Tuesday, 8 August 2017

You know what it is: a poetry post


Things are not going to plan for me today. I've had a hectic morning (I even forgot to eat breakfast!!!), a very poorly girl (Miss 9, it doesn't seem to be anything serious, but if you'd like to nag her to drink something for me that'd be great) and I do not have the oasis of peace and quiet I'd been desperately looking forward to. Well, that's cheeky, Miss 9 is pretty chilled on her poorly sofa, but I'm trapped here! Anyhow, I've been working through some prompts provided by the lovely promptress Jena Schwartz on Instagram. Here's a poem which she inspired, and I'm pretty sure everyone has an 'it' that it's about.

You know what it is

You know that it's here.
Turn your head, quickly, catch a glimpse,
and there! You've found it.
Your heart is filled full-wide,
your throat closes and
your ribs tighten. There. There.
Now are you ready
to let it hide away?

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 8/8/17

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Web-logging July 2017


My irregular round up of what's going on with me and mine.


Right now I'm:


Sitting on a train into Glasgow (like I was last time I wrote a weblog!). This time I'm off to meet my Dad, and I've bagged myself a table seat. Across the aisle from me is another woman sitting by herself at a table seat. I'm all in black with red hair, she's  colourful and on trend with blonde hair and well shaped eyebrows. Her makeup is way more careful than my slapdash effort, although I'm happy to be wearing my new favourite makeup product - Studio 10 Glow 2 Go Youth Lift Glow-plexion (terrible name, horrible price, great product) and a red eyeshadow. I love red eyeshadow.


Today I don't know anyone on the train, and I spend the whole journey writing.


Currently reading:


I'm coming to the end of How to be a Woman by Cailtlin Moran, which I am mostly enjoying, although I think I must be a different kind of woman.


I've brought my next book on my journey for while I'm waiting in the station, and that's Bitch Doctrine by Laurie Penney because Moran's book has made me get my Women's Studies vibe on again and because feminism remains essential IMHO. I've only read a few pages of it so far, but there was so much to inspire and intrigue in those pages.


Listening to:


Every day on the news there are more people (mainly, but not wholly, men) doing terrible things which I do not have the power to do anything about, so why stress myself with the news? I will trust in those who can take action to do so and I shall keep voting for and talking about a brighter, less-hate-filled future. Meanwhile, I'm very excited about Game of Thrones arriving on Monday and listening to lots of fan chat about that as well as Behind the Scenes stuff.


I've been listening to lots of pop music with the kids being on school holidays. So my brain is full of that nonsense. Our current giggly favourite is Attention by Charlie Puth because of mishearing the line "throwing that dirt all on my name" as "throwing that turtle on my knee". Honestly, check it out!




The most recent tracks that I've downloaded are:

video
Having fun:

We had a gorgeously lovely day over in Millport - a wee ferry ride away and perfect for an old fashioned beach day. We've been having a chilled summer holiday so far, hanging out with friends, and having family to visit.


On Instagram:


I tried taking part in Allison Sadler's #freeupmyinsta challenge, although I've not managed every day. However, it's been so nice to get back to using Instagram for fun. It was starting to feel like a chore. I'm thinking of just dropping the prompts and doing what I feel... maybe!




and here are three accounts I'm loving at the moment:

  • @mrsconstancehall Constance Hall is a contentious Australian blogger and a Queen (she says so so it must be true), and I think I'm a little bit in love with her. I am definitely in love with her style, her grace, and her attitude 👑
  • @georginagrogan Georgina Grogan runs the fantastic She Might Be online magazine. She's lovely, collaborative, and she has absolutely superb hair. Plus the lass can write.
  • @terribletumbles Em is my favourite fashion blogger because she's tall as well as plus size and she makes everything look amazing, plus she's from Yorkshire so she's just brilliant.
Perving over:


I Love Dick on Amazon. Oh my word! This story raises so many questions and really makes you think, plus it is so very very very sexy. I must admit I've never fancied Kevin Bacon (still don't) but I was certainly caught up in the story arc. Also, Roberta Colindrez was absolutely gorgeous Devon, and that dance at the end! Fabulous.


Planning:


I have a list of days out which the children refuse to go on, but we're managing so far, and we're getting things in place Miss 6's birthday party next week. After that I'll panic about our holiday in the Lakes.


Discovering:


This month seems to be about rediscovery. Rediscovering:

  • the joy of doing very little
  • Pimms
  • the motivation to do 10,000 steps a day for the prize of a tick in the Google Fit app

We have also been looking after a friend's pets and have discovered a love of guinea pigs. 



A post shared by Cara McKee (@caralmckee) on

Watching:

  • I Love Dick (see above, and trailer below)
  • Can't wait for Game of Thrones
  • Watched Girl on a Train last night which was actually surprisingly good and interesting, but Jeezo I'd love a film with less 'beautiful' people in it.


Creating:

I've had a few poems published lately (see an up to date list here), and I'm sticking with the poemy stuff, I might not be following the FMS Photo a Day prompts for photos, but they're still in my calendar so I'm trying to write a tanka a day using the prompt. Today's prompt is 'out the window' and it's making me think of Girl on a Train, so here's my tanka for today:


She watches for them

out of the speeding window,
searches for a kiss,
a kiss she can remember,
one to take her breath away.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 14/7/17


Why am I equating a kiss with a hit in my head? And will anyone else get that? Do you get that?

I've also been debating with myself about some poems I've written using the idea that God is a fictional and oppressive character. I am worried about causing offence but feel like perhaps I shouldn't censor myself so much. I guess it's because the God I believe in is a fictional character, and not worse for it. Again, what do you think?


Parenting:

Sometimes my kids are awesome. We bumped into my MIL and her friends the other day, and the kids were friendly and polite, impressing everyone (apart from me - I didn't even notice! 

Mostly though I am letting them stay up too late and have too much screen time (because seriously Scotland, you're a lovely place to live, but you could have WAY less rain), anyway, I like staying up late and going on screens - I'm on screens now! But too much screens and too little time equals lots of strops. Sigh.


My lovely husband is away for work a lot at the moment, which makes me realise how much I appreciate his input while he's here, even his annoyingly neat tendencies!




A post shared by Cara McKee (@caralmckee) on

Anyhow, how's it going with you?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Barcelona: a poetry post


Last summer we gave our neighbours a gift and swapped homes for a little while with a lovely family who lived in Barcelona. They had a great time exploring Scotland and getting to know our neighbours while we enjoyed being hot in Barcelona.

It was incredibly hot, there was a reason the Barcelonians wanted to escape to Scotland, but we enjoyed making friends with their kitten and chilling out in their gorgeous home in the day time, going out in the evening when the heat was more tolerable to explore gorgeous Barcelona.



Things we loved most were: 

Seeing La Sagrada Familia - we didn't go inside because the kids didn't want to, but there's a great play park behind it where we watched parrots fly and admired the building.


Shopping around Las Ramblas - so much fun and lots of silly little shops. The area has a reputation for pickpockets but we were fine with our purses tucked away.


The CosmoCaixa museum - this was a fantastic visit, we adored the museum which had so much to do and to interest the kids and us. BTW it's a science museum with some awesome live animals too.



Anyhow, with all that time that we were hanging out in the house waiting for the temperature to come down a bit I did bucketloads of writing, including writing Sonnet 404 which appeared in the first issue of 404 Ink's Magazine, and writing this poem about our experience of Barcelona which appeared in Allegro Poetry's travel special in December last year.



Barcelona
Cosmo Caixa


Clearly a mistake
to leave the cool green,
admittedly wet,
summer of soggy,
beautiful Scotland.
Exchanging our home for another
in August heatwave-heavy
Barcelona.

We lived like vampires.
Hiding in shuttered rooms
from infernal sun.

Emerging at dusk
to a city alive with people:
hearts beating fast
as sweat evaporates
in sweltering dark.

A gorgeous mistake.
Catalonian colour and vibrant lights.
Layers of truths told
in art and architectural splendour.
In the light of the fountain
the kids danced
for wind, for green,
for the rain's sweet kiss.
Home.




Thinking about it now, I'm wondering how I managed to get all that writing time. There's always more time when you're in someone else's house! Today I've been trying to write this and get the house tidied up and I've been distracted by one thing or another all day! Tomorrow will have to be the day we get the house tidied up... or I could just pretend that I'd tidied it and the kids have trashed it again - it's going to happen anyway!


I'm sharing this poem with Prose for Thought (I'm afraid I can't find the picture link thing), because I haven't joined in there for ages (for so long that I've lost track of when it is!) and with The Prompt, because although our Barcelona experience was odd, it was very happy indeed, and happy is the word of the fortnight.



mumturnedmom

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Crash: a poetry post


I gave a workshop yesterday about poetry, about inspiration and communication. I talked about being part of this thing here in the wonderful world of online wherein different people can come together to write their responses to a prompt (I use the prompts set by Sara at Mum Turned Mom) and encourage each other, inspire each other, big each other up.

I love it. 

After the workshop I realised I hadn't found anything for the latest prompt yet. This morning I sat down and thought about crashes, about women being told they're a car crash waiting to happen, about my beautiful friend with her dangerous decisions, which I must admit I resented. But I was there anyway.

This poem is for her.


Crash

You turn, twirling
and I hold on to your petticoats,
layers of tulle rendering you
the only woman worth seeing.

You spin, darling, dancing,
all eyes on you

and when you crash down 
in some strangers room
it is I who will guard you,
who will barter over bodies.

I carry your flat shoes
for the slow walk of morning.


Ⓒ Cara L McKee 25/6/17




mumturnedmom

Friday, 30 June 2017

Embrace: A poetry post


Hello there, I'm sharing a little poem today which was written for #theprompt back in February. I seem to spend a lot of time messing about with paperwork and submitting work to places, and not enough time doing other things, you know, like writing. I'm trying to write a little poem every day, usually a haiku or a tanka just so my brain stays in the zone, and I love this haiku type thing.

It might seem a little bit miserable, but actually I wrote it after a lovely day, walking with friends in the morning, and busying my brain with preparations for poetry events that were coming up. I guess it's speaking to the importance of self care. Something I've been doing again today, going for a massively long cycle ride which was just gorgeous (although if anyone has some spare knees or a bum I'll take them).

Good news today too - one of those poems I've been submitting has been accepted. I keep the poetry tag up to date with what I'm getting published where, so have a look there if you're interested. I'm now including the date I last updated it in the title so you know if you've missed anything (and I put the most recent at the top for you).

mumturnedmom

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Even Though: a poetry post


Happy New Year! I hope you've had a great Christmas and New Year. We did, although it was a bit quiet. The last week of the holidays dragged, mainly because I got a stinking horrible cold on January 1st, which is making me feel totally rotten. Ugh.

Anyway, things are going pretty well on the writing front. I had two poems out last month, and I also got shortlisted for the Great British Write Off, which was totally unexpected, and kinda lovely. I've also had lots of things rejected, and failed to get placed in my local writing group's competition. I worked really hard on that poem and I'm annoyed with myself for not doing better, I'm trying to tell myself it's all subjective, but the usual suspects got placed again. Maybe it's just not my audience.

I am slightly gutted that Maddy at Writing Bubble is going to be too busy to run the What I'm Writing Linky this year, but so glad that she's got lots of interesting things on. However, Sara at Mum Turned Mom is still doing The Prompt, which I love for giving me weekly inspiration, and an online writing group of sorts. Her prompt this week is: Start and seeing as I've been despairing about getting to be a really good writer this week, while I've been ill, and constantly getting the not-good-enough feels, I thought I'd give myself a talking to... Here it is, complete with a voice recording. 




Even Though

And even though the earth rises mountainous
and even though I am tiny and do not know how small
and even though the way is shadowy
and clouded and to me unknown
I know this: I know the way is up.
I know there is a way.
And if I go wrong I can try again
and the more I try the more I'll know.
And even if I cannot go up beyond the shadow
and through the cloud to the summit
I know this: I can try.
And if I do not know where or how the path will end
I know where it starts...

                                ...with this first step.


© Cara L McKee  8/1/17


Obviously, I am not going to be climbing any real mountains, because they're really quite high up and I'm afraid of heights, but you get what I mean, right?



Prose for Thoughtmumturnedmom

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Land: a poetry post


Land

This is not my land.
This waterlogged clay soil is not my rich loam.
I am the incomer, comeover, the offcomeden;
not from 'round these parts.
We do not share a history,
I do not know your tales,
and you are unprejudiced, but
I don't fit in.
And yet, I find, on returning
to the green-grey valleys of God's own county
this now too, is not my home.
Not my land.


© Cara L McKee, 26th November 2015

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Wearing our colours: a poetry post


The prompt at Mum Turned Mom this fortnight is 'Colour', and I've been thinking about what to write and keep coming back to political allegiances, thinking of all my friends with their red and yellow backgrounds to their Facebook posts, to the conversations I keep having about who the hell it is that keeps voting Tory. On the morning after the latest general election I went out for coffee with a friend, to celebrate the Tory humiliation, and mourn the fact that they're still in power. I don't know if that couple were Tories, the poem was originally about a friend, but I've changed it to bad mouth people I don't know. Sorry about that!



Wearing our colours

We went for coffee to celebrate,
to commiserate, to pick over the bones
of what was won, what lost,
of who let us down
and we wished that everyone
had to dress in the colours
that showed what they did.

Then we would know who it was
who didn't bother,
who hid amongst us,
for there had to be someone we knew.

And the black dripped from my dress
which filled with Scotish yellow
buttercup yellow reflected
below my friend's chin
as her clothes turned yellow as well.

The couple by the window
were bluer than the sky
and the yellow-clad waitress
glanced at them askance
coming to our table.
More coffee ladies? On the house.



mumturnedmom

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Turn: a poetry post


This is a poem I wrote in response to The Prompt from Sara at Mum Turned Mom. I first wrote it thinking of the current situation in British politics, but in the darkness of the terrible event in Manchester recently it also speaks to that situation.

I am so sorry for all those who lost loved ones, who were hurt, who were terrorised by the bomb that went off in Manchester. 

I am also sorry for all of our young men and women whose fears are targetted by groups like ISIS. 

There is always an increase in racism and in anti-immigrant feeling after an event such as this, whipped up by those who wish to keep the people divided and voting for those that would keep the rich rich and the poor in 'their place'. We all get caught up in things, and it is always important to question our thoughts, as well as what we're told. 

We do not have to stay on this road to division and hatred. We can stop, help each other, just as the people of Manchester came together to help each other. 

We can choose not to believe that there is only one narrative.

Before I get poetical here is a link to Tony Walsh reading his awesome poem, 'This is the Place' to the thousands of people in Manchester who came together in a vigil after the bombing.


Turn

In troubled times
we tend to turn
to someone strong
to someone wrong
who will not stop
in their control,
who'll stand on us
to reach their goal,
so turn away,
there is still hope,
still time to join
together and
turn, turn away,
to use your vote
to stop this strong,
this unstable
force.    Of course
it will be hard
but turn away.
Turn now. Today.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 15/5/17


I've done a wee Facebook live video of me reading this poem (I'm sorry, I cannot memorise poems for the life of me - I'm too full of ideas for writing the pesky things). Here it is:




mumturnedmom

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Web-logging May 2017


There is no way that you can enjoy reading these web-log posts as much as I love writing them, but I hope you find something you can make use of or connect with, and do feel free to get in touch about them, and about what you're doing.


I pinched this idea off Aly Hodge of Bug, Bird & Bee, who has kindly given the categories for you to use if you fancy joining in too (you can fudge them as you wish - I have).

Right now I'm:

Sitting on a train, travelling into Glasgow for a literary event. I'm super nervous and writing to keep me busy. Sadly the train doesn't like me writing. 

I've realised I've got to the point where I know most of the people I see in my town. There are three other women sitting in this carriage and I know all of them. I'm being an antisocial git though and trying not to eavesdrop (it's not easy though as one keep looking at me when she's about to chat about someone I know).


Currently reading:


Runaway by Alice Munro. I'm interested in the character who met a man on the train... I'll not do spoilers, but I'm wondering what happened to her? I keep expecting to see her in the other stories, even if just in a shop or something.


Some of these short stories feel more like vignettes, and I'm not willing to leave them (although I often feel that way about good stories).


Listening to:

I'm enjoying the rattling and whooshing of the train and the murmur of women's voices.


Recently I've been listening to podcasts - binge listening to BBC Inside Science (and developing a crush on Adam Rutherford - "hello you").


Music wise I've changed phones and lost lots of tracks (and not others), So I'm discovering what's misssing when I want to listen to it. The most recent tracks I've downloaded are:



The Cara Van
Having fun:

Last Friday I went out for lunch with my husband. I was saying that I wished we had a caravan but we couldn't afford it. He was more positive and suggested I look on Facebook.


One week later and we have a caravan! It's a little old and needs some work, and we have a lot to learn but we all slept (eventually) in it last night and it was lush. Hopefully next time it won't be raining!


On Instagram:
I'm not doing so well with the prompted pictures lately. Perhaps I should just stop doing them. Some of my pictures have been popular though, especially flowers and cats. Here's one of my favourites of lovely little Loki (while he's not dribbling all over me!).



and here are three accounts I'm loving at the moment:


  • @visitfaroeislands The Faroe Islands are pictured in this account, and they look amazingly gorgeous (if a little cold and wet). You can visit from Scotland!
  • @instaglasgow Lots of pictures of the beautiful city of Glasgow.
  • @jonnajinton Jonna is an artist who lives in the woods in the north of Sweden. That's what she says anyway. I suspect she's actually an ice-elf princess.
Perving over:

All the voices, especially Adam Rutherford and Roman Mars (just the name, Roman Mars).

Planning:

I've been searching Pinterest for all things caravanny, and planning a makeover. Tbh it probably won't happen, because I am great at planning to makeover places, but less good at actually doing it. I would love a caravan that looked like Jessica Reed Kraus' extraordinary RV (check it out here), but I would also love to live in South California!

We are also looking at great places to take the caravan (and I am panicking about the kittens a bit but I'm sure they'll be fine). Any suggestions welcome.

We are coming to the end of our time at our local primary school. The boy is moving on to the local academy and our primary is merging with another (yay, and eek) and getting a new name and uniform, so we've got lots of end of an era events to go to.

Discovering:

I'm finding my way around Glasgow. I planned to take the low level train today but there was a problem on the line so I googled it and walked instead. Easy peasy, and look at the gorgeous village cross I found in Bridgeton (where the Glasgow Women's Library is).

Glasgow Women's Library is a magical space full of donated fantastic books, with an archive which is nationally recognised for its importance. I went to an event there (the one I was going to when I started writing this) and loved being in a woman's space in such a lush building, and, you know, hanging out with Val McDermid.

At this event I discovered that the things that inspire other, way more successful, writers are not just books (I love books, but it is tiresome to be repeatedly told they should be our only inspiration), but Pinterest, walks in a landscape (hilarious to hear Val McDermid enthusing that she could put a body in various interesting places), music, people who challenge, and great films. This has made me feel so much better about watching TV (more on that below).

A couple of new poetry magazines: 

And TYCI - a Glasgow women's collective which also does a podcast.


Watching:


  • Scandal - still watching because I want closure. However, I am a bit bored of the constant nonsense (I like the Trump references though).
  • The Good Fight - I'm missing Alicia, but enjoying the story.
  • American Gods - I liked the book and love Ian McShane (whom I keep expecting to call someone 'Cocksucker') but I'm mainly feeling that this story is way too male focused. It's OK, but maybe a little obvious and cliched.
  • Jamestown - can we talk about Jamestown? This is absolutely brilliant TV, and I could watch it forever. Did you see the last episode? With the witch nonsense. Some of the dialogue in that episode was just amazing. Fantastic characters, fascinating situation. Just awesome.

"Why must we care for those whose sole purpose is to conquer us? Surely it is sound reasoning to let him die?"

Creating:

I'm rewriting The Rarest Rose and working on poetry at the moment. Lots of editing and tidying up.

Parenting:

The boy went on his first big trip away and had a great time. He is getting so blooming cool. 


They're all doing great, enjoying all the end of term fun.


What are you doing?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

I once had a bedroom... a poetry post


I was reading Jackie Kay's poem, Baggage, this morning, and her description of ships coming into dock reminded me of a period of time during which I lived in a former hotel on the headland above Douglas harbour in the Isle of Man.

This tall Victorian building had been divided into flats, and I lived in the top one. It's the only time I've really lived on my own, and I didn't suit it. I think I lost it rather, while I was in there, and probably spent far too much of my time lying in my bed, staring at that patch of sky. I can still picture that room, down to the peculiar skirting shelf, and the old wardrobe that could only fit in one place and couldn't contain most of my clothes. 

I was skinny then, due to poverty and having a bit of an eating issue, and I had loads of cheap as chips clothes from the 70s I'd picked up in charity shops. Lots and lots of colour in heaps beside the bed. I left most of it behind when I finally came to my senses and left. It was more important to get out than to take the stuff. The only thing I miss is my Loud CD!

I once had a bedroom in the top of a tall house

up stairs and stairs and stairs which never got easy.
My bed was a mattress on the floor
piled around with colourful clothes
I'd carried up stairs and stairs and stairs
but would leave when I ran away.

Above me grey chased blue in my own square of sky 
and seagulls angrily battered their demands of entrance.
They came every day but I never let them in
though I let in a neighbour who,
frightened, begged entrance
after climbing to find his own square of sky
which might let him in to be as high 
as he was, until he lost it 
and climbed down through mine.

Sometimes the sky shone blue and sometimes
it would get lost behind cloud.
I would wake to the bleak sound of the fog horn
and sometimes feel I was safe
within Manannan's embrace.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 9/5/17


mumturnedmom

Friday, 5 May 2017

Chocolate: a poetry post


Today, for Prose for Thought (which I've just realised, I never share prose on - sorry!), I'm sharing my poem about Chocolate.

There's a bit of a chocolate theme to the blog lately isn't there? The last post was all about chocolate too. I'm blaming the Easter eggs which are still sitting on top of the kitchen cupboards. I'd say we're all bored of chocolate, but it's really just the kids. I'm desperate to make it into cakes and sauces, cookies and truffles, but I'm not allowed. 😢

Anyhow, I wrote this poem for the Scottish Book Trust last year, and you'll find it on their website here, but I'm now able to share it right here, so here it is - a bit of chocolatey goodness for all you lovelies.

Chocolate


All my life I've loved chocolate.
The love is in my genes,
and some would say (the cheeky ones)
it's also in my jeans. 
I passed my love of chocolate
to my babes in the womb.
They drank it in their breastmilk
and danced a merry tune. 
We didn't let them eat chocolate
until their first birthday.
The children's nurse had told us
that we should be that way. 
Then came pain au chocolat
and birthday chocolate cake.
Eyes lit up in faces smeared.
Oh, what a mess they make! 
And now we say that chocolate
can only be for pud.
Of course, they want it always,
for chocolate tastes so good. 
I too only eat chocolate
after I eat a meal.
I'm being truly honest.
What I say is real. 
I have never pinched chocolate
hidden amongst laundry
to surreptitiously eat,
keeping it all for me.
I have not opened chocolate
while shaking pasta shapes
and savoured chunks all alone
while making bolognese. 
That missing Easter chocolate
the kids cannot recall.
It certainly was not me
that did devour it all. 
And I never said chocolate
truffles were too boozy
and so only for adults;
they'd just make children woozy. 
And if I ate some chocolates
while writing this today,
it's because there were too few
of them to share. OK?


Prose for Thought