Can you believe I have a secret admirer? Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day…and I have a secret admirer. For the last ten years or so I receive a plain white business envelope with printed address label to: Mrs. John J. Fetterly.

A decade ago I wasn’t plastered all over the Internet, so I wasn’t concerned about a stalker. I’m still not.

I think someone is “goofing” with us. I choose to think of them as creative in their attempt at humor.

As long as the Valentines are still with cute kittens and we don’t move on to Chucky dolls I’m fine.

So here’s what came in Monday’s mail.

Secret Valentine

There’s something very special about an unanticipated gift. But I’m not sure this qualifies.

However, I did receive a lovely gift from a good friend.

I’m the event planner, tour guide, point person in my family and friendship groups. Others love to  join me and come along on my field trips, but typically all the responsibility falls to me. In fairness, I’ve probably been the one to be most vocal, expressing what I want to do in such clear terms that no one else need apply for the position of team captain.

I do have strong leadership capabilities…but sometimes I really do like to follow!

When my friend Linda called to ask if I’d like to join her in a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to catch the closing of the Caravaggio exhibit (we’d talked about it for three months) I didn’t hesitate.

She purchased tickets and SHE coordinated our moves for the day! It was such a lovely experience to just relax and follow along, moving freely in and out of exhibits with no attention to a clock or schedule.

It was the perfect gift!

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio only lived 38 years (1571-1610), and was quite the  controversial figure in his day. A frequent street fighter, he killed one man and was known to war with others he believed copied his style too closely.

I couldn’t take any photos, but the exhibit, “Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy,” included eight rare paintings together for the first time in California, and 50 other works by artists influenced by the artist.

I loved the Caravaggio’s and many of the others, but I can’t say it was my favorite. Still…

I do love just soaking up the flavor of art and creative expression. It is ALL there to inspire.

Whether 16th century oil on canvas or a modern installation, the human spirit cannot suppress the need to create. And the diversity of expression is what excites me the most.

I do enjoy installation art.

I was able to take photos of Walter De Marias: The 2000 Sculpture.

What optical illusions! Plaster rods impressively laid out in 20 rows over 164 feet present varying patterns, viewed differently from points around the room.

The artist said of the experience, “No matter how pure I try to be, at that point where warm meets cold, action meets inaction, that’s what interests me. And what goes on in people’s minds.”

I’m also very interested in what goes on in people’s minds and this work of art reinforced my impressions. I love differing perspectives and different points of view. It’s a good thing to change one’s position from time to time and to remain open and flexible to new ideas. Creativity can also be an exercise of the mind!

We even bumped into creativity while having our lunch.

As Linda took the folder with the bill, she looked a little puzzled and then showed me the contents.
IMG_1779

My goodness! Do I have admirers everywhere I go?  Let’s ask our server.

Kevin, our server, explained he enjoys expressing himself and sharing the creative impulse with hand-painted cards,  offering favorite quotes and small artworks to his patrons.

After we thanked him for the unexpected gift he left us for just a moment then returned with another lovely token.

IMG_1780Now I keep my little card close to where I’ll see it every morning. It’s a reminder to live each day appreciating the gift of creativity–each of us is made to embrace and enjoy self-expression.

Perhaps it’s because I am of “a certain age,” but I love this quote from the ageless Sophia Loren, and I share it as my Valentine’s gift to each of you.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source you will truly have defeated age.”

47 thoughts on “Can you believe I have a secret admirer? Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

  1. Lovely post, Debra. So wonderful to have a “secret admirer” for 10 years!!! That’s staying power. Maybe it’s someone who tagged along in one of your “tour groups”?

    Hope you had a happy valentine’s day . . . full of sweet treats!

    • I love your thought about my secret admirer being someone who came along on one of my tours, Nancy! Can you imagine what my thoughts would be if these Valentines had popped up after I started blogging? I wouldn’t know where to begin in considering a source!What I do know is that if anyone wants to play a joke on someone and “mess with their heads” a little bit, sending an anonymous Valentine is a very good way! Do have another wonderful weekend, Nancy! I think you most often do. :-)

    • The secret admirer is really unusual, isn’t it? But the server, Kevin, makes me smile every time I think of him. Our museum day was last Friday, and I wonder who he is going to delight today! I hope no one ever fails to thank him. It’s quite special.

  2. My goodness what fun to have a secret admirer all these years. :-)
    We missed the Caravaggio exhibition – the hills and beaches call to me and its so hard to go to a museum on my day off.

    I love your new look Debra. Congratulations!

    • I wouldn’t go to museums on my weekend either, Rosie, if I had your week! I’m sure by the time you have a day off you want to get out and move!! Yes, the secret admirer is a strange little yearly event. I really find it quite hilarious, simply because I am almost sure it has to be someone my husband works with. I don’t even know these railroad guys, but my guess is that someone sends this to me to play a joke on him. That’s what I tell myself anyway…if it’s more than that, I really don’t think I want to know! :-)

  3. Happy 10th Anniversary, Debra! In a time where the divorce rate is over 50%, it’s nice to hear of a relationship with true staying power. :)
    I have to check to see if the Caravaggio Exhibit will be coming this way. I’d love to see it. And what a nice thing for that Kevin to do for his customers! Truly a gift that keeps on giving.

    • I can be such a suspicious little soul, John, so I don’t know why my secret admirer doesn’t cause me to be more concerned, but I really do think it’s probably someone who works with my husband and it’s just been a funny joke. For all I know they send one to dozens of others. And I hope the Caravaggio exhibit comes your way. I have thought about why I wasn’t as moved as I usually can be, and I think it was the crowd. We waited until the last weekend, and apparently so did many others. I think perhaps I felt a little rushed.

      By the way, I am excited for you and Celi to have some time together this weekend. Picturing this just warms my soul! The few encounters I have had with fellow bloggers have been so lovely, and I think of the two of you as very special long-distance friends. Have a great day!

    • You know, all week I have thought of Kevin and his little tokens of art. If he expresses himself this way to strangers, I just wonder what he is like with his friends and family. How many times do we make such a strong impression on others when we are just passing through? He’s kind of inspirational! I am glad I can share him with you, too. :-)

    • I’m glad to know you liked the floor art, Jim. I can remember when I didn’t spend much time studying works like this. I would walk by and be a little uninterested. We stood in this room for the longest time just wondering how the artist set it up. Did he figure placement out with a computer? What inspired it in the first place? I would have so enjoyed a visit with him. It was a most unexpected day for so many reasons, and I think it was good for me. I tend to get caught in believing most days have the same rhythms and routines, so to have other contribute so nicely to break that pattern was so refreshing! I hope you have a very nice weekend!

  4. How exciting to have a secret admirer – even if it eerie, too. Otherwise it seemed like your friend Linda provide you with an excellent excursion. I would have loved to see those Caravaggio paintings.

    • I don’t quite know what to think about my yearly secret Valentine, Otto. I admit to being very curious, but as the year goes forward I always forget about it, and then here comes another envelope! It’s a wonder we don’t throw it away as the envelope really looks like it’s going to be junk mail. :-) The Caravaggio exhibit was stunning, and I think what first impressed me was the scale. The painting are huge. Some of the lesser artists who were grouped with them weren’t my favorites, but I think I was a little overwhelmed by too many to study carefully. We had a lovely day, though, and as you undoubtedly know well, just spending the time walking in and out of other lovely exhibits was so relaxing. I hope you have a good weekend, Otto. Thank you for stopping by today. :-)

    • It’s pretty funny to have a secret admirer at my age, Andra. It doesn’t happen all that often. LOL! But it’s a little odd, too. At least not knowing the facts I can fill in my own story and make it a nice one. :-) I remember a time you referenced Caravaggio. Admiring art and artists is such a complex series of emotional connections for each of us, and I think perhaps I enjoy thinking about that as much as anything as I move about. I love hearing what others are saying about each piece. For some reason this series of paintings didn’t affect me as much as I anticipated, and I don’t know why, but I am never sorry that I spend the time. It could be that on another occasion I’ll have an entirely different experience. I visited my favorite large boulder… :-) I’ll be sharing new daylight photos soon. Last time I was there it was dusk and the photos weren’t much. I still marvel at that engineering feat! Hope you have a good weekend, my friend. oxo

  5. Lucky you, Debra. I’ve had precisely one Valentine in the whole of my life and it wasn’t from my DH who doesn’t do Valentine;’s Day. :-) Your day our sounds such fun, and as another born organiser, I really understand how nice it is to have someone else do the organising for once.

    • Jay and I have never exchanged Valentine’s either, Perpetua. I got off the freeway after work the other day and saw a very large crowd gathering in one of the shopping areas and couldn’t at first if there’d been an incident! Upon closer inspection I realized that a very large line had gathered outside of candy store, and I chuckled at how much money was being spent on Valentine gifts. I wondered if most of the men were young…and perhaps single! LOL! From one organizer to another–it WAS very nice to not have responsibility. I might need to try that role a bit more often! :-)

  6. What a lovely day out. I love installation art to. And as for Carvaggio; controversial but what a talent. And to think he’d achieved so much by 38 years of age. Life is too short for some. I love the cards you received and that’s a great quote from Sophia xx

    • I must admit I didn’t know much about Caravaggio’s life before this particular trip to the exhibit, Charlie, but I think I’d enjoy knowing a bit more about the man. And I really loved the Sophia Loren quote, too. I assume she must be at least 80 years old by now, and at the same time, she will always remain ageless! :-)

  7. WHOA! Debra following the No-photography rule. Ahihihi. :D
    LACMA! I sadly lost my pictures of it. :( I have little to show but not all. :(
    Oh well. To end your mystery. I’m your stalker. I send those to you. Ahihihihi :D
    LOVING the new blog look. ;)

  8. Love this post! The juxtaposition of the installation and Caravaggio. And the secret admirer and the sketch. I just finishedsending in the mail original drawings to my friends – just for fun. Why not? I have lots to make.

    • How wonderful for your friends to receive original drawings from you, Carla! That’s such a personal gift and I’m sure they are treasured. I did have a wonderful day at LACMA and I enjoyed sharing it. Thank you so much for stopping by. :-)

  9. Love, love, love this post — all the beautiful artwork and enrichment all around you! I’m copying the quote from Miss Loren to save for my own personal edification. She’s the most lovely genius! Blessings to cover you today, Debra.

  10. Dear Debra, thank you for the gift of the Sophia Loren quotation. Her words really do capture the feelings I have about growing older. I don’t know if I’ve ever quoted to you the last few lines of the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It seems to me I have, but just in case, they seem apropos here with Sophia’s quotation:

    “We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    Peace, Debra, and thank you so much for continuing to leave comments on my blogs even though that’s being difficult for you.

    • I don’t believe you have shared the Tennyson quote before, Dee. Oh my but that’s a beautiful poem. I must read the entire thing. And I, too, just loved the Sophia Loren quote. I think it would be worth memorizing! :-) I don’t mind struggling a bit with leaving comments on your posts–not at all. I’m mostly concerned that when I leave one it may not appear. I think it must have something to do with settings that interfere, but it’s these fine points that trip me up! LOL! I hope you’ve had a good weekend, my friend. And now here we are beginning another week. They seem to roll around so quickly! :-)

  11. This is so intriguing! i hope one day you figure it out. My daughter has been part of a secret admirer project supporting a friend of hers. Her friend has arranged to mail a small parcel to her niece every birthday from all over the world since she was first born. Not even her parents know who it is from. When my daughter moved to Australia she mailed a package on behalf of her friend! This little girl has received mystery parcels from all over the world and will not know who is behind it till she is 12 years old. I wonder if your secret admirer is up to something like this secret plan? You will have to keep us posted. ~Thea

    • My goodness, Thea. I’m really intrigued with your daughter’s participation in the secret admirer project! I’ve never heard of anything quite like it, but it’s wonderful! Not even the parents know! Some people are just very clever and know how to create surprise and a bit of mystery. Maybe someday I will know who is sending the Valentine, but so far we have no idea. LOL!

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