Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Free Stuff

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

Did you ever stop and think of all the Free Stuff you receive and enjoy every day. Look up at this instant and see the beautiful sky above you, the blue sky, the white clouds. The air we breathe, the wind that brushes against our skin as we scurry about each and every day. The rain filling up the dark clouds which bursts open and pours all over us. The rain which waters our plants and flowers and makes them grow into beautiful samples of life. The rain cools us when it is blistering hot on the pavement. The enchanted glistening of white snowflakes falling from the sky in the Winter months. The kiss you receive from your loved ones, your little children, your parents, your spouses. The hugs we receive from good friends and families. The hugs you give to someone who needs your assurance that everything is okay. The hello, the smiles, the laughter, the handshake you give to strangers you meet each and every day. The Thanks you received when you hold a door for someone.

Think my dear friends of all those special acts you give or receive from someone and didn’t cost one penny. Stop and keep searching and make a list for the “Free Stuff” in our lives that does not require a payment plan, a mortgage, a tuition, a car payment, a rent payment or a grocery bill to feed ourselves and our families.

John and I volunteer on Thanksgiving Day to help serve dinner to the homeless. Many of the homeless living on the street would be invited into the shelters to sit at a table. Hot food was provided by some organizations who devoted their time and loved to cook and serve this delicious food to our unfortunate people. Most of them living on the streets. To see their faces light up as their dinner plates loaded with Food, Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, trimmings and Pumpkin Pie was placed down in front of them to share this precious time with others. This is the Free Stuff, we received when serving their meals . . . their smiles and their Thank You. Didn’t cost one penny.

When was the last time they received a free hug or free smile from folks passing by? The homeless look at the Free Stuff in a different context than we do. The rain is wet, damp and cold when it pours on them on the cold concrete. No shelter to go to. Do we know what put them there on the streets? We don’t want to pry into their lives. Sometimes, they open up and talk to us. You would be surprised what brought them to the lifestyle they are living in today’s world. Some have business degrees, backgrounds you could only imagine. Where are their families today? Many of them are our Veterans. Veterans who have fought for our Country in order for us to enjoy the Free Stuff.

When we lived in Washington, D.C., especially during the Winter days and evenings, we would ride around town and pull up to the side of the street, wave to a homeless person who came quickly to our car. We handed them a bag filled with clothing we collected from our friends, sweaters, coats, shoes, socks, even under garments. Also included was some non-perishable food to warm their bodies on the inside. One in particular area we stopped by on these cold days was Lafayette Park. A park very close to the White House, a park where most of the homeless would sit and lie amongst the cold Winter nights, the harsh rain storms, the bitter days and nights deep in blistering snow. The Thank You and smiles given to us from the homeless folks was “Free Stuff” for us from folks they did not know.

Last week John and I were sitting at the “In and Out Burger” when a homeless couple walked up on the outside pushing a heavy grocery cart with blankets, some old clothes and a dog laying on the top. They sat for a few minutes. John and I looked at each other and thought buying a warm meal would certainly make this couple happy. When a fine gentleman in the restaurant bought a big meal with soft drinks and brought them outside to this couple. He was a Veteran and a Viet Nam Vet, and we thanked him for his Service and the Service he brought to this couple.

Today, there are grocery chains giving out Free Stuff, samples of the food they sell. Sometimes we stop by when in the stores, sample and taste their free products. If we decide to purchase the sampled items, we usually leave the store with filled grocery carts. Therefore, our Free Stuff, wasn’t free after all.

We all like Free Stuff. But let’s not forget the Free Stuff we take for granted as I mentioned in the very beginning of my story. Free Stuff which gives us life, happiness and love and May God Bless us all. I feel very fortunate today I have these Free Gifts in our lives and give Thanks each and every day.

Way to end 2016…

Barbara Schwartz

On New Year’s Eve day, I decided that I desperately needed a haircut.

So, having checked in online, I drove up Riggs Road to the Fry’s shopping center where the Great Clips place is located. I parked my car in front of the Little Caesar’s Pizza place which is next door to the Panda Express Chinese fast food place. The smell of both foods were driving me nuts as I got out of the car and walked past three storefronts to get to Great Clips.

There are several well-placed, stone-lined pillars around the curb side of the sidewalk. Unfortunately, there is a six- or eight-inch high curb placed at the bottom of these pillars. As I am walking and the smells of all these foods were intoxicating me, I somehow managed to miss the pillar, but trip over the curb sticking out at the bottom.

I am walking and all of a sudden my feet did this little dance and my brain kept saying “we’re going down, we ARE going down.” And down we went.

It happened so fast! As fast as “we’re going down, we ARE going down,” we were down and brain was saying “we’re getting up; we Are getting up” and then we were up on both feet with a bright red, quite embarrassed face.

But then it somehow got worse as the nail salon door opened and three or four little Vietnamese people came running out and asked “you need doctor?” several times. I tried to explain that I was okay and did not need a doctor or 911 as one of them had suggested and I kept walking into the hair cutting salon.

Losing my balance, my dignity and a total lack of common sense, I got my haircut, carefully walked back to the car and came home.

What a way to end 2016!

10 Things that are Forbidden in an Irish Household

Diane Keneally

I know it isn’t anywhere near St. Patrick’s Day that I should be thinking about the Irish or even writing about them, but since I’ve been doing genealogy and I’m 55% Irish, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about my Irish side.

Researching some of the Irish websites, I came across the Irish Central, a newspaper website that anyone can sign in and access. There was an interesting article outlining forbidden things in an Irish household.

1. Did you ever hear your parents say to you when you opened the door to go out, “Don’t let the heat get out, close the door?” That also could be said this way, “Don’t let the cold get out, close the refrigerator door.”

I can remember opening and closing the refrigerator when I was bored or hungry and just staring at the shelves. We did that as kids, especially when it was hot out and there wasn’t any air conditioning. I just found my granddaughter doing this to the freezer door this weekend. Maybe there was something magical that would pop out?

2. “Don’t let the fire go out.” It is considered lazy and selfish if the fire goes out in an Irish home, still to this day. It’s the only method of heating some homes in the winter and only those lazy and selfish would ignore keeping their fires burning.

3. Here’s one I had to think about, “leaving the ‘immersion on,’ as ‘money doesn’t grow on trees.’ I guess that would be the kettle for the tea on the stove? Still don’t know for sure. Any ideas?

4. If you leave the curtains pulled or closed after 9 a.m. you are lazy and/or still in bed. What will the neighbors think?

5. “Throw the dinner in the bin.” Farm households have a bucket for their dogs where the leftovers go. Waste not, want not?

6. Don’t EVER boil the kettle without water in it – we know what happens, even here in the USA.

7. NEVER make tea without offering it to the rest of the family. The women keep a scoreboard in their heads and mark it against the offender. Only the men are forgiven and not expected to offer when they make tea.

8. Never make a sandwich without a bag of crisps, or chips. I wonder if pretzels are ok?

9. Never change the tele channel while Mom is multi-tasking. She can still listen to her soaps while doing the laundry and chores and watch out if she misses anything!

10. Never question what your father is doing out in the garden. You never get a satisfactory answer, only, “leave him off, sure he’s happy.”

These forbidden things don’t seem so bad, but I guess the quick smack or wooden spoon teaches the youngsters quickly to save energy and money that’s hard to come by, be aware of the neighbors and what they think, don’t be lazy, be considerate of others (men excluded), and leave your father be . . . sure, he’s happy!