3rd Act Magazine – Winter 2020/2021

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Embracing Aging How Do You Feel About Getting Older?

Washington Rhinestones


Holiday Giving


DINNER FOR ONE (OR TWO) Downsizing Your Holiday Meal


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MESSAGE from the publisher

Joy and Sorrow “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” —Kahlil Gibran A few years ago, I was on a trail with my then 84-year-old dad in Sedona, Arizona, when he stopped and with arms lifted to the sky exclaimed, “Damn, it’s good to be alive!” He wasn’t walking quite as fast as he used to and the trail was less technical than we once did, but the sky was blue and the air was fresh. We were surrounded by beauty and we were fully engaged in living. It’s a wonderful memory, all the more poignant because I just lost my dad at age 88, on September 26. As if by plan, his heart stopped while walking his favorite urban trail and he just dropped. What a way to go, Dad, we should all be so lucky. I weep for what has been my

delight: Your love of life and mega-watt smile. Being alive means much more than not being dead. And unless we are in the process of actively dying, we should be actively living—a lesson my dad taught me well. Age means nothing. We are limited only by our motivation and imagination. That said, 2020 has been an especially difficult year—we’ve all been knocked off balance by change and challenge and loss. So how do we regain our equilibrium? I think Dr. Eric Larson sums it up best with his Albert Einstein quote (page 22), “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” More than ever, we need to keep moving our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. We need to nurture our curiosity, our wonder, and our connection with each other. We need to forgive but not forget. Let’s enter this holiday season with a spirit of possibilities and optimism. It’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and look ahead. A New Year is dawning, and we have a lot of living and work to do.

How do we regain our equilibrium?

Hank Starr Feb. 6, 1932 – Sept. 26, 2020 Forever in my heart.

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 re-invention, 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 DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall COVE R PH OTO Ernie Sapiro 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 ©2020 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.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


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contents 34


For 66 years the Washington Rhinestone Club has never missed its annual debutante ball—until now. KAREN WINSTON


Winter solstice traditions around the world celebrate the return of light. SALLY FOX



Radio that brings the comforting rhythm and cadence of the human voice. ELEANOR LERMAN


These boomer musicians create harmony in a discordant year. JULIE FANSELOW


42 50

Misery loves company: Founding the Cape Disappointment survivors club. MARK WOYTOWICH


Giving beyond the season: Intangible gifts to make this year special. LINDA HENRY



Understand and overcome the fear of small differences. JENNIFER JAMES


A writer confronts her piecrust phobia. ANNIE CULVER


Keeping your balance in unsettled times. DR. ERIC B. LARSON

Aging with Confidence

winter 2020/2021

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16 LIFESTYLE 16 DRIVERS ED: THE SEQUEL It's time to get a skills tune-up! JULIE FANSELOW

18 UNLEASH YOUR INNER ARTIST Paint-by-number could become your new winter passion. DALE BOHM


The benefits of embracing aging. JEANETTE LEARDI


State and local agencies that are working for you and how you can help. ANN RANDALL


Feathers: An artist takes flight with an unconventional medium. CHRIS MAYNARD


Bethlehem and the West Bank. RICK STEVES

60 OUR LATEST NORMAL When 2020 feels like 1980. HOLLIS GIAMMATTEO



SEASON The pandemic challenges us to forgo many of our family traditions this holiday season. REBECCA CRICHTON


BRAINS Are the left and right

hemispheres of our brains at war? MICHAEL PATTERSON

24 A DVENTURES WITH GRAVITY Tips from a professional faller on how to prevent injury if you tumble.


26 D IABETES Take steps now to

understand, prevent and/or treat this serious disease. PRISCILLA CHARLIE HINCKLEY


The unexpected benefits of knitting. DEBORAH STRAW


How to downsize your traditional holiday dinner. REBECCA CRICHTON


Louis Gossett Jr. as Luis Garcia —a jazz artist living with dementia— in the new film, The Cuban. MISHA BERSON


Nuclear Option by Dorothy Van Soest Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent

Embracing Aging How Do You Feel About Getting Older?

Washington Rhinestones


Holiday Giving



DINNER FOR ONE (OR TWO) Downsizing Your Holiday Meal


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.

Cover: For 66 years, Washington Rhinestone Club scholars have been presented at an annual debutante ball. Clockwise from left: Lechaé Bell, 2016 debutante and queen; Carol Bell, 1996 debutante and current president; Karen Winston, 1976 debutante and current secretary; and Ja‘Niya Donaldson, 2019 debutante. Photo by Ernie Sapiro.

LETTERS Putting Experience to Work I really love your publication. I am of an age but still living on my own on Queen Anne. I have friends at Queen Anne Manor, Bay View, Aegis, and Mirabella Seattle. Can’t visit them, but 3rd Act is a great point of community connection and vibrancy. I am so fortunate to serve on the MOHAI board and on the board of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. It’s important to stay engaged and share what we have learned over many years to help make a difference. Especially important during this very challenging time. —Maureen Frisch, Seattle Grateful for the Shove Thank you for your article “Blinded by the White” (Fall 2020). You articulated what I have been feeling. I have been going through my own kind of awakening to the role I play in perpetuating the systems of white supremacy. I feel a mixture of shame, guilt, and remorse. How can I have lived 72 years without really confronting the stark reality of racism in America? How could I have been so seduced by the privileges of whiteness? Ah, well. Time to wake up! As you say, “Enough is enough.” In any case, bravo! Very bold and brave. You are using your pulpit to push people to be better. I, for one, needed the shove. —Michael Patterson, Los Angeles Timely and Timeless This issue of the magazine was especially appropriate for the times. I save all my issues because I often reread articles. Thank you for your help and for the excellent magazine. —Delores A. Price, Marysville Issue Resonated I just finished reading the fall edition of 3rd Act. All I can say is wow. What a beautiful and sensitive edition at this time in our lives. Each article was so well done. Your piece, “Blinded by the White” (Fall 2020) resonated with me. Very well done. —Ellen Reichman, Seattle

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winter 2020/2021

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Giving Beyond the Season BY LINDA HENRY

I HAVE FOND MEMORIES of sitting under the Christmas tree guessing my presents, but it was the anticipation of the big day that I found so exciting. I am still seeking that sense of anticipation when I decorate my home, put on festive music, shop for the perfect gift, and celebrate time-honored traditions with friends and family. But plans have been disrupted. As I grapple with how to face this season, it occurred to me that this time of year is special, not only because of our traditions, but because of the intangible gifts we give each other and ourselves that don’t require a trip to the mall or tinsel and bows. Linda Henry writes regularly on topics related to aging, health care, and communication and is the co-author 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.

The Gift of Presence In a 75-year study on adult development, Harvard researchers concluded that people who are more socially connected are happier and healthier. It has also been said that being truly present is the greatest gift we can give. Our need for each other has not diminished. Although we may be restricted from connecting physically in this time of COVID-19, we can rethink how to be present with others. Whenever we take time to pay attention to another person, we send a message that we care. The key is connecting regularly to someone else, whether by phone, Zoom, email, or through handwritten notes and letters. Consider making this year’s holiday letter more personal than an “annual report.”

regimented that we have little tolerance for any variation, even though our daily activities may have changed. What if we granted ourselves permission to reframe our lives by taking on a new challenge? One woman secretly dreamed of writing mystery novels before embarking on her career. Not only did she give herself permission to devote time each day to writing but also permission to be satisfied with the result regardless of the outcome. The Gift of Acceptance There is much that we can no longer control. Restrictions have been placed on what we can do, where we can go, and even who we can see. Spending our time and energy worrying about what we cannot control not only prevents us from enjoying what we can control, but also increases our stress level, which we know negatively affects our health. As Joseph Campbell, the late professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, once said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” Even though we do not know the future and cannot alter the present, we can change our attitude and accept today with grace. The Gift of Giving So, as we end this year and anticipate a new one, what intangible gifts shall we give? I will give myself the gifts of holiday preparation that are so meaningful, even if I can’t share them, be more intentional in reaching out to others, and look forward to the new year with acceptance and hope. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

The Gift of Permission Nurturing ourselves helps to maintain a healthful balance. Often our lives become so


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


Fraud Watch Network


With more people shopping online comes more opportunities for scammers: they set up fake websites and run online campaigns to drive shoppers to them. The goal? To steal payment information, your identity, or to load malicious software on your device to steal usernames and passwords. Here are some tips to help you stay safe: • Shop safely online. Stick to known and trusted retailers. • Avoid clicking on email or text links. • Keep your operating and antivirus software updated. • Use strong and unique passwords. • And if a deal sounds too good to be true? It probably is. Visit www.aarp.org/frc for tips on online shopping and other scams.

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winter 2020/2021

| 3rd Act magazine



fear of small





ometimes small differences between living things mean nothing. Domestic cats and dogs are haphazard in their choices. But big cats in the wild will kill over territory or even brief encounters. The big cats are reacting to their survival needs, to scarcity most domesticated cats don’t face. When a species is threatened in the wild small difference can be lethal. It is the same for Homo sapiens. During the millions of years of human evolution our species struggled for survival. We lived in small bands that suffered from high maternal and infant death rates, and the dangers of an unpredictable hunting and gathering economy. These bands, much like a pride of lions, protected their territory and their mates. Tribes with fewer fertile women either died out or stole women and children from other bands. The appearance of a stranger was a threat. Behavior once linked to the fears of small bands remains as a primal and cultural response to contact with anyone perceived to be different. Strangers can become targets if they are a different color, speak another language, or decorate their bodies in a different way. Things that blur our tribal identity or cross the boundaries we use to maintain our status cause anxiety. We may fear that contact with outsiders reduces us to the low status we have ascribed to them. Many cults and sects enforce strict boundaries and cultural codes. In the recent Balkan wars over religion and other small differences, women were again kidnapped and

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

raped. Rape in war assures that even if the male fighter dies his DNA will live on, and thus an element of himself, and his tribe wins. Controlling access to women as tribal property is still with us. A glance at a woman led to the torture and death of Emmett Till. Anti-miscegenation laws—laws that made interracial marriage and sexual relations a crime—existed in most U.S. states and were not fully repealed until 1967. I was for a time the partner of an African American man. Despite my cultural experiences as an immigrant from a culture that hated Germans, Behavior once but not Blacks, and my linked to the education in psychology and anthropology I could fears of small not connect to his pain bands remains as a permanent stranger. as a primal and Why did his extraordinary cultural response success and adulation by millions make no to contact with difference? His pain, I anyone perceived understood later, was too many generations deep. to be different. How can an outsider communicate this kind of pain and why would he take that risk? Blacks in America live with a history that is a monstrous combination of our ancient fears of small www.3rdActMag.com

differences added to a terror of revenge. What was and is being done to Blacks, directly or indirectly, has continued for 400 years. The stress of pervasive bigotry shortens Black lives, discrimination was damaging Black Americans health long before COVID-19. White fear of being outnumbered and thus hurt by minorities comes across as classic psychological projection: “We must maintain our status to protect ourselves from those we have bullied.” The patience, nonviolence and Biblical forgiveness offered by leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., the late Congressman John Lewis, and most Black citizens needs to be acknowledged. What can one person do to make amends for such a history? My answers are to give up denial and our primal gut. Read about Black experience, fiction and nonfiction, speak up when others are dabbling in racism or being outright racist. Connect when you meet a Black person, don’t profess. I was humiliated when I introduced a Black woman friend to a group of white writers and they immediately started to defend their

civil rights history. She left quickly, no longer wanting to join the group. She is a person, not a symbol. Yes, you may encounter Black anger and rudeness; white privilege is irritating. Support Black leaders, store owners, professionals, and service providers when you can. Encourage ethnic history and racial education, join natural mixed social groups, and reach out but do not push friendship if it is not offered. Black people are worn out from being invited for our, not their, comfort. Try to imagine the fear of being in a world where you or those you loved are denied safety, justice, acceptance, or even life. People like me will never know this kind of pain. We did not experience that life. Yet, if we can behave toward others not by fear of small differences but by King’s words “the content of their character,” we will be both safer in our own identity and open to that of others. 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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winter 2020/2021

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C nquering Pie Crust

Before COVID-19, I donned a crisp white apron like it was holiday apparel and grabbed a seat in a makeshift “classroom” at a hippie-dippie supermarket, poised to take notes and Snorts and giggles followed. And overcome anxiety about a black hole in while half the group, mostly the guys, my culinary skills: pie making. said they wanted to learn something Now, sitting there as a student, it was new in time for the holidays, plenty of as though I’d fallen into that black hole. others in the group shared my fears. The pastry chef leading the “I get to the crust and panic,” class wanted to know why each BY said one woman. ANNIE eager participant sacrificed a “It’s something I never learned,” CULVER sunny Sunday afternoon to be said another, whose grey hair here. I should have been was a clue she may have harbored prepared for this inevitable question trepidation for as long as I had. but instead gulped, squirmed in my “Making a pie crust scares me,” seat, cleared my throat in a fluster and added a third. took a big risk. Suddenly, I felt a wave of “My name is Annie and I have pieempowerment, like I had discovered phobia,” I conceded, wondering if I was a new commonality of sisterhood. the group’s only person beyond the age We could do this! Together, we could of 70 who hadn’t mastered the art of the conquer our petty pie crust neuroses. perfect pie crust. The instructor kept shaking her head


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

and muttering “Pillsbury” under her breath. She repeated this utterance with obvious distaste over the course of this 2½-hour pie workshop, even suggesting the company’s pie crust marketing was so successful, generations of otherwise good cooks became timid about mastering a crust from scratch. The pastry chef had the smarts to encourage those of us who bared our lack of confidence. From the outset, I figured she would offer a short course to unravel all the secrets and build our self-esteem and assertiveness as we measured and mixed. OK, maybe Pillsbury was an easy target for the fear and loathing some of my classmates and I have about making pie. To be fair, though, plenty of other www.3rdActMag.com


pie crust companies are responsible, as well. Yet many of their pie crusts come in flimsy, aluminum pie pans that scream “not homemade.” At least with a Pillsbury pre-made crust you can use your own pie pan and pass it off as your own creation. It wasn’t until an invite to a holiday gathering last year that I knew my neurosis was out of hand. I asked the hostess what I could bring and she blithely said, “Oh, just bring a pie.” Anxiety grabbed hold of me. Yeah, I could’ve headed to Costco and purchased a pie for $5.95, but that was the easy way. That’s how I wound up in this culinary classroom, observing a master pie baker and taking notes like “roll from the edges toward you” and “use two fingers of one hand and one finger

of the other to flute the edges.” As her beautiful pies took shape, the group had ample opportunity to taste them—a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” soon followed—and even take home a few slivers and recipes. Turns out the only time our fresh white aprons picked up even a dusting of activity was when the instructor gave each of us a pastry blender and bowls of flour, cut-up butter and cold water. Soon, we had assembled globs of pie dough, which we covered in plastic wrap with our names scrawled across them. We stashed them in the freezer and turned our attention back to the instructor. That was it! It was like a YouTube video come to life—and with tasty treats. For several weeks, the dough glob that I made that day—and promptly put in my freezer—was beckoning me to

face my fear, defrost and transform it into an actual pie. The pie I made was a success, I suppose, because one woman at the gathering insisted on having seconds. It tasted better than it looked, though. My petty pie neurosis continues to flicker like a lightbulb that’s about to burn out. To combat this, I forged ahead and bought a sturdy pastry blender and a cookbook that has “pie crust” in its title. I figure I’ve invested too much dough to back out now. Temptation still gnaws at me, though. I continue to rationalize that pies with graham cracker or gingersnap crusts do have merit. We’ll see how it rolls this Christmas season. Seattleite Annie Culver worked as a staff writer and editor for five daily newspapers in Canada and the U.S. before working for universities in the Northwest. She’s retired now and enjoys freelancing.

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winter 2020/2021

| 3rd Act magazine 13

The Unexpected Guest this Season



e’re in the thick of it now. Lights sparkle in the stores and streets. My mailbox is stuffed with stacks of catalogs with gifts so numerous and images so glorious that I feel overwhelmed more than tempted. The music I hear while I am on hold for the customer service representative is relentlessly seasonal. Walking through any large store causes paroxysms of excess and despair. I know I am not alone. This holiday season is filled with paradoxes. We want and need to feel hopeful and happy. We want to connect with loved ones and longtime friends and share stories, observe traditions, give generously. Yet, among the many ways this year challenges us is the recognition that for most people, loss is the uninvited and unwelcome guest at our table. An unimaginable number of people taken by COVID-19 will be absent from family and friend celebrations. And our losses are not just about people no longer with us, but about the ways we lived before, the activities, and the customs we observed together. We already learned something about what this means at Easter and Passover when we found ourselves on Zoom Seders and in virtual church services. Warm weather and longer days allowed some of us to gather outside during the secular holidays of Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. In masks and spaced apart, we could finally be with small groups of people we know and trust, but without the parades and displays and festivals that normally mark our summer months. Now, Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday seasons loom and challenge us to forgo many of our family traditions. Even in normal years, those of us in the grief field start to gear up right after Halloween for the difficult season ahead. We copy articles and write lists like “Getting Through the


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

Holidays” or “Coping with Holiday Expectations, Yours and Others.” And 2020 is anything but normal. It’s important that we acknowledge what is different about this year, and make space to admit it, honor it, and feel our grief. I am not suggesting we spend the whole season in mourning. Rather, practice ways we can get comfortable with the discomfort we feel, be gentle with ourselves and each other, and welcome the mixed feelings that many of us feel. Here are a few suggestions: • If there has been a recent death, make sure to create space to talk about the person. Share favorite stories or activities that person loved. • If you can’t safely have your usual holiday gathering, plan a way to connect virtually to share some of the rituals or to open presents together. • Ask family and friends to find what is meaningful to them and share it, like photos, videos, and recordings that bring back valued memories. • Stay connected and admit when things feel isolating and sad. Ask others to check in with you during the harder times, connecting regularly to share how you are feeling. This is the time for practicing interdependence, asking for and offering help as the season progresses. The only thing we can count on is change. It is the one constant and when we accept it, we can let go of having to be in control all the time. We all know how quickly our feelings can go from hopeful and happy to sad and fearful. We need to learn how to manage our thoughts and not believe everything we think. For most people our thoughts cause our feelings; learning how that works for ourselves can make it easier to ride the waves of grief and loss that threaten to wash over us this season. Rebecca Crichton is executive director of the Northwest Center for Creative Aging and presents programs on that topic in the Seattle area. She worked at Boeing for 21 years as a writer, curriculum designer, and leadership development coach. She has master’s degrees in child development and organizational development, and is a certified coach.



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Driver’s Education: The Sequel Winter is a good time for a skills tune-up BY JULIE FANSELOW

I WAS DOING THE SPEED LIMIT of 60 mph on a two-lane stretch of U.S. Highway 101 last summer when I suddenly felt I had landed in a James Bond movie. Just as one driver legally passed me on the left, another oh-so-illegally roared by on my right, doing at least 80 on the narrow shoulder. While I was stirred by this dangerous move, I was not shaken. I credit the driving refresher class I took earlier this year. 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. blogspot.com.


Tune-Up Time? How long have you been driving? Forty years? Fifty years? Maybe even 60 or 70 years? However long it’s a good bet your driving skills and knowledge could use a tune-up. For one thing, the roads—and some rules of the road—have changed. Joel Ferguson has been teaching Smart Driver courses as a volunteer for AARP Washington since 2018, and, he says, “almost everybody learns something about the law that they didn’t know.” Take traffic circles: These roundabouts are popping up everywhere in the United States, but unless you learned how to drive in Great Britain, they can be perplexing. Our vehicles have changed, too, and some techniques we learned decades ago no longer apply. For example, placing your hands on the steering wheel at “10-and-2-o’clock” is unsafe because of air bags. Your rearview mirrors,

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

seat, and steering wheel probably need safety adjustments, too. Ferguson is inspired when he sees students’ eyes light up over something they didn’t know—and he’s always happy to hear when people feel more relaxed behind the wheel. Older drivers are among the safest on the road, but we’re also more likely to be badly hurt in an accident, so the course helps us recognize how we may someday need to reduce our time on the road or hang up our keys for good. “The goal of the class is not necessarily to keep you driving forever, but to keep you independently mobile,” says Ferguson. Course participants learn how to objectively assess their own driving and assist family and friends who may need to change their routines, including information on alternative ways to get around. As we age, it’s always good to remember that driving need not be an all-or-nothing activity. Especially in the winter, you may want to drive less at night or in bad weather. It’s fine to stick to the routes you know and stay off the interstate. But if you avoid I-5 because you feel intimidated, a driving refresher class may help you regain confidence in your abilities. Stay Smart Before the pandemic, the AARP Smart Driver course was offered in-person or online, but the online course is the only option through at least December 2020. It costs $27.95 (with a discount for AARP members) and completing the course will also get you a break on your car insurance. (See AARPDriverSafety.org for details.) Other organizations and businesses offer senior defensive driving classes and evaluations. Two companies with such services are Kirklandbased Defensive Driving School and Northwest Driver Rehab in Issaquah.



SUMM ER 2019


Together Forever



Ways to Thrive


Embracing Aging

Life as Poetry Tess

Brain Power

l How Do You Fee er? About Getting Old

Join the Golden Age of Lifelong Learning

Washington Rhinestones

Holiday Giving




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ELDER ELDER ACTIVISM ACTIVISM ELDER Social Social Justice Justice withACTIVISM with Social Social Distancing Distancing Aging with Confidence Social Justice with Social Distancing

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NO BAD BREAKS Bone Up on Osteop orosis

FEAR AGING? You’re Not Alone

TECHNOLOGY WE LOVE It’s Not Rocket Scienc e




Holiday Meal Downsizing Your

Painting Made

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BUILDING BUILDING RESILIENCE RESILIENCE CAREGIVING CAREGIVING HEROES HEROES BUILDING RESILIENCE Cope withwith Unwelcome Unwelcome Change Change CAREGIVING A Tough A Tough Job Job JustJust Got Got Harder HarderwinterCope HEROES 2020/2021 | 3rd Act magazine 17 A Tough Job Just Got Harder

Cope with Unwelcome Change

Unleash Your Inner Artist BY DALE BOHM


re you looking for a fun new activity that is low cost and easy to learn? Then try paint by number. It’s easy to become a master artist regardless of your age and create beautiful wall art even if you don’t consider yourself artistic. There are countless scenes to choose from and paint by number kits normally include canvas, paint and brushes at a reasonable cost. My mother-in-law was 95 when she passed away last December, and she always loved to paint by number. She would paint for hours at a time and complete a piece every couple of weeks. Toward the end, she had limited mobility and could not paint anymore so I decided to try it and painted my first picture for her that she hung on her wall. After that, I was hooked and started painting more while at home during the pandemic. HOW IT ALL BEGAN Although the first patent was filed in 1923, paint by number in its current form was created by the Palmer Paint Company in 1950. The owner, Max


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

Klein and his employee Dan Robbins, had an idea for the product and after several attempts, the Craft Master brand was introduced in 1951. The company went on to sell more than 20 million kits and Robbins said that his inspiration came from Leonardo da Vinci, who was rumored to have used numbered background patterns for his students. The success of Craft Master prompted other companies to develop their own versions, which allowed more and more people to become artists with little or no experience with painting. After Max Klein passed away in 1993, his daughter Jacquelyn Schiffman donated the Palmer Paint Company archives to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The Museum of Modern Art in New York accepted four designs by Klein for its Department of Architecture and Design, also donated by Schiffman. In 2011, Robbins and Palmer Paint developed a new 60th anniversary paint by number set created in memory of those who lost their lives and survivors of 9/11. Robbins passed away April 1, 2019, at age 93. HOW TO GET STARTED There are many companies that sell paint by number kits in stores and on the Internet, www.3rdActMag.com

however, my personal favorite is available at Herrschners.com. They have an outstanding selection of designs at reasonable prices and they’ll ship it to your door in a matter of days. You don’t have to sign up for an account, just order and pay online. Amazon.com and Hobby Lobby stores also carry a wide variety of paint by number kits. Once you receive your kit, I like to study the finished picture on the box and compare it to the print canvas inside. This gives you a good visual of the final product and will guide you through the painting process. The paints come in small plastic bottles—connected by plastic tabs—and are usually numbered from 1 to 16. I like to detach each bottle and set them in numerical order with the paint brushes nearby. You also get a sheet of paper that has both numbers and letters in columns. The letters represent the “mixed” colors and the more complex the painting, the more mixed colors. You’ll also need some tin foil cut in small squares to mix your paint, about 20 toothpicks to blend the colors, a paper towel, and small cup of water to wash your brush.

After reviewing the canvas, look for areas that have a lot of one numbers. I like to start painting all of the numbers first, then move on to the letters. That way you don’t have to mix the colors until later on in the painting. The mixing process takes longer plus it can get messy. I try to estimate the amount of paint I will need for each letter and drip two separate piles of paint, then stir with a toothpick. NOW PAINT! Find a comfortable spot to work, put on some background music, and pour your favorite beverage for maximum enjoyment. Then paint away! It usually takes 2-3 weeks to complete a painting, working on it about an hour every other night. A technique that really helps me is to think of my breathing, exhaling and thinking of the word “balance” as I follow close to the lines with the paint brush. The main goal is to enjoy the experience and immerse yourself in the creation of art. Dale Bohm is the advertising representative for 3rd Act Magazine and has 15 years of experience in the senior care industry. He has recently completed his third paint by number masterpiece.

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In a previous article (3rd Act Magazine Fall 2020 issue), I expressed newfound optimism that cultural evolution is nudging the human mind toward altruism, empathy, compassion, and equity and away from greed, selfishness, and tribalism. I have since read a persuasive book that argues in the other direction. In short, the argument claims that the left and right hemispheres in our brains are at war with each other. Our left hemisphere (LH) has assumed a dominant and oppressive role. Perspectives offered by our right hemisphere (RH) are suppressed. As a result we have, collectively, become mentally unbalanced. I know what you are thinking. All this left-brain, right-brain stuff was dismissed by serious researchers years ago. Wait! Hear me out. The research has continued. Yes, the popular mythologies of 30 years ago are largely baloney. But hemispheric differences do exist and they are significant. Understanding their differences might give us a clue about how to restore a healthier cognitive balance. Scholar Iain McGilchrist is largely responsible for the renewed interest in the study of hemispheric laterality. His book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World provides an exhaustive review of new research, and offers a provocative understanding of the role


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each hemisphere plays in shaping our world. The RH is cast as the master in McGilchrist’s allegory, because it provides us with our most direct experience of being alive in the real world. The LH is the emissary, which serves the master by picking apart our experience and creating symbolic representations of its component parts. It uses an avatar version of ourselves to explore imaginary scenarios within a virtual world. Problems arise when the LH suppresses real experience in favor of its own invented simulations. In a balanced mind, information f lows from RH to LH and back to RH. Consider a walk in the woods. The RH is the nature lover that feels more alive when immersed in the natural world. It absorbs the sounds and colors of the forest. It is awed by the grandeur and majesty of the Redwoods. The RH is happy to relax and merge with the magic of the forest. The LH is the curious naturalist that investigates the details of the forest. It studies the properties of an individual tree. It peels off a piece of bark, digs at the roots. These details of what it finds, when shared with the RH, enrich and deepen the balanced experience of the forest.


Problems arise when the balance is lost and the LH suppresses the moderating effects of the RH. The RH reaches out to discover its connections with the natural world. The LH reaches out to learn how it can exploit the natural world. In an unbalanced mind that is denied the more holistic perspective of the right hemisphere, LH tendencies are exaggerated. It loses sight of the big picture, of the forest, and becomes focus on how individual trees might be harvested. The forest becomes a logging opportunity. The wilderness becomes a vast untapped resource. It is too simplistic to argue that the usurping LH is the source of all evil and the suppressed RH the source of all that is good in human beings. The truth is more nuanced, and the key point is that we need the balanced input of both hemispheres to realize the full positive potential of human mind. We can get a deeper sense of the functional importance of each hemisphere by looking at how they differ in structure. The neuronal wiring of the right hemisphere is an intricate web of networked connections. It has myriad ways of communicating with itself and with the body, offering the

I know what you are thinking. All this left-brain, right-brain stuff was dismissed by serious researchers years ago. Wait! Hear me out. potential for innumerable patterns of neuronal activation. The signals travel in all directions. This enables the RH to form a holistic, integrated picture of our lived experience. The web of connections facilitates the discovery of remote associations and novel combinations of thought. RH ideas and thinking are emergent and self-organizing, rather than pre-programmed like those of the LH.

Aging with Confidence

Neuronal wiring in the LH tends to be linear, sequential, and orderly. Once stimulated, neuronal activation follows a well-worn path that supports replicable routines and practiced algorithms. The LH excels in the performance of practiced skills. It is wired for control, which makes it uncomfortable with anything unpredictable, unique, and individual—like human nature and the natural world. The LH prefers machines and stable, non-changing concepts, and symbols. It trusts tools of its own invention and is suspicious of organic growth. Rather than bear the anxiety of the unknown, the LH constructs plausible fantasies that it embraces wholeheartedly. The RH offers us direct experience of life; the LH offers us a virtual representation of life. If the RH is a craftsman’s studio, the LH is an assembly line run by robots. As individuals, we can seek to rebalance our minds by emphasizing RH perspectives, while diminishing LH modes of thought. I’ve come to realize that practices like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and physical exercise perform this rebalancing act. In their own ways, each of these practices help us to quiet the artificial chatter generated by our LH, and reinforce our connections to our living bodies as they interact with the natural RH world. We must find peace and harmony within our own brains. With the power of a balanced mind we can, perhaps, find ways to rebalance social inequities and learn to place as much value on natural life as we do on the engines of productivity, progress, and profit. 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.

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Keeping Your Balance in Unsettling Times BY DR. ERIC B. LARSON

ALBERT EINSTEIN MAY HAVE SAID IT BEST: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” And to keep moving, I might add, you’ve got to keep your balance! Without it, you’re at risk for falls. One in four people age 65 and older fall each year. And one in five of those falls causes serious harm such as broken bones or a head injury. Research shows that exercise focused on building strength and balance can reduce your risk. But what if all your routines for getting physical activity are suddenly interrupted? That’s what happened to many when the coronavirus pandemic started several months ago. Most indoor exercise classes were cancelled. And even casual activities such as shopping became curtailed. Walking


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outdoors is a great alternative. But with the weather changing, some people may be reluctant to brave the elements. So, what can you do right now to improve fitness and balance? I asked my colleague Ben Balderson, a research psychologist who’s working on a project to help people ages 70 to 89 to develop healthy behaviors. These include setting goals for increased physical activity. “We start by helping people set weekly goals based on what they personally find enjoyable and doable,” Balderson says, “Then we help them adjust those plans as they do or don’t meet their goals.” The idea is to keep trying new things to find what works for you. Some folks are discovering the benefits of remote exercise sessions for older adults. Programs such as “Sit and Be Fit” offer classes on PBS television stations, on DVD, and online. You may also find online instruction for yoga, Pilates, and Tai chi, the ancient Chinese practice of continuous, controlled, and slow movement proven to improve physical and mental well-being. www.3rdActMag.com

Simply reminding yourself to sit less can be a boon. A study conducted among older Kaiser Permanente Washington members with obesity found that wrist-worn alarms worked well to inspire people to take breaks from sitting several times a day. So, you might try setting an hourly timer on your kitchen stove or mobile phone to see if an alert could work for you. When the alarm rings, take a few minutes to walk around inside or outside your home—building strength, balance, and stamina. To avoid losing your balance, always remember to wear proper shoes or slippers. Studies show the best shoes for avoiding falls are those with laces or Velcro fasteners, adequate heel support, and non-slip soles—in other words, “tennis shoes.” You’re at highest risk when you walk barefoot or in stocking feet—even indoors. Be careful if you’re taking prescription drugs for high blood pressure or chronic pain. Many cause balance problems. Also implicated in falls are antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, and sleeping medications, especially benzodiazepine tranquilizers. Get rid of trip hazards in your home—things like loose electrical cords and throw rugs. Avoid slippery floors and icy surfaces. And make sure rooms and passageways are well lit. Use night lights if necessary. Many falls happen in the bathroom, so install and use handholds. Get a shower chair if you’re unsteady standing for long periods. Keep a pair of slippers beside your bed to wear when nature calls. Although life may seem unsettling at times, there’s much we can do to remain balanced, healthy, and resilient.

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with Gravity BY JANET RAYOR

We know it is important to maintain and increase our strength and balance as we age to minimize the risk of falls. Here are some tips to keep your reflexes in balance.

My knees and hips are forward, my head and shoulders cantilevered backward, and I am falling. It's New Year’s Eve at Tacoma’s “First Night” and we’ve just begun my three-person musical. I'm strapped into 40-inch-high stilts, sick as a dog, have slipped on a metal outlet and need to think fast. But before I can process what’s happening, my shoulder bumps the ground and I flip onto all fours. I'm okay! Years of doing modern dance tumbles and Aikido rolls have come to the rescue. Falling well is as vital as developing strength and balance as a dancer, actress, and physical comedian. We know it is important to maintain and increase our strength and balance as we age. These efforts minimize falls, but since adventures with gravity will find us, it’s also important to know how to fall to minimize injury. “Good” falls, though, take nurturing and rehearsal. It helps to study with good teachers and build your core muscles. But you don't have to be a pro to pursue handy reflexes. Here are some tips from a professional faller (and, as usual, check with your doctor before starting). Begin by standing on the floor, five inches from a raised bed landing pad: How Low Can You Go? The lower you go, the less far to fall. To practice quickly lowering your center of gravity, lower your pelvis as you reach


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your arms forward. Squeeze and lengthen your lower abdominals at the same time. Gently squeeze your buttocks to ease pressure on the knees. You’ll be bending your knees into a 135 degree angle to a maximum 90 degree angle. Do not bend at your waist. Your knees and upper body are counterbalancing your bum. Now try this faster. Release & Fold Don’t fight the fall. Straight, rigid arms can break wrists and arms. Stand facing bed. Drop pelvis as you reach out. Fold elbows and wrists, turning your head to the side to gently cushion fall. Now try against a wall to build strength in your arms—just keep knees lightly bent. Go for the Cushion! Aim for the meaty part of your hip and buttocks to avoid hurting vulnerable bones and joints. Practice standing in different directions, turning your derrière to sit on the bed. Don't worry if you end on only one cheek. Counter Balance Spread your weight by pulling your body in opposite directions. Bend sideways, your hip toward the bed, arms stretched away. When your hip touches, slide your arms

down the trajectory of your body to cushion the fall. Try it slower by lengthening your abdominal muscles. Less weight, less hurt. Tuck & Roll The rounder your body, the happier you’ll be in an accident. Tuck your limbs and head to save elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, and that vulnerable treasure, your head. Lie on bed on your back. Tuck everything in and rock forward and back, then side to side. From standing, the back of your legs against the bed, fall backward into the bed as you tuck your limbs and head.

When my boomer fitness students trip, they automatically counterbalance by arcing or extending their arms forward and extending a leg backward. Many tell tales of slipping or tripping, but not falling. Others have lowered, rounded, and landed on their portable “cushion,” only sustaining a bruise. I fell eight times in 30 years stilt-dancing. Yet I never broke, strained, or badly hurt myself. Now if I can only stop running my head into doorknobs! Janet Rayor is a singer, dancer, Juicy Joints fitness instructor, gardener, and really bad accordionist. Knees cranky? Check out instructional videos at RougeMusic.com/knee-too.

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The Perils of Ignoring Diabetes


iabetes. We hear about it all the time as a risk producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas, destroying factor for a lot of bad things, including making their ability to function. This type is usually diagnosed us more vulnerable to severe complications in childhood, although it can happen at any age, and of COVID-19. According to the CDC, 34.2 million there is no known way to prevent it. People with Type Americans—that’s 1 in 10—have diabetes. For people 1 must take insulin every day to survive. over 65, it is 1 in 4. Another 88 million have Type 2 diabetes develops more slowly prediabetes. It’s the seventh leading cause of than Type 1, often over many years. Insulin BY PRISCILLA death in the United States. And yet, many production works normally, but the body CHARLIE can’t use it well, and blood sugar gets too people don’t clearly understand what it is, HINCKLEY what it does, and how serious the disease high. It’s usually diagnosed in people middlecan be. They may not even know they have it. aged or older, but more young people are developing it Diabetes is the result of too much glucose, or sugar than in the past. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of Americans with in your bloodstream. Our bodies need glucose to function at peak levels. Cells use it for energy. Brain diabetes have Type 2. Unfortunately, this type is really cells use it to process information. When you eat, food easy to ignore until it becomes a serious problem. is broken down into sugar and your pancreas releases “Both the risk and the fact that they have it are easy to insulin to help that blood sugar get into your cells. If ignore,” says Dr. Arthi Thirumalai, an endocrinologist your body can’t make enough insulin, or can’t use it at UW Medicine. “Like a lot of silent killers, they’re not properly, blood sugar will get too high and cause health symptomatic until it’s really advanced. Diabetes can be problems. chipping away at their health and they don’t realize it. Type 1 diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is It’s a very unrelenting disease process.” caused when a body’s immune system attacks insulinIf untreated, Type 2 diabetes is extremely toxic to


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nerves and blood vessels, causing serious damage to your body over time. The leading cause of death for diabetes patients is heart disease. Other problems include: • Diabetic neuropathy—nerve damage—in different parts of the body; in the feet, it can cause infections and difficulty walking. • Eye damage leading to low vision or blindness. • Diabetic kidney disease, which can develop into lifethreatening kidney failure. • Dental problems, such as dry mouth, infections, or gum disease. • Erectile dysfunction, loss of interest in sex, and bladder leaks. It’s also been described as a risk factor for a more serious outcome if a patient contracts COVID-19. Dr. Thirumalai, a clinician, researcher and professor, says the reason is less clear than with other diseases. “We’re not sure why with COVID, but think it’s due to an overlap of other disease issues—such as obesity, presence of heart disease, and increased age—that are risks for both. Younger people with well-controlled diabetes have a closer risk level (from COVID) to people who don’t have diabetes.” For diabetes itself, risk factors for developing Type 2 include obesity, lack of exercise, family history, history of gestational diabetes during pregnancy, sleep apnea, and age. In the last 20 years, according to the CDC, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled, due to an aging and more obese population. Medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people who don’t have diabetes. Quality of life may be severely impacted. Instead of enjoying retirement, older adults with Type 2 may lose their sight, need lower leg amputations, or suffer debilitating nerve pain. The tragedy is that there are lifestyle choices that can make a huge difference in both the number of cases and the severity of diabetes in individuals. Of course, because they involve eating well and getting exercise, doctors have trouble getting patients to try them or stick with them. “Lifestyle changes are the pillars of diabetes management that we rely on,” says Dr. Thirumalai. “If you don’t have a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you’ll need higher doses of medication.” Aging with Confidence

Dr. Thirumalai has tried to motivate people by explaining serious outcomes. “Two big ones that seem to resonate are neuropathic pain, which can be very incapacitating to quality of life, and dialysis. I also used to try to motivate them with being able to avoid getting insulin injections. Still works for some people.” Many people with Type 2 diabetes do need medication to manage their disease. Metformin, an oral medication, is the most common one to use first, but there are other options if necessary. It’s not recommended that patients rely solely on medication, but it’s essential to treat the disease to prevent further damage. The interesting—even exciting—thing about Type 2 diabetes is that, with some work, it can be reversed. Losing about 10 percent of body weight, for most people, may bring blood sugar levels into the normal range. If ongoing attention to diet and exercise keeps the level there, then the patient would no longer have the disease. The best advice is to pay attention to your health and learn about the risks, especially if you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes. “Lifestyle changes are the pillars of diabetes management that we rely on,” says Dr. Thirumalai. “If you don’t have a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you’ll need higher doses of

The tragedy is that there are lifestyle choices that can make a huge difference in both the number of cases and the severity of diabetes in individuals. medication.” Remember, symptoms for Type 2 won’t show up until damage has begun. Work with your primary care provider to recognize and address problems before they get out of control. With this disease, you have the chance to take charge. “I’d love, as an endocrinologist, for people not to need my services,” says Dr. Thirumalai. “People need to have a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care to try to prevent those issues.” 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. She enjoys taking a lighthearted approach to serious topics.

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How Good Do You Feel About

GETTING OLDER? Here’s a thought exercise: Complete the following two sentences with as many answers as you can: I dread becoming old because _____. I can’t wait to be old because _____. Did you come up with several answers for each statement? More to the point, was answering one more challenging than the other? Most people have a harder time completing the second sentence and for good reason: Our youthcentered culture has conditioned us to think of aging solely as a process of deterioration and decline. Younger or newer ideas, products, and even people are generally considered more socially valuable than older or more established ones. As a result, there’s little for any of us to look forward to in terms of opportunities and support as we age.


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Ageism—the discrimination against a person based exclusively on age—denies us older adults our potential and lowers the quality of our lives. It not only limits the kinds of jobs that are open to us and skews the results of vital clinical medical studies that exclude us as subjects but it also affects the degree to which we even consider ourselves as human beings worthy of equal dignity and esteem in everyone’s eyes. The good news is Living our that no one is helpless in dealing with ageism. In fullest third fact, once we understand act means the forms that such replacing age discrimination can take, we can work to abolish shame with it and in turn restore a age pride. social balance to our lives. The shame that’s By Jeanette Leardi linked to getting older is usually the result of two types of external ageist comments/behaviors, namely Otherspeak (how people talk about older adults) and Elderspeak (how people talk to and behave toward older adults).


Let’s look at each one. Culturally, we find it easy to categorize people into groups and then make broad assumptions about the individuals in them. When people call us “the elderly” and describe us as mean, cranky, slow, forgetful, afraid of technology, resistant to change—or even cute, quaint, clueless, or helpless—that’s fluent Otherspeak. And it’s wrong. Sure, many of us have these traits, but so do people of all ages, including children. On the other hand, if you’ve ever heard someone call an older person “honey,” “dearie,” or “sweetie,” or talk particularly loudly or slowly to that person without reasonable cause, that’s Elderspeak. Now, it’s one thing if these beliefs and descriptions are imposed on elders, but often we can be guilty of turning them back on ourselves. Internalized ageism causes us to say such things as “I’m too old for this,” “I can’t learn/do this at my age,” and “It’s too late for me to start now.” We’ve bought into the social truisms that tell us we’re over the hill, past our prime, should be put out to pasture, and do nothing but enjoy our golden years. Those of us who believe in a third act beg to differ. Strongly. Yes, our bodies and minds lose some capacity as we age, but the reality is that there are also significant assets to getting older, such as being better able to analyze problems from many perspectives, maintaining emotional balance during challenging times, and learning and applying many life lessons acquired from years of experience. We can—and should— remain productive and engaged, often in different ways than when we were younger. Maggie Kuhn, who back in the 1970s founded the advocacy

Aging with Confidence

organization known as the Gray Panthers, believed that there are five social roles that older adults can play: • Mentors who teach the young • Mediators who help resolve conflicts between groups • Monitors of government actions and public policies • Mobilizers of social change • Motivators who encourage people to improve society I’ll add two more: Mirrors of how old people are currently treated and Models of how they instead should be respected. When we do things that older adults aren’t expected to do and show up in places where we aren’t expected to be, like dancing at a late night club, for example, when we actively seek out friendships with younger generations, when we stay abreast of technological developments, and develop social media skills, we slowly turn any age shame we may have into age pride and we inspire people of all ages to do the same. Given the fact that a baby born in the United States today has a 50% chance of living to be 100 years old, and that the global population of older adults is increasing, we should be speaking up for ourselves and speaking out for others, culturally and politically, to abolish ageism now. Our kids and grandkids, themselves future old people, will thank us. I’m proud of my age. What’s more, I feel good about getting older. How about you? Jeanette Leardi, proudly age 68, is a Portlandbased social gerontologist, writer, editor, and community educator who has a passion for older adult empowerment. She gives popular presentations and workshops in journaling, spiritual writing, memoir writing, personal mythmaking, ethical will creation, brain fitness, ageism, intergenerational communication, and caregiver support to people of all ages. Learn more about her work at jeanetteleardi.com.

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shelf. However, you should be Declaring its intent “to make paying attention. Their policy Seattle a great place for people to recommendations shape the grow up and grow old,” in March priorities of our state and local 2017, the City of Seattle adopted governments as they respond Resolution 31739 to become an to the growing population of age-friendly city. If you live or older adults in Washington. recreate in Seattle, chances are By 2030, Washington’s over you aren’t aware of the resolution 85 population is expected to or its outcome, a 68-page report double. By 2040, its over 60 BY ANN RANDALL entitled Age Friendly Seattle population will be 22 percent Action Plan 2018-2021, chockof the state’s demographic. Elected officials are rightfully full of recommendations about how to improve the lives of older adults who reside in and visit the Emerald City. It turns concerned about our needs now and as we age, our political power, and our impact on their budgets. out Seattle is not alone in their age-friendly concerns. W ho are t hese adv isor y bodies? W hat are t hey Our state and region also have advisory groups with current recommending regarding our rights and well-being as older plans. The 43-page 2018-2022 Washington State Plan on Aging contains a set of state policy recommendations approved by the adults? And how can we become more knowledgeable about State Council on Aging, a seniors advocacy group providing “a their efforts, perhaps even get involved? In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO), an unified voice across Washington” and charged with advising the Governor and Department of Social and Health Services international body more familiar because of its recent about senior issues. Your local community is part of an Area COVID-19 work, initiated a global research project to identify Agency on Aging with its own regional citizens advisory group what communities could do to encourage active aging. The that provides input to the State Council on Aging, as well as study, which took place in 33 cities in 23 countries, explored planning, coordinating, and advocating for services to meet the eight domains of livability: housing, transportation, information and communication, outdoor spaces and buildings, the needs of older adults. You may be inclined to write off these advisory groups—and community support and health services, social participation,


their reports—as more government bureaucracy formulating well-meaning plans, only to have them gather dust on an office


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civic participation and employment, and respect and social inclusion. The effort produced assessment tools providing


local communities and neighborhoods a way to determine and monitor their own age-friendliness. Out of that work, WHO created a global network of communities to share experiences and lessons learned, a network that today includes 1,000 communities in 41 countries. In 2012, AARP joined forces with WHO to encourage a U.S. network of communities promoting age-friendly social and physical environments. Five years later the City of Seattle signed on, adopting Resolution 31739, and then producing its three-year Seattle action plan. More than 2,000 people, including seniors, representatives from community-based organizations, city departments, and community leaders were consulted in the creation of the Age Friendly Seattle Action Plan 2018-2021. Not surprisingly, the greatest unmet needs of the city’s over 60 population were access to safe and affordable housing, transportation, health care, and social opportunities. Those needs were particularly felt among women, communities of color, low-income, and LGBTQ seniors. The report identified a plethora of already implemented initiatives, such as the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Street Design Toolkit for Age-Friendly Neighborhoods to address obstruction-free walking areas and transit amenities, P-Patch community gardening, Sound Steps, a free year-round walking program for people 50 and over, and the Seattle Public Library’s senior book groups and hot topics discussion meetups. However, it also identified significant gaps, steps the city could take to ensure its older citizens can fully participate in community life. Among them were recommendations to recruit older adults, particularly those on limited incomes or living with a disability to serve on city policy boards and commissions, specialized employment services for senior job seekers, and a less onerous, better publicized property tax exemption program. During t he sa me timefra me, t he 20-member Washington State Council on Aging was at work on its report and annual legislative priorities. The council’s membership includes 13 representatives, one each nominated by the Area Agencies on Aging, one member each from the Association of Counties and Association of Cities, and five at-large appointments. The 2020 legislative agenda included the creation of low-cost housing options for older adults, more focus on homeless seniors needing services, and funding for the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, now staffed largely by volunteers. The council also approved the 2018-2022 Washington State

Plan on Aging with six ambitious state goals, each with a set of strategic objectives and measurements. They range from empowering older people to stay healthy and active through expansion of evidence-based healthy aging programs, promoting equity, diversion and inclusion in staffing and state policies and programs impacting older adults, and improving the quality of long-term care. Each of the Area Agencies on Aging is required to have an advisory council “representing the interests of the public to assist in identifying unmet needs, needed services, and provide advocacy.” The advisory council in my own area is made up of 11 unpaid volunteers appointed for three-year terms by the county commissioners. Every attempt is made to appoint with county-wide representation and diversity in mind. Those volunteers conduct public hearings and review and comment on all community policies, programs, and actions affecting older adults. The singular task of these appointed groups is the improvement of our senior lives now and as we age. There are multiple ways to monitor and influence their work, but it begins with education. Read their full reports to familiarize yourself with their functions and recommendations. You can log onto the websites of Age Friendly Seattle, the State Council on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging for updated information and newsletters. The meetings of all the groups are open to the public (during the pandemic they meet by Zoom), with schedules and agendas posted online. If you want to become more involved, seek an appointment on your Area Agency on Aging advisory council. If you live in Seattle, Age Friendly Seattle has a community-based task force that meets monthly. Instead of waiting for city, state, and regional age-friendly report recommendations to take effect, consider changes you can initiate in your own neighborhood or community to make it age-livable. Who better to understand government initiatives affecting the lives of seniors than us, the subjects of all that focus? We possess the expertise to know if elected officials are creating accessible parks and public transportation systems, or building safe senior low-income housing. But we need to get involved in the rooms where those decisions are made. This is what democracy looks like.




Aging with Confidence

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. Her articles have appeared in online and print publications, and she blogs at PeregrineWoman.com.

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As I age, I keep trying to get it right. Life, I mean. I have not had a bad life, far from it. But I feel there is more I need to do and be. I work at trying to be a better person, be kinder, less judgmental, more forgiving. To be more fulfilled, more content. I’ve come a ways, but there are generally a few loose ends to tie up, a few awkward or unsettling situations that require untangling: friendships to mend or restore, miscommunications by phone or email, inaction when action is warranted. Even trying one more time to keep my ancient Singer sewing machine in good condition.



“You untangle a knot with slow teasing, not sharp pulling, and believe me we have here a knot such as I have never seen. But I will unpick it. I will.” —C.J. Sansom It’s early fall, almost a perfect day. The maple leaves are starting to turn. I’m sitting on my back porch in northwestern Vermont, with our dog Sophie and I’m untangling royal blue yarn. Unlike our two kittens, Sophie doesn’t disturb my every activity unless it is to periodically, gently nudge me for a pat. This large mess of yarn is cotton. I love the color. I’ll probably never untangle the whole lot. I believe skeins of yarn, like socks, when ignored, cling together and become intertwined. Many lengths of yarn I pick up at garage sales or thrift stores are years, if not decades, old, and they are often a bit of a mess. I love them and try to bring their lives back as I do for many older things, be it dishes, fabrics, or linens. Whatever yarn I don’t use that is in working condition, I donate to a local thrift shop. What surprises me is that I did not discover the pleasures of yarn earlier in my life. I’m now 70 and always believed I could never be good at crafts, although I didn’t try many. I had no role models. My mother did no handcrafts regularly, although she tells me she made one huge sweater for my father once upon a time. As I come from a musical family with several professionals, and I played piano and flute, I had artistic rather than craft goals.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


I did not become a musician, but I became a successful writer and college teacher. Five years ago my best friend showed me her stash of yarn in a tall wicker basket and, a few weeks later, sent me two of her lovely handmade scarves. Ever since her enthusiastic introduction and loving gifts, I’ve been entangled in the relaxing and addictive habit of knitting. As I look back, I realize that many hours of private therapy that sometimes resulted in no results, and sometimes in increased confusion, might have been put to better use untangling yarn at a much lower price, financially and emotionally. For a while, to try to control my growing stash of yarn, I put a safety pin in each piece or skein I re-rolled, but of course, this organized process came to naught as I acquired more yarn. I used to arrange the skeins by colors in their respective baskets or plastic containers. Now they all just hang out together: wool with cotton, mohair with alpaca, wide with thin, ribbon and chunky, blue with red, pink with orange, purple with beige. Why do some of us love the process of untangling, whether it’s yarn or an important life decision? Do we prefer untangling a small nagging worry rather than tackling our larger problems? I attempt to tackle at least one bothersome issue in my life on a weekly basis—this week, I’m reorganizing our huge library. To address several of my day-to-day problems would be a hugely time-consuming task. It is doubtful this will happen. I no longer have the energy, and since the pandemic, I spend several hours a day immersed in a book. This is how I choose to spend much of my free time. So, I must choose which issues to work on. As I enter old age, despite the many losses, I am trying hard to worry less, to breathe more deeply, to feel more peace. I attempt to no longer act so much on emotion and impulse, but rather I give things longer time to determine what’s truly going on, what’s at stake. I try to be more transparent and honest. Handling my yarn helps me feel I’ve taken at least one step and allows me to sit back and contemplate what my next life passage might bring. Almost every day, along with reading, I work on unraveling my growing collection of yarn. Sometimes I’ll enter a yarn store that has reopened just to look and touch. I think of the women who made the yarn or sweaters, in barns or in kitchens with wood stoves—spinning, dying, knitting, and crocheting for their families. Many of my yarns are remindful of the rewarding parts of our long Vermont winters. Unraveling has a similar effect on me that knitting and walking have: my active, prone-to-worry mind slows down. I don’t knit just to keep my hands busy—I do it to soothe my mind and, in time, to make beautiful items. This untwining provides contemplative time when I more closely feel the dog’s nose nuzzle me, hear the brilliant red cardinals’ songs, and enjoy the breeze on my face. Deborah Straw is a writer and college instructor. Now partially retired, she writes essays and poetry, produces book reviews, and is a cat sitter. Her two books are The Healthy Pet Manual (about cancer in our companion animals) and Natural Wonders of the Florida Keys.

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Aging with Confidence

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A Legacy

Deferred For the first time in 66 years, Washington Rhinestone Club debutantes will miss this rite of passage.

Frances Stephens, founding member.


The year was 2004. I had just lost my mother the year before and it was time to launch my daughter into college. I remember how her last year of high school was chock-full of activities. Balancing work and being a mom was hard enough, but there was also her school and community service activities, church events, scholarship applications, the prom, and then graduation, followed by packing for the big move to college. It all seemed to happen so fast, but Kayla, my daughter, successfully graduated from Lakeside High School and was off to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. All my struggles and hard work as a single parent had paid off. The final highlight of that year happened during the Christmas holiday. It was the ceremony marking Kayla’s rite of passage to adulthood—the annual Washington Rhinestone Club (WRC) Debutante Ball where young black women currently enrolled in their first year of


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

college are presented and applauded for their success and achievements. My heart burst with joy as her proud grandfather guided her into the ballroom. Dressed in a beautiful white gown gliding through the room as the list of her scholastic achievements and goals were announced to the audience was the high point of the year! The Washington Rhinestone Club, Inc. was formed in 1952 to encourage and celebrate young, college-bound African-American women. The WRC achieves its mission by providing educational workshops, fundraising events (e.g., the Annual Scholarship Luncheon), college scholarship awards, and hosting an annual debutante ball. The first ball was in 1953 and recognized five young women for their scholastic, extracurricular activities, and community service achievements. To date, the club has debuted almost 1,000 girls at 66 annual balls.


Left: Debutantes and queen are presented at the 2018 Ball. Below: WRC members (left to right) Frances Stephens, Karen Winston, Colleen Walls, Carol Bell, Malver Hayes, Barbara Banon, Juanita Taylor, and Dolores Booker.

It is a tradition for many African-American families—my sister was a debutante (1969), I followed her (1976), my daughter and several of my cousins were debutantes, too. The members of the club represent a uniquely diverse group of women from varied backgrounds and a wide age range that are passionate about the education of young Black women. At age 91, Dolores Booker is the oldest Rhinestone Club member. Originally from Atchison, Kansas, Booker moved to Seattle in 1954, armed with a degree in mathematics. She first worked at the Boeing Company as a computer engineering aide, but after four years and several blocked attempts at promotion, she decided to renew her teaching certificate and worked part-time as one of the first math teachers at the Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center, while also teaching at Seattle Public Schools. Upon her retirement in 1997, she was the head counselor at Franklin High School. “Being an educator all of my life, I feel it is important to promote all young people, but Blacks particularly need the support, because they may not get it from any place else. If you promote Blacks, who are at the bottom of the ladder, then that means everyone ahead of them will be taken care of, too,” says Booker, who joined the WRC in 1962, and remains an active member. Her daughters, stepdaughter, niece, and grand-daughter were all debutantes.

Aging with Confidence

Carol Bell is the club’s current president. Born and raised in Seattle, Bell and her twin sister were raised by their grandparents. “My grandmother always told us that we would be debutantes, but I was more excited about it than my sister,” she recalls. “I looked forward to wearing the fancy white gown and being in the spotlight, and when the day finally came, we all felt beautiful, inside and out. I instilled the same message in my daughter.” (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

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A Legacy



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3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

Twenty years later, Bell’s daughter, LeChaé, was queen of the ball in 2016, and is a recent graduate of St John’s University in New York. For Bell, manager for the Seattle Municipal Court Programs and Services Division, it is important for all debutantes to feel special. “There are many things in society designed to keep you [Black girls] from dreaming big, so it is important to reinforce the message—no matter what you look like on the outside, you are dynamic on the inside and bring forth beauty,” says Bell, who tells all debs to be proud of who they are and what they bring to the table. “The WRC strives to encourage higher education and growth, while focusing on strengths and building on weaknesses so that no one feels lesser than anyone else. We strive to empower the girls through a collective experience, so that they will return and want to help move the organization forward.”

Challenges Created by the Pandemic

Like many organizations, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into annual plans and traditions. For the first time in 66 years, the club was not able to host its annual scholarship luncheon fundraiser and will be unable to afford a ball, and scholarships, for this year’s 12 enrolled debs. “The WRC events (luncheon and balls) have been a big part of my life for years,” recalls Booker. “Although I feel very badly, we cannot have our events this year, I understand why.” Although the WRC struggles with balancing and modifying plans, Bell remains optimistic and hopes to combine the 2020 and 2021 balls. “These girls are our future leaders,”

Help the Legacy Live On Will the pandemic be under control by June 2021? That is when the Washington Rhinestone Club hopes to host its next scholarship luncheon. This event is critical for raising the scholarship awards presented at the ball. Traditionally, only the queen and runner-up receive awards based on the highest GPAs, but in recent years the club has strived to support all debutantes in their college endeavors. Not being able to hold the luncheon has had a tremendous financial impact on the organization. Like many nonprofits, the club is hoping for more support and donations from the greater community so that the legacy will live on.

How to Donate Donations to the nonprofit club (federal tax ID #27-0038726) can be mailed to WRC, PO Box 18037, Seattle, WA, 98118. For more information, email kkwins2@comcast.net.

she says. “They are the ones with opportunities to correct the injustices we deal with today.” When asked about her vision for the club’s future, Bell says that she would like the WRC to expand and build sustainable relationships throughout the community so that people feel they are investing in the future of young, professional Black women. Karen Winston is a planner at the Seattle Human Services Department, Aging and Disability Services Division. Barbara Banon also contributed to this story.


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Aging with Confidence


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Here Comes the



Celebrating Solstice

ach December, in many countries and cultures across the Northern Hemisphere, people celebrate the return of the light. Many of these celebrations occur close to the time of the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. We celebrate the solstice to acknowledge the turning of the year and the lengthening of the days ahead and as a time to reflect and rekindle our inner light, dimmed, perhaps, by the distress of this year. Who needs a reminder of what a year it has been! Covid-19, unemployment, racial injustice, wildfires, and smoke. Not to mention feverish election activity. As the light of civility and tolerance dimmed, it has seemed as though the darkness was gaining the upper hand, compounded by the shortening of days in November. The sun knows better. It always comes back.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


Celebrating the Solstice Around the World The solstice occurs when the earth is at maximum tilt away from the sun, and the sun travels its shortest path through the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 or 22. In the summer months, we almost take our sun-filled light for granted. But in the darkness of winter, sun sightings are especially appreciated. For thousands of years, people in the northern hemisphere have honored the return of the sun. In ancient agricultural worlds, life depended on it; without the sun, crops wouldn’t grow and people would starve. Many cultures and religions worldwide created traditions to honor the sun and its rebirth into life through the dark. In Northern Pakistan, the Kalash Kafir people hold a seven-day celebration of the solstice called Chaomos. The week includes ritual bathing, torchlight parades, fires, singing, dancing, and festive eating. Sounds like a great time.


ceremony, private to the tribe, includes dance, song, ritual, and drama. The Zunis believe their ceremonies are not just for the well-being of the tribe, but the entire world. On December 22 in Japan, bonfires burn on Mount Fuji. Farmers celebrate the return of the sun that will nourish their crops. People eat kabocha squash and enjoy hot baths, accented with yuzu, a citrus fruit said to be good for health. The pre-Christian Norse people celebrated Yule, their name for the solstice. When King Haakon I brought his Christian faith to Norway in the 10th century, he blended many of the old traditions into Christianity. The Yule log and mistletoe, as well as “The Twelve Days of Christmas” were originally Nordic rituals. Who knew that the “Boar’s Head Carol,” sung at Christmastime, referred to the ancient practice of sacrificing a sacred boar? The Vikings revered the evergreen tree as a symbol of continuing life and decorated it at Yuletide. They passed down the ritual of decorating a tree to their German descendants. The Christmas tree didn’t arrive in England until 1800 when German-born Queen Charlotte decorated a yew tree at Windsor Castle. After Queen Victoria declared she had to have a Christmas spruce in 1840, the custom of decorating a tree at home spread across England. Some say the Christians “stole” Yule, while others say that our gift-giving rituals evolved out of the ancient Roman feast of Saturnalia celebrated at the solstice. Let’s agree that cultures regularly borrow from each other. That means that we can be free to learn from different traditions and to create rituals meaningful for us. In China, Korea, and Japan, many celebrate the festival of Dongzhi, a word that means “the arrival of winter.” People gather in their families to worship the heavens and honor their ancestors, while eating special foods such as dumplings in Northern China and tang yuan, a dessert of glutinous rice balls, in the south. In Iran, the festival of Shab-e Yalda occurs at the longest night of the year. Shab-e Yalda extols the victory of Mithra, god of the sun, over the forces of darkness. People gather, burn fires, offer wishes, make acts of charity, and serve festive foods, including Iran’s native nuts and pomegranates. The words of the great Persian poet Hafiz are often read. Some celebrants stay up until dawn to welcome the sun’s rising, a sign that goodness has triumphed over evil. In the United States, the Native American Zuni people celebrate Shalako with rites that invite the sun’s return and the transformation of winter into spring. The nine-day sacred

Aging with Confidence

At One with Nature Beyond the good cheer, celebrating solstice connects us with nature’s rhythms and cycles, sometimes forgotten in contemporary life. Too often, the borders between day and night blur as the Internet gives us options for working, learning, and buying at any time of the day or night. Many corporate skyscrapers keep lights on 24-7. Even fashion has forgotten the seasons, telling us we can wear the same clothes most of the year. This year, the pandemic blurred our calendars even more. March seemed to roll into September with a brief pit stop for summer. For those of us working at home, the days rolled together, and Monday, Thursday, or Saturday began to feel the same. By celebrating the returning light, we honor the natural world’s rhythms, set in motion by the cycling sun. It’s never too late to send our best appreciation to nature. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

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Shaping a Celebration If you want to celebrate, look for opportunities within your traditions. Can you add a pinch of reflection and gratitude for the light into what you already do? At Hannukah, a celebration with special meanings apart from the solstice, the lighting of the menorah offers a moment for remembrance and reflection. At Kwanzaa, a few days after the solstice, lighting the seven candles on the kinara (candleholder) provides a moment for silence and appreciation. In preparing for Christmas, why not take a moment to pause and think about the meanings the ancestors gave to the lights and the tree. Solstice food can add to any celebration. Make a batch of yummy Swedish saffron buns, the sweet Lussekatter. Or cook some Cuccia, a delicious Sicilian wheatberry and ricotta porridge, traditionally made for the Feast of Saint Lucia. Persian Ajil, a mixture of nuts, seeds, and fruit might be perfect for a party. Or, if adventurous, try cooking the Chinese dumplings served at Dongzhi.

appreciation for nature, as we bless both the darkness and light. A few ideas: • Decorate your space with lights, candles, and boughs of green, while appreciating the continuity of life. • Prepare a celebratory bonfire (with safety in mind). • Reflect on the year’s highlights, as well as events and memories you’d prefer to leave behind. Write what you’re ready to release on a slip of paper and offer it to the fire or candle. (Making sure the flames are safe.) • Before you honor the returning light, take a moment in darkness. Friends of mine, as they light candles and then turn back on their lights, love to sing, “Here Comes the Sun.”

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Create Your Ritual Rituals bring intention and reflection into everyday life. Solstice rituals offer moments for silence, stillness, and

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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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My house is full of radios. There is one in every room, including two in the living room, a little portable that runs on batteries, and a satellite radio plugged into my stereo system. All day, as I move from room to room, I turn one off and turn on another, listening to voices bringing me the news, the weather, and traffic updates. I know that lately, most of what the voices have to say is either unreliable or disturbing, but I’m not actually listening for content: I am listening for the comforting rhythm and cadence of the human voice drifting in to my house from somewhere out there, wherever that may be.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


I learned to rely on the company of voices that come to me through radios because of Jean Shepherd, who I discovered on WOR radio in New York in 1964, when I was 13. Growing up in the Bronx, I became an avid Yankees fan, and I used to secretly listen to the ballgames in bed, at night, in the dark, plugged into the transistor radio I had won playing skee ball on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach. As far as I can remember, one night, trying to tune into the game, I somehow came across a guy with a genial voice telling a story about growing up in Hammond, Indiana, and then segueing into a long, descriptive tale about a humiliating experience he’d had taking a date to a fancy restaurant he couldn’t afford when he was in the Army. He was laughing all the while he was talking, calling girls “chicks” and, finally, talking about how he’d come to live in New York City, the glorious, crazy, and extraordinary Oz of every outsider’s dream. I was hooked. I listened to Shep, as his legion of listeners called him, for a long time but then drifted away a few years later after my mother died. It was at a time that my life became a kind of preview of the instantaneous smash-up we all experienced months ago, when the life we led suddenly stopped in its tracks and we had to put on masks, latex gloves, and abandon all we knew to live a new reality for which there was no roadmap. And it was ruled by an invisible monster who wanted to kill me, you, and anyone else it could invade and infect. For me, my previous experience of that quick vault into crazyville happened when my father remarried and my life suddenly featured a stepmother as mean as a fairytale witch, a severely schizophrenic stepsister, and a dad who believed that if we all sat down together and watched Wheel of Fortune, we’d be okay. (Picture us: Stepmom seething with rage, stepsister clutching the black marker she used to draw the eyes of lunatics all over the walls, and me and my younger brother, making how do we get out of here? hand signals to each other as we watched Vanna turn letters on the TV screen.) Now, more than 50 years later, I am once again listening to the Jean “Shep” Shepherd show. A great treasure trove of his old radio shows can be found as podcasts or downloads online and I transfer them onto an iPod Shuffle, my new nighttime listening friend. And, once again, at night, in bed, I can listen to Shep’s stories. My favorite shows are the ones that were taped at the Limelight, a long-gone coffee house that was once located on Sheridan Square in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village. There, on Saturday nights,

Aging with Confidence

Shep talked to the assembled crowd who’d driven in from Jersey, from Westchester and Long Island, to be where “it was really happening,” as Shep used to say. He mocked the Village and its hippies—probably because he’d just missed being part of that generation—but you could tell he kind of loved them, too. He talked about how everyone really wanted to be there, to be part of that fetid, festering, angry place, where you could be your true, authentic self, and do what you really wanted to do with your life. What I wanted was to be a writer and it was in large part because of the way that Jean Shepherd, laughing and spinning stories in my ear, made it seem like I could join the gang at the Limelight. I found my way to Greenwich Village when I was a young teenager. Music led me there, too—I hung out on West 3rd and MacDougal Street, in places like the Night Owl, Café Wha? and the Kettle of Fish. But the path to escape from my dangerous and deluded family was also fueled by my desire to be part of Shep’s people, the ones who knew there was something going on out there beyond the Jersey Turnpike and the Long Island Expressway that they weren’t being taught in school, or at their job in corporate America. I moved to the Village when I was 18 and lived there for almost two decades. And it was there, in a room above a harpsichord factory, where I got my first real job that I began my life as a writer. I had my first book of poetry published in 1973 when I was 21 and, My house is full of radios. There is one in in the years since, I’ve published more books of every room, including poetry and short stories, two in the living room, along with several novels. a little portable Shep pointed the way, that runs on batteries, he revealed the place to start, and gave me the idea and a satellite that running away to the radio plugged into my Village was actually a way stereo system. of running toward my own, real life. But in my own, real life now, I find myself, at the age of 68, constantly being referred to as “elderly” and “vulnerable.” Well yes, dammit, I admit to having been vulnerable in one way or another for a very long time, but elderly? I think that horizon is still a ways off. And listening to Shep, once again, is helping me to see how the journey through my work and my life that I am on actually began, and to draw needed strength from remembering how young I was to start on those travels and how brave. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

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Yes, me, I was brave. And being brave is certainly a quality I need a big jolt of now when—as in the time after my mother died—I have no idea what the future holds, what it might look like, or how I should plan to live next week, next month, or next year. Jean Shepherd’s best work—meaning, his best stories, his critique of modern times, which included pointing out “straws in the wind” and the foibles of man, one of his favorite subjects—took place when he was on the radio from 10:15 to 11 p.m. (Others might say that his most famous work was as co-writer of the film A Christmas Story, which endlessly plays on TV during the holiday season, but that came later in his career and is kind of a bit-too-hokey blip on the radar for his true radio fans.) Many of his listeners were kids like myself, dreaming of being hipsters and hippies, kids lying in their sacks—another Shepherd-ism—in the upstairs bedroom of some suburban house or in a cramped outer-borough apartment, waiting to be released from the bondage of dreary, daily life. Well, for me, and I’m sure many other listeners, Shep’s voice, talking to us in the dark, is still a beacon we can follow into a better future. I’m still following along because as bad and scary as things are out there in real life, in my life, I still have books to write and stories to tell, just as Jean Shepherd did. So again tonight, I’ll put myself to bed with my companion and guardian who holds my hand as we navigate this new normal of our shaky but, I believe, indomitable lives, and plug myself into my favorite voice in the night. Thanks, Jean. I’m still listening. Eleanor Lerman is the author of numerous awardwinning collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is a National Book Award finalist, a recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as fellowships for poetry and for fiction. Her most recent novel, Satellite Street (The Permanent Press, 2019) has been named a finalist for both the Montaigne Medal and the Eric Hoffer Award.


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Diego Coy and Miho Takekawa

As partners in life and in art, Miho Takekawa and Diego Coy love making music for live audiences. The duo—she plays marimba and he is a master of Andean flute—had a full 2020 calendar of events until COVID-19 struck. Playing online just isn’t the same. “We’re professionals. We know how to perform, but the feeling is different,” says Coy. “It’s good to have people. We have interaction, we communicate through the BY JULIE FANSELOW music. That’s what I miss the most.” Coy also misses making money. In addition to performing with Takekawa, he runs sound at concerts and events, but that work is gone, too. Takekawa has fared better financially since she teaches part time at Pacific Lutheran University and Pierce College, and It’s been a discordant year for the arts and times have offers private music lessons for school-age students, been particularly tough for musicians. Declining some of whom doubled their sessions during the incomes and diminished opportunities feel especially pandemic. But performing generates more than half acute for mid- and late-career performers—who may of her income, and without concerts, “I feel like I’m be nearing the end of their careers—and for audiences 50 percent less Miho,” she says. who love hearing them in person. Yet there have The couple have found ways to adapt. Takekawa been notes of creativity and cooperation amid the studied how to make online music lessons more fun dissonance. Here are the stories of how six Northwest for young students and she has been able to teach in musicians have found hope amid the struggles of 2020, the couple’s Renton backyard. Coy has done a bit of with lessons that resonate for us all. recording studio work and they’re now considering online gigs. “In April, no one really knew how to do Zoom and what kind of microphones and cameras would work,” Takekawa says, but together, musicians have figured out the technology. Coy and Takekawa both bring immigrants’ perspectives to the pandemic. “It’s been very difficult for many East Asian-looking people,” says Takekawa, who is from Japan. She also worries about women of all races in vulnerable situations. Coy spent his first 35 years in Colombia, where he experienced Dengue fever epidemics, street violence, and Diego Coy and Miho lockdowns. “He’s used to being Takekawa miss playing before in-person in situations you cannot control,”

Harmony Dissonance

Musicians find meaning in a challenging year


Aging with Confidence


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Takekawa says. “Not for this long, though,” Coy adds. But as a Nashville friend reminded the couple on a recent Zoom call, struggle has always been part of a life in music and it’s often where creativity comes from. “After I talked with him, I took this pandemic much better,” says Takekawa.

Karen P. Thomas

All last winter, the members of Seattle Pro Musica had been rehearsing for special choral concerts to mark the centennial of the constitutional amendment granting women’s suffrage. But alarm over COVID-19 grew as the March performances neared, and even before the state banned large gatherings, Seattle Pro Musica decided the concerts would not take place. “This was at a time when not as much was known about aerosol spread

Karen P. Thomas Photo by Redstone Pictures


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Terry Morgan stands with a portrait by Ernie Sapiro. Photo by Tony Hoffman

There have been notes of creativity and cooperation amid the dissonance. and singing,” says Karen P. Thomas, the group’s director. Canceling such important shows felt disappointing, but the world soon learned just how deadly singing can be. In our own backyard, the Skagit Valley Chorale had dozens of COVID-19 cases and two deaths after its early March rehearsals, and more than 100 members of a choir in The Netherlands got sick after a March concert. Thomas says the loss of music has been compounded by the loss of community. “One thing people who are not choral musicians aren’t really aware of is how intensely singers miss being able to sing together,” she notes. “As a singer, you put yourselves out there on the line, but you do it with other people who are there to support you. Having that very thing be taken away—and having it be the dangerous thing that can spread COVID more than almost

any other activity—is heartbreaking for singers everywhere.” Seattle Pro Musica’s weekly rehearsals continue online so people can keep singing. “Everyone is at home alone, singing along with a recording, which is not at all the choral experience, but it keeps us all doing something,” says Thomas. In addition, Thomas is music director for University Unitarian Church in Seattle, so she keeps busy planning music for its weekly online services. The pandemic has also given her time to compose and play classical guitar. Like many other ensembles, Seattle Pro Musica is painstakingly producing videos of singers stitched together via technology. The results are beautiful, especially at a time when singers can’t gather in the concert halls. Keep an eye on seattlepromusica.org for a virtual holiday concert featuring these performances.


Terry Morgan

A free jazz concert in Seward Park in the 1960s convinced Terry Morgan he was meant to be in Seattle—and meant to be a musician. “This was my moment, right? It was Charles Lloyd on sax, Cecil McBee on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Keith Jarrett on keyboards. After that, I was hooked,” he says. The Whidbey Island native studied ethnomusicology and promoted campus concerts at the University of Washington. After that, he launched Modern Enterprises, booking concerts at venues including the Showbox. He is the longtime bass player for singersongwriter LeRoy Bell, and he helps shepherd the careers of several young Seattle-area musicians, including Zan Fiskum (heard on The Voice) and Alec Shaw. So 2020 has been difficult for Morgan and for everyone else in the live music ecosystem, from artists to ushers and the folks at the concession stands. At first, concerts were rescheduled for summer. Then summer came and most shows were canceled outright. Some renegade artists have staged concerts, but “you don’t want to be responsible for pandemic events,” Morgan says. “The problem is people are so hungry to gather again. We’re seeing how tribal and social that humans really are.” Morgan believes free outdoor events may help the arts reboot after the pandemic, just as they spurred his youthful interest in music and Seattle. In 2018, he created Borealis, a festival of light at South Lake Union that will be back in 2021. He’s also involved with the development of a new amphitheater at Volunteer Park and with the Pacific Northwest Chalk Fest in Redmond. Decades ago, Morgan helped start Aging with Confidence

Festival Sundiata, a long-running annual celebration of African culture at Seattle Center, and he has been buoyed by this year’s intergenerational and multiethnic movement for racial justice. “We knew the civil rights activities were big in the 1960s. This is even bigger,” he says. “I’m hoping to see a large revolution in social meaning in the arts.” “I look forward to manifesting my goals into this pandemic world, and if this is our new reality, this is what we deal with,” he adds. “Now is the time we create things for the future.”

Roberta Downey and Paul Hansen Photo by Julie Fanselow

Roberta Downey and Paul Hansen

We’ll finish with the tale of two siblings: one who has returned to work and one who remains on the sidelines. Seattle Symphony cellist Roberta Downey is back on the job this fall. The orchestra has fewer players in this era of social distancing, but the symphony’s already-high profile has risen since it was among the first to stream concerts online last spring and it now has a global audience. Downey’s brother, Paul Hansen,

is a busy freelance percussionist who plays in pit orchestras and with touring shows at top Seattle venues. He was in rehearsals for Sister Act at the 5th Avenue Theatre in March when that production shut down, and he hasn’t worked since, other than a few hours a week at a sheet music publishing company. The state’s stay-at-home orders actually recognized “musicians providing services through streaming or other technology” as essential workers, but it’s one thing to have orchestral musicians play for a live stream from Benaroya Hall and another to stage musical theater and touring concerts without audiences. Yet music always finds a way. Last March, Seattle Opera veteran Stephen Wall began singing in his yard—and in the same spirit, Downey and Hansen teamed up for summer street concerts. They gathered with their friend Valerie Shields and a few other musicians— masked and socially distanced from each other—to rehearse in Shields’ garden before performing for her neighbors. The low-key concerts were fun diversions, but they don’t pay the bills, and Hansen wants to get back to work. “I’m still playing at the top of my game,” he says. “Every year, I get just a little bit better and more assured of what I’m doing.” And although the path toward live performance remains murky, Hansen expects the arts to return. After all, he says, “we came back after 1918.” Downey says she barely touched her cello for the first few months of the pandemic. The layoff was good practice for the day she hangs up her bow, but Downey is happy to defer that day. “I’ll embrace retirement when it’s time,” she adds. “But I’m not there yet.”

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years ago, when I was 55, I made a career switch. Instead of spending my days negotiating over the operation of the dams in the Northwest, I began to professionally create art. My mother was a professional artist and after she died in 2009 I asked myself, “What am I doing with my life? What is important to me?” Age gives us a perspective on what we value and how we really want to spend our time. In thinking about how to live the rest of my life, I took stock of my favorite activities since childhood: birdwatching, being outdoors in the woods and fields, studying bugs, and playing with various art forms. I pondered how I could express my awe and appreciation of nature through art. I wanted to do something that would exemplify the wonder I felt and to show it in a slightly different and unexpected way that would capture people’s attention, make them look twice, and come away seeing life with a little more sparkle. I had my mission: To foster appreciation and understanding of the natural world. I also had my art medium: feathers. Feathers are iconic for all cultures. We watch birds soaring and swooping, free from the bounds of the earth, and we long to fly. But we can’t do that with our bodies, so birds and their feathers have become replacements for our longings. Feathers are symbols of hope, transformation, escape, achievement, and healing.


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Feathers are also complex and beautiful. They are complex because they have to be lightweight (so the bird can fly) and strong (so they don’t break). They are made of the strongest of animal substances, keratin, which is what our hair and fingernails are made of. Birds grow feathers, use them, and then regrow new feathers about once a year, pushing out the old ones. These naturally shed, or “molted,” feathers retain their shape, complexity, and beauty when I use them in my art. I knew that feathers in art would appeal to the widest of audiences around the world. Even though the medium and technique is unconventional in the fine art spheres, I knew I had a winner. That is because art tries to capture some essence of life, and each feather already carries some of the essence of the bird that grew it. My mission and the feathers themselves guide me. Since all feathers curve, more or less, I wanted to keep their shape and not glue them flat onto a background. I experimented with suspending them about a half an inch from the background, which created shadows. This has become integral to my work. I researched and experimented with materials, glues, and methods to back the feathers so they could be cut. The final art had to be sturdy, archival, and look like natural feathers, even though they were strengthened by backing. Now I had something worthwhile to give. Since my medium is unconventional, I felt it was important for it to gain respect in the art world. At first,

Aging with Confidence

I wasn’t sure how it would be received by the higher end art venues I sought out. When a top gallery took a chance on showing my work and had good sales revenues, other galleries and venues began asking for it. What I most treasure though is not the income, but the response from people about how seeing the work has touched them, inspired them, or even been comforting in hard times. In order to reach more people, I wrote the coffee table book, Feathers: Form and Function in 2014. The book created an affordable option for enjoying pictures of my art and it also describes the biology of the feathers and the meaning they carry for us. I am at the beginning stages of my second book right now. My work is a lot about limits. The feathers limit what I can do because they are my only shapes, colors, and lines. This forces creativity. Growing older creates limits. I have less time to accomplish my goals. I could enjoy life by spreading my time over many interests and activities, but instead I have chosen to focus on this single medium. This has helped me accomplish my mission and share my work around the world. COVID-19 has also placed limits. We have to focus more locally, on fewer activities, and on fewer people. It is for me a time for reflection. I wonder what kind of creativity will spring from this, especially from older people who no longer have to work to earn money, and can choose innovative ways to make the world a more beautiful place.

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The Reluctant

Cape Crusader If a road trip disappoints, it might be because of the baggage you carry. By Mark Woytowich Photos by George Stenberg “What about shooting from up here?” I say to my friend, George. I stand on a picnic table, looking across a massive buffer of ocean driftwood. Huge logs and gnarly limbs, bleached like dinosaur bones, form an uncrossable mound. Beyond them is the beach. And beyond the beach rises Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, a solitary chess piece atop a wave-battered cliff jutting far into the sea. “We got to get down to the beach,” George says, climbing to stand beside me. He claps a big hand on my shoulder, steadying himself. Then, wincing and rubbing his right knee, he climbs back down. Barely five weeks ago, George underwent four hours of knee replacement surgery. The surgery should have been two months earlier, but COVID-19 had a way of switching hospital priorities around.


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“George” is George Stenberg, a regionally prominent professional photographer known for his dreamy, hyper-real Hood Canal panoramas. Only a few days earlier did he finally feel well enough to join me on this road trip, hoping to get some rugged coastline shots to add to his inventory. And on this day, we’re both worried he won’t be able to take a single shot if his knee gives out. We are the same age, 64, and have known each other for five years. Still, I have never been on a trip with him, and in some ways we are very different—2020 presidential politics, for one, and while I am married, George remains born-again single after a distant divorce. We decide to drive to Long Beach for lunch. As we wind below the big, leafy trees of Cape Disappointment State Park, the late summer sun strobing our faces, my awareness of our differences grows.

I harbor a secret, fleeting worry that, as the hours pass and we soon find ourselves in a motel together, poor George will come within howling distance, not exactly of a wolf man, but what my wife, Linda, calls the “Snore of the Century.” Linda, God bless her, has endured 22 years in the same bed with what my entire family regards as nothing less than the sound of a water buffalo snared in a trap. After three days at my sister-in-law’s place in Phoenix, for example, I noticed the breakfast table just happened to have a medical equipment catalogue parked next to my plate, open to the page on CPAP machines. George is less subtle. I worry I’ll wake to a madman wrapping a plastic bag over my head. In Long Beach, we catch a hearty meal of chicken fried steak, eggs, hash browns, biscuits, and gravy at a place called Benson’s on the Beach. Loading up on carbs seems like a decent decision, as we face a long hike to get into position for lighthouse sunset photos. Since afternoon light is too glaring for good beauty shots, we decide to walk about the gaudy, helter-skelter facades that line the strip in Long Beach, Washington’s surf-side town with Coney Island aspirations. www.3rdActMag.com

Already the crosswalks are crowded with parents, their hands tugging or being tugged by children drawn to the many ice cream, doughnut, kite, and T-shirt shops. Masks cover their nose and mouths, in fact, a powder blue surgeon’s mask lying against the curb has me thinking that masks are now the new litter. A mini merry-go-round babysits the young. The teen scene is split among the dark, electro-pulsing video game arcade, a noisy, boisterous go-kart track lined with stacked tires, and one of those green-carpeted, dreary putt-putt golf courses where boys pray for the chance to show their dates proper putting form. And, at age 64, I’m praying for the visual excitement of any old windmill with its blades still turning. I don’t remember seeing one. George is tired. I am tired. He has me mug in front of a curio shop called Marsh’s Free Museum, a local landmark where all the toys inside are placed at knee height so kids can easily claim them, while outside, adults can buy a “life-size” carved wooden Bigfoot for about 2,000 bucks. George takes a shot of me next to the Sasquatch and we both call it a day. We need to find our motel. We can both use a nap before shooting the lighthouse. Aging with Confidence

George stays in the car while I check out the rooms at a frumpy, threadbare establishment called Seaview Cottages. Honestly, no sea, no view. I overpay for a two-bedroom cottage and take the room in the back, which has a sliding door. We nap almost instantly. When I wake, I see my door has been shut for me. I come into the kitchen and George’s face says it all: he has heard the hound of hell and now knows I wasn’t kidding. But he makes a good joke about having heard worse—he is the only man on the planet, other than the karaoke spinner, to survive seven minutes of me mangling the Doors’ “L.A. Woman” at a bar in Lake Nahwatzel. We leave for the lighthouse shoot, still groggy from the carb overloading at breakfast.

Returning to the Cape This isn’t my first trip to Cape Disappointment. In early spring two years ago, I had just finished a long, arduous book on Olympic Mountain waterfalls, pulling together directions, notes and old articles from years before, and rewriting day and night to meet my self-imposed deadline. It nearly killed me, not in the least for putting my wife, all my relationships, and other interests on hold.

On the morning I was to hand over the entire file for printing, it was gone. The folder containing more than 60 documents—all my chapter files—was nowhere on my desktop and nowhere in any other folder. All gone, gone, gone. I searched, nearly blind and shaking from a panic attack. I went from shock, to tearful disbelief, to numbness, and then to an angry rage, finally grabbing my wallet and keys, running out of the house, leaving Linda in the driveway as I sped away. I wanted to drive to the end of the world, actually, over the end of the world. I wanted to punch the gas and drive into the sea. Funny, but I knew a place where that could happen. It was the beach entrance by the kite museum in Long Beach. Just punch the gas and good riddance. Well, I got there, all right, but I turned off the engine and stared at the sea. I couldn’t go through with it. But I still felt anger at the gods for their cruel betrayal. I did a bunch of things that night of which I’m not proud, including my downing of six vodka tonics in the company of strangers in an Astoria bar. I wanted to go back to the Cape to celebrate the fact I was better now. I’d gotten my book published; in fact, it had been Linda who texted winter 2020/2021

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“FOUND THEM”—the pages that went missing—to me in Astoria. Then, two days before my road trip the oddest thing happened. Linda and I had a long night’s talk by a crackling fire in our backyard. She’s been processing sad, dysfunctional family stuff ever since I’ve known her. Classic 1950s male dominance dynamics that, basically, come down to a father who thought it best if all women, especially his wife and three daughters, just kept their mouths shut, thank you very much. “He wrote me off,” Linda said. She was the oldest child and absorbed the brunt of her parents’ mistakes. “I’ve never been heard,” she continued, “even by you, Mark. You want to dismiss what I have to say sometimes. You think you already know. But I haven’t even begun to tell you. I’ve been fighting my whole life to be heard, to be counted, to be valued as an equal. Damn, you’re supposed to be my best friend. But you won’t take the time to hear me.”

A Fearless Adventure Three businesses most likely to never use the name of the local landmark: Cape Disappointment Wedding Chapel; Cape Disappointment Marriage Counselors; Cape Disappointment Driving School.


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“Good clouds shaping in the West,” George says, as we pull into the parking lot at Waikiki Beach, Cape Disappointment State Park’s gorgeous, postcard of a swimming destination. There’s plenty of daylight to shoot multiple scenes. I grab some gear but remain distracted by thoughts on the future. A man our age is rooting in the back of his gray van parked nearby, opening and eating from a tin of sardines. He smiles and salutes the brim of his hat. He glides over and introduces himself as David, from Ohio, now six weeks into a solo road trip, ostensibly to visit his daughter in San Francisco. David is pleasant, speaks well, and I enjoy the distraction and camaraderie of a fellow Buckeye with an interest in mushrooms. I invite him to follow along. He continues his story of why he’s on this trip, and now admits he failed to see his child, being put off by her twice. “Messy family politics,” he says. “I came all this way to see my girl,” he says. “I tell you it nearly killed me. I was so disappointed, and you aren’t going to believe this, but I looked at the map that night and saw ‘Cape Disappointment’ up the coast, and something about the name and how I felt, well, I just knew I needed to

come here.” If misery hasn’t found company, I don’t know what else to make of this, I think, feeling suddenly lighter. “I came here the first time under similar circumstances,” I say. “This time I’m thinking I might write about it, you know, to help process the whole thing.” I mention my part-time gig as a newspaper columnist. “Here, let me get your email address,” David says, giving me a pen and pulling a bookmark out of his mushroom guide. It’s a blue square piece of paper with a logo design featuring the DaVinci “Vitruvian Man” beside two words joined together: “FearlessFalling.” “This is really rich,” I say. “These two words describe what I’m going through right now, working out stuff with my wife.” “Oh, it’s a course in how to fall properly taught by a guy in Columbus, Ohio,” David says. “He teaches seniors how not to break their hips.” Fearless Falling is the official slogan for my road trip as the leader of the Cape Disappointment Survivors Club. Now there’s a name that sticks.

Mark Woytowich is a writer, photographer, video producer, and author of Where Waterfalls and Wild Things Are. He lives in Potlatch, Wash., with his wife. His “On the Trail” outdoors column appears every other week in the Mason CountyShelton Journal.


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Bethlehem’s Mix of Christians and Muslims BY RICK STEVES

As we've had to postpone our travels because of the pandemic, I believe a dose of travel dreaming can be good medicine. Here’s a reminder of the fun that awaits us at the other end of this crisis. Lots of tourists go to Palestine, but I’d estimate that 90 percent of them do it in a rush from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square. (Bethlehem is just over the wall that separates Israel and Palestine, about six miles away.) They then return directly to Israel without spending a single shekel in restaurants or hotels in the West Bank. Obviously, there’s much more to experience in this country. While the region’s hardscrabble vibe may be a bit too edgy for some Americans, it’s amazing how after a couple of days in Palestine, you feel right at home. Walking through the wall from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, all you need is your passport. Palestine uses Israeli currency. Just cross the border and haggle with the taxis, and after spending about $5 and


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10 minutes, you’re looking at the spot where Jesus was born. If there were no border or traffic to deal with, you could bicycle from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 15 minutes. If you come, you’ll find that Bethlehem is no longer just the “little town” of “Christmas Carol” fame. It’s a leading Palestinian city—the city sprawls and is almost indiscernible from greater Jerusalem. It’s not a pretty town. Most homes and businesses stand behind security walls and fences. But Bethlehem has a special energy and a very cool Arabic vibe, especially in the early evening. The Arab market is colorful. And the skyline is a commotion of both crescents and crosses, a reminder that the town, while almost totally Arab, remains a mix of Muslims and Christians. Not all Arabs are Muslims, a fact that surprises some. When meeting an Arab Christian, many Western tourists ask when the family converted. The answer is usually, “About 2,000 years ago, back when Jesus’ disciples were doing missionary work around here.” Another surprise is on Bethlehem’s main square. For more than 100 years, the Mosque of Omar has shared Manger


Square with the Church of the Nativity. Jesus and Mary are both a big deal for Muslims. I had a joyous interview with an imam after filming a prayer service in his mosque. He explained, “Bethlehem is holy for Muslims as well as Christians. For Muslims, Jesus is a major prophet. We also revere Mother Mary. In fact, an entire chapter in the Quran is named for her.” We sat cross-legged on the carpet of his mosque for an interview. I asked him to let me hear how he talks to God, but in English, and his prayer literally brought me to tears. As we hugged, I could feel the pull of Islam. Across the square in the Church of the Nativity, Christian pilgrims waited to touch, kiss, and pray upon the spot where Jesus is believed to have been born. In 326 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine sent his mother, St. Helena, to establish three churches in the Holy Land: Church of the Nativity, Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus was crucified), and one on the Mount of Olives (where Jesus ascended into heaven). Today, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is the oldest because the others were destroyed, then rebuilt. It is regarded as the oldest Christian church in daily use. While our image of “no room at the inn” is brick and wood, the “inn” of Bible fame was very likely a series of caves. And “no room” likely meant that a woman about to give birth would not be welcome in the main quarters, as birth, like menstruation, was considered an unclean thing. Mary was sent out to give birth to

Jesus in the manger cave, where the animals hung out. So a cavern beneath the church—the Grotto of the Nativity—is the focal point of your visit. You take the steps by the church altar down into what’s been regarded since the second century as the site of Christ’s birth. A silver star in the floor marks the spot. I’m glad when visiting Bethlehem I didn’t just blitz in for a quickie from Jerusalem. After a couple of days in Palestine, I was really impressed by how much fun it was to simply be there. There’s a resilience, a welcoming spirit, and a warmth that is striking. While I didn’t see many Americans overnighting (except for a few Christian and political tour groups), everywhere we went, we’d hear, over and over, “Welcome to Palestine.” It was as if people just were thrilled they had a name for their country and someone from the outside was here to see it. Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook. Cave of Milk Grotto church in Bethlehem.

Above: In Bethlehem, the Mosque of Omar with its towering minaret shares Manger Square with the Church of the Nativity (photo by Rick Steves); below: View of Bethlehem in the Palestinian Authority from the Hill of David.

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Good Things Come in Small Packages

How to Downsize Your Traditional Holiday Dinner BY REBECCA CRICHTON

Many of us realize that our holiday festive meals might not be the same this year. Unless you live with other people or have a large enough “bubble” to feel comfortable gathered around a table with the familiar faces and foods of holidays past, you might feel stymied at what you will be making and eating this season. Don’t despair, there are ample ways to cook for yourself and one or two others without giving up the sense of the traditional. As always, use the Internet to


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find variations on the foods that make holiday meals special for you. Remember Cornish game hens? They were popular in the 50’s and 60’s and seem to be making a comeback, although they never really left. Small chickens, less than 2 lbs. each, can serve one or two people. They are easy to prepare, don’t require a course in carving, and give everybody white and dark meat. (Below I offer a unique baste for roast Rock Cornish hen.) Every year there seems to be new varieties of squash to add color, health and flavor to fall meals. Several have edible skin, and many can be used as a side dish, an appetizer, even incorporated into a dessert. And no holiday meal would be complete without cranberries! As soon as I see cranberries in the stores, I know the holidays are nearing. Think about what you have loved eating and sharing at a more “normal” holiday dinner of the past and be creative in adapting it, whether it’s a special meal just for you or a few friends and family, and start a new tradition.


Rock Cornish Hen Recipe Ideas These small chickens often show up fresh in November and are usually available frozen yearround. Like chicken, you can roast, grill, broil, poach, smoke, and fry them. And you can impart flavor through a variety of spices and seasonings. Martha Stewart has some excellent recipes and so do most of the popular food websites including Epicurious, Food & Wine, and Allrecipes. Here is a baste I have used for many years that will return to my table this year.

Orange-Honey Baste Enough for one bird. Increase recipe as necessary. Ingredients • 1 Rock Cornish hen • 2-4 Tbsp. butter, melted • 2 cloves crushed garlic • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon • 1 Tsp. ground cumin • ¼ cup orange juice • 3 Tsp. honey Directions • Preheat oven to 400 degrees • Melt butter and add other ingredients over heat • Keep warm as chicken roasts • Baste every quarter hour

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• Bake 1 hour and check for internal temperature of 165 degrees and for the juices to run clear Makes 1-2 servings.

Delicata or Kabocha Squash with Pears Both Delicata and Kombucha can be cut and roasted (smaller squash is easier to cut and are more tender.) Ingredients • 1 or 2 Delicata Squash or 1 small Kabocha cut in half rounds • 1 or 2 ripe pears (Anjou, Bartlett, or Red) • 2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup or pomegranate molasses • 2 Tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin spice mix Directions • Preheat oven to 350 degrees • Cut squash in half vertically • Scoop out seeds • Depending on size of squash leave halved or cut into half rounds

• Peel and halve pears and cut into long slices • Arrange pears either in squash halves or draped over rounds • Drizzle butter and syrup mixture over everything (you can also toss pieces in bowl with baste) • Bake for 45 minutes, turning over if in rounds • Squash should be easily pierced with a fork or knife Serve warm; makes 1-2 servings.

Versatile Cranberries As always, the Internet is a treasure trove for cranberry recipes and snacking ideas. You will be surprised of the many ways they can be used. • Add fresh cranberries to dressings and baked goods for a tart surprise and added texture. • Cranberries cook easily for sauces and chop well for salsas. • Dried cranberries are great in salads, baked goods or mixed with nuts, chocolates bits, or on a cheese plate.

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Lou Gossett Jr. in




hen we first meet the character of Luis Garcia in the 2020 film The Cuban, we see a dour, silent man isolated from others, locked in a seemingly impenetrable state of dementia. The new aide attending to him in a Canadian nursing home is warned that Mr. Garcia does not engage with other people. In fact, he’s openly hostile to them. But young Mina, the idealistic pre-med student charged with feeding and shaving him won’t give up so easily on making real contact. And when she discovers that Mr. Garcia was a professional musician in his native Cuba, she soon finds ways to connect with his vibrant culture and unleash his vivid personality—even though Mina gets little support from her disapproving boss. Though The Cuban occasionally slips into a rather formulaic us vs. them mode, the warmhearted movie is greatly enriched by the actor so powerfully embodying Mr. Garcia’s transformation—Louis Gossett Jr., the Oscar

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

award-winning Hollywood veteran. A hale and hearty 84, Gossett is practicing his craft with his customary skill and finesse after more than 60 years in a profession he still approaches with zest. “I started out acting at 16,” said the affable Gossett, in a recent phone conversation from his home in Atlanta. “For me, this is not work. I’ve never worked a day in my life! It’s a joy for an artist to understand what a character is about, to visit that person.”


Gossett is probably the best known for his riveting turn as a hard-driving Army drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman, the film that earned him the Academy Award in 1982. But his credits are extensive and wide-ranging, from roles in the original Broadway play and film A Raisin in the Sun opposite Sidney Poitier, and the groundbreaking tele-series about American slavery, Roots, to parts in Marvel action pictures, and a notable 2019 turn as a mysterious man on a mission in the acclaimed HBO sci-fi series, Watchmen. For his stellar work in The Cuban, the Brooklyn native, a proud father and grandfather, tapped his own life experience for some inspiration. “My great grandmother, who died at about age 117, was very important in my life,” he said. Though she was “very much present” in her later years, Gossett strongly believes funds for Alzheimer’s research and care “should be doubled, tripled. We need to get as close to our elders as possible, not as far away. We need their wisdom.” In the movie, Mina uses recordings of Cuban jazz to spark Mr. Garcia’s positive memories. Gossett felt a personal connection there too. Growing up in a multiethnic community, he was receptive to an array of cultural influences. “The music of Joe Cuba, Tito Puente, Chito Rodriguez, Willie Bobo—that was our prom music,” he said. “We danced the cha-cha-cha, the merengue. It’s fantastic music and we loved it all. When I heard that music again for the film I went back to my high school days. It was a real organic remembrance.” Gossett also enjoyed the intergenerational aspect of The Cuban and the chance to play opposite Ana Golja, the actress who as Mina forms a sweet bond with his character. “Ana is amazing,” he effused. “That’s a Judy Garland—she sings, dances, acts. She’s a triple threat, a dynamo.” From his vantage point, Gossett sees age, race and other differences as false divisions in our society. To promote his credo of “peace and dignity for all,” he founded The Eracism Foundation. Its mission: “to provide training for youth and adults alike that enrich their lives by assisting them in setting the example for living a racially diverse and culturally inclusive life.” “Age is a curse word these days,” Gossett

Aging with Confidence

lamented. “But everything that is good in us is mutual, what we donate to a big melting pot. I want to shake people and say, ‘Wake up! It’s not racial or political anymore. It’s our mutual salvation.’”

Photos Courtesy of Brainstorm Media

Though he has long been a proponent of civil rights, Gossett said, “I don’t like that word minority. Everybody’s an American. The promises of the Constitution are written in blood by our forefathers. Black Lives Matter is extremely important but it’s only step one. We can’t assume the language of the oppressor. We have to live in the solution now and behave toward our neighbors in the way we want the world to be.” Meanwhile, Gossett is ready to embrace more acting challenges and looks forward to his next “visit” with a compelling character. Asked what kind of roles he’d like to add to his esteemed repertoire, he mentions two: legendary civil rights leaders “who are leaving us now, like Rep. John Lewis.” And, on the other end of the spectrum, a nemesis of Agent 007: “I’d like to play a James Bond villain,” he declared with a chuckle. “I’d like to play a real bad guy who Bond escapes just by the hair of his chinny chin chin.” 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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A smoky sunrise over the Cascade Mountains.

OUR L ATEST NORMAL September 11, 2020: We were pressed not to go outside. Fans and filters stirred the gritty air, rebuffed endlessly by closed doors and windows, an anomaly for our formerly normal, beautiful, blue, September skies. Close the doors and windows? Obtain yet another kind of mask. “We are a little out of our minds,” my wife observed dryly. It was the anniversary of 9/11, the seventh month of the pandemic, and an AQI—that’s the air quality— reading of 197, inching toward red. A purple plume from Portland, Ore., the cumulative murk from raging wildfires, was shown to drift our way. We were packed for our vacation, now delayed. In September, dread was thick in the air as a chaotic election loomed, COVID-19 raged on, and climate change had been recast as a crisis. It was all norm-defying. Pondering when I had felt like this before, I recalled the 1980s with its buffet of devastations. President Reagan seemed about to launch the nuclear Armageddon he was obsessed with and that wouldn’t do. So with a group of women, randomly formed, I organized and mapped,


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021

and raised some money, and started dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. walking across the country for peace. Archival footage showed the smashed, We walked along the tracks of the scorched cities, the agonies of radiation White Train that carried the nuclear poisoning. The footage was graphic, warheads that armed the Trident the suffering unadorned. We didn’t submarines stationed at know that in our audience BY HOLLIS that night were several the Bangor submarine base GIAMMATTEO World War II veterans, on Hood Canal that were, in turn, dispatched from the Pantex tasked with addressing the Hiroshima Plant in Amarillo, Texas. We would hold and Nagasaki aftermath. We had not vigils in small towns and cities along the done our homework. tracks, with lit candles and brandished Halfway through the film, jeers signs. We would talk about the train, erupted. Boots shuffled, scrambling show a film, run a workshop. We were for the doors. We, too, found ourselves passionate, rigid with conviction. angr y and of fended, unable to I am remembering the night in comprehend the mood’s swift turn. Matfield Green, Kansas, a town, then, But we were also incurious. Why did we of 71; a town reduced, in 2010, to remain so? It was our undoing, this lack 47. We had shown up, typically red- of curiosity not only for other peoples’ faced and exhausted, having hauled lives, but also for ourselves. Why did we ourselves and two carts our requisite not question the role of our emotions 20 miles. All I knew was we had a as they drove trajectory and outcome? couple of hosts offering beds for the We had failed to stop the White Train of night, and two sponsors, the former and in ourselves. recruited by the latter, all unknown. It got very out of hand. One of There would be a potluck dinner, us cowered by a tractor wheel, one followed by a film screening and talk. implored for calm. Phyllis, our host The film was a documentary about the for the night, spewed scripture as her Hibakusha, survivors of the bombs husband, livid, had cinched his lips into a www.3rdActMag.com

thin, white line. They, this farm couple, would fulfill their pledge of hospitality after this botched and wounding evening.

triggered a feeling of empowerment. Over time, the work evolved to address climate change and socioeconomic collapse.

THE WORK In addition to the ill-received documentary about the Hibakusha, we had intended to offer a workshop. It was called “Despair and Empowerment,” work developed in the late 1970s by Joanna Macy, Buddhist scholar, environmental activist, and author. Hers was a uniquely spiritual and emotional approach and it drew on the power of connecting people to their deep caring. She had been observing a strange malaise in reaction to the threat of nuclear war. “What,” she asked, “is under the denial?” She recognized its deadening weight, its destruction of the capacity to live fully. Allowing the underlying despair could open one to tenderness. The shift from personal identification with one’s pain to compassion for the world’s suffering

THE WORK REVISITED We never made it to the workshop portion of the evening that night in Matfield Green. If I could do it over, I’d tell the walkers to “do your homework.” Know the town and the people as best you can. Anticipate that initially all of us will meet in a quagmire of preconceptions, and that the job is to listen. Always be grateful. Walk in the spirits of Gandhi, John Lewis, Martin Luther King. Keep to those high standards. But who had time for that? If every step could be taken with care, with that quality of care, and just the tiniest, occasional oopsie of righteousness, well, wouldn’t heads turn? “Of all the dangers we face from climate chaos to nuclear war,” Macy has opined, “none is so great as the

deadening of our response.” That’s what I’m exploring here. We are a little out of our minds. Asked to hold steady in a buffeted world, the task is to not numb, to pry ourselves open to the love and the losses over and over again— to the birds dying in great numbers and vacations cancelled to wedding celebrations postponed indefinitely. Joy crumbles and faith is given a workout. And yet, I’ll go about my day—a trip to Staples for printer paper and pens, then to Total Wine for you know what. In a burst of enthusiasm, I may take my new Bermuda madras shorts up to the tailor for hemming. I’ll walk the dog, happy that I have to. I’ll pick at a strand recalled from Samuel Beckett: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” 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 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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| 3rd Act magazine 61



e really know how to traumatize our kids in this country. Today’s American school children practice “active shooter” drills. My generation had “duck and cover,” diving under our desks and putting our hands over our heads in the event of a nuclear attack. Growing up a child of the Cold War was an anxiety-producing experience. “Nukes” were on everyone’s mind at that time and we didn’t even know the half of it. In the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of U.S. military servicemen were intentionally exposed to radiation from nuclear bomb tests. These Atomic Veterans suffered physically and emotionally for years—all completely hidden from public view and scrutiny by our government and the reluctance of those affected to speak out. This may explain why I knew none of this until reading Dorothy Van Soest’s upcoming novel, Nuclear Option. Nuclear Option pulls much from Van Soest’s own nuclear

activism and gives startling insight into an activist’s psyche. The story’s protagonist is 77-yearold Sylvia Jensen, an active antinuclear activist in the 1980s who finds herself reluctantly pulled into the nuclear politics of 2019. Van Soest reminds us that heroines come in all ages and pulls no punches as she weaves a story of love, loss, rage, and redemption. Author Dorothy Van Soest is a professor emerita and former dean at the University of Washington. Nuclear Option, her third Sylvia Jensen mystery, is out in December. You can preorder it on Amazon.com.



inner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship makes you hungry, makes you want to know this charming man, a gentleman nearing age 100 who keeps on actively living and working—in other words, finding purpose. The book makes you want to visit Manhattan and its butchers, markets, and delis. It makes you want to change into your casual clothes, get rid of less interesting, yet necessary chores, and dive into the kitchen to create meals that make you and your loved ones happy and connected. This is a charming, slender memoir, about more than a year’s worth of dinners and conversations between Edward, a widow, and Isabel, a New York Post reporter in middle age. The story, ostensibly about preparing and sharing food,


(Puzzles on page 64)

Change a Letter 1. C—Cell, Cable, Camper 2. J—Jail, Jingle, Jacket 3. R—Rookie, Reach, Rhyme 4. G—Gnarled, Glue, Germs 5. S—Slight, Sense, Soot 6. Q—Quest, Quite, Quilt 7. T—Timed, Touch, Twine 8. G—Grate, Golf, Goal 9. D—Deaf, Drain, Drafty 10. W—Wasp, Wraps, Whopper

is truly about a deep friendship and swapping stories that are important as life lessons. Edward has recently lost his wife, Paula, of 69 years of marriage, and Isabel goes through a difficult divorce and moves twice during the book’s timeframe. The prose is clear and straightforward, with short paragraphs and chapters, and the memoir is Edward—not Isabel—centered. Although a relatively quick read, it is full of substance.

What a Pair 1. Red Sox and Yankees 2. Meat and Potatoes 3. Bed and Breakfast 4. Fish and Chips 5. Apples and Oranges 6. Cat and Mouse

7. Soap and Water 8. Milk and Honey 9. Arm and Hammer 10 Stars and Stripes 11. Bacon and Eggs 12. Night and Day

Looking for Love 1. Olive 2. Solve 3. Vowel 4. Novel, Hovel 5. Evolve 6. Loaves, Louver 7. Grovel, Shovel 8. Revolt 9. Develop

10. Violent, Violets 11. Novelty 12. Elevator 13. Loveseat, Lovesick, Lovelorn, Loveless, Lovebird 14. Boulevard 15. Marvelous 16. Voicemail

In some cases, other correct answers are possible.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020/2021


Aging with Confidence

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

Change a Letter (easy)

Change the first letter of the three words in each list to create three new words that all start with the same letter. For example, given the words whine, plant, and reason, what one letter can replace the first letter of each word to make three new words? The answer is S—shine, slant, and season. 1. Bell, Fable, Pamper________________________________

6. Guest, Suite, Built_________________________________

2. Mail, Mingle, Racket________________________________

7. Aimed, Pouch, Swine_______________________________

3. Cookie, Peach, Thyme_____________________________

8. Irate, Wolf, Coal___________________________________

4. Snarled, Blue, Terms_______________________________

9. Leaf, Brain, Crafty_________________________________

5. Flight, Dense, Boot________________________________

10. Gasp, Traps, Shopper______________________________

What a Pair (harder)

Harvard and Yale, Thunder and Lightning, Coke and Pepsi are all common pairs...but what about Wonder and Perrier? If you redefine Wonder and Perrier correctly, you’ll come up the more familiar pairing Bread and Water. How many familiar pairs can you make from the clues below? 1 Scarlet hosiery and Union soldiers ________________________________________________

7. Ivory and Poland Spring ________________________________________________

2. Steak or chicken and Yukon golds ________________________________________________

8. Cow juice and bee juice ________________________________________________

3. Sleeping furniture and the morning meal ________________________________________________

9. Upper limb and nail-driving tool ________________________________________________

4. Flounder and Fritos ________________________________________________

10. Movie actors and zebra pattern ________________________________________________

5. Macintoshes and navels ________________________________________________

11. Oscar Meyer strips and free-range jumbo hen fruit ________________________________________________

6. Garfield and Mickey ________________________________________________

12. 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ________________________________________________

Looking for Love (hardest)

Each word in this list is missing all its letters except L-O-V-E. Can you fill the blank spaces with letters that make a common English word? For a more vigorous brain exercise, try to solve this quiz in three minutes.

1. OL __ VE

5. __ __ OLVE

9. __ __ VELO _

13. LOVE __ __ __ __

2. __ OLVE

6. LO __ VE __

10. V __ OLE __ __

14. __ O __ LEV __ __ __

3. VO __ EL

7. __ __ OVEL

11. __ OVEL __ __

15. __ __ __ VELO _ _

4. __ OVEL

8. __ EVOL __

12. EL __ V __ __ O __

16. VO __ __ E __ __ __ L

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 her newest book, 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 | winter 2020/2021



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