Sun Lakes Writers’ Group


Diane Keneally

I’ve been on a quest for a dog for awhile. Even though, current circumstances make having a dog incompatible with my lifestyle, I still want a dog. My daughter has a dog, a Maltese, that I’ve fallen in love with. Every time we visit each other there is unconditional love and a rapport not found anywhere else. I love taking him for walks, meeting neighbors and other dogs, having a connection with the outside. We smell the flowers together, even though at different heights. Did you know that dog owners were 8.6 times more likely to still be alive one year after a heart attack than non dog owners?

It’s not that I haven’t had pets in my life. When young, moving to the suburbs, our city bred parents thought it was a good idea to give us three ducklings for Easter one year. They were cute and fuzzy while young, but not so much when grown. They would take over the back yard, and us, so they quickly went to the children’s petting zoo.

Not learning their lesson, another Easter saw three chicks, Mike, Ike and Spike, hiding in our Easter baskets. We had fun with the ducks but these chicks were a lot different, especially when one turned out to be a rooster. I bet if you asked the former residents of our neighborhood if they remember those chicks, they would tell of nightmares and learning to run really, really fast while the rooster would chase them out of the yard, pecking all the way. It was a kinder time then, no government authorities to come and give fines and warnings. Another trip to the petting zoo for these chickens. We were sad to see them go, mostly because we never got one of the hens to lay an egg. What is living in the country all about anyway?

We’ve had a few cats too. We had field mice making their home anywhere they wanted, so of course a cat was next. This bug guy was named Toby. We could never get too close to him as he was a hunter and hardly ever home. But when he was he did his job by giving us presents of cats and birds. Don’t really remember him staying too long, I guess he was a traveling man and the open road called out to him. In contrast to dog owners, I read of another study that found cat owners were actually more likely to have died one year from a coronary than their non cat owning counterparts. D cats not give as much affection as dogs? Do they need less care and attention, thereby giving their owners less purpose?

What about fish? Every youngster needs a pet to take care of, be responsible for, learn about nature and all those good things. Fish can also be good for you as you age. A 1983 study reported lower blood pressure responses to the stressor of reading aloud when participants were allowed to watch fish swimming in a tank, compared to when exposed to an aquarium devoid of animals or staring at a blank wall. As I read this, I wonder, where is that fish tank when I need it?

The fish we had when young weren’t too happy when my brothers ran around the living room one day, knocking over their tank. It was funny to us while they flopped around on the rug. We never did get them back in the bowl. Water all over, fish flopping, what a disaster. Another failed experiment with nature.

Ok, what’s next. Oh, yes, birds. In Florence Nightingale’s “Notes on Nursing” in 1880, she writes that, “people confined to the same room because of medical problems gained pleasure from the presence of a bird.” My cousins had a parakeet with one foot missing. It turns out that our aunt was making spaghetti sauce one day while the bird was free of it’s cage and flying around the kitchen. It landed in the spaghetti sauce and flew out with one foot missing. My uncle sanded down the wooden rod in it’s cage so it could walk around. I hope they never ate the spaghetti sauce that day. It’s one of those family mysteries, I guess.

After all these experiences with animals while young, I never did tell of the adult talks, I still want a dog. A dog that will help me survive after a heart attack, be with me while we smell the flowers, be more affectionate than a cat, lower my blood pressure, not peck at my feet, not need a bowl of water that might be bumped over and last but not least, definitely stay out of my spaghetti sauce!

Olympic Dressage

Ruby Regina Witcraft

It was the first week of the Olympic Games and I was beside myself with the anticipation of being able to watch any equestrian event. In previous Olympic years these events were scarcely seen as the scheduling seemed to lean more towards swimming, basketball, indoor, out door, beach volleyball. (I suspect it was the scampy gee strings that caught the eye of the programmer). I was and still am keenly involved in eventing, stadium jumping and most of all, dressage.

Eventing involves dressage at the second level, roads and tracks at the trot to show the soundness of the horse to go through the grueling cross country course, which consists of 24 jumps over four miles. Then on the last day, stadium jumping to show if the horse remained sound after the previous, difficult trial. Needless to say this, not only takes stamina of both horse and rider but a great amount of courage. One of my riders who rode with me from the time he was nine years old, later competed in this event in the Soul, Korea in 1980.

Stadium jumping consists of a tough, timed, course of 15 jumps at five and six feet or higher, consisting of rails, walls, water, and any other thing someone can think up. Pulling a rail, a block or a foot in the water is counted as a four point fault.

I taught all of these disciplines for 20 years at my farm just outside of Oklahoma City but my very favorite and the closest to my heart is dressage. The reason being, the training is so intense that the horse seems to read your mind and you are magically, one with this 1600 pound beast, most of the time.

Someone finally got the message and after watching two jumping events, the dressage freestyle was to be shown this Monday. I called three of my friends and told them they would have to watch as I wanted them to see these beautiful, world class horses and their very talented riders. Most people never have seen such wonderfully disciplined horse events and know little about them.

As I was watching, simultaneously with my friend Sue I started explaining all of the movements over the phone and this went on for a couple of hours. Now it may not be proper to call someone my age an orphan but since I have no living relatives except a grand niece, I think I qualify. We kept hearing beeps on our phones but resented the interruption and, as it turns out, this grand niece in-law had been trying to contact me from Pawhuska, Oklahoma and was convinced that something was amiss.

When she finally reached me she told me that she had called the patrol to check up on me and at that very time the door bell chimed. Guess what, the patrol was already here and by the time I got to the door he had left. So, I called the gate and told my friend, Patrolman Dave that I was ok and didn’t need help. He said that my niece had already called him and he explained that his wife also loved to talk on the phone so he understood. Now, I am not a drama queen and told Dave that I rarely stayed on the phone longer than a few minutes. He said: Sure, Sure! Oh well, at lease someone still loves me. AAH!

$7.95 What a Deal

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

A few days ago I went shopping at Chandler Mall and entered a store with a huge sign, “Buy One, get One free.” Wow, this is where I wanted to shop. Spent an hour or so searching every rack and shelf for a blouse to add to my wardrobe on our upcoming vacation.

After deciding on two garments and approaching the counter, the young woman told me for the two blouses my cost was …$7.95. For two my friends. The blouses were beautiful and fit great, except as always, the sleeves were way past my knuckles. They can be hemmed and adjusted perfectly to the length of my arms. I brought them home and knew sewing the sleeves, in my opinion should not be a big undertaking. My desire to make certain all went well my decision was to take them to my favorite cleaners who had a seamstress on the premises and this would take an item off my list.

The woman in the cleaners did not know exactly the price for the adjustment and said she would get back to me. I left the two blouses and after one week have not heard from the cleaners. I decided to call and ask if anything was done and the price. Her answer, “yes, they were finished and yes, the cost is $32.00.” I was appalled and quite angry for many reasons. No call made to me before the sewing to quote the price. She was aware of how long I have been doing business in their establishment, and informed me, after speaking with the seamstress she would return my call. Later in the day, maybe six hours later, I received her call and the cost would remain the same. My response, “…the price to hem four tiny sleeves were outrageous and I would not even consider paying such a price.”

Even if I paid full price for these two blouses before the sale I was not going to pay the cost to hem the sleeves. In my opinion the charge was out of the ball park, and I disengaged myself from ever doing business with them in the future.

I felt in my heart the only solution was to leave the blouses and not retrieve them from the cleaners.

The owner then indicted my blouses will probably be given to the Good Will. Hummm, maybe I should keep my eyes open and visit the Good Will stores in town and search for my lovely blouses. The price would be approximately $5.95 each and already have been altered.

My heart grew sad because I had to do leave the blouses behind. There must have been a reason for doing so.

Enjoyment and delight came over me when I looked through my closet and found a white crochet top my mom handmade for me approximately 50 yrs ago and I still had it in my closet and covered with a special cloth.

Finding this beautiful top brought back memories of my wedding gown I designed and sewn from the lace of my mother’s wedding gown she wore in 1932. It was meaningful, beautiful and symbolic and so dear to my heart.

The white crocheted blouse top recently retrieved from my closet, still fits and cherished all these years will be work he day my husband John and I renew our Wedding Vows next month in Palermo, Sicily with my brother reverend Russell Ruffino officiating.

My vintage crocheted top is lovely, with great sentiments and made with a loving heart. More than a $7.95 blouse I purchased at random.