In Memory – Sunnybrook Stables

By , May 22, 2018 9:06 pm

I haven’t really had a chance to get my thoughts together about losing so many wonderful horses and the entire barn at Sunnybrook. I’ll have to write more about that later.

I am so grateful that there are 13 horses still remaining, among them the incredible horses that Julie and I ride: Skye, Rex and Daisy. We are both so relieved to say that Polka, Carmel, Yukon, Dante, Flight, Queenie, Huckleberry, Will, Georgia and Clyde are also alive!

Sugar is the horse that I have thought about the most; she has always been the “welcome” horse in the first stall – standing or box. My last ride on Sugar, some time in the winter, was wonderful. She was showing off her increasing and decreasing canter circles. Last Thursday I said hello and goodbye to Sugar, as I always do. She looked her usual serene self just standing there checking out the view. It can’t really have been the last time, can it?

Here’s a picture of Sugar from this past December.

Like all Sunnybrook horses, she served us well. Thank you, Sugar. We love you and we will miss you.

Stars on Ice Toronto

By , May 13, 2018 1:39 pm

On the day of the crazy windstorm the Stars on Ice 2018 tour arrived in Toronto. I was lucky enough to have incredible on-ice seats to view what had to be one of the greatest moments of my life. Yes, I said that.

For a figure skating fan this was the highlight: our entire gold medal team plus Javier Fernandez and Jeffrey Buttle (well, I’m not much of an Elvis Stojko fan but he tried)! What more can a figure skating fan ask for (Kurt Browning might be my answer).

It’s hard to pick out just one highlight as there were so many thrills but tears came to my eyes during Patrick Chan’s Hallelujah and Tessa and Scott’s Roxanne. The filled ACC was SO loud for Tessa and Scott. The entire gold medal team skating to Fields of Gold was pretty sweet, too.

I have to say that after the thrill of the World Championships for Kaetlyn Osmond’s gold and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s bronze it was pretty awesome to see them live. Kaitlyn and Andrew, in particular, did two amazing numbers. Kaetlyn stands out for her speed, grace and maturity – not a concept very common in women’s skating these days with all those 15 year old jumpers who don’t hear their music.

On a parting note for the 2017-2018 season I will just say this: Tessa and Scott skating to Roxanne is the greatest creation figure skating has every seen. Superlative. Happy to have been a witness to it.

Recent Reads

By , April 29, 2018 2:36 pm

I’ve fallen a bit behind in my book reviews so I’ll just quickly say a few words about a some books I’ve read lately.

The Trouble with Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure by Shawn Micallef (2014).

Someone at Val’s office lent him this book and I pilfered it. It was a short and relatively fast read, kind of interesting.

Micallef details his Windsor sort of working class background and how it gives him a more realistic sense of class. He does discuss brunch a lot, probably too much. He dissects it as a reflection of our class consciousness. He also quotes Thorstein Veblen a lot. Veblen was a late 19th century – early 20th century thinker who wrote about the leisure class and conspicuous consumption.

Micallef also writes some things that he doesn’t quite finish up on about farmers markets. Though his experiences aren’t just Toronto-centered, I did like his local references, particularly to the Riverdale Farmers Market (which is quite different from the ones I frequent at East York Civic Centre and in Peterborough).

Micallef is a freelance columnist for the Toronto Star. He has a good sense of a city as a living, breathing entity. That I like a lot.

Ancient Worlds: A Global History of Antiquity by Michael Scott (2016).

This big book didn’t start off too well for me – the chapter on Roman-Indian interaction just went over my head. However, the subsequent chapters really captivated me. Scott’s main idea is that cross-cultural interaction defines history, yet each particular interaction has its own characteristics.

His case studies, so to speak, were Han China and its incorporation of Buddhism from India, Armenia and its incorporation of Christianity, and Constantine’s slow road to Christianity in the eastern half of the Roman Empire.

I have to say that I absolutely loved the parts on Armenia and Constantine. Who knew I had such interests? I have never read anything about Armenia’s ancient history. It turns out that Christianity was incorporated in such a way to bolster the ruling class. What a surprise! The parts on Constantine were eye opening too even though I know a fair bit about him and his time. What I did glean is a lot more about the way that the internal divisions within early Christianity were used by Constantine and his advisors to bring in tolerance of a highly persecuted religion.

As a person who teaches ancient history this book presents a real challenge to me. I absolutely want to incorporate its findings, and more importantly its global history ethos. However, time is limited and students don’t tend to do well in a global framework without a culture-specific framework first (at least in my experience they don’t). It’ll take me some time to figure out how to make use of this.

For those interested in this new stream of global histories, I highly recommend this book.

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga (2017).

I wrote about this book in my OHASSTA blog post in March after having heard the author speak at our TDSB PD conference in February.

I was very touched by it, so much so that I kind of developed an anger toward Thunder Bay. I wanted to visit the north shore of Lake Superior – now I’m not so sure.

I truly feel all Canadians should read this book. We need to know that the legacy of residential schools lives on in such horrible ways. Yet the people portrayed in the book are so full of resilience and caring.

I have just started a new book. After reading about paleolithic cave paintings earlier in the school year I thought I’d follow up with something on archaeology.

Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives: Sex, Gender, and Archaeology by Rosemary Joyce (2008).

More to come when I finish it. I’m only a few pages in – interesting interpretations about Venus figurines already!


TDSB@UofT History Conference – May 10

By , April 9, 2018 2:43 pm

April 27: now closed – registration has taken place.

Grade 11 history students: if you’re interested in attending the conference, please check out the brochure and let Ms. G know by email. The cost is $5.00.

TDSB program_History__Conference_2018

Richard Turns Two

By , March 14, 2018 11:22 am

It was exactly one year ago yesterday that Richard Parker joined us. Here we are again at the cottage with snow blustering around.

How has Richard changed?

He is definitely calmer. He was a ball of energy a year ago. He absolutely could not sit still except when he was sleeping. In the first few months of his arrival, none of us not got a lot of sleep. His most high-energy time of day was night, unfortunately for us and for Bailey. Richard seemed to think that Bailey existed to torture. He ran him up and down the stairs, into corners. It was sincerely hard to deal with. Though Val dealt with most of it, being the night-owl that he is, I often got up screaming at Richard to leave my poor frail Bailey alone! To no avail.

Richard is still very sweet. When he first arrived, he would often cuddle up and snooze with us. Though he’s older and more mature now (ha ha), he still loves a good cuddle. Especially, it seems, in the morning when I’m trying to put on my makeup. Just as I’m about to place a little wand close to my eyes he expects to be picked up and hugged. Yes, I have poked myself in the eye a few times.

Richard is still food crazy but he can be controlled now. If left to his own devices he would still eat everyone else’s food. If we left bread out on the counter, he would guzzle it. Sometimes now, especially at the cottage where he is generally calmer, he will sit and watch the other cats eating without making a move. At home, he still has to go for “timeouts” in the powder room to allow them to finish their meals in peace.

Most of all he’s a good boy – funny and charming, crazy and endearing. He’s a big ball full of personality. We’re all used to him in a good way.

But no more. We are full! We also need to sleep at night and not to worry about disasters every time we hear a noise!

Here are some of his greatest moments. All photos courtesy of Val Dodge.

Dec. 2017: Chair as jungle gym. He also does somersaults on the banister.


Jan. 2018: In the recycling bin. If he’s not in it he’s trying to lick all the cans in it.


March 2018: In a coveted bag. We always cut the handles so he doesn’t strangle himself.


Watching a squirrel take a nap outside the loft window.


RP and Val – friends forever.


Feb. 2018: Getting into trouble on the ‘jungle gym’ AKA the clothes dryer at the cottage.


March 2018: We’re so proud he loves laundry so much.


He also loves stairs. We’re less proud of this since we live in a four-storey house with several long drops from open stairs!

My Tessa and Scott

By , March 14, 2018 10:36 am

Toronto Star


They seem to belong to the world now. That’s what the Olympics do.

Though they had a following around the world well before the 2018 Olympics, they are now of the world, of the pop culture world that cares more for their ‘relationship story’ than for their skating skills. Shipping? Fan fiction? Tabloid headlines? These are not the things for my Tessa and Scott.

As a longtime devotee of ice dancing I care most for Tessa and Scott’s skating skills, even as much as I love them as characters. To me, they move like no one else. And they move as one. I don’t think there’s any other ice dance team that skates as closely together. Again I say, as one. They never have to reach for each other. Other teams approach this, such as the French, though it’s not my preferred version of close – it’s cool, not sensual.

Perhaps it’s best to define closeness with its opposite – the Russians, Bobrova and Soloviev. They are always reaching, scratching. Though I actually like their “loss of sight” free dance (it took a while for me to be able to say that), I feel it is made worse by their somewhat chaotic skating skills.

Hubbell and Donohue approach the ‘simmering’ look of closeness. But to me it’s more of a look. Tessa and Scott don’t just look that way. It’s a skill honed over two decades to get that organic way of moving together. As a Canadian I feel that Weaver and Poje come very close to skating as one. For some reason the judges do not think on the same level. I cannot explain that, nor can any commentator I’ve ever heard.

I will see all of my favourite Canadian skaters (plus Javier Fernandez, apparently) at Stars on Ice in May. What I absolutely love most about it is seeing their passion for skating on their faces, up close and personal.






Ancient History Everywhere

By , February 18, 2018 6:48 pm

History is not dead. Consider these recent articles about new discoveries.


Toronto Star via AP

A new mapping technique is being used to find large structures hidden in the jungle where archaeologists didn’t know they existed in Guatemala. Perhaps up to 10 million people lived there.


Discovery of a new 3400 years old tomb in Egypt from the 18th dynasty (my personal favourite dynasty).

National Geographic, AP photo by NARIMAN EL-MOFTY

Indigenous Canada

A new map of Turtle Island – pre-contact Canada – is being constructed. What did it look like, map-wise, from an Indigenous perspective, without modern political boundaries and things imposed by the colonizers? This is a very exciting project!


Maybe Paleo was better?

Moving to a settled, farming way of life, the people of Catalhoyuk gave up something – their health. This way of life was difficult but it was unlikely they’d go back to their hunter-gatherer way, ironically, because they had built up their possessions.

Reconstruction of the interior of a home at Catalhoyuk from

Feb. 16, 2018 PD Day @Humberside

By , February 14, 2018 10:24 pm

Welcome! Check out photos and tweets from the SWSH pd day at #swshpd18

Here’s some shameless self-promotion – I’m the editor of OHASSTA’s blog, Rapport. Please visit and consider contributing. Email me if you’re interested (

Here is my PPT: Becoming_an_Inquiry_Teacher_Feb_2018

Here is one I did about a year and a half ago that’s much more procedural, less reflective: Becoming an Inquiry Teacher



Leaving 2017

By , December 30, 2017 12:20 pm

Good Things of 2017

Tessa and Scott: I love the Roxanne program. I love their energy and passion. Yes, Scott sometimes gets into it too much and he’s not perfect. I don’t care. They’re perfect together.

Euro Sport image from NHK Trophy in Japan.

Murdoch Mysteries: still going strong after 11 seasons. May I just say, please let George be happy for more than half a season!!!

Murdoch saved from jail once again.

Alias Grace: I sort of watched the mini series on CBC, mostly because it followed Murdoch Mysteries. I recently read the book by Margaret Atwood. Readers of my blog will know that I DO NOT usually read fiction. Though it is based on a true story, it is still fiction. I loved it! I don’t think Grace murdered Nancy Montgomery. After watching the mini series, I thought I recognized the actress who played Grace, but I couldn’t quite recall from where. It turns out she played Ruby Ogden, Julia’s sister, on Murdoch. Small world. Or, CBC world.

Cooper’s Bar Mitzvah: my nephew did a great job on his big day in October. His friends coming up and speaking about him was very sweet, especially for 13-year old boys. The weekend provided a wonderful opportunity to visit with family from out of town.

Hockey theme

Emilie, Shannon and Risa – first cousins from Vancouver.

Richard Parker, the Cat: phrases commonly heard around our house now that we have this energetic little devil – RIIIIIIIIICHARD (downward inflection)! What are you doing? How did you get THERE? Who brought the blanket into the kitchen? Get out of everyone else’s food!!! Leave Bailey alone!

Risa and Richard, taken by my cousin Emilie Irelan in October.

Here’s a rare scene: all four cats together – Val is feeding them treats.

Rapport: the blog I edit for OHASSTA. This is why I don’t have much time to blog here anymore. Doing the paper edition for the November conference made October extremely stressful, but I proved that I could do it.

Museums, especially the newly revamped Canadian History Hall in the Museum of History in Ottawa: OHASSTA conference attendees got a tour – I really loved the story of Nuvumiataq,  who was reconstructed from bones found in the Arctic (on Baffin Island). He is also in Canadian Geographic magazine’s Nov/Dec. issue which focuses on Indigenous peoples of Canada. The guide told us that when Inuit advisors from Arctic Bay saw the finished exhibit for the first time they thought he looked familiar!

The Table: vegan buffet restaurant in Ottawa – it is SO nice to have more than one choice on a buffet – choice of everything is pretty amazing.

From The Table’s Instagram account.

Skye: my vote for horse of the year at Sunnybrook Stables – calm, predictable, relatively gentleman-like (except when he is eating), capable of being ridden in a lovely frame, cloud-like canter. Rex would be second place for me – cute as a button (except when that gigantic head of his accidentally hits you – it hurts!).

Skye getting his Christmas carrots.

Huntsville area: our summer trip included a fun visit to the Screaming Heads, a rural property near Burk’s Falls full of huge concrete art pieces. The land belongs to artist Peter Camani, a former high school art teacher. This one says “put up your hand.” As a teacher, I can relate! I have to say, however, my favourite part of the visit was not the art (I don’t tend to “get” art); it was the walk through the sprawling meadow across the street. I have always wanted to walk through a meadow with its waist-high grass and jumping grasshoppers. It did not disappoint.

Squirrel in the fireplace: Anonymous creature got in sometime on Fri. Dec. 22 and was there to greet me when I arrived home from school. Our fireplace is two-sided so I got some pretty good views of him. He had to be lured out with peanut butter into one of the cat carriers. Mission accomplished. He is not staying. We had a brief moment of eye contact – I do love squirrels, just not in my home.

Val: my husband continues to be the most wonderful, supportive, caring man on earth. I love him so much and he deserves immense credit for keeping me sane. Here he is in the above-mentioned meadow at Screaming Heads.



Look kids: annotating

By , November 16, 2017 9:55 pm

I was at the Canadian Museum of History tonight in Ottawa. OHASSTA conference attendees got a special tour of the new Canadian History Hall. I loved it – so much amazing stuff.

I wanted to share this photo of a document that John A. Macdonald was doodling on during one of the constitutional conferences leading up to Confederation in 1867.

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