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Whistlestop MARCH 2012

E PRESS The Leading Information Resource for Marin's Active Aging Movement

Sharing Wisdom and Talent: One Man’s Dream Becomes Entertainment for Many By JOHN BOWMAN


arin County is blessed with many older adults who enjoy sharing their talent and wisdom with others. Sam Parry, 71, of Fairfax, is one of them. Sam is a playwright, director, actor, composer, and sculptor. He, as program director, and his wife, Shoshana, production manager, run the very popular Fairfax Theatre Company. “All of our plays are in a sense world premiers,” Sam says. “They are all local, written by me and are always family friendly.” That was his vision – to provide live family entertainment in Fairfax. There are plenty of plays for children and at least as many for adults, but few theatre companies offer work that is appropriate for all ages. Sam took over the Fairfax Players about four years ago when the previous director moved away. He invited Sam to do a play and, “I thought we’d try this little play I wrote.” That play, A Novus Annus, was part of the New Year’s Ball. It was well received, and soon Sam and Shoshana had themselves a new career. They changed the name of the organization to the Fairfax Theatre Company, and it has been building momentum ever since – three plays last year and three planned for 2012. His second play, Relativity! The Musical, was based on science and math and Sam played Albert Einstein. Most of his work now integrates math and science into the productions,

Rocky's Pantry Citrus Salad page 4

Sam and Shoshana Parry all musicals. “Once a group of kids who saw Relativity! told us that stuff they remembered from the play helped them in school with their math and science.” He hopes to take his work into schools to help kids learn more about science and math through dramatic art. One of the aspects of this theatre company that Sam loves is, “We have a wide range of actors and crew. We go from 10-year-olds up to seventy-plus. It’s so much fun.” Sam has not always been in show biz. He is a former psychologist who came from Scotland to UC Berkeley as a senior resident fellow. His area of study was cognitive development, so he fully understands the importance of having students love math and science early on. In the early ‘80s, he gave up academic life and continued on page 14

Whistlestop Board President Talks About SMART page 2

Readers Invited to Give Feedback page 15

Table of

CONTENTS 3 4 5 6 7 8/9 10 11 12 12 14

Readers Write In Bill Leeman From Rocky's Pantry Rocky Packard Ethel's Story Coaching Writers The Bird Man Whistlestop Classes Activities Calendar The Bird's Side of Marin Richard Pavek Food Allergies Jeff Stoffer, CFA, CFP® Brain Teasers Dr. Gary Gruber Grand Mom Audrey M. Fixmer

Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Inc. 930 Tamalpais Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 Chief Executive Officer, Joe O’Hehir Board of Directors President, Dennis Thompson Vice President, Terry Scussel Treasurer, Michael Rice Secretary, Michael Hingson Karen Arnold • Eleanor Delaney • Claudia Fromm Jane Lott • Debbie Mills • Lori Peterson • Bill Saul Bob Sonnenberg Whistlestop Express is a publication of the Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Inc. A 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization The Mission of Whistlestop: To promote the independence and well-being of Marin County’s older adults and individuals with disabilities to enhance their quality of life. Whistlestop Contact Information Main Number 415-456-9062 Whistlestop Fax 415-456-2858 Information & Referral Office 415-459-6700 • Whistlestop Express Editorial, Art Direction & Sales John & Val Bowman Editors 916-751-9189 • Missy Reynolds Art Director Advertising Linda Black • 415-485-6700, Ext. 306 Whistlestop Express is printed on recycled paper To be added to, or taken off, the email list for Whistlestop Express, please call 415-456-9062, ext. 141. Or send an email, with your request, your name and address to Subscriptions mailed to your home are $10/year.


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PERSPECTIVE by DENNIS THOMPSON Whistlestop Works Hard to Resolve SMART Issue


e have been providing vital lifeline services for Marin’s older adults for over 40 years. Last April, Whistlestop Express carried an article titled “Whistlestop Must Find a New Home.” The article described the predicament that we face regarding the planned construction and operation of the SMART downtown San Rafael station platform. We have been working on this issue for the past three years, meeting with both SMART staff and the City of San Rafael. We asked SMART to purchase our property and building so that we could utilize the proceeds from the sale to fund the relocation of our Active Aging Services and Programs to another central San Rafael location. SMART has gone through a series of leadership changes. After months of promising discussions with the SMART staff, we met with the current Executive Director, Farhad Mansourian, beginning in August, 2011. It became apparent that SMART had changed its position and no longer felt an obligation to purchase our building and property. Therefore, in late November, 2011, the Whistlestop Board of Directors made the decision to file a legal claim against SMART to protect the organization’s property, building, and assets. A legal claim is not a lawsuit, but rather a notification of our intention to file a lawsuit if an agreement cannot be met prior to the start of

SMART’s construction. We are very fortunate to have the donated legal services of Rod Kerr with the law firm of Kerr & Wagstaff. Mr. Kerr supports Whistlestop’s mission and has generously donated his time and expertise to help with this challenging problem. The Whistlestop Board took this protective action because SMART staff has informed us that construction in front of the Whistlestop building is planned to begin in the summer of 2013. This construction time frame gives us less than 18 months to solve this problem. Fortunately, the President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Steve Kinsey, and San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips, have stepped up to help Whistlestop find a solution. They are working on a plan to convene the various agencies — SMART, Marin Transit, Transportation Authority of Marin, Golden Gate Transit, the City of San Rafael, and Whistlestop -- to work on finding a viable solution. We will keep you informed about the progress of this effort. Many people have asked how they can help. We need your continued generosity and support to help sustain the Whistlestop programs and services through this challenging time. Community support for these lifeline services will help compel the public agencies and political leaders to find the solution. ✦ Dennis Thompson is Whistlestop Board president.

Visiting AngelsÂŽ Can Help Share the Care


WRITE IN b y B I L L L E E M A N Who Knew Yoga Could Be Such Fun?


n order to try to get rid of some of the fat that has accumulated lately around my face and neck, I figured I better do something, lest I be mistaken for a big tub o’ guts. So I accompanied my charming wife to a “gentleâ€? yoga class as a start. I figured, okay, stretch the muscles, get back into shape. Good way to begin feeling better, and will hopefully lead to the shedding of a few pounds of unsightly flab. In yoga, for those who don’t know, there are a bunch of body stretching ‘positions’, which have special names like Downward Dog, or Screaming Duck, or Ripped Achilles. You can do this either on the floor, on your mat, or against the wall, which I did. It consists of pushing your hands against the wall while simultaneously pushing your buttocks outward and keeping your feet under you so that you stretch your calves, thighs, hamstrings, buttocks, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and pecs, all in one fell swoop. I think that if you were to really concentrate in this position, you could pop a clavicle right through your chest. There was another position called Bleeding Goat, or something like that, where I was lying on the mat, and had my arms outstretched in front of my body in one of the most uncomfortable positions imaginable, when I noticed that the veins in my arm were standing out quite a bit. I thought, cool, I’m getting buff already, until I noticed my whole arm was cold. By the time I realized my circulation was cut off, my hand had turned blue. Fortunately, I was able to revert to the Herniated Yak position in time to save the appendage. There were several other positions, such as Howling Colon, that I wasn’t willing to try for fear of inducing a stroke. The class was over in about an hour, and I was expecting several ambulances to be lined up to treat the wounded, but everyone just got up and shook their arms, put away their mats, and walked out without assistance. I did the same, and actually started to feel pretty good after the hematoma marks went away. Can’t wait to go back! âœŚ Bill Leeman, who is “over sixty by several years,â€? lives in San Rafael.

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From Rocky's PANTRY

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itrus fruits have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is scientifically established that citrus fruits, especially oranges, by virtue of their richness in vitamins and minerals, have many proven health benefits. The other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds found in citrus fruits, such as phyto-chemical antioxidants and dietary fiber, are helpful in reducing risk for cancers and for many chronic diseases, like arthritis. Sliced Orange and Fennel Salad 6 Navel Oranges, peeled and sliced 3 Heads of Fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced ½ cup Oil-Cured Black Olives or Kalamata Olives 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil Black Pepper, coarsely ground Arrange the sliced oranges in concentric circles on a round platter and scatter the thinly sliced fennel over the top. Sprinkle with oil-cured olives and chopped fennel tops. Sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. âœŚ

Shred Day: March 10


histlestop is offering another confidential document shredding event Saturday, March 10, from 9 am to 2 pm in Whistlestop’s parking lot, 930 Tamalpais Ave., San Rafael. The Access Information Management Mobile Shred truck will be parked next to Whistlestop’s building. A suggested donation of $4 per carton would be greatly appreciated. âœŚ

Help Package Meals with Kids Against Hunger


histlestop is the home of a new concept where volunteers of all ages come together to help package high-nutrient meals in assembly-line format for local food shelves and children around the world. On March 17 there will be a Grand Opening and Kick-off Food-Packing Party from 11 to 1pm at Whistlestop. For more information call 456-9062 ext. 137, email, or log on to âœŚ 4

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MARCH 2012

A Woman Who Makes Room in the Circle for All by Va l B ow m a n


thel Seiderman is a woman who believes in making room in the circle for everyone. About to turn 80, Ethel has been a devoted advocate for children since she arrived in Marin in 1967. She is nationally recognized for her innovative approaches to childcare and family services. In 1973, she founded the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center, which has served as a model for other programs throughout the nation. Seiderman is the co-founder of Parent Services Project, where she served as Executive Director until November 2007. After she retired, she stayed committed to training the next generation of nonprofit leaders. She mentors many younger people and hosts The Wisdom Trust, a group of people from non-profit agencies, in her home once a month. She runs it like a salon, providing food and the space. In a video created for an event honoring her work, she explains why ‘You have to she shares as she does, look for what telling the interviewer, “I need you not to lose keeps the zip heart. We’re handing going …’ the torch to you; I’m vested in that.” Ethel has worked with poor children and their families for 58 years, serving all ethnic groups and is a board member of the Milagro Foundation. She’s working on a book called Snapshots: What Makes a Life that she plans to have published. She says her secret to a life of hope and joy is to stay engaged. “You have to look for what keeps the zip going and the zest,” she says. “Ask yourself, ‘Have I had a good life?’ If the answer is yes, then ask, ‘Do I want to continue?’ If the answer to that is yes, well, you’ve got your path. Continue to see yourself as a learner. Nurture the capacity for change; you are not dried up.” ✦

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What’s a Sun-Dial in the Shade? b y C L A U D I A

Meanwhile, I had moved to Marin County and into a lovely apartment in HUD senior housCARROLL ing. But I was terribly lonely and felt defeated s a reader-writer, and teacher of The Easy by labels assigned to aging and by a lack Way to Write and Share the Stories of Your of meaning in my life. And then I discovered Life, I treasure this BenWhistlestop's Active Aging jamin Franklin quote: “Hide Cent er. Yes, I wa s told, not your talents, they for use with enthusiasm, I could teach were made / What’s a sun-dial a class on the easy way to write in the shade?â€? one’s memoirs. At age 65, I graduated from Now, the brightest day of Harvard with a Master’s demy week is welcoming those gree in the Arts in Education, who have, to my astonishment, but found it challenging to find come to trust me with their a job. Eventually, I celebrated writing efforts in my Rememmy 70th birthday teaching brance Writing 101 Workshop. in Taiwan for a year. On reI use the word “astonishment,â€? turning, I began two writing because here I am, still on the projects — an account of my planet (I’ll turn 75 in April), year in Taiwan, and a novel. sharing my life-long writing I have recently independently and publishing experience with published these, as well as other “older, but wiserâ€? adults. children’s books, in print and At the same time, I feel that e-books under the name CJ Claudia works with Gloria North, each writer gives me far more a familiar face at Whistlestop. Carroll. than I give: his or her willingness, often despite physical and financial challenges, to show up, and write. David shares stories of the AIDS patients he has assisted in their “transition into the light;â€? A private pay skilled Mary recalls the harrowing nights spent in airnursing facility offering the raid shelters in Britain; Homa, the image of her ďŹ nest in long term care Afghan grandma’s traveling down the mountain on a mule; and Fran, her surprise 97th birthday. Hide and seek memories are summoned via the word games, such as children’s flash card images: a shoe, a whale, a balloon, a sailboat, a ball Located in the of yarn. Their stories are unique, poignant, hubeautiful hills of Tiburon morous, of historical importance, of value to the writers, their families, friends, and to their fellow writers. In fact, I’ve published a second anthology of some of their stories in a book called, Now and Then and helped others to publish their work. One of my students, Michèle, e-mailed me &OOT!CUPRESSUREs4HAI"ODY-ASSAGE recently, quoting John Quincy Adams: “To Special Senior Discount furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind.â€? Michèle said, “As a teacher, you All Services surely fit in that category.â€? In-Home Appointments Available upon Request. I feel, though, that I am the one most encour45 Camino Alto Suite 202 (2nd Floor) Mill Valley aged by the life-stories from those who trust me with their writing and sharing. âœŚ   sWWWWIXCOMPURETHAIACACU


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Whistlestop Express

MARCH 2012

Express Columnist Shares His Wisdom About Birds Through Photos b y V a l B o w m a n


eaders of the Express know Richard Pavek’s work well; he shares his photographs and whimsical bird stories in his “Bird’s Side of Marinâ€? column every month. Richard, who will turn 83 in March, says, “Except for wisdom, there is very little that we can leave behind that is lasting when we pass on.â€? He enjoys sending out beautiful photographs of birds every week to his email list of 1,200. Nearly a quarter of those have signed up after seeing his column in the Express. Richard was a commercial pilot for a time and that led to his being a ground school instructor for civilian pilots. He was also an electronics instructor in the US Air Force. Richard says he enjoys teaching, especially when he has willing subjects. “A teacher is merely a student that is sharing,â€? he says. “And I’m still doing it with every issue of the Express, where I’m merely passing on something I learned that intrigued me.â€? He developed SHEN therapy, a hands-on emotional release therapy that can help people heal from trauma. He has traveled extensively sharing his knowledge and training people on this technique, including to England and New Zealand, where he also photographs exotic birds. Another favorite travel destination is Belize, where he imagines he might live one day. He has circled the globe five times. “What I am doing makes me feel my life is worthwhile. I recently got an email from someone saying, ‘Thank you for identifying those birds. I take my copy of the Express on my walks, and my friends and I can figure out what they are.’â€? Richard is also proud of the maps he created which he sends to people who want to visit the crane sites in the area, along with a PDF of their behavior. He has written a book that is at the publishers now. It’s called Feathered Flight and features his photos and stories. Richard has combined his love of birds and flight to live a meaningful life. âœŚ



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Keep Learning at WHISTLESTOP COMPUTER/PICTURE CLASS Beginning: 2nd Friday • 2 to 4pm Advanced: 3rd Friday • 2 to 4pm Fee: $15 | Instructor: Gene Dyer Registration required: 459-6700 Call for more information and class descriptions. DROP-IN COMPUTER LAB Mondays, 10 to Noon & Wednesdays • 10 to 2pm Need help using a computer? We have volunteer computer tutors available to work with you one-onone, if needed. NEED HELP PREPARING YOUR INCOME TAXES? By Appointment • February to April Locations: Whistlestop and Margaret Todd (Novato) Free | Schedule an appointment: 456-9062, x128 The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available for individuals with basic, uncomplicated tax returns who qualify. Trained volunteers are available to help. Taxpayers are asked to bring a copy of their previous year’s return and all of the documents reporting income for the 2011 tax year. SHREDDING EVENT Saturday, March 10 • 9 to 2pm Whistlestop Parking Lot Suggested Donation: $4 per carton Facilitated by: Access Information Management Mobile Shred What can be shredded: All confidential papers, brochures, pamphlets, manila file folders, magazines, printer/copier paper, stationery, adding machine tape, photos, Post-Its, computer printouts, and envelopes. What cannot be shredded: Food, wet waste, food

COMMISSION ON AGING Thursday, March 8 • 10:00-12:30 pm Where: Margaret Todd Senior Center, 1565 Hill Rd., Novato Topic: Keeping Active: Senior CenterOpportunities Presenters: Directors of Marin County Senior Centers Next Meeting: April 12 • 10 am at Pickleweed Community Center, San Rafael 8

Whistlestop Express

MARCH 2012

containers, metal or glass containers, plastic and Styrofoam containers and material, tapes, discs, flash drives, hard drives, toner cartridges, plastic bags, ring binders and hanging folders. ST. PATRICK’S DAY LUNCHEON Thursday, March 15 • 11:30 to 2pm Jackson Café | Fee: $7 for older adults, $10 under 60 No reservations needed. Please join us for a delicious meal and live entertainment provided by Bread & Roses. Menu: corned beef and cabbage dinner LAMAS QI GONG Ancient Chinese Self-Healing Art Mondays • 9:30 to 10:30am Fee: $3 | Instructor: Debra Zibitt, Certified Sifu Lamas Qi Gong cultivates and manipulates one’s inner vital life force by using skill of breath, combined with gentle soft movements, visualizations and intentions. Lamas Qi Gong heals and strengthens the body. Benefits to you: on-going development to personal growth, helps to eliminate stress, and reduces anxiety and fear. CHAIR MASSAGE Mondays & Wednesdays • 9 to 2pm Fee: $4 | First come, first served Therapist: Rebel K. Managahas, California StateCertified Therapist Eight-minute massage for the neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands. Besides feeling great, there are many benefits of massage for older adults, including: maintaining health and well-being, increasing circulation, reducing aches and pains, and more. MAH JONGG Wednesday • 10:30 to Noon Facilitator: Shirley Etemadfar | Donations appreciated Registration required: 456-9062 American Mah Jongg is a game that originally came from China. If you’ve played gin rummy, you have a head start in learning how to play this game. However, instead of cards, you play with tiles that are stamped with symbols and characters. We’ll have cards and Mah Jongg sets available for you to use as you learn. It’s a sociable, competitive, exciting and addictive game that’s truly lots of fun! Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

LAUGHTER CLUB Call for day and time Instructor: Susan Wilkins, certified Laughter Club Leader Donations appreciated | 456-9062 Exercise e c s your funny bone! Express your y u emotions! Reawaken your yo inner child! Some benefits of inn Laughter Club include: safe La cardiac workout, detoxify the lungs with deep breathing, lower blood pressure with laughter, and stimulate the brain and release endorphins. All fitness levels welcome. Dress comfy and wear socks. REMEMBRANCE WRITING 101 WORKSHOP Thursdays • 2 to 4pm | Fee: $5 Facilitator: Claudia Carroll, writer of plays, songs, poetry, and reporter for community newspapers. Join us for one or both of these fun workshops. Get inspiring ideas to help you unlock your memories. Get going with a traditional memoir or create a collection of non-fictional or fictional short stories about the life you’ve lived. No writing experience required. Remembrance Writing 101 by Claudia Carroll is available for purchase at Whistlestop or Book Passages. A NEW FRIDAY MOVIE FORMAT! March Movie Theme: Strong Females in Films 2nd & 4th Friday • 1:30 to 4pm Fee: $2, popcorn & beverage included!! March 9: Whale Rider March 23: Japanese Story M If you enjoy good films, you’ll really enjoy this program! r After viewing her selected films for your enjoyment, Johanna Petersen will lead an interesting group discussion regarding themes and topics of r these showings. th

smile? Give a gift and help Whistlestop clients. All proceeds go to help cover the cost for clients that are unable to attend the art class and for the cost of materials. Please stop by and check out our fabulous collection of handmade treasures!!! Questions contact Vicky at 456-9062 or vickyv@ In-Kind Donations needed Mah Jongg sets, books and yarn If you have items to donate, please call: 456-9062 Volunteer Opportunities Contact: Debbie at 456-9062 or programs@ • Jackson Café volunteers, at least one day a week from 11 to 2:15pm • Front Desk/Center Host(ess) • Board or Card Game Leader • Resource Office, computer experience required

Transportation Numbers Marin Access Call Center: 454-0902 Get Qualified to Ride: 456-9062, x106 Cancel a Ride: 457-4630 Volunteer Driver Program: 454-0969

Whistlestop Gift Shop Everything is under $10 Whistlestop Gift Shop offers a variety of gifts for your friends and family. Have a birthday, anniversary or just want to make someone 9

Whistlestop ACTIVITIES This Month at Whistlestop










9:00–2:00 PM 9:30–10:30 PM 10:00–11:00 AM 10:00–NOON 11:00–12:30 PM 11:10–NOON 2:00–4:00 PM 4:00–5:30 PM

Chair Massage Lamas Qi Gong AM Monday (Discussion) Computer Lab German Social Group Movement & Music ESL (Jan. 23-May 16, 2012) Citizenship Class

Open Open 457-0586 Open Open Open 457-8811 454-0998

$4/8min. $4/8min. Free Free Free Free Free Free

9:15–10:15 AM 10:00–NOON 10:45–11:45 AM 11:00–2:00 PM 1:00–3:00 PM 2:00–3:30 PM 2:30–3:30 PM

Whistlesizers (Exercise) Vietnamese Social Club Cardio Exercise Class Manicurist Learn Spanish English Conversation Balance Class

Open Open Open Appt. Needed Open 454-0998 Open

$2 Free Free Free Free Free $10

Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:00pm $10 Located in Whistlestop $4/8min. Active Aging Center

9:00–10:15 AM 9:00–2:00 PM 10:00–11:30 AM 10:30–NOON 10:00–2:00 PM 10:30–11:45 AM 2:00–4:00 PM 3:00–4:00 PM

Tai Chi Qigong Chair Massage Seniors' Circle (Support) Mah Jongg Computer Lab Corazón Latino ESL (Jan. 23-May 16, 2012) Basic English for Spanish Speakers

Sugg. Donation Open Open Open Open Open 457-8811 457-0586

9:15–10:15 AM 10:00–NOON 10:00–NOON PM 2:00-3:30 PM 2:00–4:00 PM 3:00–4:00 PM

Whistlesizers (Exercise) Vietnamese Social Club Knit!!! English Conversation Remembrance Writing Basic English for Spanish Speakers

Open Open 457-0586 454-0998 Open 457-0586

$2 Free Free Free $5 Free

ACASA (Support/Training) Practice Spanish (Club) Film Club Arts & Crafts w/Vicky Yoga with Kelly

Peer Counseling Open Mar. 9 & 23 Mar. 2 & 16 456-9062

Free Free $2 $3 $3

1:30–3:30 PM 1:30–3:30 PM 1:30–4:00 PM 2:00–4:00 PM 3:00–4:00 PM

Jackson Café

Free Free Free Free Free Free


Main Entrée $4.50/$7.25 Sandwiches $4.25/$6.25 Soup du Jour $1.75/$2.25 Hamburger w/Fries $4.25/$5.25 Salads $2.50/$4.00 OTHER ITEMS Tuna Salad Side Fresh Fruit Beverages Desserts

$1.25 $1.50 $1.00 $1.50

The Caboose, Computer Lab, Board Room and Jackson Café are all located at Whistlestop’s Active Aging Center – 930 Tamalpais Ave., San Rafael. 10

Whistlestop Express

MARCH 2012


The Bird's Side OF MARIN

What’s With the Missing Feathers?


very so often we’ll see a bird or two, and then several, flying with missing feathers and wonder why they lost them. Predators? Disease? Fights? Actually, none of the above. All birds molt – replace their feathers every year. Why? Because beating their feathers against the wind, day after day, wears them out. Just like flags whipping against the wind, the tips and then the edges of their wing feathers fray and the wings lose efficiency. After awhile, the wings can’t produce as much lift as the bird needs and the worn-out feathers must be replaced. A few birds — most of these are birds that can live off worms, insects and seeds on the ground —

molt all their feathers at one time. These birds go into hiding from predators for a few weeks until their feathers re-grow. Then they reappear with a full suit of fine new feathers. Red-winged Blackbirds molt this way. Other birds, those who depend on flight for their food, can’t do that, so they replace their feathers two by two – one on each wing in the same location – so that they are aerodynamically stable. That way they can still fly and find food. Long distance flyers, migrating birds like these two, a Marbled Godwit and a Long-billed Curlew, are examples of slow molters. Every weekend I email a funny, interesting or beautiful bird photo to Express readers, free. If you’d like something nice to look at amidst the junk in your inbox, email me at Till next month, Richard 11



hat is inflammation, and what is the relationship between diet, inflammation and disease? We usually think of inflammation as visible redness, swelling and pain. Sometimes inflammation occurs internally. Arthritis is one example. Webster’s defines inflammation in part as‚ “a local response to cellular injury . . .” When inflammation becomes chronic, progressive tissue damage occurs and various symptoms can result. There are many causes of inflammation. I was recently surprised to learn that food sensitivities, including allergies to gluten or dairy, can contribute to inflammation. I spoke with nutrition consultant Willie Victor, owner of Essentials for Health in Mill Valley, to learn more about the connections between diet, inflammation and disease. Many diseases commonly associated with aging, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia share a common contributing factor — inflammation. Food allergies and sensitivities are a key to understanding the sources of inflammation that underlie many diseases. Lining the small intestine are villi, small hair-like projections, which help with digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food that we eat. When the villi become damaged, food proteins leak into the lining of the gut, leading to reactions that contribute to inflammation in the body. Inflammation can attack the joints, muscles, arteries and brain, leading to a myriad of negative effects. Inflammation in the arteries can cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Inflammation in the brain tissue can lead to “foggy brain” anxiety and memory loss. Fortunately, the connections between diet, inflammation and disease are becoming better understood. In Victor’s practice, testing for food allergies and adjusting the diet have helped


Whistlestop Express

MARCH 2012

her patients enjoy a reduction of symptoms and improved wellbeing. One patient, an older gentleman, came to see her after receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. It turned out that he had allergies to gluten and dairy as well as a host of other food sensitivities. After just three months of diet modification, he was experiencing less pain and was able to reduce his arthritis medication as well as his cholesterol medication. There are now numerous tests available for identifying very specific food sensitivities and allergies. Modifying the diet can slow down the chronic inflammation that contributes to many diseases associated with aging. Says Victor, “Through diet we can often get the inflammation down. The outcome can be a decrease in the disease process and symptoms, and even a reduced need for medication.” Now that’s some food for thought! Thanks to Willie Victor, owner of Essentials for Health. ✦ Stoffer is a Certified Financial Planner, a foodie and former chef at Chez Panisse.




n our first column of 2012, we offer one extremely difficult puzzle. Question: Twelve balls are identical in all ways except one has a different weight. Three weighings on a balance scale will not only identify the odd ball, but also tell whether it is heavier or lighter. How many balls must be put on the scale in the first weighing? (a) six on each side (b) five on each side (c) four on each side (d) three on each side (e) two on each side Note: Instead of using choices—you can ask instead of “How many balls must be put on scale in first weighing?,” “How would you determine in only three weighings the odd ball and whether it is heavier or lighter than the others? Answer: c — Try to find a set of balls as “reference” balls, none of which is the heavy or light ball.

Food Allergies, Inflammation and Aging


You Can Be One of The ‘Faces of Whistlestop’ ©STEPHANIE MOHAN

Please visit

or call us anytime for a free market analysis of your home. We would love to hear from you. Sarah Kowalczyk

Lotte Moore

415.464.7484 415.412.7471


e are capturing some of the “Faces of Whistlestop” for an art project and Stephanie Mohan of Creative Portraiture has offered to donate her time. She will be taking portraits of people who visit Whistlestop on Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 29, from 1 to 3 pm in the Lounge. You can wear anything you like. Stephanie is willing to photograph pets, couples, friends or small groups. However, the focus will be on faces, and we will be publishing some of those Faces of Whistlestop in the May issue of the Express. Free sittings will be every 10 minutes, and a release form will be available for those interested in allowing their images to be used in the art piece and for marketing materials. Release forms aren't necessary to participate in the free sitting. Images will only be available for purchase online at at a discounted price. ✦

2012 California Senior Games in March


he 2012 San Francisco Bay Area part of the California Senior Games will begin March 10 at Stanford University and other sites. Participants must be at least 50 years of age as of December 31, 2012. Numerous sports events, from archery to water polo, and everything in between, including tennis, table tennis and pickleball, will be included. State winners qualify for the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2013. To register, go to Or write to: Bay Area Senior Games Headquarters 81 Encina, Upper Floor Palo Alto, CA 94301 ✦

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Tech-Happy Grannies


fter celebrating my 84th birthday, I went to bed feeling more warmly loved than ever before. I had heard from all 10 of my children and most of my grandchildren. Seven of us were on hand to gather for cake and ice cream at my daughter’s house. The others were in faraway places: Philippines, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Scotland. Did they all go out and buy a card and mail it to me? No way! They used their cell phones and computers at airports, workstations or homes and wrote on my Facebook wall. This all started when I finally agreed that maybe I could learn to use a Kindle, and maybe find it a more convenient way to read big books on planes and in doctors’ waiting rooms. One of my daughters often came along with me to these appointments and would amuse me with a game of Scrabble played on her Kindle (my love of the board game is widely known). The kids were delighted to buy me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Of course, I was one of those multitudes of seniors who grumbled that “Nothing can take

< Sam Parry continued from page 1 turned to art. He has written novels, short stories, screenplays and poetry. “I never suffer from writer’s block, and I have to spend some hours a day writing or, well, it’s like breathing.” He carries a notebook everywhere because he never knows when an idea might pop up. He has been known to wake up in the middle of the night so Shoshana, who Sam calls the “backbone of the Fairfax Theatre Company,” bought him an iPad to make it easier to capture those inspirations. Some exciting things on the horizon: • The possibility of a permanent theater site. FTC is now housed in the historic Pavilion building, requiring Sam and crew to “create” 14

Whistlestop Express

MARCH 2012

the place of a good book in hand.” But when I tried my daughter’s with the back lighting and discovered that I could read in bed again, I changed my mind. And learning how to order books online, and those mysterious “Apps” I kept hearing about, really threw me into a whole new world. I ordered the Scrabble game for my Kindle and through Facebook invited my grandkids to play with me. Anyway, my family’s overwhelming response to my birthday was due largely to modern technology. I don’t think or expect for one minute that they would all take the time from their busy lives to go out and buy a card and get it in the mail. If we seniors aren’t willing to learn and keep up with modern technology, we must expect more loneliness and isolation. I still am saddened to meet people my age who are refusing to become computer literate. Social media is here to stay. Computer classes are offered at Whistlestop for those who need the basics. Libraries are also a rich source of computer wealth. I grumble with the best of them that we have to keep learning new things because changes happen so fast. But we also know in our hearts that learning and changing keep us young. Not keeping up reminds me of that saying I heard years ago, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” For now, I prefer to stay on and enjoy the ride, thank you. ✦

a theater within the structure each time a play is ready. He has met with a local school about using space there. • This spring FTC will stage Sam’s William a la Shakespeare and this summer, a pirate play he just finished called Loot! • Sam wants to make FTC a nonprofit, and just last month the California Secretary of State “rubber-stamped the first step in that process.” Why isn’t a 71-year-old man not just fishing or watching TV or simply taking it easy? “It is impossible to not be doing what I do,” he said. “I had the dream of providing familyfriendly entertainment for a wide audience and now we are doing it.” ✦

Readers' SURVEY hat are your favorite parts of Whistlestop Express? How could we improve the publication? We are eager to get your feedback. Please complete this survey and return it to us one of several ways: • Return it in the envelope inserted between Pages 8 and 9;


• Mail it in a separate envelope or drop it off at: Whistlestop Active Aging Center 930 Tamalpais Ave. San Rafael, CA 94901 • Fax it to us at: 415-456-1008 We would really like to hear from you.

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Women celebrating the Vietnamese New Year at Whistlestop were, from left: Mau Nguyen, Ca Nguyen, Khanh Le, Thanh Tran, Hoa Le, Loan Le, Loan Nguyen, Cathy Ly and Lien Long. 15

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