Aging Well in the Gorge December 29th 2015

As we celebrate the achievement of making it to the end of another year upright in body and mind, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read this column that I have had the pleasure of writing since 2008. I hope you have found something worthwhile – at least often enough to keep coming back to see if there are any more helpful ideas left on the grocery shelves.

My intent is to share with you useful information I have discovered about growing older – in good health with grace and confidence; and to also share a few insights I have acquired from the wonderful folks I meet daily who are full of life, gratitude and simple wisdom.

I also hope to offer some encouragement to keep up the good fight, to focus on what you can do and not fret about what you can’t, and to keep active and engaged – as I hope someone will for me when I find the challenges as I get older becoming more frequent and difficult.

We are unique creatures – each one of us different from the other which makes life so wondrous. Life isn’t a 1950’s black and white television sitcom. Life is full of colors and textures. And every person I meet adds to that tapestry – making life fascinating and surprising.

We are all far from perfect and as we hope others will accept our imperfections, we learn to accept the imperfections of others. And yet, knowing we are imperfect, we are still often surprised when someone makes a mistake or is rude or angry. This thought is stated more succinctly by an Eleanor Roosevelt quote which I feel is worth sharing again as we enter a new year.

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”

So with love and charity, I hope this New Year brings you love, peace of mind and an ample share of happiness.

The Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed New Year’s Day, but will be open all day New Year’s Eve. And since New Year’s Eve falls on a Thursday, Meals-on-Wheels will be hosting a special New Year’s Eve Bingo Party – as long as the weather cooperates and I’ll bet you two to one it will. For this special evening the minimum buy-in is $20 which includes dinner and door prizes. If you want to enjoy an evening out and a chance to win some cash this is the place to be. You’ll get back home in plenty of time to usher in the New Year – if you can stay up that late. All the fun starts at 6:00 PM, but if you haven’t played before you should come at least a half hour early to learn the games.

And there is more Bingo excitement at the Center on Saturday Night, January 2nd when you could win $1000 if you blackout on the last game in 58 numbers or less. Doors open at 4:00, concessions available at 4:30 and games start at 6:00.

For the Tuesday Night Music and Dance at the Center on January 5th, Andre, KC and Tom will be performing. Music starts at 6:30, everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The prize Ralphie’s dad won in the holiday movie classic A Christmas Story was a lamp shaped like a leg wearing a fishnet stocking. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Bill Van Nice.)

Before he became the anchor of the CBS Evening News, earning the reputation as “the most trusted man in America”, Walter Cronkite hosted several shows including an historical educational television series where CBS reporters would report on the dramatic reenactment of a historical event. What was the name of the show? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the episode when Paul Newman played Marcus Brutus in “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”.

Well, it’s been another week appreciating the past, celebrating the present and looking forward to the New Year. Until we meet again, don’t turn off the lights and shut the door too soon.

“As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.” Irish Toast

Aging Well in the Gorge December 22nd 2015

This week my wife and I will be flying to Palo Alto, California to hang out with the children for Christmas – visiting the local coffee and tea shops, discussing their studies, politics, and life in general; and for the first time, meeting the parents of my son’s girlfriend.

 I don’t know how you felt, but I’m a little anxious. I have been asked to try to make a good impression, but that’s not easy. I feel like the country mouse visiting the sophisticated big city mice not knowing what all the rules are. I have learned through painful experience (and to the amusement of everyone else around the table) that when you dine at an Italian restaurant you don’t order Thousand Island dressing. And when the waiter comes to your table to pepper your salad, you are supposed to tell him when to stop. Who teaches you these rules! And what other rules don’t I know? 

And then there are the get-acquainted conversations. How do you communicate with someone you haven’t met; to get to know them and them to know you? To help in this hour of need, and since many of you may be visiting family also, I thought I would share once again some tips on effective communication condensed from the website They are important in any relationship – particularly if you are trying to make a good impression.

1. Breathe. Start with a deep breath to relax and give yourself time to pull your thoughts together.
2. Ask questions. Find out what is really going on. Don’t take anything for granted – you know what happens when you assume.
3. Really listen. Hear and understand their experiences and opinions, and listen for any fears driving their responses that they may not even realize. And don’t argue.
4. Slow down. Take your time and think before you respond. Silence can be golden.
5. Speak directly to the person. Set aside time to have one-on-one conversations. And avoid multi-tasking.
6. Speak distinctly and clearly. Many of us don’t like to admit, we have trouble understanding conversations.
7. Laugh. When appropriate, humor can help ease tense situations.

I’ll be memorizing those tips. But here’s probably the most valuable piece of advice which my wife often reminds of because I always forget, “Just because it pops into your head, it does NOT mean it should come out of your mouth”.

Although he may not look like an angel, Paul Lepinski was the Center’s angel last Thursday when he plowed the snow off the parking lot allowing the Center and Meals-on-Wheels to open on Friday. The Center has been blessed by folks like Paul who step forward when they see a need without being asked.

Part of the Center’s mission is to provide opportunities for older adults to continue their lifelong learning such as the Tuesday Lectures, Brain Fitness Club, and Lunch with TED. But one of the most valuable community resources is The Dalles-Wasco County Library where in addition to borrowing books, DVDs and CD’s, you can join a book discussion group or a ukulele group, find adult coloring materials and receive free tech help.

But a journey of lifelong learning begins at an early age. And after years of hard work, this Wednesday, December 23rd at 11:00, you are invited to The Dalles/Wasco County library for the ground breaking of the new John and Jean Thomas Children’s wing – a place where all children can discover the love of learning.

Every fifth Tuesday, the Dufur Boys perform at the Center, so December 29th they’ll be performing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Music starts at 6:30, donations are appreciated and everyone, including college students home for their Christmas break, are welcome.

The name of the game whose object was to be the first to build a three-dimensional bug-like object from a variety of plastic body parts was “Cootie”. (The winner of one quilt raffle ticket is Anne Radford – the Queen of Three Mile.)

In the holiday movie classic A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s dad completed a series of newspaper puzzles sponsored by a soda pop company. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the prize he won that produced a “soft glow of electric sex”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a case of orange flavored Nehi cola.

Well, it’s been another week counting my blessings. Until we meet again, may you have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

Aging Well in the Gorge December 16 2015

The holidays are a time when families often get together. And whether you are a parent or the adult child, it is a good opportunity to spend some quality time sharing your hopes, concerns and fears. They are tough conversations and they don’t happen often enough.
One reason, often lingering in the background, is the uneasiness created by the conflicting interests of safety and independence. We want safety for our loved ones, but want independence for ourselves. Before parents were concerned about their children’s safety: how late should they stay out at night, and the children were craving the independence of driving. And now the adult children are concerned about their parent’s safety: should they give up the car keys, while the parents are clinging to their own independence.
Make time to have those tough conversations. It will be worth it. And knowing that your children aren’t telling you what to do, but are worried about your safety; or as the adult child, knowing that your parents aren’t being unreasonable, but value their own independence which they see gradually slipping away, you not only may survive these conversations, but actually create a stronger and more supportive relationship. 
During the year if you have donated to a qualifying cultural non-profit, don’t forget to make a donation in the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust, because for your donation to the Cultural Trust, you’ll receive a 100% state tax credit, up to $500 per individual and $1000 per household. 
Locally, there are twenty-two qualifying cultural organizations in Wasco County including the Cascade Singers, Civic Auditorium, Dufur Historical Society, The Original Courthouse, Fort Dalles Museum, The Dalles Theater Company, St. Peters Landmark, The Dalles Art Association, The Dalles Wasco County Library Foundation, The Town and Country Players in Maupin, Wasco County Historical Society, and Wonderworks – as well as the Sherman County Historical Society in Sherman County.
But why donate to the Oregon Cultural Trust? Besides making possible cultural projects throughout Oregon, the Oregon Cultural Trust funds the Wasco County Cultural Coalition which awards six to ten grants each year including the Center’s Creative Arts Program. It’s a good deal and with the tax credit, it doesn’t cost you a penny!
You are invited to the Center’s Holiday Breakfast this Saturday, December 19thsponsored by Columbia Basin Care. From 8:00 until 9:30, the kitchen crew will be serving pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit and juice – still for only $5.00 per person, $4.00 for Center members and $3.00 for children 12 and under. There will be a quilt raffle drawing, a chance to win several door prizes and of course Santa who is taking a day off from the North Pole.
One of the enemies of memory are distractions: taking our focus away from what we are trying to remember. Unfortunately, as we age, we generally have more difficulty ignoring distracting information. For this week’s music announcement, see how easily distracted you are by trying to read only the italicized words while ignoring the others.
For the Tuesday Night Music Gorge Winds Concert Band and Dance Cascade Singers at the Center on December 22nd, Country Handel’s Messiah Roads will be performing. Silent Night And don’t forget, for the Christmas Eve church services winter months, (although stockings winter doesn’t begin Bing Crosby until December 21st), Saturday Breakfast the band starts playing Alamo Bowl at 6:30 PM. Everyone Merry Christmas is welcome whether Happy New Year you’re tall, short, wide or thin, and donations Peace on Earth are always appreciated.
The best-selling single of all time sung by Bing Crosby in the film Holiday Inn was “White Christmas”. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Lucille Stephens.)
Continuing the Christmas theme, this week’s “Remember When” question is about a game that if you were a child in the 50’s you may have received as a Christmas present. What was the name of the game, first launched in1948 and sold millions in its first years, whose object was to be the first to build a three-dimensional bug-like object from a variety of plastic body parts? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the 1949 original game manufactured by W. H. Schaper Mfg. Co. Inc.
Well, it’s been another week trying to remember “this” while not being distracted by “that”. Until we meet again, don’t forget to smell the pine needles.
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Calvin Coolidge

Aging Well in the Gorge December 8th 2015

When you’re sick or feeling some kind of physical discomfort, do you ask yourself, Should I make a doctor’s appointment? Should I wait and see if it gets worse? Or is it serious enough that I should go to ER right now?
After I broke my hip, I waited a day thinking and hoping I had just bruised my muscle or bone. But the next day, when suddenly in the middle of the Center’s parking lot I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, I knew it was time to drive myself to the hospital – after I figured out how to get to the car.
But there are situations when you should be less optimistic and a little more expeditious than I was. In an article for UC San Diego Health, an academic medical center in San Diego, Scott LaFee identifies the following ten medical symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Chest pain: Extreme discomfort that feels like squeezing, pressure or tightness. May be accompanied by pain radiating down an arm, nausea, vomiting, sweating or difficulty breathing.
2. Shortness of breath: A sudden feeling that you’re breathing faster than usual, without obvious explanation, and without good effect. Worsens when you lie flat or exert yourself. Wheezing or gasping.
3. Sudden intense headache: This is head pain unlike anything you’ve felt before, peaking in seconds or minutes.
4. Unexplained weight loss: Losing more than 5 percent of your body weight without trying in less than six months.
5. Unusual bleeding: For example, rectal bleeding or black or tarry stools. Or bloody vomit.
6. High or persistent fever: Anything 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher warrants an immediate trip to the doctor, without exception. A low-grade fever (somewhere around 100 degrees) for several weeks with no obvious cause should also be checked out.
7. Sudden confusion: Or inexplicable changes in personality, aggression or an inability to concentrate.
8. Swelling in the legs: Persistent, accumulated fluid (edema) in the extremities.
9. Sudden or severe abdominal pain: Centralized around the belly button. Sharp and unexpected.
10. Flashes of light: Bright spots, flashes or other visual disturbances.
There can be many reasons for these symptoms – some life threatening and others more benign. If you want to learn more, I have posted the entire article on the Center’s website,, under the HEALTH tab.
When the snow arrived last Wednesday, followed by rain that decided to come early dressed as ice, it made it difficult to get around town. And so not to encourage folks to take unnecessary chances, the Center was closed on Wednesday and Thursday causing several events at the Center to be postponed to this week.
One was the presentation by John Brenne, Project Director for the Foster Grandparent Program, who decided driving from Pendleton wasn’t the best idea. But he has been rescheduled to speak at the Center at 1:00 on Wednesday, December 8th. As a quick reminder, the Foster Grandparent program places adults age 55 or over in schools to help young children become better readers. A unique benefit of being a Foster Grandparent is you receive a non-taxable stipend of $2.65 to cover volunteer expenses.
Also Thursday Night Bingo was canceled which means this coming Thursday you still have a chance to win $1000 if you blackout on the last game in 60 numbers or less. I’ll bet you someone goes home with an extra $1000 for Christmas shopping. And for those who want a bite to eat, they’ll be serving Johnny’s special Hamburgers with Potato Salad.
For the Tuesday Night Music and Dance on December 15th, the Simcoe Boys will be performing. Music starts at 6:30, everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.
The name of the 1960’s television series featuring special agents 86 (Don Adams) and 99 (Barbara Feldon) was Get Smart. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Don McAllister.)
This week’s “Remember When” question is from one of my favorite holiday movies. In the 1942 film Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby sang what became the best-selling single of all time. What was the name of the song? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the 1942, 78 rpm release of the song on Decca records.
Well, it’s been another week trying not to slip and slide away. Until we meet again, don’t let fear spoil the season of peace.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” Dale Evans

Aging Well in the Gorge December 1st 2015

You’re never too old to make a difference in the lives of others. A common method is to donate money to an organization whose mission you believe in. But not all of us have the financial resources to give to the extent we would like. But there is one thing most of us do have, and that is time. You can make a difference by giving your time volunteering at one of the many local non-profit organizations.
The Foster Grandparent Program is one program seeking volunteers. As a Foster Grandparent you volunteer between 20 and 40 hours a week providing reading assistance to children who need additional support and encouragement. To qualify you have be 55 or older and in good health; and meet certain income guidelines which for a one person household is an income of no more than $1942 a month. If selected you will receive a non-taxable stipend of $2.65 an hour to cover any expenses associated with volunteering.
John Brenne, Project Director for the Foster Grandparent Program that serves Wasco County, will be in The Dalles on Thursday December 3rd. He will be on the KODL Coffeebreak at 10:00 and at the Center at 1:00 to explain more about the program and how you can become a Foster Grandparent helping young children become better readers.
Habitat for Humanity’s Annual Bazaar is on Saturday, December 5th at the UCC church from 10 am until 2 pm. For many it has become a holiday tradition: a place where you can find baked goods, craft vendors as well as soup and pie for lunch. All proceeds go to support the good work of the local Habitat for Humanity.
The Center has scaled back its Saturday Breakfasts to only three special occasions each year: Cherry Festival, Ft Dalles Days and December to celebrate the holidays. This year’s holiday breakfast will be served on Saturday, December 19thfrom 8:00 – 9:30 and is sponsored by Columbia Basin Care Facility. The menu will feature pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon plus hot cider to keep your insides warm. There will be a quilt raffle drawing, prizes, plus a visit from Santa. And as Santa would tell you “Breakfast always tastes better when someone else cooks it.”
It’s fun to talk about the weather, but there isn’t much we can do about it. And as in most situations in life, we learn to accept and adapt. But there will be days this winter when the weather will make us ask ourselves: Should I drive? Are the sidewalks too icy? Is the Center open? Why didn’t I go to Arizona for the winter!? For those cold and slippery days, the Center will follow the lead of School District 21. If D-21 is closed, the Center will be closed. And if there is a two hour delay, the Center’s morning classes will be cancelled.
You probably know there is Bingo every Thursday and Saturday nights at the Center starting at 6:00 pm, but did you know you can purchase snacks and a simple meal starting at 4:30. Besides candy, chips and hot dogs, every night there is a special. This Thursday Chef Johnny will be serving his Johnny Burgers and on Saturday the special is Chili Dogs.
For the Tuesday Night Music and Dance on December 8th, Martin and Friends will be performing. Music starts at 6:30, everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.
Patsy Cline’s classic “Crazy” was written by the red headed stranger – Willie Nelson. (The winner of a free quilt raffle ticket is Jesse Birge who saw Willie Nelson perform in 2013 at one of the Maryhill Winery Summer Concerts.)
With the latest James Bond movie in the theaters, it reminded me of a television series in the 1960’s described as “an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy.” For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this television series featuring special agents 86 and 99 working for CONTROL and fighting the evil international organization KAOS? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a shoe phone or the original Cone of Silence.
Well, it’s been another week trying to hit the nail on the head without smashing my thumb. Until we meet again, as author and photographer Dewitt Jones said, “Celebrate what is right in the world, so you can change what is wrong”.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” John Ruskin