“Fifty Stars, Half-staff”

“Fifty Stars, Half-staff”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
February 26, 2021

50 stars, half-staff,
For 500 thousand lives, passed.
Compounded numbers,
Of those infected,
With residual effects,
And, in families, affected.

Their lives, memorialized,
Etched, engraved,
Sketched, and laid…at last.
50 stars, half-staff,
For the 500 thousand,
And, the lives they gave.
Those suffering brave,
Never enough,
For the price they paid.

(Photo from half-staff.org)

Joshua’s Tree

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) Laidlaw
April 14, 2005

Joshua 7/4/94

A Year in the Life of Quarantine, in Poetry

A Year in the Life of Quarantine, in Poetry

by Valerie J Laidlaw 2/17/2021

By Valerie J Laidlaw
March 28, 2020

I went for a walk to help strengthen my knees,
I noticed the first buds coming out in the trees.
A few folks were out walking, here and there,
Leading their dogs, each leashed to a pair.
Emptying, boxing, & cleaning up the garage,
A senior Dad working with his grown sons,
Spring cleaning during a “lockdown,”
Later, to be rewarded with food, then more “fun.”
Two toddlers on a sidewalk, getting fresh air and some sun,
A solitary adult swinging alone at a school,
A person talking about how this virus is so crazy and cruel.
A man sitting in his yard with a cigarette to smoke,
A meandering postman pulling mail from his tote.
A bike rider, and a jogger going out for a run.
Week-long warriors cleaning up in their yards,
Finding time enough during this pandemic is neither difficult nor hard.

Caring Hearts: For All of Us
By Valerie J Laidlaw
March 30, 2020

No one is immune from this invisible virus.
We cannot see if it is present among or inside any of us.
We hear how quickly it kills, and how long it stays on objects.
The tough who recover, and those whom the healing rejects.
Washing hands, staying home, distancing from others,
Heart-worn doctors, caretakers, nurses…young fathers, and mothers.
This is a battle, and we are all soldiers in this pandemic war,
Against an indiscriminate virus which acts upon us, both near and far.
Globally, there’s a curve, or a wave,
Which sadly, builds, then subsides, as we all attempt to save,
As many people as we possibly can,
We bravely place our hopes into everyone’s hands.

Shopping Behind a Hand-sewn Mask
By Valerie J. Laidlaw
April 11, 2020

At home,
I had been sewing,
Playing “YouTube,”
And, in my mind, singing along,
To one of my mom’s favorite songs,
With Doris Day singing “Qué será, será!”

I had realized that I did need to venture out,
After weeks of isolation, safely hidden,
A short distance, which I had ridden,
For several months, that seemed eons, ago.
I parked in the familiar lot, in the unfamiliar.
The cartpusher had a triangular bandanna,
Across his face, his fight against pandemia.
None of the usual greetings were exchanged,
As I was funneled in.
Pulling a wipe from the dispenser,
Three slipped out dripping antibacterial chemicals,
Which I sloshed over the handles of my hosed-down cart.
Signs referred to measured out 6-foot distancing,
Pleas for safe, essential shopping were displayed,
As the “worker bees” kept open their doors.

Some of this community respect the virus we are trying to “flatten,”
Others refuse to think that anything dire will happen.
The same ones who ventured out at all hours throughout the night with their babies and toddlers in trolleys,
Now, crowded and wandered in a store with their vulnerable children, unprotected in this “folly.”
My heart reached out to those innocent, little ones which I wished I could shield and protect,
Against all the possible suffering in this war pandemic.

Grateful, that my grandchildren were safely quarantined, nestled in their homes,
I quickly gathered the few items which I needed to buy,
Leaving, my strong, fearless, former coworker briefly exchanged a quick nod of greeting towards me with her eyes.
Directed to the left, I shuffled out with my cart,
My mind then sang, “Love is a Battlefield!”
With Pat Benatar, as I departed.

Current State of Being
By Valerie J Laidlaw
April 17, 2020

During the week of 911, during a phonecall, inquiring about flights,
The lady on the line made a statement so decisive and right,
“There ain’t nothing for certain anymore!”
It showed how our country had been rocked to its core.

Currently, previously uncharted in our lifetime,
Political leaders, uncertain of the impact,
In a less populous state,
There was a recent, sad fate.
A huge, viral “clustered” outbreak in a pork processing plant of workers, with their contacts evolved,
Affecting a whole chain of farmers, grocers, consumers, and the whole spectrum of people involved.
Closures change daily, affecting all of us, record numbers of unemployed, shortages growing in essential supplies,
With this weird, new reality, we wonder, what kind of world is it in which our future lies?
We are never an island in this world of humanity,
Trying to make sense of this recent insanity.
Cautiously, we carry on, technologically connecting to our loved ones at hand,
Cherished images of grandbabies, puppies, visualizing virtually as we explore faraway lands.
I’m reminded of words in a previous poem which I wrote,
“Reality can seem … more like a dream
Now … the enchanting calamity
My dreams confuse reality.”
Presently, befitting my feelings with this quote.

Caring & Carrying On
By Valerie J Laidlaw
April 26, 2020

As the morning dawn keeps rising,
So do the numbers, locally and globally.
As we listen, we wonder, what’s beyond the next horizon?
More cancellations of our rituals and routines,
While protestors confront the restrictions, and cause havoc, and scenes.
States and city government each make their own rules,
While children stay safe at home apart from their activities and schools.
Exposed workers grow in fear, waiting and hoping,
Plants close down, sanitize, restructure, and many may too quickly reopen.
Creative people carry on, playing, exercising, and teaching,
From their homes, the media finds safe ways of outreaching,
On line, from empty churches, and in drive-in parking lots, religious leaders keep preaching.

It seems like not so long ago, as a newlywed couple,
My husband and I had reached out, hugging both of his sons,
An unfamiliar gesture to them, which we had recently begun.
Hugs had also extended towards our moms, my children, grandchildren, and the rest of us all.
Now, with isolation, distance contacts, texting, and calls,
We are saddened, disheartened as we witness everyone’s overall human contact befall.

The suffering and losses are unimaginably great,
With stories of survival which are touching our hearts,
Recovery is longterm, and will ultimately take,
Enormous hope, patience, cooperation, and caring,
With each of us helping, to the best of our abilities, on our share, and our parts.

Thank You Minnesota!
By Valerie J Laidlaw
April 28, 2020

Monday morning, “Get out of bed!”
“Go on a daily walk, instead!”
My cardinal showed up, again, my friend, scarlet red!
A pair of Mallards, flew overhead,
Such a quiet walk, as I listened, and cleared up my mind,
Appreciating nature, as I tried leaving worries behind.
Calling my mom’s care center which has been closed off from visitors,
I made a plan of dropping off a tote, and purple violas, for her.
Leaving those with the nurse at the door,
I decided to drive eastward, a little bit more.
As I headed towards a tourist’s lakeshore.
I drove through the quiet streets of downtown,
Where, a handful of businesses were open, yet, the majority were shut down.
Only a few souls walked through the park,
Briefly, a couple had submerged in the cool water, on a lark.
Typically, the shoreline and the water is packed,
Boats bringing skiers, fishermen, and tourists outward and back,
On this quarantined forenoon, the lake, and shoreline, were completely bare,
Except for a man and his dog, walking the length of the sidewalk, while I was there.
A few birds appeared, bathing and pecking through debris on the shore,
The scene was so quiet and still, and haunting, and no more.
As I drove homeward, I saw a series of majestic, white swans,
Between towns and farmsteads, on lakes and on ponds.
Although it was nice to get out from being house-bound,
It was sad, in a way, seeing what I had found.
The stillness and quietness, when no one is around.
Children playing, laughter, and the absence of sound.

“20/20 Hindsight in 2020”
Valerie J Laidlaw
May 6, 2020

Covid-19, sadly,
Is spreading out, badly.
Many people are concerned, safe from harm, and want to be healthy,
Others, are upset with businesses shuttered, and monetary losses among the wealthy.
I’ve always been told when a finger is pointed,
The remaining ones point back.
With overall pleas, unfulfilled supplies, needs, and safeguards in lack,
As the pandemic spreads, and numbers of people affected stack,
Who’s the victim, or the fool, when policies slack?

Hindsight is 20/20,
In the year 2020,
Yet, we aren’t beyond all this enough to get a good perspective,
Until, years from now, when we are fully retrospective.

Grmaval’s Visit
By Valerie J Laidlaw
June 11, 2020

It had been months…
Sitting in a driveway, six feet away,
I watched my chubby, baby grandson,
Asleep in his stroller, yesterday.
His little bare feet, and cute little toes,
Then, awakening with his eyes, his ruffled hair, his nose,
His cheeks, and his twin-tooth grin,
I had all I could do to not reach out, and hug him,
And, his dad, my son, as I surely do love them!
Then, when his big brother energetically appeared, running outside,
Then, riding around, on his bike,
Showing me his new skill of laying tire treads, and skidding,
Then, locating his pogo stick, he jumped up and down on the pavement,
And, made a verb of “counting while pogo-ing,”
Then, waving “bye,” as he disappeared, just as suddenly, into the house,
I wished I could just go up to him,
So, he could be embraced, re-assuring him,
That, all of this “abnormality” isn’t how I feel about him,
That, I’m not rejecting him, as it seemed,
I’m just following the “rules of distancing.”
So, although I’ve been cautiously “quaranteened,”
I want all of them to stay healthy, as I possibly can guarantee,
As we wait, impatiently, for all this to just go away, so we can all be safe, healthy, and feel free!

“Mama Song”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

Mamas, don’t let your babies bring home the virus,
School days can wait till it’s gone!
‘Cause just like the mullet of Cyrus,
The days of the Covid hold strong!

We’ll soon dance in the daisies and clover,
Breathe freely, and reunite one and all!
Just wait till this resurgence is over,
And the curve truly flattens and falls!

Native Man Walking
By Valerie J Laidlaw
September 17, 2020

Native man walking,
with a mask in one hand,
and a letter in the other.
Native man walking,
with graying, black hair,
long, and pulled back.
Native man walking,
with strong stride,
and arms at side.
Native man walking,
with determined gait,
and admirable traits.
Native man walking,
with chiseled features,
and unbound spirit.
Native man walking,
onward and proud,
silently loud.

“Missing You, Kyle”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
January 7th, 2021

As the Covid numbers continue,
I learned 74 others in Minnesota
That day were joined with you.
The holidays were really rough,
And, as we began a newer year,
Yet, we all feel your presence, still near.
I won’t ever really believe that you’re not here!
I heard your wife’s voice cry out, you know,
As, she repeatedly said, “I miss you so!”
Whenever random objects move,
Or, when pennies or coins appear,
And with precious photos, videos,
Our memories of your smile,
Your kindness in your laughter,
Linger, as reminders here,
Holding strong, within us all,
Continually, beyond the now,
And, constantly beyond the after.
We will always think, and hold you…
Forever in our hearts, my son, so dear!
So, as we visit with you,
Under the moonlit, starlit sky,
Because, we know your spirit would always try,
We truly believe in our hearts, you hear our cry.

By Valerie J Laidlaw
January 21, 2021

I will not focus on the year that passed,
Even though it taught us how vulnerable we all are.
I will not focus backward to the past,
Even though an ache will always linger in my heart.
I will focus on our forward movement.
Moments forthcoming.
I will still be vigilant.
I will still speak strongly!
I won’t be silent as others disregard our health.
I won’t be silent as others act as if they are immune, and above it all.
I won’t be silent, yet, I won’t expend energy and effort towards those who choose to not listen.
Yet, I will find empathetic means to get my message through their muffled ears.
I will give virtual group hugs to calm our fears,
And, to pool our tears.
I will fight for my children, my grandchildren, and their futures.
I will fight for your children, your grandchildren, and their futures.
We will all fight for our children, our grandchildren, and their futures.
We are all one in this, so please join together!
Please, help one another!
Please, listen!

“I’ll See You”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
February 12, 2021

When the stars shine at night,
And, the moon is full and bright,
I’ll see you!

Watching your daughter Charlee dance,
And, scanning the crowd to take a glance,
I’ll see you!

When your daughter Layla reads, or plays a game,
And, nothing ever seems quite the same,
I’ll see you!

As nephew Mark grows up older,
And, the winter winds blow colder,
I’ll see you!

When your nephew Ryan smiles,
And, as we travel down life’s miles,
I’ll see you!

When new babies are born and cry,
And as we sing “Dumbo’s lullabye,”
I’ll see you!

When I see a Cardinal in a tree,
And, when I’m reminded of a memory,
I’ll see you!

As the warm sunshine rises, and sets each day,
And, as we gather together, and pray,
We’ll see you, Kyle!


First attempt at “masking up” April 1, 2020

“I’ll See You”

“I’ll See You”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
February 12, 2021

When the stars shine at night,
And, the moon is full and bright,
I’ll see you!

Watching your daughter Charlee dance,
And, scanning the crowd to take a glance,
I’ll see you!

When your daughter Layla reads, or plays a game,
And, nothing ever seems quite the same,
I’ll see you!

As your nephew Mark grows up older,
And, the winter winds blow colder,
I’ll see you!

When your nephew Ryan smiles,
And, as we travel down life’s miles,
I’ll see you!

When new babies are born and cry,
And, as we sing “Dumbo’s lullabye,”
I’ll see you!

When I see a Cardinal in a tree,
And, when I’m reminded of a memory,
I’ll see you!

As the warm sunshine rises, and sets each day,
And, as we gather together, and pray,
We’ll see you, Kyle!


Photo from Kyle & Jaci’s back yard near their deck in Little Canada, MN.
(Photography by Richard Laidlaw)


By Valerie J Laidlaw,
“Written a few years ago”

There was once a time in the distant past,
When another young mom shared time,
With her three young children.
A time she cherished,
And thought would last.

She rode bike, swam, danced and sang with them.
She prayed and hugged them,
And read to them,
And tucked them safely in bed.

She traveled out to Washington State, and camped in Yellowstone Park, and danced in the Pacific Ocean with them.

Time passed, her daughter became a young lady, and the boys became young men.
Enjoy your children the best you can,
For time is a factor in God’s plan.

I’ve enjoyed being your neighbor in this brief glimpse of time.
Your young family and beautiful children brought me back in my mind,
Towards a past now engraved with photos, movies, and memoirs I find.
For my children have grown,
Now, my son is a father,
Another, is coached by his brother,
They are uncles, and an aunt, and myself; a grandmother.

Sometime, in your future,
When your children are grown,
You may come across this poem,
In your future home,
And your neighbors with young children
of their own,
May pass through your life for a glimpse of time fleeting,
As you visit eachother and exchange greetings.
Remember this phrase, and its wise meaning;
“Some people pass through our lives like never-ending streams.
Others stop and touch our hearts with a warmth that never leaves.”

Article about my mom

I found:
Wayne Lubenow’s article about my mom, in the Fargo Forum.

“And That’s the Kind of People We Need”
“She’ll probably deny it, but Mrs. Arthur (Vivian) Kolle of 1514 6th Ave. S., Fargo, is an exceptionally nice person.
She works at the Veterans Hospital here and it was a coworker that tattled on her.
It happened during that hot spell last Friday and Mrs. Kolle was at the bus depot to put her son and a niece on the bus to Grand Forks.
In the depot, she was approached by a young mother with a tiny baby. The mother asked Mrs. Kolle if she would watch the baby while the mother mailed a letter.
The young mother’s husband was in Viet Nam and she was going with her child from Maine to Billings, Mont., to live with her parents.
The mother was tired after several days on the bus. The baby’s milk had soured in the heat. She had accidentally left her tickets to Billings on the bus when she transferred here. The baby’s clothes were soiled. Both needed a bath.
‘She was a young mother,’ Mrs. Kolle said, ‘and a good mother. But things had gotten beyond her.’
Mrs. Kolle saw to it that the letter was mailed. Then she took the mother and child home, saw that they had baths, supper, naps and that they had tickets to Billings. (The tickets on the bus were found at Hallock, Minn.).
The baby’s clothes were washed.
And then, at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, mother and child were put on the bus for Billings.”

Gaming vs. Icefishing

gaming vs. icefishing

By Valerie J Laidlaw

-your screen is limited to the size of your tv and it brings you to other locations and scenery
-our main screen is the ever-changing infinity with real-time atmospheric changes, and a smaller view within our structure, which is portable, and movable to extensive locations.

-your wireless controllers control your reactions to the pre-programmed game on the screen
-our exterior controllers (tip-ups) respond when activated by a fish grabbing the bait, which provides a direct line and hook to said fish
& our interior controllers manipulate the line, bait and hooks chosen for each pathway beyond the drilled circular hole, an optional bobber sinks and wiggles with the actions of the fish (your prey), bait, and the gamer (fishing person)
the only movement the icefisher controls is the wand, controller, (the rod, the reel, etc.) and the icefishing movements

-with gaming, you have weapons activated against your enemy or prey, and various vehicles all controlled from your cushioned recliner
-we have folding chairs and tables, we randomly respond in real-time, our prey vary based on the lake’s elements, time of day, nature’s currents, depth, etc.

-gamers compete against other gamers on-line
-icefishers compete with the other icefishers who are in the vicinity of them, also, on-line.

-gamers play anytime, any season 24/7, with pre-programmed action
-icefishing is time-sensitive and seasonal in a limited time frame within the season, with real-time (reel-time) action

-gamers are rewarded with points, and have virtual “friends”
-icefishers are rewarded with fish, photos, and time-limited, lifetime family/friend experiences

“fishing thru ice” day 4

“fishing thru ice” day 4
by Valerie J Laidlaw

Now, with gull, we’re acquainted,
with water clear, and untainted.
the fish we’ve pulled out,
aren’t huge, fat, or stout.
we don’t mind if they’re lean,
when they’re healthy, and clean.
a warden of game,
with greetings, he came,
on his motorized ride,
with an assistant at his side.
he checked our licenses to fish,
bidding luck towards us, in a wish.
we did move twice to be closer to shore,
as we dropped in our lines,
we caught more fish,
in a very short time.
as always, we’re pleased
with whatever we get,
leaving for home,
as the winter sun again set.

Catching a few rays
Warm sunshine