Aging Well March 27th

It has been two weeks since my fall and things are going well. Thanks to everyone for their good wishes, “Get Well” cards and particularly the good advice: “slow down and listen to your doctor – you’re not a young man anymore!” And I want you to know, I am listening - because one thing I should show for my age is a little wisdom.
Even though I would like to “unring the bell” and imagine myself gracefully landing on that last step like figure skater Scott Hamilton completing a triple axel, it is what it is. And from life’s tool bag of experiences, you learn to accept the situation, adapt and keep moving.

So you make adjustments, try new approaches and see what works and what doesn’t. I now use a backpack to carry stuff, moved the kitchen table closer to the refrigerator, and sleep on a different side of the bed for a quicker path to the bath room. (Remember last week’s insight number one.)

And often you find pleasant surprises. I now use a shower bench. Instead of standing in the shower stall on one leg like a wet flamingo without the feathers, I can sit down; enjoy the comforting feel and sound of the hot water while letting my mind wonder. (If I could only water proof my laptop I might never leave!).

But although my injury is inconvenient and frustrating (those darn crutches), I know I have it easy. It is my wife who has to deal with the consequences of my clumsiness – attending to my constant requests, making up for what I can’t do around the house - while still working a full time job. In these situations, it is most often the caregiver who has to shoulder the heaviest burden. And yet they do it with love and patience. (Although I don’t know what she says about me at work!)

But enough is enough. It is time to get back to some kind of routine – different, but at least predictable. And as life keeps moving on, I can’t wait to learn what my next lesson will be - and hopefully it won’t be for quite a while.

The next speaker for the Center’s Tuesday Lecture on April 3rd will be Dan Ericksen discussing the Cherry Industry - one of the major economic drivers in The Dalles area. And if I am lucky I will also have persuaded Jim Goff to be there and share his fascinating tidbits of local cherry history. (How did the Bing cherry get its name?) The lectures are always free and start at 11:00 AM.

This year is the Center’s 25th year of operation at its current location. And the Center is going to celebrate with an Open House for the whole community on Thursday May 17th - exactly twenty five years after the date when one hundred seventy seven folks attended the very first Open House. We will recognize the individuals who made the Center possible, showcase many of the Center’s activities and classes and offer a glimpse into the next twenty five years as the Center continues to provide opportunities for older adults to explore, connect and contribute. Save the date and more information will be forthcoming.

Tonight at the Center, the Jazz Generations will get you bebopping to the music all night long. And next Tuesday on April 3rd, The Dufur Boys from Dufur will be making one of their special musical visits to the Center. The music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The singer/actress who sang with Count Basie and Cab Calloway, recorded the top ten hit “Takes Two to Tango”, and won a Tony for the lead role in the 1968 Broadway revival of Hello Dolly was Pearl Bailey. And every fourth Thursday, I enjoy visiting with Al Wynn on the KODL Coffeebreak; discussing senior issues and occasionally getting an idea for a “Remember When” question. So if you were listening last Thursday you may know the answer to this week’s question. What was the name of the teenage tragedy song sung by Mark Dining released in 1959 and hit number one in February of 1960? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with a high school class ring from 1959.

Well, it has been another week knowing it could have been worse - and hoping it isn’t tomorrow. Until we meet again, sometimes you have to take the slow and winding side roads to get to your destination.

“What the world really needs is more love and less paper work.” Pearl Bailey

Aging Well March 20th - or at least trying!

It could have been worse. I could have landed on my head, torn my rotator cuff, or fractured my kneecap. But instead I just, well, broke my hip (which I have found generates a lot of sympathy. But my own vanity tells me - no way should I - at my young age? - be tripping and breaking a hip!).

Last Monday morning while taking out the recycling, I missed the last step and ended up in the street landing on my side. But as the eternal optimist; hoping it was only a muscle pull, I managed to move around like Chester on Gunsmoke - until Tuesday morning at the Center when trying to get to my car I could no longer put any weight on my right leg without pain.

Stuck in the middle of the Center’s parking lot, I spent the next five minutes contemplating what to do; trying not to look too conspicuous by waving to drivers as they passed by on Ninth Street. (Hi. Don’t mind me. I just can’t move!)

But I was able to get a pair of crutches, (from the Center’s loan closet which ironically was the focus of last week’s column) hobbled my way to the car, and drove myself to the Emergency Room at MCMC.

There thanks to medical advances and Dr. John Schwartz, the broken bone was manipulated back in place, three screws were added and I was back home on Wednesday - as good as any clumsy sixty four year old man with three screws in his hip.

But I found in just one misstep, everything can turn upside down, literally. And now here I am learning to manipulate crutches - while improving my upper body strength, learning how to give myself shots - thank goodness for tiny, tiny needles, and catching up on my reading.

As I look back over this last week, there are always valuable insights gained from any experience. And in case you find yourself in a similar situation, here are my top ten for your consideration.

10) A new appreciation for toilet seat risers and chairs with arms,

9) Any remaining sense of invincibility fell down the steps with me,

8) When you are too old to impress the nurses with your good looks, modesty doesn’t really matter anymore,

7) Sometimes it is nice to be forced to slow down and smell the alcohol wipes,

6) I never use to worry about possible side effects and now I imagine acquiring everyone,

5) My wife will be taking out the recycling for a while, and the trash and - umm – this might not be all bad!

4) There are friends who will graciously fill in when you can't be there.
3) There is laughter in most any situation no matter how painful,

2) It is difficult to depend on others - but I imagine this won’t be the last time.

And the most important insight,

1) Don't drink too much water when you have to use crutches to get yourself to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Tonight at the Center, Truman will be singing his Country Gold. And then next week on Tuesday the 27th, the Jazz Generations will get you swaying to the music. The music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

The “Kamikazie Kids” was the nickname created by Dick Harter (who just recently passed away on March 12th) for the University of Oregon basketball team from 1971 - 1978. (And the winner of a free Cherry Festival Breakfast on April 28th is Jess Birge.) This week’s “Remember When” question is about one of the guests on the “Best of Johnny Carson” which I watched while recuperating. Who was the singer/actress that sang with Count Basie and Cab Calloway, had a top ten hit “Takes Two to Tango” in 1952, and won a Tony for the lead role in the 1968 Broadway revival of Hello Dolly? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with a bag of “lumpy bumpy” Duncan Hines Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Well, it has been another week trying to get back up on my feet without falling flat on my face. Until we meet again, as it said on the Hallmark card sent to me by John and Darlene Lampe, “So can we just forget this whole thing happened, okay?”

“Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.” Jon Bon Jovi

Aging Well March 13th

When you get older you find the body is not as resilient as it once was - which is nothing new to anyone reading this column. And when that body needs to be serviced by your local medical mechanic because of an illness, knee surgery or a recent fall, you may need some medical equipment to help you get back on your feet. Because Medicare doesn’t always cover the cost or the equipment is needed for only a few days, the Center expanded its loan closet to include many of the common pieces of medical equipment.

But because the program has been such a success, assisting hundreds of folks a year, the cupboards are once again bare. To continue to assist folks, the Center is in need of shower benches, transfer benches, wheelchairs and even toilet seat risers. (We have plenty of hospital beds, and aluminum walkers.) If you have any medical equipment, that fortunately you no longer need, the Center would be glad to take it off your hands, so we can put it in someone else’s - to help them in their successful recovery.

Steve Lawrence is the speaker for the Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on March 20th discussing the Wasco County Veteran’s Services Office. But Steve is also bringing newly selected Veteran’s Services Officer Russ Jones. This will be a great opportunity to meet Russ, learn more about the services the office provides and ask any questions about veteran’s benefits.

“Old Fashion Bingo” at the Center is back again on March 17th from 3:00 – 4:00 PM. This is a once-a-month chance for the whole family, including grandma and the grandkids (anyone over 7), to play bingo as we did when we were kids (you know - up, down or diagonal). Bingo cards are only $3.00 and to make it interesting there are small cash prizes: $5 to the winner of each of the first nine games, and $25.00 for the blackout on the last game. And anyone twelve and older (if you are under 18 you need to bring your parent or guardian) can stay around for the Saturday Night Bingo starting at 6:00 PM.

When the garden supply ads are in the newspaper, the sun screen lotion displays are out, and my wife starts making a list of what “we” need to do in the yard, you know spring is around the corner and time to start thinking about the garden. And also time for me to remind folks about a little gardening gem called “Garden Highlights” produced by local master gardener Marty Miller. The latest bi-monthly, no cost, full color edition for March/April is now available electronically (You can receive one by emailing Marty at or you can pick up an old-fashion paper edition at the Center.

After a two month break, it is time to get back into the 3rd Saturday Breakfast habit starting on March 17th from 8:00 - 9:30 – this month sponsored by the good folks at Flagstone Senior Living. The menu includes flapjacks, scrambled eggs, sausage with fruit and your favorite beverage - all for $5.00 or $4.00 for Center members. And as Jack use to say, “Breakfast always tastes better when someone else cooks it.”

Tonight at the Center, the Martin and Friends will be playing so you can kick up your heels and stretch your toes. And then next week, Truman will be singing his County Gold. Everyone is welcome to join the excitement starting at 7:00. And to keep the lights on and feed the musicians, donations are always appreciated.

I finally stumped Ben Neumayer last week, but not Joann Scott who - even though she thought he was “Phoney Baloney” - remembered Paul Peterson as teenager Jeff Stone on the Donna Reed Show. But this week is the beginning of March Madness, so this week’s “Remember When” question (for another free Saturday Breakfast) has to be about basketball. From 1971-1978 the U of O basketball team was coached by Dick Harter and twice beat #1 UCLA. What was the nickname Dick Harter gave his team? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with a pair of basketball shoes worn by Ron Lee.

Well, it has been another week trying to get though life without tripping over my own feet. Until we meet again, forgive the past, live in the present and don’t worry about the future.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
Douglas Adams

Wednesday (14) Salisbury Steak
Thursday (15) Irish Potato Feed with all the Toppings
Friday (16) Fish or Chicken Nuggets
Monday (19) Chicken Fried Steak
Tuesday (20) BIRTHDAY DINNER Turkey and Gravy with Dressing

Aging Well March 6th

Have you gone to the playground with your grandchild who is wearing a new pair of athletic shoes? And he really wants to impress you with his speed and quickness? It is fun watching him zip around his imaginary track, but as I age, I find speed to be greatly overrated! And slowing down can be a good thing.

When you slow down, you realize what was once important: winning, status and amassing things is now overshadowed by relationships, laughing and an appreciation of the small gifts we receive daily.

And for me, part of that is living in a small town. Last month Ann Marie Woolsey shared with me some of those small things she appreciates about living in The Dalles, and suggested I ask folks what they like about the town they live in. So what do you think? Do I have any takers? Send me what you appreciate about your town and I will share them in this column later next month.

Have you wanted to know more about Medicare, both for your own benefit, but also to help others? Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA), a volunteer supported program, is offering a day and a half training starting on Monday March 12th from 1:00 - 5:00 for anyone who would like to know more about Medicare or become a SHIBA volunteer. You will learn about Part A, Part B and Part D as well as Medicaid, Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. The training will be held at the Area Agency on Aging which is located in the MCCOG building on the corner of 11th and Kelly. For more information and to register call the Area Agency on Aging at 541-298-4101.

You may be one of the millions who own an iPhone or iPad. (Or you may be one of the hundreds of millions who can’t figure what all the fuss is about and really don’t care.) But if you have one of the “i” devices and would like to learn more, there is a group meeting every first Wednesday at 1:00 at the Center discussing the latest and greatest in the world of Apple mobile computing. But I caution you, it is not without risks. Before going to sleep at night, you may find yourself playing “Words with Friends” on your iPad instead of gently kissing your wife good night. (Not suggesting that is anything I would do!)

You may have been around when the Wasco Area Educational Service District was first conceived in 1977,went through adolescence as the more familiar Treaty Oak before reaching adulthood as Columbia Gorge Community College. It has been quite a ride from 1977 to now when CGCC serves 5,800 students through its many programs - from professional technical training to basic skills education. It took a lot of hard work and a supportive community to make it happen. For the Center’s Tuesday lecture on the 13th at 11:00, Stephanie Dawkins from CGCC will explain the college’s vital role in our community and how you can help the college “build dreams and transform lives” through the CGCC Foundation.

Tonight at the Center, the Strawberry Mountain Band starts off the regular monthly rotation of musicians, and then followed by Martin and Friends on Tuesday the 13th. Doors open at 6:00, the music starts at 7:00 and you can drive your sweetheart home by 9:00. Everyone is welcome and donations are always appreciated.

Everyone remembered Jiminy Cricket who was Pinocchio’s official conscience. (And selected by a random drawing, the winner of a Saturday Breakfast on March 17th is Sandy Goforth.) But I am going to have to elevate my game a notch, because I’ve taken more flack than Snoopy received from the Red Barron about how easy the “Remember When” questions are. (But they do bring back nice memories.) So Mike Tenney and Ben Neumeyer this is for you! Who was the child actor that played teenager Jeff Stone on the Donna Reed Show and had a minor recording career with the top ten hit “My Dad”? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with an autographed copy of “Walt, Mickey and Me: Confessions of the First Ex-Mouseketeer”.

Well, it has been another week waiting for the ants to start using the kitchen counter top as their personal playground. Until we meet again, don’t let the small stuff get the idea they are all too important.
“It’s surprising how far you can go through life without ever having what you really need.”
Ashleigh Brilliant


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