Aging Well April 28 2009

That was some cold and windy Cherry Festival Parade Day. There was one time when I was about to grab the blanket from Donna (who was much better prepared than I was) and I didn’t even care if it was pink. But we all survived and The Dalles gathered together to enjoy a little “Maraschino Magic”. A big thanks to all the folks who helped with the Center’s successful Cherry Festival Breakfast (which was indoors and warm): the gals from Washington Federal Savings, Boy Scout Troop #395 and all the Center volunteers including Edna, Bonnie, Sandy, Betty, Eva, Pete and Albenna.

Many times people confuse the Meals-on-Wheels program with the Senior Center and once again it happened during the Cherry Festival Parade. Meals-on-Wheels volunteers spent many hours building their float promoting all of Meals-on-Wheels’ good work, and yet throughout the parade they were identified as the Senior Center. I wish I could take credit, but I could never build anything as nice – ask my wife. But it does give me the opportunity to remind folks that although Meals-on-Wheels and the Senior Center have complementary missions and work well together, we are separate programs with separate boards and funding.

The more I learn about maintaining your sharpness and energy, there is one common denominator: you gotta keep moving. Whether by yourself through gardening, swimming, walking, or doing cartwheels down the middle of the street or in a group – if you need a little peer pressure to show up and a little guilt when you don’t, you need to move. It has been said if exercise were a drug, it would be a doctor’s most prescribed medication.

There are many places that provide opportunities to keep moving: The Dalles Fitness and Court Club, the Mid-Columbia Medical Center and here at the Senior Center. The Center offers several morning classes including a low to moderate impact aerobics class called Seniorcise geared toward improving balance, muscle strength and stamina; a yoga class where we use chairs – for those of us who would otherwise spend half the class getting up and down, and the Strong Women’s Class which exercises your muscles and your funny bones. There is also Tap and Clogging and Tai Chi both offered once a week. There is always room for YOU so call the Center at 296-4788 to find the times for each class.

The Jazz Generations are playing tonight and for the next two weeks Boyd “Doc” Jacobsen has lined up the “tried and true” for your dancing pleasure. The Cherry Park Band will be playing on the 5th and Truman Boler will be playing the following Tuesday on the 12th. There is always good music and the price is right: free, but donations are appreciated. Everybody is invited and the music starts at 7:00.

And another gentle reminder about the Workshop on May 9th from 9:00 – 12:00, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. It will feature Lee Paton a noted Gerontologist from Portland and Lucille Torgerson a noted local “observer of life”. The topic is “Tough Talk” or how adult children and their parents can effectively engage in those difficult discussions with empathy and understanding – and without killing each other. (It’s no longer about the length of your hair or your skirt.) Many of us may have good relationships with our children or parents and yet we are afraid to initiate the tough talk because we don’t know how or because we are comfortable with what is. But the world has turned upside – now the child wants to protect the parent who had always protected them and the parent just wants to be free. These conversations are not easy, but the workshop just might help you get started.

Another week has literally blown by. Until we meet again, Saturday reminded me of the following quote from William Arthur Ward, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” And I might add, will still be blown into Sherman County.

Aging Well April 21 2009

Its Cherry Festival time. On Saturday the downtown will be filled with the sights and sounds of food venders, antique autos, children’s games, plant sales, music performers and the health fair; with folks gathered around, waving and shouting for the main event: the Cherry Festival Parade.

But before the parade, stop by the Center for a Cherry Festival Breakfast sponsored by Washington Federal Savings. This year’s menu of culinary delights includes French Toast with special toppings, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit and the usual beverages. Breakfast starts at 7:30 to give the early birds a chance to eat before they prepare the finishing touches for the parade.

And in special recognition of the self effacing, story-telling Grand Marshal Bob Wagenblast, I have to mention that the Mid-Columbia Shrine Club is hosting their 25th Annual Oyster (or Chicken Cordan Bleu) Feed on Friday at St Peter Parish Center from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Stop in, say hi to Bob and thank him for all he has done for the community – but you may want to avoid his jokes.

It is frustrating when you know you know but can’t remember. Last year in this column I shared a three step process for remembering everything and anything, but as life happens, I forgot one of the steps. But help is on the way. At the Next Chapter Lecture on Tuesday at 11:00, Lindsay Couch will discuss aging and memory including memory tricks. (And if I’m lucky she will help me remember the missing step.)

There are many opportunities to enjoy good music in the Gorge and last Friday night was one. The Dalles Wahtonka High School Key Club hosted the Senior Citizens Prom for a modest but enthusiastic crowd of all ages. But if you want to dance to the TDWHS Jazz Band you actually have to know how to dance. Not like me where I step left, right, back, turn, stumble, fall. But watching the young kids dancing, I realized somebody has learned a step or two. They were looking good.

And speaking of showing your moves on the dance floor, tonight at the Center you can dance till you drop to the music of the Sugar Daddies, followed by the Jam and Pie Social with the Jammers on Sunday the 26th from 2 – 5 pm. Then on Tuesday the 28th the Jazz Generations return for another terrific night of dancing. Tuesday Night music starts at 7:00, admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Because it’s never too late to start caring for your feet, Judy Merrill RN and Sole Desire Foot and Nail Care, will be providing a foot and nail care clinic at the Center on the first Friday of each month beginning May 1st at 9 a.m. Judy has been a registered nurse for 34 years and has worked in The Dalles for 11 years. Through her work, she has witnessed the difficulty people have in caring for their feet and toe nails as they age and/or have health problems.

Sole Desire Foot and Nail Care specializes in care for seniors, diabetics and people with problem feet. “Comfort for your Sole”— $25.00 per session (cash or check) includes: assessment, warm foot soaks, nail trimming, callus buffing, foot massage,
treatment of minor foot problems and referrals for complex foot problems.
Call Judy for questions (980-5038) Please leave a message. Be sure to make an appointment at the front desk at the Center.

Skip Tschanz, hiker extraordinaire, has added another hike to Dalles Mountain on Monday the 27th. Car pool from the Center at 1:00. And in the spirit of “let’s try anything” Marc Berry and I are organizing a weekly bicycle ride starting from the Center at 10:00 on the first Thursday in May. It is a leisurely ride – no racing – and Marc has promised to teach me how use those fancy shifter thingies.

Well, that’s it for another week. Until we met again, a little advice for you guys out there.

“A foolish man tells a woman to stop talking, but a wise man tells her that her mouth is extremely beautiful when her lips are closed”

Aging Well April 14 2009

This is one of those weeks when there is so much happening at the Center I don’t have the space to say much of anything else – which is timely because I don’t have much of anything to say anyway. So onward and upward with the latest news.

On Thursday the 16th, this month’s Healthy Aging presentation – Medicine and You: Managing Medications as You Age -taught by Fern Wilcox is starting at 2:00 which we hope will be more accessible for those interested in Healthy Aging series. Fern will discuss why older adults are more likely to be at risk because of their medications, how to know if you are at risk and what you can do to reduce your risk. The information was developed by Oregon State University Extension so you know it is reliable (unless you are a Duck and never trust anything that comes out of Corvallis).

On Monday the 20th at 1:00 pm, Planetree Health Resource Center will explain and demonstrate how to access accurate and reliable health information on the Internet using the website “Medline Plus”, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

The Center is now hosting Friday Night Pinochle starting at 7:00 pm. There is a charge of $6 to play but $1 goes to the Center to pay for lights and heat and the other $5 goes into the kitty all of which is distributed to the evening’s winning pinochle players.

The monthly AARP Driver Safety Class will be held from 9:00 to 1:00 on both the 20th and 21st. Dennis Davis will remind you of all the driving rules you have forgotten. And once again you can feel like an anxious sixteen year old dying to get your “wheels”. But try to avoid the eccentric approach to driving like that of Glenn Gould, one of the most celebrated pianists of the twentieth century and famously bad driver who once said, “It’s true that I’ve driven through a number of red lights on occasion but on the other hand I’ve stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it.”

In last week’s letters to the editor, Harriet Langfeldt expressed her appreciation for the hikes Skip and Janet Tschanz’s lead throughout the Gorge; describing Skip as “amazingly knowledgeable and wonderfully gracious”. When Skip comes back down to earth, you can join him and Janet this Monday the 20th at 1:00 to carpool from the Center to the Mosier Syncline and enjoy another hike in our amazing Columbia River Gorge, up-close and personal.

I started reading the “Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully” by Joan Chittister, the book Lucille Torgerson chose for the “Let’s Talk” discussion group. Joan shares her reflections on the blessings and burdens of forty different gifts we encounter when growing older including fear, possibility, mystery, memories, loneliness, and faith. The “Let’s Talk” series starts on Monday the 27th from 10:45 till noon. Call the Center to sign up for the class and we will help you order the book through Klindt’s.

North Wasco County School District will be placing a local option tax measure on the May 19th, 2009 ballot. The District will use the tax revenue from this measure to continue repairing, improving and renovating the community’s school facilities. You will have your chance to learn more at the Center’s Next Chapter Lecture on Tuesday 21st when Ernie Blatz will be discussing the proposed levy.

Tuesday NIght Music on the 21st will feature the Sugar Daddies. Mark Womble and his group have been well received all around the Gorge and play nice danceable music everyone can enjoy. Tonight Truman Boler will be playing and he also has quite a following. Music and dancing starts at 7:00 and the admission is free but donations are gladly accepted. Everybody is welcome.

Gotta keep it short. Until we meet again, the sun is out; the ants are not, and the taxes are done. Life is good.

Aging Well April 7

May 9th is “Tough Talk Day’ when adult children and their parents are encouraged to discuss the tough issues they try to avoid, ignore or forget.

The early relationship between parent and child is strong and personal, full of memories of family trips, birthday parties, school assemblies, with feelings of confusion, pride, disappointment and love.
There were expectations and roles for parents: comforter, worrier and enforcer and for children: challenger, helper, explorer. (And when they could finally drive, delivery boy, “Andrew could you go to the store and get some eggs?”) You find advice about this stage of the child-parent relationship everywhere: magazines, books, and parenting classes.

But then the relationship changes. The baby grows up, leaves home, starts a career and finds others to love; the parent gradually becomes less active and more dependent. And now the adult child becomes the worrier, the comforter, the enforcer.
The relationship turns upside down and inside out and whether you are the child or parent you are in unknown territory with few guideposts. How do you learn to navigate this new terrain?

How do adult children wanting to protect their parents (and everyone else on the road) ask them – or tell them – to put away the car keys and sell the car? And thereby giving up a big piece of their independence and accelerating their path towards greater dependency.

How do older parents having accepted their own mortality start a conversation about their eventual death with their adult children who have unresolved issues about life and death and don’t even want to talk about the subject?

These are difficult conversations – tough talk – but they need to occur.

To provide some understanding and guidance, Lee Paton will once again be the speaker for our “Tough Talk Workshop” on May 9th from 9 – 12 at the Center. As a respected gerontologist who has spoken around the world, she will share her insightful perspective on aging and give you the courage to begin and even embrace these conversations.

As a preface to the Tough Talk Workshop, Lucille Torgerson will facilitate another round of the “Let’s Talk” series. To frame these discussions, Lucille will use Joan Chittister’s book “The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully” a collection of inspirational reflections (“‘Act your age’ can be useful advice when you’re seventeen; it’s a mistake when you’re seventy-seven.”) on such topics as fear, mystery, regret, fulfillment, and success. This is an opportunity to share your stories and thoughts while learning from each other. Aging is such an individual experience but you find so much in common when you hear other’s journeys. The “Let’s Talk” discussions will be on Monday April 27, May 4 and May 11 from 10:45 – 12:00 and is open to anyone and everyone.

I have several folks on the line for next Tuesday’s lecture, but I just haven’t reeled anyone in yet. When I determine the speaker, I will post it at the Center and on my blog at

At last week’s Sadie Hawkins Dance, the dance floor was full of bodies bumping, sweat flying and eyes glistening with anticipation. And that was just the band members. Well maybe not, but there was good food, good music and a great time. Thanks again to Heart of Gold Caregivers and Mill Creek Point for sponsoring the dance. For April, Boyd Jacobson has lined up some of our most popular performers: Cherry Park Band playing tonight, Truman Boler next Tuesday and on the 21st the Sugar Daddies. The music and dancing always starts at 7:00, is free although donations are appreciated and is open to all ages.

Finally a weekend when it felt like spring. It was about time. Until we meet again, open up like a flower in bloom and express yourself. And don’t worry, we’ll tell you when to shut up.

“Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong. Sometimes it’s letting go.” S. Robinson

Aging Well March 31 2009

The way we communicate has evolved: written notes and letters, telephone and telegraph and now with the advent of personal computers and the Internet, email. Electronic communication will continue to grow even as worldwide email traffic has surpassed 175 billion messages per day. And it is not just the younger generations using this technology. More older adults are learning to ride this wave: communicating with friends and family through e-mail and social network sites such as Facebook. (In the last year the number of folks 55 and over who have created a Facebook account has tripled.)

At the Aging in America conference, it was reinforced that senior centers need to adapt and stay current with these changes. And we are trying. There are three ways you can now receive information from the Center electronically. Email me at and I will send you the Center’s weekly newsletter; go online to the Center’s web site at; or check my blog at which includes all of my past columns, a Community Calendar for Active Adults plus a link to the Sharp Brains website.

But as the Center works to communicate in new ways, the landscape is already changing. Kids are using their cell phones (which are as much a social necessity as acne cream and flip-flops) to conveniently text messages to their friends. And I don’t understand Twitter! Why do I need to bother my friends with short updates of my daily thoughts or activities? I am walking down the hall. I am feeling hungry. I am opening the refrigerator. I don’t think so.

So if you find me twittering “tweets” from the Center ten years from now, just take me out to the back forty and shoot me. Wait, I take that back. Ten years ago I never would have imagined wanting to do half of the wild and crazy techno advances that are possible today.

Join award winning and bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick Saturday morning from 10:00 – 12:00 at the Center for a slide presentation and signing of her latest book, “Aurora, an American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft”. Coffee and juice and “Brunchies” will be served and copies of Aurora as well as other titles by Ms. Kirkpatrick will be available for sale. The Center is proud to host this event brought to you by Klindts Bookstore and Stationers your local portal to the world of literature.

It is spring; time of the year to get the body moving outdoors without the fear of snow or wildfires. On Monday April 6th, Skip Tschanz, outdoor “wunderkind” will be the guide for this month’s hike to view and savor this year’s wildflowers: nature’s kaleidoscope of new born colors. The destination will be either Catherine Creek or Tom McCall Point depending on the flowers. Both hikes are pretty easy unless you use a walker. Meet at the Senior Center at 1:00 pm to car pool to the chosen site.

Tonight Penny and Small Change with the Olde Tymers will be performing for the Center’s Sadie Hawkins Dance. You may not have time to squeeze into your Daisy Mae or Lil Abner outfit, but head down to the Center anyway. There will be light food and drinks as well as great company. And a big thanks to our sponsors Heart of Gold Caregivers and Mill Creek Point for making the dance possible.

Performing next week will be the Cherry Park Group (formally known as Harold and Friends) who draw some of our largest crowds. Every Tuesday night the music and dancing starts at 7:00 and the cost is free but donations are appreciated. And everybody is welcome: whether you are young, old, ageless or just plain tired. Come on down and recharge your batteries with good dancing and fine music.

That is it again. Another day, another dollar. Until we meet again, take care and stay in touch.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln