A Short Tale of A Fairy Ball & Fashions for Valentine’s Day

Today is the Valentine’s Day Fairy Ball. There are several Fairy Balls a year, usually held outside, but due to inclement weather, tonight’s ball is being held in the Great Hall. Though buried in snow, the entry to the hall has been cleared and dressed in their finery, the attendees are gathering to celebrate, exchange Valentine cards, and dance the night away.

There will be party foods – wild mint teas with rose infused honey, warming citrusy tea from sorrel leaves and Douglas fir needles, cookies made from hazelnut flour and dried huckleberries, and a warm stew from dried mushrooms and the roots of many plants, seasoned with wild ginger. This is fairy food, they harvest what their plants willing give them.

This is the door to the Great Hall. It is deceptively small, for inside is indeed a great hall. With a warm fireplace, torches to light the way and hearts hanging from wooden beams, it is a cozy place for the ball to be held.

Tree Fairy (you may remember her from my December post),  is not a socialite, she prefers the company of her beloved trees, but she does love her fairy friends, so donning a fancy cape and hat she set off for the ball. Her little seed fairy friends are helping her take a string of hearts to help decorate the Great Hall. 

One of the many flower fairies, this fairy in pink, decked out in stilettos and ruffled pants, is ready to dance. She loves to dance! I wonder if that rose bud is for a special Valentine?

So am I going crazy? Telling fairy tales? No to both. (Well, maybe a little crazy.)

I started making plant mandalas in spring 2016, a creative sideline when harvesting herbs, flowers and wild plants for medicinal or culinary use. Soon mandala making expanded beyond harvest times. During the winter holidays that year I started making angels, and then my “stone faced flower girls” showed up, a descriptive, but not very poetic phrase, so they became fairies. Not fairies by the conventional definition, most have no wings, and none are impish or tricksters.  The simplest dictionary definition I’ve found for fairy is “a small imaginary being of human form that has magical powers, especially a female one.”  That best describes my fairies.  They are forest spirits, little beings made from that which they love – bits of plants, stones, seeds, etc., and who live in and care for Nature.  Some can be stubborn, ornery and protective when their beloved plants and trees are threatened, but they are generally gentle, kind and loving. They don’t interact with people much, preferring the plants they care for. Besides, they are busy enough with their work. They do love people who come to the forest, or a garden, to appreciate their plants and trees. They are especially fond of children and will show them the magic of nature and help them if they are lost in the woods. They can be found anywhere in Nature, from a tiny garden on the corner of a city street to distant forests in the mountains.

“Story” lines about each one come to me as I make them, their personalities and bio emerge as they do. Like the mandalas, making them is an unfolding process with no predetermined concepts. The results usually surprise me (and sometimes frustrate me.) Unlike traditional fairy tales, my short one or two story lines have no villains or heroes, no moral or life lesson, and are not  “dark”, as many fairy tales are.

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Another fairy dressed for the ball. For her fairy job she wears all leaves, but she made a pretty petal top for the ball. Oh, and her very special shell purse contains Valentine’s for the Valentine’s exchange.

Fairy tales go back thousands of years and were (are) written with an intention. They are tales with a purpose – to teach a lesson,  a moral code, etc.  Most the earlier tales were not necessarily written for children and because they often reflect the values and social attitudes of the times and/or author, they may not be useful or even appropriate as stories in today’s world. There are modern fairy tales, especially in the movies, and there are some classic and timeless tales of old. (see links below to articles about fairy tales.)

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Her card in one hand for the Valentine exchange, a torch in the other to help her find her way home, this pixie fairy is off for a night of celebration! She is beaming with love tonight for everyone….including you! 

Any tales that emerge with my forest spirits are simple whimsy, the only intention is to make you smile, or laugh….or think I’m crazy.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY  from the fairies…and me!

A few previous  Valentine’s posts:

Nature’s Hearts

Animal Love

Valentine’s Day

The Love Story I Never Knew

To view more of my fairies check out Flora Mandalas. Or visit my Instagram page.

Interesting articles about the history of fairy tales:

Where Do Fairy Tales Come From?

True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales

The love story I never knew…..

Dearest Ruth,

For once I ran out of envelopes before I ran out of paper. I guess this box of stationary was properly designed for both to just about come out the same.

Also for once I actually got my arms around you in a dream last night and saw you very plainly too. Mostly you’re just in my dreams and I feel your presence but I never actually am able to stand back and see you. But I must have been thinking of you exceptionally strongly yesterday – even more so than I usually do which is a lot. Because I remember that there was a bombing raid on and I ran into this apartment house to find you and you came out of a door and ran right into my arms. I could almost feel you in my arms and your cheek against mine and you looked very happy to see me too. Just like the first nite we met in New York – remember? Anyway it seemed so real that I woke up and was rather startled – I couldn’t figure out where I was. Next time you leave my dreams take me with you please?

Well a week from today is Valentines Day my darling and if everything goes right we will be able to mail these letters tomorrow and you will get this one not too far after the 14th. In which case will you be my Valentine? I know you will because you always have and it’s lucky I am for your the sweetest Valentine a man could ever hope for. Darling I love you very much, more than I can ever tell you and I can only hope that I can soon be with you so I can demonstrate in various little ways how great is my love for you. This year I haven’t a Valentines Day remembrance to send you. But next year I hope to bring you one personally.

Until that happy day my darling we’ll just wait and be patient. Knowing that our love and life together will be all the sweeter for our separation.

All my love,
Harry

P.S. I can’t say where I am of course but to ease your mind I can say that we are proceeding to an area relatively free from dangers. HH

 

a little locket of mom’s with a picture of dad and herself, likely from before they were married, maybe high school days.

Written February 7, 1945, this letter, written by my father to my mom while he was on a minesweeper in during WWII, was written only weeks after his ship participated in the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, an allied amphibious operation in the Philippines to retake the bay from the Japanese. It was an operation similar to the more well known invasion of Normandy, with dozens of ship casualties, mostly from kamikaze attacks. He describes the invasion in a letter to his mother written in March of the same year. After describing the line up of ships ready to attack, he writes, “everyone has to wait until the cocky little minesweepers run in by the beaches to sweep for any stray mines before the first waves of landing craft come in. The whole gulf had been previously swept by us and the big minesweepers the 3 days prior to the landings before anyone else was there….”

I try to understand the extremes of emotions one goes through when at war, living in extreme danger, watching those around you get blown up, yet at the same time staying involved with life and loved ones back home. My father wrote my mother nearly every day, as I’m sure many soldiers and sailors did. The letters must of piled up since they were only able to send them periodically. Since their ship’s whereabouts were mostly secretive, letters to men on the ship were often delayed months. Shortly after this letter was written he received, from both grandmas and mom, the news that his first child, a son, was born January 30. Oh how the letters changed! They still began with “dearest Ruth”, or “my dearest”, and he still expressed his love and appreciation for her, but now he spoke of Kenny, or Ken, or K.B. – in every letter. He had the questions first time dads have, he wanted to know everything, he speculated on Ken’s future. He is proud and happy and clearly missed being with his new family. In the first post-birth letter he says he was “floating on the deck” and handed out cigars to all his ship mates. (This is funny because my parents never smoked, but tradition is tradition! The question is, where did he get them?)

From my perspective my father was not an emotionally expressive person, except when anger got the better of him. I never heard him say I love you or even show pride or approval to anything in my life, and I believe my brothers experience of him was similar. He did show his feelings in small ways. There were presents at Christmas that showed personal thoughtfulness. He wanted us to have life experiences, family vacations were important. He took the role of father and provider seriously, but was not emotionally connected to his children. And he always gave gifts and cards to mom for every Valentines Day, birthday, anniversary and Christmas, often very thoughtful, personal ones and always with a loving “Hallmark” type card. I think the feelings were there, but they were turned off.  Mom would say “ your father is proud of you” or some such thing, but I never knew if this was true or she was just “covering” for him.

My parents marriage, from my grown up analytical perspective, was not always easy. As a child I never felt I was growing up in a tumultuous home, but there were occasionally scary, volatile arguments behind closed doors. In many ways my parents were equal partners making major decisions together, in other ways it was a patriarchal home.

After reading letters between them before they married, as well as the small spiral notebooks kept in some secret place (a milk box or mail box?) in which they wrote notes to each other when Dad, in college, was working a graveyard shift, and Mom, younger than him, and still in high school was living with her mother, I have come to know how deep their friendship was, the strong values they shared, and the dreams they had and worked toward in their life together. I have learned their’s was a love story I never knew.

I think Dad may well have suffered from some degree of PTSD. The emotional impact of war, though recognized as far back as the Civil war, was not addressed as it is now. During the Korean War it was called “shell shock”, but the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a post Vietnam Nam War term. To be in a war zone, to participate in the killing of others and watch others be killed, any sane person would need to turn off the more sensitive parts of themselves. Some people cannot and are emotionally traumatized, others can and successfully turn that part of themselves back on once away from the trauma. Other’s cannot turn their feelings back on.

My dad had resiliency, his letters home to his wife and mom were generally up-beat, though he occasionally wrote of being homesick. He wrote about every day life on board the ship, especially the food, which was scarce in variety at times, then suddenly they’d get a drop off of fresh veggies, fruit, maybe cheese and eggs. Once there was a case of Washington apples, a treat from home for him!  He wrote about life at home, asking questions, always responding to things they would write him. Long, chatty, expressive letters, they showed gratitude for little favors done by others, like his mother sending flowers in his name when my brother was born. They also showed the practical pragmatic he was, he carefully asks about the cost of the glorious birth!

There were times I saw this expressive side of my dad, but for the most part he was the practical, the pragmatic. Late in his life, in his 70s and around the time he was first diagnosed with the prostate cancer which would eventually cause his death at 78, he began to draw, to write stories, to write poetry. I knew then there was a side to him he never attended to or nurtured, a side that wrote love letters and was able to show he cared about those he loved. There was a time that side was not turned off.

Dad with the woman of his dreams, his friend, his lover.

Dad’s dream about a bombing raid and looking for my mom in an apartment building may show his worry for those at home and the reality of living in Seattle during the war, when nighttime black-outs and a faux city was built on top of the Boeing plant to disguise it. Seattle was a target city, important to the war due to Boeing and not that far from Pearl Harbor.

The letters, diaries, little notebooks kept by my mother were not kept for others, I knew nothing of them until I cleaned out their house, yet they were preserved through various moves across the country, kept along with the cards, memorabilia and those “important” “dear Mom and Dad” letters from her children. I believe her private keeping of them was her own reserved way of honoring and cherishing the feelings expressed, especially the love. Maybe when the love was hard to see,  when their marriage was painful, she would read them.  I will never know.

I share this private love story on Valentines Day to show how love can be stifled, locked up and hard to notice.  How it can be injured. Look for it, it may just be scared to come out.

It may be in an old shoe box, hidden in an old letter.

♥️

other related stories:

Hearts and Califlower

“The Day of Days”

Natue’s Heart

Valentine’s Day

Animal Love

This is not a love story….

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love. How controversial can THAT be? It wasn’t invented by Hallmark, as many jaded folks feel about the whole affair. It does support the florist industry, not a bad thing, small flower shops could not thrive without it. And along with Halloween it probably keeps the candy industry afloat too. (There might be some controversy there, but as always, buy local and buy healthy.)

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Tin heart from Mexico

The most accepted version of how Valentine’s Day came into being is the story of a priest named Valentine. In the third century Emperor Claudius II decided single men were better soldiers then married men so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine felt this was grossly unfair and, defying Claudius, performed marriages in secret. He was caught and sentenced to death. As the story goes, he either struck up a friendship or fell in love with (depending on the version you read) the jailer’s young daughter and wrote his young friend a letter before being executed…. often referred to as the first Valentine.

There’s not a lot of hard evidence for this story, likely passed down originally by oral tradition, but having all the elements of a good story – rebellion in the name of love against an evil emperor, it has stuck.

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Paper mache heart decoration

Before the martyrdom of Valentine the feast of Lupercalia was celebrated from February 13 to 15. “Men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain…young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile.” This strange ritual was followed by a matchmaking lottery. Young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be coupled up for the duration of the festival, or longer. (1)

These two stories, blended together and soften over the centuries, thanks to Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the poets of the world, became today’s Valentine’s Day. Losing the early pagan mating rituals, and rarely seen as a Christian celebration, it became a day for children to hand out funny Valentines to friends and couples to find time to acknowledge and express their love for one another with flowers, candy, dinner out or whatever. Not a bad thing!

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A vintage cardboard decoration

Growing up, our family celebrated all the traditional American holidays. Somehow Mom found time between working full-time, raising three kids, and fulfilling the responsibilities of a typical housewife in the 50s and 60s, to do a little decorating, make a special dinner and, always, a special dessert for every holiday from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day and beyond. Christmas was a grander affair and Easter involved the extra tasks of buying Easter outfits and putting together Easter baskets.

Maybe because it was low-keyed, and definitely a family affair, I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day and never thought of it as a holiday exclusively for couples.  My brothers must have been influenced in the same way, because over the years I occasional receive Valentines from each of them, and I’m guessing not too many men send Valentines to their sisters! (Aren’t I lucky!)

As a single adult I pretty much did what mom did…decorate a little, make a special dinner, send Valentines to friends and family. I still do, most years. Mike greatly appreciates it all and it remains a low-keyed time to simply celebrate love, both within our marriage and beyond.

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delicate embroidery on a linen handkerchief

But this celebration of love has deeper meaning to me now than it did growing up. Call it Divine Love, Universal Love, Cosmic Love, or just Love with a capital “L”, it is a force greater than the lust of the early Roman couples or the amorous feelings of a condemned priest. It is the love felt when a mother looks into the face of her new born, when a friend holds the hand of a dying friend, or a spouse tenderly cares for their mate who does not recognize them any more. It is the warmth one feels with a long-time friend, or a spouse, when you share a moment of laughter at some ‘in joke’ and realize how deep and how lasting your relationship is. It is the compassion of a police officer who buys a homeless person a pair of shoes, or a child who saves her allowance and raises money to help people in a country he or she has never been to. This love is beyond romantic love. It is unconditional, made up of compassion, empathy, appreciation, respect. It is inclusive, accepting another person because you see beyond their actions, or their beliefs. Ignoring the differences that make them “other”, you see them with an understanding heart, not a critical mind. And you care about them.

This love has seemingly gone missing when you read the headlines. But it is alive and well in small compassionate acts of ordinary people who do extraordinary things, as well as every day deeds of kindness. It is alive when people take action from their hearts. It is in the stories that don’t make the headlines.

We can, and need to, nurture it and celebrate this love everyday. It’s what the world needs now, more than ever.

To celebrate it is perhaps an act of rebellion against the hatred being taught and glorified. This celebration of universal love for all, I think, would make the rebellious priest Valentine, who lost his life to help other’s celebrate their love, very happy!

Happy Valentines Day!

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(1) National Public Radio story on the origins of Valentine’s Day 

 

 

 

 

Hearts & Cauliflower

February…the down hill-side of winter, signs of spring appearing, day light stretching past 5:00, the month to celebrate love. Mike’s birthday! It is also the month chosen to bring awareness to heart health. Today, February 5th, women’s heart health is specifically targeted with the “go red for women” campaign.  Having found out this week my cholesterol is higher than it has ever been, I’m a little uneasy about this focus on heart attacks and strokes. I want to stick my head in the sand and focus on the love part of February and make Valentines. But being a worrier, and half way through my sixties, I don’t have a peaceful easy feeling, especially when the doctor says I need to eat less grains and more meat (I, a vegetarian since my late 20s except for the occasional fish) to bring the equally high triglycerides down. Eating more meat is in conflict with many cancer prevention diets (yesterday was World Cancer Day, but I don’t need a special day to remind me of cancer, I worry about that every day.)

Due to digestive health challenges most the time I watch carefully what I eat. Reducing options leaves me feeling there’s nothing left to eat that is safe, let alone interesting. But forging ahead I’ve come up with some new food ideas, one being an adaptation of an adaptation. My latest low-fat, no-grain, cancer fighting yummy is an versatile sauce that adds interest and flavor to any meal. And you don’t have to have any health issues to appreciate it!

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Cauliflower hummus on stemmed veggies

My body doesn’t like beans so I make a cauliflower hummus that’s deliciously addictive. This creamy sauce/dip has the same flavor as the bean variety because the flavor of hummus comes from garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil.  Tahini, rich in minerals and a good source of protein, does have a fair amount of fat. Besides the hummus, I often make other sauces with tahini, so to reduce my use of it, I came up with some new sauces, using the same grain-less, low-fat base…cauliflower.

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Cauliflower may not seem like a super star in the world of foods, but if you Google it you will find with the trend of Paleo diets, vegan diets and gluten-free diets, it has suddenly become very popular. It’s white color and mild flavor lends itself to many creative possibilities. The grainy texture, when cut up small, has been used as a substitute for dishes such as fried rice, and its ability to be creamy makes it masquerade as a stand in for mash potatoes. Cauliflower, like most veggies, has an abundance of potassium, and a few other nutrients.  In research done on the cancer fighting properties of cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is a star. It can be more digestible than broccoli for some people. In my book, cauliflower it is a super-star.

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Garlicky cauliflower cream sauce with goat cheese on quinoa

I’ve made two sauces to add flavor and interest to meals: a garlicky cream sauce and a lemon cream sauce.

As with the hummus, they both start with cooking the florets until they are soft enough to put a fork in. I steam mine in water, but you can also roast them, which adds a different flavor to recipes.

After the cauliflower is cooked, be sure to drain it well, using a slotted spoon, and put it in a blender or food processor. I use a small food processor and am happy with the texture, a blender would make it smoother.

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Cauliflower lemon sauce

For the basic sauce you can add your dietary preferences to enhance the creaminess. Butter and a little milk works, I use low fat coconut milk and no butter to keep the fat content down. In the hummus the tahini and olive oil (about 2 T. each) make it creamier.

If you want a garlic sauce, sauté enough chopped garlic for your taste, I use one large clove per two cups of cauliflower but more would be more garlicky and delicious! For additional flavor I had a pinch of salt, about 3 tablespoons coconut amino acids, and the spicy Vata churna I make. (see recipe on my recipe page.)

For a slightly cheesy sauce I add a mild local goat cheese, if you want it to be cheesier a stronger flavored soft cheese would work best, if it’s a hard cheese be sure it is grated fine.

For the lemon sauce, add to the coconut milk/cauliflower base a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon.

The garlic sauce is good on veggies, grains. The lemon sauce is also good on veggies and on fish. The sauces can be kept in the refrigerator and heated slightly when needed. I like to make them fresh but if there is some left over it tastes just as good the next day.

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Having fun felting hearts and adding beads! Our first crocuses emerged today, only to be drenched! Still, a lovely sign of spring!

 

As with all my recipes, these are basic ideas for you to experiment with and make your own.

Now I can get back to making Valentines and watching spring emerge!

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Happy February!

 

 

This is not a love story, or maybe it is…..

Writing about an old boy friend the day before Valentine’s Day may seem strange, and it is, but it’s only the beginning of this tale…..so please bear with me……..

The theme of the 1986 Vancouver Expo was communication and transportation. In 1986, I was in a relationship doomed to fail for all the usual reasons, including lack of honest communication. The title of the then popular book Smart Women, Foolish Choices was the mantra I ignored playing in the back of my mind throughout the nearly 18 months I tried to help someone with no history of settling anywhere, settle into my life. Mind you, I was not the one who started it all. After a brief encounter over a campfire in a campground, he looked me up, arriving in my front yard unannounced a few months later.  That was early summer 1985.

When my parents gave us tickets to the Expo as a Christmas present in 1985, they apparently had faith in the relationship lasting, at least until the following summer.  Though Gary and I had some good times together, it was a relationship that made me crazy in so many ways. Gary was a hard-working nice guy, with various well hidden addictions, and the unpredictable behavior of walking away from people…..past family, jobs, and a not-so-ex girlfriend. He had already walked away from our fledging relationship when he headed south the day he was to move from eastern Washington to a rental down the road so we could see where our relationship might go if we lived geographically closer. Embarrassing to say, though his behavior and words of explanation at the time couldn’t have been a clearer sign of what was to come if it had in fact been a neon sign, I convinced him to turn around, come back, give it a try. I reminded him he had a rental agreement with my friends who owned the house.

One of the many colorful modes of transportation exhibited at the 1986 world's fair in Vancouver.

One of the many colorful modes of transportation exhibited at the 1986 world’s fair in Vancouver.

We worked at being a couple for months, but by Expo time we’d tried for over a year and knew it was not going to work…..I think we “stayed together for the tickets.”  That September we went to Vancouver and stayed with a kind, witty, elderly couple, aunt and uncle of my mom’s best friend. We mostly went our separate ways at the expo. This was pre-cell phones, and at one point, when he failed to show at an agreed upon rendezvous, I assumed he had split. He hadn’t. I LOVED the exhibits I went to. I finally “saw” the Northwest Territories I’d dreamed of visiting since I was a child, collecting literature for the trip I still had hoped to take. At an African (I can’t remember which country) exhibit, alive with music and color, I bought a little thumb piano made from recycled tin. Gary and I were both enchanted by the brightly painted buses and trucks from Pakistan. When the weekend ended he hitched back to Washington to work, I set off for a solo vacation to the Canadian Rockies.

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Which gets me to the reason for this story at this time. Clearly, though it is Valentines Day, Gary was not the love of my life. (I’ll get to him.) No, it’s because this week I am sick with one of those flu viruses that hit ya about once a decade. And in the 80s, it hit me in the Rockies.

Feeling relieved to be away from Gary, I drove northeast toward Banff. This was the year before the opening of the Coquihalia Highway which streamlined the route between Vancouver and Banff.  The older route was longer and I enjoyed the scenery as I looked forward to mountains, camping, and traveling on my own, as I had for 7 years after the amicable end of my previous, one and only, long-term “significant relationship”.

I felt a sore throat the first night I camped. The second day, after a brief stop at Lake Louise Hotel, which was nearly empty (I guess everyone was at the Expo!) for the spectacular lake view, I arrived at a campground outside Banff late in the day. A mixture of rain and snow was just starting to come down. It was cold, and I was hot. I pitched my tent, cooked a meal inside it, and crawled into the back of my Toyota Corona where stormy weather outside reflected the fury raging in my body through a sleepless night.

The next day was one of those blue sky sunshiny days where, at those higher elevations, everything seems crystal clear and so bright there’s a feeling of other-worldliness. I, determined to see something in spite of how I was feeling, rode the gondola for what was indeed a surreal experience given that by then I had a high fever and chills and aches that made dying sound like nirvana and the only possible relief.

I did not have a credit card then. I called my mom, we both consulted the same B.C. guide-book, found an affordable motel just outside the park, heading south. She called, made a reservation, and I left, driving away from my dream vacation of hiking and traveling alone in the Rockies. I was both chilled and feverish, and drove holding to my forehead a wet cloth I would “refresh” from the melting ice in my cooler every 20 minutes. I undoubtedly drove through beautiful scenery, but I was just trying to stay on the road in what was starting to feel like a fever induced delusional state of mind. It was a long drive. I do remember one roadside stop where other cars had stopped to view a mama bear with cubs. When I crossed the park boundary and found the motel, it was evening. I walked into the office, the person at the desk looked up and said “You must be Penney, you look really sick.” They weren’t offering anything more than a room, but after buying night-time NyQuil at the small, and only, nearby store, the room became my sanctuary for five days as I laid in bed, occasionally heating soup or boiling water on my camp stove set up in the shower stall.  Time has not embellished my memory of this story, I was really sick.

I survived. After a few days the fever broke, I gingerly took a few walks nearby. When I thought I could do so safely, I drove home…..it took four days. I was weak.  And I was late back to work. It was not a fun trip to the Rockies, but it was a break from a crazy time in a crazy relationship. I don’t remember if at the time I reflected on much, the flu forced me to live in the moment. In a weird way, I enjoyed and appreciated the time away with no expectations of having a great time. I was not having a great time. And though it was scary how sick I was so far from anyone and anything familiar (did I mention the nearest hospital or doctor was along ways away), I was having time away from everything and everyone in my life. In that sense it was a true vacation.

Gary left a few months later. Moving on with life, I visited friends in Sweden and Germany the following March. Gary even sent me a nice travel book as I planned the trip. In the summer of 1987 I began a Masters program in psychiatric rehabilitation.  That winter I did meet the love of my life. And our first “official” date was in fact to the Swan School Valentines Sweetheart Ball in 1988.

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Mike, a little self-conscious on our first official date to the Swan School Valentine Ball, wearing a borrowed sport coat, attire no one had ever seen him in before. He turned out to be a pretty good dancer, easy to be with, and we’ve been dancing together through life ever since.

As I lay here sweating, every cell of my body aching, coughing til it hurts, head throbbing, throat feeling like I swallowed crushed glass, voice almost gone, (you get the picture, especially if you’ve been there), I know this is one of those once a decade bugs (I hope, as I do to want to repeat this for a long time). The past two years of my life, with the care of mom as she declined into Alzheimer’s, moving her four times, emptying and selling her house, two bouts with breast cancer, Mike’s health challenges….has been the most crazy time of my life. The past several days I’ve been too sick to reflect on anything….or eat, or sleep. I still feel lousy, but the fever has broken, and as my brain begins to function again I recall this past flu story and wonder…… maybe this is a way of “burning up” the past to move on. I hope so.

Though he locked his keys in his truck tonight, my sweetheart did deliver a lovely bouquet!

Though he locked his keys in his truck tonight, my sweetheart did deliver a lovely bouquet!

As for a more seasonally appropriate love story…….I left sick bay tonight, albeit grumpily, to drive 23 miles round trip to where Mike locked his keys in his truck. Driving home in the dark I thought about the myriad ways Mike, in his sometimes bumbling, but always heart felt, genuine way, goes out of his way for me.  Every day. The past two nights he’s come home from work and made me miso soup, the only thing I feel like eating. I do not need to tell love stories for Valentine’s Day because I live a love story.

I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and invite you to read previous Valentines posts. And if you’ve had any crud bugs this winter, perhaps this will help you reflect on the experience as a time of transition, a time out.

other February posts: Animal LoveA Love StoryNature’s Heart

and another love story: Love Child