Red hot tamale

(This should've been posted Saturday! Oops!) It's a lovely weekend here. The gray, low sky has elevated and when I walked to the post office, the sun made warm stripes of air for me to walk through. Plus, I'm tingling for a holiday, for quirky things like making place-cards and serving multi-course breakfasts, and best, being with family (the one I have here). To all the picketers of this cheery Monday, I make no apologies. For goodness' sake, Walker tells me all the time what he appreciates about me and we don't need a day to remind us to do that. I splash on through pools of anticipation of a long breakfast and afternoon tea and beach-puddle-stepping unembarrassed and with a bounding stride.

In the spirit of cheer, I went around town stalking one color, and what I found was charming. Ladies and gentleman, like little paper hearts, I'm sprinkling you with valentines from my town.


(from the left) 1. The door to the post-graduate English house, complete with computer labs, a kitchen, garden and common room, 66 North Street is where English graduate students practically live. I once nearly-lived here.

  1. The only remnant of Christmas in our wee place is a scrap of vintage ribbon from my favorite gift shop in town, Bonkers.

  2. Bibi's Bakery on South Street only sells cupcakes, also known call as 'fairy cakes' here. Darling! (excuse the sneaky-and-therefore-blurred photo)


4 (and 7!). Royal Mail box. This is where I drop almost any mail sent to the States. Walking to the post office and queuing (waiting in line) through the stationary store makes mailing seem authentic and personal. Kathleen Kelly would be pleased.

  1. What would St Andrews Valentine's Day be without some red golf accessories, aye?

  2. Here's a British don't-cross signal. Unlike America, if you press the button to stop traffic, within 15 seconds you'll be able to cross. It also beeps when you can walk, which is convenient if you're prone to zoning out.

  1. Post box, again! As I took this photo, there were several letters to some readers sitting in its belly.

  2. I call this nail color vintage red, but its given name by Revlon is Red Hot Tamale. And although bright red nail polish appeals only to the 1950's side of me that wishes she had black hair and Tiffany's sunglasses, I've kept it on almost 2 weeks. It will forever be one of my favorite colors since one of the Ranch girls used to give me manicures in this color, and when I left, gave me her bottle. I brought it back for a nostalgic manicure, and have been sporting it ever since. (p.s. The Scottish call nail polish 'nail varnish'.)

  3. Hunter boots and English country prints from this adorable boutique are classic St Andrews' style. I step up on my fashion soapbox to inform you that New Yorkers who spend $125 a pair for the sake of fashion are getting ripped off (mine were, I think, 20 pounds). Ok, off the soapbox.


Lastly (this is the big, glossy valentine that won't fit in the box, or maybe the chocolate)---in poetry's favorite season, you simply must head to your library for this book, the best book of Valentine's poetry you'll find. Ted Kooser's poetry is always gentle and American, and perennially full of kindness. I close with a favorite. Click here to listen to the poet read it.

In a Light Late-Winter Wind

In a light late-winter wind
the oak trees are scattering valentines
over the snow—dark red
like the deep-running, veinous blood
of the married, returning
again and again to the steady heart.

This leaf is yours, friend,
picked from the heart-shaped hoofprint
of a deer. She stood here
under the apple tree during the night,
kicking up sweetness, her great eyes
watching the sleeping house.


From my mailbox to yours, from my town to yours, from my heart to yours, enjoy the gift of love this weekend!