I still am not certain why it happened.

I certainly did not deserve it. Not me. No.

But nonetheless the fortune came to me

To fulfill my wish. To help her live at home

Until she died.


I still feel guilty about it. Suppose we always do,

We survivors of death, when our loved ones

Leave us alone. Yes.


One day, she said, you will be free to go, after

I leave this world. If, that is, Uncle Sam IRS

Doesn’t take all the money.


an old Chinese poem

青青河畔草           鬱鬱園中柳

盈盈樓上女           皎皎當窗牖

娥娥紅粉糚           纖纖出素手

昔為唱家女           今為蕩子夫

蕩子行不歸           空床難獨守


Green green the river bank grass                     Lush lush the courtyard willows

Full full the woman upstairs                          Bright bright behind window bars

Lovely lovely red powder makeup       Delicate delicate she puts forth a pale hand

Once she was a song house girl                   Now she is a wandering man’s wife

Traveling wanderer does not come home            An empty bed is hard to sleep alone


青青河畔草 from the Nineteen Old Poems (Han dynasty 207BCE – 220CE)


life and death again

14 December 2018

Seventy-four years ago, my parents were married in San Diego, and they lived together until my father died in 1977. Even that seems a long time ago – forty-one years since he died at the too-young age of 56 short years.

For a few hours last night, I thought I might die, after vomiting my dinner. It was a rough night. But I am awake again this morning and hope to see my way through yet another day.

Christmas is coming.

memoir stream flow

10 December 2018

I pick up dirty clothes from the bedroom and bath. Want to take them out to the washing machine. Still catching up with dirty laundry from the trip. The first few days back I just sat and rested, recovering from the cold that tortured me on the forty-hour train trip from New Orleans to California.

While I pick up dirty clothes in the bathroom, I pause to use the toilet. As I stand there, making sure I don’t spray onto the floor, to keep it straight into the bowl of the mighty throne, I remember how I struggled to do this on the train with the small facilities provided. Even weirder was the in-room toilet which every viewliner roomette features as a convenience. It was definitely not convenient to stand there hanging on for dear life while the train rocked back and forth, and I carefully kept the stream falling straight into the rounded bowl with its little hole at the bottom.

I very quickly learned to take advantage of our stopping for freight trains, in order to do my liquidating business while the train stood still. That was a blessing in disguise, i.e. even though we lost time because we were already late and then we were later, yet it was good to stand still because then I could stand still.

Worse was when I had to sit down and do that second business, usually once a day. It was hard for this big guy to sit down into the restricted space in the viewliner roomette, between the corridor wall (I had closed and velcro-sealed the curtains) and the sharp edge of the bed/seat boundary. I had to settle back carefully, turn my legs slightly to one side, and squeeze my big fat behind into that narrow seating space.

Once again, I swore to myself I will not go on any more train trips, not on any more trips anywhere, until I lose at least another hundred pounds. By then I will be coming close to almost normal size – normal for a man who is six feet tall and rather big-boned, as the saying goes.

Nevertheless, I managed to get it done. Both in the private roomette facilities back east, as well as in the superliner shared toilets out west.

Now it is nothing but a memory, whose echoes taunt and trouble me while I pick up dirty clothes from the floor and carry them out to the washing machine.

Life is sweet, and bitter. Sometimes both.

home suite

I returned yesterday after almost three weeks of travel from California to the East Coast, and then back again. Using Amtrak passenger trains, I journeyed from San Diego and Los Angeles to Chicago, Boston, New York, New Orleans, and then Los Angeles and San Diego. The last few days I caught a cold and spent a most miserable time, coughing and sneezing yet still admiring the passing view outside the train windows.

Now I am home again, and very relieved to be so. Also I am finally beginning to feel better. Chicken soup simmers on the stove, and I will most likely indulge in another hot bath this afternoon (but not a bath in soup LOL).

last day in New Orleans

For several days now, I have been fighting a cold – or flu, if truth be told – and I am feeling a little stir crazy, sitting in the hotel room because every time I go outdoors and walk it makes me feel worse. For someone already diagnosed with decaying lungs, this is not a simple, straightforward matter.

I must simply rest, drink fluids, and hope that whatever is struggling with my imune system does not go beyond a scratchiness in my throat, the occasional cough, and a globally lethargic feeling. I’ve been out to eat, once or twice yesterday and today.

Day before yesterday I walked to Jackson Square and around the old French quarter a little, but after two hours came back to the hotel and took a nap. Yesterday and today I only went out to eat.

I don’t feel sick, per se, but on the edge of being sick. Rest and juice and water says my body. Give me a little to eat and a lot of fluids.

Tomorrow I board the train for home, for better and for worse, God willing this train won’t be as late as the hell from New York to New Orleans which arrived almost twelve hours late the morning after when it should have. I changed my reservation and decided to explore New Orleans. Then I began to feel that little itch around the corners of my lungs and throat that told me to take it easy.

On the train I can rest, I hope.

I do not believe there is any online wifi from the Southern Limited, so I will not be able to talk with you, either on or here at word press.

See you when I get home on Monday.

Primero Dios.

Back to the Macy’s Day Parade



This month, November 2018, I travel from California to New York for two reasons: first to see my son and promised daughter-in-law, who live and work in that great city; secondarily, however, and with specific timing, I am also going because my nephew (and son’s cousin) is marching with his band from Riverside (California) in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (the Macy parade, you know?). Yes.

I do not like to fly, so I will be traveling by Amtrak passenger train, first from San Diego to Los Angeles, then onboard the Southwest Chief for two nights and days to get to Chicago.

Following our arrival in Chicago – where I expect it will be cold – I shall then board the Lakeshore Limited for yet another night and day, making my railroad leap past the Great Lakes and Erie canal, to finally reach the Atlantic coast.

I hope to be making, and publishing, video logs and written blogs of the train trip – but I feel like writing about it right now.



I feel a little guilty that I am leaving the house alone, but at least the brothers and sisters are here to check on it, and I will be back, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Am busy these last days doing laundry and cleaning house. Not that it isn’t already full of boxes and packing for all the stuff we are sorting through to give away or sell. I have this daydream of going to the swap meet with tables full of books and old clothes. Maybe in December.

I don’t know if I could have paid for all this trip, especially the roomettes on the train, except that three or four years ago I made reservations to go back east and see my son, and also return through Texas to stop and see my dear love Teresa in Nuevo Laredo, but I decided I should not leave my mother for that long a time. I converted the tickets into vouchers and have kept them good each year by rescheduling and then cancelling other trips, until this past spring I decided I should try to go back east on the occasion of this Thanksgiving holiday.

I also feel a little guilty because I am able to go precisely for the reason that Mom died in the first week of spring, and now I am literally free to go. Fortunately for my grief and feelings of guilt, seven months have passed, and my angst and pain is/are less hurtful, so I think I will maybe enjoy this trip, even though I cannot help but remember all the train trips Mom and I went on the years when I was living here with her.

In 2008, we went to see the Arkansas Post, subject of her thesis at Berkeley in the late 1940s. The next year we rode across Canada to see the Bay of Fundy. In 2010 we traveled with a train of private cars to Feather River (in the Sierra Nevada). The year after that she rode with my brother and wife and kids onboard the Grand Canyon train. In 2012 and 2013 we rode with LArail private cars, first to Glacier Park via Portland and Seattle, and then on a springtime trip called “Southern Comfort” to New Orleans, Florida, Washington DC, and Chicago. We would have gone on two others, but she did not feel up to it. Twice we did take the Pearl Harbor day Troop Train from San Diego to Los Angeles and back. That was a fun day trip. Such good memories.

So, like I said above, I will be thinking of her.


The train also wakes up many other thoughts in my heart and mind. My parents and grandparents and their parents before them used to travel by train, in the days before airplanes and automobiles and good roads. These trips on passenger trains for me are worth taking, even with the extra expense in time, because they let me think and feel back into history, for a world that has mostly gone, now. The old west moves by outside the big train windows, and I rejoice in this historic scenery. For a moment, I can almost see it.

Especially along the even older Santa Fe trail, where only horses and huge wagons used to go. That is where the Southwest Chief goes, from New Mexico across Kansas into the mid-west. This is the train that used to be the Santa Fe Railroad, or, to be more completely accurate, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe.