Lindsay’s Baby Shower

By , February 22, 2020 8:08 pm

My sister Lindsay is scheduled to have little Blake at the end of March. Her friends made her a lovely baby shower today. Looking forward to meeting you, baby Blake. Ian was on hand for the gift part and even made some of the food for the all-vegan lunch.

Finally Vegetables

By , February 8, 2020 3:15 pm

With exams, semester turnaround, and the start of semester two, it has been an extremely busy time. This semester is crazy for me; aside from my energetic new grade 12 World History class, I also have seven subjects within credit recovery: grade 9, 10 and 11 English, ESL B, Canadian History, Civics and Learning Strategies. When is March Break?

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to me that I have not been eating very healthfully. Plus, there was that vegan cinnamon bun two weekends ago…

So today I finally cooked some veggies – my favourites – mushrooms and zucchini. It was also so sunny in the kitchen that I decided to take a few photos with our rehabilitated little camera.

I’m taking the day off to catch up on some photography, skating and reading. Then it’s back to work tomorrow with a pile of marking. At least I’ll have some vitamins in me.




Vikings and Nature

By , January 26, 2020 7:26 pm


What do these animals have in common?

reindeer, gannet, orca, Arctic fox, walrus, seal, eider duck, storm petrel, sea otters, gyr falcon

As the Vikings made the journey from their Scandinavian homelands they came into contact with forms of nature that they hunted and made use of, not always killing animals.

As they made their way from 800 t0 1000 CE, jump by jump, across the North Atlantic – Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Vinland (Newfoundland) – they learned from nature, profited from it for trade purposes, and survived because of it.

Walrus tusk ivory from

We don’t usually think of the Vikings as doing anything other than raiding. Natural history reminds us that humans cannot survive without nature. PBS’ long-running program Nature does an excellent job of reinforcing this timely truth.

Inside NATURE: Making of Wild Ways of the Vikings (6 mins)

Reindeer cyclone – incredible to watch!



By , January 26, 2020 9:42 am

Picard is back. We had a life-sized cardboard cutout of the captain in our family room in the 1990s.


Thank you, Val, for getting us the channel so we could watch it. So excited to see where it goes.

Last Day of Class

By , January 21, 2020 8:41 am

We had some fun times – the trial was the best memory for me. Never made it to pizza. Best of luck, everyone.

Ms. G


Studying For Exams

By , January 6, 2020 4:19 pm

Try out some of these methods. They are scientifically proven to work.

Studying for Exams Jan_2020

Val’s Garage

By , December 31, 2019 1:57 pm

Our cottage has a pretty big garage, one I don’t go into very often. However, I thought it would make for an interesting photography destination.

There’s measurement.


There are hose-shaped things.

There are tools (mostly) neatly arranged.

There are unidentified objects (probably parts of power tools).

There’s even a bit of colour.

And of course there’s a TTC bus stop. Who wouldn’t have such a thing?

How could I forget – lots of random bike parts.

December’s Melting Ice

By , December 31, 2019 1:23 pm

I suppose it’s fitting that these days ice doesn’t stay around for too long. After the freezing rain overnight at the cottage, we went outside to take some photos. By the end, it was mostly dropping water rather than perfect little ice crystals.

It snowed all morning today so next up will be snowy pics, I guess.

My Best Books of the Last Two Decades

By , December 31, 2019 9:14 am

You will notice that my list is almost entirely non-fiction. I do not apologize for this at all.

More and more students tell me they don’t read. That I find highly depressing and I want to inspire them to get their minds working! Offline.

Reading does truly take you to new worlds.

Don’t be prehistoric.  Read!



Top 10 Books of 2000-2020

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel, 1999 (so I count it as within the parameters as I read the paperback version). I have repeatedly said that this is my favourite book of all time. Given to me by a beloved student, this book is deeply personal yet also historical. It made Galileo, an arrogant yet brilliant guy, one of my favourite characters in history.


Becoming by Michelle Obama, 2018. I especially enjoyed the first part of the book about her childhood in Chicago. She’s candid and thoughtful and has a sense of social history without being ‘historical’. I honestly didn’t pay much attention to her when she was First Lady but I’m very impressed with her now.


The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, 2006. This book got me started on my journey toward veganism. Pollan, a journalist, investigates the American food system and alternatives to factory farming.


Salt by Mark Kurlansky, 2002. One of the first “commodity” books about the history of a thing. The author takes you on a trip shaped around everything related to salt, its making, different types that come from different parts of the world.


Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang, 2013. A book about a very powerful figure (yet highly limited because of being a woman) with good and bad sides. History is complicated – very rarely will we find someone to admire 100%.


Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome by Anthony Everitt, 2009. Ever since I had to compare Hadrian and Trajan in a 2003 course on Roman history, I have had an interest in Hadrian (I chose him as a better ruler than Trajan). He was a complicated fellow, shall we say, who had very good intentions. But he was not nearly as well liked as his predecessor, the wildly popular Trajan.


SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard, 2015. A wonderful writer who loves her subject makes for an excellent read. She has humour, ability to make the reader forget the present, and sharp analytical honesty. No wonder I am now on my third Mary Beard book. I hope to review it soon on the blog. She’s also a tv presenter of the most casual nature – I love how she travels to historical and archaeological sites in her high tops.


The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders, 2003. Maybe this too can be seen as a commodity book? It takes every room in a Victorian house and looks at the historical context, weaving in technology and gender roles and expectations. It took me forever to read this dense book but it was worth it!


The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger, 2017. An anthropologist’s attempt to make sense of the symbols on paleolithic cave walls. It’s very scientific yet also takes some liberties to try to help the reader feel what it might have been like to be part of a paleolithic community.


Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert, 2015. Probably the best researched book I have ever read. This book looks at every angle on cotton and its interwoven history with industrialization, slavery and imperialism.


Fiction (mostly books I read for English credit recovery, but I only listed them here if I enjoyed them)

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, 1996 – I admit that I was sparked to read it by the 2017 tv series. However, I really enjoyed the mix of fiction and fact (real-life letters from the time of the trial of Grace Marks for an 1843 murder north of Toronto).

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 2008. Much better than the movie! Sure, it’s a young adult novel, but it has sharply drawn, complicated characters.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 1937. I originally read this book in grade 10 English class and I can’t say that it had any impact on me then. Reading it now, I see so much more in it – small, meaningful details in the sparsely written descriptions and keen dialogue.


Overall, what does my list say about me?

I’m a vegan historian.


Happy reading in 2020.

Just a little vegan note

By , December 31, 2019 8:43 am

The Guardian‘s vegan recipe columnist is not a vegan. I do find that odd. Or maybe she is now.

Here’s what Meera Sodha says in her Dec. 27 column on meal-planning for Veganuary.

When I first started my vegan column, I gave myself a month before I’d have to hand in my notice. As an omnivore (admittedly one that ate little meat but a lot of dairy and eggs), I just couldn’t imagine writing recipes week after week with such a strict set of rules, let alone enjoy eating plant-based food on a regular basis. But then, something wonderful happened.”

“I am doing Veganuary this year in the main because I want to show you how enjoyable it can be.”

I do like her recipes so I’m not trying to be critical. Just a bit surprised.


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