Coming Soon: Kat on Idol!

Yup. That’s me singing with David Cook and I’ve grown such a big head already!

No. I’m not guesting on American Idol to give a rendition of my Irish Song hits!

I’ll be posting weekly rants on what’s going on with the show.

Just a taster of my personal preferences:

I don’t have a “favourite” yet. I do have a few “gotta gos a.s.ap.” candidates, but there is no real standout for me at the moment.

You all knew I was an American and Canadian Idol fan. Of course you did!

Check in tomorrow for my picks and pans and my whinging about that bombastic brute with the roadkill-haircut – Simon Cowell.

Hold onto your hats; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, because Kat can get really nasty when it comes to this stuff.

See you then!

Kat

P.S. Can someone tell me how we’ve reached the point where a song like Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would SUCK Without You” gets released?

That Cat’s Got Talent!

(Photo used sans permission.)

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The Missing Kitty

Blicky Kitty is a maestro

For Old Possum’s he came late,

But he’ll beat Macavity, paws down

At things, Italianate.

He’s a connoisseur of culture;

His Mao’s no Skimbleshanks,

And when it comes to comedy

He’s in the highest ranks.

His prowess as a thespian

Surpasses even Gus,

And Mistoffelees can conjure not

What Blick conveys to us.

Not as old as Deuteronomy

Nor young as Rumpleteazer,

He’s a prodigy in Blogland–

The Internet’s cat-Caesar!

He’s an expert in the world of Art

His taste is très nouveau,

Displaying unique sculpts and

Winning works of Mark Rothko.

Most surprisingly of all I think–

His latest coup d’etat,

Was the masterful designing

Of Kat’s header with one paw!

In summing up, I’d like to say

This cat’s got wit and smarts;

You’d be missing out on much

If you don’t check out his Beaux Arts.

Eliott, I’m sure would be quite keen

An interview to have

With the one forgotten feline…

He could do it from his grave!

Kathleen Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Kat’s Kleaning Kwerks

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Are you sure you want to know my secrets? This photo is blurry because I’m such a whirlwind!

Okay. Lavinia over at the Birdbath blog has been hounding, er begging, er ‘portuning me to reveal if I have any little peccadilloes when it comes to my cleaning habits. We’re not talking personal hygiene ( I won’t get into that – too long and very little falls into the “need-to-know” category). No. We’re talking house hygiene, if you will. She wants to know if I have any weird little practices as I maintain my tidy Hyggehus. (This from someone who washes all bottles, cans and jugs as they come in the door – not just the tops either; she gives them a proper dunking!)

Are you sure you want to know? Well too bad if you don’t (go read Blasts From the Past instead), ‘cause here we go – more of the minutiae of life which for some reason we all seem to have a fascination (look at the Twitter phenomena, if you don’t believe me – by the way I’m “Poetikat47” if you’re looking for me over there).

(above) My cleaning arsenal

Anyhow, here are my oddball (my husband will back me up, I’m certain – wait ’til he sees that photo) habits:

I,

  • really don’t like anything left in the kitchen sink (actually, that’s an understatement; I hate it!)
  • keep dirty dishes in a grey square bucket on my stove until I wash them
  • always soak my burner pans in vinegar and dish soap and line the burners with foil-plates
  • use newspapers and vinegar to clean my windows
  • let the dishwasher fill up and only run it every other day
  • use a sponge with a crushed walnut fiber scrubber on one side (microwave for 2 mins. to kill bacteria)
  • love my soap-dispenser brush scrubber for pots and plates.
  • clean my can-opener every day with a toothbrush and dish liquid
  • don’t use anything toxic – only natural products in the Hyggehus – good for the environment and people too!
  • hate to clean my stainless-steel fridge door – it is so tough to get the marks off, but Nature Clean window cleaner does the trick
  • have to clean my toaster every week because we love our toast in this house. I always have at least 3 loaves of bread in the freezer or I panic!
  • use wood pellets in my cats’ litter boxes and then keep the sawdust to mop up spills (they are old cats and often have “accidents”
  • use deep boot trays as secondary litter boxes.
  • I got my vacuum cleaner from the neighbour across the street (he put it out for garbage day)
  • always wear a mask of bikini panties over my nose and mouth when I empty my Phantom vacuum cleaner.
  • collect all the fur I vacuum up to use at my spinning wheel and sell at the local market (*kidding*!)
  • Clean the bathtub with a crushed pumice block (a PC grocery product) and a scratchy sponge.
  • all my cds and dvds are either boxed or filed in albums with slots for each one; everything is alphabetized – even my books are in alpha order on the shelves.
  • I use dollar-store “magic” cleaning cloths and a cut-up pink fleecy hoodie for dusting and cleaning up spills.
  • I only buy select-a-size paper toweling
  • my house is currently a tip (as the Brits would say) because my sleep has been nightmarish of late
  • I live in hope that my husband will help me with the vacuuming and dusting this weekend – he braves it out without the panties!

I challenge Lyn at “Two Ghosts”, Willow at Willow Manor, Anita at Negative Space and Jen at Are You There God, It’s Me, Generation X to confess to your cleaning quirks. Anybody else (male or female) who feels like telling all, go right ahead.

Mall Kat

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After leaving the Italian-food enterprise (see previous post, if you missed it), I steered clear of extra-curricular employment until the following summer of 1978. I was able to suitably impress the local insurance agent in the State Farm office situated in the mall not far from my home. Being an only child until the age of 9, I was often “party” to a number of my parents’ dinner feasts with friends (my parents believed that “children should be both seen AND heard” so I was often standing next to the dinner table chatting with the parents of my friends as if they were my buddies). In retrospect, I can see that, although this gave me an edge in communicating with adults, it did more to separate me from my peers, as I came to have little in common with so many of them as a result. In any case, my exposure to grown-ups did help me in my interviews for employment. I could be respectful and make an impression, but was also capable of repartee and conviviality that most kids my age could not. For this reason I suppose, State Farm’s little branch office was happy to snap me up when I applied for a part-time office-clerk position.

I never took typing or dictation at school. My mom had been in various secretarial positions in her day and she oversaw me at the typewriter while I basically taught myself from a manual that came with our little Smith-Corona portable. I was beyond the ‘hunt and peck’ category, but was certainly no whiz at the keyboard (like I am today). My first task with the insurance office was to sit before a cumbersome selectric typewriter complete with rotating golf-ball beating out the alphabet with each keystroke. This involved inserting smallish, fiddly pieces of pink paper on which I was to fill in the driver’s license numbers. It seemed like it would be a piece of cake. Wrong. Ontario license numbers in those days were designated in this manner: 3 letters of the alphabet, followed by a space, followed by 3 numbers, like so: JXD 186
The Ontario Postal (or ZIP) code goes like this: J8D 1X6. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Knowing how stressful a first real job can be, add to that the pressure of trying to operate an unruly machine with a sticky SHIFT key and throw in the above task. Not a good mix.
I get frustrated pretty easily. It’s not a trait I’m proud of, but there you are. I take after my dad’s side, I think. Actually, I know for a fact I do. I’ve been told all my life by my mother, my relatives, my friends, even total strangers have said how much I look like my dad, but mostly people are quick to say that I am “just like my father” in temperament. To his credit, he was a generous, kind-hearted man with a HUGE sense of humour, but sadly, he had a fiery Irish temper, spoke his mind often without thinking, and lost his cool when things didn’t go his way or he had no control over the situation. Such was the case with me, even as a teenager, so the nasty typewriter in that cursed insurance office was a right pain in the you-know-what and I didn’t cope very well with continually wrecking those little pink sheets with the tiny spaces requiring teeny-tiny little letters of precise information. Eventually, I think the nice secretary who was my superior, finally said something along the lines of “I don’t really think this is working out, do you?” I had to agree. I couldn’t see myself grinding away at that blasted chunk of metal for the whole summer – I wasn’t willing to hold out until I got it right. I had better things to do. So we parted company, that company and I. Each time I passed the office in the mall when I was out with my friend hanging out at Country Style Donuts or looking for makeup in Shoppers’ Drug Mart, I sighed…with relief.

The mall held many opportunities for an enterprising young girl such as myself and it wasn’t long before I was doing a shift at the “Living Lighting” store (at the opposite end, thank goodness) trying to chat up customers and assist them in those heady decisions about what light fixture to purchase or what sort of bulb would add atmosphere to the dining room. Bo-ring! I never was one for standing on my feet, trying to make small-talk with the hoi polloi about their domestic requirements. I was pleasant enough, but I’m sure people must have gathered that I didn’t give a whit about whether or not they had pot lights or chandeliers or fluorescent tubes or disco balls. As well, I was completely flummoxed when it came to that contraption that you put your credit card in to be transferred (like some rubbing of the tombs in Westminster Abbey) to the little carbon-copy slips that fit into said contraption. Worse still, I had to call some number to confirm their card was active and they weren’t bankrupt and trying to make off with our ever-so-desirable stock! Nothing was automated of course, so you’d be hanging on the line waiting for some alien voice (usually an equally bored woman) to come on, look through her files (no computers, remember) and tell you it was okay, the wily-looking little bald man in front of you was in the clear to walk out with the bag of switch-plates and the 40-watters. What a relief!
It will come as no surprise to you that after a few weeks of this mind-numbing work, I bailed again.
My next job in the Mall was like paradise by comparison to the first two. It met just about every requirement for which I could have asked. I had access to food, I could play music, I had autonomy, my co-workers were great fun and I had good hours– I worked in a bakery!
Viktor S’s bakery was a bit of an odd-ball in the culinary world. For one thing, Viktor spent a good deal of his time “in his cups”. He had a little Tupperware cup that was perpetually filled with red wine. Viktor was also a smoker. He did not smoke at the front of the store, but always had a ciggy hanging out of his mouth as he worked the dough for his pastries and cakes. He was a singular man, was my boss, Viktor. He was also a groper. In Viktor’s mind, he was the ladies man. In the minds of his all-female staff, he was a perv.
I usually worked Saturday mornings when there was the inevitable bread rush. The phone, right above the bread-slicer (the optimum spot, especially when that B-52 bomber took off) would ring on and off all Saturday morning with locals calling in orders for “fresh” baked bread. It got quite chaotic in that little corner by the slicer and the phone and many’s the time, a loaf of just-sliced, over-shot the waiting plastic bag at the end of the metal plate and landed on the floor. I can’t recall how many times, when no one was looking, that loaf of rye or wholewheat got shoved in the bag regardless.
After working at the bakery for a few months, I got quite flip about the whole routine. I was used to the quirky way Viktor would make us use a garden hoe to scrape bits of pasty flour and icing off the floor. It was no skin off my nose to “paint” the strawberry tarts with the permanently encrusted decorating-brush, dipping it into the bucket of gelatinous cherry red goo and tenderly stroking over the custard and berry slices. Mmmm!
I got so comfortable in that job, that when a friend of mine walked in wearing a gag arrow-through-the-head, a la Steve Martin, I asked to borrow it and wore it for the duration of my shift. I held impromptu contests with customers to see if they could identify the Prime Ministers on our currency. I even gave away prizes.
I also warned customers about one of Victor’s specialties; I tipped them off to the cigarette ash in the poppy seed Danishes. However, I was pleased to take my boss up on his offer to take home day-old goods. (It takes a lot to wreck a Chelsea Bun, after all.)


I used to play the back-room radio so loud that I could hear it up at the front of the store—even over the notorious bread-machine. I always had it on my favourite station: CFNY – an alternative radio programmer that often featured British punk and quite raw lyrics. On one occasion, I was up to my elbows in boxing petits fours and bagging up bread when a song came on that was raw, indeed. It was a song by a Toronto band called The Demics. Entitled “I Wanna Go To New York City”, it went something like this:

I wanna go to New York City
Cuz they tell me it’s the place to be,
I wanna go to New York City
I just know that it’s the place for me…

All fine and well until it escalated in tone, and despite some Canadian airwaves-restrictions this was broadcast:

I’m getting “F-ing p…d off”

Imagine cake boxes hitting the floor, me high-tailing it in my high-tops to the back trying to get to the radio (I knew the song and was stunned when the line aired), but to no avail.
Viktor lost a few customers that day, but fortunately no one reported me. The one person who stayed to finish his order could see how embarrassed I was and I did make profuse apologies. It was a pretty sedate group who frequented the bakery. I mean, it’s not like a crew of Mohawked kids were lurking in the hopes of some cupcakes.
I quit the bakery before I started university in the Fall of 1980, but not before I had the opportunity to do something I’ll never forget.

Viktor was up to his usual tricks with the girls – looking for a grope and then challenging with his bizarre broken-English vocabulary. On deliberately bumping into me he would say with an absurd accent through his Egri Bikaver breath, “Scream on me, Katty! Scream on me!”, meaning – go ahead give me what for. Now that I think of it, he was really some kind of smarmy sado-masochist. So, one day when he followed me into the walk-in freezer and tried it on, I ploughed him with a chocolate cake. Now that’s what I call a job well done!
Kathleen Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

All photos courtesy of Flickr

Heroes (25 Who Have Had A Hand In The Making Of Me As A Writer)

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Geisel, Theodore (Dr. Seuss)

Carroll, Lewis

Nash, Ogden

Keene, Carolyn (pseudonym)

Eager, Edward

Christie, Agatha

Chesterton, G.K.

Dickinson, Emily

The Evangelists

Shakespeare, William

Homer

Dickens, Charles

Bronte, Emily

Melville, Herman

Browning, Robert

Coleridge, Samuel T.

Arnold, Matthew

Frost, Robert

Faulkner, William

O’Connor, Flannery

Ondaatje, Michael

Cohen, Leonard

Bush, Kate

Bowie, David

Wordsworth, Dorothy

*To be explored further in another post. I challenge Peggy of Johnstone Journal, Jeannelle of Midlife by Farmlight, and John of Robert Frost’s Banjo to reveal their 25 Author influences.