Theme Thursday: Water

watsud Click picture for source.

Water

I

The sun, its thirst

does slake

with river, stream

and lake,

leaving kiss of

cracking lips

upon the earth.

Come the gourds,

the jugs of clay

or plastic pails

on heads make way

to wait at pumps

that trickle

drops,

to cleanse, refresh—

spill, on sparse

crops

to feed the tribes

from tired townships

whose jaws hang

slack

with fly-blown lips

and bellies burgeon

with no food,

Yet still they think

That God is good.

 

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II

In sultanates

mercurial cars

glide past the guarded

iron bars

into those realms

where fountains pour

the silver-spooned

of gilded door

step into pools

with blue-tiled stones

replenishing

their fat-cat

bones…

A vat of wine,

a fatted cow,

they make their deals

with nod and bow

to strip another

mine, perhaps–

their filthy lucre

in their

laps.

 

Kathleen Mortensen©2009


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The origin of a poet?

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Is it presumptuous of me to title this piece such? I’m not an acclaimed or acknowledged poet by anyone of consequence. I don’t have books published with my works.  I don’t even have a chapbook, and yet…and yet, I choose to deem myself so. 

What makes us artists? What differentiates us from those others? What makes ME a poet?

I think in rhymes.  I am constantly looking at things and thinking, how would I convey that on the page? I wake with words swimming in my head, forming stanzas as I sip my tea, or brush my teeth.

I don’t write every day, but I think every day and I plan every day and read every day.

What started it all?  I sometimes wonder about that and usually I attribute it to the marvellous world of Dr. Seuss. The other day, I came across something that led me to reconsider that assumption.

I was in a second-hand bookstore in London, Ontario and happened to wander over to the children’s section.  A very narrow spine caught my eye.  It was a tall book – a  Golden Book and it was entitled, “Tell Me, Cat”.  Something deep inside me jolted at that name.  I reached out and drew the book from the swamped shelf.  As I revealed the cover, I gasped.  I recognized the book right away.

Greedily, I opened the book and my eyes scanned the inside of the cover where a cross-stitched cat looked back at me with familiar woollen eyes. 

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Carefully, I turned the large pages and unfolded a page of my own history – a piece of my childhood. With a whoosh, it all came flooding back. Suddenly, I could anticipate what was on the following page…I knew the images of kittens and cats I would find.  The words of the verses struck my heart and made me a tousle-haired tot again.

Here are a few samples:  

(From the photo on the left):

If we could just read

All the stories inside

Of these books, we’d have fun

But we can’t – though we’ve tried.

Are there books that are written

With words for a kitten?

(From the photo on the right):

I’m a tough old seagoing cat;

They call me Captain Jack.

I’ve sailed to England, Spain, and France,

To Singapore and back.

 

I’ve walked the decks of many a ship

and guided many a crew.

Tomorrow I sail for Zanzibar….

(I like to pretend, don’t you?)

 

I called to my husband, whose nose was buried in a social exploration of the world of soccer.  I brought the book over to him and presented it as if it were on a velvet cushion.  The excitement in my voice could be heard from one end of the store to the other although I was quiet enough. 

As I read a few of the verses to him, he smiled (he loves the little girl in me).  I said, “It’s only $7.50.  I’m going to get it. I can’t believe I’ve found it again.”  I had completely forgotten this book existed.

I feel as if I’ve discovered that missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle.  This book is one of the reasons I AM a poet. The style, the whimsy and the rhyme is so like mine today.

I am ecstatic to have rediscovered it.

Kat

What’s up Doc?

bugsy
Coming down with a pain in the arse nasty cold/sore throat the last few days has only served to remind me how vulnerable I have always been to such sicknesses.  My mother would of course attribute this to my being “an eight-month baby”, since that is her reason for any of my ailments or issues in life, but I know better; it’s just my constitution.  Despite an obsessive use of antibacterial hand-sanitizers, daily intake of multi-vitamins, garlic capsules and eating a rather healthy diet low in fats and sugars, I find myself ‘under the weather’.  This has been my lot many times in my personal history.
I was lucky to be one of those children who did not have too many stomach flus.  I had a few bouts, but they weren’t often and I am grateful for that since dry heaves are anything but fun.  I recall one occasion when my cat, Atocha loyally followed me to and from the bathroom as I hung over the toilet and even lay beside me when I sought out the coolness of the linoleum floor. I had a few ear-aches in my very early days which were excruciating, but then I think most babies and toddlers get those, but it was only as I got older that my two persistent health issues became apparent. 
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In Grade Nine, I remember I was reading Mary Stewart’s book, “Nine Coaches Waiting” for my English class with Mrs. Egan.  Mrs. E appeared to be about 85 years old, but in retrospect she was probably only a frumpy 60.  This was in my Catholic Girls’ school and such a book was about as exciting as we could hope for – with the romance of a chateau, a governess and the suspense of a dark secret.  I loved it!
About this time, I developed a fever. No, it wasn’t the hot scenes in the book; it was a legitimate hot-headed temperature’s-rising kind of fever and with it, came a red, raw sore throat.  Even the book could not hold me captive as the fever raged and pretty soon, my parents decided I needed a doctor (since I never put a good book down unless I was really ill). 
Amazingly (although it WAS the Seventies), the doctor came to my house and right into the pink and white striped room with the twin beds with the red-ribbed bedspreads.  Somewhere under a collection of stuffed toys, he found me in a pool of sweat, whimpering. with a sore throat with flecked with white spots and a rampant rash on my chest, in my armpits and behind my ears.  After lifting up my nightgown (I think I was out of undershirts by that time, but my boobies were nothing to write home about), placed the cold stethoscope on my back and a tongue depressor in my mouth. My tongue was strawberry-coloured, but turned white when depressed, my sore throat flecked with white spots and a rash ran rampant on my chest, in my armpits and behind my ears. The doctor’s diagnosis: Scarlet Fever and Strep Throat. I had never known anybody who’d had such an archaic illness other than me. One time Bobby, in my class had “Whooping Cough” which was funny because he called it “Hooping cough”, but that was as unusual as it got, until I got the Fever.

A course of penicillin put me right, but I had a real problem with swallowing pills.  When I was small, Mom used to come at me with a spoonful of some tonic called Maltevol.  It had the consistency of motor oil and tasted like molasses mixed with fish in a base of sherry wine. Ugh!  When I was a teenager, my dad suddenly went on a health kick, taking multi-vitamins called Paramettes.  He insisted that I take one everyday too.  No Flintstones chewables for me. No!  I had to swallow the red horse-pills.  I gagged every time and soon I was taking them with applesauce or tablespoons of jam, but I got to dread each morning when that pill was waiting for me on the plate beside my glass of orange juice and I really hated my dad for forcing me to take them.  Eventually, he gave up, but I had a phobia of pill-taking for years afterward and when the penicillin for strep was prescribed, I had to crush the pills between two spoons and take them with chocolate milk to get them down. I was home from school for quite a while with my special sickness and I did manage to finish the book.  I was to become very familiar with various types of penicillin over the years.
My other weakness was my stomach.  In school, I was a perfectionist and put a great deal of pressure on myself to perform well.  When it came exam time, I DID succeed, but when it was over I began to experience terrible stomach pains.  A searing knife in the gut is what it felt like and usually it would hit in the middle of the night.  So I’d be sleeping soundly, seemingly relaxed after taking a test and doing okay and then suddenly I’d wake up feeling like somebody had just stabbed me in the stomach.  Back to the doc I went.  His verdict? Nervous stomach.  Okay, that made sense, but what to do about it?  The answer was a  pill (isn’t it always?) that calmed the stomach.  Only problem was, it really didn’t do the job and even half a pill could render me like a drunken fool.  In fact, I once took a pill and went  out dancing in a Toronto club known to regulars as Domino’s, had a couple of drinks and nearly ended up in a heap on the dance floor.  My boyfriend at the time – and another friend – drove me home (didn’t take advantage, which was nice since the effect was similar to  the date rape drug rohypnol) although they just kind of opened my front door, popped me inside and drove away. Nice.
As time went on, life-stresses increased. University exams for university–which are far more tension-inducing than high school’s ever were— made the stomach issue worse.  Furthermore, my favourite foods– especially spicy spaghetti sauces–seriously aggravated my condition.  What was my doctor’s answer? An even stronger pill.  This was after I had the loveliest of diagnostic tests–the barium x-ray.  If you’ve never had a barium x-ray, consider yourself very fortunate indeed.   You know when Tom Sawyer used to whitewash the fence for Aunt Polly?  Picture that whitewash in a big plastic cup.  Now tip it up to your lips and drink it all down.  Mmmm!  Tasty.  Somebody discovered that barium in the stomach shows up on an x-ray. I’d like to meet that guy in a dark alley…too bad, he’s probably dead.  The results of the test showed that I had an ulcer.  I was 21 years old. Ranitidine (prescription Zantac) became my best friend.  I lived on it for over 13 years.
First year university was a real learning experience on many levels.  There was, of course, learning from books. Then there was that other great school, the school of social learning. Sometimes social learning supersedes book-learning. Sometimes, when a pitcher of long island iced tea is involved on a Friday night at the campus pub, that happens. I also learned how not to spend Christmas vacation.
strawq
After my first end-of term exams I had a whole month off school. Time to regroup, as they say– read some assigned novels to get a head start on Term Two, and time for family and Christmas and food and friends. Only problem was, I got hit with a super-colossal whammy – the flu.  This was no ordinary flu, this was a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out, put you in bed for a week with a semi-comatose head kind of flu.  I was on penicillin again, this time I took it with Strawberry Quik (the rabbit on the label captured my dazed look to a tee). To this day, I cannot even smell the stuff without gagging.
I spent the entire Christmas holidays in bed.  I was so out of it, I couldn’t even read.  I listened to the radio on my bedside table because in those days our television was the size and weight of a dishwasher and I was too drugged to drag myself out to the couch in the living room.  I know that people called to find out how I was and I even spoke to them, but I was like a dementia patient; as soon as I hung up the phone, I forgot who I’d talked to and sometimes that I’d been on the phone at all. While all my friends were out partying the holidays away, I was in a stupor under the red bedspread in my sad little pink and white striped room with the big-eyed art.  I got better just in time for the first day back to classes. Yipee.
kung pao
My stomach didn’t get any better though, it was a roller-coaster of bland diets like buttered toast, boiled eggs, pasta with a bit of parmesan and water to wash it down.  Contrary to what was originally thought, milk didn’t actually improve one’s stomach, it aggravated it because of lactic acid. What I really enjoyed eating was curried noodles with green peppers and onions, pasta sauce with red chili flakes, alcoholic drinks or at least a can of coke, for Pete’s sake.  I could do none of these things without violent repercussions from within. Sometimes I had to weigh the odds: was it worth the severe gut-wrenching pain in the wee hours for that plate of Kung Pao Chicken and the glass of Merlot? Often, the dangerous dish would win out, but in the end, I’d be the loser – cursing myself and writhing in pain. How did I spell relief? It sure wasn’t Tums or Maalox, or Mylanta.  I tried them all, but none of them worked; only the prescription would take the pain away. Back to the Ranitidine I would frantically go, snapping open the bottle and greedily tossing back a couple in the hope of relief.
This seesaw went on for years. Between the rigours of dating, getting a degree, family trials and just plain living, I spent the better part of it medicated.  It wasn’t until after I was married that I found a saviour of sorts.
We had moved from the big city to a small town and just found a new doctor.  We were hoping to have a family and I needed a check up. My first visit with him proved enlightening on two levels.   First of all, when he learned I had been on Ranitidine for so many years he said, “ Do you know that this drug can affect your fertility?”  I took that fairly calmly, all things considered; I just assumed that it was a possibility and the necessity for the drug outweighed that risk.  When the doctor learned about my stomach issues he told me about another doctor in a nearby city who was doing trials of a new treatment to cure stomach ulcers.  He wondered if I’d like to be a “guinea pig”.  I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went to see Doctor C. 
I was a bit nervous because he told me he would first have to do a scope of my stomach to determine if I was a candidate for the treatment.  He would be looking for the presence of the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria which they were trying to link to recurring stomach ulcers.  Apparently, Australian researchers had discovered the H-Pylori bacteria and were now treating it with a combination of bismuth and some other drug with great results.  I was encouraged, but not anxious for the scope.
h pylori H pylori: Who knew he had his own stuffed toy?

First, I had to have blood-work (which I loathe) and then I would be put under anaesthetic and a long tube was to be inserted through my mouth and way down into my stomach.  Barium x-rays were looking pretty good at that point.  I was willing to overcome my fear in the hope of some permanent relief, so the day came when I was in a room, in a sort of dentist-chair and the doc put me under and put the tube down and had a look around. Eureka! There it was, good ol’ H-Pylori. He was in there all the time, causing me grief whenever I gave in and had something fried, or put pepper on my dinner. 
The very good news was that Doctor C was prepared to give me a 1 week course of the treatment – free – since I was a trial subject.  I got my new prescriptions and headed home. 
To say that week was hell would be severely undercutting the reality.  I  had migraines, stomach upset, nausea and I “looked like the wrath of God” as my mom likes to say. It WAS hell, but…when it was over the H Pylori was dead and gone.  Another scope proved that the treatment had worked and I was free to go.  I gave my doctor a batch of homemade peanut butter-chocolate chip muffins (much to his delight) and we were even.
bumtum This photo has got to be British!
I have had no trouble since that day 14 years ago.  I can eat what I want and drink what I want and I use pepper on just about everything – even pizza! If occasionally I get an upset stomach, a couple of Tums or a dose of Pepto Bismol does the trick.
(If you, or anyone you know suffer from stomach problems like I had, please talk to your doctor about H-Pylori bacteria.  The treatment is much simpler now and the relief is worth it.)
As for strep throats, I still get sore, raw ones, but so far I’ve not seen any tell-tale white dots on my tonsils and the only fever I get is a hormonal rage that happens at about 9:30 every night.
I’m sparing you the details of my other medical issue – u.t.i.s  and y.i. s (Ladies, e-mail me if you want some info on home remedies that really work and do yourself a favour, don’t take any sort of penicillin or buy over-the-counter inserts or creams– you’re only going to make things worse).
I guess relatively speaking in the medical journals, I’ve gotten off lightly thus far.  I’m trying to keep it that way.

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

Sex and the Kitty (Kat)

sexyb

(*hysterical laughter*)

My good friend Linda at Linda and her Twaddle (she’s from Oz and uses weird words all the time) is, as the Brits say, “Taking the Mick” with me today.  She’s passing along the Sexy Blogger Award. (I know! What is she thinking!”) Oh, and you’ve got to read HER post on this because it is so funny! Can I tempt you with these teasers: cakes, erotica, sousaphone?

(In case you wonder why I periodically lapse into Britspeak, it’s because I am a  Coronation Street addict and I love some of the phrases and colloquialisms that Brits have, so every once in a while I throw them in when I deem appropriate.)

Anyway, back to this award.

I find it hilarious that anyone would even equate me with this word, but I’ll have to root around and see if I can come up with something to substantiate her claim. Linda claims I am oozing sexiness just by virtue of being a poet. Interesting theory.

Let’s see what evidence we’ve got:

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I have a very sexy couch in my living room – all throws and comforters and furry pillows (ignore the volcano-like thing in the background…scratching post – not sexy.) It’s a bit messy, but the cats love it like that.

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Here’s a sexy bathing suit I bought last summer.  I have yet to wear it, since I don’t like getting wet (except in the shower, of course).

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Ooh! My super sexy cat pajamas! (My negligee is in the delicates wash right now. Sorry.)

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I have this sexy poetry book on my shelf, but if I’m honest, I haven’t opened it more than once.

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I DO wear sexy perfume: the one on the right is Gwen Stefani’s Lamb which I love, but it’s getting warmer now and I don’t want to attract wasps.  The one on the left was sent to me by a Danish magazine in thanks for a poem I submitted called, “Days of Hygge”. It’s French. Ooh la la!

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Okay. Now we’re talkin!  I love the sexy Italian food and music from David Rocca’s (and he’s pretty sexy himself) Dolce Vita cooking in Italy series.

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I wear these sexy oven mitts when I cook. Aren’t they HOT? (They are in a 450 degree oven!)

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I drink wine out of this sexy glass (only once a year though because I’m so afraid of breaking it).  If I do use it, as soon as I’m done, I rinse it out with hot water, wipe with a paper towel and put it back in the cabinet where it’s safe.

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I drink this sexy cherry liquer from Denmark (only at Christmastime), but it’s a sexy bottle, isn’t it?

Well, that’s all I could find.  Sexy is not the word that springs to mind when I think of myself. Quirky, eccentric, eclectic, unusual, childlike…these are the words that I think better describe me.

Now, I challenge Jeanelle of Midlife by Farmlight,Hazel at Clever Pup and TFE at Totalfeckineejit, Lenore at Lenorenevermore, Sallymandy at The Blue Kimono.  Pick up your award and get your Sexy on! Yeah!

Movie Roles that Rocked

 

As always, Willow of Willow Manor comes up with some of the best memes around.  She is well aware of my weakness for anything to do with film and so it should come as no surprise that I found it impossible to resist her invitation to “pinch” this one that was originally at All I Need is  Everything.

The task was to list your “Ten Favourite Movie Characters”.  I took my cue from Willow and did a dozen.  I will save some for another post since this proved to be excellent good fun. I also followed Willow’s example and added some fitting quotes to give you an idea why these characters are so memorable. 

Feel free to post your own worthy selection.

Ladies and Gentlemen, herewith,  I present my choices:

 

Withnail – Richard E. Grant  (Withnail & I)

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“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.”

 

Tevye – Topol (Fiddler on the Roof)

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“Well, for a woman who has been dead for thirty years she looked very good.”

 

Maximus – Russell Crowe (Gladiator)

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“At my signal, unleash hell.”

 

King Mongkut of Siam – Yul Brynner (The King and I)

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“But…Is a puzzlement!”

 

Colonel  Nicholson – Sir Alec Guinness (Bridge on the River Kwai)

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“I suppose if I were you… I’d have to kill myself.”

 

Frank – Henry Fonda  (Once Upon a Time in the West)

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“People scare better when they’re dying.”

 

Cecil Vyse – Daniel Day Lewis (A Room With a View)

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“You must forgive me if I say stupid things. My brain has gone to pieces.”

 

Gigi – Leslie Caron (Gigi)

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“With all the talk there is about you, Gaston, I’ve never heard it said you had any taste in clothes.”

 

Eliza Doolittle – Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady)

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“Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin’ arse!”

 

Charlotte Bartlett – Maggie Smith ( A Room With a View)

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“We all have our little foibles, and mine is the prompt settling of accounts.”

 

Margo Channing – Bette Davis (All About Eve)

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“I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.”

 

Vivian Rutledge – Lauren Bacall  (The Big Sleep)

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“So you do get up, I was beginning to think you worked in bed like Marcel Proust.”

Theme Thursday: Fire!

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A Small Fire

I am aflame
With desire
Or I was once
You haven’t changed
Much
Nor I, really
It’s just not
The all-consuming
Conflagration
It once was.
Instead,
We’re satisfied
With the familiar flicker
Of embers
Under the grate
No tongues
Lick
No kindling
Cracks
Or spits
We’re a couple
Of old dogs
Groaning
In the glow
Of the furnace.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009


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These are not my dogs. Please click picture above for source.

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