writers

Redheads Writing in Cafes — let’s rock and or roll unless it’s with Jack.

1910-Palm-room-cafeArchtop Cafe has become one of my favourite neighbourhood cafes. It’s located in Bloor West Village and is about twenty-minute walk from my home. There are a few things that make this cafe one of my favourites.  The staff are top notch and make you feel at home right away. There are classics from the 1920s to the 1980s being piped out of the sound system and in the theme of the music, the cafe sells vinyl, both new and used. A few months ago, they opened a section of their basement as a used vinyl shop. Vinyl lovers, you need to check out this place.

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The cafe is a nice size and has quite a few tables, it would be a great place if someone was considering holding a reading. At one point they had live music on Thursday and Friday nights and though they have put that on hold, it may resume again in the fall. Out front during warmer weather, there are a few cast iron bistro tables. The other day, while running errands, we sat out there sipping lattes as we watched the villagers walk by.

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I love that I live in a part of town that has neighbourhoods with their own individual personalities. Each feels a little like the small villages they use to be.  High Park, The Junction, Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village.

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In the basement of the Annette Street, Public Library is the West Junction Historical Society. I need to visit the Historical Society when it’s open to the public as it will assist me with my research. I also need to find a day to go to the Toronto Reference Library. I keep putting it off and need to just suck it up and go. One the problems of living in a neighbourhood that you are in love with and has almost everything you need within walking distance is you tend to not leave the area. Personally, I am also someone who can go days or even weeks without leaving the hood. I would much rather go to places that I can walk or cycle to. If only the information I needed from the Toronto Reference Library was online!

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In other news and in the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing promotions for the new documentary on H.H. Holmes. My friends also know that I’m a bit of an H.H. Holmes aficionado so I often get tagged in things referencing him. I am on the fence about watching the documentary as the topic it’s about has already been debunked several times and I honestly think his great grandson is just trying to cash in on the fame, especially with the movie Devil in the White City with Leonardo DiCaprio coming out and the popularity of the novel.  Every time I hear about the documentary on the History Channel I feel a rant brewing and ready to bubble up. H.H. Holmes was NOT Jack the Ripper! I could get into a whole detailed timeline showing why he wasn’t, or the many glaring and obvious reasons that he could not be Jack, but I would rather leave that fun to you. Seriously, go read up on both of them. Though the history is gruesome, it is also very fascinating and once you educate yourself, you will also realize how impossible it was for H.H. Holmes to be Jack.

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I’m going to end this blog post before I go off on a serial killer tangent.

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Until next time…. stay shadowy.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes – Bring on the gloomy weather

What weather helps to motivate you to write? Some will say, especially in the summer, being able to sit outside in the sun on a clear, hot day. I prefer gloomy days. I love thunderstorms and the dark gray weather. It not only helps to inspire me when writing ghost stories, it also allows me to not burst into flames when I go outside. If you are reading my blog for the first time, I’m not a vampire, but I do consider myself a ghoul. A ghoul who glows in the dark and will be burnt to a crisp if left out in the sun. I don’t enjoy bursting into flames.

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When most are celebrating the arrival of summer, my heart is already aching for the fall. If we could only have late spring and early fall weather all year long, I would be in my version of heaven. I love late spring, with its warm days and cool nights. Everything is growing and alive. Early fall also has warm days and cool nights along with crunchy leaves under our feet, the reds, and golds of the tree leaves and Halloween. In my case, Halloween is all year long, but the month of October will always have a magical feeling.

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Around mid-July, I start to feel a pull of nostalgia and longing for the crispness of fall. I start peering through store windows, wondering if I am going to catch my first glimpse of Halloween sales items. I anticipate being told to shut up about my constant chattering around the subject of the spooky season since I should be enjoying summer. Ghouls don’t particularly enjoy summer. Please see above comment about bursting into flames. I am currently enjoying the cool breeze blowing through my window at the moment. Bring on the fall I say!

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I have been reading up on the subject of zero waste and am not only interested in reducing my carbon footprint, but want to research more on when our society went from zero waste to the creation of landfills for all of our unnecessary garbage. I’m sure it will be hard for many to wrap their heads around the fact that there was a time when we weren’t creating garbage. Is that time prior to 1900? 1920? 1950? This is something that will definitely inspire a short story, a horror-themed short story.  There is a town in Japan that is almost zero waste. Check out this video from YouTube. It would be amazing if Canadians could set the same example.

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I’m making huge progress on Freaks & Grimm. I had a huge AHA moment this week and am now working out how to write the next few parts of my novel. I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  The ending hasn’t quite written itself, but I do feel it forming. I was beginning to worry that I might have a War & Peace on my hands.

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Each time I think it might be safe to head to a cafe to write, there is the treat of rain. I love my red couch and that I am able to sit here an write, I would however, also enjoy sitting in a cafe and sip a coffee while I work on my novel. Maybe that will also have to wait till fall. For now, I will continue to pretend that I am in a spooky cafe.

Until next time… keep dreaming of Halloween.

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

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

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

Time to get back to it.

Until next time… stay wobbly.

Redheads Writing in Cafes 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 — 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’s a storm coming and it’s full of ghosts

And… it’s raining again. This edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes is brought to you from the kitchen table. At some point, I will head to the front covered porch to work on my novel.

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The sky is beautiful gray and gloomy and the dark clouds are rolling in over the horizon It’s beginning to look like nightfall. This ghoul loves the gloom, the dark skies, and thunderstorms. I’m not a huge fan of the constant rain. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, I will melt. According to the radar, a thunderstorm will be hitting soon and there is now a severe thunderstorm watch. I had to leave Toronto to get all this stormy weather.

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Between the times of 7:30 and 9 am the crows are at their peak of loudness. Apparently, this is when they are feeding their young. The feeding frenzy is a feast to my ears with the loud cawing vibrating through the evergreens. As soon as the rain starts they head for shelter. Do you blame them? Instead, I’m now stuck listening to the incessant sounds of the seagulls. Yes, I am a bird snob. I’m hoping when the rain stops, the crows will return. I’m still on a mission to take a good photo of them.

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Yesterday evening we went for a drive down by the bay shore. I asked my Dad to drive past the Anchor Inn (the old Inn, not the restaurant) as I wanted to get a reference shot. Growing up, I heard many incredible ghost stories about the Anchor Inn, in addition to a few other local buildings. At one point I had a few books about haunted areas along the Bruce Peninsula, but it was lost (amongst other books) during a move that happened ten plus years ago. Of course, I need them now for research. I’m sure I can find another copy, I feel like it was written by either Terry Boyle or Bruce Bell. Time to cruise on over to the Toronto Public Library!  One of the other houses I wanted a picture of has been torn down and it’s been too wet to trek out to the McNeill Mansion. Fortunately, there are lots of photos available online of the McNeill Mansion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_McNeill).

 

Now that I’m back in research mode, I will need to pull out the books I still have. There are also a few websites that have some information that is helpful. If only I could find the exact information I need. In the late 1980s and 1990s, I was obsessively researching ghosts and hauntings. I did this with a few other people. I’ve always been interested in ghosts and ghost stories and have written lots of short stories (hidden away in a folder somewhere) about ghosts. It’s funny how this knowledge creeps back to my frontal lobe cortex just when I need it most. Being in my hometown has brought a lot of this to the surface. There are many ghost stories to tell and I need to tell them. Now if I could just find those books and if the crows would finally cooperate with me!

Websites/Databases:

https://coldspot.org/category/haunted-ontario-database/

http://www.hauntedplaces.org/Canada/Ontario

http://www.theparanormalseekers.ca/places-weve-investigated.html

http://www.torontoghosts.org/

http://www.chapsparanormal.ca/chaps/investigations.html

Until tomorrow… stay ghostly.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes #4 and Why I Support Local Indie Artists

Just to warn you. There may be swears.

The last few days have been lovely. Wednesday, I hung out with my sister from a whole other family, October. Thursday, live music at C’est What with Neil Traynor and band. Had another productive cafe writing session with Heather Babcock and John Oughton on Thursday, Saturday, my fella and I crammed in watching Street Poetry in High Park, a second viewing of the cherry blossoms and then dinner and live music in The Junction. After an amazing few days of enjoying local independent art, music, and poetry with the people I love, fellow creatives, why do I not feel content? Why instead am I feeling contempt? Here’s why.

This has been nagging at me, scratching at my gray matter for some time now It’s been bubbling just below the surface, pulling at me, like that song, that sits on the tip of your tongue and it’s driving me mad. I have talked to others about it. I’ve occasionally posted status messages about it and tried to get people’s attention and their consideration for it. Now… now I’m at my wit’s end and I’m pissed. No, I’m fucking angry. It’s time to make a change.

Ok.

Ok…

Those were the swears. I can’t promise those were the last.

What initially pushed me to the brink was a group of four women who were in their early twenties. As we were having our writing session at a local Mom and Pop run cafe Thursday, these young women were standing in line waiting to be served. A long line. The cafe was busier than normal due to the cherry blossoms in High Park. When they were about three people away from being served, one of the young women loudly exclaimed, “I want to support local, but they are too slow here. Let’s go to Starf*cks.” (she didn’t call it that and used the proper name, I did. Guess who will never be sponsoring me.).  Did these women not notice the cherry blossom festival chaos across the street and consider it might be affecting the businesses in the hood? If you really wanted to support local, wouldn’t you be patient? Wouldn’t you take how busy the shop was into consideration?  I did.

This, however, isn’t what I want to talk about. It was what triggered everything.  Thursday night, a good friend was playing with his band at a popular downtown venue. When it came time to pass the tip jar, we went around to everyone who was, what we thought, enjoying the music. We asked everyone to throw in a loonie or toonie to help support local music. Some put money in funds (mostly other artists), while the corporate types (I have another name for them, but won’t write it) declined — very rudely in most cases. This really bothered me.

I’ve put on many events and attended an even greater number of them. I’ve observed when the tip jar is being passed around, for the most part, artists will always put money in, even if it is whatever loose changed they have in their pockets. Artists will go out to other artists events without batting an eye. We support each other, promote each other, help out at each others gigs, artist supporting artists. This, sadly, does not help us grow, help us get noticed outside of our community and when we try to get others to come to events or if they are at an event, put a few dollars in the tip jar, they don’t or rather won’t and they make you feel awful for asking.  On Thursday night, we received snarky comments and evil stares when we asked. I felt that we were asking for their first born (no thanks) or for a donation of blood. (again no thanks) It was frustrating.

Once upon a time, artists were revered. If this was the 1920s or 1930s we would be looked upon at a higher level, would make a nice living from our art and be respected. Why is it, in 2017, we are looked down upon, brushed off and disrespected? We are asked to work for free and when we do get paid, it’s for way less than minimum wage.  We struggle to get anyone, who isn’t an artist to come out to events (when was the last time our families, workmates or other acquaintances came to see us).  We work hard to promote our events, prepare for the events and then put on the show.  How do we get people to start supporting local artists? How do we get them out to events? How do we get them to respect us?

This city is full of performers, writers, playwrights, theaters, bands, songwriters, singers, visual artists, photographers, poets, spoken word artists, designers, painters, sculptors, magicians, burlesque, comic artists, comedians — the list goes on. How do we get the average Joe to support us? How do we get the city and venues to support us?  And speaking of venues, how to we keep the supportive ones going?  I see my fellow artist struggling every day to get their art out there and to survive financially. I see musicians like Cynthia Gould trying to get awareness out there through her TO Rock Cult Facebook page. Yesterday I witnessed Street Poetry trying to raise awareness. I applaud these artists and all the others that are making an effort, but my question, the thing that is bothering me, nagging at me is how do we as one huge collective, make this happen on a bigger scale? How do we get the populous to once again respect and revere artists?

I will keep promoting, supporting and helping my fellow artists. I will continue to walk around venues asking everyone to put some money in a tip jar. I will keep posting and voicing out how much we need to support independent artists, but I need help. Cynthia needs help. Every person who is fighting to survive as an artist needs help!  Here is where you can help. Everyone who reads this, please share it. If you see an artist’s having an event, go to it, buy their art, books, CDs, merch. Post about their events, tell your friends. Better yet, gather your friends and bring the to events. If you are an artist, keep promoting your fellow artists. Let’s, as one huge collective get the rest of the world to see us!

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SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS!