Wednesday, 29 June 2016

love our style*

I was listening to a Thinking Allowed podcast the other day, and they were talking about  a recent paper entitled 'Shop With Mother' by Katherine Appleford of Kingston university, all about how mothers transmit their attitudes to clothes to their daughters.  There's lots of stuff in there about class (apparently working class people are more 'on trend' than middle class people... and more willing to be seen in sportswear when not actually doing sport).

Not sure what I love most - the Burns
quote or the stompy boots...
It made me think about my Mum, a chiropodist from a Happy Family of chiropodists - her brother, and her mum had both tended to feet for a living (her dad was a nurse). She had a horror of my damaging my feet with high heels and pointy shoes. 

I rebelled once. 

She looked at the offending shoes and said, witheringly, "and you, the chiropodist's daughter", which had a distinct whiff of 'no better than she ought to be'. 

I didn't wear them again.

I don't like high heels now. Now, when I'm old enough to make my own decisions. I think they look silly, and sore. 

My girls are just little, but they have been given play clip-clop shoes (not from me), and loved parading about in them. 

I hated the fact that they were hobbling themselves. I want my girls to be running around and having fun (this may be why the shoes have mysteriously disappeared).
When my children are older, I want them to be out there, grabbing life by the scruff of its neck.  Not crippled wallflowers, waiting to be asked to dance. The shoe thing seems to be transmitting down, with the kids commenting on how Barbie needs some better shoes so she can run about, although I suspect Miss 8 will have a collection of heels (to go with her awesome dresses and swishy hair) when she's older. Perhaps she's taking after my gorgous little sister, who loves a high heel.

My Mum was also of the opinion, when I was a teen, that while it was OK to make a scarf into an incredibly short skirt, and wear it, said skirt should be worn with an underskirt if see-through.  

Clearly, I didn't let that worry me. I thought an underskirt would look silly, so I just tried to ensure my tights didn't have holes in... If only leggings had been invented back then! 

But I didn't only wear inappropriate short skirts. I also raided my mother's wardrobe. She made her own fabulous clothes (see below) and I'd have been mad not to. My Dad tells me that she made herself a more psychedlic skirt, and him a matching jacket in 1967, and when he was DJing at UMIST it flouresced under the UV lights. 

So I adopted my Mum's hippy look (as well as Goth/Cloggy/Grebo/Rocker looks - why stick with one?).

My Mum, in Salt Lake City in 1967. Picture from my Dad. Mum had also made a matching jacket.

Me, and my friend, Nathan, at Glastonbury in 1994.
I'm wearing a jumper my Mum knitted (for herself) from a Kaffe Fassett pattern in 1982, a charity shop hippy skirt, and purple docs (flat heels).
So now I'm a Mum, what ideas am I passing on/inflicting on my girls (apart from the heels thing)?  

Well, I don't like pink, or Disney princesses (the old ones anyway), or leggings worn as trousers.  

I have been over-ruled on all of the above and have given up moaning about it. Besides which, the kids rock pink.

I don't like too-short skirts, or things that say 'princess' or 'cute'.  

Neither do they.

I also don't believe in buying uneccesary things, and my girls are lucky enough to have a big cousin who passes clothes down to them, so the pool they are choosing from (and their clothes are their choice at the end beginning of the day) is not entirely of my own making. That said there's some  beautiful things they won't wear, and so very many pairs of leggings worn as trousers. 

Miss 8 loves classic styles, and a bit of tailoring, and has a little bit of Goth in her from time to time.  The girl can put together an outfit.  She also REALLY loves her boots.

Miss 5 loves a bit of quirky style, she's the one who insisted on mismatched wellies for about a year.

And the boy? He's getting his own sense of style, and it's becoming more important to him. He likes a lot of black, dislikes shorts, and loves a hat. The boy is incredibly cool. 

I like it that the kids won't just wear what I want them to wear. That they can sometimes choose to be my little darklings, but also be bright and glorious. They like it when I'm quirky too, because everyone needs to have something about them, right?

Soon my tall daughter will overtake her cousin and she'll need to get more things first hand (or from charity shops, which we love). Whatever she chooses, it won't be what her little sister wants handed down!

What about you?  Did your Mum offer any sartorial advice?  Can you see your Mum's influence in what you wear?  How are you influencing your children? 

*this is a reworking of a post originally published in June 2013

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

love green hair

Me with particularly good green hair. I can't remember the
hair dye, although given its smooth shinyness I'm guessing
my fabulous hairdresser was involved, so Elumen hair dye.
I don't just love writing. I love my green hair too, although keeping it that way is a problem. So I've gone on a massive research campaign and come up with loads of green hair dye options to try at home (sorry Grace (my hairdresser), I just can't afford to see you as much as I'd need to).

My plan is to get the dye and track how it goes so I can work out the best combination for me, and if you are thinking of going green it could help you too!

Here's what I've found out so far. I've tried some before, but not in an organised fashion. That's why I'm planning on mixing up Directions colours. Once I've tried a few others I might try mixing them too.

Most of the colours shown when you look up the dyes are for if you use them on bleached hair, same for the time until they wash out, but I'm not going to bleach my hair, so I'm going to find out for myself!

Colours to try (prices on Amazon 19/6/16)

Please note, I've put the best price that initially came up when I searched on Amazon beside the colour, and if I ended up paying a different price I've crossed out that initial price and put the final price, including postage. I didn't order any on Prime (although I will if that's cheaper in future).

Crazy Colour - Emerald Green £4.08
                  - Pine Green £3.89 £3.24
Special Effects - Iguana Green - ridiculously expensive £40+ in UK so not trying
                       - Sonic Green
Manic Panic - Venus Envy £7.89
                  - Enchanted Forest £7.90
                  - Green Envy £9.90
Manic Panic Amplified - Green Envy £9.78
                                 - Enchanted Forest £12.12
Pravana - Green - ridiculously expensive in UK, not trying
Directions - Alpine Green £1.74 £2.75
                - mixture of Alpine and Apple Green (£1.74+£2.06 £2.74+£3.05)  £3.80 £5.79
Arctic Fox - Phantom Green £13.35

Do let me know if there's anything I've missed off the list!

Given the ridiculously cheap pricing, I'm going to start off with Directions dye, and then try Crazy Colour. Let's face it, if I can find something that works and is cheap, why look further? 

I'll show you how it looks when it's first done and then do weekly updates to see how it fades. I will also share how much it rubs off on my pillow, and what it does to my shower. I'll keep you updated here, and also on Instagram on the hashtag #howgreenmyhair.

Here we go!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Children came: A poetry post

I'm clearly having a bit of a Spenserian stanza moment, because here's another one! You have already had The flame so bright and Clematis dance, but I wanted to try it again for this poem inspired by something the Dalai Lama said:
Judge your success on what you had to give up in order to get it.
So the thing in my life that I have given up the most for is my children, my family. It's actually staggering how much I've given up when I try to itemise it, although high on the list was watching Columbo, and I guess I can learn to live with that. If you judge success by what you have to give up, then I suppose my children are my greatest success, so far. I'd best keep at it. 

Children came

I have forsaken acres wide of time.
I've given up on sex and sleep and rest.
I have quit smoking and I drink less wine.
No longer am I someone of interest.
I've given up on cosy sofa nests,
abandoned spur of moment trips away.
No clubbing now, no going dancing left,
but don't imagine that I rue the day.
Children came and truth be told I love things this way.

© Cara L McKee 18/6/16

Prose for Thought

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Clematis Dance: A poetry post

I had so much fun with the Spenserian Stanzas in my last poem, The Flame So Bright that I thought I'd have another go. The prompt from Sara at Mum Turned Mom this week was dance, and that, combined with my ongoing attempts to get clematis to grow in my garden (and hide my ugly fences), gave me the idea for this poem. If you're not familiar with the way that clematis and similar plants find where they'll grow, check out this gorgeous video on YouTube (I'm afraid I don't know whose is the original).

This poem has been selected for inclusion in Forward Poetry's anthology 'The Great British Write Off - Whispering Words', coming out this Autumn. You read it first, here.

Clematis Dance

Above the leaves a slender tendril lifts,
head bowed to listen all attentively.
Its neck is pale, and waiting on the gift
of music. Delicate it turns to see;
in rhythm with the spheres it twists slowly,
takes up the dance. The neck proceeds to grow.
The dance becomes a lashing, head spins free,
the body sways, the leaves brush hands below.
Caught up in music; will this dance not ever slow?

But stop. The long neck finds a place to rest;
a strong companion to depend upon.
It twines around and puts it to the test,
to rise and find the place where it belongs.
The body leaning in, the hold is strong.
This is a place the Clematis could own,
could sprinkle flowers and bring a new song,
with feet residing in cool, sheltered loam
and fingers stretched out to lay claim to this new home.

© Cara L McKee 18/6/16

There are two clematis in my garden now. They've both caught hold, but neither of them seems to be growing. I suspect they're not going to make it. The clematis in the picture are a neighbour's, and they are magnificent!


Saturday, 18 June 2016

The flame so bright: a poetry post.

Since I came across Edward Spenser's epic poem, The Faerie Queene recently (it was published in 1590, which is an indidication of how far behind I am on my reading list), I've been wanting to try writing in Spenserian stanzas myself. This is my attempt. I think it's OK, obviously not on Spenser's scale (the Faerie Queene has more than 2,000 stanzas!), and I've found I really like its rhythm.  

It's focused on recent events because that's all I can think about. 

I don't like how gender binary it gets at the end. I don't like to be gender binary. In my opinion people are people and love is love. A friend was complaining about the news constantly repeating the fact that The Pulse is a gay club, as far as she's concerned that's irrelevant. If it was some tragedy like a fire, then I'd agree with her. But gender did matter to the man with the gun. Sexuality did matter. We don't have to agree with him to recognise his twisted motivation. The people murdered in Orlando were murdered because their killer didn't like the way they did gender and sexuality. Or he didn't like the way he thought they did it anyway. 

May their light keep shining. May we never forget. And may the lawmakers make changes to keep us safe. I don't claim to know anything about the people affected (other than them being people), or indeed Orlando. I've read a couple of really good blog posts on the topic this morning though, which are worth checking out. You'll find a gorgeous description of Orlando, and how the city is faring, written by Carey Sheffield, a British blogger who's moved to Orlando at Truly Madly Kids. And there's a really interesting American (pro-gun) perspective on gun ownership and assault rifles at The Other Fork in the Road.

The flame so bright

I do not do all that perhaps I could.
I don't know what to do but think of you.
For families, distraught, that is no good:
No more to see your smile, or what you'd do.
If only we could start that day anew.
He killed you. He who dared to snuff your light;
to take away the future held in you,
in name of gods or theories of the right.
There's nothing that excuses quashing flame so bright.

Go check your holy books and you will find
that life is sacred, not to be snuffed out,
neither in war nor in a peaceful time,
not for your gods nor for the lunar lout.
Enough. My thoughts may well be all for nowt.
What can my heart do 'gainst such wilfull hate?
Somebody sold that gun for coins to count.
Someone designed it to annihilate.
What chance the human heart against such mighty weight?

They say that for the bad to win the day
good people should do nothing. Stand aside.
We cannot let that happen, come what may.
And yet, what can we do to turn the tide?
To take up arms is to let hate reside
and then we find we're no better than them.
We must stand strong. Together. And with Pride, 
to start the Pulse of brotherhood again.
To falter is to fail our women and our men.

© Cara L McKee 18/6/16

Prose for Thought

Saturday, 11 June 2016

The rule of the fathers: a poetry post

The prompt over at Mum Turned Mom this week is Up. You might think that this would bring to mind pretty balloons, or that song the kids sing at school - Build Up (hooray for non-religious school songs), but the thing that was jumping about in my mind was that the people who stay up at the top, do it not by standing on the shoulders of giants (raising each other up to greatness), but by climbing up on the shoulders of the weak and then making sure they stay weak. The Tory party's attacks on the poor and the disabled are one example, another is the constant stream of nastiness against immigrants. Then there's the dividing and conquering by pretending that there are sexuality, gender, class, and race dichotomies and trying to keep people in their fake boxes. Ugh. 

So, here's my cheerful little poem about overthrowing the patriarchy. I'm sure it'll fit right in.

The rule of the fathers

Do you think they know not what they do
seeking to tear out world in two?
Dividing rich against the poor.
Battening our country's door.
These fine men who rule the world
twist the minds of boys and girls,
turning sister against brother,
breeding fear 'tween class and colour.

Men who rise on shoulders weak
seek to breed a callous streak.
But weak can join together strong,
rejecting all false division,
knocking down the either/or,
dispelling myth of countries' door.
No forgiveness for the fathers.
Together we build our futures.

© Cara L McKee 11/6/16

mumturnedmomProse for Thought

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Hot

It's been ages. Hot and sunny and dry. We've been hanging out washing, eating outside, and having water fights. It's been chuffing marvellous. So I thought it deserved a poem. I've been working on lots of poems lately - this is my fourth today! The other ones probably get more editing before I'll let them see the light of day, and then they're off on a special mission. I seem to have lost my usual way of wanting to stick within particular meter and rhyme structures, but that's OK. Perhaps it's the heat. 

I can share this one, and I'm sharing it on The Prompt too (the prompt was 'window,' and this poem has open windows in it): The Hot.

The Hot

The hot has come
with iris flowers,
lawns beset with buttercups,
bare legs and freckles,
ice lollies dripping,
and drifts of kids.

Behind open windows
we cannot sleep.
Legs outstretched like the cat
who shelters in the cool,
leaving nests of moulting fur.

Wearing as little as is decent
with big pants so thighs won't rub.
Limbs scratched and bitten
but still uncovered,
save for sun cream and Skin So Soft.
We carry candles of citronella.

And this hot we treat as training
for holidays far away.
And you won't hear complaints
for fear that it might stop.
We know it will stop.
We keep an eye on the weather.

It's to rain on Sunday.

© Cara L McKee 9/6/16

mumturnedmomProse for Thought

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Finishing sentences

I cannot resist the lure of an unfinished sentence. So when I came across this way of sharing more about ourselves I decided to join in. Please comment and let me know your finished sentences too!

Somewhere, someone is thinking... coherent thoughts, but it isn't me! Isn't it nice to think about all the minds around the world beavering away. Someone could be curing cancer right now. It's essential, I think, that we don't waste any of this potential, either through closing minds or through pointless death. Imagine what all of those who died in war in the last century could have contributed if we'd allowed them to give more than their lives!

I'll always be... going off on a tangent! Also on my kids' sides and expecting too much of myself.

I have a crush on... my husband! Like any long relationship, the flame ebbs and grows, but just now he's my honey <3

I've come to realise that my ex wasn't... that much older than I was and that whatever legal category I might have fallen into, I was still a child. He had to look after me, and that wasn't fair.

Marriage is... a union of people who share romantic love. I'm happy that it's now available to any couples that want to get married, and would personally be quite happy to see it open to polyamorous relationships. I am also hoping that now civil partnerships will be extended to include non-romantic couples. This picture is of the wedding of two of my best friends. I used to live with them but hardly see them now! I'm the big bridesmaid.

Love is... crazy fierce if it's maternal and beautifully constant for my spouse.

Babies are... life consuming, milk consuming, time consuming fantastical creatures. I know. I've had three and that is me done. 

My mobile is... forever by my side. My diary, notebook, camera, and so much more! It's got a mock book cover, which is often open while I'm taking pictures!

I go on Facebook... briefly, a couple of times a day to check if anything interesting is happening. I post very occasionally, but mainly only to share blog posts, or if I get a notification. I have a serious Instagram habit though, and you'll find me on Snapchat as carakin.

The last time I cried was because... I was really scared to get on a boat but I knew I was going to do it anyway (and I'm glad I did).

Today I... got on a boat (see above). But it was OK. My family were really supportive and kind and it was easier than I thought. In fact it was pretty good! I loved the freedom of being able to go where you wanted. I suppose the car is the same! I should go more places.

Before I go to sleep at night... I read, and do a quick social media scan through.

Tonight I... will read a bit more of Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell. So hard to believe that those events actually happened! Did you know that for Aethelred the Unready, the 'unready' bit didn't mean 'not ready' but actually 'poorly read' as in badly counselled, and lacking in understanding of the issues. Foolish Aethelred got to run the country terribly while others looked on aghast, and Bracewell's book focuses on his Queen, Emma of Normandy. After that I will lightly sleep until 6.45am when I'm willing to get up and greet the new day.

When I wake up in the morning... I hug a child (whichever one comes through) and check my mobile. The weather, Instagram, even Facebook if I have time, and I look what's on my to-do list. Then it's all go at 7am.

Soon I will... send my first book out to find a lover/agent/publisher. I'm procrastinating a lot, and faffing a lot, because I want this first baby to be just right.

I really want... to get paid for writing more successfully. I'm working on it. Feel free to donate if you like my work (or if you don't). Once I've got the earning a living bit cracked I'll move on to taking over the world. Mwa ha ha! Other things I really want are more hours in the day and more energy to do stuff in those hours. But mainly I'm happy that we're all pretty happy and healthy at the moment. Fingers crossed we stay that way.

Right now I am thinking... that my neighbour has a beautiful garden and I hope this time my clematis will survive so we could get a garden like that. Also I need more flower beds for more flowers coming soon. Also I can hear a happy barbecue or other gathering and I wonder who's having fun. My neighbours (it's not them, although they might be having fun) are eating dinner outside and I love that our lives are lived so much outside when the weather permits. Like I said in my poem, May Sun in Scotland, stories come out in the sun. Below is a picture of Miss 5 in the garden. The death of our climbing plants has led me to brighten up the fences with hama bead creations.

I am listening to... my neighbours chatting, a radio with music playing, laughter. Inside, my daughter fidgeting in her bed, my husband turning the computer on in front of the TV.

I hate it when people... spit. I mean I try not to pull faces, but it's just so utterly disgusting. Ieuu. I also hate it when people (whether they know me or not) shout at me. And I find it incredibly shocking and vexing when people are sexist/racist etc. Apparently this leads to amusing righteous indignation on my part, and that's why my husband gets stern looks.

I lost... the company of all the people I used to hang out with and I miss them more than I imagined, but I wouldn't change what I've got or where I am.

My best friends are... few. And far between.

My enemies hate me because... they're foolish people. :-D

I talk... even though no-one's listening.

I love... my family. And I love writing. I love the peace and the flow of it and I love the people I get to meet doing it.

And that's me done! Fancy giving it a go yourself?