Sixth Year Celebrating
I've been doing Quilt Groups with Seniors for over 6 years.
Every May, I make sure to do a Fiesta theme around Cinco de Mayo
Each year I bring in the giant sombrero for a little posing. My liveliest Quilt Group is always game for the camera.
I used to print out photos that went into scrapbooks, that I kept for each group. That became impossible, so now I hand out photos that can be added to personal scrapbooks.
Mexican Hat Dance & Maleguena
While enjoying a recording of The Mexican Hat Dance, we made so much noise we heard voices from our friends on the other side of the partition. "Be Quiet!" We toned it down, with a less raucous recording of the love song, Maleguena.
Many held there hands high each time the singer held a note for an impossibly long time. Many knew the song and softly sang along. The group that had complained earlier must have enjoyed the song, since they apologized for hollering at us. What can I say? We just like to have a little fun.
The peppers and avocados inspired some mouthwatering food discussion. Next time I should record some of the conversations about favorite recipes and tortilla making tips.
This group was very studious as they concentrated on the Lotteria cards... at first. Then there was much cheering and hollering!
Ramona chose the picture cards and announced in English and Spanish what image to look for on the cards. Colorful drawings and pinto beans are so much more fun than numbers and bingo markers!
I went to 5 different groups during the week and and each "fiesta" gathering had its own flavor. About half of folks in one group were temporary residents who had been evacuated from their flooded assisted living complex a couple weeks before.
One dear woman I had never met, was so inspired by the music, she insisted on standing up to "dance". She pulled herself up from her wheelchair and shook her maraca and swayed a bit. I was at her side, just in case. I hope I didn't any break rules by letting her go for it.
It was nice to have lots of hands on instruments to break the ice with some of the new folks, who haven't been initiated to our "We don't care how silly we look!" attitude.
For some, we eased into the playful stuff, by comparing the sounds and discussing what was inside. The scientific talk lead us to the fun side of the instruments.
For others, just shaking a maraca brought out laughter. Some began to sing songs I'd never heard of and others demonstrated some pretty entertaining styles of playing the maracas!
And one group had the added fun of celebrating outside! By May 5th, weather can be horribly humid in Houston. But we lucked out with blissfully pleasant air and moved one group right onto the patio!
Shopping in Mexico
In every group, I had at least one person with a non-tourist connection to Mexico. We heard from some who grew up in small Mexican villages, with no telephones or electricity.
One resident told us she grew up in Texas, but went across the border regularly too stay with relatives. Most of the stories we heard about Mexico, were from those with memories of being a tourist. Most of the memories involved what they bought in markets and what they ate. We tried to compare the two worlds.
Animals of Mexico
Some wire scorpions and roadrunner souvenirs lead to a discussion of burros and oxen and other real animals of Mexico. Somehow one group ended up discussing bullfights. An enthusiastic woman from a memory care group giddily recalled watching a bullfight in Mexico, when the bull got loose into the stands and came right up beside her.
I've heard many stories in my groups over the years and many are "mis-remembered" I'm sure. But this dear woman believed her outlandish story and the group didn't question her. I'm glad that my job is to help folks enjoy... not to question honesty!
What Did I Learn? There is no need to be accurate with storytelling in any of my Senior groups. I don't encourage Tall Tales, I just encourage the joy of sharing. Besides, you never know when an outlandish story could actually be true!
Rodeo Time in Houston
Every year I attempt an Old West or Cowboy theme around Houston Rodeo time.
Horseshoes... Stirrups and Cowboys
The stuff on the Quilt at the Senior Center got some attention, while we waited for others to gather.
Boots and Hats
The stitching makes the boots decorative, but also sturdier.
We talked about the history of cowboys. For some of my Latino friends it was fun to discuss the Mexican Habeneros and what they taught the North American cowboys about horsemanship and roping skills.
There were plenty of stories of horseback riding from those who grew up on farms. But Dot had to remind us that No, her papa would not let her ride a horse! I never grow tired of hearing about Dot and her Papa, who protected her in every way.
What I Learned: I love this generation with their connection to the Old West. Whether they can relate from farm memories or watching old Westerns, they have an appreciation. I really wonder how many children play cowboy, today?
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.