Promise of Redemption

 

A promise kept so very long ago
A baby boy would soon be born
And give the world unending hope
On that very first Christmas morn.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes 
In a manger made of wood and hay
God gave us his one and only son
 For us on that Christmas Day.

The lights that twinkled in the night
Were from the stars above
Angels told of Heaven’s abounding grace
And God’s unfailing love.

As shepherds watched their flocks
On that dark starry night
Angels touched their harps of shining gold
And sang of Heaven’s glorious light.

Let us not let our hearts forget the gift of amazing love
Given on that first Christmas Day.
Let us not forget the enduring Promise of  Redemption
That began in a manger filled with hay.

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

A Montana Tail

Chester came to us by way of adoption. By this I mean he sat on the road by our house in Wyoming watching me feed our old cat Leo and than one morning ,  he came over to our front door step and sat there and looked  up at me.  ” Hey lady I am adopting you.” He seemed to meow as I walked out our door to feed Leo.  And than he sauntered over and started eating out of the same food bowl as Leo.  And that is how Chester adopted us. He became part of the family and strangely enough Leo’s favorite buddy. They would sit for hours on our back deck, discussing the world in general, in cat talk I suppose. I sometimes wondered if our old cat Leo wasn’t schooling Chester on how to be a good cat and the best way to tease our dog Oscar. It was as if  the whole thing had been planned by the two cats because a year later, Leo our old cat left us  to go to cat heaven.

Chester traveled to Montana with us when we moved. He rode in his cage in the camper of our truck, all 350 miles, meowing at the top of his lungs.

” Let me ouuuuuut…..now!” he seemed to say.

 We tried to ignore it, but the more we ignored him the louder he got. Add to that the various stops at rest areas to let him do his duty. Chester was not a cat to be reckoned with so at each stop we  had a wild west cat rodeo in full view of other travelers. We dared not let him off the leash we had him on, because I am sure we would never have caught up with him as he high tailed it back to Wyoming.  Some  travelers chuckled and some were sympathetic, telling us stories of their travels with cat companions.  Needless to say Chester was as glad as we were when we finally reached our place in Montana.

Everyone kept telling us that Chester wouldn’t stay around in Montana.  They thought he just might go back to his old home in Wyoming. I ‘ve heard about animals doing that so I kept a close eye on Chester. But he didn’t stray.  He seemed to know that this was his new forever home with us. He was a little put out at first and each time I picked him up to pet him he hissed a bit. But soon he and I were sitting on the front patio watching the lazy clouds float by in the blue Montana sky. I was glad that Chester had decided to make Montana his home.

During the following year Chester became King of the Hay Bales. That was my Dad’s name for him. We had a large round bale haystack across the road from our house and Chester from day one decided that would be his home away from home.  On day two , he cleared that  stack out in five minutes flat. I saw  cats literally jumping off the bales and heading east.  And on the morning of day three, I looked out my front living room window and figured that Chester was now the King. He sat perched on the top bale surveying his kingdom and as I looked  a bit closer I could have sworn he had a Cheshire cat grin on his face.  All that was missing was his crown of gold! He seemed to own everything from our house back,which included about a hundred acres of grass and rocks. And of course the haystacks by the corrals.

Chester had his share of fights in Montana, and it didn’t surprise me, when I fed him one morning , to see a large scratch on his nose and a chunk of hair missing above his eye. There was also a rip in one ear. I mentioned this to my Dad later and he proceeded to tell me about Chester …King of the Hay Bales and his many fights to defend his position. Over the years he acquired the battle scars of a true warrior cat.

Chester had been declawed and neutered.We didn’t do that to him. We found him that way. We tried to keep Chester in the house as a house cat but Chester had his own agenda and apparently it didn’t include laying  by the window, getting fat, in the house surveying his kingdom. Chester was out to take over the farm kingdom. Even if it did mean he would have to acquire the scars of battle. I was worried that Chester would have the disadvantage but according to my Dad, Chester was one great fighter.He had apparently been carrying on a daily war with the neutered cat gang across the corral, my sister’s barn cats.

 “They scrap and roll about each morning out by the hay bales as I feed the cows,” my dad chuckled. ” They look like one of those old-time spinning wheels. All you can see is Chester’s long tail going round and round in a hissing, growling ball of yellow and gray or black fur and dust!”

Chester pretty much fought with the only two neutered cats on the place.  The tomcats ignored him because they were too busy chasing other (female) cats. The lady cats had nothing to do with him because as you guessed it, he just wasn’t handsome enough. 

 There was one cat Chester didn’t even mess with after the  first encounter. Gramma Cat! No one messed with Gramma cat. She had been on the farm so long, she had become a cat matriarch. Nobody and I mean no body messed with Gramma Cat. She chased dogs down the road  and beat up every stray cat that came on the place. She was one  tough cookie. But she and Chester seemed to have come to an agreement after she beat Chester up.  Gramma Cat had her territory which didn’t include the haystack and as long as Chester didn’t cross into her territory than everything was fine. Of course she could cross into Chester’s territory anytime and sit on the haystack.  Chester just let her be.

Chester pretty much made himself at home in Montana and so did I. He became  my cat appointed guardian. Because everywhere I went there was Chester waiting and watching and ready to walk home with me. And if I took a little too long visiting my Mom and Dad, across the yard, he would let me know by jumping up on the fence, where he perched until I went home.  If I left him behind there he was running along meowing and crying “Waiiiit…..wait for meeeeee!” And he even had my Dad and I looking all over the farm for a crying baby a couple of times. Because that is exactly what Chester sounded like when he was yowling.

Chester had his share of escapades in Montana. I am sure he encountered an eagle one day.  I was working in our house when we first moved in and I heard a cat yowling like crazy outside.  It sounded like a huge cat fight was going on. The only thing was it sounded like it was coming from over the roof of our house. Soon I heard a clunk on the roof in front of our house. I ran outside and found Chester crawling out from a small trench we had  dug, in front of the house, to bury our water line. And his tail seemed to be broken. I looked up just in time to see a golden eagle fly over. About that time Chester gave one great yowl and shot off for the shed. Chester went into hiding for a couple of days. He was the kind of cat that when he was hurt he would hole up somewhere for a few days and then he would come out and let me baby him. But he wasn’t a cat to be babied, too long. He was too tough for that. So soon he was back to his normal activity but his tail dragged around behind him for about a week. And of course no one touched it at all!

 After we had been in Montana for about three years Chester began to go on walk abouts. We had acquired two more cats from my dad and I think Chester figured  he was no longer needed and it was time for him to roam.  Or maybe he just realized there was a bigger world to conquer past the farm kingdom. What ever it was I would often come from town and see Chester down by the canal about a mile away chasing mice.  Or I would see him running across the field by the train tracks two miles away. I know some of the neighbors let him visit because they told me about a big yellow tabby that they fed every once in a while. And I know this is unbelievable, but I swear there was a house just three miles down the road that had all kinds of Chester look alike kittens running around.  Maybe he wasn’t neutered after all…

Chester always came home once a week to see me. And as the days, weeks and years progressed I could see that time was taking a toll on my Chester. He seemed to move a little slower and he was a little grayer around his temples. He didn’t have any new battle scars so I figured he was probably just lazing around enjoying life. He still loved to cuddle on my lap each time he saw me and he had acquired a soft spot for our little girl cat, I named Spit.  Often I would see them out in the field playing and jumping and wrestling. A few times he even took Spit on walk abouts with him. Six months later Spit had kittens. None of them looked like Chester but he used to come home and play with them as they started moving around.  And then he was off again.

Chester had  this strange way of getting from the canal to our house in record time when I saw him down there playing as I came home from town. Each time I passed him playing in the field down by the road or canal, I would stop and yell at him, “Go home Chester.” And by the time I pulled up to the house in the car, he would be sitting on the front step looking as if he had been there all along waiting for me. Either Chester was a pretty fast  running cat or he had discovered a black hole to time travel through.

 As the years passed Chester’s walk abouts became longer and longer and his visits became few and far between. In the fall of 2014 my King of the hay Bales came and visited me one last time. I knew that Chester was getting old and tired and he was moving slower. I had fixed him a house to stay in years earlier but he wasn’t a homebody. He was a nomad and a free spirit. There was no way I could keep Chester home when he had the taste of freedom. On that fall day I knew I would never see Chester again. He stayed on my lap for the longest time as we watched the leaves fall from the trees. I petted him softly as he purred quietly on my lap. “You’re not coming back to me this time are you, old man?” I asked as unbidden tears came to my eyes. Chester just looked up at me and purred loudly as if to say.” It’s my time.”  We sat for a little longer in silence and then Chester jumped off my lap and  slowly started his trek over the hill. I watched him go. Just as he topped the hill, he stopped and turned and looked at me as if to say goodbye. I whispered “Goodbye old friend.” And then he was gone.

Chester never came home again. I am sure he is in cat heaven somewhere going on a walk about or playing with Leo. Heck they might be sitting on a deck somewhere discussing cat life. Sometimes I look out at the top of the hill expecting Chester to come bounding over it or I look out my front window expecting to see King Chester sitting there surveying his kingdom on the round bale stack. And though he isn’t there his memory is and I know in my heart The King of the Hay Bales is sitting somewhere on a  haystack, surveying his kingdom and grinning that Cheshire cat grin.

 

Relocate

Montana

I and my husband moved  in the summer of 2008. Our children had graduated college and had wandered away on their own paths of life. So we were empty nesters looking for a place to land. And in his promise to me when we moved away, my husband brought me back to the place I called home as a child …  Montana.

I’m not sure I was born in the exact place where we eventually settled. But I was born in Billings Montana and my family was still in Montana. In fact my mom and dad were both born and bred Montanans from the get go. They were both born in the vicinity  of  Ballantine  and  Pompey’s Pillar Montana and both were raised in the area. They were married at the young ages of 18 and 15 respectively and pretty much raised our family around the area.  We wandered a bit as a family but we never left Montana. My mom even pointed out one day where the old homestead that she lived at was. Of course the house or barns weren’t there anymore. But I could imagine it as I gazed at the bucket that sat  out in the middle of that big empty pasture. And my dad lived just down the road from her place. She and dad have told me many a story about their child hood and courtship from the day they first met and dated to the houses they lived in when they were first married. And that is a whole book in itself, which I hope to write someday.

And as fate would have it,the new home place is just down the road from the old places. My sister found it for my Mom and Dad almost 25 years ago. The place had been dry land, and thistles when they first came to look at it, but years later when they gave us the opportunity to settle across the yard from them at the home place, it was full of apple trees, choke cherry trees, pine trees, aspen trees, elm trees, roses, flowers, gardens, grass, cows, horses, goats, pigs, dogs, cats chickens and people. Just a few people. Our families. And all of this was there from the hard work my mom and dad  and  my sisters and families had put into that thistle ridden spot of  empty land.

When you drive up the hill to our place you realize the hard work that must have gone into making the land what it is today. Most of the apple and  choke cherry trees that are planted there were grown from seed by my dad. Mom said that when Dad was finished eating an apple he would  bury it in a small pot to see if it would grow. And did they grow.  At one time I am sure they had over thirty small apple trees growing in pots. And you can see the results to this day. There are apple trees all over the place. And the apples we get each fall from them are delicious.  Our road drives through two rows of pine trees, hand planted and hand watered by my folks. By hand watered, I mean carrying buckets of water up and down the hill for every tree. I have experienced it first hand since that was what we did when we first moved here. Planted trees and watered them by hand. So I can appreciate the beautiful pine and aspen trees that stand as proud guardians of the place.

The home place started out as a pig farm. My folks had almost 600 pigs at one time.  My mom loved pigs. Dad…well he tolerated them for the sake of my mom. Now that is true love! He was farmer and a cow man through and through. He  he loved his plants(trees, flowers, grass, garden and crops.) To this day he grows the best ears of corn on this place. And he loved his cows. But he helped my mom raise pigs. The pigs pretty much paid for the place until the year they didn’t. It was a lot of hard work for my mom and dad. And even though my mom loved her pigs, it was just too much to handle. So the pigs were sold and Dad kept his cows. He and Mom still have  around twenty-five to this day and each January or February there are little calves wobbling and running and jumping in the corrals heralding in the coming spring. I have the wonderful opportunity of seeing this, since my house is across from the corrals where it all happens!

Our house is that last place before you look out at all the landscape  of grassland/dryland/prairie. There are miles and miles of rolling hills full of grass and rocks. It’s hard to believe that the home place was once like that. I’ve seen coyotes and wolves run by. A few antelope trot by. The Canadian geese love to rest out there.  In the fall the birds gather out there in large flocks and we watch as the murmurations ebb and flow over the landscape like large dark shadows.  Sometimes in the winter you see a large snowshoe hare hopping around out there. And every spring we see three or four sand cranes strutting around. And I am sure there is more than my eyes see when I am not looking.  We have watched dark  storm clouds roll in on the horizon on hot summer days and have gazed at the icy crust of snow packed tundra in the cold winter months.  But mostly I see the cows grazing. It is such a serene scene and something I will never tire of looking at.

I never realized how much I loved Montana until I moved out of it.  I do have to put in a good word for Wyoming though. It was my home for twenty years and it was a good place to raise a family, but my heart still longed for Montana. I missed the fields and fields of corn and beets. I missed the smell of fresh-cut hay in the spring.  And nothing compares to that smell of a field of hay after its been cut. I love watching the beets being dug and the corn being chopped. I love seeing the hay and straw  bales out in the fields and the stacks covered with snow in the winter. I love watching the tractors till up the dark earth in the spring and fall.  And I love watching the small calves, horses and goats being born in the spring. I love gathering eggs from my happy chickens each day and waiting and watching for my garden to sprout in the spring.

I know, I know you say that can happen any where.  But Montana was where I was born and raised. It was where I lived most of my life. Montana was where I gathered my first egg, where I hoed my first beet row, where I stacked my first bale of hay,  where I first learned how to feed cows, and where I first learned how to fall off a horse and drive a tractor.  In Montana I canned my first quart of beans and actually plucked my first chicken. I started first grade in Montana and graduated high school in Montana. I first rode a bike down a dirt road to take my dad lunch out in the field in Montana.I fell in love in Montana, got married in Montana and had my first child in Montana.

That is why I love Montana. I was born and raised and grew up in Montana. It was and always will be my home and I am more than happy to grow old with Montana.

For as John Steinbeck once wrote: — ‘I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love.’

 

Montana Winter by  SKV

Lonely days of cold nothingness.

A chilled wind blows over the snow packed hills, whistling an eerie sound as it ripples over the icy crystals.

Its winter on the plains of Montana, when every creature shudders in bone chilling numbness and the trees stand in icy stillness.

Snow crunches under my boots in this winter stillness, as I walk out to feed the chickens.

Plumes of wood smoke dot the horizon and stream upward to mix with the winter clouds.

My warm breath mingles with the cold air causing icy puffs of vapor to rise and float away in the icy breeze.

 My dogs peers out from their snow covered house not so anxious to come out and and greet me on this cold winter morning.

I glance before me, across the snow covered landscape and see no track left behind.

The snow..untouched, sparkles in the morning sun like a million tiny diamonds in a crystal maze. 

And in this cold icy stillness of a  Montana  winter, I see the promise of

  warm Montana spring days I know are soon come.

My Continuing Saga

I met my husband in 1983 when I was about to give up on ever having someone to love in my life. We had both been down that rocky road so we both were a little hesitant about giving our whole life to each other. But apparently life had different plan because two years later we were married and had a beautiful baby girl.  And two years after that our son was born.That’s when I started writing again.  Still poetry, but a thought was beginning at the back of my mind. Why not write stories. So I wrote a childrens story. I never published it but I still have it and may someday publish it.

I found God the year my daughter turned 3 years old. Funny that I say I found God. I am sure he was there all along, I just didn’t notice him. But that is when I started writing christian poetry. I loved writing it because I loved my God. I still love my God to this day. There are times I feel like giving up but I know he is there taking care of me. Things may not turn out as I expect and there are hard times to get through but I feel comfort in knowing he is there to comfort me.

Treasures

by SKV

I cried a thousand, million tears for all the bad I”d done, My heart felt used and torn up from all the hurt I’d won. The battle for lost treasures I though I needed then, were coming back to haunt me again and again.

You came so quietly into my life with a love so very strong, You took my tears and wiped them dry…erased all I’d done wrong.

You took my heavy coat of worry, and said “I’ll wear it now.” “I love you my dear child,  no matter what, no matter how.”

“My child I’ve been waiting to help you carry all, I’ve’cried when you cried, hurt when you hurt, felt each and every fall.”

I looked up at you on the cross with the burdens you gladly bore, I cried a thousand million tears for the heavy coat you wore.

Then you looked down and in your eyes I saw a love so true. My heart felt clean, my shoulders felt light, I felt so very new.

I realized I had not fought this battle for this treasure you had given. You gently took my hand and said, “There’s more for you in heaven.”

Those years I realized how much God had given up for me and given me. He gave me a life, a wonderful husband two sweet children and the gift of writing.  Because that is what it is … a gift.

The Gift of Life

by SKV

You gave me the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. But like a selfish child. I threw it down, And asked for more.

“But there is no more.” you said.

And I replied. “If that’s all there is to it, take it back!”

To which you answer was. “So be it. But you must know that there is more to life by your will only. And with each day the gift of life becomes more valuable, as you see fit. For the gift is not given to be thrown in the corner and forgotten. It is to be built upon with tools found along the way. And the only true builder is yourself. So if you should like this gift, I shall willingly give it to you, and no more. The gift of life is yours to keep and do with as you please. But remember there is no one to face the blame or collect the praise but you. And no one who can decide but you. It’s all up to you what you do with your gift of life.”

And with that you were gone. I looked down to find the gift at my feet. And I gently picked it up and held it to my heart.

And  underneath the gift lay a brand new hammer and nails.

 I put the hammer and nails in my pocket and started on my way.

WELCOME TO MY WORDS

This is my very first blog post in Word Press. I have to admit I am not a virgin blogger as I have various blogs floating through out the internet. But this is my very first blog post after I took on the title of book writer/author. Oh yes I know there are millions….. no zillions of book writers/authors out there. It seems these days every one wants to write a book. I guess I am one of those every ones.

Writing has always been an outlet for me. I started writing in about fifth grade when I wrote this poem in class. It went something like this.

We met beside the telephone post, the only one I could find,  I looked into his eyes and smiled, he looked into mine,  I touched his hair with my hand, he made a sweet,sweet sound,  I’ll tell you, tell you all I can,  It felt like soft sweet down.  But all good things must come to an end, the way they always do, I put the little gray kitten down, and went on my way to school.

Ahhh! so sweet. From that day on I was hooked on writing. I loved it. I could use my imagination writing poems, thoughts and ideas. I took all the poetry classes, writing classes and English classes that I could take in high school. I mostly wrote dark poetry in my tween and teen years. But dark poetry about lost love and love and pain and all that stuff that comes with being a teenager.

I lost contact with the world of writing when I graduated high school. Oh there were a few sparse angry poems here and there but mostly I was learning how to live in the real world after high school. I tried college but that didn’t last. so to the workplace I went. And that is when I found my other muse. Sewing.  I loved it. I worked in a drapery shop and enjoyed the joy of touching all those beautiful fabrics every day.  I dated. I partied. I pretty much did what every young person let go into the real world does. But there was still something missing.  Something inside of me wanted to be let out.

 

Stay tuned for my continuing story in my second post.