Reporter's journal | Jerry Brewer on covering Gloria Strauss
Seattle Times staff columnist
My "Gloria" writing was interrupted Sunday because Mike Hargrove resigned as the Mariners' manager. I had to switch hats and return to being a sports columnist.
Personally, that's been the most difficult part of writing this series. I'm trying to keep up with the Strausses and with the sports world. This story began as a sports story because Doug is the boys' basketball coach at Kennedy High School in Burien. I first learned of the family from Don Shelton, one of the Times' assistant sports editors.
It was February. Don told me he had heard the Kennedy coach had five children, including a girl sick with cancer, and a wife with multiple sclerosis. Matt Massey, a freelancer for the Times, knew of the story and briefed me on it. It turned out that Doug had seven children, not five.
I originally interviewed Doug as the state playoffs were about to begin. But shortly after our interview, I had to make a trip to Arizona for spring training. When I returned, I learned Kennedy had been upset in the state tournament.
I was stunned. I wondered, "What do I do with this great story now?"
Fortunately, I discovered the story was much bigger than sports. After several more interviews with Doug, I realized it was about a family's faith in a miracle. Then my bosses warmed to the idea, and we debated how to present the series. The first thing we decided was that it's not a sports story. Now, nearly five months since I first met Doug, here we are.
I worry a lot about whether I'm giving my sports column enough attention, and then I worry about whether I'm giving Gloria's story enough attention. This has pretty much been a 7-day-a-week gig, but who cares? Gloria's story is too important to ignore.
In an ideal world, I would not write the column for a while and just tell this story. But I'm new to the area, and I want to write as much as possible. And besides, it's been a crazy summer in Seattle sports. On Sunday, it got even crazier.
So I lost a day to focus on Gloria, and that might push Part IV back a few days. Right now, the word is that the story will run early next week, perhaps between July 9th and 11th. In the news world, things can change quickly, but I really want this next piece in the paper ASAP.
I've already heard from several people who are wondering how Gloria is doing. I'm happy that people have warmed up to her. Now it's my job to make sure the audience gets more information.
I received an e-mail yesterday that made me think even deeper about Gloria. It was from a lady named Sally Lanham, who also has a child with cancer. Gloria's oncologist, Julie Park, is helping the Lanham family, too.
The e-mail had the subject line "How are things with Gloria."
"Those of us that live in the cancer world are frightened of silence. The old adage, "no news is good news" does not hold. Not that the family may want the details of how she is progressing, I was just worried. My daughter is going to turn 15 on the 4th (of July) and has been getting bloody noses. It makes me worry. I have decided today to worry about Gloria instead."
I wrote Sally back, and we had a very nice exchange. It got me to thinking. I feel the same way Sally does when there's silence. She's so right about being frightened of silence.
If there's a day I can't reach the Strausses, I worry something might be wrong. I know Gloria has neuroblastoma — not a lodged bullet — in her body, but I'm always wondering what's going on and if she's deteriorating quicker than expected. That's the hard part; we just don't know exactly what's going on inside her body.
All we know is that she's in pain, incredible pain, and some days are better than the others. It's a long, persistent battle.
I spoke with Gloria's parents today, and Doug and Kristen say Gloria's spirits have risen over the past few days. She had a good weekend. She's still up and down emotionally, but she's doing better.
Luckily, this time, no news was good news.
Finally, I have finished Part 4 of this series. It's out of my hands and with the editors. The scheduled run date is Tuesday, July 10. It could change according to breaking news, but that's the plan.
I had to show considerable restraint writing this story because I had so much great information, so much powerful information, and also because the story is so emotional.
I met Doug at a coffee shop today to make sure I had all my facts straight in this piece. With a story this delicate, I assume nothing. So far, the family has been really happy that I have portrayed them in a truthful manner. I think the trust we've built in this relationship comes from the Strausses knowing that I'm telling their story with accuracy and compassion.
Doug seemed in really good spirits today. Gloria is still struggling, but she's fighting. The hardest part, the father says, is that the family is flying blind. Doug and Kristen have never been through anything like this. Few families have. They always wonder if they're making the right decisions, and even the simplest decisions are difficult to make.
It took me longer than usual to put this piece together, and I'm spent right now. I haven't felt this mentally drained ever. And I think that, with Gloria's condition getting more serious, I'm going to need to write more frequently.
I've always thought the story would move slowly for a while and then speed up. Everyone understands, even if they don't want to say it aloud, that we're racing toward a conclusion. It's Gloria versus the cancer. Will God intervene?
The family has never been this close to God. And they've never needed Him more.
Part 4 is indeed running in tomorrow's newspaper. I will be excited to see it, although this story is the saddest of the four.
I'm sure readers will be more sympathetic than ever, but I also hope they can still see beauty in this story. Ultimately, as the storyteller, I try to write as clearly as possible and leave it to the readers to take what they want from the piece. We all have goals as writers, but we must remember we're communicating to people with different interests, perspectives and insights on life. We must remember that we're telling someone else's story, not preaching, and that means realizing that different readers will have different interpretations.
I'm fine with that. But I hope I didn't drown the story with one emotion because the family feels a lot of things right now.
This piece also deals with the feelings and motivations of family friends. I try to explain the legion of support for the Strauss family. I don't do a comprehensive job with that part of the story -- that's impossible -- but I do try to shed light on some of the wonderful things people do when they work together and use their hearts. I think it also helps to see how others view the Strausses.
I've said before that I thought Part 4 would be the best of the series to date. I'm not sure about that right now. I think Part 2, the one entitled "I'm going to make it," is still the best. Everything in this series keeps coming back to that story in some form. The family's faith is the heart of this series, and Part 2 explained it all.
In terms of really humanizing Gloria and her family, however, this latest story accomplished something I haven't done before. There's more action, more pain, more reality. But you're still going to see the fighter in Gloria.
For three stories, the goal had been to make readers care about Gloria and her family. The focus had been primarily on the Strauss' journey through Gloria's cancer and through life in general.
Today's story adds another dimension: The incredible support this family receives.
But here's the dilemma: Even though there are several villages' worth of people caring for this family, Gloria is still struggling.
No matter how many people rally around this family, Gloria is still fighting a battle that only she can truly understand.
To illustrate this point, I isolated a depressed episode Gloria had one day and split it into three short, tightly written sections that keep recurring throughout the piece. Meanwhile, the rest of the story focuses primarily on all of Gloria's helpers -- family, friends, even people she doesn't really know -- and how they are trying to lift her spirits and cope with seeing her suffer.
This story is sad, but it is not tragic. After refusing to go to the Fantozzis' house for a prayer session, Gloria comes around, spurred by Debbie Kovach asking Gloria to pray with her. That moment inspires Gloria's father to say what the story is about, basically.
"Our community will not let us fall," Doug Strauss says.
The community is the miracle right now. Everyone hopes God will heal Gloria since medicine cannot, but while they cling to the hope of that miracle, they also realize how much Gloria's journey has brought out the kindness in others and also brought people to God.
I want readers to feel like a member of the Strauss family when they read this story. Part of that involves writing the story in a transparent manner, so that you might be led to think like this family thinks.
The Strausses are uncertain about a lot of things right now. They look for signs from God in everything. They believe in the healing miracle strongly, but they are antsy. And they have moments when they wonder how much more they can handle.
The elephant in the room is always the question: "How will they handle it if Gloria dies?"
They talk about it, but they do not really answer the question. It is counterproductive. Why worry about something that has not happened? If that is the case, God will prepare them, they say.
As the writer of their story, I try to provide insight on how they might handle things if the worst-case scenario happens. I truly think they will find a way to survive because of all the good deeds Gloria has done.
She is 11, but she has lived a fuller life than I have, for sure. And I bet she has lived a fuller life than most people.
She is not perfect, however. She has her struggles. And, sadly, it will only get more difficult for her.
As always, we come back to the point: Gloria is fighting a disease that she cannot beat alone and that no one can fight for her. It is Gloria versus the cancer. The cancer is winning. She needs God. She trusts he will rescue her. The big question is how and when.
And so, we all continue to wait as the story gets harder to bear. She is no less inspiring, however. In this story, her helpers make that quite clear.
I grow more worried about Gloria every day. Her pain keeps increasing, sometimes so much so that it immobilizes her. Her parents aren't getting much sleep, either.
I haven't had a chance this week to go see them. I've had some other assignments, and they've been so focused on Gloria that it takes them longer to return phone calls. I totally understand that part of it. My concern is about the unknown.
What's going on? How's Gloria doing? Do they need help? Is there anything I can do, while not overstepping my responsibilities as a journalist, to help?
On Wednesday, I was writing a column, text-messaging Doug on one phone and returning a call on another all at once. I stopped and thought temporarily, "Can I handle this?"
Then I snapped back to reality. It's not about me. The fatigue and fears I have while covering this story is nothing compared to what Gloria and her family are going through. With that perspective, I relaxed and kept going.
As I've told people before, I've never covered a story this emotional for this long. Right now, I'm worried about being a voyeur. Steve Ringman, the photographer working on this piece, is worried about the same thing. Even though we have a story to tell, we don't want to be intruders.
The Strausses have been very gracious with their time and have never said we were in the way. But they're also nice people, so we sense that they wouldn't say anything unless they were really agitated.
Over the past few days, I have had encouraging conversations with both Doug and Kristen about the series. Doug told me that he thinks The Times' coverage has contributed to keeping the family on the right path. Kristen said she considers sharing this story a "calling" because she believes it's helping other families dealing with illness.
I appreciate their sense of mission.
Tomorrow, I'll be back with some stories of how wonderfully supportive people in the Puget Sound region -- and beyond -- have been this past week. It's like they read about Gloria's support system in Tuesday's paper and immediately wanted to join the club. There's still plenty good coming out of a bad situation.
Since Tuesday's story, I've been flooded with calls and e-mails from people wanting to do whatever they can for Gloria.
They want to know where to send cards. They want to know how to contact the family to offer medical ideas. They want to know if they can replace the video camera that was stolen from the family. They want to know if they can sponsor fundraisers. (One woman in Kirkland did "A Popsicle for Gloria" and raised significant money.)
They want to know how to make a donation. One area in which I messed up in the last story was not steering people toward the foundation set up for Gloria. For those reading online, here's how you contribute money:
Donations can be made at any Washington Mutual bank. Just go and ask to contribute to The Gloria Strauss Benevolent Fund.
I've had people leave messages in tears. I've talked to people who break down and cry during our conversation. And I've heard from many people with children in situations similar to Gloria's, who are finding strength from reading her story.
It's amazing what a community can do when it unites for a common cause. In Federal Way, people have been supporting Gloria for years. Now that these Times' stories have made her story even better known, this army of goodwill is swelling.
This past week, I've opened my eyes to how this story has affected readers. Before, I was just running my own race. I knew it was having an impact because the feedback has been tremendous, but I hadn't realized how people were so moved to action. And I hadn't really taken the time to truly listen to everything readers were saying.
I'm amazed. It's unbelievable. The Strausses always say of their story, "It's bigger than us." I've always believed, as the storyteller, that it's bigger than me. Now I realize it's so much bigger than me that I can't see over or around it. That's an overpowering realization.
Gloria's condition hasn't changed much. She's still struggling to move. She's on an IV with morphine now. It's been really hard, but she's hanging in there. And she revealed to her parents the other day that she knew it would come to this. She's had this vision before, which I will explain in the next story. That piece might run as early as the end of next week.
I have been away working on Part 5. In fact, I just sent a second draft of the piece to my editor about 90 minutes ago.
As a general rule, I try not to post on this journal while I'm writing another Gloria story. That's because I want to detach myself from my own emotions and return to reporter mode. At times, I have become too detached while writing one of her stories, and when that happens, I have had to return to writing this journal to reconnect with my feelings.
It's all so weird, figuring out when to channel the compassion and when to suppress it. If I didn't feel for Gloria, I couldn't write this series. If I feel too much for Gloria, I can't get past the first paragraph without crying.
More and more, I'm trying to place myself in Gloria's grand scheme. I think, "What's my purpose?" I answer, "I am the messenger." It's still amazing to me how many people care for this little Gloria. That keeps me focused.
Honestly, I'm growing tired of people asking how I'm doing. They're incredible friends to care so much, but I'm fine. I do express some of my innermost thoughts in this space and in private, but I'm fine.
Doug talks all the time about complacency. He asks Gloria's doctors and nurses not to get complacent. He tells himself not to get complacent. I follow his lead and tell myself not to get complacent.
People also keep asking how I've become so close with the family. Well, we're not best friends, but there's a trust. I think the Strausses understand the passion I have for telling this story. They know I'm thinking about Gloria all the time. Recently, I told Doug he can call me at any hour to talk. We've been having trouble connecting during the day because Gloria is literally living hour to hour.
Every hour, she needs a new dose of pain medicine, or else she's in agony. So Doug and Kristen have a lot of sleepless nights. And if they have a 24-hour schedule now, I need to be prepared to adjust. I keep thinking Doug will test me with a 4 a.m. phone call soon. I sleep with my cell phone and notebook by my side.
If I just focus on my purpose, it makes me happy. It gives me more energy. I feel like I'm part of an amazing movement, although, as a reporter, I step to the side and observe quite often.
I visited the Strausses today. They are in good spirits. Gloria's condition hasn't gotten any better, but the familiar calm that cushions this family has returned. I felt better about being around than I previously have.
Doug tested me today. And I failed. I knew, as soon as he read my journal entry about "calling any time," he'd remember I said that and test me. He and Kristen were up late with Gloria, so Doug called at 1:30 a.m. this morning. I didn't answer. He left the funniest voicemail ever, playfully chastising me.
Of course, he knows not to go too far with the jokes because I've collected some cute stories about him that he doesn't want in print. We go back and forth like that, teasing each other. He's one of the most hilarious and genuine people I've ever met. The whole family is like that, really.
Part 5 is slated to run in Saturday's paper (July 21). It's sad, but I think readers will appreciate the depth of the Strausses' faith in this one. Just like Gloria's cancer has increased, so has the Strausses' belief in this miracle, and in this story, we show how often they're tested and how they recover and snap back to religion.
After I wrote the first 100 words of it, I broke down and had to go to sleep. It was too hard to write about Gloria's suffering. The next day, however, the writing came pretty easily.
I try to find ways to lighten the mood when writing these stories. I don't want to give play-by-play of what it's like to suffer. That story has been told before, and it's incredibly difficult to read. This story is gut-wrenching, but it's multi-faceted, and to portray the Strausses accurately, there must be plenty of humor. They still laugh and have fun. Gloria still smiles. The family is introspective without being prodded. And, it seems, most every day ends on a positive note, or at least a hopeful one. So I want to reflect that in my stories.
I'm not into melodrama. Fortunately, the Strausses aren't, either.
Part 5 of the series is ready to go. I'm really excited about it now because I had to change the ending. This was -- and in many ways, still is -- the saddest story of the five, but Gloria does something at the end that leaves plenty of hope. That's all I'll say about it right now.
The story could've run as early as Thursday, but some other news events pushed it back a few days. At first, I was disappointed about that, but now I see why. If the story had been in the paper before Gloria's hopeful moment, it would've left everyone sad and even bitter. Now you should marvel at the girl's strength.
If you're not religious, you will say it's totally random, pure luck, that the story got moved back to allow for this development.
But if you are religious, you will say that God doesn't want the family or readers to give up on Gloria, so the story got delayed and allowed time for God to send a message.
Throughout this series, I've never forced beliefs on anyone. My job is to simply explain the Strausses' Catholicism and how it influences their lives. I owe that balance to readers, even though it means suppressing my personal Christian beliefs.
So take your pick on luck versus God's message. I will say, however, that one sounds a lot more hopeful than the other.
In today's story ("You're God. You can do anything."), Doug and Kristen are tested more than they've ever been as their daughter's pain becomes so unbearable she can hardly move.
From the beginning, readers discover how much Gloria's condition has declined. She is in hospital bed in the family room. There are many different ways I could've gone into the story, but I decided to start with Gloria dreaming.
Think back to Part 1 of this series. That story introduced you to Gloria and characterized her dreams much differently.
The coach's daughter lives to entertain. She often asks her mother how an 11-year-old can become an actress. She combs through her closet, pieces together the most extraordinary outfits and tells her sisters, "This is what people in Hollywood are wearing."
Gloria Strauss sings and dances, too. She mastered all of Michael Jackson's pet moves during one extended hospital stay four years ago. Cancer is not going to reduce her to an opening act. Four years later, as doctors forecast her life dripping to its final weeks, she is still performing, planning song selections in case she makes it on "American Idol."
"One of them definitely would have to be 'I Feel Like A Woman,' '' the coach's daughter says before softly singing the chorus of Shania Twain's song.
"Another one goes, 'Let's give them something to talk about,'" she croons.
"Livin' La Vida Loca" would be another, she says.
Children and their dreams.
"I don't know if it'll happen down my line," Gloria says, "but I hope it does."
Now Gloria is dreaming about simply being able to walk. That broke my heart.
And some of my editors, who have read sad stories for years and years, cried after reading the beginning of this story. I didn't realize how much people in our newsroom cared for this girl until then. I knew readers cared, and I knew the paper valued this story, but I didn't understand that some of my colleagues had embraced Gloria, too. To see journalists, jaded by their experiences, react in this manner was -- without question -- the most powerful and motivating moment of my entire journalistic career.
It's incredible, the influence we have. In this case, I have found a family willing to share its story -- not just have its story told but actively participate in sharing its story -- and the power comes from the Strauss's' openness.
This particular piece came about because Doug and Kristen wanted to provide deeper insight into what it's like to deal with Gloria's illness. As I've written before, they believe it's their calling to tell this story and help other families dealing with disease.
They're not saying they are perfect. Take from them what you want. You might not do it their way. Or you might admire their way. Or you might learn something about their way and file it away in case you have to use it in the future.
In this story, I try to humanize Doug and Kristen even more than I have. You learn the depth of Doug's fears and how he stays afloat. You learn how concerned Kristen is about being judged by others. You learn this couple fights like all couples do. But they always get through everything because of their undying love for God.
Here's a quote from Doug that didn't make it into the paper: "If I had no belief in God, this story would be pretty close-minded. I get hit in the knees, and I get juiced back up by God and by Gloria's faith."
That quote speaks for this entire series, really. Without the Strauss' Catholic beliefs, it would just be another story about someone who might be dying. That's not meant to devalue anyone on their deathbed; life is precious.
The religion angle makes this story unique, however. It almost distorts Gloria's cancer at times, and that's intentional because the family focuses so heavily on it.
The next time I post, I'll explain the ending of the story. It changed three different times. It's quite a tale.
As promised, I want to explain the ending of Gloria V. It changed three times. In the first version of the story, I went with the tale about Gloria telling her mother "This is how I always imagined it" and followed up with Doug closing the bathroom door "just in case Gloria walks." But I included this for the final few paragraphs to try to soften a very difficult story to read and leave readers with a better feeling:
The scream comes from 5-year-old Anthony.
"Dad!" he exclaims. "Dad!"
It is 3 a.m. Doug is startled. When he opens his eyes, he sees Anthony on the floor.
Gloria is laughing. Anthony is laughing. And now, Doug is laughing.
Anthony is showing his sister he can do a one-handed push-up. Doug wants to fetch his video camera, but he remembers it was stolen. He adjusts, however.
"Wait," he tells the kids, fiddling with the camera option on his cell phone. "Let me take a picture!"
I liked the way that felt, but an editor asked a good question: If we spent so much time talking about Gloria not being able to walk in the story, shouldn't it kind of end with something about walking? My editor thought it should end with Doug closing the bathroom door "just in case Gloria walks." Cute. Light. More appropriate. And not forced. But I loved the scene with Anthony doing a one-handed push-up.
So in the second version of the story, I inverted the two anecdotes. I began the last section with Anthony's one-handed push-up and then transitioned to Gloria's revelation and left Doug's humor as the closing line. It was a good compromise.
I'm not a big believer in full-circle endings, but in this case -- and in many of these stories about the Strausses -- a full-circle ending works. Their lives kind of operate that way. It's like they make an entire journey every day, but the journey always begins from the same starting point. With Gloria's cancer, it's Groundhog Day in some respects, but fortunately, the family doesn't view it that way. They just roll with whatever challenges they face.
Anyway, Part 5 of the series wound up ending with Gloria walking. If we hadn't pushed the publication date back two days, it would've ended more sadly, but things changed in those two days. She walked. And so I had a beautiful new ending.
But the story had already been laid out on the page, so I had to get rid of something to make it fit. I couldn't just add to the story anymore. I decided Anthony's one-handed push-up had to go.
That was tough to get rid of. I try to show how this enormous family interacts as much as possible, and that was a really cute moment. But Gloria walking definitely was more important.
While covering the Strausses, I've had to be more flexible than I normally am. Things change -- and change quickly -- in their lives. I'm always adjusting details and adding new information and subtracting old stuff. Like I said, every day is a journey for this family, and every day seems, at least to me, like it lasts a week. So much happens to them in the average day, especially now that they get little rest.
Knowing what they're going through, I happily adjust.
Gloria is doing even better now. For the fifth straight day, she was on her feet today. Of course, the spirits of her parents are soaring.
They're not fooling themselves. They know Gloria is still in a lot of pain, but they're appreciating this positive sign. On Sunday, Gloria went to Mass and wowed the congregation, Doug reports.
I'm thrilled for the family. It needed this. Doug called me early this morning and sounded more excited than I've ever heard him. He told me I have a gift for this type of storytelling, which meant more to me than I could express to him.
I've worried so much about misrepresenting this story. I've never focused more on ensuring a proper tone than I have while writing this series. I'm finding that the stories are reaching people on many levels.
People who don't have similar religious beliefs have been e-mailing to tell me that they're considering this a story about love. I'm glad they can take that from the series. There's definitely a lot of love in the Strauss family.
I had one reader -- who can't stand the suffering -- send an e-mail calling us "cruel" and "voyeuristic vultures" and someone who is "pimping tragedy" today. It was upsetting, but there were 200 other e-mails from people who got the message.
We're all entitled to our opinions, and his disgust came from not wanting to see a child hurting. So I don't want to argue with the guy or condemn him for disagreeing with the series. I think I've spent plenty of time in this space talking about my motivations and the Strausses' motivations for doing this story, so I'm not going to repeat myself again.
In the series, I have presented what the Strausses believe and how it moves through every fiber of lives. I have done so without judging them and without lionizing them. So I'm not going to judge or ridicule a cynic.
This story is about believing, or having faith. You can believe what you want. But are you strong enough to put yourself on the line for it?
The Strausses are. That's their charm. That's their burden. That's their life.
And right now, life is good. Gloria is active. One prayer has been answered.
I spent Thursday night in Federal Way, checking in on the Strauss family and attending a prayer service for Gloria at the Brennan home.
Things are even better than they were before. It's pretty amazing. Gloria remains mobile. Her mother is still sick with strep throat, but the family is in terrific spirits.
On Thursday, I also got an even greater sense of the depth of the Strauss' support system. The Brennans open their home to prayer every Thursday night, and it's tailored toward youths. Mike and Anne Brennan's daughter, Theresa, is a close Strauss family friend and often baby-sits.
Nearly 50 teenagers, young adults and parents showed up to pray. The Strausses did not attend, but it felt like they were there. And the incredible thing is that there are gatherings such as this one every night of the week. I've just mentioned that as a little fact in previous stories. But to experience it up close was inspiring.
You can't help but wonder if something extraordinary is happening. I'm preparing Gloria Part VI, which is being planned for early next week, and I hope to play off this newfound hope quite a bit in the piece.
You're also going to learn a lot more about Kristen and her battle with multiple sclerosis, as well as receive more insight into one of Gloria's grandmothers, Diane Strauss.
I'm going into "Gloria mode" starting tomorrow. As I start this writing process, there's such a positive vibe. Doug has called it a "mini-miracle" that Gloria is walking, and the family is back to a place of comfort. How long will it last? I don't know. But the Strausses know to cherish the sunlight.
Part 6 is finished and in the hands of my editors. Meanwhile, the Strauss family went up north to relax for a few days. With Gloria doing well, they decided to enjoy themselves and spend time together at a friend's home.
They've wanted a vacation for quite some time, but when Gloria was unable to move, they had to shift their focus. It's great to see the family more active again. The Strausses are used to running around and letting the kids be kids. Gloria's improvement has brought about a refreshing change.
Last Friday, she got to attend the "American Idol" tour. If you recall, "American Idol" is her favorite show. She had experienced some nausea earlier that day, but she rallied and had a terrific time. She even was allowed to visit the singers backstage.
It's been a rather quiet start to the week, really. I'm behind on my e-mail about Gloria, and I want to reply as soon as I can to the many readers who have left personal messages or want to send word to the family. Trust me, you will be heard. Please be patient. I will get back to you soon.
From what I know, Kristen is feeling better after her bout with strep throat, and Gloria is about the same. She's still moving OK, and her quality of life has greatly improved.
The next story is slated to run this Thursday, Aug. 2.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company