Aging Well in the Gorge August 26th 2020

Once in a while Friday arrives and I wonder, “What am I going to write about for next week?” This last Friday was one of those times - until I received a call from Kimberly Herman, the public affairs officer for Social Security in Oregon. She asked me to share with you the best way to reach a Social Security representative by phone now that the local office is closed because of COVID-19.

While most business with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be done online, if you did want to call your local Social Security office that’s closed, you were told to call the 800 number for SSA - and hope your cell phone battery is charged because it can take several hours to finally talk to someone.

SSA understands that is not acceptable and have made some changes. Now if you want to speak to a representative you can call the local office number on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can find the number online using the Social Security Office Locator. But to save you time, the number for The Dalles office is 1-877-405-3526. And again, don’t call the 800 number if you want a quick response.

There is one exception. Although the Social Security offices are closed to walk-in visitors, you may be able to schedule an appointment for limited, critical issues if they cannot help you by phone or conduct your business online.

If you are comfortable going online, SSA has information about all their services at There you can find your latest statement, request a replacement Social Security Card or Medicare Card, change your address, set up or change direct deposit, print proof of benefits or your 1099, and review your earnings history. (I’ve forgotten how little I earned forty years ago!).

And while I’m writing about Social Security, this is a good time to remind you about the Medicare “NEVERS” that help protect you from Medicare fraud

Medicare will NEVER contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance; NEVER call you to sell you anything; NEVER promise you things if you give them a Medicare Number; NEVER visit you at your home; and Medicare will NEVER enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration remains committed to providing uninterrupted benefits and vital services you rely on. Whether you go online or call your local Social Security Office, they want to make it easy for you to get the help you need.

Thanks to everyone who bought one of the almost five hundred masks sold at the Center’s Facemask Sale last Friday and Saturday. But if you missed it, you can still purchase a new and improved mask with behind the ear adjustable elastic straps for adults and children for $5. You can find them at The Dalles Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00 or call the Center to schedule a time to pick one up.

It was Michael who rowed the boat ashore in the African-American spiritual recorded by the Highwayman which reached number one in 1960. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Sandy Haechrel, Diana Weston, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Betsy Ayers, Beverly McKinney, Susan Donnelly, Rose Schulz and Keith Clymer this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, because last week I missed Susan Ronning and Sandy Haechrel.

When you were a child, your father may have read you the Sunday comics which probably included this comic strip that took place on the fictional army post Camp Swampy. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comic strip first published in 1950, created by Mort Walker and featured an army private who was often the subject of verbal and physical chastising from his superior officer, Sergeant Snorkel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with the directions to Camp Crowder, the inspiration for Camp Swampy, where Mort Walker had once been stationed while in the Army.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to just get on with it. Until we meet again, there is always time to make new memories.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

Aging Well in the Gorge August 19th 2020

As we know, this too shall pass. And when we finally get pass the COVID-19 pandemic with widespread access to vaccines and home administered tests, what will the new normal look like - particularly for us adults over 60 who are the most vulnerable? How do you imagine you will receive health care, travel, shop - and how will the new normal affect your relationships with others?

Bruce Horovitz interviewed geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists for his August 3rd article “What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World” for Kaiser Health News (, the nation’s leading nonprofit newsroom focused on health and health policy.

According to those experts, here are some predictions of how the new normal might look - particularly for older adults.

To decrease the number of visits to the doctor’s office, one in three visits will be virtual using telemedicine; pharmacies will do more vaccinations; and most intriguing is the possibility that in a few years there will be special devices at home to analyze urine and fecal samples. Oh boy!

More people will avoid flying. Trips less than 800 miles will likely become road trips, and there will be less foreign travel. And when flying, older adults who can afford it will be looking for more room by flying business class, or for a couple paying for three seats so no one is between them. Hotels will market medical care such as advertising a doctor on-site or nearby. And disinfecting will be a marketing tool by having employees visibly wiping everything numerous times. And if you decide to take a cruise, they will require proof of vaccination for both passengers and cruise employees.

Because you know and trust the owners, local eateries will be more popular. Safety and cleanliness will be a selling point - even hiring employees just to wipe down tables, chairs and all high-touch points. And public restrooms will increasingly convert to no-touch toilets, urinals, sinks and entrances/exits.

More older adults will move in with their families instead of assisted living; home delivery of almost everything will become the norm for older Americans; and in-person shopping will become much less common, 

And most distressing, because of the fear of covid-19 and other contagious diseases, more older folks will disengage, becoming more isolated with higher incidences of depression.

How many of these predictions do you think will come true for us older adults in the Gorge? Do you think you will be doing things differently? Less flying, less eating out? Or will you go back to the pre-pandemic normal? I know I will be doing things differently, but for how long, I’m not sure. I guess, time will tell – or whatever my kids tell me I should do!

On Wednesday, August 26th from 7:00 – 8:30, Nehemiah Brown will be performing for the Center’s second Parking Lot Concert. There is no charge, but donations will be appreciated to support the Center during these difficult times. Come early and find a parking spot or bring your lawn chair while keeping six feet from non-family members. And I can’t forget a big thank-you to Cherry Heights Living which is sponsoring the concert.

Quick reminder: Mask Sale & Benefit at the Center this Friday, August 21st and Saturday the 22nd from 10am - 4pm. Adult and children’s masks in multiple prints and in various sizes for $5.

A “doobie” is a euphemism for a marijuana cigarette also called a reefer or joint. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Jerry Phillips, Dave Lutgens, Julie Carter and University of Oregon grad Carol Earl who is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And I don’t know how I could, but I did miss Lana Tepfer from last week.

This African-American spiritual from the civil war was recorded by many artists from Pete Seeger to Harry Belafonte. But in 1960 the recording by the folk band The Highwaymen reached number-one for three weeks. For this week’s “Remember Question”, who rowed the boat ashore? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the Jordan River.

Well, it’s been another week, watching all the trains, boats and planes moving through the Gorge. Until we meet again, as Jorge Barragan said on Facebook, one of life’s joys is being surrounded by your grandchildren.

“You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life. Everything goes smack back to that.” Billie Holiday

Aging well in the Gorge August 12th 2020


Your kids have left home and you’re thinking your 2500 sq. ft. house is better suited for a young family with kids instead of a couple of seventy-year oldies. Or you now want to live someplace where getting under the sink is no longer your responsibility but the landlord’s. Or you are tired of eating the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and would like to move to a retirement community where they provide a variety of meals – and they taste good!

So, it’s time to think about moving. But to move you’ll have to get rid of much of your accumulated stuff - which for most of us is hard to do. But why?

You may find it difficult because of the reasons we keep things. They are useful. But will they still be useful after you move? If you don’t see yourself having a garden, you won’t need all the garden equipment. Or they can symbolize something important to you: your old vinyl records; your daughter’s fifth-grade hand-drawn pictures; or your dad’s fold up rocking chair which you still keep even though the seat is ripped. It takes courage to surrender these things and decide to move forward in your life.

Now that you’ve made the difficult decision of what to get rid of, you then must decide how - which isn’t easy either. Does anyone you know want anything - your kids usually don’t. Should you have a yard sale which is hard work? Can some things be donated? Or should it just be trashed – which seems wasteful because you’re sure someone will want those VHS movies, right?”

It is always easier to do nothing than something especially when there are difficult personal decisions to make. But there is a reward. By getting rid of many of your possessions, you often find a sense of relief and freedom. But don’t wait. Do it while you still can. We won’t always be spring chickens!

If you have driven by the Center you may have asked yourself, “What is that tent for? Several weeks ago, Mitzi Stansbury suggested the Center set up a tent for small groups of twelve or less to meet safely in the shade - except during those 100+ days. She, like many of us, is missing meeting with friends in person, and by meeting outside with six-foot social distancing it can be done safely. If you want to schedule a time for your small group to meet, call the Center and you’ll be put on the schedule. The only conflict now is Debra Lutje’s strength yoga class at 9:15 on Friday mornings. And it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Matt Larsen and Discover Rentals who donated the tent.   

Also, under the tent, the Center is having a Mask Sale & Benefit on August 21st and 22nd from 10am - 4pm. There will be adult masks, and also children’s masks in multiple prints and in various sizes for $5. This will be an easy way to purchase another mask for yourself or one for your grandchild before school starts.

The name of the reality series broadcast live on NBC television from 1952 to 1961 and was created by Ralph Edwards who fooled Laurel and Hardy to make their only television appearance was This is Your Life. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Jerry Phillips, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Rhonda Spies, Patty Burnett, Shirley (who I lost her last name), and Keith Bassham from Hood River - this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Jerry Phillips and Clare Zumwalt.

You may not want to answer this question but if you do, I’m not going to make any assumptions about your social behavior during your younger days. In 1970 a rock band from San Jose named themselves the Doobie Brothers which they intended to be temporary because they thought it was dumb, but instead has lasted for their five decade career. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what is a “doobie”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a bottle of patchouli oil.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep my socks on. Until we meet again, nothing takes you back to feeling like a fifteen-year-old than finding a pimple on your nose. Those darn masks!


“Honestly, sometimes I get really fed up of my subconscious – it’s like it’s got a mind of it’s own.” Alexei Sayle

Aging Well in the Gorge August 5th 2020

Is there anything certain these days? I mean besides death and taxes. It feels like the pandemic has turned the world upside down and inside out - elevating the uncertainty and unpredictability in a world that has always been uncertain, whether it is our own safety or the national partisan posturing. (Okay, maybe we can be certain about the latter.)

But can’t there be a little certainty in our lives? Just a steady rock we can climb on so we can feel safe, secure and can experience a sense of calm when we become overwhelmed with all the current confusion?

Uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life that can change quickly and unpredictably. And because of this uncertainty, you may find yourself always assuming the worse of all the endless what-ifs. What if that mole on my arm is cancerous? What if that slight pain in my chest is more than indigestion? What if my forgetfulness isn’t normal?

Spending time worrying about the what-ifs robs us of the enjoyment in the present, saps our energy, and keeps us up way too many nights leaving us feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over the direction of our lives.

But uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Surprises can be something to enjoy: surprise birthday parties, an invitation to dinner with friends, or an unexpected bouquet of roses from your spouse. (If I surprised my wife with flowers, she would be wondering what I did wrong!)

Okay, now you may be thinking, “I’ve been around the block plenty of times, so you don’t need you to tell me that life is uncertain. But you haven’t explained how I can find some certainty - because trust me, these days I don’t always see uncertainty as a pleasant surprise but something to fear.”

Well, there are two ways you can start to find some certainty. First, focus on what you can control. Chronic worrying about what you can’t control doesn’t give you any more control over those events.

What can you control? How about creating a daily routine and sticking to it? Do you make time to walk, to relax, to get plenty of sleep and to eat healthy? And when you go outside, do you wear your facemask and wash your hands when you return? Those actions you can control. And by creating dependable routines, you can move from ineffective worrying about what may or may not happen to feel a sense of control over your life and well-being.

Second, focus on the present. One of the surest ways to avoid worrying about the future and all the possible bad things that could happen is to focus on the here and now. Instead of trying to predict what might happen, (we’re actually very poor fortune-tellers!), switch your attention to what’s happening right now. Enjoy the pleasures of the present.

You may be like many others where these uncertain times can leave you feeling uncomfortable about the future, can magnify your problems, and even paralyze you from addressing a problem. But even though certainty is elusive, by focusing on what you can control and living in the present, you may be able to find that safe haven of certainty that can help you cope with the unpredictable changes - because, as we know, life will always find a way of surprising you.

“Well here’s another nice mess you've gotten me into!" was the catchphrase used by the comedy duo Stan Laurel playing the childlike friend of the pompous bully Oliver Hardy. I received answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Rhonda Spies, Dave Lutgens, Tim Annala, Jim Donnelly, Steve Chance, Gary VanOrman, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Cindy Winfield.

Speaking of Laurel and Hardy, they made their only American television appearance on December 1st, 1954 when they were surprised and interviewed by Ralph Edwards. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this reality series broadcast live on NBC television from 1952 to 1961? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a recorded episode of Truth or Consequences, also created by Ralph Edwards.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to be cool. Until we meet again, I have reached that time during the summer when I’m really looking forward to autumn.

“I learned to give not because I have a lot, but I know how it feels to have nothing.” Anonymous



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