Aging Well in the Gorge March 28th 2017

Did you hear about the three guys sitting in a bus shelter: The first says “Windy, ain’t it?” The second answers, “No it’s not, it’s Thursday.” And then the third eagerly adds, “So am I. Let’s go and have a drink!”
Even with my hearing aids, that type of conversation is all too common in my household, and to put it mildly, it drives my wife nuts. But I’ve learned when I have trouble with my hearing aids, it is often because they need cleaning. And one of the major culprits is that nasty, embarrassing earwax – because like cats and dogs, hearing aids and earwax do not play well together when the wax clogs the hearing aid’s microphones or receivers causing poor performance.
But if ear wax is a problem for my hearing aids, wouldn’t a preventive solution be to use Q-tips to clean my ears? Nope. The best advice is the adage you may have heard: “Put nothing in your ear that is smaller than your elbow.” Inserting Q-tips, or any sharp or pointed object into the ear will only push wax further into the canal and may even cause trauma to the canal wall or eardrum. Instead just leave the wax alone, which is formed in the outer part of the canal near the external opening, and it will naturally migrate out of the ear.
In fact, it is not a bad thing to have wax in your ears – unless there is too much wax causing pain, drainage, bleeding or hearing loss. Ear wax actually play an important role protecting the ear by trapping and preventing dust, bacteria, and other germs from entering and damaging the ear; and protecting the delicate skin of the ear canal from getting irritated by water in the canal. To clear the unsightly earwax, simply use a washcloth or tissue to wipe the outer ear after you bathe or shower.
Besides keeping earwax from clogging your hearing aids, you can help keep your hearing aids functioning properly by doing the following: clean the hearing aids regularly with a soft, dry cloth; check batteries – they should last from one to two weeks; minimize moisture in the hearing aids; and something I never heard before, use a listening tube to ensure your hearing aids sound clear and not weak or scratchy.
Because functional hearing is critical to an active and engaging lifestyle, take proper care of your hearing aids. And make sure to schedule regular appointments with your hearing professional to test your hearing and to check the performance of your hearing aids. Because, trust me, if you can avoid it, you don’t want to be the one to drive your spouse or friends nuts!
How do you feel about dancing? Would you agree with James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, who said “The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.” Or Christopher Morley who thought dancing was an important life lesson. “Dancing is wonderful training for girls. It’s the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it.” But if you are a little self-conscious, all you need is Dave Barry’s advice “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”
If you like to get up and dance, there are many opportunities in the Gorge including at the Center’s Tuesday Night Music. Performing this coming Tuesday, April 3rd will be Shades of Country, and on April 10th, Martin and Friends will be playing. Music starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated.
The job that required operating a desk top machine that punched holes on stiff paper cards to store information was a keypunch operator. (I had two correct entries: Tina Castanares and the randomly selected winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Marcia Lacock.)
This brand of toy was first introduced in the 1950’s and because it was inexpensive enough for children to afford, it became the household word for small model toy cars. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the biggest-selling brand of small diecast model cars and trucks until Mattel introduced the Hot Wheels series in 1968? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a Superfast No 9 AMX Javelin in Blue.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep my balance in an unbalanced world. Until we meet again, I know it must be spring when Bruce Harris of Today’s Rays comes to turn on the Center’s irrigation system.  

Aging Well in the Gorge

Many friends tell me they read the Chronicle every day, not for the local news and great sports reporting, but to see if their name is in the obituaries. Although I don’t know anyone who has found their own name, unfortunately, we do find the names of many of our friends.
Death is a difficult subject. But when we check the obituaries, we become more familiar with death as we are reminded our existence on this earth doesn’t last forever. Death no longer is a nightmare experienced in our youth, but becomes a reality with which we struggle to come to terms with in our own way. Learning of friends who have passed away becomes a part of life. And no matter how difficult, somehow, we learn to live with our loss and to keep living.
Over the past two weeks we have lost several people who in their own special ways have contributed significantly to the Center.
Ardyce Edling was the inspiration for the tap and clogging class that she taught at the Center for I don’t know how many years because she was teaching it when I arrived at the Center ten years ago. She was still teaching the class, when they celebrated her 90th birthday, and I thought if I can be that active at 90, I will have had a good life.  
We also lost David Zopf. David, with his wife Nancy, was a faithful driver for Meals-on-Wheels, as well as spending hours taking care of the grounds around the Center – particularly the rose garden. You would often see him trimming the roses and bushes on the weekends. When he saw something that needed to be done, he would just do it. David had a dry sense of humor and when he talked to me, I was often uncomfortable, because I wasn’t smart enough to tell if he was teasing or if he was serious and I had better shape up.
Then to make bad things worse, Betty Harlan also passed away. She was an integral part of the success of Meals-on-Wheels including director – even before Meals-on-Wheels moved to its present location at the Center in 1987. She was also the Center’s interim director when I arrived ten years ago. When she retired, she couldn’t stay away – volunteering her time working at the check-in table for Meals-on-Wheels and as an afternoon receptionist for the Center. And Betty didn’t stop volunteering when she could no longer walk comfortably and was confined to a wheelchair.
It has been an inspiration to have known Ardyce, David and Betty. It is comforting to know they lived a good life – with determination, purpose and compassion, making The Dalles a much better place. In the back of our minds we knew this time would come, but it is still a sad surprise. The Center and Meals-on-Wheels will truly miss them.
If you enjoy listening or dancing to live local music, stop by the Center on Tuesday Nights, when the Simcoe Boys will be performing on March 21st. The doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are always appreciated.
The name for a mechanical instrument used to compute mathematical problems that looked similar to a ten-inch ruler (but I also learned came in circular models) was the slide rule. (It must be hard to forget those math classes, because I received a slew of correct answers from: Bernie Sleep, Lucille and Harold Stephens, Sandy and Bob Haechrel, Lana Tepfer, Ed Anghilante, Jerry Phillips, Sonja Peterson and Kathy Shebley, who is this week’s randomly drawn winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)
But this week I’m moving from science to romance. Back in the 60’s, I found dating wasn’t easy for me during high school. But to assist in that extracurricular activity, my friends and I would wear one of the popular colognes – back when fragrances weren’t discouraged because of allergic reactions. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was your favorite cologne or perfume during your high school or college days? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a bottle of Jade East, my favorite cologne.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to adjust to the time change. Until we meet again, as Leonard Cohen once sang, There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen

Aging Well in the Gorge March 7th 2017

With social media, and the technological advances, the world is a lot different than when I was growing up. I wouldn’t say I would like to go back to those days (although there are many times I wish for a less connected world where I didn’t know everything that happened when it happened). But those memories of growing up bring back a time that seemed less complicated – even if it wasn’t. Every generation has those shared experiences that we can tell our children and grandchildren – often with the intention of reminding them that if they think they have it rough – think again.

For my children, it is hard to imagine a time when there were only three television stations – and if the test pattern came on, you knew you were up too late; when the choice of gym shoes were between high top or low top Converse shoes; when school desks were in rolls bolted to the floor; when you would jump in the piles of leaves, and then burn them – creating the smell of fall in the neighborhood; when you would buy items through lay-away or installment plans because you there weren’t credit cards; and when there were two and sometimes three gas stations on a street corner.

But then being a Baby Boomer, born in ’48, it is hard for me to comprehend what it was like for the Silent Generation (a misnomer because they weren’t silent) – the generation born in the 1930s and early 40s, raised in families climbing out of the depression and living through World War II. That was a time when there were ration books for everything from gas to sugar to shoes to stoves; when you saved tin foil, and poured fat into tin cans; when you had to hand mixed ’white stuff’ with ‘yellow stuff’ to make fake butter; when you saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available; when the ice man delivered ice for “ice boxes” before the refrigerator was invented. (My parents always called a refrigerator an “ice box” – a term I occasionally still use.); when childhood was without television and instead you imagined what was heard on the radio; and when the interstate highway system was created by President Eisenhower – increasing mobility and changing the urban landscape.

Each generation has its own unique experiences creating a shared common bond. But I wonder what future generations will be telling their children. Maybe, “You think you have it rough. I remember when we didn’t have robots taking out the garbage!”?

Because of the rain that was forecasted last weekend, the schedule for installing the roof joists at the Center has been moved back one week. Now the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on Monday, March 13th when the roof joists will be installed – snow or high water.

But that was not the only postponement. Nehemiah Brown was scheduled to sing last Friday, but fell ill and regrettably could not perform. The good news is he has been rescheduled for Friday, June 9th.

For Tuesday Night Music at the Center on March 14th, Martin and Friends will be playing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30, and donations are always appreciated. The song by the Doors that included the lyrics, “You know that it would be untrue/ You know that I would be a liar/ If I was to say to you/ Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” was “Light My Fire”. (Correct answers were sent in by Don McAllister, Jess Birge, Sandy and Bob Haechrel, and Jeanne Pesicka who is this week’s randomly drawn winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)

Switching gears, this month’s “Remember When” questions will be about items that we seldom see any more. And this week’s question comes from my high school math classes. What was the name for a mechanical instrument used to compute mathematical problems that looked similar to a ten-inch ruler and consisted of three linear strips of which the middle strip moved back and forth? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a TI-30 scientific calculator.

Well, it’s been another week, waiting for recess to begin. Until we meet again, it’s hard to keep one foot in the present and one foot in the future, while keeping one foot in the past.

“The digital camera is a great invention because it allows us to reminisce. Instantly.” Demetri Martin