Dear Sun Spots: Since I frequently benefit from your column’s advice and knowledge, I would enjoy reading your reaction and input on the following:

I have a number of friends whose ages are 88 to 95. In conversation with friends and caregivers they are often spoken to by others with such statements as “at your age,” “after all you are really on the downside of the hill” or “you are just being difficult” when fatigued.

I am wondering if real old-time courtesy is completely devoid in today’s conversations. Does not age deserve more kindness, even when the person is “really over the hill?” Thank you for listening. – No Name, No Town.

Answer: Sun Spots had the pleasure of speaking with Dorothea Johnson, founder and chair of The Protocol School of Washington. Johnson, who now lives in and works from Yarmouth, is delighted to share her insights with column readers.

For starters, Johnson says women do this to themselves.

“I think there’s an enormous amount of respect,” she says. “If I see someone having difficulty (with perhaps opening a door or struggling with items), I don’t care what age they are. I help.”

Johnson also sees others offering the same courtesies. Perhaps it is a matter of trying to change your outlook. Johnson recommends seniors think of it not as getting older, but rather as “we are seasoned.” Now that sounds like a great mantra.

Johnson is proud to admit she’s 76, proud of who she is and her accomplishments. And she says just because she’s a certain age doesn’t mean she’s going to slow down.

If you check out her Web site,, Dorothea Johnson Productions Inc., P.O. Box 479, Yarmouth, ME 04096, 781-2723, e-mail [email protected], you’ll note there is a lot keeping this “seasoned” lady busy.

Johnson was the etiquette consultant for the popular American Girl Library book, “Oops, The Manners Guide for Girls.” Her advice is sought by the editors of Martha Stewart Living magazine for the “Dear Martha” column, and she is currently quoted in more than 50 books.

In addition, for those parents seeking etiquette assistance for their 4- to 7-year-olds, check out the three-part mail-order program, “Modern Manners for Children with Catherine the Mannerly Cat.” This program fosters growth through age-appropriate and other activities that build self-esteem. Johnson hopes to get a total of six parts together.

Johnson moved to Maine from Washington five years ago. She’s the grandmother of actress Liv Tyler. And believe it or not, she, like Tyler, was a fashion model.

Dear Sun Spots: We need donated baby bags, diaper bags, homemade bags or welcome-home-baby bags that are distributed to first-time parents through our Growing Healthy Families program.

The bags include information on local resources, community support and first-time parenting tips. Our nonprofit program offers approximately 75 of these bags annually to local families as part of our dedication to the well-being of children in the Franklin County area.

We also have a clothing exchange, with gently worn clothing for children sizes birth to 4T. As the weather warms up, we are in need of more summer clothing. We are also looking for any children’s furniture – cribs, dressers and changing tables – that readers may be willing to donate for families in the Franklin County area.

If you are interested in donating any of these items to our program, please phone Janice Crandall at 778-6960. We are at 113 Church St., Farmington, ME 04938. – Janice Crandall, Farmington.

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