Sun Lakes Writers’ Group


Sun Lakes Writers Group meeting notice

Barbara Schwartz

Do you enjoy writing? Stories? Memories? Family histories? Please plan on attending our Sun Lakes writing group. We meet at the Cottonwood Ceramics Room (A-8) on each Tuesday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Please arrive at 12:30 p.m. for easy conversation before we start our group at 1:00 p.m. Each week, we choose two words to write on the following week: You can use either one or both words, or if you choose, you can use words of your own choice!

We do not critique any writings unless you personally ask for opinions.

We are a fun group, and we enjoy our creativity. We break for refreshments halfway through the meeting.

Please call Barbara at 480-388-0190 for further information.


Ellie Clark

Sometimes I’ve wondered if there is any end to blocks. No, I don’t mean city blocks … I mean like:

Housecleaner’s Block: A condition brought on by not wanting to do it.

Cook’s Block: Because you have absolutely no idea what to fix for dinner;

Vacuuming Block: This block is serious as you try to think of ways to avoid having to do it.

Meds Block: Lining up the week’s meds and placing in their daily containers. Of course, you can skip this, but then you have to deal with them daily.

Doctors’ Block: Who wants to go there anyway? Even for a checkup. I’m feeling great and don’t want the Doc to find anything for me to worry about.

Walker’s Block: Keeps you from walking out the door each morning for your daily walk.

There are other blocks, too numerous to set forth, but clearly an important one concerns members of this Writers’ Group. It is commonly known as:

Writers’ Block: A condition that causes someone to resort to jotting down The first thing that comes into her mind like writing about Blocks.

An Unforgettable Christmas

Jim McWhirter

Many unforgettable memories are related to our senses like, pain, fright, smell, touch, loneliness, sadness, etc. Some of the memories are worth forgetting, but they are etched into our brain and they linger on throughout our lives. Do you really want to remember breaking your arm, or leg, 40 years ago, probably not, but it’s still there.

The unforgettable memories that I like to remember are about happy simple events. One of my favorite unforgettable memories was when I was five years old and we went to find our Christmas tree in the mountains that surrounded our home.

The day we went to find our tree was a happy day. We lived a mile away from the highway bridge that crossed the Missouri River. We had to walk down from the bridge to the railroad tracks that followed the river then went through Tunnel 1 to our home on the other side. Dad worked for the Great Northern Railroad as the Tunnel Watchman. We didn’t have a car so we had to find a Christmas tree in the nearby mountains.

Our Journey to get our tree started early on a cold Montana winter day with snow on the ground. Mother would make us butter (margarine) and honey sandwiches on her homemade bread, packed freshly baked Christmas cookies and a thermos of hot chocolate.

My brother Bob, who was three years older, and I were dressed warmly, in long johns, bib overalls, flannel shirt, heavy coat and warm socks, buckle galoshes over our shoes and then a warm stocking hat and mittens that Mother had made.

Taking our Slider sled we headed off up the tracks for about one mile. Dad would pull me on the sled between the rails where the snow level was below the rails and it made it easier to pull. We left the tracks and found a pathway through the bushes and through a fence into a wide snow-covered grass slope that led up into the mountains. In about a quarter mile we turned left and followed a mountain ridge going up, to what mother called Christmas tree gulch. Higher up on the ridge the wind had blown away much of the snow. After about 40 minutes of walking up we came to a large grove of trees on the right-hand side of the ridge, this was our destination, Christmas tree gulch. We walked down into the trees and Bob and I sat and ate our warm honey sandwich that we had kept in our coat pockets, and we watched, as Dad and Mother went searching for the “Perfect Tree.”

The trees were all too tall and they had to search for a tree with a perfect top and cut it down and then remove the top. About a half hour later they would drag the selected tree to where we were sitting and we would enjoy the rest of our lunch together. After a short repast we started back down the mountain, with the tree tied to the sled, on our long journey home. My excitement had worn off and it seemed like it took forever to get home, but we had our Christmas tree!

The excitement would return when we had our tree decorated and a short string of 6V Christmas lights turned on. It would be another five years before we had electricity.

This was a Christmas tradition for many years, but this is the one that lingers in my memory at Christmas.

Trash or Treasure

There comes a time in life when it is time to take inventory and to decide what is trash and what is treasure. At one time all seemed to be precious treasures. This may take a while because when each item is picked up, there comes to mind those special memories.

First item is my wedding dress from 54 years ago. My mother put in many laborious hours making the satin dress covered by Chantilly lace and satin covered buttons all the way down the back. Daughter Debbie considered having it reconstructed for her wedding, but opted for her own beautiful gown. Her gown is sealed and resting in our closet along with countless bridesmaid gowns. Will her daughter want them? A friend recently told me her granddaughter had chosen a vintage gown from an antique store for her upcoming wedding. I guess my dress is still a treasure.

Next come the children’s baby items. How could you part with those? So many wonderful memories.

Then there are childhood toys and even my doll buggy and doll quilt made by my aunt. Perhaps the boxes of toys can be slimmed down. But, which to keep and which to give away?

There’s China and silverware from our mothers. My mother-in-law’s China made it as far as Arizona, waiting for Debbie to pick it up. When? “Oh, I really don’t have room for it, but I want it someday,” is her reply.

Who has time to go through all of those albums and shoeboxes of pictures? I started once and threw those we couldn’t identify or remember where or when it was taken. All at once you are so interested in the keeper pictures that time flies and the day is over. It takes a while before you are ready to get back to the task.

Artwork, school papers and rewards of children and grandchildren need to be sorted, but are also hard to toss.

I’ve heard if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. Sounds good, but that 10-year-old dress just might come back in style. Then, I think how difficult it is to find a nice dress anymore, I better keep it!

I can see there are definitely more treasures than trash, but I will keep going.

An accumulation of letters and cards from relatives and friends, which to keep and which to discard? That is a big decision!

Then there are those knickknacks that the children gave to me. Each seems so special as memories dart through my head. Oh yes, birthday, Mother’s Day, Valentines and so on.

Favorite books with worn covers, no treasure to anyone else.

45 records from the ‘50s and ‘60s, should probably be put on eBay. Haven’t heard any of them since a much earlier class reunion.

Christmas ornaments that graced a seven-foot tree in times gone by. Now wintering in Arizona finds a small pre-lighted tree. Christmas items need to be sorted.

Costume jewelry of mothers and grandmothers. Will granddaughters be interested? Probably not. There are very few valuable jewels.

Special tables, chairs, wall decor; how do you decide if any are treasures?

I begin to believe we should have moved more, 45 years in one place leads to lots of accumulation. Where to begin!

I guess I could wait and have the children deal with it. I’m sure then most will be trash and a small amount will be treasure. I better keep sorting!

Dinner is Ready Perhaps

Ellie Clark

Bustling about my kitchen that early evening so long ago I had an experience I shall never forget. The reason I will never forget is due to the gentleman who shares my home with me, aka husband, never letting that happen.

Arriving home from work that day I rushed to finish the stew I had prepared in the crock pot before leaving in the morning. As I opened the front door of our apartment a wonderful aroma told me my stew was probably done and ready to be thickened.

Both my husband and I had meetings that evening. I was a member of our Planning Commission; my husband attended his meeting as paid staff. It was always hectic getting home from work, having a bite to eat freshening up and getting to the meeting. It was just one rush after another.

Finally, I got my flour and prepared the thickening for the stew, stirred it in and left the stew to thicken. When I got back to give it a stir, I noticed something strange about the way it looked. I took a closer look and sure enough it did look different. The reason was because there were a number of Curculionoidea frolicking about in the pot. I used the scientific name of this intruder as there is something about the word “weevil” that I find repugnant.

Now, here I was faced with a horrible dilemma. It’s all I had ready for dinner, we both had meetings, time was short and my husband didn’t know about our guests. To dish him up a bowl, or not dish up a bowl, that was the question? I knew they were not poisonous and in fact quite harmless. I’ve decided to let you decide how this story ended. It never did.

To this day my husband talks about the time I actually considered feeding him weevils. I heard him telling someone this story just the other day. I don’t really care, because it takes his mind off some other things that he might be inclined to blab.

An Unforgettable Christmas Memory and  Tradition Never to be Forgotten

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

Yesterday, did it seem like yesterday? However, it wasn’t. When I was five years old, I received my very first doll. Pretty face, big blue eyes, curly blonde hair and a beautiful silk dress. Back then little girls didn’t name their dolls Courtney, Brittany, Blair, Jennifer and so on. We called our baby dolls, Baby, Cutie or My Baby Doll, and never let her out of sight. Never touched the dress, colored her face with crayons for makeup or touch her beautiful blonde curls. Just held her close to me wherever I went.

She was my baby. One year at Christmastime mom told me my little baby had to go to the hospital because she was sick. I was very sad and cried for a couple of days. Mom told me she will be fine and will return to me by Christmas.

Sure enough, mom was right. On Christmas morning I saw my baby doll again and asked why she looked so different. Mom told me she was a new baby and treat her as I had the first one. Santa Claus always knew I loved my first baby doll and another one could not take her place. However, I was happy with my new baby and treated her just as special. Not knowing till years later I was getting the same doll for a few more years. Every Christmas my mom would change her dress, different hair and sometimes a little paint on the face of the same doll. I was certain the other little dolls received Christmases before were very ill and had to stay at the doll hospital. Thanked Santa always and grateful for (I thought) was a new doll every year. Funds were low in our household and mom did the best she could for the three of us, my two brothers and me. When Christmastime came every year she managed to make little gifts for all of us and was happy all the time. Santa Claus knew I was a good girl. The same baby doll was given to me for five years. Mom kept making the change each and every Christmas. I kept this doll for a very long time well into my adult years. I continued with mom’s beautiful plan and changed the doll’s dress and hair every year and sat her under my Christmas tree. The doll moved with me whenever and wherever I went. My baby doll was with me always. Not only unforgettable but these great memories were worth more than the price of a brand-new baby doll every year.

In 2003 John and I moved from Virginia to Arizona. As we packed our personal items to take with us in the car I put my baby doll along with some mementos in a big black plastic bag. I was so busy with the move I hadn’t noticed the movers took my big black bag and carted it away. Never saw the bag again. My baby doll and her friends moved to another location with no forwarding address. Hopefully into the home of a much-needed little girl.

Merry Christmas to all and a Blessed New Year. However, I was always grateful and happy thinking Santa gave me a new doll each year.