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Spotlight: Trinity Episcopal Church Memory Cafe

Spotlight on Trinity Episcopal Church Memory Cafe
Staunton, Virginia

The Spotlight section is a great place to learn creative strategies used in various Memory Cafes. By sharing what works (or doesn’t) with others, everyone learns new techniques.

The Memory Cafe at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia is about as creative as they come! They decided to collectively write a short story, based on an idea they found on Timeslips.

This is a wonderfully creative concept, allowing every Memory Cafe participant to be a part of adding a wide variety of color to the story.


Story Background from Carter Hannah

Cowboy Story from Timeslips

Through an idea provided by, we decided that together we would write a short story. We brainstormed and thought that the story should include a cowboy and food.

We found this photograph on the Timeslips site. Using this photograph we decided that:

  • The cowboy’s name is Grady
  • That no animals would be harmed during our story
  • That our food would be kept in a Yeti cooler strung high in a tree
  • We would eat beer bread, brownies, baked beans, beef jerky, queso and chips, and s’mores
  • We would smoke cigarettes and drink beer
  • We also talked about bears, eagles, and singing around a campfire

During two Zoom meetings we created our story. The first meeting involved all of us making suggestions of who the cowboy was—what he was like, what he was shooting and what was his personality.

Many thoughts evolved from all of the guests – both those with dementia and their caregivers and of course the 3 volunteers. It was individuals who suggested smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, a cooler, and then a cooler in the tree, a camp fire, guitars and singing, bears, eagles, and each item of food.

Muffie, one of the leaders took all of the ideas and turned them into a story. I know she made up spelling! She sent us all the story via email and at our next meeting we refined it again using all suggestions.

EVERYONE’S ideas were included and there were many group discussions.

One lady (who has Alzheimer’s) walked out of the room because she did not want any living thing shot with, or was scared by, the rifle.  She came back and was very happy when we assured her that no living thing would be shot.

Here is our story:

Climbin’ Grizzlies, Eagles and a Yeti: Life on the B & B

To the reader: No animals were harmed in the writing of this story.

Now most folks know that part of living and managing a ranch is all about protecting the animals on the ranch. But what most folks don’t realize is that you spend most of your day keeping out the wild animals you don’t want to have on the ranch.

Cowboy Story from Timeslips

This here is a picture of Grady, the Cow Boss, at the B & B Ranch. I bet you’re wondering what the heck he’s up to? We’ve written a little story about Grady and this here is how it goes.

It was suppertime at the B&B Ranch and we was all hungry after a hard, hot day of ranching. Usually around here a rancher’s best friend are his/her horse and a dog, but not at suppertime.

At suppertime it’s the Yeti cooler. You see around here we’s always fending off bears. They love our home cookin’, even more than our livestock. We ain’t sure that you are aware but the Yeti cooler is proven to be bear proof. It drives them bears nuts; they can’t get inside a Yeti to get at those delicious victuals fer all the honey in a hollow tree!

Due to the bears beatin’ at our coolers, we have to tie the Yeti way up yonder in the old oak tree. If we don’t do that, the bears recognize it sitting right there on the ground. That gives ‘em bigger fits and the last thing you want to do is to be chasing a bear who is batting your Yeti down into the holler.

We’s got a nice fire going and Grady is getting ready to shoot the Yeti out of the tree when all of a sudden out of nowhere comes a huge bald eagle. That sucker was damned near bigger than all of us put together!

We shrank back in fear, but not ole Grady. He stood there firmly planted, raised his rifle and shot that cooler out of that tree! We was getting ready to give a great cowboy/gal whoop when that eagle came back around. That eagle was not going fer the Yeti cooler! It was going fer Grady’s gueetar that was perched on a branch. That eagle swooped in and nabbed the gueetar strap with his huge witchy talons.

Once again, cool as a cucumber, Grady raised his rifle, took careful aim staring down that monstrous bird and fired a shot. Now I don’t have to tell you but Grady is the best shot north, south, east, and west, of the B&B Ranch. That bullet sliced clean through that gueetar strap between the witchy talons of that eagle narrowly missing hitting it in the beak! That gueetar fell straight down and landed in Grady’s grip!

Now you bet we gave a loud cowboy/girl whoop, fer we had never seen the likes of this EVER!

We celebrated eating our victuals around the fire with great gusto exclaiming the events of the day. We ate beer bread, baked beans, beef jerky, brownies, bananas (for the hands who can’t tolerate sweets), queso and chips. After a while Grady broke out his gueetar and we all sang the good ole cowboy/girl songs of today and yesterday smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and eating s’mores.

The End