Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

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Ruby Regina Witcraft

Yes, that could be me! Much as I refuse the title, there are signs. Loss of hearing, dim eyesight, creaking bones, forgetfulness, balance, etc. However, I refuse to shuffle or stoop and try to walk very energetically as if I were 17 again. We all know that in spite of my pretenses that will never visit this body once more, as that ship has sailed.

Now, I’m not particularly concerned about the Grim Reaper but would prefer that the mortician would comment thusly; “Don’t know what she did in her lifetime, but isn’t she in good shape for her age.”

Apparently, not everyone would compliment me in such a way. Cases in mind. Very recently, three people have hustled over to me and my car to help me stow my groceries in the boot, and this has never happened before! Am I shuffling or looking helpless? I donít think so. One was a young man and later a 30-ish young woman, both of which I thanked and said no thanks.

It happened again last Thursday at Safeway while I was stuffing the plastic, sacked bags full into canvas totes which are easier to carry into the house. Now you may ask, “Why didn’t you carry the canvas bags into the store to be filled at the checkout counter?” This comes under the heading of one of the above. Forgetfulness! I never remember to bring them in.

Anyway, another cute 30-ish young woman hurried over to me and insisted that she take the filled canvas bag out of the cart and place it in the trunk. Well, we had a tug of war on the spot as I wasn’t about to let go and neither was she. I said, “Thank you, dear, but I’ve been trying to get these girls back up to my shoulders where they were when I was 17, and this is my exercise to accomplish that feat.” She said, “I know what you mean, because I have that problem, also.” She let go of the bag and I said, “No, you really don’t know, and I hope you never do.” We ended the tussle with a hug.

Friendship abruptly arises at the most unexpected times and over the smallest things! However, the next time I’ll remember to bring the bags into the store, unless I forget again.

Hallelujah Girls

Gail Thatcher

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Sun Lakes Community Theatre production of The Hallelujah Girls. I have attended many Community Theatre productions in Northern and Southern California and Arizona, so I expected to have a nice evening but did not have high expectations. Frequently, in these amateur endeavors, the acting leaves a lot to be desired because the actors are usually individuals who have always wanted to be in a play, regardless of whether or not they have any acting ability. This is compounded by a shortage of reasonably good actors. Since directing is not the popular side of theatre that attracts people the way the thought of acting does, many times the person who volunteers to direct is new to theater and green, which can lead to flawed direction. Usually they give it a good shot, but many times sadly fall short. Quite often, the storyline is choppy, because inexperienced directors alter the script to fit their timeframe or to allow for their limited access to the proper scenery and props. I don’t mean this to sound highly critical (I am by no means an expert), because I give them credit for putting forth a good effort, which commonly leads to a relatively nice experience.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case Friday night. We were actually treated to a delightful evening. The storyline was good and appropriately funny, which was to be expected because it was professionally written, but also because the director knew how to use it effectively. Casting was right on with each actor playing their part professionally. They appeared very comfortable in each role, that obviously had been efficiently selected for the individual actor, as they delivered their lines which seemed to flow almost seamlessly, with only one or two very slight slips. The humor came across nicely. I find that is frequently unusual in comedy. Each actor fit believably right into the character, making you feel they were visiting with you, instead of causing that uneasy feeling as the humor misses its mark.

Not having had any experience in directing, I know when something looks good, and I felt Friday night’s production was very well done. Placements on the stage seemed nicely balanced throughout the production. The actors moved comfortably around the stage without the ill-at-ease pauses and stumbles that are so common in community theatre, and this gave a feeling of real life taking place. The actors’ lines rolled out at a comfortable pace as they delivered humor throughout the play. I was very impressed with the acting and the staging.

In my opinion, the scenery was believable. I had to keep reminding myself that we were in the San Tan Ballroom and not at the Spa-D-Dah. It was a pleasant surprise at how quickly and efficiently the crew changed the seasonal props after each scene, eliminating that strained feeling the audience experiences as they wait for the story to continue.

Judging from the audience’s response, I felt they agreed with me.

Some Precious Time filled with Energy and Passion

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

People we meet would ask both my husband and me if we had grandchildren. Our response is always the same, about 200 at any given time. What???

Beginning of the school year I made a decision to volunteer at a local elementary school, helping wherever I can. My assignment was the school playground and cafeteria with the Kindergarten class. After spending two hours my first day, it took three hours to tell my husband how much fun I had.

We were asked if interested to take part in the upcoming Grandparents Day to spend some quality time with some of the little ones. There were some little children in Kindergarten who did not have grandparents. We certainly were honored to do this. As soon as we stepped into one of the classrooms, a little five-year-old girl saw John and ran up to hug him. He picked her up, she put her arms around his neck and John just melted. What a feeling. (P.S., I believe her grandparent was there.) He talks about this little girl to this day. The little boys began showing John their drawings and talked with him about boy stuff, baseball, games, etc. John enjoyed the day and very honored to be a part of those children. Yes, you guessed. John decided to join me the next time with these small, cute, funny energetic little people.

The days we volunteered at the school we sat at the picnic table in the playground and waited for these little ones running from their classrooms.

They would run to us … hold our hands, lead us to the monkey bars, swings and slides and running everywhere. Energetic, oh my. At one time or another, there could be about 100 little children in this playground. They were spontaneous, delightful and more energetic you can imagine. They were everywhere. Their energy was endless. I am certain for those who have grandchildren can attest to our experience. We never tire being with them. They wanted to share with us what they could do.

While in their company, we heard some delightful stories about their families, their interests, their vacations, their hobbies, their favorite toys, pets and friends. They were funny, full of antics and loved spending time with us. We were easy.

They never left our sight during their time spent in the playground or the cafeteria. We kept our eyes on them, and truly there are no words to say how happy we both were spending time with these little ones.

When the whistle blew in the playground, they hurried to stand in line for the cafeteria to have their lunch. While walking towards the cafeteria, some would grab a finger on each of our hands and walked with us. Sometimes seven to eight children’s little fingers were dangling from our hands at one time.

What a joy. As we walked, we asked if they brought their lunch from home, some would say, “No, I am buying.” So grown up.

They found their places in the cafeteria and sat down to eat their lunch. Their little voices summoned us to open their milk, open their juice boxes and take the cellophane off their peaches. We made certain they were eating their lunches they brought from home. Funny stories from all of them while we walked around and watched them carefully. What a treat for us.

John told them little stories, i.e., if they buried their Cheerios in the ground (John told them they were donut seeds), the next morning they would get donuts. Wow, they were impressed andm of course, laughing no matter what we told them. It was always a joy to see their smiling little faces. At times, there were some sad ones; however, we always looked after them and informed their teachers.

Some parents we met at the school’s Carnival thought we were figments of the child’s imagination, because they talked about us during dinner time at home. They were pleased to know we were real. One little boy’s dad thanked us for looking after his son who was not well and said he wanted to meet “the angels looking after my boy, thank you.” What a wonderful feeling that was.

We became friends with one particular family who have four of their children in this school. On Halloween, in our home (of course with the parents’ permission) we bought pumpkins and had them draw faces on them while John cut them out. Christmas time we had hot cocoa, gingerbread cookies, Christmas movies and little Santa’s gifts. Easter time we made Easter baskets with colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and more fun. We always made root beer floats, which seemed to be popular among this age group. Of course, we always told their moms and dads, we would sugar the little ones up and then send them home. Not really, we always checked with their parents the foods they could eat and not eat, any allergies or special foods. We took volunteering with a great deal of passion.

My husband and I were always so passionate when we would spend time with these little children. We didn’t have to pretend, didn’t have to show off, didn’t have to impress them, we were just ourselves. We know they liked us and always asked when we were coming back. As they left after lunch to go back to their classrooms, they would give us the little wave, sometimes run over to us with a little hug. It always melted our hearts to get that warm, delightful acknowledgement from them. “See you tomorrow,” they  would say.