Writers’ Page – June 2014

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Yvonne White

Puzzles are enjoyed by young children and also people in later years. It is fun solving a puzzle together no matter what the age. As a child I enjoyed puzzles, but my family didn’t work together on them. As an adult and a teacher I developed a love for completing a puzzle.

Teaching children about puzzles adds a new dimension to their lives. My first experience with children and puzzles was when I was a teacher. It seemed like Friday afternoon we were all looking forward to the weekend. I would bring four puzzles to the classroom. One was easy, one hard, one much harder and a difficult one. One puzzle would go in each corner of the room. I would tell the children the difficulty of each and then tell them to go to a corner. The child knew his ability and when the group was formed, someone always stepped up as the chairman. That child usually did one at home with his family. First they turned over the pieces to the correct side. Then they found the flat color section. The major color was usually last and was the slowest to accomplish. When the puzzle was complete I heard an excited, “We’re done!”

For the last 50 years every Christmas a puzzle is bought, signed by Santa, for our family. We usually do a 500 piece on a large city like Los Angeles, New York City, Minnesota, or hot air balloons and parts of the United States we have visited. Growing up our family did puzzles and later with grandchildren we did them when we found a good one. We started with the five piece puzzle, then 25, 48, 63, 100 and even a 150 piece that our sons did 40 years ago! One Christmas we were working on a 500 piece, and three year old Sydney sat on our dining room table and we would tell her, “Sydney, look for a red piece.” On one visit of our Minnesota son and family to Arizona we were doing a 500 piece and two year old Luke was too young to help. We got to the end and one piece was missing. We looked on the floor and around the room. Sara, our daughter-in-law, said, “Isn’t it awful that the company isn’t more responsible to make sure the pieces are all here.” Over comes Luke and gives us the missing piece!

When we were camping in trailer parks, many libraries in the parks had a 500 or 1000 piece puzzle “in the working stage.” Whoever came into the library could help solve the puzzle.

I love doing puzzles whether jig-saw puzzles, crossword, or Sudoku. I feel they are brain builders, a good activity to strengthen the family, and sometimes one is working with a person and helping others. I have tried some games on the iPad like Solitaire and Candy Crush, but feel nothing beats a good jig-saw puzzle and the feeling of completion when the picture appears! v

It’s Time

Barbara Schwartz

Time to take the heavy comforters off the beds and hide them in the closet. Time to take the blankets off the beds and put them away for the next several months.

Time to get out of the heavy sleepwear and put on the nice, light weight stuff.

Time to prepare for summer.

Ah yes, summertime in the southwestern desert area! Fear not, it is on the way!

Right now, in April, we have the best of the best; the temperatures are almost perfect; not too hot during the days and just about perfect during the nights. Daytime temps in the high 80’s or low 90’s might seem hot to someone in Wisconsin or Massachusetts right about now (where, by the way, they are still having snow flurries) but, rest assured, it is not hot. Not by a long shot! Just be sure not to tell any of your friends in other parts of this country; we would have four million more snowbirds and part-time winter visitors than we already do!

Right now, we can open our windows and doors and let the nice cooler weather into our homes to start the day off with some lower household temps. The only trouble with letting the coolness in is that we also let the dust in and we end up dusting and cleaning the floors on a daily (sometimes twice daily) basis.

Be sure to sit back and enjoy these great days. By the time June gets here, the 90’s might just be a memory as we face daytime highs of over 100 degrees – sometimes over 110 degrees – and the only 90’s we might see will be at 7:00 in the morning!

Before too long, we will be hermetically sealed in our homes from dawn to dusk leaving the comfort of the air conditioned home to the air conditioned car to the air conditioned mall or wherever we are headed and putting the whole thing into reverse until we get back home to the air conditioned comfort of the living room! Word to the wise: during June, July and August, plan on rising very early and getting all outside activities done and being back into your home by 11:00. Get plenty of books from the library to read as you will probably be spending the rest of the day inside.

I have always said that during the icy cold winters in the rest of the country that “I don’t have to shovel sunshine” or that “simply don’t understand why and how they can live in that kind of weather.”

I guess that the shoe is on the other foot now and that the rest of the country sits back and wonders how we can live in this kind of heat. It is easy: in Arizona, we are all desert animals – living in a cave during the day and coming out only at night when the sun goes down and it feels a bit cooler.

Ah, yes, Arizona: love it or love it – we are all in this together for the summer! v

(How to balance what I don’t know with what I do know).

Bernice Kantrowitz

Last night when I was speaking to my daughter, Sally, I told her that I couldn’t think of anything to write about. I mentioned that I asked the computer to help me out. “What do you write about when you have nothing to write about?” I asked the computer and the reply was, “Write about what you know.” “Well do it,” she said. “But I don’t know anything,” I said. “You’re 90 years old,” Sally said, “you must know something.” “No,” I responded, “I don’t know anything. It took me this long to discover that in the big picture a lot of what I thought I knew has changed. At this point in my life I don’t know anything.” “Well write about that,” she said. A light bulb lit up in my head. Finally, a topic I can write about. I thanked Sally for being so helpful and started to write about what I don’t know. Even though I had a topic I still didn’t know how or where to start. I just started to think and this is what I randomly thought about.

One thing that has bothered me recently is that I don’t know how to keep the pigeons from messing up the pavement right outside my front door. It isn’t the perfect cure but I have found that aluminum foil scares them away. My daughter, Polly, told me about it and I was skeptical but I tried it in desperation. I have to tell you, I don’t understand how – but it was a simple solution and it worked.

I don’t know how to run a corporation or be a CEO and I have no desire to do it. Nor do I know much about how to make money. In spite of that, I know how to spend money and as long as I keep my checkbook balanced – with a little help from my daughter, Molly – I’m good.

I don’t own a gun nor do I know how to shoot one. But I know that if the need is there I can call 911 and hope for the best.

I don’t have a green thumb. When it comes to growing my own vegetables I’m a complete failure and I don’t know what to do to make them grow. But I know how to eat them. Sometimes I get bored with vegetables and as a result I end up eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I’ve always regretted it that I don’t know how to play bridge. I tried it once and didn’t like it because they didn’t talk and they played like it was brain surgery. It wasn’t much fun. As a result I enjoy playing poker and Mah Jongg because you can talk and play at the same time. At least I do.

I confess that I don’t know how to build a car, change the oil or check my tires but I know how to take it to a car service and pay them to do it for me. All the while I’m hoping they don’t try to rip me off because I am a dumb old woman.

I don’t know how to survive in the wilderness but I have learned to survive in the desert. It makes sense that when it gets to be 105 degrees I don’t go out until the sun goes down. I also drink a lot of water and always make sure the a.c. is in good condition.

I don’t know how to stand up in front of an audience and tell a story without becoming extremely nervous. But I know how to be relaxed when I read a paper, sitting down, in front of an audience once a week. Thanks to the Writer’s Group.

Even though I don’t know much, especially how to start a paper, I know how to end one.

The end.