Aging Well in the Gorge April 20th 2020

 Because many have been asking, I told my wife I was going to write about retirement, and she said, “You’ve been retired for only 7 weeks! What do you know?”

Well, actually, not much. But I have learned this transition hasn’t been easy. I have mixed emotions. My north star has vanished and I often feel directionless. And yet I have the freedom to do more of what I want to do – if I can figure out what that is!

I no longer have my familiar routine: waking up, taking my pills with breakfast, going to work, coming home, taking my pills with dinner, going to bed. Now I have time to read the newspaper instead of skimming through it; do the things I once thought were unimportant as learning how to use the remotes for the TV, and I don’t have to hurry to complete a project on the weekend. I can wait till Monday. But what more can I expect during my retirement years?

I found on the Wildpine retirement community website, the five common stages of retirement that many retirees encounter. Tell me if you’ve experienced any of these stages.

The first stage is Pre-Retirement or “I can’t wait!”. This stage is filled with excitement and anticipation, but often also with worry and doubt, as you imagine what your new life will be like both emotionally and financially. 

The second stage is “This is great! I can do anything I want!” During this honeymoon phase, you can rest and relax with time to travel, pursue your hobbies, and catch up with family, old friends, and even your spouse if both of you are now retired.

The third stage is “Now what?”. The retirement honeymoon is over, and you feel something is missing. You start searching to find what gives your life purpose and meaning.

The fourth stage is “Who am I?” This stage is often considered the most challenging: creating a new identity that provides a meaningful purpose in your life. You may pursue a new passion such as painting, or volunteering, or some older adults have even started a small business.

The last stage is what I call “Life is good”. It may be fifteen years after retirement, but you’ve settled into a stable, simpler, and relaxing lifestyle that is fun and rewarding. Only if your body would cooperate!

Everyone experiences retirement in their own way. For myself, I seemed to have skipped the honeymoon and immediately went to the “Now what?” stage. But whatever has been your experience, I hope you have found retirement to be the best of everything you imagined.

This week’s Brain Teaser spun my brain around so many times I couldn’t stand up. See how well you can do. “The day before two days after the day before tomorrow is Saturday. What day is it today?”

The name of game played on a large plastic mat with six rows of large colored circles that was a national phenomenon in the late 60s and is still sold today is Twister. I received correct answers from Steven Woolpert, Millie Baumgartner, Jeannie Pesicka, Rhonda Spies, Patty Burnet, Kim Birge, Marlene Clymer, and Lana Tepfer who believes we may be past playing Twister anymore (at least I am) and is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

Many young people may recognize Karl more than this entertainer considered to have been a master of quick wit. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comedian who performed on stage and in several movies with his brothers and hosted the comedy quiz series You Bet Your Life? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or send it with a portrait of Margaret Dumont.

Answer: Friday. The “day before tomorrow” is today; “the day before two days after” is really one day after. So, if “one day after today is Saturday,” then it must be Friday. Got that?

Well, it’s been another week, looking out for what I can’t see. Until we meet again, don’t live as if you’re eating soup with a fork – going through all the motions but getting little out of life.   

“I have the worst memory ever, so no matter who comes up to me – they’re just, like, ‘I can’t believe you don’t remember me!” I’m like, ‘Oh Dad I’m sorry!’ – Ellen DeGeneres

Aging Well in the Gorge April 13th 2020

We’re in a technological revolution from Smartphones to Roomba robot vacuum cleaners. But for us who have not grown up with all the advances in technology, it can be daunting. (My pocket calculator in high school was a slide rule.)

First, there’s all the unfamiliar terminology: touchpad, mouse, router, browsers, phishing. And then there are the different computer operating systems: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. And once you understand one thing, it is “improved” – and you must relearn it – again!

Because it’s so overwhelming many of you have decided not to dive in. But you have friends who are enjoying the swim and now you might want to learn more about how to purchase a computer; how to use Zoom to see and talk with your grandchildren; or how to protect your personal information so you can bank online safely.

But where do you begin?

To assist older adults in utilizing the benefits of technology and avoid the dangers, GOBHI’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative is partnering with Senior Planet powered by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP to offer innovative classes designed for adults 60 and over. The lectures and courses will be led by trained instructors and held at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

The classes will begin with a series of five weekly lectures on Thursdays from 2:00 – 3:15: “Smartphones” on April 14th; “How to Choose a New Computer” on April 21st; “Protecting Your Personal Information Online” on April 28th; “All Things Zoom” on May 5th; and “How to Spot Fake News” on May 12th

The weekly lectures will be followed by a five-week Chromebook Essentials course from 2:00 – 3:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Tuesday, May 17th.

This course will cover the essentials of how to use a Chromebook – a popular type of laptop that is great for beginners who just want to use the internet. (Thanks to Google in The Dalles for donating ten Chromebooks for the class.) If you’re interested in any of the lectures or the Chromebook Essentials course call (541) 296-4788 or email Britta Willson at

If you can’t attend the classes, you can go online to the Senior Planet website to register for many of their virtual classes. And for technology questions, Senior Planet offers a Tech Hotline at 888-713-3495 between 6am and 2pm.

By using the Internet and other technologies we can change the way we age. We can connect with friends, participate in art and movement classes, attend public meetings, and advocate for causes important to us. So dive on in. Just make sure you avoid the rocks!

This week’s brain tease is more of a brain challenge. When I swim laps, which I enjoy but can be reaaaaally boring, I play this mental game you can try anytime, anywhere. I start by memorizing the seven days of the week in alphabetical order, then the first ten digits in alphabetical order, and finally the twelve months of the year. I’m proud to say I can recite them all alphabetically – but unfortunately only when I’m swimming!

The name of the police drama that aired on NBC from 1968 through 1975 and followed Los Angeles Police Department officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed was Adam-12. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Rose Schulz, Lana Tepfer, Keith Clymer, and the winner of a quilt raffle ticket Gary Van Orman who in 1972 was an actor in an episode of Adam-12. And last week I missed Susan Ronning and Joyce Jennings.

This game of physical skill was a national phenomenon in the late 60s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of “the game that ties you up in knots” played on a large plastic mat spread on the ground with six rows of large colored circles with a spinner telling you where to place your hand or foot? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or send it with the May 3, 1966 episode of the Tonight Show when actress Eva Gabor played the game with Johnny Carson.

Well, it’s been another week, asking, “Now what?”. Until we meet again, as I tell my kids, there is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore 

Aging Well in the Gorge April 6th 2022

 In her book “Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer”, Connie Goldman discusses many secrets for living life to the fullest: attitude, risk-taking, humor, creativity, and forgiveness. But she also included one secret, you might not normally consider but appropriate at this time of the year: gardening. There are the external mechanics of gardening, but the value for late bloomers (and those of us who are still waiting to bloom) are the internal rewards: the opportunity for self-expression; a chance to see the beauty of the natural world; and experience the rhythms of birth, change, death and birth again. Gardening can provide a source of healing and renewal; a haven from the noise and clutter of the mechanical world and a place to contemplate our inner world; and for many a chance to be closer to God. Connie describes gardening as nourishment for the heart and soul.

Many have experienced those inner rewards. I have been tempted. I have looked inside that window and felt the attraction of gardening, but for many reasons, I haven’t walked around and gone in the front door or even the back door. Some have a green thumb. I have a brown thumb. I can hear the plants screaming when I come near. I have forgotten to water and have overwatered. I have allowed zucchini to grow three feet long and tomatoes, well, I never had much luck with tomatoes. But weeds I know well. They don’t need special efforts or even much rain to survive (during the dry summer if it weren’t for the green weeds my yard would look like a brown shag carpet). It may seem odd but maybe there is a reason for weeds: to remind us of nature’s ability to keep coming back; of nature’s resiliency – even though they are such a pain in the backside. And maybe that is what life is about.

In this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Sheila Ford Richmond shares her love of gardening and the connection to the natural world.

This week’s Brain Tease to tickle your grey cells.

Mom and Dad have four daughters, and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the family?

.dad dna mom sulp ,nerdlihc evif gnikam ,rehtorb eno ylno evah srethguad ruof ehT .neveS

Because of my past column about video games, I decided to try two video games: Sega’s Sonic Racing and NBA 2K22. And I found out, “They’re hard to learn!” (But then maybe I should read the instructions – if I could find them.) It reminded me that it takes time and persistence to learn a new skill – and I realized I may have the time but not the persistence.

I’m more comfortable, although not any better, with word games. I just started playing what is apparently the latest craze, or at least it was, the word game Wordle which I’ve enjoyed. So whatever suits your fancy, video games, word games, or just a new card game with friends, enjoy the rewards of learning something new.

Hot off the wire. The Gorge’s own Amy Mallett, director of the Hood River Valley Adult Center, was awarded the Local Service Provider Champion Award at the National Senior Nutrition Program 50-year Celebration. Congratulations to Amy for her dedication to improving the health and well-being of older adults in the Gorge.

The individualized reading kits composed of boxes filled with color-coded cardboard cards that included a reading exercise and questions were SRA Reading Labs. (Science Research Associates). Several answered the tough question: Kathy Gay, Rhonda Spies, Jim Lindell, Doug Nelson, and Carolyn Bondurant who all win a quilt raffle ticket.

I just learned this television show is a childhood favorite of Rob Garrett, the new director of the Mid-Columbia Senior Center. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what is the name of the police drama that aired on NBC from 1968 through 1975 and followed Los Angeles Police Department officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed as they patrolled the streets of Los Angeles. Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or drop it off while driving a 1968 Plymouth Belvedere.

Well, it’s been another week, feeling the optimism that comes with spring. Until we meet again, don’t let the wind blow you over.

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” Doug Larson

Aging Well in the Gorge March 30th 2022

 Ah, sleep: nighttime bliss when you escape from your daily worries, refresh your body and mind, and star in a nonsensical dream – waking up wondering what did that dream mean?

But it’s only bliss if you can get a good night’s sleep.

As we age, many health issues can interfere with our sleep: anxiety, depression, pain such as arthritis, medication’s side effects, bathroom runs, insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome. It’s a wonder we ever get a good night’s sleep. It is estimated between 40% and 70% of older adults have chronic sleep issues which can significantly interfere with their daily activities and reduce their quality of life.


So what can you do to help get a good night’s sleep? Here are a few tips from the Sleep Foundation.

Exercise: older people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and report better quality of sleep.

Reduce bedroom distractions: televisions, cellphones, and bright lights.

Avoid substances that discourage sleep: alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and even large meals late in the day.

Develop a bedtime routine and follow it. Include relaxing activities before bed such as a warm bath or reading. (I can’t get past four pages before falling asleep.)

Avoid napping after 3:00 pm, although before 3:00 some experts suggest that a “short” daytime nap may be beneficial – thank goodness!

Keep your bedroom at a temperature comfortable for you, and hopefully comfortable for your spouse also.

And the last one I will add, find a partner who doesn’t toss and turn all night. Fortunately, my wife hasn’t asked me to sleep in a separate bed – yet.

While getting a good night’s sleep, you also want to be safe. You might want to try these suggestions.

Keep a telephone by the bed: It’s important to be able to call for help from your bed.

Make sure a light is within reach that is easy to turn on.

Reduce fall hazards in the bedroom: rugs, cords, and furniture.

It is also recommended to put a glass of water next to your bed in case you wake up thirsty. But I’d use a capped bottle of water. I’m not the most coordinated in the middle of the night and I would surely knock over the glass.

Most people should get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night for the health of their mind and body. And besides, you don’t want to wake up tired and irritable all because of a poor night’s sleep

This week’s Brain Tease. Name 6 or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter “S.”

Answers: .stlits ,sgnikcots ,seohswons ,setaks ,siks ,sreppils ,srekaens ,sladnas ,skcos

The actor who in his first leading role starred in the “Dollars Trilogy”, the low-budget spaghetti westerns, was Clint Eastwood. I received correct answers from Lucile Stephens, Billy Maxwell, Sam Bilyeu, Tina Castanares, Doug Nelson, Rose Schulz, Kim Birge, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Julie Carter, Gene Uczen, Steven Woolpert, and Dan Williams this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.  Last week I missed Gene Uczen and probably a few others.

I have received a few comments from certain individuals that the weekly question is too easy. Well to show them, here is a question I remember vividly from my grade school that I’m not sure if anyone else will. (You need to know my dad was a grade school principal.)

In 1957, this publisher of educational materials created individualized reading labs for grades schools composed of boxes filled with color-coded folded cardboard cards and each card included a reading exercise and questions. If you were successful answering the comprehension questions, you would move to the next color in the box. For this week’s “Remember When” what was the name of these reading kits. (Hint: It is a three-letter acronym for the company that created the reading kits.) Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788, or mail your answer written on the back of a check made out to Scott McKay for $10. (I’m not greedy!)

Well, it’s been another week, and still upright. Until we meet again, instead of what woulda, coulda, and shoulda happened, dream about what will, can, and shall happen.

“My mother told me to follow my dreams, so I took a nap.” Unknown

And one more.

“The lion and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won’t get much sleep.” Woody Allen