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Lantern Festival

I think back to some of the flowers I knew as a child: the hollyhocks, the Japanese lanterns, the bleeding hearts. I don’t remember impatiens, which are so prevalent now. In my mind, I can still picture one of my teachers as she pinched dead leaves from the geraniums in our classroom. I still remember the pungent geranium odor.

Back to our trip to Branson: After our time at the Tanger Outlet and our quick visit to the Shoji Tabushi Theatre, we had some time to rest. Then we went to the Fall Creek Restaurant. The place was filled with people. We sat at long tables. Then we enjoyed a mini show. One of the chefs, Rudy, came around to each table and threw rolls at the diners. Thank goodness Hubby caught both his and mine. (I would have needed a catcher’s mitt.) The food was good and we thoroughly enjoyed Rudy’s performance.

From the restaurant, we were taken to the Starlite Theatre for the Rankin Brothers’ show. Mark and Matt Rankin, while playing their guitars, took the audience down Memory Lane with the hits of Elvis, Neil Diamond, the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, the Righteous Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. (Buddy Holly’s widow, Maria Elena, even has words of praise in the show’s brochure.)

After the show was over, we went back to the Settle Inn. We were warned that we should pack an overnight bag with enough clothing for our trip home. We would not have access to our large suitcase until we arrived home. This time, I remembered to put my toiletries in the carry-on bag and not in my large suitcase as I had done on the way to Branson. Before long, we were up again and eating breakfast while being serenaded by Tucker and Denny for the final time. We flew back to our room so that we could put our large suitcases outside the door for pick-up. Off we went on the first leg of our trip home. We stopped at the Russell Stover Outlet and bought some candy. I bought a box of “seconds” for about $4. (I rationalized that “seconds” had fewer calories than first quality candy.) We stopped at a McDonalds in St. Clair, Missouri, so that we could fortify ourselves for the next big event of our trip.

As we came closer to St. Louis, we peered out the windows of the bus to see the magnificent Gateway Arch. Hubby took a couple of dozen photos of the Arch. He even has a photo of our pals, Gregory and Sarah, with the Arch overhead. He had to get down on the ground to get that photo. As we enter the Gateway Arch building, there were metal detectors. I figured that my new knee would set off the alarm and I started to pull up my pant leg. “You are all set,” said the guard. We asked another guard what it was like to go up in the Arch in the little carts. He said, “It is just like being inside a washing machine.” I wasn’t sure whether I would go up into the Arch or not after that explanation but the decision was already made for us. We didn’t have enough time to go on the ride. Off we went to the gift shop. That was fun. I found a lovely t-shirt with the Gateway Arch printed on it and bought it for Sue, who was tending our home for us. (That was all she wanted.)

Back we went to the bus and were taken to Ryan’s Family Steakhouse in Effingham, Illinois. On the way to our hotel, the Comfort Inn South in Indianapolis, we were told to set our watches and cell phones ahead one hour. We had no problem sleeping after being on the road for much of the day. Off we went to Columbus, Ohio. We arrived at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. (We all laughed at the name, “Franklin Park.”) It reminded me of Mrs. Jack Gardner’s Palace. We immediately went upstairs to the small dining area. Since Hubby and I were two of the last to be served, we didn’t get a chance to look around the conservatory. We understand the butterfly area was lovely. There was also a place set aside for weddings.

The next few hours are a blur. We traveled a great deal and ended up at our hotel, the Sleep Inn in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We were very fortunate. In front of our hotel was a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. We sat with our friends Eileen and Mary, who were already seated. We always enjoy Cracker Barrel’s food so we were all pleased. We sauntered back to our motel and packed up all our things. We would be home on Sunday.

We were up early, ate breakfast, and then went to Mass at St. Patrick Shrine Church in Carlisle. We were ready for the final day of our trip.

When we got into Massachusetts, our church friend Jean gave us her cell phone so we could call daughter Sue. Sue was at a family cookout, which, unfortunately. we were not able to attend because of the trip. She would meet us at St. Brendan Church. Because this was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, there was little traffic so we had no problems getting home. Sue arrived a few minutes after our bus did. We thanked Eileen for planning the Branson trip. It was a place we wanted to visit for years.

Thoughts on our trip: If I were to travel that far again, I would fly. My ankles did swell a little and my knees did rebel from being bent for so long on the bus. If we had flown, however, we would not have see mile-upon-mile of flat farm land. (We are still trying to figure out the crops.) I was shocked at how hilly Branson was. Then Hubby said to me, “We’re in the Ozark Mountains. Of course, it is going to be hilly.” I wouldn’t like to be in a car in Branson during an ice storm. Branson is well worth the trip, other than on icy days. We didn’t even see half of what was there during our few days. We never even visited a section of Branson called “Silver Dollar City,” that also has quite a few shows. (Mary Jepsen told me about Silver Dollar City.) I would definitely visit there. It was exciting to go across the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch was awesome. McDonald’s Restaurants are everywhere. The prices on most things in Branson were reasonable, although even clothing is taxed. I think back to the miles we traveled through mostly beautiful areas. Yakov Smirnoff summed up our trip perfectly: “What a (great) country!” The beautiful Buddhist-inspired Lantern Festival will be held at the Forest Hills Cemetery on Thurs, July 16, 6 to 9 p.m. Make paper lanterns @$10 in memory of a loved one and sail them, with accompanying music, on the small lake with a lit lantern on each float; $10 parking fee. Take the Orange Line to Forest Hills.

I am sure that I join many in thanking Fr. Dan Finn for celebrating a Healing Mass at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 12. There were quite a few senior citizens plus a few younger people at the Mass. Fr. Dan was assisted by Rev. Leonard Kayondo and Deacon Van Nguyen. We were fortunate to be sitting with Sister Helen Roberts and parish secretary Judy Greeley. Sister Helen even asked daughter Sue and me to bring up the Offertory gifts. All during Mass our friend Maria Rossetti Polvere Tufo played the piano. (Her husband Joe was sitting beside her.) Each person in the hall was anointed during the middle of the Mass.
After Mass was finished, we were all invited to help ourselves to the buffet. We had seen our pal Gerard outside the hall so we knew that the food would be great. (His meatballs and sauce are scrumptious.) All Fr. Finn asked was that each person give a voluntary offering for the food. Just before we sat down to eat, I had a chance to chat with our friend Mary Norton. She looked wonderful after being ill earlier this year. It was so good to see her “out and about.” I asked her to remember Hubby and me to her sister Nora Boyle.

I was saddened by the death of Msgr. Tom McDonnell on Flag Day, June 14. I would often chat with him on the phone when he called into our office to see if his weekly column for this newspaper had come in over the fax machine in good shape. On Wednesday, just before he passed away, I was chatting with him and his pal Sister Peggy Youngclaus in the lobby of the Carney Hospital. When I asked how he was feeling, he said, “O.K.” He would never complain. I was, therefore, shocked when I heard of his death. (His heart finally gave out after battling cancer for years.) I send my sympathy to his sister, Sister Immaculata, and to his brother George. I am sure he is in Heaven praying for all his many friends here on earth.

Here is a saying by Abraham Lincoln: “Lean liberty is better than fat slavery.” Be glad we live in the U.S.