Plant a Kiss for AKR

I don’t remember when I first found Amy Krouse Rosenthal, but I know that it was before 08/08/08. Somehow I managed to qualify to be an Ambassador of Lovely so I put some Always Trust Magic notes on ATMs I used and hosted a tiny viewing of the Beckoning of Lovely premier in my living room. I got to meet her a couple of years later when she did a talk/reading at a suburban library near my work. She was even more magical and welcoming in person. In October 2016, she posted something on Facebook offering to send one of an overrun (?) temporary tattoos of her tag line “Make the Most of Your Time Here.” I now know she knew she was dying when she sent me this note. I had no idea at the time.

On March 3, Amy’s essay “You Might Want to Marry My Husband” hit the internet. Everyone ever touched by the wonder of AKR got really sad. Much of the rest of the world got sad too. Then, Sherry Richert Belul put up a call to her friends and celebration makers: we didn’t believe we had time to wait for Amy’s birthday to do another Plant a Kiss Day so we planned our action(s) to happen March 9-14. You can read about this year's love here.

Briefly, Plant a Kiss Day (er, Week) is inspired by Amy’s book, Plant a Kiss and is all about spreading love and kindness in the world around us.


As I put the tattoo on the inside of my left arm, I figured out the first step or two of what I wanted to do. So, I made a bunch of YELLOW paper umbrellas, with her catch phrase on them and set out to distribute them.

We went to Grand Marais, MN for a little weekend getaway to celebrate my beloved’s birthday so most umbrellas ended up there. A couple I gave and offered an awkward explanation. The best was the one I left on our table at Voyageur Brewing Co. where I happened to see the owner/server pick it up, read it, ponder it, and set it gently on top of the cash drawer.

Voyageur Brewing Co , Grand Marais, MN

Voyageur Brewing Co, Grand Marais, MN

I was sad to miss an opportunity to give it to a gentleman in a yellow felt pussy-hat (made by him) when he stopped by our dinner table at The Crooked Spoon to show off his hat and complement the pink knit one I wore into the restaurant. (Sometimes I struggle with surprise conversations.) My beloved got one, as did everyone at the B&B breakfast table.

MacArthur House , Grand Marais, MN

MacArthur House, Grand Marais, MN

One got shipped to Sherry. She has a thing for paper parasols.

My hope is that the recipients get as much joy from these little umbrellas as I did making them. And that they’ll pass them on when they’ve received enough magic from them (except you, Sherry, if you want to pass some on, I’ll make more for you). I think I’m going to keep making them and carry a small stash with me most of the time. You never know when someone might need a magic yellow umbrella. Or when you might need to give one away.

Read about other planted kisses here.

Origin Story, part 1

It's a long way 'round to the name of this fledgling enterprise. I think we'll take it in pieces.

For starters, there was Ornery Red. The following appeared on my now-neglected blog back in 2008.

Jim D. (one of many Jims in my life) selected his own nickname (as I remember it anyway). He tried to convince me he was crabby. Even imitated crabs now and then to prove it.

I never believed him. He was patient with this little girl who insisted on wearing a skirt or pink pants over her rubber boots while stomping through a bog or camping on a beach. He taught me to fish and helped me reel in my first (and most of my subsequent) salmon.

I wish I could remember specific lessons he taught me, but the best I can tell you is that he showed me SE Alaska, a place I fell in love with. He took us to a hillside outside of Wrangell where garnets lay at the surface of the soil. He made my 6th birthday a great one with hot dogs roasted over a fire on a beach. He taught me to fearlessly trot across logs high above rocky waterfalls; I suppose that means he taught me balance. He let me keep the ugliest salmon ever, and we cleaned it, wrapped it in foil w/lemon and dill, cooked it over another fire on another beach and proved that even aging salmon can taste great under an Alaskan sunset. He taught me that as fascinating as sea cucumbers are, they have the texture of erasers when you eat them. He showed me a pod of sea lions and took me to their islands where I found a peace I can still conjure in my heart.

Jim introduced me to Kitty (as Mom says: they were soooo in love). Kitty helped move my knitting from dishcloths to lace. She can fish and hunt and keep a boat running and make quilts. She knows botany and bakes amazing kolaches. She recently added building kayaks to her repertoire of skills. Though I haven’t seen her since 1990, she still inspires a lot of what I do. (and we're finally going back to visit her in July!)

About 20 (almost 30 now) years ago, Jim disappeared in a helicopter accident. There are still occasional nights when he appears in my dreams and I wake thinking he’s about to come back and take me to explore a glacier or a hot spring or drag my parents straight up a mountain because paths are for sissies. Or maybe he’d just take us to a quiet, rocky beach, build the biggest campfire you’ve ever seen and tell us where he’s been and what he's been doing all these years.