Self-made Man

It had been three years since I’d heard his deep voice,
The lapse in the timing had been his past choice.
He shared photos of his impending retirement site,
Mountainous foliage with evergreens of a heavenly height.
Armed with a flatbed trailer, a tractor, and tools,
He and his best “buddy” are skilled, hard-working, and “nobody’s” fools.
The slide-show on his computer showed the two warriors’ quest,
Blazing a road upward in the direction which nature guided them best.
Measuring and cutting the timber they had brought,
They framed up a work-shed; the first building ever to set foot on this virgin, forest plot.
His dreams are unfolding as his retirement nears,
I looked and listened to his intentions with curious eyes and ears.
Some people talk about dreams such as this man,
A log-home in the mountains, many artists have painted such land.
They don’t have the fortitude and strength, though, so very few stand…
Long enough to plan and create the vision, as I know this man can.
I have seen this man’s handiwork in marble and wood.,
Creating a family room as only he could.
Hardwood floors interlocked, imbedded with tile,
Interlaced with designs unique in his style.
The centerpiece; a marble-lined hearth crowned with a solid wood mantel,
Prairie views to the east, wooded river to the west,
A soft, furry rug, and a cozy, leather couch completes the room best.
A room where a family can gather, visit, and rest.
The “Duke” would’ve agreed that the room was quite ample.
This farmer, mechanic, and carpenter is a self-made, “hands-on” man.
From humble beginnings, he reveals his story as only he can.
As many as twelve children in his family were born.
They slept in a cold, upstairs bedroom under quilts piled up and poor,
Only heated by a stove-pipe which rose up in a hole in the center of the floor.
He described how a glass of water froze,
As he reached his feet to the stovepipe to warm up his toes.
A staircase rose steeply into the corner of this room,
Their parents slept downstairs since they’d been pronounced “bride and groom.”
An early memory this man nearing retirement did recall,
Was him, riding his new “Christmas” trike down the steep stairwell, and the injuries from his fall.
He purchased his current abode from his mom’s cousin, and a classic red barn…
Is the only original building one can see on this farm.
He has a fine home with a deck facing the river bend,
An attached garage for his truck and classic car on the mend,
A Quonset to the north holds a combine; for additional earnings,
A windmill and a weather-vane complete the view with their natural turnings.
As he invests hard work and time and the last of his earnings,
All of this current farmstead will be sold for his future retirement home yearnings.

I shared my photos from my recent journey with this man,
Catching up with the past three years in the best way two old dear friends can.


Dakota Badlands



Tuesday, I travelled West to Bismarck, ND. On the way, I saw a semi-trailer in the meridian all flipped and crushed with crates of cargo spilled out and abandoned. The trees and the fields were all glazed, and reflecting the evening sun. I drove straight on through to Bismarck nonstop. I went down to the Umary campus and picked up my textbooks.
I met a friend, and we picked up some Chinese food for a late supper. We watched a few TV episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” One of the characters could easily have a daily auction of the t-shirts he wears on the show.
I was supposed to have my first “Crises” class, however, I had to be at a school early the next day, so I arranged a make-up assignment.
After a quick toasted English muffin, I checked my GPS for the most direct route to Carson. My goal was to arrive there at 8 am Mountain Time. Bismarck and Fargo are in the Central Time Zone. My car clock wasn’t set back for fall, plus it is 3-4 minutes slow, so I relied on my cell phone for both the time and route directions. I had no time to spare according to both, as the roads curved to the south and west.
The lay of the land is primarily wide open spaces with some streams, ranches, hills and buttes. The entire county boasts a population of roughly 2,000. I arrived at Carson, the site of the county’s fair. One of the town’s three largest buildings was the school. I met the person I had an appointment with and she introduced me to a couple people. I followed her to the next site in Elgin.
Elgin, about 6 miles further west, is a town where 30-some years ago my highway patrol brother was stationed. Back then, I had two small boys, Kyle and Kevin, and was married to my first husband, Chuck. For Easter, we met Ron, his wife at the time, Karre, and their first two children, Brandi and Joe. Our oldest brother, Greg, brought his older sons, Chris and Adam, his wife at the time, Lori, her daughter, Rachelle, and their daughter, Kassandra. Historically, all three families each added one more child, then divorced.
Like a pack of Gypsies, we drove down to Mount Rushmore to camp. The other two families had campers, one fifth wheel, and one topping a truck. We had a tent.
Easter morning, the Easter Bunny had hidden an assortment of rainbow-colored Easter eggs, candies, and shredded, plastic “grass.” The older children assisted the toddlers in finding the hidden treasures in the rugged terrain. The younger ones sat and ate their candy as soon as they found each one, whereas, the older children gathered and hoarded theirs filling their baskets. They were good to share later.
It was a misty day when we all ventured to see the four presidents’ faces. All of this memory was captured on Super 8 movie film and in photos which my thirty-something old children now have on discs.
Back to the present, I arrived at the site, thoroughly enjoyed meeting the staff, the children. I may to return, for perhaps my next destiny on my life’s journey. I have to pray and see where the best path lies for me.


Veteran’s Day


1) For a Veteran with whom I am well acquainted
“To Save the Life of a Friend”

On 11/11/11, Veterans Day, I began I hope a most wondrous thing,
I spoke from my heart to pray and sing,
Joining with all of the countless voices,
For a new best friend to make tough choices,
To make a new, better beginning I hope of everything.

2) From the Vietnam era
“Capt. David P. Mott, 5/19/72, POW-MIA,”
Shot down in Vietnam half a world away.
Was he alive?
Did he survive?
Embossed on a bracelet for a teenager to pray.

The name etched into the teen’s thoughts of more
Questions which continued of a soldier’s fate since the war.
Newspapers revealed
Survival through perils afield,
Also, yielding a Homecoming Celebration … then no more.

Three decades later, on a Vet’s motorcycle run to an Old Soldier’s Home,
Unveiling a Replica Memorial Wall sent to roam,
Accompanied with images and folders
Containing files unfolding fates of the soldiers,
Revealing their stories in somber tones.

An internet search a few years later replayed …
The name, the story of this soldier in fuller detail displayed,
A brief retrospect
To bring honor and respect
For the brave soldier for whom a teenager had repeatedly and faithfully prayed.

Valerie J. Kolle
March 21, 2009

3) My son’s legacy of “Veterans”
“Joshua’s Tree”

I never had an interest in History
Until I studied Family Genealogy.
I have traced several lines of Ancestry
Plus, I’ve found many generations in my son’s descendency.

The furthest back of the Keeneys, we usually get
Is “Sir Thomas,” a Scot, made a Baronet
In the 1500’s by a king named James
Then fled to Holland when King Charles came.

In the 1600’s, a son, John and wife Sarah Cheever were next in line.
They settled in a place called Salem
Where some Keeneys lived in a time
When the “Witch Trials” upset this haven.

While in England, John’s son Alex had married Alice Gates.
Their son, Joseph, a mere baby, landed in the future United States.
Joseph wed Hannah Hill, naming the next son after his father.
Another Alex took his place in the line we continued to gather.

Next, were Thomas and Josh, sons of Alex and his wife Eunice House.
Thomas fought three years in the American Revolutionary War.
Settling in Pennsylvania and New York,
He married Miss Mercy Lamb, a “feisty” French woman as his spouse.

1776 brought the birth of Thomas the Second and our Nation.
Tom Two married Miss Anna Parshall,
Who brought 7 children plus twins, Elisha and Elijah, to his parcel,
As he fought in the “War of 1812” at his station.

Miss Lucy McArthur married Elijah the twin,
And in 1862, their son, Alex, found the Civil War to join in.
Gettysburg wounded him a year later in the fight,
Hospitalized; until he returned to his wife, Becky White.

Next, came Ezra and Minnie Brown;
Minor and Suzie Vargason;
Followed by; Grandfather Wayne with Emma Anderson.
Wayne joined the Navy at age 19. As a young man
He fought during World War Two on a ship in Japan.
Which brings me to the last, so far, of everyone,
His dad, myself, and Josh Keeney, my son.

By Valerie Jean Kolle
April 14, 2005

4) 50-year RAAF Memorial Service
“For Your Loss”

As I commemorated a ceremony at a remembrance day,
I heard someone express her personal loss of that day.
Not knowing her father as she grew up as a child,
A difficult life; unreconciled.
Had she listened, she could have heard,
She’s not alone in her loss that had occurred.
See that man with the smile and a twinkle in his eye?
The loss of his brother, from within, the child still cries.
See that woman, looking strong with pride,
She was once a hopeful bride.
She alone raised three children, holding the loss inside.
See that lady with the heart of gold,
She lost her partner as she has now grown old.
The parents have since passed on, who had lost their sons,
They aren’t here to express, “You were not the only one!”
No, it’s not a wedding for which we gather, today,
Yet, our common bonds were welded together, as we say,
“The RAAf is one family, and we all feel the loss of these men,
Yet, we celebrate their strength, and their courage, without end.
They lived their dreams flying o’er us in the sky,
We honor their memories, and their legacies, which will not e’er die.”
Think of how these fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands we’ve lost would’ve wanted us to live,
If they could’ve had all of these years with us to experience, to share, and to give.

Valerie J Kolle 8/15/2012


Okay, so I voted!

Today, started out like most autumn days, windy and wet. I checked my PO Box, printed, scanned and sent a signed “award” letter to increase my student loans for this school year, and continued to weed out the files at my part-time job. We went to lunch with a mutual acquaintance who had been away for a while. We were waited on by a former wife of a past stepson’s ex-wife.
Then, I voted. Some of the measures were worded with double negatives and the yes vote and no votes, unless one reads thoughtfully he/she may mistakenly vote opposite of the hoped outcome. My friend stated that they were written by lawyers. No wonder!
I voted for a former co-worker, otherwise, I followed with a solid vote for candidates in a certain political party.
We stopped for a quick mug prior to exiting to our respective homes. The Presidential election results were starting to be tallied up in several states. As I am writing this, unofficially, Obama was re-elected and Romney lost.
Busy day tomorrow at the school, which should be fun, yet, always full of unexpected, challenging “drama.”
In one week, I’m going close to 300 miles away to my next site. Below is a map of the towns.

A very remote area