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Chess at The Den? Checkmate!

It was 9:55 a.m. on that first Friday of scheduled chess.

I was excited. I taught myself to play chess when I was a Montessori preschool teacher and had three four-year-olds too smart for Chutes and Ladders. I taught them the moves as I relayed the history of the game. I explained to them it was an elegant game for elegant minds, ancient and old fashioned. That real queens, kings and knights played this game for more sleeps ago than they could count. Dressing in scarves and studying picture books, we imagined ourselves the game pieces and play-acted rivaling kingdoms. We took turns being black and white on the blue playground “boat” that summer in the shade of a glorious cottonwood tree. It was fun until they almost beat me.

During Stitchin’ in the Kitchen I thought that it would be entertaining to host chess games as we knitted, crocheted and beaded. I made cookies, rounded up chess boards, advertised and waited. At 10:05, I swear I could hear crickets in the dining room. No one showed. At 10:10 two gentlemen thankfully began to play. The following week no one at all showed and last week Jim Klaproth came.

He tapped me on the shoulder and asked where the chess was being played. Panicked, I directed him to a table and begged Rick Sautel to play him. Jim beat him handily in about 15 minutes. Rick gave me the stinkeye and left the room.

“Does anyone else play?” Jim asked.

“I can, but I am not very good.” I answered bravely, “I will play.”

I sat across from Jim knowing that, like having toilet paper stuck to my shoe, my intelligence was going to show. Possessed not of an elegant mind but one of a Yorkie Poo, I made my opening move. I forgot that White is the first to move. At least I was Black. Jim said nothing.

I tried to see the board, imagining my all powerful svelte queen, dressed in black leather, stealthily cutting down her enemies with a deadly long sword, protecting her king , aided by her childhood friends, the knights, with her spies, the bishops, who were involved in court intrigue, all living in an exquisitely appointed castle having pancakes for breakfast before they did battle.

I thought about the cool language used in the play of chess, like the Sicilian Defense, the Dragon Gambit, the Fried Liver Attack, the Desperado and Fairy Chess.

“Jodi. Jodi. It is your move.” Jim fought for my attention.

It took me only five minutes to lose my chess kingdom to him.

“I warned you I was bad.” I said.

He encouraged me and I promised to download a computer chess game on my new computer.

“You have an iPad?,” he inquired. “Can I see it?”

I distracted him from my ridiculous play with my wicked cool technology. For now.

Yesterday I explained to Jim that I was rescheduling chess to later in the year, because I was his only competition. We discussed how it was too bad more people didn’t match wits, carefully planning strategies spending whatever time it took to make the right moves. I promised to calendar it for a winter month, not on a Friday, and serve hot chocolate.

In the meantime, I am practicing on my computer. I am reading about chess strategy and learning about notation. I am trying not to be whimsical but to focus squarely on the game. I am in my castle, drawbridge up, fire roaring, laying plans by candlelight seated at a round table with my people.

And I will make Jim Klaproth play for at least 20 minutes, in January.

Thank you

Thank you to Dolores Gallegos, our faithful and steadfast assistant cook, for her humor and extra support this past month. Not only can she cook, she has mad dancing and singing skills.

Thank you to Rob Gaston for stepping up to the plate and cooking in the kitchen. The potatoes miss you as does the kitchen staff.

Thank you to Phyllis Wheaton and Dennis Hogan for volunteering to deliver meals to our shut-in people.

Thank you, Lisa Ann Pilgrim, for the lovely Avon gifts that we presented.

Thank you Tanis, from Friends of Native American Culture, for your food donation.

Medicare counselors needed

Do you enjoy helping others? The SHIP program (Senior Health Insurance Program) and SMP (Medicare Fraud Program), available through the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center, is looking for additional talented volunteers to join the Medicare Navigators Team. These programs educate, counsel and assist Colorado’s Medicare beneficiaries. We need people who have a desire to help others in the community, who have computer skills and are Internet-savvy.

The Colorado Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program is part of a national network of programs that offer free, confidential counseling and assistance for people with Medicare. Congress established SHIP in 1990 to help beneficiaries navigate an increasingly complex health care system. It’s also home to the SMP Medicare Fraud Program.

Each year, the Colorado SHIP/SMP provides invaluable services to people with Medicare, including: Counseling beneficiaries through the annual prescription drug plan enrollment period, connecting with beneficiaries who have limited incomes to help them save money on health care costs, and educating the community about health insurance issues.

A three-day training is provided and is coming up soon, Aug. 10-12. Contact Musetta Wollenweber at 264-2167 for further details about this great opportunity. Insurance agents, insurance brokers and financial planners are not eligible to serve as Medicare Navigator team members.

Weekly activities at The Den

Beginning in August, Dance for Health and Tai Chi will be offered through the community center. For times and information, call the center at 264-4152.

Friday, Aug. 6 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 9 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 10 – Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 11 — August Nutrition Education.

Thursday, Aug. 12 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, Aug. 13 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; ASI board meeting 1 p.m.

The Archuleta County Senior Center Newsletter is now available on Archuleta County’s website: Look it up.

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, Aug. 6 — Lemon baked fish, tartar sauce, rice pilaf, green beans with mushrooms, fruit salad, whole wheat roll.

Monday, Aug. 9 — White chili with chicken, carrot and celery, cooked cabbage with red pepper, crackers and apple.

Tuesday, Aug. 10 — Tater tot casserole, zucchini with onion, fresh pear, biscuit.

Wednesday, Aug. 11 — Chicken and noodles, carrots, apple, celery, raisin salad, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Aug. 12 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, Aug. 13 — Cheeseburger, potato wedges, baked beans, coleslaw, cantaloupe.