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Creating a venue — we make a run at it

John Graves joined me at the table behind the piano. He finished playing jazz piano for an hour and was enjoying a specialty coffee.

I surveyed the dining room. It was the evening of Art In the Den, when Rebekah Pepiton’s Art II class hosted its art opening entitled, “The Journey.” The walls were blanketed with the high school students’ work, with families of students and our own seniors meandering, studying each painting. Visitors wandered in from an adjoining Outdoor Club event, to investigate our music and laughter.

Ann Graves sat at the table next to the refreshments, and conversed with two students and two of her friends. Dezzi Ewing, a student at the Pirate Achievement Center, interviewed people for this article.

We briefly chatted, John and I, about community, his Wednesday night gigs at Nello’s, and justice. I thanked him for playing for this humble affair and he assured me it was his pleasure. He commented the piano was in need of a tune, and I apologized for that. “That’s OK,” he countered graciously, “It’s a venue.”

That’s right, I thought. We are a venue. We are a venue for lunch, hugs, help, mischief, comfort, books, games, dancing, sewing, walking, music, art, listening, teasing and big love.

Here at the Silver Foxes Den we can’t be all things to all people, but we make a run at it.

The Journey

By Dezzi Ewing.

“The Journey” began at 5:30 p.m., portraying the visual expression of the Art II students at Pagosa Springs High School.

Accompanying the scenery, abstractions and master study was the jazz pianist John Graves. As the piano music filled the room, those there to view the art chatted amongst themselves, commenting about the wondrous talent. In the midst of the cave paintings, illuminated manuscripts, free choice drawings and upbeat tempos, I talked with the attending viewers and many agreed the show was marvelous and a step up from the rest. A few women came because they purchased some photos from previous shows from the high school. They also mentioned the difference from their high school work to what modern students were creating.

The students from the art classes were happy with the early turnout and appreciated the accompaniment from John Graves.

Former students agreed, “It’s cool to have another place besides the school to show art and I really think the cafeteria is socially connected with the individuals that appreciate art.”

From charcoals to color pencils and acrylics to water colors, the art teacher, of the Art II class, Mrs. Rebekah Pepiton, was impressed with the show itself and with the better turn out of people.

As she socialized with the viewers, Rebekah also mentioned, “It is good for the students to be exposed to a constant audience. It is critical to the growth of an artist to not go unseen.”

As she explained the journey the students wanted to create, the listeners observed specific works by the potential upcoming artists. The journey doesn’t end here, it has only begun.

The next Art in the Den will be April 15 at the Silver Foxes Den from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and it will showcase the Intermountain League winners.

Senior Spotlight

I was almost minding my own business when Ernie Garcia burst through my door.

“Guess what?” he asked excitedly.

“What?” I responded.

“I am retiring in two weeks!” he reported gleefully.

I met Ernie when I started work here in September. He is the custodian for the Ross Aragon Community Center. On nights that I work late, gallant Ernie looks after me, locking doors and peeking in to see if I am still here. I have observed him taking care of other people, as he completes his duties, helping with events and schlepping all manner of things. I told him that I was going to miss his twinkling eyes and easy ways. He told me that he would start coming here for lunch. I hope you do, Ernie.

Ernie Garcia was born on the other side of Salton Sea in Brawley, Calif., in 1935. He grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Fresno, Calif., in a “melting pot” of people. He reports that his father spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.

Lying about his age, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. when he was 16. He was sent to Korea, his untruth was discovered and he was sent back. When he was 17, he reenlisted and went back to Korea. Ernie loved being in the Marines, cherishing the discipline, camaraderie, training and gabardine uniforms. During this time, he had two children, Lupe Marie and Anthony.

After the Marines, Ernie moved to Palm Springs where he worked for a hospital for 25 years. He moonlit for movie stars, repairing and installing cooling and refrigeration in their homes. He did work for Bob Hope, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Esther Williams to list a few. His favorite was Frank Sinatra and he said, “Say what you want, he was a really friendly guy.” Ernie rode in the Palm Springs Motorcycle Club (Harley Davidson) with Sonny Bono, whom he claimed as a friend.

Ernie moved here to Pagosa Springs to be close to his wife’s family. He is a horseman, disclosing, “I’m a cowboy without boots and without a hat.” Traveling and talking to people are two other of his favorite pastimes. He is most proud of his service to his country and every Veterans Day and July 4, he marches in the color guard.

Healthier Living

“Healthier Living” is an awesome six-week chronic disease self-management program developed at Stanford University. The program is designed to help with the challenges that come with living with an ongoing health condition.

The class will run weekly starting Tuesday, April 6, from 1-3 p.m. and will be taught by trained leaders, Katy Deshler and Tracy Reuther.

Chronic conditions are diseases that cannot be cured. Participants in the classes have ranged in age from 40 to 89 and have grappled with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart problems, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and back pain. Other examples of chronic illnesses are Lupus, Crohn’s disease, long-term depression, obesity and phobias.

This course series will teach skills that can help with coping with fatigue, frustration, pain and stress. It is also recommended for family, friends and caregivers. Included with the course is the companion book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.” It will be taught here at the Senior Center. There is no charge for the class or materials. This is a really great course. Call me, Jodi Starr, at 264-2167 to sign up.

Big love, and big help

Once again, I humbly ask for volunteers for home delivery of meals to our people who can’t get out of their houses. I need a regular Wednesday delivery person and a couple of substitute deliverers. You get big love from the recipients and a free lunch from us. OK, and big love from us, too.

Give it a thought. Hopefully, we all will be older someday, and we too might need a good lunch delivered. Call me, Jodi, 264-2167.

Weekly activities

Friday, March 19 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Int. 9:30 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi Beg. 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.

Monday, March 22 — Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, March 23 — Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; Dennis Driscoll piano music 12:15 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, March 24 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Arborglyphs with Peggy Bergon 12:45 p.m.; Alzheimer’s Support 1 p.m.

Thursday, March 25 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, March 26 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Int. 9:30 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi Beg. 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; birthday lunch!

ASI memberships

Is it time for you to renew or buy your 2010 ASI membership? You can may 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, March 19 — Tilapia fish with mushroom sauce, cool cucumber salad, peas, pears, roll.

Monday, March 22 — Oven fried chicken, spinach salad with mandarin oranges, baked potato, peaches, cornbread.

Tuesday, March 23 — Mediterranean chicken over flavored barley, broccoli, mixed fruit, roll.

Wednesday, March 24 — French dip, oven browned potatoes, mixed veggies, strawberry, applesauce.

Thursday, March 25 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, March 26 — Spinach salad, seasoned green beans, tangerine, bread stick.