A Hard Book To Read But So Worth It

By , March 21, 2021 3:00 pm

The author of this book, Melissa Gould, is my cousin. She was married to my cousin Joel, who died about eight years ago. Joel had MS and was struggling, but then he got West Nile Virus and could not be helped. He was 50 years old. Their daughter was only 13 at the time.


Melissa, who was a screenwriter for tv shows, recently wrote this memoir of her experiences with Joel and without Joel.

Getting through it was both hard and easy. I cried a lot to the point I had to put cucumber on my eyes to depuff them and stop them from stinging. But I also couldn’t put the book down and finished in a few hours Normally I am a slow reader. I just had to know how Melissa was going to figure life out without her beloved husband.

And she has.

As I often do upon finishing a book, I wrote to Melissa via her website. She was kind enough to answer and was pleased that I related some of my best memories of Joel.

Life is very precious and we must live every day in a meaningful way. Even during a pandemic. There’s nothing more to say than that.

Trying to be optimistic

By , March 13, 2021 8:00 pm

Richard has an inquiry

By , March 4, 2021 9:19 pm

Our cat is a curious little man.

Perhaps if you like the sound of running water you’ll enjoy this.

My apologies to the earth for the wasted water – VAL was the photographer, not me.

Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Course Fair – History Courses at YM

By , February 9, 2021 8:35 pm

If you are interested in taking history at York Mills, you have come to the right place.

Grade 10 history (CHC2D), Canada Since 1914, is a mandatory course. It explores events and themes in our country’s history since World World War One. This course is also offered for French Immersion students (CHC2D5).

In grade 11, you can choose between American History (CHA3U) or World History (CHW3M) to the 16th Century.

Here are some materials for you to decide if grade 11 World History (ancient civilizations) is for you:

The course is very different in the pandemic. To see this year’s course outline, follow this link. Feel free to email Ms. Gluskin to see a previous year’s course outline. risa.gluskin@tdsb.on.ca

In grade 12, you can choose World History from the 16th Century. Here are some materials for you to consider. Please note you do not need to have taken grade 11 history first.

Grade 12 World History is very different during the pandemic. Here’s this year’s course outline. If you’d like to see a previous year’s outline, email Ms. Gluskin: risa.gluskin@tdsb.on.ca

Here’s what two of Ms. Gluskin’s former students have to say about taking World History at YM:


The Glass Universe

By , February 1, 2021 7:44 pm

One thing I miss is browsing in my local bookstore, where I picked up this gem from 2016. I had read two books by Dava Sobel previously: A More Perfect Heaven, a play about Copernicus and his astronomical discoveries, and my all-time favourite book, Galileo’s Daughter. Students who’ve taken my grade 12 history class know how much I love Galileo – a colourful figure if ever there were one.

Continuing the sky-gazing theme, here Sobel tells the story of the women who worked at the Harvard Observatory from the mid-1800s up to the 1950s. At a time when few women could find professional places in the world of science, hundreds of women worked at Harvard cataloguing the stars via photometry – glass plate photos of the stars. And they didn’t all work in obscurity; many of them were highly notable at the time. No, they were not equals. They did not earn the same as their male peers, nor did they have as many opportunities. Yet, surprisingly, the environment for these women was relatively tolerant for the time. It was not a place of conflict or pettiness, at least according to Sobel’s telling.

That’s something, even for our own times. And thus I found the book equally calming and engaging at the same time. Sobel doesn’t make loud arguments. She paints a steady and intriguing picture through the details of the women’s lives. And astronomical observation is a very detailed field! though I read Scientific American, I admit to often skipping the articles on black holes and the like. We also subscribe to Sky News, the Canadian periodical. Usually I don’t spend much time on it. Now I feel more equipped to understand it a bit better. Hat’s off to Sobel for making the science of stellar observations seem so interesting and understandable.

Whenever I finish a book that I really enjoy, I check the author’s webpage to see if they have a “contact” section. Often I get no response. Not so with Dava Sobel. She replied to me very quickly:

Dear Risa,
Thanks so much for your thoughtful note and kindest comments about my work.

The Glass Universe was published right after the 2016 presidential election. A cousin close to me in age and temperament said the book gave her a calm place to escape to, so your remark really resonates. The people in that chapter of science history were genuinely respectful of one another. It was a pleasure to be with them over the years of research.

I so appreciate your affection for Galileo’s Daughter, which may be my favorite of the stories I’ve told. Certainly it stretched me in several directions. And I agree something of the convent spirit hovered about the observatory. Now I’m discovering it again in the Curie lab.

I’m happy for your students, as I can imagine the example you set for them..
Warm and grateful regards,


Such a treat.

Reading brings such unexpected pleasures. I so look forward to Dava Sobel’s next book.

When you receive flowers…

By , January 30, 2021 6:56 pm

Photograph them!

I love yellow roses.

It’s amazing how refreshing it was to smell a bouquet of flowers!

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun

By , January 16, 2021 1:31 pm

This is a beautiful, mostly uplifting book that offers a different perspective than what we’re used to seeing – bad news about Aboriginal peoples of Canada. That’s not to stay that reality isn’t full of positive stories; it’s just that the media hones in on the negative.

Published in 2019, about four years after the author had started posting archival photos of Aboriginal Canadians on his social media, the book goes far beyond photography. It’s part anthropology (probably what drew me to it), in that it offers little snippets of Aboriginal lives from eight parts of Canada (and the northwest US – borders were irrelevant up to a certain point in our joint colonial histories). It’s part history, such as the section on the James Bay Hydro Project that initially left the Cree population out of all decision-making.

The nicest part of this book is the glimpse it offers into people’s everyday lives. Kids playing, artists sketching, writers writing, mothers carrying babies… we can all use a reminder of our shared humanity.

Knopf Canada, 2019.

A New Year’s Eve Sentiment

By , December 31, 2020 7:46 pm

Lost Together

Blue Rodeo

Strange and beautiful
Are the stars tonight
That dance around your head
In your eyes I see that perfect world
I hope that doesn’t sound too weird

And I want all the world to know
That your love’s all I need
All that I need
And if we’re lost
Then we are lost together
Yeah if we’re lost
We are lost together

I stand before this faceless crowd
And I wonder why I bother
So much controlled by so few
Stumbling from one disaster to another

I’ve heard it all so many times before
It’s all a dream to me now
A dream to me now
And if we’re lost
Then we are lost together
Yeah if we’re lost
We are lost together

In the silence of this whispered night
I listen only to your breath
And that second of a shooting star

Somehow it all makes sense

And I want all the world to know
That your love’s all I need
All that I need
And if we’re lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we’re lost
Then we are lost together

Source: Musixmatch

Animal Friends

By , December 19, 2020 2:42 pm

Just sharing some of my best animal buddies.

He’s sinking.
She’s so shy.
Fergus (now retired)
Queenie – I don’t know when I’ll see her again but she has been an amazing girl ALL these years
KC – a sweet, loyal boy who deserves a good retirement
With KC and Will (who is hopefully not going away)
Robin is tired and ready for retirement. I will love her forever.

Smile for the camera, Robin.
Yukon – still going strong with one eye

Quad One Done

By , November 17, 2020 9:45 pm

Thanks everyone for a great first ever quadmester.

  • Ms. G

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