Aging Well September 28th

You have spent years together – the good, the bad, and the ugly – (who else sees you when you first wake up – it’s not always a pretty sight.) with shared stories and unspoken understandings. And you have made a promise – said or unsaid – that you will take care of each other; neither of you will abandon the other, no matter what. No matter the challenges, the difficulties, the emotional, physical and spiritual toll. But life happens – circumstances change. And the unforeseen, but not unexpected, arrives and you need to care for your partner of so many years.

You knew it would not be easy, this silent commitment you made, but the daily struggle, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year, may be more than you can endure. There are feelings of anger, resentment – and then guilt for having those feelings, all the while your loved one is slipping away while you know there is little you can do – but to be there. You don’t complain. You made a promise. But how long can you continue before your own body and spirit breaks when there is nothing left to give?

But there may be a way to transform this suffering – to bring light into this darkness. On Tuesday October 5th, Dr. Richard Groves, co-founder of Sacred Art of Living, will share his journey through the desert of grief and loss with two presentations hosted by MCMC. The first is “The Art of ‘Exquisite Empathy’ – Transforming Compassion Fatigue” focusing on healing the healer – whether you are a professional caregiver or one of the unpaid thousands who care for a loved one. It will be held from 2:00 to 3:00 in the Medical Office Building’s conference room adjacent to the hospital. The second presentation, open to the general public, is “Grief & Loss: Transforming the Suffering of Loss”. In this comforting and inspirational presentation, Dr. Groves will share how people move from grief to a place of healing and new possibilities. It is one of the Planetree Health lectures and will be held from 7:00 – 8:30 at Water’s Edge.

Tonight the Jazz Generations will be playing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. The horns start swinging at 7:00 and in my best Haiku “Everyone’s welcome/Doesn’t cost you anything/to Dance the night away!” (Okay, I know some smarty pants out there – maybe you? – will notice the last phrase has one extra syllable. But close counts, doesn’t it?)

We all have habits: some good – brushing your teeth before bed and others not-so-good – eating ice cream before bed (but its non-fat!). But one simple habit you can add is attending the weekly Tuesday Lecture at the Center from 11:00 – 12:00 – because you never know what you may learn. Next Tuesday, the 5th, Gretchen Jordan will travel all the way from Salem to discuss Oregon’s Long Term Care Ombudsman program which uses volunteer ombudsmen to enhance the quality of life and improve the quality of care for residents of Oregon’s long-term care facilities. This is not a recruiting meeting but a chance for you to learn more about this important program.

You have all heard of Facebook and many of you may use it. But would like to learn more? (What does it mean to be poked?) For the Center’s first monthly “Tech Talk” on Wednesday October 6th from 1:30 – 2:30, Josh Price will explain the ins and outs of Facebook. And looking ahead, November’s topic on the 3rd will be “Video Conferencing with Skype” and December’ topic on the 1st will be “How to Organize and Edit Photos using Picassa”.

It was the 1958 Rose Bowl when the University of Oregon almost upset Ohio State, the #1 football team, before losing 10-7. And the winner of the free Saturday Breakfast was Sandy Gosforth, who was born in the Buckeye state. This week’s “Remember When” question is for hardcore soap opera fans. What American Television soap opera first aired on CBS, April 2, 1956 and continuing for fifty four seasons was the most watched daytime drama from 1958 to 1978 with ten million viewers each day? E- mail, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of an autographed picture of Helen Wagner.

Well, my shoes are tied, my zipper is zipped, I’m ready for another day. Until we meet again, as you care for others, don’t dismiss or ignore the importance of caring for yourself.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver

Aging Well September 21st

If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance. –African Proverb

Over thirty folks made it to the Center on a wet rainy Friday evening to enjoy an “Oldies Night”: listening to the hits from the 50’s and the 60’s – triggering memories of past youthful adventures. But that Friday night I made one mistake. One big mistake. I invited my wife. Because when she goes to a dance, she expects to dance and for some unexplainable reason she wants to dance with me.

And that’s a problem.

I didn’t dance in high school. My dad would often bribe me to go to dances. And when I did, I would stand terrified next to the door, thinking of excuses and avoiding all eye contact during the breaks when the girls would scan the crowd looking for their next partner. (But after watching Neva Reid dance the mash potatoe Friday night, if I known her in ‘62 it might have been a whole different story!) But fortunately for me, dancing evolved – or devolved – to when you no longer needed to know any dance steps or the latest dance craze. You just needed to “express yourself” which meant you could bounce, you could shake, you could roll on the floor. And even I could do that!

So Friday night was high school all over again – still thinking of excuses, avoiding eye contact and watching couples who really knew how to dance. But then it came to me. I didn’t need to know how to dance. I just needed a GPS system to direct my feet from A to B without stepping on C. A system where a feminine voice – sounding suspiciously like my wife’s – would announce, “Take two steps to the next corner, turn left, take six steps back, make a u-turn, now four more steps. Not three steps! Ouch! Rerouting! Rerouting! What kind of clumsy ox are you?” Or maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea.

But I guess I just need to find the courage to follow the polish proverb, “If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.” And at our age, aren’t we all on thin ice? So join the fun and enjoy the gentle thrill of dancing whether at the Center; the Civic or Cherry Park Grange. And one of these days you might even see me on the dance floor. (I wonder – is too late to learn the Mash Potato?)

And if you want to dance or just listen, Tuesday night is your night at the Center. From 7:00 – 9:00 PM there is always live music – open to everyone no matter your age or if you are rhythmically challenged or not. Next Tuesday the Jazz Generations will be playing the big band sounds. And tonight Truman will be crooning his country gold. It is all free but donations are warmly appreciated.

Duane Francis, President and CEO of MCMC, will be the speaker for the Center’s Tuesday Lecture next week on the 28th starting at 11:00. You will hear the latest news from MCMC, the challenges they face in the ever changing field of health care plus an opportunity to ask any questions. We appreciate Duane coming to the Center to share his thoughts and hope you can find time to take advantage of this opportunity.

Once again in partnership with the Occupational Health at MCMC, the Center is offering Flu Shots from 2:00 – 4:00 on Monday September 27th and from 12:00 to 2:00 on Tuesday September 28th. The shots will be given on the main floor which will make it quick, easy and convenient. And for folks on Medicare you will only need to sign in. If you have any questions you can call Occupational Health at 541-296-7811.

It was the one and only Chuck Berry who sang the 1958 hit “Johnny B. Good”. This week’s “Remember When” question – for a free Saturday breakfast – celebrates the nation’s fall obsession; football. What national #1 team did University of Oregon almost defeat in the 1958 Rose Bowl? E- mail, call 541-296-4788 or write it on a football signed by Dan Fouts or Ahmad Rashad – take your pick.

Looks like I have dodged enough random cream pies for another week. Until we meet again, look before you step, think before you speak but whatever you do always keep moving.

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age. — Robert Frost

Aging Well September 14th

If you enjoy exploring challenging new ideas – whether you agree with them or not – you will want to have “Lunch with TED” at the Center starting next Wednesday the 22nd at noon. TED isn’t actually a person but a website providing 20 minute videos of “riveting talks by remarkable people”. Every Wednesday during the lunch hour you can enjoy a nice meal while watching and discussing a presentation by a world renowned speaker that will make you think if not change your life.

At the Center’s Third Saturday breakfast you will find many fine folks including regulars Dennis and Mary Davis and Tom Bailey at their own The Dalles High Class of 1963 table. So this Saturday if you want to catch up with old classmates or just want to enjoy a nice breakfast, the doors will be open from 8:00 – 9:30. This month’s menu includes scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit and a muffin plus all your morning beverages. And as Jack always said “Breakfast tastes better when someone else cooks it” – as long as you don’t ask me.

This Friday the 17th the Center will be “hoppin” and “groovin” to the sounds of the 50’s and 60’s. Bob Jones from Milton-Freewater will be the DJ for this Oldies Night sponsored by The Dalles Wasco County Library District and the Libraries of Eastern Oregon. Bob is the Library Director in Milton-Freewater and has been presenting the Oldies Night in his community since 2006. And it has been such a success he has taken it on the road. The music starts at 6:30 and lasts until 8:30 so you can still take your girl – or guy – out for a soda after the dance. Come and enjoy the hits from the 50’s and 60’s, imagine yourself on American Bandstand and remember those days of innocence – or not so innocence? And who knows, maybe Sheila and Phil will be there and show us a few dance steps.

If you are more into country than 50’s and 60’s pop, you will enjoy the sounds of Truman’s Country Gold at the Center on Tuesday the 21st. And tonight you can start off with the sweet sounds of the Notecrackers for your listening and dancing pleasure. Everybody is welcome – young and old and in between. The music starts at 7:00 and doesn’t cost one iota although donations are appreciated.

The Tuesday Lecture on the 21st will feature Anya Kawka, activities coordinator for Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District. She will be describing the many opportunities provided by the Parks and Recreation district for older adults as well as her vision for future activities.

We had several different answers to last week’s “Remember When” question including Moon River, Pink Panther and Baby Elephant Walk. (Henry Mancini was quite a prolific composer during that time!) But the song he composed with lyricist Johnny Mercer for the movie of the same name was “The Days of Wine and Roses” starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. And of the six correct answers, Pat Davenport is the winner of the bottle of wine. (And again thanks to Joann Scott for the wine donation.)

And to get into the mood for Oldies Night on Friday, this week’s “Remember When” question is “What “rock and roll” pioneer wrote and recorded the 1958 hit, Johnny B. Goode, considered by many the greatest guitar song of all time?” E- mail, call 541-296-4788 or put the answer inside a Gibson ES-335 electric guitar and leave it next to my desk.
You probably figured out most of the answers to last week’s brain teasers but don’t flog yourself if you missed a few. They always seem obvious – after you know the answers. So here goes. 1) The cars he passed were going in the opposite direction. 2) Seven. The four daughters have only one brother, making five children, plus mom and dad.3) Just one – after that the piggy bank won’t be empty. 4) Every month has 28 days. 5) Just once, because after you subtract anything from 25, it’s not 25 anymore. 6) Yes, he is a justice of the peace. 7) The surgeon is his mother. 8) The last person took the basket with the last egg still inside it.

Well, have I caused enough damage for one week? Until we meet again, a Danish proverb says “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials” but I have to admit – there are days I would gladly trade a little less perfection for a few less trials.

Aging Well September 7th

The brain – sometimes described as your thinking muscle – is an incredible organ. But as Emo Phillips stated, “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this”. But no matter what your brain is saying, it is clear that you need to “use it or lose it”. So this week I am again sharing several brain tantalizing riddles to challenge your preconceptions and test your creative problem solving. The answers will be in next week’s column or if you can’t wait, will be posted on the Center’s website at .

1) Why was the man able to pass three cars going 70 miles-per-hour, while he was going only 60 miles-per-hour? 2) Mom and Dad have four daughters, and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the family? 3) If it has a quart capacity, how many pennies can you put into a empty piggy bank? 4) While some months have just 30 days, others have 31 days. How many months have 28 days? 5) How many times can you subtract 5 from 25? 6) Is it legal for a man to marry his widow’s sister in the state of California? 7) A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, ‘I can’t operate on this boy – for he is my son!!!’ How can this possibly be? 8) There are six eggs in the basket. Six people each take one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?

Those may have been too easy – or maybe not. But how about your attention and working memory: the ability to keep information cur¬rent for a short period while using the information. These may be a little harder – so put on your mental gym clothes, get down on all fours and practice these drills provided by Harriet Vines Ph.D. from the SharpBrains web site.

1) Say the days of the week back¬wards, then in alpha¬bet¬i¬cal order. 2) Say the months of the year in alpha¬bet¬i¬cal order. And if you think that was easy (which it wasn’t for me), try doing so in reverse alpha¬bet¬i¬cal order. 3) Find the sum of your date of birth, mm/dd/yyyy. Now be obnoxious while impressing your friends and relatives by doing the same with their birth dates. 4) Name two objects for every letter in your complete name. Work up to five objects, trying to use different items each time. 5) And finally the two minute drill. Wherever you are, look around and within two minutes; try to find 5 red things that will fit in your pocket, and 5 blue objects that are too big to fit.

If you would like a weekly workout, while learning more about the brain, join the Center’s Brain Fitness class which returns on Monday September 20th from 1:00 – 2:00 PM. It will get your brain “cogitating”.

The Center’s Tuesday Lecture Series is back. On September 14th at 11:00 Cory Aldridge will discuss “LINK” the city’s public transportation system. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this vital service and to offer any suggestions.

Also on September 14th, The Notecrackers will be playing their sweet sounds for your dancing and listening pleasure. And tonight the Andre and the Strawberry Mountain Band will rock the house. The music starts at 7:00 and it is free – although donations are appreciated.

The answer was the Boswell Sisters – the 1930’s sister act, famous for their intricate harmonies and the inspiration for the “Stolen Sweets”. And the winner of a free breakfast was Marcia Lacock. But I know the Center’s monthly Saturday breakfast is not everyone’s cup of coffee. So to spice things up a bit, Joann Scott – who regularly enters the “Remember When” weekly challenge – has donated a bottle of 2003 Merlot as the prize for this week’s quiz. And if she supplies the wine, she should also provide the question – right? So Joann’s “Remember When” question for this week is “What 1962 film, directed by Blake Edwards, had a song by the same name written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer? E- mail, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a bottle of “1998 Petrus Pomerol” and leave it in my office.

Well, it is time to enjoy the transition of seasons – when summer gradually fades into fall and the pigskin becomes a national obsession. Until we meet again, keep challenging yourself, but if at first you don’t succeed, skydiving may not be for you.

Aging Well August 31st

Sometimes you run into a brick wall – not of your own choosing; not because of anything you did. It just happens. And you have the option to stop, turn back or as Michael Jordan said “Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it”.

Just over two years ago, with the help of many community partners, the Center began an ambitious campaign to expand the Senior Center – to complete the dream of the founders of the Center and to prepare the Center for the next quarter century.
The economy was good and the Center expected to raise the estimated $1.5 million dollars from foundations and local donations. But then life happens! And we ran into a wall called the “Great Recession”. Although we raised $40,000 local dollars from folks who believed in the dream, we didn’t receive the very large donations we had hoped. And the private foundations lost millions in their endowments and reduced what funds they could grant.

It was necessary to reevaluate the expansion plans.
Over the last year the board and the expansion committee have discussed this new reality and decided to “climb it, go through it or work around” this wall by scaling back the project and focusing on three main priorities – all in the original plan for the Center twenty five years ago: an elevator, additional office space and an exercise room.

But the Center board wants to know the community whether we are moving in the right direction and if so, how best to design the Center expansion. For that purpose there will be an information gathering meeting on Tuesday September 7th at 11:00 where you will have an opportunity to express your ideas about the Center’s expansion. To help focus the ideas there are three questions for you to think about: 1) how do you currently use the building, 2) what do you feel are the current challenges and successes of the building, and 3) what are your “wants and desires” on how to make the building work better for you in the future. Whether you use the Center every day or have never stepped inside the building, I hope you take this opportunity to share your ideas about how the Center should be designed to support older adults and the community for another twenty-five years. And if it’s easier to get to a computer than the Tuesday meeting, you can email your thoughts to

Besides offering the Sunup Walking Club at 8:00 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Parks and Recreation is also offering you an opportunity to see two operas, Pagliacci and Carmina Burana, on Sunday, September 26th at a great price of $33. The seats are limited to the first twelve folks to register. For more information call 541-296-9533.

The final touch to an excellent Music in the Park series sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce will be 6:00 PM this Wednesday night at the City Park. The “Stolen Sweets” (including The Dalles’ own Erin Sutherland on vocal harmonies) are the headliner and will be performing vintage music from the 1920s-1940s. The show has been described as “high energy” featuring “seamless harmonies, top-notch players and infectious dance songs from yesteryear”.

And every Tuesday night at the Center there is music for your dancing and listening pleasure. And performing tonight are the Dufur Boys from Dufur. The “pickin’ and grinnin’” starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg nor even a finger or toe. It’s all free but donations are appreciated.

It wasn’t Roy Rogers or Gene Autry but the singing cowboy Tex Ritter who recorded “Deck of Cards”. Of the four correct entries, Jim Ayers was the winner of a free Saturday breakfast at the Center on September 18th. And using my special supernatural powers, Jim Sargeant also receives a free breakfast for being the first to call in and knowing that T. Texas Tyler wrote and first recorded “Deck of Cards” in 1948.

This week’s “Remember When” question goes way back – in relative terms. The “Stolen Sweets” formed after rehearsing for a tribute show to this sister act that performed between 1925 and 1935 and were known for their close, intricate harmonies. They chalked up 20 hits during the 1930s including the number one record “The Object of My Affection” in 1935 and were later imitated by many vocal groups including the Andrew Sisters. What is the name of this sister act? E- mail, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of this week’s winning Powerball ticket.

Well it’s time to stop, take a deep breath and recall what my father always said – “tomorrow is another day”. Until we meet again, question the obvious, but never ask a barber if you need a haircut!

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances – as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it. Chinese Proverb