C3 — Curtains up on Ken Dalena’s stage directorial debut
C4 — Diana & George Schuler tackle their “No Tomorrow” List
C7 — A new face at the Lynden Community/Senior Center
C3 — Curtains up on Ken Dalena’s stage directorial debut
C4 — Diana & George Schuler tackle their “No Tomorrow” List
C7 — A new face at the Lynden Community/Senior Center
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
LYNDEN — It’s fair to say that theater has always been an important part of Ken Dalena’s life. However, once he finished with college and started working, Dalena didn’t return to the stage until retirement.
Now in his 70s, Dalena has a varied list of credits. He’s played a vampire hunter, the brother of an accused murderer, a priest, detective, homeless man, even the King of France.
Currently, Dalena is directing his first play: ‘You Can’t Take It With You,’ at The Claire Theater in Lynden.
“Our team scores points when we amuse and delight the audience. That is our game,” said Dalena, who likened himself more as a coach than director. “The actors are the athletes in the arena. My job is to give them a game plan, hone their skills and develop their talent. Your applause is our score board.”
Sue Dodson, who is playing Penny Sycamore in this production, said Dalena is a “very hard-working part of the theatre, and truly loves the stage and those involved in it.”
“He has spent a lot of time studying what the professional theaters do in an effort to elevate the local theater productions and participants,” Dodson said. “His methods tend to show his military background, but the love of the craft is what has driven him into the director’s chair. He truly wants ‘You Can’t Take it With You’ to be an amazing show, and so do we all.”
At 19, Dalena quit college and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. A Viet Nam combat veteran with a Purple Heart, Dalena said because his goal in the service was to save lives, he developed “a forceful management style that has both served me well and created some resentment.”
“At one point I had a tiff with the cast (of ‘You Can’t Take it With You’), and they let me know I was being too harsh,” he said. “Things are better now, as while I am an old dog, I am learning new tricks. I am
With several plays under his belt, as well as performances in television and movies, Ken Dalena is currently directing Lynden Performing Arts Guild’s latest production, You Can’t Take It With You, at The Claire Theater in Lynden. (Bill Helm/Lynden Tribune)
Since his retirement in 2007, Ken Dalena has pursued his lifelong love of theater by acting in plays, television and movies. (Photos courtesy Ken Dalena)
FERNDALE — Diana Schuler does not have a bucket list. For her, it’s a No Tomorrow List.
One of the things on the list of the Ferndale resident and retired postmaster is skydiving.
“Both my children have been many times and love it,” she said recently.
However, Schuler’s husband George doesn’t have skydiving on his list.
This is definitely on that list but not (husband) George’s.
Diana (Ehlers) Schuler grew up in southern California’s San Fernando Valley, the oldest of six children. She attended school with actress Valerie Bertinelli. Her career started at age 20 with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in California. With a few moves —from California to Washington’s Bellingham, Sedro Woolley, then Ferndale — she continued her career until retirement at 56.
Diana’s first marriage to Ree Ehlers of 23 years ended when he died suddenly. With a 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, she became a single parent in her 40s.
She met George at an active Christian singles group and married in 2012. The Schulers then gained what Diana calls 50 happy pounds.
“I was 277 pounds,” Schuler said. At her peak, Schuler weighed 295 pounds. Since age 20 she had been gaining weight and had tried different weight loss plans but “usually the weight came back and brought its friends.” As a widow, that also brought on more weight with the grief and stress.
George, 5-foot 7-inches, had worked in the automotive industry. When Diana decided to lose weight George also wanted to lose weight. His snacks at the time, she said, were comprised mainly of pizza, peanut M & Ms and ice cream.
“I asked Dana (her friend) if she got paid for coaching,” George said. So Dana coached the pair. George lost 80 pounds in five months and by Feb. 1, 2021, he was off of the program and has maintained the weight loss.
Diana lost 127 pounds
in 15 months but has continued with the program. Life has gone from being more sedentary and sitting on the couch to being really active, Diana said.
Life to Diana is experiences. Getting together with the singles group, making memories with her grandchildren, volunteering at the Foothills Food Bank and bringing firewood to veterans, riding motorcycle with the Warriors of Faith motorcycle group and American Legion No. 7.
“I’m not into things,” she said. “You can’t take it with you.” While COVID-19 restricted many activities, the Schulers traveled either on their bikes or their motor home. “There are no guarantees,” Diana said. “Don’t wait. Do it now.”
They’ve traveled stateside as well as overseas.
One trip grew from around three weeks to 86 days and 13 countries: Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, the Vatican, and Slovenia. Spain and Portugal originally were going to be included but going to Croatia changed that plan.
Diana Schuler decided and her husband George agreed that it was time to lose weight. Diana lost more than 100 pounds, George lost 80. As active as the couple was before losing weight, being lighter has made travel - and life - better. (Photo courtesy Diane and George Schuler)
“I loved it,” she said. “Just to be there and be a part.”
It was the colorful Christmas markets that stretched the trip into the holiday season. They didn’t go to just one but several in different countries with the favorite in Esslingen, Germany full of medieval traditions.
Off they went with backpacks, a rolling suitcase, a day pack, and looks of pictures but few souvenirs. Every three to four days they would move.
To save on money, they ate out little and took food in one carrier. Diana still checked in with those she was coaching, no matter where they were. They worked in rest time and didn’t take the non-stop approach to seeing everything. They jumped onto buses and trains, ferries, drove in six of the countries, and did plenty of walking.
Since they experienced one 24-hour train ride, the Schulers decided to forgo it the next time for a shorter plane ride to give George a break, Diana said.
One memorable part of the trip was hearing of Denzel Washington filming in their vicinity on the Amalfi Coast and then taking the car ferry ride took them from Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia on the coast in just under 12 hours. Unlike the ferries in Washington, these
ferries were more upscale.
Diana said she was impressed with tablecloths in the dining area and velvet seats. They stayed in a two-berth cabin but others were sleeping in the coffee/bar lounge. Together it cost $230 for both of them.
Another must for Diana was Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park and garden in Copenhagen, Demark. It is the most visited amusement park in Scandinavia, per a 2016 Tivoli annual report. Other special moments were the secret chairlift on the island of Capri, without much in the way of safety equipment, Disneyland Paris, and meeting the mostly friendly people along the way.
The Schulers saved on costs by stopping at food stalls and grocery stores to make most of their own meals. One surprise was the meat in Europe tends to be leaner than in the U.S., she said. The pair also allowed enough space in their schedule to be flexible.
The weather also was a bit unexpected and it snowed in Croatia but was warmer the following week the next week as the journey progressed in Copenhagen.
Evenings included around two hours of sorting photos and posting with commentary initially on social media. Several months later is finishing that task, she said and laughed. She didn’t want to forget the memories. Her perspective changed too: so many people in Europe living in 500-year-old houses and watching other tourists appearing demanding. “Many there are happy with little and so generous.”
The postal person in her picked up post cards to send to friends. The most expensive postage was in the Vatican at $3 for a stamp.
They returned to California with a 17-day stint in Mexico to enjoy a favorite place and to be with her former mother-in-law who is still part of her life.
Diana may be retired from the post office, but she still works as a substitute bus driver and is a health coach.
“I encourage,” Diana said. “There’s no product, no sales.” She enjoys seeing people meet their personal goals such as shopping in their closet, being able to zip up a jacket.
Diana also met her initial goal of “being able to tie my shoes and breathe, not use the CPAP machine (at night), and I’m no longer pre-diabetic.”
include replacing the old bath mat and replacing it with a new one with fresh rubber backing. Textured decals for the bath floor reduce slipping. Properly installing grab bars in strategic places helps to provide balance.
Are you starting out the new year with resolutions and goals to be more organized? As early in the year as possible is a great time to start preparing your home for safety by cleaning out closets and storage areas and reorganizing what’s left.
Reducing clutter in your home has a big impact on its safety. Here are a few inexpensive suggestions to start.
A sobering fact is that falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death for seniors over 65. The bathroom is one of the busiest rooms in the house and a common area for falls to happen.
Slippery floors from the shower are hazardous. Small bath rugs can be easy to trip over. Inexpensive solutions
Stacks of books, piles of paper, pet toys and loose cords on the floor are tripping dangers. Getting things off the floor and into baskets, bins, or thrown out will make the house tidy and reduces the chances of falling.
Loose cords from the television, computers and floor lamps can be hazardous. Make sure that they are out of traffic areas.
Have you checked your lightbulbs lately? Bright lights are important for tasks and hobbies like cooking, reading and working on the latest Sudoku puzzle.
Make sure your bulbs are fresh and the lighting is positioned over the work area for the best visibility. Don’t fumble for the light switch anymore by adding lighted or motion sensor light switches.
Adding motion sensor lights to stairs, closets and hallways helps navigate the midnight trips to the bathroom and kitchen safely. Under counter lights in the kitchen
makes preparing food easier and safe.
Is your address on the street visible and easy to read? Is there a light over your front door? In case of an accident, emergency services will be looking for your home - make sure they can find it easily.
Staying at home after retirement is the plan for many of us. It’s essential to keep it safe for you, your family, and your friends.
Use these tips to find inexpensive solutions that will improve your home by minimizing tripping and slipping hazards, providing good lighting and making sure your house can be found by emergency services.
Aging in place by design is creating and implementing, a plan that will add safety improvements to your home for lasting independence and comfort.
-- Susie Landsem is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Aging in Place is a lifestyle choice of staying in your home safely, comfortably and independently – for as long as possible. It describes how you want to live today and in the future. Aging in place by design is creating a plan for using building solutions and design elements to add safety improvements to your home for lasting independence and comfort.
Aging in place by design is creating and implementing, a plan that will add safety improvements to your home for lasting independence and comfort
LYNDEN — What’s new at the Lynden Community/Senior Center? Funny you should ask.
You will see a new face at the welcome desk as we recently hired Suzan Brawnlyn as the new welcome desk/activity assistant. Suzan is eager to keep us busy with engaging speakers for our FYI Tuesdays, BINGO on Wednesdays, and fun entertainment after lunch on Fridays.
Suzan is continuing to work on building our line-up of instructors for arts and exercise. The Board and staff are excited to add Suzan to our team at the center.
Pinochle and bridge are seeing renewed interest at the center. There is pinochle on Monday after lunch and five-handed pinochle Tuesday after lunch.
Bridge is just getting going on Thursdays after lunch. I don’t know much about these games, but from the uproarious laughter coming from the players, it is fun.
A goal at the center has been to increase outreach to the broader community. That being said, we are hosting a free advance care planning workshop on Feb. 28. From 6-8 p.m., PeaceHealth advance care planning coordinators will lead you through an interactive workshop called Your Voice, Your Choice. They will guide you through completing your advance directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare.
These are necessary documents, such as a will or life insurance, that none of us want to use anytime soon, but are so important to have in place if we do need them. We hope many of you take the opportunity to attend the workshop.
This workshop is open to all ages.
In March, the center will be one of the hosts of What’s Next: Resources as We Age. This info fair is sponsored by Signature Healthcare at Home and will feature vendors relating to senior living options, caregiving, dementia support and financial services.
Our goal is for people to receive information on the various resources to help with planning for future and present needs, not only for themselves, but their families and loved ones.
Presenters will include Northwest Regional Council (NWRC) whose role it is to coordinate support for seniors, people with disabilities, and people with complex medical issues.
Whatcom County 911 Public Education Coordinator, Michelle Thomas, will also present on what to expect when calling 911, scams targeting seniors, and have recommendations for personal alarms.
This info fair travels on Fridays in March to Bellingham, Blaine, Lynden and Fern-
Suzan Brawnlyn recently joined the Lynden Community/Senior Center as welcome desk/activity assistant. Suzan is eager to keep us busy with engaging speakers for our FYI Tuesdays, BINGO on Wednesdays, and fun entertainment after lunch on Fridays.
(Bill Helm/Lynden Tribune)
dale. March 24 is Lynden’s turn. Visit lyndencommunitycenter.org for more information.
Our annual volunteer recognition lunch is held every April during National Volunteer Week. This event is one of my favorite things we do at the center.
Just so you know, in 2022 we tracked our volunteer hours. We had 80 volunteers donate 5,557 hours of service to the center. At the 2022 minimum wage of $14.49 that is a contribution of $80,520.93, and I know a few volunteers slipped by us and didn’t get tracked.
If you are interested in being part of that effort, please stop by the center. One need is someone to put flyers up around town for our upcoming events and activities.
I can’t believe I have been the manager of the center for almost 2.5 years now. We continue to thrive at the center. Our attendance has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, our meal program brings joy to many, we continue to honor the past but leave room to grow and change.
We strive, every day, to be the place you want to be, for information, for lunch with friends, for fitness, for fun. At the center, you are a friend who becomes our family.
Whatcom Genealogical Society
Whatcom Genealogical Society will start its 2023 program series Monday, Feb. 13 at Pioneer Pavilion, 2007 Cherry St., Ferndale. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. program starts at 2 p.m. Speaker will be WGS member Marie Honrud. Honrud’s family roots in Whatcom County goes back to the 1880s. Her talk titled “It All Started with a T-Shirt–What’s in a Name?” will be about her father, Charles Bailey, who fought in WWll. No experience in genealogy is necessary to join us. First two meetings are free. Questions? Email WGS President Lynda Lucas at email@example.com or Cindy Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PO Box 1493, Bellingham, WA 982271493. E-mail: whatcomgenesoc@gmail. com.
Reminisce with Allan and Carol Linde Visit the Lynden Community/Senior Center for a concert with Reminisce, featuring Allan and Carol Linde. They will play music from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s with fiddle, guitar and song on Feb. 17 at the Lynden Community/Senior Center. Music will be from country to pop standards. Come for lunch and stay for the concert, which begins at 12:45 p.m. Call (360) 354-2921 or email info@ lyndencommunitycenter.org for more information or to register. The Lynden
Community/Senior Center is at 401 Grover St.
February birthday party - community party
If you were born in February, the Lynden Community/Senior Center wants to celebrate you on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. After lunch is a special dessert and time of celebration. Lynden Community/Senior Center celebrates birthdays for each month on the last Thursday of the month, so make sure to join us when it’s your birthday. The Lynden Community/Senior Center is at 401 Grover St. For more information, call (360) 354-2921 or email info@
Phishing with Gabriel Souza
At 12:45 p.m. Feb. 28, at the Lynden Community/Senior Center, Gabriel Souza will discuss email and phone phishing; how to handle them, what to expect and what they look like or sound like, so you won’t be caught. Call (360) 354-2921 or email email@example.com for more information or to register. The Lynden Community/ Senior Center is at 401 Grover St.
Connections with Caregiving
Mariah Davis, NWRC Outreach Specialist, will host a virtual open house for people interested in becoming
in-home caregivers. Davis will provide information about the hiring process through Consumer Direct WA (CDWA), referrals to Medicaid-contract agencies, answer questions about in-home caregiving, and provide resources and support for those trying to work through the process. Everyone is welcome, registration not required, so join us virtually at https://us06web.zoom. us/j/82158626557. Meeting ID: 821 5862 6557.
The Lynden Parkinson Support group meets at 10 a.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Lynden Community/ Senior Center, 401 Grover St. Please come to learn and share your experi-
ences of all things Parkinson’s with the group. The group looks forward to meeting you and your caregiver. Questions, call 360-354-1137.
Grief Share is a support group that meets weekly where you will find a warm, caring environment of people who walk with you on your journey through grief after losing a loved one to death. This group will help you find healing and hope for your future. Meetings are for 13 consecutive weeks, Jan. 21 through April 15 in the corner classroom at North County Christ the King Church, 1816 18th St., Lynden, from 10 a.m. until noon Saturdays. Email sandra.smith@ ncctk.com for more information.
finding the right temperament to be a theater director.”
Stage has Dalena’s heart
Although he’s also worked in television and film, it’s the stage that has Dalena’s heart.
“I have always been a theater guy,” Dalena said a week before ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ opened Feb. 9 at The Claire.
The Claire had previously been scheduled to perform ‘I Hate Hamlet’ but replaced it with ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ when The Claire Board of Directors selected ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ from a slate that included ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile,’ by Steve Martin, and ‘Don’t Drink the Water,’ by Woody Allen.
“Casting in December is always a challenge but after rigorous recruitment and a bit of conscription we assembled a talented cast of experienced actors and talented newcomers,” Dalena said.
Dalena acted in high school and college, Spoon River Anthology, Romeo and Juliet (he has pictures from 1964) JB and various Rams Head Productions at Stanford. When he retired at age 61 in 2007, he “immediately started taking classes” at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California “where I had been a season ticket holder for many years.”
“People there liked my acting, and that’s when it all started,” Dalena said.
Dalena said recently that Meryl Streep is his favorite actor “because of how she dissolves into a character.”
He is also a fan of “the quirky ones, John Malkovich, Christopher Walken, Toni Collette, Nicholas Cage.”
After The Repertory, Dalena enrolled in a series of voice classes with faculty from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
“My strength as an actor is my voice,” Dalena said. “I can do many things with it.”
Dalena then studied at Howard Fine acting studio, which lists A-list actors such as Salma Hayek, Gal Gadot, Will Smith and
After working in Hollywood and other southern California communities for a decade, Dalena and his wife Valerie vacationed in Whatcom County in 2016 where he said the couple “just stayed since we were looking to escape California.”
“We liked the cultural scene here as well as the proximity to Seattle and Vancouver,” Dalena said.
Recently, Dalena earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre production from Western Washington University. His senior thesis was related to coaching theater. In his director’s bio at The Claire, Dalena said he is grateful to Professor Evan Mueller “for his mentoring and for his ongoing interest in observing how the concept is used in practice.”
Twice, Dalena has performed on stage at The Claire: in 2017 as Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace, and in 2019 as the stage manager in Our Town.
“The most demanding was the stage manager,” Dalena said. “The most fun experience was playing Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ in a big old Victorian house in Hancock Park in L.A. with a group of hard-working professional actors.
According to Dalena, The Claire is a “fine, fully equipped community theater that produces quality productions.”
The Claire Theater, 655 Front St., Lynden, invites you to come out to see the Lynden Performing Arts Guild’s latest production: ‘You Can’t Take it With You.’ This show is rated PG.
Evening showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16-18 and Feb. 23-25. Matinees showtimes are 2 p.m. Feb. 19 and Feb. 26. Tickets are available at TheClaire.org, or call (360) 3544425.
Cost is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (62 and older) and students (ages 10-22), $11 for children ages 4-9.
-- Contact Bill Helm at bill@lyndentribune. com.