Some people are so dog-gone nice!


Sandy of the I Beati’s Meeting Place blog, has gifted me with this lovely award. I haven’t had one in a while so it is doubly nice to be reminded that my work is enjoyed, as well as nice to have it come from her, since she is one of my most loyal and devoted followers. She even told me that if I were to publish a book, she would buy it and treasure it! That made me feel so positive and good inside, I tell you. It’s people like Sandy who make what I do feel purposeful and truly worthwhile.

Naturally, it’s no good just to grasp on to such a gift – you must share it! So, I choose the following 3 people (ladies – sorry guys!) to take the award for themselves, as they too deserve it.

Thanks so much Sandy! You made my day!

Lydia – at Lydia’s Organic Gardening
(she’s always thinking of others with her wonderful, delicious recipes and heartfelt words)
Linda – at Linda and her surroundings
(A warm, thoughtful, funny person who goes out of her way for people)
Detroit Dog – at The Dog House
(A caring, animal-lover with a kind heart)

There are so many others I could pass this on to (and you know who you are!) so – feel free to scoop it up and give it to other worthy “girls” yourselves.

Friday Flashback – One Year: Later-Sick Vick


A year ago today, authorities raided NFL Atlanta Falcon, Michael Vick’s Virginia property where he was running a dogfighting operation. Like many people, I was sickened and appalled by these events. I may have four felines, but I love dogs too, in fact there’s not an animal on the planet that I won’t go to bat for against cruelty and neglect.
At the time, I didn’t think I could write a lighthearted poem about such a heinous crime and sadistic human being. I was wrong. After stewing on it for a while, this simple-styled, almost sing-song piece evolved, very quickly. Its simplicity belies the feeling of disgust that I harbour over the situation. Read it and you may laugh, but the humour is still shadowed by a dark feeling of sadness over the minimally meted-out justice and vindication for the many dogs who suffered and those who continue to do so.

To read about some of the luckier dogs from Vick’s kennel, take a look here: CNN From fighters to friends
Kat

Bad Dawg, #7

Michael Vick, he makes me sick
If he were on my shoe, I’d flick
Him off with a chewed, fetching stick–
Yes! That would surely do the trick.

Michael Vick’s a football pro
Lines Falcons up all in a row
Rarely sacked, puts on a show–
Too bad off-field he’s a whacko.

Michael Vick, may soon be jailed
His canine fights have been curtailed,
For cruel maltreatment he’s been nailed–
Let’s hope his job has been derailed.

Michael Vick, he often flogs
His beasts at posts and still he slogs
Then, winnings on his bets he logs–
His big career’s “gone to the dogs.”

Michael Vick what’s up today?
The NFL won’t let you play,
Your cards are selling on e-bay–
You’d best get on your knees and pray.

Michael Vick you think you’re “dope”
But really, it’s a slippery slope.
The “joint”, holds no dog-men, I hope–
Be careful when you go for soap.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

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An oldie, but a goodie…

I came across one of my old poems while working on my new exclusively poetry blog entitled, Poetikat’s Parlour of Poetry.
With this fresh season upon us, I thought it would be the right occasion to repost it for my readers who may have missed it the first time and for some who may like to read it again.

Tennyson wrote: “In the Spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.” In keeping with this notion, I thought that I would repost this poem as a word of warning to all you eager young lads, cads and roues. I’ve been on the receiving end of some ill-treatment and 25 years on, I still remember, and even plot my revenge!
Nah! Enjoy this poem for the lighthearted fun that it is. Just don’t drink any tea poured by your exes.

Teatotaller

In my imagination, I’m working on a plot,
Mashing up dried mandrakes, I put them in a pot,
And fill it up with water from kettle, whistle-blown,
Then steep until it’s ready for serving men I’ve known.

I fancy myself Alice, in my own Wonder world;
While hosting a tea party, my plan would be unfurled.
Eight guests have been selected, based on the role they played,
Each placed along the table, with china cups arrayed.

How truly satisfying, to have my brew on hand,
And pouring the infusion,“Do try it!” I’d demand.
Don’t mind the bitter essence; It’s just my special touch;
A little extra something, that makes the taste nonesuch.

I’d circle the assembly; with teapot I would go,
A- spilling out the servings to those who brought me woe.
Mick, who without warning, said, “Three years is enough”.
A cup of tea for you dear–we’ll see now, who’s so tough.

Sandy gave the heave-ho, for I would not “put out”
A nice strong mug for him please, so there’s no room for doubt.
A dram for Sam of Scotland, just sowing his wild oats.
He left me for a lassie, who bides in John o’Groats.

Cups for common cousins, who tried it on with me.
One from ma’s side, one from pa’s–both, in my family tree.
Christmas cheer for Jamie, who, ‘fore the feast went cold,
Begged off the role of boyfriend, for he was “hard to hold”.

Spot of tea for you , Nick; you needed your own space,
And early in the morning, me promptly, would displace.
“Oh, drink up! You will love it!”, I ‘d tell each one again,
Full-knowing I’d most likely, end up in Kingston Pen.

So, ladies, if you’re troubled with some cad who you know,
I’ll send you my elixir of herbal hash to go.
Just toss it in the Sadler, and steep it for a spell,
Then pour it for your fella, my lips will never tell.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

Carefree high-way

This piece came about as the result of two observations at two entirely different times. The first half took place early last Winter some time before Christmas. I was stopping in at Starbuck’s for a tea and a relaxing, enjoyable spell of just sipping and thinking. I had my laptop and was a bit disappointed to find out that I couldn’t connect to the internet, so instead, I took the opportunity to clean up some of my files and take some notes. When a gang of young girls wandered in, the atmosphere was filled with laughter and chatter. I made note of it in poetry.
Just this past week, I was in my living room, tidying up some old cassette tapes(!) and happened to look out the front window, where I noticed 5 young girls sitting Indian-style on the trampoline in the backyard. The house is on a corner lot and the yard is wide open except for a low hedge.
I saw right away that the girls were passing something around and I could see the clouds of smoke emanating from their device. I was like the proverbial curtain-twitchers behind their net curtains, spying on the youngsters and shaking my head. Actually, I was mesmerized, but in a way, I was also envious of their youth and naivete. Today, I have added them to the first observation and it all seems to fit. Let me know what you think.

Giggly Girls

Giggly girls, sit down in the sun
Of Starbucks store windows; they’re having their fun,
Laughing and joking at everyone–
The toddler a-running, their honeybuns, sweet,
Coffee they’re quaffing, the new girl they greet,
Party they’re planning, his phone call last night;
The giggly girls are filled with delight.

Ponytails jiggling, as sugar-rush hits;
Those giggly, jiggly girls are in fits;
Laughing at nothing, grinning with glee;
I watch and recall when the giggler was me.

Giggly girls on the trampoline,
Since Mommy’s not home, it’s just not a good scene,
Passing and sucking their pipe of glass, clean–
They’re out in the open, at height of the day,
Bouncing and jumping, like children at play,
Choking and smoking and grinning with glee;
The giggly girls, so young and so free.

Pleated skirts lifting, as wind blows them high,
Those giggly, jiggly girls reach the sky.
Laughing at nothing, grinning with glee;
I watch, but cannot crush the mother in me.

Kathleen Mortensen ©2008

Friday Flashback- On vinyl

New Album

The plastic tears
The record slips out
The dust-cover squeaks
The needle clicks
The speakers blare
The song thrills

The voice excites me
The eyes seduce me
The hands beckon me
The leather entices me
The pose confuses me
The face distracts me

My heart throbs
My hands tremble
My eyes succumb
His face relaxes
His voice halts
The music fades

My mind wanders…
…No one’s home
I play “Heroes”.

Kathleen Mortensen (nee Davison) © 1979

High School Musical – almost.

The results of the poll are in and by an overwhelming margin of 78%, the people have said “No” to the double-blog approach”. This actually comes as a bit of a relief to me, since maintaining one blog is far easier to do than keeping up with two (or more). I apologize to the poets out there who were more than likely the ones who wanted to keep my works separate, but as Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes”, so I feel comfortable with keeping all of my pieces, be they poems, anecdotes, fictions, or just gibberish in one place.
Having said that, here’s a little story from my youth.


The Audition by Kathleen Mortensen

In Grade 12, when I learned that my high school was putting on the play, The Music Man, I was ecstatic. I love musicals. I was raised on them. My mother and I used to watch them together when they were on television. My parents often took me to see stage-productions at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto. I saw Camelot, Annie, Anne of Green Gables, Oklahoma! and A Chorus Line, to name just a few. I’d seen all the musicals on film, The Rodgers and Hammerstein greats, the Lerner and Lowe adaptations as well as the Bernstein/Sondheim collaboration of West Side Story. I knew my musicals.

I love watching Shirley Jones fall in love with Gordon MacRae in Carousel and Oklahoma!, and her role as Marion, the librarian, to Robert Preston’s fast-talking Professor Harold Hill is a delight from start to finish. So I was pretty excited that E.S.S. (my alma mater) was mounting a production of this rousing musical.

I had never been in a performance before – except for grade school Christmas productions, or as a choir member in my church, but I considered my voice to be quite clear and melodic and thought that acting would be a piece of cake. I decided to audition.

I wasn’t content to go for chorus girl or any minor role; I was throwing my chips in on the lead. I wanted all the glory that the top-billed received night after night to throngs of people and the roar of the crowd. (Well, at least a round of applause and some handshakes after the show would suffice.)

I was already fantasizing about being in Harold Hills strong arms and singing sweet duets.

From that day forward, I embodied the character of Marion Paroo. She was supposed to reveal an Irish brogue whenever she got angry. My father is from Belfast, I grew up surrounded by that brogue and I could mimic it expertly.

My mother was pleased that I was getting involved in the school play. She became my mentor and my coach. She borrowed the soundtrack album from my aunt Kay and I taped it on a cassette to play in a flat Panasonic recorder with plug-in mic that I could carry around with me. Most of the time, however, I used the stereo in the finished basement room. After school, I would head downstairs to our family room, turn on the Dual turntable stand in the middle of the room and practice stretching my jaw muscles until they ached. My “coach” said if I was to be heard from a stage, I had to open my mouth wide. I could have shoved a loaf of bread in there after all the calisthenics.

My dad was a member of our church choir at the time. He liked to follow the example of the opera singer, The Great Caruso and take a shot of whiskey before a rehearsal. Daddy felt if it was good enough for Enrico, it was good enough for him too. When I began my daily drills, I tried it too. I’m not sure if it made my voice any better. When I missed a note, it just made me crack up. I stopped “hitting the bar “ before practice.

I had two months to prepare for the big audition. At 3:30 p.m. every day I would go to my makeshift music studio and sing along with Marion. My voice got stronger, I could reach the really high notes with only a little strain and when I sang, the whole house could hear me. My cat, Atocha, would sit on the back of the gold, naugahyde recliner in the family room and protest with great howls whenever I started to sing.

After dinner, I would take my tape recorder and go into my bedroom, close the door and sing in front of the square mirror attached to my dresser. I had to back right up to the wall to allow for my head as I sang and gestured like a stern librarian.

All of my friends knew that I was going for the lead role. My best friend Lauren was auditioning for the part of the Mayor’s oldest daughter. Like a true friend, she encouraged me to go for it.

The competition was tough. Ms. Carter, the Drama Club director had her favourites and I was a total unknown, having just switched from the Catholic all-girls’ school I attended to the public high school.

When I handed in my audition form and picture, her bulbous, brown eyes peered at me from beneath her long bangs that swept the top of her lashes and said, “I haven’t seen you before. Are you in one of my classes?”

“Hmm. No.”, I replied. “But I do love musicals and I can sing.” She looked me up and down, grimaced and tossed my audition on the pile on her desk, waving me out with, “I guess we’ll soon see.”

Nobody said anything, but after a few weeks I knew that my family had had enough of the score from The Music Man. It was no co-incidence that my dad was doing yard work, my sister was out playing and my mom was out talking to her friend next door every time I practiced. I never tired of the songs. At school I constantly hummed and whistled them. I became so caught up in the entire play that I even sang the Harold Hill parts and the songs performed by the barbershop quartet in the cast.

I chose a particularly difficult part of the script to recite, hoping to impress the judges and prove myself once and for all. It was a conversation between Marion and her obstinate Irish mother which took place as Marion was teaching a piano lesson. Both parts were sung. This demonstrated the voice, the brogue, personality and tremendous breathing skills.

It started out slowly and accelerated to a rapid banter, back and forth between the two characters. By the time it ended I was nearly purple. I figured if I could master this unusual duet (singing both roles), Ms. Carter would have no doubts that I was the perfect candidate for the lead.

February 5, 1979 auditions began. By Monday, the 4th, I had no fingernails and my stomach ulcer was kicking up. I still had not signed up for a time-slot. I passed the schedule every day, but couldn’t build up the nerve to sign my name. On Tuesday morning when I had a spare period and there was no one around, I finally mustered up the guts to write my name down for the 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 6th time-slot.

The next day I came down with the flu.

It began with a scratchy throat and throbbing muscle pain. Wednesday morning, I crossed my name off the schedule and moved it to Friday at 3:30. I spent the day putting up my hand to answer questions in class and then forgetting what the question was. I drew blanks while talking to people. I walked around like a zombie murmuring, “Mama, a man with a suitcase has been following me all over town.”

I went home to nurse my illness. I spent the whole day in bed, eating oranges and drinking tea with honey. I had a fever of 102 and slept fitfully that night, but I was determined to go to school the next morning.

Friday morning came and I had eaten very little and was a bit shaky. My eyes looked (to coin a phrase of my Cape Breton mother) like “two burnt holes in a blanket”. I was beat. To make matters worse, my throat was raw and I was popping “Halls” mentho-lyptus cough candies by the handful.

Auditions were being held in a studio at the back of the cafeteria. We were told to wait in the Theatre Arts room next door where we would be contacted when it was our time. Lauren had auditioned the day before. She had been asked to do a dance. Lauren was a cheerleader and a baton twirler. I was an expert at skipping—by myself.

We sat in the room with the other kids who were trying out. A boy and girl were practicing “All or Nothing” from Oklahoma! Maureen Grant was singing “Goodnight My Someone”. She had been in last year’s play as part of the chorus. I didn’t give her a second thought. My main competition was a friend, who was not the Shirley Jones/librarian type at all. She stood about 6 feet tall and had bobbed, pale blonde hair.

I decided to look more like a bookworm. I put my long hair in a bun, wore a straight, wool, mid-calf skirt and buttoned my shirt right up to the neck. My throat felt raw as I swallowed to accommodate the tight collar.

I chose the song, “Will I Ever Tell You”. Every verse I had to reach two extremely high notes. My Granny, who was visiting from out east, referred to these as my “bugaboos”. I had really conquered them and was very pleased with myself. I hadn’t counted on the flu.

After what seemed like hours, I was next. I begged Lauren to come into the room with me. My forehead was very hot and my palms were competing with my armpits for sweat.

We entered the studio. It was empty but for a desk, a piano and a couch for the four judges, two male and two female. I felt like the Cowardly Lion approaching the Wizard of Oz. Lauren blended into the wall and I was alone.

Carter handed me a copy of the script. Perhaps I was imagining the smug look on her face. She told the pianist to start. I began on the wrong note. My brogue faded and my breath came in spurts. All my practice was shot. When that embarrassment was through, I faced the judges. One of them was Ms. Carter’s former pet who had graduated last year. Surprisingly, she seemed sympathetic. I focused on her.

The piano-teacher segment had killed what little voice I had. I managed my way through “Will I Ever Tell You?”, but my “bugaboos” were out to get me. Each high note squealed and then cracked; caterwauling cats sound more in tune.

Humiliated, I started packing up to leave. It wasn’t over. They had to bring me even lower. The French teacher, Miss Painchaud, put on the stereo. She did a few steps and some silly twirls. It looked simple enough. The long skirt was a bad idea. Every step, I was stymied at the calf and nearly lost my balance twice. After the fourth attempt, Ms. Carter intoned, “That’s fine, Kathleen. Thank you so much for coming.”

I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough. Outside, Lauren couldn’t even look at me. I doubled over in fits of hysterical laughter that soon turned into hacking coughs.

When Maureen Grant was proclaimed the lead, Marion Paroo, and I didn’t even get a call back for stage hand, it came as no surprise. I did not cry. I went home, silently trudged down the stairs and switched on the stereo. I picked up the record and slipped it carefully from its protective sleeve. As I placed it on the turntable the old feeling of excitement returned. I sat down and waited for those first notes, the red and green album cover resting in my lap. Talking Heads: 77. I have some pride.

After thoughts

Photo by Dalvina on Flickr

Gone

Who still will ponder me when I’m long gone
Stop to remember my favourite song,
Think how I so loved my toast with my tea,
Or watched the wildflowers bloom forth for the bee;
Who will know diddly-squat about me?

Who will reflect that I wore funky clothes,
Perched arty specs, on the edge of my nose,
Smelled of Ma Griffe, and berry lip balm,
Had striated nails and a silky-smooth palm;
Who will recall when my carcass is calm?

Who will be left to mull over my past,
No progeny birthed, and me being last,
None to look over my photos and muse,
“She was quite pleasant–but had a short fuse”;
Who will expound about me, or enthuse?

Will anyone think how I oft tried to smile,
On those in misfortune, whom others revile?
What can I do right to remain in the mind,
A postcard perhaps, or a poem, would be kind.
Best pen it now, while the years yet unwind.

Soon, all too soon they’ll unspool to their end;
Must not dilly-dally–no time to misspend.
Rich ruminations that slip into my sleep,
I’ll write them all down in an effort to keep;
Stash away safe, ‘fore I’m ash, or dug deep.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008