Grandad

We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
Still,
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Like this piece? Here’s a sweeter take on my Irish heritage. HUM

And thisSPUDS

 

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Grandad

We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
Still,
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Hum

In my head,
the father’s mother’s father (long-dead)
is playing a tune—a runic melody;
it tumbles o’er the hills and out to sea,
to rise above the atmospheric scum,
becoming part of the universal hum—
for all eternity.

Modernity—
has stolen snatches;
scratches and squeals reel against the strings—
my heart sings.

I know my fingers would fumble with the rosined bow,
but my toes involuntarily tap.
My soul wraps the sound round,
and round me like the winds that whirl;
they skirl up the Mournes.

We hum.

Kat Mortensen©2011

Sins Of The Fathers

We heard all the stories about them: the violence, the drink,
the philandering—

How the same sweet hand that stroked the dog so tenderly,
could turn and beat the tar out of her children.

Who are we to judge?

What do we know of roofs—leaking, buggy beds,
and pans of piss, emptied outside the back door?

We grew up in our window-boxed, cookie-cutter houses,
rugged and fitted out with the latest from American Standard.

She raised them, by hand, in a few dim rooms—
firing soda farls, boiling lbs. of spuds to keep the baker’s dozen fed.

Where was her man? Off making pot-to-piss-in money—
pissing it away in the pub, come payday.

Same old story. Knock on any door in the neighbourhood.

Sure, they tried to make a go of it, but making baby after baby happened instead.
Potential: dead, from the get-go.

Too many blockades.

Potential? What the hell is that? You’re born. You work. You die.

Family is all you’ve got. That, and the hope that one day,
your descendants will acquit you.

Kat Mortensen©2012

Home Sweet Thrifty Home

I live in quite a nice house in a small town in the country, but I am not rich, by any means.  Being able to own this house is largely due to inheriting a bit of money when my father died in 2008.  He was not a wealthy man either, but the sale of my parents’ home in a fairly large city resulted in this circumstance.

Thing is, if I were not the “thrifty” person I am, I would have nothing in my house at all!  I would say that 85 per cent of what we own came from either Goodwill, The Salvation Army or The Saint Vincent de Paul.  I’m not joking!

My dishes are all thrift store finds; our clothing is about 90% thrift-purchased, almost all of our home decor items are from thrift stores and even our musical entertainment came from foraging in bins of cds.  Without thrift stores, we would be very cold in very large and silent, empty rooms!

I wouldn’t change a thing!  The thrift store excursion has come to be integral to my very existence!  The bonus, of course, is that I save money to put into other very important purchases, like FOOD! (See my other blog, “Kat Can Cook” for details).

Here are a few of the eclectic items around my home, that came from charity shop hopping:

A Danish piece –  small Royal Copenhagen  plate that features the Little Mermaid.
I believe we paid $1.50 for it.
Bing and Grondahl Mother’s Day Plate – I got this at the Mission Thrift Store for a dollar!
I love this one! It is painted on burlap and glued to a board.  It hangs in my bathroom and  reminds me that the
Danes  had a hand in founding Ireland too!

Viking stuff is big in our house since
My husband’s father is Danish.
This plaque sits on our piano (where the sheet music would go).
I think this came from The Generations Thrift Store and was about $3.00.

Now some clever people might take these items and put them on e-bay and sell them at profit.  The problem is, I just love them too much and can’t part with them!
Are you a thrift-fanatic like me? Leave a comment and tell me of your favourite “find”.
And join me next time when I go off on another hunt …
Kat
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120 Socks is driving the Bus. LOOK OUT!

I haven’t been on the bus for a couple of weeks – just haven’t got the creative flow at the moment, but then along comes Socks and puts out a prompt that really strikes a chord with me. 
I’ve been doing a great deal of family research lately and that always gets me emotional.  I feel I’ve missed opportunities in the past to find out things about my ancestors.  I’ve been to Ireland and even Northern Ireland, but at the time, I was either a teenager tagging along with my parents, or a newly-wed, with anything but ancestry on her mind.
I’ve been to Nova Scotia countless times, but I have not once thought to look up my ancestors or even visit a grave!  I am kicking myself now.

I do hope to remedy this situation, but in the meantime the only way to get my emotions released and dealt with is to write poetry.  Socks’s prompt is ideal for me at this time.

Make sure you visit her blog  120 Socks (which is superb in its own right) to check out all the other Poetry Bus riders. The prompt can be found there as well.

Here’s my highly cathartic poem stemming from the phrase, “The last time I was there…”

UP HOME

It was twenty odd years ago, the last time I was there;

Rooms smelled of old knitting; the skinny cat was sitting on the piano bench—

The last time I was there.

Pictures in wood frames of people whose names I was told, but can’t recall;

Grand dames and old flames and uncle James on dusty shelves—

The last time I was there.

Three dear ladies were there, in printed dresses, their silvery tresses

Tucked behind ears—an auburn wig askew; I snapped a photo or two—

The last time I was there.

Spindly hands filled bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with fresh strawberry jam

There was spilled tea on the parlour table—

The last time I was there.

Tiger-lilies towered at the drive’s edge, peonies and pea-flowers

blew in buzzy trellised bowers—

The last time I was there.

Hearing aids hissed; dry lips kissed my cheeks goodbye, and I never thought

How they would all be missed—

The next time I’d be there.

Kat Mortensen©2011

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Sepia Saturday #23 – The Sorority

 

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These are my dad’s five sisters.  I am fortunate to have met every one of them and to have even spent real quality time with two of them.  (At this point, I refer to my family tree on Ancestry.ca….being very careful not to get caught up in what’s new on my home page or else this post will never get done!)

I can see a little of myself in all five of these women.

 

The back of the photo has an inscription that reads:

“In case we have all changed beyond recognition the order is as follows:-

Top from left – Jane (Girlie), Rona   Bottom from left – Betty, Mary, Jo

Mary (b. 1919 is still alive, but sadly has dementia.  She is the only one who remained in Belfast, Ireland).

Rona (Veronica, b. 1921, died in Essex, England in 2002)

Betty (Elizabeth, b. 1923, is alive and living on the Isle of Wight with my cousin, Jerome)

Jo (Josephine, b. 1926, is alive, but afflicted with Alzheimer’s. She is in care in Portsmouth, England).

Jane (b. 1930, is alive and retired to the coast of Spain.  She lived most of her adult life with her husband Ernest, in Surrey, and then Devon, England.)

 

I believe, judging by the clothing, that this photo was taken in the 1960s. I love this picture because they all look to be having a grand old time, don’t they?  My Auntie Betty, particularly is laughing in her characteristically hearty manner and Josie, well, doesn’t she look just so sophisticated with the angle of her head and the way she holds her cigarette?  I like that Jane has her hands on Betty’s shoulders and Rona has hers on Josie’s in a comfortable and relaxed manner. They do like sisters.

I never really got to know my oldest Irish aunt, Mary.  We met once when I was 16, but unfortunately, I didn’t come off too well in her books because I wasn’t anxious to share a twin bed with someone at my aunt’s house. Oh well. I recall her being a rather hot-headed woman with a heck of a northern Irish accent. She and my dad were never really close (at least they weren’t after that visit).

My aunt, Josie is the wonderful person who sent my lovely orange and white teddy bear when I was 6 months old and I’ll be forever grateful for that gift.  When I was in Portsmouth back in the early 90s, I encouraged a reconciliation between my aunts, Betty and Josie, who were living only a few moments away from each other, but for some reason, hadn’t spoken in years.  I made my aunt Betty come with me to visit Josie, and they got over their differences.  In her later years, Josie seemed a charming and friendly lady – rather like Emily Bishop on Coronation Street

Aunt Rona always struck me as rather exotic in a Sarah Bernhardt kind of way.  When I met her in 1977, she wore rather Bohemian outfits and scarves which I thought were fabulous.  I’m pleased that I had a chance to visit with her back in the 90s at my aunt Jane’s house, in Devon, before she passed away.  She was a fun and vibrant woman.

Speaking of Jane, she and her husband, Ernest were so good to me when I visited them.  They not only fed me and took me to pubs and local inns and such, they took me on a wonderful car-trip to Cornwall where we stayed in lovely B&Bs and took in all the sights.  It was a trip I shall always remember. Jane is a mean cook and she loves to laugh. Those are just a couple of things I love about her.

My auntie Betty, as you can see in the photo, is someone with a good heart and a grand sense of humour.  I recall staying at her row-house in Portsmouth and having the best time – playing Trivial Pursuit, dancing and singing in the front room and eating take-away curry and chips! What could be better? My auntie Betty is the soul of generosity and she has a faith that will surely take her to heaven.

Now that my dad is gone, and some of my aunts are deceased, ill or getting elderly, I know it is doubtful I will see them again.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet them all and spend some precious time with them. I hope they felt the same way.

 

OOPS! Almost forgot – Hie thee yonder to ye old Sepia Saturday where you’ll find others who are celebrating their families in fotos.  You just might want to jump on board.