Aging Well in the Gorge May 26th 2021

It is 3:15 on a Sunday afternoon. And as I am writing, my eyelids are slowly, unwillingly closing; my fingers are losing consciousness – typing a row of ZZZZZZZZZZZZ’s – and I know, from these telltale signs, it must be time for a nap.

But don’t think I am just another old codger who needs his afternoon nap. Napping has taken on added significance in this fast-paced world – a new way to increase employee productiveness where companies including Apple and Google are allowing employees to take naps on the job. Research has shown a nap can boost the brain’s learning capacity, improve memory, increase creativity, and is more effective than caffeine. And even a short nap can have a marked effect on your health.

The article “The Science of the Perfect Nap” that I discovered on the website Lifehacker, offers several suggestions on how to take the perfect nap. I’ll try to share it with you – before I fall asleep.

1. Watch the time. Twenty-minute naps work well. 2. Find a quiet and dark space. (Unfortunately, during my college days, the library was quiet and dark, and I often slept there more than I studied.) 3. Lie down. It takes significantly more time to fall asleep while sitting. 4. Get in your napping zone. Concentrate on your breathing, relax your muscles, and use visualization techniques. 5. Plan naps into your day. Take a nap before you get to the dangerous point of drowsiness. 6. Set an alarm. You don’t want to sleep longer than you desire.

Naps are natural and beneficial. And even the younger generations are now learning about the advantages of naps – reaping the benefits of improved productivity, energy, and mental capacity. So no longer think of napping as an essential guilty pleasure. Napping is a good thing – and at any age.

Now that you have taken your nap and your brain is refreshed, see how quick you are to solve these two riddles that stumped me the first time I heard them. 1.) There are six eggs in the basket. Six people each take one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket? 2.) You are driving a bus. The bus is empty when you begin your route. At the first stop, four people get on. At the second stop, eight people get on and 2 get off. At the third stop, 3 people get off and 4 get on. What color are the bus driver’s eyes?

The vaudevillian comedian who was known for his running gags that included his age (always 39!) and his cheapskate image was Jack Benny. I received correct answers from Jim Ayers, Emmett Sampson, Susan Ellis, Chuck Rice, Steven Woolpert, Lucile Stephens, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Tina Castanares, Gene Uczen, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Ricki Duckwall, Linda Frizzell, Doug Nelson, Mike Yarnell, Keith Clymer, and Nona Moore this week’s winner of a free quilt raffle ticket. And as always, last week I missed somebody or should I say somebodies: Susan Ellis, Trudy Katona, and Samantha and Jeff Irwin.

One more question about a vaudevillian performer who successfully transitioned to television. He may not be as iconic as Bob Hope, Jack Benny or George Burns and Gracie Allen, but he was a popular guest on many radio and television shows and hosted his own show from 1954 through 1956. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comedian, singer, and pianist who frequently interrupted his performance with the line, “STOP–da music, everybody!” and invariably ended his show with “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a recording of the 1933 song “Inka Dinka Doo”.

The answers to the two riddles are: 1.) The last person took the basket with an egg in it. 2.) You are driving the bus, so what color are your eyes?

Well, it has been another week riding shotgun in the 56’ Chevy of life. Until we meet again, keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and don’t take your foot off the peddle.

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Abraham Lincoln

Aging Well in the Gorge May 19th 2021

Often as we age, we settle into our familiar routines. They are comforting and provide a sense of control: we don’t have to think, it’s automatic. 

During the last fourteen months, you may have become comfortable with the new routines you have established. And now as the Gorge begins to open up, you find the need to change your routines once again; going back to what you once did or creating new routines: a mix of the old and the new. 

Changing routines may be uncomfortable, but it can also be beneficial. Since routines are automatic, they require little mental effort which doesn’t increase the cognitive activity that helps strengthen your brain. 

There is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that by engaging in new and novel activities that do not depend on automatic processing, we can maintain or even improve our cognitive health. The key is to seek activities requiring cognitive effort where you actively focus; giving enough attention to a task to successfully complete it.

Instead of engaging in a passive activity such as watching TV, try learning something new: a new foreign language, Tai Chi, or join a book club. Or better yet, switch from Microsoft operating system to Google which I guarantee will challenge your brain – but also send you to an early grave!

You can also change the way you do simple daily tasks: drive home a different way while observing your new surroundings or learn to eat with chopsticks and then change hands. Very few activities maintain their novelty for long, so we must constantly pursue new opportunities to challenge our brains. In the simplest terms, you either use it or lose it.

Routines do provide a tremendous benefit in our daily lives. They can literally be lifesavers such as making sure you take all your medications. While others can be routines of convenience: parking in a regular spot at the grocery store so when you leave the store, you don’t have to look everywhere for your car! It works for me. But it is also important to move beyond the automatic and try new challenges for your brain health. 

So, take this brain challenge. See if you can remember my favorite “foreign” language when I was in grade school – Pig Latin. And using your Pig Latin reading skills, translate this Phyliss Diller (yllisPhay illerDay) quote. “enWhay youyay ayplay inspay ethay ottlebay, ifyay eythay onday’tay antway otay isskay youyay eythay avehay otay ivegay youyay ayay uarterqay. ellWay, ellhay, ybay ethay imetay Iyay asway elvetway yearsyay oldyay Iyay ownedyay ymay ownyay omehay.” 

It’s hard to stay up with youth culture, but when I read that the popular English singer, songwriter, and actor, Harry Styles was promoting men wearing handbags, I thought to myself, “Now I know how my father felt when I started letting my hair grow long! It’s just not right!”

The television series that aired from 1977 to 1984 where Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo would yell “Ze plane! Ze plane!” was Fantasy Island – which reminded Eileen White of a corny joke from the ’70s. “What kind of M & M’s did Hervé Villechaize like best? Answer: de Plain! de Plain!” Okay, Eileen did say it was corny! 

I received correct answers from Eileen White, Gene Uczen, Barbara Cadwell, Keith Clymer, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Lana Tepfer, Margo Dameier, and Beverly Thomas who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Keith Clymer, Margo Dameier, and Linda Johnston.

This is an easy one, but I hope brings back some wonderful memories. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what vaudevillian comedian starred on his own radio and television shows from 1932 to 1965 and was known for his running gags that included his age (always 39!), baby blue eyes, and his cheapskate image? E-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a 1729 Stradivarius violin. 

Well, it’s been another week, trying to make the world a little bit better in those small and personal ways. Until we meet again, if you see me wearing a mask, it isn’t because I haven’t been vaccinated, I just didn’t want to shave this week!

“Growth in old age requires the curiosity of a five-year-old and the confidence of a teenager”. Jan Chittister author of “The Gift of Years”

Aging Well in the Gorge May 12th 2021

My daughter, an introvert, finds living in our extrovert world uncomfortable: social gatherings, networking, meet and greets. But during these months of social limitations, shes told me, with a smirk on her face, Now the extroverts have to live in my introvert world!” 

For over 15 months we have been living as introverts. But now that we have been vaccinated, we can put aside the puzzles, books and DVDs of our favorite movies and go out; see friends we haven’t seen for months and ask, “Now, what is your name? 

Most of us long for moments of spontaneous conversation: the small talk between friends and new acquaintances. But as with any skill, we may have lost the ability to make small talk: feeling awkward and out of practice. (Or you may be jabbering to anyone about anything, thankful someone is listening besides your faithful canine companion!)  

But as with most skills, you don’t really lose it. And whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, now that you are socializingsafely!, you might want to brush up on your conversational skills. 

Janet Siroto in her April article for Next Avenue, a webbased news site for older adultsshares ways you can get back in the habit of small conversations with old and new friends. 

1.) Don’t lose your confidence because small talk doesn’t come as easy. It will take time and practice. 

2.) Avoid focusing on the dark cloud in the room. The pandemic has been difficult but try to focus on the futureIt will make a more pleasant and less stressful conversation. 

3.) Avoid the can you top this competition whether it is about the pandemic or how early your grandchild spoke his first word: “No!” 

4.) Anticipate the most common greeting, “How are you doing?”Instead of the typical response, you could answer “It’s been tough, but I’ve learned a few things.” This opens up the conversation for the person to ask about what you’ve learned. 

And I’ll add one more that’s personal weakness of mine.  Don’t do all the talking! Take a breath and let someone else add a few words 

If you keep practicing, you may reach the gold standard of small talk: talking with someone who knows you, but you don’t remember them and must chit-chat as if you do! 

As we begin to exit these challenging times, small talk can be a valuable skill helping us reconnect and build the foundation for deeper relationships as we move back into the extrovert’s world 

Try this on for size. I hope it brings a smile. 


A property manager of single-family residence was showing a unit to prospective tenants and asking the usual questions. “Professionally employed?” he asked. “We’re a military family,” the wife answered. “Children?” “Oh, yes, ages nine and twelve,” she answered proudly. “Animals?” “Oh, no,” she said earnestly. “They’re very well behaved.”   


In the 1961 Walt Disney produced film The Absent-Minded Professor starring Fred MacMurray, Professor Ned Brainard discovered a new substance he called Flubber (blending of flying and rubber)I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Gene Uczen, Barbara Cadwell, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Mike McFarlane, Jess Birge, Lana Tepfer, Russ Noe, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, Doug Nelson, Jack Bissett, and Eileen Utroskethis week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Doug Nelson, Judy Hanson, Joan Chantler, Mike Yarnell, and Mary Zenorini.  


While sitting on our front porch In The Dalles, my wife and I can watch the planes, trains and automobile, and the occasional barge, traveling up and down the Gorge. Every time I see a plane, yell out to my wife’s consternation“Ze plane! Ze plane!”, For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the television series aired from 1977 to 1984 where Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo would yell those words after running up the tower and ringing the bellE-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a scale model of a Grumman Widgeon amphibious aircraft. 


Well, it’s been another week, listening for the train coming around the mountain when she comes. Until we meet again, don’t always believe everything you think. 
“If you have the choice between humble and cocky, go with cocky. There’s always time to be humble later, once you’ve been proven horrendously, irrevocably wrong.” Kinky Friedman 


Aging in the Gorge May 5th 2021

Who wants to talk about feet? That is the part of my body I don’t want anyone to see! (Actually, there are many other parts of my body I want to hide, but my feet rank near the top.) But taking care of your feet is important. According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, impairment of the lower extremities is a leading cause of activity limitation in older people.

The human foot has been called the “mirror of health” because you can find signs of diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory disease which are more common in older adults. If you find in your feet dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, feelings of cold, numbness, and discoloration you should talk to your primary care provider. Pain in your feet is never “normal” and is often easily treatable.

To avoid foot problems, clean and inspect your feet daily. Are there unusual changes in color, cuts or strange bruises, nail distortions, and odd bumps? Also, wash your lower limbs with warm water and soap, then pat them dry. If you struggle with dry skin as I do, apply moisturizer except between the toes. Keep your nails clipped straight across and not too long.

Make sure your shoes fit correctly. Footwear that is too narrow, too tight, or not supportive enough can contribute to lower limb pain. You need shoes that don’t rub against your skin or squeeze your toes. Choose models that have wide toe boxes, arch support, and sufficient cushioning.

Our feet are the tires of our body and although the tread is worn, we need to care for them so we can maintain our mobility and keep moving for many more miles.

Let me get on my creaky soapbox one last time about vaccines. If we’re going to stop the pandemic and get back to “the way it was”, it’s going to depend on us. Only we can stop the pandemic – not the government. You just can’t pass a law to keep the virus out.

So, we should encourage, not tell, our friends to get vaccinated. According to the vast majority of the medical community, the vaccines are safe – but not 100% safe. As older adults, we know there are no vaccines or medications that are 100% safe. I take a blood thinner that reduces the chance of a stroke but increases the chance of internal bleeding and I have chosen to take it because the benefits outweigh the risks.

Before I step off my soapbox, I want to share one story. When I was ten, I remember being told if you don’t know whether something is right or wrong, ask yourself what if everyone did it. Lying. What if everyone lied? Stealing. What if everyone stole? So, what about the vaccine? What would happen if everyone decided not to get vaccinated? Granted, this test of right and wrong may be too simplistic, but I believe it holds some truth. And let me tell you, it worked for a 10-year-old! 

 “Through the Eyes of an Elder” shares informative, touching, and inspiring stories from “elders” in our communities. This month Paul Woolery shares what he has learned from poetry including a wonderful collage of his poems. I think you’ll find something that speaks to you.

The cigarette brand with the tagline “You’ve come a long way, baby” seen in the last cigarette ad on television was Virginia Slims. I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Susan Ellis, Chuck Rice, Tina Castanares, Katherine Schlick Noe, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Patty Burnet, Cindy Winfield, Gene Uczen, Linda Frizzell, Pat Evenson-Brady, Rhonda Spies, Rose Schulz, and Marlene and Keith Clymer this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket.

In 1961 Walt Disney produced the comedy film The Absent-Minded Professor (who was one of my role models!) starring Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the substance Professor Brainard discovered? E-mail your answers to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of a flying Model T.

Well, it has been another week enjoying the great outdoors. Until we meet again, as our parents told us before crossing the street, “Stop, look and listen”.

“I’ve always had a duck personality. Calm above water, feet going crazy below.” K. Flay – musician