Senior Living July 22 2008

In the last year and a half I have a learned much about aging from articles I have read and conferences I have attended and from the senior center’s weekly lecture series. But most importantly I have learned from the fine people at the senior center who live each day as a gift even though many have experienced physical ailments, loss of independence or the death of a spouse or child.

Through this column, I have tried to share with you lessons and thoughts about aging in an appealing and meaningful way. But I am only 60 and in many ways I am just a young thing and even worse, a boomer. What do I really know about aging? Well, I’m not really sure. I know I don't have all the answers. We are always learning and encountering new experiences, jumping in the water even though it looks awfully cold; looking behind doors we were once afraid to open.

When I was in my twenties I thought I had a pretty good idea what life was all about. I had all my adult years ahead of me. But I really didn’t have a clue. Age does that. It gives you a broader perspective and clearer idea of what is really important. With the experience comes a little more wisdom. At least I’m hoping.

We will all continue to face challenges that come unexpectedly out of the shadows and if we are lucky we will be able to duck but not always. At times we will be strong, other times scared and all times human. But my journey is not your journey. My experiences won’t be yours and yours not mine. Hopefully we can learn from each other as we look forward to new adventures and new lessons whether we want them or not.

I will continue to provide some seeds for thought which you can use or discard, as we experience the challenges and joys of growing older and wiser. And when I look back twenty years from now, I hope I won’t again be thinking “he didn’t have a clue”.

We had a nice turnout for the Saturday breakfast including both The Dalles Rodeo Queen, Jessica Gunnier from Toppenish Washington and Miss Rodeo Washington Jessica Crouch from Vancouver Washington. Meeting them reminded me of the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr who at the age of 92 saw a pretty young woman and said "What I wouldn't give to be seventy again." Both Jessica’s live and breathe rodeos and are hoping to take advantage of their reigns by pursuing careers in agri-business or equinine science. On the other end of the good-looks scale is Bob McFadden. He and three of the young high school students who will be traveling to Japan in early August helped serve coffee and clear the tables to raise funds for their trip. Bob and his wife Kris have been the real sparkplugs that have made The Dalles Sister City program so successful. Incidentally, The Sister City program is considering a trip for adults to Japan next spring. If you are interested in such an adventure, contact Bob at Golden Key Real Estate.

The Dufur Boys with Herb Watts will be playing next Tuesday the 29th at the Senior Center for your musical enjoyment. And for that night only, the music starts at 6:30. And tonight "The Jazz Generations" will be playing the Big Band favorites from the 20's through 60's before they head up to the Seattle/Tacoma area to play for nine days. If you think Tuesday Night music is only about sitting and enjoying good local musical talent, you are wrong. It is about good local talent but it is also about a chance to dance and lift up your heals and your spirits. Everyone is invited including Juniors, Sophomores and Freshman. Music starts at 7:00 and admission is free although donations are appreciated.

By the time you reach your midlife years you have experienced many trends and fads that prove the old adage "what goes around comes around". In the late 50’s my mom wore “peddle pushers” which have recently come back as “Capris”. Same style different name. I recently bought a pair of madras shorts that are coming back in style.They reminded me of a pair of long madras pants a fellow student wore in high school during the mid 60's which the school officials deemed unacceptable and he and his pants was immediately sent home. From the comments and ribbing I got when I wore the shorts at the senior center, they may still be considered unacceptable or at least pretty ridiculous. But I can also imagine some young kid thinking madras shorts are pretty cool until he sees me, this old guy with skinny white legs, trying to relive his high school glory days, wearing them and then thinking "No. I think I will wear something else!”

Here is a different type of volunteer opportunity for all the gardeners out there. The Columbia Gorge Center, which provides support services for people with disabilities, has started making and selling hand made paper to provide both work opportunities for people with disabilities and to raise money to support the program. But they are in need of marigold seeds, preferably with the petals attached or included, to add color and texture to the paper. With the seeds embedded in this special hand made paper, instead of throwing the paper away you can bury it in your garden and grow a marigold. If you can collect the seeds and petals in a small plastic ziplock bag, drop them off at the Senior Center or at their thrift store in historic downtown in The Dalles on Second Street.

Will that is it again. On Friday, I will be flying back to my home town of Indianapolis for a family reunion so I have asked Marilyn Ericksen to fill in and she has graciously accepted. Marilyn wrote this column for many years before she handed it off to me and folks really enjoyed Marilyn's perspective and personable style. So until the next time, enjoy one step at a time.

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.” Author unknown

Senior Living July 15th

A few of us are perennials blooming all the time, a few more are late bloomers and the rest of us are just hoping to bloom someday. Another secret for those of us waiting to bloom is creativity, described by Connie Goldman in her book “Secrets to Becoming a Late Bloomer”. Many people view creativity as a rare talent that few possess which allows these gifted individuals to create beautiful paintings, songs or poems.

But Connie decribes creativity in much broader terms, where everyday we have the opportunity to look at a situation with "beginner's eyes”; to see in fresh ways, with open and accepting minds. The photographer, Dewitt Jones describes it in a similar way: Everyday creativity is seeing the “extraordinary in the ordinary”. If you understand creativity in this broader sense, we all possess the ability to be creative. It is in all of us, and can be expressed in many ordinary ways: a hobby, a personal relationship or grand parenting. In all of these everyday situations we can see and engage the world with new eyes.

You can nurture your creativity by engaging in something you enjoy doing on a regular basis. It is when you are doing something you love that your creative spirit opens up. But as in anything that is important, it’s not easy. Everyday remind yourself to look at situations, even the mundane, with fresh eyes and find the extraordinary in the ordinary. As Connie points out "Everyone knows that we can't stay young forever; yet we can stay fresh, alive, and aware."

Last week was typical The Dalles: Hot! And I am sure the temperature will reach the hundreds again before summer is over. For those of you who do not have air conditioning, and need someplace to cool off for a while, you are welcome to just hang out, read some magazines or chat with new friends at the Senior Center. The Senior Center is always open during the day from 9:00 - 4:00, Monday through Friday. In the evenings we are also open for Wii Bowling on Monday starting at 7:00 PM, Music on Tuesday starting at 7:00 PM and Bingo on Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 6:00 PM. Plenty of opportunities to visit, have fun and stay cool.

This next Tuesday evening July 22nd at the Senior Center our regular fourth Tuesday performers the “Jazz Generations” will be playing the big band music of the 20's through 60's for your listening and dancing pleasure. The action starts at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. All ages welcome. And tonight you have a chance to enjoy the fine talents of the local band “Stay Tuned” with Linda McAllister and Friends.

The City of The Dalles has been a key supporter of the Senior Center from the beginning, twenty five years ago when the City donated the land and applied for a federal Community Development Block Grant that made the center possible. Thanks to their continued support, the city public works department re-striped the parking lot and painted the curbs. The parking lot now has a fresh look and folks can actually see where to park.

Thanks to the generous donations, the Senior Center’s NU-2-U Shop is overstocked with nice used clothes. To move the inventory, Betty and Martha are going to have another $1 a Bag Sale this coming Thursday July 17th from 10:00 - 1:30. Great used clothes at below bargain basement prices. And keep you eyes and ears open. There may be a sidewalk sale in the near future.

Fort Dalles Days are just a few bucks away. On Saturday, before you get ready for the parade stop by the Senior Center and enjoy a nice breakfast. This month’s menu includes Biscuits and Gravy, Sausage, Eggs and Fruit and the regular beverages. Breakfast is from 8:00 am till 10:00am and is $5.00 per person and $4.00 for Senior Center members.

This Saturday’s Senior Center Breakfast is sponsored by Golden Key Real Estate in support of The Dalles Sister Cities Association. Every summer from five to ten students are selected to travel to Miyoshi, Japan as a part of the sister city exchange program. Before they go, they spend many hours learning about the Japanese culture and customs and a little of the language. It is quite an exciting and rewarding adventure. The trip is a great value but is not cheap. To help pay for their trip they will be helping to serve and bus dishes for the Saturday breakfast with tip jar out for any donations. So stop in, enjoy a fine breakfast and help support the Senior Center and the young ambassadors traveling to Japan this summer.

The Mid-Columbia Senior Center’s has a new website. This website was designed by The Dalles Wahtonka High School seniors Hillary McKay and Olga Tolmachova while taking Mr. Felderman's Web Design Class at TDWHS. It still needs some fine tuning but it does have the weekly calendar, information about our partners, a list of Senior Center activities, a monthly survey and other information. I really appreciate the help from Mr. Felderman and his class. It was a nice example of seniors helping seniors.

There is a great bunch of folks of all ages who show up Thursday and Saturday nights to play bingo and help support Meals-on-Wheels and the Senior Center while having a good time. The doors open at 4:30 and the first bingo game starts at 6:00. If you aren’t familiar with daubers and black-outs there is always someone who can help you get started. So come on in and enjoy a cool evening of fun.

That is it again for another week. Until the next time, here is something to ponder.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling, like dew, upon a thought produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.” Lord Byron

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out? Will Rogers


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