3rd Act Magazine – Spring 2021

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Everyday Wonder How to Bring a Sense of Awe Back Into Your Life

Become a Citizen Scientist DISCOVER THE WORLD AND HELP IT, TOO



Tips for a Better Night’s Rest

CONQUER YOUR SWEET TOOTH You’ll Feel Better and Age Better

TAKE A SUNDAY DRIVE Day-Tripping in Western WA

The Importance of Community Christian Retirement Living— There’s something different here

It’s never too late to live your best life. Call us at 206-546-7565 to make that happen.


MESSAGE from the publisher

Living in Wonder “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein Breathe. With each breath your lungs are filling with roughly 25 sextillion molecules— that’s a 25 with 21 zeros behind it. A very large number. Using mathematics, scientists have been able to calculate the probability of your single breath containing molecules of Caesar’s last breath, not to mention the breath of now-extinct beasts, or even your own breath as a newborn. There are more atoms in our bodies than stars in the entire universe and those atoms are constantly being recycled. Through what we breathe and what we eat, atoms of everything that is, ever was, or ever will be on earth are part of us now. Everything is connected. It is wondrous. This has been a year when our awe has been more often a product of shock, rather than wonder. It’s time to turn that around, don’t you think? With presence and childlike wonder we can practice finding awe in the ordinary. In her story

“Everyday Wonder” (page 34), Sally Fox encourages us to “take a wonder walk” and pay attention to details we might otherwise miss. She reminds us that “experiences of awe may increase our life satisfaction, reduce stress levels, make us less materialistic, and more altruistic.” Seems like a perfect prescription to heal the travails of the past 12 months. Oppor tunities to experience more wonder in our lives are everywhere and in this issue our writers provide a multitude of ideas, be it bird watching in Seattle parks, exploring the night sky, volunteering as a citizen scientist, or taking in the sights on a driving day trip. In her essay, “Reading” (page 60), Hollis Giammatteo takes us on a wonderous journey of some of the books she devoured during the pandemic: history, current events, and even a modern translation of Beowulf. Our brain function is nothing short of miraculous and Michael Patterson’s story “The Wonders of the Savant Brain” (page 26) is fascinating. But sometimes that beautiful organ falters and dementia takes hold, which is why we reached out to Dr. Maria Carrillo, Chief Science Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, to update us on the latest research on Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention (page 20). Spring is here and brighter days are ahead. Let’s take a deep, collective breath, for all those who lost their ability to breathe this past year. The science tells us that their essence will continue forever, as a part of us. Everything is a miracle.

Spring is here and brighter days are ahead.

Our granddaughter Poppy finds a moon snail shell.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

OU R VI SI ON Now, more than ever, older adults are viewing their retirement as a “Third Act” in their lives: A time for reinvention, connection, and engagement. 3rd Act Magazine is a bold, fresh, lifestyle magazine for older adults in the Puget Sound region. Our stories and articles challenge the worn-out perceptions of aging, and offer a dynamic new vision: Let’s celebrate and embrace this stage of life, and age together with confidence. PU B LI SH E RS Victoria Starr Marshall David Marshall EDITOR Victoria Starr Marshall COPY EDITOR Tina Potterf ART DIRECTOR Philip Krayna WEBSITE Philip Krayna ADVERTISING Dale Bohm, Kajsa Puckett, Brieanna Hansen Encore Media Group DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall WRITE TO US 3rd Act Magazine wants to hear from you! Email your comments, ideas, and questions to info@3rdActMag.com or mail to 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320 3rd Act Magazine is published quarterly by Oshi Publishing, LLC. The opinions, advice, or statements expressed by contributing writers do not reflect those of the editors, the publishers, or of 3rd Act Magazine. Copyright ©2021 Oshi Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Oshi Publishing, LLC, 81 Canal Lane Brinnon, WA 98320 · 360-796-4837 Email: info@3rdActMag.com For subscriptions, advertising rates, and additional information, visit us at www.3rdActMag.com.


Find connection and joy Find connection and joy IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES


Era Living retirement communities help you stay engaged and connected—while covering the cooking, cleaning, care if you need it, and Era Living retirement communities help you stay engaged and more. Featuring gardens ideal outdoor gatherings, brings connected—while covering thefor cooking, cleaning, care technology if you need that it, and loved that much closer, variety of virtual and distancedthat activities more.ones Featuring gardens idealand for aoutdoor gatherings, technology bringsto nourish your mind, body, andand spirit. loved ones that much closer, a variety of virtual and distanced activities to nourish your mind, body,orand Visit eraliving.com/joy callspirit. (206) 333-0290 to learn more. Visit eraliving.com/joy or call (206) 333-0290 to learn more. Locations in Seattle, Mercer Island, Renton, and the Eastside Aging with Confidence

Locations in Seattle, Mercer Island, Renton, and the Eastside spring 2021 | 3rd Act magazine


At Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community, we’ve always viewed each day as a gift. An opportunity to thrive. To experience something completely different. We believe that freedom from the restraints of an ordinary lifestyle allows people to continue leading extraordinary lives. With this belief firmly held, we’ve taken the extraordinary step to transform our community into eliseo. This transformative moment began in 2010 with the addition of our Emerson Wellness and Clark Aquatic Center, followed by our Edwards Plaza, Arneklev Gardens and The Chihuly Family Art Center, and now will culminate with the expansion of our beautiful campus — a process that’s already underway. In addition to 91 all-new, Independent Living residences, you’ll discover inviting common areas and amenities, as well as a full calendar of social, cultural, educational and volunteer opportunities to promote lifelong learning and an engaged community. Contact us at 253.331.2291 to learn more about our expansion opening in 2023 and to gain priority benefits by reserving now! With a new name and limitless possibilities ahead of us, we’ll continue to inspire everyone to rise higher. Join us and together we’ll all reach beyond the possibilities.





The latest science on treatment, prevention, and the impact of COVID-19 on the brain. ANN HEDREEN



Savants demonstrate the pure potential of the human mind. MICHAEL C. PATTERSON


Tips on how to bring a sense of awe back into your life. SALLY FOX



The best local parks for birdwatching and what to look for. ANGELA MINOR



A little backyard stargazing provides some much-needed perspective. CONNIE MCDOUGALL



Searching for something greater than ourselves. LINDA HENRY




Conversations with Kaito. JENNIFER JAMES

28 E NLIGHTENED AGING The wonder of sleep. DR. ERIC B. LARSON


The show must go … online. MISHA BERSON


Pandemic isolation fosters a year of reading. HOLLIS GIAMMATTEO

Aging with Confidence

spring 2021

| 3rd Act magazine




Doris Carnevali is a 99-year-old blogger with plenty to say about aging. JAMES J. TRACY


The precious commodity of time. VIVIAN MCINERNY


Seattle's Frye Museum celebrates 10 years as a creative aging pioneer. JULIE FANSELOW


Living and loving a spouse with Alzheimer‘s. DOUGLAS HUENERGARDT


Regular people can become citizen scientists who study and submit data on specific projects. ANN RANDALL


An old guy joins a young band. PAUL GRASECK


DRIVE A trio of Western Washington

day trips to take this spring. MARCIA MCGREEVY LEWIS



our longhand writing muscles benefits the brain. ANNETTE JANUZZI WICK

30 SWEET TOOTH Strategies for

breaking our sugar habit and reasons why we need to do it now.



Standing in line will never be the same.


54 LET ME DIE Knowing when it's time to go and let go. STEPHEN SINCLAIR



Easy to obtain fresh herbs add taste and brightness to any dish. REBECCA CRICHTON


Everyday Wonder How to Bring a Sense of Awe Back Into Your Life

Become a Citizen Scientist

How the science of thankfulness can rewire our brains for resilience, optimism, and the greater good REVIEWED BY DEBORAH STRAW


Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.

Beating Alzheimer’s


Tips for a Better Night’s Rest


CONQUER YOUR SWEET TOOTH You’ll Feel Better and Age Better

TAKE A SUNDAY DRIVE Day-Tripping in Western WA

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Practice What We Preach I read with great interest the article on “Enlightened Aging” (Winter 2020/2021) by Dr. Eric B. Larson. However, I was dismayed by the photo adjoining showing an older couple riding a tandem bike WITHOUT HELMETS! At least three other articles emphasize fall prevention, yet the couple shown risks the worst fall outcome—a head injury. Please be more careful in the future in selecting photos and pay particular attention to select photo settings involving safe actions by older folks. Thanks. —Gary Elmer, Quilcene Editor: Thank you for your feedback, Gary. By all means, everyone—regardless of age—should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

Delightful Discovery We hadn’t read 3rd Act before receiving your most recent copy in the mail. We haven’t previously had the experience of just loving the content of a magazine to this extent—it far exceeds anything we could have expected. Of course, we subscribed. Great job. We look forward to future issues. —Ray Sheldon, Port Ludlow

Help for Elder Orphans We definitely enjoy this magazine! It’s beautifully designed with informative and helpful articles. We’re wondering if the magazine could publish a few articles on how to plan for the future if you don’t have kids to help in your elder years (health care, day-to-day living needs, financial needs, etc.). —Rebecca Poppleton, Bainbridge Island Editor: Great topic suggestion, Becky. Thank you!

talk to us!




Cover: As children, the world provided us a barrage of everyday wonders and miracles. It still can. All we have to do is look and tap into that childlike wonder that still resides within each of us. Remember: "We contain all the ages we have ever been." —Anne Lamott

by mail: 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320 by email: info@3rdActMag.com Please include your name, city, state, and phone number when possible. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. www.3rdActMag.com



Puget Sound // WA New Home Ownership Option for Active Adults (62+) Coming to Olympia


hen the Village Cooperative looks to develop a new housing community for active adults, they carefully select the area using a whole host of data points. But these communities don’t serve data points, they serve real people. That’s why they are so excited about their communities in Puyallup and Olympia that are now being planned for construction.

What is a senior cooperative? This home ownership option lives very different from a singlefamily home, townhouse, condo or assisted living community. When people decide to live here, they’re not only wanting to get rid of the oversized house that requires too much time, effort and money to maintain, but also to live better, to have closer ties to their neighbors and families, and to have the little luxuries they deserve without the worries of maintenance

or expensive “surprise” repair bills. The Village Cooperative offers a unique building design, management style and ownership structure developed specifically for active adults (age 62+). Instead of buying a home outright for $450,000 or more, Village Cooperative owners purchase an equity share, typically around $190,000 and then a monthly share of the operating expenses of about $1,800 (based on the size and location of the home) that covers all maintenance outside and inside the Aging homes, withincluding Confidencereplacing your light bulbs.

Architectural rendering of the Village Cooperative.

The value of this equity share increases in a predictable way, appreciating at 3 percent for every year that members live at the Village Cooperative. “The fact that the equity goes back to our member-owners with an annual equity increase, and the monthly payment includes all maintenance costs for much less than a local apartment’s rent, makes this a 'no-brainer' for many people,” says Steve Von Schmidt, Marketing Director for the company. “Plus, the safety, security and convenience we offer gives the peace of mind active adults need with the social opportunities they want.” While it’s not a new concept, it is new to this area. In fact, senior housing cooperatives have been around for over 40 years, primarily found throughout the Midwest. “As a national leader with 40 locations in 10 states either operating, under construction or planned for construction this year, we believe that, with all the amenities and at such a great value, this is the best option available in the market for active seniors,” says Von Schmidt. Pre-construction reservations are already being taken for the Village Cooperative of South Sound (Olympia) and the Village Cooperative of Puyalup. Homes are selling quickly, so now is the time to cash out of your house and move-in to a carefree lifestyle. Call for details or to attend a free information seminar. Personal appointments available.

Village Cooperative of South Sound ( O l y m p i a )

Phone: (360) 350-4828 Village Cooperative of Puyallup

Phone: (253) 387-7600

spring 2021

For more details, visit: villagecooperative.com

| 3rd Act magazine



Something Greater Than Ourselves BY LINDA HENRY

Linda Henry writes regularly on topics related to aging, health care, and communication and is the coauthor of several books, including Transformational Eldercare from the Inside Out: Strengths-Based Strategies for Caring. She conducts workshops nationally on aging and creating caring work environments. Her volunteer emphasis is age-friendly communities.


“WILL TWO PLUS TWO always equal four?,” asks Jeff in one Family Circus cartoon. I found myself asking the same question when I considered the query, not literally, but as an analogy to living in a predictable world where two plus two does equal four, until last year when it seemingly didn’t. The pandemic had turned our world upside down. And so, in the waning days of 2020, like so many, I feared that the new year would be no different. Yet, here we are once again welcoming a new spring with its assurance of renewal and hope. Especially this year, I feel a greater connection with nature, and I wonder what it might teach us if we pay attention. One of my friends describes wondering as traveling down a path alone, or with others, in search of meaning and understanding. So, as I search for that discernment, perhaps you will join me in this quest. Albert Einstein instructs us to “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Gardens are wonderful examples of endurance and continuity, reminding us that no matter how difficult the winter might have been, new growth will appear. In his book, The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, Thomas Moore underscores their importance, believing that they encourage us to slow down, to stop, and to open our senses to our surroundings.

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

I recall my great-aunt Emma and her love of gardening. Even as she aged, she would head to her garden every day, sometimes using a walker to make the journey. A love of gardening does not decline, although how we garden may evolve as we age. Today, tools have been redesigned to make tasks easier. Raised garden beds make maintaining a garden more manageable, and many congregate living facilities incorporate therapeutic gardening programs. “Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized,” says horticulturist Allan Armitage. Then, too, nature brings us pleasure when we walk in the woods, savoring the smell and texture of the earth, view centuries-old mountains, or sail on calm water. Surprisingly, birds teach us valuable lessons about community. Have you ever been transfixed watching geese flying overhead in their V-shaped formation? They take turns sharing the lead, and together they can fly faster than one individual bird. Mating for life, geese enjoy an elaborate system of caring in their relationships, reports High Flying Geese author Browne Barr. When a wounded goose falls to earth, the others in the gaggle come down with it and wait for the stricken bird to recover or die, sometimes at great cost and risk to themselves from other animals and hunters. Finally, nature gives us a sense that we are part of something greater than ourselves, making us more aware of our connectedness, not only with each other, but with the earth. I hope never to lose that awareness, no matter my age. I hope you feel the same.


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(253) 275-4218 | www.mirrorlakevillage.com Aging with Confidence

spring 2021

| 3rd Act magazine



feel that I have been lucky in many ways but especially because of the children that have passed through my adult life. There is my son, foster children, guardianships, stepchildren, and the children of friends. Some have stayed close, others touch base now and then. Then, at 67, my first biological grandchild arrived. His generous mother Kumiko asked me to sit in the birthing room next to her, and I became the first person to see that beautiful boy’s face as he entered this world. My heart exploded! Something moved in every cell of my body. Kaito was followed by a sister, Soara, and we were all close as they lived only a few blocks away. Then, after four years of snuggles, naps together, soap bubbles, bugs, puppies, and experiments, they moved to Hawaii. Kaito was 4 and Soara 2. I knew that all the things I had learned about being a good parent and grandparent would have to adapt. At first it was easy. I sent stamped postcards for them to draw messages on, projects to build, books to look at or read together, songs to sing, and video visits or calls. Lucky again, I could visit Hawaii in the winter! Long distance, we did recitals and plays online. They were 10 and 12 when COVID-19 hit, and I felt I was losing contact with Kaito. He is


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

a talented athlete at this age, and he plays the piano and guitar. But without his friends he changed. Zoom school was boring, online games energizing, his sunny personality dimmed, and my grandma solutions were weak. Adolescence was around the corner and snarky entered the room. What was the magic word for a 12-year-old? What would help in this lock-downed time? “Money” was the answer. Cold but viable to exchange for a hot skateboard, fanny pack, new technology, or a buzzer for his room to protect his privacy. I set up a point-bank for reading. I was always sending him books anyway. After checking with his parents, he chose Beartown and I bought a copy. We agreed to read together and FaceTime twice a week, usually 50 pages each time. I would ask questions and give him assignments. I had no idea it would result in deep conversations—not just between us—but also with his parents. Beartown is a novel about a place in Sweden consumed by ice hockey. The central theme is personal integrity and the tensions of class, inequality, community pride, friendship, family, and violence. I worried Kaito




was too young for some of these themes, but his father said he could read it. Through our conversations I learned so much about my grandson, his values, how he viewed friendship and teamwork, his understanding of pride and shame regardless of income, and his moral courage. He insisted a rape—a trauma in the story— had to be reported, not delayed even a day. Any attempt to shield the wealthy young hockey player in the story, who was essential to winning the championship game, was wrong. We talked about the possible consequences of honor and truth in an imperfect world. I found myself in tears after one FaceTime call, as each discussion revealed the strength of my grandson’s character. He said that these questions never came up in his classroom, or between friends, even though many of the subjects in the book were common in our national news. The next book he chose was The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a tale about a town that believes all that

protects them from devastation is the town council, and the sacrifice each year of a newborn baby. It is a classic fable of good people conned by a myth while the elite enrich themselves. Anyone in the village who questioned what they were told was punished. In my mind I linked it to our national and international news. For Kaito, I was careful to stick to the universal power of stories in politics, racism, religion, and so much of life, so he could put his own thoughts together. These ideas were for him to think about. We read six more books, together, but now Kaito is back in his regular classroom and our reading sessions seem to be over. I asked when we might start again. But as much as I want to—I learned so much—he hasn’t said anything except how much he loves his new skateboard. Jennifer James has a doctorate in cultural anthropology and master’s degrees in history and psychology. She was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington Medical School. She is the founding mother of the Committee for Children, an international organization devoted to the prevention of child abuse worldwide.

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Aging with Confidence

It’s More Than Retirement. It’s Five-Star Fun.

spring 2021

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Engaging with Aging THE INSIGHTFUL WISDOM OF A 99-YEAR-OLD BLOGGER by James J. Tracy In 2017, 95-year-old Doris Carnevali joined the 31.7 million U.S. bloggers in launching Engaging with Aging. Here’s why. “If you are a ‘Yet-To-Be Elderly’ (YTBE),” Doris says, “it may serve as a departure point for finding your own ways of looking at aging or relating to older relatives/friends. If you are already ‘Being Elderly’ in one or another stage of aging and want to see how someone else is reacting to the experiences, you can compare notes,” she explains. Since then, Doris has authored more than 150 blog posts. Her Engaging with Aging blog stands out as realistic, encouraging, credible, conversational, insightful, and timeless. REALISTIC

In our youth and midlife, we do not think about our capacity to get out of bed, climb stairs, or carry in the groceries. Aging, however, impacts these areas and captures our attention. We can ignore, deny, or adapt. When the blogger’s hands lost the


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Doris Carnevali

strength and dexterity to wring out a washcloth while bathing, she discovered a bath mitt did the job. Such adaptations illustrate what can be done when facing the moving parts of aging. Both agers and caregivers can benefit from her tips and insights. ENCOURAGING

Doris often says to herself in the face of an unexpected change, “Oh, so this is how it is.” Followed by, “Now, what’s possible?” With head in the clouds, feet on the ground she wrote, “When my balance had become increasingly tippy, I ‘parked my Her Engaging ego,’ ordered a walker, practiced with Aging with it in the house, and eventually blog stands braved appearing with it outside.” out as realistic, The blog reflects her quizzical and positive, “What’s possible?”

encouraging, credible, conversational, insightful, and timeless.


The author possesses credentials. She retired an Associate Professor Emerita in the School of Nursing at the University of Washington www.3rdActMag.com

where she had co-edited three textbook editions of Nursing Management for the Elderly, and authored several other books. Looking back on those academic years, she describes herself as an “unknowing outsider” to the lived experience of the elderly. “Now I feel as if I had been a pilot flying over the city of aging, assuming I knew how the residents lived. What an illusion! Now, I’m ‘an insider.’” CONVERSATIONAL

We find not a teacher, but an elder person chatting with us about what aging really is. In one post, “Becoming One’s Own Lab Rat,” she highlights how our age-related changes (ARCs) impact daily living. “What hadn’t been in the literature was what specific age-related changes did to my daily life— the impact areas,” she wrote. “Anyone who thinks of old age as a time of stagnation just hasn’t been there. The demands of practical, creative observing, thinking, and acting are ever-present.” INSIGHTFUL

In her blog posts, Doris reminds us that aging is a journey we all share, but we each do it at our own pace and in our own way. We experience specific ARCs like slowing reflexes.

She encourages us to notice how they impact our daily living. Each of us adapts. Some ways work well. Others, not so much. We may need to alter our way doing of things like splitting tasks into pieces. Some age-related changes call for mantras: • “Nose and Toes” pointing in the same direction to keep our balance while walking. • “Focus, Focus” to keep our attention on what we are doing “in the moment.” • “Center, Center” to maintain stable standing as balance becomes more precarious. TIMELESS

When asked what she hoped would happen to her blog after she dies, Doris said, “I have neither expectations nor aspirations. It may end up being just one old lady’s views on Engaging with Aging.” At 99, she keeps delivering experiences, insights, and wisdom that can serve endless generations because “growing old” will always be with us. James J. Tracy holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. He held academic appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Washington Medical School and in the Department of Psychology before moving to full-time clinical practice. He currently writes and speaks on age-related topics.

Vibrant friendships await. Aging with Confidence

This place is for you. Call to reserve your apartment suite.

(425) 650-2406 madisonhousekirkland.com 12215 NE 128th St. / Kirkland, WA

spring 2021

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M My parents are old. And not just in the way all kids think their parents are old. I myself am old but my parents are practically olde with an Olde English “E.” Fortunately, they are still sharp. They live independently. They are mobile. They drive. I didn’t say they drive well, but they have managed to get themselves to church and back every morning without incident. I want to believe their prayers act as some sort of perpetual preservative because old age just isn’t old enough. Even 90 years of life, long by human standards, is a mere blink in time. Houses in my neighborhood are older. Trees around here are much older. The small but sharp gray pebble I stepped on barefoot in my backyard—and


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

came, and to stardust, we shall return. Supposedly, the awareness of our own mortality is one of the things that separates humans from other animals. That, and our ability to eat chocolate without croaking. But we do an excellent job trying to ignore our reality. It is as though we are born with the unique ability to hear the tick-tock of the clock counting down our seconds but choose to stick our fingers in our ears and sing “la la la” really loudly. Case in point: Games of solitaire. They exist solely to kill time as though we’ve got too much of the stuff on our hands and really need to dump some before our kids speed-dial producers of a reality TV show about time hoarders. But time is our most rare and precious commodity. It‘s, quite literally, all any of us have. Wasting time seems self-destructive and more than a little stupid. Yet, I have to admit, I have a few games of solitaire on my phone. I rarely play them, though. I’d like to say I am too busy thinking profound thoughts about my own mortality because I am deep. In truth, I’m more likely splashing in the shallow end of the Internet. I check a stranger’s Instagram, thinking “She’s so cool!” Or scroll through yet another infuriating tweet, muttering “He’s such a moron!” And so, without planning, I fritter away my one wild and precious life chasing an endless thread on Reddit. I make a silent promise to myself to live more consciously, to appreciate the glorious urgency of what it means to be alive.

RTAL ME cursed like a mother—could be as old as 3 billion years. That jagged little stone, nature’s lost Lego piece, might still exist in another billion years for a space alien to inadvertently slither across and curse in a language that sounds BY VIVIAN like electronic beeps MCINERNY but could still make its space alien mother blush. For a solid mass of minerals, 4 billion years is no big deal. On the other hand, a human can’t even count aloud to this astronomical number, which if you tried, would take about 127 years and, frankly, none of us has the time. Life is short. We’re each on this planet for a mere blip of time compared to the infinite stretch of the Before Us and the After Us. From stardust we

Vivian McInerny is a career journalist. She’s working on a collection of related personal essays about traveling overland from Italy to India at age 18. Her first children’s book, The Whole Hole Story, will be published in 2021 by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


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The benefits of moving to a “Purpose Built” community


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

It’s tough when age-related changes begin Today’s senior to reduce our ability to do daily activities communities are like preparing a healthy meal or even tie our shoes. For some, simple household not the “old-folks chores can become difficult and self-care homes” of the past, begins to slip. Experiencing these changes firsthand, witnessing them in a spouse, or but instead offer when our adult children see us struggle an enriching, lifecan elicit a rollercoaster of emotions. This is especially true if health or cognitive enhancing lifestyle. abilities are deteriorating, or loneliness and isolation become an issue. Knowing when and how to make lifestyle adjustments to address agerelated challenges, or to step in to help a loved one who is struggling, can be a difficult, even daunting, decision. What are the available supportive living environment and lifestyle options? How can adult children encourage a move to a more supportive community and still honor and recognize the agency of a parent to decide how to live, regardless of age? Educating ourselves and understanding one’s care needs is an important first step. Dropping stereotypes and recognizing that today’s senior communities are not the “old-folks homes” of the past, but instead offer an enriching, life-enhancing lifestyle is helpful, too. But it can be intimidating to navigate the various living options available for older adults of varying needs and preferences. www.3rdActMag.com



Here are some frequently asked questions about what it’s like to live in a Quail Park (or similar) community, and some things you should consider.


“What is a ‘Purpose Built’ community?” Purpose Built communities are inviting living environments designed to serve the needs of older adults. In Purpose Built communities creativity thrives, and the lifestyle of residents remains supportive and worry-free.


“What are the housing options?” There are a whole host of options depending on your budget and the services you need or want, from studio and 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, to individual cottages, and specialized residences for people living with dementia. Whether you are seeking independent living or assisted living options, there is a wide variety of floor plans and care options to choose from.


“What’s it like to live in a Quail Park community?” Modern communities like ours offer beautiful and comfortable housing with designer details, generous interior spaces, and warm finishes ready for you or loved ones to call home. We offer security, plus assistance from cooking and housekeeping to transportation services. There are planned recreational activities and we facilitate plenty of social opportunities to build friendships and stay engaged. In all living options, Quail Park’s chef-inspired cuisine provides delicious, nutrient rich foods with three balanced meals per day, plus snacks.


“What if my parent or loved one has dementia?” Following a dementia diagnosis, seek out communities such as Quail Park West Seattle and Lynwood that specialize in memory care. Loved ones with cognitive decline need an environment where every aspect of their new community is designed to support and engage, while providing the highest possible quality of life. Look for downsized spaces that help reduce confusion and disorientation, while providing comfort and reassurance. Paying tribute to your loved one’s unique needs ensures the dignity they deserve.


“I’m worried that living in a memory care community will feel institutional and lonely.” Comfortable, luxury living is possible in senior living, especially when companion living options are available. This is a bonus in terms of affordability and for overall quality of life. Families are surprised to learn that when you bring two compatible seniors together it often eases the transition, decreases loneliness and may improve dementia symptoms.


“I’m caring for someone with memory loss. We’re doing okay except sometimes I need a break. Do communities offer respite care?” We believe practicing your own personal self-care is an important part of caregiving. Reach out to our communities to learn more about our respite care programs. These short-term stays can provide your loved one a safe and enjoyable place to stay while you tend to the unexpected or take a much-needed break.

Quail Park Communities Serving Western Washington Quail Park of Lynnwood

Quail Park Memory Care Residences of West Seattle

Aging with Confidence

To learn more about how to transition into community living that’s right for you or a loved one, call us today. Our dedicated staff is here to listen, offer guidance, and answer your questions.

West Seattle · 206-962-5403 · QPMCwestSeattle.com Lynwood · 425-329-6591 · QuailParkofLynwood.com

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e v i t a Cre Thi nKi n g

Seattle museum begins a second decade of bringing the arts to people with dementia by Julie Fanselow


ulia Blackburn has been living with Lewy body dementia since 2009. Not long after her diagnosis at age 62, she and her sister and care partner, Marybeth Blackburn, learned about a new program where people with cognitive decline and their loved one could experience art together. The sisters had already flipped the fearful script that usually accompanies dementia. “Early on, we learned to name this new presence in our life ‘Lewy,’” Marybeth says. “By naming it, we changed the narrative. It wasn’t that Julia couldn’t remember something or do some task she had done with ease before. Nope, it was ‘Lewy.’ Naming it freed us both from the blame game of dementia and gave us a way to talk about what was happening.” Vision loss is a hallmark of Lewy body dementia, but it didn’t stop Julia from jumping into the Creative Aging arts programs at the Frye Art Museum when they got underway in 2010. “Like so much else with dementia, it starts with saying ‘yes,’” says Marybeth. Together, the sisters took part in guided gallery viewing and art studio sessions in the Seattle museum’s here:now pilot program. And, until the pandemic, they continued to enjoy art-making experiences at Fred Lind Manor, a Seattle assisted living community where Julia lives. The sisters have come to love their “Frye Time,” no matter where it happens. The Frye is marking a decade of its Creative Aging programs with a


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Above: Mother-daughter team Margot Hughes McDonald and Kirsten Kinnan, together with Emma Levitt Royer, created this collaborative painting while listening to music. The painting is showcased in the Art on the Mind exhibit, marking a decade of Creative Aging programs at the Frye Art Museum. Photo by Jueqian Fang. Right: Participants in here:now use a variety of mediums to create art. Photo by Jonathan Vanderweit.

yearlong exhibition, Art on the Mind, which documents how the project has grown to include art experiences for people who can no longer visit the museum. Mary Jane Knecht, who manages the Creative Aging programs, says the initiative took a great leap forward in 2014 when the Frye got a two-year grant from the Institute of www.3rdActMag.com

Museum and Library Services. With that support and additional funds from families who had experienced here:now, the Frye built its Bridges offsite program, which sends teaching artists to care centers and private homes to keep people engaged in creative arts. “At its essence, Bridges is a transition away from the notion of ‘quality of life,’ a commonplace term in the dementia world, and toward ‘quality of experience,’” Genevieve Wanucha of the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center wrote in a 2016 recap of Creative Aging’s first five years. When people have memory loss, they don’t lose their appreciation of beauty and meaning, nor their need for social connection—all things the Frye

has been able to deliver through its art programs, dementia-friendly classic film screenings, and Alzheimer’s Café gatherings. “We like to focus on the creative potential of the person living with dementia and catering to their different needs,” as well as those of the care partner, says Michelle Cheng, director of education and community partnerships at the Frye. That potential doesn’t go away in a pandemic, so the museum has boosted its online offerings for people to use while the museum is closed. Visit www. fryemuseum.org/creative_aging/ and look for digital resources to access easy hands-on art activities, singalong sessions, and gallery talks to enjoy at home. (Also check out the Frye’s website for news of an upcoming virtual lecture series with major national speakers on creativity and dementia care.) Left: Julia (left) and Marybeth Blackburn have taken part in the Frye Art Museum’s Creative Aging programs since 2010. Photo byJill Hardy. Below: Mary Jane Knecht, manager of the Creative Aging programs, facilitates a here:now gallery discussion. Photo by Jill Hardy.

The museum convenes an annual conference to gather a wide range of people who seek to explore how, in the words of 2015 conference speaker Dr. Al Power, “dementia is a shift in the way a person experiences the world.” That shift has been true for us all during the pandemic, so because the 2020 conference happened online, it could be accessed by people from all over the Northwest and beyond. Participants wrote haiku with Eddie Gonzalez of the On Being Project, virtually visited the lushly landscaped The Merwin Conservancy in Hawaii, and took a tour of utopian art projects around the world with Pam McClusky, a curator at Seattle Art Museum. The Frye often collaborates with the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center, and now the partners are creating the Memory Hub, which will serve as a meeting place for groups imagining new perspectives on living well with dementia. Set adjacent to the Frye on Seattle’s First Hill, the Memory Hub will feature a garden where fragrant plants may stir memories, just as art, movies, and music do. Over the next decade, the Frye hopes to extend its reach further into rural cities and counties throughout Washington, including Jefferson County, where nearly four in 10 residents are at least 65 years old, and where the Frye already partners with the Rose Theatre and Centrum in Port Townsend. “What’s been so clear to me is the need in more rural communities for meaningful engagement programs for older adults living with dementia,” says Knecht. “It’s exciting to go beyond the museum walls.” Julie Fanselow is dedicated to living large with a small footprint and writing to make sense of these times. She lives in Seattle and is a frequent contributor to 3rd Act. Read more from her at surelyjoy.com

Aging with Confidence

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What the latest science tells us about treatment,prevention, and the impact of COVID-19 on the brain BY ANN HEDREEN


Alzheimer’s When Dr. Maria Carrillo was a graduate student in neuroscience at Northwestern University, she spent hours with her eye to a microscope, looking into the brains of laboratory rats. What she witnessed was astonishing. “I realized that what I was seeing was a memory being biologically encoded,” she says. “I was watching nerve cells talk to each other.” But when she and the research team looked at the brains of aging rats, they saw a dramatic difference. New memories didn’t “stick.” They were somehow vulnerable to quick erasure in a way that older memories weren’t. Why? This is the question that drives dementia research. And it has driven Dr. Carrillo all her professional life. As Chief Science Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Carrillo’s job is to set the strategic vision for the global research program of the organization, which is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. In 2020, this meant quickly ramping up a study on the long-term neurological and cognitive impacts of COVID-19.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

“We will look at data from 25 different countries, which will give us information on every patient who tests positive for COVID-19, so that we can see what neurological symptoms are still occurring a year later,” Dr. Carrillo says. “People have seen neurological impacts from a COVID-19 infection. There’s something that’s impacting the brain.” Symptoms include “delirium, headaches, dizziness, and memory loss, and there are reports that these don’t resolve as quickly as the virus resolves itself.” She adds that the infection also infiltrates inflammatory cells. “Unless we start studying this today, we’re not going to be able to get results,” says Dr. Carillo. Dr. Carrillo also voiced her concerns about how the pandemic has isolated people living with dementia. Without the positive stimuli of visitors, they’re at risk of more rapid cognitive decline. She has been a leader in urging long-term care facilities to find ways for people to maintain connections with their loved ones. Under Dr. Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association is launching


the U.S. POINTER study, a $100 million, five-site initiative inspired by a groundbreaking study that began in Finland. The Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) was the first randomized controlled trial to show that it is possible to prevent cognitive decline through multi-pronged lifestyle modifications, in p a r t i c u l a r p hy s i c a l and cognitive exercise, Dr. Maria Carrillo changes in diet (more fresh vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, and fewer saturated fats and sugars) and monitoring of cardiovascular risk factors. The FINGER trial interventions reduced cognitive decline in participants by 30 percent. Now known as the WW-FINGERS Network, “this has turned into a global movement,” Dr. Carrillo says. “There are now 20 countries that are launching studies like this.” The Alzheimer’s Association has just added POINTER sites in 13 Latin American countries. The POINTER study fits with the association’s ongoing research focus on what Dr. Carrillo calls middle age risk factors: midlife waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. The goal is to “create a recipe” for people in middle age and beyond that will give us all the power to decrease our own risk factors for cognitive decline by making changes in

our daily lives. The POINTER study is expected to provide confirmation of what researchers have long believed—what’s good for your heart is good for your brain. The Alzheimer’s Association is also a major funder of drug research, including studies of Biogen’s Aducanumab, the first disease-modifying Alzheimer’s treatment to be considered

Another significant step forward this year has been the development of a simple blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Though it’s not quite ready for prime time, Dr. Carrillo says that when it is, it will be a huge boon to both family practice doctors and research scientists. by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Though the FDA has asked for another Phase 3 trial, which will delay access to Aducanumab for up to four years, Dr. Carrillo sees this type of drug as part of a future in which lifestyle changes plus medication could make Alzheimer’s disease a manageable chronic illness, much like diabetes. Another significant step forward this year has been the development of a simple blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Though it’s not quite ready for prime time, Dr. Carrillo says that when it is, it will be a huge boon to both family practice doctors and research scientists, because they will be able to

The Pacific Northwest is a Leader in Innovation The kind of lifestyle changes on which the FINGER and US POINTER studies are focused have long been gaining traction in the Pacific Northwest. Launched in 2013 (and featured in 3rd Act in 2016), Momentia Seattle is a one-stop source for people with dementia and their families to find ways to remain active and connected to the community. (Their website, www.momentiaseattle.org, is currently chock-full of virtual offerings.) Momentia was one of several Dr. Raina Croff organizations and individuals recently honored with a 2020 (white cap) leads a Maude Award for innovations in Alzheimer’s care. “SHARP” walk. In Portland, Dr. Raina Croff is leading the SHARP study: Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-Imagery, which is funded in part by the Alzheimer’s Association. Working with the PreSERVE Coalition for African American Memory and Brain Health, Dr. Croff and her team accompany older Black adults on vigorous walks focused on “active reminiscence” of their changing neighborhoods. Photos and news clippings are deployed to help them remember what was there before. “We documented that the combination of vigorous walks and active reminiscence correlated with more energy, improved mood and modest improvement in cognitive assessments, particularly among those with mild cognitive impairment,” Dr. Croff, an assistant professor of neurology and medical anthropologist at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine, wrote in a recent article. “SHARP walkers are not only reclaiming their history, they are claiming their place in the present by telling a more accurate and far richer story of the past.”

Aging with Confidence

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verify whether someone has the disease quickly and easily, rather than having to do an expensive PET scan or a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). The pace and scope of Alzheimer’s research has increased dramatically in the past five years. Federal funding has gone from $631 million in 2015 to $3.1 billion in 2021, due in large part to the Alzheimer’s Association’s tireless advocacy on Capitol Hill. And the association’s own funding capacity was given an enormous boost beginning three years ago with the launch of California philanthropist Mikey Hoag’s Part the Cloud initiative. In 2019, Bill Gates added $60 million to the Part the Cloud Fund, which is currently funding more than 60 studies, many of them exploring areas of brain research that go far beyond the emphasis of the past few decades on amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles. “There’s so much more happening in the aging brain that can contribute to memory loss, to brain cells changing and not holding onto memories or making new ones,” says Dr. Carrillo, making it essential that research “go beyond amyloid and tau alone at this point.” Some of the newest areas the Part the Cloud/ Gates partnership are funding include mitochondria (how brain cells use energy and fuel), autophagy/clearance (how brain

cells remove waste and debris to avoid clumping), and vascular contributions (how the blood supply to the brain is maintained). Alzheimer’s research is personal for Dr. Carrillo. Both her mother-in-law and her father-in-law died of the disease. Knowing that she was watching a relentless biological process did not make it easier to see them reach the point where they could no longer create a memory of something that had just happened. But it did increase her already tenacious commitment to Alzheimer’s research. Just as she was fascinated as a student “by the fact that a brain—that is just tissue, it’s cells and blood and some connective tissue—has the ability to create such an incredible thing as a human being: cognition, our thinking, our feeling, everything that is associated with being human,” Dr. Carrillo remains fascinated by all that scientists are learning about how the brain works, and why it sometimes doesn’t work, and what she and her colleagues can do about that. Ann Hedreen is a writer, filmmaker, and the author of Her Beautiful Brain, winner of a Next Generation Indie book award. Ann and her husband, Rustin Thompson, own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and five feature documentaries together, including Quick Brown Fox: An Alzheimer's Story. Their latest film, set in Peru and inspired by Ann’s great-uncle, is Zona Intangible.

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3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


Handwriting Brain Health and

When we write, we process more than when we type. by Annette Januzzi Wick

Aging with Confidence


wo years before entering World War II, Great Britain began an undertaking called Mass-Observation, encouraging civilian diarists to report what happened around them— and in their minds—for sociologists to study later. In the present moment, it’s no less important to track those same details. There are added benefits to doing so, but it’s important to focus on the effort and method in which we observe and describe, to better understand the advantages. The activity of writing by hand can be healing, soothing, and productive, yet we must exercise our various writing muscles, like a golfer does his swing, for the practice to be effective. In a 2014 study, “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand over Laptop Notetaking,” by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, the authors state, “We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and re-framing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.” Today, while typing on a computer, our thoughts are interrupted by alerts to misspellings or notifications of incoming emails. We watch as our story takes shape, or we seek out poor grammar, instead of processing the information. On paper, we have no such distractions. Our thoughts flow as fluid as a gel-tipped pen across the page, while our brains make sense of the information at hand for retrieval later. Writing by hand also adds purpose to our days. It is an activity that isn’t related to work that takes place on a computer. I once developed a writing workshop at a nearby senior center for those who experienced cognitive impairment. Participants

were invited into the world of the beach through sand, shells, and sunglasses they could touch, or we discussed baseball and ate peanuts and popcorn. They completed the sentence, “When I think of baseball, or the beach, I …” They wrote. Slowly. Or formed the occasional word. Or drew chicken scratch on paper. It didn’t matter. The exercise unearthed some memories and provided a sense of accomplishment. Through the handwritten page, we also attach deeper meaning to a subject. Pen in hand, I pause between letters and words, reminded of my mother who did the same, despite our handwriting differing immensely. Her letters were tight and controlled. Mine exhibited occasional loops. Sometimes, I printed letters in the middle

of cursive sentences, a leftover from writing computer code. The curl in my “A” was a result of copying calligraphy from the encyclopedia for a 9th grade history project. The “J” was reminiscent of my mother’s—after we learned to forge her name on school notes. Writing by hand is the rake that removes the leaves from behind the bushes of our experiences. It helps us evaluate our actions, process emotions, and offers a fulfilling look back on the day. While it might not always save time, the act will save our brain cells for later. Annette Januzzi Wick is a writer, teacher, and community connector. Her Italian roots, and the combination of small-town upbringing and urban living in Ohio, inform her perspective on writing—and life. Her award-winning writings span across the arts, women’s studies, aging and memory, and politics. Visit annettejwick.com to learn more.

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Nell, Aug us t 2010

by Douglas Huenergardt


hen my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013, almost everything I read painted a bleak picture of our life together with ever-increasing losses. I decided to focus on what Nell could do, and create joy, positivity, and shared moment-by-moment connections so she would never feel alone with her illness. I varied my approach from understanding to distraction to physical activity. When she’d say, “I feel lost,” I’d join her in understanding the feeling,” and say, “Me too, I’m so glad we’re together.” When she was confused, I’d guide her to activities that would remind her of who she was by playing her favorite music. We would sing along to Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and The Beatles. Nell used to imitate Janis Joplin singing “Mercedes


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Benz,” so she’d laugh as she sang it again. The music helped her remember who she was. My worst moments came when she became aware she was losing her sense of self. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” she would wail, amid tears of utter despair. I’d attempt to transform her fear into physical activity. “We need to change our scene. Let’s go for a walk,” I’d say. I knew seeing nature’s beauty calmed her. She also delighted in watching small children play. We shared difficult as well as funny moments. I noticed evening agitation and occasional hallucinations. Her neurologist diagnosed the symptoms as Sundowner Syndrome and prescribed medication. After three days, her agitation got worse so we

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Living and Loving a Spouse with Alzheimer’s

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Finding Nell

Pa r t y

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discontinued it. This was my first disease-specific learning that any mood-stabilizing medications paradoxically increased her agitation. There was another side effect of the medication. On the morning of the fourth day, I came out of bathroom and asked her if she’d like breakfast. “NO!” she said, and began to hit me. “What’s happening?” I asked, as I backed away. “We have never hit in our family.” She took steps toward me and started hitting me again. “GET OUT! GET OUT!” she shouted. I left and stood outside the front door for about seven minutes. I was afraid she might wander, so I guarded the door from the outside. When I www.3rdActMag.com

came in, I asked, “Would you like eggs for breakfast?” “Yes,” she said. “You know hitting is not acceptable. It hurt my feelings,” I told her. “Well, you’re the one who brought it up. I’ve forgotten about it,” Nell replied. I laughed aloud at the lesson I just learned. The person with an intact memory is the one holding on to a grievance, while the person with Alzheimer’s has moved on. After that, the ability to laugh alone—and together—carried us through many difficult circumstances. I took care of her in our home for six years. As her symptoms worsened, I developed angina. I moved her to an Alzheimer’s care facility for the last seven months of her life. I spent every noon and evening meal with her. When she developed chewing and swallowing problems, I fed her pureed food. As she lost her ability to speak, we stayed connected through head nods

and yes/no questions. I knew she was still with me. Then the head nods became miniaturized movements. Then nothing. I was determined not to let her slip away, so I took her hands in mine, looked into her eyes, and talked to her about news from her children, sisters, and grandsons. She seemed to relax when I did this, and I felt connected to her. I’m not sure whether she comprehended my words or just found the sound of my voice comforting. After that connection stopped, I used my last strategy. I held her hands, looked into her eyes, and began breathing in synchrony with her. At this point she had no voice, no facial expressions, no head nods. But I was determined to “find Nell.” And I did. After a few minutes, she’d lean forward. I’d feel our connection return and nod my head yes. That connection continued until she died. There was one other significant

Douglas Huenergardt has a PhD in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. He became a licensed marriage and family therapist and later taught in the Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral program at Loma Linda University from 2000 until he retired in 2018 to care for his wife full time.

Memory Care that feels like home.

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event. Two days before she died, while I was feeding her, she stopped and locked eyes with me and held it for about 45 seconds. There was such intensity to her gaze I knew she was trying to communicate something. I met her gaze and after a few seconds, nodded my head. “Yes, I understand,” I said. “Thank you for telling me. I love you, too.” I realized eye contact was her only way to initiate communication. And she used it. I stayed locked into her eyes until she broke it off. She died two days later, on Thanksgiving in 2019. Staying connected with her throughout her illness was the greatest blessing of my life.

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spring 2021

| 3rd Act magazine 25


Renowned artist Stephen Wiltshire draws the Empire State Building and New York City from memory on October 13, 2017, in New York.


calendar calculation, mechanical and spatial skills, and extraordinary memory recall. It appears the neurological condition forces the savant brain into a kind of Faustian bargain. The cost of a single super-human ability is the sacrifice of the rest of the brain. The vast majority of the savant mind is denied any cognitive power and is rendered useless. Yet, when a single skill survives, the targeted talent receives all the resources, focus, and energy I have long been fascinated by the highly specialized virtuosity the savant mind can muster. of people once called “idiot savants.” The neurological Alan Snyder, director of the Brain and Mind Centre at the condition of savantism causes a counterpoint of University of Sydney in Australia, has identified a set BY MICHAEL C. profound disabilities coupled with incredible upsurges of hyper-activated abilities that seem to account for PATTERSON of targeted virtuosity. the flights of virtuosity that flourish in some savant Savants are “people whose general capacity for intelligence minds. We all possess these abilities but fail to express them is abysmally low,” says neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, to the degree found in savants. “yet who have islands of astonishing talent.” It is these islands Privileged access to low-level processing. The savant of mental virtuosity that offer insight into the full expanse of mind can focus on pure sensations without converting the human mental powers. direct sensory input into symbolic representations. Betty What gives savants their super-human abilities? Are Edwards, in her classic Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain, so-called “normal” brains capable of approaching these teaches art students the same perceptual trick. “Normal” minds capacities? I believe we can enhance our “normal” cognitive look at an apple, and automatically convert the raw data into abilities by studying and emulating savant skills. a generic symbol of an apple. Skilled artists, and some savants, A savant’s mental genius, which can reach seemingly supercircumvent the processing and see the details and unique human levels, is usually confined to a finite set of capabilities. characteristics of this singular apple. Edwards demonstrates Savant skills center on the domains of music, art, mathematics, that “normal” brains can learn to see like artists and savants.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


Hyper-focus. Savant hyper-focus has two important aspects: 1) An intense and highly motivated emotional commitment to the topic; and 2) Concentrated and sustained attention without distractions. “Normal” minds that invest the same kind of commitment and attention to a pursuit of passion can achieve heightened results. Heightened Sensory Acuity. The privileged access to low-level sensory elements, coupled with hyper-focus, may provide savants with a heightened ability to discern subtle variations in sensory data, thus enhancing their performance. We can all train our minds to enhance our sensory acuity through disciplines like mindfulness meditation. Obsessive Practice. Savants have limited abilities and limited interests and tend to engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors. When anchored in a creative activity, the hours of dedicated practice amplify skill levels, including the ability to identify and correct mistakes. We all know that disciplined practice improves performance. Disinhibition. A fully operational brain has many cognitive functions occurring at the same time. Smooth operation requires the activation of some functions coupled with the inhibition of others. Inhibition may have no role in a savant’s brain that has only one working talent. Without inhibition, that single talent may be free to realize its full potential. Perhaps “normal” brains can enhance performance by learning how to release inhibitions. Equipartitioning. Alan Snyder suggests that savants possess a heightened ability to partition sensory information into equal parts, a skill he calls “equipartitioning.” Musical savants might hear music more acutely because they can partition the rhythms to an extraordinary degree—into 32nd and 64th notes, and beyond. We all possess this ability to some degree. We need no special training to divide a sandwich into four equal sections. Prodigious Memory. Some savants have extraordinary memory (see sidebar). It is likely that they are highly efficient at encoding an initial impression using the low-level processing, hyper-focus, heightened sensory acuity, and an obsessive interest as mentioned above. Their ability to reactivate the memory would be heightened through obsessive repetition and rehearsal that firmly consolidates the impression. Most of us can improve our memory by paying attention to what we want to remember (encoding) and by reinforcing the impression (consolidation). A savant’s virtuosity inspires awe and wonder. Savants demonstrate the pure potential of the human mind. Savants are forced to use their brain in unique ways. Their virtuosity arises from selective deactivation of certain cognitive functions coupled with hyper-activation of others. The lesson of the savants may be that we all possess the potential to excel if we learn to modulate our mental capacities in ways that give full expression to our innate abilities. What a piece of work we are! How powerful the cognitive tool we possess, how pregnant with potential. What flights of fancy and achievement would be beyond our grasp if we could harness and express the collective potential of our human brain power? Michael C. Patterson, founder and CEO of MINDRAMP Consulting, writes extensively on the art and science of brain health and mental flourishing. He is an educator and consultant who previously managed AARP’s Staying Sharp brain health program, and helped develop the field of creative aging.

Aging with Confidence

Notable Savants • Kim Peek, the inspiration for the movie Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman, can memorize complete pages of text, two at a time, every eight seconds. He simply flips the page, scans the right page with his right eye and the left page with his left. Peek can remember text from thousands of books, but his is unable to tie his shoelaces or button his shirt. • A young girl named Nadia picked up a pen at age three and a half and, without the benefit of any apparent training, began to draw wonderful sketches of galloping horses. Yet Nadia has limited speech and spends much of her time in repetitive play, tearing paper into strips. • Musician Derek Paravicini remembers every piece of music he has ever heard and can transpose any of those melodies into any musical style he selects. • Architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire was taken on a helicopter ride over Rome and then renders a photorealistic drawing of the entire city—from memory. • Author and essayist Daniel Tammet can calculate cube roots quicker than a computer, and can recall the number for pi to 22,514 digits. • Orlando Serrell was hit on the head by a baseball at age 10. A few months later he began recalling an endless barrage of license-plate numbers, song lyrics, and weather reports. Serrell also does calendar calculating. • Anne Adams trained and worked as a scientist but in mid-life she lost interest in science and became obsessed with painting, becoming a prolific and highly accomplished artist. The obsession with art seems to be associated with the onset of frontotemporal dementia.

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especially falls and other accidents. I often told my older patients, “Nobody ever died because they couldn’t sleep for a night, but many have broken a hip because a sleeping pill made them dizzy and fall.” Drugs taken for sleep can cause other problems, too. Anticholinergic over-the-counter sleeping pills (diphenhydramine, the drug in Benadryl and Tylenol PM is an anticholinergic), are linked to higher rates of dementia. And so-called “Z-medications” such as Ambien are associated with serious injuries due to confusion and sleepwalking. Meanwhile, the benefits of these pills are not that great. In studies of prescription sleeping pills, the added duration of sleep usually averages less than 25 minutes. Fortunately, there are lots of common sense alternatives. For example, you can try to:

R E D N O W E P r H E T E L S lthie a F e h a O lax into edtime to re p with b w o H shi n o i SON t L AR . rela B RIC R. BY D



ave you ever watched a small child sleep and envied how easily they do it? The older we get, the more we seem to savor that ability to sleep well and wake up energized. You probably know that good sleep has many health benefits, including the prevention of depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. But do you know much sleep is enough? There’s no right answer because the range of “normal” sleep duration varies widely, especially among older people. I’ve noticed, however, that many seem to have a common: Uninterrupted sleep gets harder as we age. Common obstacles include achy backs and joints, plus the need to urinate at night—especially for men, but also for women. Plus, many people seem to have anxiety about their lack of sleep, a worry that, ironically, makes it that much harder to drift off. Studies have shown that we go through a series of sleep cycles every night, stirring a bit after each round, which typically lasts three to four hours. It’s good to get at least one uninterrupted cycle each night—and two cycles is probably ideal. What if you don’t get as much sleep as you’d like? You may feel irritable or find it hard to concentrate—a complaint many try to remedy with sleeping pills. But unless you have a serious sleeping disorder that interferes with your well-being, I recommend against such drugs. Everyday use of sleep medication (or alcohol, for that matter) as a way to “unwind” before bed is bad for your health as it leads to dependence. And sleep medications raise the risk for other problems,


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

• Get plenty of exercise during the day. This can reduce stress, leaving you more relaxed at night. • Avoid liquids—especially caffeinated ones—after 6 p.m. You’ll feel calmer and be less likely to have to have to get up and go. • Avoid alcohol, which can be a sedating at first, but after three hours or so, acts as a stimulant. • Experiment with short, say 20-minute, afternoon “cat naps,” which can be restorative if you didn’t sleep well the night before. • Try relaxation techniques such as focusing on your breath as you count down from 1,000. If you have distracting thoughts, simply recognize them, let them go, and return your focus to counting and breathing until you fall asleep. • Try cognitive behavior therapy, which can help you change your ideas and habits regarding sleep and wakefulness in helpful ways. The book, Overcoming Insomnia: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach by Jack Edinger and Colleen Carney describes how it works. Most importantly, try not to “medicalize” lack of sleep as though it were an illness requiring treatment. Treat sleep instead as philosopher Viktor Frankl suggested, like “a dove which has landed near one’s hand and stays there as long as one does not pay any attention to it; if one attempts to grab it, it quickly flies away.” Dr. Eric B. Larson is a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente Washington and author of Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).


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A Case for Reducing Dietary Sugar By Priscilla Charlie Hinckley


y sisters and I were rarely allowed sugary foods as children. My dad declared war on dessert—although plain doughnuts for breakfast were encouraged for some reason—and we hardly ever had candy except on birthdays, Halloween and Christmas. And yet, sugar crept in over the years and became a beloved part of my adult diet. I find that appalling, especially since I now have Type 2 diabetes. “Americans over-consume sugar,” says Ginger Hultin, registered dietitian nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some estimates, she says, show that we consume approximately three times the recommended limit, or about 77 grams of sugar a day, per person. That’s more than 60 pounds a year. And it has serious consequences for our health. Too much sugar in our bodies can trigger multiple problems. It can cause inflammation, high


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blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes and fatty liver disease, increasing our risk for heart attack and stroke. In our brains, it can trigger irritability, anxiety, or depression. High glucose levels in the brain have also been linked to cognitive changes. In 2013, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia, even among people who do not have diabetes. We run on sugar. When we eat, our bodies break down food into glucose (sugar), which our cells use for energy, and our brains use to process information. The process works well when we’re eating whole, healthy foods. “This is critically

important,” says Hultin. High fiber whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, tofu, and even proteins like meat and fish raise blood glucose as we digest them, which they’re supposed to do. “In that digestion and breakdown,” she explains, “you get a lot of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and also energy for your body. These are important foods.” The problem—and it’s a big one— is added sugar. It hits our bodies all at once, like a bomb. “Often I describe it as a rollercoaster,” explains Hultin. “These added sugars don’t come with nutritional benefits, and they will raise the blood sugar high and fast. Blood sugar climbs high then


drops low. You want more sugar to get the blood sugar back up and then it crashes back down.” That rush of sugar sends a strong message to the brain, triggering a release of dopamine into the blood, and that makes us feel good. It makes us want more. Over time, we have to have even more sugar to get the same effect, similar to addictive

“Once you successfully reduce added sugar intake, your brain will readapt, and your cravings will decrease.” drugs. When sugar levels go low, cravings go high. Everything about this cycle is bad for our health. Added sugars include anything that isn’t naturally part of our food. These can be white or brown sugar, corn sweetener or syrup, fruit juice concentrates, honey, molasses, or anything ending in “ose,” such as dextrose, fructose, or sucrose. Most processed foods include them, and of course we add them when we bake sweet foods such as cake or cookies. We also pour a lot of added sugar down our throats in soft drinks and fruit drinks. Many of us consume far beyond the recommended guidelines for added sugars, which should be less than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men. The longterm health consequences are clear, but it can be a rough path to cutting back. Reducing sugar intake levels may give you headaches, make you feel tired, and cause mood swings or anxiety. These effects are temporary, but it takes a bit of determination to resist the urge to relieve them by eating a candy bar.

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Once you successfully reduce added sugar intake, your brain will readapt, and your cravings will decrease. You’ll begin to feel better, you’ll be healthier, and eventually you won’t even enjoy highly sweetened food. The key to success, though, is to take action and stick to it—and there are resources to help you do it. Here are some things you can do on your own: • Learn to read labels. Avoid packaged foods containing added sugars, or choose varieties that have lower amounts.

Bringing Back the House Call

• Cut back on sugar you add when preparing food. Try using spices or extracts instead. • Cut out soft drinks. Or, if that’s too difficult, switch to diet drinks. • Eat whole foods whenever possible. Making sustained changes can be difficult. Professional options to consider include: • A weight-loss program such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers) that offers peer support while working with you to change your eating habits. • A registered dietitian nutritionist who will help you make permanent changes to your diet in a balanced way. • A behavioral specialist who can help address underlying issues, other than physical cravings, that may lead to stress eating, and sugar bingeing. Insurance will often cover the cost of a nutritionist or behavioral specialist. The impetus to change has to come from you. The results will be worth it. Priscilla Charlie Hinckley has been a writer and producer in Seattle television and video for 35 years, with a primary interest in stories covering health and medicine, women’s and children’s issues, social justice, and education.

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Make Waiting Count

I’M LOOKING AT 10 people in front of me. Behind me is an insistent woman who thinks the closer she gets to me, the faster she’ll get through this line. My kindergarten self BY JANET RAYNOR believes firmly in “wait your turn.” My adult self-murmurs, “Hey, it’s okay, we’ll all get there.” In pandemic times, my brain explodes into, “Back-off! I have elderly parents and I’ll bite your face off if you come any closer!” This goes over well. Eyes open wide and said person backs off. I, though, feel like a rabid dog for the rest of the 45-minute wait. Being a rabid dog is no fun. So, to avoid confrontations, I’ve come up with a favorite line activity—My Virus Fitness Routine, a catchy name for a catchy virus. It’s simple, time-efficient, and friendly: stretch, balance, strengthen, and threaten-harm-if-you-come-any-nearer! Here are the basics: Stretch your arms straight up, right, left, right left, as a warning something unusual is going to take place. This is great for your spine as well as preparing your space assaulter. Then fling your arms around your body passively as you turn one knee into the other alternately for a nice, easy twist. This looks crazy enough, but remember you have on a mask on so no one can place you here. Next, create your own virtual space donut. Step directly back into a slight lunge, heels down, to stretch your calf and the front of your thigh. Change legs abruptly. Movement keeps everyone around you aware. It also means, “A quick kick backward may come at any time, so 6 feet really, truly is a first-class idea!” Silent clarity. A fabulous balm. Me moving has inspired others to unleash their moves as well. From an 80-something man doing a boogie to a young woman doing side leg lifts almost into the belly of a gent staring at his phone. Why not move along your own wellness in trying times? Spread a little safety and make that wait count. En garde! Janet Rayor is a stilt-dancer, singer, and fitness teacher. She’s been known to squeeze her buttocks in public. Find fitness videos at RougeMusic.com/knee-too.

Photo by Peter Shaw


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


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Everyday to Wonder How Bring a

Sense of Awe Back into Your Life BY SALLY FOX


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roughout my life, travel has provided many opportunities to be moved by the majestic. Who wouldn’t feel wonder sitting on a ridge above the ruins of Machu Picchu, or passing through the darkened wood entry into the glistening white paradise of the Taj Mahal, or watching rose-colored light pour through the stained-glass windows of Chartres Cathedral? Such magnificent sites fill us with awe. So do special events such as a spectacular sunrise over the Pacific, the birth of a child, a newborn foal struggling to stand up, or a once-in-every 200 years solar eclipse. Yet restrictions, such as those that came with the pandemic, can make travel to worldrenown sites out of the question, at least for now. And once-in-a-lifetime moments happen, well, once in a lifetime. I no longer want to wait for the spectacular and rare to inspire me. Today, I will search for awe in the ordinary. When I pay attention, I can find it waiting for me in the backyard, neighborhood, or nearby park. This morning, awe met me at dawn as a peek of sun beamed through dark, striated clouds. Raindrops hung magically off the tips of the Japanese maples. A glistening spiderweb hung like an intricate sculpture between bushes, the work of a world-class performance artist living in my backyard. When I rush through life, I miss these small miracles. When I slow down, a world of wonder becomes available. All it takes is a small shift in perspective to make wonder a part of my everyday life. I suspect you already know how to transform something into the miraculous that others might see as commonplace. Picture yourself attending your granddaughter’s first performance, starring as a mouse in the Nutcracker. Never mind that you are watching a school production and not an opera or ballet at the Bolshoi. As she enters and smiles on stage, you are enchanted, captivated, and delighted. Through your devoted attention, you’ve discovered magic.

Aging with Confidence

Everyday Wonder is Good for Us Research suggests that feeling awe makes us healthier and happier. Psychologist Melanie Rudd discovered that taking time to feel awe can expand our sense of time and make the rest of our day flow. Jonah Paquette, in his book Awestruck: How Embracing Wonder Can Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Connected, references research that suggests how experiences of awe may increase our life satisfaction, reduce stress levels, make us less materialistic, and more altruistic. Even after an event, we can extend its power by reflecting and writing about the experience. Develop Your Wonder Wand Some simple steps can increase our capacity to experience wonder: Pause: To see beyond the ordinary, we can slow down, pause, and notice. Photographer Michael Rubin has been capturing cracks in rocks, walls, and sidewalks for years as part of his everyday wanderings. He’s created a unique lens into art by paying attention to what is invisible to most others. Through his eyes, a small fissure in the sidewalk transforms into stunning art. Rubin’s mantra is, “Slow down and pay attention.” That's a good recommendation for anyone wanting to discover wonder-worthy details. Be curious: Try looking at the world without judgment. The slug crossing my gravel garden path looks, to my ordinary eyes, gross. It’s a slimy invader that will leave a gooey mess on my shoes if I step on it. That brown, slithering tube will chew its way through my fanciest hostas. I am tempted to squish it. Putting on my curiosity glasses, I approach the scene differently. How amazing it is that this slug can move without apparent legs, let alone find its way to my juiciest hostas and avalanche lilies. I do a little research and discover that the slug’s prehistoric ancestors oozed across the earth 500 million years ago—500 million! What other living creature has a heritage like that? I may not appreciate its dietary predilections, but I don’t have to find that wonderful to allow the slug to fill me with wonder.

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Use your imagination: We can transform our world with imagination. I can open the backdoor in the morning and say, “Sounds like a lot of birds.” Going beyond that, I pause to imagine what the birds are saying. Are the finches announcing the arrival of a hawk? Are the song sparrows telling me a storm is coming?

Are the robins planning to convene at our pond? Listening to their distinctive sounds, I discover a symphony playing outside my door. Be grateful and be moved: I love the trees on my property. Because I care about them, I pay attention and notice details I might otherwise miss. Colorful leaves, catkins and berries, lichen, and twisted branches come alive. I stand with my back leaning against a large Madrona, thanking it and letting its deeps roots bring me comfort, offering a moment of grounding and quiet during a busy day. Savor the senses: I often move from task to task quickly, clocking a short lunch so that I can return promptly to work. What a waste. When I slow down and allow myself to savor my senses, life changes. I take a piece of orange and admire its color. Then I shut my eyes and absorb its citrusy smell. I run my fingers along its nubbly skin and allow drips of juice to run down my fingers. Then I bite into it slowly and let my taste buds explode. Using my senses, I turn an


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everyday act into an out-of-this-world experience. If ever I seek a wonder-boost, all I need to do is savor a piece of dark chocolate, very, very slowly. Capture and share it: We enhance our experience by thinking about, sharing, and saving it. We can describe it to a friend. We can draw what we saw. Drawing helps us concentrate and remember, regardless of skill level. We can write or sing about our experience. Taking a photograph helps us remember, as long we remain present to the experience itself. As we prolong our experiences, we increase our wonder. Creating a Daily Practice Assign yourself the task of finding wonder five, 10, or 15 times a day. Seek and you will find! At night, review your list of daily marvels, and wake up in the morning ready for more awe. Practice paying attention to wonder, and watch it expand in your life. For instance, take a wonder walk. Even a 10-minute wonder break shifts my mood, and helps me calm and renew. I assign myself the goal of discovering one delight-filled thing and then always find it. Not feeling inspired? Visit your spice rack, and your senses will help you tour the world. Travel to India with curry, turmeric, or garam masala. Take time with cumin, coriander, or nutmeg, and imagine a market in the Middle East. Even when my life feels hectic and chaotic, a small shift in perspective can transform the ordinary into the wondrous. Last night, while soaking in my tub, I noticed a large daddy longlegs crawling across the wall in front of me. Normally, I don’t enjoy insects in the bathroom, but with my wonder lenses on, I was captivated. His eight slender legs bent and bobbed, more flexible than a dancer’s limbs. He hovered and paused, climbed and careened. I watched his moves, enjoying my ticket to this private ballet. Through ordinary wonder, we gain front row and center seats to a much more fascinating life. Sally Fox, owner of Engaging Presence, is a coach and writer who helps individuals develop and craft compelling stories. She writes about following your creative calling after midlife. Find her blog at www.engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at www.3rdActMagazine.com.


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Seattle’s Urban Parks are for the Birds… and Us BY ANGELA MINOR


“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church I keep it, staying at Home With a Bobolink for a Chorister And an Orchard, for a Dome …” —Emily Dickinson


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Time spent with nature is an embrocation for the ravages of stress and uncertainty. Green activities alfresco improve physical health, while boosting overall feelings of confidence and elevating one’s outlook. So, let’s take a journey within our neighborhood greenspaces in search of “our little Sexton.” And perhaps we may just discover solace, inspiration, and meaning along the way.

Lincoln Park Seattle Audubon volunteer, naturalist and West Seattle native Kersti E. Muul grew up beside this park and still visits daily. “I look at Lincoln Park as an ecosystem all its own. It has evergreen, deciduous mixed mature and young forested areas with lowland beaches, open uplands, and bluffs with spectacular views of the Salish Sea and Olympic mountain range. This intersection of forest and sea in an urban setting is pretty rare.” Muul says, “The diversity and abundance of wildlife is spectacular—songbirds, raptors, seabirds, corvids, falcons, herons, orcas, seals, sea lions, land mammals, and many more.” She adds with a smile, “There’s also good fishing … and ferry boats and foghorns.” According to Wendy Walker of Seattle Audubon, the Common Raven now nests here. “Usually associated with higher elevations and more remote areas in Washington, it’s


Facing Page: Mt. Rainier from Discovery Park; Common Loon, Fox Sparrow. This Page, clockwise from left: Caspian Tern; Cedar Waxwing; Common Raven; Harlequin Ducks

quite wonderful to hear the deep voice of a Raven coming from the interior of the park,” says Walker. Muul continues, “I’ve been going to Lincoln Park since I was a toddler. There are dynamic and often dramatic stories that play out with all the inhabitants. I’ve watched many live out their life cycles, birth and death. I celebrate and mourn along with them.” Insider Tip: Both experts tell us, “Come early on weekends. Parking is difficult, so come by bus or bicycle. For a quieter experience listening to birds, walk one of the smaller, interior trails or grassy clearings. While the beach trail is the most crowded, clear views of the mountains and sea are the rewards. And, if you’re using binoculars anywhere near the water, be prepared for the same question from passersby: ‘Are you looking for whales?’”

Discovery Park For birders, this 500-acre park is a year-round destination with a list of 270+ avian species. “To reliably see and hear local birds like the Pacific Wren, or watch for migrating seabirds such as the Parasitic Jaeger, this is the place to be,” says Walker. “From forested trails to bluffs overlooking Puget Sound to a rocky beach, Discovery Park offers a wide variety of bird habitats.” Explore miles of unpaved trails limited to pedestrians only. The terrain is hilly in some locations, and cyclists are

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welcome in certain areas. “Walk the Wolf Tree Nature Trail (a gentle half-mile loop) through classic Pacific Northwest forest habitat,” says Walker. “The occasional bench invites you to pause and listen to mixed flocks of kinglets and chickadees moving through the overstory.” Seattle birders gather here for The Big Sit!, an annual, internationally known one-day bird count. Walker states, “The team must stay within a 17-foot circle, and only count bird species seen from within that circle. In 2019, they logged 57 species. Birding in Discovery Park can be a long walk through many habitats, or an hour in one spot!” Be sure to visit the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center and the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center to create an experience of depth and breadth. Get Involved: Become a member of the Friends of Discovery Park. “It has an inestimable value in rejuvenating our minds, relaxing our bodies, and replacing the stress of city life through the enjoyment of its creatures, the charm of its wilderness, and the beauty of its views,” said the late Bob Kildall, known as “Mr. Discovery Park” for his commitment to the preservation and sanctity of one of Seattle’s best known parks.

Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA) Reclamation, remediation, and restoration—themes and activities that resonate after the arduous challenges of

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Clockwise from top left: Anna‘s Hummingbird; Black-capped Chickadee; Varied Thrush; Mallard Duck

Birds to Look For:

2020—are the guiding principles of this destination. What was once altered by ecologically ill-advised canals and further deterioration into one of Seattle’s largest landfills, the UBNA now stands as one of the area’s most successful environmental laboratories. “Local birders may look at you in confusion if you ask for directions to UBNA, since it’s often still referenced as ‘the fill,’” says Walker. “Today visitors can choose different experiences through a range of habitats including wooded glades, open meadows, and marshy shorelines,” thanks to decades of focused conservation efforts. To explore this urban avian paradise, begin at the Center for Urban Horticulture at 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle.

Yesler Swamp A boardwalk loop elevates the visitor above a marshy wetland and through a thicketed area that leads to a protected cove tucked in along Union Bay’s north shore,” says Walker of the Yesler Swamp. “Belted Kingfishers, Cooper’s Hawks, and Cedar Waxwings have all been spotted perched on snags overlooking the water. A recent visit turned up the exciting find of an American Bittern concealed among the reeds. NW Wahkiakum Lane and Waterfront Trail Loop This access-friendly, longer gravel path allows closer views at Shoveler’s Pond, Central Pond, and the Osprey nesting


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• Snow Goose • Greater Scaup • Harlequin Duck • Surf Scoter • White-winged Scoter • Rhinoceros Auklet • Mew Gull • California Gull • Glaucous-winged Gull • Caspian Tern • Common Loon • Pelagic Cormorant • Chestnut-backed Chickadee • Varied Thrush • Spotted Towhee

• Song Sparrow • Spotted Towhee • Anna’s Hummingbird • American Robin • Brown Creeper • Downy Woodpecker • Pileated Woodpecker • Wood Duck • Gadwall • Pied-billed Grebe • Horned Grebe • Red-necked Grebe • Bufflehead • American Coot • Great Blue Heron • Merlin • Peregrine Falcon • Red-tailed Hawk • Killdeer

platform near Carp Pond. “Look for the Northern Shoveler and other ducks at the first small namesake pond,” continues Walker. The second is “the place to see Green Herons along the far shore, catch the many warblers flycatching in the willows along the edge, and see hawks and Bald Eagles hunting.” Adds Walker, “Slowly scan the edges (of Carp Pond) to spot the improbable head-bobbing dance of the Wilson’s Snipe—if you’re lucky! The Virginia Rail and less frequently seen species like American Pipit may also be here. Then head west to explore the canal trail and view small islands in Union Bay.” Angela Minor has lived, traveled, (and birded) in the U.S., Alaska, the Caribbean, and seven European countries. Freelance travel writer is her third career iteration, following teacher and small business owner. She writes for travel publications including Blue Ridge Country, Smoky Mountain Living, Ft. Myers Magazine, and international cruise sites; serves as field editor with Birds & Blooms and “Park Watch” beat writer for 10,000 Birds; and authors the Bird Watcher’s Digest state park birding series.


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“This is a way you can travel right now,” says amateur astronomer and Seattle resident Tim Regier, 62. “Look up. Every night there’s an entire universe to be discovered. All you need are your eyes, a bit of dark sky, and your imagination.” As we live with the grinding limits of the coronavirus pandemic, Regier encourages a little backyard stargazing, offering advice on how to do it, and what to look for. “It gives a perspective we need, about our place in the universe—a very small place in a very large universe,” he says.



The son of a Mennonite pastor, Regier has the aura of an Old Testament prophet himself with an intense gaze perhaps developed from long hours behind a telescope. His interest in the celestial goes back to childhood when his family settled in “The Air Capital of the World,” Wichita, Kansas. “As long as I can remember I was interested in airplanes, space, and the night sky,” he says. After earning his pilot’s license, a week before highschool graduation, he left to join the Navy, planning to enter a pilot-training program for enlisted men. It was cancelled six months in. “I still flew a lot though,” Regier shares, “all kinds of airplanes. It was cheap in those days.” Once his military service ended, Regier earned a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington, eventually landing a job at Boeing where he had a variety of research, development, and testing assignments, including work on the wings of the 747-8, 777X and the Dreamliner. “Then, after 25 years, I was laid off,” he says. “I thought, what’s next?” For decades, Regier had researched telescopes and even thought about building one of his own. He returned to that long-held desire in retirement, and a visit to the Goldendale Observatory in Eastern Washington became a tipping point. “I think seeing the Milky Way again, and looking through the telescope there, it took me back to when I was a child and seeing the stars. It reignited my passion. I always thought one day I’ll have a telescope, and one day finally happened.” He bought an eight-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope so he could do both observations as well


as take long-exposure photographs. With his wife, NancyEllen, he joined the Seattle Astronomical Society “for the knowledge and to find like-minded people,” attending lectures, and traveling with members to the Cascade mountains for nighttime stargazing. The telescope quickly became a fixture in their lives. “It makes the night sky accessible for the hidden gems you can’t see with your eyes,” Regier says. “You just hook up a camera and take long-exposure photographs. But there’s also no substitute for looking through the eyepiece and seeing it with your own eyes.”

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


Expensive equipment isn’t necessary to enjoy the view, he explains. “There’s lots to see with the naked eye or a good pair of binoculars. For those who want more, you can get a decent beginner’s telescope for $300 to $400.” Also handy is a red-light head lamp. “White light isn’t good for night vision,” he says. In spite of light pollution, it’s possible to see objects in the night sky from the city or urban centers, he notes, but steer clear of streetlights unless they are blocked by a bush or tree. Regier adds that basic astronomy is a great activity for people with grandkids. “Children have such great imaginations. Go outside and observe something in the www.3rdActMag.com

LIMIT Clockwise from top: Orion Nebula from Great Basin National Park, Nevada; Celestron EdgeHD800 with HyperStar lens (390mm, f/1.9); nearly full moon from Sunset Hill Park, Seattle. Celestron EdgeHD800 with focal reducer (1,422mm, f/7); Heart Nebula from Great Basin National Park, Nevada; Celestron EdgeHD800 with HyperStar lens (390mm, f/1.9).

Aging with Confidence

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Pleiades Star Cluster from Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Celestron EdgeHD800 with HyperStar lens (390mm, f/1.9).

night sky then research it online.” He offers recommendations for spring stargazing and beyond: “Not to be missed is the total lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021, when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon and the moon moves through the Earth’s shadow.” In the Seattle area, it begins at 2:45 a.m., and is still partially eclipsed when the moon sets at 5:29 a.m., with totality between 4:12 and 4:26 in the morning. “The moon takes on a dark, reddish color,” he explains, “because the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light, leaving mostly red. It’s the same effect that creates red sunrises and sunsets.” Even when there isn’t a spectacular event like an eclipse, the moon makes for wondrous viewing. “We take it for granted but it’s always changing. Depending on the time of month, there’s something new,” Regier says. “You can see it with your eyes of course, but a good pair of binoculars will bring it in close to observe craters, mountains, and the shadows they create.” Another celestial target is Mars. Last October it made its closest pass by Earth in a couple of years, and won’t return to that position until 2022. Regier says even as Mars becomes fainter, the planet is still worth seeking out. “In March, it’s in the west-southwest about halfway up the sky a few hours after the sun sets, so around 8 or 9 p.m., would be good. Look for a distinctive orange-red color.” Regier adds that Mars is “neat to see” because it’s our closest neighbor and may soon host Earthlings.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Other wonders to look for include the North Star. “Everyone can find the North Star or Polaris,” Regier says. “It’s a fixed point in the sky. Just face due north and look halfway up from the horizon. The front two stars of the Big Dipper point to it.” And from our perch on an outer band of a spiral arm in the Milky Way, we can look into the very center of our own galaxy. “You’ll need to get away from city lights, but it’s worth it,” says Regier. “The Milky Way spans the sky from the southern to northern horizon, and rotates with the Earth’s rotation.” Another a thrill is catching a glimpse of the International Space Station (ISS) when it routinely passes over the Northwest. Easy to spot, the ISS looks like a bright, fastmoving star, visible as the sun glints off the craft. Fun fact: It’s only about 260 miles overhead, closer than Eugene, Oregon. Mark your calendars for a summer show when Saturn and Jupiter will be at opposition—that is, the Earth is between the sun and those planets while they are at their closest to the Earth—Saturn on August 1, Jupiter on August 19. They’ll be big and bright. “Jupiter is especially bright because it’s so huge,” says Regier. “With binoculars, you can see the four Galilean moons around Jupiter, so named because those are the moons Galileo could see with telescopes of the time. They’re interesting to watch because they move quickly relative to the planet. It looks like a dance.” All this stargazing may be just the thing to ease our pandemic angst, Regier says. “People need a sense of wonder, and the night sky provides that. Just think of it: A photon of light left the sun, a star, or a planet. It traveled millions of miles through space and time to arrive at this moment for you to see. That’s amazing. Connie McDougall is a former news reporter and current freelance writer of nonfiction and personal essays. She lives in Seattle.

LEARN MORE • Track the International Space Station https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ • Find out what’s in the sky every night https://telescopius.com/ https://www.space.com/skywatching • Tim Regier sends occasional emails highlighting an astronomy photo he’s taken, accompanied by some historical background, and interesting facts. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, email astroduude@gmail.com.



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spring 2021

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Discover the World and Help It, Too, as a

Citizen Scientist


Olympic Marmot, found only in the Olympic Mountains of Washington state.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

“You can identify the birds in your backyard on the designated day,” read the email. “And then send me the count of each species and sex.” Armed with a bird book and thermos of coffee while wearing sweats in the comfort of my deckchair, could my role as a citizen scientist get any cushier or COVID safe? Citizen science, also called community science, is the collaboration between volunteer laypersons, and scientists and researchers whose projects need more people power. I’d chosen one of the country’s oldest—the annual National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, now in its 100th year. From December 14–January 5, volunteers monitor designated areas observing and collecting data on its local bird population, critical census information used by a variety of conservation programs and research studies. During the pandemic, Audubon encouraged at-home participation, normally part of its other volunteer event—the February Great Backyard Bird Count. In volunteering, I’d joined the ranks of decades of citizen scientists, including 150 volunteers throughout the U.S. recruited by the Smithsonian in 1849 to telegraph daily weather observations. In 1870, their critical work was institutionalized as the modern-day National Weather Service. Recent advances in technology have created more volunteer possibilities because research can be done without specialized lab equipment, and in many cases without leaving your own home. Cellphones can note GPS locations and upload photo data. Computer tablets can view satellite imagery on the surface of Mercury, and enlarge text in old diaries and field notebooks. There are hundreds of intriguing government and private research projects needing assistance with enough variety that almost anyone can find an area of interest matching their available time and abilities. Some are strenuous, such as the Olympic National Park Marmot Monitoring Project in which volunteers hike the park’s backcountry trails recording information about the declining population of Olympic Marmots. Retired Sequim teachers Brian Berg (68) and John Bridge (75) just finished their 10th year on that project. “The motivation is to see as much of Olympic National Park as we can while contributing to the www.3rdActMag.com

research about our endemic marmot,” explains Berg. “Marmots live above 5,000 feet and don’t always live by the trails so we often find ourselves in places we would never be except for the survey.” Other projects are less strenuous. The Old Weather Arctic Project asks volunteers to transcribe handwriting from the uploaded logs of 19th century whaling ships—data that helps scientists create models based on previous weather patterns and assists historians in understanding early Arctic seafaring. Or, if atmospheric science isn’t your interest, you can work with Oxford papyrologists and the Egypt Exploration Society to transcribe and catalogue Greek text from fragments of Egyptian papyrus for their Ancient Lives Project. Below is a sample of active projects in Washington, across the U.S., and internationally. You can also find other opportunities via a Google search, but make sure to check the project specs. There are short-term and yearround requests, and some require an application and initial training to participate. CitizenScience.gov: In 2016, Congress passed the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act, authorizing federal agencies to request volunteer help. There are currently 250 active projects listed on its searchable database. The Cascades Butterfly Project: The project

has observation sites in Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, as well as Mt. BakerSnoqualmie National Forest. Working with biologists, volunteers track subalpine butterflies as part of a long-term climate change project. Aging with Confidence

Mt. Rainier National Park: Meadow Watch is a summer project recording the flowering of Mt. Rainier’s wildflowers. The data is used to understand how climate change impacts alpine flora. Mt. Rainier also sponsors the Amphibian Monitoring Program in which volunteers collect data on the 14 species of park amphibians, and the Dragonfly Mercury Project collecting larvae to test for mercury levels.

Bumblebee Watch: From your own

backyard or on your travels, you can observe and submit data about the declining bumblebee population.

Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project: Using remote

cameras, volunteers record the presence of rare species, including wolverines, grizzlies, and gray wolves in the I-90 corridor and on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass. A similar project called Carnivore Spotter was launched in the Seattle area to track urban carnivores.

CosmoQuest: This project

The Smithsonian: The venerable

collaborates with NASA scientists to map unusual features in the solar system (craters on the Moon or asteroid impacts) from uploaded highresolution satellite images.

Zooniverse: This international website has 76 active citizen science projects in need of volunteers. Classify vertebrae fossils for the National Museums of Kenya, transcribe the notes of early women astronomers for Harvard, or help Duke University researchers understand child-directed speech.

Ann Randall is an independent traveler and writer who loves venturing to out-of-the-way locales, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. A former educator, she now observes international elections and does volunteer work in India.

Smithsonian uses online volunteers for a variety of tasks, including the transcription of archival materials in their vast collections of field books and specimen collection records, or identifying gardens from photographs in their Archive of American Gardens.

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An Old Guy Joins a Young Band BY PAUL GRASECK


n earnest high school teacher for 29 years and a hard-working curriculum director, principal, and superintendent for 15 more, I approached retirement with both buoyancy and apprehension. Optimism being my natural disposition, I welcomed retirement. It would afford me time to write, improve my clarinet-playing, and drill into home improvement projects. I imagined taking grandkids to museums, sliding down snowy hills with them, and hiking forest trails as they taught me about edible plants and how to identify black birch by the smell of its bark. Honesty obliges me to confess that I felt a tinge of fear, too, anxious that happiness would dissolve when my job ended, realizing I thoroughly identified with work, and received much affirmation through it. Happily, retirement arrived, my final months the least satisfying of a 44-year career. Yet, I still harbored some anxiety, despite plans to teach part-time inside a local prison, read more, and exercise daily. Four years ago, at age 66, I joined a Honk! band dubbed the Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB). ERB is an offspring of a 15 year old, crowdpleasing movement. Originating in Massachusetts, the Honk! idea sped across the planet. And like all Honk! bands, ERB broadcasts a commitment to social activism. Dressed for Mardi Gras, loud, and brassy, Honk! bands are now in cities from Spokane to Minneapolis, Brooklyn to Austin, Seattle to New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro to Bologna, and many points in between. Greg Youmans, 63, who plays E-flat alto horn in the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, founded Spokane’s Honk! band, the PJAMRS (Peace and Justice Musical Rascals of Spokane), also known as P-Jammers.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Youmans said the group’s mission is to “make the world a better place.” As with ERB and most Honk! bands, the members of PJAMRS range in age from 20 to 80. For me, ERB offers opportunities to jump beyond the circle of gray- and white-haired friends with whom I socialize in restaurants and afternoon book clubs. Honk! is typically a mixture of traditionalsounding New Orleans street fare flavored with a variety of other musical spices. Klezmer, Afrobeat, Funk, and Latin tempos surface in many Honk! repertoires. Rarely delicate, often melodic, always emotion-generating, Honk! performances compel audiences to smile and dance. Two additional features distinguish Honk!: • Advocacy of grassroots projects (soup kitchens, Cancer Survivors Day, homeless shelters), and promotion of worthy causes and progressive ideals (Special Olympics, racial justice, community gardens); and • Membership consists of free spirits and iconoclasts who wish to perform, often adorned in astonishing clothing. ERB’s colors are red, white, and shiny. Members scour consignment shops for outrageous www.3rdActMag.com

The author, Paul Graseck, left, and above the Extraordinary Rendition Band. Can you find Paul?

garments exhibiting those characteristics. Women’s apparel with sequins and bold patterns boasts more flamboyance than men’s attire. The objective is to look at once foolish and put-together. While there exists this lighthearted, goofy dimension to fashion, Honkers take musicmaking seriously. Prior to COVID-19, ERB practiced three hours each week, often adding sectional sessions between rehearsals. We normally play more than 60 gigs a year, perhaps half for free. Now our band continues to meet on Zoom for business. We have also put out two videos produced in our own homes, each band member alone but using the technology to allow us to match our playing to the correct tempo. We have participated in a few stripped-down events outside with proper social distancing, but about 30 gigs were canceled. We also appeared in an online version of the annual October Honkfest in Boston. We will survive, but the fun and good work we do are greatly reduced. For example, one outreach arm of the band gives music lessons to disadvantaged urban kids, but with schools largely remote due to COVID-19, the program is paused. Inclusivity and equality are the foundation of the Honk! philosophy. As ERB’s mission Aging with Confidence

statement notes, “We welcome musicians from all backgrounds and all levels of ability to join us.” Now at age 70, I am ERB’s second oldest member. I would urge any aging contemporary who possesses just a smidgeon of musical talent, a big heart, a comic temperament, and a yearning to use all three in order to make a difference to consider

ERB offers opportunities to jump beyond the circle of gray- and white-haired friends with whom I socialize in restaurants and afternoon book clubs. joining a Honk! band. Perhaps the final sentence of ERB’s mission captures the wild, welcoming world of Honk!, an outlook capable of convincing even a timid or hesitant oldster to enlist: “We value silliness, gratuitous antics, and pure fun for its own sake as much as (if not more than) musical skill.” Paul Graseck worked as a high school teacher and school administrator for 44 years. Married since 1975, he has two daughters. In 1979, he and his wife built with their own hands a passive solar house. Paul is an avid gardener, essayist, former editor of a professional magazine for social studies supervisors, and an improving clarinetist. He lives in Connecticut.

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Day trips to take this spring BY MARCIA MCGREEVY LEWIS


Return of the Sunday Drive When I was a kid in the 1940s and 1950s, a favorite family pastime was to bundle into our station wagon, pull out the jump seat, and set out to investigate destinations unknown. We’d sing camp songs and pass around Necco wafers while my sisters and I vied for the title of “queen for the day,” which was awarded to the best behaved. The queen got to choose where we’d stop for treats. During a year of hunkering down, many of us have beaten back boredom by walking every street in our neighborhood, bingeing on TV series, and ordering in a lot. Sunday drives have made a comeback, too. They can be taken any day of the week, and they’re especially enticing as the days lengthen, the open road beckons, and the sweet smell of spring is in the air. Here are three choices for day trips that are easily accessible from the I-5 corridor or the Eastside. All offer captivating scenery and historic sites to explore, and each includes the sort of place my sisters and I would choose for our royal reward.

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Skagit Valley Scenic Skagit Valley backroads wind through farmlands rich with crops and resplendent with spring-flowering bulbs. Dazzling yellow daffodils emerge in March, and tidy rows of cherry red, sunshine yellow, and plum purple tulips pop in April, given Mother Nature’s whim. Huge flocks of migrating birds add to the panorama. The drive: Take the Conway/La Conner exit 221 on I-5. Head west on Fir Island Road, keeping an eye out for Snow Goose Produce and its milehigh ice cream cones about 5 miles from the interstate. Turn left onto Best Road, cross over the Skagit River, and marvel at the mix of stately houses and sprawling barns. At Chilberg Road you can opt for a side trip west to La Conner, a tourist destination full of vibrant shops and a wide, waterfront boardwalk. Or stay on Best Road and drive north for another 12 miles past vast www.3rdActMag.com

Clockwise from top: Sunrise on Skagit Valley tulip fields; the waterfront boardwalk in downtown La Conner, photo courtesy of La Conner Chamber of Commerce; a section of Chuckanut Drive

fields and farm stands into Edison. Breadfarm Bakery might be a handy place to stretch before driving through Bow and returning to I-5 (or picking up Chuckanut Drive, below, into Bellingham).

Chuckanut Drive This curvy route offers 20 miles of dramatic views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands, especially when you stop at the viewpoints to see roiling waves and crescent beaches. The gray boulders march alongside you to the restored 19th-century brick buildings of Bellingham’s Fairhaven District. The drive: Take exit 231 on I-5 just north of Burlington. Head northwest on SR 11, which turns into Chuckanut Drive. Five miles north of the Bow-Edison junction (see previous drive), you’ll see Taylor Shellfish Farms, where you can fill a cooler with fresh oysters, still at their peak Aging with Confidence

this time of year. Next, you’ll drive through Larabee State Park, founded in 1915 as the first in Washington. Keep an eye posted for deer, raptors, and possibly an orca pod. Be sure to check road conditions before departing and drive slowly on this narrow road shared with cyclists.

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Chinese Reconciliation Park. Photo by Ed Coumou

Sunday drives have made a comeback as the days lengthen, the open road beckons, and the sweet smell of spring is in the air. Commencement Bay An easy drive north of downtown Tacoma is the perfect way to spend a sunny spring day. The short and scenic Ruston Way stretch along Commencement Bay offers options for parking





7 T H



0 2

Marcia McGreevy Lewis lives in Seattle and is a retired features writer for the Everett Herald. Julie Fanselow contributed to this article.



LA CONNER DAFFODIL FESTIVAL Golden Trumpets of Spring Cy n d i D a v i s – 2 0 2 0 A r t C o n t e s t W i n n e r



the car and enjoying a waterfront stroll—perhaps at the new Dune Peninsula unit of Point Defiance Park, where you can explore the views before returning the way you came. The drive: Take I-5 to downtown Tacoma and use exit 133 onto I-705 and Schuster Parkway, which skirts Tacoma’s busy industrial waterfront. Just beyond the busy Port area, your first stop is the Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park, a beautiful site that honors the immigrant laborers who were expelled from Tacoma in 1885 after they helped put the city on the map. From there, Schuster Parkway becomes Ruston Way, bordered by a popular walking and cycling path that now extends to Point Defiance Park via a sweeping pedestrian and bike bridge. Along the way, the emerging Point Ruston residential village and commercial district has many choices for outdoor dining when the weather is fine. Take your pick of coffee, pizza, or a seafood spread.

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


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spring 2021

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Let Me Die Knowing When It’s Time to Go and Let Go

I had just started my shift at the hospital when I was paged to the intensive care unit. As I stepped out of the elevator and made my way down the hallway to the nursing station, I heard a man cry out, “Let me die! supplies between the far-flung villages I know where I’m going, and I know and cities in Alaska. He shared stories how to get there!” of ice build-up on his plane’s wings, It was Howard, a patient I’d been poorly plowed runways, and having seeing for a couple of weeks ever to take off and land in the dark. As he since he was admitted lay flat on his back surrounded BY STEPHEN to the intensive care unit by pumps and monitors SINCLAIR after being flown down with lines inserted into his from Alaska on a medical transport arms and drains coming out of his plane with his wife Sally. Howard was abdomen, unable to move except to in his mid-60s and had been dealing raise his hands an inch or two, it was with a number of life-threatening and hard to imagine that this debilitating conditions for more than man had once been robust five years. His body was weakened and active, canoeing and from dozens of procedures and mountain climbing. surgeries, and finally his organs One time when Sally weren’t functioning well enough to was out of the room keep him going. He was on artificial Howard conf ided that support to keep his heart pumping and perhaps he hadn’t been his blood pressure stable. A couple of the best husband, having days before this they’d been informed been gone so much of the by the medical team that there wasn’t time and always putting anything more to do. That morning work first. They’d never the palliative care doctor had met with had children of their own, which is them and talked about what it means one reason Howard said he’d been a to be put on comfort care. Sunday school teacher. When asked In the weeks I had known Howard about his religious beliefs, Howard he’d told me about his career as a demurred a bit before saying, “It’s commercial pilot flying people and not flashy, really, more of a quiet faith.

I know God and I know my place in his world.” Whenever I’m providing care to someone who is near the end of life, I try to move them to a place where they feel comfortable sharing with me their ideas about not only the meaning of life, but also whether there is life after death. Howard’s “quiet faith” provided him with the assurance he would go on to a heavenly place, and even though he wasn’t quite sure what that was, he knew it would be wonderful and free from the suffering he had endured these past years. Sally, on the other hand, was not ready to let go of her husband. It wasn’t that they had unfinished business, she just didn’t want to be left on her own. We had explored these feelings a bit, but never got very far because she didn’t want to give up hope. She said, “We’ve been through rough patches before and always come out of them.” Howard knew that this time things were different, that they’d reached the end of the line, but Sally couldn’t accept that, even after their discussion with the doctor about stopping curative treatment and just doing what was necessary to keep Howard comfortable until the end came. Their differing desires that evening is what prompted Howard to yell, “Let me die! I know where I’m going, and I know how to get there!” He was tired of fighting. He was worn out from years of medical interventions. He wanted peace. It’s been my experience in my work as a minister, either as chaplain or pastor, that people put off trying to figure out what happens after death. It’s a lot to tangle with, especially if one doesn’t subscribe to religious doctrines about salvation and life after death. And even people who state

Howard knew he was cherished and loved by God, and would be provided a life after this one.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021


they are believers aren’t always sure of what will happen to them. Many people have said to me, “When I die everything will just go dark and that’ll be the end of it.” This is often stated with conviction, but other times in a manner more hopeful than assured. There are those, too, who have rejected the fundamental Christian faith of their childhood—one in which the concept of eternal damnation was used as means of control—but find those longheld beliefs still rising to the surface, presenting themselves as unpleasant possibilities. But Howard knew where he was going. He also knew that his God was merciful and regardless of what he had done in his life, he was cherished and loved by God, and would be provided a life after this one. He also knew how to get there. Would there be angels coming to escort him over to the other side? Did he know that he’d have to disengage from the physical reality around him in order to let go enough to begin the journey? I wish I could have talked with him about this, but there wasn’t time. He was ready to go and letting everyone know it. Since Howard was conscious and able to make his own health care decisions, he directed the medical team to remove the artificial support so he could die. Sally was heartbroken about this, but had to respect his wishes. After the nurses finished removing the lines and gave him anti-anxiety and pain meds, Howard started to relax. You could see it in his face and countenance. His death didn’t come immediately; it would take a number of hours for his body to slowly shut down, thus allowing him to leave his body. At one point as I stood over him, I thought to myself, “Where is he going? How is he getting there?” Someday, I, too, shall know. We all shall know. Stephen Sinclair lives in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Earlier in his life he enjoyed a career in show business while working out of New York and Chicago. A career as an ordained Unitarian Universalist parish minister and a hospital chaplain followed. Most recently he worked with the homeless and is a weekly volunteer visitor at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme:


Even as winter lingers, we know that spring is just around the corner. As the days get lighter, longer, and warmer, our tastebuds long for something fresh and light. For me, the best way to add taste and brightness to my diet is to use fresh herbs we can either grow or acquire at most grocery stores.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

Here’s a quick primer on herbs to try and ways to use them. Now that you’re humming along, let’s start with the iconic four of the title: Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. You can always bundle them together—tie them up or make a little cheesecloth bundle— to flavor soups, and meat or fish stews. But on their own, they play starring roles. PARSLEY If you think parsley is just a

garnish, think again. It tastes like spring—the first herb up in the garden and always present throughout the year. It is basil’s partner in classic pesto and is the main character in a bright tabbouli salad. Chopped with garlic and lemon peel, it is gremolata—a green sauce—served over osso buco, or other braised meats, and used as a garnish for soup.

SAGE No longer relegated to Thanksgiving

stuffing, fresh sage has an astringent and haunting flavor. Sage leaves sauteed in


browned butter is a classic topping for pasta, especially great on butternut squash ravioli. It can be stuffed in chicken cavities, and paired with chopped garlic and infused under the skin of chicken or turkey before roasting.

ROSEMARY Easy to grow and

available year-round, you might just ask your neighbor for a few sprigs the next time you pass their rosemary bush. Rosemary loves garlic and lemon. The three show up frequently in Greek and Mediterranean food. Chicken, lamb, and pork all benefit from being rubbed with chopped rosemary and garlic, and if you have large branches, you can place atop fish or chicken before grilling.

THYME Think mushrooms when

you think of thyme. Fungi of all sorts take well to sprigs of thyme and a shot of sherry. Thyme is essential in French stews and soups. Lately, it has been making its appearance with sweet things. Sprinkle thyme leaves over goat cheese drizzled with dark honey to spread on crackers. You’re in for a treat. And here’s a sampling of some other superb herbs, readily available, to experiment with in your next savory or herbaceous dish: Aging with Confidence

BASIL Most often paired with

tomatoes and Italian dishes, basil also complements Thai and other Asian cuisines. It adds a deep, almost licorice tone when used in combination with other herbs.

TARRAGON Many people don’t know

how to use tarragon, but once they see how versatile it is, it can become a staple. It has a lemony, slightly licorice taste, and appears in French cuisine with eggs, fish, and chicken. It is one of the herbs that likes sweetening. Maple syrup and tarragon are a great addition to mashed sweet potatoes.

DILL Fresh dill will surprise you if you

are used to using it dried. It shows up in Scandinavian food and is a staple of Eastern European, especially Russian cuisine. It complements eggs, fish, and potatoes. It is delicious with butter over steamed new potatoes, and also mixes with creamy sauces for fish. When mixed with parsley, dill makes a terrific pesto. MINT I always have mint in the refrigerator. It goes with parsley, basil, cilantro, dill, and tarragon. Fresh mint leaves added to salads give an unexpected kick. CILANTRO A distinctive tasting herb

that spans the globe in Latin American, Asian, and Indian cuisines. People feel strongly about cilantro; to some it tastes like soap, to others it provides a bright, unique flavor. (See my cilantro salsa recipe in the Winter 2020 issue.)

Rebecca Crichton has taught cooking to seniors and others, and she can reel off food ideas and recipes for any part of a meal or event. She believes in easily prepared, healthy, and taste-filled food that delights and satisfies.

Pesto Your Way

One good way to use many of these herbs is to make an herb pesto. Most people think of the classic basil-based pesto with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil. But other herbs will enhance or transform traditional pesto that can be used to dress pasta or potatoes, or accompany roasted meats or roasted vegetables. Try a twist on the class recipe below and your tastebuds will spring alive!

MIXED HERB PESTO ½ cup nuts (toasted nuts such as pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts) 2 cloves garlic, peeled ½ cup grated parmesan or other hard cheese (asiago, romano, cheddar) ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves ½ cup fresh parsley leaves ½ cup fresh basil leaves ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves ¼ cup fresh mint leaves Zest and juice of 1 lemon ½–1 cup extra virgin olive oil In a processor, pulse nuts, garlic, and cheese until coarse. Add lemon zest and juice and herbs, and pulse until blended. Add oil slowly until you have the consistency you like. Makes 1-½ cups pesto Serve over hot pasta, steamed potatoes, or roasted vegetables. Use as bruschetta topping. Mix with yogurt for a dip for vegetables. It also freezes well, so make extra so you’ll have fresh pesto at the ready anytime of the year.

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3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

As I write this at the start of a new

year, Americans are beginning to receive the highly anticipated coronavirus vaccines. It will likely take some months before enough of us are inoculated to be able to gather together again in large groups. Until that great day arrives, it is unlikely local arts organizations can fully resume their usual live programming of music, theater, films, and other events. Until they can reopen their doors and seat patrons, some popular cultural institutions are still offering us opportunities to enjoy their artistry. By purchasing tickets for online performances, we can support groups that have seen revenues plummet during the pandemic. Here are some of the online performances (free and with paid admission) scheduled as we go to press. Visit the websites below for updates on future live programming.


Seattle Symphony The city’s nationally lauded purveyor of classical music has encouraged its patrons to tune in to enjoy some of the many past concert programs taped at Benaroya Hall before an audience. But the orchestra has also launched a subscription of new live concert broadcasts, featuring prominent soloists and popular works, which can be watched in real time online. Headlining in the spring are concerts featuring compositions by Bach, Mahler, and Dvorak, and also appearances by jazz pianist Chick Corea and his trio, and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Info: www.seattlesymphony.org

Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) SIFF indicated there will be a 2021 edition of its jam-packed annual film fest, though details have not been announced at press time. Meanwhile, the cinema center has not gone dark. True to its name, it is offering an ongoing, ever-changing virtual series of curated movies from Left: Mary Elizabeth Williams as Abigaille in the dress rehearsal of Nabucco. Photo courtesy Seattle Opera.

Aging with Confidence

around the world that you can rent online. They include releases from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. At any time, there are more than a dozen to stream—allowing you to create your own at-home festival. SIFF also has a robust lineup of lectures, workshops, and master classes available. Info: www.siff.net Seattle Rep The flagship regional playhouse at the Seattle Center is offering an array of drama-related activities via the web. The theater’s “Plays in Process” series of conversations with noted playwrights, directors, and actors delves into the creative process involved in the development of new scripts. Also on tap are master classes in various theatrical crafts—from playwriting to stage management— and youth engagement events. Info: www.seattlerep.org Book-It Repertory Theatre During the pandemic, this beloved Seattle company has been making the most of its mission to refashion literary works into theatrical productions. Since many of Book-It’s shows accentuate language and quote directly from novels and short fiction, the transformation from live performance to radio-style audio drama is a clear choice. This spring, Book-It presents two shows online: An adaptation of science fiction author N.K. Jemison's spy thriller novel, The Effluent Engine, and a serial based on The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, Tibetan writer Jamyang Norbu’s suspense tale about a search for the missing London detective devised by A.N. Conan Doyle. Info: www.book-it.org

Seattle Opera Attending an opera performance at McCaw Hall, with dazzling sets, a full orchestra, and some of the finest sopranos and tenors singing their hearts out? There’s nothing quite like it. But until we have that pleasure again, the Seattle Opera is presenting a full-blown online alternative—a spring season of performances streaming live from the McCaw stage. In April, the contemporary opera Flight, composed by Jonathan Dove with a libretto by April De Angelis, sets to music the experience of a stateless refugee and his encounters with strangers in the airport where he is stranded. In June, comes the Puccini classic Tosca, the impassioned tale of a diva trying to free her beloved from the grasp of a merciless lawman. The streamed shows are free to current Seattle Opera subscribers. But one can also buy single tickets for $35—a bargain compared to the cost of a good seat at a live opera performance. And the company is also presenting a free streamed concert by soprano, and co-star of Flight, Karen Vuong. Info: www.seattleopera.org Misha Berson writes about the arts for The Seattle Times and many other publications, and is the author of four books, including Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination (Applause/Hal Leonard).

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Reading: In Memory of 2020 by HOLLIS GIAMMATTEO Surrounded by evidence—shelves, tidy and chaotic, clip-on reading lights, mocking and ubiquitous New Yorker magazines—I confess, I love to read. Naturally, the Germans have a word for it—“Lesewut,” or the “rage to read.” It begins. We are in our ’56 Chevy, black, its fins as yet restrained, heading for Fleetwood, Penn., on an early Sunday afternoon. We will be met with a massive meal, simple, albeit multitudinous, and by Anna, my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother. But first, the journey. My mother reads aloud from Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows. Hills and pastures glide by. The characters of Mr. Toad, Rat, and Mole and their adventures assembled the scaffold of my imagination. This was reading—Mother’s voice, the evocation of different worlds, an aperçu, a journey. For me, it’s been a year of reading. As part of a pandemic-forced restructuring of my days I turned, even more avidly, to books for entertainment, inspiration, and those old escorts of truth and beauty. The books described here could as easily have been others, with other slants. Mine are, however, books chosen for this moment. You will have lists of your own. I keep thinking, though, that the rage to read, my “Lesewut,” was, as I developed, not consistently considered a virtue to be encouraged or, even possibly, endured. As I grew older, Anna would pull puzzling comments out of such thin air—“I pity you so, honey dear” or, more forcefully, “You read too much!” What did she mean and were the two related? This would have been the mid-’60s, when cultural expectations of young womanhood were planted in the loam of fervent, if aggrieved, domesticity, when reading might be thought excessive and subversive. What was reading to her? I remember the Sunday Morning Call, its innards spilling to reveal the Parade insert, with its gossip bits and bleeding inks, the expanded comics, the myriad circulars. Then there were the Life and Look magazines, National Geographic, and Readers’ Digest, bringing the larger world into the Fleetwood living room and spread in tidy fans on coffee tables. Did we ever discuss books? Even the question


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

got at something underneath the “You read too much” admonition—that divide between generations—her fears, my liberation; her caution, my sometime careless curiosity. The “facts” of her life I knew barely, released in bits by my mother, whose attachment to personal histories was, at best, vague. What I do know: Anna was born toward the end of the 19th century, completed the eighth grade, survived poverty, a pandemic, depression, and was married three times. Endlessly curious about her life, my questions would be met with, “What do you want to know that for?” What was to be avoided in the disclosures of one’s history? Writing this in early December 2020, the pandemic hurtling through the holidays, an intransigent president refusing to concede, the earth’s dire problems worsening, how kind to offer to the roiling soul historical perspective. Jill Lepore has written These Truths, a 788-page history of America, partially in response to the present, intense divisiveness among “We the People.” “I wrote this book because writing an American history from beginning to end and across that divide hasn’t been attempted in a long time,” says Lepore. “…One reason it’s important is that understanding history as a form of inquiry—not as something easy or comforting, but as something demanding and exhausting—was central to the nation’s founding.” These Truths explores the historic simultaneity of the truths our freedoms are predicated on—slavery, genocide, hypocrisies straining to be justified. We do not live in the worst of times—we live in our times. Reading and re-reading history, a continuous examination from shifting points of view can feel like a tour through shock and ensuing shame to grief and then, one hopes, reckoning. Speaking of the past, Ruth Franklin’s New Yorker review of Maria Dahvana Headley’s new translation of Beowulf is intriguingly subtitled, “A ‘Beowulf ’ for Our Moment.” She reminds us that this 8th century oral, Anglo-Saxon poem, not written down until the early


11th century, gives stark proof of the raw materials of fear, hunger, violence, and awe that constitute humankind. Beowulf extols the masculine delights in drink and war; its women pour the mead and tidy up the carnage. Headley reimagines Beowulf from a feminist perspective and retains the blood and gore. What is this dark tale to our moment? I think of the transgressions of the past four years—to name a few: Eddie Gallagher, the Iraq vet Navy Seal on trial for stabbing to death a wounded, 17-year-old ISIS prisoner, and his presidential pardon. I think of Charlottesville, the Confederacy, and QAnon. The shooting and looting that co-opted the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. I think of Trump ordering Lafayette Square cleared of peaceful protesters with tear gas, concussion grenades, and police—those on horseback; those behind their shields, while he lumbered toward St. John’s Church to make his unnatural photo op with the Bible. The primitive, the violent, the unexamined, the hubristic, the endlessness of it all. Prior to this new translation, Headley’s 2018 novel, The Mere Wife reimagines the Beowulf epic from the monster’s mother’s point of view. Dana, the mother, an Iraq vet, has been kidnapped and raped. Returning stateside to her childhood home, she gives birth, in a cave, to Grendel. Upturning the monster trope, Grendel becomes the boy, Gren. It is how he is perceived that is more the danger than the boy himself, suggesting the tragedies of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and all those slain, perceived as “other.” Headley turns her focus on contemporary social justice issues—the struggles between rich and poor, Black and white, the damaged and the whole. We hash and re-hash the archetypal mysteries. I read, reflect, turn my gaze to a pad of paper, and jot down notes, ideas. And then I think of my friend, Bob. For Bob, Beowulf had become a foundational text, discovered in a visit to The British Library. Standing before the original copy, he felt himself pulled into a visceral embrace with history. This prompted his frequent re-reading of the tale in various iterations, and, in turn, forming a reading circle. One summer afternoon, we were summoned; it was the very year that the posthumous Tolkien translation had been published. We gathered at Seattle’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral, a majestic structure overlooking Lake Union and the mountains.

Aging with Confidence

I remember the delight of such a gathering more than passages read or insights gleaned. It was endearing that we, a group of Bob’s friends, mostly strangers to each other, had agreed to this, flinging out the burly syllables, the dark, archaic tropes, the clustered consonants— “Hwæt!,” Beowulf begins. Our circle reminded me, conversely, how ephemeral reading is, and that the popularity of book clubs stands in opposition to this feature. Offsetting ephemera, dissilient thoughts interrupt moments of reflection. For my grandmother Anna, I wonder how she valued language? The world did not remove itself from her through language, which, after all, has been likened to a finger pointing to the moon, and not the moon itself. Hers was the moon—in the perfectly groomed rows of zinnias and gerbera daisies from the narrow sidewalk to the garden shed. It was in her food—piles of it, redolent of harvest bounty, roast and potatoes, endive salad with hot bacon dressing, shoofly pie, apple pie, chicken pot pie, mounds of fragrant savories. Hers was a manifest world, bringing her closer to lived life than what a preoccupation with language ever could. She procured from local farmers, extolling seasonal fare before it was in fashion, and built meals from memories of a childhood in the family hotel, situated at a crossroad between farm-to-market. She eschewed praise and recipes. All of it was expected when it was, in truth, a miracle. My reading has nothing to do with this, and yet, there prevails a transmigration of her lived experience to my reading. How I love my time spent with the great chefs, restaurateurs and renowned food writers like M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, Calvin Trillin, Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters. This is a rich canon of individuals who teach us the relationship between the riches of the earth and the vibrant sweep of cultures, all in the universal language of food. Reading leads us onto avenues of dark truths and resulting shame, delights and succor. I imagine Anna savoring this amuse-bouche from Pavarotti: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” “Hwæt!” A practicing Buddhist for more than 30 years, Hollis Giammatteo has sought experiences that challenge her practice, from teaching writing to working with the elderly. She co-founded The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, and was a resident playwright for The Rhode Island Feminist Theatre. Hollis has published in a variety of magazines and her memoir, The Shelf Life of Ashes, was released in 2016 by She Writes Press.

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BOOKS The Gratitude Project: How the science of thankfulness can rewire our brains for resilience, optimism, and the greater good EDITED BY J.A. SMITH, K.M. NEWMAN, J. MARSH AND D. KELTNER REVIEWED BY DEBORAH STRAW


uring the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, many of us began to take stock of what are grateful for in our lives. When we acknowledge what we are thankful for through journaling, sending thank you cards, or by offering a simple “thank you” to others, we feel more optimistic and less diminished by what we’ve lost during the pandemic. Did you know that gratitude is an academic field that has been studied at universities and by independent scholars for decades? Part of what has driven researchers is that gratitude, although seemingly a simple concept, is “deceptively complicated.” One of the most useful new books on the topic, The Gratitude Project, is an anthology of dozens of academic and personal essays. The book emerged from a multiyear collaboration between the Greater Good Science Center and Robert Emmons of the University of California, Berkeley. In 2014, they initiated a years-long project on gratitude to “explore its roots in our behavior, biology and brains,” and to offer ways for us all to experience more of this essential interactive emotion. The collection provides ample proof that gratitude is good for us, emotionally and physically, and may help us live longer. Gratitude is defined by Emmons, the world’s top scientific expert on gratitude, and Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of Greater Good Magazine, in two parts: First, it is “an affirmation of goodness … figuring out where the goodness comes from,” and, secondly, as a result of this awareness,


(Puzzles on page 64)


Word Parts 1. Confront 2. Office 3. Donkey 4. Palace 5. Tango

3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

6. Cotton 7. Person 8. Random 9. Profit

What a Pair 1. Glass 2. Cash 3. Corn 4. Soda 5. Egg

gratefulness begets selfreflection and reciprocal gratefulness. “Once you start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life,” say the authors, “it will transform the way you see yourself.” According to Emmons and Smith, an awakened sense of selfworth begins to transform the world around you. The book offers several suggestions on how to recognize true goodness and act on gratitude. Examples are as straightforward as thanking your postal carrier, the grocery cashier, your partner. You can join a free online platform, Thnx4.org, that gives further suggestions and establishes a place to begin a thankfulness journal. Gratitude, although sometimes taken for granted or even overdone if based on fake sincerity, is not purely an individual matter. Brother David Steindl-Rast of the Network for Grateful Living reflects, “Grateful living brings in place of greed, sharing, in place of oppression, respect, in place of violence, peace. Who does not long for a world of sharing, mutual respect, and peace?”

6. Cross 7. Food 8. Saw 9. Candy 10. Bean

What do They Have in Common? 1. They all have degrees. 2. They all have points. 3. They are all spies. 4. They all have scales. 5. They all occurred in 1969.

6. They all have frames. 7. They are all types of penguins. 8. They all use scoopers. 9. They all have patches. 10. They are all names of U.S. airports.


Aging with Confidence

spring 2021

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GAMES for your brain Exercise your brain and have some fun with these puzzles designed to stimulate different cognitive functions.

Word Parts (easy)

The word menace is defined as “a threat.” In this game, however, we don’t supply the definition of a word, but of its parts. For example, given the clue “male adults,” plus the second clue “the highest card in the deck,” the answer is menace (men + ace). 1. The opposite of pro + the opposite of back____________ 2. The opposite of on + frozen water___________________ 3. Mr. Rickles + locking device_________________________ 4. Chum + highest/lowest card________________________ 5. A summer complexion color + a corner Monopoly space__________________________________

6. A narrow canvas bed + two thousand pounds_________________________________ 7. For each + a male descendant_______________________ 8. Sprinted + Mr. DeLuise_____________________________ 9. In favor of + in shape_______________________________

Endings and Beginnings (harder)

In this game, we provide the first half of a two-word phrase or compound word and the second half of another. For example, given Credit _____ trick, the one word that completes both clues is Card, i.e., Credit card and Card trick. 1. Plate ____________________________________ ceiling

6. Red _______________________________________ walk

2. Petty___________________________________ register

7. Frozen __________________________________ stamps

3. Sweet ____________________________________ flakes

8. Chain ______________________________________ dust

4. Club ___________________________________ fountain

9. Cotton ____________________________________ cane

5. Nest _____________________________________ noodle

10. String _____________________________________ bag

What Do They Have in Common? (hardest)

Each question contains a list of several items. Can you figure out what they have in common?

1. A college graduate, an angle, a thermometer, and a bad burn_________________________________________________ 2. A pen, a decimal number, a sharp knife, and a game score____________________________________________________ 3. Aldrich Ames, Julius Rosenberg, Nathan Hale, and Mata Hari_________________________________________________ 4. The doctor’s office, a map, a fish, and music_______________________________________________________________ 5. Nixon succeeds LBJ, the “Miracle Mets” win the World Series, and Neil Armstrong walks on the moon


6. Eyeglasses, a bed, and bowling scores____________________________________________________________________ 7. Adelie, Gentoo, king, and emperor_______________________________________________________________________ 8. An ice cream parlor, dog walkers, and front loaders_________________________________________________________ 9. A girl scout, a flat tire, and a quilt_________________________________________________________________________ 10. Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Louis Armstrong, and John F. Kennedy_________________________________________ Reprinted with permission from Nancy Linde, author of the best-selling book 399 Puzzles, Games, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young and 417 More Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young. She is also the creator of the website Never2Old4Games.com, which is used by many senior-serving organizations in the U.S. and Canada.


3rd Act magazine | spring 2021

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