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The Mardi Gras carnival celebration involves vibrant color and light, appointed royalty, creative parade floats and unusual giveaways. The point is to be richly sated before the season of Lent asks us to give up indulgences -- though this square of Mercury and Jupiter warns plainly against overindulgence this Fat Tuesday.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (Feb. 13). A shower of financial good luck starts things off. You'll be able to feed your own goals and projects and still help a loved one out. Your powers of charm will be amplified the first three months of this solar return and you'll have to be careful not to set up expectations you won't want to fulfill. July brings a quest. Pisces and Virgo adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 4, 20, 28, 43 and 17.

ARIES (March 21-April 19). There's usually a need that goes lurking beneath the request that's being made. You sense what it is in yourself and in others: for instance, when they ask for advice but really want corroboration.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20). There may be tension between people of differing generations. The way to get around it is to tune in to what the other party finds relevant and to steer clear of topics and manners that may be difficult for others to relate to.

GEMINI (May 21-June 21). All of life is an experience: the good and the bad, the exciting and the tedious, the struggle and the triumph. Don't worry so much about whether you're on the right path. Today, the point is just that you're moving.

CANCER (June 22-July 22). There's a venture in the back of your mind that is starting to push its way to the front. Will people pay for your special talent? Could you make a living with this? Toy around with the idea more seriously.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). There's nothing that influences you more today than the scary example someone else sets forth. You don't want it to be you. You've better ideas about how you want your life to go.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). Being comfortable with yourself is insurance against loneliness. Your own friendship is truly the cornerstone that anchors all the other relationships. So be nice to yourself.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). Reading and writing -- all well and good, but conversation is the very best mental exercise you can get today. It's an intellectual game of catch. The bouncing around in the moment is what keeps you sharp.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). Take on the challenge of extrapolating accurate nuggets of truth out of the stories you'll hear today, because people are likely to make exaggerated claims -- part of the fun of the day!

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Strike out on your own and the adventure will be noteworthy, though it will lack the conflict and compromise that inevitably makes for a better story.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). The mind-body connection is getting stronger. Every time you decide on how you want to move and follow through with this, your body will become increasingly receptive to your command.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). It seems to you that someone always loves more, sacrifices greater and gets their way less often... and that someone always is you. Well, today you feel like a victim of love, but distortions abound. Later you'll feel differently.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). People lie when they are afraid to tell the truth. You make it safe to say the truth, and the truth is what you'll get. Perfect because you hunger for honest and intimate conversations.

HOW TO WRITE A LOVE LETTER IN 12 STEPS, PART TWO. See the archives for part one.

Step Two: Set the scene. Be specific.

Example: I was eating sourdough toast for breakfast yesterday, and I realized that the thing I was most looking forward to was seeing you later in the day.

Example: I drove by your freeway exit, and it almost made me cry.

Example: You left your sweater at my house, and I was happy because I knew you'd be back for it.

Step Three: This is the ''what I notice about you'' section.

Example: I notice you have three kinds of laughs -- one for when I'm really funny, one for when you're really funny, one for when you're just being nice. All glorious.

Example: You look better in blue than anyone I've ever seen in blue.

Example: I like how you avoid all the bad topics because you're such a positive person.

Step Four: History. Give a little backstory, or tell the story of the relationship thus far.

Example: I've really not been the same since we met in math class. I now know about variables, coefficients and the really terrible distraction of how shiny your hair is when you sit next to the window.

Example: I never expected that I'd meet anyone special on a city bus.

CELEBRITY PROFILES. Last year international pop star Robbie Williams put out a biography chronicling the last 13 years of his life and career. The top-selling British solo artist who has broken records for concert tickets sold and awards won was born under the sun of Aquarius, the sign of popularity and philanthropy. Williams is responsible for sizeable charitable donations to ill and disadvantaged children.

Write Holiday Mathis at HolidayMathis@gmail.com.

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