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Taking the show on the road

Before I left for Arboles, I was informed that it wasn’t a real town, that it wasn’t legally incorporated. We, the county, transport lunch there to Arboles twice a month to the Catholic Church on the right that comes after the county building but before Martha T’s restaurant (which is closed and rumored soon to be a Cowboy Church).

A van load of people, mostly volunteers and I, traveled 45 minutes on the most radiant autumn day. Not blinking, we found the church, unlocked the gate and schlepped part of the food and administrative supplies into the church basement.

More volunteers followed behind to transform the church basement into the local branch of the Archuleta County Senior Center. Accomplished in less than an hour, the volunteers, armed with fresh coffee, sat down without an agenda and discussed who was in need of food and transportation, who needed “looked into,” who could and could not afford meals so they could help them. They divvied up neighborly duties and commenced to catch up on each other’s lives.

They were proud and excited to tell me about their town’s culture. I learned about their library (it is the size of a shed) and their beloved endless potlucks.

I learned that TARA, an organization that is building their community center, stands for Tiffany, Arboles, Rosa and Allison, towns that either are or used to be in the immediate area. Much of the town’s social activity revolves around TARA activities. They have a bonfire at Halloween, a Fourth of July Parade (they go around the block four times) and a picnic, highway cleanups, Easter Egg hunts and more — all fund-raisers for the new building.

At 11:15ish, the locals began arriving for our Swiss steak, mashed potatoes and gravy birthday feast. As they eagerly awaited the arrival of the food, Jenny Pritchard, registered dietician from the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, brought in healthy bran mini muffins and educational material to offer the diners as a surprise culinary and intellectual appetizer. She also came to inspect our operations, as her organization is our largest funder.

Jenny divulged that she drove past the church five times and ended up at the Baptist Church, whose pastor gave her the correct directions. He, of course, followed behind her to also enjoy lunch. Shortly thereafter, Kathy Baisdon, yet another volunteer, arrived with the food. When she appeared, the men jumped up and scooted out to bring the food in. At this point, the conversation was animated and loud, kitchen utensils were clanging and people were busy dishing up birthday cake. It was a holiday movie scene.

Naturally, the food was both gratifying to the palate and the soul. People ate, mingled and lingered. Then, as efficiently and cheerfully as they set up for the lunch, they cleaned up and returned everything to its place. At least a fourth of the diners volunteered to wash dishes. Jenny peeked in to make sure it was state law sanitary and she was firmly shooed out, because it was “our job and our kitchen.” Jenny and I laughed heartily as we packed up our things. I was vigorously thanked for the county’s meals and was just as vigorously admonished to pass on love, gratitude and admiration to our cooks — Nancy Dickhoff, Dolores Gallegos and Dolores Sauce.

On our way out, one gentleman commented that the Arboles entrance and exit sign are the same. Yet the signs all do read “Arboles,” and no one can ever tell me again that Arboles is not a real town.

Here are the names of the people who ate and/or volunteered for lunch: Jane Amundson, Mitch Appenzeller, Willard Appenzeller, Jerry Arrington, Kathy Baisdon, Mary Lou Campbell, Rollie Campbell, Jerry Cook, Anna Denny, Norman Denny, Jan Dotson, Bob Dungan, Sandy Gladfelter, Marian Goodknight, Eva Johnson, Ginny Lamb, Lewis Luchini, Gene Morgan, Chris Pacheco, Liva Pacheco, Hazel Phillips, Jenny Pritchard, Roger Puryear, Donna Reid, Glen Sands, Bernie Sautel, Rick Sautel, Betty Seibel, Bob Tearnan, Mary Tearnan, Sally Valdez and Robert Walkinshaw.

Senior Spotlight

Gene Morgan was born in Salina, Kans., in February 1925.

When he was a young boy, Gene would work at the local bowling alley setting up bowling pins (“they didn’t have machines for that back then”) for a dime a day so he could go to the movies. With twinkling eyes, he confided that his favorite movie stars were the Hepburns (Audrey and Katherine), Ann Sheridan and Jane Russell.

When Gene graduated from high school, he joined the Navy and was a deck ape, a seaman and a deckhand on the destroyers USS Owens, USS Morris and the USS Dorie. When World War II was over, he farmed in northwest Kansas with his wife, Darlene, son and two daughters. They moved to Colorado to make a better life for themselves. Later Gene and his wife bought property in Arboles because it is “laid way back, has a lake, fishing and we loved the people.”

He loves to read in the winter, fish, garden and be outside as much as possible. His best financial advice is to “save your money and buy whiskey,” and commented that because he lived through the Depression, “it taught me to live frugally and that you don’t have to have everything you want.” Gene’s best marital advice is to “Stay out of the house,” he said laughing, “I mean it.”

Writing for Generations

Does your family nag you to write your life story? Do you want to write your life story and have no idea how or where to start?

Do you think that you are a horrid writer (you are not) and you have nothing really valuable to say (wrong thinking)?

Help has arrived. Joan Mieritz, a local author, is offering a class entitled “Writing for Generations” on the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. in our Senior Lounge. The first class is on Wednesday, Nov. 4. She herself is interested in leaving her children, grandchildren and future generations her own writings. Class writings will include simple stories, information about relatives and family history, life experiences, historical events, lessons learned and perspectives gained. Joan has a unique system for capturing life stories and has a passion for assisting people in recording theirs. Call me, 264-2167, to sign up.

Medicare Part D enrollment

The Medicare Annual Election Period is from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, 2009. This is the time to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage, or to switch from one plan to another.

Your plan will be effective on Jan. 1, 2010, and you will generally have to stay in that plan until the next annual enrollment period, so it’s important to review your plan and make sure you have the best one for you. To allow time for your enrollment to be recognized and membership materials to reach you in time for use on Jan. 1, it is best if you complete your enrollment by Dec. 8, 2009.

Thank you

Thank you to Sue Hansen for the donation of the book “The Whole Green Catalog.” Our library is growing!

Thank you to the people of Arboles for making our twice-monthly feasts the success that they are, and for inviting me to live there.

A special thank you to Kathy Baisdon. You know what you did, and I hope you never stop.

Thank you, Jim Estelle, for your years of service volunteering in Arboles. They miss you already.


Are you homebound or do you know someone who is?

Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you, help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious senior center meals. Our hot meal, home delivered program remains available to those closer to town four days per week. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give me or Musetta a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Weekly activities

Friday, Oct. 30 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate, 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning, 11 a.m.; Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; birthday celebration, noon; Halloween.

Monday, Nov. 2 — Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; Canasta, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.; Meditation for Healing, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 4 — Dance for Health, 10 a.m.; Writing for Generations, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 5 — Administration Day.

Friday, Nov. 6 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate, 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning, 11 a.m.; Gym Walk, 11:15 a.m.

Our November Archuleta County Senior Center Newsletter is now available on Archuleta County’s Web site:

Medical expenses

The Silver Foxes Den, in cooperation with Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI), may be able to help with excess medical expenses.? Items covered might be prescription copays, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care.?Qualifying amounts are based on income and need. Recipients must be current members of ASI. Dues are $5 per year. For more information about how we might help you or your family, contact Musetta at 264-2167.

ASI memberships

Is it time for you renew or buy your 2009 ASI membership? You can purchase memberships at The Silver Foxes Den on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Folks 55 and over will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa Springs. All 2009 memberships expired Dec. 31.


Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 30 — Chicken piccata, orzo pilaf, mixed vegetables, baked custard, blueberry sauce.

Monday, Nov. 2 — Spinach Lasagna; salad, green beans, fruit, whole wheat bread.

Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Clam chowder, crackers, vegetable medley, peas, roll.

Wednesday, Nov. 4 — Meat loaf with onion grabby, whipped potatoes, zucchini and corn, breadsticks, strawberries with whipped topping.

Thursday, Nov. 5 — Administration Day.

Friday, Nov. 6 — Chicken cordon bleu, rice pilaf, asparagus, apricots, roll.