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Redheads Writing in Cafes — let’s rock and or roll unless it’s with Jack.

1910-Palm-room-cafeArchtop Cafe has become one of my favourite neighbourhood cafes. It’s located in Bloor West Village and is about twenty-minute walk from my home. There are a few things that make this cafe one of my favourites.  The staff are top notch and make you feel at home right away. There are classics from the 1920s to the 1980s being piped out of the sound system and in the theme of the music, the cafe sells vinyl, both new and used. A few months ago, they opened a section of their basement as a used vinyl shop. Vinyl lovers, you need to check out this place.

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The cafe is a nice size and has quite a few tables, it would be a great place if someone was considering holding a reading. At one point they had live music on Thursday and Friday nights and though they have put that on hold, it may resume again in the fall. Out front during warmer weather, there are a few cast iron bistro tables. The other day, while running errands, we sat out there sipping lattes as we watched the villagers walk by.

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I love that I live in a part of town that has neighbourhoods with their own individual personalities. Each feels a little like the small villages they use to be.  High Park, The Junction, Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village.

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In the basement of the Annette Street, Public Library is the West Junction Historical Society. I need to visit the Historical Society when it’s open to the public as it will assist me with my research. I also need to find a day to go to the Toronto Reference Library. I keep putting it off and need to just suck it up and go. One the problems of living in a neighbourhood that you are in love with and has almost everything you need within walking distance is you tend to not leave the area. Personally, I am also someone who can go days or even weeks without leaving the hood. I would much rather go to places that I can walk or cycle to. If only the information I needed from the Toronto Reference Library was online!

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In other news and in the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing promotions for the new documentary on H.H. Holmes. My friends also know that I’m a bit of an H.H. Holmes aficionado so I often get tagged in things referencing him. I am on the fence about watching the documentary as the topic it’s about has already been debunked several times and I honestly think his great grandson is just trying to cash in on the fame, especially with the movie Devil in the White City with Leonardo DiCaprio coming out and the popularity of the novel.  Every time I hear about the documentary on the History Channel I feel a rant brewing and ready to bubble up. H.H. Holmes was NOT Jack the Ripper! I could get into a whole detailed timeline showing why he wasn’t, or the many glaring and obvious reasons that he could not be Jack, but I would rather leave that fun to you. Seriously, go read up on both of them. Though the history is gruesome, it is also very fascinating and once you educate yourself, you will also realize how impossible it was for H.H. Holmes to be Jack.

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I’m going to end this blog post before I go off on a serial killer tangent.

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Until next time…. stay shadowy.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes — why are the crows avoiding me?

Today is the day. If I don’t get a photo of the crows or the Raven, I will need to find somewhere in Toronto where they congregate. Why must they torment me? I can hear them and see them in other people’s yards. When I try to make my way towards them to take a picture, they take off. All I ask is you come visit our front yard and let me get some good photographs of you. What I wouldn’t do right now for my DSLR right now and a zoom lens.

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My intention today was to sit on the covered porch to write, but the temperature suddenly dropped and big, gray clouds started rolling in. I moved to the kitchen table and can actually see a wall of rain heading towards us. Have you ever been outside when this happens, especially when you have nowhere to go? I have, it’s not always a fun experience. I’d much rather be watching it from the safety of inside.

I’ve decided to give myself permission to take a few days off. Not sleeping well due to the futon from hell, I’m tired. When I get home tomorrow, I will likely take a long, hot shower, throw in my laundry and then watch 1950s, sci-fi b-movies.  Maybe I can convince my love to order in. I’ve been away from him for a week and a half and it will feel good to be with him again. I have to say I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.

Blogging every day has been fun and a great way to wake up my brain each day, but I’m not sure I can continue to do it daily. I have realized that I definitely need to blog more often. I still have plans to vlog, but for now, will continue to blog. My priority is to get a solid first draft of my novel done, then I can figure out vlogging and the youtube channel I keep talking about.

The other thing that evades me are the books I am looking for. We checked a few places in town and was not able to find them. It looks like a trip to the Reference Library will be happening upon my return. In all honesty, I need to go there on a regular basis to research and write.

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Because of the pending rain, the crows have disappeared again. Off to find shelter and to stay dry. They are intelligent creatures and I’m sure decided that the redhead isn’t going to capture their image. You just wait crows, I may not capture your image today, but I will one day.

 

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes — there will be some swears, but for a change, it wasn’t me.

Oh. There you are! I’d wondered if I’d see a blue sky again. Of course, I feel a storm brewing, but not the weather kind. I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table, attempting to write and instead am listening to my father curse. I think he’s to the point of his tirade that he’s making up swear words. You see, at some point during the night, the basement sump pump broke and now the basement is flooded. This is what happens when your house is built beside a former swamp and it hasn’t stopped raining for days. There will be swears and lots of them. Mom and I are steering clear of him for the moment. Oh, the swearing!

Susan Strasberg in Seth Holt's SCREAM OF FEAR (1961). Courtesy P

My Mom had her staples removed and the doctor reported that things are AOK.  Such a huge relief for everyone. While staying here, I’ve been doing most of the cooking and we have figured she may also have a form of IBS. I have convinced her to take her diet down to the basics, keep a food diary and cut out foods that are likely the irritant, then discuss with her doctor. All was going well until last night when there was indulgence in greasy foods. Hopefully, the mostly whole foods, plant-based diet will get her tummy back on track. It would be awesome if she went all Vegan, but… baby steps.  We have found a few really good sources for an IBS diet and if she sticks to it, she should be back to normal quickly.

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Now that she is healing up and 75% more mobile than when I got here, I can return to Toronto. Look for another edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes except when it’s on a bus unless I fall asleep, the bus leaves here at 8 am and I haven’t been sleeping well. Remember that episode of Seinfeld with the pull-out couch that had ‘the bar’ — I’ve got the futon couch/bed, with ‘the bar’. I’m looking forward to being in my own bed and back to writing in actual cafes.

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02 May 1960 — Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred in the musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress, taken from the fairly tale of the Princess and the Pea. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

I hope the rain holds off tomorrow. I want to make another trek to the Salvation Army to see if I can find some treasures. It was also suggested that the drugstore downtown may carry books written by Diane Madden. I’m on the hunt for her books titled Tale of the Unusual, More Tales of the Unusual and Yet More Tales of the Unusual. I’m not a 100 percent sure these are the books, but they sound closer topic wise to what I am looking for. Sometimes, when I can’t find these specific types of items, I often wonder if I dreamt them up. Anyone else do this? It’s incredibly frustrating.

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The cursing has at least settled down a bit. I’m still at the kitchen table trying to will my laptop to charge faster. Seriously, charge faster, I want to retreat to the covered front porch. Hopefully, it will be quieter and I can get back to working on Freaks and Grimm.

Till tomorrow… stay ghoulish.

/nb A question for my readers. Do you read my posts via your browser or directly from your email?

Redheads Writing in Cafes — there’s a storm coming and it’s full of ghosts

And… it’s raining again. This edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes is brought to you from the kitchen table. At some point, I will head to the front covered porch to work on my novel.

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The sky is beautiful gray and gloomy and the dark clouds are rolling in over the horizon It’s beginning to look like nightfall. This ghoul loves the gloom, the dark skies, and thunderstorms. I’m not a huge fan of the constant rain. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, I will melt. According to the radar, a thunderstorm will be hitting soon and there is now a severe thunderstorm watch. I had to leave Toronto to get all this stormy weather.

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Between the times of 7:30 and 9 am the crows are at their peak of loudness. Apparently, this is when they are feeding their young. The feeding frenzy is a feast to my ears with the loud cawing vibrating through the evergreens. As soon as the rain starts they head for shelter. Do you blame them? Instead, I’m now stuck listening to the incessant sounds of the seagulls. Yes, I am a bird snob. I’m hoping when the rain stops, the crows will return. I’m still on a mission to take a good photo of them.

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Yesterday evening we went for a drive down by the bay shore. I asked my Dad to drive past the Anchor Inn (the old Inn, not the restaurant) as I wanted to get a reference shot. Growing up, I heard many incredible ghost stories about the Anchor Inn, in addition to a few other local buildings. At one point I had a few books about haunted areas along the Bruce Peninsula, but it was lost (amongst other books) during a move that happened ten plus years ago. Of course, I need them now for research. I’m sure I can find another copy, I feel like it was written by either Terry Boyle or Bruce Bell. Time to cruise on over to the Toronto Public Library!  One of the other houses I wanted a picture of has been torn down and it’s been too wet to trek out to the McNeill Mansion. Fortunately, there are lots of photos available online of the McNeill Mansion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_McNeill).

 

Now that I’m back in research mode, I will need to pull out the books I still have. There are also a few websites that have some information that is helpful. If only I could find the exact information I need. In the late 1980s and 1990s, I was obsessively researching ghosts and hauntings. I did this with a few other people. I’ve always been interested in ghosts and ghost stories and have written lots of short stories (hidden away in a folder somewhere) about ghosts. It’s funny how this knowledge creeps back to my frontal lobe cortex just when I need it most. Being in my hometown has brought a lot of this to the surface. There are many ghost stories to tell and I need to tell them. Now if I could just find those books and if the crows would finally cooperate with me!

Websites/Databases:

https://coldspot.org/category/haunted-ontario-database/

http://www.hauntedplaces.org/Canada/Ontario

http://www.theparanormalseekers.ca/places-weve-investigated.html

http://www.torontoghosts.org/

http://www.chapsparanormal.ca/chaps/investigations.html

Until tomorrow… stay ghostly.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes — except when it’s the front porch

The sun — it burns!  IT BURNS!  When you are so pale that you look like you may be dead — the sun is your enemy. It’s extra evil when you forget to bring your sunscreen. I’ve been to the grocery store twice now and both times forgot to pick up some. Yesterday my mom scavenged through the medicine cabinet to find a tube of SPF 30 that expired in 2012. Might be time to get a new tube Mom! Maybe? Until I remember to buy a tube, I will be hiding out in the safety of the shade. This is what happens when you are part vampire.

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Two mornings in a row at 3 am I have been awoken by a strange noise outside. A low, guttural clicking noise. It sounds like it is coming from the side yard, just on the other side of the deck. Is this an animal? A reptile? What makes this kind of noise? Zombies? Werewolves? The neighbours? Every time I am up north, it always feels like the beginning of a horror movie.

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Then there are the crows.

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7:30 am on the dot, second morning in a row, my wake up call was the very loud, very boisterous cawing of crows congregating on the fence beside my parents house. At least a dozen of those gleaming black beauties cackling away at each other. This sound is music to my ears. I love crows and ravens. Once I finally stumbled out to the kitchen, I could see them all lined up along the rail-tie fence. Then I spotted her. A massive raven perched on the roof of the house directly above them. She looked regal, as if she was looking down at her coven.

Ravens are my spirit animal.

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I have always been fascinated by crows and ravens. More so ravens. They are birds that work in communities, who protect each other, are super intelligent and seem to be in tune with the energies around them. Many of my women partners-in-crime see themselves with houses filled with cats when they are in their eighties, I see myself with a house filled with ravens and crows. No. I’m not kidding. Two of my favourite things are a charcoal drawing of a raven that my super talented friend Laurie made and a small statue of a raven pulling flesh from a skull. My perfect creepy house, when I’m in my eighties and nineties will include a raven, on a perch near the front entrance. You definitely don’t need a fancy alarm system or a guard dog if you have a raven on the watch.

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I’m going to be at my parents for at least another week. I’m hoping to get a good photo of the raven. I may need to figure out where in Toronto to find ravens and crows. It would be a good series of photos to take with my DSLR. For now, while at my parent, I will need to rely on my cell phone camera.  

Until tomorrow… stay creepy.

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Redheads Writing in Cafes — except when it’s at a kitchen table

If you want a good thunderstorm — you need to go somewhere, anywhere outside of the city. My arrival was greeted with a storm that lasted for hours and Hell’s Angels cruising through town. I have arrived. Ok… Ok. The storm didn’t start immediately and I actually saw the bikers this morning, but… it makes for good tales to tell.  What my arrival did bring was swarms of mosquitos and June bugs. I even saw a firefly. Today’s edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes is brought to you from my parents’ kitchen table.

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I lucked out and get to sleep on the world’s most uncomfortable couch/bed futon combo. There is a hard bar right down the middle and you have to by some miracle lay on either side of it and pray that you don’t fall out of bed. Oh, joy.  Oh, how I miss my memory form mattress. Shortly after 3 am the wind began. It howled and blew over the deck furniture. It sounded angry.  Soon after, the thunder and lightning began. Loud, vibrant, vibrating. My hometown is alongside Georgian Bay and Lake Huron a twenty-minute drive to the other side. The placement of our town, between these two lakes, guarantees amazing storms.

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I’ve been obsessed with thunderstorms for as long as I can recall. I was never afraid of them as a child, instead, I wanted to sit on the front porch and watch the storm roll in, always dazzled by the light show. In my early twenties, I even considered taking up storm chasing. The thought of hunting down a tornado fascinated me. I decided to pursue storms with another type of medium. In my case writing. So far the forecast is calling for storms later in the week. I hope we get a loud, window-rattling one. That alone makes the four and a half hour bus ride worth it.

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Part of my early love of storms is because of the show it provided, the other was I associated storms with those scenes in Frankenstein when they try to revive the monster. More than anything, I wanted him to live, I wanted him to terrorize and I have since the first time seeing him, I felt heartbreak for the re-animated being. He was never the monster. The humans were.

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Being here helps to inspire my writing. Especially the darkness that is found in it. This isn’t just because of my horror loving father, it has more to do with my high school years and the hell I was put through by classmates. By being singled out as a freak, it woke up a dark creativity that would only grow with me. Re-visiting here reminds me of why I left at eighteen. Being here has inspired a good chunk of the novel I am currently working. A novel I am going to be working on once I post this blog.

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Till next time… stay freaky.

Redheads Writing in Cafes Unless It’s a Pub

Welcome to this week’s edition of Redheads writing in cafes, except, it was a bar patio and I had cider instead of coffee. For those of you who are judging me right now…

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Many often joke that Canada has two seasons. Winter and patio season but, let’s be honest with ourselves here for a moment, the last couple winters we’ve had, haven’t been all that terrible. Compared to the year of the ice storm, they have been comparatively mild. Complain? We shouldn’t be, but as per standard, we will. It’s now mid-May and as I look around, I see trees filling out, and quite quickly over the last few days, happy people out on leisurely walks, people on bikes whizzing by, skateboarders, motorcycles and people browsing through the various tiny libraries, that are popping up on a steady basis, in my hood. Spring has sprung!

Yesterday and again today, we have been treated to a sneak peek of summer weather. Hot, humid, the threat of a thunderstorm and patios filled to the brim. Yesterday, I took advantage of such and found myself sitting on a patio in the Annex. Paupers Pub is probably one of the most popular patios in the Bloor/Bathurst area, especially now with all of the bars and restaurants of Mirvish Village disappearing due to the upcoming condo, erm…. apartment complex development. Paupers has always been a patio favourite of mine. The staff is a mix of Paupers veterans to university students looking for a quick cashflow to pay the rent.

The afternoon started with a coffee and vegan doughnut at Bloomers with our very own Life With More Cowbell, Cate McKim. Once we satiated our need for caffeine and a sugary, fried delightful treat, we made our way to The Annex. I’m talking about the doughnut you pervs…. Anywhoo… After parting ways, I decided to continue my stroll along Bloor and take the scenic route to my next destination, Paupers patio, where I was planning to do some writing.

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During my wander along Bloor, two odd things happened. I walked into BMV and didn’t buy anything.  I know, weird.  Then…. Then there was the guy wearing the Obama Halloween mask. Living in Toronto, I have seen some very…. odd things. A lot of odd things in fact. Normally I wouldn’t be fazed by the guy in the Obama mask, if it wasn’t for the fact that he passed me three times within a matter of 30 minutes and each time staring me down. I don’t think he was singling me out, I observed him doing this exact same thing to others he passed. I think a normal person may have been creeped out by the guy, I just kept thinking, “Man, that must be really hot under a Halloween mask on a day like today.” Has anyone else seen this guy before?

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I was able to get a couple solid hours of writing in before being joined by October for dinner and more drinks on the patio. I was able to do what I hope was the final edit on a short story that I am looking to submit on Monday to a literary magazine. I’ve been editing the story for two weeks now and feel it’s time to let the baby fly from the nest. I know for artists letting go of your work is hard to do. I always have a hard time with this, not because I’m worried about rejection, but because I want everything to be perfect. If you have the same issue or a solution please let me know. I’d love to hear your story as well.

Now that the weather is warmer, I am hoping to spend more time writing on patios. Sometimes with a coffee and sometimes a cider.