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Nothin’ beats a stack of pancakes

I have pancake fantasies.

Oh yes. I will be at my desk, wistfully looking out of my window avoiding a newspaper deadline and I will engage in this favorite reverie. Upon waking at just before sunrise from my cupcake bed (a white fluffy comforter, crisp white sheets, squishy soft pillows but firm mattress) I will wrap myself in a shawl and step out onto my veranda. As I recline on my chaise lounge my gaze will fall upon a side table to my right where there will be a tray with an eight-cup pot of hot, hot coffee and a stack of eight hot, hot pancakes. There will be imported Irish butter, and 100 percent Vermont Maple Syrup. (I can’t decide if it is hot syrup or cold.) And I shall dine from my mother’s china. Mmmmmm.

Pancakes go way back.

The middle English word “Pancake” appeared in an English culinary manuscript from 1430. Every culture on Earth has its equivalent to our American pancake which consists of flour, salt, eggs, baking powder, sugar and oil. Pancakes are so good that the Roman Catholic Church endorsed Pancake Day, the day before the Christian observance of Lent. The idea was to use up the fatty ingredients before the somber six weeks commenced.

Pancakes are in print. Shakespeare wrote about pancakes in “Alls Well that Ends Well.” W.C. Fields quipped, “The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.” Russian, German, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian and English children’s folktales tell of a pancake coming to life and running from people and animals until either a pig or a fox outsmarts it and eats it. In the German folk tale the sacrificial pancake lets the starving children eat it after running from the less worthy. Here in the USA, we have many children’s books spotlighting pancakes, including my favorite, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” by Laura Numeroff. In this story a demanding but adorable piglet asks for a pancake, then needs syrup, then gets sticky, then needs a bath, then needs bubbles, then, then, then. Even Karl Isberg wrote about pancakes. The world adores them.

All but a few of my people share my love of Pancakes.

I asked them “What is the best thing about Pancakes?”

Their answers were, “The best thing about pancakes is everything about pancakes,” “the bacon,” “my kids used them for hand warmers,” “they remind me of my grandmother,” “if my friends are eating pancakes they can’t talk,” and my favorite, “Oh yeah, they’re good — yummy, yummy, yummy.”

Every summer the Senior Center hosts a series of Pancake Breakfast fund-raisers that include pancakes, real butter, syrup, coffee or tea, fresh fruit and bacon or ham. We do this because we run out of money in the summer, but we never run out of hungry diners. It is held in our dining room from 7-9 a.m. and the next one will be Saturday, Aug. 14. The last one will be Thursday, Sept. 2.

We arrive to work at 6:15 a.m. to throw this party. Dolores Sause and Dolores Gallegos knock themselves out preparing an awesome stack. Rob Gaston graciously takes the money. Musetta and I pour coffee, hopefully into our diners’ cups, and clear the tables. At our last breakfast I received a tip, “Keep your day job,” because I can never remember if I should serve or clear from the right or left and that I should not be sassing our patrons. I decided I would pretend to be Cheryl, the best waitress in town from The Rose. She is eternally cheerful, beautiful, patient and accommodating and I am not so much.

Our Pancake Breakfast fund-raisers are days of jubilee for me. Not only am I allowed to raise money for our great program, but I can serve with my beloved coworkers, pretend to be Cheryl, and eat hot, hot pancakes.

Senior Spotlight

Marilyn Jackson completed her 90th journey around the sun this past June and declared hers an extraordinary life.

“Honey, I’m surprised I’m alive — I’ve had 10 operations, two heart attacks, and beat cancer twice.” She attributes her longevity to being “curious about everything,” “I’m tough” and “I’m not afraid of anything.” She actually chased a peeping tom with a cast iron skillet.

Marilyn was born in Pittsboro, Ind., and raised on a farm. Her memories of childhood include riding a horse-drawn “bus” to school, which sported a potbelly stove, and counting Dan Quayle’s mother as one of her best friends in middle school. After graduating, she went to business school and worked at an insurance company. Her favorite part of that job was travelling to New Orleans for insurance conventions. “Don’t miss going to New Orleans if you get a chance. Just drink those hurricane drinks for an hour or you will be under the table.”

During World War II, Marilyn traveled to Long Beach, Calif., where she reports she had a “fun part” of her life. Her Uncle Turner and his son had been experimenting in their basement with oil and beeswax. They developed a floor treatment which they sold to the military. They became instant millionaires and moved to Long Beach. It was here that she attended parties with George Burns, Gracie Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly. Lunching at the Beverly Hilton, she saw Heddie Lamar and Charles Boyer. At the rodeo, her Uncle brought Roy Rogers and Dale Evans over to meet her.

Marilyn met and married Dick and together they had one son, Rick, who is now a builder here in Pagosa Springs. The Jackson family bought a fine women’s dress shop in Nashville, Ind., and named it “Country Elegance.” She shopped the Dallas Market and worked with her favorite designers, Bill Blass and Ralph Lauren. Marilyn loved her work, hosting over 52 fashion shows, some poolside, for the likes of Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn and the then governor’s wife, Beth Bowen. Miss Penny Tichner, 1974 First Runner-Up Miss Universe, was one of her models, as well as other local and professional celebrities. Marilyn involved the local children’s store and the local shoe store, making her dress shop the community place to be.

The family moved to Prescott, Ariz., and shortly thereafter, her husband Dick died. Marilyn moved to Pagosa Springs at the request of her son. Charlie, her dear friend, moved here with her. Together, they enjoyed their good neighbors Boo and Karen Pargen and John and Carla Vaivoda.

Marilyn is also an accomplished artist, a former Eastern Star Worthy Matron, a vice president of a women’s business group, a great mother and a self-described good cook. She loves to spend time with her good friends and her beloved son. Mostly, she enjoys telling a good story.

Art in The Den

Jim Plant is our featured artist this month at the Silver Foxes Den. Come and view his digital photography of southwest landscapes and fauna. We are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Help!

We need volunteers to help in the kitchen from 9 a.m.-noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Your duties might include food prep, dishwashing and lunch set up. Kitchen experience would be helpful, but reliability is a must. In return, you get a fabulous lunch, big love from the seniors and eternal gratitude from us.

We also need home delivery volunteers, to deliver hot meals once a week. Call me, Jodi Starr, at 264-2167.

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, with 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 at The Den

Friday, July 16 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Chess 10 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.

Monday, July 19 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Oscar Dominguez “Travelogue” 12:45 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, July 20 — Chair massage 10 a.m.; blood pressure checks 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, July 21 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Sandy Gnos, “SilverSneakers Fitness Program” 12:45 p.m.; Poker 1 p.m.; Sky Ute Casino 1 p.m.

Thursday, July 22 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, July 23 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Chess 10 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.

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, July 16 — Spinach lasagna, salad, green beans, orange, breadsticks.

Monday, July 19 — Pasta with clam sauce, five way veggie, zucchini squash, peaches, whole wheat, roll.

Tuesday, July 20 — Roast chicken with mushrooms, brown rice, cauliflower and broccoli, apple pear salad, whole wheat roll.

Wednesday, July 21 — Corned beef, parsley potatoes, cabbage and carrots, rye bread.

Thursday, July 22 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, July 23 — Turkey jambalaya, zucchini and squash rice, orange, breadstick, cookie.