redheads writing in cafes

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.

 

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Redheads Writing in Cafes except when they are on the road again

I’m on the road again and now saying that, the ‘on the road again song is stuck in my head. Why do I do this to myself? I’m on my way back to Toronto, back to my fella and my own bed. Don’t get me wrong here, I will miss my parents. I am thankful that as a full-time writer, I could be there for my Mom to help her after her surgery. What I won’t miss, is the futon bed/couch torture device. I have the sore hips and bruises to prove it.

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The bus from Owen Sound to Toronto leaves hella early. We were up at 6 am, to ensure I was packed, fed and to the bus by 7:30. I’m not a morning person, this was and always is a struggle. Yesterday my Mom kept apologizing that we didn’t get to do more things while I was there. I reminded her that I wasn’t up there for a vacation, I was there to look after her. Why must parents feel bad when we look after them? Being there was just like being a kid, my parents couldn’t remember which child I was and my Dad kept mixing Flash and me up. I know I have puppy-dog eyes, but I don’t think my ears are quite that floppy.

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One of the advantages of being at my parents was the lack of distractions the city has. I was able to get a lot more writing and research done. I am hoping to keep up the same pace with I return home. I’m incredibly disciplined and work hard, however, it is easy to procrastinate when you live in a really amazing neighbourhood and have incredibly interesting and fun friends. Being at my parents and my hometown also gave me incredible amounts of inspiration for my novel and reminders as to why ghost stories will always be my favourite genre.

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I’m hoping we get a chance to head back up to my parents again at some point this summer. I didn’t get a chance to hang out near the water this time around but would love to find an opportunity to sit by the water and write. Living near High Park, I can do this whenever I like. Grenadier Pond is a stunning body of water and I always feel inspired when I am near it. I’m sure it has it’s own ghost stories to tell. We are also very close to Lake Ontario and can walk to it in about thirty minutes.  I’m never that far away from water.

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Today is also the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Fortunately, it is also sunny (enjoy it, it’s raining again tomorrow). Unfortunately, I will be spending the first half of the day on the bus. I would normally go out today and enjoy the extra daylight, but I am likely going to spend it relaxing, on the couch with my fella, finishing off season two of Twin Peaks (refresher for me, newish for him) before we start watching season three. I’ve made it this far without seeing spoilers. I’ve also been spending less time on the book of faces these days, that could explain why. It’s good for the soul to take Facebook vacations. Tonight might also be a good time to watch Jaws again. Always a fun summer movie favourite.

I’m signing off, until next time…. SHARK!

Redheads Writing in Cafes — except when it’s the front porch

The sun — it burns!  IT BURNS!  When you are so pale that you look like you may be dead — the sun is your enemy. It’s extra evil when you forget to bring your sunscreen. I’ve been to the grocery store twice now and both times forgot to pick up some. Yesterday my mom scavenged through the medicine cabinet to find a tube of SPF 30 that expired in 2012. Might be time to get a new tube Mom! Maybe? Until I remember to buy a tube, I will be hiding out in the safety of the shade. This is what happens when you are part vampire.

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Two mornings in a row at 3 am I have been awoken by a strange noise outside. A low, guttural clicking noise. It sounds like it is coming from the side yard, just on the other side of the deck. Is this an animal? A reptile? What makes this kind of noise? Zombies? Werewolves? The neighbours? Every time I am up north, it always feels like the beginning of a horror movie.

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Then there are the crows.

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7:30 am on the dot, second morning in a row, my wake up call was the very loud, very boisterous cawing of crows congregating on the fence beside my parents house. At least a dozen of those gleaming black beauties cackling away at each other. This sound is music to my ears. I love crows and ravens. Once I finally stumbled out to the kitchen, I could see them all lined up along the rail-tie fence. Then I spotted her. A massive raven perched on the roof of the house directly above them. She looked regal, as if she was looking down at her coven.

Ravens are my spirit animal.

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I have always been fascinated by crows and ravens. More so ravens. They are birds that work in communities, who protect each other, are super intelligent and seem to be in tune with the energies around them. Many of my women partners-in-crime see themselves with houses filled with cats when they are in their eighties, I see myself with a house filled with ravens and crows. No. I’m not kidding. Two of my favourite things are a charcoal drawing of a raven that my super talented friend Laurie made and a small statue of a raven pulling flesh from a skull. My perfect creepy house, when I’m in my eighties and nineties will include a raven, on a perch near the front entrance. You definitely don’t need a fancy alarm system or a guard dog if you have a raven on the watch.

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I’m going to be at my parents for at least another week. I’m hoping to get a good photo of the raven. I may need to figure out where in Toronto to find ravens and crows. It would be a good series of photos to take with my DSLR. For now, while at my parent, I will need to rely on my cell phone camera.  

Until tomorrow… stay creepy.

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Redheads Writing in Cafes — Except when it’s on the bus….

All aboard!

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

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

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

Then there is the flipside of that coin.

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

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

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

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

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

Until then…

Redheads Writing in Cafes #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!