coffee

This Girl Needs a Break

I’ve decided to take the month of August off from blogging… sorta. I’ve been going steady since lockdown began and am having a bit of blogging fatigue. I started out doing daily posts and then moved to 3 times a week. Doing all of that was great for my creativity and quite a feat. But… my fingers and brain need a bit of a break, as well, I’m needing time to concentrate on my next novel. What does that mean… I will continue Queen of Schlock every week, but Bat Adventures and Redheads Writing in Cafes will be on a break.

Redheads Writing In Cafes: Why I’m obsessed with thrifting & making my own clothing!

(except when it’s from my bedroom)

I was asked recently why I love making my own clothing (I get asked often) and this led me down a rabbit hole of all of the whys including why I thrift or go antiquing rather than buy anything new. Oh and of course why I will repair things, until they are literally falling apart. One reason, it’s in my blood, the other, well, there are many and you will need to read on.

My Mother Made Our Clothes We grew up poor and with a growing family and no extra money to buy things such as clothing for her growing children, my mother had to rely on hand-me-downs or making clothing herself. Like myself, my mother was taught the basics, but is mostly self-taught when it comes to sewing. Not only did she sew our clothing, she self drafted patterns AND would use what ever material was available to her. Discounted ends of bolts, old dresses, sheets… she was beyond crafty! Along with sewing our clothing, she knit us lots of outfits as well. I know this brought her a lot of joy and was a creative outlet for her.

Creative Outlet I have always been a creative person. Growing up my mother always made sure I had art supplies, writing journals, yarn and fabric at my disposal. Since she didn’t have time to do art herself, she made sure that her children could. Out of the four of us, I am truly the creative one. Along with doing art (mostly drawing) Sewing, knitting, crochet and cross-stitch helps my mental health. You heard that right, it helps with your mental well-being. While I am working on projects, I can go off into a meditative state. When I am done, I calm and in many cases have been able to work out problems and issues that were irking me.

Thrifting vs Buying New Many people want to participate in ways to help the environment beyond recycling and composting, but don’t always know how to do that. Thrifting rather than buying new actually makes a huge impact, especially in regard to clothing. Did you know that fast fashion contributes to Climate Change because of how much of it ends up in landfill! Check out this article! When you thrift vs buy new, you are not only helping the environment. you may come across some vintage gems that are generally better quality than much of what we buy today. Not to mention, I have found basically brand new small appliances at my local Value Village!

Antiquing falls under this category as well. I love, love, love going antiquing. It’s like going on a treasure hunt for me. We have a few favourite spots, but I’m always looking for new places to go. I love walking up and down the aisle, trying to find that one particular item or take a chance and see if I find something I wasn’t actually looking for. I always make sure to love in every corner just in case something has been hidden away.

You Save Money That’s right folks! You save money! That alone should get you excited about thrift stores!

Do you thrift? What do you look for when you do?

Redheads Writing In Cafes: Why I Love Silent Movies

As a child I spent many hours hanging out with my Great Grandpa Bill. I’ve mentioned him before since he is someone who influenced me as a writer. He was an incredible story teller and someone who didn’t shy away from telling spooky ghosts stories to me. He knew that they wouldn’t frighten me, rather intrigue me. I am so incredibly thankful for the time I spent with him. There was another thing that I fell in love with because of him and that is Silent Movies.

Because of my Great Grandpa, I have been watching Silent Movies since I was a kid. Back then I was fascinated by them, but it wasn’t until I became an adult and started rewatching them, did I really learn to appreciate the craft and dedication that went into making those masterpieces of art!

Over the years I have also been working on a Silent Movie script of my own. I’ve also, been reading about incredible female scenario writers such as Frances Marion, Anita Loos and Gene Gauntier for inspiration on how to write a good Silent Film. I highly recommend reading this article if you want to know more about them. These incredible women are another reason I am drawn to Silent Movies. Women shaped the beginning of Hollywood and the Silent Film industry. If you want to learn more about women who were scenario writers, producers and directors, this is a great resource.

Two other resources I highly recommend are the documentary and the book called Without Lying Down. It is the story of Frances Marion and the beginnings of Hollywood. The book is much more in depth than the documentary, but you should give both a go!

Living in Toronto we are blessed to have many rep theatres and most of them show Silent Movies. Once we are out of pandemic jail, we will be returning to them to show support and to enjoy silent movies. We are also incredibly lucky to have The Toronto Silent Film Festival. It had to be rescheduled to late Fall this year and we can’t wait to attend the screenings.

Silent Sundays is a monthly series held at The Revue. We rarely miss a viewing. It is really well curated and I’ve seen films that are new to me, as well as ones I have enjoyed many times.

The Fox in The Beach neighbourhood of Toronto also hosts Silent Movies regularly along with other fun classic movies.

There are a few blogs I regularly check out and you should too!

Movies Silently https://moviessilently.com/
Silentology https://silentology.wordpress.com/?wref=bif
The Hollywood Revue https://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com/category/silents/
Meet Me at the Soda Fountain https://meetmeatthesodafountain.home.blog/?wref=bif

I can’t leave you without letting you know what my top favourite Silent Movies are. These are in no particular order. Where I can, I post links to full movies. Enjoy!

Metropolis (1927) (this is a gorgeous HD copy)

Girl Shy (1924) This is one of my all time favourite Harold Lloyd films. This is a really clean copy of it.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) This is a restored version, but with the German title cards. There are other versions with English, but I highly recommend you watch this version.

Our Dancing Daughters (1928) This is such a wonderful movie and Joan Crawford steals the show! I’m so grateful to my fellow swell dame Heather Babcock for introducing me to it.

City Girl (1930) F.W. Murnau is one of my all time favourite film makers and you will understand when you see City Girl. It was also one of the last Silent Movies, as Talkies were all the rage at this point.

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) The film stars the beloved Louise Brooks. The title cards are in German, but you can find English subtitles.

City Lights (1931) This film is truly the last of the Silent Movies. It really speaks to The Great Depression of the 1930s and I personally feel it is relevant with what is happening right now. The full movies can be seen over on Netflix.

The Last Laugh (1924) This is another favourite F. W. Murnau film! It also has German title cards, but you can find English subtitles.

I’m sure a few of you were wondering where the Silent Horror Movies are. Do not fret!

Nosferatu (1922) The creepiest and best of all of the Dracula movies! I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen it.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) is absolutely wonderful and the special effects are pretty awesome for the times!

What are some of your favourite Silent Movies?

Redheads Writing In Cafes and Mindfulness

(except when it’s my bedroom)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, how we treat people and I have been taking every opportunity to listen to other’s stories. We are living in a time when people have had enough, have been pushed too many times, and are rising up! We need to continue to educate ourselves on the issues, how we can help, and how we can just be better people!

Earlier this week, I posted about this on my Instagram and want to expand on it, not only because it affects me personally, but because I see it happen way too often to friends and so many others, is body shaming. IT HAS TO STOP! Shaming is bullying. Point blank.

Over the last few months, I’ve been fat-shamed a few times. Both in public and online. A friend this week, who is a fucking Goddess, was fat-shamed. It also happens to her quite often. Another friend who lives a 1930s lifestyle is constantly fat-shamed because she isn’t as slender as the women from the era… women who were thin because they were literally starving due to The Great Depression. These are only a couple stories! We read and hear this all the time and we shouldn’t be!!! This goes beyond fat-shaming as well. I’ve heard from friends with physical disabilities and a few friends who are transitioning, that they have been shamed many, many, many times!

It. Needs. To. Stop! Bullying has long-lasting effects on those who are being bullied. You may not see the damage on the outside, but it is there!

Personally, I try to ignore the shaming, but let me tell you sometimes it’s really hard to restrain myself from lashing out, but I would be doing the same thing they are. I do try my darndest to educate and hope they understand what they’ve done is unacceptable.

While I’m at it, let’s also throw judging people into the discussion. Please don’t do that either! You don’t know their story and even when you think you do, you really, really don’t! Just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain! We really need to be mindful of how we speak to others. We all have inner editors and sadly, many of us forget to use them.

Our world needs more mindfulness and compassion. Not more hate

Redheads Writing In Cafes & A Poem

(for those who no longer can, for those who had to be sacrificed to be heard, for those who are just born, we must stand up against what is wrong)

The Dreadfuls

Feelings, feeling, felt
Avoidance, avoiding, void
That void, the one that echos
Remembrance vibrating past memories
Locked into a glass box of fear and dread

Hater, hating, hate
Screams, screaming, deaf
You tell them your pain
Your scars pulsating for centuries
Why can’t they hear your wails beyond the glass jar

Fighters, fighting, fight
Chanting, chants, warriors
They stomp in rhythm
Building walls to protect their inheritance
Names tapped into stone with too many to read

Breath, breathe, breathing
Justice, fairness, healing
If we can listen, can we not learn
Repeating what our fathers said
Will only burn all of the buildings to the ground

Mother, Mother’s, Mama
Fear, anger, love
We can fix what was once unfixable
Stand up for those who cannot
Push back against those who won’t

Together, togetherness, gather
Whole, circle, live
Push back, push forward, reach out
Give a hand to help and pull them up
Shout with them and let them be heard

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) The History of Toronto Laneways

If you recently saw my blog post about Bat Adventures Laneway Style, you will know that I’ve recently started exploring the laneways in my neighbourbhood. Since starting this, I have gotten more and more fascinated by the history of laneways in Toronto. I know many others are as well, so I thought I would do a blog post about it.

Toronto’s laneways have a fascinating history and were considered mixed-use. “Toronto’s laneways historically were mixed-used.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they housed services, from stables and dairies, to blacksmiths, and were avenues for coal delivery. With that in mind, what role should a 21st century mixed-use laneway play in our city?” (source eraarch.ca/) Today these same laneways mostly house garages.

Many of those same laneways also had beautiful coach houses! Sadly, I had a really hard time finding any photos either vintage or current. I imagine that there was a lot of hustle in bustle in those laneways in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. If those laneways could, they would have wonderful stories to tell.

When I am finally allowed to, I plan on doing a deeper dive, especially in The Junction/High Park/Roncesvalles/Parkdale area via The Junction Archives and The Toronto Archives. I will do a follow up blog post then. In the meantime, below are some links about the history and great information of Toronto’s laneways.

http://www.eraarch.ca/2019/uncovering-the-potential-of-torontos-laneways/

https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/88a5-Changing-Lanes-CCM-March-29-2018-AODA2.pdf

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/03/22/the_hidden_history_in_torontos_back_lanes.html

Art In Laneways

Toronto has some famous laneways for it’s art that boast a variety of styles and artist work. One in particular is called Graffiti Alley and it can be found south of Queen street and running between Augusta and Spadina. It is a photographers dream. Many more of Toronto’s laneways have stunning graffiti and art, you just need to go looking for it. Recently, we have started exploring the laneways in the High Park/Roncesvalles/Junction area and have been stumbling across both graffiti and individual artists work. We found below in an laneway just off of Humberside.

Toronto needs to utilize it’s space better and there is a lot of potential for laneways. Please check out The Laneway Project. They are working to unlock the potential of Toronto’s laneways.

When we were in Japan I was in awe of the usage of space. Most laneways had stores or restaurants or hidden doors to magical places. Wandering down a random laneway brought so many wonderful surprises. Toronto really needs to learn from Japan.

If you would like to also explore Toronto’s laneways, there is a map showing where they all are! https://www.thelanewayproject.ca/torontolanewaymap

Here are some links to articles about art in laneways in Toronto.

https://www.seetorontonow.com/my-toronto/toronto-street-art/

https://streetart.to/

https://locallove.ca/places/how-one-organization-is-revitalizing-torontos-laneways/#.XtUfcppE1QI

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Discovering New Things

Do you ever come a cross something new, that isn’t new and secretly yell at your friends for not telling you about it! Then those friends usually say… we thought you knew! That happened recently! For the first time, I discovered that Boris Karloff had a series called Thriller. Now to do you all a favour, so you know what I now know, I’m also going to tell you about a few other things he starred in that you may or may not know about, plus a few other classic suspense/horror TV shows you may love just as much as I am. This way we can stay friends.

Thriller (also known as Boris Karloff’s Thriller and Boris Karloff Presents) is an American anthology television series that aired during the 1960–61 and 1961–62 seasons on NBC. The show featured host Boris Karloff introducing a mix of macabre horror tales and suspense thrillers. (source Wikipedia)

Thriller (70s version) Anthology series of self-contained episodes with the genres ranging from murder mystery to suspense to psychological and supernatural horror. It ran from 1973 to 1976.

Ghost Story (later re-titled Circle Of Fear) is an American television horror anthology series that aired for one season on NBC from 1972 to 1973. Executive-produced by William Castle, Ghost Story featured supernatural entities such as ghosts, vampires, and witches. The show’s format and tone drew comparisons to NBC’s Night Gallery and ABC‘s The Sixth Sense. (source Wikipedia)

The Veil is an American horror/suspense anthology television series produced in 1958 by Hal Roach Studios.

The series is hosted by Boris Karloff, who also acts in every episode but one. Episode plots allegedly were based upon real-life reports of supernatural happenings and the unexplained. Ten of the 12 episodes begin and end with Karloff standing in front of a roaring fireplace and inviting viewers to find out what lies “behind the veil”. (source Wikipedia)

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Be A Pain In The Ass!

While doing yoga today, (day 128 for those keeping track), the term ‘you are such a pain in the ass’ kept popping into my head. As a child, I was told that often, that and ‘stop being such a pain in the ass’. What that meant in my case was I was questioning everything. Everything! I know I used to drive everyone nuts. There are a few incidents that really stick in my memory.

Incident number one that I clearly remember in my minds eye is my Brownie leader complained all the time about me to my mother. When it came time to move onto Girl Guides, the leader said I couldn’t join. Because… wait for it. I asked too many questions. My mother was furious and told the Brownie leader off, then turned to me and said they didn’t deserve me. It wasn’t the first or last time my mother would stick up for me in this way.

Quite often I talk about my Grandma Betty and how she influenced me, but I don’t talk about my own mother enough. I do mention how she taught me to sew and that she always made sure I had art supplies. I talk a lot about how she used to draft and sew our clothes when we were kids. I talk about a lot of creative things regarding my mother, but I don’t talk enough about how she influenced my entire life.

There are a lot of similarities between my mother and I. We are both the oldest child in our families. We are both creative. We are both stubborn. We are both pains in the ass. I truly come by this honestly. As mentioned above she had to stick up for me often. I’m going to talk about a few more incidents, because they did affect the type of person I became.

My Great Grandpa Bill dying had a huge impact on my life. I was really close to him. As a child who was shy and preferred her own company, I always felt like he was one of the few people I was happy to hang out with. We spent a lot of time together. He was tall, handsome, funny and a great story teller. He told many wonderful ghost stories. I was ten and half when he died. I was devastated by the loss. It was the first time I remember going through depression. Not just grief, but actual depression.

My Great Grandpa Bill came to live with us after the farm house burnt down. He had lived on and worked that farm for many decades of his life. Suddenly, he had no where to go, so my Mom told him to come live with us. I went from seeing him every day, to him being gone. He died of a stroke. If that wasn’t devastating enough, when we went to view his body at the funeral home, I had a complete melt down. The man in the casket did not look like Grandpa Bill. It’s not an exaggeration. The make-up made him look like a weird wax figure. Even my mother will confirm that. From that point on, I was changed. I started to question everything. I started to question death. In fact I became obsessed about it.

When I say I became obsessed, I don’t mean suicide or murder, what I mean is, I started to question what it was. I needed to know what death meant. What happened after you died, to your body, to your soul, after all, my Great Grandpa Bill used to tell me ghost stories. Was he a ghost now? I was relentless. I would not stop asking. In fact, I went to the school library and would constantly harass the librarian to find me a book that explained death. I apparently freaked her out to the point where my mother was called into see the Principal.

“Can you please tell your daughter to stop asking the librarian about death. She is being a pain in the ass.”

Once again my mother was telling someone else off. Saying her daughter was allowed to ask questions. She would not stop me from being a pain in the ass and she didn’t.

The next ‘big’ incident was in grade seven. Our teacher was physically abusive to the boys and a chauvinistic pig and verbally abusive to the girls. Oh the seventies…. One morning, I raised my hand to answer a question, which I got wrong and rather than move onto the next student, he decided to berate me and called me a moron. I of course wasn’t having it. I spit back at him, “If you think I’m a moron, then I’m not doing any more work.” I sat at my desk for the next few hours, hands folded on top of the desk staring forward. He kept threatening to send me to ‘the office’, if I didn’t smarten up. I just kept shrugging my shoulders. He had finally enough of me, got up close to my face and started yelling at me. I yelled back. FINALLY, he sent me to the office. I too had had enough. Every detail, every abuse, every single event that had happened up to the that point was laid out to the Principal. I’m certain I wasn’t the first to complain.

Guess what happened next…. you likely guessed, my mother was called, she told the Principal off, and that was that. By the way, I also have my mother’s temper, it doesn’t come out often, but when it does, you’d better be running.

I was sent back to class, the Principal pulled our teacher out of class and when he returned he was beet red. A nasty look flashed my way and he didn’t talk to me for the rest of the school year, which was fine by me. The abuse also stopped as well. Sadly, for our class only, as I have heard other stories of classes the years after us still dealing with it. I honestly don’t know how he was allowed to continue on, but then again… the seventies, where corporal punishment was still allowed in schools.

That was only a couple examples of me being a pain in the ass, asking questions, sticking up for myself, never backing down. When someone is, it’s because they believe in something or they need answers. If I’m onto something, I keep on it, until I’m satisfied. I will continue to be a pain in the ass.

My mother stood up for me because she wanted me to be a pain in the ass. This woman, my mother raised me to be strong and independent. She raised me to be able to get the fuck out of Wiarton and survive on my own. I know it is something she had hoped for herself. I often wondered and still do, if she constantly pushed me explore being artistic, because deep down inside, she wanted to be an artist herself. I wonder if she will ever admit that.

Mamma bird did her job well, because I left and have never looked back. I never will. To this day, she herself continues to be a pain in the ass and sticks up for the ones she loves.

If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s this. When you believe in something, love something, need an answer to something, be relentless, be stubborn, never give up. Succeed in getting the results you expect.

Be a pain in the ass!

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Why I Love Vamps

No. No. No that kind of vamp. Not a vampire. The silent film vamp! Ok. Ok. Let me explain.

The term vamp (for a woman) originated in during the silent film era. Prior to that it was generally a short form for the word vampire. In the 1920s A Vamp was the combination of the Flapper and the now more public erotic behavior of women. It might have also been used toward a woman who was a tease. Vamp gained even more popularity when silent films began.

Along with my love of silent film, I absolutely a more interesting characters, clothes and their make up was always way over the top. They were saucy. They were seductive. They were sassy. They definitely were bolder, braver and stronger. These were women I would have looked up to if I was around in the 1920s.

Theda Bara was probably one of the most famous vamps or at least a name that is recognizable to most. But… there were more. So many more.

Olga Petrova, Nita Naldi, Pola Negri, even Hedda Hopper (aka Hollywood gossip column queen), and Virginia Pearson, were also incredibly popular vamps, but somehow their names don’t come up as often. Some of these actresses went on to have long careers on stage and screen while others were not able to make it past these roles.

Olga Petrova

Nita Naldi

Poala Negri

Here are a few other great articles on Vamps in the Silent Movies.

https://silentology.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/vamps-your-great-grandfathers-femme-fatales/

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.

campbell-block-lg

04_campbell block, Fri Mar 06, 2009, 12:57:25 PM, 8C, 3056×2366, (446+4096), 100%, bent 6 stops, 1/60 s, R113.2, G77.1, B86.9

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.

lg_ce5803-H.H.Holmes_ChicagoHistoryMuseum

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

20-Facts-about-the-Jack-the-Ripper-and-It_s-Identity

Until next time…. stay shadowy.