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Vexed over Valentine’s gifts?

Eileen JoyceLarry Cook loads a large metal sunflower into the back of his SUV in Grass Valley Thursday. Cook bought the flower as a Valentine's Day present for his wife.
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It wasn’t flowers that caught Cheryl Cook’s eye.

Or the jewelry glinting from the windows in some of the gilded stores on Mill Street.

And the candy, proffered in heart-shaped boxes, tins – even a wafer-thin chocolate CD wrapped in a box paying homage to Elvis – no, she’d have none of that this Valentine’s Day.



Her eyes fixated instead on a six-foot tall metal sunflower stashed inside a store advertising going-out-of-business bargains.

“It’s a practical gift,” Cheryl Cook’s husband, Larry said, packing the kitschy metal menagerie away for the ride home.




That’s perfectly fine for Cheryl Cook, who plans to use the ornament as a sort of measuring stick for the other significantly smaller plants in her sunflower garden.

“This will be something they can aspire to,” she said.

For those aspiring for romance, today is the day for sending flowers or cards, planning a romantic dinner, or if you’ve got the pipes, expressing your love in a song.

That’s what Barbara Lynn Gilberg plans today. The owner of Lip Service Singing Telegrams already performed twice Wednesday and once Thursday, singing the Supremes’ “I Hear a Symphony” to Union Hill teacher David Lynn and Faith Hill’s “The Way You Love Me” for a Sierra Dental employee.

For Gilberg, Valentine’s Day is a bit akin to Christmas.

“Telling people you love them, not just your spouse, but your family and friends” is important, said the singer, who began her business in January and began singing for money earlier this month.

Singing these telegrams, Gilberg said, has caused a wave of emotions for those who receive them. “I’ve seen a lot of tears,” she said.

This morning, she’ll be singing “My Guy” to her husband, Bob, at his job in Lincoln. (Don’t worry, Gilberg said – her husband gets up way too early in the morning to read the newspaper). She plans on donning a heart costume, a platinum wig and a boa, if the mood strikes.

“I couldn’t do that with regular customers, but I like to ham it up with him,” she said.

For a few dollars more, there’s an outside chance you could sleep rather than sing your Valentine’s Day away.

Peter Franchino, owner of the Elam Biggs bed-and-breakfast inn in Grass Valley, said all five bedrooms in the 1892 Queen Anne Victorian hotel are booked, but he credits his wife’s culinary talents, and not some especially plush accommodations for that.

Franchino’s wife, Barbara, bakes Amish sugar cookies at various times of the year for the hotel guests.

“People just eat ’em like they’re potato chips,” Peter Franchino said.

Elam Biggs was an early Grass Valley settler who owned a hardware store on Mill Street, where a plaque stands in his honor.

Those walking up to the inn looking for a little romance and sugar cookies today will have to borrow a mantra employed by the old Brooklyn Dodgers – they’ll just have to wait until next year.


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