Who needs a red rose?

Is it just another Hallmark holiday?

Maybe to some.

I’ve heard the annual laments about feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day if your not in a romantic relationship.

I get it.

But my whining’s been redirected to the overly inflated importance of the red rose.

“What do ‘ya mean you’re out of the red ones, and the yellow are 75 bucks delivered?”

I used to hear that question repeatedly from male shoppers every Valentine’s week as I’d try to convince them that a perky pink azalea was a better choice for both price and longevity.

I was working in a busy, local florist shop at the time.

Eventually I’d wear each shopper down and they’d go ahead and order the plant. But they were never happy.

A decade later my late husband Richard joined in the fun and placed an order to send me red roses for our first Valentine’s Day.

We’d met just a month earlier and he was disappointed that he was going to be away on business for the holiday.

When the big day arrived, I received a Victorian lace trimmed card in the mail along with a phone call and a question.

“Did you like your special delivery?”

“Absolutely,” I replied.

But Richard seemed to hint of something more showing up in my apartment lobby.

It never did.

Though a week later, with Richard still away, one of his co-workers called me.

“Please don’t tell him, but the florist has been calling after repeated attempts to deliver at the wrong address. It was supposed to be a big surprise.”

I told her to tell the florist to just send them to my office. And the weary bouquet was finally delivered.

These days I still tend to avoid red roses.

I prefer to keep my holiday rituals simple, by mailing cards and candy hearts to those I love.

But this year I’ll also be admiring old Valentines of those no longer with me, but who remain forever in my heart.

Maybe that’s what the holiday’s all about.

Or should be.

Art, memories and time


Yesterday I drove into the city to meet two old friends for lunch. I hadn’t seen them for over a decade. I couldn’t believe how fast the years had gone by.

“Time flew out the window. It was my fault,” I said.

I’d let my years of caregiving get in the way.

The restaurant I was visiting sits on a busy street, walking distance from the 1920’s house I lived in after college. I was happy to see some of my old favorite art related businesses and restaurants still thriving in this eclectic neighborhood, including the one I was visiting.

The eatery’s also right around the corner from where Grandma Hazel used to live in her little brick apartment building. When I’d stay overnight, we’d always shop at the grocer down the block. Then she’d treat me to chewy, caramel filled chocolates at the candy shop next door.

Though the candy store is long gone, the 90 year old grocery is still thriving. And they sell the same chocolate Grandma used to buy me in the shop. I was thrilled. I love it when some things don’t change.

My musical Grandma Hazel was one creative lady. Even as she got older and had to surrender her piano when she moved into her old apartment building, Grandma found other ways to express herself.

One way was through her baking. I love this photo of sweet Grandma, smiling and proud of this masterpiece of a Valentine she baked for Dad. I kept thinking of her and the photo as I nibbled on my rich dessert yesterday.

After lunch, I drove past a very busy church where a funeral service for Joan Mondale, wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, was being held. Often called “Joan of Art’ around here, she’d been a supporter of young artists and a potter herself.

I heard later on the local news, former President Jimmy Carter shared in his eulogy for her, “Live your life
as though it was a work of art.”

Good advice. I believe my Grandma always did along with Joan.

With that thought in mind, maybe I’ll get out now and take some photos before dark.

As it seems sturdy old buildings often stand tall longer than people do.

But lucky for us, their legacies continue.

Feline friends forever


I don’t ever remember Mom talking about about having a cat as a little girl. But I believe she was quite fond of them.

And particularly so back in 1935.

She was also very fond of Valentine’s Day.

I found a few more of her old cards this week, tucked in with some family photos.

I love the sweet little poem in the card on the lower right.

“This lets the Cat out of the Bag
I really think you are
The nicest one of all the folks
I ever knew – by far!”

That so perfectly describes my Mom.

Sweet as a purring kitty.

No wonder she received so many Valentines when she was young.

An evening of love

I may have a date.

And it’s for Valentine’s Day.

This year the calendar shows it’s a Friday. That’s less than one month away, and frankly I’m as excited as a stoic Norwegian can be.

I came up with the idea this morning as heavy snow flakes fell outside my window. I’d pulled out Mom’s old Valentines from her grade school days spent in a small town in Minnesota.

Mom always loved this holiday of love. “You need something special to warm you up in a below zero winter,” she’d often tell me.

Now I’ll be the one warming up before doing the asking, but I believe my answer will be yes. I’ve heard the potential invitee is actually pretty fond of me.

I’m thinking I need to get busy now to prepare for the big event.

I want my house perfect. The dining room table is full of paperwork that needs to be filed. The carpets need cleaning. And my red tablecloth, candles, and heart trimmed dishes need to be found for this special occasion.

Also a perfect menu needs to be planned.

I’m leaning towards a wonderfully warm tomato bisque as a starter, then pasta with my special red sauce. And of course a decadent chocolate dessert, with a sparkling beverage to wash it down.

I’ll also need to clean up the guest room and put some rose scented sheets on the bed. Maybe I’ll even pick up some new pink towels and heart shaped soap for the bath.

Fresh red tulips, a matching box of candy, and selections of soft music should finish off my shopping and to-do lists.

I know it’s going to be one perfect evening.

I just made the call to my date.

And my sweetheart of a loving six year old granddaughter said, “Yes!”