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The Ping-Pong Diary — Part 2

Rumors of The Table preceded it.

After lunch one day I hurried to the ladies room to wash my hands after counting dollar bills. Shirley Eoff, also at the lavatory, questioned the truth of the rumor, which I confirmed.

She stared directly into my eyes saying, “I am the best ping-pong player at the Silver Foxes Den. I will whip everyone and I will whip you.”

Ooooo. This was going to be more fun than I anticipated. Not only could I play-ping pong, but there would be trash talk in the ladies room, too.

“No ma’am.” I responded. “I will obliterate you and all of your lunch friends.”

Shirley gave me the stink eye and promised me a match the next week.

When The Table arrived, Gerri Starr hollered from the dining room into my office, “Jodi, get in here, I am going to beat you.”

Yeah! More trash talk.

Moving to the edge of the table I thought, how elegant, how simple. It is a solid black matte plane of immanence with razor sharp white stripes outlining the edges and defining the halves. A matching net stretches sleekly across the center separating my people from their opponents. It can be concealed, folding effortlessly and rolling silently. An ethereal white light shines upon it, illuminating its cold perfection. Finally, like the Tao, the day had arrived to commence the epic battle between the light and the dark only to lead to the next engagement, and the next, endlessly throughout eternity.

“Jodi, are you going to serve or just look at it,” Gerri teased, bringing me back to the moment.

It was a heated match and she called me “dirty bum” when I won.

Gerri promised to beat me next time. A poor winner, I danced around singing “nay nay nay” while my people laughed and applauded. Tom Brown, 92 years old, challenged her to a game as did Lili Gettig. Back at my desk I listened to the continued din of matches cheered and played.

Later, at the end of lunch, Ken Millette invited me to The Table for some “light volleying.” This guy has game. I overheard his wife, Pat, saying to the people sitting next to her that he was just toying with me.

“I play ping-pong on our cruises,” he commented,” and I have a drawer full of medals. I beat everyone on the ships and there is no way you will beat me.” He asked if we would have tournaments. I said yes and invited him to sign up for a lesson in humility. Dan Schmeltz was listening.

“Do you play, Dan?” I asked. “Maybe,” he said. I handed him a paddle and kicked off my shoes.

I have learned through crushing defeat that the people who claim little skill are usually the ones that leave me crying for my mother. We eyed each other like ancient samurai warriors as the lingering lunch tableau faded to a Monet blur until only Dan, the ball, and I existed. He lobbed the ball, I expertly returned it. Meeting the ball with his trifecta of doom — speed, spin and power — the ball disappeared, leaving space and time folding inward behind it. Scorch marks scarred the surface of the table. Dan gently set down the paddle and sauntered back to his lunch.

The Archuleta County Senior Center ping-pong table is now in the house. I am the Keeper of The Table, Sentry of Possibility.

Let the games begin.

Halloween

Dolores Sause, Dolores Gallegos and Alinea Zimmerman, our faithful cooks, called me into the dining room to inform me that they were decorating for Halloween and offered me the opportunity to exercise great restraint and say nothing about it, as I am reportedly uppity about how the dining room is adorned.

They spent an hour this past Tuesday afternoon laughing, taping ghosties to the windows and paper scarecrows to the walls. There is a light-up pumpkin ménage in the corner of the room, and black and orange garland wrapped about the doorway.

Why, you ask? We are having a Halloween/birthday celebration Friday, Oct. 29, at lunch. You can come dressed in your best costume or just attend as you are. The winner of the costume contest receives a free lunch. John Graves will be playing spooky music. The party menu is Dead Fish, Maggots, Scum with Fungus, Guts and Rocks. (Translation: Lemon Baked Fish, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans with Mushrooms, Fruit Salad, and a Roll.) Woo hoo! I know what I am going to be for Halloween, do you?

ASI fund-raiser

Archuleta Seniors Inc. invites you to a fund-raiser Chili Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Senior Center dining room in the Ross Aragon Community Center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For $6.50, the lunch includes chili, corn bread, a drink and a dessert.

All proceeds are used to assist low income seniors with medical expenses.

Medicare appointments

November 15 marks the beginning of the open enrollment period for Medicare for prescription drug programs. We have Medicare counselors available here at the Senior Center by appointment only to assist you with your Medicare needs. We will begin taking appointments Nov. 1 for the open enrollment prescription drug program. Please call Jodi at 264-2167.

U-Way certificates

Once again, United Way of Southwest Colorado is offering $25 dining certificates. They work like this. Purchase a certificate from our office. Take it to a participating business. The participating business gives $5 to the United Way to fund programs in Pagosa Springs, including ours. Why not eat out and have $5 donated at the same time?

Participating businesses are the Alley House Grille, Bacci Italian Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon and Grill, Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and Saloon, Buffalo Inn Restaurant and Bar, Cafe Colorado, Chimney Rock Restaurant and Tavern, D.J.’s Italian Grill, Dogwood Cafe, ElkHorn Cafe, Farrago Market Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee Company, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant and Pub, Kip’s Grill and Cantina, Nello’s Bistro, Ole Miner’s Steakhouse, Pablo’s Diner, Pagosa Baking Company, Pagosa Brewing Company, Plaza Grille, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Shang Hai Chinese Restaurant, The Rose Restaurant, Victoria’s Cafe, Saloon and Grill.

These certificates make great holiday gifts. Stop by our office and purchase some. Questions? Call me, Jodi, at 264-2167.

First inch of snow

Just for fun, we are having a “Predict the First Inch of Snow” contest. Stop by or call in (264-2167) with your name, phone number and the date of the first official inch of snowfall at the Senior Center. In the case of a tie, the winner will be the first person who called in. What is the prize? A free lunch with us, of course.

Thanks

Thank you, Eddie Campbell of the Branding Iron, for your donation of baked potatoes and corn coblets.

Thank you, faithful coworkers, for making the dining room festive, and making me laugh at your scarecrow.

We’re desperate

We need someone to deliver meals on Mondays. It takes about an hour, and you can have a free lunch with us when you are finished. We also need substitute drivers. Please, oh, please call me, Jodi, at 264-2167.

Transportation

With the closing of the downtown City Market, we remind you that we have a Senior Bus that runs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 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, with 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.

Weekly activities

Friday, Oct. 22 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Book Club 10:30 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; ASI board meeting 1 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 25 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Scrabble 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 26 — Yoga 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.; Poker 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 27 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; blood pressure checks 11 a.m.; Greg Schulte presentation on Archuleta County 1 p.m.; Alzheimer’s Support Group 1 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 28 — No lunch, administrative day. ASI Chili Lunch fund-raiser 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 29 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Halloween birthday celebration; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.

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, Oct. 22 — Fish Creole, cheesy potatoes, squash and onions, peaches, roll.

Monday, Oct. 25 — Ham and pinto beans, corn bread, broccoli, carrots, orange juice.

Tuesday, Oct. 26 — Beef Stroganoff, green beans, salad, lima beans, mixed fruit.

Wednesday, Oct. 27 — Chicken cacciatore, rotini pasta, Italian veggies, foccacia bread, lemon Jell-O.

Thursday, Oct. 28 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, Oct. 29 — Dead fish, maggots, scum with fungus, guts, and rocks. (Translation: lemon baked fish, rice pilaf, green beans with mushrooms, fruit salad and a roll.)