Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Long Overdue... BLOG AWARDS!

Finally… I’m passing on the wonderfully affirming ‘Bloggy Awards’ that I have received in the last six months or so. There are many noteworthy bloggers that I visit regularly (and who stay connected with me) – just check out my blog list :) HOWEVER... in line with the ‘spirit’ of forwarding on blog awards... I have decided to keep it simple by nominating 5 blogs per each award! The bloggers I have passed on these awards to - through their blogs - have touched or affected my life in one or more of the following ways (since I started my blogging journey the autumn of 2007 - pre-empted by a devastating event in my personal life that year):- ... show a generosity in spirit ... keep it ‘raw and real’ ... ooze with individuality... are a fount of creativity (in words and images)... are a channel of inspiration ... and/or... provide a kool bloggy connection or friendship...

I take this opportunity to thank all those who stay connected with me... and to share some blogs that I regularly visit and enjoy on my bloggy journeys through the presentation of these awards. Please click on the highlighted names or blog titles to peruse their sites (and do excuse the inconsistency in colour coding).


The Best Blog Thinker Award… From Linda & Cynthia

“This award acknowledges the values that every blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.” I pass on to…

  1. Maithri at The Soaring Impulse
  2. Lilly at A Voice on Fleming Road
  3. Ken at Shaping Stones
  4. Christopher at Christopher’s Photos
  5. Paula at His Ways Are Not Our Ways
The Lemonade Award... From Rebecca, Grace and Tracy-Ann
"The Lemonade Award is for sites which show great attitude and/or gratitude!"
I pass on to…
  1. Michelle at Colour My World
  2. Christopher at View From the Northern Wall
  3. Calli at Within Shades of Grey Exist A Place
  4. Faith at Just Hawkweed on the Hill
  5. Melissa at Musings


Blogging Brings Us Closer Award… From Maithri

“This award recognizes connections and friendships that come about through blogging.” I pass on to…

  1. John at Smoke Rings and Matterings
  2. Annie at Creatively Written
  3. Dina at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photos
  4. Andrew at Rogues Retreat


The Zombie Chicken Award From John

“This award acknowledges bloggers who regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words.” I pass on to…

  1. Rebecca at Just a Thought
  2. Khaled at Khaled KEM
  3. Chuck at My Quirks & My Compass
  4. Cynthia at Epiphany: End Note
  5. Lilly at Lilly’s Life


[Awarded blogs... please feel free to do what you will with the said awards. As usual, I set no rules... but I wanted to share my appreciation of you and your blogs through this post :) Please copy award images from my side bar :) Thank you! ps apologies if I don’t manage to visit your blog and ask you to come collect your award before you spot it on this site.]

pss please do inform me if I've made an error with links, etc... this post has taken me forever to create (lol). I made a start when I got home at 10 pm this evening and it's almost 1 am (in the UK)... so, I'm sure I've made some mistakes somewhere... lol... anyway, do let me know... thanks!

Thursday, 16 April 2009


The kernel of inspiration for this short narrative is a photograph by Christoph at BW Photography (which he has given me permission to use and post… thank you, Christoph!) I do love his B&W photographs and although he hasn’t posted for a while his work is really worth having a look at! Many of you will have sussed that I do enjoy the visual arts very much… paintings, photographs, sculpture & architecture so, it was a real treat writing this story from a genre that gives me so much pleasure. I take this opportunity to acknowledge all the visually artistic blogs out there (especially those I visit regularly)... thank you so much for sharing your 'light and creativity' with the blogging community! [Well, as with all my work on this blog this remains a WIP]. Hope you enjoy the read!


There is a certain cruelty in the cycle of the rising and setting sun which forges on irrespective of circumstance or tragedy. Perhaps if Mother Earth would weep with me I might find comfort in her tears. But she persists in her rolling rhythms. Even on the day of my loss, the sun shone with autumnal song. There was not a speck of black or grey in the skies, no rumour of thunderstorm or gale. Nothing to warn me: of the arrival of the emptiness that was to become my nesting companion.

On the morning of the day, which will forever be laced with heartache, we went through the motions of our Saturday routine. After breakfast, I slipped on a pair of yellow plastic gloves and made a start on the cleaning; scrubbing every inch of the bathroom and kitchen. I remember he commented on how the house ‘stank to high heaven of Dettol and bleach’ before he disappeared to potter in the garden. I remember being cross at the fact that he’d ruined a load of washing the night before; all our whites stained, a sepia hue. Once the cleaning was done, I hung the disasters out in the yard, muttered several obnoxious comments in the direction of his auburn curls, and returned indoors to make a start on the ironing. I remember I spent a good hour doing the ironing (mainly his work shirts) because we’d agreed to go to Cannon Hill Park in the afternoon. That morning, I’d been interrupted by two phone calls. The first was from our neighbour, Alice, who asked about borrowing the lawnmower. The other was my mother checking to see if we’d still be coming over to lunch the next day. It’s funny what I remember of the day which changed the course of all my tomorrows.

We cycled to the park. I trailed behind him keeping an eye on the guitar strapped to his broad back. He always took the lead in this way, like the time we hiked up Snowdon and he’d led the group from the front. And whenever we planned trips abroad, he’d take charge and make all the necessary arrangements – organising the passports, and the hotels we’d stay in. He hated the all-inclusive package holidays and preferred the pick-n-mix approach – ‘we need to be in control of our destiny’ he’d often say. After turning left at the roundabout, he pulled to the side of the pavement and waited for me to reach him before continuing. At the park (bikes in tow), we strolled over the bridge spanning over a small lake, paused momentarily to enjoy the sight of squawking ducks, and wandered the short distance to our usual spot. There, we settled under the large oak tree – engulfed by a collage of yellow, red and brown; the tide of changing season. I threw the rug he’d bought on a trip to Brazil on a patch of grass. He emptied the picnic basket: ham slices, pickle, a baguette, yoghurts, orange juice, strawberries and cream (we’d picked up from Tesco during a late night shop the previous evening). After lunch, we fed each other strawberries and cream. I giggled as he missed my lips and splattered cream on my cheek. He kissed it off. ‘Tasha, I must get a picture of you like this,’ he whispered, reaching across to collect our camera from the rucksack. As I lay flat on my back – spread like a windmill – he took a snap. Then a succession of poses: on my belly, chin supported on my knuckles; peering round from behind a tree; looking away from the camera into the distance allowing my gaze to take in Birmingham’s sky rises. They towered and surrounded the park like silent guards. He came over and tickled me – shattering the stillness of my pose. I tried to wrestle him off but he didn’t stop until I gave up in a heap of exhausted giggles. It was then he decided to strum his guitar while I withdrew into my Alice Munro book, the short story collection I’d been reading at the time. That’s how we were – Morten sat with his back leaning against the tree while I lay with my head cushioned on his lap – until the afternoon glow flickered and began to wane.

This is the last memory we shared. Even now I wish I could remember the songs he played on his guitar that day. Beatles or Bruce Springsteen? I can’t be sure. When we got home just after six or so, he left me to unpack our load, gave me a quick peck and said, ‘Sweetheart, I’m just popping across to the Newsagents to get the paper.’ That would have been our evening. I’d spend time fixing dinner while he’d catch up with the day’s news. I’d planned on preparing some lasagne or maybe it was cannelloni? It didn’t matter in the end… because he never came back.

Like a comet streaking the skies in an unexpected flash – he was there one minute and gone the next. Twenty-four hours later, I notified the police. Then a blur of conversation: ‘Did he leave a note?’ ‘No, no – he didn’t leave a note’ ‘Did you have a row?’ ‘Nothing major - I was upset about the laundry this morning but we didn't row about it...’ ‘Was he depressed?’ ‘No, he wasn’t depressed – stressed with his job but who isn’t?’ ‘Is this out of character?’ ‘Yes, very much so…’ ‘Has he ever run off before?’ ‘Run off? No – no, he’s never run off before…’ ‘Is it possible that he is just timing out?’ ‘Without telling me? No – no, this is just not like him…’. In the events that followed: the police report, the search, the investigation, it was as if some deity had pressed the pause button on my world. My family, his family, and our friends all said that he’d be back but intuitively I knew he was lost to me forever.

In the first few weeks after his disappearance I carried on with the business of living. A part of me willed him to find his way home, but he never did. The sadness and unanswered prayers became lingering ghosts in his absence. As the days and weeks ticked on, with the cyclic tempo of dusk to dawn, I had to accept he was gone – for good.

Six months passed before I began to sort his things. I couldn’t bring myself to donate any of his belongings to charity so I boxed them up and hauled them into the cellar with the help of my sister and a friend. I don’t think I could have got through it without their support. With each item I packed away, I buried any future I might have had with Morten. I shed silent tears for all the dreams we’d had. The wedding we’d planned for the summer; the child we’d never adopt; the trip to Singapore we’d chatted about… The only item I kept was his guitar. It stood – a sombre shadow in the corner of the room we'd shared for six years. It was the only thing knitting the memories we’d created. I remember how we first met when he was playing at a concert in a Custard Factory venue. From the moment I spotted him on stage, he captivated me. There was something about him; his reddish hair caught in a ponytail; and the intensity in his pale eyes that would occasionally close as he vanished into another world fashioned by acoustic melody. It was during the interval that I’d finally plucked up the courage to say ‘hi’. He’d looked up and smiled, that lazy smile I fell in love with. That is how we’d started. Now, with his laughter gone, all I had to comfort me was the anthem of his soundless guitar.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Lovely Sunday surprise...

I am totally chuffed that Khaled at Khaled KEM has showcased a new 'Untitled' poem that I posted on my site (although revised) on his blog. He is a gifted poet and one of his recent poems 'I love you' is a favourite of mine. But this month due to his graduate study commitments he has decided in his own words to: “...Since April is National Poetry month here's my plan: I will post daily a poem, from the most well known of poets to the newest and freshest of poets, as well as selected poetry of my friends...”. A poem I’ve thoroughly enjoyed from his April showcase is 'Home Street' by Gary Hyland. Do visit his blog and have a browse through an eclectic selection of his own poems and those of many others. Hope you enjoy the read!

Happy Easter Sunday!

Friday, 10 April 2009

TAG: '15 Influences'

It’s long overdue (as with forwarding on AWARDS which I must do soon) but I’m pulling my finger out to respond this TAG by a fellow blogger LINDA S at Psyche Connections whose '25 Influences' list is an interesting read. Do pop in and have a peek! Well, in making this task manageable I’ve decided to include primarily people/things/places I can think of as I write this post up who have, and/or continue, to influence my life in some significant way (consciously or subconsciously) – be it my thought patterns, life interactions and lifestyle, or have added some knowledge or understanding on how I choose to view the world. I begin with this preamble because there are countless of encounters; people (individuals, personal friends, strangers, poets, authors, etc); books; artwork; and films that add some nugget of wisdom to my life which go beyond the scope of this list. So I’m going to be very strict with this list. It has been really fun reflecting on who and what influences my life...

1. The Bible: As a Christian (albeit one that struggles terribly with her faith) I cannot deny the fact that the Christian faith (God, Jesus and the Bible) – indeed Christianity and all its precepts (strands espoused by the Anglican, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Methodist and even the Baptist) have influenced my life (both positively and negatively) in the sense of the person that I am today. I think I do try to adhere to the moral code of the bible e.g. its ideas on love and forgiveness... so in that sense it influences my life and worldview significantly.

2. Corrie ten Boom: Her childlike faith – inspires me to seek that deeper ‘trust’ relationship with God in my faith journey.

3. Anne Frank: Her courageous spirit – reminds me that even when life boxes us in, it is still worth fighting for. And she always reminds me of that haunting Martin Niemoller poem ‘First they came for me...’ and it encourages me to always be observant of what’s going on in the world around me --- and to act on the behalf of others when appropriate.

4. Simone de Beauvoir: Her courage in her faith journey – where she moved away from a religious (Catholic) background to a place where she could say: ‘God has ceased to exist for me’ – gives me the impetus to ‘find my way’ through my faith journey (as a Christian). There’s something very courageous about finding one’s spiritual self – coming to that point of realisation and revelation and be able to say, this ‘spirituality or non-spirituality' (however one chooses to define it) is what works for me.

5. Nelson Mandela: His sacrificial courage – reminds me each day that ‘sacrifice’ for the sake of change is a choice available to me. I can choose to be the difference in someone else’s life!

6. Edwin Cameron: His courage and exceptional work (as a judge) in the work of hiv/aids – fuels my ambition to engage with, and contribute to the work of hiv/aids nationally and globally.

7. Robert Frost’s ‘Road less travelled’: This poem daily encourages me not to opt the ‘easy option’ i.e. the route of less hassle, or less pain...

8. Kate Winslet: A fab actress... she inspires me to be the best that I can be in my writing craft. Funny that!

9. Yvonne A: A very good friend of mine from Ghana, we grew up in Israel together and remained close when we were both studying in the US. She was in Maryland and I in Virginia – but we’d meet up regularly and hit the nightclubs together. She died almost two years ago during childbirth (aged 34). She was such a vivacious person and her life and death inspires me to ‘live life to the full’.

10. Abba: They gave me music. Whenever I hear Abba playing my whole spirit begins to dance (lol).

11. Damien Rice: His music makes love to my soul every time I listen to him. And, in turn he inspires me to create/make love around me.

12. Enid Blyton: She gave me the possibility to imagine and dream up fictional worlds.

13. Jerusalem: It gave me a ‘point of reference’. Everything that I am today emerges out of my upbringing in Israel. It opened up my world and gave me an interest in interfaith dialogue.

14. Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Anthon Chekhov, James Joyce (among countless other authors and poets, published and unpublished): They all inspire my short story and poetry writing.

15. The Blogging Community: Gives me purpose and inspires daily to engage with the conversation and dance that is LIFE.

I hate rules and tend to break them (tsk!)... so in passing this TAG on... anyone who reads or follows this blog is welcome to participate in this TAG. To those that I TAG specifically (and others who choose to join in)... I have no rules... even though it’s meant to be '25 Influences’ it doesn’t have to be (as per me)... feel free to play or not... and feel free to pass the TAG on or not. So the people I’ll tag are:-

John at Smoke Rings & Matterings

Lillian J at A Voice on Fleming Road

Andrew (Rogue) at Rogues Retreat

Annie (Strawberry Girl) at Creatively Written

Rebecca at Just a Thought

Matthew at Wasteland of Words

Judith at The Being Brand

Thanks all for reading, commenting and playing along (if you do)! It's a lovely way of getting to know a bit more about me and hopefully others too :)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Poem: Untitled

Today a swell of speckled-grey
stopped me dead in my track,
a pigeon rolled like a lump of dough
caught between a narrow crack.
ow it met its end I’ll never know –
and yet its silent song
brought to mind forbidden love
beckoning from a world beyond.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 3 April 2009

Poem: Eternal Silence

To think that one day I will not feel
the sun’s rays kiss my skin as spring beckons
the bluebells and honeysuckles in
to droop and arch in bell and lantern shapes

while under my feet the crackle
of twigs against earth disturb
a blackbird with an orange
beak; it warbles and tweets a sanguine

tune as it skips off its perch on a bark
up high. I close my eyes and recall
with a sigh the kite I flew when I was eight
running through a narrow graveyard gate...

To think that one day I will not raise
my hands in midair and twirl in a circle
without a care, breathing in the smell
of freshly-cut grass, or admire the dimpled face

of a child peppered with freckles
while he suckles on a popsicle, or of the twins
lolling on swings in the village green; their glee
merging with the natter of mothers and passersby...

To think that one day I will not share a laugh
nor a tear with a friend or more:
over love and loss, or a disgruntled boss,
the missed flight last summer, the lasagne gone sour,

the parking fine, the baby I always dreamt of having –
as the years drift like blossoms fluttering off a tree
these images and sounds will one day cease, become a fibre
of fiction woven in the flesh of an eternal silence.

Catherine Mark

I came across a great quote today and thought I’d share it with you (I’m dipping into a wonderful collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov, 'About Love & Other Stories' (translated by Rosamund Bartlett)): “...Everything is beautiful in this earth, everything that is, except what we think and do when we forget about the higher purpose of existence and about our human dignity.” (Checkhov, The Lady with the Little Dog).