Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Feb. 27, 2015
Valentine's Day this year was about the most low-key I can remember - and that was just fine with me. I had thought about taking husband Art to the new Indian restaurant in town. But when I asked, he told me he'd rather just stay home and make me something - especially since it was a Saturday, which meant that restaurants would be busier than normal. His hunch was correct as we heard later from several couples that they had to wait in line for nearly two hours before being seated that night.
We make a good pair - Art enjoys cooking and I enjoy eating! I must admit, though, some of his meals are somewhat odd. This time, he made what he calls "wilted lettuce." He sauteed chopped onion with bacon, added green olives, brown sugar and molasses and then poured the hot concoction over shredded lettuce. It sounds strange, but the combination of salty, sweet and savory was really tasty. A loaf of "Everything Bread" from Walmart rounded out the simple meal.
My gifts to him - a couple of DVDs - were pretty simple, too. One was the original version of "Memphis Belle" about the first World War II B-17 crew to complete enough missions to return home. The other was "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts" about composer Philip Glass.
Art is somewhat difficult to find a gift for because if he wants something, he just buys it. So I jumped at the chance when he recently mentioned he'd like to have those. He's also pretty observant, so I knew if I had them delivered to the house that he would probably guess what they were right away, so I had daughter Mariya order them for me.
Daughter Katie strongly suggested to Art that he should get me some flowers for Valentine's Day as she knows how much I like them. But Mom had already given me a dozen beautiful red roses, so I knew he wouldn't want to duplicate that. I do love flowers and Art has given me many bouquets over the years. But as I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate more the other "little" things he does for me - rescuing me between Keats and Manhattan when my car lost coolant, unplugging drains, picking me up for lunch nearly every day, taking me to work on frigid, snowy winter days, keeping our vehicles running, and many other things I sometimes take for granted.
As it turned out, he did get me flowers. Well, to be more accurate, he gave me a single bloom of one of my favorite flowers - a sunflower.
But it's not quite like any sunflower I've seen before. Ever-the-engineer, he decided to make one. The center was a shallow circular cup he had fashioned from construction paper and then lined with aluminum foil. Hershey Kisses were placed in the cup and a heat gun was used to melt them to form a shallow layer of chocolate. Then, while the chocolate was still soft, he pressed other Kisses with almonds inside into it to form the sunflower's seeds.
He attached the seed cup to the center of a piece of cardboard he had cut to have 12 spokes to form something like a sun with rays. The cup's circumference was the same length as 12 packaged Twinkies set side by side. The sunflower’s petals were formed by attaching one packaged Twinkie to each spoke.
I like chocolate and, considering the amount of preservatives added to the Twinkies, they'll probably last until real sunflowers pop out next August. But given that Twinkies are a weakness of mine, I doubt this Valentine's Day bloom will last that long.
But one thing I am sure of is the memory of Art's artistry will last long after that.
Gloria's Valentine's Day sunflower.