For Love or Money

I don’t imagine I need to tell you that marrying anyone for the sake of his or her fortune (or for any other vain, shallow thing that offers no promise of compatibility) is far less likely to lead to a successful union than choosing a life partner for love’s sake. Yet it still appears to happen remarkably often, this rather forlorn hope that being financially impressive will be enough to overcome any other sorts of objectionable shortcomings. Far nicer, I think, to choose shared values, friendly companionship, mutual attraction, and the numerous other commonalities that can make real love bloom and grow.

On Valentine’s Day, as on any other day of the year, I am deeply grateful and outlandishly delighted that I found the person I can happily wander off with, hand-in-hand, toward our mutually appointed sunset, no matter what turns our fortunes will take along the way. We each have the advantage, as well, of being married to an artist, so there’s definitely no danger of either of us having married for the other’s massive bank account or hovering around hoping the other kicks the bucket soon so we can inherit untold millions. We’re just comfortably stuck with loving each other for the sake of love. Hurray!

Digital illo + text: Numismatic Nuptial

My First Valentine

Long, long ago, in a state far away, there was a small, screaming infant being baptized by her father, a pastor, on the Sunday that fell on this very date, his birthday. I can only assume that my ornery howling was not the most perfect birthday present he’d ever had, but since Dad didn’t toss me in the dustbin either on the occasion or shortly thereafter is testament to a tiny fraction of the loving kindness he showed me then and continued to shower upon me, no matter how fractious I might have been at times, throughout the following years. That sort of tolerance alone is a good reason I’ve been very fond of the fella from the start. I’d say it’s also a good indicator that Dad always tended to have an excellent sense of humor about the silliness of real life.digital illustrationCommemorating that day is likely a good enough sampling all on its own of the man-of-many-parts that is my father, but it’s far from all. His long career as a Lutheran pastor and then bishop was complemented by plenty of stellar adventures as a leader, chairman and member of innumerable committees and boards from university to seminary to hospital and community. He traveled to and worked in dangerous and war-torn places like Honduras and El Salvador and early-1970s Chicago but still managed to come back regularly and be Dad at home to four daughters and help Mom keep the home fires burning while donning his ecumenical-superdude cape for quick service in his myriad day jobs.digital illustrationBetween his understandable popularity with many folk—even, I daresay, thanks to his unpopularity with a small contingent of people who didn’t approve of his frankness or his willingness to stand up for certain causes, a trait of courage and/or foolhardiness I would happily have had him pass to me genetically—and the careful scholarship that underpinned his good-humored to life, he’s always been a major influence on me. You can certainly see why I would consider Dad as fine a first Valentine as anyone could have. Happy Birthday, dear Dad!

Love Enough for Everyone

Yes, it is Valentine’s Day. I can’t help–whether I buy into the modern version of the  commercially enhanced holiday or not–being reminded of my many loves. And, external motivations aside, I am glad and grateful and even gleeful when I think of how much love is in my life. I have wealth and happiness beyond what anyone might think to wish for, let alone deserve, and I revel in it on Valentine’s Day and every other moment when I stop to think about my many loves.digital collageI have you to thank for it, for my life in worlds of immense happiness! I am fortunate beyond reason in being surrounded by the love of so many, and in turn, to be able to love you all right back. So I send my profound thanks and my joyful love to all of you, especially on this day of all days. To my parents and my sisters! To my sisters’ spouses and offspring. To our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. To in-laws and to those who have been adopted into our family as additional and also much-loved sisters and brothers and extended family.

I send thankful love, too, to the many friends who have populated my life with such warm affection and care and company from all the parts of my life outside of my parents’ home: my playmates and classmates, my neighbors and teachers and mentors, my roommates and housemates. To the colleagues and students who made my years of teaching so much better by your presence, and the years beyond it by your memory and continued vitality, I send love. To my gracious and hilarious and tender-hearted and wise readers and commenters here at the blog. To those far-flung friends all around the world whom I can visit only indirectly but can carry in my innermost heart easily all the time. Most of you who are among these many loves of mine may never know what an imprint you left and continue to make on my heart and mind, but you do; oh, how beautifully you do.

My good fortune in a much-loved life is crowned with spending my days and nights in the delightfully daffy and deeply caring companionship of the partner spouse who is as integral to this life of love as the air I breathe and the pulse that knocks my heart and mind into these momentary recognitions of such goodness. I love you, my sweetheart! digital collageAnd I send love to all of you others who have shared and continue to shine the sunlight of your kind and cheering ways on my happy life. Happy Valentine’s Day, every one, and may you be as loved as I am! The holiday ought not be the only time you say so, but it’s certainly an excellent excuse and reminder to tell the ones who love you and whom you love that they are dear to you, too. And yes, I might as well add my own thanks to yours, since those who warm us with their love teach us, and make us able in turn, to go out and love others. That is how love works best.

Just Another Love Song, if You Don’t Mind

digital art from a drawingAppraisal

What’s the current market value of a hug, caress or kiss?

Why would any self-respecting person get engrossed in this?

Isn’t it a tad surprising we’d make such hullabaloo

Of this silly, unproductive, non-remunerative goo?

That’s the miracle of romance and of loving: that we choose

To pursue ridiculous intangibles among the ooze

Of lace valentines and candies, in hand-holding, making eyes

Like moo-cows and fuzzy puppies at each other—but the prize

Found in all this crazy weirdness, wacky though our loving be,

Is the exponential return on this small investment that we see

When beloved turns to lover and responds in foolish kind:

That’s the truth toward which we hover when two loves get so entwined.digital art from a drawing

Foodie Tuesday: Love is an Everyday Thing

photoOh, yes, Ladies and Gentlemen all, it is Valentine’s Day. At least, here in the good old US of A, where we constantly rebel against being told what to do and how to live our lives but are terrible sticklers for traditions that may or may not even suit our beliefs and needs. Now, celebrating the life–and, let’s face it, not-so-charming-to-celebrate death, since 14 February recognizes the officially accepted date of the martyrdom of St. Valentine by clubbing and beheading–of a possible whole group of Christian martyrs, who all have become conflated in the popular mind as one really nice guy who pitied and assisted the lovelorn, all of that is a matter of personal belief and taste, to be sure. Celebrating the highly adapted holiday of Valentine’s Day is one as well: as it’s been popularized, it’s a day for telling people we love them, filling them up with romantic food and drink and notions, showering them with flowers and sparkly gifts, and paying homage to our love in generally showier ways than usual.

There, my friends, is the rub where this stubborn old lady is concerned. I’m not really as curmudgeonly as all of this sounds however arguable my crankiness is on other topics. It’s just that I feel mighty strongly that if the love isn’t expressed on a fairly constant basis, in (as one might say) thought, word and deed, it means nothing whatsoever on Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, a birthday, or any other celebratory occasion no matter how the gifts and gooey treats are piled up and the lyrical words flow. It’s got to be the real, the every single day sort of deal, or it’s so much useless fluff.

photoThat said, I am among the biggest mush-meisters inhabiting the supposed real world, never tiring of being madly in love with the one person who’s crazy and silly enough to love me back in equal extremity. When we’re sitting at our respective desks down the hall from each other–which we have positioned conveniently so we can see each other across the way while working and maybe sneak a wink for no better reason than that after more than 16 years we still have a school-kid crush on each other–we are both inclined to chirp I Love Yous back and forth at intervals just because we actually do. He cheers me up when I’m feeling low and cheers me on when I’m flagging, chauffeurs me because I’m not fond of driving, works long hours to keep our accounts balanced, and tells me I’m smart and pretty like he really believes it.

So I am delighted to make a favorite dinner for him on Valentine’s Day. Appropriately enough, I can operate on the K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple, Stupid] principal on this day of romantic silliness, because he likes things unfussy. So all he gets is a slab of tender, untrimmed Texas filet mignon, skillet seared in butter with salt and pepper (my blend of black, white, green and pink peppercorns and whole cloves) and a pinch of ground coriander, a handful of fresh-cut Romaine lettuce and some juicy tomato pieces and a few ripe strawberries, a flute of South African bubbly, and a piece of dark chocolate with toasted almond bits and crunchy salt in it. Couldn’t be easier. No recipes, no muss, no fuss, and because I made big steaks, we both have enough left over for steak and eggs in the morning.photoBecause romance is not a one-day deal, and expressing love should be the most important practice of the everyday. Bon appetit!