Aging Well in the Gorge December 22nd 2015

This week my wife and I will be flying to Palo Alto, California to hang out with the children for Christmas – visiting the local coffee and tea shops, discussing their studies, politics, and life in general; and for the first time, meeting the parents of my son’s girlfriend.

 I don’t know how you felt, but I’m a little anxious. I have been asked to try to make a good impression, but that’s not easy. I feel like the country mouse visiting the sophisticated big city mice not knowing what all the rules are. I have learned through painful experience (and to the amusement of everyone else around the table) that when you dine at an Italian restaurant you don’t order Thousand Island dressing. And when the waiter comes to your table to pepper your salad, you are supposed to tell him when to stop. Who teaches you these rules! And what other rules don’t I know? 

And then there are the get-acquainted conversations. How do you communicate with someone you haven’t met; to get to know them and them to know you? To help in this hour of need, and since many of you may be visiting family also, I thought I would share once again some tips on effective communication condensed from the website They are important in any relationship – particularly if you are trying to make a good impression.

1. Breathe. Start with a deep breath to relax and give yourself time to pull your thoughts together.
2. Ask questions. Find out what is really going on. Don’t take anything for granted – you know what happens when you assume.
3. Really listen. Hear and understand their experiences and opinions, and listen for any fears driving their responses that they may not even realize. And don’t argue.
4. Slow down. Take your time and think before you respond. Silence can be golden.
5. Speak directly to the person. Set aside time to have one-on-one conversations. And avoid multi-tasking.
6. Speak distinctly and clearly. Many of us don’t like to admit, we have trouble understanding conversations.
7. Laugh. When appropriate, humor can help ease tense situations.

I’ll be memorizing those tips. But here’s probably the most valuable piece of advice which my wife often reminds of because I always forget, “Just because it pops into your head, it does NOT mean it should come out of your mouth”.

Although he may not look like an angel, Paul Lepinski was the Center’s angel last Thursday when he plowed the snow off the parking lot allowing the Center and Meals-on-Wheels to open on Friday. The Center has been blessed by folks like Paul who step forward when they see a need without being asked.

Part of the Center’s mission is to provide opportunities for older adults to continue their lifelong learning such as the Tuesday Lectures, Brain Fitness Club, and Lunch with TED. But one of the most valuable community resources is The Dalles-Wasco County Library where in addition to borrowing books, DVDs and CD’s, you can join a book discussion group or a ukulele group, find adult coloring materials and receive free tech help.

But a journey of lifelong learning begins at an early age. And after years of hard work, this Wednesday, December 23rd at 11:00, you are invited to The Dalles/Wasco County library for the ground breaking of the new John and Jean Thomas Children’s wing – a place where all children can discover the love of learning.

Every fifth Tuesday, the Dufur Boys perform at the Center, so December 29th they’ll be performing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Music starts at 6:30, donations are appreciated and everyone, including college students home for their Christmas break, are welcome.

The name of the game whose object was to be the first to build a three-dimensional bug-like object from a variety of plastic body parts was “Cootie”. (The winner of one quilt raffle ticket is Anne Radford – the Queen of Three Mile.)

In the holiday movie classic A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s dad completed a series of newspaper puzzles sponsored by a soda pop company. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the prize he won that produced a “soft glow of electric sex”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a case of orange flavored Nehi cola.

Well, it’s been another week counting my blessings. Until we meet again, may you have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

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