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Grateful for the sisters

“Can you imagine being a Pilgrim and half your family and friends died and you still had to build a house and plant crops and have babies and you had to do it in a dress?” I asked miserably.

The cooks were taking a break which meant I had a captive audience. They stared at me the way that they do when they think I am about to tell them something crazy.

“Did you know that fifty years after the first Thanksgiving, the “pilgrims” slaughtered the “Indians”? I continued, “and that Abraham Lincoln was the president who proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday during the civil war? And within the same 12 months he ordered the largest known mass execution in U.S. history and, oh snap, it was of 38 Sioux Indians in Minnesota?” I put my head down on the table and groaned.

“Cochinita, (This means cute little pig in Spanish. I think it is a term of endearment.) Stop this nonsense,” reproved Dolores Gallegos as she wagged her finger at me, “You have talked too much about this butchering here and sadness there. Focus on the beautiful. Think about your family, about your good health and how you have a job. Think about the dinner — you like food. Let the bad go and rest for a day. That’s what they did.’”

Like the Grinch at the top of Mount Crumpet, I experienced an avalanche — not of snow, but of gratitude. My heart grew ten sizes as Dolores gave me the business for wallowing in the dark side. Which reminded me of how thankful I am for the cooks in our kitchen and the sisterhood of women in my life who make me a better person.

Dolores Gallegos keeps me on my toes and we discuss our sons. Dolores Sauce reminisces with me. She was raised on the east coast and has that fine dry sense of humor. Alinea Zimmerman, the youngest of us all, will follow me down any random thought, add to it until everyone is a reflection of everyone. Then we all have coffee and wish we had some breakfast cake. Which reminded me of my mother-in-law.

Early in my married life, I was unaccustomed to entertaining or being entertained. Not to the manor born, I had never attended a sophisticated party. Velma discovered me weeping and wanted to know what was causing me sorrow. I explained that we had been invited to the Governor’s Mansion for brunch and not only did I not have anything to wear, but I would not know how to behave. She whispered her story of when she was a young mother and she was summoned to the White House Rose Garden for tea with the Eisenhowers. She smiled as she told me how she didn’t have anything to wear and really did use part of some worn curtains to sew a dress. She laughed as she described her car breaking down on Pennsylvania Avenue and how she ultimately flagged down a bus to get there.

She smoothed my hair and said firmly, “Honey, just be yourself. They can’t help but love you. And if they don’t, that is their loss.” Then she took me shopping for a sleek black suit. Which reminded me of my own mother.

When I was four years old, I watched “Romper Room” every morning on television. The show was situated in a classroom where children balanced baskets on their heads for good posture and sang the “Do Bee” song. (The lyrics, “Do be a do bee, don’t be a don’t bee, be a do bee all day long” may be the root of all my issues.) At the conclusion of the show, the perfectly coiffed teacher would look into her “Magic Mirror” and recite the names of all the children she saw. Never once did she say my name. As I cried into the couch cushion, I listened carefully to my mom when she said, “Maybe it is a good thing she can’t see you. Maybe you can make yourself invisible.” My career as a ninja began at that moment. Which reminded me of my new girl friends here in town.

With beautiful language and great compassion, Anna teaches me Tai Chi by the river. One friend talks to me about writing and the miracle of progesterone cream — she knows who she is. Janis invites me to strange and wonderful events. Musetta throws a party every day. Mary runs across City Market to hug me. Bernie makes me cookies. Which reminded me of the cool old chicks who come to eat and play here at the Senior Center.

Mae serves tea and coffee to the Dog Pound table because those men need a little spoiling. She keeps her eye on me. Gladys laughs her way through the day. Mary Lou rules the world with her wit and her cane. Charlotte tells me stories about trading a smokin’ hot fiancé for a mail order accordion. Carmen, Lupe and Tessie have adopted me into their family and are, mis pobres amores, attempting to teach me Spanish. Carmen offered to be my mother if Tom Cruise could be my father. Beverly schools me in the ways of an educated southern woman. Norma Jean teaches me homekeeping tricks. Connie gives me relevant advice. Jackie volunteers for everything. She tells me stories about Pagosa Springs back in the day and about feeding hunters. Which reminded me of Thanksgiving.

On this national holiday I will rest, eat a good dinner and let go of the bad. I will be most thankful for my beautiful family, my friends who always have my back, our health, our jobs and for Dolores’ wise words.

Do-it-yourself gifts

We are hosting several crafty classes in preparation for the upcoming holidays. Here is what we have left in November.

Monday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m.: Lake McCullough from Earth Sense Herbals will show us how to force bulbs in time for the holidays. Sign up required, 15-person limit.

U-Way certificates

Once again the United Way of Southwest Colorado is offering $25 Dining Certificates. They work like this. Purchase a Dining Certificate from our office. Take it to a participating business. The participating business gives $5 to the United Way to fund programs in Pagosa Springs, including ours. Why not eat out and have $5 donated at the same time?

Participating businesses are the Alley House Grille, Bacci Italian Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon and Grill, Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and Saloon, Buffalo Inn Restaurant and Bar, Cafe Colorado, Chimney Rock Restaurant and Tavern, D.J.’s Italian Grill, Dogwood Cafe, ElkHorn Cafe, Farrago Market Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee Company, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant and Pub, Kip’s Grill and Cantina, Nello’s Bistro, Ole Miner’s Steakhouse, Pablo’s Diner, Pagosa Baking Company, Pagosa Brewing Company, Plaza Grille, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Shang Hai Chinese Restaurant, The Rose Restaurant and Victoria’s Cafe, Saloon and Grill.

These certificates make great holiday gifts! Stop by our office and purchase some. Questions? Call me, Jodi, at 264-2167.

Transportation

With the closing of the downtown City Market, we remind you that we have a Senior Bus that runs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please call me, Jodi, at 264-2167 for details.

Services

Are you homebound or know someone who is? Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more 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-delivery program remains available to those closer to town four days per week, and frozen meals on Thursdays. 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, Nov. 19 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; book club 10:30 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m; birthday lunch.

Monday, Nov. 22 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 23 — Yoga 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 24 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Alzheimer’s support 1 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 25 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 26 — Closed.

ASI memberships

Is it time for you to renew or buy your 2010 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.

This week’s menu

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, Nov. 19 — Greek spaghetti with stewed chicken, spinach, karidopita, birthday cake.

Monday, Nov. 22 — Chicken fried steak with country gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, seasoned broccoli and cauliflower, apple, whole wheat roll.

Tuesday, Nov. 23 — Chicken fajita, lettuce and tomato garnish, cilantro rice, cabbage, grapes.

Wednesday, Nov. 24 — Roast turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, broccoli, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie with topping, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Nov. 25 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 26 — Closed.