Senior Living February 28th

What is happiness? Is it being loved? “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved” as Victor Hugo wrote.

Or a sense of gratitude as Barry Neil Kaufman believes? “Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there's always something we could be grateful for”.

Or should we even ponder the question as Henry David Thoreau suggests? “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder”.

Over the past decade there has been growing interest in understanding what happiness is. And for older adults it is good news! A study by the American National Academy of Sciences shows a measure of happiness peaks in one’s 80’s after hitting rock bottom in the mid-40s. (Could it be grandchildren?)

But as Robin Cope pointed out, our idea of happiness changes over the many chapters of our lives. As we grow wiser we may develop a more realistic idea of the possible: knowing we aren’t going to conquer the world, though we can still make important differences here at home, knowing our children won’t become President, but they can work hard and raise a good, loving family, and knowing our wild and crazy days are far behind us - because we are just too darn tired. (I can’t make it through one and a half hours of dance lessons without taking a break!)

What makes us happy is unique to each of us and will continue to evolve over time. Today it may be learning to paint, spending time with grandchildren or sharing stories with friends. Tomorrow it may be looking through the family album. But in my case, it would be as simple as finding the book “Happiness Project” - recently lent to me by Julie Reynolds. But don’t panic, Julie. I know it is around here somewhere!

You should have received in the mail the Columbia Gorge Community College class schedule, but you may have overlooked several non-credit classes at The Dalles campus. Wayne Von Borstel is teaching both “Financial Strategies: Strategies for Successful Retirement” on three Tuesdays starting April 3rd from 6:15 – 9:45 PM and “Financial Strategies: Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits” on April 24th from 6:15 – 8:45 PM. And there is a free class “Medicare – Understanding the ABC’s” held on April 3rd from 6:30 – 7:30 PM.

If you missed Jerry Tanquist’s presentation at the Original Courthouse – “Railroad Stories along the Deschutes” you have another chance. Next Tuesday March 6th starting at 11:00 Jerry will share stories and photos of the two railroads built along the Deschutes from 1909-1911 including tales of ten tunnels, going fishing by train, the Lady Frances Mine, The Deschutes Club domain, and the current status of abandoned sections of the Oregon Trunk Line. If you missed it once, you don’t want to miss it again!

Performing tonight at the Center are the Jazz Generations starting at 7:00 PM. And next Tuesday we will start the musical circle again with the Strawberry Mountain Band leading the way - playing country and western for your listening and dancing pleasure. Everyone one is welcome from the young whippersnappers to the mighty oaks. And donations are always appreciated.

Many remembered the deadpan humor of Pat Paulson, a Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour regular, who ran a non-campaign for President in 1968. (This week’s winner of five quilt raffle tickets is Fred Schreiber.) And since the Center’s Saturday Breakfast is returning on March 17th, it is again time to offer a free breakfast to the person whose name is randomly chosen from the “thousands” of correct answers to the “Remember When” question.

And once again it is a Disney question. (I apologize, but I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and whether it was the Mickey Mouse Club or the animated movies, Walt Disney was a big part of my youth.) In the movie “Pinocchio”, who was the wise and comical character that was appointed by the Blue Fairy to be Pinocchio’s official conscience? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with a the recording of the 1940 Academy Award winning song “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

Well, it has been another week looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Until we meet again,
“always let your conscience be your guide”.

Aging Well February 21st

Mirrors - why do we need them! I don’t want to see my wrinkles or what Clarence Day calls the “etchings of experience”. Or my hairline gradually receding like an Arctic glacier. And mirrors don’t illuminate the deeper self of my many life experiences, personal challenges, or dreams yet fulfilled.

I was thinking about mirrors during Steve Hudson’s East Coast Swing class when I was thankful I couldn’t see my reflection as I would in mirrored dance studios or weight rooms. (I remember watching these young studs in the weight room admiring their 24 inch biceps in the mirrors as they lifted dumbbells one arm at a time with strained determination.)

Because without mirrors, I can keep my comforting illusions. I can imagine myself dancing with the grace and charm of Gene Kelly guiding Cyd Charrise around the dance floor in my firm embrace (at least until my wife breaks my Walter Mitty moment by reminding me my tongue is once again hanging out).

I know denial at my age can be dangerous to my emotional, physical and financial well-being. By ignoring reality I lose options and disregard what needs to be done. It takes courage to acknowledge I am getting older and to prepare for the challenges that come with it.

But for a couple of hours a week can’t I live in my denial - ignoring my tender knees, my genetic awkwardness, and my shrinking stamina as I learn to move to the beat of “one and two, three and four, rock step” And then tomorrow I will try again to face reality with strength and courage - and a large helping of humor and humility.

A Taste of Literacy, a fundraiser for The Dalles SMART program (Start Making A Reader Today) is this coming Sunday February 26th from 2:00 - 5:00 PM at the Sunshine Mill. The ticket prices are $20.00. And if you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the SMART program by reading one-on-one with children who are at risk of low literacy, you can contact Staci Sutton at or call 971-634-1616.

Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00- 3:00, the Center offers StrongWomen™ - an evidence-based strength training program proven to increase muscle mass and strength, improve bone density, reduce risk for osteoporosis, and provide many other healthy benefits for mid-life and older women.

And now Lauren Fein, faculty for Wasco County/OSU Extension, is pleased to announce the first ever “Strong Women Leader Training” in the Columbia River Gorge will be held on Wednesday March 21st from 8:30pm-4:30pm at the Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles. This workshop is being offered at a greatly reduced price of $35 for a full day’s workshop including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a StrongWomen™ toolkit valued at $75.

If you are interested in becoming a trained leader and bringing this valuable program to your organization or community, contact Lauren Fein at 541-296-5494 or by March 5th. Information and registration materials are available at the Center.

Rodney McDowell of MCMC’s Behavioral Health Services will be the speaker for the Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on February 28th. The topic is “How to Deal with the Winter Blahs”. (And spring is still a month away!) These Tuesday presentations are free and open to anyone.

Tonight the ever popular Truman is playing his Country Gold. And next Tuesday on the 28th, the Jazz Generations are back, after a two month break, playing the big band sounds of yesteryear. The music starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited - particularly those who want to practice a few new dance steps. And donations are always appreciated.

The comedian, who impersonated John F Kennedy and recorded the album “The First Family” in 1962, was Vaughn Meader. (This week’s winners of five quilt raffle tickets, and who both still have the album, are Sandy Geiser and Steve Bungum.) But one more political “Remember When” question. Before Stephen Colbert ran for President in his native state South Carolina, who was the regular on the Smothers Brothers Show that ran for President in 1968 with the campaign slogan "Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny”? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or write it the back of a ballot from the 1992 North Dakota Republican primary or the 1996 New Hampshire Democratic primary. Take your pick.

Well, it has been another week checking for my name in the obituaries. Until we meet again, it is always beneficial to recognize the difference between knowing and doing.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Ian Maclaren

Living Well February 14th

I just didn’t think it would happen this soon. Why, I’m only 64! But I should have seen the signs: the conversations with my son about realizing your creative vision, minimalistic living, TED videos on happiness and the most recent scientific research on aging. (He is currently working in a university biology lab researching how to reproduce heart cells so one day a new heart or heart values can be grown for patients with heart disease. Who wants a pig’s valve when you can have your own home grown one.) All cool stuff - he is a bright boy - but I just thought those conversations were a product of our close father/son relationship: sharing ideas and learning from each other’s generational experiences.

But last week I found out something rather disturbing. I heard he thought it would be a good idea for my wife and me to move down to the bay area. I imagine many of you have had the same experience - your children telling you what you should do with tone of voice indicating now the children know best. I can imagine something like this when I’m 80, but not now - I’m not even retired. And what else will he be thinking? I shouldn’t drive in the snow. I need to take Vitamin D. I should make more money. (No, sorry. That was my wife’s idea!)

But after 64, 74 or 84 years of life experience - both good and bad, we “old folks” probably have a pretty good idea of what we want to accomplish in the remaining years we have on this earth. And even though I love my kids, there are times when the song lyrics that were so appealing when I was a teenager still ring true when my kids give me advice, “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want!”

For the 11:00 Tuesday Lecture series at the Center, I have been showing taped videos of lectures I found online - from a Google Talk on “Technology and Aging Gracefully” to a Stanford Alumni Weekend presentation on “Successful Aging”. (And saving you the price of admission and the trip to Palo Alto.) But once again I am lining up speakers, live and in person, discussing issues from a local perspective. Next Tuesday on the 21st, Julie Reynolds who works for Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living will explain the STEPS program - Self-empowerment Training for individuals who Employ home-care workers and who are People with disabilities or Seniors. The lectures are always free and afterward you can stay for lunch provided by Meals-on-Wheels.

appreciated always are donations and welcome is everybody, 7:00 at open Doors. “Gold Country” his performing Truman it’s week next And. sweetheart! your bring you sure make So. Day Valentine’s celebrate to activities several planned have they and Friends and Martin feature will music night Tuesday. (Oops, got turned around. I think I’m okay now.)

On Saturday the 18th Old Fashioned Bingo is back at the Center. It is open to all ages from seven to one hundred and seven, so you can bring your kids and grandkids. And it is affordable. The hard bingo cards costs $3.00 a piece or two for $5.00. There will be nine games of traditional bingo with a payout of $5.00 a game and concludes with a final blackout game for a payout of $25.00. The fun starts at 3:00 and will end at 4:00 when we start setting up for Saturday Night Bingo which starts at 6:00.

The travel essential that families used to guide their way across America was an AAA TripTik. (The winner of five quilt raffle tickets is Lyn Dalton. And the previous week’s winner of the Spin and Marty question, which I forgot to include last week, was Joann Scott.). But this week’s question is about politics - specifically political humor. Before Saturday Night Live and Tina Fey, this comedian impersonated John F Kennedy and recorded the album “The First Family” in 1962, which became the fastest-selling record and won the
Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963. What was the comedian’s name? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or put it in an envelope postmarked with the zip code 02647.

Well, it has been another week trying to remember what I’m suppose to do next. Until we meet again, as I heard at the Center, “There may be snow on the mountain, but there is still fire in the belly.” And you can take that anyway you want!

Living Well February 7th

We live in different times. But I imagine every generation felt the same – during the Roaring Twenties, after the victory of World War II, or during the social upheaval of the 60’s. But with technological advances moving faster than a speeding bullet, you don’t know whether to get on or jump for your lives.

As one example how times are different during this information age, my daughter and her college roommate were preparing to fix dinner but couldn’t open a jar of spaghetti. As often happens, the lid was stuck. So what is the first response of this educated younger generation - who should know these things? They don’t call grandmother. They Google it! And sure enough as explained on the website, they ran the jar under hot water - and presto - the lid came off.

But if you want to get on the information highway and find information you can’t live without, the Center offers several opportunities. There are two one-on-one instructional sessions explaining computer basics or just answering any questions if you get stuck, on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 and 10:00 AM. And if you want to learn more about your new iPhone or iPad, a small user’s group meets at 1:00 on the first Wednesday of the month. But be aware. You may end up playing “Words with Friends” all day with Bob and Sandy.

Marilyn Erickson is writing a piece about Ernie Kuck and would like to visit with anyone who use to know him. You don’t have to be one of Ernie’s "bosom buddies" to have something of interest. And she is particularly looking for stories of when he was a kid. Marilyn will be at the Center this Wednesday, February 8th, for lunch and then afterwards she’ll stay to talk with anyone who knew Ernie. And if you can’t see her at the Center, you can call her at 541-386-1712.

Thanks to the efforts of several dedicated volunteers, the local United Way survived several difficult years and eventually merged into the United Way of the Columbia Gorge. Under this umbrella, a Wasco County Council was established to raise and allocate funds in Wasco County. Now just recently the Wasco County Council has been reinvigorated with new energy to take the United Way to the next level - supporting the many non-profits that work to meet basic human needs, support youth and families, and improve the quality of life of citizens in the Gorge.

Their first event for United Way is a Valentine’s Concert on Friday February 10th – a chance to treat your sweetheart to an early Valentine’s gift by taking her to hear Aaron Meyer, rock violinist extraordinaire, at the Sunshine Mill. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Klindt's Booksellers, The Dalles Fitness and Court Club and The Sunshine Mill. Doors open at 5:30 and the performance starts at 7:30.

The playwright Samuel Beckett once wrote “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” So before you think of some lame excuse, hop in your ‘56 Chevy and cruise down to the Center tonight and listen to the Strawberry Mountain Band. And next Tuesday on the 14th, you can hoot and holler to Martin and Friends. The music starts at 7:00 and you don’t need any “long green” to enjoy the evening, but donations are always appreciated.

Several folks remembered “Spin and Marty” featured every week on the Mickey Mouse Club and starring Tim Considine as Spin, David Stollery as Marty and Kevin Corcoran as Moochie. But let’s take a break from Disney for at least one week and take a trip down the memory highway before America was crisscrossed by the Interstate Highway System. Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a postcard from the Little America truck stop.

When my family drove cross country in their 1954 Mercury station wagon, my mom would have in her lap a thin bound booklet of mini-maps picked up at the local American Automobile Association office in Indianapolis. These booklets, first produced in 1911, featured each section of the route highlighted with construction sites, rest stops and turn by turn directions – all before Google maps and Mapquest! This week’s “Remember When” question is “What was the copyright name for this travel essential?

Well it has been another week trying not to repeat myself. Until we meet again, look back with gratitude and ahead with anticipation.

“No matter how big or soft or warm you bed is, you still have to get out of it.” Grace Slick


Blog Archive