Of Hearts and Roses—A Valentine Story

Of Hearts and Roses—A Valentine Story

Hearts and Roses for My Beautiful Wife on Valentine’s Day, 2014

It was the day after Valentine’s Day in 2014 when I decided to share this story. This is a true story and this is how it happened as written here.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and like so many other years, I went out to buy flowers, a card, and chocolate in a heart-shaped box. Sure. I could order these things. Go online, order flowers, add chocolates. Specify a delivery address. Enter my card information.

In all likelihood, everything would show up on time in the correct place. It’s become so automatic, you have to wonder at the modern convenience of gift shopping. I once had a boss who would have the administrative assistant order his wife’s flowers for him, although that was long before Internet shopping. She actually had to make a call to order the flowers and chocolates,and take a trip to the local drugstore for the card.

I peeked once, it was a really nice card, and she was a really nice administrative assistant.

But no. I like to go out to my favorite flower shop and pick out the roses myself. I can choose which buds I want, mix in some different shades if the mood strikes me. Add feathery ferns and leaves and tiny white flowers, though white carnations make a good accent too.

I picked out the roses. Deep-red long-stem roses from one of many vases in the flower cooler with the big glass front door. They had many colors: reds, pinks, yellow, white, and some were even coated with glitter. Then the tree ferns (nice, feathery ferns that give an airy feel to the bouquet) and leather leaf, another fern that looks a lot more the ferns most people know.

Instead of baby’s breath, I choose white carnations.

The wondrous scent in that cooler is amazing, something you can’t find anywhere else.

I saw a kid in the cooler too. Maybe 15, 16 years old. I didn’t pay much attention; I was on a mission. After making my selection, I headed for the counter and stood in line. The kid was ahead of me, clutching two long-stem roses.

He made me smile. I was thinking it must his first real girlfriend and I wondered what she was like. Maybe she was pretty special that at 15 or 16 years old, this guy was out buying flowers for her, even if it was only two. I remembered mowing lawns and shoveling snow for my spending money, and some of that went for flowers or a corsage for a dance, or…

After a few minutes, the lady at the counter finished wrapping a bouquet and smiled at the kid. “Need those wrapped?” she asked.

“Yes Please,” he answered and handed the flowers over the counter.

So polite. Something you don’t see every day in a rushed flower-shop counter line. And just by the smile on her face, I imagined the lady was thinking the same thing I was. That they were for his first real girlfriend, and what a nice kid for buying her flowers, and…

“Would you like some baby’s breath and fern?” She held up the offered additions.

“Oh um. Well how much are they?”

Her smile faded slightly. The additions are not much money. Less than two dollars certainly. She explained how much and added up the total for him with the baby’s breath and ferns. He reached in his pocket and pulled out crumpled bills and change. Counted twice.

Then he nodded. “That’s good. Put those in too please.”

She started to wrap the flowers and ferns and baby’s breath. “Are these for your girlfriend?” she asked as she finished. She said it just as politely as he had been. Everyday conversation in a flower shop.

Of course, me and her and everyone else in line at the counter all expected the same answer, and we were not disappointed, though his answer was not at all what we expected.

As he handed over the money—all of it and only a few cents to spare—he said, “They’re for my sister…”

Copyright © 2014 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Mother’s Day 2013

Mother’s Day 2013

Mom at an Upper Peninsula Michigan Waterfall on a Fall Day Trip. This was a beautiful fall day that I’ll never forget. I am so glad I have this memory of my Mom and Dad spending a day with my wife and  I exploring this waterfall.
Photo Credit: Margaret Williams

The Ones You Love Won’t Be Here Forever—But You’ll Never Regret the Everlasting Memories You Make Today


How time flies. Those you can’t imagine living without are suddenly gone and you’re left with a hole in your life and your heart that nothing can ever fill. I credit my mother with many things. She raised four boys and lived through snakes in her golf bag, camping trips with the family, and finding worms for fishing in our pockets. I’ll never forget her adventurous spirit and how she was a “can do” woman. The smell of baking bread or Thanksgiving Turkey in the oven will ever be a reminder of Mom. It’s not easy to write about her now and I wish I’d written so much more before her passing last October. I’ve got so many memories…

Last year I sat with my brothers and cousin, sifting through hundreds of photographs that went back fifty years or more. We were trying to put together a collage for display at the funeral home that somehow represented who she was. It was difficult because so many of the photos were taken by her. She was the one behind the camera, keeping memories alive forever.

It’s hard for me to imagine my mother as a teenager, leading the rest of her friends across a dam on a beam that was just inches wide, fully aware that if they opened the dam upstream, it was a just minute or two to certain disaster if they didn’t move fast enough.

I had to laugh once when were fishing in Canada. She got tired of catching walleyes and set her rod down. My brother Chris and I teased her about it and she started fishing again. A minute later she exclaimed, “I can’t believe this!” My dad netted another walleye for her–the one she caught fishing with a bare hook so my brother and I would think she was fishing.

Although I’d been driving on logging roads and farm trails for three years, I was pretty nervous the day I received my temporary driving permit and she let me drive on a back road outside of town. Along I went, being careful in her ’69 Buick LeSabre and trying not to do anything that would make us crash. A car came up behind, blowing the horn and trying to get around me. I hugged the ditch and it roared past, a little old lady at the wheel with white hair, glasses, and she glared at me as she went by. “Go Faster!” Mom told me. I sped up a little, maybe even got it up to 40 MPH.

A few years later, I was driving that same Buick with Mom in the passenger seat again. “Can’t you go any faster?” she asked. I was already doing 70 in a 55. There was a reason my mother had a big boat of a Buick with a big engine. She liked to go fast.

I could write stories about my mom for hours and hours. Fishing stories, adventures, skiing trips, and the time she sank my jeep in four feet of water. Good times all.

I remember how Mom would march all four of us boys up to the front pew in church for Sunday Mass. And that is how her life was, God front and center, always foremost in her life and never one little bit away from that. That faith was passed along to me, and my brothers, and to many, many other people. Mom lived her faith and didn’t just talk the talk, but walked the path to God every single day.

She was mad at us for something once and had the four of us lined up to chew us out. Her face was red, eyes angry, and we started to giggle.

“Do you think this is funny?”

“No Mom, but if you could see your face, you’d laugh too.”

Well, she laughed a little, and we were still in trouble, but we all knew it was all out of love.

Mom gave us life, showed us how to live it, and now her children and grandchildren are left behind to live as she taught us.

Mom lives on in our memories, the photographs she took, and in how we live our lives.

I miss you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.



Photo by Margaret Williams copyright 2011. Card Frame by susan-lu4esm at Pixabay.com

Oh sure, I know that St. Valentine’s Day is February 14th, and this is April 25th. But how could I do all this writing and not write about my sweetie, the lovely Mrs. Goodwife, the woman who puts up with me writing into the wee hours of the morning.

I met my Valentine a few weeks before Valentine’s day in 1990. The people I worked with talked me into joining their team, though my real plans were a move out of state and away from the company. Fate intervened a dark-haired Italian with mysterious eyes showed up to substitute for an absent team member.

I finally managed the courage to ask her out and on our first date, a double date no less with my neurotic former roommate and his far less neurotic girlfriend, we went to an Italian Restaurant and had the strangest waiter you would ever meet. He wasn’t even a waiter, but people jumped when he spoke. All the tables were full when we arrived, and he clapped his hands, had someone bring a table out and set it up, chairs brought and a linen cloth put over the top.

In no time, we were seated and he brought a bottle of wine that he picked out, and then he asked if we wanted an antipasto. Without waiting for an answer, he was off and running and shortly brought a platter that would have fed ten people. It was right after he delivered the antipasto when he announced that he was off his meds and feeling little bit crazy.

Dinner was different to say the least, and halfway through it, our “waiter” disappeared and we suddenly had a real waiter. Very strange indeed.

After dinner, the four of us went to the movies and saw Driving Miss Daisy. Marg and I held hands on our way out of the theater. Then we had an after-dinner drink at the former roommate’s girlfriend’s house. I took Marg home and got a peck on the cheek. It must have been some peck and I couldn’t even think on my way home that night.

The following weekend I had to go to Colorado and serve as Chef for my cousin’s wedding, but the week after Marg and I had another date and I had a big feeling that my life was suddenly and unexpectedly changing.

Disaster! Valentine’s Day, 1990 brought a huge snowstorm down on Chicagoland, and I was caught in the mess of traffic. Despite having a four-wheel drive jeep-like vehicle, I could barely move and for two hours, sat in traffic as I vented my frustration at the world and wondered if she’d ever even speak to me when I finally arrived.

I finally pulled into her driveway, gathered up all my courage, and picked up the flowers from the passenger seat. They had wilted! Could the day get any worse?

Wilted flowers in hand (at least she would know I remembered flowers), I rang the bell in hopes she’d understand.

The door opened and there she was. A worried look on her face and she made me come in, took the flowers, and even though they were pretty much ruined, put them in a vase anyway. One of the pathetic flower heads even fell off and I was so embarrassed. But I knew then that I had found someone extra special and that I had better hang on to her.

Somehow I managed to do that and here were are 23 years later.

It’s great fun to tease her about the day she picked me up in a bowling alley.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Tromp On It

Tromp On It

1975 Buick Electra Park Avenue. My 76 Park Avenue was the best car I ever owned. The very definition of 1970s luxury.

As in “Tromp” on the accelerator. Tromping is almost like stomping, except your foot is already on it and you press down hard. When you tromp on the gas, you’re punching it hard, to go as fast as you can, as quick as you can. Sometimes, tromping on the accelerator can save your life; other times it might get you a speeding ticket. Or get you out of one…

It was one of those perfect days for driving. The air was cool and the road was dry. The sun was high in the deep blue sky and everything was perfect, from the breeze in my hair to the rumble of the big engine under the hood to the girl sitting next to me. Back in those days, we didn’t worry much about big engines that guzzled gas faster than a crowd at a free beer tent. They drank lots of fuel, went fast, and could compete favorably with any of these little things they sell today, off the line or on a straightaway.

The big Buick Electra Park Avenue looked and drove like a boat. I bought it from an older couple who lived in Illinois and planned to buy a new car (another Buick) at a dealership. It was manufactured in 1976 and had a 455-cubic-inch engine (315 horsepower) with a four-barrel carburetor. The muffler I put on it wasn’t up to factory specs, and kept the big engine’s voice quieter than straight pipes, but there was a delicious rumble you could feel in your chest. That car held the road better than anything I had ever owned. Today, we have anti-lock brakes and traction control systems.

Torque is what matters in a big heavy car, and the 455, even weighted down with the newest smog prevention hardware was capable of 345 foot-pounds, enough to burn through a pair of tires in a weekend if you wanted to and had the money. Tires for that car were not cheap.

Sitting at the curb, the 1976 model I owned weighed just about 5000 pounds and was a bit over 18 feet long, one of the longest 4-door sedans ever made.

I was out and about purely for the fun of driving a luxury, boat-like car on back roads. The girl on the comfy-cushion, split-bench seat next to me held my arm tight as we went around curves and took corners faster than most people would. I’d slow slightly just before the curve, hold my speed coming around, and as the road straightened, I’d tromp the accelerator and the boat would grow wings and fly out of the bend with a satisfying whine from the tires.

The really cool thing about big engines and big cars with big carburetors is the way they suck air when they are working hard. You can hear it in the car and that is almost as satisfying as the weight in the seat of your pants as you step on the gas. If you happened to be on the side of the road, you might wonder if that engine was going to suck you right in.

We were coming up to the double-ess, a snakey-curvey section of road that wound through a low area with water on both sides and a narrow bridge that had a good bump on it. I slowed to about forty for the first curve to the left, wound to the right at about forty-five, then tromped on the gas to come into the second pair of bends. We hit the bridge-bump and caught a smidgen of air.

The yellow, winding-road sign flew past us and I entered the next curve at about 70 and kept it there. The tires were screaming and the girl clenched my arm so tight it made me grin. Coming out to the straight, I hit the gas again, really shoved it down hard and the tranny dropped down first one gear, then another. We were shoved back into the seat and as the car leaped forward, I caught a glimpse of white metal gleaming in the bright sunlight. It was too late and I turned my head to look at the cop hiding behind the tall weeds on a cutout I hadn’t even known was there until that very moment, and I knew that road very well.

Even at about 90 MPH, there was no mistaking the Plymouth with blue and red cherries on top and mirrored sunglasses behind the windshield.

“Cop!” the girl yelled over the growling engine.

But it was too late to slow down and as we roared past, I realized his chin was on his chest. I didn’t even slow down, just pressed harder on the gas and kept the middle of the road. The speedo needle topped out at 110 or 120 , I no longer remember exactly, and disappeared. It’s anyone’s guess how fast we were really going. The next curve was coming up fast and I had to brake hard to enter it at close to sane speed. I glanced into the rear view mirror and saw…


Sweet Dreams, Officer.

Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.



Jello Brain, Left (Logic) and Right (Creativity) on Plates.


I often refer to “my muse” or “the muse.” Henceforth, I will just refer to “Muse” as if it were another person. Muse exists in my head, almost like a person and without it, my writing would be non-existent at worst, or dull and boring at best.

Often, I will see something unexpected and Muse paints images in my brain to make up a mini-story. Not quite flash fiction in most cases, but something to go with the images I am observing. Usually it happens in the space of a few seconds, but sometimes it takes place over a longer period of time.

And sometimes, if conditions are right, Muse writes without painting pictures or images. Recently, I was visiting “Writing With Both Sides of My Brain,” one of my favorite blogs and written by Angela Masters Young. Angela spends a lot of time musing over the two sides of her brain, fondly named Gram and Imma.

Gram is Angela’s left brain, very stogy sort of and all for grammar and correctness and doing things “right.” Imma is a free spirit who paints pictures with words and only listens to Gram because Angela makes her listen. Imma is just as stubborn as Gram and doesn’t let Gram’s rules “muck up the pretty prose,” as I’ve noted once before.

In a recent post titled “Imma’s Challenge,” Angela challenged us to completely turn off our left brains and let our creative half do all the work without worry about rules or limits. Or at least, that was Muse’s interpretation. We could write a poem or a story or…

Left brain (lets call him Joe) sarcastically thought, “Right. I have time to do more writing.” I scrolled down to the comment box and was going to leave a humorous remark. I made note of my weekly word-count goal, hit enter twice to start my joke and something magical happened.

At this point, I’m going to ask you to skip over to “Imma’s Challenge” and read the post and my comment. Then come back and I’ll tell you all about it. Go ahead, we’ll just fill up the coffee mugs here while you’re over there reading. Then just keep the second browser tab open so you can refer back to the comment.

I hit enter twice and my fingers paused, then started typing. I type fast, usually about 80-90 words a minute when I get going. I just started typing and words came fast and simple and flowed and I had no idea where it was going or what I was writing. It was almost scary. I would say it took a minute and half to two minutes to complete. I saw a mistake when it was over. A technical error and went to fix it, but then I left it. Imma’s challenge was to let go of the rules and just create, which is what I did, and so I did not fix the errors.

The first stanza is about poetry and writing poetry. Using poetry you can laugh and cry, or even die. The words flow on a rhythm like the tides or a heartbeat or the days passing. Writing encompasses powerful moments and when Muse is in the groove, there is no stopping it, just as there is no stopping the ocean’s tide and you ride that wave until it’s all out. What’s more, you must do it. You must abide your calling to put the words on paper.

The second stanza is about the art of poetry, something I struggle with. To create more than four or five lines is just not me. Sometimes a short verse or two, but rarely. That day, my right brain had the helm and wasn’t letting go. The only way to stop the tide of words is to write them and abide that creative side. And if you do that, and share your creativity, your words live forever, long after you are gone.

Imma addresses Gram directly in the third verse. She tells Gram not to interrupt her genius with rules and to just let the whole thing out. Gram can fix it up later if she wants to, but Imma is telling Gram to stay out of her hair while she gets it done.

Gram scoffs at Imma a little in the fourth and final verse. She points out that Imma would create a mess all by herself and that she needs Gram. Then Gram acknowledges that Imma is the creative one and she wants Imma to write. “Get on with it then,” she tells Imma, “and fill the world with your words.”

I love to write as many of you already know. Angela has opened a new perspective on writing for me with her blog and it makes me think. I’ve given a lot of thought to my right and left brains thanks to her. Muse on the right, Joe Friday on the left–just the facts ma’am. They don’t meet in the middle on most days, they meet a little right of center and I think Muse is a little more stubborn than Joe.

Thanks for reading and keep writing.

Photo of Jello Brains by Scott at Flickr.com as licensed in 2012.

Copyright © 2012 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.

Angela has not posted for a long time, but I see her on social media. Here is the original poem, left as a comment on her blog post and unedited as it was written in 2012.

 I laughed, I cried
I nearly died
and then I sighed
and went to ride
the ocean’s tide
and did abide
the wave’s endless call.

I wrought, I tried
A poet’s ride
can stop the tide
if you abide
he laughed, he sighed
but never died
His spirit lived on forever.

“Gram,” she sighed
and rolled her eye
don’t stop the tide
don’t let it die
this poet’s ride
I must abide
to laugh and cry
We don’t need no stinkin grammar.

“Imma Dear,” you silly goose,
trouble caused you let it loose
That comma there
Oh please don’t stare
You’d never sell artistic ware
if not for me how would it fare?
ride the tide dear poet bide
and let your words fill the air.


 I miss the days when a group of writers that first gathered on a now-defunct content farm commiserated and held each other up. We subscribed to each other’s blogs and visited often to read their inspiration, and sometimes, found inspiration in their writing as was the case for me in the post by Angela.

Days gone past and left behind. Some of those blogs still exist and the writers are active. Others gather dust as the writers moved on to greener fields, brighter. Some have taken a new step into a realm beyond our seeing or suffered unimaginable loss that no one else can understand or feel.

Life’s uncertainty means we need to have our life in order and our bags packed, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. But we must also live this life as fully as possible. Every time I hear that an old friend has gone, I am filled with sadness, but then I remember the things they wrote. The social media posts. All the parts of the person that were not writing. And sometimes, I find inspiration in the words they once wrote. 





A Male Eastern Bluebird Sitting on a Branch. Photo of Bluebird by Scottslm at Pixabay.com

Eastern Bluebirds sitting on the bare upper branches of a dead tree.Once upon a lifetime ago, I was a remodeling contractor. I built all sorts of things for people and redid their kitchens and bathrooms, finished their basements ,and built decks around their swimming pools. And so, early one spring, I found myself finishing a basement for my brother.

The last part of that job was installing a maple window shelf along a knee wall that ran alongside the wall of windows in their walk-out basement. The shelf was made up of twelve-foot long boards and since I had just laid all new flooring in the basement, I was taking the trim-work outside to cut it. The door to the basement is a set of French doors and I opened both doors to facilitate my going in and out with the long pieces of maple.

My brother and his family live in the country on a beautiful piece of property. You see deer, ducks, geese and many songbirds. During the previous two weeks, I had seen a flock of turkeys saunter by, a big tom herding his hens along and keeping track of them. His tail was fully displayed in the annual rituals of spring.

They came straight at my face as a I maneuvered a long piece of 1 x 12 maple stock outside. The female was first and the male in hot pursuit. For a fraction of a startling second, I was certain they would collide with my face. At the last possible moment, they split apart and went, one to either side of my head.

They were so close that I felt the air pushed by their wings and the male brushed my cheek with his wingtip as he went by. The pair of bluebirds flew straight into the basement. Standing half-in and half-out of the door, I was astonished at how close they came to me and the air that moved my hair as they flew past. I watched in both dismay and amazement as they circled the basement and looked for the way out.

I hurried to get the board outside, put it down on the sawhorses and went back in. By then the two birds had realized they made a big mistake and were trying to get through the windows and back outside. I had no idea what to do, but I was sure they were going to hurt themselves.

I approached the nearest one carefully and from behind. It was against the window and beating it’s wings frantically to get through the glass, but of course it was going nowhere. I reached over and closed my hand around its body, folding the wings down.

The other bird was about ten feet away and doing the exact same thing as the first. I moved away and approached from behind again. This one saw me and tried to move away, but ran into the window frame. I reached again and like magic, I had a bluebird in each hand.

As I walked to the door, I could feel their hearts beating and it seemed to me they were synchronized together. I have no idea how many beats per minute or second a bluebird’s heart beats, but it is fast. At the same time, I was amazed by the fragility and beauty of the creatures I held in my hands.

I walked out of the doors and about fifteen feet from the house. As I put my hands up level with my face and opened my fingers, the bluebirds hesitated for just a moment, then took off. They circled me once and went higher, then made straight for the small meadow just beyond my brother’s front yard.

It was all over in the space of a two minutes, but those moments were etched on my memories and I’ll never forget the time I held two, tiny beating hearts in my over-sized hands and watched them fly away

Photo of Eastern Bluebirds by Jerry Downs Licensed in 2012

Copyright © 2012 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved

No republication without expressly written consent.