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Improvment, a methodical daily habit

“Why, Jodi?,” my 3-year-old son would ask.

That Christmas, Sam was asking why he couldn’t have a “real live dart board.” Not a toy dart board, but one that would draw blood and break windows.

He had arisen Christmas morning rosy cheeked, running into the living room in his red footie pajamas to see the dart board that Santa brought. When he discovered a power ranger figurine instead, he placed his chubby little hands on his hips and declared that Santa was mentally infirm. I think “stupid” was the word.

“Why, Mom?,” my 19-year-old Sam asked yesterday when I told him that I was going to write about the New Year at the Senior Center in my next column.

I explained that the New Year could be about new beginnings, taking stock of the good things and discarding the bad. He looked me squarely in the eye with his slender hand on his blue jeaned hip and declared me “mentally infirm.”

A proper rant poured from his soul about how striving for excellence should always be the standard, how constant vigilance against mediocrity should be the rule and added a few colorful words about the insulting ineffectiveness of media-driven “New Year’s Resolutions” as well as his opinion on the size and shape of certain commentators’ backsides.

Two weeks ago I strolled through the dining room to pour a restorative cup of tea. Serious cutthroat Canasta was being played at a card table in the middle of the room. Usually they played in the lounge, but the ladies relinquished it so that our volunteer Medicare counselors could save our corner of the world from bad prescription drug plans.

In the back of the room underneath the Artis’ photography show, two of my people were assembling the donated jalapeno Christmas Tree. Through the back door a bereaving family was bringing in the belongings of their recently passed mother to donate to our Free Shelf. In the kitchen was a lost but happy soul, completing her community service requirements under the care and supervision of our amazing cooks. At the table by the tea service, a volunteer explained to a senior how she was making crayon cases for school children in remote Peru. Judy, a Canasta player, spied the yarn that the family was donating and offered to take it to Elisbeth Schnell, a senior who knits bed booties for our seniors every year.

And this was just another day.

I think that Sam is onto something and it is not that Santa and I are mentally infirm. Improvement needs to be a methodical daily habit and not an easily forgotten January fad.

How can the Senior Center improve? With more people attending and less revenue, hustling money will be a priority just to maintain our current program.

We can enliven the dining room. I will find more fun, health-related programs and cost-free services. Just yesterday, Dolores Sause found an easier way to make coffee. Musetta Wollenweber is already searching for more money for transportation. More pancake breakfasts are on the way.

This is our challenge in 2011: questioning daily why we do what we do and answering the “how can we improve,” even though some of the answers will be tough. The staff and I will answer the whys; can you please help us with the hows?

Don’t even ask for a dart board, though. The answer will be “no.”

Fox Tales

Each Christmas I make cinnamon ornaments. They smell marvelous and look festive in their red satin ribbons.

Last Monday, Norma Jean Foust and I made a batch in the Senior Center dining room and set them on the ledge to dry.

On Tuesday, I ditched work to, among other things, take a long nap. Before I settled into my cupcake bed, my boss Musetta called. This is what she said.

“Jodi, I have to tell you about lunch. It was a festive scene with Christmas music playing in the background and Tessie Garcia and the elementary students sang carols. The Foxy Ladies were sporting their holiday finery as they awaited our delicious lunch. Jim was graciously passing a plate of holiday cookies, but I didn’t know who brought them. When I looked closer, I saw they were the ornaments you and Norma Jean made. Your people ate more than half of them.”

I laughed myself to sleep.

I asked Jim the next day how he liked the “cookies.” He said he learned one thing for next year. That he wouldn’t do that again. Evidently they were too cinnamony.

Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon Ornament (not for eating)

1 cup applesauce

1 cup cinnamon

Mix the two thoroughly. Roll out onto a clean surface. Use your favorite cookie cutter being mindful that the more simple the lines, the less likely it is that it will break.

Carefully transfer your wet ornaments to a hard surface with waxed paper to dry. Use a pencil to make a hole at the top of the ornament where you will place the ribbon when it is dry. It may take up to two weeks to dry.

These ornaments will last for years if packed carefully. Your house will smell wonderful!

Bed booties

On Friday, Jan. 7,, at 10 a.m. in the dining room Elisbeth Schnell will teach anyone who wants to learn how to knit her now famous bed booties.

Bed booties are heavy socks designed to keep feet warm during the night, not to walk around in. Ms. Schnell has been knitting and donating her booties to seniors and veterans for many years and we are excited that she is passing this skill forward. If we don’t finish one bootie before lunch, she promised to return Friday, Jan. 14, at the same time. Please bring your own yarn and size 9 needles.

Thank you

Thank you, Archuleta Seniors, Inc., for the elegant Christmas Party, and for honoring the Senior Center.

Thank you to the Colorado Kids and Pagosa Peaks 4H clubs for singing and serving us lunch. We are grateful that we are a part of your Christmas Tradition.

Thank you to Tessie Garcia and the students from the Pagosa Springs Elementary School who sang Christmas carols to us before lunch.

Thank you, Doris Prior and Heidi Tanner, for your festive piano and violin duet the Wednesday before Christmas. You both were magical.

Emergency boxes

We have emergency boxes of snacks and easily prepared “meals” for a suggested donation of $6.50 in our office. The emergency boxes were designed for use in case of power outages or inclement weather. They are also great for winter travel in your vehicle.

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.

Activities at The Den

Friday, Dec. 31 — Closed.

Monday, Jan. 3 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 4 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 5 — Writing for Generations 1 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 6 — Closed.

Friday, Jan. 7 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin in the Kitchen, special presentation by Liz Schnell 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.

ASI memberships

Is it time for you to renew or buy your 2011 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, Dec. 31 — Closed.

Monday, Jan. 3 — Chicken parmesan, pasta with tomato sauce, tropical fruit, garlic twist, breadstick.

Tuesday, Jan. 4 — Crunchy baked fish, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, coleslaw, banana.

Wednesday, Jan. 5 — Orange chicken, wild rice, seasoned broccoli, spiced applesauce, rice krispie treat, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Jan. 6 — Closed.

Friday, Jan. 7 — Meatloaf with onion gravy, mashed potatoes, zucchini with onions, breadstick, strawberries with topping, whole wheat roll.