Oh my, Valentine!

Cole Smith



Have you ever wondered about the origins of Valentine’s Day? Where did our favorite romantic holiday find its many symbols–the pink and red, the cards, the sweets, and the hearts? Is it really, as some suggest, a holiday cooked up by greeting card companies?


Valentine’s Day is an old holiday, with roots extending all the way back to third-century Rome and a Roman Catholic presbyter named Valentinus. Most of the facts have been lost to history, and all we really know for certain is that Valentinus was martyred and buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia. His alleged skull, ringed with a crown of flowers, is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It’s both creepy and Valentine’s-y, no?



Valentine's Key


Legend has it that on the night before he was to be martyred, Valentine sent a card to the daughter of his prison guard, for whom he’d performed a healing miracle. He signed the card “your Valentine”. Did that simple letter start the tradition of sending cards with the words “from your Valentine”? We can’t know. Some sources claim this young woman planted an almond tree on Valentine’s grave. Its pink blossoms have endured as a symbol of love and friendship.


Probably, the St. Valentine we remember on February 14th is a composite of two or three men named Valentine, who were all active in the church at that time. There are many unverified legends associated with this figure. One is that he performed secret weddings for active military soldiers who were forbidden to marry during times of conflict. (It’s been argued Claudius never issued such a ban.)


Soldiers who were keen to marry their sweethearts in a holy Christian ceremony would recognize Valentine by the amethyst Cupid ring he wore. Since Cupid was an approved symbol of love during the marriage ban, the ring was a safe secret sign. It’s probably one reason the amethyst became the February birthstone, since it’s believed by some to attract love!


Another legend is that Valentine also cut parchment paper hearts and presented them to soldiers and other persecuted Christians as a reminder to uphold their serious vows and to remember the greatest love from Heaven.



Oh, Valentine!



It wasn’t until Chaucer published the Parlement of Foules in the fourteenth century that St. Valentine’s Day became associated with “courtly love”, and many of the traditions we celebrate today. That’s right, writers. Chaucer and his following created a holiday. Now that’s the power of a great story!


Romantic courtiers started to apply themselves to Valentine’s poems. The now-cheesy “Roses are red…” line first showed up in 1590, in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen!



Be My Valentine!


It didn’t take long to match sweet words with sweet treats, and the Cadbury candy company claims credit for making the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in 1868. Mass-marketed paper valentines showed up around 1847. And so it goes, even today.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or Pal-entine’s Day, I wish you all the joy, sweets, and sentiment the holiday has to offer. What’s the best valentine you’ve ever received?



Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.

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A Valentine Song and Poem by Abbie Johnson Taylor

I know it’s a day early, but here’s a poem I wrote for my late husband to commemorate Valentine’s Day. You can click on the title to hear me read it and sing a related song. I hope that tomorrow, you do something special with the one you love.





Dearest of hearts, most gentle of souls,

you are my only one,

always remembered, never forgotten.


With you, I soared to unimaginable heights.

Now you’re gone—I still fly

for you’ve given me my own wings.


Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of a novel, two poetry collections and a memoir. Her work has appeared in Magnets and Ladders and Serendipity Poets Journal. She has a visual impairment and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her late husband, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit her blog and website.




Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

So how was your Valentine’s Day? Did it include candy, a card, flowers and dinner out?  Jay and I celebrate Valentine’s Day in a less traditional way.  Last year it was bitter cold, and windy, I am sure most people opted to spend the day indoors.

We chose to get up before the sun, bundle up and head to Delaware.  My thought was if the critters could brave the cold, so could I.  The Horseshoe crabs and most of the shore birds I normally photograph in Delaware were gone.  The robins and goldfinches were basking in the warmer temperatures further south.  However my efforts were rewarded by thousands of Snow Geese.

Snow Geese

We enjoyed being just below the gigantic flock of geese as they soared over head. However the Hawk that was trapped beneath the flock wasn’t having any fun.  He had to be content with hovering in the same general area until the flock had passed.

Large numbers of Canada geese also decided to spend the winter in Delaware.

Canada Geese

This year’s plan includes venturing just a bit further to New Jersey. There we will be looking for Loons, waterfowl, Owls, Tundra Swans, raptors, deer, and coyotes.   Yes this is a long list, but when we go looking for birds that migrate it really is hit or miss.  On our trip to Minnesota we missed the Loons by just a few days.   However the Whooping Cranes arrived about the same time we did.

Whooping Cranes

On our way beck to West Virginia we will spend some time in Delaware.   I am hoping this trip will yield lots of new images to share in the future.   The purpose of this trip is multi fold.  Of course I will be photographing any critter I find.  I will also be counting birds.

For 19 years volunteers have been counting birds. This year the count dates are February 12 to February 15th.  Last year more than 140,000 people took part in the count.  You can count from your own backyard for as little as 15 minutes.  More information on the Great Backyard Bird Count can be found at birdcount.org .


Why count birds? This annual count gives scientist a snapshot of the world’s bird population.  Those of you that follow my blog know I also tag and count Monarch butterflies. My part in these annual events is small, but when combined with the efforts of other volunteers our efforts provide a huge amount of data.


Is there an annual event you take part in?  Your contribution, no matter how small, really does count.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

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Thoughtfull Valentine Gifts and Expressions of Love by Cher’ley

ATThis post by Cher’ley Grogg

Thoughtful Valentine’s Day Gift

  Jim asked his friend, Tony, whether he had bought his wife anything for Valentine’s Day.

‘Yes,’ came the answer from Tony who was a bit of a chauvinist, ‘I’ve bought her a belt and a bag.’

‘That was very kind of you,’ Jim added, ‘I hope she appreciated the thought.’

Tony smiled as he replied, ‘So do I, and hopefully the vacuum cleaner will work better now.’


     I’m thinking about Valentine’s Day and looking forward to exchanging cards and gifts with my Valentine.

            I wonder what my characters in Wanton, WV are doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day. James is still learning to be romantic, with the help of George his partner at work. He turns to George for advice.

            “Get her something nice for Valentine’s Day. It’s the most romantic day of the year.”

            James went to the department store and it had Valentine decorations and gifts everywhere. What should he get? When he passed the candy, he grabbed a box. He saw a big stuff bear that had a banner across his chest that read, ‘Be my Valentine.’ He put the bear in his buggy. He needed a card, and he had to pass the jewelry counter.  He looked at all of the jewelry and with the help of the sales clerk, he chose a delicate necklace, with a small diamond embedded in a heart. He looked through every card until he found one that expressed his feelings for her. He grabbed a Valentine Balloon, a mechanical dog whose ears and tail moved as it played a love song, and then he grabbed a bouquet of a dozen red roses. Carolyn would be so happy. He thought of her beautiful grey eyes twinkling with moisture, because she always had a few tears ready for a happy occasion.  

            When he got to the McKeels’ Bed and Breakfast, He collected his bags of gifts. He put the necklace in his coat pocket, and the rest he juggled back and forth until he could hold onto everything and close the door at the same time.

            Inside, Carolyn waited at the door. She had a card and some cupcakes she’d decorated with red and white sprinkles. She steered him towards the dining room. He smiled as he saw the cupcakes and he noticed there was an envelope with his name on it.

            “Have a seat, and let me go first.” He started with the flowers because he was having a hard time holding them. He went through each gift, and finally came to the necklace and the card. She oohed and awed over each item. His chest swelled as he thought of her being so happy.

            She fingered the necklace and then opened the card. As she read the card, the tears came. “James, this is perfect, thanks for everything, but the card I will always treasure.”


Go figure, right! That’s the way it goes. Just remember to give your significant other something special for Valentine’s Day, and do expect her to love the card, no matter what else you get her. I’m not for sure how a man feels—card or gift?

What do you think is the best Valentine’s gift? Which does a man like the best—card or gift? If you don’t have a Valentine, give your pet something special. Our hearts love to share.

***How thoughtful do you think a gift or card should be? ***


Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. And she has a new one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE




Deadlines vs. Chocolate by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1As a writer and blogger I am used to deadlines and find them helpful in achieving my goals. While I don’t need them, I find they help keep myself focused and moving forward at a quicker pace than I would manage on my own.

That said, I have a deadline coming up next week that I am dreading.

It all started innocently enough when my husband signed us both up for a 24 hour gym. The place is very close by, inexpensive, and we can literally go any time. I’m not a big fan of gyms but I know I need to exercise more and this place is nice so I said, sure.

Two weeks later I found I needed surgery and so I couldn’t exercise for about four weeks. All is well and I’m feeling better than ever, so when the gym started a contest to gym_anatomic_fitness2see who could lose the most body fat by the end of April, I thought – that’s a great idea, a deadline to help me achieve my fitness goals. I signed up. I know the pain drugs were well out of my system by then but they are the only excuse I have for making such an insane decision.

On the day of the weigh-in and assessment I had been out of the gym for over three weeks and let’s face it, I hadn’t been there much before then either. As a result I had an uncomfortable encounter with a scale/body fat measuring thing and a review of the results with a young, fit man who looked like he ate only buffalo meat and seaweed, both of which he hunted/gathered himself. As he handed me the printout with the numbers, figures, and recommendations, he smiled but gave me a look that said, “You’re in bad shape and can do better.” I took the paper, smiled, and gave him a look that said, “I plan murders for a living. Just saying.”

What followed is what I consider my “thwarted month.” The weather was bad and my daughter’s school closed for a week, opened for two days then closed again for a week. Even the 24 hour/7 day a week gym closed during the worse of the ice storm. There was no walking outside, no going to the gym. My daughter and I did play with the Wii, especially Wii Fit and Just Dance but these efforts were often followed by hot chocolate, s’mores made in our fireplace, or some other junk food related binge.

valentinescandyThen there was Valentine’s Day with chocolate and flowers, and chocolate and cards, and chocolate and stuffed animals, and chocolate. This wonderful holiday was immediately followed by one of my favorite events of the year: The 50% Off All Valentine’s Candy Sale.

While my meals have been healthy, the chocolatepaloosa of February has taken its toll. The mid-challenge weigh-in is this Wednesday and I am terrified that I am heavier now than I was when the contest started. And yes, muscle weighs more than fat and I have been walking more and working out (there is no “more” since I hadn’t been working out before) and so my weight may be up but my percentage of body fat could have gone down. In theory. I’m not holding my breath.

I remind myself that this is just the mid-challenge weigh-in and many things have occurred that were beyond my control which limited my efforts to eat better and live a more healthy lifestyle. The final weigh in isn’t until April 23 so I have plenty of time to do better.

But there is a problem with this plan – Easter is April 20th. I shopped today at a store that had all of their Easter paraphernalia on display: chocolate bunnies and pastelindex baskets, chocolate eggs and plastic grass, malted milk balls and egg dying kits. There were Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and those small chocolate Cadbury eggs with the speckled candy shells. Spread before me were row after row of diet-ending chocolaty goodness. But I stayed strong. I bought tomatoes and fish, broccoli and cucumbers. My soul cried out for cocoa but I ruthlessly paid no attention.

I wonder about the twisted people who scheduled this challenge in the middle of chocolate season. What were they thinking? Then again, what was I thinking to sign up for this craziness?

Still, I will prevail and my health will improve, even if it kills me.

Sometimes I hate deadlines.

You can learn more about me at:






Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.inddAHE New Cover

Happy Valentine’s Day

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten


Happy Valentine’s Day, I hope you are celebrating with someone you love, if not I hope you did something very nice for yourself. We celebrate the day, but in a low-key way, no fancy flowers or meals out-unless you count Taco Bell for lunch.

Valentine's Day Flowers
Valentine’s Day Flowers (Photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen)

With little kids in the house it is impossible to skip Valentine’s Day, trust me little kids love any kind of holiday, but they especially love holidays that involve candy. Sometimes, if I am feeling really festive at Valentine’s Day I make something heart shaped (last year it was a pizza), or I make something red (year before red velvet cupcakes).

The kids insisted I take them to the Dollar Store so they could use their report card money from Grandma to buy gifts for everyone. I am constantly amazed at their willingness and joy in buying gifts for other people. I know one of the girls bought my husband a role of duct tape; it is to replace the roll of his tape they used during a duct tape craft project kick they were on a couple of weeks ago. My other daughter helped my son prepare his Valentine cards for his school party, without being asked. A very amazing gift indeed.

I, in turn, got each of them a box of Russell Stover chocolates, not the large box of course (although I will cruise the 75% aisle looking for them day after), the cute little boxes with only three pieces of candy. I am also knitting them cute little hearts-if you are a knitter the pattern can be found at EweEwe Yarns



For my husband, he is giving me the greatest gift, he is taking the day off and we are spending it together. My husband works a lot; he usually works six out of seven days a week. To have this extra day off he had to work both Saturday and Sunday last weekend, so it is really a wonderful gift…of course, if he decided to include a box of chocolates I wouldn’t turn them down.

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