With a little bit of luck I left Reno on the Zephyr yesterday morning with enough cash in my pocket to buy lunch in the dining car. Not so for grandpa and he’s the one who begged us not to honor, “Open Your Umbrella Indoors Day.” Little J and I took our chances.
Okay, so I have to admit I did win the money the day before and grandpa may have been right. Luck turned a corner upon arrival at the Amtrak station.
First off, trains don’t recognize Daylight Savings Time. Think about it – how can a train leave Chicago on schedule, arrive at all the westbound stops according to time table commitments, and make up an hour between Winnemucca and Reno? The wait at the station… a little over an hour.
Second, near blizzard weather. Two buses cancelled the trip over the summit leaving two busloads of passengers the opportunity to observe the winter storm in the comfort of a coach seat. Finding three empty seats together in a sold out train? We took our chances behind a young man determined to catch up on all his phone calls between Reno and Sacramento. Eric commented that the foul mouth, drug dealing, gang influenced blather would stop once we reached the non-service areas. He was right about that. These were the opportunities to admire the young man’s latest rap tunes. Apparently when he wasn’t doing back flips off the stage, he was a musician, of sorts. Reminder to self – do not sit anywhere near young men wearing black fedoras, black leather jackets, black leather pants, skinny underwear (now how would we know that? – first time I ever saw baggy low rider pants in leather), jewels on every finger, ear buds implanted.
Third, dinner in the diner. The goal was to show Little J what dining on the train is all about. It seemed our discourse about fine dining on our honeymoon trip 46 years ago was as uninspiring as the drug induced rap job two cars behind us. Little J, as unimpressed as he was, did point out that the NON-silverware did still have an Amtrak emblem and the not-so-fine linen PAPER table cloths and a couple of pens provided artistic distraction while waiting patiently for the fine mac and cheese dining experience.
Fourth, delays. What more can I say other than one must always remember there is such a thing as “train time.”
Fifth – back to the umbrella – would it open once we arrived at our final destination in a deluge of rain? Of course not.
There is a small disagreement between my sister and me as to who officially owns these dolls. I think the one on the left may be an original Barbie. The doll on the right is of unknown ancestry. Since I happen to have these dolls in my possession, for now we’ll just say one is mine and one is hers. Read the rest of the story and then you decide whose is whose.
During our Michigan years, Grandma Bull traveled by train across country from California to visit several times. She would plump down into the most comfortable chair in the living room and spend her days creating a generous wardrobe for me, my sister and our dolls. We’d fall asleep at night to the click of knitting needles and wake in the morning to the whir of the sewing machine. The clothes that best fit the doll on the left happen to match clothes I wore in photos from that era. Neighborhood girls envied my doll’s fashionable clothes which I stored neatly folded in a round pink zippered suitcase.
Backing up in time before the Barbie doll age, I’m going share a small secret. When my sister was about 3 years old there was a big box from Grandma under the Christmas tree with her name on it. With toddler exuberance she ripped open the package to discover a chubby cheeked baby doll nestled in a crocheted blanket. A complete layette of pink baby clothes filled the bottom half of the box. My sister wailed “NO NO NO,” tossed the doll across the room, and moved on to the next gift, something better suited to her already developing tomboy characteristics. We never told Grandma.
Mister J (he’s getting too big to call Little J) has been working toward a black belt in mixed martial arts for several years. Tonight’s promotion included demonstrating the sticks and some Jujitsu. His progress is amazing and we are pleased to watch his skills grow.
For reference here’s the rankings: White Beginner – Lack of knowledge; Yellow Seed beginning to sprout; Orange Sprout is blossoming into a plant; Green Plant beginning to grow; Blue Reaching for the sky; Purple The sky deepens with knowledge; Red Danger – Lack of control; Brown One more mountain to climb; Black Serious student
Best of all are the tenets: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit, Victory!
There you go. Mister J is well on his way up the mountain!
Once again we have a teenager in the house! After 23 years. It’s a bit different this time around being the grandparents acting as parents. Rules are stricter. Boundaries are tighter. The world isn’t as safe. Homework is harder. My historical “A”s in algebra and geometry are little help in tackling new math. There is so much more history to learn. Heck, we are history.
Once in a while we slip. We begin “When I was your age… we needed operator assistance to make a phone call… we walked through snow and sleet to the bus stop while carrying a pile of books three feet high in the crooks of our arms… we had only one pair of shoes… it cost a quarter to go to the movie and 5 cents for a candy bar… we had no seat belts… our TV was black and white and we had to get up from the sofa to change the channel… and the list goes on.
Little J says, “Well, these are my old times.” Kind of puts us in our place. Soon we must stop calling him “Little” J.