Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Hitchhiker


It was late afternoon on Valentine’s Day, and I was driving home from work.

Up ahead, I saw someone standing on the corner where the dirt road met the pavement. This was the spot where people stood to bum a ride deeper into the Wild West of dirt roads that was my neighborhood. I figured the person was hitchhiking.

As I got closer, I saw that the hitchhiker seemed to be a man. His clothes were drab from long wear and infrequent washes. He shoulder length hair was peppered with grey and probably hadn’t been shampooed in a while. He had a big puppy with him and a medium-size backpack on the ground at his feet. Because he wasn’t hauling a large pack, I sized him up as a guy who lived in my neck of the woods and was trying to get home after an excursion to town.

Before I got to the dirt road, a small, red, shiny clean car turned from the pavement onto the dirt road. That car would have to roll past the person standing next to the road.

My truck was muddy.

I was surprised to see the shiny clean car leave the pavement. The car didn’t look like one that had been rolling on a dirt road recently. There was not a clod of mud on it, no film of dust. My truck, on the other hand, looked like I’d taken it out for some recreational muddin’. Of course, I’d only been to work and back, but my truck was dirty, just like every other vehicle in the state that had been traversing the muddy roads of February.

Another problem that little car would have traveling up and down the roads where I lived was the low clearance. The embedded rocks and potholes drivers on those roads encountered daily would eat that little car for lunch (and breakfast and supper too).

These factors made me think the driver of the shiny clean car did not live anywhere that dirt road would take them. I wondered why the car had turned onto the dirt road in the first place.

The shiny clean car stopped next to the fellow standing on the corner. I figured he’d get into the shiny clean car and be whisked away.

As the fellow approached the passenger side of the shiny clean car, I turned onto the dirt road. The shiny clean car was stopped just about in the middle of the narrow dirt road, so I didn’t try to get around it. I stayed behind the shiny clean car and waited patiently for it to move.

I was expecting the fellow to open the passenger door and fold himself into the small car, but he never did. Instead he was handed something through the window. Then he walked away from the shiny clean car and back to the side of the road. The shiny clean car started rolling away. I could see the fellow was now holding three brightly colored heart-shaped boxes.

When the shiny clean car started rolling, I took my foot off the brake and started slowly rolling too. I looked to my right and the hitchhiker had his thumb out and was grinning in my direction. Of course I stopped for him.

In the meantime, the shiny clean red car had pulled up enough to turn around in the middle of the road. I realized it wasn’t going the hitchhiker’s way after all.

As the shiny clean car headed in my direction, I could see the driver was a blond woman wearing big sunglasses. She looked as shiny and clean as her car.

The fellow and his pup climbed up in my truck. As I drove us down the bumpy, muddy, slippery road, I asked about the women in the shiny clean car. The hitchhiker said he didn’t know her. She stopped, so he walked over, thinking she was offering him a ride. Instead, when he approached, she rolled down the window and asked him if he needed some Valentine’s candy. He’d said Sure! and she’d handed him the three heart-shaped boxes. Apparently she’d turned onto the dirt road for the sole purpose of giving candy to the hitchhiker.

When I stopped the truck at the end of the hitchhiker’s road, he proceeded to unload his backpack and his dog. After he thanked me for the ride, he asked me if I needed some Valentine’s candy. After a moment’s hesitation, I said Sure! It took me just a split second to decide there was not reason not to take the offered candy.

Once the fellow was out of my truck, I continued on my way home. I was excited to have a bite of chocolate once I parked.

The hitchhiker handed me this heart-shaped box complete with “chocolate flavored candy.”

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed when I read the words “chocolate flavored candy” on the box. I was hoping for real chocolate. I was hoping for gen-u-ine chocolate. I was hoping for dark chocolate with almonds, but hell, beggars (or in my case, the recipient of a gift gifted to a hitchhiker) can’t be choosers. I unwrapped the red foil wrapper from around a piece of the chocolate flavored candy and popped it into my mouth. I decided chocolate flavored candy is better than no candy at all.

I took the photos in this post.

Love for a Son


On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to focus on romantic love and forget about all the other kinds of love that live in the human heart: love for siblings, love for children, love for friends, love for animals, love for parents, love for caregivers, love for students, love for teachers. On this Valentine’s Day, I want to remind you of these other loves and share a story about one woman’s love for her son.

The farmers market was almost over. Some of the less patient vendors were already packing. I’m an until the bitter end kind of gal, so I hadn’t put away a single item I wanted to sell.

Two women walked up to my table. They seemed to be Native Americans, probably from the local tribe if I had to guess. They appeared to be in their late 50s and were maybe sisters or maybe cousins or maybe close friends. In any case, there was an easy companionship between them.

We were about a month from Valentine’s Day, so I showed them, as I’d shown everyone who’d approached my table that day, the stone hearts cut from labradorite, rose quartz, agate, and carnelian that I had for sale. I also pointed out my new septarian concretions and the Arkansas quartz points I’d picked up earlier in the week. The women discussed the stones, slipping seamlessly from English to their native language, then back again.

Heart Stones

The woman to my left had long, dark, curly hair, and she wore glasses. She picked up a septarian nodule and it slipped from her hand and fell onto the concrete sidewalk. She couldn’t apologize enough.

Septarian Nodules

Don’t worry about it, I told her. That rock is a million years old.* It’s been through a lot. 

Her companion giggled at my joke, but I could tell the woman who’d dropped the stone was mortified. Of course, I prefer my merchandise not to hit concrete, but there was no sense being mad at someone who’d had an accident. I know the woman had no intention of being disrespectful towards me or my stones.

The woman with curly hair returned the septarian nodule to the bowl with the others of its kind and began sorting through the heart stones. Her companion had wandered to the next table before the woman with the curly hair found the perfect heart stone, a red agate.

My son died six years ago, she told me. I stopped what I was doing and looked into her eyes.

Oh, I’m sorry, I murmured. I never know what to say to people when they confess their heartbreak.

He loved loved loved rocks, she said with a big smile. I’m going to leave this on his grave, she explained, showing me the heart stone in the palm of her hand.

I miss him, she said quietly. I love him so much.

I’m sure he loved you too, I told her. Loves, I corrected myself. I’m sure he still loves you.

He does, she said with absolute confidence. He tells me he loves me. He tells me he’s ok. He tells me he’s happy. 

The woman paid for the heart stone and caught up with her friend who had moved on down the row of vendors.

I enjoy selling stones that make people happy. I like selling Arkansas quartz points to kids who look at the clusters as if they were diamonds. I like selling septarian concretions to people who enjoy the way they feel in the hand. I like selling ammonite pairs to folks who give them as meaningful gifts and kyanite pieces to jewelers who use them to create pieces of wearable art. Most of all, I like selling stones to people who share their pain and joys with me and let me know they’ll use the stones to maintain a heart connection with the people they love.

*According to BestCrystals.com, septarian nodules were actually

formed between 50 to 70 million years ago…

so that stone was more than a single million years old.

I took the photos in this post.

Valentine to My Own Dear Heart


Coyote Sue told me about the contest.

A local coffee shop was holding an art contest with the theme “Sacred Heart” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Oh yeah, I thought. I can collage it up to that theme.

Wikipedia says,

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart[3] shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do when I started the project. I knew I wanted to make a collage, and I knew I wanted to profess the sacredness of my heart. As interesting as a heart pierced by a lance wound and surrounded by a crown of thorns may be, I decided not to go the Jesus route with my project. Yes, in the collage for the contest, I would make the sacred heart in question my own.

Most of my collages are small, usually about 4″ x 6″, postcard size. The minimum size accepted for this contest was 8″ x 10″. OH! This was going to be a big one.

I started gathering materials at my favorite purveyor of inspiration, the thrift store.

This is the original wall ornament I used in my project after I painted about half the border with red fingernail polish.

At the thrift store, I found an inspirational plaque with the saying “Home is Where the Heart Is.” I liked it because the words were written on a piece of heavy cardboard that projected from the frame. I also bought half a bottle of red fingernail polish which I used to paint a copper colored border. Finally, I found a big red cardboard heart to use as the focal point of the project.

After painting the border, I started collaging the areas within and outside the border. I used mostly images I had on hand. I also collaged the big red cardboard heart. I went back and forth between those two parts of the project.

Royalty Free Images Anatomical Heart Vintage

This is the royalty-free anatomical heart image I got used in my project.

I wanted my sacred heart to be somewhat realistic, so I found a royalty free image of an anatomical heart from “a Vintage Circa 1884 Science Book.” I used colored pencils to color the body of the heart red and the blood vessels a purply blue. Later, I used purple and red glass beads to accent the parts of the heart and the blood vessels.

My final touch on the anatomical heart was to add words of inspiration and aspiration next to the letters marking the different regions of the heart. For example, the letter H shows the part of my heart where “breathing with joy and ease” occurs. Part C of my heart is “joyous.” The letter I points to the area from where my compassion flows.

In addition to the images I cut from magazines and catalogs, I used real stones on my collage. I added turquoise (which is said to stimulate romantic love), rose quartz (the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace) and quartz crystals (a powerful healer and energy amplifier) I dug up in Arkansas. In the middle of the anatomical heart, I glued on a cubic zirconia a friend sent me last summer. The cubic zirconia and the self-stick “jewels” I bought at Wal-Mart give the whole project a bit of bling.

I pierced the representation of my heart with little skewers which once held tea bags from the shop sponsoring the contest. Those skewers sport little red hearts. I think the skewers evoke the piercing by the lance in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I attached  metal spirals which I painted with glittery nail polish, as well as a large red glass heart which had been crookedly glued to my dash. (I used three different kinds of glue to make this collage! Is that some kind of a record?)

The queen of hearts represents me, and the pink image of Guanyin (or Guan Yin) represents the compassion and mercy I want to offer to myself and others. (For those who may not know, Wikipedia says Guanyin

is an East Asianbodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. She is commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English.)

Since I’m a word person, I couldn’t let the piece go without a written explanation.

My heart is sacred, fragile, and precious.

I used the definitions from an old dictionary Coyote Sue gave me to explain the meaings of the words “sacred,” “fragile,” and “precious.”

I call this collage “Valentine for My Own Dear Heart.” It’s a reminder to me that my heart needs to be treated with reverence and care. Anyone who gets close to my heart better be prepared to treat it kindly.

I took the photos in this post.

Puppet Slam!


The Lady of the House  treated me to a  Puppet Slam at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. The Puppet Slams are for ages 18 and up. No kids! The Lady had been to four of the slams herself, and she really wanted me to see one too. She’s been talking about the slams for years, and they sounded like fun. (One of the puppet skits she told me about featured Pinocchio, but it wasn’t his nose that grew!)

Here’s what the website of The Great Arizona Puppet Theater (http://www.azpuppets.org/Adultslam.php) has to say about the Puppet Slam: “Arizona’s best, quirkiest, edgiest slammers from across the country come together for some adult fun! Independent performers do short pieces which are funny and are sometimes poignant all geared to an adult audience.” The Lady also used the word “raunchy” to describe some to the pieces she’s seen at the Puppet Slams. I was in! There’s something about puppets in adult situations that cracks me up. (Consider Wonder Showzen. Think of the sex scene in the all-puppet cast Team America.)

The building the Theater is housed in is awesome. It is the former Phoenix LDS 2nd Ward Church, built in 1929. I thought it was funny that we’d see raunchy puppet shows in a former Mormon church

In the lobby, visitors can view puppets from previous shows. In the puppet theater, the ceiling is amazing. It looked like inlaid wood, very decorative.

The theme for the Puppet Slam was Shriveled Heart (in honor of Valentine’s Day, I guess), and was hosted by Daisy the Kitten, a sweet but foul-mouthed black cat in a pink tutu. Perhaps my humor level is that of a twelve year old boy, but I thought it was pretty funny every time Daisy let loose with an F-bomb. Daisy was sometimes joined onstage by Jingles, a large wild-furred and wild-eyed disembodied cat head reported to be forced to live at the back of the theater basement. Jingles seemed to be a little perverse and a little mentally off-kilter.

The first skit of the evening, “The Super Bowl Commercials You Didn’t See” (by Stacey Gordon and Mack Duncan of Die Puppet Die) was funny and mildly risque. It consisted of ten 15 to 30 second spots that would never make it on TV during the Super Bowl. The risque bits included two beer bottles getting it on, two puppets making out while a cutout of the Michelin Man was superimposed over them (yes, I thought it was kind of a stretch too), one puppet enthusiastically eating the other’s (held at crotch level) Snickers bar, and the Snickers bar eater offering to let her friend eat her Eskimo Pie. The piece ended with a little puppet with wings telling the audience all the things s/he would never get to do because s/he died of measles because his/her parents were “too fucking stupid” to have him/her vaccinated. (If too much time has passed since the Super Bowl by the time you read this post, I’ll tell you that this skit was a joke on both the insurance ad about the kid who never grew up because he died in an accident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKUy-tfrIHY and the outbreak of measles that was rocking Phoenix in the same time period.)

The second skit, “Love My Way” (by Dain Gore of The Catechumen) was neither funny nor risque. In this one, a Jesus puppet rambled about agápe, éros, philía, and storgē, the ancient Greek ideas about love. The whole piece needed more work.

The final act of the first half of the show, “All I Do Is Dream of You” (by Gwen Bonar of Rude Rabbit Productions), was lovely, but technically no puppets were involved. The action was a sweet sort of hand dance. The “puppeteer” acted out a love affair, using only her two hands, a scarf, and ring. Wikipedia says “a puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by a puppeteer,” so I guess if we can agree that Gwen’s hands were “representational figures” that she animated, we can make the case that this act did belong in a puppet show.

Intermission afforded me the opportunity to go outside, through a sort of courtyard, and into another part of the building to visit the cramped but clean restroom. Intermission afforded others in the crowd the opportunity to buy beer and wine, as well as water and soda, at the concession stand. (By the way, as many folks in the audience were laughing at some not very funny jokes, I think plenty of them were drunk. Or maybe my sense of humor is just different.)

The highlight of the second half of the show was Dan Dan the Puppet Man (Dan Dold). The Lady of the House was so happy when she saw his name on the program that she clapped her hands and bounced in her seat. He certainly deserved this enthusiasm. He made marionettes of Alice (of Wonderland fame) and Tina Turner (of Tina Turner fame) dance, sing, strut, and shimmy. Oh, it was fantastic! Mere words cannot adequately describe this performance. Music was playing, and Dan Dan the Puppet Man made his marionettes lip sync the lyrics. It looked like the puppets were singing! And they were certainly dancing! It was amazing! (And the funny part was that sweet little Alice was singing a dirty ditty about showing her snatch to the animals.)

The final act of the show was a very creepy (and perfectly executed) “Rumpelstiltskin Revisited” by visiting artist Drew Allison of Grey Seal Puppets. Rumpelstiltskin told his side of the story from the Maricopa County jail. It was a somber end to the night.

What came between Dan Dan the Puppet Man and Rumpelstiltskin was the lowlight of the show. Scott Gesser performed his “Songs of Wuv.” THERE WAS NO PUPPET!!!! Scott Gesser is a real live guy. He is not a puppet. He is also not a puppeteer. He’s not a ventriloquist. He didn’t even put a sock on his hand and pretend it was a puppet. I will repeat: Scott Gesser got on stage and there was no puppet present. Scott Gesser performed sans puppet. How can a performer without a puppet be allowed to perform during a puppet slam? It makes no sense!

Scott Gesser’s songs were fairly humorous. He might have been ok performing at a comedy club or even at an open mic. At a puppet slam, considering that THERE IS NO PUPPET in his act, he is a complete and dismal failure. The Lady of the House and I were both extremely disappointed by this guy and wondered who he’d had to fuck to get this gig. (The Lady has seen him perform without a puppet at the Puppet Slam twice before.) This act really tainted the whole show for me. I wish the show had been shorter and this guy left out.

Puppet Slams don’t happen on a regularly scheduled basis, so if you hope to see one someday, go to the Theater’s website to sign up for the slam mailing list. The slam I attended lasted about an hour and half–including intermission–and cost $12 at the door, $10 in advance.