Goodbye, Fletch

By , May 9, 2019 7:50 pm

Fletch – 19 years old. A very good boy. We had to say goodbye to him today.

Fletch should be remembered as the cat who cured himself of diabetes and lived through three near-death experiences at the emergency vet.

Fletch was my first cat. He’s the first cat I was allergic to.

He is lovingly remembered by Val, his best friend and loyal companion who brought him home from the Humane Society at age 1, his aunt Felicity, who cat-sat him often and just loved him to pieces!, and by me, his adopted dog person.

Fletch was pre-deceased by Bailey, step-dogs Hopi and Zuni, and survived by Shadow (his best cat friend) and Richard, his nemesis.

Fletch – good-natured, friendly, cuddly and sleepy!

Goodbye old man.


Risa and Val, Shadow and Richard


Happiness at Stars on Ice

By , May 8, 2019 7:59 pm

Last Friday I had the most amazing time at Stars on Ice, a long-time tradition with my mom and step-sister Lindsay. With on-ice seats we had incredible views and even shook hands with Andrew Poje! For a super fan of Canadian skating it was an incredible treat.

An Eye for Photography

By , April 28, 2019 7:11 pm

This person has one. I wish I could see like that.

Tapestry of Leaves by Susan Butler, York, England.


This is all I’ve got.

Olives at St. Lawrence Market, March 2019.


Withrow Park clubhouse, March 2019.


Queen’s Park protest, Apri, 2019.

Richard Gets All the Attention …

By , April 2, 2019 8:39 pm

… so Shadow would like to say “hi.”

That’s all. She’s very quiet.

International Women’s Day

By , March 10, 2019 10:53 pm

Since 1909, International Women’s Day has been acknowledged and (sometimes) celebrated. Because its origins lie in various labour movements, it makes sense to look back at women at work. The links below show women at work in Toronto and Ontario.

Toronto women

Ontario women

Women’s rights in Toronto


We should not take anything for granted – we always have to work hard! Even in 2019 we don’t have full equality yet – there’s still work to do.

1975 Why Not? Campaign (CBC)

And now, for a comparison to today:

75 cents 

The average amount earned by full-time working women in Canada for every dollar earned by men, according to Statistics Canada. The wage gap widens for women who are Indigenous, living with a disability, racialized or newcomers.

15.5 months vs. 12 months

On average, it takes women 15.5 months to earn what a man earns in 12, according to the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition.

$7,200 less

Women with the same experience, socio-economic and demographic background earn approximately $7,200 less than their male counterparts per year, according to an Ontario Government report.

Source: Canadian Women’s Foundation

Richard Turns Three

By , March 10, 2019 5:03 pm

Almost exactly three years ago we rescued Richard from an impending blizzard at the cottage. He’s a lot calmer now – he even sleeps at times other than nighttime – though I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s more mature.

Richard is a character. He has a tonne of it. He employs it at almost all times, such as when he stares into the sink even when there’s absolutely nothing happening in it. He loves boxes, but he also eats boxes. He finds the corner of the kitchen counter the most exciting place in the world even though there’s not much there except a bowl of bananas. He loves socks, blankets, bathrobes, and all things fuzzy. He gets so obsessed with them that we have to take them away. Okay, so he has OCD and ADHD. We love him the way he is.

Like all good cats, he can lounge anywhere. In piles of laundry, in the laundry basket, beside the phone, on the ottoman on top of my paper work, on the sofa, in the sink…

Last year at this time I wrote about him turning two. Check out how adorable he was (and still is).

We love you Richard! Thanks for picking us.


By , February 18, 2019 3:31 pm

I couldn’t be any luckier to have such an amazing husband. On this, our 13th wedding anniversary, I wish to share his qualities.

Amongst many other attributes, Val is:

  • a cat whisperer
  • a tech genius
  • a selfless guy
  • a generous volunteer
  • my best friend


SWSH PD @ Bloor CI

By , February 18, 2019 10:45 am

While students were off on Friday, we were at the SWSH/THHSSSC/TGTA pd conference at Bloor CI. It was an amazing day. Our group of volunteer teachers brought it together so well.

We started planning in  September. We meaning THHSSSC – Toronto History Humanities Social Science Subject Council! That’s a mouthful. I’m a proud exec – VP and Treasurer (okay, treasurer is not the most fun job in the world!).


Registration ran smoothly thanks to Kathryn, Aaron, Sue, Alicia, Byron and all the other THHSSCers who helped out!

photo courtesy of Ben Gross


I was proud to be the emcee again this year. I’m so short!

Keynote speaker Desmond Cole really challenged teachers with his talk on why TDSB must stop suspending and expelling Black students. Here he is talking to a group of student volunteers from Bloor CI who had A LOT of questions.

photo courtesy of Ben Gross


Our post-lunch subject association session was really well-attended. We had four amazing books to give away. Hopefully the recipients will come to our next meeting.

Thank you a million times to Luis Felipe, THHSSSC president, and his incredibly helpful teachers and student volunteers at Bloor CI. Thank you to the entire school for putting up with us, especially all that furniture moving. Thank you to my student teacher, Karen See, for helping out at much needed times!

We hope to be at York Mills next year for SWSHpd20!

Haute Goat

By , February 17, 2019 8:30 pm

For a belated birthday present (and, is it turns out, an early 13th anniversary present), Val took me to Haute Goat near our cottage!

The visit began with the goats going for a walk and munching on cedar trees while the 15 or so humans watched and took pictures.

At one point they got a bit far ahead of us so the owner had us call them back. And back they came.

After this the goats led us back into their play area where we got more up close and personal with them.

The 250-acre farm also has horses – a few Icelandic ponies included.

A beautiful mane and tail. Well insulated, too!

This lad, Yoda, was one of the highlights of the visit. He was very sweet.

Thanks Val for such an awesome treat! I can’t wait to visit the goats again.

Welcome New History Students

By , January 31, 2019 8:45 pm

Hello everyone! Welcome to my CHY4U class, whether you’re a new student, or familiar with me. I’m really looking forward to a good semester; this will be my third time around with my revised version of grade 12 World History. It’s very different from grade 11 – be prepared for a very different style. If you’re new, the course will hopefully make you realize the incredible horizons of history!


First Activity

If you scroll through my blog you’ll notice that I like to write book reviews. I would like you to write either a book review, a movie review, a documentary review, a YouTube review, a website review, or a tv show review. The one catch is that it has to have something to do with HISTORY! Any time period, not necessarily just 1450-present (the time frame for CHY4U).

Also, please reveal something of yourself in your review: what do you like when it comes to history and reading/viewing? What does this review say about you? Your preferences? Tastes? Personality traits? Interests? Curiosities?


Or, If You Don’t Like That Idea

If a review is not to your liking, write me a blurb telling me which historical time period (and place) you think you would have liked to live in.  My answer is below.


Length: a good paragraph at least – it doesn’t have to be as long as some of my reviews or my sample below.


Send It To Me

My email Please send your review by Monday Feb. 4. As a courtesy, always put a message in your email, not just an attachment. Thank you.


Ms. G: My Historical Time and Place (slightly adapted from a 2016 blog post)

Believe it or not, I have given a great deal of thought to this question: if I had to live in another time period, which would it be? The catch is that I’d have to be of the time period, I couldn’t be presentist about it and say that I wouldn’t have liked to live in Tudor England because the technology was so low. I wouldn’t have known about Netflix and email at that time. So I couldn’t have missed it.

Though the technology would be different, another catch is that my personality would be similar to the way it is now. I’m not a very social person, I think a lot, I am rather moderate with the occasional radical thought. These things matter when I’m thinking about time periods. I would have been okay in the first phase of the French Revolution, expectant with change! However, in the Terror I wouldn’t have liked the extremism and would definitely have feared the guillotine.

Though I absolutely love studying ancient Egypt, I’m not sure I would have survived in that civilization; I’m an atheist and wouldn’t have had the personality for joining into the state religion. However, if I were an ordinary farmer I might have been just fine doing my thing and living my relatively good life along the banks of the Nile, especially as a woman. Perhaps I would not even have had a concept of atheism.

I don’t think I’d have made a good Roman or Greek either. As a woman in ancient Greece, I probably would have had some complaints about how much I contributed to my society yet how little I was valued for it.  The Roman blood lust just wouldn’t have been acceptable to me. I’d have winced at gladiator shows, drawing the ire of my fellow Romans.

A few years ago my final decision was this: Being who I am, I probably would have done best in the 1960s somewhere like Berkeley or San Francisco. It was a time of change and freedom. Young people were standing up for their beliefs, challenging society to become more progressive. Though I wouldn’t have liked the drug scene, and I for sure would have been VERY anti-war (Vietnam), I would have felt like I belonged in the forward motion of history.

Now, I don’t think so anymore. This time, I’m going with the Renaissance. A very appealing possibility is living in Florence or Venice in the late 1400s to late 1500s. There was so much creative license and artistic expression. Even though I’m not a creative person, I think I would have enjoyed the climate of exploration and self-expression. I would have made a good humanist, I think, because I believe education can change people’s lives. Still, there was a lot of emphasis on religion. But it was getting safer and safer to express more secular ideas. As a woman I would have had to be quite extraordinary to make my voice heard. Maybe I could have been a writer.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a Renaissance masterpiece.

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