Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Day Tripper

Amadisto's big trip to the doctor for his four-month check up. Summer weather requires summer styles and our little man is styling for the season.

Here are Dr. Harkamal Randhawa's findings:

Weight: 16 pounds, 8 ounces
Length: 68 centimeters (Okay, I know it's crazy to mix measurement systems, but that's how it is in Canada. This equals 26.7 inches.)
Head: 45.8 centimeters (18 inches)
Overall Assessment: "He's big all over."

She mentioned that the "flathead" syndrome on his right side he has from the trauma of birth was still "remarkable," though it's been improved by the work we've doing with Dinah, the physical therapist. We have to keep up on the exercises, which is really hard, since the child screams horribly during them, though he's not being hurt at all. He just doesn't like being forced to do anything. Hey, like who does?

It brings tears to our eyes.

The Promise

25 years ago, during Memorial Day weekend, I was baptized by the Holy Ghost. I realize that it's not cool to say this, and that many of you probably won't even know what I'm talking about, but that is what happened to me is called. I had a direct encounter with the spirit of Jesus that has affected me to this day. For me, there's no other way to put it.

I was praying by myself, at home in the afternoon. I remember asking for the Holy Spirit to come to me, as I had before. This time, without warning but gently, I had the sensation of liquid light being poured on my head and flowing slowly like honey down through my body. In those few moments everything changed. I saw a brilliant light in my mind coming from above and heard a voice that just said "Trust me." That voice has stayed with me to this day and I believe in my heart it is Jesus. I tried to respond with thanks, but all that came out of my mouth were odd syllables. I was speaking in "tongues," slowly at first, and then in a cascade of words the Bible calls the language of angels.

I was filled with a tremendous sense of joy. Amazing joy. I laughed for three days. It looked as if the whole world had been washed and everything looked so fresh and clean that I felt like I should be giving new names to common things that everyone sees everyday.

Pure spiritual experience and the complicated experience of living in this world usually don't mix too easily. But out of their creative, organic dance a new life emerges, something completely different from what was before. Not totally spiritual, but not totally material either. Life becomes something touched---still fully natural, but singed by a sacred dimension that now finds its most natural expression in the act of love.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Local News

1) There was a wildcat strike of the Toronto transit system today (unlike in the States, today was not a holiday). Literally millions of people were stranded without warning. I'm not sure of the issues involved, but the point was certainly made.

2) Today's temperature with the humidity in Toronto was 107F / 41C. Yes, 107F. Plus there was a smog alert of the highest level. All in all, a nice day for a walk...perhaps even a walk to work...and back.

3) Amado's talking! ...and his first word was "Ohhhhh." At least that's the sound he makes, imitating us when we coo over him. It's a start anyway.

4) Wendy has an issue with the pictures of Amadisto in the post below ("Four Months Old!"). She says he looks fat and bored. She reminds me the camera adds 10 pounds. She wonders why I don't post a cuter picture of him at four months old. Honey, I'm just posting 'em like I see 'em.

King and Queen of the Hippies

You people have got to see this....

Katie's mom thinks we look like a rock stars, but I don't know. Maybe I look like a coiffured rock star. They had those in the 80s right? I think I look more like the wanna-be cosmic mystic artist that I was back then. Katie looks great though, as always.

Go to Katie's blog (the May 29 entry) to see the full-size picture. It's worth it. One of my favourites of all-time! The year was likely 1988. (By the way, we are standing in front of one of my favourite paintings that I did in the 80s. And the photo itself was taken by my artistic Mom. Great job Mom!)

Here's the link:


Four Months Old!

...well, yesterday the 28th was the actual date. He has a nice new outfit here---real little boy clothes---but Amado was still in a serious mood all day. It was one of the first hot and humid days in Toronto, so that could have been part of it. Though probably it was because of the two big teeth he has coming in on his lower gum. They don't seem to be bothering him too much, but he is trying to put everything that comes close into his mouth and gnaw on it. Also, anything that goes into his hand he tries to put in his mouth, but his eye-hand coordination still isn't the greatest, so often things end up on his forehead or neck. Yesterday I saw him stick his index finger right in his eye up to the second knuckle! I yelled out, but it was over so quickly and it didn't seem to bother him at all. He is being super wiggly all night long though. He kept his poor mom up for hours. (Though I managed to sleep through it. Zzzzzzzz.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Baby Fix


"Miles had many vices, but insincerity was not among them."

Yesterday would have been the 80th birthday of Miles Davis. A maker of some of the world's most beautiful music, yet one heck of a complicated man.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

812 Riverside Ave.

This is the picture I wanted to post on Mother's Day. It was taken at our first house in Santa Cruz, but it still captures the feeling of my teenage years and the closeness our little family shared in the desert. During the 1970s, when we lived in Phelan, it was just us three for so many years (us four if you count the dog Babe). Much of that time felt hard and disjointed (does it ever feel different for a teenager?), but good because we all stuck together and had a sense of family I think.

By the time this picture was taken---it's dated July 1981 on the back--so much had changed. Sol had moved back to Phelan, Mom had moved in with Irene, and I had joined the Pentecostals. In many ways this picture is the last image of us as a threesome before we all grew up and went our separate ways. This is the natural course of life I suppose. But I don't think I will ever lose the nostalgia I have for those last gasps of childhood we shared as a family.

Heading East / Mexican Pictures

As far as blogs go, I'm just a kid splashing around in the shallow end, while this guy's swimming the deep blue sea.

Four things Raul Gutierrez reminded me of:

1) the life you find at the end of the road may be your own
2) if you seek beauty, it will find you
3) every day of life deserves a well-told story
4) I need a way better camera

Beautiful writing. Beautiful photography. Beautiful baby. From Brooklyn and way beyond. I've read it "cover to cover" and I urge you to do the same. This blog will change the way you see things.

Heading East (blog)
Mexican Pictures (photoblog)

Here are some of my favourite entries from among many good ones:


Grover Cleveland Service Plaza

Notes to Self 28 Years Later

Other Lives

The aptly named Stung Treng

Staten Island Ferry

The Undivided World

Ballon Man

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Optometrist: "You weren't the type of young person who liked to stare at the sun for long periods of time were you?

Me: Ummmm.

Calvin Earl Owens

Calvin was one of my best friends during the years I lived in Phelan (1973-1980). To this day I remember the first time I saw him walk into Mr. Hellman's 6th grade class. We were both new to the school, but he already had a following. All the kids called him "Okie." I'm not sure how he got this nickname but it definitely fit with Calvin's crazy buckwheat-colour hair and home-style clothes. Even in grade 6 he had lots of charisma. We grew very close through the years, almost like brothers really.

Every day was a new adventure with Calvin. With his guns, dogs, and hunting trips to the edge of the known world, Calvin led my brother and I to the precipice of death and disaster many times, but somehow we always just made it. So many of the life-defining experiences I had as a teenager were with Calvin.

I took these pictures on a visit back to Phelan in the mid-80s. I had spent the day alone, miles from nowhere, painting and shooting pictures way out in the desert. Just before sunset, I drove to Calvin's house for a visit with his family and new baby. I told him I had seen a Mojave Green rattlesnake in a hole while I was out in the desert. Calvin could not believe I just left the snake there. Even though it was probably 10 or more miles from any human habitation, he insisted we drive out there right away and kill the snake. It was a matter of public safety.

Calvin and I never really kept up with each other after I moved to Santa Cruz. We spoke by phone once about five years ago. He told me he was now a gospel singer living in Idaho.

Calvin, if you happen to read this, I still miss you bro.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Phelan, Calif.

I took this picture at my brother's house on Thanksgiving 2002. It was the first day I got the camera I still use. 2.0 megapixals, baby, 2.0 megapixals.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Ty!

This kid's not just another nice hat rack, but Ty's actually the rising star of the High Desert! Wendy and I wish our nephew Tyler a very HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY. Man, you are the dude! We wish you the best day ever! These pictures are all a couple of years old, so you gotta send me a new one....until then...we send you all of our love!

Fish Locks

In Hamilton, Ontario there are "fish locks" built between the harbour, which is part of Lake Ontario, and Coots Paradise, a large shallow lake connected to the harbour by a man-made canal. As part of an effort to restore Coots Paradise to the lush wetlands it once was, each spring the fish returning from the Great Lakes to spawn there are trapped and run through narrow chutes to be sorted. Carp, like the one in the picture above, are tossed back to the harbour side. There's a sign at the locks explaining that carp, which can grow to more than 50 pounds, "graze like cows" on wetlands, devouring the reeds and other waterplants and devastating the natural environment. Pike, bass, and other native fish are allowed to pass into Coots Paradise to reproduce.

I took these pictures last May, just over a year ago. We had just returned to Canada from Alexandria, Virginia because of Wendy's troubles as an "illegal alien." I had left a great job and a great apartment and had no idea what I was returning to in Canada. I didn't have a job, so during the day I would go on long walks around Hamilton Harbour, wondering what the future would hold for Wendy and I. There was no way I could imagine the magnitude of change that was just around the corner. Without even knowing it, we had made it through the locks.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Victoria Queen of Great Britain and Empress of India

This is a holiday weekend in Canada, celebrating Queen Victoria. My American friends, you do not know what you are missing. We are going to get down right Victorian. Woo Whooo!!!

Do Not Return Crib to the Store

...it's too late.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Destined for Greatness

...now all he needs is a leather jacket and a couple of tattoos to go with his new outfit. Thanks Katie!

Orale Senor Carlos!

Santana. Hamburg, May 5, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Many of you may not know this about me, but in the past few years I've become a boxing fan. I used to think it was the worst of sports. Brutal, demeaning, inhumane, and violent. Which, of course, it is.

But then I saw the 1996 Muhammad Ali movie, When We Were Kings, which told the story of the 1974's "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight championship fight of Ali vs. George Foreman in Zaire. This is an amazing documentary which taught me for the first time how Ali used intelligence and the "roper doper" defense to beat pure force of Foreman's superhuman brawn.

A few years later I happened to catch a rerun of the Oscar de la Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas (Sept. 14, 2002) super welterweight fight, where Oscar de la Hoya ("The Golden Boy," "The Pride of East LA"), an acknowledged goodie-two-shoes, knocked out the incredibly strong Vato Loco-type Vargas in the 11th round.

De la Hoya used the same strategy against Vargas that Ali had, dancing around the ring, taking and withstanding a barrage of powerful punches, until the stronger Vargas tired himself out. Then de la Hoya moved in for the kill and knocked the crap out of trash-talking Vargas (who most fans say deserved it). I was stunned by the amazing combination of violence, strategy, and heart that I saw when these two athletes stood up to each other in the ring. It hooked me on boxing for good (or perhaps for bad).

A couple of nights ago, I caught the replay of Oscar de la Hoya's fight against the Nicaraguan Ricardo Mayorga from a week earlier. Once again, de la Hoya was picking on a trash-talking, wild-swinging opponent who was bigger and stronger than him. And once again, after taking several hard shots, Oscar knocked the guy out---this time taking the bad guy to the mat in the 6th round.

Even now, days later, I am still thinking about the rare meeting of heart, strength, and brains I see in de la Hoya when he fights.

After the fight, Oscar was asked who his next fight will be against. I always hate this part. De la Hoya is good looking, smooth, tough, and appears intelligent until he opens his mouth. Then out pops the squeaky voice of a 12-year-old done wrong. "Mayorga deserved that beating because of the bad things he said about my wife." "He said some bad things about me and my family. That really motivated me." Petty stuff like that. Oscar may be "The Pride of East LA," but this East LA boy isn't as proud of him once he starts talking.

Oscar answered that he was going to check out the other fighters and would pick the one that "will give me the most glory to fight." I was intrigued by his answer because I don't think I've ever actually heard anyone say they were seeking more glory for themselves. I've always thought of "glory" as something you give to God, or perhaps something a sunrise or sunset has. It isn't something people would try to gather for themselves.

I guess I'm being naive. There are probably lots of gloryseekers like de la Hoya out there. But whenever I start thinking that maybe this is something I should consider...you know, becoming a gloryseeker, the only image that comes to mind is that of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican ballplayers. The Aztecs, Maya, Zapotec, and many other people built these amazing ball courts and fielded teams to play this game that was like a cross between basketball and soccer. The goal was to use one's hips to knock a rubber ball through a hoop high up on the slanted wall. The twist, from our perspective, was that members of the winning team achieved their glory after the match by being sacrificed to the gods. What greater glory could anyone be hoping for?

With ideas like this, it's better to be humble.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

8 Years Ago Today

Washington, D.C., May 16, 1998.
I don't think anybody looks good in the top picture, but it seems to capture some of the crazy magic that was our wedding day. In the bottom picture, we share a serious moment with the eternal Rev. Gordon Cosby of Church of the Saviour. He is a truly spiritual man and there aren't enough like him left in the world.

Wendy is the sweetest wife in the whole world and I feel blessed to be married to her (yes, even after eight years!). In many ways, the time has gone by in a flash. I can understand how people suddenly discover they have been together 20, 30, 50 years and it was so fun it seemed like just half that time had gone by. Marriage is a very strange thing.

The Sinking Sidebar

I don't know why, but these days the sidebar seems to reside way down at the very bottom of the blog. Hopefully, one day it will surface again. But, until then, if you're interested, it's down there. Scroll, baby, scroll.

[5-17-06. I fixed it by deleted a photo that was too wide....here's where I found help:]

Google Groups: Blogger Help
TechHelper Blogspot

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Mom, we send you all of our love and believe me, if we were in Santa Cruz we would be lining up with the crowd for a post-flea Mother's Brunch at Aldo's right now! Your artistic muse brings a rainbow of light in our lives, even from across the continent. Both you and Irene bring so many new creations to our lives and we are richer for it. And what is a mother if not creative?

Much love,
Your Creations
(Aaron, Wendy, and Amadisto)

a) Mom (Coop) at Capitola Beach
b) Granma Coop listening to a story from Ty
c) Coop and her boys in the High Sierra
d) I need more pictures of you from the pre-digital age!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Boat People

My brother's family: Sierra, Diane, Tyler, Sol. On their way to Caye Caulker, Belize. Nice picture! Thanks Irene!

Wednesday evening

Tummy time. 6:21 p.m.

Looks like trouble...

This helicopter was hovering over our apartment complex (I love that I live in a "complex." This word will always remind of the '60s television show Born Free. They too lived in a complex.) Anyway, the helicopter. Anybody recognize it?

(Afterthought: Overnight I realized that Born Free was actually set in a "compound" on the plains of Africa. But I think I will go on living in my complex anyway.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday morning

My early mornings with Amado have become some of the best times of my life.


Here are some fishing pictures from my family's recent trip to Belize. Really amazing! It looks like a very beautiful place...certainly different from my experience in Belize City in 1985! I'll post some more pictures of their trip soon I hope.