Aging Well in the Gorge – November 25th 2020

Does it feel like the Grinch is trying to steal Thanksgiving as well as Christmas? Wait! That was last week’s opening line! Well, you’re right. But since last week I’ve been thinking (which for me is dangerous) that because large family gatherings are being discouraged, many folks are feeling the Grinch has stolen Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because of the focus on the family: families coming together, eating a scrumptious dinner – usually cooked by someone else. (We always did our share by stopping at the store and buying several pies – but they were the best pies!). But isn’t Thanksgiving more than family gatherings? More than eating way too much turkey and mashed potatoes? With all the disruptions this year, I have realized more than ever it is about what the name says: giving thanks.


We may not have all we wish we had, but we can be thankful for what we do have – from the most fundamental, we’re still breathing right?, to those special joys in our life such as our grandchildren. The Grinch can’t take all of that away. And this year without the Thanksgiving preparations, we can spend the day appreciating all our blessings while looking forward to next year when we can once again gather around the dining room table on Thanksgiving Day.


While cleaning up my office at home (which I need to do more often than I do) I found a worn and discolored 3×5 card listing ten controlling principles. Of course, this was written yeaaarrrrrrrrs ago so I’m not sure what the context was, but I thought they were appropriate for this Thanksgiving season. See if you agree.


1) Buy for usefulness and not status. 2) Reject anything producing addiction and that is more than just drugs. 3) Develop habit of giving things away. 4) Refuse gadgetry. 5) Learn to enjoy without owning. 6) Develop appreciation for creation. 7) Be skeptical of buy now pay later. 8) Use plain honest speech. 9) Reject anything that will breed the oppression of others. 10) Shun whatever would distract you from your main goal.


I know I miss the mark on several of those principles (I am a sucker for new gadgetry and I am often distracted) but it helped remind me how to live a simpler life and to realize what is really important as I grow older.


I received a nice note from Stella Harr in White Salmon asking that I include both sides of the river. My reply is “I’m trying! I’m trying!” It’s taking me a while to adjust to the broader audience and living in The Dalles I am more familiar with The Dalles area and the Oregon side of the river. For example, I know about The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Reverse Starlight Parade on Friday evening where this year you can drive by and view the floats from your car. I tried but couldn’t find where to look for the Thanksgiving events in other Gorge communities. But Stella, I will keep working at it.


The hilarious 1978 Thanksgiving television episode about a promotion involving the dropping of twenty live turkeys from a helicopter mistakenly thinking the turkeys would gently float down to the ground and give Cincinnati a pleasant Thanksgiving surprise was conceived by the bored station manager of WKRP in Cincinnati. (You can still watch it on YouTube.) I received correct answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Lana Tepfer, Barbara Cadwell, Tim Annala, Dave Lutgens, Sandy Haerchrel, Jess Birge, Emmett Sampson, Keith Clymer and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Chuck Rice from Goldendale.


There are several iconic paintings celebrating Thanksgiving in America including Freedom from Want, also known as The Thanksgiving Picture by this American artist. For this week’s “Remember When” question who was this American author, painter and illustrator most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over nearly five decades. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a copy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, known as “Four Freedoms” which included freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear.


Well, it’s been another week waiting for the right moment. Until we meet again, looking on the bright side will lighten up your day.


“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Aging Well in the Gorge – Veterans Day

 As with everything else Veterans Day has been affected by COVID-19 – no parades, no free breakfasts, no potlucks, no school presentations commemorating our Veterans. But we can still take time to honor the Veterans who served our country.   


We celebrate this special day every year, but what do you know about? 


Last year I shared a few facts about Veterans Day from the U.S. Department of Defense website. To see what you know – or can remember, here’s a pop quiz.  


1) Is there an apostrophe in Veterans Day? Okay, that answer is obvious. But why is there not an apostrophe? 


2) Are Veterans Day and Memorial Day the same?  


3) What was Veterans Day originally called? 


4) Because of the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968, for a few years Veterans Day was celebrated on what day in October? 


To support older adults who served in the armed forces, each county in the Gorge has Veterans Services Office staffed by Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Each officer works through a complex system of rules and regulations to support our veterans and their surviving spouses by assisting them with veterans claims. This includes disability compensation, non-service connected pensions for war period veterans, aid and attendance, VA health care, education benefits, VA loan information, and more. 


While most offices are closed to drop-ins because of COVID-19you can still phone the VSO in your county. In Wasco County call Russell Jones or Patrick Wilbern at 541-506-2502Hood River County call Eric Akin at 541-386-1080Klickitat County call William Smith in Goldendale (509) 773-2467 or White Salmon (509) 493-6031; and in Sherman County call Paul Conway at (541) 565-3408. 


Now let’s see which questions you answered correctly.  


1) There is no apostrophe in Veterans Day.  The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, as an apostrophe would imply. It’s a day for honoring all veterans. 


2) No. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace whether living or not – although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. 


3) Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day commemorating the armistice between the Allies and Germany on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and named Armistice Day. But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954 Congress amended the commemoration by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.  


4) For a while Veterans Day was officially recognized on the fourth Monday of every October. Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays including Veterans Day would be celebrated on a Monday hoping it would encourage family activities over a long weekend. But when the first Veterans Day under this new bill was heldas you would guess, there was confusion about the change. Within a few years, it became apparent the public wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. On Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law which returned the annual observance to its original date. 


The name of the 1968 Presidential candidate and segregationist running for the American Independent Party that could have forced a contingent election in the United States House of Representatives was George Wallace. Since I must finish this column early because of Veterans Day, Ill mention those who sent in correct answers next week. 


In the Pacific theater during World War IIJohn F. Kennedy commanded a boat that was sliced in two by a Japanese destroyer killing two while eleven survivedFor this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of the patrol torpedo boat? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with two Mark 8 torpedoes – deactivated!  


Well, it’s been another week when the more rush the slower I go. Until we meet again, from forty-five years of marriage I’ve learned it’s true, “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. 


If you are losing a tug of war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope Will Cuppy – American humorist 

Aging Well in the Gorge November 4th 2020

Finally, the election is over – or is it? It may still be uncertain who will be president. But what is certain is for many of you your candidate lost and you’re now thinking “What in the hell is this country coming to!” While the rest of you are relieved knowing that your candidate will save the country!

There are good people with strong opposing views on candidates and issues. We know because they are our neighbors. But now with the voting over, we need to bridge the political divide. How? A good place to start is making the effort to understand the differing viewpoints. How often have you heard, “I can’t understand how they could think that way”?

Stephen Covey author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” defines the fifth habit as “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” By trying to understand the other person, it affirms that person and what they have to say. And as Covey points out that is what we all want: to be understood, valued and affirmed.

But boy is that tough – to listen, without expressing judgment or jumping in with your own point of view. I can usually last about five minutes before I must express my own opposing arguments.

But as the worn out cliché says, “We may not agree, but we can agree to be disagreeable” – oops, I mean “agree to disagree”. I got confused with what often happens!

We need to pull together to address the challenges many older adults face. For example, did you know that 41% of women 75+ in rural Oregon live alone with a personal income of less than $16,600; 80% of residents 65+ are living with a chronic disease; and 65% of renters 65+ in Wasco County spend more than 30% of their income on housing?

There are many challenges ahead to improve the lives of older adults. And it will take all of us working together with compassion and understanding regardless of our political differences to meet those challenges.

Each week I will highlight one of the many local services supporting older adults. I’ll start with a common question I often hear, “Who do I call if I’m looking for help for myself or someone I know?” On the Oregon side you can contact the ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Center) by calling the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-855-673-2372. In Klickitat County you can talk to a professionally trained Information and Assistance Specialist by calling 509-493-3068 in White Salmon or 509-773-3757 in Goldendale.

In today’s Gorge News you’ll find the monthly “Through the Eyes of an Elder” where you can read about Antonio “Toño” Ontiveros Deras who has proudly worked as a farmworker for 46 years feeding others and supporting our local economy. It’s an inspiring story of determination and gratitude. Don’t miss it.

A random observation before an exciting conclusion! Did you know that if you replace “W” with “T” in “What, Where and When”, you get the answer to each of them?

The title of the 1958 science fiction/horror film about an alien amoeba devouring citizens was the Blob? I received answers from Kim Birge, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Patty Burnet, Carol Earl, and Tim Annala this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I am sorry to say that although all of this year’s “Remember When” quilt raffle ticket winners were entered in the drawing last week, no one won this time. But there will be another drawing next year!

This year there has again been talk about the controversial role of the Electoral College. In 1969 James Michener wrote The Presidential Lottery about how the electoral college could have created “turmoil if not actual disaster” in the 1968 Presidential election. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of the 1968 Presidential candidate and segregationist running for the American Independent Party that could have forced a contingent election in the United States House of Representatives? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a photo of the Governor of Alabama trying to block the entry of two black students to the University of Alabama in 1963.

Well, it’s been another week, finding the time to read a good book. Until we meet again, keep your heart open to see all that can’t be seen.

“When one door closes and another door opens, you are probably in prison.” Anonymous