What do do in your area this month. In addition to our print events, you can browse our online events calendar. 

Every afternoon, Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder pulls out of Portland’s Union Station headed through the Columbia Gorge to Spokane where, in the wee hours of the morning, it hooks up to the train originating in Seattle.

Two Salem senior centers are taking steps to help the homeless and less-fortunate in their communities. “We still have two or three individuals who look for homeless coming for lunch at our Marion-Polk Food Share lunches,” says Donna Avina, president of South Salem Senior Center. “For quite a while after the homeless camp on Commercial near us was broken up, we had a number, mostly men. Most of these people are gone now, because we heard they broke up the two camps these groups had set up.

The Contreras family owns a small bakery but bakes traditional Mexican goodies with a big heart. “We love what we do,” says Maria Contreras, who runs Pilos Mexican Bakery in Corvallis with her parents, Celestino Contreras Padilla and Marcelina Lopez de Contreras, and brother Alberto Contreras.

With the warmer weather and longer days, summertime is the perfect opportunity to get outside and be active. If you’re exercising outdoors this summer, or just having fun in the sun, it’s important to be aware of heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke and exhaustion, and know how to prevent them.

Several months ago, I was corresponding via email with famed plantsman Allan Armitage about — obviously — plants. In the course of our conversation, he offered me a copy of his latest book, “Of Naked Ladies and Forget-Me-Nots: The Stories Behind the Common Names of Some of Our Favorite Plants,” to read and review. I gladly accepted and promptly received the book in my mailbox.

Many of my patients say they use sunscreen on a daily basis, but they’ll still come into the office with sunburns or tans. (Worth noting: Even though a tan might not hurt like a burn and “looks better,” tans are harmful to the skin, too.) So, what gives?

Before I went to medical school, I was a music student and earned a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance. My roommate was a jazz guitarist and, while at the school, I met my wife, who was a vocal major. I was surrounded by music.

Kyle Isaacs and Lori Killen Aus are part of a growing breed of mobile dental care providers who actually pack up their dental tools and come to their patients — from the home to the hospital and even to senior care facilities.

Do you remember newsreels before movies, Blackjack chewing gum, roller skate keys, Butch wax, party lines, and cereal with prizes in the box? Did your mom buy her groceries at a particular grocery store just to get that free dinner plate? Did the groceries come with an added bonus – S&H Green Stamps?

A health practice birthed in the early 1950s is catching on in Salem. Flotation therapy was developed by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro- psychiatrist who studied the effect of sensory deprivation on the human brain and mind. What he found was that taking a break away from gravity in a float tank releases endorphins — nature's pain relievers — and is a salve for stress.

Many of today’s popular diets suggest cutting carbs, but opt for higher proteins and lower fats. However, a diet rising in popularity aims for low carbs, but higher fats with the idea that “fat burns fat.” If you love eating seafood, vegetables and even dark chocolate, the ketogenic diet may be for you.

Thanks to the world’s smallest pacemaker, Ruth Bissett of Salem plans to take up line dancing again, volunteer more at her church and keep up with her big, growing family.

From hurricanes to earthquakes to fires, the recent disasters in North America have taught us a lot. We’ve seen how neighbor reached out to neighbor and, stranger to stranger.

A local woman will have an important part in planning for the 250th anniversary of the United States, through the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

It turns out, Silver Falls State Park is a great place to birdwatch. “American Dippers at the waterfalls, a sheer abundance of Wilson’s Warbler and Pacific Wren and Red-breasted Sapsuckers just about everywhere,” says Steve Shunk, owner and lead guide of Paradise Birding. “You can catch the morning songs of the Varied Thrush and Swainson’s Thrush, and just being in the temperate rainforest habitat is invigorating.”

Although not in the traditional sense, Ronald Paapke’s doctor was with him all the way through his recent health emergency. “It was as if the doctor was actually in the room with me,” says Paapke, 54, who suffered a stroke on Sept. 19. “As I moved, the telecom screen was following me. Where I went, the doctor went. It was pretty amazing.”

Do you know that honeybees travel about 55,000 miles and gather nectar from approximately two million blossoms just to make one pound of honey? Honeybees have been around for some 30 million years, and are one of the most important pollinators in Oregon agriculture, increasing crop yields and producing better produce, according to reports from beekeepers.

“Cancer” is a word no one wants to hear, but for two Salem women, a phone call following routine mammograms changed their lives forever. “When my doctor called me on a Thursday afternoon after I got off work, I knew something was wrong,” says Sue Harris, who was diagnosed last year with stage 3 breast cancer. “My doctor doesn’t usually call me.”

At a time when most seniors are enjoying their retirement, Guy and Mary Ann Scott still run a 400-acre farm about 10 miles northeast of Sublimity. “We’re very busy,” Mary Ann says. “We have a big garden and big yard to take care of and other daily chores.”

Retired businessman Bill Lackner loves to fish, dig clams and catch crabs “over and over, again and again.” “I got interested in these activities when I was unable to work, and wrote a book about harvesting the amazing bounty from the marine environment common to the Oregon Coast,” says Lackner, founder of the Clam Diggers Association of Oregon. “The work included thousands of hours of research. The topics in the book, which in time became an encyclopedia, was too large to be published.”

“The eclipse is coming, the eclipse is coming.” In China, 715 years ago, that statement would’ve been met with fear and worry over what disaster the darkening of the skies would foretell to fall upon the leader.

Duane Goodma claims the secret to making it to the century mark is just to “keep breathing in and out.” Goodma, a mere 93, promises to do just that to catch up with his friend, Bertha Erby, who turns 100 on April 14.

At the Monmouth Senior Center, everyone is made to feel welcome. “The senior community needs someone to care, make them feel important, give them a place where they can fellowship, have fun, increase their knowledge, provide ways to keep their bodies fit, and even have a place to volunteer so they know they are still needed,” says Sue Teal, director. “The center serves 55 and older, but also is considered a community center that allows people to rent the facility or hold classes for younger adults.”

Restaurateur Carlos Pineda knows first-hand how networking helps to keep small businesses afloat. “My wife and I own El Patrón Mexican Grill,” Pineda says of his Keizer restaurant. “We opened about two years ago, and it’s been a difficult journey to start, but it’s been a fun ride so far.” At his restaurant, Pineda is living his dream of making people happy with lots of “good, fresh and authentic” Mexican food.

Local first responders are becoming dementia-savvy, thanks to a unique training program through ComForCare. “While we provide care for individuals of any age, seniors make up the bulk of our client base,” says Lauren Heinatz, transitions director and trainer for the classes. “Age is one of the biggest risk factors for most types of dementia to develop. With our aging population and people living longer, we as a nation, including our local community, have reached a crisis point.”

For Salem Friends of Felines, the holiday season is simply “meow-velous.” “Kittens are in high demand come holiday season,” says Heather Clark, SFOF’s director of marketing and fundraising. “Unfortunately, the breeding season, also known as the kitten season, is generally over by the time the holidays come so there are very few available. We do, however, have many young adults and senior (kitties) deserving of love waiting for find homes year-round.” Although many people like choosing a feline “gift” for their loved ones, SFOF prefers adopters meet the kitty in person to make sure there is chemistry between them, Clark says.

Fun happens when friends get together to sing. “Spreading joy through music gives meaning to my life,” says Jerry Jeffreys, one of many “best friends” singing in the all-volunteer, mixed-voice choir, Just for Fun Singers.

Why is it that so many of us are able to console a friend with kind words but are unable to do the same for ourselves? It would take an entire book to answer that question. So many are hard on themselves, living a lifetime of shame and guilt, or driving themselves toward perfection and acceptance. Or maybe to prove themselves to their parents. An eight-week mindfulness self-compassion program is helping thousands all over the world to change their self-destructive patterns.

Annual open enrollment for Medicare has started and it’s important to know what that means for you. Enrollment is open through Dec. 7. Any Medicare Advantage (Part C) or prescription drug plan (Part D) changes must be made between those dates so that coverage begins without interruption on Jan. 1.

If ever there was a question that gets answered with a storm of finger pointing, it’s asking, “Why is the cost of college and student debt so high?”

For Dale Harris, the old adage “put pencils in a drummer’s hand and out comes a cadence” has roots in his boyhood and stays true today. “When I was around 6 years old, I beat on a type of stool with straw interior nearly destroying it by my playing it like a drum to the music on the radio,” says the 86-year-old Salem father of four. “I got my first real drums in grade school and played in a grade school orchestra.” In high school, Harris switched to prancing in front of the band as drum major at the Rose Festival Parade.

I have  a  confession:  I’m not a huge fan of autumn. Tree leaf colors are gorgeous and all but I don’t care for all the plant degeneration and death. And I don’t like goodbyes. I want my garden to be “summer” all year. I know that’s silly. But it’s the truth.