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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 will be some swears, but for a change, it wasn’t me.

Oh. There you are! I’d wondered if I’d see a blue sky again. Of course, I feel a storm brewing, but not the weather kind. I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table, attempting to write and instead am listening to my father curse. I think he’s to the point of his tirade that he’s making up swear words. You see, at some point during the night, the basement sump pump broke and now the basement is flooded. This is what happens when your house is built beside a former swamp and it hasn’t stopped raining for days. There will be swears and lots of them. Mom and I are steering clear of him for the moment. Oh, the swearing!

Susan Strasberg in Seth Holt's SCREAM OF FEAR (1961). Courtesy P

My Mom had her staples removed and the doctor reported that things are AOK.  Such a huge relief for everyone. While staying here, I’ve been doing most of the cooking and we have figured she may also have a form of IBS. I have convinced her to take her diet down to the basics, keep a food diary and cut out foods that are likely the irritant, then discuss with her doctor. All was going well until last night when there was indulgence in greasy foods. Hopefully, the mostly whole foods, plant-based diet will get her tummy back on track. It would be awesome if she went all Vegan, but… baby steps.  We have found a few really good sources for an IBS diet and if she sticks to it, she should be back to normal quickly.

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Now that she is healing up and 75% more mobile than when I got here, I can return to Toronto. Look for another edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes except when it’s on a bus unless I fall asleep, the bus leaves here at 8 am and I haven’t been sleeping well. Remember that episode of Seinfeld with the pull-out couch that had ‘the bar’ — I’ve got the futon couch/bed, with ‘the bar’. I’m looking forward to being in my own bed and back to writing in actual cafes.

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02 May 1960 — Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred in the musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress, taken from the fairly tale of the Princess and the Pea. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

I hope the rain holds off tomorrow. I want to make another trek to the Salvation Army to see if I can find some treasures. It was also suggested that the drugstore downtown may carry books written by Diane Madden. I’m on the hunt for her books titled Tale of the Unusual, More Tales of the Unusual and Yet More Tales of the Unusual. I’m not a 100 percent sure these are the books, but they sound closer topic wise to what I am looking for. Sometimes, when I can’t find these specific types of items, I often wonder if I dreamt them up. Anyone else do this? It’s incredibly frustrating.

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The cursing has at least settled down a bit. I’m still at the kitchen table trying to will my laptop to charge faster. Seriously, charge faster, I want to retreat to the covered front porch. Hopefully, it will be quieter and I can get back to working on Freaks and Grimm.

Till tomorrow… stay ghoulish.

/nb A question for my readers. Do you read my posts via your browser or directly from your email?

Redheads Writing In Cafes — the ghost hunter edition

I am starting this post by saying how thankful I am for the Toronto Public Library. I’m researching for the novel I am writing and looking for specific stories of hauntings in my hometown. There are books out there, I just can’t find them online.  I can’t even find any information online, which is frustrating, I would think that someone would have blogged about them. I have also reached out to Facebook, hoping someone I know, knows… something. A few names were suggested, one of them is Diane Madden. The Reference Library has her books (for reference only) and once I am back in Toronto, I will be making a trip there to do some further research. In a world of everything being online, it’s frustrating when I can’t find the very specific things I need. It seems more often than naught, I’m finding myself going to the Toronto Public Library to get the information. Our libraries are vital and we should never forget that!

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As I continued to browse through the library website, I found several books by Terry Boyle and John Robert Columbo about Haunted Ontario. All of these books are sitting on my bookshelf at home and though they didn’t include the stories I needed, I was grateful that I could access them online to check. Let’s keep our libraries alive!

The rain has been non-stop and yesterday we had thunderstorms off and on. Toronto even had a tornado warning. I’ve lived in Toronto since I was 18 and only recall this happening two or three times. Right now, it is pouring rain and windy. If it was a light rain I could sit on the covered porch, but even that is getting drenched at the moment. Instead, I am once again in the kitchen.

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Last time we visited we bought our parents a Chromecast. I’ve been introducing them to the wonders of Netflix and all of the 1950s b-movies on YouTube such as The Night The World Exploded (1957). This 1957 sci-fi schlock movie was our rainy evening treat. Tonight I may see if I can find a Universal Monsters movie to watch or a copy of 13 Ghosts. If not, I know I will find something campy that will not disappoint.

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My parent’s dog Flash has bonded with me. I’m not sure if it’s due to me being here for a week or because I gave him a cookie last night or maybe he just likes me. All day yesterday he followed me from place to place throughout the house and last night he decided to sleep in my room, snoring and farting. It’s been awhile since I’ve had puppies do that and it reminded me of my beloved Harley. I really miss both my furballs, I don’t miss the snoring and farting.

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Today is also Father’s Day. I hope all the Dads or Dads to be or Dads who just haven’t discovered they are a Dad yet… that they are aware of… have a fabulous day.

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Stay spooky…

Redheads Writing in Cafes — I’m back on the front porch

When I started to write my novel Freaks and Grimm, I decided in the early stages, that it would be based in a small town. The town I grew up in is my inspiration, along with the house and neighbourhood I grew up in. Down the street from where I lived is a huge Victorian, with a wrap around porch, gable trim, and amazing stained glass. There was and still is, something about that house that is creepy. I have always believed it was filled with ghosts and because of this, the house has become a character in my novel.  There are a few other buildings in town that inspire me and I hope to get photos of them before I leave. I took some photos of the Victorian and had to be stealthy since there was some guy sitting on the front porch.

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Next time I come to my parents, I am going to bring my DSLR. I didn’t bring it this time since I was taking the bus and had to make decisions on what to I could actually carry. Next time I will bring just my tablet so I can also bring my camera. I need to document some of the creepiness here and get better photos of the crows. I’ve tried to capture them with my phone, but a zoom lens would be optimal. Also, they seem to sense when I’m trying to take a photo and fly away. Are crows really camera shy?

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I’m by nature a night owl. I begin to feel my artistic energy later on in the day and am always finding inspiration when the sun goes down. When you are in a small town… being a night owl just doesn’t work out since everything literally shuts down at 6 pm, with the exception of the 24-hour grocery store and the Tim Horton’s. Neither of these is appealing to me for places I want to write. My parents are early to bed, early to rise and I am worried that I will make too much noise and disturb their sleep and by 10 pm, I’m in my room watching YouTube videos. I’ve gotten so used to heading to bed at the witching hour, that I am really missing it. I’m also really missing my fella right now.

While I’m looking after my Mom, I’m also doing all of the cooking. This means, that all of their meals are Vegan. I wasn’t sure how this would sit with my father, but so far, I’ve had zero complaints. It may have been my famous chili or the tasty stir fry that has won them over. Tonight I am making my ‘are you sure there isn’t meat in this’ pasta sauce. I wonder if he will argue with me again on whether or not there is meat in the sauce. Mom is also realizing her diet needs to change and though she won’t go Vegan (yet), she is considering being Vegetarian. She is also cutting dairy out of her diet.

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Today I had four goals. So far… I’ve accomplished two of them.

  1. Write while on the deck. So far… no rain. — Doing that right now!
  2. Get a good picture of the crows and raven. — So far, no luck. They seem to be in hiding at the moment.
  3. Tell you to subscribe to my website at www.lizzieviolet.com so you get notified when I post. My latest series is Redheads Writing in Cafes. — DONE!
  4. Not burst into flames when I go outside. — The sun is still out. I’m still trying to not combust.

Until tomorrow…. Stay ghoulish.

/nb I couldn’t resist adding the photo of my Dad’s dog Flash. I love Beagles! Flash is spoiled and a dog filled with old man charm.

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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!

Redheads Writing in Cafes #2

Guilt. Why do I feel so damn guilty walking away from that very large pile of laundry? Why is it taunting me, making me feel like a bad person for ignoring it? I swear it was staring me down as I walked away, it was yelling at me as I grabbed my laptop and exited the building. Why is there so much guilt?

Yesterday I had the honour of being photographed by the amazing and incredibly talented Lisa MacIntosh. Lisa is not only an intuitive photographer but a wonderful human being. She has photographed musicians from all over North America for her Great Hall Series and many inspirational women, including Amanda Palmer, for the ASK series. Being included in this group of women is the biggest compliment anyone has given me. She will be working on the ASK series for the rest of the summer, please keep checking her website to see who else she includes and for more information on the ongoing series.

Lisa and I are both full-time artists, who work for ourselves and mostly work from our homes. We chatted about this and how easy it is to become distracted by the many chores and tasks involved in our households. One of the greatest traps when working from home is this exact issue. When I ignore these tasks, I start to let my imagination go to dark, dark places that include German Expressionist Silent films ala Metropolis, where my laundry and dishes revolt. Remember the below scene. No one wants their laundry to animate and attack them. No. One.

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When the weather is shite, being able to sit on your couch, or at a dining room table, desk or workstation of choice is comforting.  You don’t have to deal with the rain, sleet, snow, ice, wind or unbearable heat and humidity. Better yet, public transit in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, the wind or unbearable heat and humidity. If it’s your thing, you can stay in your yoga pants, pajamas all day or in my 1930s vision, stunning dressing gown. Your time and schedule are your own… until the laundry starts yelling at you or the dirty dishes start wailing or… or… or… Just walk away! Cover your ears, your eyes and just… walk.. AWAY. Trust me, this is so much easier said, than done, especially when you are running out of clean underwear.  This is why I’m in a neighbourhood coffee shop, writing.

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Today I chose The Good Neighbour. A cafe that is a short walk from my home, that has cute, artsy baristas behind the counter. They also have delicious coffee. In a pinch or when I am too lazy to walk to the grocery store, I have picked up a bag of their dark roast beans. Bonus: free WiFi.  The one downfall (or is it), they don’t have any vegan sweet treats (not to worry, Bunners is a two-minute walk away). They do have sandwich items that can be made Vegan on request.

This week I am back to working on short stories. I have two new ones I am drafting and a couple older stories that I need to revisit and edit. I am hoping to get those out the door… erm… via cyberspace by next week. One of them may or may not include sharks.  I am hoping by next week that it warms up enough that I can sit on a patio to write or head to the park with a book to read and a notebook to write out character sketches. Generally, I do all my writing via my computer, character sketches, I prefer to write out by hand. A bench in the middle of the trees and greenery or by the water would be a perfect spot for that. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this, but when I am sitting near the water, my creativity opens up.

Sitting in this cafe, I have momentarily escaped from the laundry… I have not escaped from the shark that is currently stalking me. It might be time to feed. It. SHARK!  I leave you with this Peter Benchley trivia.  After the success of his book and the release of the movie Jaws, Peter became filled with dread and guilt over the fear he created towards sharks. He spent the rest of his life and his widow continues on with assisting with advocating for oceanic conservation.

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