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.


King of the Boxes

By , April 10, 2020 7:49 am

Richard is the boss! He watched us eat dinner from this perch last night.


I will not use a mouse

By , April 1, 2020 11:19 am

This is what happens to Val when he uses a mouse during his online video meetings.

Historic Time of Remote Learning

By , March 30, 2020 1:01 pm

Hello everyone,

as we walk the fine line of hope for a better future and despair about the world as it exists today, we can all learn to adapt to our new environments.

Here are some tips for avoiding the stir-crazies:

  1. Develop a sense of routine and structure. It can be flexible but it should exist. We’re used to the routine of school. Now let’s develop something new.

For me that means doing a Sudoku first thing in the morning after my cats wake me up. It also means taking breaks when I’m starting to lose it after staring at my computer screen for too long. Photography and cooking are great, too.


2. Find meaning and happiness in small, positive things.


I always take time to notice the colours of the sunset and the beauty of the shining moon. It may sound silly, but when I am feeling down I need these soothing little moments of awareness of something beyond myself.

Of course my cats provide incredible entertainment and happiness, even if they’re just lounging around (okay, that’s 20 hours of every day).

Richard birdwatches to pass the time.


If you are struggling, reach out: to your teachers, your guidance counsellor, your parents, Ms. G. You are not alone.

Fact-Checking Chernobyl

By , March 18, 2020 11:59 am

Last night we watched Chernobyl on Crave while we still have it (until Picard is over). While I thought the drama was great, I was annoyed at some inaccuracies I discovered while fact-checking mid-way through the episodes. I know, my fault; I just can’t help wondering if what I’m seeing is true.

It turns out that reliable, agreed-upon data about Chernobyl, especially its after-effects, is not easy to pin down. There are differing interpretations of how many people have died, how many people have been affected, etc. It bothers me that the “facts” given at the end of the miniseries are presented as the gold standard.

If you’ve seen the series, I invite you to do some fact-checking on your own. You’ll find the minimizers and the maximizers in terms of estimates. There’s also some new research using interesting methodologies.

Nightmares aside, I thought it was a very well-acted series that gave a real sense of the USSR in the 1980s (not that I was there but I definitely studied it).

Lots of lies and every so often the truth. We haven’t come very far, regrettably.



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