Valentine card

Valentine card

Take Love for Granted
by Jack Ridl

Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, “That’ s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”


Love stamps

Love stamps

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung, and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with your hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
— C. S. Lewis, quoted in In Pursuit of Love:  Catholic Morality and Human Sexuality by Vincent Genovesi

I love this reminder to keep my heart soft, vulnerable and open.  Happy Valentine’s Day!


A jogger encounters a Valentine's Day reminder along the path at Green Lake.

I love the idea of “Art in the Park,” and perhaps even more so when the art appears to pop up spontaneously without the sponsorship of a formal event.  So the Valentine’s Day art at Green Lake was an unexpected delight.  Here are some of the images from my Valentine’s Day walk around Green Lake:

A bouquet of real roses sheltered in the hollow of a Southern Catalpa tree at Green Lake.

Detail of Valentine's Day roses

Valentine garland circles a tree along the path at Green Lake.

I think the rowers were oblivious to this installation of hearts.

A curtain of red carnations dangles near a park bench.

The screen of dangling carnations wafts in the breeze off the lake.

Art in the Park on Valentine's Day

A spot of red, an apple in the crook of a tree at Green Lake

Apple art: another apple impaled on a tree branch at Green Lake

Even this lost fleece jacket, hung on the corner of a park bench, resembled a red Valentine's Day heart.

A heartfelt thanks to the anonymous artists who shared their lovely Valentine’s Day art in the park with us.  And a special thank you to my friend Lynne, who sent me an early morning email urging me to get out for a walk to see these creations in their natural setting.

Snowdrop-Inspired Valentines

February 14, 2012

Watercolor Valentine

Another version of a snowdrop-inspired Valentine

Re-inventing Valentines

February 14, 2011


Valentine candy display


Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Woven paper heart

I remember making these woven paper hearts years ago, and I found the instructions here:  I made half a dozen hearts so that I could string them together and hang them in my kitchen window.  They are constructed in such a way that each heart forms a pocket, so instead of stringing them, you could use them as little heart baskets.

Paper pieces for six woven hearts

Weaving the first row

Four rows woven, one to go

Strings of hearts and snowflakes in my kitchen window

I made another hanging heart ornament by adapting the instructions for my star ornament (see and cutting heart-shaped pieces instead.  This was a project originally inspired by a tutorial on the Craftynest blog (

Hanging heart ornament

Slender Rosemary Heart

February 1, 2011

Slender heart wreath of fresh rosemary

It’s not too early to be thinking about Valentine’s Day, is it?

I got the idea for this simple heart-shaped wreath from the book, Swedish Christmas Traditions: A Smorgasbord of Scandinavian Recipes, Crafts and Other Holiday Delights by Ernst Kirchsteiger. I adapted the instructions he provided for a “Slender Lingon Heart” and used rosemary, the herb of remembrance, instead of lingon sprigs.  I love the simplicity of this project.  Smells heavenly, too.

Finding inspiration in this book of holiday crafts

Vintage Valentines

February 14, 2010

Vintage valentines from the 1960s

Valentines from my classmates in the 1960s

“Teach us to delight in simple things.”
     — Rudyard Kipling, “The Children’s Song”

Big valentine my daughter made when she was 5 years old

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Nature’s Valentines

May 22, 2009

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

“Love asks us to offer up our hearts for breaking.”
     —  Roger Housden, Ten Poems to Set You Free

The common names of so many plants are quite apt.  The bleeding heart is one such flower — it looks like a heart leaking a drop of blood.  I think of Roger Housden’s quote when I see it.

Heart-shaped Leaf

Heart-shaped Leaf

“A Perfect Heart”
by Ted Kooser

To make a perfect heart you take a sheet
of red construction paper of the type
that’s rough as a cat’s tongue, fold it once,
and crease it really hard, so it feels
as if your thumb might light up like a match,

then choose your scissors from the box.  I like
those safety scissors with the sticky blades
and the rubber grips that pinch a little skin
as you snip along.  They make you careful,
just as you should be, cutting out a heart

for someone you love.  Don’t worry that your curve
won’t make a valentine; it will.  Rely
on chewing on your lip and symmetry
to guide your hand along with special art.
And there it is at last: a heart, a heart!