You may have met Rags in Oregon's Agricultural Progress.
She was the blonde protagonist a few years ago in a little story I told about planting a hundred shoots of ivy on a steep slope in our backyard.
The next morning when I got up and looked out the window to admire my landscaping, what I saw put me in mind of books and documentaries about the Western Front in World War I. Trenches and craters everywhere.
Eventually my wife Karen and I figured out that a certain female-part lab, part shepherd-hadn't been able to resist the aroma of the bone meal fertilizer I put by the roots of each slip of ivy.
Rags was smarter and more civilized than quite a few humans I know, and sweeter than I can describe. We couldn't help chuckling, thinking of her driven by instinct, digging up each plant.
Now, sadly, all is quiet on the western front. She's buried by our blueberry bushes, a few feet from that same slope. The reason she died, on a Sunday morning in late October, was cancer. That brings me to an /somewhere-inside-rainbow">article by Tom Gentle in this issue.
Decades ago, when he started what has grown to become OSU's Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, OSU food scientist Russell Sinnhuber, now retired, was intent on learning more about substances in what animals and humans eat that promote, or inhibit, cancer.
The center's work goes beyond that these days. You'll read about research with neurotoxins like those in biological weapons, with various environmental pollutants, and with beneficial substances in marine algae.
Also, center director George Bailey points out that there's a new emphasis from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the center's main source of support, on community outreach and education and relating national-level environmental research findings to situations here in Oregon.
But at the core of the center's mission, still, is its study of substances that promote or inhibit cancer. You'll read about that. I suspect the continuing effort will interest many, but especially anyone who's lost a friend or family member, human or otherwise, to this cruel and complicated disease.