October 13, 2006

Sisterly Visit Recap

I had a great time showing off Seattle to Alexis and Derek this past weekend. The first thing we did after getting back from the airport is go out for and some dinner at The Deluxe. Afterwards we met up with Miguel and Rachelle at The Cantebury where I got to introduce them to some fine American microbrew.

Saturday we did the tourist thing. We went out to breakfast, then to the famous Pike Place Market. We then walked northwards towards the Space Needle, stopping several times for beer and snacks along the way. We walked around Seattle Center, and planned to take the monorail back downtown, but once again, it was out of commission due to "mechanical problems". I think there are more sunny days a year in Seattle than days the monorail is operational.

Crossing the first item off Alexis' list of things to do in Seattle, we grabbed dinner at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen in Belltown. Stuffed with burritos and beer, we waddled back to my apartment and crashed.

Sunday we waited an hour for the best breakfast in Capitol Hill, Glo's (I was assured that it was, in fact, worth the wait). Derek wanted to check out Seattle’s dual stadiums (coming from the Toronto area where our MLA team and CFL team share the same stadium, this confounded me as well), so down to SoDo we went. Since neither the Seahawks nor the Mariners were playing, that part of town was completely dead. Luckily for us, we were spared boredom when we stumbled on Seattle’s very own indoor Gold Rush National Park.

We hit the shopping area downtown (ok, I'll admit it, I did most of the shopping), then back south (thank god for the Free Ride Zone) to the International District for Alexis' second and final list item, a fabulous sushi dinner at Fuji Sushi. Our bellies swollen with raw fish, we went to Uwajimaya to check out the weird and exotic fish counter and beer snack aisles. Satisfied, we took out last bus back up the Hill (and were treated to a monologue by a resident bus weirdo).

We were up at the crack of dawn the next morning and drove to Sea-Tac Airport to get those two on their plane. I had a great time hanging out with my sister, re-experiencing the subtle culture shock with US-first-timer Derek (he was absolutely mortified that hosts allow their houseguests to walk onto the carpet with their outdoor shoes on, a custom I'm still not 100% comfortable with) and having an excuse to tour the town, eat some great meals, and most important of all, go on a shopping spree.

08:15 | Family , Seattle | Comments (0)

October 11, 2006

Goodbye Little Ruby

On Saturday my dad called me with some sad news. My parents' 6-month old puppy Ruby died over the weekend. She had eaten some hard plastic, and died due to internal bleeding.

Although I met Ruby only once, I saw the joy she brought to my parents, and I know my parents' home will not be the same without her. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to know her better.

08:04 | Family | Comments (2)

October 6, 2006

Sisterly Visit

Tonight I'm off to drive that familiar route to Sea-Tac airport to pick up my sister and her boyfriend. This will be Alexis' first visit to Seattle (the last of my immediate family members to make the westward trek), and Derek's first visit to the good old US of A. The only two things Alexis insists we do while they're here is go out for Mexican and for sushi.

Most Americans I've told this to raise and eyebrow when I say we're going out of our way for Mexican food. Sushi they can understand -- Seattle has a large Japanese population, and being right on the Puget Sound, seafood is fresh and abundant. But Mexican?

In the US, Mexican food is ubiquitous. It seems every neighbourhood has several inexpensive Mexican restaurants that smother every dish in cheddar and sour cream. But in Southern Ontario, Mexican restaurants are rare (unless you count Taco Bell, or the now-extinct chain of Chi-Chi's family restaurants). Instead, Southern Ontario has a glut of inexpensive Italian restaurants that smother every dish in mozzarella and red sauce. Here in Seattle, you'd be hard-pressed to find a veal parmesan sandwich for under $12.

Besides the food, I plan to introduce Derek to the Pacific Northwest's fine selection of microbrews, so he can go home comforted with the fact that I'm not forced to drink Budweiser (although he may be dismayed that I'm not pining for a Molson).

08:03 | Family | Comments (1)

May 24, 2006

Little Jewel

While I was home, I was lucky enough to meet the new edition to my parents' household: a Manchester Terrier puppy named Ruby. I've always been used to a dog around the house, so the few days I was visiting my parents before they brought Ruby home seemed eerily quiet. Although she's not meant as a replacement to Zoë, my parents' home seems a little more complete with a little critter running around. Ruby is my family's fourth dog, and the first puppy my parents are raising.

She's adorable, and it didn't take long before Ruby and I became fast friends.

23:28 | Family | Comments (1)

May 12, 2006

Good bye Nonna

Yesterday my mom called me at work with some bad news. My grandmother passed away in her sleep sometime yesterday morning. I'll be flying home to Ontario this weekend, and will spend the week with my family.

It was a little over three years ago my Nonno passed, and once again I've been asked to be a pallbearer. The last three years were tough for Nonna. Her diabetes affected her eyesight and poor circulation made walking difficult, but she always had a positive attitude. A harsh bout of pneumonia prevented her from going on her annual trip to sunny St Lucia in February, which dampened her spirits a bit, but family was always near to keep her company and cheer her up.

Today would have been her 80th birthday. The family had planned a big party to celebrate her life, but I wasn't able to attend. It looks like I will be attending a celebration of her life with the family after all.

Arrivederci Nonna.

15:25 | Family | Comments (1)

January 1, 2006


T and I are flying back to Seattle in a few hours. Christmas this year was bittersweet. Seeing family and friends was great, and the gifts were plentiful (I got some great Canadiana, including BNL's Gordon and the movie Strange Brew).

On a sadder note, both our families lost a member. T's great uncle Pete passed away the day she arrived home. In the Lyon home, we had to put our dog Zoë down. As I had blogged earlier, Zoë had been sick but managed to hang on until after Christmas.

According to the weather report, we will be leaving the snow and sub-freezing Toronto temperatures for cool and rainy Seattle. Thus ends another holiday season. See you all States-side!

09:25 | Family | Comments (2)

November 3, 2005

Poor Sick Doggie

I was on my bus ride home from work this afternoon when I got a call from my dad with some bad news. For the past week or so, our dog Zoë has been acting strangely. She's been falling over and generally not acting like herself, so my parents took her to the vet. Today they found out she has a brain tumor.

Zoë's an old dog, so brain surgery isn't an option. Instead she is being put on medication to shrink the tumor, and hopefully she'll spend the rest of her life happy and pain-free. Aside from this, she's healthy and filled with that unadulterated love for life that dogs have. I'll be flying back to Toronto for Christmas, and I really hope she hangs in there until then.

For an intelligent dog, Zoë didn't learn a whole lot of tricks. Sure, she could sit, shake paw, and occasionally bring you a slightly moist, gnawed newspaper, but there was one trick she learned on her own. That was how to smile for the camera:

Photogenic dog

Hang on there puppy. I'm coming home soon.

22:35 | Family | Comments (0)

December 20, 2004

Gift Wrapped

It seems that the women in my family have a skill that we men lack: the ability to wrap gifts. All it takes is a quick glance under our Christmas tree to determine which gifts were wrapped by which gender. Gifts from my mom and sister are perfect cubes and rectangular prisms, tightly wrapped in coloured paper, sometimes adorned with ribbons or hand-tied bows. Gifts from my brother, dad and myself, however, are much less… geometrical.

I’ve always had trouble getting the corners wrapped in perfect right angles, so all my gifts look like overstuffed pillows, with pointy, empty corners. I try to do a good job, but by the third present, I’ve lost patience and am satisfied that the box’s label is at least covered. I have to make a better effort to wrap my mom’s gifts first, to spare her the shame of her son’s poor wrapping. If my wrapping job is particularly disappointing, I usually adorn the gift with stick-on bows, or extra-large Love Chris labels, to try to detract from the half-roll of tape used to hold the thing together.

As bad as my wrapping abilities are, I’m a pro compared to my brother. He has an environmentally-conscious habit of using up all the useless scraps of wrapping paper. As commendable as that sounds, taping them directly to the gifts themselves doesn’t usually make for pretty presents. I remember one year he must have lost patience and used an entire roll of paper on one gift, twisting the ends so it looked like a giant hard candy, the kind you get at restaurants with your bill. By the time the two of us are done, there is no Scotch tape left in the house.

I don’t ever remember seeing any gifts wrapped by my father. He’s a fan of surprising us with unwrapped gifts that materialize Christmas morning at the foot of the tree, in front of the wrapped gifts. I think he likes seeing our immediate reactions. One year he tried to be a little different, and we woke up to three large boxes in black garbage bags, neatly tied at the top, which each of our names on them. I thought Santa had made a terrible mistake and that our gifts were actually out on the curb.

I think the greatest Christmas development in our household was the rise in popularity of gift bags. Requiring only that one places the gift inside the bag, then cover the top of the gift with tissue paper, this has become my favourite way to present gifts. Gifts from me are now almost exclusively given in bags. With exerting a mere fraction of the effort (and frustration) I put into wrapping presents, I can place my gift bags under the tree with pride next to my sister’s perfect cubes and my mother’s tetrahedrons.

14:47 | Family

October 12, 2004

Weekend With The Folks

I had a good time this past weekend with my parents. It was their first real visit to Seattle (apparently they got stuck here during an air controller strike in the 1970s), so I showed them the sites: Pike Place Market, Downtown, the Space Needle, Broadway, et al. We went out for some fabulous sushi on Saturday night (I think I overdid it on the raw scallops).

And I get to do it all over again next month when my brother comes to visit. Playing host is fun.

07:21 | Family

October 7, 2004

Meet The Parents

No blogging for me this weekend; my parents are coming to visit. This is their first visit to Seattle since I moved here, so it should be a lot of fun. Of course this means I need to make a mad scramble to get my apartment clean enough for my mother's inspection.

07:48 | Family

October 30, 2003

Dog Days

One of the things I'm looking forward to the most about going home, is seeing the family member that misses me the most. I know as soon as I walk in the door, she'll run up to see me, wait impatiently as I greet my parents, then finally jump up and lick my face. No, it's not my sister, it's my dog Zoë!

I always marvelled at how well-behaved dogs seem to be on TV. When it's time for a walk, they pick up a nicely-coiled leash and sit patiently until their owners get the hint.

Zoë, on the other hand does not know how to wait patiently. At the very mention of the word "walk", she cocks her head and perks her ears. She's ready to strike. You're now committed. The next move you make will result in her exploding in a series of excitement and whimpering. If you can manage to get her leash on, you're good to go.

It sounds easier than it is.

07:22 | Family

March 26, 2003

She Usually Eats Dog Food...

Walking the dog the other day, I unintentionally frightened a young boy, who must have been no older than six. He was on his bike, and I was walking on the sidewalk toward him. He turned around and saw me and Zoë, and freaked out.

Kid: "Is your dog friendly?"
Me: "Yes, she's very friendly."
Kid: "Is it going to eat me?"
Me: "I promise you, my dog will not eat you."
Kid: "Then why is its mouth open? It's going to eat me!"

That's when I decided to hurry up and get home before the kid's parents came out with a shotgun.

00:00 | Family

March 15, 2003

The Smell of Curry and Wet Dog

Today was such a beautiful day (10 whole degrees Centigrade!) that I decided to take some time away from the computer and take the dog for a walk. The sidewalks were very wet since the warm temperature had melted the rather high snowbanks created by driveway shovelers, and I cursed myself for not wearing boots. Even the dog wasn't crazy about walking through ankle-deep puddles.

It was mid-afternoon, but I could smell the delicious scents of curry dinners being made. One of the nice things about living in a mostly East Indian neighbourhood is that the streets always have interesting and tasty-smelling aromas around dinner time.

I remember my mom telling me that the Indian men in our neighbourhood were afraid of Zoë. I found this hard to believe, considering my dog is scared of the vacuum cleaner. She had never been aggressive to anyone, and only barks when someone knocks on our door. I also found it hard to believe that my mom would generalize an entire ethnic group like that. I found out today that she was right.

I saw grown men trudge through snow, or walk into the busy street to avoid sharing a sidewalk with my dog. One elderly man had placed his lawnchair at the end of his driveway, and was sitting down enjoying the sun until me and "Killer" came close. He actually got out of his chair and hurried to the house until we had turned the corner.

Maybe dogs aren't kept as pets in India. Maybe they're considered vermin.

Then again, maybe they were avoiding me.

00:00 | Family

March 14, 2003

Rest In Peace

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone, friends and strangers alike, who offered their condolences over the past few days. My family and I really appreciated it.

My grandfather had a stroke in the summer of 2001 which affected the left side of his body. A few months later he had another one which rendered him paralyzed on the left side. For the last year and a half we've seen him slowly go downhill, so for the pragmatist in me, his death didn't come as a complete surprise and was almost a relief to see his suffering end.

However in times like this, it's hard to be pragmatic.

On Monday and Tuesday were the viewings. That side of my family is Italian and very large, so most of my time was spent catching up with my uncles, aunts and 16 cousins. Poor Angela must have met over 50 members of my family this week, having to introduce herself and answer the same questions over and over. But she was glad to do it, and I was glad she came.

The funeral itself was on Thursday, and I was one of the pallbearers. This was a new experience for me, and although I was honoured to be given that duty, I don't relish the idea of doing it again.

My uncle gave a wonderful eulogy, and the entire funeral was a beautiful, if not unhappy, ceremony.

But life must go on. I'm just glad I was here for the funeral, and not in Seattle yet. Don't ever let me complain about the long wait for my visa again :)

00:00 | Family

March 10, 2003


My grandfather passed away this morning. I think I'll take the rest of the week off from blogging.

00:00 | Family

February 6, 2003


My sister and I took our dog Zoë to the groomers this morning. The dog was more agitated than normal (probably disappointed that we stuffed her in the car instead of the expected walk). We dropped her off and picked her up a few hours later. She smelled nice and her fur was silky soft. Her nails had also been cut, but they took too much off one nail and made her bleed. We stopped the bleeding with cornstarch and covered it with a sock. Now Zoë is wandering around the house with one paw in a rainbow coloured ankle-sock. The kind with the pom-pom at the back.

I don't know which was more demeaning: her wearing the sock, or me putting it on her.

00:00 | Family

October 26, 2002


Happy birthday Dad!

00:00 | Family