Aging Well in the Gorge December 26th 2017

As we reflect back at the end of another year, did you ever expect to be where you are now? You started a point A, life bounced you around to point B, and then somehow you stumbled onto point C. And now many years later, here you are at point H, wondering how did that happen! Life is unpredictable and although we try to steer the ship, there always seems to be deep currents or dark storms sending us off course.

So we do our best, minding our p’s and q’s, appreciating our friends and neighbors, nurturing the best in ourselves, and still dreaming about what can be. And as we start this great adventure for another year, not knowing what we will discover, I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes.

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

As if I had this planned, I’ll end 2017 with the final lesson from the Blue Zone’s Power of 9 which is the “Right Tribe”. Blue Zone researchers found that individuals who lived the longest were either born into or created social circles that promoted healthy behaviors. This isn’t new. Remember when your parents told you to be careful who you hung out with. They knew your social networks could affect your immediate behavior. But research has also shown that your friends can have a long-term impact on well-being and can affect whether you smoke, are overweight, happy or even lonely.   

So if you want to enjoy good health and live longer, join the right tribe and surround yourself with supportive, positive individuals who push you to become a better and healthier person.

As we end this year, I want to thank everyone who has supported the Center through their donations of time or money, whether large or small. The list is too long to name every person and business, but you know who you are.

But I also want to thank everyone who has given to their communities whether as a driver for the Tygh School Center Community Bus or for The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels;
volunteering at the Warming Shelter or the SMART program; or whether you serve the community through one of the many service organizations.  

For every negative story you hear, there are many more positive uplifting tales of service that are done not for the recognition, but because someone needed to step up and do it. For all of you, take a moment and pat yourself on the back and tell yourself, “Good job”. You are the heart and backbone of your communities.

The actor/singer who sang the Christmas classic “Holly Jolly Christmas” featured in the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was Burl Ives. (I received correct answers from Jeannie Pesicka, Don McAllister, Jerry Philips, Jess Birge, Betsy Ayers and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Dave Lutgens – who, if you are an old timer, may remember him as “Shakey Dave”.)

You can’t think of New Year’s Eve without thinking of the late Dick Clark. How many times have you watched Dick Clark host the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and the annual ball drop in Times Square? (Now with the Internet, you can watch the ball drop in Times Square live and still get to bed by 9:15 - which works for me.)

But Dick Clark’s first claim to fame was hosting a television show featuring teenagers dancing to the top 40 hits – which I remember watching to learn the latest dance moves. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this show and for bonus points, in what east coast city was it first produced? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a 45 record of “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon who appeared on the show 110 times.

Well, it’s been another week, making it up as I go. Until we meet again, have a safe and Happy New Year.

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more and don’t get so worked up about things.” Kenneth Branagh

Aging Well in the Gorge December 19th

This special time of the year brings back fond memories of young children playing around the house, excited and full of anticipation waiting for Santa’s arrival. But since my own kids have grown, left their safe harbor for grad school and careers beyond, it just isn’t the same. No longer is there time for the whole family to search for that perfect Christmas tree, judging and debating which tree would look best in the living room – and afterwards spending the evening decorating it with handmade ornaments saved from their elementary school Christmas projects.

No longer do we drive around town after the Christmas Eve service to “ohhh” and “ahhh’ at the houses illuminated with festive colors, first began when it was the only way to get the little ones to fall asleep on the “night before”. And no longer do we frantically wrap the presents after the children fell asleep, so they could magically appear under the Christmas tree - just as Santa would have left them. Now it is gift cards and frantic after Christmas shopping - looking for those bargain items too expensive or frivolous to purchase during the rest of the year.

But it is not all lost traditions. There are new ones. Flying to California (which is a nice reprieve from the cold weather) to visit our son and daughter. And Skyping with my sister and brother back east - while still learning the social protocols of visiting long distance in this modern way.

Then one day - maybe, just maybe – Christmas past will return with the sound of little feet once again running around the house as the grandkids come to visit their grandpa and grandma during this special time of the year. You can always hope.

The 8th lesson in the Blue Zones Power of 9, “Loved Ones First”, is appropriate for this week when families gather for Christmas. Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. They keep their aging parents and grandparents nearby or in their home (which is certainly not the American norm any more); they commit to a lifelong partner; and devote their time and love to their children.

During this Christmas season, I hope you have the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones - young and old. And to appreciate how important and comforting loved ones and family are, even with all their flaws - and all of ours.

During this holiday period, the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. In addition, Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on the day after Christmas. Also, several of the Center’s activities will be taking time off. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Chair Yoga, Strength Yoga, and Zumba Gold will not meet. Tai Chi and Line Dancing/Clogging will be taking a break until February. But if after all the Christmas cookies, you feel you need some exercise, Strong Women will still be meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 – 3:00. If you have any questions about the classes and activities, call the Center at 541-296-4788.

The actor who portrayed Ted Hanover, Jim Hardy’s (Bing Crosby) musical partner in the 1942 film Holiday Inn, was Fred Astaire. (I received correct answers from Jerry Philips, Diana Weston and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Betsy Ayers. But we will all have to wait until the Cherry Festival breakfast for the next quilt raffle drawing – which like Christmas, will be here sooner than we think.)    

It’s the week before Christmas, and it wouldn’t be right not to have another Christmas related question – but this time it’s music. There are many popular Christmas recordings from the all-time favorite “White Christmas” to “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jimmy Boyd. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what actor/singer sang the Christmas classic “Holly Jolly Christmas” featured in the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a cat from a hot tin roof.

Well, it’s been another week, looking for a spot to park at Fred Meyer. Until we meet again, have a Very Merry Christmas.

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." Calvin Coolidge

Living Well in the Gorge December 12th 2017

Have you ever felt lonely wishing you had more friends or family to share stories, reminisce about the good old days, and to complain how the world is going to hell in a hand basket?

If we are lucky, we may live a long life, which often means we become one of the last ones standing, outliving most of our friends. (I believe it was George Burns who said one advantage of living to 100 is you don’t have to worry about peer pressure.)

But there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Loneliness is the subjective feeling of isolation, not belonging, or lacking companionship, different from more observable indicators such as living alone or the number of relationships. In other words, loneliness is more the difference between one’s desired relationships and one’s actual relationships. And it is now seen as a predictor of functional decline and death and a more important determent of health than just social isolation.

But it is tough to develop new relationships, new friends who enjoy the same things and have similar experiences to share. (Why can’t anything be easy!) You may be an introvert. Or your loneliness has morphed into depression and you just don’t have the energy. Or you’re just out of practice.

To deal with the feeling of loneliness, seek places where you can connect with others. On the Internet you can reconnect with family and friends through social media such as Facebook. (But be careful of the con artists who aren’t who they say they are.) You can take classes at the Center, enjoy a healthy Meals-on-Wheels dinner at noon, or attend a place of worship. Which brings us to the seventh lesson from the Blue Zone’s Power of 9 - “Belong”.

The inhabitants of the Blue Zones belong to a faith based community - and it doesn’t matter what faith, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim. It was found that being connected to a faith community and attending services four times per month could add 4-14 years of life expectancy.

Stay connected - including the supportive environment of a faith community that speaks to you. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Thanks to the over 100 folks who attended the Center’s Holiday Breakfast. It was a tremendous success due to all the volunteers who made it happen: the kitchen and set up crews, the quilters who made the quilt that was raffled, and Boy Scout Troop #395 who washed dishes, bussed tables, and poured coffee. Thanks to everyone for a fantastic holiday breakfast.

Since Christmas is on a Monday, creating another three-day weekend/holiday, imagine yourself during those dark frosty evenings sitting in your overstuffed chair in front of the crackling fire place, watching on your big screen TV, Hollywood Christmas classics from the good-old-days. You probably have your favorites – my family’s Christmas eve tradition was watching The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. Here are five more films to add to your Christmas viewing, recommended by “Rotten Tomatoes” a popular movie review website: It’s a Wonderful Life, which is on everyone’s list; March of the Wooden Soldiers (Babes in Toyland) starring Laurel and Hardy; Christmas in Connecticut, which I am planning to watch for the first time; Miracle on 34th Street, which won three Oscars, and my current favorite, Holiday Inn.

Which brings me to this week’s “Remember When” question. In the 1942 film Holiday Inn, which introduced Irving Berlin’s Academy Award winning, “White Christmas”, who was the actor that portrayed Ted Hanover, Jim Hardy’s (Bing Crosby) musical partner? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a clip of the fireworks popping Independence Day dance scene from the movie.

And before I forget, the general anesthesia with the unforgettable odor most of us experienced back in the not-so-good-old-days was ether.  (I received correct answers from Bernie Sleep, Don McAllister, Ed Anghilante, Jerry Philips and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Louise Wooderson. Louise shared the incredible story of when she was in second grade holding her breath when the ether was administered and waking up in the middle of the operation on her broken arm! Ouch!!)

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.” Anthony Burgess

Aging Well in the Gorge December 5th 2017

How did December arrive so soon? And as quick as you can forget the name of a person you just met, 2018 will be here and we will be toasting in the new year with a glass of red wine - which is my segue to the sixth of the “Power of Nine” lessons from the Blue Zones. (But before we go any further, do you remember the first five?)

The sixth lesson is “Wine at 5”. People in the Blue Zones, except for the Seventh Day Adventists, drink alcohol moderately and regularly - generally one or two glasses a day with friends and/or with dinner. One of red wine’s possible benefits is that it has been found to help absorb plant-based antioxidants which may help protect your cells from damage.  (What about grape juice for non-drinkers? Some research studies suggest that red and purple grape juices may provide some of the same heart benefits of red wine.)

But there are always risks. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, after age 65, your lean body mass and water content decreases and your metabolism slows down. Translated that means alcohol stays in your system longer, so the amount of alcohol in your blood is higher than it would have been when you were younger. Consequently, at our age it is particularly important to be prudent and drink in moderation.

Also, if you are like me, you take more medications than when you were younger. The trouble is alcohol can interact with hundreds of prescription medications causing complications: nausea, fainting and headaches; and can interfere making the medications less effective or useless; or even harmful or toxic to your body.

As you enjoy your glass of red wine at 5:00 with friends or during dinner, drink moderately and read the drug labels to avoid harmful interactions - so you can live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

(The first five Blue Zone lessons are “Move Naturally”, have a “Purpose”, “Downshift”, “80% Rule” and “Plant Slant”.)

On two occasions this month, there will be special Christmas music before the Meals-on-Wheels noon dinner at the Center. Students from Colonel Wright will be singing on December 7th at 11:45 and on December 22nd, Bruce and Sher Schwartz will be playing special holiday music starting at 11:30. Besides the special music this month, Bruce and Sher will also be playing before lunch on the 8th; Andre and K.C. on the second and fourth Tuesdays, and Tom Graff on most Thursdays.

This sounds like fun and for a good cause. The Springs at Mill Creek is having their annual Gingerbread Open House on Thursday, December 7th from 5:30 – 7:30 PM and you are invited. Enjoy Gingerbread House creations, wonderful desserts, eggnog, cookie decorating and of course Santa. There is no charge, but each of the Gingerbread Houses will be available for the Silent Auction to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

I know some of you have to be reminded more than once, so why don’t you do yourself a favor and stick on the door a note that says “Holiday Breakfast, Center, this Saturday, 8 – 9:30. $6. Yummy! Bring extra money for raffle tickets.”

The name of the song, an innovative combination of gospel and psychedelic rock sounds, sung by Norman Greenbaum was “Spirit in the Sky”. (I received correct answers from Deloris Schrader and Sonja Petersen-Talatzko who both win a free raffle ticket for Saturday’s quilt raffle drawing.)

This week let’s move from pop music to something less entertaining. I remember in the 1950’s having to have my tonsils removed. Before I could get to the promised milk shakes, I had to survive the surgery and I can still remember lying down and the nurse putting a mask with a terrible smell over my face and asking me to count to ten. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the type of general anesthesia that was used? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with any memories you may have had of this general anesthesia used during surgery.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to talk and chew (or do anything) at the same time.  Until we meet again, a bad memory isn’t all bad, because some have said it is the key to happiness.  

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” W. C. Fields


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