Otra decima (and some digging in the past)

If anyone’s wondering what’s happened to me, the answer is: Ancestry.ca!  Thanks to the Sepia Saturday phenomenon, I’ve been drawn into the magical, amazing and addictive (not to mention pricey) world of genealogy.  I’ve spent the last few days delving into my family history (at least on my mother’s side — my father’s is a huge gaping hole at the minute, since my grandfather and grandmother cannot be found anywhere in the records I’ve searched so far).  It turns out, that on my mother’s side through the matriarchal line, I am the descendant of a Micmac Indian chief and a great, long line of French-Canadians.  On the patriarchal side, I’m mostly Scots (still working on them).
The good news is, my mother has discovered a couple of missing photos of her father’s father’s family and I will have access to them for this weekend’s SS post.  (My research has filled in the blanks on their names and ages. Yes!)
This has provided a well-needed respite from the close working with my poetry to get my book manuscript ready for publishing.  I’ve had to allow for a bit of a delay since Kevin is my format-expert and editor and he’s tied up with three tax returns that are due at the end of the month. My goal for actual availability of the book is May 31. (Fingers crossed!)
Yesterday, I had a very nice comment from Terresa Wellborn of The Chocolate Chip Waffle blog on my Totemic poem (below).  She invited me to participate in a Spring-themed poetry contest and I had this poem (decima) on a scrap of paper from where I had been working with it a couple of weeks ago.  Hope you like it!


I hear the robin, sweet and strong;
Early, he comes, each morning—
Sending out his cheery warning.
Sweet, it repeats, so loud and long;
I measure time by sunrise song,
That comes as I lie in my bed;
Its echoes float high, overhead.
Fast as it comes, it is finished;
The signal of spring, undiminished;
How many more songs ’til I’m dead?

Kat Mortensen©2010 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker


Sepia Saturday #20 – All aboard!


Handsome Devil Comes to Canada

This is a photo of my dad, Bill Davison on board the S.S. Atlantic cruise ship en route from Southampton, England to Quebec City, Canada in 1953. This journey was to mark the beginning of his new life in Ontario, Canada. He would return to the UK on one occasion in 1977, but would never again see his home city of Belfast, Ireland.


I’ve been doing some research on this particular ship and it has proved quite fascinating. There is a fair bit of information on this cruise ship due largely to the fact that one of the waiters in the Fifties ended up as a well-reputed chef who owned and operated the famous restaurant “Le Cirque” in New York City. A website devoted to the history of ships has a section devoted to the proprietor, Sirio Maccioni and even includes a YouTube video of an Italian film that features the ship in its later incarnation as the S.S. Queen Frederica. It was really strange to watch the film clip and see the decks where my father once trod while making his way to Canada.

The S.S. Atlantic began life as the S.S. Malolo in 1926 , making trips mainly to the Hawaiian islands. In 1937 she was rebuilt and relaunched as the Matsonia, sailing between San Francisco and Honolulu until 1941. She was converted to a troop-ship and was set to head for the Phillipines, but the invasion of Pearl Harbor forced her to turn back. She was used primarily as a troop and weaponry carrier for the duration of the war and then was decomissioned in 1946, and it is estimated that she transported over 176,000 persons, troops, war brides and civilians.

S.S. Matsonia was eventually sold to the Mediterranean Line ( a Panamanian subsidiary of the Home Lines) and was renamed the S.S. Atlantic. She was refitted at Genoa, Italy, departed on May 14, 1949 for her maiden voyage to New York City via Naples and Barcelona. This would have been where the restaurateur came into the picture – signing on as a waiter in the early 50s.

The back of the photo of my father above indicates that his trip was in Mid-May, 1953. This ties in with the recorded information which states that the Atlantic ran voyages after 1952 between Southampton, England and Canada.

In January, 1955, the Atlantic was tranferred to the National Hellenic Line (out of Greece). Am I the only one who thinks these ships really got around? It was renamed S.S. Vasilissa Friederiki for Queen Frederica. Only the English name ever appeared on her bow.

Below is another video I discovered on YouTube under “Queen Frederica”. Coincidentally, it was made the year that I was born. It is the family trip of John Sooklaris filmed in 1961. Amazing!

This prestigious ship made many more cruise voyages until well into the 1970s, when she was towed to the breakers at Eleusis and ended in a much less-auspicious manner; she was ravaged by fire and her burnt out hull remained in the breakers yard for a number of years.

Please check in to the Sepia Saturday site for more fascinating photos and stories. Thanks!

For Earth Day





Once we stood

in trunks of wood,

Our cedar scarred,

for shame and show;

In colours loud,

we towered proud—

All spirits of

the winds that blow.


Now monoliths

of metal rise

In place of us,

vibrating wild;

Through cables cold,

their armature

Transmits its evil—

steel, un-mild.


Kat Mortensen©2010 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker

*Photo borrowed from Flickr.

The Poetry Bus Rides Again – With Pure Fiction


(Photo by Kat)

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, TFE’s Poetry Bus is setting sail, er, on the road once more. This time, Pure Fiction is at the helm and I’m not just a little “chuffed” as you, British/Scots/Irish are wont to say, that there are chocolate digestive biscuits on board. Yahoo!

She’s looking for a monumental spiritual event, and though I’m a believer, I can’t say as I’ve ever had one of those, so I’ll have to resort to a vicarious one. Here ya go!

Have I lost the plot completely? (Or just missed the bus?)


The female feline, ghostly white,

Gazes up at the swirl-swept ceiling.

Fills us with uneasy feeling;

What does she see—a wispy sprite?

There’s no one there, whom we’d invite.

I feel a chill run through each bone;

Blanche stands stock-still—a pale tombstone.

I find the spot, she’s fixed upon;

Was something there? For now, it’s gone.

Were we perhaps, too impolite?

Kat Mortensen©2010 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

On second thought, this might do nicely,



the smoke


spirals high

is subsumed

by the

streams of



that gleam

the path,
by which my
spirit may
choose to rise



with Yours

is revealed,



is once



Kat Mortensen©2010 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Sepia Saturday #19 – Smokin’!


Yours Truly, smoking her first ever (and last) cigar!  This photo was taken in 1995, not too long after Kevin and I were married.  He was working for Imperial Oil in Toronto and one of his work buddies was a big cigar-fan.  We went to dinner at his home and out came the cigars.  Never one to balk at a challenge, I took one in hand and smoked it – no problem!  I didn’t choke; nor did my eyes water, but the taste? Blech!!!

If you read last week’s Sepia Saturday entry, you’ll know that my husband’s “Farmor” (grandmother) recently passed away and she was fond of a drink of beer and a little cigar.  Well, I’m not a big fan of smoking in any form, but I don’t mind a good foreign brew and as many of you know, I do like a shot of Danish Aquavit every once in a while.

Sorry this is such a short post, but I’m still working on my manuscript for my upcoming  poetry volume, Shadowstalking.  See the post below for details.

Oh, and be sure to visit the Sepia Saturday blog where you’ll find links to all the folks who have far better offerings for you, with much more fascinating (and less self-centred) photos and stories.

Thanks for visiting!


P.S. I’ll be back on track soon with regular visits to all my friends and new posts with more historic photos.

A Sestina and a Poetry Book update.


(Possible cover art for my book – photo by Sarah Wallis and design by Kat)

The following poem is a new poem for my upcoming volume of poetry.  I wanted to write a sestina because it is a very challenging, classical form and I enjoy the play with words, but also the intricacies of the order of the words.  This is my second attempt at the sestina (see here for the first) and to make it even more difficult, I chose to make it rhyme in the manner of Charles Swinburne.

The book, “Shadowstalking” is almost ready for publishing.  After exhaustive editing, I have made my selections and have even met with a local printing house to discuss getting it made up.  Just this afternoon, I received notification from the Canadian  Government that my application for an ISBN has been approved.  Hurrah! I am now officially “Hyggehus Publishing”. Cool, eh?

I have been working with my friend, Sarah of the Circles of Rain blog and she has provided me with some excellent photos that I’ve doctored up (see above) to create an art piece that will adorn my cover.  I’m very excited!

As well, the lovely and talented, Eberle Umbach of the Platypuss-in-boots blog has been helping me with the process of determining the thread of my poetry and she has been of great assistance.

About a month ago, I ran a bit of a contest to see if people could give me  a hand in coming up with a title for the book.  Although I did not use exact words presented by anyone, I was definitely influenced by Elizabeth Rimmer of the Luchair and Burned Thumb blogs.  She advised me to make a list of the words that run through my poetry and take the top two to create a title.  I did end up taking two words, but then I changed one of them to a synonym that was both alliterative and ambiguous.  It was however, her initial idea that sparked the result, so she will be receiving a free copy of the book when it is available.

I am hopeful to have the link to where you can order “Shadowstalking” by the end of May, if not sooner.  Please watch this space.



Sestina #2


I hope to live this life before I’m dead;

To leave my memory in happy light;

Though shadows filled with doom flit through my head,

I banish every one and they take flight.

There’s more to this than meets the eye, I’ve read;

There’d be no need for fear with second sight.


Not one of us has fate within plain sight;

We rule our days as if we won’t see dead;

Our time is beating fast, like birds in flight;

The ostrich, dumb will choose to hide his head.

Too bad it takes so long to see the light;

The ones before, like us, no signs they read.


The Greeks, their oracles at Delphi read,

And yet they rued some choices in hind-sight;

Take Caesar— missed the Ides and wound up dead;

No singing to his rest by angels’ flight.

Oh! That was Romeo, who lost his head;

In any case, they raged not ‘gainst the light.


Some claim near death they’ve seen the brightest light,

Not merely folks who think stars should be read;

I’d count this the reverse to “end in sight”;

A beacon shone the way, but they’re not dead.

No good in such a case to take your flight,

Or tell yourself it’s only in your head.


I wish sometimes these thoughts weren’t in my head,

And contrary to this, my load was light;

Instead, preoccupation with the dead,

I fight—not out of mind; not out of sight.

Perhaps it’s all those murder books I’ve read;

Can’t seem to make the demons, drab take flight.


We need to know when getting on that flight,

Our fears are real; they’re not just in the head;

If some authority snuffs out the light,

Let’s hope our faith was more than palms, well-read.

It’s true, from death we oft recoil on sight,

Unless we speak of dogs, just playing dead.


Here’s to the dead! No running in full flight;

The light’s still on, for us, so keep your head—

No epitaph to weep and read, in sight.


Kat Mortensen©2010 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker