Aging Well in the Gorge March 25th 2020


Do you feel as if you’re an actor in an episode of Twilight Zone - living in an alternate universe?  

I wish we could change the channel, but this pandemic crisis is real - turning our world upside down: church services and events canceled; volunteers no longer needed; and we are told to stay home and avoid friends. And making it worse, COVID-19 can be spread by people who are asymptomatic, not showing any signs of the virus, making us cautious of anyone we meet. Our usual means of connecting with each other have been eliminated.

But we still need to be connected. My children have called four times in the last week, reminding me, no, more like telling me, to stay home ALL the time. That I can’t do, but I am working from home and if I do go out, I’m maintaining the suggested social distance of six feet (One solution is to carry a six foot walking stick. If you can whack the person, they know they’re too close!)

If you are following the advice of public health officials by staying home and would like someone to talk with – or you have no one to pick up groceries or your medications, you can call Circles of Care at 541-397-0724 or email Gracen at gbookmyer@jfrfoundation.org. Circles of Care is a pilot program in The Dalles that connects older adults who need support with volunteers who can provide that support.

You can also call Meals-on-Wheels. They are still delivering meals but are in desperate need for drivers. An eighth route is being added because of the number of delivered meals has increased to over 140 meals a day. And because of COVID-19, they have lost several drivers who are self-isolating.

At the Center, all classes and activities are now canceled. But if you need help with Medicare, you can still call the local coordinator at 541-288-8341. And if you need medical equipment call me at 541-980-4645 and I can meet you at the Center while maintaining our six feet of separation. (Remember, I’ll be caring my walking stick!)

For many of us, staying home is not easy. Here are ten ideas to consider.

1. Contact five friends by phone, email, or Facebook. They’ll be glad to hear from you.
2. Exercise your brain using the free “Staying Sharp” program found on AARP’s website.
3. Take a walk - even if it’s raining.
4. Work in your garden – it’s also great therapy.
5. Clean house - in both meanings.
6. Learn how to use your Instapot - finally.
7. Draw – you only need a pencil and paper.
8. Practice meditation - there are apps and YouTube videos.
9. Start writing your life story - and it doesn’t all have to be true!
10. Create a disaster plan. Nothing like a real crisis to get you motivated.

This is a time we need to care for each other. Until this dark cloud passes, stay connected, wash your hands and if you do leave your home - take your walking stick.  

The name for the moistened piece of paper rolled into a ball and blown through a straw was called a spit wad or spit ball. I received correct answers from Bud Earl, who taught in The Dalles and who knows intimately about spitwads, Mary Hass, Virginia Johnson, Diane Weston, Jim and Betsy Ayers, Carol Earl, Lana Tepfer who said all the guys loved spitwads but were hated by the girls - except for this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Widge Johnson, who remembers with great pride the days when she could get enough air into her lungs to blast one across a room… and not hit a nun! (Last week I missed Judee Flint and Ronda Spies- again. And my apologies to everyone else I’ve missed.

He hosted his own weekly variety show that featured his most popular character Geraldine Jones who popularized the catchphrase “What you see is what you get”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this comedian who in 1972 was named by Time Magazine as “TV’s first black superstar”? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the album The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.

Well, it’s been another week, riding the wave and trying to stay on. Until we meet again, I have found there are two types of people: those who stockpile toilet paper and those who ask, WHY?

Aging Well in the Gorge March 18th 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives across the globe: cancellations and closures, travel restrictions, layoffs or reduced hours, empty shelves and worse - deaths. It is a serious threat particularly for us older adults over 60. But we can do our part to protect ourselves and others by washing our hands often - Wet, Lather, Scrub (20 seconds), Rinse and Dry and by practicing social distancing: keeping three to six feet from each other. (Since I like to shake hands and offer hugs, I find that hard to do - and elbow bumps just don’t feel right. So, don’t be surprised if you see me do as the Japanese and bow when greeting you.)  

I won’t mention all the cancellations and closures, but Meals-on-Wheels is NOT serving meals at the Center this week but are making sure meals are delivered. And I’m not sure what they’re doing next week. The Center is working to stay open (which may have changed by the time you read this) by implementing several conditions: excluding anyone showing flu symptoms, limiting group activities to no more than sixteen, requiring anyone entering the Center to wash their hands or use sanitizer, reminding everyone to keep a safe distance, and sanitizing surfaces with disinfecting wipes or bleach water (4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water).

We’ve been around long enough to know that this too shall pass. But until it does, we need to do our part to reduce the severity of this pandemic. And if you have decided to self-isolate and hunker down at home, make sure you stay in touch with friends and family. And consider this. Why not catchup doing what is now a relic of the past – writing letters.

Have you been singing Happy Birthday twice while washing your hands and wondering “Who am I singing Happy Birthday to?” Or maybe you have mixed it up and chose the first verse of a different song: Gloria Gaynor’s” I Will Survive”? Hank William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”? or the Temptations “I Can’t Get Next to You”? Email any song you would suggest singing.

You know it’s spring not because of the budding plants, the warmer days (with the occasional snow showers) or the longer evenings, but by seeing Bruce and Lori Harris driving around town in their Today’s Rays pickup getting sprinkler systems ready for spring. And once again I want to thank Bruce and Lori for donating their time servicing the Center’s irrigation system for the last many years.

After writing last week about scam phone calls, I received two – one asking me to press 1 for further information; and the other telling me I needed to call a certain number to avoid being charged for I’m not sure what. They were very convincing if I didn’t know any better.  

But there is some good news as reported on the AARP website. “Attorney General William Barr recently announced the largest-ever annual sweep of alleged fraudsters accused of targeting older Americans. More than 400 defendants have been charged in the past year, and they are purported to have been behind victim losses surpassing $1 billion. Barr also announced that preventing and disrupting transnational elder fraud is now one of the top priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice.” So, there is some hope. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The name given to the failed landing operation along the southwest coast of Cuba led by Cuban exiles opposed to the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro was the Bay of Pigs. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Cheri Brent and Sam Bilyeu who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Rhonda Spies

This may be a guy thing, but do you remember moistening a small piece of paper and blowing it throw a straw - a favorite way to disrupt the class by harassing a fellow student? Today you can even find a professional guide on the internet! For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name for this moistened piece of paper rolled into a ball? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with your favorite prank from your school days – that you are willing to admit!

Well, it’s been another week, looking for the silver lining in an old worn out jacket. Until we meet again, as they said in in England during WW II “Stay Calm and Keep Your Distance” – or something like that.

 “Introverts Unite – Separately.”  seen on Twitter

Aging Well in the Gorge March 11th 2020


Over the last month the Center has received several calls from individuals who have received spam calls. So, I guess it’s time for the semi-annual reminder on how to avoid scams – even for those of us who think “How could a person be that stupid?” But with the scams becoming increasing sophisticated, any of us could be “that stupid”.  

You already know the basics: don’t ever wire money or send cash or gift cards as a form of payment; don’t give your Social Security number to someone who makes an unsolicited call to you; and NO, your Social Security number cannot be suspended, revoked, frozen or blocked. (The Social Security Administration (SSA) may call you if you’ve working with the agency on some issue or claim. But just to make sure it’s truly the SSA calling you back, hang up and call SSA’s main number at (800) 772-1213).

Also, many of us are learning not to answer calls from unknown numbers. On my phone I try to keep my contact list up-to-date, so I know who’s calling. But I still feel guilty whenever I ignore a call from an unknown number especially if it’s a local number - but half the time it is just an unwanted solicitation. If they really want to talk to you, they’ll leave a message. I just have to remember to check my voice messages!

What I didn’t know were these two suggestions by AARP.

Don’t return one-ring calls from unknown numbers. These may be scams to get you to call hotlines in African and Caribbean countries that have U.S.-style three-digit area codes, and you could incur hefty connection and per-minute fees.

Don’t follow instructions on a prerecorded message, such as “Press 1” or “Press Yes” to speak to a live operator (it will probably lead to a phishing expedition); or press any key to get taken off a call list (it will probably lead to more robocalls).

If you have any questions call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline: 877-908-3360 available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. This free resource, available to everyone, can provide the information you need to protect yourself and your family.

On Thursday March 12th at 11:00 Stephanie Becker from MCMC will be discussing “Coping with the Blues” - how to pick yourself up when you’re down in the dumps. Learn how to maintain your health and well-being during difficult times while making the most of the rest of your life.

How are you going to spend St. Patrick’s Day? Drinking a bottle of Guinness by yourself? Why not have some fun by attending the 23rd annual “St. Pat’s at St. Pete’s” St. Patrick’s Day concert at 7 PM at the St. Peter’s Landmark on Tuesday, March 17th.  Victor Johnson, the River City Dudes, and others will join Cascade Singers community choir, the ensemble, and “Almost-All-Irish-Almost-All-Brass Band” for Irish classical songs, novelty numbers, traditional favorites and sing-alongs.  Admission is a free-will offering to benefit St. Peter’s Landmark.

The Arctic Circle restaurant was located where Montira’s Thai Cuisine is now, and Momma Jane’s replaced Pat’s Pancake House. But before Pat’s Pancake House, Gary Conley remembers Jumbo Drive-in and Ed Smart’s Secondhand store (I hope I got the right). Does anyone else remember them?

I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Virginia Johnson, John Huteson (who asked if anyone remembers the Hoot Owl CafĂ©), Tiiu Vahtel, Ron Nelson, Cherie Monette, who along with her husband worked at the Arctic Circle, and is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

The 50’s and 60’s were a time of cold war tensions. But it particularly came close to home when Fidel Castro led a revolt to overthrow Batista’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name for the failed landing operation in April 1961 on the coast of Cuba by Cuban exiles opposed to the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a tape of Ed Sullivan’s interview of Fidel Castro shown January 11th, 1959 on his variety show.

Well, it’s been another week, still waiting for my once a year good idea. Until we meet again, my wife told me there comes a time in every marriage when 70% of the conversations is someone yelling from the other room “WHAT?”.

Aging Well in the Gorge March 4th 2020


You can’t turn on the television or the radio without hearing about the new coronavirus - officially called COVID-19. It’s particularly scary not knowing how far the virus will eventually spread in the U.S. My daughter was so worried she cancelled her flight from San Diego to San Jose to see a K-pop concert - and that’s a big deal for her!

From what I understand there is still much that’s not understood about COVID-19: how lethal it is (it could be twenty times more than the seasonal flu), how many will be infected (because the seasonal flu infects millions, it kills hundreds of thousands around the world each year even though it’s much less lethal than COVID-19), what groups are more affected, and how it spreads (it seems to spread easily).

Although there is the possibility of transmitting COVID-19 by contacting infected objects, it’s spread mainly from person-to-person through the respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

So, what is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19? I’m sure you know the answer. Washing your hands! But I learned it’s NOT how I wash my hands.  

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should follow these five steps. 

1. WET your hands with running water and apply soap. Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from your skin.

2. LATHER your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from your skin. 

3. Now this is the toughest step for me. SCRUB your hands for at least 20 seconds. For me that seems like an eternity. But if you aren’t sure how long, hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice. (I can imagine walking into the men’s restroom and discovering a barbershop quartet singing “Happy Birthday” in four part harmony while scrubbing their hands.)

4. RINSE your hands well under running water. Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and disease-causing germs from your skin so they can then be rinsed off your hands.

5. DRY your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol - but you should still rub your hands for twenty seconds!

Public health officials and medical providers are working hard to prevent the worse from the COVID-19 threat. And you can do your part by developing the habit of washing your hands - the right way. It will help you stay healthy now and particularly during the next flu season.

Kerry Cobb’s presentation at the Center on Tuesday March 10th is “Understanding Poetry”. You will read and discuss a variety of timely thought-provoking poems written by master poets. You'll look at poetic message, meaning, and relevance as experienced through the work of artistic poet expression.

The need for home delivered meals has skyrocketed in the last three years from 100 to 140 meals a day. With the increased need, Denise Patton, Director of Meals-on-Wheels, may have to establish another route which means adding more drivers when it’s already difficult to find the volunteer drivers for the current routes. If you have time between 11:00 and 12:30 one day a week, please consider volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels.

The name of the superhero cartoon character popular since the 30’s was “Popeye the Sailorman”. I received correct answers from Cheri Brent, Mary Ann Hass, Sandy Haechrel, Julie Carter (who mentioned we can’t forget Olive Oyl, Wimpy and Sweet Pea), Barbara Cadwell, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Lana Tepfer, John Huteson, Jerry Phillips, Rhonda Spies and Patty Burnet from Moro this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month so it’s time for “Businesses That Were”. For this week’s two part “Remember When” question, what business was first located where Montira’s Thai Cuisine is now; and what popular restaurant use to be in the building Momma Jane’s now occupies? Email your answers to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a frozen pancake.

Well, it’s been another week, keeping an eye on what’s possible. Until we meet again, don’t forget to sing “Happy Birthday” - twice.

“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.” Will Durant, historian


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