Virtual Field Trip

By , July 19, 2020 4:29 am

It’s not a good idea to go in person right now, but please check out the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama.

Equal Justice Initiative, founded by lawyer Bryan Stevenson, whom you may have heard of from the documentary “True Justice” or the movie “Just Mercy” based on his 2014 memoir, has created this museum dedicated to educating people about how the remnants of slavery can be seen in the violence of lynching, segregation and mass imprisonment.

‘Segregation posters are on display at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Ala. “The great evil of American slavery wasn’t involuntary servitude,” Stevenson says. “It was this idea, this narrative, that black people aren’t as good as white people.”‘ (Source:


There’s also the National Memorial for Peace and Justice,  America’s first memorial to the thousands of lynching victims throughout its history.


Something Serious At Last

By , June 26, 2020 8:25 pm

Sadly, it just occurred to me how lacking in seriousness my blog posts have been during the pandemic. All photos of flowers and cats.

As I get older I don’t find it easier to share my thoughts about the state of the world; I find it incredibly difficult to process my thoughts. The pandemic has only made it harder. At times my mind feels cluttered and confused. The emotions have outplayed the analysis. The sometimes mind-numbing routine of working from home has overridden the opportunities for creativity and depth.

I have known for most of my life what a privileged person I am. There is absolutely no doubt of that. Though I often say I am lucky to have the life I have, I know it’s not luck. Luck and fortune are not the same thing. Luck appears out of nowhere. Fortune is a pathway that is created for you, carving out an existence that you glide upon with little friction.

I’ve had everything to the nth degree: material possessions, housing, travel opportunities, hobbies, education, career. Even love. The list really could go on.

I’ve always worked hard, but that doesn’t excuse me from privilege. I think the skill I’m still developing is being able to help my students see different perspectives from their own. Not dismissing other positions and “truths” so quickly.

In the past few days I’ve been involved in two conversations where people said things that were discriminatory – definitely bubble-based thinking, as Val calls it. They don’t even know they are being so insular.

I did not effectively challenge the first person; my response was too meek. Mostly in my own head I started analyzing why this person might think his way of thinking was acceptable. I directly challenged the second person, but I don’t think I made a difference in her position. People are very dug in to their views, based on their experiences, often closed off from those they don’t see or hear.

As a teacher, it is more important to me than ever to play a role in shaping my students’ perspectives. They don’t have to think like me, but I would like them to learn to think more broadly. Did I do this successfully during online learning? Probably not but I’d like to think I tried.

No matter who took away the initiative to learn and work hard during online learning, I cannot stop thinking that it was a wasted opportunity for all those grade 12 students who just couldn’t be bothered anymore. If you are privileged enough to be able to sit at home and do school online (minus serious mental or physical health impediments), you should at least make something of it. I am not going to toe the party line on that one.

Ultimately, I’m privileged to have the best job in the world, teacher! I hope and will work for education to be valuable in carving a pathway for everyone to have better and fairer opportunities.

To be continued…






A Study of Hostas

By , June 7, 2020 7:21 pm

For some reason I have never appreciated my hostas as much as since I started learning to paint. The colours look painted on in the cream-centered ones, and there are endless possibilities for composition.


Nature in Full Swing

By , May 30, 2020 8:25 pm

Some recent scenes of nature making itself visible after months of being awol.


Baby Giraffe at Toronto Zoo!

By , May 13, 2020 9:49 am

Toronto Zoo has a new baby giraffe!

Check out the videos and have a smile. Thanks Ms. Kelly for alerting me!

My house is very tall; perhaps we could have a visit.

Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve

By , May 9, 2020 6:56 pm

It takes only a few minutes for me to walk from my house, down into the Valley, and into the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve. I went twice last week, once with a camera. I meant to go back because the flowers were on the verge of blooming, but then winter re-emerged.

Here are a few of last week’s budding scenes, though not many flowers yet.


It is amazing what lurks literally wedged between Pottery Road and the Don Valley Parkway. The city can be a calm and alluring place.

Backyard Light

By , May 4, 2020 6:53 pm

Even though I’m venturing out a bit more these days on my bike and on foot into the Don Valley, I’m still attracted to the light in my own backyard. I went out today around 3:30 when the sun was quite harsh, and then again around 6:30 when the last possible moment of back lighting was available. The difference is amazing.

First, the bright afternoon light.

Now, the softer light of early evening, though if I had been about 15 minutes earlier it would have been so much better.

At the very back of the yard, where the Japanese maple stands against the fence, the light isn’t that much different at either time because it’s almost always in shadow. These buds up close are absolutely amazing, like space pods of some sort. The finger shot is for size comparison.

And lastly, the tree peony, which really fascinated me last time around. Now it’s much more open. The first shot is from afternoon and the second more moody shot is from this evening.

Avec Tripod

By , April 11, 2020 5:54 pm

Because I started shooting macro photos without a tripod I am very hesitant to use one; it feels so restricting. Once in a while, usually the day after I take some photos and realize it would have been nice to have one, I go out and give the old tripod a try.

Here are some before and after – well, tripod and no-tripod from the backyard again.


with tripod


with tripod

Compared to this image you can see the far left “leaf” is out of focus.

with tripod


plain old plywood that has been outside for 14 years – no tripod



Tiny Backyard Life

By , April 10, 2020 3:40 pm

It’s macro time again: respecting social distance, I only went to my backyard. Here are the little signs of life.



Lichens are always there but they have an especially space-like aura right now.


Lastly, there’s my inanimate nemesis: rust – it’s so hard to get the colours right. This time, I went for the shape.

My Other Life as an English and ESL Teacher

By , April 10, 2020 1:41 pm

Credit recovery affords me a lot of range; this semester it’s grade 9, 10 and 11 English and ESL B (plus Canadian History, Civics and GLS). The Great Gatsby was a difficult read for me – just didn’t love it. Compared to Of Mice and Men, which I did first semester, The Great Gatsby was heavy and plodding. Are people allowed to speak of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work that way?

Luckily, I finished all my Shakespeare work before March Break! I really enjoyed Othello this year – it’s plain enough that a non-fiction type such as myself can actually get it. I’m okay with Macbeth, but I have somewhat negative feelings toward A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Maybe because I’ve never been taught this play I can’t quite figure out its appeal.


Good thing I love grammar!


I guess it’s good to branch out. Adaptation is the key to survival in our new normal.


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