On a blank sheet of paper, the words

can take form.


Put form.


Make form.


Set down their form.


The words can form themselves.

From letters, and the pauses between.


The empty space.



From the blank sheet of paper, before the universe was created,

and from the empty spaces between words,


form takes and words form.



This much, I will share with Plato.




another train ride… and again, coming back

Thursday, 10 April 2014.


I just spent the first of the week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – going from San Diego, by train, up to Oakland on the eastern shore of San Francisco bay. I did not cross over into the City, although I had planned on doing that on Tuesday evening. After lunch in Alameda with my old friend from Washingtown DC (thirty years ago), I ended the day just sitting around with him and talking and singing songs all afternoon until it was dark.


The ride, via Amtrak along the rails of California, is one of my favorite trips – I have taken it… let’s see… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times one-way before, and now ten and twelve times one-way. The first time was when Mom and I went to Oakland to see Herb and Virginia Anderson and attend Helen Gilliland’s memorial service. The third time, I travelled alone all the way to Seattle, and then drove one of Bruce’s cars back south again. The next two times were with Mom onboard the Tioga Pass private car in 2011, then eight and nine (now with LArail dot com) coming and going on the 2012 northwest trip, and finally my half-detour over Tehachapi and back via the coast (maybe I should only count “half” of that double?) but… well, that was then, and this is now, as “they” say.


So, then, this week, Monday up and Wednesday back. The pleasure of watching the long, slow, passage of California countryside, with plenty of town, city, farm, open countryside, and wide ocean expanse.


Some interesting chat time with other passengers, which I will probably never get around to writing down…


I ate lunch and dinner onboard the dining car on Monday, and could have had three meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – yesterday, but after eating breakfast while we left Oakland, I never got really hungry again, and, in fact, suffered an intense day of constant urination… every hour I had to go pee, long, slow, intense urination… no pain to speak of, only the bothersome fact that I stagger down to the tiny railroad toilet and would pee and pee and pee and then go back to my room and drink another bottle of water and then go pee again. Don’t know what it was but I ain’t feeling it today, it seems to have all flushed out yesterday and I am back to my regular pee every five or six hours routine again. Probably something I ate – OR maybe even the eight cups of coffee I drank yesterday… hmmm? Oh yes that might have done it, uh huh. First two cups in the hotel after waking up. Then three more cups with breakfast. Finally three more from the urn in my sleeper car. Yes, almost twice, or three times, the amount I normally drink in a day. Hmmm.


AND Yes, I had a little roomette both ways. It was very comfortable and luxurious being able to shut the door and been alone. Plus the club car was a real pleasure, reserved only for sleeping class passengers.


As for expensive, it was not that high priced… I believe the train trip actually cost less, or almost less, than two nights in the hotel in Oakland!


Not a bad hotel. A hundred and seventy something per night. Very comfortable bed, pleasantly appointed room. I stayed at the place John and Heidi, owners of the Silver Splendor, recommend. Much much much better, a hundred, a thousand times better, than the horrifying place I stayed in September when I went up for the Tehachapi detour trip.

the day before traveling north

I find myself with a thousand things to do all at the last minute. Wash clothes, clean the kitchen, pack, finish a translation job that is still remaining to be finished, complete the list of nominees for award categories at a video sharing site where I belong, and welcome the usual Sunday visit of my conservative stepsister and her pun-filled husband. I should be kinder to them, after all, they will be visiting Mom while I am away for three days, and making it possible for me to go away for three days without worrying excessively over her well-being while I am gone.

She is getting older fast and I dare not leave her for even one night without someone to drop by and check up on her.

Yesterday she was talking about getting a gun to protect herself.

I am horrified.


Tomorrow I will be riding the trains all day long.

First the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to Los Angeles. Two hours and fifty minutes.

Then the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Oakland. Eleven or twelve hours, unless we are monstrously late.

A long day of watching the beauties of coastal California. Beaches and beach towns. Ranches and farms. Mountains, hills, and valleys.

Although we are not scheduled to pass the night, I have paid a little extra and got myself a roomette — a small private space on a sleeper car — which entitles me to free meals (lunch and dinner), access to the private lounge “club car”, and my own little room where I can close the door and take a nap if I want to.

I will want to, after tonight’s long hours awake to finish the writing I must finish before I go.