Aging Well January 24th

Well how about that for a wild Wintry Mix! I hope everyone survived – safe and warm with no broken bones, spoiled food or frayed relationships from too much time too close together.

When there is weather as we have had this past week, the Center cancels its activities because we don’t want to encourage folks to go out and chance the hazardous conditions, when it is safer staying inside at home. And even after seeing pictures of families frolicking in winter’s excitement, which brings back memories of my own past winters – sledding down driveways, throwing snow balls and playing a snowy version of “capture the flag”. I too think I should play it safe and stay inside – warm and out of harm’s way.

But could I have it wrong? Should I take a chance – enjoy the cold winter air stinging my face while following Ryan Rooper zigzagging down the ski slopes or Skip Tschanz gliding along the cross-country ski trails in the back country? Or maybe just walking downtown along the slippery sidewalks?

There is something to be said for taking chances; stepping out on the metaphorical ice. Because taking chances opens up unexpected possibilities and surprises: surprises that could be so powerful they could change your life – meeting a new love, discovering new passion, or just feeling energized and alive.

And maybe that is a part of the wisdom from growing older: knowing ourselves so we can find the right balance between taking unnecessary and unproductive risks and exploring the many life-affirming chances that makes life so rewarding. We may no longer want to live as fast as Indy car driver Mario Andretti who said “If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.” But maybe we should still step on the gas once in a while and slide through a few more turns – at least metaphorically.

Like the Lone Ranger saving a desperate town, the Brace Brothers came to the Center’s rescue. For several days I was waiting for Mother Nature to cleanse the parking lot with a breath of warm air. But she was taking her time, and by Friday the parking lot had become a rutted sheet of ice. Then on Saturday morning the parking lot had been cleared by the Brace Brothers. And the Center’s snow shoveling crew would like to give them a big thank-you! (and considering our ages they may have saved a life!)

Tonight at the Center you can lubricate your bones dancing to the “Jazz Generations”. Then on the fifth Tuesday “The Good Times” will be back once again to serenade you with their country standards. The music always starts at 7:00 and although the music sounds like a million bucks, admission is free, but donations are always appreciated.

NIse Patton, director of Meals on Wheels, knows that getting out after dark is not easy for many of you especially during the recent weather. But there is now music before and after lunch on the first and third Wednesdays with Martin and Friends and Annie Lane will be playing on the second and fourth Wednesdays. So come early for lunch and stay late to dance – every Wednesday.

And if you want to broaden your dancing repertoire, another opportunity is starting at the Center on Sunday, February 5th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Steve Hudson will be teaching beginning to intermediate East Coast Swing which is one of America’s most popular and durable social dances. It is open to anyone: singles, couples, and young kids to older adults, and costs for singles $5 per lesson or $25 for the 6 week course; and for couples it is $8 per lesson or $40 per course. You can sign up at the Center or contact Steve at 541-993-3549.

The entertainer known as “Big Mouth” was Martha Raye. (The winner of five Quilt raffle tickets was Donna Smith). But enough of this icy weather! For this week’s “Remember When” question, I’m headed to the warm beaches of Southern California for the 1963 film “Beach Party” about Professor Robert Orwell Sutwell researching the “wild mating habits” of California teenagers. In the movie, who were the two teen idols who teamed together in this first of a series of beach party movies? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or include it with a picture of the 1955 Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers.

Well it’s been another week trying to stay vertical. Until we meet again, don’t let a piece of good advice stand in your way.

Aging Well January 17th

What if I told you there is a drug that reduces the pain or disability of knee arthritis by 47%; reduces the progression into dementia or Alzheimer’s by 50%, and with proper use can reduce the risk of hip fractures for post menopausal women by 41%. And this drug also reduces anxiety by 48%, relieves patients suffering from depression by 30%, and is the number one treatment for fatigue. Would you believe me? And how much would you pay for this miracle drug?

You may have already guessed, but this miracle drug is not really a drug and doesn’t have to cost you a dime. The miracle drug is exercise – as simple as walking around the block.

In the nine minute illustrative video called “23 ½ Hours”, (I will post it on the Center’s website or you can go directly to, Dr. Mike Evans asks you to limit your sleeping, eating, TV watching – your sedentary activities – to 23 ½ hours a day and spend the remaining 30 minutes exercising and being active: the best investment you can make to improve and maintain your health and quality of life.

I heard about “23 ½ Hours” from Fern Wilcox who has returned to the Center to lead the Strong Woman’s class on Tuesday and Thursdays from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Fern is looking for women who would like to improve their muscle strength, flexibility and balance while enjoying good conversation and laughter. (And will I get another pin-up calendar when the class reaches twelve strong?) But if the Strong Women’s class doesn’t fit your schedule, the Center also offers Seniorcise, Yoga and Tap and Clogging.

And there are plenty of other opportunities to start moving: The Dalles Fitness and Court Club, Water’s Edge, and Parks and Recreation. Or you can just start walking. The point is if you aren’t moving – start, even if it is just a little. There is a big difference in health benefits from not doing anything to doing something.

For the Tuesday Lecture at 11:00 on January 24th, Jennifer Windsor from MCMC will discuss Medicare billing – specifically how to complete the Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) for folks who are enrolled in Original Medicare. (If you still have your 2012 edition of “Medicare & You”, you will find a description of an ABN on page 113.) Jennifer’s presentation will help you learn how to avoid unnecessary medical expenses and become a better consumer.

You may already know, but since I’m not the sharpest knife in the tool box, I just learned during last Tuesday’s lecture “How to Avoid Scams” that anyone can receive a free credit report once a year by going to the website www.AnnualCreditReport. It is easy – it took me only a few minutes – and the site doesn’t try to pressure you into enrolling in a credit monitoring service for a monthly fee. If you are interested in obtaining a free credit score, this is the place to go.

The Center is always looking to offer new classes and activities. And starting Friday, February 17th from 9:30 – 11:30, you will have the opportunity to learn Sign Language. This ten week class will be lead by Victoria Hollingsworth who has studied signing for four years and has taught it twice. Call the Center or stop in to sign up.

Who wants to walk around the block to get your thirty minutes of exercise, when you can dance all night long? – well at least from 7:00 till 9:00 PM. Tonight, Truman and his Country Gold are the reasons to get moving. And next Tuesday on the 24th, the Jazz Generations will be be-bopping the night away. Everyone is welcome and donations are appreciated.

The name of the educational magazine published for elementary grade students was “My Weekly Reader”. (And the lucky name drawn from the correct responses was Marilyn Sarsfield – winner of five quilt raffle tickets.) This week’s “Remember When” question is about a female singer and comedy actress who had her own TV show in the 50’s and was known for entertaining the troops during WW II, Korean and Vietnam Wars. What was the women whose nickname was “Big Mouth”? Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or write your answer on the back of a photograph of middleweight boxer Rocky Graziano.

Well, it’s been another week looking for hidden angels in our midst. Until we meet again, you may find this WC Fields quote appropriate during the political season ‘If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull”.

Aging Well January 10th

You don’t need paper or pencil; you can do it in bed or while taking a shower. You don’t have to ask for permission and it can even be done without anyone knowing. And it is not what you are thinking!
It is exercising your working memory: the critical ability to keep track and manipulate a small number of items – like using a scratch pad, before you transfer the information to the filing system of your long term memory. And even as we age we can still strengthen our working memory with practice.

One simple, but not necessarily easy, mental exercise is called “Backward Digit Span”. When you hear or read a four digit number, repeat it – but backwards. Try increasing the number of digits and see how many digits you can repeat. Now try the same idea with letters. Think of a word and then mentally spell the word backwards. Again start with a short familiar word, then try a longer word and that isn’t as familiar. And don’t get discouraged. The intent is to improve and strengthen your working memory, not to worry about where you start.

You can learn more about the brain and how to improve your memory by attending the Center’s Brain Fitness class on Mondays from 1:00 – 2:00. We are currently studying a video lecture series called “”Optimizing Brain Fitness” with Professor Richard Restak from George Washington University. And don’t feel you can’t join us now because you have missed the previous presentations. I can’t remember what we discussed two weeks ago anyway.

I want to thank all the folks who responded so enthusiastically to our “End of the Year” 2012 membership drive. At this early stage we have 201 members including 34s new members, and thirty-eight Super Duper members – which include the Center’s first Super Duper member Patti Blagg. (And I can’t mention Patti without reminding everyone of the next Community Concert at The Dalles Wahtonka High School this Wednesday starting at 7:00 PM featuring the “Men of Worth”.) And if you happen to possess that all-too-common procrastination gene, the Center would once again like to invite you to become a member. It could change your life.

Tonight at the Center, it’s John Martin and Friends cooking up some good ole country fried music. And on the 17th, Truman will occupy the third Tuesday of the month playing his Country Gold. Music starts at 7:00, ends by 9:00 and donations are always appreciated..

Maybe I was waiting until they decided on a good name for themselves, because now I can finally invite everyone to join the “Needle Nutz” in the Center’s lounge. They meet every Wednesday from 10:00 till lunch to stitch, macramé, crochet, knit – anything that has to do with long strands of yarn or thread. The “Needle Nutz’ include Sandy Haechrel and her friends (now you know why the name is so fitting) and they would welcome anyone whether a newbie or expert to join their circle – or just stop in to ask any questions.

No one remembered the past editors of the Senior Highlights – the monthly newspaper for seniors first produced and distributed by the Mid-Columbia Community Action Program in the 1970’s. So I needed to go to the man who has been working at CAP since the days Rod Runyon was a young whipper-snapper Jaycee, and who is now CAP’s Executive Director. And Jim Slusher came through like an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass. Jim remembers the first editor was Vince Paul Killeen, the “lil old editor” of the August 1975 Senior Highlights followed by Fritz Cramer who was the editor through the 80s.

But cleaning up my office also provided this week’s “Remember When” question. What was the name of the weekly educational newspaper/magazine first published in 1928 and distributed in the elementary grade classes (reaching a total circulation of 4,269,000 in 1949) that described current events in the United States and around the world? If you know, email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or write your answer on the back of a plate block of ten cent 1958 US Saving Stamps and mail it to 1112 W 9th Street.

Well, it’s been another week looking for the silver living in this old winter coat of mine. Until we meet again, don’t forget to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in …

Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone. ~Jim Fiebig

Aging Well January 3rd

Do you notice how time seems to zoom by like you’re being passed by a teenager driving a new sports car? And the start of 2011 seems like only yesterday, although a little blurry? But it was a not-too-long-ago twenty-five years on January 4th 1987 that two hundred folks turned out for the official opening of the brand spanking new Mid-Columbia Senior Center. Don Bailey, chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors, and City Councilman Merritt Probstfield, representing the City, welcomed the celebrants with their opening remarks. (The City of The Dalles played a major role by donating the land that initially had been considered for a new fire station, and by directing City Planner Jack Leasch to oversee the application for federal funds to build the Center.) 

Others dignitaries who spoke included Lyle Grisham, the interim manager for the Center, Beverly Rooper, the local Area Agency on Aging director, and Bill Hulse representing Wasco County. Marge Anderson, director of the Center while it was at the Civic Auditorium, and LoRita Smith, the Center’s program director, cut the ribbon to officially open the Center to the public. And it was reported that the highlight was when Betty Harlan, the kitchen manager at that time for Meals-on-Wheels, got everyone to stamp their feet and yell “We did it!”
And it was quite an accomplishment. The Center’s dedication – on that “unusually balmy Sunday” twenty five years ago – was a proud moment for the many community organizations and individuals who had spent over seven years discussing and planning and fundraising to make this dream possible. And now as the Center commences another twenty five years offering more opportunities to explore, connect and contribute, the Center is preparing to be a resource and gathering place for a new generation – so all older adults can live healthy and meaningful lives.
For the Center’s 11:00 AM Tuesday Lecture on January 10th, I will be presenting a 60 minute program produced by the National Council on Aging called “Steps to Avoiding Scams”. This program provides a basic understanding of the types of scams targeting older adults, so you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. And as we know from this holiday season, there are always a few people who are willing to take advantage of the unsuspecting.

Tonight at the Center, the entertaining, energizing and encredible (that is incredible with an “e” for excellent!) Strawberry Mountain Band” will be getting you off to a rocking good start on this first Tuesday of the New Year. And next Tuesday on the 10th, John Martin and Friends will be back performing for your listening and dancing pleasure. Music starts at 7:00, ends by 9:00 and everyone is welcome. And to feed the band and keep the lights on, donations are always appreciated.
The 1942 film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire about an entertainer who opens up a lodge in Connecticut for only eight nights a year is “Holiday Inn”. (And the winner of the coin toss is Joann Scott who wins her choice of five quilt raffle tickets or a $10 Saturday Night Bingo packet.)
This week “Remember When” goes back in time to a little local history not twenty five years, but thirty six years ago in the Mid-Columbia (before it was called the Gorge). As I was cleaning out my office – which I do occasionally when I can no longer see the floor – I found a faded edition of the August, 1975 Senior Highlights. It was produced and distributed by the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council (commonly referred to as CAP) and included the “Goin-ons, Doins and Happenings” in Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties, bus schedules, poetry, recipes and discussion of senior issues. So this week’s question is “Who was the editor of the Senior Highlights?  (I think I can remember one of the editors.) If you know, email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or bring it to the Center with a copy of the very first Senior Highlights. (And Slusher, you can’t enter!)

Well, it’s been another week wondering where time flies off to and hides. Until we meet again, keep your light on and the doors locked.
“Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.” Mary Schmich

Aging Well December 27th

Does anyone make New Year’s resolutions anymore? That once a year chance to reflect on the past and commit to what you want to do different in the New Year. Or do you feel it is a lost cause – a meaningless effort that never really accomplishes anything. Well, that may be true. But there is nothing wrong at taking time to think about the future and what you would like to accomplish: what hills to climb, books to read, and new friends to meet – things that make life worth living. So even though they may seem out-a-date, New Year’s resolutions do suggest an optimism that we can change and the future will be brighter. And when times are difficult and challenging, I like to believe there is always a little room for acting as though all things are possible.

Now that it is almost the end of this tax year, I was reminded by Ben Neumayer of one important way you can financially support the arts and local history in Wasco County. It is the Oregon Cultural Trust. And it is easy as 1-2-3. First you donate to one of the arts, heritage and humanities non-profits listed at http://www.culturaltrust.orgincluding nineteen in Wasco County such as The Civic Auditorium, The Discovery Center, Wasco County Historical Society, St. Peters, the Original Courthouse, and Cascade Singers. Second, you contribute the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust. And finally, on your tax return you claim a tax credit for the total contribution to the Cultural Trust. This way you reduce your state tax obligation, and support the arts, heritage and humanities in Wasco County and in the state of Oregon. It is a win, win, win.
At 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 3rd, at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center, Sheila Dooley, Director of The Dalles-Wasco County Library will discuss the Library Design Study initiated by The Dalles-Wasco County Library Foundation and supported by a $5,000 Technical Assistance Grant from the Ford Family Foundation. The design option resulting from the study will also be presented. In addition, Lyn Craig, Director of the Libraries of Eastern Oregon, will discuss how other libraries have funded similar projects and the grant opportunities available.

The reason why for this design study is the concern of The Dalles-Wasco County Library Foundation about the lack of a separate children’s area in the library.  The children’s area is located in the open main part of the library and is overcrowded disturbing nearby adults. Also there is not an appropriate space for the popular story time and other children’s programs which are currently held either outside, in the library meeting room, or in the main part of the library.

At the Center, it is the entertaining” Hardshell Harmony” grazing in the bluegrass tonight. And next Tuesday January 3rd we round the bases again and start off the new year with the rousing Strawberry Mountain Band who will show you how to “walk the dog”. The music starts at 7:00, everyone is invited and donations are appreciated. And as Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen would say “The best things happen when you’re dancing”.

And one last reminder for the forgetful types. You have until the end of the year (which is only four days!) to enjoy a delicious dinner or dessert or both – at the Baldwin Saloon and have 5% of your total bill donated to a non-profit of your choice. At the Center, you can pick-up a coupon to designate the non-profit or you can print off a coupon at the Baldwin Saloon website.

It is “White Christmas” the 1954 movie about two army buddies trying to save the lodge of their WW II commanding officer – not to be confused with the answer to this week’s Remember When” question. (And the winning name drawn out of Santa’s stocking cap for a $10 bingo Saturday Night Bingo packet is Dennis Morgan – who does have a copy of the movie if you want to borrow it!) But for this week, “What 1942 film starring Bing Crosby – and this time Fred Astaire, is about an entertainer who retires to a farm in Connecticut and opens up a lodge (but for only eight nights a year) to a packed house on New Year’s Eve?” Email your answer to the, call 541-296-4788 or bring it to the Center with the score for “White Christmas”.

Well, it’s been another week celebrating what’s right so I can work to change what’s wrong. Until we meet again, it’s hard driving into the New Year when you’re always looking in the rear view mirror.