Friday, 28 April 2017

Not so sweet: the problem with chocolate

We got so much chocolate at Easter. 

This is definitely a good thing, because we all love chocolate, as I've attested in my poem, Chocolate, which you'll find here. We got mini eggs and creme eggs, After Eights and Rolos, we got Maltesers and Smarties and lots lots more. We have generous family, and neighbours, and we are grateful for it.

We have eaten chocolate as it comes, made it into sauce and into delicious cookies. At one point we were eating it and talking about Kraft's decision to draw back a bit on Cadbury's commitment to Fair Trade.

The kids learn all about Fair Trade at school and they want to support it, so I said I'd google what was happening about chocolate. What I found out totally sucked. There's a good article on it here for more info.

Basically, Cocoa beans grow in tropical climates like those found in West Africa, where 70% of cocoa is grown. For Ghana and the Ivory Coast cocoa is a very important commodity. However, we are not paying enough for cocoa,so to cut costs cocoa farmers are resorting to child labour, including child slavery.

These kids must work long days doing hard manual work. Many of them get little or no schooling, and all of them are put at risk by two big dangers in their work - the insecticides they spray without protection (because there are a lot of bugs in the tropics), and the machetes (big knives) which they carry up trees to cut down the bean pods, and then use to force the bean pods open.

Meanwhile the kids get very poor food themselves, and often have to stay in horrible housing, with no comfy place to sleep and nowhere they can get clean.

We can try to support farmers getting a fair wage, so they shouldn't have to use kids labour like this, but Fair Trade have had to remove some of their accreditations recently, after finding child labour to be more widespread than previously thought. Perhaps that's why Kraft have diluted Cadbury's commitment.

Anyway, unfortunately it comes down to paying more. So far, no evidence has been found of these practices in the tropical parts of South America where cocoa is grown, so these seem like the sensible places to source cocoa at the moment. The Food Empowerment Project has an app and lots of info to help you get the best vegan chocolate. You'll find all that here. We love our milk chocolate though, so we are going to be looking out for chocolate that's ORGANIC (this is mainly from Latin America), FAIRTRADE, and FOREST FRIENDLY. This is a bit more expensive generally, which means we will probably (weep for us) eat less. That's got to be good, right?

By the way, child labour isn't the only problem with chocolate, there are also problems of deforestation, and the nasty effects of all those insecticides among others. Watch out for Palm Oil in your yummies too! 


Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Potential: a poetry post

Sara at Mum Turned Mom has chosen the word 'potential' as her latest prompt.

To be honest, I was stuck there for a while, but then I was thinking about gravitational potential energy and Wile E Coyote, and I came up with this poem, which I've also done a reading of on Facebook live (click here for that):

The Potential

This poem,
poised on the precipice
has potential
to kill you dead.

To whistle its way down
to a million-mile-away valley floor
landing in its own
mini-mushroom puff.

But it won't.
You'll just beep, and run on by
or maybe pause for a moment

wondering why it's poised just so,
was it put there on purpose?

Or has its context 
been whittled and abridged away?

Perhaps you see my design
in balancing this poem here
with all its potential.

Pause a while longer, 
and you'll see yourself in it.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 27/4/17


Friday, 21 April 2017

Shuffling words: how I get unstuck with poetry

Sometimes, when I'm stuck on how to make something work, or I've lost the point of a poem I will use a formal poetry technique to shuffle the cards in my deck and come up with something different.

Usually I do this with poems that aren't working for me, but sometimes I do it with other texts which I like, but am not getting any inspiration from. It can spark new ideas.

I tend to make things into poem structures that use repetition, making the words learn the steps of the sestina, pentina, tritina, pantoum, or villanelle. I've just had a villanelle accepted for publication which started life as a free verse poem which just wasn't working. I love the circling and the repetition of these forms because I think they bring more focus onto the moment of the poem. 

Of course, things don't have to stay formal, often, usually, in fact, they break down having once come together, but the process helps to reveal patterns and the little important things which can make it better.

Today I've been missing my April dose of Game of Thrones which isn't returning to our screens until July, so I've been playing with the books instead, especially George RR Martin's murderous prologues.

Obviously I wouldn't pass something like this off as my own. I've just lots of words from Martin. Sometimes it changes enough that it might be considered a found poem, but often it just sends me off in another direction.

Here is a trytina I've been working on today, using words from the prologue of Dance with Dragons I by George RR Martin. I'm calling it a trytina because I've tried, but I can't get a last line to work.

If you're not familiar with the lingo, a warg is a shapeshifter, and this one is currently a wolf. I don't think any more explanation is needed, but feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

The senses in the shadows

The night was rank with the smell of man.
The warg stopped beneath a tree and sniffed,
his grey-brown fur dappled by shadow.

A sigh of piney wind brought scent through shadow,
over fox and hare, seal and stag, even wolf, came man.
The stink of old skins, dead and sour the warg sniffed,

the stronger scents of smoke and blood and rot the warg sniffed.
Only man stripped skins from beasts to wear as shadow,
and wargs have no fear of man.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

If I ever did the Guardian Questionnaire

Back before children, when I used to lie in my bed on a Saturday morning, I used to love nothing better than getting a copy of the Saturday Guardian and reading through it. I used to love the Q&A in the Magazine, or the Guardian Questionnaire as I'm sure it used to be called. I would contemplate what my answers would be.

Well, The Guardian still hasn't asked me to do he Questionnaire for them, so I've decided to do it for you instead, so here are my answers to their questions.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

All the jobs done, someone else making a meal, and time to chill with people I love.

2. What is your greatest fear? 

Obviously something bad happeneing to someone I love, but other than that, it's the idea that maybe humanity is actually a warmongering evil bunch of gits, and I'm just being silly. 

3. With which historical figure do you most identify and why? 

The trouble with history is it's full of blokes, there aren't enough women for me to identify with. My favourite history bloke is Richard III of England, because he's the last of the House of York and because people still debate what he did and didn't do.

4. Which living person do you most admire and why? 

There is a distinct lack of admirable people when you look at the news, but I'm lucky enough to live in Scotland. I have worked with and now been governed by Nicola Sturgeon (and other people, but I'm picking a person here), and I think she's chuffing marvellous and doing a really good job for the people of Scotland in difficult circumstances. I don't agree with everything she believes in, but I really admire the way she does things, her conviction, and her strength of character.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

My lack of courage to do things in front of other people, even though I know that other people's opinions of me are never going to be as bad as my own!

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

Being right wing. I could go on at length about all the details about it, but that's not going to say much more. 

7. What has been your most embarrassing moment? 

Still my mother picking up my skirt and pointing at my lack of pants to demonstrate to the lady in the French lingerie shop what we needed. It was such a big deal that the story appeared in the Guardian, here.

8. What vehicles do you own? 

A great big massive Ford Galaxy which doesn't fit in parking spaces, has nowhere useful for a bag, and has massive heavy doors which children cannot open without whacking the car parked next to us. It's an expensive car to run because of paying to get other people's paint jobs touched up. I need a new car, but they are massive money pits and very boring. 

9. What is your greatest extravagance? 

I love a cute notebook. I am having a paperchase moment just now, loving the rainbow ones, but I have a box of unused notebooks (and even more of used ones!)

10. What objects do you always carry with you? 

My phone. I've just got a new phone which hasn't got its phone case yet, so I'm missing the things that go in that, which is deeply unpleasant. They are an emergency £5, a little gift from each of my children, and a business card which I'm supposed to give away but always forget about.

11. Where would you like to live? 

Scotland, but if we could move Scotland to somewhere more sunny and a bit warmer that would be perfect.

12. What makes you depressed? 

Too much interaction. Paying attention to the news. The weather.

13. What is your most unappealing habit? 

My husband might currently argue it's snoring, but I'll stop doing that when this stinky cold goes away. I think it's probably writing down conversations I overhear if they're particularly sweary and held in public, you know, like Drs waiting rooms. Love doing that.

14. What is your favourite smell? 

Cedarwood is yummy, and Spiritual Sky Patchouli. Sorry.

15. What is your favourite building? 

The Brotherton Library in Leeds, especially the Polish bit.

16. What is your favourite journey? 

A long, comfortable train ride with a good book and plenty of batttery on my phone.

17. How did you vote in the last election? 

SNP. I would have voted Green but there wasn't a candidate here. 

18. How will you vote in the next election? 

I wasn't really expecting the next General Election to be so soon. I suspect it will be SNP again. I don't think Labour have the best interests of Scotland or even Britain in mind, and I know the Tories only want to look after themselves.

19. Should the Royal Family be scrapped? 

No! I'd rather have a family who got to be the weirdness of the monarchy than relying on celebs to open events and greet world leaders.

20. Do you believe in capital punishment? 

No. I'd like a lot less death generally.

21. Do you believe in monogamy? 

I do believe in monogamy, and certainly in respecting a person's wishes for monogamy if that's their bag. I also believe that polygamy should be acceptable for those it suits (and it could solve some divorce issues). 

22. Which living person do you most despise and why? 

I really do try to believe that people think they're doing the right thing. There are several world leaders who make that difficult.

23. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 

Obedience. I am a great follower of rules, but I can see that not following them helps you to solve problems more creatively, and get away with all sorts. Sadly I'm turning two of my children into rule followers, but the third one could be the one to watch.

24. Have you ever said I love you without meaning it? 

I'm ashamed to say I've said it out of habit and then realised what I was saying. Happily those days are long behind me. Nowadays I always mean it when I say it, although I might not like the person I'm speaking to right at that moment!

25. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

I don't think we're actually fighting today, no it's not a fighting day (or substitue fighting for shouting or whineing).

26. What is your greatest regret? 

Not breaking my own stupid good girl rules when I was young, because people thought I did anyway. 

27. When and where were you happiest? 

Here and now, although it has its moments!

28. How do you relax? 

I like watching TV snuggled under a blanket with someone lovely.

29. What single thing would improve the quality of your life? 

A housekeeper. 

30. What keeps you awake at night? 

3 children, 2 kittens and 1 husband. Not much else.

31. How would you like to die? 

Old, and asleep at home, with cards on my mantle from my grandchildren.

32. Do you believe in life after death? 

Not really, although I think there's plenty that I don't know, and I've certainly felt like the spirits of those that are gone were with me. My friend Rose (who inspired this poem) certainly seemed to tell me to get away from her grave and go do something useful recently.

33. How would you like to be remembered? 

I would like my genes to carry on, bringing big stroppy people into future generations, and I would hope that some of them might like the occasional poem of mine.

34. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

Time keeps moving on and nobody thinks that stupid thing you did is especially interesting.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Washable Sanpro

We have come such a long way when it comes to talking periods and sanpro. Let's start with the word, SANPRO (short for sanitary protection) is nice and simple and can be used on daytime Radio 4 without many batted eyelids. We'll not bother with the discussion of sanitaryness and protectionability, that can happen later. I'm just glad we have a word that can be used in conversation. Although other words like period and tampon are even getting bandied about now. 

I finally found out at the age of only 42 about different shapes of tampons and which one might actually work for me, because it finally occurred to me to ask my Mum. Since then I've chatted about it with a friend, and nothing dreadful happened. I should note that I have a degree in Women's Studies, and was a Women's Officer at University. I can discuss lots of things about sex with no bother, but periods have been full of unmentionables.

I do mean unmentionable. When, as a teen, I started my periods once at my Dad's house, with nothing to use, I asked him to nip to the corner shop and getting me some towels, but he told me that men didn't buy things like that, so I concocted a wodge of toilet roll and rustled my way there. If I ran out while out and about (as I often did, especially as a teen), I'd tell a friend that I'd started and ask if they had anything, praying they'd understand what I was getting at. Generally they did, because they were used to things being unmentionable themselves!

But now my husband can buy Sanpro, and of course women have periods and I don't hide it from my kids. One day the adverts will be way more realistic and not bang on about visits from Aunt Flo, with strange women pouring test tubes of blue liquid all over the place. But I suspect the adverts won't be telling you about something else - Washable Sanpro.

When I was at Uni one of my lecturers was a former nun who went on at length about the misery of being a novice and having to collect all the 'rags' which the sisters would use for their period, to wash them. We all said 'ieuuu', and it did seem kind of medieval, and far removed from our modern, clean lives. But actually, isn't it much nicer to just bung something in the wash and use it again rather than getting bins full of manky dried blood? Back then I knew about mooncups (which I didn't fancy, alhough I hear good things), but the only washable towels I saw were ugly and frankly looked like the bad old bulky towels which I'd hated.

If you've got kids you'll know that washable nappies have got a million times better than they were in the good old days in recent years with breathable fabrics which deter liquids passing through, and with super absorbent bamboo, cloth nappies are not the nightmare they used to be. 

Some clever mums used the same fabric technology to make washable sanitary towels which are comfortable, easily washed, and absorbent. You can even get them for urinary accidents, if your pelvic floor isn't all it could be.

Good things are, of course, the environmental stuff - less rubbish, less plastic etc. But also it's good for you. I'm never sure that the stories you hear about the chemicals in sanitary towels are true, but I can definitely say that cloth towels are far more comfortable - there is no sticky strip to come unstrung and give you a waxing, and you don't get any pubes pulled out by getting weirdly sucked into the woven top.

You can get really boring looking washable sanitary towels, but I'm a big fan of supporting small businesses by buying funky looking designs which I actually look forward to wearing. They generally cost about £8 each, but you can use them again and again. They're easy to wash. I plonk them in a little tub of cold water when they're used, to help release any stain, and then stick them in the next wash at 30 or 40 (with no conditioner). Then I dry them on a drying rack. It takes about 24 hours for them to dry.

I wasn't sure how they'd get on with a weekend away, but had my period over a weekend in St Andrews, and just collected them up in a washbag, and then cold watered and washed them when I got home. Good as new (nearly, one of them got a bit stained, but that was mostly white).

I have discovered that lots of people don't know about washable sanitary towels, and how easy they are to use so I'm sharing this post, and I reckon you might want to try one, so I'm going to give you some links to where I get my favourites. Watch out though - they can be really comfy and really funky, and I know some people end up collecting them!

People make lots of different shapes and sizes. For your first one you should probably measure your favourite disposable towel and get something a similar size. I would recommend trying a few different shapes rather than getting a load in one size from one supplier. You might also want a little purse for your bag/coat pocket - it's got a waterproof lining too so you can put a spare towel in and use it to transport a used one home.

Here's where to look:

Earthwise Girls - Lots of stuff from lots of suppliers under one webpage, including Angelpadz and other cloth towels, mooncups (little cups you use instead of tampons), and more.

Angelpadz - My favourite creator of cloth towels. They share my obsessions with foxes and trees, plus they made my cute little ghostie pad purse. 

Crafty Mrs B - I found Crafty Mrs B on Etsy. She uses such cute fabrics, I've got the kaleidoscope clouds one. Gorgeous, and so nice to support a home business.

***Nobody has given me any free stuff or paid me for this blog post, although I'd be happy to accept freebies to try out new things.***

We're going on an adventure

Friday, 14 April 2017

Whispers: a poetry post

Today I'm linking up with The Prompt over on Mum Turned Mom by Sara, with this poem about whispers.

I promise, there are no bodies. Although it's been close a few times over this Easter holidays, with people taking it in turn to be ill, so we've hardly done anything and are all stir crazy! It's my turn now, and I'm feeling better this morning, so hopefully we are done and ready to eat all of the chocolate.


Words whispered in ears light up eyes
with the sweet warmth of secrecy
but wait:
     in whose ear will these words be whispered?
Because a whisper winds itself along its way
becoming something new.

Ears pass to eyes, to lips, to the world
and are not, as you know, for real secrets.
Real secrets will be whispered to the wind,
       to the weeping willow,
                       to the West.
Words on bodies must be whispered to the bees.

Will the whispered words be warmed, shrouded?
We can wish it.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 14/4/17


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Through the glass


I'm joining in with The Prompt for my poem today, using the theme of 'glass'. I wrote this over coffee at Costa in Largs, watching the world go by and pondering over how many people watch the world go by through a Costa window (other cafes are also available), and how the things they see vary depending on where they are. I tried to highlight the things which exemplify Largs for me. But I'm also cognisant that spaces that seem the same are different for different people, so even if you've been to Largs you might not recognise mine.

Through the glass

Through the glass while the sun shines brightly I see
Ina driving her daughter
who leans on her window,
watching the ferry unload
a bin lorry,
peculiarly clean with its cargo.
Through the glass while the sun is bright I see
a little girl with ginger hair and teal hairband,
hands shoved firmly in the pockets
of her dark green woollen coat.
Despite the cold she wants
Geraldo’s ice cream.
Through the glass while the sun shines brightly I see
a red car clip a corner
behind an older couple, slowly crossing.
They glance briefly, unperturbed.
Through the glass brightly I see
a woman in a hi-vis jacket,
long dark hair pulled back.
She issues instructions to men in vans,
checking their credentials.
Through the glass I see
the woman with the long flame hair
who walks and walks and walks.
She stops to say hello to someone
as she does with me but
I do not know her name.
Through the glass (brightly again) I see
two men pass each other,
both have hands sheltered deep in pockets.
They have no nods to share.
Through the glass brightly I see
a man puffing his cheeks against the cold,
wrapping reddened fingers around an umbrella
wrapped in plastic
lest it should get wet.
Through the glass brightly I see
the bus for Gourock
with five people on it.
In the long legged seat near the back a man
lifts his eyes from his book.
Through the glass shadowed he sees

© Cara L McKee 1/4/17

****update 2/4/17 - turns out the woman with the long dark hair is also Ina's daughter, and she works at the ferry terminal!


Friday, 31 March 2017


Beneath the ground, within the diamond pressure of mountains, the wyrm had slept for so long that her body had considered stone. But she had not stayed all these years to shrug off her own precious flesh, sinew, and bone for mere minerals. She might wind around her sparkling stones, but she would not become them.

Instead, once or twice upon a millennium she would stir, just slightly, her body undulating along its length as she stretched, muscles reminding themselves of their flesh. It was only a shift. Even that was enough, she knew, to split the earth itself.

Once she had had sisters, and with the moving of their bodies, they had forged new continents. Once all the wyrms had roamed the surface, gorging on the creatures there, growing fat on other's flesh. She had grown the biggest of all her sisters.

When the sleep came she and her sisters had coiled their way down, shifting the very plates of the earth to make their beds. For millennia she had felt her sisters shifting in their own dens beneath the earth, but not now. Now perhaps she was the last of the earthbound wyrms.

Her brothers had taken the sea, and they too had diminished, but still she could feel one brother, the greatest of the sea serpents. The gentle undulations of his huge body still rocked her to sleep.

Who knew how long she might sleep unmolested? For she would wake again when he did, when he loosed his tail from his mouth and began to feed once more. Coming up, up from the depths, and bringing the seas with him, sating his hunger on the creatures who had repopulated the earth while they slept.

She would join him in his feasting, come to his side though their joining might break the very world. And together they two could make new brothers and sisters to feast with them, and sleep again, and one day wake.

But not now. Now he rocks her with rhythmic undulations, and she shifts in her long sleep beneath the earth, refusing to become the rock she winds around.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 31/3/17

This story is inspired by Chuck Wendig's one word title: Undulate, and is part of his flash fiction challenge. Find out more here. It's just over 350 words long.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Words: a Poetry post

Do you do any of those photo challenges on Instagram? I used to do it more than I do now, but I still take part in the So Good in Every Way fortnightly themes (sometimes), and the Snap Happy Britmums daily prompts (again, sometimes).

Todays prompt was words, and I was sitting in my kids' school this morning, waiting to help out with walking a bunch of kids to another school, and thinking about how the rhyme, 'sticks and stones' has changed as schools have become more cognicent of the long term damaging effects of verbal bullying. When I was a kid we taunted bullies that words would never hurt me. My own eating disorder, other self harming, and so much other stuff can testify to the nonsense of that.

Now my kids are taught the rhyme 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can really hurt me.' and it's true. Physical violence is rubbish, but we should never underestimate the long term harm of verbal violence. Hence my poem today. It's almost a villanelle but totally a poem.


Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words can really hurt me,
make me small and all alone.

These small things you may condone
can stick around to haunt me.
Sticks and stones may break my bones

Don't leave me all on my own
I need you to support me
I am small and all alone

Words can linger though they're thrown
like careless blown confetti.
Words themselves won't break my bones
but make me feel all alone

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 23/3/17

This poem is for Britmums, for all they do to support us and bring us together, and for my children's school, and is against bullying.

Prose for Thought

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Why write poetry: a poetry post

Hello there!

Today (21st March) is World Poetry Day. To be honest, I didn't know this until Vic Welton shared a poem on her blog earlier today (here). She got some glorious goodies from Viking, which I'm jealous of, but I too can write about the joy of poeming, even without fancy stuff (although Viking, if you're watching, I'd love some freebies 😉), so here is my poem about why I write poetry, and underneath that are some links to awesome poets you might like to check out.

Why do I write poetry?

For poetry makes words into silly-putty
to bounce ideas around
and mould to our meanings.

For poetry is a way to
speak my truth to beauty
and in that, reflect your own.

For poems are small, and sometimes tiny
and can be crafted and smoothed,
embellished and made just so,
and they might even find a new home.

For I read and listen to poetry
and find I must join in:
take your words and swallow them
to set my own words free.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 21/3/17

As promised here are some top tips on poetry you might want to read and listen to:

  • Katie Ailes (of the Loud Poets), Katy Ewing, and Iona Lee (all three women utterly brilliant at spoken word events - go see them) have a joint poetry collection out from House of Three, 2016 (definitely an imprint to watch, by the way). It's amazing. The House of Three website is here, with details of all their books so far (which are all worth buying, but I'm feeling special love for the third one), and an online store!
  • To be honest, I bought Butcher's Dog magazine because issue 8 had a mermaid on the front, but I am so glad I did. I mark pages to come back to with little postits, and my copy of Butcher's Dog is hedgehog like with all the mini postits sticking out of it. Amazing stuff, lovely people, go and give them your money. Link above.
  • Another awesome magazine at the moment is Hotdog magazine. I really want to get into this magazine! Find it here. Issue one is sold out, but issue two is available.
  • 404 Ink is a really interesting publishing house, bringing out a magazine type thing which is gorgeous, has lots of great content, including poetry and is absolutely delightful to be in, and also publishing books now. Their website is here.
  • And lastly, because I know you don't want to be here forever, but there is a forever's worth of good stuff happening, I'm giving some love to N Ireland's Abridged Magazine, which is colourful and just the right side of seedy (at times), and also bears its Goth influences with a wry grin. Check it out here.
That should keep you going for a bit!

What poetry are you loving at the moment?


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Made up perfection: a poetry post

This week's Prompt at Mum Turned Mom (link below) is perfection

I start my Rose book (which I'm going to do an overhaul on, because I think I'm working out why no one wants to publish it) with a consideration of perfection, which is of course, unattainable, although a near miss is pretty good.

We will keep aiming for it though, and beating ourselves up for not achieving it. It's a word that seems to get talked about a lot, particularly when considering beauty, and makeup.

I am a big fan of makeup. I love black eyeliner, especially teamed with a smokey eye and minimalistic lipstick. I have been known to paint trees on the side of my face, and that's all good.

I love watching people do makeup. I follow Illamasqua and Jonysios on Instagram, and they are both awesome feeds, with totally unnatural, brilliant looks. I love it when it's unnatural. I mean, if you're going to put colours on your face why not go wild and have fun?

The thing that creeps me out is when makeup is done to make the person look like they're not wearing makeup, but they don't have pores, or blemishes, or any of that human stuff. That to me smacks of the human face not being good enough, not perfect enough. It is not natural to be poreless. We are not defined by our brows. Which brings me on to my poem. This was longer, but it was a bit ranty, so I cut it down and down and down, and here is what is left:

In other news, a couple of my poems will be appearing in Product Magazine. I'll let you know when I know more about that.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

web-logging March 2017

I loved doing a weblog post last month, and I've been so busy with work that I can't share it seems only fair to keep you up to date somehow! I'm sticking with the fab format suggested by Aly Hodge of Bug, Bird & Bee with her Right Here, Right Now. Do get in touch because I'd love to know what's going on with you. 😊

Right now I'm:
I've just sent some poems off to a festival and another couple to my poetry circle (some really great poets I get to hang out with once a month while we tear each other's work to shreds - possibly my best meetings ever!). The kids are with the grandparents for our first date night in CHUFFING AGES, and last night we went out for dinner and a movie (Trainspotting 2 - I particularly loved what they did with shadows). This morning we're being lazy, and I'm sitting here writing this in my new PJs (which have cats on because I couldn't find any that were just plain lovely black).

I did have Loki cuddling in for a bit, but he's away now, and I'm listening to music (The Wainwright Sisters).

Currently reading:

Last time I wrote I said I was revisiting Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and collecting quotes from it to inspire my writing. It was a gold mine. I wrote twelve poems inspired by it, and I've been working on improving them, and some of them have already gone out into the world to seek new homes. Wish them luck!

Now I'm reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I sometimes wish I could be more like Amanda Palmer, but reading her book has made me think that the places where she thrives are places where I am rocking myself for comfort in the corner. I do not want to be like Amanda Palmer anymore, although I do think she's blooming marvellous. Also, until now I have always harboured the idea that Neil Gaiman and I might meet one day and he would realise he'd been looking for me his whole life. It would be a shame, because I'm married and all, but there you go. Anyway, I realise now that Neil Gaiman would never ever fancy me, and I probably wouldn't fancy him either. Although if he read to me that would be fine.

Listening to:

I'm listening to music on my 'phone just now. It's moved from The Wainwright Sisters to Snow Patrol. Ed Sheeran is being a bit of a phenomenon in the charts at the moment, and I'm pleased for him, but not surprised. There's a whole lot of mince out there right now. Especially that dreadful Under Your Sexy Body shite. IMHO

Having fun:

Yesterday the hubby and I finally got our Valentines date night. The kids were a chuffing nightmare for getting dressed in the morning, so it was with delight that we dropped them off with their Grandfather and drove into Glasgow. We ate out together and chatted, and then K went to watch the rugby (which was not good), and I went shopping (which was, although I could have done without all the cold shoulders and butterflies). Still, I got half a fake bear for a great price and also got a gorgeous new dress, which I shall wear today.

On Instagram:
I've been a bit quiet lately, in fact I haven't posted anything since last weekend! I seem to be using Instagram stories more than Instagram itself! I love sharing a bit of my walk each day, and the kids and kittens doing cute things which can just disappear after a day. Are you using stories?

Last weekend I was in St Andrews for the StAnza International Poetry Conference. I got to stay in a fancy B&B and spend lots of time wandering about the ruins (with icecream) and gorgeous St Andrews, and writing poetry, reading, and going to readings. My favourite was Leasungspell.

Perving over:
As well as having a Neil Gaiman moment, I've been watching Stranger Things and have developed an obsession with Jonathan Byers, probably because he reminds me (like Christian Slater in Heathers) of a boyfriend that never was. Sigh.

We've been organising a big family holiday in the lakes this summer. Can't wait.

Poems are still being rejected and reworked, but I'm writing more at the moment, and I've got some ideas for reworking some that just aren't working.

The Rarest Rose is still being considered by people, and the Chaptershill book is still waiting for me to decide lots of things about it.

I'm planning to read a load of YA fairytale retellings because it's been a while.

Stranger Things (see below and above).

Jessamyn Stanley's yoga for all bodies, which I've just bought the book for.

New ways for shoulders to ache. I'm over this already.

A gorgeous dress at Yours (which looks a lot nicer sized up and in real life than it does on the website).

Lots of inspiration for writing at StAnza.

Feelings of inadequacy which annoy me monthly.

That I kind of love drawing. I've been doing more, and I think I might be getting a wee bit better.

Watching on Sky/Amazon Prime/Netflix:
K got Netflix for a month to watch The Expanse. We watched it. I was not captivated but he's reading the books. We also watched Stranger Things which was so very good I wish I could watch it for the first time again.

I am catching up on This Is Us on Sky, which is awesome and gave me a day half spent on the sofa weeping (over the programme, I'm fine).

Still wondering if I'm just rubbish at writing, but people keep saying I'm not, so I'm sticking at it.

Still drawing (see above). And crafting lots of poetry.


The big kids are getting bigger, I'm constantly buying clothes, and there are hormones lying in heaps around the house. Just in case I wasn't sure, I am reminded that I'm wrong on a daily basis.

Miss 6 is still a little whirlwind of cheeky willpower.

None of them believe in getting dressed in the morning.

None of them want to go to school at the moment, because one of them has a teacher who makes them upset (which is true, but what can be done? I just keep listening, and speaking to the school, who are doing their best in a difficult situation), because they have to do work all day, because Miss 6 misses me.

I think the main problem is that it's just grey and cold and windy and rainy all the freaking time. Come on Spring! Have at it!

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

One peculiar night: A poetry post

That prompt from Sara at Mum Turned Mom, 'Embrace', has got my mind wandering down all sorts of rabbit holes, I shared one with you yesterday, and here's another, about the sort of embraces you probably shouldn't have ever had. Probably.

One peculiar night

when there was just us
we drank the bar.
I said 
you could do better
than that whispering nothing
who dangles your heart
like a bored cat's toy.

I said 
you could have me
and knew I'd gone too far to stay.

I walked home
on feet that wanted
to return to you.
Buried my fear
of repurcussions
in instant noodles

and there you were!
Swinging on the lampost,
grinning through the window.
I smuggled you in.

Drunkenly fumbling
in bouts of incompetence.
You kissed me,
said we could brave the storm
if you could shelter
in my heart.

I offered shelter
but you caught her sparkling thread
and returned to whispers.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 28/2/17

Prose for Thoughtmumturnedmom

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Embrace: A poetry post

Hello there, I'm sharing a little poem today for #theprompt

Looking at it it seems that I am miserable, but actually I've had a lovely day, walking with friends in the morning, and busying my brain with preparations for poetry events that are coming up.

I do like a little poem every now and again though, and I suppose this could fit with the idea of self love, not just being a miserable Goth 😏 Honest.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Yoga: a poetry post

I have tried to do yoga in recent years. I have had babies and required physiotherapy, and got older and stayed fat, and had years of not getting enough sleep. I wanted to regain the feeling that my body was strong, that I was flexible. I also wanted to focus on the breath. I went to my local yoga class where the teacher was lovely, but I don't think she was experienced in dealing with fat bodies, perhaps she just wasn't experienced in dealing with mine. She gave me blocks and things to help me get the positions rightish, but I simply couldn't breathe in some positions, and I was acutely aware of what I looked like.

That said, I know that no-one was looking at me, but I couldn't relax for imagining my oxygen starved frame toppling over like an elephant on stilts, domino-ing into my neighbour and causing havoc.

When it came to the relaxation I was able to breathe. In the quiet of the room I told the tears running down my face to stop, but they didn't. I wiped them away as discretely as I could but the teacher saw me and came to hug me, telling me that I didn't need to tell her what was wrong, but that I could feel safe doing so. I told her that nothing was wrong, that my face was just crying and who knew why. I thought of my friend who always finds herself laughing during yoga. The teacher assured me it was alright to not say what was wrong, and tried to cheer me up.

I wasn't sad. I was mortified.

I am rubbish at wearing the smiling mask that some people have got down. I wish I'd had one then. I imagined I did when it came to writing this poem.


I try to fit my arms upon the mat,
to focus on the breath, the rise and fall
of my chest 'neath the cover of blanket,
to quiet a mind that never stops at all.
I have no time to pause, I'm too busy.
What matters 'bout the thoughts I've locked away?
I don't know why tears fall for you to see,
don't think I'm sad, just busy. I'm OK.
And would I find there's something wrong with time?
And with that knowledge, where would I then go?
Perhaps behind this smiling mask of mine
happiness bides and I don't even know.
Sometimes the mind is full of stupid things
distracting from the wonder that life brings.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 26/2/17

Myself and some other local poets recently got to collaborate on a project with local photographers Blue Kiwi and Largs Lenses Together, writing poems inspired by the photographs. I wrote one inspired by a gorgeous picture of a squirrel which had me researching yoga on YouTube (I love my job), weirdly straight after I'd done that I went on Instagram and saw someone sharing their love of Jessamyn Stanley's book, Every Body Yoga - she's fat and tells you how to take that extra flesh into account! I have ordered the book and cannot wait to be able to mess it up in my own front room, with the curtains drawn, obvs!

Prose for Thought