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UPDATED 10.25.19

Aging Well in the Gorge March 27th 2019


One of the lessons learned from the Blue Zones research that identified and studied five communities in the world where people live “longer, better” is the importance of belonging to a social group. In Okinawa such a group made up of 5 to 8 people is called a Moai - meaning "meeting for a common purpose". The Dalles Blue Zones project is encouraging several types of moais that provide emotional and social support but also encourage healthy behaviors such as walking moais or potluck moais that foster healthy eating.

At the Center you might say we have several moais which you are welcome to join: the Needle Nutz (needlework and knitting) have been meeting for years on Wednesdays at 10:00; the Quilters have been meeting for even longer on Mondays from 10:00 to 3:00 and Strong Women on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00.

You may already belong to a moai: your bible study class or a coffee klatch. But even if you don’t consider yourself a “social” person, find a group that shares an interest of yours. You’ll find new friends and it will be good for your health.

Several folks have called the Center looking for assistance and the first place I suggest they call is the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) - a service provided by CAPECO, the Area Agency on Aging serving this area. Call The Dalles office at 541-506-3512 and Tammy will be glad to help you.

It’s hard to believe it’s going to be April before I chat with you again. But it is – so I want to mention two presentations next week at the Center you may find interesting.

Tuesday April 2nd at 1:00 is the next in the Center’s first Tuesday “Art Appreciation” series. This month Kerry Cobb will be leading you on a photo tour of the wonders of Oregon from the iconic landmarks of the coast past the mountaintops of the Cascades to the eastern Oregon desert.

Then on Wednesday April 3rd at 1:00, Carola Stepper, founder of the Cascade Acupuncture Center, will present “Introduction to Acupuncture and Self Acupressure for Common Health Concerns”. This is an excellent class to learn the benefits of Acupuncture from a seasoned practitioner.

If you have the energy (which sometimes is a big IF), there are plenty of events to enjoy in the area - just check the Chronicles’ “What’s Happening” or “Entertainment” sections. For example, if you read this early enough, The Dalles-Wasco County Library is hosting a Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Tribute Performance on Wednesday, March 27th at 6:30 PM and it’s FREE.

Also, FREE and at the library on Friday, April 5th at 7:00 PM will be Fire Entertainer of the Year, Eli March, who will be demonstrating his fire juggling skills in the library mezzanine. No just kidding - although that would add a little more excitement wondering if any books would be scorched. He will actually be performing in the Library’s upper parking lot.

And then Community Concerts is presenting “The Comedy Ventriloquism of Lynn Trefzger” on April 8th at 7 PM at TDHS - which from the poster looks like family-friendly-fun contrary to many comedians these days.

The name of the first commercial communications satellite launched in 1962 which was also the name of the number one hit song in December of that year was “Telstar”. I received correct answers from Mike Carrico, Jerry Phillips, Cheri Brent and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket Bill Marick who showed me his 1963 Ventures album The Ventures play Telstar and the Lonely Bull.

This is the last week for looking back at the technology that has changed over the last fifty years. And one technology demonstrating the dramatic change has been telephones. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what is the name of the style of telephone first introduced in 1959; was primarily marketed to women - as demonstrated by its name; and because of its compact design and light up dial was often found in the bedroom? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer with a copy of the Bell Telephone logo used from 1921 through 1939.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to find the bottom line without getting stuck. Until we meet again, wisdom is knowing when to stop as well as when to start.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields

Aging Well in the Gorge March 20th 2019

Do you ever feel you’re a day late and a dollar short? Today I do because last week was Brain Awareness week - and I missed it. But in the spirit of “better late than never” I want to share some memory tips from the AARP program “Staying Sharp”.  

First and most important, PAY ATTENTION. Often when we forgot something, we just weren’t paying attention. For example, I couldn’t remember where I laid the car keys because when I came home, I was too focused on how fast I could get to the bathroom!

Second. Avoid multi-tasking. It is a myth that your brain can focus on two tasks at the same time. What your brain actually does is quickly switch back and forth between the two tasks. But as we age, our brains can’t switch as fast and at the same time are more easily distracted.

Third. Write it down. I am often frustrated when I have an earth-shattering idea that will bring peace and harmony to the world - or at least make my life a little better - and I forget it! I’ve adapted and you’ll see plenty of sticky notes around my house.

Fourth. Establish a routine. Do you use a pill box? I never wanted to because I thought it was an indisputable sign I was getting “old”. But after several times not remembering whether I took my pills, (which is not a good thing) a pill box has become an essential part of my morning routine.

Fifth. And relax. Don’t stress out when you forget where you parked the car. You always find it, right? During my younger days there were many times when I couldn’t think of a word using “whatsimacallit” or “thingamajig” instead. But did I worry that it was an indication of early dementia? No! And today with all the instant electronic notifications and distractions, I’m sure young people have many of their own “senior” moments.

If you want to learn more, you can join the Center’s Brain Fitness Club which meets every Monday at 1:00. For the next several weeks, we’ll be learning more about the brain by developing the curriculum for a brain fitness class starting sometime in April.

I’ve mentioned before that if you have Medicare questions you can call SHIBA Medicare counseling at 541-288-8341 or the Center at 541-296-4788 to schedule a free appointment.

But if your questions aren’t urgent, you can attend one of the free Medicare 101 classes at CGCC on Tuesday, April 9. To register for the 9:00 – 1:00 class at the Hood River campus call 541-308-8202; and to register for the 1:00 – 3:00 class at The Dalles campus call 541-506-6011.

Until then here is a “Medicare Minute” to store in your long-term memory for future use.

If you find your Medicare supplement premiums keep going up, one option is to change to a cheaper policy. But in most states that means going through underwriting which often makes it difficult to change because of pre-existing conditions.  

But Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon are fortunate. During the thirty days following your birthday, you can change from one Medicare supplement to another of equal benefits with no underwriting. You can find which companies have lower rates by consulting the 2019 Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans which you can pick up at the Center or by calling 541-298-8341.

When television stations signed off, the picture design following the national anthem was called a Test Pattern. I received correct answers from Sandy and Bob Haechrel, Cheri Brent, Jerry Phillips, Lana Tepfer and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, who I didn’t miss this time, Mike Carrico.

In July of 1962 the first commercial communications satellite was launched and within a year successfully relayed through space the first telephone call, telegraph image and the first live transatlantic television feed. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this communication satellite? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer with a 45 record of the song that was named after the satellite which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in December of 1962.

Well, it’s been another week, knowing it’s all good. Until we meet again, keep reaching for the stars – even though takes a little more effort.

“There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” Douglas Adams

Aging Well in the Gorge - March 13th 2019


You’ve probably seen the ads urging you to call “Company Rip-off” at some 800-number promising to reduce your home mortgage payments. If you’re like me, you just ignore them because you know there is no such thing as a “free lunch”.

But here is an exception – if you qualify. On Thursday, March 14th at 11:00 at the Center, Dave Peters from the Housing Resource Center in The Dalles will explain the Principal Reduction and Lien Extinguishment (PR/LE) program. It is designed for homeowners who are on a fixed income and struggling to make their mortgage payment.

There are requirements: your house payment must be at least 25% of your income before enrolling in the program and less than 36% after the loan is recast. But the program will pay up to $50,000 to reduce the unpaid principal balance of the mortgage so that the loan may be re-amortized resulting in a sustainable lower monthly payment. The benefit is provided in the form of a no-interest, five-year forgivable loan for which a lien will be recorded against the property.  The amount due goes down 20% each year until after 5 years when the amount due is zero.

Now that may sound confusing. So if you have questions, Dave can help and determine if you qualify. If you can’t attend Dave’s presentation, you can call him at 541-296-5462.

If you ever wanted to learn how to decorate cakes, cupcakes, cookies, or pies this is your chance. Pie Pizazz is a cake decorating class offered by Texas Pastry Artist Stasha Garcia. It will be held at the Center from 1:00 – 4:00 on the third Saturday for the next six months starting Saturday, March 16th. The cost is $25 for each session with a $5 initial registration fee. Space is limited. Call Stasha at 830-456-7424 to register or drop by the Center to pick up the necessary information. And when you finish the class, make sure you leave a decorated cupcake at the Center’s front desk with a note “For Scott”.

“Free Caption Telephone Devices for the Hearing Impaired” is the next “Lecture for the Curious” at the Center on Wednesday, March 20th at 1:00 pm. Susan Kirk, CapTel Training Specialist, will explain Oregon CapTel, a FREE service that gives people who are hard of hearing the ability to communicate using captioned telephones.

Who would have thought last Wednesday we would again have to postpone Lucille Torgerson’s “As I Was Saying” presentation because of snow! It’s March, right?  But we’re not waiting another month. Her presentation with Widge Johnson where she’ll share her experiences writing her life story will be this Friday, the 15th at 11:00 AM.

Now that the snow is receding back north, my “back” wants to thank several folks for helping clear the Center’s parking lot of snow: Nick Nelson and his Snow Clearing Service for his quick response - twice; Al Wynn for stopping by on his Kubota tractor; and Gene and Nichole from Wasco County.

The name of the 15,000-pound computer that was introduced on TV in the 1950's and tallied presidential election's results before our very eyes was UNIVAC. This week’s winners of a free quilt raffle ticket each are Sandy Haechrel who once worked for UNIVAC in St. Paul, Minnesota as a technical editor, and Jerry Phillips who remembers the UNIVAC seen on CBS in 1952 was a dummy console built in the TV studio complete with blinking Christmas lights because the actual UNIVAC-5 was too large to move. 

Back in the prehistoric days of black and white television shows, if you stayed up too late you could catch the television station sign off with the national anthem followed by a picture design which was used by engineers to adjust the picture quality. For this week’s “Remember When” question what were these designs commonly called? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer with a picture of the Indian head that was shown on the most popular design.  

Well, it’s been another week, looking for more sunny skies. Until we meet again, there is always an answer. The challenge is finding it in your own life time.

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Roald Dahl, writer

Aging Well in the Gorge March 6th 2019


Have you heard the phrase “Walk Like a Penguin”? And I’m not talking about the supervillain in the Batman movies.

It’s a way to think about walking safely in snow and ice. For the last several weeks, I’ve been meaning to share this concept, but I kept thinking it’s too late. It’s not going to snow again.  Ah, the optimistic fool I am.

But to make sure it doesn’t snow again during what’s left of this winter, I’m going to finally share with you how to walk like a penguin to avoid falls and slips during these icy conditions.

I first saw “Walk Like A Penguin” signs outside The Dalles Fitness and Court Club (which will soon be another name left to the old timers to remember such as Treaty Oak, Valley Vista or Camlu). I had guessed it meant to step carefully but I recently discovered a more detailed description, so I don’t have to watch a National Geographic special about penguins.

To walk like a penguin, it is suggested you do the following: point your feet out slightly; bend your knees and keep them loose; extend your arms out to your side and hands out of your pockets; and take short steps or waddle.

In addition, since we haven’t evolved webbed feet yet, wear shoes or boots with traction. Assume all wet and dark areas on pavement are icy - especially around snow banks where the melt off freezes over-night. And if it’s still too treacherous, wow your friends and “Slide Like A Penguin” on your belly across the snow.

Whether it’s icy or not, this is a good time to remind yourself that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. So, don’t rush and stay focused - until next winter when you’ll know to “Walk Like A Penguin”!

“Lectures for the Curious” start this month at the Center. There is one lecture each week in March beginning Wednesday, March 6th at 1:00 with Lucille Torgerson and Widge Johnson presenting “As I Was Saying”- tips on how to write your life story.

Then on Tuesday, March 12th 1:00 PM, “From Pioneer Drugstore to Community Icon: The Waldron Brother's Drugstore” describes the fascinating history of the Waldron Brother’s Drugstore (also known as the Gitchell Building). Speaker: Eric Gleason - local resident and professional archaeologist.

On Wednesday, March 20th 1:00 PM, “Free Telephone Devices for the Hearing Impaired”. Learn more about Oregon CapTel’s Captioned Telephones and smartphones offered through Sprint which give people who are hard of hearing the ability to communicate on the telephone - and these services are FREE! Speaker: Susan Kirk - CapTel Training Specialist

Tuesday, March 26th 1:00 PM “Benefits of Using MCMC’s MyChart”. Learn how to access the many advantages of MCMC’s MyChart: scheduling appointments, checking test results, paying bills, or searching for medical information. Speaker: Karen Jones - MCMC Health Information Manager.

If you have thrown the Chronicle in the recycling bin and forgot when Eric Gleason is going to speak at the Center, the easiest place to find the information is on the Center’s website. It’s not fancy but is generally up to date and 95% accurate (They’ll always be a few mistakes to show I’m not an infallible robot). Go to www.midcolumbiaseniorcenter.com or just google Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

The irreverent World War II novel by Joseph Heller first published in 1961 whose title became a way to describe a “no-win” situation was Catch-22.  I received correct answers from Jerry Phillips, Sandy Haechrel, Lana Tepfer, Bob Earls, Carol Earl, Darlene Marick, Bobette Stewart, Dan Ericksen, and Sally Forster this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And from last week I missed Laurel Slatt, Kathy Viemeister and Sandy Haechrel.

Lana Tepfer answered my plea and emailed me this challenging question – the first of this month’s questions about early technology. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the 15,000-pound computer that was introduced on TV in the 1950's and tallied presidential election's results before our very eyes? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer with a box of 5,000 vacuum tubes.

Well, it’s been another week, wishing for at least one good idea. Until we meet again, keep your chin up and your hands warm.

“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.” —Mae Jemison

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