Monday 29 February 2016

A Hat and a Rant

A hat made from left- over wool.
This was supposed to be an adult size hat but ...
I didn't use the yarn indicated on the pattern so maybe that accounts for its small size.
My grand nieces will be pleased!
And an opportunity to use some of those buttons from my jar.
For details of hat pattern see my January post :Actual Yarns-Knitting  in Garter Stitch-Easy Knitting Projects

And here's one of those rant poems we can all relate to when things don't work out .....


Plonk retailing at 4.99
Olives stuffed with garlic wrapped in vine
Salt and vinegar hand- made- kettled
Lemon juice sting- Pickled anything
Aftertaste of too much Mai-Tai –
My feelings towards you
after all this time.

A text missive six months late-I hit block address and then overwrite
Extirpated leaf, shoot and bulbous root
Epithelial tumour from my right eye excised
that may still darken, thicken and spread
like saltpetre
like efflorescence
like you.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Friday 26 February 2016

Sile-na-Gigs and the Menopause

They say we're on the verge, the edge, at the cross roads, the threshold.
Of what, we ask? And is it terminal?

They say that the onset of menopause heralds the arrival of heart disease, thinning hair, thinning bones, vaginal atrophy, waning libido
And dryness--just about everywhere...

Visions of a leering Sile Na Gig loom large.
The Siles, some say, erected as warnings against debauchery along pilgrim trails, have been reclaimed by women in recent decades as figures of wisdom and authority.
Waning moons for sure, but experienced, mischievous and joyful in their knowing.

Here's a Sile poem first published in Network Magasine.Vol 43


Sile squats in mock-lotus leering.
She already knows your desire.
Her labia lips mouth it.
Her bulging eyes are ripe with it.
With her sagging -breast -dunes and knife-edge-rib-trail
She is the desert you must cross over
Sand-slide shifting you towards her portal gate
Where she stands Cerberus- like
Sharp toothed and ears pointed
Her bald pate urging you to shed

For beyond this point there be dragons
And icy depths and full moons and hags to be embraced
And she asks
Are you ready? IMAGES of Sile- Na Gigs

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Little Rose Cardigan

The Little Rose Cardigan is finished!!
More woman hours than sense went into it.
My friends want me to stick with scarves
as my mood was "foul" throughout the duration of this project.
The needle work required is too fine for my clumsy fingers.
I need thick needles, chunky wool and no seams...
Not really for beginners.

And  so a poem about hope...


Having gathered myself from the bottom of the sea
Having rolled and stretched to the pull of moon and sun
Having furled and unfurled my long back for miles and miles
Having felt desire peak and wane at every fold
I fling myself now in the hope
That this last reach of me is far enough
That I will be released on your shore

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Monday 22 February 2016

Breaking Bricks-Not Bad....

I am not very scientific.
This is a shame because it seems to me that curiosity about how things work would be a great asset to an aspiring poet.
 I, on the other hand simply nod. Ah yes. It works. As if by magic… Blind faith.

However when visiting the Chinese State Circus quite a while back I did wonder how the Qigong Warrior didn’t break his hand when he sliced a brick in two.

Was there trickery involved?

It seems not.

If you x-ray the hand of one of these artists you’ll find that their bones are probably larger and more dense than ours-it’s called osteoclerosis.

And to throw a wallop that will break a brick takes a lot of practice and precision.
A chop at 46ft per second and a force of 1900 newtons (one newton is the force exerted by the weight of an apple) and you are in business.

We are in the realm of Physics….or A&E depending on your skill set.

I won’t be trying this anytime soon


Before his feat Wu Su weighs
inexorable with elbow upon the air.
Palpable,invisible,it begins to pulsate
resonate,lose shape.
He wears it as a costume drape.

The brick that has been baked
feels the cool but not the shape
of hands whose stroke
seems to placate.

Then, slice of air
And the brick breaks.

(After seeing an act in the Chinese State Circus)

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Friday 19 February 2016

Love lost

Here's another love poem, but this time with more than a tinge of regret rather than the usual bitter tirade...


Do you prefer it now
or the memory of it later
you asked me

I didn’t answer
I didn’t know
I couldn’t remember from before

I can tell you now
I prefer now
as it was then

But I didn’t know
and so

I forgot to finger all of you

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Thursday 18 February 2016

Haikus and tankas and such like....

If you can bear with the technicalities for a minute!!!

Haiku started out as a popular activity called “Tanka."  during the 9th to 12th centuries in Japan.
A Tanka was a progressive poem.

The first poet gave a 5-7-5 mora verse, 
the second a 7-7 mora verse 
and on it went.
(a mora is similar to a syllable)

The hokku was the name given to the first verse that set the mood for the rest.
It came into its own in the 19th century when hokkus were written and read for their own sake.

The three masters of “hokku” from the 17th century were Basho, Issa, and Buson. 
My three Haiku attempts do not progress tanka fashion.
The theme of Haikus was traditionally Nature but Love crept in as a permissible subject.

Mine are about  a love (of sorts)…

When you expect to hear from the beloved and you don’t….
There is a period of


Your Silence in haikus

Your silence: a ball
unravelled, that could be tight
and hard to the touch


Yet sometimes I feel
it wrap itself about me
like some outer layer


At times it does not
touch me anywhere, and I
am left, to wonder

                                                                 Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Pearl Shell Snood

Am really pleased with this snood! 
I made it with the left over wool from the man’s scarf featured in Monday’s blog. So these two patterns come together. And the wool here is again Wendy Evolve Chunky.

My first attempt at the pattern was disastrous.
There are some new manoeuvres here: knitting with yarn forward, wrapping yarn around needle twice, slipping stitches purl-ways and dropping extra loops….
This sounds more like the Antrim Reel to me!
I under wrapped and over slipped and ended up with a triangle.
But practice makes perfect …or nearly.

You can hide a lot of mistakes in this Pearl Shell Snood and as long as you go in the general direction of the pattern and end up with 89 stitches, by whatever means...
The odd overly zealous wrap or slip isn’t that noticeable. Provided you don’t actually drop a stitch!

I have boxed it in a beautiful empty French chocolate box. The chocs were great and came from Lyon and if I could buy them again I would…just for the box.

I have also been making labels from recycled cards, branding myself as Kate’s Knits.

I am not going to start a business
But it’s fun to give these accessories as presents,..Thank-yous, Happy Birthdays,  or just Hi!

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Patchwork memories

Patchwork Quilts.

I touched on these before.
If you actually do use left over or recycled bits of fabric your patchwork quilt can evoke a spate of memories years later.
A jar of buttons or a box of spools will do the same thing.
Here’s a poem about that.


The fish returns to source
by following the ripples
of his native current
And time is not linear as we supposed.

At first we recall in glimpses
the aftertaste of our first kiss.
A patchwork quilt, each patch
 a lens viewed at an acute angle;

edges, corners, truncated aerial frames,
spliced, diced, dropbox explosion
 and then sheen, sheer, efflorescence
as we dip and glide between then
and now and the river of Lethe...

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Monday 15 February 2016

You Can't Win Them All....

Back to knitting. 

Another easy pattern to try is this man’s scarf in Hayfield Colour Rich Chunky. 
It's called  a Mistake Rib Scarf! No idea why. 
And I know I should know as I probably had to make the mistake repeatedly. 
But Am pleased with it and will do this one again in different colours.
At 51 inches, according to pattern, I think it's a bit short...but that can be remedied.

Hayfield Colour Rich Chunky 7296

However I was a bit ambitious with the Little Rose Cardigan.
My thinking on it wasn’t entirely faultless:
It’s small
And therefore quick?
Or maybe not!

I did try to watch a box set of The Honourable Woman at the same time!
If you haven’t seen it….This is a challenging drama, complex plot, flashbacks, subtitles; a lot of  them. Grim, did I say that already? Very bleak.

Anyway to cut a long yarn short I think I mixed the armhole edge with the front edge on the left front

There’s an awful lot of concentration required on these little pieces as they bellow in and out of shape at the blink of an eye.
No complacency, no getting into a TV/knitting routine, no chit-chat with your mate.

And then there are the Mental Mathematical Manoeuvres…
Decrease I st at armhole edge in every row AT THE SAME TIME dec 1 st at front edge  in 3rd and every following 0 row….

WHAT IS A 0 ROW?? That type of problem….

So between trying to find out:
who “she could trust?”
and who “had agreed?”
and to what?

I lost both plots.

The left front might be a right front, but I’m not sure!!!

So either I stick with scarves or it’s TV off and specs on and no distractions.

Sunday 14 February 2016


It’s the big day
And what can I say?
When the romance works out it needs few words…
So here’s to …..bliss!


You touch me where all is melting
And there is nothing to hold on to
but tears as they fall
And feeling as it breaks
over us


A finger placed on lips that says
“No word”

A mouth on mouth on limb
that presses home

A bringing to again and again until
We are taken
over the edge

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016


Very few of us have Mr Darcy in our sights today
So we can either join the party
buy ourselves a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates, a silk night dress, 
treat a friend to a surprise
whatever takes our fancy… 

Or ignore the whole thing

I’ve done all of these….

Happy Day!

Saturday 13 February 2016

To bolt or not to bolt?

Valentine Weekend Special cont….

At the beginnings of a romance there are those little indicators that we should pay attention to 
but never do….
to our peril.

Here’s a poem about a missed opportunity to bolt.

On Talking

We sit on a summer’s bench
Talking at angles, peripherally
About us, and where we are going

You like it wild and brief
You do not want the dead weight
of her regret, the morning after.
My heart has stopped
I cannot find the words
The white winter sun pours over us

I would want more, I say
And the weight falls
And the silence

And if you haven’t read Bring it On, an earlier post, here it is again.

Your friends all say, "Don’t go there!!!" But what do you do???

 You invite disaster, of course.

Bring it on

They say it won’t last.
Him with his webbed feet and shaggy mane.
The heat alone of him will melt me, they say,
erase my quarter, half and full phases,
my gibbous, crescent, waxing and waning moods.

Hang the consequences, I say, holding the apple between us,
me, like Eve, tempting him-
A kiss about to weld us into a near perfect O.
Expulsion from Eden, tree of knowledge, forbidden fruit,
Bring it on, I say, bring it on.

Based on The Marriage between the Sun and Moon By Fidelma Massey

Friday 12 February 2016

War & Peace &Romantic Love

Romantic Love

Watching the recent BBC adaptation of War and Peace I cried joyfully at the romantic interlude between Lily James, aka Natasha Rostova, and Prince Andrei.
I was subsequently dumbfounded at her capacity to fall in love twice more before the end of the 6 week season!!
Perhaps If I’d actually read the book, all 1200 pages of it, her antics would have seemed more credible.
However, such is the nature of Romantic Love: There is no logic to it.

Falling in love and its many stages:

Idealising the beloved (we are already in trouble)
Longing, yearning (probably the best part)
Merging ( if we are lucky. And often short lived- even for Lily James)
Separating, rifting (can take quite a while)
Drifting apart.
Disappointment, anquish, despair (hopefully short lived)
Remorse, Revenge (hopefully vented only in a rant or a poem!)

The anxiety of it all at every stage!!
And then we do it all over again
And again and again.

Not for the faint-hearted.

And to be fair to Lily 
she didn't have time to go through all these stages once 
never mind three times.....

Here is an early onset stage:


If I speak now
I might unsettle the butterfly
that hovers here about

If you speak
you might
unsettle me

Speech here does not suffice
And neither does silence

first published in The Women's Works, Vol VI

Thursday 11 February 2016

Happy Knitting

The cable pattern scarf is finished! 
And with wool left over I decided to make a hat- my first.

Mistake number 1:
Left over wool didn’t stretch to a hat so I had to buy more and still have left over wool!

Mistake number 2:
Thinking I might not have enough wool I made the hat a bit smaller than needed!!!

Motto of the story: If you have left over wool think hard about your options.

Eco-mutt are calling for coats for dog rescue
Check out for a free pattern at I did this but found the patterns here a bit complicated for me!!
 So anyone with an easy pattern for a dog coat? Please contact me.

You can leave your left-over-wool spun dog coats at Winnie’s Wool Wagon for collection by Eco-Mutt 
or, I’m sure, at any Dog rescue service. 

My first hat was easier than I thought it would be 
but I did go to You-Tube to figure out how to make that pom-pom.

Thanks You-Tube
Happy Knitting!

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Check the Recycle Bin!

You wouldn’t think that detoxing your computer would lead to a poem.
We get so much info via emails, attachments etc from friends, and often after a cursory glimpse I delete, sometimes too quickly.
 Emptying downloads recently I came across the frame I’d missed.

Emptying downloads

Emails half scanned –
Baby Tina standing in a shopping trolley
Photos enviado desde mi iphone,
which you guess means what it means.

Fingers itch to delete the whole folder,
free up bytes, increase GB-
except that you might
jeopardise future internet operations.

And so you scan, frame by frame, click by treble click.
Are you sure? Are you really sure?
And pan-sifting the cloud waves you find it -
the frame that slipped your one minute post i-phone attention span -

Irene Sendler and the two thousand five hundred children
she smuggled out of a Warsaw ghetto
in her plumber’s toolbox and burlap sack.
They broke both her legs.

Wide lipped, broad faced Irene
her hair straight parted in the middle
a plaited coil halo-ing her head.
She didn’t win the Nobel Peace prize ahead of Al Gore or Barack Obama.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Parenting and Mini-Breaks

Many blogs are dedicated to the topic and, with all its rewards, it can be a pain in the butt; especially if you are on a mini-break in Paris without the teenage off-spring, and just trying to reconnect with romance and all that.......

I love flash fiction because a sustained narrative requires sustained effort and I am better in fits and starts.
So here's a piece of flash on the subject of Paris/Parenting et al


Sipping a coup de champagne on a famous French boulevard, call comes through from home.
Heart sink…. What now?

Bad smell in the study.

Well, figure it out!
Trace source of bad smell- not rocket science!
Damned if bad smell is going to ruin weekend break in Paris.

But, as we join queue at the Glass Pyramid in expectation of a glimpse of that enigmatic smile, bad smell envelops us.

Food left to spoil by careless brother?
Dead mouse? Or dare we venture?
Dead rat under floor boards?
How long does it take a dead rat to disintegrate?

And so it scuttles around our ankles on the Ile de Saint Louis, circles the gargoyles at Notre Dame,sneaks past the bouquinistes along the banks of the Seine and imbibes our every other coup de champagne in whatever rue we end up in.

Our ubiquitous topic of conversation: rats turned to plagues, bilboes big as apples.
There are of course the frequent updates by text.

Its stl ther
Cnt use study
My mocks start in 3 dz
When r u  bk?

And then the arguments about our parenting skills-the younger generation’s lack of initiative-
the infantalisation of the modern teenager-how we in our day would have sorted it out.

And so Paris and our romantic mini-break become one long whine about dead rats,
about offspring

and mostly about parenting...

Monday 8 February 2016

Bending Rules

Knitting update.

Am currently undertaking a more demanding pattern: a man's scarf in Aran wool and involving a couple of cables. 
Have dropped a few stitches, lost count of pattern several times, etc etc etc
And am fed up with it 
And wish it was finished. 

But at 50 inches long I still have another 20 to go...I suppose it's like hitting the wall in a marathon.
I could cheat and make it a shorter scarf 
but the recipient is 6ft. 7in tall so perhaps I should just keep the head down and the needles clicking

King Cole Aran 3461

A friend said I should have garter stitched the middle section and cabled the two visible sides. 
Now that's what friends are for!! Making suggestions too late!!!

It set me thinking though about how, as we grow older, we don't give a fig about rules or shoulds or shouldn'ts  so here's a poem about that. 
Mary Kelly is not her real name but Mary knows who she is.....

What’s Ap

Mary Kelly’s eyelids flutter as the man’s name escapes her.
They tell her she’s “sharp as a tack compared with the rest.”
“Des,” she says, relief on lips tilted by the last stroke.

“I can’t hear her,” she says of me, and I raise my voice.
“I’m not deaf,” she says. “And the rest are dead!”

Her daughter pours tea through a strainer and we talk
 of faulty parking metres and GPAs and texting and What’s Ap.

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” she says:
Her eyes smiling at what she knows 
she doesn’t need to know.

Copyright with CathyLeonard 2016

Sunday 7 February 2016


My daughter is often my muse so here are a couple of poems written for her over the years.
The first was written in my head ( I never do carry that notebook, but it is to be recommended)
 I was watching her from the relative comfort of the car on an inclement day in winter.
She was about 10 and strutting her stuff at the riding stables.

The Arena

What takes her out on these soft days
to wade through muck and fog
on wetted horse flanks
that stink of rain and earth and horsehair?

I watch through cold car pane as she changes gear.
Then squatting low she rises, clears a fence three feet tall,
lands square, sits high, jogs up and down,
sits low, and canters.

The second poem was inspired by Nicola Slattery's paintings, famed for their figurative narrative qualities

Let me tell you about my daughter.

Let me tell you about my daughter-
she has her head in the clouds
and dreams of fish that fly
and clouds that can bear the weight of her
and golden dresses strewn with leaves of filigree silver.

My daughter defies the laws of gravity-
she turns my life upside-down
and seeing things from her topside-up perspective,
I begin to wonder -
where have I been all my life?

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Saturday 6 February 2016

How to fail in an interview.

No poem today although there may be one in this little tirade...if I dig it out.
A family member was interviewing for a job and I was invited to help out with the prep.
Some of the questions threw me off on another scent.

Think of a task that shows sustained effort, determination,persistence, blah blah...

You know the one!

Here would be my response if anyone cared to interview me.

Several tasks spring to mind: my attempts to make the perfect soufflĂ©, the perfect French baguette, the perfect Irish Stew. But the most vivid memory of sustained effort must be my recent efforts to have my internet connection restored.! 

We are all too familiar with making those calls that take us around the switch board and back while we listen to ten versions of Green Fields. 

I finally get to speak with technical support and am taken on a tour of my keyboard.
Half an hour later, having followed detailed instructions and having applied infinite patience, I am informed that the problem may be with my computer. I am reluctant to concede this. But I realise that further discussion at this point with this technician will not be fruitful.

 I try again. 

Half an hour later, having again followed instructions carefully and applied tact, consideration and patience, I am informed that I may need a new modum, ie black box. I am not convinced.

 I am the persistent type. So at 9.30, half an hour before the cessation of Technical  Service Support I try again. 

Emmet takes me through similar steps in which I am now a skilled performer. I even begin to anticipate his next manoeuvre and make suggestions. Emmet steers me through the resetting of my modum with a safety pin.

 And hey presto.....

I don’t need a new modum and I don’t have to buy a new computer!. 

Here's to the Emmets of this world!!!

Thank you Emmet!

But I don't think I'd get the job..................

Thursday 4 February 2016

Love Lost-Freedom Gained

Given that we are in the month of February a few love poems, or even lost-love poems seem appropriate. I'm better at the lost- love ones as I said, so here goes with another sour grape poem.

Walking on eggshells

I tried hard not to step on your muse
who was so frail that even
my breath might break her shell-
Your shell -Your heart encased

in an eggshell.
And all the time I wanted to stomp.
If egg shells broke so be it!
Let birds hatch out of them!

I am cantering bareback now
Solid hoof across dense plain.
Your eggshells all lie scattered-
Nothing ever did hatch out of them.

No fledgling ever spread its wing to fly.
But I fly now -wind in my horse’s mane
horse-flank at my heel-
No need to stifle breath now

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016


Still on the subject of weather (Well, I am Irish!)
Imbolg or not, Winter is still lurking about if not lashing out. 
So here's a poem about that.


 Last week temperatures soared unseasonably.
But we knew you weren’t gone
in a dragon puff of smoke.
We knew you’d be back
wreaking your monstrous ire.
Your tail toppling bins, roofs, trees,
dropping leaves like scales,
scattering dismembered branches.
Your breath freezing footpaths,
threatening elbows and ankles,
beheading precocious green shoots
that dare to think…

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Wednesday 3 February 2016

At Imbolg-In the Belly

A Festival of any sort ? What is it really about?
Apart from the eating and carousing that is....

And Imbolg, the Celtic Fest that says goodbye to winter?
There's lots of info out there about this Cross Quarter Day...
so-called because it refers to the day midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Astronomically speaking, this year it falls on 4th February

It's good to stop and so I do.

Instead of writing blog for two days I have been busy engaging with Imbolg.
Gathering rushes ( locating them, of course , no mean feat) a lot of walking! and then making Brigit's Crosses. A finicky business if you are like me, all fingers and thumbs and no skill.
But with the help of You-tube- I made a few crosses, some taut, some loose.
And then the poem that has been baking meanwhile: overcooking, undercooking.., dipping in the middle, burning underneath....

So here are two offerings of festival poems...


Brigit’s Cross

Its strength lies in the fold.

You bend the rush firm and hold,
fingers fastening it to the centre.
Turn it clockwise and return, again and again.

It’s the last rush that decides whether your lattice will hold

or fall apart
or hang slack

woven through with chinks of light.

At Imbolg

Stooped to the rhythm of sickle
we gathered rushes from the bog
Or, with our hands, pulled stems
that raised wheals and reddened palms.

We lay them in piles
Then folded and turned and turned and folded
until we made a centre that would hold
against fire.

Not knowing then that she was daughter of Dagda
Celtic Goddess, Crone turned Maiden each Spring
And that we were cutting deeper than bog,
i mbolg, at imbolg.

Copyright  with Cathy Leonard 2016 

Monday 1 February 2016


We like to think of grannies as home bakers, clicking homespun and smelling of freshly baked soda bread but here's one from my childhood who doesn't quite tick these boxes.
Childhood memories can be very clear and keenly felt even after half a century.
So sit with them and see what poems they throw up.


No smell of griddle bread or hiss
of kettle on the black stove. Just her
in widow weeds and off-white pinny
beside an unlit hearth.

Outside in coop-sized yard siblings squeal
Tig-Tag,”I’m out.You’re in!” Inside
I sit, amphibian-eyed. She doesn’t lure me in
with soda-bread butter-laced web.

But cross-armed, toothless mouth agape
“You’re just like your mum!”-
 hurtled at me with rasping tongue.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016