Happy St. Valentine's Day

Our Valentine card to you.
The origins of Valentine's Day are as difficult to figure as the opposite sex. There are said to be one, perhaps two, St. Valentines. Both allegedly lost their heads - literally - in the First/Second Century in or near Rome after running afoul of the local power-mad dictator. In 496, Pope Gelasius I named the day of their deaths, February 14, Valentine's Day.

A second legend, however, holds that Valentine's Day is based on the old English belief that birds chose their mates on Feb.14, which according to the old English calendar, is actually Feb. 28. If you're confused, imagine how the birds felt.

Yet one more story insists that Valentine's Day can be traced back to the ancient Roman festival of "Lupercalia." This "festival," if you can call it that, involved young men whipping young women with strips of animal hide, which was supposed to ensure both protection from wolves and greater fertility for the women. Thankfully, the invention of national parks, fertility drugs and assault and battery statutes put an end to this particular bit of brutality. Now the only predators we have to fear are shlocky greeting card companies and purveyors of bad candy ... Bill Citara is the Examiner's food and wine critic.

Love Poems

Elizabeth Barrett Browning -- "XLIII" --
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
for the ends of Being and Ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right:
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise:
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Lord Byron --
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
This mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

Huy Ca^.n -- Va.n Ly' Ti`nh
Ngu+o+`i o+? be^n tro+`i, ta o+? dda^y;
Cho+` mong phu+o+ng no., ngo'ng phu+o+ng na^`y.
Tu+o+ng tu+ ddo^i cho^'n, ti`nh nga`n da(.m,
Va.n ly' sa^`u le^n nu'i tie^'p ma^y.
Na('ng dda~ xe^' ve^` be^n xu+' ba.n;
Chie^`u mu+a tre^n ba~i, nu+o+'c so^ng dda^`y.
Tro^ng ve^` bo^'n phi'a kho^ng nguo^i nho+',
Do+i ddo^.ng hoa`ng ho^n tha^'p thoa'ng bay.
Co+n gio' hiu hiu buo^`n tie^~n bie^.t,
Xa nhau chi? bie^'t nho+' vo+i nga`y.
Chie^'u cha(n kho^ng a^'m ngu+o+`i na(`m mo^.t
Thu+o+ng ba.n chie^`u ho^m, sa^`u go^'i tay.

Nguye^~n Tro.ng Bi'nh -- Tu+o+ng Tu+
Tho^n DDoa`i ngo^`i nho+' tho^n DDo^ng,
Mo^.t ngu+o+`i chi'n nho+' mu+o+`i mong mo^.t ngu+o+`i\.
Gio' mu+a la` be^.nh cu?a gio+`i,
Tu+o+ng tu+ la` be^.nh cu?a to^i ye^u na`ng.
Hai tho^n chung la.i mo^.t la`ng,
Co+' sao be^n a^'y cha(?ng sang be^n na`y ?
Nga`y qua nga`y la.i qua nga`y,
La' xanh nhuo^.m dda~ tha`nh ca^y la' va`ng.
Ba?o ra(`ng ca'ch tro+? ddo` giang
Kho^ng sang la` cha(?ng ddu+o+`ng sang dda~ dda`nh
Nhu+ng dda^y ca'ch mo^.t dda^`u ddi`nh,
Co' xa xo^i ma^'y ma` ti`nh xa xo^i\...
Tu+o+ng tu+ thu+'c ma^'y dde^m ro^`i,
Bie^'t cho ai bie^'t, ai ngu+o+`i bie^'t cho !
Bao gio+` be^'n mo+'i ga(.p ddo` ?
Hoa khue^ ca'c, bu+o+'m giang ho^` ga(.p nhau ?

Nha` em co' mo^.t gia`n gia^`u
Nha` anh co' mo^.t ha`ng cau lie^n pho`ng.
Tho^n DDoa`i thi` nho+' tho^n DDo^ng
Cau tho^n DDoa`i nho+' gia^`u kho^ng tho^n na`o ?

Love Stories

Truye^.n Cho Nhu+~ng Ti`nh Nha^n by Nha~ Ca ... Vu+`a du+`ng xe tru+o+'c co^?ng nha` ba'c, Die^~m dda~ ba^'m chuo^ng inh o?i. Chi. Be' Ty' cha.y ra, vu+`a cu+o+`i vu+`a vo+'i ca'i gio? ma^y: Vo^ dda^y dda~ Die^~m, vo^ cu'ng. Die^~m la('c dda^`u qua^`y qua^.y: Tho^i dde^? em ve^`, sa'ng mo^`ng mo^.t em sang mu+`ng tuo^?i hai ba'c, ca'c anh ca'c chi.. Em ve^`, nha` em ho^m ni cu~ng cu'ng ba mu+o+i ma` chi..

A Valentines Day Story
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.
His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.
In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.
The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.
I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: "A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim.
Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl.
A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat.. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate.
My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.
"I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"
The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"
It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. "Tell me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "And I will tell you who you are."

Romantic Gestures

On a night when nothing is planned, get a bunch of rose petals, and spread them along the floor leading to the bathroom. Have the lights off in the whole house and use candles along the way to the bathroom. Prepare a bubble bath for her, and have a negligees sitting on the sink counter, next to some perfume that you like and the blush. foundation, and lipstick that she uses. While she is in the bathroom, cleanup the petals that lead from the door to the bathroom, and use them to lead from the bathroom to the bedroom. In the bedroom prepare a dinner of what she likes to eat and some champagne. Have rose petals all over the floor and the bed. You could use silk sheets on the bed. And let things happen from there.

Hug more.

Watch the sunset together. Find a hill. Bring a picnic. It's better than TV!

Hold Hands.

Wash her hair for her. She'll love it.

Greet him at the door wearing sexy lingerie!

Help put on his or her coat, even if help is not needed.

Rent a romantic movie and pop some popcorn. Turn off all the lights and cuddle.

Record .WAV files saying "You have mail". Show her how to use it with her email program. So now, every time she get new mail, he hear your sweet voice.

For God's sake, don't forget her birthday!

Leave a rose on her pillow.

Gift Ideas

Tiffany roses, they are a little more expensive, but are exquisite, with a fragrance like no other. The perfect think to bring home after a long day.

Make a care package with love notes, cookies, phone cards(for long distance relationships), musical tapes, a new movie, or other little gifts. Pack it and put it in the mail. Donít forget a new picture of yourself.

Give your mate a ring or watch engraved on the inside with your own and your love's initials, or a romantic phrase.

Make a journal just for him. Every day tell him how you feel and what's going on. Keep in mind that this is specifically for him to read at the end of a year or month or however long you decide. Tell him the little things that happened when he wasn't around, or the things you wanted to tell him but didn't get a chance.

A Palm Pilot.

Stock of your company.

Make an animated GIF with her name in it.

Saying ...

Cat Stevens
Each night and day I pray,
In hope that I might find you,
In hope that I might find you,
Because hearts can do no more.

P. J. O'Rouke -- There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.

Erica Jong -- Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything itís cracked up to be. Thatís why people are so cynical about it....It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you donít risk anything, you risk even more.

John Lennon (1940Ė80) -- Weíve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You canít just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think itís going to get on by itself. Youíve got to keep watering it. Youíve got to really look after it and nurture it.

The best way for a friend to make me cry is to cry on my shoulder.

Love Story by Erich Segal -- "Love means not ever having to say youíre sorry."

Words & Music John Stewart
Sung by Kate Wolf on her "Give Yourself To Love" album.

Some kind of love is like gold
and that is the hardest to hold
Cause it catches the eye of each thief passing by
Some kind of love is like gold.

Some kind of love starts as friends
and that kind of love never ends
It comes on as slow as a flower in snow
some kind of love starts as friends.

        Some kind of love, some kind of love 
        Everyone's looking for some kind of love
        Some kind of love, some kind of love
        Everyone's looking for some kind of love

Some kind of love comes too soon
but that kind of love heals your wounds
When your wounds are all healed and you're back on your wheels
you say that kind of love came too soon

Some kind of love tears your heart
when you knew it was wrong from the start
Ah, but try and explain the moth to the flame
some kind of love tears your heart.


Some kind of love never dies
and that is the hardest to find
Through the laughter and rage it mellows with age
some kind of love never dies

Some kind of love is like gold
and that is the hardest to hold
It catches the eye of each thief passing by
some kind of love is like gold


FARE FOR LOVERS: We thought you might appreciate a little help, specifically in the form of a short list of foods and beverages that have long been considered aphrodisiacs. They may not get the job done all by themselves, but they are yet another set of arrows in Cupid's courting quiver.