Agig Well in the Gorge March 29th 2016

I have an idea. If you are retired, you can receive a license that gives you the right, without any questions asked and with no guilt attached, to pursue any “trivial pursuit” you had put off throughout your working career because of all those “adult” reasons. This license would allow you to explore your creative side by taking a mosaics class at The Dalles Art Center, picking up a guitar and writing songs, making walking sticks in the shop, or just drawing with paper and pencil at the kitchen table every morning. Because we are now finding out how important these “trivial” creative activities are for your mind, body and soul.

To provide more opportunities to use your new “trivial pursuit” license, the Center will be offering four creative arts classes: Watercolor Pencils on April 5th, Felting on April 26th; Jewelry on May 10th, and Spring Baskets on May 31st. They are all on Tuesdays from 1:00 – 2:30 and cost $3.00 a class. Class size is limited, so call early to reserve your spot.

In addition, for the Center’s next 11:00 Tuesday’s Lecture, I will discuss the benefits of exploring the creative arts and show several video clips of inspiring older adults who have aged “artfully”.

Imagine trying to purchase private health insurance without the help of an insurance agent - or your employer. It would be confusing, stupefying and downright overwhelming. So what are you to do when you become eligible for Medicare?

Medicare does provide a website that can help you though the enrollment process and answer many of your questions. But often I need to talk to someone who can understand my situation and answer the questions I don’t even know I need to ask. SHIBA (State Health Insurance and Benefits Assistance) counselors are trained volunteers who can help answer your questions about Medicare. You can schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer by calling the Center at 541-296-4788.

If you are looking for an introduction to Medicare, you can attend Medicare 101. The class will introduce you to Medicare and explain the differences between Medicare Part A, B, C and D; as well as how and when to enroll in Medicare. It will be held at the Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles on Wednesday, April 6th from 1:00 – 3:00 in room 3.301. Register online or call 541-506-6011. Pre-registration is preferred but not required.

Last reminder to hear Nehemiah Brown when he returns to sing at the Center on Friday, April 1st for his spring concert. Nehemiah’s performance includes pop, country and gospel standards of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The concert is from 7:00 and 9:00 and costs $4.00 or $3.00 if you are a Center member.

There is no better way to spend an evening than dancing. It’s fun, it’s social and it gets you moving. And every Tuesday night at the Center you can step out, kick up your heels and enjoy an evening of dancing. For the Tuesday Night Music on April 5th, Andre, KC and Tom will be playing their crowd pleasing country music. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and donations are appreciated.

Pat Wilson (the winner of this week’s quilt raffle ticket) thought last week’s question was too easy – which it probably was. But I hope it brought a smile to your face when you thought back to the times when you either tried the gag on a friend or were the “butt” of a Whoopie Cushion joke – no bad pun intended.

(And you don’t have to enter the “Remember When” contest to get a chance to win one of the two beautiful quilts displayed in the Center’s lobby. You can purchase tickets at the Center before the drawing which will be held at noon on Monday, April 25th.)

This week’s “Remember When” question may be a little obscure but if you watched many cowboy westerns from the 40’s and 50’s you would recognize this actor. Who played the colorful sidekick and grizzled codger in many westerns including forty-four starring Roy Rogers; and whose vocabulary included phrases such as "yer durn tootin'", "dadgummit", "durn persnickety female", and "young whippersnapper”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a video of his fifteen minute television show that aired before Howdy Doody.

Well, it’s been another week trying to read the hieroglyphics on the wall. Until we meet again, keep walking on the sunny side of the street.

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Edward Land

Aging Well in the Gorge - March 22nd 2016

Because Americans are living longer than ever before, there will be 11.5 million Americans over the age of 85 by 2035 - more than double today’s 5 million. And closer to home, it’s projected by 2030, 25% of residents in Wasco County will be 65 years of age or older, compared to 19.9% in 2014.

But as many of us know all too well, as we get older our bodies don’t always cooperate; and with longer life spans, more older adults will be living with disabilities or frailty. Today, 65% of Americans over 65 already have one or more physical or functional limitations. And yet as the number of frail older adults increases and needing assistance, caregiving by family members will be less available because of smaller and more mobile families and other changes in family structures in American society.

These very real and unavoidable demographic changes will have a significant impact on our communities; and on us who are or will be those older adults. For example, there will be a greater need for paid home caregivers; appropriate housing and services for older adults; and community planning.

Now is the time to start thinking as a community about the health and welfare of this growing aging population: creating age-friendly communities where structures and services value and support older adults with varying needs and capacities; and where the strengths of older adults are emphasized rather than their deficits.

By looking at all aspects of our communities from this perspective including housing, transportation, outdoor spaces, social inclusion, civic participation, employment, communication, healthcare, and the caregiver workforce, we can create friendlier communities not only for us as we age, but also for people of all ages and abilities.

To discuss the idea of age-friendly communities, the speaker for the Center’s 11:00 Tuesday lecture on March 29th will be Tina Castanares: doctor, leader in rural healthcare, board member of One Community Health and currently a caregiver. She will be asking what does an age-friendly community look like and what can we do to make our communities more age-friendly?

Besides flowers sprouting and warmer temperatures, we know its spring at the Center when Bruce Harris, owner of Today’s Rays, shows up unannounced to turn on the water for the sprinkler system. The Center wants to thank Bruce, who for years, has donated his time to check the sprinkler system before and after the winter months to make sure it is running smoothly.

Northwest singer and entertainer, Nehemiah Brown, will be back in town on April 1st for his spring concert at the Center. Nehemiah’s performance includes pop, country and gospel standards of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in the smooth style of Bobby Darin and Nat King Cole. The concert is from 7:00 and 9:00 and costs $4.00 or $3.00 for Center members.

For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on March 29th, “Slick and Slippery” will be playing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. (Actually the band is composed of “slick” Andre Lemoreaux and his “slippery” musician friends who are filling in for the fifth Tuesday in March.) Doors open at 6:00; music starts at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and donations are appreciated.

John H. Dick was the starting 6-foot-4-inch basketball forward who grew up in The Dalles and played on the 1939, University of Oregon basketball team known as the “Tall Firs” which won the first NCAA Basketball National Championship. (The winner of quilt raffle tickets are Laura Comini and Jerry Phillips - who remembers that one of the other players on the team, Ted Sarpola, coached at The Dalles High School in the '50's.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is a little vulgar and crude – at least that was the impression when this contraption first became popular in the 1930’s. What was the name of the gag gift first created during the 1920’s that simulated a familiar noise when the air inside rushed out, and when introduced was known alternatively as the “poo-poo cushion” and the “boop-boop a doop”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the scene from the 1942 movie “Road to Morocco,” where Bob Hope and Bing Crosby slipped this device under a sheik to the audience’s amusement.

Well, it’s been another week trying to remember - is it better to be safe or sorry? Until we meet again, enjoy these first days of spring and enjoy a happy and blessed Easter.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Aging Well in the Gorge March 15th 2016

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be simple - and tasty, if you use your imagination and think about what goes on your plate. So during the rest of March, National Nutrition Month, try a new recipe or create your own; or change one eating habit. And to help get you thinking, here are a few eating right tips for older adults from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You may already know many of them, but they are a good reminder.

1st Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables whether they are fresh, frozen or canned. But beware, canned vegetables can be high in sodium so choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added”.

2nd Make at least half your grains whole such as 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Also, look for fiber-rich cereals to help you – well, we all know why.

3rd Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. As older adults, we need more calcium and vitamin D to help keep our bones healthy, but not the saturated fat. Include three servings of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese each day; and a small bowl of ice cream before you go to bed. (Okay, that last one is my idea!)

4th Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts, beans and peas, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.

5th Cut back on sodium. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower amounts. If you season your food with your favorite spices and herbs, you’ll often find you don’t miss the salt.
6th Switch from solid fats to oils such as olive oil for sautéing or canola oil for baking. Avoid trans-fat and limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories a day.

7th Drink water instead of sugary drinks. I have a phone app to remind me to drink water because I keep forgetting.

8th Cook at home where you are in control of what’s in your food. And to make my meals quick and easy, I often prepare large amounts of rice, cooked vegetables and meat ahead of time. I then just add a serving of each to a bowl, spice it up, stick it in the microwave, and presto, I have a healthy meal.

9th And most importantly, enjoy your food. There are plenty of delicious healthy recipes (Food Hero is a great website.) Or create your own simple, and yet tasty and nutritious meals. But eat less. Most of us older adults need fewer calories.

For more information, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website at

There is not a lecture next week, because of the AARP Smart Driver class on Monday (21st) and Tuesday (22nd) from 8:45 – 12:05. Call the Center to register for the class. The cost is $20 or $15 for AARP members.

For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on March 22nd, Country Road will be performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and donations are appreciated.

The movie star who was a Marine, enjoyed motorcycle racing, starred in the Blob, and Bullitt, and was considered the “King of Cool” in the 60’s was Steve McQueen (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Sandy Haechrel. And Sandy would want me to remind you of the Cascade Singers’ annual St. Patrick’s Day concert at St. Peter’s Landmark starting at 7:00 PM.)

With both Oregon and Oregon State in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, this week’s “Remember When” question has got to be about basketball - with a local twist. In 1939, the first NCAA Basketball National Championship was won by the University of Oregon. On that Ducks basketball team, who was the starting 6-foot-4-inch forward that grew up in The Dalles? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the USS Saratoga Supercarrier.

Well, it’s been another week trying to remember what time it is. And as the Irish blessing goes, “May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand”.

“Dance as if no one were watching. Sing as if no one were listening. And live every day as if it were your last.” Irish Proverb

Aging Well in the Gorge March 8th 2016

Let me just get it off my chest and say I didn’t have much time to write this week’s column because I was having too much fun hanging out all weekend with my eleven grandkids.

Okay, that’s not quite true because I really don’t have any grandkids. What I was actually doing was coaching eleven fantastic young swimmers for The Dalles Swim Team at a swim meet in Oregon City.

But I have come to realize, coaching is like having my own grandkids: helping these young kids adjust to life’s many lessons, and in my case, guiding them to become better swimmers. If you don’t have grandkids or they aren’t nearby, and you need a grandkid “fix”, find an opportunity to spend time with young kids whether at your church or neighborhood school. (The SMART program is one opportunity.) You’ll find it personally rewarding and you’ll see that the future is in good hands.

So this week, the best I can do, is a little of this and a little of that and a question about a 1960’s movie star.

If you haven’t filed your income taxes, you might want to consider the AARP Tax Aide program which provides free income tax assistance to low and moderate-income taxpayers with special attention to those aged 60 or older. And this is the best time, because as we are half way through the 2016 tax season the lines are shorter – at least until it picks back up for those late minute filers. You can stop by the Center between 2:00 and 6:00 on Fridays or 9:00 and 1:00 on Saturdays. Or outside The Dalles, the AARP Tax Aide sites are Canyon Rim Manor from 10:00 to 1:00 on the 1st & 3rd Mondays; Tygh Valley Community Center Room from 8:00 – noon on Thursdays; and in Sherman County you can make a Saturday appointment at the Rufus Community Center by calling 541-993-1054.

Congratulations to The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels for winning the MCHF Compassion Award for Outstanding Community Service Organization. I see the important work they do every day: providing nutritious noon meals at the Center; and delivering meals to folks who are homebound or have difficulty preparing healthy meals. They provide an invaluable service and every day prove that Meals-on-Wheels is “More than a Meal”.

Getting older can play some cruel tricks. Now that your kids have left home, you are retired from work and the house is finally paid off, you have the time to fulfill the long held dream of traveling across America on Route 66 in your classic sports car. But you then discover that your knees, legs and back are telling you in no uncertain terms that there is no way you are ever getting in and out of a car that low to the ground!

Last reminder about the Irish band Barley Draught’s concert at the Center this Friday. But this time, in the spirit of St. Patrick, I’m giving you the Irish translation - at least according to the English website Whoohoo! (I’d give you the real Irish Gaelic translation, but you wouldn’t understand a word.)

Git into a rousin' Oirish spirit at de Mid-Columbia Senior Center on March 11th wi' de local Oirish ban' Barley Draught. dis benefit for de Mid-Columbia Senior Center is sponsored by de Dalles 'ealth an' Rehabilitashun Center an' Clock Tower Ales. Music starts at 7:00 an' grub is served startin' at 5:30. Grub an' concert is $10, an' for de concert only its $7.00. Dis is an over 21 event.

For the Center’s Tuesday Night music on March 15th the Simcoe Boys will be performing.  Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and donations are appreciated.

The two-word slang term commonly used in the 60’s to describe someone as unpleasant or contemptible was “Rat Fink” commercialized by cartoonist and custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Barbara Pounds.)

For this week’s “Remember When” question, if I said U.S. Marine, motorcycle racing, “King of Cool”, the Blob, and the Magnificent Seven, what movie star of the 60’s and 70’s comes to mind? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a 45 caliber Bullet.

Well, it’s been another week trying to stay out of trouble with a capital T. Until we meet again, no matter how hard, take time to discover each day’s blessing.

“An hour with your grandkids can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that can make you age quickly.” Gene Perret

Aging Well in the Gorge March 1st 2016

Let’s face it. Alzheimer’s disease scares the bejeezus out of most of us. In fact, according to a 2011 MetLife Foundation/ Harris Interactive poll of American adults, only cancer tops Alzheimer's as the disease Americans are most afraid of. And for adults aged 55 and older the fear of getting Alzheimer's is even greater than cancer. 93% of those surveyed were aware of the disease, but 74 % said they knew nothing or only a little about Alzheimer's; and more than three out of five people worry that they will have to eventually provide or care for someone with the disease.

These are sobering statistics about a frightening disease. But the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is working hard throughout the state to provide education and support for people diagnosed, their families, and caregivers.

As part of their outreach, next Tuesday at the Center from 10:00 – 12:00, the Oregon chapter will be offering a two hour training that includes two parts. The first is the Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia, and Alzheimer's disease – describing what is happening to a person with Alzheimer’s so you can better understand how to interact effectively and provide quality care. The second part is Effective Communication Strategies where you will learn how communication occurs and how to decode the verbal and behavioral messages delivered by someone with dementia, and identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease.

Even though we aren’t much of a RSVP kind of town, for this training you are requested to register by calling the Center at 541-296-4788.

And speaking about memory, while my wife and I were visiting her father, he said “There is something I was supposed to remind you, but I can’t remember what it is”. Isn’t that the way it is. You know you are forgetting something - but don’t have a clue what it is.

Debra Jones, the sparkplug for the Center’s Creative Arts Classes, has scheduled the next four classes starting in April, but she is still working on the content. But while you’re waiting, The Dalles Art Center will be hosting their Opening Reception for the March show “Gardens and Garden Art” on Thursday from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. In addition, the TDHS Advanced Placement art students will be showing selections from their works.

March is the month for Irish music and once again, the local Irish band Barley Draught will be performing at the Center. But this year they’ll be playing on Friday, March 11th instead of St. Patrick’s Day which always conflicted with the St. Patrick’s Day concert at St. Peter’s Landmark. The Barley Draught Concert which benefits the Center is sponsored by the good folks at The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center and costs $7.00 for the concert only and $10 for the concert and a light supper of baked chicken or sub sandwiches. Doors open at 5:30 and the concert starts at 7:00 PM. Since beer will be served, thanks to Clock Tower Ales, this is an over 21 event. (And if you keep mispronouncing Barley Draught, as I always seem to do, remember this line that Mike Ballinger sent me, "If you've had a grand time, danced, sang and laughed, we really don't mind if you blame Barley Draught!")

Ron Holliday remembers a “Bushel and a Peck” was first sung by Betty Hutton (in a duet with Perry Como) and then Doris Day. But Bobetta Stewart emailed me that she and two of her girlfriends sang a "Bushel and a Peck" on stage at the Granada Theater during the Reddy Kilowatt show on Saturday morning; and even has a recording of it - if she can just find it. So sorry Ron, but with a story like that, the winner of a Quilt Raffle ticket has to be Bobetta.

There are words from the 50’s and 60’s we seldom hear anymore: fender skirts, suicide knobs, store bought, brassiere, picture show or ice box - what I use to call a refrigerator. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the two-word slang term commonly used in the 60’s that described someone as unpleasant or contemptible – and the first word is a type of rodent? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with an illustration by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth – cartoonist, custom car designer and purveyor of the term.

Well, it’s been another week watching nature come alive after its winter siesta. Until we meet again, keep your eyes on the road and your motor running.


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