Aging Well in the Gorge February 26th 2020

Last week a friend asked, “How old are you?” I’m not at that stage in my life when I can start bragging about my age, but I told her anyway, “I’m 72”. “Wow, you don’t look 72” was her response.
I knew she intended that to be a compliment, and I usually I take it that way. But after thinking more about what she said, I thought “But this IS what 72 looks like!” – and wondered what was her mental picture of 72?
You may have experienced these well-intentioned but veiled ageist remarks based on what our youth focused society thinks old age should look like. Should I have a wrinkled face? Should I see a walker as a sign of decline instead of a means to stay independent? Should I be disinterested in community events? Should I be technologically illiterate?
Even though we know different, we can still internalize these negative perceptions of all older adults which can affect our own health: avoiding water aerobics because we don’t want to be seen in a swimming suit; or no longer walking because we feel embarrassed using a walker.
You may have heard other well intentioned comments based on the false concept that young is better than old; or that demean and devalue a person assuming somehow they are less than who they really are. Here are a few more from the AARP website “Disrupt Aging”.  What do you think?
“Grandma is so adorable.” Is grandma a puppy or a baby? “Adorable” can be demeaning when applied to an older adult.
“Can I help you young lady?” Why mention age at all? This comment just reinforces the cultural value that young is good and old is bad.
“Old dogs can’t learn new tricks.” This generalizes that anyone who is old is not educable or retrainable – such as the belief older adults can’t learn new technologies. It’s not that we can’t. It’s just that we ask the question, “Why?”
“60 is the new 30.” Now what does that mean? In our 60’s are we supposed to be the same as when we were in our 30’s? And would we really want to be?
Older adults are diverse, each with their own individual gifts, challenges and possibilities – as well as different levels of mobility, aptitude and interests. There is not one picture of what our 70’s, 80’s or 90’s should look like.
And yet – knowing how these well intentioned remarks can embody a deeper negative view of aging and older adults, the other day when I learned a friend was 86, my first thought was, “Wow, he doesn’t look 86!”
You’re lucky if you appreciate local history because as this is a leap year there is an extra “Original Courthouse Regional History Forum” on Saturday, February 29th.This week’s forum is “Famous Visitors: Guess Who Came to Dinner?” Rodger Nichols, a man of many talents as well as local historian and member of the Courthouse board, will share stories about notable folks who have come to The Dalles in the past 215 years plus some homegrown notables. The program begins at 1:30 p.m. in the 1859 courthouse behind The Dalles Chamber of Commerce/Visitors’ Center.
The hit television series first aired in 1966 where the IMF leader received his tape-recorded instructions ending with “This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds” was Mission Impossible starring Peter Graves (the younger brother of Matt Dillion – I mean James Arness). I received correct answers from Cheri Brent, Diana Weston, Lana Tepfer, Jess Birge, Marta and Guy Moser, Jeanne Pesicka, Dave Lutgens and Ron Nelson this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Elaine Lee.
This superhero could be found in comic strips, theatrical shorts and television cartoons since the 30’s and was one of my favorites when growing up in the 50’s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the character who sang (and you can sing along at home), “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam, I’m ….” Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a case of a certain green vegetable.
Well, it’s been another week, enjoying the early morning sunlight. Until we meet again, don’t look for what you don’t want to see.
“We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we want to be.” Lauren Hutton

Aging Well in the Gorge February 19th 2020

If you don’t experience joint pain or stiffness consider yourself lucky because most everyone I know does – and Arthritis is usually the culprit.

According to my go-to site for health information, Medline Plus (Health Information from the U.S. Library of Medicine) there are many types of Arthritis but Osteoarthritis is the most common. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees and happens when the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. So don’t wait!
If you experience joint pain, the first thing is to see a doctor – if you haven’t already. Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis or a related condition and what to do about it. There’s no known cure for Arthritis, but there are many treatments to try before the last resort: surgery.
Make sure you keep your joints moving. Often your doctor will suggest physical therapy where you will learn muscle strengthening exercises and gentle stretching exercises that move your joints through their full range of motion.
Other suggestions are:
Take a walk every day. (Check online for the Arthritis Foundation’s self-directed “Walk With Ease” Program.)
Use heat and cold therapies to reduce joint pain and swelling. A warm morning shower can help.
Try relaxation therapy to help reduce pain by learning ways to relax your muscles.
Use assistive device such as a cane or a jar opener.  
Try over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol Arthritis 8 Hour Extended Relief to help you get through the night.
And know your limits. Balance activity and rest – and don’t overdo it.
Also, you may have heard of different complementary practices. My wife believes putting some gelatin in her juice every night reduces her arthritic pain. And my son has mentioned the “possible” benefits of Glucosamine-Chrondrotin supplements. But before you try any supplements, talk to your doctor first to make sure they are safe and there aren’t any harmful interactions with your current medications. You can also visit the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health website which provides the latest objective scientific research on the effectiveness and safety of alternative approaches.
We can avoid many risk factors for arthritis but there is one we can’t: getting older. (Or going back in time and taking better care of my joints!) Talk to your doctor, keep moving but don’t overdo it, keep doing what your doctor prescribed, and stay positive. It may be a pain in the, uh, hip. But it’s better than the alternative.

The program for the 2020 Original Courthouse Regional History Forum on Saturday February 22nd is “Finding the Wire Trail:  Early Instant Communication in the Gorge”.
Dave and Helen Wand and Larry McGinnis who live east of Troutdale have been at work finding traces of the original telegraph system that ascended from the Sandy River and continued east to The Dalles following an old Indian trail. The program begins at 1:30 p.m. in the 1859 courthouse behind The Dalles Chamber of Commerce/Visitors’ Center.
The 2 inch diameter hole found in the upper right hand corner of the old school desks was used as an ink well – or as Sandy Haechrel told me an imaginative place to hold flowers.
I received correct answers from Jerry Phillips, Jim Ayers, Vicki Sallee, Diana Weston, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Laura Comini, Dave Lutgens, Patricia Foster, Sandy Haechrel, Kim Birge, Bill Jones, Denise Johnson, Carol Earl, Jeanne Pesicka, Virginia Johnson, Deloris Schrader and Patricia Foster this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Betsy Ayers.
Through the 50’s and 60’s television was such a part of our lives, many of the catchphrases from those days came from popular television series. For this week’s “Remember When” question, in what hit television series first aired in 1966 did the IMF leader receive their tape-recorded instructions ending with “This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a recording of the theme music composed by Lalo Schifrin.
Well, it’s been another week, wondering if it will ever snow again this winter. Until we meet again, keep your head on your shoulders and your boots in the stirrups.
“Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time… I think I’ve forgotten this before.” Steven Wright

Aging Well in the Gorge February 12th 2020

How many times have you felt embarrassed because you’d just met someone and a day latter you could not remember their name no matter how hard you tried? Don’t worry, it happens to folks of all ages. The good news is there are tricks you can use to improve your ability to remember names.
1. The first trick is the foundation of all memory: focus. You can’t remember anything if you don’t first encode it in your brain by paying attention. With names it can be particularly difficult when you meet someone for the first time: you may be anxious or thinking of what to say next instead of focusing on the person’s name.
2. Repetition. When you meet someone use their name in the first words of your conversation. And then repeat their name several times in the conversation. Try “Hello Betty, it’s very nice to meet you Betty. Now, Betty, how long have you worked there?” You’ll just have to explain that you may sound like a dork, but they’re so important you really want to remember their name.
3. Use your other senses. See their name by writing it out in order to utilize your visual memory. By using different senses, it will improve your ability to remember. The smell of fresh bread or a particular song can flood me with forgotten memories.
4. Make associations. Associate their name to a physical or personal characteristic. You might also try alliteration such as “Dollar Dave” or Big Bertha (or maybe not!). Or in my case I used rhyming words when I met Doreen in college. I can still remember her name by thinking of “Boring Doreen” – and she wasn’t boring at all. But it worked.
5. Create cues. The more you work at remembering a name, the sooner you will be able to recall it. For example, try creating cues. Make a list of the people in your book club and review it until you have all the names memorized.
By using these five tricks, you can improve your ability to remember names. Then you’ll be able to impress your new friends by remembering their names as they stammer trying to recall yours!
The program for the 2020 Original Courthouse Regional History Forum on Saturday February 15th is “Rufus and the Army Camp that Helped End World War II”. Cal McDermid, director of Fort Dalles Museum and a Sherman County native, explores the unique settlement in Old Wasco and later Sherman County, and the role of Camp Rufus in developing technology for bridging the Rhine.
Clarification from last week. I became aware that in addition to conducting the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau conducts over 100 surveys throughout the country – some of which includes visiting households. So, there is the chance you may be visited by someone from the Census Bureau before April 1st collecting information for one of the other Census Bureau surveys. Still in this day of scams and scammers it is good to be cautious. If anything feels suspicious and you want to verify if the worker or even a mailed survey is legitimate, call 301-763-INFO (4636), 800-923-8282 or the Regional office in California at 213-314-6500; or go online at
Sawyer’s TrueValue was located where the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store is today and where Sawyer’s Ace Hardware and Rental is now (they changed from TrueValue to Ace Hardware in 2018) was previously the site for Safeway. I received correct answers from John Huteson, Cheri Brent, Laura Comini, Lana Tepfer, Ronda Spies, Ron Nelson, Jeanne Pesicka, Virginia Johnson and Mary Ann Hass this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.
Most of you probably remember the old school desks bolted to the floor with a writing table you could open so you could cram your books and papers inside. And a pencil/pen slot carved along the front edge of the top with a two-inch diameter hole in the front right corner. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was that hole once used for?  Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop off your answer scratched in the top of an Antique Vintage Industrial Double School Desk – which will set you back only $165.
Well, it’s been another week trying to keep it straight and narrow. Until we meet again, as Ernie Sillwell told me “You don’t miss what you haven’t seen”.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet that clings fast to the heel that crushed it.” George Roemish from his poem “Forgiveness”

Aging Well in the Gorge February 5th 2020

Ah, the days when snake oil salesmen only traveled from city to city selling their dubious medical cures. Now with today’s technology, scam artists are found everywhere: at your door, on the phone, by email and now even text messages.
Using all these means, what better time for scam artists to ply their trade than during the 2020 Census when the Census does ask detailed questions about things like income, assets, job status, and household amenities – which in most every other case is no one’s busy. (I heard of one person who has already been visited by someone claiming to be a Census Taker – and the Census doesn’t start till April 1st!)
Even though we are just entering the month of February and only dreaming about April, it’s not too early to know the warning signs to look for during this decade’s census.
When a census taker comes to your door, check for their valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Also, they will never ask you for money or financial data, such as the amount in your bank account, Social Security number, or mother’s maiden name.  And they will never threaten you with arrest – although you can be fined for not participating.
Online if you receive an email from the Census Bureau be suspicious. The agency almost always makes contact by mail. They don’t send unsolicited emails. If you do receive such an email don’t reply, click links or open attachments – and forward the message to And for any website that claims to be a Census website, check the web address.  Make sure it has a domain and is encrypted: look for https:// or a lock symbol in the browser window.
If you receive anything by mail, check to see if the return address includes the U.S. Department of Commerce or U.S. Census Bureau and Jeffersonville, Ind. – the site of the National Processing Center. You may also receive a reminder letter from one of the Census Bureau’s regional offices or headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area.
If you receive a phone call don’t trust caller ID — scammers can use “spoofing” tools to make it appear they’re calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205 or 800-642-0469 to verify the phone survey is legitimate. There are valid reasons why you may be called such as if they don’t find you at home or when a personal visit is not convenient.
The goal of the 2020 Census is a complete and accurate count – but worrying that you might be a sucker for some scam makes reaching that goal even more difficult. If you do encounter anything suspicious, call the regional office for Oregon (818) 267-1700 or 1-800-992-3530; or call 800-923-8282 to speak with a Census Bureau representative. Also the U.S. Census has an excellent and comprehensive secure website at where you can learn more about the Census and how to apply to become a Census taker.
The program for the 2020 Original Courthouse Regional History Forum on Saturday February 8th is “The Women of Sorosis:  Social ‘Influencers’ of Their Day”. Denise Dietrich Bokum will share the far-reaching contributions of women leaders in The Dalles who gave Sorosis Park its name. Program begins at 1:30 pm.
The title of the epic historical film about an English officer who successfully united and led the diverse Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks was Lawrence of Arabia. I received correct answers from Carol Earl, Jess Birge, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Sam Bilyeu, Deloris Schrader, Rhonda Austin, Ruth Radcliffe, Jim Ayers, Bill Marick, Sandy Haechrel and Michael Murat this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.
On the first Wednesday of the next several months I’m going to ask a local history question about businesses that once were located at a different location. For this week it’s a two-part “Remember When” question. What business use to be where St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store is now? And what business use to be where Sawyers Ace Hardware and Rental is now? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop off your answers on the back of a crisp hundred dollar bill.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to take care of business. Until we meet again, I’ve found the answer to most every important question is “It’s complicated!”.
“A friend is someone who picks you up when no one else realized you have fallen.” Mar Razalan