Friday, June 30, 2006

All Laughs

Amado had his first craniotherapy treatment today, part of the continuing work on some of the issues caused by the long labour, the position he took against Wendy's pelvis during the birth, and the suction it took to get him out (even though the birth was by c-section). That probably all sounds worse than it is. In short, he has a flat spot on the left side of the back of his head, which has effected the range of movement of his neck. It's really gotten a lot better in the last two months with the stretches we've been doing with him and now that he can roll over on his own.

Alix the craniotherapist worked on his head for about an hour today and Amado slept through the whole thing. That's how gentle it was. It was all very meditative and felt very healing for all of us I think. (The craniotherapy centre was like a Santa Cruz- and Guelph-type oasis hidden away in the heart of Toronto's club district, which is very quiet until about 12:00 a.m.) Amado emerged from the experience almost giddy (Wendy called him "drunk"). We had a blast when we got home, with all three of us rolling around on the bed laughing.

Alix said she got a lot of work done on Amado, though of course he looks the same to me. I don't think the results are the kind you can see right away, but are more long-term effects. Holding Amado while Alix worked on him made me want to get some craniotherapy done myself...though I'm not sure why. Amado was just so relaxed and it looked very comforting to have somebody touch your head with so much tenderness for so long. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Local Emergency

Five Months Old Today

Amadisto has changed so fast it's amazing. Now we know why all the other parents told us to enjoy the first months, even though they are hard. Soon he will be all grown up! (Well, not that soon. ;-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Downtown Toronto Tonight

Viva Ukraine

Platinum-haired people are going ballistic all over our neighbourhood tonight, celebrating Ukraine's win by penalty kicks over Switzerland in the World Cup. Our neighbourhood is heavily Ukrainian, so the streets are shut down with carousers and there are horns and firecrackers going off all over the place. Two neighbourhoods to the east, the Italians are also going nuts, celebrating their last-minute win over Australia. In between those two neighbourhoods, the Portuguese are recovering after celebrating their crazy win over the Netherlands yesterday. It’s C-R-A-Z-Y around here!

If the Swiss had won, I imagine we ~may~ have heard an alarm clock going off. If Australia had beat Italy, the only thing I could imagine hearing is a kangaroo dancing madly on the other side of the world. There are no Swiss or Australia neighbourhoods in Toronto that I know. But we got a ton of Maltese just to the north. Who knows what might happen if they had a World Cup victory!

A Walk on the Sunnyside

We had a fun outing to Sunnyside Beach yesterday afternoon. Sunnyside is the beach on Lake Ontario closest to our house. Walking along this thin strip of beach in the summer always reminds me of the beaches I grew up visiting in California. People are sunning, playing volleyball, drumming, and eating pizza, ice cream and other junk foods.

Most of all, people are people watching. For the first time I noticed that lots of other new parents like us strolling the boardwalk, showing off their new baby (in many cases, much younger babies than Amado) and looking at other people's babies and their baby equipment.

There are two big differences between Sunnyside and the beaches of California: There are no waves crashing on the shore and no one touches the water, much less goes swimming in it. I've heard there are some places around Toronto where the water is clean enough to swim, but I've never seen anybody swimming at Sunnyside. That's too bad.

When I miss California it can help a lot to take long walk along Sunnyside Beach. Wendy told me that when her great-grandfather Larsen came to Toronto, he used to walk down to the shore of Lake Ontario with his red-metal lunchbox and spend the day looking longingly at the water, remembering the days when he was a steamship captain in Norway.

It's just a wounded lake and not the ocean, but it can still heal.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Amadisto and his Canadian cousins, Ben and Caleb.

Amado's First BBQ

We went to Hamilton for an afternoon barbecue yesterday. As you can see, there was plenty of red meat...which was delicious (thanks Pam & Harris!). For those of you worried about mad cow disease, please be assured that we waited to eat the meat until it was cooked! Above, Amado looks very relaxed, chilling with Cousin Ben on the deck. Nice hat, kid!

Dolor a la mexicana

Mexico is out of the World Cup...losing 2-1 in double overtime to Argentina. Either team could have won this match....unfortunately this time the ball bounced the wrong way. Aye, aye, aye.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Indian TV

One of the best things about Toronto is the wide-range of ethnic-based television. I suppose it's the same in most big cities, but it seems Toronto has a wider variety of programming than other places I've lived. I love to watch the news in Mandarin. Somehow it seems more honest than English language news, which is probably because I don't speak Mandarin. There are also interesting shows in Spanish, Korean, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, and many other languages. (Well, at least they appear interesting!) Then there's Serbia TV, Punjabi Hour, and Visions of Pakistan, the Aboriginal network, and of course several channels of French-Canadian TV. And there is lots and lots (and lots) of American TV.

My favourite is the Indian programming. When I first moved to Canada, and before we had a baby, I spent a lot of weekend afternoons in the winter watching old Bollywood movies. These films are filled with extremely beautiful actors (both the women and the men are stunning), huge dance scenes, and striking scenery from all over the subcontinent. Everything about the old Bollywood films seems warm, friendly, and they always have a good ending: the good-hearted young man marries his true love, restores his honour, receives his rightful inheritance, and leaves the bad guys in the dust.

This morning Amadisto and I watched a hour of Bollywood before Wendy woke up. It reminded me of how lonely I felt on those cold afternoons before I was a dad, and how amazingly happy I am now to be able to watch the same movies with my son sitting on my lap.

I am pretty sure Amadisto wasn't reminded of anything.

So I guess it was a new experience for each of us.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Little Whirling Dervish

Amado has made the move from sleeping in the pram next to our bed into his own crib in his own room. He seems to enjoy the freedom. He spends the whole night rolling and spinning around, covering the expanse of the crib with his little body. In the morning when we go into his room you never know which way he will be facing in the crib. It is like consulting some kind of oracle---what portents are foretold by the direction his body is pointing in the morning? Hard to tell, but today it looks likely that something very interesting will happen in the south.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Musical Interludes

My iPod shuffle may be the only thing in the universe that brings both advant guarde bassist William Parker and gonzo rocker Ted Nugent together on the same stage....

....and then there's the Ba-Benzele Pygmies and Devo. How are you going to explain that?

1) Ensalada de Melon, Patato, y Anga – Patato Valdes
2) Speed Racer – Devo
3) Cheap Day Return – Jethro Tull
4) Think About the One – Pharoah Sanders
5) Peachfuzz Dub – Michelle Shocked
6) No Hacen Falta Alas – Silvio Rodriguez
7) Straight to the Top – Stanley Clarke
8) Going Downtown – Gregory Isaacs
9) Como Siento Yo – Ruben Gonzalez
10) Cowgirl in the Sand – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
11) S'Wonderful – Jimmy Smith
12) Gonzo – Ted Nugent
13) Sea of Stories – Benny Rietveld
14) Great Day – The Staple Sisters
15) I'd Rather Be Blind – Etta James

1) I Think I See the Light – Cat Stevens
2) It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan
3) Open the Gate Dub – King Tubby
4) One Tree Hill – U2
5) Jim Jeannie – Santana
6) Listen to My Rhythm (Oye Como Va) – Andy Vargas
7) Criss-Cross – Thelonious Monk
8) Theodora (Act 2) – Lorraine Hunt
9) Chant Down Babylon – Junior Byles & Rupert …
10) Top Rankin’ – Bob Marley & the Wailers
11) That’s What Love Will Make You Do – Junior Wells
12) Drut Gat in Tintal – Ustad Vilayat Khan
13) Goye Kur – Ali Farka Toure
14) All I Want – Joni Mitchell
15) Europa – Santana (Live at Akita 1977 version)
16) Track 10 – Santana Lounge Divine
17) Crazy – Outside
18) Sham Time – Willie Bobo

1) Chaung Tzu’s Dream – William Parker & Hamid Drake
2) On Green Dolphin Street – Miles Davis
3) My Man’s Gone Now – Miles Davis
4) Masters of War – Bob Dylan
5) Yo Tengo Ritmo – Ritmo & Candela
6) The Wedding Song – The Ba-Benzele Pygmies
7) Cosmic Strut – Mahavishnu Orchestra
8) Roots, Rock, Reggae – Bob Marley and the Wailers (Live at the Roxy)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Big Gnasher

This little guy enjoys putting anything in his mouth and gnawing viciously on it. He's trying to gnash on his back gums, where we see some white spots, but no real teeth. We thought he was teething a couple of weeks ago in the front, but there's still no sign of anything. He's now at the point where he spends a lot of time trying to gnash on his feet. They are especially attractive to him if he has colourful socks on.

Amadisto had his 2nd round of vaccinations today. He was more upset by the fact that we woke him up than because he had a needle jabbed into each of his thighs.

He's a very comical little fellow, but Wendy said he was a little shy in his first parent/child group earlier today. He is very precious.

Be sure to click on this photo to see it full size. You will see what I mean.


Ever wonder what a Parasaurolophus sounded like? Hear it here:

(click on the one of the items in the left column to hear the dinosaur.)

----> ---> ----->
The study of dinosaur vocalization began after the discovery in August 1995 of a rare skull fossil measuring about 4.5 feet long. The dinosaur had a bony tubular crest that extended back from the top of its head. Many scientists have believed the crest, containing a labyrinth of air cavities and shaped something like a trombone, might have been used to produce distinctive sounds.

As expected, based on the structure of the crest, the dinosaur apparently emitted a resonating low-frequency rumbling sound that can change in pitch. Each Parasaurolophus probably had a voice that was distinctive enough to not only distinguish it from other dinosaurs, but from other Parasaurolophuses.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Through a Glass, Darkly

Back in Black

Ok, I think everything is back up and running. I figured out the wireless business with the kind help of the support staff at D-Link. It seems to be happening---though I don't think the security is totally set yet. Perhaps my neighbours are enjoying free Internet on my tab. I don't know. I fixed the Acrobat problem too (I think), by just uninstalling it, but that seemed to mess some other things up further. Then Wendy's CD player stopped working. And I think there may be trouble with our car (but I hope NOT!). Then Edmonton lost the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What the tar-nation is going on around here? Sunspots or something?

Anyway, I'll try getting back to the blogging and see what happens....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Death by Wireless

My computer and I have finally been kicked out of the baby's room and it's a major disaster...for me anyway. For two days I've been trying to set up a wireless network in our apartment, since the new location for the computer doesn't have a working phone outlet anywhere near it. I fussed and huffed all day yesterday and inadvertently hacked into many of my neighbours' wireless connections (they are surprising easy to get into---in fact, I am not sure now whose Internet connection I am using!). This morning I finally got a "100% signal detected" sign, but alas, my computer programs do not seem to recognize this at all. After more messing around, I also seemed to wack other parts of my system out as well. Now, everytime I click a link the computer tries to configure Acrobat 7 for about three minutes. What a headache!

So now if I'm not able to blog as frequently you will know why. Our normal home email is out too, so if you want to reach us, just leave a comment here and I will get it when I log in from somewhere else or sneak in on someone else's wireless.

However, my son now has his very own room! Go crazy kid!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Good Friends

Re-connecting with old friends heals the cracks in my world.

Last night Rachel and Brett visited from Boston and we shared a terrific Indian dinner. Rachel is a brilliant Byzantinarian working on her PhD. at Harvard. Her stories about 4th century Egyptian anchorites will just kill you. She's also a stunning musician. You can check out her sounds here.

When Brett isn't hanging out on College Street watching the World Cup and participating in hooliganism for the English side, he's working full-time on a book looking at the secret joys of fundamentalism. (As you might imagine, he has a lot of research to do for this one.)

We really miss them and hope they return to Toronto soon.

Mi Familia

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's Clouds Illusions I Recall

I love rivers, but I think I may love clouds even more....

These pictures from The Forks in Winnipeg show you where Joni Mitchell may have found the inspiration for these words from "Both Sides Now." Joni was born on the Canadian prairie in Saskatchewan and no doubt spent much of her youth observing passing clouds:

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on evryone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

(By the way, I forgive you Joni for the fact that I had to sing this song in Grade 6 choir. It seemed so incredibly sappy back then. But it wasn't your fault. The 70s were a sappy time for all of us.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Winnipeg, Manitoba

I was in Winnipeg for a couple of days. It's a really nice prairie city, located several hundred miles north of Minneapolis (here's a map for my American friends who aren't quite sure.) We had beautiful weather while we were there---nice and hot without any of the humidity we so often have in Toronto. The fabled Winnipeg mosquitoes (" big as bats!") were also nowhere to be found.

Living in Toronto, and before that Washington, D.C., it's easy to forget that a big city can still be both sophisticated and sweet. While Winnipeg certainly has its hard edges, it still has (to me) a small-town-like friendliness that is very welcoming. Housing is affordable, yards are big, and it would be great place to raise kids. It's also very diverse and has great activist and arts communities. These facts were pointed out to me more than once by the enthusiastic, self-deputized members of the Winnipeg Welcome Wagon I was hanging out with.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to make the leap to the prairies, and I think it would be even more difficult to convince Wendy of Winnipeg's wonders. But I can say that it felt like more than just a nice place to visit. Among cities, Winnipeg could even seen as a sign of hope.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

We'll be back soon!

Alma's Soulfood will be shut down for a couple of days while I'm away on business. Check back later this week for more fun and games.

Meanwhile, amuse yourselves with Felix the Cat. This cat is possibly my first TV memory. I used to watch this cartoon all the time when I was a little kid in East LA.

You can see some cool cartoon clips and listen to the theme song of Felix the Wonderful Cat here:

That should keep you purrring.

L.A. Noir

I hesitate to say that I am fascinated with the "L.A. Noir" stuff from the 1940s and1950s. I hesitate because it's gruesome, sensationalized stuff, with the majority of victims being women and children who were attacked by their drunken husbands and fathers. It's even worse that it's true.

But the truth may be the part that I am fascinated most by. This was the Los Angeles all four of my grandparents lived in, and---so family rumour goes--there was at least one of them who lived this time on the wrong side of the law (I am still investigating this). But a lot of my time searching the websites on this topic is to look for names of my family. I haven't found anything yet, but hey, you never know.

On this unkept blog devoted soley to L.A. crime, murder, and mayhem in the year 1947, I did find out that a wild boar was stalked and shot just a block from the house where we would live in Whittier just 25 years later. Interesting, very interesting.

You can check it out here (see May 2005 for the boar story):

The blogsters researched crimes and other incidents from 1947, then went out and documented what the location looked like in the present day. Very interesting if you happen to know these neighbourhoods.

Very creepy too.

I'm too California cool for this photo.

Amado plays it cool for this shot with Uncle Harris and Aunt Pam. Cool and laid back, mon.


Amado and his Aunt Pam share a moment of jubilation as Mexico scores another World Cup goal over Iran.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Show Your Colours!'s World Cup time! Viva Mexico!!!

There was an article in the paper yesterday which called Toronto the city that can't lose the World Cup, since there are so many people here from so many different places around the globe. The World Cup starts today and you already see lots of cars driving around town displaying the flag of their team....I've seen a lot of supporters of Croatia, France, Greece, and Brazil. But, at least on this side of town, it's Portugal that gets the most votes by far.

I find it funny that Toronto is called the city that can't lose, though since Canada did not qualify for the World Cup in a sense the city has loss already. But folks don't think about it like that here.

June 11: Mexico 3 - Iran 1
June 16: Mexico 0 - Angola 0 [this is wonderful for the Angolans, terrible for the Mexicans]
June 21: Mexico 1 - Portugal 2 [even though Mexico lost this one, they are headed into the 2nd round with a tenuous record of 1-1-1. Good enough for the group they were in, but they have to face Argentina next, who looks very strong.]
June 24, 2nd Round: Mexico 1 - Argentina 2 double overtime [Mexico out of the World Cup -- que triste!]

Reality TV, Part II

...of course, for every crying moment at bedtime, you get 100 moments like this.....
It's so worth it.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Reality TV

Like most little kids, Amadisto often has a melt down right before he goes to bed. I've been posting so many pictures of him during his sweet, angelic moments, that I thought I should post a couple from moments like these, just for some balance. When you put him down for the night (this is about 6:30 p.m.) he kicks and screams for a couple of minutes, but then after some rocking in the pram, he's out cold. Within a couple minutes of these pictures he was totally asleep.

Hilton Ruiz

Latin jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz has died in New Orleans. Ruiz was an amazing player of all kinds of music, but especially Afro-Cuban jazz. I once saw him with saxophonist David Sanchez at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. and they both burned it up. What a loss for the world of music, but his recordings are still out there and I recommend checking them out.

Here's an obituary.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dancing Tiger, Crouching Dove

You can see Amado wondering if this is supposed to be fun, or if he's supposed to be doing "something."

I don't think he quite gets the concept yet, but he will.

20 Recent Visitors*

1) June 6, 2006 8:07 pm: Vernon, British Columbia
2) June 6, 2006 6:10 pm: Toronto, Ontario
3) June 6, 2006 3:41 pm: Los Angeles, California
4) June 6, 2006 3:11 pm: Washington, Washington DC
5) June 6, 2006 2:51 pm: Washington, Washington DC
6) June 6, 2006 12:29 pm: Warsaw, Mazowieckie
7) June 6, 2006 7:18 am: Zurich, Zurich
8) June 6, 2006 6:48 am: Toronto, Ontario
9) June 5, 2006 8:19 pm: Reston, Virginia
10) June 5, 2006 7:32 pm: Santa Cruz, California
11) June 5, 2006 6:55 pm: Montreal, Quebec
12) June 5, 2006 6:40 pm: Toronto, Ontario
13) June 5, 2006 5:31 pm: Toronto, Ontario
14) June 5, 2006 1:15 pm: Chicago, Illinois
15) June 5, 2006 9:10 am: Toronto, Ontario
16) June 5, 2006 7:49 am: Brooklyn, New York
17) June 5, 2006 6:56 am: Washington, Washington DC
18) June 5, 2006 6:37 am: Badajoz, Extremadura
19) June 5, 2006 6:17 am: Toronto, Ontario
20) June 4, 2006 10:19 pm: Reston, Virginia

*Don't worry, this is all I know about you.

Above, a picture of Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain. (Strange, a friend and I were actually talking about this city just yesterday.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Save 22 Oakmount!

When we first moved back here about a year ago I thought 22 Oakmount was the ugliest apartment building in a neighbourhood of ugly apartment buildings. It seemed to have come straight out of some Eastern Bloc country. This might make the majority of the people in our Polish / Ukrainian neighbourhood feel right at home, but I didn't like it one bit. Not to mention, if it weren't there our view of Lake Ontario would triple.

But the more I had to look at it the more I saw something different about it. It's certainly not another of the mass-produced condo towers that are popping up like mushrooms all over Toronto. 22 Oakmount still has a quirky feel that makes you wonder, "just what were they thinking when they built that thing?"

All of the properties surrounding 22 Oakmount are empty and boarded up. Obviously the developers are planning something big for the neighbourhood. 22 Oakmount may not be long for this world, but while it's here I'm going to enjoy it.

Click the pic to see in full size. It is so totally worth it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My Morning Dove

This morning at 4:35 a.m. we were awakened to the precious sounds of our baby cooing his "O's" from his bedside pram. Amado was singing in the dawn, with a gentle, but persistent "Oooooo", "oooooo", "ooooo." "Ooooo", "ooooo", "ooooo." It was so sweet, he almost seemed like he was trying to sing quietly so that he would not wake us up.

I opened my eyes, but didn't move. As I laid there listening I could see Venus rising outside in the deep blue sky. "Ooooo", "Ooooo." Occasionally the "Ooooo's" were punctuated with a little kick on the end of the pram. The beginning of light outside reminded me of the mornings when I was a small child in East L.A. and I would lay in my bed look out at the pre-dawn sky and listen to the mourning doves coo. It was one of my favourite things to do.

By 5:00 a.m., I got up and took Amado into the other room because I didn't want him to wake up Wendy. We played together all morning. And now, at the end of day, I am exhausted and Amado is asleep again.

One morning many years ago I learned to whistle, watching the sunrise by myself and trying to imitate the mourning doves. That time seems so close to me now.

Speaking of Yoga the Commander-in-Chief does the tree pose, or "Vrksasana," as they call it back in Texas. I did not know that President Bush followed the peaceful and ancient path of yogurt (again, as they call it back in Texas), but this can't be a bad thing. A centered, limber people are a strong people.

He's got to lose the flight suit though...yet the thought of him doing this same position in nothing but a sarong unnerves me.

To see more Bush yoga, go here and click on the tiny images along the top:


Friday, June 02, 2006

Mammoth, Arizona 1940

Charles Cushman was an amateur photographer who took pictures in the United States, Mexico, and other countries between 1938 and 1969. He gave 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to Indiana University, which has posted the collection here:

There are some amazing photos here, like the one above. I love colour photos from pre-1966, which seems to me about the time that everyone got colour film.

These old-time desert pictures remind me of my family on my mom's side who have been making pilgrimages to the desert for generations. There are lots of great photos my grandmother Bam Bea took on desert trips in the 1960s, some with me as a little baby. My mom and Irene also just returned from a long road trip to New Mexico. Hopefully I'll post some of these pictures one day. But for now you will have to feast your eyes on the work of Mr. Cushman.

Here's another, my favourite, from Villa Acuna, Mexico, 1951.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Shirt Factory

Passages like this are why I love the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In this scene, the 90-year-old journalist is searching for his lover:

Still entangled in the night's cobwebs, the next day I found the courage to go to the shirt factory where Rosa Cabarcas had once told me the girl worked, and I asked the owner to show us his plant as a model for a continent-wide project of the United Nations. He was an elephantine, taciturn Lebanese who opened the doors to his kingdom in the illusory hope of being an example to the world.

Three hundred girls in white blouses with Ash Wednesday crosses on their foreheads were sewing buttons in the vast, illuminated nave. When they saw us come in they sat up straight, like schoolgirls, and watched out of the corners of their eyes as the manager explained his contributions to the immemorial art of attaching buttons. I scrutinized each of their faces, terrified that I would discover Delgadina dressed and awake. But it was one of them who discovered me with a frightening look of pitiless admiration:

"Tell me, Senor, aren't you the man who writes love letters in the paper?"

from Memories of My Melancholy Whores, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(This novel isn't perhaps as scandalous as the title suggests, though it's certainly twisted in other ways. It actually won the LA Times top prize for fiction this year.)