Aging Well in the Gorge August 25th 2015

Many have commented about getting older. Groucho Marx once said “Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.” George Burns said “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” And then there was Mark Twain who expressed his often repeated view on aging, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Many of us don’t want to think about getting older. But at some point in our lives, we realize we are no longer young men – or women. My brother-in-law is an example. He shared at the last family reunion that now he has turned 70, he can no longer deny he is getting old.
Although we may not feel old, there are unwanted signs reminding us old age has at least moved into the neighborhood. While cleaning out the receptionist desk at the Center, I found hidden in the back reaches of the bottom shelf, a poster describing some of those signs. Here are my top ten favorites describing when you know you are getting old. Maybe you can also relate to them.
1) Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work. 2) You think gay means “happy, lively, and vivacious”. (Remember the Gay Blade clothing stores?) 3) You know all the answers, but no one asks you the questions. 4) Your mind makes agreements your body can’t keep. 5) Your favorite newspaper column is “20 (or 40) Years Ago Today”. 6) You feel like the morning after and you haven’t been anywhere. 7) Anything under a quarter isn’t worth bending over to pick up. 8) You stop to think and sometimes forget to start again. 9) A dripping faucet (or any running water) causes an uncontrollable bladder urge. 10) You finally get to the top of the ladder, but it’s leaning against the wrong wall.
And finally here are my own observations discovered over the past eight years. 1) When you fly, TSA no longer considers you a high security risk. 2) An elderly woman in Portland was reported hurt and she was 10 years younger that you are. 3) When someone asks for help moving furniture, they look right past you. 4) You turn to the classic rock station and it’s playing 80’s music. And finally, 5) You have no idea who Ashley Madison is and all you want is a good night’s sleep.
“Swiss cheese and Me” update: I’m making progress learning to enjoy the taste of Swiss cheese, but it has had some unexpected consequences. While I was cooking, my wife walked into the kitchen complaining about a terrible smell – of body odor. It wasn’t me or the cumin spice, but the Swiss cheese! She now stays out of the kitchen – at least when I’m cooking with swiss.
Because the Center is installing new floor covering in the lobby, the custom built receptionist’s desk, which has admirably stood the test of time, needs to be moved. But I wanted to make sure as much of the desk would be preserved in the process. So there was no better person to ask than Frank LaRoque who built and installed the desk back in 1987. A big thank-you to Frank and friends for taking the time to modify the desk so it can be still be used.
As I mentioned last week, the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on Monday the 31st; but now also on the Tuesday, September 1st to move back into the lobby the bookshelves and the desk. Although closed, Meals-on-Wheels will still deliver meals on Tuesday.
At the Center on Tuesday, September 1st, the Andre, K.C. and Tom will be performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome, and donations are appreciated.
The brilliant, reclusive, and eccentric millionaire who built the H-4 Hercules aircraft (“Spruce Goose”) was Howard Hughes.
This week’s “Remember When” questions was also sent in by Marcia Lacock and is for the car buffs in the audience. There have been twenty-three James Bond movies, and the automobiles in the films were often used to show thrilling car chases and exotic gadgets. What was the make of the car, first seen in Goldfinger in 1964, that is associated with James Bond? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of Sean Connery as James Bond.

Well, it’s been another week, just kickin’ down the cobblestones and feeling groovy. Until we meet again, to take time to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

Aging Well in the Gorge August 18th 2015

I hate Swiss cheese. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word. But ever since I was a child, I have really, really, really disliked Swiss cheese. Maybe it is because it tasted too bland, or smelled to “swissy”. Or maybe it is because of all the holes – it just seems like a waste of space. But I do love Mozzarella cheese. Okay, maybe love is too strong of a word. But I really, really, really do like Mozzarella Cheese. 
But over the last several years I have been on a low sodium diet requiring me to check every nutritional label for the amount of sodium. (I don’t buy canned food anymore.) And from the nutritional labels, I found cheese is high in sodium, except for, you guessed it, Swiss cheese which has 1/3 the sodium of the other cheeses. 
I know many of you are on a restricted diet because of high blood pressure, diabetes, gluten intolerance or one of many other health reasons. And although living with a restricted diet can be difficult, I’ve found it exciting: providing an opportunity to be creative in the kitchen by exploring and testing new recipes – homemade spaghetti sauce without the salt; different spices – cumin and curry; and some cheeses you never liked since you were a child. 
But can I learn to not only tolerate, but actually enjoy the taste of Swiss cheese? I know the brain is malleable and can be retrained. (I learned to enjoy unsalted peanuts. And without the salt, you can actually appreciate the real taste of peanuts.) But Swiss cheese, something I never ever liked, is the real test. It is going to be tough, but I’m giving myself three weeks. Later I’ll give you an update on whether I can retrain my brain and learn to enjoy eating what I once couldn’t stand smelling. 
If you have driven past Tenth and Cherry Heights recently, you may have noticed the Uplifting Elevator sign on the corner. Thanks to Chris Zukin and Meadow Outdoor Advertising, everyone can now see how much has been raised toward the Center’s goal of $345,000. Thanks to all of your generous support, $230,000 has been raised so far. Soon we will start the final push to raise the remaining funds. 
The Center has been wanting to install new carpeting in the lobby area. But because the elevator will require the lobby and NU-2-U Shop to be reconfigured and new flooring added, we have waited. But plans changed when the ice machine leaked and saturated the carpet in the lobby. Consequently, the Center will be installing new flooring in the lobby and reception area on Monday August 31st. (We have been assured it will fit with the rest of the flooring that will be installed when the elevator is added.) To allow for the uninterrupted installation, the Center will be closed on the 31st. We expect to reopen on Tuesday unless – well, you know how the unexpected can happen. 
At the Center on Tuesday, August 25th, the Elderly Brothers will be performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome, and donations are appreciated. 
Following are the answers to last week’s brain exercise that I found at If you missed it, the challenge was to find a third word that is connected or associated with both of the first two words. 1) Ship and Card > Deck, 2) Tree and Car > Trunk, 3) School and Eye, > Pupil (Exam and Private is also possible) 4) Pillow and Court > Case, 6) River and Money > Bank (Flow is also possible), 7) Bed and Paper > Sheet, 8) Army and Water > Tank, 9) Tennis and Noise > Racket, 10) Egyptian and Mother > Mummy, 11) Smoker and Plumber > Pipes. 
I can still use more ideas for the weekly “Remember When” question, so don’t be shy. This week’s question came from an email submitted by Marcia Lacock. What brilliant, talented, reclusive, and very eccentric millionaire and philanthropist is associated with Jane Russell, the H-1 Racer and H-4 “Hercules”, RKO Pictures, TWA, and an obsessive-compulsive disorder? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail a picture of his last wife – actress Jean Peters. 
Well, it’s been another week, looking for loose change wherever I can find it. Until we meet again, you aren’t really old until your children start receiving Social Security. “
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Greek Proverb

Aging Well in the Gorge August 11th 2015

It is frustrating when you can’t think of that word that’s on the tip of your tongue. But don’t fret. According to an article written for by Dr. Pascale Michelon, who holds a doctorate in cognitive psychiatry, that word is probably hidden somewhere in your brain’s temporal lobes where words are stored.
The temporal lobes are one of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex. (Okay, what is the cerebral cortex you may ask? It is the outer layer of the brain or what Agatha Christie’s fictional character, Hercule Poirot, calls the “little gray cells”.) I could tell you more about what is in the temporal lobes, but more useful is that the temporal lobes play an important role in auditory perception, speech, emotional response, visual perception and what at least concerns me the most – memory. In other words, important stuff.
The words stored in your temporal lobes seem to be, contrary to all the papers and files randomly stacked in my office, organized in a functional system. Research has also shown that words which are often heard together, such as salt and pepper, or words that share some meaning, such as nurse and doctor, are connected or associated in the brain. Once you hear one, the other is activated.
Here is a brain exercise, from the website, to stimulate the connections or associations between words in your temporal lobe.
Below you will find eleven pair of words. The challenge is to find a third word that is connected or associated with both of these two words. For example, what word is connected or associated with both PIANO and LOCK? I’ll give you one minute to think of the word.
Okay, times up.
The answer is KEY. There are KEYS on a piano and you use a KEY to lock doors. Got it?
Now are you ready to get serious and stimulate the connections in your temporal lobe? The answers will be found in next week’s column. Or if you can’t wait that long, they will be posted on the Center’s website at www.midcolumbiaseniorcenter/com. Good luck.
1) Ship and Card, 2) Tree and Car, 3) School and Eye, 4) Pillow and Court, 6) River and Money, 7) Bed and Paper, 8) Army and Water, 9) Tennis and Noise, 10) Egyptian and Mother, 11) Smoker and Plumber.
It is Wasco County Fair week, so don’t forget Free Family Day at the Wasco County Fair on Thursday thanks to Mel’s Sanitation. And what has become an annual tradition, the free “Senior Picnic in the Park” starts at 11:30 and is sponsored by Flagstone Senior Living, Mid-Columbia Council of Governments and Canyon Rim Manor.
Also LINK, north Wasco County’s public transportation provider, is once again offering free rides to the Wasco County Fair on Thursday. Call the Center for the few seats still available. The bus leaves the Center at 10:00 and will leave the fair around 1:00 PM.
At the Center on Tuesday, August 18th, the Simcoe Boys will be performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome, and donations are appreciated.
SONY (The name was chosen for its simple pronunciation and that it would be the same in any language.), was the first company to dominate the transistor radio market in America.
But now I need some help – and I’m serious. Each week I ask a “Remember When” question in order to bring back some hopefully pleasant memories lost in the cobwebs of your temporal lobes. (Remember, the grey matter of your brain.) But after six plus years, I’m running out of ideas. I’ve asked about music, television shows and events I remember: Hula Hoops and Heartbreak Hotel, Coonskin Caps and Chubby Checker. But there is so much more – like Bag Balm which I never heard of but everyone seems to have. So as the Beatles once sang, “Help, I need somebody”. And whether you remember a song, movie, special event, television show or commercial product that may have been forgotten, send it to me. If I use your question, you will receive a free Saturday breakfast. Email your answer to, or call and leave a message at 541-296-4788.
Well, it’s been another week, walking in the sunshine with a goofy smile. Until we meet again, as I was reminded last week, just because you’re wandering, it doesn’t mean you’re lost.
 “The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.” Author Unknown

Aging Well in the Gorge August 4th 2015

We are social beings and for most of us, we need to interact with others: sharing our everyday experiences; jokes we’ve heard – often again and again; our dreams and hopes; our mental lapses. (That no one noticed my zipper was unzipped. Thank goodness I don’t tuck in my shirt.) And the good news: stories about the grandkids – they still have possibilities; trips abroad and family reunions.

To connect with others is in our nature. But as we get older our social connections are reduced: we may no longer be working; friends have died or moved away, it’s easier to stay home instead of going out. (I need to be in bed by 9:00!) and sadly, we may have lost our life long partner with whom we shared everything.

I’ve written about the value of social connections. But often overlooked is the importance of listening. If someone is going to share their stories, there needs to be someone there to receive them. And yes, while listening you may sometimes hear about the latest doctor’s visit, or which medications are working – or not, and the different aches and pains. I’m often sharing stories about my latest visit to my doctor, or my dermatologist, or my cardiologist, or my ENT specialist. (Hmm. Maybe I need to find something else to talk about.) But we are all trying to cope with this condition called AGE, and someone needs to be there to listen.

Although listening is simple, it’s not always easy. As Margaret Wheatley points put, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen”. Listening is something we should all do for each other. And if we really do listen, we will learn so much more.
When you walk into the Center’s lobby, you’ll see two beautiful quilts hanging on the walls. They are made by the Senior Center Quilters who meet every Monday from 10:00 – 3:00 downstairs – and they are always looking for more quilters to join them. At the Fort Dalles Cowboy Breakfast, the Center raffled off the Basket Quilt – won by Sherry Dufault. But a new star patterned quilt that was hand pieced and hand quilted is now hanging in the lobby. You can imagine how many hours were put into making it. Quilt raffle tickets are now available at the Center and the drawing will be held in December during the Center’s annual Holiday Breakfast.

Next is one of those ideas I wish I had thought of. The Dalles Art Center is sponsoring a weekly get together to sketch and doodle – which I know you can do. You probably did it during history class in high school. It is very informal and open to everyone from beginners to advance artists. There is no instructor and everyone learns from each other. All you need is paper and pen. Each week they meet at a different location. To find out where they will be meeting, call the Art Center at 541-296-4759.

And sticking with The Dalles Art Center, the Center, along with Tobin Swick/Swick Family Music, will be sponsoring the Art Center’s Open Reception on Thursday August 6th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

This month’s art show is “Gorge Artists Create” – the Art Center’s annual juried exhibit held every summer. At the Center on Tuesday, August 11th, Martin and Friends will be performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, everyone is welcome, and donations are appreciated.

On the Road, considered the defining work of the postwar Beat generation, was written by Jack Kerouac based on his notes from his travels across America in the late 1940’s. (And the winner of three quilt raffle tickets is Bill Van Nice.)

By 1954 the transistor replaced vacuum tubes making portable radios lighter and allowing everyone to listen to their favorite radio station anywhere. Consequently, transistor radios became the most popular electronic communication device in history. For this week’s “Remember When” question what little known company from overseas was the first to dominate the transistor radio market in America? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or mail it with an original TR-55 transistor radio.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep the cool winds blowing. Until we meet again, you know you are old when the “oldies” stations start playing hits from the 1980’s.

“The word LISTEN contains the same letters as SILENT.” Alfred Bendel