short stories

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/

Canadian Ginger Anthology! Killer B Cinema!

I am super excited to announce that my poem Foxglove, about an aging redheaded superhero, is in the amazing anthology, Canadian Ginger. I am honoured to be in this book along with some super talented writers, including Margaret Atwood. Yes, that Margaret Atwood!

canadianginger

You can get your copies at Indigo (available online and in stores), Amazon or directly from the publisher Oolichan Press. I’m certain they are in other stores as well and I will update the list when I know where.

Please go buy a copy and support Canadian redheads and authors!

Author list:
• Margaret Atwood • Aidan Chafe • Carolyn Clink • Anita Dolman • David Fraser • Maureen Foss • Kim Goldberg • Heather Haley • Carla Hartsfield • Tracy Hamon • Penn Kemp • Kateri Lanthier • Joanne Levy • Winona Linn • Christine Lowther • Bruce Meyer • Rebecca Pǎpucaru • Charlie Petch • Rachael Preston • Heather Spears • Diane Tucker • Jordan Watkins •  Lizzie Violet • Darryl Whetter • Jennifer Zilm

This Saturday, please join me and my partner in crime Zoltan Du Lac for another Killer B Cinema!  You get two killer b flicks for only FIVE Dollars!  There will also be trivia with prizes!  Click here for the link to the invite.

killer-b-cinema-poster__jan-6-2017

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.

exercise1

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!

exercise2

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.

exercise3

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.

Women_bicycle_1901

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 except when on their red couch

Well, I’m not technically in a cafe again today, although my home smells like one. A mix of coffee and sourdough bread baking makes it feel pretty legit right now. Speaking of bread baking. I have started a journey (which I mentioned before) into removing processed food from our lives and diet. Yes, it’s a hell of a lot of work and it will be worth it. My recent journey and science experiment was making sourdough starter and bread. I now have  an amazing starter going and am waiting for the second loaf I’ve made to come out of the oven. I get so excited when I take the lid off for the final bake and see the amazing oven spring. Each time I make a loaf I will get better at it. I’m still doing basic loaves and once I am confident that I have that down, I am going to explore other flavours, adding seeds, different shapes and get artistic with the scoring. I figure after about a dozen loaves I will have a good feel for it. To read more about my adventures, click here.  The next two things on my list to create are Vegan butter and Kombucha. I will be blogging about those as well.

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Once the loaf is out of the oven and cooling, I need to put my big girl panties on and go out for a walk and fruit run. Once again the forecast is calling for rain. I know, stop whining, we could be having a drought. I’m sure you are all sick of my constant complaining about it. I’d just like a few days in a row of no rain, so I can actually go to a cafe and write. I’m hoping July is lovely and sunny. I live a few minutes walk from High Park and am hoping to get to the pool often. Several years ago, I hurt my knee and due to this, I am no longer able to go for runs, which was one of my main methods of exercise. Thankfully swimming is low impact. Not to worry folks, this isn’t going to become a blog about exercise. I only mention this in passing. I’m a creative, not a jock. Can you even imagine? I thought not.

Woman on a fainting couch, Chicago

My fella and I have been revisiting all of the original Twin Peaks episodes before we watch the new season (3). Last night my fella wanted to also watch Fire Walk With Me. I warned him it a) wasn’t necessary to watch and b) is terrible. We watched it anyway. I honestly feel that it was a movie that David Lynch didn’t need to make. I love his warped mind and insane style of filmmaking. I have and always will see whatever David Lynch makes, this movie, was not good. When it first came out, I think I rented it on VHS. It actually took me two attempts to watch it.  The first time I think I got about thirty minutes in and had to shut it off. The second time, my roommate cracked open a bottle of wine. I think that wine was the only thing that kept us motivated to watch. We had to cleanse our palettes by rewatching Blue Velvet. Thank goodness for Isabella Rossellini!

I’m back on track with my novel again. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time sending out short story submissions and I may send a few more towards the end of the week. I have a few first drafts to pull out and work on, I may do that on Friday instead. By then, my brain will need to switch to something else for a few days.  What are other creatives currently working on? I’d love to know.

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Until next time… stay freaky.

Redheads Writing in Cafes — The Sandman

Once again, I’m not actually writing in a cafe. I’m on my red couch, however, I do have a cup of coffee, so technically my living room is a cafe?  I was hoping to hop over to one of my local cafes today to write, but… surprise, surprise, it’s going to rain! As much as I want a change of environment, I don’t want to risk getting my laptop wet. Alternatively, I want to start spending time in the back garden writing, again, rain delay. Maybe I will get to one day this summer. I know. I know. Stop complaining, your life isn’t that rough.

So, you may be asking, what has Lizzie been up to these last few days. After her daily barrage of blogging, why did she go dark? I needed a few days off. If you are a creative, you will get this. You can exhaust your juices and need to recharge them. That is exactly what I did. I am feeling fresh and ready to write again. Part of recharging was spending the afternoon and evening with friends. We indulged in ciders, comfort food and one of my favourite things, Neil Gaiman.  Calm down, not the actual Neil Gaiman (I wish), rather a live action fan film created by Evan Henderson and Nicholas Brown.

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We began our adventure at Sneaky Dees. I went with my fella, my partner-in-crime October, and her fella. Every. Single. Time. I go to Sneaky Dees, I forget how large the portions are and of course, we always get nachos to start. Why do we do this? WHY? After being uncomfortably stuffed with delicious food, we slowly ambled towards The Royal for the premiere of Sandman: 24 Hour Diner. First up, I need to say this, the marketing for this movie was brilliant. Not only were the posters stunning, but they postered the city, had tonnes to give out at the end of the movie and we were given these lovely tickets because we reserved our seats. Kudos to the marketing team.

Evan Henderson and Nicholas Brown did a fantastic job for their first film. Doing fan fiction is hard because you don’t have financial backing and you need to pull out all your skills to get these types of projects made. Hopefully, Neil gets to see this adaptation. After midnight, the film was made available for everyone to see, here is the link to the movie. If you are interested in reading more about the project, here is a link to their Facebook Page. Personally, I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen and at The Royal. Our rep theatres are an important resource for young filmmakers.  October and I have written a horror movie short and after seeing this film am realizing we need to get off our butts and get it filmed.

After the movie was over, we made our way over to Free Times Cafe for a few more drinks and a discussion with our friends Raven, Simon and their daughter. They are both huge Gaiman nerds as well and we have a really interesting conversation about the books in comparison to the movie. I loved that I was able to nerd out, about Neil Gaiman with like-minded goth nerds. Yes. Goths can be nerds too.

Morpheus

Also in the works is a project that my fella and I are working on. It will be launching in October and I will have more teasers in the next few weeks. We are working out the details and once we do, we will let you in on our secret. I can tell you it is something we are both passionate about.

Until the next time…. stay gothy.