coffeeshop writing

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 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?

vintage-halloween-costumes-masks-women

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 #3

After an amazing weekend of wandering around my hood Saturday and talking about creative projects on Sunday, I am back to regularly scheduled writing in cafes. Today’s cafe writing is in the very popular Junction writing spot and office for many creatives, Full Stop. In the summertime, you can enjoy the air-conditioned inside or the sunny back patio! It’s a wee bit chilly today for a patio, though I am looking forward to this alternative once it warms up a bit more.  Who knows, there may even be a few posts of Redheads Writing in Cafes… on a pub patio with a cold, crisp cider replacing the cuppa joe.

As I mentioned, I had another amazing weekend with my fella, along with discovering or rather re-discovering some creative pursuits of days gone by. Many years ago on a planet far, far away, I went to college and got a diploma in Graphic Design and another in Photography. I especially adored black and white photography. Adored it! I loved every aspect from taking the photo to the dark room to the finished print. I was an avid photographer for a few years; until I had to make a choice. A horrible choice.

When you are an artist, you take on a variety of jobs to pay your bills. On many occasions, those jobs don’t pay enough and you have to either get additional jobs or sell things to be able to pay for essentials such as rent. When you are faced with possible eviction, you have a tough choice and in my case, it came down to selling my equipment.  My thoughts at the time were, ‘I can always buy second-hand equipment again when I can afford it.’ Sadly, that never happened and I still regret that decision.

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Fast-forward many years later, I started to get the itch again and began my quest to get a DSLR camera. Owning one would be two-fold for me. One part using the camera for vlogging and one part to start taking pictures again.  My plan was to start saving funds and eventually when I could afford it, buy myself a camera. Apparently, the universe and three amazing people had other ideas and I received a camera for Yule. I had absolutely no idea I was getting this gift.

Since receiving the camera, I have been taking many photos and video footage around my home, mostly playing with all the of the settings on the camera. This weekend I took my camera with me for a stroll through High Park.  The cherry blossoms on the Sakura trees were about to bloom and I wanted to get some shots and once my fingers gripped the body of the camera, it felt like there was nothing stopping me and something that was hibernating for quite a long time, woke up again. I shocked myself that I remembered everything about exposure, composition, lighting and other fundamentals. It was like meeting up a with an old friend again and everything just flowed again as if no time had passed.

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Since reacquainting myself with my old friend the camera, my mind has been bursting with ideas. As I walked to Full Stop, I was putting together an idea for a photo project. As I stood in line waiting to order my coffee I was sketching out, in my mind, an outline. The moment I sat down at a table, I started writing it all down. I personally feel that photography and writing go hand-in-hand. Quoting a fellow writer and photographer John Oughton “They do go hand in hand. Both require sensitivity to the world and careful examination of its phenomena. If you look at the two Greek words that make up “photography”, it means writing with light.”

When I was originally learning photography, I was inspired by a photographer named Ruth Orkin. She was self-taught and passionate about her craft. I am once again reading and researching her and in awe of her legacy. Though her style is very different from mine, it’s her passion for her art that is truly my inspiration.

Owning a DSLR has opened up another route for me in my creative journey. Each day when I wake, I feel like I am bursting at the seams. I am excited to see where I go with this creatively. My style of photography and vision is much darker than the photos I am posting in this blog entry, those photos will come later. I feel that I still need to learn all the ins and outs of a digital SLR. Though much of the functionality of taking a picture is the same, there are many more bells and whistles. This, of course, is all part of the adventure.

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Till next time. Fully caffeinated, this Redhead out!