Hearts A'Flutter

“A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.” ~ Edward Bulwer Lytton

I really did try to write about something other than “lovey-dovey” (what with Valentine’s Day right around the corner), but the 1965 hit song by Jackie DeShannon was right. It was right back then and acutely true today … “What the world needs now is love lovesweet love.”

Here, take a fresh listen to the love anthem of the 60s. If you were there, you remember it well … and fondly. If you weren’t there, you’ll remember it as if you were. I still can’t listen to it without my eyes moistening. Jackie was so right when she sang about having enough mountains to climb. There are enough mountains. What we really need in this old world is LOVE. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMS2uMUQNnQ

Ok, now that we’re sufficiently softened up, let’s get on with this project.

I love hearts, always have. I thoroughly enjoyed making them as a schoolgirl to decorate my Valentine party box. Remember cutting out red and pink heart shapes to decorate your box? Oh, and white paper doilies to make them extra fancy. The other day, I wondered if the tradition of making valentine boxes had fallen out of fashion. Then, just yesterday, I stopped to see a young friend of mine (she’s a mother of five children under the age of nine) and she showed me the valentine boxes that she was helping three of her sons make. I was delighted to see that we haven’t lost another quaint holiday tradition. Seeing those cute & crudely made handmade boxes brought back such fun memories. Oh, how I adored St. Valentine’s Day, there was just something about it that stirred my little cowgirl heart. Each of the kids in my class opened 20 or so cutesy valentines that wore pithy sayings designed for children. Only a few boys acted reluctant to join in the fun. For the rest of us, it was sheer heartfelt delight. We got high on pink frosted cupcakes and red koolaid … and acted more giddy than wild. Remember?

When I picked out valentine cards for the kids in my class, I tried to choose cards that I knew ‘So & So’ would like. My friends did too. I especially loved the cards given to me that sported ponies, kittens or cowgirls! I wish I would have saved them. Did you?? Many old ones survived and today they fetch a nice price on eBay.

Have you ever had a little pet project plan that lived on your to-do list for almost a decade? Well, for me, it was making a herd of heart ornaments. Obviously, they were never a priority. There were a million and seventeen ‘real life’ things that were a million and seventeen times more important than making valentines. But, about a month ago, I sank my teeth into my old ‘to-do’ list, and BoyHowdy, did I have fun. Frivolous fun … playing with fabric and embellishments and tickling myself. The thing that motivated me to finally gather up my herd of hearts was this: The roundup would result in them being corraled in the February MaryJanesFarm sisterhood newsletter (The Cluck). If you’re a MaryJanesFarm sisterhood member, you recieve the monthly newsletter via email. Well, it is much more than a newsletter … it is an online magazine … filled to the brim with goodies. if you’re not already a Sisterhood member, join in the fun at http://www.farmgirlsisterhood.org.

I’ll share a few of the hearts from the herd with you – should you want to use them for inspiration to make up some valentines for those special names in your heart. There are lots more in the newsletter. The basic how to is simple: fold pieces of paper to make the heart patterns and then stitch them, stuff them and embellish them as you please. The hanging pillow at the top of this page is a member of the herd, as is this accent pillow below.

About midway through making my herd of hearts, I had to make an emergency run to the Veterinarian. An old doe deer attacked my 12 year old Rat Terrier when I let the dogs out to tinkle. The doe mauled her, I mean really beat her up — slashing Dotty with her hooves. I admit, I was very shook up. Dotty is my doggy-darling … the dog of my heart. I was heartbroken watching my dear little friend in such pain. She couldn’t be stitched up because of anesthesia being kinda iffy on a dog of her age. So, she’s healing up on her own with the help of antibiotics and Veterycin. I’m happy to report that my doggie sidekick is doing well and I finished my herd of hearts with her lying at my feet. When someone you love suffers, it rips you up inside. That is the downside of love. But, is is better to love and lose than not to love at all. I know that the dog I adore may not be long for this world. So, I love her a little more every day she’s here. The greater and much larger loves in my life, my aging parents, come to mind also. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become acutely aware of lingering a little with loved ones, in thought, because you never know when you will see them again … in this life. Love holds them safe in your heart, but it can’t keep them here.

Then, there are the pleasant surprises. When I stopped to visit my friend (the young mother) in her 2nd hand store/florist shop, she gave me a pair of roses ‘just because’ and offered me an early valentine hug. Ya know, I needed one too. Love is funny that way. It sees a need and finds a way to meet it.

Oh, and I have another pleasant surprise to share with you. I’m going to be getting a new horse! A dear friend of mine, Linnea, bred her and I am told she is a near clone to my beloved “Dolly” – being very closely related to my 22 year old mare. Her farm name is “Apple”, but ‘on paper’ she was named after my Apple Pi Dolly Rose. My new horse’s paper name is ML Meadowlark Dolly Rose. I don’t have a photo of Apple to share, but you know I will later ;o) . At one time, when we were raising horses, we had anywhere from 15-30 or so horses here at all times. But, now I have just three and I’ve not bought a new horse in several years. Blessed I am to live in a place where I can enjoy one of my lifelong loves – horses. It wasn’t always so in my young adult years and I confess that I quietly ached for horses. I went on with my life as it was, but horses were in my dreams. Even so, I couldn’t bear to be near them … and not have one. They’re in my blood, my heart and my soul. Sometimes, oft times, it is good to stop in your tracks and put a number on all the things we should be thankful for. Love feels the need and hears those prayers we’re never brave enough to utter. Heart-prayers are the good Lord’s specialty.

I know this to be true because I’ve been blessed with 55 years to figure it out. Some folks figure a lot of things out sooner, but hey, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. If I was, it shouldn’t have taken me so long to find true love. Actually, it found me. ‘He’ came into my life riding a horse, literally. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, the most creative force, the most important force, and the most determined force. Hate can create horrors beyond our comprehension, only love can stop it … and – it – does. Sometimes it just takes longer than we think we can hang onto our faith. But, in the end, nothing trumps love.

Image courtesy Marcie Hart, A Work of Hart

Love is big, love is small. Little love finds little cracks in you that need to be filled … the tiny cracks that only little love can see. Last night at Youth Group (our church’s), I was given a handmade valentine (below). Before I could get a grip on myself, I sighed deeply and tears rolled down my cheeks. Those of you that are mothers might wonder at that. You probably have boxes of child-made paper gifts. I do not. Until last night, I hadn’t been given a handmade paper valentine for about 45 years – since I was a schoolgirl. You see, I never had children. I surprised both the kids and myself with an emotional response. The sweet words and the time it took to make the gift filled a little crack that I didn’t even know I had. So, should you get hand wrought valentines from your kids or grand kids this year … try to receive them with this thought in mind: You might never have been given the precious gift of the little hands that made them. But, you were given that gift.

Love can be a mushy thing, but lightening it up has its place. That, too, is part of Valentines Day. Love sinks into the pores of everything good in life. The best humor includes love. Love teases us in the most delightful ways. Love is playful and not just deeply kind. Love is the puppy that romps around making a fool of himself for no other reason than to show you in the only way he can that he Loves you more than he understands. If you do any good thing, it is a loving thing. You cannot do good without love being right in the middle of it. Doing good in small things and in great things is true success. Love is success, real success anyway. I think that is what Ralph Waldo Emerson was getting at when he penned this …

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch … to know even one life has breathed a little easier because you lived. This is to succeed.”

To get through this life doing what you should be doing, loving what you’re doing, making the most of what you have to work with takes love. A lot of love. That is why we need it every day. A young cowboy in the late 1800s figured that out too. He had time on his hands while he watched over the herd … to compose a love letter, a poem for “Susie”. That was the era in which young couples weren’t just building lives together, they were building this country while the thing was still close to the ground. This unknown cowboy poet and his lady-love were setting out to do the very thing many of you young farmgirls and your husbands are doing today – “homesteading” – trying to create a healthy lifestyle and an honest life. And, what is the first building block, the cornerstone? Love.

A Cowboy’s Sweetheart
Oh, the last steer has been branded
And the last beef has been shipped,
And I’m free to roam the prairies
That the round-up crew has stripped.
I’m free to think of Susie …
Fairer than the stars above …
She’s this cowboy’s sweetheart,
My little turtle dove.
Sometimes I think I’m loco
And only fit for herdin’ sheep,
‘Cause I only think of Susie
When I’m awake or dead asleep,
I’m wearin’ Cupid’s hobbles,
And I’m tied to Love’s stake-pin,
And when my heart was branded
The irons sunk deep in.
I’ll ride to see her on Sunday,
A’wearin’ my wooly chaps,
I’ll take a good horse for Susie
So’z we can ride & talk o’er our plans.
– 1900s poem, cowboy author unknown
Just one more thing from me … and Jack Johnson, one final reminder that “we” are better together. Love can’t operate alone. So, I’ll end this with my most recent favorite song … and it is a love song. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u57d4_b_YgIBetter Together” by Jack Johnson. I hope you have a great time together with whomever you spend Valentines Day. XO, Shery

  1. Love your hearts. Feel so bad for your little terrier. Cut n Heal works wonders for healing wounds like this. A vet used it on one of my horses years ago that had a wide open gash in her chest when she went through a wire fence. In a couple days you couldn’t even hardly tell. I love your blog, makes me dream of younger years.

  2. bonnie ellis says:

    Shery: What a delightful blog. Your hearts are beautiful. A new horse is fantastic. Almost better than the 50th wedding we have coming March 17. Congratulations on your new pet (I mean that literally). Happy trails. Bonnie


    Thanks Bonnie…and congrats on 50 years of marriage. Young people need to see more of that!! Have fun on your anniversary. That is a BIG milestone that many of us will never reach.   shery

  3. Jan says:

    Hi Shery, Love your herd of hearts, beautiful!! You are a very talented lady.
    Oh, your poor doggie!! What a terrible thing to happen, especially to an older pooch. So glad to hear that she is healing and getting along OK. My corgi is my constant companion. I know that love you are talking about.
    Congratulations on your new horse, Apple (love the name). Can’t wait to see pictures. Like you I have a love of horses in my blood and heart. My Dad told me that soon after I had learned to walk, I went right up to the horses at a place called Joyland, wasn’t afraid at all, and wanted to ride them over and over. After almost 40 years, I now have two horses! Yeah!! 🙂


    Yep, Jan…I know your ‘affliction’ well and we don’t want the cure !! :o)


  4. Waynetta says:

    Lots of good thoughts and memories here. I enjoyed your words and related to the memories of when you were a little girl and Valentines. I enjoyed hearing about your new horse and your sweet little dog…hope she is doing better. The Valentine hearts that you made are beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for being open and friendly, sharing your thoughts and heart. Have a cozy Valentine’s Day!

    Right back at you Waynetta. Thank you for your kind comments. You made my heart smile … and then it worked its way out to my face ;o)  shery

  5. Jan says:

    Again this was a wonderful post. I always look forward to them. BTW thanks for the songs and poems.
    Happy Valentines Day to You!!

  6. Emma Dorsey says:

    I hope your dog Dotty has a speedy recovery!!! She looks like a true trooper in the picture. I guess even old dear Deer have their days!

  7. Liz Syverson says:

    Your writing validates the lifestyle of so many of us, thank you. I’m going to go look at my scraps and hang a homemade heart on all the horses stalls. I sure hope that good little terrier heals up. Older dogs are so wise and kind; they are to be cherished.


    Dear Liz, What a thoughtful response…….thank you so very much.


  8. Treese says:

    Thank you for the early Valentine! The hearts are very nice. I never got handy with a needle and thread, but like the end product.
    Hope, your little terrier heals up as good as new. The cut looks painful, but she has trust in her eyes. So, let’s hope she will be 100% soon.
    I too was a girl who grew up and stayed mad for horses. I have had a horse since the day I was born (that was a few years back!) and still have 28 head of them. My old war horse is 26 this year and slowing down a bit, but still as beautiful as the day he was born.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl


    Well, Treese, you’re a girl who has chores! I know what having that many horses requires!! 20+ head of horses is a 4 letter word: WORK. :o)  Buuut, when you love something, it is love-work. Thank you EVERYONE on Dotty’s behalf for the well-wishes!  shery

  9. I am so happy your dog is doing OK! I love your posts and always pick them from all the sisters to read first and all of it!

    Smiles, Cyndi

  10. shanna says:

    such fun reading. It reminded me that it has been way too long since I have done Valentines. With 6 kids there were a lot of them. Glad to hear they are still doing it somewhere. Happy Trails to you and yours!!!

  11. meredith (hereford girl) says:

    Shery, Thanks once again for being such a gift! Your writing is amazing and always touches my heart. I am so glad to know little Dotty is ok- Vetericyn is an amazing product and she will be healed in no time!
    A few years back our Jack Russell (Buzz) took an very unusual trip to the neighbors and found their Doberman very unhappy at his presence. Buzz had never, in 14 years, left home, and how he got back is a mystery- his front end and back end were only attached by his spinal cord. 600 stitches and one very talented vet later, he was back in one piece and lived another two years to a ripe old 16. SO I am sure Dotty will be fine! I know how heart wrenching an experience like that is, and how worrisome. Love is a wonderful thing! I love your herd of hearts and plan to try a few myself- thanks for the inspiration! Happy Valentines Day!


    HoleyMoley, 600 stitches on a little dog?! Sounds like he was held together by thread. WOW.  Jack Russells are as tough as Blue Heelers.  shery

  12. meredith (hereford girl) says:

    Shery, Thanks once again for being such a gift! Your writing is amazing and always touches my heart. I am so glad to know little Dotty is ok- Vetericyn is an amazing product and she will be healed in no time!
    A few years back our Jack Russell (Buzz) took an very unusual trip to the neighbors and found their Doberman very unhappy at his presence. Buzz had never, in 14 years, left home, and how he got back is a mystery- his front end and back end were only attached by his spinal cord. 600 stitches and one very talented vet later, he was back in one piece and lived another two years to a ripe old 16. SO I am sure Dotty will be fine! I know how heart wrenching an experience like that is, and how worrisome. Love is a wonderful thing! I love your herd of hearts and plan to try a few myself- thanks for the inspiration! Happy Valentines Day!


    HoleyMoley, 600 stitches on a little dog?! Sounds like he was held together by thread. WOW.  Jack Russells are as tough as Blue Heelers.  shery

  13. I love all the projects in maryJane’s Cluck. It helps fill the void in between the issues I receive in the mail 🙂 🙂 🙂 The heart project is really cute. You can make them all so different, and they’ll all turn out lovely 🙂 🙂 I’m farmgirl sisterhood member #2176 🙂 🙂

    Oh, that Jack Johnson song is really sweet 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  14. Vi says:

    Sending healing vibes to your lil Dotty!

  15. jonna says:

    Thank you SO much for this writting – it is exactly what I need. I was diagnosed with breast cancer & getting ready for treatments; trying to get out of myself & use the experience as a tool to be more giving; recently started making cards to send for those ‘in need’. Your blog is quite an inspiration! love ya girl, jonna from tn.


    Oh Jonna, you have some challenges ahead. I pray that when you’re on the other side of all of it that you’ll have accumulated many POSitive experiences via caring hearts like your own. Best wishes to you for complete healing and all the strength necessary for the journey ahead. Thank YOU for writing.  shery

  16. Lacey says:

    This post tugged on my heart strings, your writing is just wonderful! I too have always been passionate about horses and loved being around them, until I was thrown off one at the age of 9 and broke my wrist and cracked ribs, after that I was terrified to ride….until 3 years ago when my wonderful Man, helped me to get back on….I cried the whole time as he led me around the yard….trying not to laugh…When we returned to the corral he told me how proud he was of me and then I told him I didn’t think I could get down, I was still shaking pretty bad, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful Diamond engagement ring and said "Will this help?" I laughed and cried and jumped down to hug him!! Since then we have taken many rides and I am slowly getting over my fears, this past summer I even took by beautiful boy BUCK out into the pasture to help my hubby check the cows!! My son, who has just turned 6, is already starting that stage of being "to cool" for Valentines, so I reminded him that even if he puts a smile on 1 persons face, it will be worth all the work we put in….since then we have finished the paper Valentines, made cupcakes and cinnamon sented playdough for his Kindergarten class!! Happy Valentine’s Day, and I sure hope your Pooch gets better quick! 🙂


    WOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!! WHAT a proposal story!! So romantic and so emotional all the way around. How could he wait through all of that and not let on what he was up to?? :o)  AMAZING. SO happy for you that you got over your fear…AND…lived happily ever after.  Now that’s a valentine story.  Shery

  17. Terri says:

    Hi Shery. I have read your blog for some time now and today I thank you for such wonderful, loving, and comforting words. Yesterday, my family laid my dearly loved father-in-law to rest and ushered him into the heavenlies. It was most difficult for me to watch my five twenty-something grown children grieve their beloved "Pa.." Today is the first day in the past six weeks since his sudden stroke that I have taken to sit and reflect. Thanks again from one farmgirl to another.

    Dear Terri, My condolences to your family. I know it is a comfort that a loved one suffers no more and resides now in a wonderful place, but they do leave a gaping hole. That is real love. Other lost things leave no hole. Your kids are lucky to have had someone who left them with such a hole and a lot of memories of their Grandpa to fill it :o)  I think that is their last gift to us. Love to you.  Shery

  18. Michele says:

    Oh, Sherry, I always love your blog posts. I am sure hoping yo ==ur little pooch heals fast. I am not a horse girl but I still think we might be sisters from another mother, I so identify with so many of the things that you write about.
    I do have a Problem, though. I have discovered that I am somewhat of a rebel when it comes to deadlines. For instance, I didn’t get hardly a thing made for Valentines Day But this week I am making hearts like crazy. Paper hearts, cards, fabric hearts, etc. I think there is something seroiusly wrong with me. All I can say is I’ll be ahead of the curve for next Valentine’s

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