew I could help her with her photography wish and I felt that if I shared her story with others that could indeed “help a stranger”.

Then I started thinking about the Luau: the Pacific Northwest, November, typhoon-like rain and wind, a Luau? Why not? The only two resources I needed were my amazing Martha Stewart-esque wife Heidi, and my Camp Goodtimes family. I made a few calls, and they made a few calls, and suddenly things started falling together. We connected up with volunteer musicians and dancers, collected dozens of Tiki Torches, went on a huge Costco run, decorated my studio from top to bottom and adorned the front entrance with giant banana leaves. The mother of one of our camp counselors sent from her home on Oahu beautiful flowers, monstera leaves, head scarves for Codi, assorted traditional Hawaiian food items and even FedExed a special fresh lei for Codi that arrived the day before the Luau. A camp counselor’s sister, who has never even met Codi, made her beautiful earrings with “wellness” inscribed on them. People brought unique Hawaiian dishes to add to the feast and were decked out in their best Luau attire, although a few of them were wearing Uggs instead of flips flops. A few of our camp friends even spent the night before and after the Luau to set up and break down (and finish off the Mai Tai’s…thanks Putt Putt and Watermelon). And last but not least we had 50 people here on Saturday night that were treated to a night filled with love, music, dancing, great food, and the warmest feeling of Aloha.

“Aloha” by it’s definition means “affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy”. That did indeed define our entire celebration. There were prayers spoken in Hawaiian, songs of love and healing, the holding of hands, the giving of gifts, and the performance of traditional hula dances. All the while, Codi sat in her wheelchair wearing her leis and participating entirely in the wonderful gathering. Behind her on the floor was her bag of pain medications that unfortunately she had to dip into towards the end of the evening. Her smile was unwavering though and she didn’t want to leave. The musicians and dancers performed for about twice as long as we were expecting simply because they wanted to keep sharing their traditions with us.

In between dances at one point I said a few words of thanks to everyone and invited Lisa up to the microphone where she tearfully did the same. I inquired in a whisper to Codi if she wanted to say anything and she shook her head no. But after dances, songs and more dances (and after a Skype connection was made to her former camp counselors in Ohio and New York), Codi said, “I do have something to say.” I handed her the microphone and she said with a smile, “Because I now understand what it really means…Aloha.” To which the guests immediately responded back to her with the same wonderful sentiment.

When it was time for Codi to leave, she and her family didn’t have far to go. The Manor Farm Inn B&B across the street from my studio had donated a couple of rooms for them. So with a 30 second drive to a comfortable bed awaiting Codi, her Camp Goodtimes family formed a gauntlet of silliness lining the driveway to her car. While she was getting buckled in I asked her if she wanted to witness one last piece of Hawaii…body surfing. She grinned her approval and within seconds a few counselors were riding a human wave around her car!

The Luau kept going for a while longer and, luckily, one of the musicians locked his keys in his car so he and his family couldn’t leave! While waiting for AAA they all came back in and continued to dance and celebrate with us.

The next day Codi and her family all came over so we could actually do the photo shoot that was, in Codi’s mind, the only reason she was going to Poulsbo in the first place. I took portraits of everyone and then shot the official “Christmas card photo”.

The highlight of the entire weekend for me personally? Helping Codi to her car yesterday and then watching as she crossed “Go to a Luau” off of her Bucket List.

Thank you everyone who helped make this happen especially the musicians and dancers of, and thank you Codi for celebrating your wish with us. Our wish for you is for you to be feeling better each and every day.


I met Codi at the car to present her with her special lei sent all the way from Hawaii from our dear new friend Jane.

Bunny ears from "Daffy" in New York City while Skyping.

And finally, a different sort of goodbye wave, bodysurfing on a human wave!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Halloween wedding!

Matt and Melanie are not only a couple who are in love with each other, but also with Halloween. They have very unique taste to say the least. Yesterday's very small backyard wedding was filled with macabre decorations and people in full Halloween regalia. The ceremony couldn't begin until the groom showed up. The guests were a little mystified until Matt rose out of casket wearing an Elvis mask!

Tears, laughter and toasts - skeletons, vampires and ghosts. An afternoon to remember!