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).