Great-Aunt Ida’s Auction

As I stood in the crowd, in distain,
Photographing, in the drizzling rain.
I saw my Great-Aunt Ida’s belongings jostled about, by people strange,
Who never knew her, loved her, shared her laughter, or pain.

My mom whispered that the person who now owned Ida’s items,
Only had eyes, and a heart, with dollar signs inside them.
He only cared that the stuff go to the “highest bidder,”
The people, swarmed the site, strewing the items aside, either in boxes, or in the trash, like litter,
Cleverly crafting their battle plans like foxes, and critters.

My mom watched Ida’s silver-clad cake-top from the 1920’s torn apart,
Nearly breaking the dolls, and my mom’s heart.
My mom (and I) still envisioned the cake, as it had been,
Preserved in the curved glass of Ida’s oak secretary, unopened.
Beautifully, and proudly, for decades, displayed,
Now, torn apart, strewn, and disarrayed.
The discarded cake, like a sponge, people stepped upon,
Disappeared, as my mom rescued the porcelain plate, it had sat upon, from the muddy, wet lawn.
“Keep it, it’s worthless!” the auctioneer exclaimed,
As he strode on to hunt down the bigger game.
Albums of family photos destroyed by the rain,
A Norse, rosemalled, immigrant trunk, a guilded-framed painting of fjords,
My photos preserved, what others ignored.
A beaded-edge oak table, often covered with lace,
Fattiman, julekakke, rosettes, lefsa, following prayers of grace,
Her baking wondrously filled the air of her place.
A claw-footed stool we used to spin,
A piano of hymns, and a highchair her babies once sat in.
In the 1960’s, she sliced up cheese which my great-grandma had churned,
Way back, as the 19th century turned.

I escaped to the attic to hide from the crowd at the sale,
And, found some vintage tin buttons in a pail.

Great-aunt Ida smiled at us through thick eye-lenses with magnified eyes,
She had hearing aids, and she was wonderful, aged, and wise.
As we played “Spill and Spell,” Chinese Checkers, and Domino’s,
We loved her dearly, from her permed-gray hair to her laced-shoed toes.

After Ida’s sister, my grandma, Thea Mathilda, passed away,
Ida joined her remaining sister, Christina, out Washington way.

Life’s not as simple now, and it never will be the same.
Recently, I found an old “Spill and Spell” game.
I cherish Ida’s final letter to me to this day,
To me, she’s still busy, smiling and happy, in the memories, I replay.

Valerie J. Laidlaw 1/10/2016

Transformation in Thought

A gentle breeze,
Flows through the leaves,
The bamboo wind chime,
Toggles intermittently in time.
The train whistle loudly bellows,
As the iron horse squeals,
Grinding over the rails,
Pulling endless tank cars like a tail.
A city bus screeches, stops, and kneels on the corner,
Speeding off with its passengers, both local and foreign.
A neighbor’s dog barks at a rabbbit, then, at a bird,
An airplane gliding overhead is next heard.
I’m home on a Friday,
What else can I say?

I’m applying brush strokes to a clay pottery vase,
My gentle painting renews the pattern of a floral base,
Which had been etched in with a diamond tipped tool,
With its previous art now extinguished and cool.

The bird keeps on crowing outside my patio door,
As another distant bird echoes his call, flying in, joining him for more,
Another neighbor is mowing his lawn,
As a work truck speeds off, and is gone.

I get busy with housework as my project’s paint dries,
The pottery looks nice in its new disguise.

I think I will like this peaceful coexistance I now have,
I’m married to a wonderful husband and dad.

As we ride to the lake, all leather clad,
Seeing ducks with their ducklings, swimming along,
And deer wading waist deep through wheat fields, as we sing a song,
As we live in our sixth decade with eachother on this earth,
Both thinking, “This is the best year so far, since my birth, that I’ve ever had,”
Together, we return, winding down the road towards the sunset, thinking,  “Life’s not too bad!”

Valerie Jean Laidlaw
August 28, 2015


Muriel was always kind and sweet,
Whenever to whomever she’d meet.

There are so many fond memories which she had given,
So, in each of us, her spirit is living.

Experiencing a strawberry desert with so much pleasure,
There were little, life moments she showed us to treasure.

Whenever I see painted clouds in the sky from down here, See beauty in mountains, lakes, oceans, or hold a shell to my ear.
Or see children, babies, and older folks which she’d see as “precious” and “dear,”
I will always remember the wonderful, goodness of “Auntie Mur!”

Hawaiian flowers say, “Aloha!”
Meaning, “Goodbye!” and “Hello!”

Ashes remain of an Earthly body for 90 years, Muriel had been given,
Yet, I envision her, I believe, sitting in a floral garden, with her easel, in Heaven.

Valerie J. Laidlaw
July 31, 2015

Facing Chemo

My friend, on this day,
There are so many unspoken words I had wished to say.
I cannot guide you through what you’re dealing with, or help you to stay.

Money raised, a bandaid, not a cure,
As you face chemo, and the pain, with acceptance and fear,
I wish God could give you at least one more good year.

No, I don’t have the answers, or cancer, myself, as of yet,
Nor do I ever expect to, even though many of my family members do get
Some version of this disease of which I am genetically preset.

I care, yet, I’m overwhelmed, as I am sure you are, too,
Seeing clearly your mortality, not knowing what to do.
With prayer, perseverance, and hope, your spirit is renewed,
At the sunset and sunrise of each day, you “carry on” anew.

Valerie J. Laidlaw
September 2, 2015

Don Quixote Poems 2

Don Quixote II, Percepciones

The calamity of Quixote isn’t his illusions and his quests,
He does what he does, as he thinks to be best.
The difficulties lie in our perception of him,
What he does in our reality following his own wit and whim.
We’d think that our towers and “windmills,” sky-scrapers, and such,
Would present to him as virtually unsurmountable to his gallantry and touch.
That our world would overwhelm him and seem to us for him as too much.
In his own world, with his buddies and friends who still “get him,”
As long as he’s not a danger to himself or others, they’d let him…
Be his own hero, as a knight, conquering those “visions and voices,”
Supporting him, and validating his choices.
The battles within him and out,
As he lunges forward, makes a loud noise, and shouts,
Remember, we are all human on this earth,
Equipped with differences to live with from birth.

Valerie J. Laidlaw 10/11/2015

Don Quixote Poems 1

Don Quixote I, Bastante Bien

If Don Quixote had arrived into our day,
And, if he decided to live here, and stay,
He would carry a fishing rod, instead of a sword,
He’d ride on a motorcycle, and never be bored.
He’d be homeless, at times, and defend all his friends,
He’d be creatively “crazy,” and play randomly-unique, musical blends!
He’d love animals, dogs, cows, horses, and burros,
He’d stop bullies from bullying, and become everyone’s hero.
At times, he just sit back, and observe beauty in nature,
Use a camera to capture the world, and it’s creatures.
He’d be a hippie of sorts, with basic non-materialistic needs,
He’d encourage others away from selfishness, and greed.
He’d give away his last dollar,
Live quietly, and not holler.
His imperfections would be expressed with both humor and grace,
As he moves into our world, at his own, even pace,
Finding both pleasure and peace, in this high-tech human race.

Valerie J. Laidlaw, 10/10/2015.

Buffalo Plaid Christmas

Our first Christmas together donning Paul Bunyan gear,
Hope Santa knows we’ve been good “Senior Boomers” this year!
Me, sipping Chai Tea,
And he, Pumpkin Spice,
Please Santa, we’re trying our best to be nice!
My mom in her eighties gave us this advise,
“If it isn’t one thing, it’s two,” twice.
We decided quite early on this past year,
Months prior to this Holiday time of good cheer,
Telling all of our friends and family who wanted to hear,
That we were marrying eachother, as the 5th day of June drew near.
My mom simply stated to us, “I suppose I have to give you two my blessing!”
We agreed, giving out clues towards the day of our nuptials,
Keeping others, yet uninformed, guessing.
It’s been quite a journey for us towards this Blessed Christmas we are sharing,
His mom in her nineties excited that her son finally met someone to wed, of whom she finds caring.
My brother enjoyed walking the fields with us in orange, hunting gear,
Swapping adventurous stories of fishing and hunting as we each found our deer,
Also, revealed,
That they each gained a brother in the deal.
So grateful to our families, friends, and classmates who were thrilled and supportive with the news of our marrying.
Merry Christmas to all, cause this gal has finally met her Good Knight!
We feel “Happily Ever After,” ’cause our lives together seem so right!
We look forward to the bright, glorious future in these “empty-nested” years which we’ll have,
As a full, emblazoned Moon shines upon a Minnesotan highway path.
Valerie J. Laidlaw


As the network of leafless trees’ branches become frosted with fluff,
Pure, soft, flakes of snow float tenderly to the blanketed earth’s stuff.
An ebony shadow against a white, wintry sky,
A “trapeze artist” balanced upon a power-line wire.
Action begins with his feathered, flapping frill,
Joined by his loud “caws,” in contrast shrill,
Interrupting and disturbing a peaceful, quiet still.

A young worker carries a canvas sack of folded news, trudging along,
Dropping bundles between each of the house’s doors, with a whistling song.
Daily, the bird swoops down, in an arch, near the carrier’s ears,
Teasing the person of very few years.
Challenging the him (her) to duck down, in fear,
Undaunted, the worker continues the route,
As the blackbird (Crow) flies elsewhere about.

The red squirrel scolds the bird from an unsteady branch,
Then, zig-zaggedly scurries to a much, bolder, squawk-ridden stance.

Then, unintentionally, disrupting sparrows at their feed,
He cluelessly, disregards the little birds’ needs,
Returning back to his perch, full of greed,
The blackbird contentedly and noisilly munches on seeds.

By Valerie J. Laidlaw