The Other Side of Christmas


The butterball is baking;
Lights all twinkle on the tree;
Lots of presents have been opened;

Now the kids are on a spree;

Let’s open up those chocolates;

And we’ll quaff another nog;
Throw those giblets in the fridge—

They’re the favourite of the dog.

Set the table with the crystal;
Grandma’s china’s in the chest;
Use the silver and the linen;

Those red candles look the best…

Outside some streets over;
She stands shivering in shame;
Scouting ‘johns” along the roadside–
She’s a hooker on the game.

Silently he trudges
On the sidewalks of downtown
Though he’s had no destination–
Since the system let him down.

She’s clinging to her baby
In a room she’s seen before;
The last time that he hit her–
And she made it out the door.

His fingertips are frozen
As he lights a cigarette;
Somewhere his mom is crying–
But his dad has no regret.

Inside it’s warm and toasty
And the turkey’s burnished gold;
Quick! Say grace and pour the wine;
Let’s enjoy it ‘fore it’s cold…

When the party is all over
And the family’s gone their way,
There’s an emptiness we feel

Though we’ve stuffed ourselves this day.

We really can’t explain it;
We made everything just so,
But we’re almost glad it’s over–

Is there something we don’t know?

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007


Gold, In Deed

A documentary entitled “Cereal Thriller” by writer/director David McDonald about a 1950’s scheme that involved stashing deeds to a miniscule piece of land in the Yukon in Quaker puffed wheat and rice was a real eye-opener for me. In fact, if anyone is so inclined, I believe this has the makings of an amazing screenplay! I don’t want to give the whole tale away, so read on in my poem:

You Conned?

In 1955, it seems
Some boys and girls had golden dreams,
Fuelled by the fire of mythic Mountie
And his dog, King, who tracked their bounty,
On friendly family radio,
Over hills of Klondike-snow.

Quaker Oats was waging wars
With Sugar Pops and such in stores;
Barker’s man who counted dough,
Had a brainwave how to go:
Through the ones who ate their stuff,
Wheat and rice–not sweet,all puff.

So began the campaign great:
Breakfast boxes held kids’ fate;
Find a “deed” before they’re gone;
Own a piece of yon Yukon.
Moms from sea to sea would run,
Buying for each little one.

Fists were forced in boxes deep;
Deeds discovered they could keep;
Winners who pulled out the prize,
Held in hand a doc of size,
Rimmed in gilded filigree–
Legal lingo all to see.

Each kid claimed his “Big Inch Land”;
In his head he did command,
Rule upon the tiny space;
Not a problem, he would place,
Flag or flower on the spot,
Though on map ‘twas just a dot.

Land itself was real, it’s true!
Quaker’s Baker and his crew,
Bought themselves a Klondike tract;
Scoped on foot, to make it fact;
Gave it out in inches, square,
Knowing kids would hardly care.

Mountie cop, in blazer, red
(Used a gun, in taser’s stead),
Kept kids’ minds on land of gold;
Quaker’s men had their foothold;
Yukon dirt, they had brought back;
Sent to tots in tiny sack.

Kids were panning hard for rocks;
Quaker’s board was watching stocks,
Rising higher every day;
Not much gold was found, they say;
Northern orphans, in bags filled–
Never mind! Rich kids were thrilled.

Some folks ferreted the deed;
Stashed it safe, not out of greed;
Pride, more like and bragging rights;
Be the one who set his sights,
On titled land in Klondike far–
It made a kid look like a star.

In years ahead, as each one grew,
Into adults, they held onto,
The deeds they’d drawn from out the box,
With hope one day of taking docs
And laying claim to property,
But sad to say, ‘twas not to be.

For Quaker, sold off all the ground;
The taxman he would not be bound,
To pay a fee of small amount;
The number-crunchers made the count,
And killed the dream with no remorse;
To make the land a duffer’s course.

And still, today, the phone calls ring;
The faxes, letters questioning,
If any claim can still be had,
On deed in hand, won as a lad,
Or purchased through an online ad;
Ever hopeful–they’ve been had!

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

Poetry on your palate

This is a bit of a departure from my usual posts. I wanted to share with my
readers, one of my other true passions: cooking.

At this time of year, food is never far from my thoughts. (Okay, I’ll be honest, it’s never far at any time of year). So, with that in mind, I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes for the season. It’s fast, pretty on the plate and delectable.

I invite all who visit, to do the same thing on their blogs and leave a link in the comments below. Bon Appetit!

Kat’s Pecan-cranberry tartlettes with orange zest

1/4 lb butter
1 cup flour
3 oz. cream cheese
(*the first 3 ingredients should be at room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla (use the real thing)
Grated zest of 1/2 an orange
1/4 cup melted margarine
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans.

*Note, if you’re not into making pastry, the frozen mini tart shells work just fine.

In medium bowl, combine butter, flour and cream cheese to form a stiff dough. Divide into 24 balls and press down into mini-muffin tins.In medium bowl, lightly beat egg with a fork, gradually add brown sugar. Blend in syrup, vinegar, vanilla, orange zest, cranberries and melted margarine (or butter, if you’re indulging). Fill tart shells about 2/3 full with mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool and serve. Enjoy!

James Barber Will Be Missed

It was with tremendous sadness that I learned from an obituary in the National Post earlier this week that my favourite television chef, James Barber, The Urban Peasant had passed away in late November.
Barber’s methods were accessible to all. Just as Chef Gusteau in the animated story Ratatouille, believed anyone can cook, so did The Urban Peasant.
Barber wrote a number of companion cookbooks to his show filled with easy to master recipes and illustrated in his own quirky manner. He also created a few children’s books.
A seafaring cook in his earlier life, he often spoke on camera of his cooking experiences at that time. His ability to cook with limited ingredients, quickly, inexpensively and successfully had a great deal to do with his days at sea.
Not only a chef, he was a father, husband and friend to all he met. He also had a great affinity for animals and in recent years ran his own farm of very fortunate ones on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

James Barber used the simplest ingredients to create delicious, fast and friendly recipes. My enjoyment and appreciation of good food can be attributed largely to this humble man’s influence. His charming, homey cooking show, The Urban Peasant, filmed in Vancouver for a number of years, was a mainstay of my television viewing. Not too long ago I was delighted to happen upon some old episodes being rerun on a Canadian channel and even my husband was captivated by the man’s charisma and character.

I’m sorry he’s gone, but I know his legacy will live on in the kitchens of many Canadians and around the world as well. Here is my tribute in honour of his great gift to us all.

More Than A Cook

James Barber was a mirthful man
Or so he seemed to me
His laughing eyes and cheery grin
Uplifted my t.v.

He rarely used a measuring tool;
His pinches were an art!
He cobbled up ingredients–
Cooked only from the heart.

We’d watch with rapt attention as
He’d whisk and scrape saucepan,
While telling his historic tales–
No recipes he’d scan.

His squeak and bubble legend,
Flambées that made one drool!
All recipes were basic–
Stay simple was his rule.

Rarely does it move me when
Celebrities have died,
But when I read the “Peasant” passed
I must admit, I cried.

But sure, in Heaven’s Kitchen,
Our James, with spoon in hand,
Is whipping up a special dish,
Not fancy, but so grand.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

13 Up

Tagged twice for this meme. A letter to yourself at age 13. While it took some time to recollect what was going on in my life at that age, eventually some (long-buried) memories came flooding back. This will definitely reveal a bit more about me to my Blogfellows.

Thanks to Elise and Michelle for thinking of me (as always).

I’m now tagging: Crys at People are Awesome!
Sharon at Sharon365 and Alan at Penglynn365

Here’s my

Note To Self:

Herein some warnings on romance,
And other things that may perchance
Befall you in the years to come;
Hindsight’s no use, but here is some:

Don’t worry ‘bout your lack of skill
With sports, gymnastics, neither will
Amount to much when you’re my age;
Your talent lies on printed page.

Those platform shoes in the Sears Book
Might seem ideal, but mind they’ll hook
In cables on the school gym floor;
A flipped up skirt’s tough to ignore.

Your skin will clear, you’ll wear contacts
The way you’ll dress and dance distracts
A goodly number of the males,
And when you’re done, you’ll have some tales.

Oh! Please take note: don’t drink that rye
That J does cordially supply.
Remember she’s your boyfriend’s ex,
And likely has you under hex.

That naked witch’s spell won’t work
When trying to change the artsy jerk
Who likes to toy with you for fun;
Just keep in mind, he’s not the “one”.

You’ll work through quite a lot of “frogs”
Some set-up dates will be real dogs
But through it all you’ll keep your pride;
Know in the end God will provide

A hit-and-run will change some lives
When dad gets struck, but then survives.
Years from now you’ll know because
Your father won’t be who he was.

Your mom will be your toughest foe
But “Honour her” is your credo
So take the good stuff with the bad
You’ll love her, though she’ll drive you mad.

Fear not to go on “tele-date”
After some duds, you’ll meet your mate.
The man who is your friend for life;
You’ll take the band and be his wife,

And live in peace and contentment;
Your nights together happ’ly spent
With food and felines, love and mirth;
This man will know what you are worth.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

A New Twist On An Old Job

An article in The Globe and Mail tickled me and I just had to put pen to paper (okay, fingers to keyboard) and come up with something to reflect this story. I give you:
Santa Claws
(Tips on how to be a modern-day store Santa)

I’ve been a jolly Santa
For thirty years or more;
When dealing with the toddlers
I think I know the score.

So when the bosses told me
I’d have to work with pets,
I thought I’d have no problems;
No struggle– no regrets,

But nothing could prepare me
For what I dealt with then–
Parade of beastly “babies”
Rats, ferrets, dober”men”;

With scratches on my collar
And urine on my coat,
I’ve tried to keep on smiling,
But it really gets my goat.

Some tips they’ve tried to give me:
Hot bottle for the cat
A squeak- toy for the puppies
And hang on to your hat;

Please gently hold that rabbit;
Don’t drop him on his back,
Else he’ll no more be hopping,
And owners will attack.

Look out for lips, back-curling
Or hair that stands on end;
Not every little “darling”
Is really“man’s best friend”.

But what they’re not revealing
Is when it’s done, you’ll stink.
So, don’t tell anybody,
Go pour yourself a drink!

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

T.V. Confessions

This poem speaks for itself: I am a prime time t.v. junkie. I’m not particularly proud of it, but I admit it.

Screen Idle
I’m surrounded by books; I’ve earned my degree;
Still I’m held hostage by flat-screen t.v.

With high-minded observing I could impress–
History Channel, or else PBS;

The truth is more shameful–despite all my smarts–
Not really watching those shows on the Arts;

More likely I’m catching The Bachelor choose
From bevies of beauties–not minding the news.

Prefer to indulge in the lives I don’t know–
Some latest “survivor” the tribe has let go;

That pair in The Race who just bitch their way through;
Bimbo on Big Brother with nary a clue.

It’s true that I can’t miss a day of Brit soaps;
If you need lingo lessons, I’ll show you the ropes,

But I’d rather eye nothing than view violent crime;
Since they cancelled Columbo, don’t give it my time.

So if you’ve been thinking I’m so scholarly
Check my PVR timers; you’ll find the real me.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007