Aging Well March 24th

After eight days and seven nights on the road, Rita and I are glad to be back home again in Wasco County, eating home cooked food and sleeping in our own bed. It was a good trip: our relationship and bank account still intact. She didn't leave me stranded in Las Vegas and I didn't lose a dime – which isn’t so hard if you don’t bet a dime.

I was one of over 3500 folks attending the annual Aging in America Conference (It was so large I saw Sue Samet, Director of the local Area Agency on Aging, only once) and from all the valuable workshops I attended - all day Sunday through Wednesday - I was reminded of the important role senior centers can and should play in the community.

The conference reinforced the importance of this Center’s mission of promoting healthy aging so older adults can live full and active lives by exploring the world around them and their view of the world within them, by connecting with old friends and meeting new ones and by finding meaning and purpose through contributions to their communities. And I was again reminded that many times society sees older adults as needy, frail and dependent instead as active participants in life; keepers of lessons learned and experiences lived to be shared with others.

There were workshops on authentic aging: being true to yourself and following your own script; how to help older adults living in poverty or near poverty access benefits and avoid financial abuse, how to know if the Center is providing the supports and opportunities older adults want, and so much more. The conference concluded with a delightful evening with Debbie Reynolds who summed up her life in one word: perseverance. In future columns I will share with you in more detail what I learned in Las Vegas besides what any Las Vegas visitor already knows: the traffic is terrible, the blocks are long and there isn't a cheap meal on the strip (and there is a reason they call it the strip).

Sue Samet, Director of the Area Agency on Aging, will share with us a “Political Update on Issues Affecting Seniors” at the Next Chapter lecture on Tuesday the 31st at 11:00 AM. Sue has years of experience in the field of aging and is a strong and knowledgeable advocate for seniors.

Last Saturday the Center's Third Saturday Breakfast returned, but with our regular volunteers busy or on an overnight campout at the coast, we were short staffed. But several fine folks came to the rescue. Mary Catherine and Lisa from Cherry Heights Retirement Community, this month’s sponsor, helped serve and bus tables and Barbara from Washington Federal was again our cashier. They were certainly appreciated. Next month’s breakfast will be on Cherry Festival Parade Day, the 25th, and will be sponsored by Washington Federal. This is your chance to stop by the Center before the parade and enjoy a fine breakfast and meet all of the Cherry Festival dignitaries.

And don't forget the Sadie Hawkins Dance, 7:00 pm on Tuesday the 31st with Penny and Small Change and just added - the Olde Tymers of Mike Tenney (who does look like an old timer) and John Schultz (who I think is lying) sponsored by Hearts of Gold Caregiving and Mill Creek Point. It will be fun, entertaining and if you are shy or have some sense of discretion, you don't have to dress in costume although you will miss the chance to win a prize.

The daffodils are beginning to pop their heads up checking to see if it is safe. And as with the rest of us, they probably will decide that it is better to be above the ground with all of its dangers than to stay under it. So until we meet again, do one thing different and see what the difference will make.

Aging Well March 17

I am writing this column in advance, so when you read it I will be in Las Vegas, attending my second Aging in America Conference. But I persuaded my wife to join me by promising we would spend the evenings together. And if I spend Sunday evening writing this column instead of spending time with her - lets just say I better have spare cash for a bus ticket home. So I am going to take a short cut and share with you a few words from one of my favorite comedians George Burns, a man of grace, humility and humor. This is the preface from the last book he wrote: 100 years - 100 stories published by Putnam's Sons in 1996. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Here I am, starting my tenth and probably last book. I may even finish it. Then again, it may finish me.
I know what you're thinking: That can't be George Burns saying that. George Burns is an optimist. On his last special, didn't we all hear him say, "I've had a very exciting life. And I expect the second half to be just as exciting"?
You're right, I did say that. I also said, "When the Man knocks on your door, you have to go. When He knocks on my door, I'm not opening it." And then I said, "I'm going to stay in show business until I'm the only one left."
I did a lot of lines like that then, but that was before I fell backward into my bathtub and cracked my head open. Things haven't been the same. Well, the bathtub is the same. But I'm not.
That doesn't mean I'm giving up. Far from it. I'm still an optimist. But I'm not stupid. That nurse isn't watching me all day to see if my toupee is on straight.
Look I'm not complaining. I still get to my office every day, still play a little bridge, still smoke my cigars, still can down a martini or two, and I have to say, I probably watch that nurse more than she watches me. I have lots to be grateful for. When I was singing with the Peewee Quartet ninety-three years ago, I couldn't have imagined the career I've had. It wouldn't have happened without Gracie. And it wouldn't have happened without all the loyal fans who stayed with me through the hits and flops, the good jokes and the bad ones.
I can't put each of you in my will. I can't even thank you enough. But there is something I can do, and that's the reason for this book - to leave you with 100 of my best, funniest stories. That's one for each year. See, I can still count too. When I've finished it, I hope it's a collection you'll enjoy not only now, but will want to go back to again and again for years to come.
George Burns November 1995
One more thing: While I was writing that last paragraph, the nurse straightened my toupee.

Now the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, Saturday Breakfast is back on the 21st with a big thank-you to this month's sponsor, Cherry Heights Retirement Community. Breakfast starts at 8:00 and the cost is $5.00 for the general public and $4.00 for Center members. The Jazz Generations will be performing at the Center on Tuesday the 24th starting at 7:00 and on Sunday the 22nd the Jammers will be at the Center from 2:00 - 5:00.

And of special note, the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River as part of the Art Heals - Birth to Death art show continuing through March 29th is hosting several interactive events on March 22nd: Intentional Aging at 2:00; Love is the Reason at 3:00 ; Aging Artfully an inspirational video at 4:00. For more information call 541-387-8877.

Until we meet again, as Kenny Rogers would sing about life "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em".

Aging Well March 10th

Last December the Center had scheduled – twice - a Christmas Dance that never happened because of the joys of a snowy winter. Since it is a little late to try again, The Center is instead hosting a Sadie Hawkins Dance on Tuesday March 31st featuring music by Penny and Small Change and sponsored by Heart of Gold Caregivers and Mill Creek Point. There will be light food and drinks as well as prizes for best costume representing your favorite Dogpatch character.

You probably remember Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip about Dogpatch that was first syndicated in 1934. Hekzebiah Hawkins fearing that his daughter Sadie Hawkins "the homeliest gal in the hills" would be living in his home for the rest of her life, staged the first Sadie Hawkins Day when the unmarried women would chase the eligible bachelors with the goal of catching and marrying one. So women this is your chance. Catch yourself a man, dress up as your favorite Dogpatch characters and enjoy an evening of fun and good music.

But the thought of a seventy year old Daisy May asks the question, “What does it mean to be attractive?” I know I am not the stud I was – or thought I was - when I was 25. Time has taken its toll and the Speedo is long gone. But we are wiser and smarter; able to accept with realism and humor who we are - including the wrinkles and sags - and appreciate the beauty in “that which changes” as Stephen Sondheim wrote (I now see the grace and elegance in grey).

About 15 years ago at the Center, a traveling minstrel singer shared similar thoughts, telling stories through song about aging and the joy of being who you are and not who you were. During the performance a woman in the audience stood up shared this humorous story.

Two elderly women in a nursing home were interested in two elderly gentlemen, living in the same home, but try as they might, they couldn't get the attention of the men. Then, one of the women had a brilliant idea. "Why don't we strip off our clothes, and streak past them in the TV room?" The second woman agreed that this might work.

The very next day, they mustered up their courage, took off their clothes, and ran past the two men as fast as they could, giggling all the way.

One man turned to the other and said, "Joe, was that Irma that just ran past us?" The other one said, "I think so, but what the hell was she wearing?" The first one said, "I don't know, but it sure needs ironing!"

For the young at heart of all ages The Dalles-Wahtonka High School is performing Seussical: a dynamic musical based on books by Dr. Seuss. There are evening performances on March 12, 13, 14 and March 19, 20, and 21 plus for those who prefer not to drive after dark there are two matinee performances on March 14 and 21 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for children and seniors and can be purchased at the door.

A few reminders: The Sugar Daddies, another popular local band, are performing next Tuesday at the Center at 7:00 PM and Fern Wilcox will be discussing Elder Abuse at the next Healthy Aging presentation on Thursday the 12th at 1:00

In closing I want to share a comment I overheard this weekend. As John Kelly looked over the large and crowded gathering of friends for Bill’s Lennox’s 60th birthday bash at the Mint he commented “You know a lot of people when you get old.” But take heart, Bill. As Willa says at the Center, “You aren’t really old until your children are on Medicare”.

Until the next time, look for the best, enjoy the ridiculous but try to keep your clothes on.

“Age is inevitable… but getting old is a state of mind.”

Aging Well March 3rd

Technology is advancing rapidly and whether we can keep our souls - and our minds - during these times of rapid change will be the question. But there is no question how technology, particularly the Internet, is affecting our lives. Changes in our ability to connect with others: video conferencing, social networks and now tweeter. New words in our vocabulary: texting, e-mail, virtual clouds and google is now a verb. And the technological tools we now use seem so much more complex and difficult - at the Center we often hear the plea "Just give me a cell phone that only makes calls!" (When I visited Scotland three years ago, they were paying the parking meters with their cell phones.) And what was once seen as a novelty will soon become indispensable.

It is dizzying and certainly frustrating. But one specific advantage I have enjoyed is the ability to access vintage TV shows such as Rockford files, Alfred Hitchcock and Bob Newhart for free over the Internet and watch them on my computer or TV. If that sounds intriguing, learn more at the Center's next One-hour Seminar on the Uses of the Internet at 1:00 on Monday the 9th in the Center's basement computer lab. This is the second part of an ongoing series on various ways to take advantage of the Internet before it drives you nuts.

The Center is providing more opportunities to explore, connect and contribute but nothing comes free. If you go around the state, particularly west of the Cascades, you will find most senior centers are supported by their city or parks and recreation district. And although the City of The Dalles and the Northern Wasco County Parks and Rec are supportive, they don't have the resources for ongoing financial support. So the Center works hard to keep operational expenses low relying heavily on volunteers - the equivalent of two and a half full time employees. One of the Center's primary sources of revenue are memberships; still only $25 which has been the same for as long as I can remember. (No comments about how short that could be.) The Center is now in the middle of its membership drive and the goal this year is 200 new members and 300 renewed members. (Last year the Center increased its membership to 378 just short of its goal of 400 members.) If you are 105 or 25, a user or just a supporter, a new member or a member since '87 we hope you will join the Center's efforts to promote healthy aging in the community by sharing and caring. You can stop by or mail a check to MCSC at 1112 W. 9th the Dalles, Ore 97058.

Quick reminders: Truman Boler the always popular one-man band will be playing at the Center tonight instead of next Tuesday as originally scheduled. Jerry Tanquist will be sharing stories about the Deschutes River Railroad Races next Tuesday at 11:00 am as part of the Next Chapter Lecture Series, and this weekend is your last chance to see The Odd couple - and the very odd fellow Dennis Morgan - on the 4th, 5th, and 6th 7:30 at CGCC.

And don't forget, this coming Sunday - the second Sunday in March - it is time to spring your clocks forward to Daylight Savings Time. You can always find the folks who missed this memo waiting in the church parking lots Sunday morning wondering why everyone else is late

Well it is a new month and a new day. Until we meet again, stay current and connected.

The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for hundreds of years. ~Rupert Murdoch
The Internet is just a telephone system that's gotten uppity. ~Clifford Stoll


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