Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Gnat Vendetta

Ruby Regina Witcraft

Last May 18th a friend gave me a potted plant for my birthday and though it was lovely, it was also loaded with gnats.

They seem to reproduce faster than I can spray them and have used almost three cans of Raid in this time period. Not wanting to become ill with C.O.P.D. or other respiratory conditions, I hold my breath and run through the house spraying as I run out the door. Now this may be a healthy physical exercise, and I’m all for fitness, but it’s beginning to look like these little varmints are smarter and quicker than I am.

Swatting is such a reactive action that I have caused much chaos doing unbelievable maneuvers in pursuit of my little nemesis and, can’t seem to control myself. For instance, sitting here in front of my computer screen, I have just knocked a full glass of water over and into my key board swatting at a gnat, which, incidentally, needed a good cleaning but missed the little bugger. I have more descriptive words in my head for this mess.

I asked friends for suggestions and was desperate to try anything. One was lay out saucers with beer, which I did. Some gnats bathed in the beer, drank heartily and died but, apparently not all of them were alcoholic so the problem persisted. What a waste of a good can of Heinekens!

This morning as I was reading the daily news one of the little darlings flew between me and the paper. Without thinking I mashed the paper to my chest like this. As I was trying to smooth the paper to make it readable, I think it flew by my face with it’s tongue out, giving me the raspberries.

The crowning blow came just now when I knocked my glasses off as I smacked myself in the face. I give up!

Sunshine and Shady

Barbara Schwartz

If there is one thing about living in Arizona that we can honestly complain about, it is the lack of shady areas.

When we leave our air conditioned home and get into our air conditioned car to go to the air conditioned grocery store or mall, we must leave our car (without the air conditioning on) parked outside in the full sunshine. By the time we come out of the air conditioned store the car is about 200 degrees inside and you cannot touch the steering wheel at all. We get into our cars, turn on the engine and the air and sit and wait for it to cool down enough to close the door or the window. Sometimes that takes up to 10 minutes.

I don’t know about you, but I would actually like to park a mile away from the store front door if I could find covered parking! I have tried to park under a tree that might provide some form of shade only to come out and find that the birds have done a number on my car roof, hood and windows. Not to mention that there is usually an abundance of leaves or little flowers that also adorn the car. But, it is not 200 degrees in the car – what a trade off!

Imagine the thrill that I got when I recently went to the Bashas’ grocery store on the corner of Gilbert and Chandler Heights. They have five rows of covered parking! It doesn’t stop the heat, but it does stop the sunshine. If it wasn’t that far from my house, I would go there often to shop. Imagine the surprise that I got when I was driving down Alma School and found that Safeway was constructing covered parking! Not just plain covered parking, but solar paneled covered parking. After I got over the shock of that (and that little feeling of delight) I then started to think that now the prices in Safeway would probably go up in order to pay for those solar panels.

But the mall is another problem. There is NOT one stall anywhere there that has even a tree to provide shade. And, while the mall is quite cool in the temperature department, is it really worth it to go there and mall walk or shop knowing that you will be going back outside into the oven that we call Arizona in the summertime.

Yes, we have heat, we have sunshine and we have little shade, but it is better than 15 feet of snow in the winter and not being able to shovel your way out of the garage to even get to the store.

I do not have to shovel sunshine and I plan on keeping it that way!

Fly in the Sky

Jacqueline M. Ruffino/Platt

There were times I thought how much fun it would be to ride in a Hot Air Balloon. However, I talked myself right out of the idea. Shook my head from side to side with an emphatic NO. How could or would I ever consent to such a dangerous fete. Besides I believe such an adventure would be quite expensive and I knew which direction I wanted my money to go. Food, clothes, mortgage payment, other incidentals and maybe a couple of bottles of fine Sparkling Champagne, or fine wine.

Somehow, not realizing what I was saying, I mentioned to my husband I would like to try a Fly in the Sky. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon. Before I knew it, arrangements were made, fee paid and date was set.

A little nervous about my upcoming flight in view of the fact I am afraid of heights. I began searching for information on Hot Air Balloons. I didn’t ask negative folks, whom I knew would make comments, such as, “what are you crazy?”

We sat down in a field at Chandler Heights and Arizona Ave. “watch out for wires,” “the wind will take you far away,” “or you could tip over and fall out.” Another good one, “Not me, I like my feet firmly planted on the ground.” No one thought to give me encouragement or tell me, “have a great time,” “I wish I could go, sounds great,” “wonderful, enjoy,” “Wish I could go with you. Sounds terrific.”

Our journey began on Friday, June 26, 2015, 5:00 a.m. at Starbucks in Gilbert. The pilot, his crew and other riders arrived and were anxious to be part of this flight. The total wee 12, 10 adults from Texas, my friend and myself. The basket did not look big enough to carry all of us. Well, it sure did.

The pilot and the crew drove us in their van to locate a secure spot to prepare, set up the balloon, climb in the basket and begin the ascend. I was anxious and happy to be a part of this scenario. I assured myself it was going to be lots of fun. We all hung out in this field, watched as the crew unraveled the balloon and hooked it up to the basket, the basket soon to be carrying all of us, Up, Up and Away.

I’m short and the climb into the basket was difficult, but with help and persistence I made it. I found an ideal spot in the basket in order for me to see the sights and take pictures. A hat had been recommended by the company to wear during the flight because of the heat coming from the burner that heats the air for the Hot IR BALLOON.

Up, Up and Away we went. Glided up to 3900 ft. about 12-15 miles per hour. The ride was smooth and quiet for an hour or so. The pilot informed us where we were at all times and kept in contact with the chase crew on the ground. Glided over Phoenix, homes, Mesa, Chandler Airport and some beautiful areas. The pilot mentioned we could not land on the Indian Reservation. There was a pretty heavy fine of $500 for each passenger. In the light of that information he began looking for open fields to make his descent. Glided over some beautiful homes and by this time we could reach out and touch them. Not really. We all began to wonder why no one ran out of their homes to see this huge balloon hovering over their home. As I looked at my watch it was only 7:30 a.m. and many folks were probably still sleeping.

We sat down in a field at Chandler Heights and Arizona Ave. Pretty close to where we live. The pilot gave explicit instructions for landing. Grab the ropes on the sides, bend your knees. It was a little bumpy, but no incident with the exception of my trying to get out. The pilot suggested I get out first. Again, I am just a little short to swing my legs over the edge of the basket. The crew helped and the basket tipped over. Everyone else managed to get out easier and before me. However, instead of being first, I was now last to exit the basket.

The crew began folding up the balloon and the pilot set up a table with white linens and began pouring Champagne, Mimosas, miniature cheese cakes, cream puffs, and fruit salad. He told a very fascinating history of the First Hot Air Balloon and many more interesting stories.

He read the following prayer which is written on the Champagne glass:

“The Winds have welcomed you with softness, The Sun has Blessed you with its warm rays, you have flown so high and well, that God has joined you in his laughter and set you gently back again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”

– feeling thankful and Blessed.