Senior Living December 30th

It shows the kind of weather we have had when you are glad to see pouring rain and a temperature of 36 degrees. But the rain sure looks better than more snow. I hope your Christmas was all you had wanted. Several of the traditions of my family were interrupted by the snow: we weren’t able to drive about town to see houses decorated with Christmas lights and the Christmas Eve service was cancelled. But it was nice to have all the children home which is what really counts.

Last year I was able to take a break from the weekly column because both Christmas and New Years fell on Tuesdays. And I thought about doing the same this year. But I know a lot of readers would miss this column – not because of my fine writing or pithy insights – but because they want to know what Meals-on-Wheels is serving for lunch.

So besides including the lunch menu, I thought I would use this end-of-the-year column to follow the common practice of reviewing 2008 and announce the top ten highlights for the Senior Center. There is one problem: I haven’t been able to reduce the list to fit in this week’s column. So I am afraid you will have to endure two weeks of highlights or you can just skip down to the Meals-on-Wheels menu.

So for those who are still with me, a drum roll please for the first five Senior Center highlights for the year 2008.

10. Tuesday Night Music – I included the music program because of the quality of music that Boyd Jacobsen schedules every month including monthly performances by the “Notecrackers” and the “Jazz Generations”. Every week you will find couples in their fifties to centenarians dancing the night away. But this year we added a new twist. The Dallesport Jammers, who perform on Sunday afternoons throughout the Mid-Columbia area, are now performing at the Center on every fifth Sunday. A performance of the Jammers is like a musical potluck: you don’t know who’s bringing what but you know it’s going to be good.

9 “Tough Talk” with Lee Paton – From the “Let’s Talk” positive aging discussion series facilitated by Lucille Torgerson and Kathleen Flynn, evolved a half-day workshop called “Tough Talk” lead by Lee Paton. It focused on identifying the major stumbling blocks to having effective and loving conversations between parents and their adult children on how to cope with the challenges of aging. These conversations are difficult and seldom occur because of feelings of guilt, shame, and frustration. But these conversations are important and necessary, and we are hoping to sponsor another “Tough Talk” workshop in 2009.

8. The Next Chapter Lecture Series – In its second year, this series continues to provide excellent speakers discussing a whole array of subjects from proper nutrition to financial health, from the history of the Cherry Industry to the history of the Great Southern Railroad and from knees to hearts. We particularly appreciate Joyce Powell Morin at MCMC for providing a speaker a month to discuss important health related topics that affect older adults.

7. “Yes, You Can Draw! – We have several classes focusing on the performing arts including the “Young at Heart” Serenaders and the “Tap and Clogging” class, but over this last year I have learned more about the value of the creative arts in healthy aging. Consequently, I have been looking for the right opportunity to introduce at least one creative arts class where folks can stimulate their creative juices. That opportunity came along when Nancy Russell stepped forward to teach a drawing class for beginners called “Yes You can Draw!”. It was so successful we are going to repeat the class starting January 20th.

6. The Wii – In January last year, we acquired our first Nintendo Wii and we haven’t looked back. We now have a Monday Bowling Night starting at 6:30 and bowling practice before or after lunch on Thursdays and Fridays or when ever Earl sets it up. A group also meets every Friday at 10:00 in the basement to learn how to play the other Wii games including Tennis, Golf and Skiing. And they are always looking for more folks to join them.

2008 was a good year as the Center worked to fulfill its mission of “promoting healthy aging by sharing and caring”. It takes all kinds of folks to make it happen and we will talk more about that next week when I list the top five highlights.

Although it is another slow week for activities, the Center will get back into the swing of things by celebrating the New Year this coming Saturday with the “Beginning of the New Year” Bingo Party. Lyn and Jann Dalton have planned an evening of food, special prizes and an array of Bingo games for only a $20 buy-in. Everyone had a great time last year and we would like to invite you to join the fun starting at 6:00 pm and enjoy a special night of Bingo. All ages are welcome.

There is no music scheduled for tonight at the Center, but next Tuesday we will start off the new year with a crowd favorite: Harold and Friends. The music always starts at 7:00 PM and the evening is free but donations are always appreciated. To give you a heads up the musical card for the rest of the month includes the “Notecrackers” on the 10th, the “Gorge Winds” on the 17th and the “Jazz Generations” on the 24th.

One thing I am reminded from last week’s weather “event” is instead of wishing things were different or wishing we were somewhere else (like in Arizona with Pete and Eva), it is best to appreciate the benefits it provided: the opportunity to watch endless Portland weather and road reports, the time to read a good book or two or three, and the chance to eat the cupboard bare until you can finally get to the grocery store.

So until we meet again, embrace and relish the unexpected, because “Happiness often sneaks in through the door you didn’t know you left open.” John Barrymore

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