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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.

 

 

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Redheads Writing in Cafes Except When It’s a Redhead Riot!

Similar to my previous post about Thea, Heather Babcock is another inspiring woman in my life who, when I met her, we immediately clicked. We discovered very early on that we were both obsessed with the 1930s and pre-code movies and vintage fashion. We instantly bonded, this was a friendship that was meant to be. Every day I am inspired by this beautiful woman!

The first time I met Heather was after she read at a Plasticine Poetry event. Her reading was amazing and she looked like a 1930s redheaded moll. During this time I was co-running The Beautiful & The Damned and my own show Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir. She was so incredibly sassy and talented, I knew we needed to book her and I wanted to talk to her on a personal level. My gut screamed that girl is super swell! My gut was right!  Eventually, I met her boyfriend Neil and they met Zoltan. Together we now put on a show called The Redhead Revue and we have all become incredibly good friends.

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When I hear Heather read or when we talk about our interests or life in general, I am motivated to do better and to be a better person. After spending time with Heather, I always feel like I’m not working hard enough. She is one of those writers who, with knowing she is even doing it, kicks me in the ass!

Heather Babcock is an incredible writer, storyteller, poet and performer. She has an incredible wealth of knowledge about the 1930s and pre-code movies. In fact, she is a walking library of facts. Oh… and she also happens to be a published author! Heather’s chapbook Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards was published by DevilHousePress in 2015 and her novel filthy sugar is being published by Inanna Press. Please also check out her blog Heather Rose Babcock…Writing to Exhale.

 

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes Except When It’s the Backyard

A heaviness hangs in the air. It’s been there for the last few weeks and it’s stifling. There has been a lot of shitty things happen in the last few weeks, including our provincial election, the deaths of two well-loved celebrities and a thickness in the air that leaves us all feeling worried, scared, uncertain. This disillusion has us unsettled. I don’t like it. I’m certain no one else does as well. This has opened a dark rift for many of us.

During my darkest moments, I do my best writing. I have been harnessing the darkness these last few weeks, the things I write require it. However, I need to harness it so it doesn’t take hold of me, rip away at my soul and push me into the mire. It’s a battle that is always hard fought by me and so many others and doesn’t always end in a fairytale ending. I’ve seen too many taken by the evil demon. With all of the negativity in the air right now, politically, life, life ending, channels are opening up again to talk, try to understand, heal. My heart breaks for those who could not cast out the darkness.  You will have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while, only posted about my events. A huge part of it was I honestly felt the only things I could write out would include a demonic presence and a world falling apart. So… I avoided it.

Blogging to me meant writing poignant, clever and sometimes funny pieces, whether it be sharing the things I enjoy or waxing poetic about life. Several months ago, two friends began journalling their daily observations and I, for a short period of time, also joined in, until I realized by observations became repetitive and melancholy. I don’t think that was what the exercise was meant to be. Last Friday, a group of us sat around the table in my backyard, gossiped, wrote and talked about life. It felt good, I felt energized afterward and it opened something up. Some of us see the sunshine, some of us drink in melancholy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

A blogging project I am now beginning is talking about the women who have inspired me during my life, kicked my ass when I thought I was failing and have lifted me up out of the darkness. The first person I want to talk about is Thea Munster.

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Tarot reader, thereminist, hearst driver, writer, world traveller, ghoul, b-movie queen, zombie walk creator, fiend.

I was not in a great place in my life, I avoided going out and definitely didn’t want to be around groups of people. Somehow an acquaintance convinced me to come to a Zombie Walk Committee meeting. Previous to this, I had been to a few walks. I loved the idea of dressing up as a Zombie and then disappearing into a crowd of the undead. After some arm twisting, I relented and went with her. Believe it or not, I am an introvert. There are many times that I have to talk myself into going out to events and honestly did try to talk myself out of this one. I am so glad that I didn’t. Not only did I walk into a group of people who were working on that years walk, I had found my fiends. A table of like-minded people who didn’t judge me for my very dark, very creepy interests. I found my people.

The meeting concluded, Thea and I chatted for a while, she was on her way to the Bovine to watch friends in a Misfits cover band and asked if I wanted to come. Instead of immediately making excuses for having to go home I blurted out yes and didn’t regret it. There was no awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences, we talked non-stop. This was how I met Thea. We were friends from that moment on, even periods of time between not seeing each other made no difference. We always pick up where we left off.

Thea has always been my inspiration. Seeing how she goes after her dreams, makes them happen and radiates a green glow from them, I am driven to work harder at my own dreams. I get to be the dark little girl with the crooked smile fearlessly.  Thea, thank you for being a true and honest ghoulfiend.

Please follow Thea on her blog and other social media. I have listed them below. You will definitely want to follow her on Instagram, she is posting videos playing the Theremin and they are spooktacular.

Blog: My1000moons.com

Instagram: ghoulygal

Twitter: boneyardbetty

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 – 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.

Redheads Writing in Cafes – but not actually in a cafe.

Not in a cafe today. Nope. This redhead is not in a cafe, she is, however, drinking coffee right now. I’m gonna need it. Ever try to cram too much into one day or week. Raise your hand or in my case hands. This girl right here. It’s ok, it’s all good important stuff.

Something else I am trying to cram in every day, somewhere after morning coffee and between getting my arse working, is exercise. I’ve made giant steps in cleaning up our diet and clearing out processed foods. Clean eating is cleaning us out to… oh, TMI? Too bad. You already knew what you were getting yourself into by reading my blog. Back to the exercise. I hate it. I have to do it, for a variety of reasons that include life longevity and I need to lose weight, plus I sit on my ass for too many hours in the day. On the weekend, I FINALLY got my bike wheel fixed. I had been putting it off since it burst in the fall. About time, right?

Right.

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As a full-time artist, I have to watch my spending. I’d much rather spend money on things such as food, rather than on public transportation. Now that I have fixed my bike, I can use it to trek to destinations, such as cafes to write in, getting groceries and running other errands. Today, I took it for a run around the neighbourhood and guess what I discovered. I’m out of shape. Way out of shape. After a twenty-minute ride, I was sweating and my legs felt like jello. Oddly, I wasn’t winded, though the wind in my bangs felt lovely. If I’m going to be doing all the things I mentioned above, I need to get my stamina and leg strength back.  I think the last time I rode that bike was a couple years ago. It sadly sat on my balcony, then eventually in my back yard… till now. I knew my limitations and only went a short distance. Each day I will push myself a bit further and build my strength back up. This includes getting up a small hill, yes, I said small hill. I felt like a pathetic failure that I could only make it halfway up the hill and then had to get off and walk the rest of the way.  Who the hell can’t bike up a small hill? Me apparently! Pathetic!

I knew my limitations and only went a short distance. Each day I will push myself a bit further and build my strength back up. This includes getting up a small hill, yes, I said small hill. I felt like a pathetic failure that I could only make it halfway up the hill and then had to get off and walk the rest of the way.  Who the hell can’t bike up a small hill? Me apparently! Pathetic!

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They say it takes 21 days to have a new habit stick. I’m hoping this one sticks faster! I know myself and am taking baby steps so I don’t fail at this. As I mentioned above I’m not a fan of exercise, but I need to explain. The reason I fail at exercise is I have repetitive things. If I do the exact same thing over and over again, I get bored and move on. This is why I don’t want to do conventional exercise. I use to actually run before. Then I hurt my knee and that came to an end. I loved running because you could go off to your own creative zone as you jogged along, I love walking for this reason also. Being at a gym, there is too much noise and I don’t feel like I can do that. I feel like bicycling is the same as running. At least for me, it is. Also, there is no monthly membership and there is no real way to look glamorous at the gym.

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Another reason to start cycling again is to see if I can get some of my other dames to join in. I can finally start that Edwardian Girl Gang but on bicycles. I am also intrigued with events such as the Tweed Ride. Toronto used to have its own event and I hope they start it up again. Even though my bike is super old, it, unfortunately, wouldn’t be considered vintage, just yet.

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Ok. Enough about exercise talk. That isn’t what this blog is about. It’s about me, in cafes, writing. A think I hope to do again soon. For now, I am destined to be in my home and on my couch. There are a few factors keeping me here this week, including all the rain we will be getting… again!

Time to get back to it.

Until next time… stay wobbly.

Redheads Writing in Cafes — Where the Hell Have You Been?

Hello!

Hi There!

Hi…..

Ok. Ok. Yes… I was on a roll. Blogging almost every day. Then. Poof. Smoke bomb. I was gone.  Don’t worry. I’m not gone. I’m still here. So where did I go?

I didn’t actually go anywhere… However, I did get lost — in my novel.

I’ve been crazy motivated since returning from my parents. There is something about that small town that motivates me to write dark, horrific things. It inspires ghost stories. I’ve been taking advantage of that writing adrenaline rush and have accomplished quite a bit. I actually can’t seem to write fast enough. This is a good thing.

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Also, the weather hasn’t really been cooperating. We are still having many, many, many, MANY days of rain. Even with a risk of rain, I don’t want to chance taking my laptop outside. I know I could wrap it in plastic, but I am still paranoid I will get it wet. This coming week is looking a bit better, so I am hoping to get out to a cafe at least a couple times this week. If not… I may need to continue writing from my couch or dining room table.

I’ve also been doing some recipe creation and then testing this week. I have another blog, where I am blogging about food and recipes called Not Vegan, Now Vegan, please check it out!

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Today I also FINALLY fixed my bike. It keeps breaking down. It was free and has had a few issues since I got it. In the fall the back tire blew out and I finally got it fixed. I fixed it for a number of reasons. 1. I need to exercise and lose weight. I’m working hard to clean eat, get processed food out of our lives and eat a healthy plant-based, whole foods, vegan diet but that isn’t enough. I need to also be exercising more. 2. I can avoid public transit as much as possible. It’s not a secret that I am not a fan of our public transit. It somehow one an award for being the best transit system, yet is actually one of the most expensive and most inefficient. I’m not sure who else was in the running. But, it is definitely not the best, especially when they shut down huge chunks of the system every weekend. 3. I can go to way more cafes to write Redheads Writing In Cafes. BONUS: I can cycle to our local pool to cool off when summer heats up.

Until next time…. Stay weird.