coffee

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’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 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 — Except when it’s on the bus….

All aboard!

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I’m on the bus, writing. No, not Toronto transit, a Greyhound bus. I’m currently on my way to my hometown to help out my Mom.  She recently had surgery and just got out of the hospital. I’m heading up north to help out while she recovers.  This week, you will be getting editions of Redheads Writing In Cafes, but from the deck or if it’s raining, the front porch. Hell… it may even be from the kitchen table, considering how close it is to the coffee.

I’m not going to divulge why my Mom has surgery, it’s really no one’s business. We will rule out that she didn’t get any kind of plastic surgery or breast implants. My Mom doesn’t need any of that. She is 72 and could easily pass for someone who is 60. Minimal wrinkles and hardly any grey hair. I hope my skin looks that amazing when I’m 72. But, ya… it’s none of your business what type of surgery she had. Wait… I got off track, back to the bus.

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The Bus in one way is amazing. You can relax, read, write, sleep or simply look out the window. Most importantly, you don’t have to drive. I don’t like driving long distances as I always end up with a migraine and I especially hate driving at night. The bus has a washroom, though it usually reeks, but… it has a washroom. With the wonders of technology, there is also Wifi and a place to plug in if your device is running out of juice.

Then there is the flipside of that coin.

Smells, sounds and crying children that you cannot escape from. You don’t have the option of getting off at the next stop and moving to another train car. What you do, is hope that those smells, sounds and screaming children get off at the next stop along the route. Today I’ve been lucky, I haven’t always been.

Then there is the bus terminal. Raise your hand if you have spent any amount of time at the Bay Street Terminal. I’ve been taking the bus up north since the late 80s and though they have renovated since then, not much has really changed.  Everytime I go there, I’m reminded of the scene that was shot there for the movie Adventures in Babysitting. For many, many years that was the decor. There is also tonnes of entertainment to be had, such as the time the homeless guy walked around yelling at everyone in the terminal till the got to me. He looked at me, mumbled something and then walked away. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of entertainment — plenty.

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Of course, without fail, I never bring enough food. It takes an hour and a bit just to get out of Toronto and usually by then, I’ve polished off half of my snacks. I do this…. EVERY TIME!   When will I learn? The benefit is I am trying to eat small portions of food and having less snacks is a good thing. I’m trying to get back to a healthier weight. This means, smaller portions and actually exercising. No… no, I’m not going on any of those crazy, extreme diets that all the kids are doing these days. I’m doing it the old-fashion way and when I say old-fashion, I mean the 1930s way of staying slender. Smaller portions, walk or bike everywhere.

I am going to end with this, if you haven’t seen Wonder Woman, you need to go see it right now. I’m serious. Drop what you are doing and go see it. If you ever needed a hero(s), Patty Jenkins has brought you one. I am also excited that a new generation of girls are wanting to be Wonder Woman. In the 70s it was the Lynda Carter version, now it is the Gal Gadot one.  Why are you still reading this? You should already be on your way to the theatre.

If you are still reading this… I’m signing off, but will be bringing you a new post as often as I can this week.

Until then…

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.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes #4 and Why I Support Local Indie Artists

Just to warn you. There may be swears.

The last few days have been lovely. Wednesday, I hung out with my sister from a whole other family, October. Thursday, live music at C’est What with Neil Traynor and band. Had another productive cafe writing session with Heather Babcock and John Oughton on Thursday, Saturday, my fella and I crammed in watching Street Poetry in High Park, a second viewing of the cherry blossoms and then dinner and live music in The Junction. After an amazing few days of enjoying local independent art, music, and poetry with the people I love, fellow creatives, why do I not feel content? Why instead am I feeling contempt? Here’s why.

This has been nagging at me, scratching at my gray matter for some time now It’s been bubbling just below the surface, pulling at me, like that song, that sits on the tip of your tongue and it’s driving me mad. I have talked to others about it. I’ve occasionally posted status messages about it and tried to get people’s attention and their consideration for it. Now… now I’m at my wit’s end and I’m pissed. No, I’m fucking angry. It’s time to make a change.

Ok.

Ok…

Those were the swears. I can’t promise those were the last.

What initially pushed me to the brink was a group of four women who were in their early twenties. As we were having our writing session at a local Mom and Pop run cafe Thursday, these young women were standing in line waiting to be served. A long line. The cafe was busier than normal due to the cherry blossoms in High Park. When they were about three people away from being served, one of the young women loudly exclaimed, “I want to support local, but they are too slow here. Let’s go to Starf*cks.” (she didn’t call it that and used the proper name, I did. Guess who will never be sponsoring me.).  Did these women not notice the cherry blossom festival chaos across the street and consider it might be affecting the businesses in the hood? If you really wanted to support local, wouldn’t you be patient? Wouldn’t you take how busy the shop was into consideration?  I did.

This, however, isn’t what I want to talk about. It was what triggered everything.  Thursday night, a good friend was playing with his band at a popular downtown venue. When it came time to pass the tip jar, we went around to everyone who was, what we thought, enjoying the music. We asked everyone to throw in a loonie or toonie to help support local music. Some put money in funds (mostly other artists), while the corporate types (I have another name for them, but won’t write it) declined — very rudely in most cases. This really bothered me.

I’ve put on many events and attended an even greater number of them. I’ve observed when the tip jar is being passed around, for the most part, artists will always put money in, even if it is whatever loose changed they have in their pockets. Artists will go out to other artists events without batting an eye. We support each other, promote each other, help out at each others gigs, artist supporting artists. This, sadly, does not help us grow, help us get noticed outside of our community and when we try to get others to come to events or if they are at an event, put a few dollars in the tip jar, they don’t or rather won’t and they make you feel awful for asking.  On Thursday night, we received snarky comments and evil stares when we asked. I felt that we were asking for their first born (no thanks) or for a donation of blood. (again no thanks) It was frustrating.

Once upon a time, artists were revered. If this was the 1920s or 1930s we would be looked upon at a higher level, would make a nice living from our art and be respected. Why is it, in 2017, we are looked down upon, brushed off and disrespected? We are asked to work for free and when we do get paid, it’s for way less than minimum wage.  We struggle to get anyone, who isn’t an artist to come out to events (when was the last time our families, workmates or other acquaintances came to see us).  We work hard to promote our events, prepare for the events and then put on the show.  How do we get people to start supporting local artists? How do we get them out to events? How do we get them to respect us?

This city is full of performers, writers, playwrights, theaters, bands, songwriters, singers, visual artists, photographers, poets, spoken word artists, designers, painters, sculptors, magicians, burlesque, comic artists, comedians — the list goes on. How do we get the average Joe to support us? How do we get the city and venues to support us?  And speaking of venues, how to we keep the supportive ones going?  I see my fellow artist struggling every day to get their art out there and to survive financially. I see musicians like Cynthia Gould trying to get awareness out there through her TO Rock Cult Facebook page. Yesterday I witnessed Street Poetry trying to raise awareness. I applaud these artists and all the others that are making an effort, but my question, the thing that is bothering me, nagging at me is how do we as one huge collective, make this happen on a bigger scale? How do we get the populous to once again respect and revere artists?

I will keep promoting, supporting and helping my fellow artists. I will continue to walk around venues asking everyone to put some money in a tip jar. I will keep posting and voicing out how much we need to support independent artists, but I need help. Cynthia needs help. Every person who is fighting to survive as an artist needs help!  Here is where you can help. Everyone who reads this, please share it. If you see an artist’s having an event, go to it, buy their art, books, CDs, merch. Post about their events, tell your friends. Better yet, gather your friends and bring the to events. If you are an artist, keep promoting your fellow artists. Let’s, as one huge collective get the rest of the world to see us!

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SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS!