Tag Archives: Celebration

June 4 – A Long Distance Graduation

by Patricia Roop Hollinger


“You want to do what?” my husband asked when I announced that I would like to drive 700 miles to Jacksonville, Florida to attend my great-nephew, Grant’s, high school graduation.

Travel has become a hassle that I try to avoid as the aging process has diminished my stamina, and my learning curve to figure out where and how to turn on bathroom lights in an unfamiliar toilet is, well . . . daunting.

As wary guests we arrived at the homestead before the big event. Yes, it is a big event when there are 400 graduates; I was a graduate in a class of 24. There were the usual hugs and “Hi, how are you?”, “My how you have grown”, “Long time no see” chatter.

The chaos began when the kitchen stove was being dragged out the front door. A smoking stove with guests and an upcoming graduation was an unanticipated annoyance. We sat back and, in the blink of an eye, the newly arrived stove was installed before the mother of the graduate returned home from work (she was covering for a co-worker who had a death in the family). We wondered when the next crisis might evolve.

Another co-worker arrived with enchiladas, casseroles, and all the necessary eating devices. We just lined up to fill our paper plates and grab a plastic knife and fork. Any plush decorum was not the order of the day.

“So, Grant what are you required to wear tomorrow?” my niece asked.

“Oh, I am going to wear the black trousers I wore for that freshman event,” he replied.

“But, Grant, they don’t even fit you anymore!” she exclaimed.

A hasty shopping trip was in order.

On May 29, 2015, thousands of family and friends arrived at the Fleming High School graduation. Parents were in the bleachers while other family members, with lawn chairs in tow, marked their territory. There was nary a storm cloud in sight. The golden eagle flying overhead was Grant’s great-grandfather who died in 2001. Uncle Matt, the professional photographer, got a perfect shot of this magnificent bird soaring the graduates to their individual destinations. Afterward, with great efficiency, these thousands of people were back on the highway to return to various sites for further celebrations.

Packages awaited Grant as we gathered around to ohhhhh and ahhhhh as he opened his gifts. I waited with bated breath as he opened the silver cup that was given to his great-grandfather on the occasion of his birth in 1909. Grant could see his reflection in it and stared with awe and wonder. This silver cup was very symbolic for me. While recovering from rheumatic fever as a child my mother would serve me crushed ice and orange in this cup.

“Grant, cherish this cup and may orange juice be the strongest drink you ever guzzle from this cup during your college years,” I told him.

Patricia Roop Hollinger married a high school heart-throb in 2010. Grant, Grace and Graham were her attendants for this event. She now lives in a Retirement community in Westminster, Maryland. She is retired as a Pastoral Counselor/LCPC, hospice volunteer, cat lover, musician, voracious reader and now in pursuit of honing writing skills.


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.

September 16 – Oh Say Can You See

by Patricia Roop Hollinger


Excitement began to build like a crescendo when playing the Rhapsody in Blue on the piano, as I anticipated the Star Spangled Banner event being held at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD.

My husband and I boarded the bus with eighty or so other residents who live in the retirement community with us, all in varying stages of navigation, some with canes adorned in red white and blue.

Overcast skies did not dim the possibilities that the Blue Angels would be flying overhead–this being the awaited-for event of the day.

Boarding the Spirit of Baltimore became a feat in and of itself. Ah! The staff assisting sighed relief when all were seated with nary a trip up the gangplank.

Loud music blasted from the DJ’s quarters. Most of us this age experience waning hearing abilities even without the aid of hearing devices. The possibility of having a conversation over dinner was ruled out as one of the pleasures of the day.

Ah! But we will see the Blue Angels fly overhead. That is the teaser.

Overcast skies became clouds bursting with rain, not bombs, and it trickled through the roof of the Spirit of Baltimore.

“Be thankful it is not bombs,” I said to myself.

Joe Biden arrived at Fort McHenry in a helicopter. The Inner Harbor was lined with people as far as the eye could see and the excitement was palpable, but the Blue Angels did not fly overhead.

Then, it was time to board the bus and return to the Retirement Village. The plodding back to the bus was even slower than the disembarkment.

We arrived home safely, greatly appreciated and watched the Star Spangled Banner event on our TV, under a dry roof, and with a remote that could control the noise level.

Ah! Now this made it a Star Spangled Event.

Patricia Roop Hollinger is a retired chaplain/LCPC. Hospice volunteer, avid reader, cat lover, music lover and now in pursuit of honing her writing skills.

October 3 – Fall

by Melissa Dallago

Spring is commonly associated with a time of rebirth and renewal; a time of the robins returning to the trees and blossoming flowers. Fall is considered to be a time of harvesting the bounty and preparing for the coming winter. I do not ascribe to these sentiments of fall and spring. On the contrary, I consider fall to be a time of resurgence and rejuvenation, but then again, I am a fall baby born into this glorious season.

When fall arrives my spirit feels stronger; a sense of purpose enters my step. Fall is my time of year for being thankful for the joys in my life, a la Thanksgiving, but also of planting seeds for my future endeavors. Much like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon during springtime, I erupt from mine and burst forth onto the world during the fall.

I love my autumn colored clothes coming out of the closet for the cooler weather. I adore wearing my favorite boots for the first time in the year. I love the dry, cinnamon smell of the red and orange leaves. I especially enjoy celebrating Halloween with its black cats, witches and monsters. I start planning my costume months before, much like an early Christmas shopper. I wait in anticipation for the haunted houses to open so I can get the crap scared out of me. I also love Thanksgiving and my mom’s homemade cooking.

I relish in fall; embracing everything about it. So while others are turning their thoughts to the fast approaching winter, I dance through the falling leaves in my favorite boots, drinking hot apple cider, and giggling with the ghosts; celebrating my time of rebirth and renewal.

“My name is Melissa Dallago, and I live in Safety Harbor, Florida. I am a member of the Internet Chapter as well. I’m an aspiring writer and I am hoping to improve and grow in my writing.”

July 11 – Good Morning

by Andrea Savee

Tomorrow, my brain will be both bombarded and caressed and sections that have been asleep for forty-three years will wake up. My perception of the world, and maybe myself in it, will change, without me taking a drug, staring at a wall for a week, or having a near death experience.

I feel giddy and special. Like it’s the night before the biggest birthday party of my life. A party with one whopping $5600 gift to myself of Danish technology: hearing aids.

My childhood ears were ravaged by chronic infections. Surgical and pharmaceutical interventions–a steady dose of prescription strength Sudafed and Actifed, tonsil and adenoidectomies, drainage tubes, and finally a tympanoplasty — couldn’t prevent severe damage to the ossicular chain, that trio of articulating bones we learned about in elementary school: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. By age nine, I’d lost considerable hearing in my right ear and was nearly deaf in my left.

Somehow, I’ve spent four decades never even considering hearing aids or the surgery that I’ve learned could restore my hearing to normal. Seeming to naturally embody the phrase It is what it is, I adjusted. In school, I sat up front. In work and play, I reflexively positioned myself to the left of someone I wanted to hear. I watched the mouth of the person speaking more than I did their eyes.

Tomorrow, I’ll immerse myself in a surround sound scenario that will reportedly rock my world as the brain scrambles to sort it all out. Alicia, the audiologist, warns me that as the upper registers of my hearing range flood with information, I may be distressed by the simplest sounds of living. Dishes clanking. Keys jangling. Freddie Mercury.

But there will be soothing sounds, too, as the lower registers open up and round things out. The hooting desert owl. Eggs boiling in the covered pot. The cat purring from the far end of the couch. I can hardly wait for someone to whisper in my ear.

And being buttressed on both sides now by the sounds of the world will bring clarity. No more mistaking the dribbling hose for chirping birds. The whirring motor several lawns away for bees humming in the trees overhead.

After my initial workup, the otologist asked me with a softened voice how I’ve managed all my life. I was touched by her tenderness. She asked if I’d grown up in a small town without access to good medical care. I hadn’t. In fact, my dad was a doctor. What ifs swirled around the exam room and around the question of why I hadn’t been treated with antibiotics. My later Google search suggests that whether and when to treat children with antibiotics is still the judgment call my parents made back in the 60s.

The child who lost access to half her world when the left side dropped away doesn’t need what ifs. She just needs hearing aids. The ReSound Alera 961 to be precise. I like the sound of that.

Andrea lives in California with her Queen-loving husband, and their cat, Chico.

February 17 – Valentine’s Day Is Not Neccessary

by Carol Kunnerup

Children buzz into to the preschool, faces alight and chirping about the treats they have in their backpacks. Each child tells about their Valentine’s cards–Super Heroes and Disney characters. They all want to know when they can pass them out to their friends.

The day runs on schedule just as we’d hoped, even with a preponderance of 3 year olds. Children busy themselves with the business of learning at exploration centers throughout the classroom.

Lunchtime comes and the excitement is palpably building. “After lunch everyone gets to pass out treats, right, Miss Carol?” asks one little girl. All eyes are on me as I give an affirmative nod and smile.

Five minutes until lunch wrap up. The door opens and a gal comes in with two vases of flowers. The delivery gal says, “For Angie and Kathi.” I feel a twinge. No, more than a twinge. A full on tornado twisting in my stomach and mind. No flowers for me. I am almost embarrassed. Not good enough to receive a treat says a cruel, phantom voice.

My Danish husband does not celebrate Valentine’s Day. I know this in my head and heart. It is not a custom in Denmark and he has not picked up the habit living in the US since 1996. We have been together for 16 years. This is not something that is going to change.

I manage to pull myself together, offer congratulations, the appropriate oohs and ahhs, the, “oh you’re so lucky!” All sincere, by the way. These are my work mates. I am happy for them. They did not choose a Dane, after all.

The festivities go on as planned. Angie hands a bag to each child. Kathi and I make sure they have their treats and are lined up to pass them out. We have created an assembly line of sorts to minimize the chaos. Each child happily takes their turn delivering friendly treats, dropping small delights into bags with their friends’ names on them.
Lesson planning after the children have gone for the day is interrupted by, “oh, my husband is so sweet,” and “what a good guy I have.” I am still happy for them. I also realize that I am happy for me. I know that this show is not necessary for me to feel my husbands love. I am glad for others who celebrate, but do not feel the need.

I have reconciled myself to the fact that my husband finds that this piece of American culture is not one he will adopt. I have tried, and we laugh about it, but he tells me that he shows his love for me each day. He doesn’t need one day a year to “prove it with flowers and candy. It is not necessary.” His love is a daily occurrence.

Besides, I can get my own chocolate. And as for gifts, well, several boxes of various items from ebay will be arriving this weekend.

Carol is a wife, mother, grandmother and artist who LOVES living in rural South Dakota where she has, “Pens that won’t run out of ink, cool quiet, and time to think…” (Mary Chapin Carpenter) She is learning the blogging thing and getting passionate kisses from her man.

February 8 – One Dazzling Day

by Juliana Lightle

When people ask me who I am, I tell this true tale of one dazzling day:

The rancher next door called one Saturday morning begging for help. Three truckloads of yearling cattle had arrived; several of his cowboys had committed a no-show.

I pulled on jeans and boots, brushed my hair, and headed for the pens and chutes. I held their legs while they were “cut”, shot them full of meds, and branded. In four hours we worked over 300 head.

Lunchtime arrived. In one hour my volunteer job at the state park gift shop began.

No time for a bath; I smelled of smoke, blood, and poop. In one-half hour I applied make-up, mascara, blush, sprayed perfume all over me, changed clothes, and headed for work.

At five, I closed shop, went to the restroom, changed into the third outfit of the day and headed for a health care volunteer gala.

Two hours later I attended the opera, silently singing along.


Juliana Lightle writes on the canyon rim. Her new blog, Writing on the Rim, will appear in the next week. She raises horses, teaches high school, sings with a master chorale, and wanders.