I’ve Become Super Noob

I started writing as Super Noob on Lindsay’s blog, Web Design for Idiots. Tonight I wrote the following as an introduction to who I am and why I’m someone who might have a reason to be writing there.

I’m posting this from my very messy desk with the TV on to my left and my nearly cold coffee at my right hand, in danger of wrecking my faithful little scanner. I’m a real woman. I’m a real, live, 40+, divorced Canadian woman, a writing legend in my own mind.

In June of 1996 I began on the Internet. I was an IRC diva for quite a long time. It was a lot of fun and most of it I really should not write about here. That’s what personal blogs are all about. I wrote for a zine first, a small print publication called The Crying Clown. From there it was all online. At one point I was producing my own newsletter for writers, InkSplatters, sent out through what is now Yahoo Groups. I was a web writer for HerPlanet, BackWash, BellaOnline, Suite 101, WZ-ard.com and other sites, forums and newsletters some still living and some not. I still write for Creative Fat Grrl on LockerGnome, a babbly blog more than anything seriously functional. Writing for a network is a different educational experience than writing for yourself. Which is one reason I keep doing it.

I’ve had sites and then blogs of my own. I didn’t begin online in the great time of blogging, I was here before that. So my first sites were put together with just HTML code as I learned and goofed it up. I’ve used software and I’ve cut and pasted code and I’ve hand coded my own pages. I’m not an expert, time alone isn’t enough to make you an expert at web design or development. I have learned however and as I learn I see how much more there is to be explored and discovered. But, don’t look to me expecting I’m a know-it-all. If I ever say that you can be sure I’m just laughing at myself.

I love creative things. I’ve done so many interesting forms of art, just to try them out. I made ASCII art for a few years. I continue to take digital photos of abandoned places here in Ontario, starting in 2006 when I bought my first digi camera. I’m also teaching myself to draw cartoons, some people even like them! This week I re-learned the art of cutting out paper doll chains so I could make them into a graphic for a blog. I really think it’s important to keep the creativity and free writing in blogging. It would be a real shame if the personal journal and creative element of blogging were lost in the rush for SEO and money making.

Anyway, I’m here to help the less experienced blogger with my experiences. I’ve got a stack of great books about web design on my bookshelf and I will be using them (finally) for more than a place to hide my dust bunnies. I seem to collect books with great good intentions and then not get very far. You can also find me writing about web writing and posting writing ideas and prompts on my blog, Word Grrls.


Completely off topic… did you know that a nail file works really well if you have an itchy spot on your back that you just can’t reach? I’ve been rubbing my back on my chair tonight wishing for something to work. Then I had the great idea for the nail file (not one of those treacherous metal ones, just some cardboard type) and that worked great!

The Red Well with Warnings of Ghosts and Witches

Somewhere in Scotland. What an interesting little place. Likely the tales of ghosts and witches were based on suspicion/ fear and just trying to keep people from getting hurt in there. Now it’s locked. What a sad, and yet sensible, ending.

There must have been (or still are) other places like this. Is it even a well? Seems an odd structure to use for water, wouldn’t it get stagnant without some sunlight and air flow?

Below is the Red Well, said to date from Roman times, also said to be haunted by an old lady ghost and to be aligned for sunrise sunbeams on the summer solstice. I lived in Whitehills for a short time as a child and remember the beehive shaped building being called ‘the witch’s hoosie’ and kids shutting each other in there for ‘fun’. It’s now locked.

Source: going coastal – Ailish Sinclair

The Sadness of Disappearing Used Book Stores

starlight Starlight Books in Newmarket, Ontario, has closed. Not big news to a lot of people. I was sad to see it gone this week when I drove by on my way to visit my sister in Newmarket. I used to live in the area. Starlight books was one of my favourite places for about 20 years. Now its gone.  The Facebook page is missing, not even a note to say good bye. The website is just a dead link.

Technology killed the little community book store.

Where will all the secondhand books go when there are few (or none left at all) places to trade books? The best thing about Starlight and the other secondhand bookstores is being able to bring in books I’ve read and find more from the same author, or take the risk of a new author.

Used book stores are opportunities for readers. Not just finding old books no longer in the big retail stores, but books in stock catered to the reader rather than the shopper. Also, when I exchange books I can select a few for free then. This was the best time to try someone new, a book I would have passed up as too expensive to take a chance on otherwise.starlightbooks

How much is the literary world losing as the used bookstores fade away? Likely more than many people realize.

It’s not a co-incidence that Starlight thrived and grew for at least 20 years (that much time since I’ve been shopping there) and all at once has now closed. I’ve talked to the local used bookstore here too. She says there is more stock coming in and less being bought (or traded out again). The paranormal genre which was selling so quickly is now slumbering too. That doesn’t help as they come in and stay, taking up space now.

Less space consuming are the ebooks, of course. The approaching paperless swarm of electronic books many people buy but only a few actually seem to read. It’s the buying that counts though, not the reading.

I do feel sad for the future of the paperback especially. Will all those printed words end up in landfills? No longer able to find new readers at the community book shops.

What will happen to writers too? There may be book buyers but are there still book readers?

The Canadian Flag: Red Ensign

In 1965, the national flag of Canada was changed from the Canadian Red Ensign to the current Maple Leaf flag without so much as a referendum to give people a voice to see if they wanted to change the current flag or not.

In 2014, while it might be too late to make the Canadian Red Ensign the national flag of Canada, it is never too late to right this historical wrong by making the Canadian Red Ensign an official flag of Canada similar in status to the current national flag and the Royal Union Flag.

The Canadian Red Ensign should be flown at all appropriate war memorials and cemeteries, Canada Day, and other places and events where Canada’s past should be honoured. The flag should be also be accorded the same reverence and respect as the national flag.

via – Bring Back the Red Ensign. (Facebook group)

Canadian Content Contributor on Squidoo

I put my name in to be the Canadian Contributor on Squidoo.

This is what I wrote:

I am a proud Canadian and I do like to write about, research, and teach the world about Canada and Canadians. I already publish a content feed on Scoop.it about Canadiana. Mainly bits of things I find online or happen to think of myself. Scoop.it gives me a place to stash links, share ideas and knowledge. I have over 3,000 views and 41 subscribers, not a lot but it does give me a nice start for promoting any Canadian posts I make as the Squidoo Contributor. Anyway, that’s just numbers. The fact is I was born in Toronto and have grown up all over Ontario. As a younger woman I travelled alone across Canada on the Greyhound bus, staying in youth hostels, meeting other young travelers/ backpackers. I do love it here and travelling (on a shoestring) was a great way to see more than the cleaned up tourist places. These days I photograph abandoned, derelict farm houses. Travelling around Ontario (day trips and some over nights) I see a lot of backroads, get coffee in local restaurants and I keep in touch with other explorers across Canada through the groups I founded and moderate on Flickr. I especially like Canadian music, literature and movies/ TV shows. Here we get so much media from the US it can be overwhelming. I make a point to support our own Canadian media by watching and listening to CBC, the oldest Canadian broadcaster and the most Canadian focused of them all. If you want to know about Canadian music, writers and others you can count on the CBC to have current news and old facts in their archives too. I studied Canadian Literature as a course in high school and college. I do read a lot of everything, not just Canadian, but I am aware of Canadian writers and did belong to an online group (until it folded). I had thought to start up another group but that does take a huge amount of time and energy so it on a project on the backburner. Meanwhile I continue to write my site for writers and it does have some focus on Canadian resources (just because that is what I find most useful for myself, as a Canadian freelance writer). I have probably written too much but I would very much enjoy covering the topic of Canada for Squidoo. Partly because as a Contributor I hope to be given some extra promotion on the site and then be read and heard. (So important to feel someone is actually reading and listening). Also, I would be happy to bring some niches of Canadian culture, history and art to light.

I’m sure I had paragraphs but they didn’t work with the form used. So it is a solid block of text, mainly here for my own amusement.

Pincushions: Make Them, Collect Them and Use Them

teacup pincushionPincushions are functional, decorative and the best way to keep your sewing pins from winding up in various odd places around the house. If you don’t sew you could collect hat pins and use a fabulous pincushion to display them.

The first pincushion I remember using was my Grandmother’s standard tomato-strawberry pincushion. It was red with green embroidery, Made in China. Hers had two strawberries, hanging from the side.

That pincushion design started in the Victorian era. It probably came from the idea of having a tomato on the hearth for good luck in the home. When tomatoes were not available families would use a red ball stuffed with sawdust. At some point it became used to hold pins while the ladies were sewing. (There was a lot of hand sewing in those days).

I don’t know if my Grandmother’s pincushion was stuffed with sawdust. But the old way was to stuff the tomato with wool roving to prevent the pins from getting rusty. The attached strawberry was filled with abrasive to clean and sharpen the pins.

Pincushions are one of the pretty extras you can use when you sew. You can sew without using a pincushion. Just as you don’t really need a thimble, but the pincushion is tradition, adds history and elegance to the event. I don’t wear an apron when I cook, but I still like to look at patterns for sewing them and embellishing them. It’s not about what you need but more about what you want.

The pincushion needs to be the right size to not get in the way of your work, yet it has to hold a good load of pins as you work. It should have stuffing which is tightly packed so your pins don’t wobble around or sink right through up to their heads. I’ve seen very pretty pincushions which would be decorative but not very functional. If you buy a pincushion make sure it’s more than just a pretty face.

See More Pincushion Designs

Cigarette Pollution is a Problem

cigarette pollution
This was in the parking lot area of a small town restaurant. I thought it was smart. I’m a non-smoker (partly due to allergies and asthma). So the smell of cigarettes is not pleasing to me but I especially dislike the smell of old cigarettes and the sight of piles of cigarette butts at the entrances of places like restaurants.

This year we have been finding cigarette butts flicked into the garden in front of our house too. It is pretty thoughtless to flick cigarette pollution in someone’s manicured lawn, carefully maintained and treasured garden space.

How to Research the History of a House

housesoldEvery house has a story and a history to it. You can find out when your home was built, who lived there, and how they changed it. Once you begin peeling back the old wallpaper, taking up the old flooring or wondering why someone put a door in such an odd place… you might want to know more about the history of your house and the people who decorated, renovated and lived in it before you.

You can find this out for a house you are interested in buying or just interested in for any reason at all. You don’t have to live in a house or a property to be curious about it. I like to find old, abandoned or derelict places and find out more about them. The main thing is to start somewhere.

Where and How to Get Started

Take a look around the property and the house inside and outside yourself.

Conduct a search of the house and its yard. Don’t forget the garage, any kind of shed or outbuilding, the basement and attic if your house has any or all of these. A little knowledge of architecture would help you find more about the features of your home and their original use or importance.

This is a great way to introduce yourself to the neighbours.

Ask neighbours about the neighbourhood, how long they have lived in the area and what they know or can remember about the house you live in. You don’t have to feel you are being a snoop or a gossip if you are asking about the house itself.

Talk to people in real estate, especially your own agent if they are local to the area.

Real estate people should be willing and able to find background information about your house (especially if you are interested in putting in an offer to buy the property). Real estate agents will have access to property records from services like land surveys, assessments and such which you might not consider tracking down yourself.

Go to city or county records offices, court houses, the local library and historical societies.

Deeds, tax records, property abstracts, city directories, census records, insurance maps, and actual road maps will help you track down the past life of your house. Your city or county records office can help you begin. Some libraries will have a section or a whole reference room dedicated to local history. You might even find a photo or illustration of your house from it’s earliest days. Ask the librarian for assistance. (Check if they have searchable archives of the local newspapers too).

Find out if your property/ house is considered historically important.

Check with societies preserving local, historic architecture to see if your house is on the list or has been considered. Even if your house is not listed, ask them about your street, other houses on your street and which are the older houses compared to your own house. If your house is considered historically significant you will have to talk to the local government planning office before you do any renovations or changes to the structure. (If you are considering buying the property this is an issue you need to think about).

Articles About Researching House and Home History

Make Your Own Impact for Future History

Just for interest, try exploring your house and the yard with gadgets which let you see more than your own eyes are able (like a metal detector). If you are renovating a space in the house keep an eye out for anything interesting. People sometimes leave notes when they are renovating a house.

We the same when we wallpapered my old house. Each of the four kids and our parents signed the wall when we had all the old paper off. We added the date and a message to whoever finds that bare wall again in the history of that house.