They were the Beady Eyed Babes and started by stringing beads and jewels and selling the results for charity. Now, five years later, the jewelry designers have learned skills from metal casting to glass blowing for the creations
they will offer at their annual sale, Style 'N' Stones.
In early February, four of them made their annual pilgrimage to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show to stock up on gems, beads and other accoutrements as well as taking classes for this year's creative efforts. Members of the group have
been heading down every year, and it is an excursion they justly anticipate. (I'm hoping to hide in a suitcase and
join them one year.) The lucky - and clearly happy, judging from the photos - ladies were Pat Lorenzen, Gail Short, Carolyn Plested and Mary Orsini, who after years of my begging finally brought back
the shots I wanted.
Over the last few years, they have raised more than $20,000 for causes such as Hospice of Mercy and Durango Friends
of the Arts. This year, the recipient of their largesse will be the Manna Soup Kitchen, which will receive 30 percent
of the sale proceeds and 100 percent of the proceeds from Gadjamadi, a mixed-metals artist cooperative.
Other artists in the group are Susie Fisher, Jacky Dziubek, Nancy Macho and Diane Rabeno.
This year, a new babe" will be joining the group, Ann Arens.
I have bought a few pieces as gifts and one small treat for myself, and will have to work hard to resist temptation
at this year's Style 'N' Stones, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 10 in the beautiful Rochester Hotel
gardens. In previous years, it has been just as much of a social occasion as a fun shopping experience. So mark your
Celebrating their birthdays over the Easter holiday are Jan Wright, Steve Owen, Sam Larsen, Jennifer McLaughlin, Barbara Ugai, Aimee Martin, Nikolai Bohachevsky, Elinor
Lewis, Mike Brinnon, Melissa Delio, Kurt Campbell, Nancy Ottman, Chad
Tidwell, Mike Henry, Cameron Delacey, Holly Chavez, Kip Stransky, Mary
Catherine Baty, David Best III, Micah Priest, Dorman McShan and Mark Donahue.
When you hear the words soup kitchen," what image comes into your head? Something from the Depression era such as
hobos lining up on the street?
The truth is that circa 2010, eight decades after the Depression, the people in our area who most need help to
nourish their bodies are families, both two-parent and single-parent, with children, the working poor and the most
fragile in our society, the mentally ill.
(It seems particularly apropos that I had this story planned for today, since it is a logical continuation of the
Styles 'N' Stones ladies' story.)
On March 23, the Tuesday Literary Club met at the home of Bee Atwood for a program about Manna Soup Kitchen, apt both because the club's theme for the year is Endless Possibilities: Food for the Soul, and because members of
the club volunteer at Manna on a regular basis.
Executive Director Sarah Comerford, new volunteer coordinator Lisa Taylor and kitchen manager Warren
Smith gave the program, emphasizing how the need for their services is continuing to grow. The stories are
heartbreaking, and there are a multitude of them.
An 8-year-old boy showed up, embarrassed to ask, but needing food for his family because his father was recovering
from an injury and was unable to work.
A single mother came to feed her children breakfast before school and was thankful to be able to put sack lunches in
their backpacks and hers so they would eat again that day.
Comerford said they have heard too many stories of families who are suffering hunger because they're too embarrassed
to go to Manna, formerly middle-class families that have fallen on hard times in this economy. Smith has a good idea
to help change that attitude - change the name to the Manna Community Kitchen. (Of course it's up to the board of
directors, but that sounds like a great idea to me.)
Manna has some cool things in the works. With the help of Z Excavation, The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado is
planning to extend the vegetable garden into the back pasture so they can include a lot of root vegetables to serve
in the kitchen and share with clients. This summer, in collaboration with the Durango Discovery Museum, soup kitchen
volunteers and staff will offer Manna Outside" with a barbecue and live music on the shores of the Animas River at
The presentation was so eye-opening, Sheila Casey volunteered to serve on Manna's board of directors, Comerford received a few discreetly presented checks, and many women picked up business cards so they can do more.
That was just the start of the evening. I have enjoyed several of Smith's soups and his Christmas dinner was superb.
(Of course, he is a culinary-school graduate and has worked in several fine restaurants.) On this night, he had
experimented with a lentil soup and come up with something extraordinary. He started by roasting ham bones and using
them to create a demi-glâce - a really rich, concentrated flavor, much better than stock - and simmered it with all
kind of vegetables and ham hocks, later adding smoked ham.
As far as I could tell, virtually every single woman had two bowls full. Me too - it was delectable.
Atwood decided to make dessert a preview of the program she will be giving in May on South American food, so she
prepared a trio of traditional desserts, panqueques de dulce de leche (crêpes filled with caramel), flan and a
coconut petit four beloved in Brazil.
There are a few things we all can do. Of course donating time or money is always at the top of the list. But if you
know someone who is going through a tough time, let the soup kitchen know, and they can help you help them. Finally, Smith's wish for the soup kitchen is that more groups will invite them to speak, so they can get the message out that
we have a lot of people hurting in our community, and here are ways people can help.
Donations may be mailed to Manna Soup Kitchen, 1100 Avenida del Sol, Durango, CO 81301. If you want to volunteer or
invite representatives of Manna to speak, call at 385-5095.
Tuesday Literary Club is not the only book club enjoying interesting programs this year. On March 25, members of the
Reading Club of Durango gathered at the home of Karren Little to learn about the arts of Japanese gardening
and ikebana, Japanese flower arranging. Ann Norris and Deb Barnes, freshly back from watching her
daughter Lanny Barnes excel in the biathlon at the Vancouver Olympics, presented the program.
It started with a wonderful surprise. They had invited April Albert from Blossom Durango to do a demonstration
of ikebana, and it was true that seeing was far more insightful than just hearing. She had already created one
arrangement in a ceramic vase made by Norris' friend, an arrangement that was clearly designed to refer to the lines
and colors in the piece.
She took a second vase and arranged another bouquet, explaining the principles of ikebana as she worked. Ikebana
encourages practitioners to use only natural materials in the arrangement, so instead of wires, she used leaves to
tie stems together. There are many kinds of symbolism in ikebana - from the number of each individual material - odd
numbers are preferred in traditional styles, while a new school favors even numbers - to what materials are used.
And unlike Western floral arrangements, it's not all about the flowers. Stems, branches, leaves, grasses and mosses
are equally respected. While daffodils are not used in traditional ikebana - predilections tend more toward pink
flowers such as cherry blossoms, azaleas and bougainvillea - Albert's use of bright yellow daffodils with cymbidium
orchids and purple iris created a stunning, almost sculptural display. She also showed how another Japanese art form, the intricate paper-folding origami, comes into play in ikebana in leaf folding. Hostess Little was the lucky lady
who got to keep the arrangement.
Norris and Barnes discussed the history and styles of Japanese gardens. Influenced somewhat by gardens in Korea and
China, gardens in the island nation have evolved from replicating nature, complete with fake streams and boulders, to
Zen-Buddhist and tea gardens and on to the pleasure gardens covering acres today. The pictures were gorgeous, and the
styles so evocative of how we think of Japan.
The club, which is in its 128th year, is finishing up its second year studying Asia.
Little had prepared quite a spread for the social hour, including carrot-cake sandwiches" with the cream-cheese
frosting as the filling, meatballs, fruit salad, a homemade trail mix and many other delights.
I often hear people complaining about all the tourists who visit Durango, particularly in the summer. Those tourists
are the lifeblood of this town. The money they spend helps our neighbors make a living and keeps the restaurants, stores and galleries in business so we can enjoy them too. Believe me, I've been here when tourism was lagging, and
it was no fun.
So kudos go out to the Durango Area Tourism Office, which was honored by Colorado Meetings + Events magazine
as the Best Destination Marketing Organization in a community with a population of less than 25,000. It is no small
thing to beat out Vail and Breckenridge, which our talented marketing folks did.
They are: Executive Director John Cohen, group-and-international-sales manager Carrie Whitley, marketing/public-relations analyst
Heather Braem Knight, public-relations consultant Anne Klein Barney and visitor-center
supervisor Charlotte Klein.
Also honored was Soaring Tree Top Adventures at Tall Timber Resort, which was named the Best Teambuilding Activity -
in the whole state. It's a wild, fun ride from what I hear.
It's hard for Southwest Colorado to get the attention of Front Range folks at any time, so this says a lot about how
hard these people have worked to make La Plata County more prosperous. We all owe them congratulations and thanks.
Now, here's an early reminder - remember how important these tourists are to our economy and be nice. 'Nuff said.
Daffodils are blooming for the anniversaries of Alex and Kim Workman, Dale and Reba
Warren, Kyle and Cory Kindle, Ken and Paula Seay, Roger and Shirley
Buslee and John and Diane Knutson.
Special greetings go to Guy and Beverly Tomberlin, who are celebrating six decades together on Monday.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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