ghost story

Spookytown! Freaks & Grimm {an excerpt or two}

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

For this week’s blog, I’m going to post a few excerpts for my finished novel Freaks & Grimm. This is the mini blurb for it. Carrie thought grade 9 was going to be different. That she would finally fit it. Then Grimm moved to town and her world completely changed. Both obsessed with the paranormal, they are about to go on a ghost hunting adventure they would never forget.

I had a lot of fun writing this novel and definitely was inspired by the many ghost stories told to me as a kid. Here are a few excerpts.

***

That morning Carrie didn’t join her family for breakfast. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes she just wanted to sleep in, other times, she just wanted to stay in her bed and read. At first her mother would try to force Carrie to come to the table for breakfast, eventually deciding it was easier to let her eat when she was ready. 

After eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch with soy milk, Carrie decided she wanted to go for a walk, one that would take her right past the MacTavish Bed & Breakfast, as a sort of scouting mission to see if she could catch a glimpse of the new kid. She walked to the end of the block and sat on her neighbours rail fence. She was partially hidden by a large maple tree, but the house was completely visible to her. The house was an old Victorian mansion that was once owned by a shipping magnate. The town she grew up in was a shipping port in the early 1900s for the grain companies. Over time the house went from being a single-family home to a rooming house, then on two separate occasions a bed and breakfast. Maybe the new family would be using it that way as well. After twenty minutes of staring at the house, listening to squirrels fight, and waiting to be kicked off the fence, Carrie was about to give up and walk downtown when she saw him. He was tall and lanky and dressed head to toe in black. He had a haircut, just like the lead singer of The Cure.  He looked like he had just walked out of a Sandman comic. She looked away. At first, she didn’t want to look directly at him. She was afraid if she did, he would turn out to be an apparition, just like one of the ghosts in her beloved ghost stories. 

***

The movers unloaded the truck quickly, placing boxes and furniture in their designated spots.  Once Grimm’s father confirmed that everything was there, the movers tidied up, rolled up their rubber mats, were paid and left. Grimm’s father looked around at the boxed up contents and shook his head.  

“Guess we have more stuff than I thought we did”. Said Stewart.  

“Maybe the boxes multiplied like Gremlins in the truck.” Said Grimm.

“I think you’re right. Ok. I have no idea where anything is and don’t dare unpack the kitchen till your mother gets here. Let’s go find a place to eat and get some groceries.”

As they made their way to the car, Grimm caught a glimpse of someone across the street. He had to move away from the car to get a full view as a very large tree blocked out most of it. Perched on a rail fence that wrapped around the house across the street, sat a girl. She had dark, long hair, very pale skin and was all dressed in black. At first Grimm wasn’t sure she was even real. When she quickly got up and hurried away down the street, he knew she must be. He continued watching to see where she went, but was interrupted by his father.

“Are you getting in the car?”

“What? Ya Dad.”

“What were you looking at?” Inquired Stewart.

“A neighbour kid I think.”

“Did you wave hi?”

“No. They ran away.”

“Well maybe you will meet them on Monday when you go to school.”

Grimm hoped so as well. Suddenly, he was looking forward to his first day at his new high school.

***

The book was partially hidden under a pile of notebooks and loose papers. As Freaks grabbed hold of the book, the pile on top of it tumbled to the floor. She gasped, trying to grab the falling items, causing it to scatter all over the floor. She couldn’t believe how clumsy she had been. Freaks placed the book on the chair so it wouldn’t get lost amongst the mess. Bending down to pick up the pile that had fallen, Freaks noticed that a book, possibly a journal, was amongst the papers. The book itself looked old, worn. As if it had been read over and over again. She picked it up and quickly looked over her shoulder to make sure her father wasn’t nearby. She knew she shouldn’t have been snooping through Mr. Archer’s things but she had a lack of self control when curiosity took hold of her. She knew there had to be a reason why he’d been acting so strange the day that he had his panic attack.

“What’s taking you so long down there? You should have found that book by now.” Yelled down her father.

“I found it. I just need to tidy up a mess I accidently made. I knocked over some papers. I’ll be there in a minute.” Freaks responded.

“Take your time. I’m still having a heck of a time finding the clothes he has on this list. This guy seriously needs a housekeeper. This place is an absolute mess.”

“No kidding.” Said Freaks, as she looked around at the heaps of books and papers. Until now, she hadn’t noticed how messy the place really was. His office had stacks of newspapers on the floor and chairs. Along the floor and near the overstuffed bookshelves, there were stacks upon stacks of books in a variety of sizes and covers. Even the kitchen was a mess. Though there wasn’t any dirty dishes to be seen, the countertops were covered with a large number of canisters and more piles of books. On one section of the counter, there were dozens of boxes of tea. Every kind you could think of. Some boxes still had the cellophane on them. 

Freaks stood beside the desk holding the worn book in her hand. She didn’t know what to do. Should she just put it back on the desk where it originally was or should she open it up and look inside. Just like the garden she knew that this book likely held many secrets. Secrets she probably shouldn’t be allowing herself to know.  If she did, would she regret it?

“Hey Kiddo!  I think I found everything.” 

Freaks jumped. She had been so entranced by the book, she didn’t hear her father enter the room. 

“Geez Dad. You scared the cra….”

“What is that?”

“What?”

“That. The book you are holding.”

“Oh. Uh. I’m not sure. It fell on the floor.”

“Have you looked at it?”

“No.” 

“Looks like a diary.”

“Yes. Maybe.” 

“Were you going to look at it?”

“Maybe. Ya. I dunno.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Mr. Archer has been acting strange. I thought, maybe it would explain why.”

“Can I see it?”

Hesitating, Freaks handed her father the book. When he grabbed onto it, he stared at it momentarily, flipped it back and forth, inspecting the outside of it. Absentmindedly, Freaks continued to look around her, when she noticed a small box beside the desk. Wondering if they had also knocked it over, she grabbed the box, noticing that it was an old, yellow stained shoebox.

“It really does look like a diary doesn’t it. It looks old though. Don’t you think?” Said Robert.

“Ya. Maybe he’s had it for a while. Maybe we shouldn’t look at it.”

“Maybe.”

“Dad, what do you think this is?”

Robert looked up at Freaks and his eyes moved to the box. “Was the lid off?”

“Um. It kinda shifted when I picked it up.”

“Uh. Huh.” Retorted Robert. “Those look like letters.”

“Old letters.”

Freaks and her father stood in silence. Both wanting to open the book and the letters, neither taking the leap.  Taking a long breath and sighing Robert walked over to the desk with the intent on placing the book and the box back on the desk. 

“Where exactly did you find it?”

“It was under the pile of papers.”

“Which pile? The whole desk if a pile of papers.” 

“The pile on the left side.”

As Robert was shifting the papers, to stick the book underneath the pile, the book slipped from his hand and when it landed on the desk, it opened to the front page of the book. On the top right corner of the book was a name. Hester McGregor.

Almost in unison, Freaks and her Dad sang out, “Who’s Hester McGregor?”

Freaks looked down at the letters. “These are from a Joy Matherly.”

“McGregor? The McGregor’s owned the house on the corner. The one Grimm lives in.”

“Joy Matherly?”

Picking the book back up, Robert motioned to Freaks saying, “I’m not sure. Pull up a chair. We have some reading to do.”

***

Anne was four when she realized what she was seeing was otherworldly. None of it scared her. In fact they were playmates to her. Most of her days were filled with long, lonely hours. She had to be within sight of her mother, yet out of the way. Her mother ignored her constant chattering with persons who were not there. Well, not to her mother’s eyes. Anne had the constant companionship of three individuals. An older woman. Likely the first patriarch of the house, who passed away during a flu epidemic, an elderly gentleman, who was once the grounds keeper and a young boy. Anne never did figure out who he was. The young boy was only there for a short time, then stopped visiting Anne. At the time, she felt sad, as if she had been abandoned. Later in life she came to discover that sometimes spirits stick around, waiting for someone they loved or were attached to, to pass on. She figured he was waiting for his mother. The elderly man and woman stuck around, until Mr. McGregor died. They too, then disappeared. Something felt different that time. There was no peace to replace them. After that point, Anne felt uneasy in the house. The empty spaces felt as if they had been replaced with something malevolent. Something very wrong. 

Mr. McGregor, an awful, angry old man lived in a house filled with staff and no family. Mrs. McGregor had by then been forgotten in a home, no one even sure if she had passed on or still lingered amongst the beige walls of the institution. Her name was almost never mentioned. Especially after Hester vanished. 

Mr. McGregor’s business lost, he stewed in the darkness of his final days. No family, no friends and many enemies. Especially those who he’d not given a second thought when the doors to his shipping yard slammed shut on them. Left high and dry, they spit out his name in rage. They no longer cared to search for an innocent young girl who offended no one. They no longer cared about his implications of the young handsome man, who’d long vacated the town. No one believed Mr. McGregor and like those before him, he faded away. His negative anger however, stuck around. 

Anne could feel Hester everywhere she went, but only outside of the house. The sensation is the strongest, in a curving path, between the backyards of the carefully manicured Victorian homes. Anne was pulled to follow, but her worry of upsetting her mother stronger. She was still a child and her mother’s concern. A mother who returned to the madman’s employment when all others had completely abandoned him, she felt she had to keep an eye on her child at all times.

Spookytown! It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

As I mentioned in my last Spookytown post, I like to get warmed up for Halloween by watching classic spooky cartoons. My ALL TIME favourite and a tradition I follow every single year is to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Every single year, since I was a child, no matter how many times I’ve watched it, I still keep hoping…. oh… no… in case you haven’t watched it, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Why haven’t you watched this yet? I grew up with three, THREE television channels and I even managed to watch it every single year. Go watch it!

Who is The Great Pumpkin for those who still haven’t watched it? Linus explains it best!

A ways back we got a projector (thank you Heather Babcock) and we have been planning on projecting the movie from our front window on Halloween night (same with A Charlie Brown Christmas). We just bought ourselves a proper screen, so…. if all goes as planned (I’m talking to you weather), we may attempt to do it out in the front yard! We were inspired by others in our neighbourhood who project Halloween cartoons from their own front windows. We may also throw in a few of our other favourite Halloween cartoons.

If Linus and The Great Pumpkin had their way they would make sure Halloween happens, but sometimes it’s even out of their control.

Because of the plague, I’m pretty sure trick or treating won’t be happening this year, but we all need a bit of joy. Halloween is such a special time for so many people, children and adults alike. Even if you can’t give out candy this year, plan on decorating like you never have before, do fun events for your own kids so they don’t feel like they are missing out. Don’t let 2020 be a rock in your candy bag! Maybe this will be the year that Linus gets his wish!

{The below clip is a spoiler, if you haven’t watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and why haven’t you, don’t watch below.}

Spookytown! Haunted Toronto

I grew up in a small town that has lots of ghost stories. A few of them have inspired my novel Freaks & Grimm (will be released at some point). I also come from a family of storytellers and a good portion of those stories were about ghosts. When I moved to Toronto at the age of eighteen, the very first thing I did was dive into it’s haunted history. I bought books and eventually joined online communities. When I discovered haunted walks, I was in my element. Oh yes I was.

If I remember correctly, Bruce Bell was one of the first names I heard in relation to haunted Toronto. The other first for me was I dove deep into learning about Toronto and Canada’s Spiritualism history. It was a little harder to find information for Canada. There are lots of articles about the US, especially, the Fox Sisters. There were a lot of fraudsters and I often wonder if that embarrassment is why it’s harder to find information here. Nonetheless, I was able to find articles on Mary Melville and a few other spiritualists. To learn more, please click here.

It you want to learn more about Spiritualism or Occultism in Toronto, there are a few really good books at the Toronto Public Library and the Canadian Encyclopedia has a great article (see below). This is one of my favourites. The Secret City: An Occult History of Toronto

Spiritualism in Canada. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/spiritualism

Haunted Places Now let us move onto haunted places in Toronto. There are many haunted places in this city. There are also lots and lots of articles about it. Rather than rehash everything, I am going to link sources below. I was so incredibly obsessed with hauntings, that every time I moved to a new neighbourhood (that was a lot), I would investigate if there were any hauntings. At one point I had a book that I logged all of the information into, but it is long lost. I really wish I still had that book.

I currently live in the west end of Toronto and am very close to several cemeteries and well known haunted places such as Colborne Lodge, but I can also easily get to places like McKenzie House, Black Creek Pioneer Village (which holds a seance), Spadina House and the old Don Jail.

There are several books about Haunted Toronto, this one is by far my all time favourite. Haunted Toronto by John Robert Colombo

https://www.toronto.com/things-to-do/haunted-places-in-toronto/

https://dailyhive.com/toronto/haunted-places-toronto-2018

https://juliekinnear.com/toronto/haunted-houses

https://www.blogto.com/city/2016/10/12_haunted_places_to_get_spooked_at_in_toronto/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/haunted-toronto-a-paranormal-primer/article559802/

https://dailyhive.com/toronto/haunted-places-toronto-2018

Haunted/Ghost Walks One of my favourite things to do when the weather is agreeable is go on Haunted or Cemetery walks. Unfortunately, due to Covid not many of these are happening right now. I have a few friends who run some of them and I will list any of the other ones I know about as well. Once they are up and running again, please join them!

The Haunted Walk: https://hauntedwalk.com/toronto-tours/

Ghost Walks of Toronto: www.ghostwalks.com

Toronto Ghost Walks: https://www.torontoghostwalk.com/

Haunted High Park. They do a walking tour every Halloween, but not sure about this year.

Montgomery’s Inn and the Islington Pioneer Cemetery also host haunted walks, but again…. who knows with Covid.

Cemetery Tours: Toronto also has some really cool cemetery tours. I kinda feel like Covid is ruining a lot of our fun so I’m going to stop repeating the phrase… due to Covid. Eventually, all of these cool things will be happening again.

Muddy York Tours: https://muddyyorktours.com/?page_id=57

Toronto Cemetery Tours: https://www.facebook.com/TorontoCemeteryTours/

For my birthday this year, I was going to do a haunted back walk, that of course included ghost stories…. but that didn’t happen. Next year?

If I’ve missed any, please post them in the comments below.

Spookytown! My Haunted Hometown

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

The town I grew up in holds many ghosts. Some personal, some spooky. As kids, there were a few houses in town, that we either decided were haunted or they were the products of grownups telling us they were. Whether or not they are, is yet to be determined.

A couple houses that I personally thought were haunted (one of which was confirmed for me) was a house on Frank Street, near Taylor Street, the huge house on the top of the hill on Mary Street (corner of Mary and Gould) and the Inn on Bayview Avenue. The latter is the one I heard many creepy ghost stories about. (photo below) The Inn (not to be mistaken for the restaurant by the same name on the main street) has had many transformations over the years and was apparently, at some point recently, a restaurant.

Over the years I have searched online and read many books about ghosts in Ontario, yet, rarely find any about my hometown, which I find strange. Even the story of the famous Spirit Rock is rarely found in print. All that aside, the best of the stories, were always the ones told by my family.

One ghost story that always stuck with me, is the one about the footprints in the mud. This story was told to us by Grandpa Jim and Great Grandpa Bill. Both of their stories are told identically, neither straying from the details.

Before I tell this story, you will need a little bit of background. Grandpa Jim and Great Grandpa Bill were farmers. In addition to their farm, they owned a huge bush lot and in the middle of that bush lot was a massive field where they planted crops. I’m sure a few of you are asking, why is there a field in the middle of a bush lot? I’ll get to that.

Every spring, they would plow the fields a few times to prepare them for planting, often leaving them muddy. The freshly turned soil, hungry for the seeds they would plant. When my Great Grandpa/Grandpa acquired the bush lot, they knew there was a story, a very spooky and quite unsettling one, however, they left it to rumour, to them it was just a story. That was until that first spring.

After doing the first turn of the soil, they returned for its second plowing. When they reached the top of the field they saw something that confused them both. They weren’t completely sure if it was exactly as it seemed. Could the story be true? They decided to do their daily chores and laugh it off.

A few days later they returned only to see it again and in the exact same spot. This continued on each time they plowed. Same thing, same place. What were they witnessing? A very young child’s footprints that started at the top of the field and ran diagonally off towards the side of the field, then they disappeared into no where.

They tried to come up with a rational explanation. Maybe it was an animal. Maybe it was someone playing a trick. But how? The prints were the exact same each and every time, disappearing into nowhere. There were never any other footprints near it. It was impossible. Or was it?

A few moments walk from the field is a disintegrating foundation of a house. The forest reclaiming it. There once stood a small house on the masonry and close by, a small barn. The earth has long devoured it. A young family once lived there, but only for a short time. That was well over a hundred years ago now.

As with many families during that time, they were excited to buy their own land, build a house and eventually grow their own food to eat and crops to sell. Unfortunately, for that family, the dream was short-lived. One day, someone came across the darkened house, only to find its residents deceased. There are many versions of this part of the story. Some say their death was accidental, while others say they were murdered. Either way, there is a child that continues to play in the nearby field, just as they would, while they watched their parents work.

Every year, that my Great Grandfather and Father worked that field, they knew they would see those footprints and every spring, they were not disappointed.

Chunks of that bush lot have since been sold off to other people, so I’m not sure if that field is used to grow crops any longer. If it is, I would love to know if the new owners still see the footprints.

That bush lot has always creeped me out and even before hearing that story. I have always felt like someone or something was watching me. As kids, we spent a lot of time there, either with my Grandpa Jim as he worked, spending time in the shanty with my parents, or going to Thanks Giving cookouts with our entire family.

I have other spooky stories about that bush lot and may even write about them at some point.

Below are a few links to information on alleged hauntings in my hometown, and the Bruce Penisula.

Haunted Wiarton

https://www.torontoghosts.org/index.php/the-province-of-ontario/central/706-wiarton-bed-and-breakfast

https://brucemuseum.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=Spirit+Rock+Conservation+Area

Ghosts of the Bruce Peninsula

https://jamesmac.ca/curious/page/3/

https://www.trueghosttales.com/paranormal/creepy-ontario-cottage/

Ghost towns: https://www.ghosttownpix.com/ontario/towns/spry.html

https://juliekinnear.com/blogs/ghost-towns-ontario

Google Map of Ghost Towns: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?ie=UTF8&t=m&oe=UTF8&msa=0&mid=1gmYBD-AOQvZnItg2D0DaK5XR5Y4&ll=46.75902195463678%2C-83.950281&z=5

Welcome to Spookytown!

Welcome to Spookytown! A semi-regular blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more! My plan is to post weekly, but I will see how that goes!

As of the posting of this blog, it is nine weeks until Halloween! That is right NINE WEEKS! If you are doing a daily countdown, it’s 64 days! Why the excitement? It’s only the end of August you say. Because I am a Child of Halloween. The most wonderful time of the year!

How does one become a Child of Halloween? It can happen a few ways, but generally, you have either been once since childhood or you became one as an adult. The latter is usually because you’ve discovered it through a group of friends who are also Children of Halloween! I am the former. My Mother LOVED and still loves Halloween. Halloween has always been way more exciting for her than Christmas.

When we were little, my mother would sew our costumes, always making sure they were a few sizes too big. I grew up in a small town in Southern Ontario and the chances were pretty high that it was going to snow or rain on Halloween. Since she put a lot of work into our costumes, she wanted to make sure they went on the outside of our snowsuits. As we got older and started to give input or wanting to make our own costumes, she would help us put them together using whatever was available. One year I made a vampire costume out of a lace table cloth dyed black, my mother’s lipstick, eyeshadow foundation, and baby powder. I continue to make my Halloween costumes to this day. My mother has lots of photos of us dressed up and one day I need to get copies, so I can post part two.

I’ve never stopped loving Halloween. I love walking around my neighbourhood, looking at the decorations, and am always inspired by the themes that our neighbours come up with. A few blocks from us, there is a house I call Halloween/Christmas house because every year they go all out and include animatronics. Heck, the interior of our own home is Halloween all year long!

One of my concerns with COVID 19 is the fact that kids won’t be able to trick or treat this year, thus losing the spirit of Halloween, we need to keep this alive or rather undead. We need to keep the joy of the most spookiest time of the year. This year, even if you don’t normally decorate, go all out. We will be.

I also have a bunch of favourite Halloween cartoons that I will be starting to rewatch soon. Oh yes. I don’t wait until October. I have so many favourite Halloween activities I do each October, if I waited, I wouldn’t fit everything in. The ones I am posting below are from YouTube. I will be talking about some other favourite Halloween cartoons I love in another blog post.

Day 28

Day 28! And I feel great! {could turn this into a dirty limerick – maybe later}
For a couple of weeks, I wasn’t really losing inches, which is odd, because along with long brisk walks, I’m doing yoga every day and I’m still eating healthy. I am keeping track and I noticed that I will lose, then two weeks nothing, then lose, then two weeks nothing. Apparently, this is how my body loses weight. This time it was 3 weeks before something disappeared. I also wonder if it’s because I’m starting to build some muscles. (being hopeful here)


Here are the current stats on inches gone:
Arm = 1
Bust = 1
Waist = 4
Stomach = 9.5
Hips = 6
Thigh = 4
Calf = 1

I LOVE ghost stories. Reading them, writing them, watching movies and documentaries about them and you guessed it, even those reality-style TV shows about them like Ghost Adventures. If it goes bump in the night, I want to know about it. Do you like ghost stories?


Who else made it to day 28? Two more days to go in this challenge for me!

Day 8

Day 8! I’m really loving Yoga With Adriene. I’ve never had an instructor quite like her. She is amazing. Today’s practice was about healing. Something I’m trying to do right now.


Last night I had a dream about a crow. It was mad at me and was flying around and following me, telling me that. I couldn’t figure out why or what I’d done to make it mad. When a crow appears in your dreams and it’s flying and following you it means that you need to let go and move forward. This dream and Adriene’s lesson today go hand in hand.


I lost two friends this year. One was a toxic friendship that I finally walked away from for the final time. The second was a beloved friend who we all lost to cancer. In one situation I am grieving deeply. My friend was young and restarting her life and cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. In the other situation, in the beginning, I was mad at myself for letting it go on for so long. The friendship was unhealthy for both parties. It was a good thing to walk away, but I still beat myself up over it when I shouldn’t have. Today I realized I need to heal from not only my friend who died but from the toxic friendship I ended. It’s also ok to talk about it, because… this girl… doesn’t like to do that.


Today’s photo is of a ghost. I believe in ghosts. I write ghost stories. We all have emotional ghosts. It’s ok to tell them to go to the other side.

But… You promised bats!

Where have the bat posts gone? You promised us bats! Yes. Yes I did, however, life got in the way. Since my last post I had a bad reaction to all of the mosquitos bites I got and things in general got really busy! Due to all of that, I haven’t had time to get out for our regular dusk strolls. But do not fret, I have a new adventure that I will be posting about soon.

During the glorious month of Halloween, my Gomez (aka my husband) and I will be heading off for an adventure in Japan! I’ve been dreaming of this trip for many years and I’m beyond excited that we will finally be going! One of the best parts (besides seeing family and visiting all of the things on my crazy ‘to visit’ list) is that our first few nights we will be staying in a hotel with a giant Godzilla head on top of it! GOJIRA!!! Ask me how excited I am. No really. Ask me!

Back to bats for a moment. Japan has a lot of bats and I will be taking our bat detector with us. To find out more about The Ryukyu Flying Fox click here and for the Japanese House Bat click here.

In writing news, I am doing my (I swear it this time) final read through of Freaks & Grimm and then it is off to a couple more readers. Once I get their feedback, it is being sent to a publisher. I loved writing this book, but I have another story scratching at my brain currently (a 1930s based novel), as well as another novel idea for the continuing story of Freaks & Grimm.

If we are able to fit in a few more Bat Adventures before the cooler weather drives them into hibernation I will do a blog post .

Redheads Writing in Cafes and Chantilly Lace

Do you believe in ghosts? I sure as hell do. I believe there are many kinds of ghosts, some that can’t leave this realm, those who don’t want to pass over and those who show up once in a while like right now, to check in on you. I know this is fact because I just got a whiff of Chantilly Lace.

My Grandma Betty smelled of baking and Chantilly Lace. Whenever you hugged her you would always breathe it in and as a kid, I just assumed that was how she smelled, until the day I found the little pink box with the fluffy white powder puff. The minute I sat down this morning to write about her, I got a very scent of her perfume surround me. I’m now feeling extremely nostalgic, I miss that woman so very, very much.

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Elizabeth Smart was more than just my grandmother, she was a force. She emigrated to Canada from Scotland, got married, had fourteen children and who knows how many grandchildren followed after that, however, she was more than that. She was neighbourhood warrior, standing up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I’ve heard many stories about people being chased by the cops for minor occurrences hiding out at her place, she’d then talk the cops down from arresting them. My grandma was a badass. You also didn’t mess with her family. Oh no, you didn’t! Was my grandma Bonnie Parker, no, pay attention, she was a Betty!

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The older I grow, the more I realize how much I am like her. When you met Grandma, she was welcoming, chatty and her laugh would fill the room. She loved to help her community, was loving and was always there if you needed comforting. She also relished time on her own, reading, knitting, sewing and of course, baking. Like myself, she was an Extroverted Introvert. She made the most incredible, melt in your mouth shortbreads, currant cake and pies. To this day, I’m the only one who has nailed her currant cake recipe. The one main thing we have in common, try to corner us, and we come out fighting. My Grandma put up with zero crap.

When I was fifteen, I went through a really shit time in school. I was the weirdo, the girl who dressed all in black, had the weird hair and carried books about ghosts everywhere she went. There were four particular girls who would verbally abuse me. As much as you interacted or ignored them, this still wears you down, especially if you are a teenager. Being told one too many times to basically suck it up, it can’t be that bad, I stopped talking to anyone about it and let it silently eat away at me and it really did. After one particularly horrible day, I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I started crying during my walk home after school. Little did I know, Grandma Betty was walking right behind me. I have no idea how long she was behind me, but I know it was long enough for her to figure out something wasn’t quite right, because her fifteen-year-old granddaughter rarely cried and especially not in public.

Then she was standing beside me. Just like every time I’ve needed her.

I told her what had happened and she listened without interrupting, then these words… the words that have always stuck with me, the words that I repeat over and over whenever anyone tries to belittle me, talk down to me or insult me.

Grandma: Why do you care what they think.
Me: (starts to explain again what happened)
Grandma: Yes, but why do you care what they think.
Me: (starts to explain again what happened)
Grandma: Why do you care what they think.
Me: (getting it) Oh.
Grandma: Those girls aren’t worth it. Who cares what they think.

My grandma stopped and hugged me. I finally got it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. You need to be yourself, do what makes you happy. Be the person you want to be. This is a hard message for a teenager to grasp and it did take me a while to accept it, but when you repeat it to yourself over and over, it does eventually sink in.

Did the verbal abuse stop. No. But I not only found a tool to handle it better, I had someone to talk to that would actually listen to me and not brush it off as teenage angst. For those who are wondering, why didn’t the school do anything? It was the late seventies/early eighties and trust me a small town high school… didn’t understand that bullying was a horrible thing for a kid to go through. That said, I did have one teacher who was also one of my heroes. One day I will write more about Mr. Bob Rix.

Grandma Betty is my badass, give no shits hero. I miss her every day and when I get that whiff of Chantilly Lace I know she is checking in on me to make sure I’m doing ok.

 

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes – Bring on the gloomy weather

What weather helps to motivate you to write? Some will say, especially in the summer, being able to sit outside in the sun on a clear, hot day. I prefer gloomy days. I love thunderstorms and the dark gray weather. It not only helps to inspire me when writing ghost stories, it also allows me to not burst into flames when I go outside. If you are reading my blog for the first time, I’m not a vampire, but I do consider myself a ghoul. A ghoul who glows in the dark and will be burnt to a crisp if left out in the sun. I don’t enjoy bursting into flames.

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When most are celebrating the arrival of summer, my heart is already aching for the fall. If we could only have late spring and early fall weather all year long, I would be in my version of heaven. I love late spring, with its warm days and cool nights. Everything is growing and alive. Early fall also has warm days and cool nights along with crunchy leaves under our feet, the reds, and golds of the tree leaves and Halloween. In my case, Halloween is all year long, but the month of October will always have a magical feeling.

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Around mid-July, I start to feel a pull of nostalgia and longing for the crispness of fall. I start peering through store windows, wondering if I am going to catch my first glimpse of Halloween sales items. I anticipate being told to shut up about my constant chattering around the subject of the spooky season since I should be enjoying summer. Ghouls don’t particularly enjoy summer. Please see above comment about bursting into flames. I am currently enjoying the cool breeze blowing through my window at the moment. Bring on the fall I say!

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I have been reading up on the subject of zero waste and am not only interested in reducing my carbon footprint, but want to research more on when our society went from zero waste to the creation of landfills for all of our unnecessary garbage. I’m sure it will be hard for many to wrap their heads around the fact that there was a time when we weren’t creating garbage. Is that time prior to 1900? 1920? 1950? This is something that will definitely inspire a short story, a horror-themed short story.  There is a town in Japan that is almost zero waste. Check out this video from YouTube. It would be amazing if Canadians could set the same example.

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I’m making huge progress on Freaks & Grimm. I had a huge AHA moment this week and am now working out how to write the next few parts of my novel. I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  The ending hasn’t quite written itself, but I do feel it forming. I was beginning to worry that I might have a War & Peace on my hands.

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Each time I think it might be safe to head to a cafe to write, there is the treat of rain. I love my red couch and that I am able to sit here an write, I would however, also enjoy sitting in a cafe and sip a coffee while I work on my novel. Maybe that will also have to wait till fall. For now, I will continue to pretend that I am in a spooky cafe.

Until next time… keep dreaming of Halloween.