Good Things of 2018

By , January 2, 2019 8:18 pm

Other than things I have already posted about – such as our amazing trip to BC – here are a few other memorable events from 2018.

Summer with Val – Bike Trip

Val planned an entire Risa-friendly bike trip in August around Lake Simcoe, from Barrie to East Gwillimbury. Other than the hills near Keswick it was desirably flat.

Even when there was no vegan restaurant around Val cooked for me on his camp stove at Lagoon City.

A great, if obvious, sign from Orillia.

Lindsay and Ian

Lindsay kept the surprise for Ian’s grad party in the spring. Even better, they are now engaged to be married. Looking forward.


I’m not a big fan of Halloween. Judging by this look, neither is Richard.

Cottage Time

Sunset at Rice Lake.

Out and About in Summer

During the school year I don’t see much of life because I’m at school so long each day. I really tried to get out and about this summer, mostly on my bike.

A heron fishing in the Don River on the trail north from Pottery Road.

An art installation on the Lower Don Trail south of Pottery Road. I love the viaduct in the background. By the way, the Prince Edward Viaduct celebrated its 100th birthday this year. I’m proud to say our street begins at the foot of the bridge.

Mike, our leafy greens guy, at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market. We visited his Tiny Farm some years back. He is such a lovely, positive guy.

Val on the waterfront trail in front of Redpath Sugar. That was my longest ride in the city – 43 km.

Sculptures of three ladies at Zim Art on Rice Lake, an outdoor gallery specializing in Zimbabwean art. The work is incredibly beautiful and diverse.

This graffiti on the trail near Davisville subway station was my inspiration for the cover of Rapport. I’m not usually a positive person but I liked its message for these troubled times.

The young artist Lacey Todd took inspiration from the photo and came up with this cover for November’s Rapport. I am now happily retired from editing Rapport. I met Lacey in December and she’s a lovely girl.



Everything else that I enjoyed I already posted about. No need for repetition. Happy 2019.

Horses of 2018

By , January 1, 2019 1:56 pm

In the spirit of end-of-the-year lists of things we should remember, here’s my biggest.


I still can’t bring myself to write too much about the fire and the death of the 16 horses below. Let’s just say when I close my eyes I often see fire. And since I have only ridden twice since the fire in May, I miss riding and I miss the 13 beautiful horses who did survive. I have the utmost respect for school horses with all they have to put up with, including innumerable children and poor riders. It’s an immense sadness that all of these solid horses met their end in this tragic way.


Here are a few short recollections about some of the Sunnybrook horses lost to us now.

(photos from and the Sunnybrook Stable site)

Sugar – one of my favourite horses, though I often didn’t want to ride her because of her horribly uncomfortable saddle. She could be really cantankerous but she could also provide a very lovely frame if you treated her mouth with gentle caution. For entertainment, her kick-outs during cantering weren’t to be missed! She was graying and slowing down but still very reliable.

Christmas, 2017.

Misty – another of my favourites. We had some really nice rides during which she showed she was quite capable. Lovely little pony-like canter. She could even hold a frame in the canter, something most school horses couldn’t do. I always called her Misty May after the volleyball player.


SutherlandSudsy. This old man was the first horse I ever rode at Sunnybrook for my assessment way back in 2005 (or so). I didn’t ride him too much after that. When I rode Charlie consistently a few years ago, Sutherland would make a bee-line for him and try to ram into him. Very entertaining. Everyone knew Sudsy was the boss at Sunnybrook.

Marty – this epitome of a mare was one of the horses I rode most during my early years at Sunnybrook. My first private lesson with my “mean” instructor was on her. That’s when I got a hump in my back from trying to put her on the bit for a solid hour. Still years later I didn’t know anyone who could, not even Julie. Marty had a lot of spunk and bile! But she had an excellent temperament while being ridden. She had the equivalent of a corner office in the barn!

Sandy – she lived at Sunnybrook a long, long time ago when I first started riding there. She was old then. I rode her quite a bit. She was probably the first horse that I could regularly put on the bit, but it was more of a show on her part than actual submission. One thing I do remember is she’s the first and only horse I ever rode in a dressage saddle. One really cold winter lesson it was only me and the “mean” instructor. She let me have a go in her dressage saddle. Sandy just cantered round and round because she had so much pent up energy from not having any turnout. When Sandy returned to Sunnybrook about a year ago it was a shock. She was still old but still going.

Beau – like everyone who rode him, what I remember most is his rocking-horse canter. He was a lot younger when I rode him. He had aged a lot but he was very trustworthy. We saw a lot of beginners riding him and a lot of instructors giving him his verbal commands to get going!

Tess – Tess was an enviable ride when she first came to Sunnybrook as she was quite capable. I didn’t ride her much over the ensuing years but I always enjoyed visiting her as she was Misty’s next door neighbour. I thought Tess had a beautiful face.


Mr. T – it amazes me that I never rode Mr. T, the denizen of Sunnybrook, over the years. I came close – I was slated to ride him once but a thunderstorm meant it never happened. Julie just loved Mr. T! He was old and slow but a really trustworthy epitome of a school horse. As the last horse in the main aisle he had a lot of friends! Anytime the horses broke out of the paddock Mr. T was usually responsible – smarty pants knew how to open the latch.


One last thing I want to mention is the horses who lived in the main barn who had moved on to greener (supposedly) pastures over the years and thus didn’t have to die in the horrible fire: George was one of my first loves at Sunnybrook, and Skye (the older, smaller one) was my solid, if extremely fickle, companion over many years.

One day we will come back and reclaim this beautiful piece of Toronto and remember them all forever.



Oh no, vegan baking!

By , December 28, 2018 1:31 pm

I made my first vegan dessert: vegan trifle. It was no trifle to make, let’s just say. A lot of assembly was required. Though I did not eat it (because I don’t eat chocolate), I did construct a small chocolate-free one just for myself.


Step 1 – make vegan spongecake – very easy

Step 2 (not shown) – make coconut cream (refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk and then pour off the liquid, leaving the solid cream that you can whip in a mixer just like whipping cream)

Step 3 (not shown) – make chocolate mousse (avocado, banana, dates, cocoa powder) in the vitamix – my first time using this insane appliance

Step 4 (not shown) – bake brownies (I bought pre-made batter from Sweets from the Earth)

Step 5 – make cherry sauce


The final product assembled in (sort of) layers, garnished with cocoa nibs and shaved vegan chocolate


Val also made a dessert: not vegan.

Val’s New York cheesecake made in the InstantPot


As usual my mom was a lovely host and the setting was perfect

Happy Holidays – Let’s Go To Egypt

By , December 18, 2018 9:57 pm

Here’s an ancient history treat: a new tomb discovered in Egypt. Check it out in this short video:


Or look at some of the beautiful images in this National Geographic slideshow:

The tomb is that of a high-ranking priest with government ties from the fifth dynasty (Old Kingdom). It looks incredibly well preserved and decorated. It amazes me that this civ keeps on going!



By , December 1, 2018 1:34 pm

A great night. If anyone wants their picture removed, leave a comment.

Thanks Stuco, especially exec.


By , November 15, 2018 8:56 pm

Amazing conference. Insightful presenters. Old acquaintances and friendships renewed.

Why History? panel.



Skating 2018-19 – The Women

By , November 11, 2018 3:43 pm

The other day one of my students asked what I do for fun. I was in a grumpy mood so I said I didn’t have any hobbies. That’s not true – I am a figure skating fan. In the absence of riding horses, I am spending more time watching skating.

Figure skating fans never know what to expect in the year following an Olympics. Especially in Canada with the retirements (or breaks) of so many super stars, we weren’t sure what would happen.

It turns out that this season is spectacular so far, especially in the women’s field. I liked Japan’s 20-year old Satoko Miyahara last year, but this year I love her! Her speed and interpretation are incredible. I cannot say how much I love her free program tango. She carries the tango interpretation all the way through the interesting mashup of Vivaldi’s winter. Though her jumps aren’t stellar in their height, they are getting better and her landing edge is strong and fast.

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Satoko Miyahra  in 2016, from

And then there is the spectacular freshness of 16 year old Rika Kiahara, also from Japan, who took the crown at the recent NHK competition in Japan with two beautiful triple axels in her free program. And what a skater she is – she glides effortlessly across the ice, maintaining her interesting storm-themed choreography throughout.

Rika Kihira

Rika Kiyahara at the recent 2018 NHK competition, from

When you have watched the Japanese women skate, glide and emote, there is no comparison with the three leading Russians. While Alina Zagitova, last year’s Olympic champion, still has the energy and the jumps, she is an annoying skater to watch – so hunched over, in my opinion. Last year’s Olympic silver medalist , Evgenia Medvedeva, now training in Toronto (at my old place, the Cricket Club), is disappointing so far but I think it will be a long-term transition for her if she can stay committed to the change plan. And then there’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva with her sass and triple axel. She’s just not my cup of tea but I appreciate the spring in her jumps and her athleticism.

What of the Canadians? I think if Kaetlyn Osmond were to return to competition she’d be right in there. She is a fantastic artist and athlete. Having seen her skate in person multiple times at Stars on Ice I can see that her talent is deep and genuine. But I totally understand how she’d want to take time off. Kaetlyn’s bronze medal skate at the Olympics was nothing short of inspiring. I screamed my head off in joy! Gabby Daleman, who is off on a mental-health break, has the athletic goods to compete but doesn’t seem to have the consistency. There really isn’t anyone else in the top tier.

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Kaetlyn Osmond at the 2018 Olympics where she won the bronze medal, from

Though it would be nice if Canadian women’s skating had more depth, there’s more than enough international talent to keep the fans happy.



Happy Thanksgiving

By , October 8, 2018 10:00 am

I forgot to take pictures of the food and the guests. Instead, I did a little photo shoot with the centrepiece characters my mom brought, and Richard, of course.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Getting Better?

By , August 24, 2018 7:59 pm

As I mentioned previously, food photography is not as easy at it looks. I have bought some props and learned some techniques. Here are a few side by sides to show that I’m improving, I think. There is still a long way to go but at least it’s a delicious journey.

First attempt at potato salad did not work out because of the red bowl.

Though this version of potato salad is not exactly the same, it is definitely more photogenic in a white bowl on a dark background.


This was my first attempt at both cooking and photographing tofu with garlic scapes. Again, red in the background causes a problem.

This was my second attempt at the recipe and I captured it in the pan. I think it looks pretty nice.

This is still the second attempt but I changed up the bowl and captured the steam coming off the dish.


Here’s a black bean burger that doesn’t look great, in my opinion, in this set up.

Though this is less realistic it is more artful. It was taken a few minutes before the burger shot.



I love taking pictures of ingredients on their own. This basket of peaches is over-posed.

This shot from a seller at Cabbagetown Farmers Market is more natural.

Fun with garlic scapes.

Bowen Island

By , August 16, 2018 8:02 pm

After we left Vancouver Island by ferry from Nanaimo, we headed over to Horseshoe Bay. There we exited the ferry, drove a few stops on the highway, turned around at the U-turn exit, and headed back to Horseshoe Bay to get onto the ferry for Bowen Island. My cousin Emilie, her husband Link and their son Sam were excellent hosts, as always.

Bowen is a spectacularly beautiful place, especially the view from our B&B. Em and Link took us on a hike to see an amazing piece of public art halfway up a mountain: the mastodon by Guthrie Gloag. We had a short but amazing trip to Bowen.

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