writing in cafes

Spookytown! Freaks & Grimm {an excerpt or two}

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

For this week’s blog, I’m going to post a few excerpts for my finished novel Freaks & Grimm. This is the mini blurb for it. Carrie thought grade 9 was going to be different. That she would finally fit it. Then Grimm moved to town and her world completely changed. Both obsessed with the paranormal, they are about to go on a ghost hunting adventure they would never forget.

I had a lot of fun writing this novel and definitely was inspired by the many ghost stories told to me as a kid. Here are a few excerpts.

***

That morning Carrie didn’t join her family for breakfast. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes she just wanted to sleep in, other times, she just wanted to stay in her bed and read. At first her mother would try to force Carrie to come to the table for breakfast, eventually deciding it was easier to let her eat when she was ready. 

After eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch with soy milk, Carrie decided she wanted to go for a walk, one that would take her right past the MacTavish Bed & Breakfast, as a sort of scouting mission to see if she could catch a glimpse of the new kid. She walked to the end of the block and sat on her neighbours rail fence. She was partially hidden by a large maple tree, but the house was completely visible to her. The house was an old Victorian mansion that was once owned by a shipping magnate. The town she grew up in was a shipping port in the early 1900s for the grain companies. Over time the house went from being a single-family home to a rooming house, then on two separate occasions a bed and breakfast. Maybe the new family would be using it that way as well. After twenty minutes of staring at the house, listening to squirrels fight, and waiting to be kicked off the fence, Carrie was about to give up and walk downtown when she saw him. He was tall and lanky and dressed head to toe in black. He had a haircut, just like the lead singer of The Cure.  He looked like he had just walked out of a Sandman comic. She looked away. At first, she didn’t want to look directly at him. She was afraid if she did, he would turn out to be an apparition, just like one of the ghosts in her beloved ghost stories. 

***

The movers unloaded the truck quickly, placing boxes and furniture in their designated spots.  Once Grimm’s father confirmed that everything was there, the movers tidied up, rolled up their rubber mats, were paid and left. Grimm’s father looked around at the boxed up contents and shook his head.  

“Guess we have more stuff than I thought we did”. Said Stewart.  

“Maybe the boxes multiplied like Gremlins in the truck.” Said Grimm.

“I think you’re right. Ok. I have no idea where anything is and don’t dare unpack the kitchen till your mother gets here. Let’s go find a place to eat and get some groceries.”

As they made their way to the car, Grimm caught a glimpse of someone across the street. He had to move away from the car to get a full view as a very large tree blocked out most of it. Perched on a rail fence that wrapped around the house across the street, sat a girl. She had dark, long hair, very pale skin and was all dressed in black. At first Grimm wasn’t sure she was even real. When she quickly got up and hurried away down the street, he knew she must be. He continued watching to see where she went, but was interrupted by his father.

“Are you getting in the car?”

“What? Ya Dad.”

“What were you looking at?” Inquired Stewart.

“A neighbour kid I think.”

“Did you wave hi?”

“No. They ran away.”

“Well maybe you will meet them on Monday when you go to school.”

Grimm hoped so as well. Suddenly, he was looking forward to his first day at his new high school.

***

The book was partially hidden under a pile of notebooks and loose papers. As Freaks grabbed hold of the book, the pile on top of it tumbled to the floor. She gasped, trying to grab the falling items, causing it to scatter all over the floor. She couldn’t believe how clumsy she had been. Freaks placed the book on the chair so it wouldn’t get lost amongst the mess. Bending down to pick up the pile that had fallen, Freaks noticed that a book, possibly a journal, was amongst the papers. The book itself looked old, worn. As if it had been read over and over again. She picked it up and quickly looked over her shoulder to make sure her father wasn’t nearby. She knew she shouldn’t have been snooping through Mr. Archer’s things but she had a lack of self control when curiosity took hold of her. She knew there had to be a reason why he’d been acting so strange the day that he had his panic attack.

“What’s taking you so long down there? You should have found that book by now.” Yelled down her father.

“I found it. I just need to tidy up a mess I accidently made. I knocked over some papers. I’ll be there in a minute.” Freaks responded.

“Take your time. I’m still having a heck of a time finding the clothes he has on this list. This guy seriously needs a housekeeper. This place is an absolute mess.”

“No kidding.” Said Freaks, as she looked around at the heaps of books and papers. Until now, she hadn’t noticed how messy the place really was. His office had stacks of newspapers on the floor and chairs. Along the floor and near the overstuffed bookshelves, there were stacks upon stacks of books in a variety of sizes and covers. Even the kitchen was a mess. Though there wasn’t any dirty dishes to be seen, the countertops were covered with a large number of canisters and more piles of books. On one section of the counter, there were dozens of boxes of tea. Every kind you could think of. Some boxes still had the cellophane on them. 

Freaks stood beside the desk holding the worn book in her hand. She didn’t know what to do. Should she just put it back on the desk where it originally was or should she open it up and look inside. Just like the garden she knew that this book likely held many secrets. Secrets she probably shouldn’t be allowing herself to know.  If she did, would she regret it?

“Hey Kiddo!  I think I found everything.” 

Freaks jumped. She had been so entranced by the book, she didn’t hear her father enter the room. 

“Geez Dad. You scared the cra….”

“What is that?”

“What?”

“That. The book you are holding.”

“Oh. Uh. I’m not sure. It fell on the floor.”

“Have you looked at it?”

“No.” 

“Looks like a diary.”

“Yes. Maybe.” 

“Were you going to look at it?”

“Maybe. Ya. I dunno.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Mr. Archer has been acting strange. I thought, maybe it would explain why.”

“Can I see it?”

Hesitating, Freaks handed her father the book. When he grabbed onto it, he stared at it momentarily, flipped it back and forth, inspecting the outside of it. Absentmindedly, Freaks continued to look around her, when she noticed a small box beside the desk. Wondering if they had also knocked it over, she grabbed the box, noticing that it was an old, yellow stained shoebox.

“It really does look like a diary doesn’t it. It looks old though. Don’t you think?” Said Robert.

“Ya. Maybe he’s had it for a while. Maybe we shouldn’t look at it.”

“Maybe.”

“Dad, what do you think this is?”

Robert looked up at Freaks and his eyes moved to the box. “Was the lid off?”

“Um. It kinda shifted when I picked it up.”

“Uh. Huh.” Retorted Robert. “Those look like letters.”

“Old letters.”

Freaks and her father stood in silence. Both wanting to open the book and the letters, neither taking the leap.  Taking a long breath and sighing Robert walked over to the desk with the intent on placing the book and the box back on the desk. 

“Where exactly did you find it?”

“It was under the pile of papers.”

“Which pile? The whole desk if a pile of papers.” 

“The pile on the left side.”

As Robert was shifting the papers, to stick the book underneath the pile, the book slipped from his hand and when it landed on the desk, it opened to the front page of the book. On the top right corner of the book was a name. Hester McGregor.

Almost in unison, Freaks and her Dad sang out, “Who’s Hester McGregor?”

Freaks looked down at the letters. “These are from a Joy Matherly.”

“McGregor? The McGregor’s owned the house on the corner. The one Grimm lives in.”

“Joy Matherly?”

Picking the book back up, Robert motioned to Freaks saying, “I’m not sure. Pull up a chair. We have some reading to do.”

***

Anne was four when she realized what she was seeing was otherworldly. None of it scared her. In fact they were playmates to her. Most of her days were filled with long, lonely hours. She had to be within sight of her mother, yet out of the way. Her mother ignored her constant chattering with persons who were not there. Well, not to her mother’s eyes. Anne had the constant companionship of three individuals. An older woman. Likely the first patriarch of the house, who passed away during a flu epidemic, an elderly gentleman, who was once the grounds keeper and a young boy. Anne never did figure out who he was. The young boy was only there for a short time, then stopped visiting Anne. At the time, she felt sad, as if she had been abandoned. Later in life she came to discover that sometimes spirits stick around, waiting for someone they loved or were attached to, to pass on. She figured he was waiting for his mother. The elderly man and woman stuck around, until Mr. McGregor died. They too, then disappeared. Something felt different that time. There was no peace to replace them. After that point, Anne felt uneasy in the house. The empty spaces felt as if they had been replaced with something malevolent. Something very wrong. 

Mr. McGregor, an awful, angry old man lived in a house filled with staff and no family. Mrs. McGregor had by then been forgotten in a home, no one even sure if she had passed on or still lingered amongst the beige walls of the institution. Her name was almost never mentioned. Especially after Hester vanished. 

Mr. McGregor’s business lost, he stewed in the darkness of his final days. No family, no friends and many enemies. Especially those who he’d not given a second thought when the doors to his shipping yard slammed shut on them. Left high and dry, they spit out his name in rage. They no longer cared to search for an innocent young girl who offended no one. They no longer cared about his implications of the young handsome man, who’d long vacated the town. No one believed Mr. McGregor and like those before him, he faded away. His negative anger however, stuck around. 

Anne could feel Hester everywhere she went, but only outside of the house. The sensation is the strongest, in a curving path, between the backyards of the carefully manicured Victorian homes. Anne was pulled to follow, but her worry of upsetting her mother stronger. She was still a child and her mother’s concern. A mother who returned to the madman’s employment when all others had completely abandoned him, she felt she had to keep an eye on her child at all times.

Spookytown! It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

As I mentioned in my last Spookytown post, I like to get warmed up for Halloween by watching classic spooky cartoons. My ALL TIME favourite and a tradition I follow every single year is to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Every single year, since I was a child, no matter how many times I’ve watched it, I still keep hoping…. oh… no… in case you haven’t watched it, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Why haven’t you watched this yet? I grew up with three, THREE television channels and I even managed to watch it every single year. Go watch it!

Who is The Great Pumpkin for those who still haven’t watched it? Linus explains it best!

A ways back we got a projector (thank you Heather Babcock) and we have been planning on projecting the movie from our front window on Halloween night (same with A Charlie Brown Christmas). We just bought ourselves a proper screen, so…. if all goes as planned (I’m talking to you weather), we may attempt to do it out in the front yard! We were inspired by others in our neighbourhood who project Halloween cartoons from their own front windows. We may also throw in a few of our other favourite Halloween cartoons.

If Linus and The Great Pumpkin had their way they would make sure Halloween happens, but sometimes it’s even out of their control.

Because of the plague, I’m pretty sure trick or treating won’t be happening this year, but we all need a bit of joy. Halloween is such a special time for so many people, children and adults alike. Even if you can’t give out candy this year, plan on decorating like you never have before, do fun events for your own kids so they don’t feel like they are missing out. Don’t let 2020 be a rock in your candy bag! Maybe this will be the year that Linus gets his wish!

{The below clip is a spoiler, if you haven’t watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and why haven’t you, don’t watch below.}

Spookytown! Haunted Toronto

I grew up in a small town that has lots of ghost stories. A few of them have inspired my novel Freaks & Grimm (will be released at some point). I also come from a family of storytellers and a good portion of those stories were about ghosts. When I moved to Toronto at the age of eighteen, the very first thing I did was dive into it’s haunted history. I bought books and eventually joined online communities. When I discovered haunted walks, I was in my element. Oh yes I was.

If I remember correctly, Bruce Bell was one of the first names I heard in relation to haunted Toronto. The other first for me was I dove deep into learning about Toronto and Canada’s Spiritualism history. It was a little harder to find information for Canada. There are lots of articles about the US, especially, the Fox Sisters. There were a lot of fraudsters and I often wonder if that embarrassment is why it’s harder to find information here. Nonetheless, I was able to find articles on Mary Melville and a few other spiritualists. To learn more, please click here.

It you want to learn more about Spiritualism or Occultism in Toronto, there are a few really good books at the Toronto Public Library and the Canadian Encyclopedia has a great article (see below). This is one of my favourites. The Secret City: An Occult History of Toronto

Spiritualism in Canada. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/spiritualism

Haunted Places Now let us move onto haunted places in Toronto. There are many haunted places in this city. There are also lots and lots of articles about it. Rather than rehash everything, I am going to link sources below. I was so incredibly obsessed with hauntings, that every time I moved to a new neighbourhood (that was a lot), I would investigate if there were any hauntings. At one point I had a book that I logged all of the information into, but it is long lost. I really wish I still had that book.

I currently live in the west end of Toronto and am very close to several cemeteries and well known haunted places such as Colborne Lodge, but I can also easily get to places like McKenzie House, Black Creek Pioneer Village (which holds a seance), Spadina House and the old Don Jail.

There are several books about Haunted Toronto, this one is by far my all time favourite. Haunted Toronto by John Robert Colombo

https://www.toronto.com/things-to-do/haunted-places-in-toronto/

https://dailyhive.com/toronto/haunted-places-toronto-2018

https://juliekinnear.com/toronto/haunted-houses

https://www.blogto.com/city/2016/10/12_haunted_places_to_get_spooked_at_in_toronto/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/haunted-toronto-a-paranormal-primer/article559802/

https://dailyhive.com/toronto/haunted-places-toronto-2018

Haunted/Ghost Walks One of my favourite things to do when the weather is agreeable is go on Haunted or Cemetery walks. Unfortunately, due to Covid not many of these are happening right now. I have a few friends who run some of them and I will list any of the other ones I know about as well. Once they are up and running again, please join them!

The Haunted Walk: https://hauntedwalk.com/toronto-tours/

Ghost Walks of Toronto: www.ghostwalks.com

Toronto Ghost Walks: https://www.torontoghostwalk.com/

Haunted High Park. They do a walking tour every Halloween, but not sure about this year.

Montgomery’s Inn and the Islington Pioneer Cemetery also host haunted walks, but again…. who knows with Covid.

Cemetery Tours: Toronto also has some really cool cemetery tours. I kinda feel like Covid is ruining a lot of our fun so I’m going to stop repeating the phrase… due to Covid. Eventually, all of these cool things will be happening again.

Muddy York Tours: https://muddyyorktours.com/?page_id=57

Toronto Cemetery Tours: https://www.facebook.com/TorontoCemeteryTours/

For my birthday this year, I was going to do a haunted back walk, that of course included ghost stories…. but that didn’t happen. Next year?

If I’ve missed any, please post them in the comments below.

Spookytown! My Haunted Hometown

Welcome to Spookytown! A weekly blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more!

The town I grew up in holds many ghosts. Some personal, some spooky. As kids, there were a few houses in town, that we either decided were haunted or they were the products of grownups telling us they were. Whether or not they are, is yet to be determined.

A couple houses that I personally thought were haunted (one of which was confirmed for me) was a house on Frank Street, near Taylor Street, the huge house on the top of the hill on Mary Street (corner of Mary and Gould) and the Inn on Bayview Avenue. The latter is the one I heard many creepy ghost stories about. (photo below) The Inn (not to be mistaken for the restaurant by the same name on the main street) has had many transformations over the years and was apparently, at some point recently, a restaurant.

Over the years I have searched online and read many books about ghosts in Ontario, yet, rarely find any about my hometown, which I find strange. Even the story of the famous Spirit Rock is rarely found in print. All that aside, the best of the stories, were always the ones told by my family.

One ghost story that always stuck with me, is the one about the footprints in the mud. This story was told to us by Grandpa Jim and Great Grandpa Bill. Both of their stories are told identically, neither straying from the details.

Before I tell this story, you will need a little bit of background. Grandpa Jim and Great Grandpa Bill were farmers. In addition to their farm, they owned a huge bush lot and in the middle of that bush lot was a massive field where they planted crops. I’m sure a few of you are asking, why is there a field in the middle of a bush lot? I’ll get to that.

Every spring, they would plow the fields a few times to prepare them for planting, often leaving them muddy. The freshly turned soil, hungry for the seeds they would plant. When my Great Grandpa/Grandpa acquired the bush lot, they knew there was a story, a very spooky and quite unsettling one, however, they left it to rumour, to them it was just a story. That was until that first spring.

After doing the first turn of the soil, they returned for its second plowing. When they reached the top of the field they saw something that confused them both. They weren’t completely sure if it was exactly as it seemed. Could the story be true? They decided to do their daily chores and laugh it off.

A few days later they returned only to see it again and in the exact same spot. This continued on each time they plowed. Same thing, same place. What were they witnessing? A very young child’s footprints that started at the top of the field and ran diagonally off towards the side of the field, then they disappeared into no where.

They tried to come up with a rational explanation. Maybe it was an animal. Maybe it was someone playing a trick. But how? The prints were the exact same each and every time, disappearing into nowhere. There were never any other footprints near it. It was impossible. Or was it?

A few moments walk from the field is a disintegrating foundation of a house. The forest reclaiming it. There once stood a small house on the masonry and close by, a small barn. The earth has long devoured it. A young family once lived there, but only for a short time. That was well over a hundred years ago now.

As with many families during that time, they were excited to buy their own land, build a house and eventually grow their own food to eat and crops to sell. Unfortunately, for that family, the dream was short-lived. One day, someone came across the darkened house, only to find its residents deceased. There are many versions of this part of the story. Some say their death was accidental, while others say they were murdered. Either way, there is a child that continues to play in the nearby field, just as they would, while they watched their parents work.

Every year, that my Great Grandfather and Father worked that field, they knew they would see those footprints and every spring, they were not disappointed.

Chunks of that bush lot have since been sold off to other people, so I’m not sure if that field is used to grow crops any longer. If it is, I would love to know if the new owners still see the footprints.

That bush lot has always creeped me out and even before hearing that story. I have always felt like someone or something was watching me. As kids, we spent a lot of time there, either with my Grandpa Jim as he worked, spending time in the shanty with my parents, or going to Thanks Giving cookouts with our entire family.

I have other spooky stories about that bush lot and may even write about them at some point.

Below are a few links to information on alleged hauntings in my hometown, and the Bruce Penisula.

Haunted Wiarton

https://www.torontoghosts.org/index.php/the-province-of-ontario/central/706-wiarton-bed-and-breakfast

https://brucemuseum.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=Spirit+Rock+Conservation+Area

Ghosts of the Bruce Peninsula

https://jamesmac.ca/curious/page/3/

https://www.trueghosttales.com/paranormal/creepy-ontario-cottage/

Ghost towns: https://www.ghosttownpix.com/ontario/towns/spry.html

https://juliekinnear.com/blogs/ghost-towns-ontario

Google Map of Ghost Towns: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?ie=UTF8&t=m&oe=UTF8&msa=0&mid=1gmYBD-AOQvZnItg2D0DaK5XR5Y4&ll=46.75902195463678%2C-83.950281&z=5

Welcome to Spookytown!

Welcome to Spookytown! A semi-regular blog post about, you guessed it… all things spooky. Ghost stories, books, hauntings, movies, music, history and so much more! My plan is to post weekly, but I will see how that goes!

As of the posting of this blog, it is nine weeks until Halloween! That is right NINE WEEKS! If you are doing a daily countdown, it’s 64 days! Why the excitement? It’s only the end of August you say. Because I am a Child of Halloween. The most wonderful time of the year!

How does one become a Child of Halloween? It can happen a few ways, but generally, you have either been once since childhood or you became one as an adult. The latter is usually because you’ve discovered it through a group of friends who are also Children of Halloween! I am the former. My Mother LOVED and still loves Halloween. Halloween has always been way more exciting for her than Christmas.

When we were little, my mother would sew our costumes, always making sure they were a few sizes too big. I grew up in a small town in Southern Ontario and the chances were pretty high that it was going to snow or rain on Halloween. Since she put a lot of work into our costumes, she wanted to make sure they went on the outside of our snowsuits. As we got older and started to give input or wanting to make our own costumes, she would help us put them together using whatever was available. One year I made a vampire costume out of a lace table cloth dyed black, my mother’s lipstick, eyeshadow foundation, and baby powder. I continue to make my Halloween costumes to this day. My mother has lots of photos of us dressed up and one day I need to get copies, so I can post part two.

I’ve never stopped loving Halloween. I love walking around my neighbourhood, looking at the decorations, and am always inspired by the themes that our neighbours come up with. A few blocks from us, there is a house I call Halloween/Christmas house because every year they go all out and include animatronics. Heck, the interior of our own home is Halloween all year long!

One of my concerns with COVID 19 is the fact that kids won’t be able to trick or treat this year, thus losing the spirit of Halloween, we need to keep this alive or rather undead. We need to keep the joy of the most spookiest time of the year. This year, even if you don’t normally decorate, go all out. We will be.

I also have a bunch of favourite Halloween cartoons that I will be starting to rewatch soon. Oh yes. I don’t wait until October. I have so many favourite Halloween activities I do each October, if I waited, I wouldn’t fit everything in. The ones I am posting below are from YouTube. I will be talking about some other favourite Halloween cartoons I love in another blog post.

This Girl Needs a Break

I’ve decided to take the month of August off from blogging… sorta. I’ve been going steady since lockdown began and am having a bit of blogging fatigue. I started out doing daily posts and then moved to 3 times a week. Doing all of that was great for my creativity and quite a feat. But… my fingers and brain need a bit of a break, as well, I’m needing time to concentrate on my next novel. What does that mean… I will continue Queen of Schlock every week, but Bat Adventures and Redheads Writing in Cafes will be on a break.

Redheads Writing In Cafes: Why I’m obsessed with thrifting & making my own clothing!

(except when it’s from my bedroom)

I was asked recently why I love making my own clothing (I get asked often) and this led me down a rabbit hole of all of the whys including why I thrift or go antiquing rather than buy anything new. Oh and of course why I will repair things, until they are literally falling apart. One reason, it’s in my blood, the other, well, there are many and you will need to read on.

My Mother Made Our Clothes We grew up poor and with a growing family and no extra money to buy things such as clothing for her growing children, my mother had to rely on hand-me-downs or making clothing herself. Like myself, my mother was taught the basics, but is mostly self-taught when it comes to sewing. Not only did she sew our clothing, she self drafted patterns AND would use what ever material was available to her. Discounted ends of bolts, old dresses, sheets… she was beyond crafty! Along with sewing our clothing, she knit us lots of outfits as well. I know this brought her a lot of joy and was a creative outlet for her.

Creative Outlet I have always been a creative person. Growing up my mother always made sure I had art supplies, writing journals, yarn and fabric at my disposal. Since she didn’t have time to do art herself, she made sure that her children could. Out of the four of us, I am truly the creative one. Along with doing art (mostly drawing) Sewing, knitting, crochet and cross-stitch helps my mental health. You heard that right, it helps with your mental well-being. While I am working on projects, I can go off into a meditative state. When I am done, I calm and in many cases have been able to work out problems and issues that were irking me.

Thrifting vs Buying New Many people want to participate in ways to help the environment beyond recycling and composting, but don’t always know how to do that. Thrifting rather than buying new actually makes a huge impact, especially in regard to clothing. Did you know that fast fashion contributes to Climate Change because of how much of it ends up in landfill! Check out this article! When you thrift vs buy new, you are not only helping the environment. you may come across some vintage gems that are generally better quality than much of what we buy today. Not to mention, I have found basically brand new small appliances at my local Value Village!

Antiquing falls under this category as well. I love, love, love going antiquing. It’s like going on a treasure hunt for me. We have a few favourite spots, but I’m always looking for new places to go. I love walking up and down the aisle, trying to find that one particular item or take a chance and see if I find something I wasn’t actually looking for. I always make sure to love in every corner just in case something has been hidden away.

You Save Money That’s right folks! You save money! That alone should get you excited about thrift stores!

Do you thrift? What do you look for when you do?

Redheads Writing In Cafes: Why I Love Silent Movies

As a child I spent many hours hanging out with my Great Grandpa Bill. I’ve mentioned him before since he is someone who influenced me as a writer. He was an incredible story teller and someone who didn’t shy away from telling spooky ghosts stories to me. He knew that they wouldn’t frighten me, rather intrigue me. I am so incredibly thankful for the time I spent with him. There was another thing that I fell in love with because of him and that is Silent Movies.

Because of my Great Grandpa, I have been watching Silent Movies since I was a kid. Back then I was fascinated by them, but it wasn’t until I became an adult and started rewatching them, did I really learn to appreciate the craft and dedication that went into making those masterpieces of art!

Over the years I have also been working on a Silent Movie script of my own. I’ve also, been reading about incredible female scenario writers such as Frances Marion, Anita Loos and Gene Gauntier for inspiration on how to write a good Silent Film. I highly recommend reading this article if you want to know more about them. These incredible women are another reason I am drawn to Silent Movies. Women shaped the beginning of Hollywood and the Silent Film industry. If you want to learn more about women who were scenario writers, producers and directors, this is a great resource.

Two other resources I highly recommend are the documentary and the book called Without Lying Down. It is the story of Frances Marion and the beginnings of Hollywood. The book is much more in depth than the documentary, but you should give both a go!

Living in Toronto we are blessed to have many rep theatres and most of them show Silent Movies. Once we are out of pandemic jail, we will be returning to them to show support and to enjoy silent movies. We are also incredibly lucky to have The Toronto Silent Film Festival. It had to be rescheduled to late Fall this year and we can’t wait to attend the screenings.

Silent Sundays is a monthly series held at The Revue. We rarely miss a viewing. It is really well curated and I’ve seen films that are new to me, as well as ones I have enjoyed many times.

The Fox in The Beach neighbourhood of Toronto also hosts Silent Movies regularly along with other fun classic movies.

There are a few blogs I regularly check out and you should too!

Movies Silently https://moviessilently.com/
Silentology https://silentology.wordpress.com/?wref=bif
The Hollywood Revue https://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com/category/silents/
Meet Me at the Soda Fountain https://meetmeatthesodafountain.home.blog/?wref=bif

I can’t leave you without letting you know what my top favourite Silent Movies are. These are in no particular order. Where I can, I post links to full movies. Enjoy!

Metropolis (1927) (this is a gorgeous HD copy)

Girl Shy (1924) This is one of my all time favourite Harold Lloyd films. This is a really clean copy of it.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) This is a restored version, but with the German title cards. There are other versions with English, but I highly recommend you watch this version.

Our Dancing Daughters (1928) This is such a wonderful movie and Joan Crawford steals the show! I’m so grateful to my fellow swell dame Heather Babcock for introducing me to it.

City Girl (1930) F.W. Murnau is one of my all time favourite film makers and you will understand when you see City Girl. It was also one of the last Silent Movies, as Talkies were all the rage at this point.

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) The film stars the beloved Louise Brooks. The title cards are in German, but you can find English subtitles.

City Lights (1931) This film is truly the last of the Silent Movies. It really speaks to The Great Depression of the 1930s and I personally feel it is relevant with what is happening right now. The full movies can be seen over on Netflix.

The Last Laugh (1924) This is another favourite F. W. Murnau film! It also has German title cards, but you can find English subtitles.

I’m sure a few of you were wondering where the Silent Horror Movies are. Do not fret!

Nosferatu (1922) The creepiest and best of all of the Dracula movies! I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen it.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) is absolutely wonderful and the special effects are pretty awesome for the times!

What are some of your favourite Silent Movies?

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