Category Archives: Ardine Martinelli

September 22 – Wedding or Bust

by Ardine Martinelli


Getting married in Reno, NV offered many unexpected surprises. With family and friends coming to our wedding, Frank and I flew into Reno the day before to find a wedding site. We figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a chapel in the heart of Reno–the marriage and divorce capital of the country.

Frank booked the wedding suite at the MGM Grand Hotel. Upon entering our room, we were greeted by a large red heart-shaped bed on a pedestal. I literally bent over in laughter as soon as the bellhop left. Frank and I sat on the bed giggling like two teenagers and flopped back looking up at a large ceiling mirror.

After settling in, we needed to find a chapel for our wedding. We asked at the front desk where we might find wedding chapels and they looked at us with a smile and, I’m sure a silent, “DUH, you’re in Reno.” But they were polite and said, “Oh, I don’t think you’ll have any problem there’s one on every corner, just walk down the street.”

Totally confident we began our search. The first one looked a little too glitzy with a big neon sign flashing over the double doors of wrought iron. Passing this one up, we came upon one with a more subdued front. Walking in we found plastic flowers covering an altar and went up both sides of the small aisle. Cracked linoleum covered the floor. A plastic Jesus hovered over the altar. The fragrance of moldy plastic permeated the place. After three more chapels with all the same decor, I was almost in tears. What did I expect in Reno? Experiencing a severe case of cramps, I just wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. Cramps, plastic Jesus’, neon lights and a red heart-shaped bed were not what I envisioned for my wedding. We slowly walked back to the MGM, unable to face one more “wedding chapel.”

Walking into the hotel I noticed a sign that said Wedding Chapel with an arrow pointing down a long hall. Why not? Following the signs, we came upon the most beautiful double doors made of rich mahogany with elegant stained glass. Inside we found a very sedate chapel, the decor in subtle mauves, grays and blues. The chapel was all I had hoped for, very tasteful carpeting, seating, and no altar. Now the big question, was it free tomorrow? Yes! We scheduled our wedding for 11:00 a.m. and reserved the room in the restaurant for a luncheon to follow. You may ask, “Why didn’t we check the MGM first?” My question exactly! I’m sure there was a reason for our afternoon excursion through the chapels of Reno.

Ardine Martinelli lives in the beautiful NW and loves hiking, gardening, reading, and, of course, writing. SCN has been a wonderful prod for her to continue writing. She is a spiritual director and retreat leader.

October 19 – A Wake-Up Call

by Ardine Martinelli

The skies are a clear blue as we snorkel off the Kona coast. What a leisurely day of pure pleasure, being on the ocean, spotting spinning dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and a great humpback whale. Mother nature offers us so many gifts to feed our souls. It’s hard to remember she can also be a treacherous, dangerous, howling force.

After a wonderful day, we return to our condo on the South tip of the Big Island, Hawaii. Saturated with sun and astounding beauty, we went to be early to rest and restore for another day. I am awakened from a deep sleep with pounding on the door and someone calling, “Get up, this is a Tsunami alert, you must evacuate in two hours”. Stumbling to the door he tells me, “Plan on being gone a couple of days, take medication, water, plane tickets, etc.”.

I wake my friend, telling her we have to pack and be out within two hours. Like me, she’s a little fuzzy, but we get ourselves in gear and begin packing up the car. There is no time for fear; we just start packing so we can get to higher ground. Luckily we thought to take pillows, blankets, and some food.

We were told to go north to a small town with a community center. Arriving in town we filled up with gas and were directed to the community center. My image of emergency shelters was what I’d seen on TV. Cots lined up, a table with coffee, rolls, etc. and someone coordinating the center. Not here.

Several cars were already gathered in the parking lot, and all were congregated on the steps of the center. This is where we learned of the massive earthquake that hit Japan. We had no TV or radio at the center to keep us updated, so Lorie and I went to the car to sleep. We slept fitfully until about six. With no news, we took a long walk through the small town, scoping out any restaurant for breakfast.

The prominent feeling I had then and still have is one of deep gratitude. We had a car to get us to safety, and to sleep in. Inconvenient, sure, but we were safe at all times. It was a tiny window to see what happens in an emergency. People cooperated and helped one another. We were a small community so we didn’t face the long lines for gas and bathrooms that those in Kona experienced. All we did was pack up, move to higher ground, and sleep in our car. We were back in our condos by noon the next day, enjoying the rest of our vacation, but with a different consciousness. This experience brought the reality of how fast life can change. This was a wake up call. I don’t want to forget how fragile life can be and how swiftly it can change.

Ardine lives in Tacoma, WA where she is a Spiritual Director and retreat leader. Her interests include: gardening, hiking, reading, traveling, and good conversation with friends. She has been a member of Story Circle Network for four years and loves the incentive and inspiration it continues to give her to write.

November 22 – A Day to Remember

By Ardine Martinelli

November 22, 1963 is etched in my memory, burned in my soul. I was a 20 year-old junior at San Francisco State College. It was Wednesday, and I was excited to finish up my classes and get home to Sacramento for Thanksgiving.

My Child Development class ran from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. After class some of us stayed and talked for about 30 minutes regarding the class assignment and the lecture that day. Finally leaving, I walked across the quad to meet my friends for lunch in the Redwood Room. It was a clear crisp fall day, the leaves crackling beneath my feet. It seemed too quiet in an eerie sort of way. There was not the usual greetings, or laughter, or chatter that generally permeates a college campus. I noticed this, yet really didn’t take notice, until afterwards.

I entered the Redwood Room and again noticed a hush throughout the student center. As I walked up to my friends, they looked up and said, “President Kennedy has been shot.” I remember clearly saying to them, “That’s not even funny.” I turned and walked away, getting in line for lunch. As I stood in line, I began hearing snippets of conversation. “He was shot in the head.” They don’t think he is going to make it.” “It was in Dallas.” My body froze. I suddenly felt numb, knowing it was true. I slowly left the line and walked back to the table. With tears in my eyes I asked my friends what happened. As they were telling me, a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that President Kennedy had died. There was total silence, the only sound, utensils dropping onto plates.

For most college students, especially at San Francisco State, President Kennedy was our shining light, our hope for the future. I felt I had been kicked in the stomach; I literally bent over and cried. Eventually voices started up, we got up and got our lunches and sat and talked for the rest of the afternoon. All classes had been cancelled until the following Monday.

My cousin, a student at San Jose State, was going to pick me up in front of the school at 4:00 p.m. to drive home to Sacramento. Back then there were no cell phones so I waited around campus sharing my grief with other students. I finally started my walk across campus to 19th Street to meet up with Phil. As I entered the quad, hundreds of students and faculty stood silently, some holding candles, as someone, from a nearby rooftop, played Taps. It echoed out over the entire campus as we all tried to comprehend something that was incomprehensible. Whenever I hear Taps, I am back standing on the quad of San Francisco State College grieving the loss of our President.

Ardine Martinelli has been a member of SCN for two years. She is a Spiritual Director and retreat leader living in Tacoma, WA.