I guess I need to post a new blog, if for no other reason than to give JennyD more space to comment. Yes, I have suddenly had such an upsurge in Followers that what to say I wot not. I know my Shaggers new and old know that 'wot' is a real word and not a mis-key, such a clever lot as they are.
As I said to OneGirl on her blog, a blog is a public forum and one has no control over the comments made. I wouldn't have it any other way. To Marge and JennyD who apologized for lengthy comments, more power to you! I love long comments which are mini-blogs in themselves - I do it all the time on others' sites. Hey, if it is TO me or ABOUT me or inspired by me, I just can't get enough. Fear no more.
I am feeling concerned about this current entry - I learned long ago to write on a text editor and then cut and paste into my blog, since I have lost long and wondrous posts by trusting blog websites not to delete all ere I published. But I do not wish to leave an entry inadvertently on this computer, since I am writing from my friend Emily's computer at her home in Northern California. As I have said before, I do not share my blog with people I know, nor do I use real names. This allows me to write things I don't care to have shared or picked over by my near and dear. Nor need I worry that someone will be offended by a misreading (or even a correct reading) of things I write. I have noticed that even such a canny lot as my Shaggers occasionally read something entirely different from what I thought I wrote - how much more likely for a reader who has exposed nerves and who still disagrees with me over whose pencil that was in third grade and who holds a grudge therefore, to do so.
I came to California from Western NY on the train with my brother Luke and his girlfriend Carol. It was all-in-all a nice trip. Just as we were about to cross the Mississippi River, Carol went downstairs in the observation car to a tiny snackbar/booze bar for a teeny-weeny double vodka, and while she was there, Luke and I heard a man shouting therefrom. When Carol returned, she told us that a middle-aged female conductor had observed a man stealing a number of items from a girl's purse and putting them into his own backpack. The man defended himself against the charge (rather weakly, I thought) by saying, "Just because I look like a derelict doesn't mean I am a thief!" As a defense, I do not think this will enter the annals alongside Clarence Darrow or Johnnie Cochran.
The conductress glommed onto the man's backpack and told him he was not leaving with it, and the man struggled to pull it away from her, whereupon Angela, the lady behind the counter flew out like an avenging Fury and told the man to leave her colleague alone. Angela is a lovely lady who looks about 35, and had told us she was 59. We spent a fair amount of time talking with her. She had been a magazine model when young (she had a beautiful face) and was quite an interesting lady, with a lively wit. Between them, the conductress and Angela managed to keep hold of the backpack, and after the train crossed the Mississippi into Iowa it stopped athwart a main street in a tiny town for an hour while the local gendarmarie boarded and removed the faux derelict, blocking a queue of traffic and leaving the drivers therein to wonder what malign impulse had led them to drive down that particular street in the middle of the night. Angela later told us that occasionally passengers are lulled into thinking that the quiet informality of a train makes it an easy target for the less-than-upright. "Au contraire," she assured us (although those are my words, not hers), there are undercover agents from the ATF and DEA on board, among others. Further, if one boards in Chicago with contraband and is caught in California, he can be (and might well be) charged in every state the train crossed. Our naughty derelict, by prolonging his efforts through the crossing of the Mississippi had rendered himself liable to prosecution in both Illinois and Iowa.
Our only other event out of the ordinary was having a freight that was in our way develop a flat wheel (!) and delay us two hours while the situation was remedied; happily this happened in the midst of spectacular Colorado scenery. The fine folks at Amtrak schedule the California Zephyr so that we see the Rockies and Sierra Nevada by day and cross Utah and some of Nevada by night, which is just as it should be. If you have two days (from Chicago) or three days (from NYC) and are in no hurry, do take the train. Bring a blanket, for sure. The meals are OK, and the rule is that you are seated with whomever has an open table. We had uniformly interesting tablemates - a man from NASA, two women travelling to see an ailing father and grandfather, a young man with a new job in Colorado. There was also a young seraphically handsome self-described ski-bum and snowboarder with whom I had a great chat about surfing and about books. I started talking to him because I saw he was reading Gatsby - it turned out that it was his second time reading it - and I got another lesson on judging a book by its cover, so to speak. And this man's cover was pretty darn awesome - he had a mass of blond curls and the face of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
The wedding was not bad; although I did have to endure a Catholic Mass; the groom's family were quite convivial and I had a great time with his mother who was just a few years too young to have made the Hippie scene in San Francisco and who wanted to hear all about it - WELL! And she didn't even seem sorry she asked! There're manners for you! Many of my siblings - Lucy, of course (mother of the bride), Luke, Liam, George and Jack - were at the wedding with their various offspring, so I had a pretty good time - best of all, Jack did NOT bring his dreadful girlfriend. I had a date that didn't work out so well - although it was kind of fun and ended with a late meal at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Berkeley where I got to stammer a few remembered Arabic phrases to an interesting lady of Morrocan and Palestinian ancestry. I then came to stay for a couple of weeks with my friend Emily - my best friend whom I have known since my surfing days in Hermosa Beach many years ago. She went to a junior college briefly, back in the day, with Squeaky Fromme. How's THAT for a name-drop?
It is great being with Emily - some days we do nothing, and the town she lives in has a truly great used bookstore, as well as some nice places to eat. Emily is a great reader and we love to talk for hours about books, the old days on the beach and everything in between. We also have no trouble being quiet and doing separate things with no pressure to interact constantly. Being with Emily is like being at home, only with someone to talk to, and with someone else doing the cooking. Bliss, in short.
I realize I am departing again from my effort NOT to make this a diary-type blog, but I do feel that I should aim for at least two entries a month, especially since I am swamped by a tsunami of new readers. OK, a ripple. But of such quality. And I know, quality rather than quantity should be my motto when writing, but I fear I am not sufficiently miserable just now to plumb the recesses of memory for the makings of the better entries. And I have come up with one or two ideas for alleviating my rather blah existence of late - I hope these last beyond the return to NY and actually get put into practice. I should be home around the 15th, then there is only Christmas to get past and voila! - a new year.