Aging Well in the Gorge April 28th, 2021

Along my journey of growing older, I desperately tried to avoid my preconceived ideas of what old looked like: wearing hearing aids – which now I wouldn’t live without; or using a pill box – until there were too many days when I couldn’t recall if I took my morning pills or not!

Since I’ve passed those two milestones, I’ve started thinking that instead of denying my age I should celebrate my “oldness” and the accompanying joys. (I’ll leave the challenges for another day.)

But what is old? We’ve all heard it is ten years older than you are now, (which I am continuing to find surprising accurate) but is there a better way to know? So, for those of you who are curious, I found this list of “scientifically validated” indicators of old age. See how you compare with my answers.

1.      You fall asleep watching TV or reading the paper. No, but at 3:00 I do start nodding off.

2.      You become forgetful. Yes, but it’s no different than the twentysomething who can’t remember what I just ordered on my Subway sandwich!

3.      You groan when getting up from a chair or out of bed. No, but for some reason my wife thinks I do. 

4.     You say ‘back in my day’. No, I say “back in the good old days”.

5.     You have an afternoon nap. Yes, but they are now “power naps”.

6.     You don’t know the names of current celebrities. I do – if they are over 65.

7.     You have a low tolerance for teenagers. No. I find teenagers great. It brings back fond memories of my youth without having to relive those days.

8.     You only listen to music from your youth. No. I listen to contemporary music that sounds like music from my youth.

Over halfway through and looking good.

9.      You choose places to eat because they play quiet music. Yes, because I want to hear who I am talking with  – which is not easy wearing hearing aids.

10.     Choosing to meet friends for lunch or dinner rather than a night out for drinks. Yes. I need to be in bed by 9:00.

11.     You spend weekends or holidays in garden centers. No. I try to stay out of the garden – that’s my wife’s domain – thankfully.

12.     Gardening is a hobby. No. See above

13.     You forget where your glasses are. Yes, but I always find them – on my head!

14.     You choose clothes for comfort rather than style. Yes, because who am I trying to impress?

15.     You get a haircut to ‘suit your age’. No, because I’m still figuring out what my age is.

So how did you do? Did you do better than my 9 out of 15 “no” answers? If so let’s go out and celebrate – but please, not too long!

The members of the 1985 country music supergroup The Highwaymen were Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Barbara Cadwell, Susan Ellis, John McEwen, Jess Birge, Gene Uczen, Lana Tepfer, Tina Castanares, Keith Clymer, Margo Dameier, Mike Yarnell, Rose Schulz, Jim and Jennifer Stager, Doug Nelson and Joy Nicholson this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Beverly Thomas and Doug Nelson.

Remember when doctors and even Santa Claus were used to selling cigarettes on television? That ended at 11:50 pm on January 1st, 1971, when the last cigarette advertisement ran on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the brand of cigarette in that television ad that tried to cash in on the women’s liberation movement with the tag line “You’ve come a long way, baby.” E-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a short history of the Women’s Tennis Association. 

Well, it has been another week trying to decide which way is up. Until we meet again, as they said in the old west, “Poor is having to sell the horse to buy the saddle.”

“There are six myths about old age: 1. That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2. That we are mindless. 3. That we are sexless. 4. That we are useless. 5. That we are powerless. 6. That we are all alike.” – Maggie Kuhn

Aging Well in the Gorge April 21st, 2021

The sun is outthe days are warmer, and suddenly I have this urge to start cleaning and getting rid of “stuff”. even start thinking it might be time to downsize; find a smaller place to live. Or even fit all my possessions into a Sprinter van (an upgrade from the Volkswagen van of half a century ago) and travel to nedestinations full of excitement and possibilities! But when my head clears, I realize downsizing is more a struggle than an adventure. 

I have read about where to begin: old technology (the three old laptops stored under my desk), stuff you’ll never use or wear (if it hasn’t been used in two years, it’s gone!), old hobbies (Does anyone want a box of miscellaneous postage stamps?). And how to get rid of the stuff: yard sales, non-profit thrift stores, unsuspecting friends? 


But after raising two children in the same house with thirty-five years of accumulated stuff, shrinkwrapped in memories, my biggest challenge is the emotional difficulty of downsizing.  


What anyone else would consider junk ignores my emotional attachments: the broken folding chair my dad gave me before I left for college; the first board game I played with my children; picture notes I drew for my daughter to go with her school lunches.  


When I look at those unusable objects, I experience feelings I have not felt in years. And I admitIm afraid if I toss those memory triggers, I will also be tossing those comforting memories – out of sight and out of mind – forever. And forever is a long, long time.  


There are other reasons why downsizing is difficult for older adults according to David Ekerdt, professor at the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas. You may feel what you give away will not be appreciated as much by someone else. Or downsizing may force you to face reality: maybe you aren’t going to read all those books you have kept; and you aren’t going to learn to play that electric guitar stored in the basement and tour the world with Mick Jagger. When you must make decisions about what is important to you, you are really defining who you are.  


But after downsizing, most folks are glad they did. You are no longer a prisoner of your past and by deciding what you want to keep as Professor Ekerdt states “you are choosing what you are going to be and this can be very gratifying”. And you may even find less stuff can mean more happiness. 


Powerful Tools for Caregivers Is a six-week educational program designed to help unpaid family caregivers take care of themselves while caring for a spouse, family member, or friend. The class meets virtually by ZOOM from 10 am – 12:00 pm on Fridays beginning May 21st. Class size is limited. The cost is $30 and scholarships are available. To register, contact Britta Willson at 541-387-6404 or 


The name of the kissing game popular among teens was spin the bottleI received correct answers from Betsy Ayers, Louise Wooderson, Mary Pearce, Virginia Johnson, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Carl and Leslie TrabantLinda FrizzellDave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Patty BurnetMike Yarnell, and Krista Thie this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket. And somehow last week I missed Lana Tepfer. 


In the 60s there were many supergroups such as Crosby, Stills and Nash and the short-lived Blind FaithBut it was not until 1985 when country music had its first supergroup The HighwaymenFor this week’s “Remember When” question whwere the four artists (or at least two), known for their influence on outlaw country music, in this supergroupEmail your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or send with the DVD of Stagecoach, the 1986 made-for-television remake of the 1939 film starring John Wayne. 


Well, it has been another week, trying to see the future in my rearview mirror. Until we meet again, wisdom often comes from keeping your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open. 


“Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” Richard Bach 

Aging Well in the Gorge April 14th 2021

“There are only four kinds of people in the world — those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Those words were spoken by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and I’m sure many of you or even most of you have been in one of those situations.

During the pandemic, one segment of the labor force, dedicated, skilled, and yet largely undervalued and unappreciated, is frontline care professionals such as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), home health aides, personal care attendants, and dietary aides. Working where people live, they are essential to the health and well-being of millions of older adults who are most at risk from COVID-19. In addition to the care, over the last year they provided the only companionship for many isolated older adults despite their concerns for their personal health.

They are the unsung heroes who have shown up every day, rising to the great challenges of these difficult times. And increasingly, those of us who will need care, which will be many of us, will be relying upon these essential care professionals in the future.

There will be a special tribute to the dedicated frontline care professionals during this year’s Ageless Awards celebration hosted by Age+. The Ageless Awards celebrates older adults 75+ and their lifelong commitment to their communities across Oregon. It will be held virtually on April 22nd, 12:00 – 1:00 (pre-show at 11:30). You can register online at

AGE+ is a non-profit organization creating innovative solutions to improve the lives of older adults with a particular emphasis on rural communities. Two years ago Age+ introduced Circles of Care in Wasco County (541-397-0724) similar to Providence’s Volunteers in Action in Hood River and Klickitat County (541-387-6404) that pairs older adults with local volunteers that provide social and emotional connections, as well as help with everyday tasks – although their services have been limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Also during the pandemic, Age+ has been supporting community-based organizations in the Gorge that are providing education and outreach to older adults about COVID-19 and the importance of being vaccinated to stop the pandemic.

I found last year’s celebration inspiring. I hope you will attend this year’s event honoring both older adults who continue to contribute in so many ways and the dedicated frontline care professionals in our communities.

A short interlude with comedian Steven Wright before the grand finale.

“Someone asked me if I were stranded on a desert island what book would I bring… ‘How to Build a Boat.’”

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.”

“I intend to live forever. So far, so good.”

The  American fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert, who had his own television show from 1953 – 1985 was Jack LaLanne. I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Beverly Harmon, Jay Waterbury, Rhonda Spies, Barbara Cadwell, Kim Birge, Gene Uczen, Rose Schulz, Margo Dameier, Dave Lutgens, Jim Tindall, Carol Earl, Jennifer Stager, Linda Frizzell, Carl Trabant, and Barb Blair who worked as an Instructor at Jack La Lanne’s European Health Spa in California and is this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket. And I’ve missed Joan Chantler and Rose Schulz whose name was written on that missing scrap of paper.

Many of you probably remember playing this “kissing” game (although whenever it was mentioned I would immediately disappear) popular among young teenagers, although apparently, its popularity has declined since the 1980s. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this game described as “the party game of choice for glandularly excited high schoolers” where you sat in a circle and – well, that’s all I’m going to say. Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with the story behind your first kiss!

Well, it has been another week, making it up as I go. Until we meet again, everyone has a piece of the truth – although for some you have to listen really hard!

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” From the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Aging Well in the Gorge April 7th 2021

 All of us want to stop this tragic pandemic and get back to some form of normalcy. But how? 

At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew little about this new virus as it was spreading worldwide. Since those early days, there is much we have learned and much we are still learning about the novel COVID-19 and how best to keep people safe. Here is what I understand.

1.) More than 142 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been administered in the U.S. as of March 30. 

2.) With continuing research and monitoring, understanding of the virus and vaccines will change and consequently CDC recommendations. (Check the CDC website for the latest recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.)

3.) People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. (Yeah!) But in public places should continue to take precautions. 

4.) All three vaccines are safe and effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines effectively prevented coronavirus infections.

5.) To achieve herd immunity, which will end the pandemic, a large portion of the population needs to be vaccinated although no one is sure what the percentage is.

6.) And most concerning, new mutant variants are appearing. But the COVID-19 virus can only mutate when they multiply and only multiply when they spread from person to person. 

The best way to stop the pandemic is by getting as many people of all ages vaccinated and following the precautions we all know. By taking these actions it will make us safer, help avoid new resilient mutations, protect those who cannot be vaccinated, and reach herd immunity. The end is in sight. I want to make sure it isn’t a mirage. 

April 5th through the 11th is National Public Health week recognizing how hard our public health departments are working with community partners to meet the COVID-19 challenge of vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible. 


But that is not the only work they do. They continue to offer a variety of services that include protecting our drinking water and ensuring the safety of local dining establishments, providing nutrition programs for women, infants and children, and offering immunizations. A big THANK-YOU to the health departments that are working to protect the health of our communities and save lives. 

“The Show Must Go On!” an online auction and fundraiser for the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association will be held from 9am on April 8 until 9pm on April 11th

The event features almost 100 items: from the fine art of local artists to delicious and creative dining experiences. Also, the fundraiser will feature a performance by legendary Portland jazz pianist Tom Grant and a brand new virtual performance by the CGOA Jazz Collective. You can register for the auction at the CGOA website where you can also learn about their classes and an online performance of Fantastiks!

The name of the excessively optimistic young girl was Pollyanna. I received correct answers from Rusti Starr, Steven Woolpert, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Barbara Cadwell, Julie Carter, Gene Uczen, Linda Frizzell, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Pat Evenson-Brady, and Susan Ellis this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. Last week I missed Irene Kurzweil, Cindy Winfield, Emmett Sampson, and I’m sure there is someone else’s name written on a scrap of paper hidden among papers on my cluttered desk. 

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a bodybuilder who some consider the “first fitness superhero”. Who was an American fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert, who opened one of the nation’s first fitness gyms in 1936, and had his own television show from 1953 – 1985? (Hint: It wasn’t Charles Atlas) Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with the 1959 record “Glamour Stretcher Time” with the original instruction sheet.

Well, it has been another week, enjoying the cool mornings and sunny days. Until we meet again, these are the times when I feel safer being part of the herd. 

“Losing weight doesn’t seem to be working for me, so from now on I’m going to concentrate on getting taller.” Anonymous