Aging Well in the Gorge January 30th 2018

When we were younger we didn’t spend much time thinking about our purpose in life. We knew what it was: find a job, get married and raise a family – at least that was what we were told.

But now that the children have left home to find a job, get married and raise a family – at least that is what we told them; and we have retired from the obligation of work, what is our purpose now?

To help answer that question, The Dalles Blue Zones Project is offering a Purpose Workshop at the Center on Tuesday, February 6th starting at 5:30. The Purpose Workshop will help you discover a clear definition of your gifts and identify ways you can use those gifts every day, either through existing or new avenues in your lives - such as volunteering. Through this process you can deepen your sense of purpose and find greater meaning in your life, significantly impacting your health, happiness, and longevity – even at our age. You can RSVP for the workshop at or via Facebook.

Thanks to financial support from Columbia Basin Care Facility and The City of The Dalles, new flooring has finally been installed in the Center’s dining room. And at the same time, the upstairs restrooms have been remodeled with new flooring, and a fresh coat of paint; and they should have new sinks and faucets installed by the end of this week. Thanks to our local contractors for doing a fantastic job including Oliver’s Floor Covering, Garry Denney Floor Covering, Devco Mechanical and Terray Harmon Painting. And a big thank-you to Jess Birge for helping to reinstall the newly painted restroom stalls.

And why not check out the new dining room floor and remodeled restrooms when you stop by the Center to purchase your tickets for the International Chicken Dinner on February 9th from 5:00 – 7:00 sponsored by The Springs at Mill Creek. The price for this one-of-kind dinner prepared by Rick Lebowitz with assistance from the Baldwin Saloon and desserts from Petite Provence is only $20. But hurry. Only 200 tickets are being sold!

When we were youngsters, our mothers would often tell us as we left for school, “Don’t forget to take your lunch!”  And now that we are oldsters at the other end of the age continuum, your spouse may tell you as you head for the store, “Don’t forget the lettuce!”

It seems no matter our age, we need reminders. So here is a quick reminder about the first installment of the annual February Regional History Forum at the Original Wasco County Museum, located at 410 W. Second Place. On February 3rd starting at 1:30 p.m, Susan Buce, local historian and Collections Registrar for the Discovery Center, will present “Airmail Beacons of the Columbia River Gorge" - a fascinating look back at a little-known part of Gorge history. The Airmail beacons served to guide the pilots who flew the mail by air from coast to coast in the 1930’s; and were maintained by “mechanicians" who kept the blinking lights shining for the pilots to see.

Kerry Cobb, Executive Director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, will be back at the Center on Wednesday, February 7th at 10:30 to present a 90-minute talk on “The Art & History of Photography”. You will learn about the origins of the photographic arts, and experience the work of noted photographers from the 19th-21st century.

The 1973 film that told the story of two con-artists involved in a complicated plot to scam a mob boss was The Sting. (The only correct answer I received was from world traveler Sandy Haechrel, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)

This week’s “Remember When” question comes from one of those conversations I can’t remember with whom or why I had it - and it was only last week! What American won a 1932 Olympic swimming gold medal and starred in the science fiction film serial Flash Gordon? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a short description of the planet Mongo.

Well, it’s been another week, wondering if we are going to escape the winter without any more snow. Until we meet again, everything seems to take longer than you think – but, it’s not like we don’t have the time.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Aging Well in the Gorge January 23rd 2018

Scams have been around ever since a con-artist in the Middle Ages tried to sell a pig in a poke. But with the advances in communication through the Internet and social media, today’s scams are more common and sophisticated. And because older adults may not be as aware of the threats and how to prevent them; and yet are thought to have significant financial resources, they are a prime target.

Below is a quick listing of the top 10 financial scams collected by the National Council on Aging. See if you have been the target of any of these scams.

1.) Fraudulent anti-aging products - what we pay to look 40 again! 2.) Internet fraud - emails to “update” or “verify” your personal information. 3.) Investment schemes - from pyramid schemes to the Nigerian prince scam. 4.) Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams. 5.)  Counterfeit prescription drugs on the Internet – lose your money and harm your health at the same time. 6.) Sweepstakes and lottery scams – there is no free lunch. 7.) Funeral & cemetery scams - scammers read obituaries and call the grieving spouse claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them. 8.) The grandparent scam - starts with “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” and then the caller asks for money.

And two of the more prominent scams.

 9.) The Telemarketing/phone charity scams. If you are unsure of a charity, you can check how it is rated by Charity Navigator: an online site that reviews non-profits. And do not follow any links within the email or open any attachments particularly if they claim to contain pictures of a tragedy. These attachments may contain viruses.

10.) Medicare scams. Since we are of that certain age, Medicare is a common source for many scams targeting older adults. In one scam, the caller says your insurance company owes you a refund and they need your bank account number and Social Security number to deposit it.

A more recent scam focuses on the new ID card all Medicare recipients will receive sometime between April 2018 and April 2019. The Federal Trade Commission is warning Medicare recipients that if someone calls to confirm your personal information on the card, or says you must pay a fee to receive the new card, it's a scam.

Be aware of how to protect yourself from these hucksters who want to separate you from your money. And when you do want to give your money away, find a local non-profit. There are many who need the financial help.

During the month of February, the Center is planning several special events highlighting the Center’s role of “enriching the community by sharing and caring”. One of those events is a special International Chicken Dinner prepared by Rick Lebowitz with assistance from the Baldwin Saloon. It will be held at the Center on Friday, February 9th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. You can purchase your tickets at the Center, but only 200 tickets will be sold at $20 a piece so you should purchase your tickets soon. Because of our generous sponsor, The Springs at Mill Creek, every penny of the ticket sales will go to support the Center.

Maybe it was just because I dated a theater major when I attended Purdue University that I knew the answer to last week’s question. But the French actor and mime who performed all over the world to spread the “art of silence” was Marcel Marceau. (The only correct answer I received was from Jess Birge, who may or may not have dated a theater major, but is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about the ultimate con film which was released in 1973 and won seven Oscars including Best Picture. What was the name of the movie set in September 1936 that told the story of two con-artists involved in a complicated plot to con a mob boss? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a recording of the Scott Joplin melody “The Entertainer”.

Well, it’s been another week, listening to the conversations in my head. Until we meet again, it’s not the first step that’s the most important, it’s the next step.

“Cats have a scam going - you buy the food, they eat the food, they go away; that's the deal.” Eddie Izzard

Aging Well in the Gorge January 16th 2018

Last week I heard this parable of a Chinese farmer.

One day a farmer's horse ran away. His neighbor hears of his bad news and comes over to commiserate. "I hear that you lost your horse. That is bad news."

Well, the next day the farmer's horse returns to his stable, and has brought back nine wild horses. The neighbor across the way can't believe what he hears and decides to come over and congratulate him. "This is such good news," he says.

“Good news, bad news, who’s to say,” said the farmer.

The next day the farmer's son decided to ride one of the wild horses, and as luck would have it, the son was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. Of course, upon hearing this sad news, their neighbor came over to offer condolences. "This is such bad news," he said.

“Bad news, good news, who’s to say,” said the farmer.

On the following day soldiers came by commandeering an army. They took sons from most of the surrounding farms, but because the farmer's son had a broken leg, he could not go and was spared.

The neighbor comes running over and says, “Yes! This is such good news; how lucky you are!”

And the farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who’s to say?”

Have you experienced “bad news” from which you later found some “good news”? This parable of the Chinese farmer reminds us that our situation is always fluid, and we shouldn’t become too consumed by either our good fortune or bad. There is no magic crystal ball to tell us what our future holds.

When we experience hardships and accidents, we can take comfort in looking for the hidden benefits and opportunities. Granted it may not compensate for the current hurt and pain, but we’re tough and resilient. And the “good news”? Much of what we have learned about life has come from the “bad news” we have experienced.

You may have seen the lawn signs and posters around town, but I want to encourage you to show your support for the Blue Zones Project in The Dalles by attending the Community Kick-Off this Friday, January 19th at Civic Auditorium. The kick-off starts with the Wellness Fair at 5:30 pm, and then a one-hour presentation at 6:00 pm. The event will continue until 8:30 with fun, family friendly well-being booths and activities, cooking demonstrations, healthy food, local performances, giveaways, yoga, and downshifting demonstrations. Learn more and RSVP at

The Center has already received several calls about the AARP Tax Aide program. The dedicated volunteers will finish their training this week, so they will be ready when the program starts February 2nd and continues through April 14th on Fridays from 2:00 – 6:00 and Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00. During the first weeks, there is always a long line, so you need to arrive early. But they will tell you if you are too late, so you won’t be wasting your time in line.

The name of the brand of colorful low-riding tricycles which were made mostly of plastic with an oversized front wheel was Big Wheels. (I received correct answers from Kim Birge, Sandy Haechrel, Jim Ayers, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, anonymous - who forgot to leave their name on the answering machine.) 

I was listening to Live Wire on OPB radio when host Luke Burbank interviewed Shawn Wen about a famous French mime who worked for the French Resistance during WW II. This mime first toured the United States in 1955 and you may remember seeing him on television performing one of his famous pantomimes - The Cage, Walking Against the Wind, or The Mask Maker. For this week’s “Remember Question”, who was the French actor and mime who performed all over the world to spread the “art of silence”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of Bip the Clown.

Well, it’s been another week, complaining about the sun in my eyes – when the sun finally shows itself.  Until we meet again, as they say in Minnesota, there is no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of good weather.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” Georgia O’Keefe

Aging Well in the Gorge January 9th 2018

With all the preconceive notions about aging and the common stereotypes about old people, one day we might hear someone singing, “Old people, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing!” But we know better. We regularly encounter older folks who demonstrate grace, humor, and kindness with tremendous spirit and grit.

Often the value of older adults is overlooked, so it was encouraging to read the December 29th, New York Times article by John Leland titled “Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person”.

For three years he followed six adults, most of them in their 90’s, to try to understand the challenges and hardships adults over 85 confront financially, physically and emotionally. But not surprisingly, he learned much more.

In his interviews, he found these “old” folks resilient and realistic. They had learned to accept loss and grief; and took snubs or rejections in stride and no longer desired things they couldn’t afford. As they lived each day, they were not paralyzed by the challenges they faced.

In fact, they exhibited what gerontologists call the “paradox of old age”: as we grow older and much of our get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone, instead of feeling worse and sorry for ourselves, we actually feel better - focusing on what we can still do and what we find rewarding, instead of what we can’t. As Ms. Wong told Leland, “I try not to think about bad things. It’s not good for old people to complain.”

From these six individuals in the twilight of their lives, he saw why older adults have higher levels of contentment and well-being than teenagers or young adults. And that there is much the younger generations can learn from these “over-the-hill” old folks.

If you want to read more about what John Leland learned from talking to folks 85+, his book, “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old” will be published on Jan. 23.

If you enjoy reading and are interested in joining a book group, The Dalles – Wasco County Public Library hosts three different book groups that meet at 6:30 PM on different Thursdays.

Starting on the second Thursdays of the month, The Pride Book Club meets and is open to all adults interested in reading LGBTQA literature. The club will be discussing The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff on January 11th.
On the third Thursdays, the appropriately named Third Thursday Book Group meets. On January 18th they will be discussing the international bestseller The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and in February they will be discussing The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin.
And on the fourth Thursdays, it’s The Mystery/Crime Book Group’s turn. On January 25th, they will be discussing American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin.

Anyone is welcome to join these book discussion groups. If you have any questions, contact the library at 541-296-2815.
The name of the company that manufactured the best-selling train set in the 50’s and by 1953 was the largest toy manufacturer in the world was Lionel. But I was also informed by Jim Ayers that Louis Marx and Company sold more train sets than Lionel in the late 1950’s, and he remembers having his own Marx O27 train set. (I received correct answers from Don McAllister, and this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket, Sam Guilip - and Jim Ayers for setting me straight.)  

And speaking of Louis Marx and Company, they introduced a toy in the 1970’s that was so successful, it was added to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2009. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the brand of colorful low-riding tricycles introduced by Louis Marx and Company, which were made mostly of plastic, with an oversized front wheel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

Well, it’s been another week, looking forward to the surprises of a new year. Until we meet again, don’t forget to write 2018 - and surprisingly, so far I’ve been doing pretty good.

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things and happy in small ways.” Edith Wharton

Aging Well in the Gorge January 2nd 2018

I was hoping we would be able to end 2017 without any more snow and ice, since I’m sure The Dalles met its yearly quota last January. But the snow I can deal with. It’s the ice I find deviously unsafe, especially the black ice, which I never notice until I suddenly slip and catch myself thinking, “That was close!”.

Falls are not fun. Recovering from a broken hip, dislocated shoulder or a fractured tailbone is not the way I want to spend my winter. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury from falling than from any other cause.

But you can take steps to avoid falls: being mindful of what you are doing, improving your balance and strength, and annually checking your eyesight because what you don’t see, can hurt you.

But if you do fall, it is good to know how to fall to prevent the most serious injuries. And who would know how to fall better than a professional stuntwoman? In the latest AARP Magazine, stuntwoman Alexa Marcigliano, says to fall safely you need to remember to “be smooth, don’t panic, stay loose”.

More specifically, here is her four-point plan on how to fall and be able to walk away.

1. Stay bent with locked arms. Bend your elbows and have some give in your arms to soften the impact. 2. Protect your head. If you're falling forward, be sure to turn your face to the side. When falling backward, tuck your chin to your chest so your head doesn't hit the ground to avoid a traumatic head injury. 3. Land on the meaty parts of your body — the muscles in your back, butt, or thighs. Avoid landing on bone. 4. Keep Falling. In other words, spread the impact across a larger part of your body, so you don't concentrate the impact on one area. The more you roll the safer you will be.

The Dalles covered in fresh snow is a remarkable sight. But before you can spread eight bags of ice melt, the snow and ice will be replaced by spring. Until then, enjoy the winter, take your time, and stay vertical. I don’t want to receive a surprise wish-you-were-here card from your seven-day winter vacation at MCMC.  

Over the past nine weeks I have briefly mentioned each of the nine lessons learned from the inhabitants of Blue Zones: places in the world where people lived the longest. Through the effort of many organizations and individuals, The Dalles was selected as a Blue Zones Project site. And to introduce the project to the whole community, there will be an official kickoff on Friday, January 19th from 5:30 – 8:30 at the Civic Auditorium. The kickoff includes a well-being fair starting at 5:00 and presentations starting at 6 PM. You are encouraged to bring your friends to discover how to improve your well-being while enjoying family friendly entertainment, cooking demonstrations, yoga and more.

And as a bonus you can impress everyone by knowing the Power of 9! You remember -  Move Naturally, Purpose, Downshift, 80% Rule, Plant Slant, Wine @ 5, Belong, Loved Ones First and the Right Tribe.

In the 1950’s probably every boy hoped to find under the Christmas tree an O gauge train set – the king of toys for boys. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the company that manufactured the best-selling train set in the 50’s and by 1953 was the largest toy manufacturer in the world? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a water tower and coal elevator, often found with a train set.

The name of the television show that featured teenagers dancing to the top 40 hits and was first produced in Philadelphia was American Bandstand. (I received correct answers from Sharon Hull, Tiiu Vahtel, Dave Lutgens, Jess Birge, Bob Thouvenel, Jim and Betsy Ayers and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Barbara Haren.)

Well, it’s been another week, remembering, “Oh, yeah, this is why folks go south during the winter. Until we meet again, tread carefully.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.” Neil Gaiman


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