OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(NE Portland, OR)- I’ve been here nearly a week already, 20 or so days before the birth of my first granddaughter. Her name is a closely guarded state secret and, although I am determined to find out, everyone is tight-lipped. The easy part was figuring out her middle name. Both my wife and I (and the rest of the family) guessed it but I am not at liberty yet to mention it here for the world to read. But whatever the first name is, it will be spectacular. My sources are are playing it close to the vest and I’ve stopped probing. Right now I’m focusing on keeping my daughter company, watching horrible reality shows with her, going to doctor’s appointments, shopping at Babies r Us, cooking dinner and doing odd jobs around their house. Last night Andy and I took down their above ground pool and stored it away in the garage until next summer. Right now there is a huge crop circle in the back yard where the pool used to be. Oh, did I tell you there is a light rain falling? Something I haven’t seen since I left the Czech Republic.

Instead of flying to Oregon we decided I should take the Coast Starlight Amtrak train from San Jose to Portland. It originated in L.A. and by the time I hopped aboard my sleeper compartment it was nearly 2 hours late. The bed was by the window so during our journey northward I could watch the scenery go by with the gentle whistle of the train blowing as we crossed roads. There was a full moon so everything was bathed in a white light. When I awoke the next morning we were passing through Redding ready to make our way through the mountains eventually crossing the Oregon border. The food was great. Amtrak forces it’s passengers to sit with strangers to create community. It’s awkward at first, but since all of my filters are gone I joined in the conversation. It was actually a pretty good experience meeting people from all over California, Australia and parts East. Most of the time between meals I sat in the observation car or just wandered around the train. The last time I was on the Coast Starlight was in the middle 60’s when we traveled from Emeryville to Spokane Washington. I don’t remember much of that journey, but that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that it was the 60s. ‘nuf said…

Considering Sarah is huge I am amazed that she still works at the brew-pub. On her feet for most of the day smiling at customers and just doing her job when one would really  like to redecorate a customer’s head with a fresh Caesar Salad. When she gets home at the end of her shift she is naturally exhausted. That will come to an end next Wednesday when she goes on maternity leave. She is looking forward to it and I don’t blame her. With a supportive husband who has a deadly sense of humor makes it easier. He does a lot for her without complaints and with an understated enthusiasm. I gotta admit that the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. But it’s not all stay at home waiting. Last night we went to a pub to hear our friend Sarah sing with her band. She has a great voice and rocked the place. Tonight we are going to a hockey game. I’m going to check the hockey pucks to see if they really do come from the Czech Republic as I have been told. And tomorrow we are going to Hood River for apple picking. So there’s always something on tap to do. As the days draw closer I can feel the excitement building.

I live in the basement of their house and it was decorated very nicely for me. I hung my California flag and Czech flag on the walls so it kinda sorta looks like a dorm room now. But it’s quiet not like our apartment in Menlo Park right on El Camino with it’s traffic noise. I could get used to this. Sarah had built a shrine to the Oakland A’s which for a life-long Giant’s fan is the only drawback, even though Barry Zito was a Giant, his bobble-head in the green of the A’s is a bit much.

Arrival at Union Station
Arrival at Union Station

It’s early in the morning on Saturday and I am still a little sleepy from our late night last night so as time goes on, I will probably write a little more coherently…or not. But for the time being, this new category and chapter in our lives is off to a slow but relaxing start. More as more develops. Usually people who have blogs or Tumblrs or YouTube sites tell the readers that they will add more every day or every week and are pretty good for a couple of weeks then fall off. I’ll just say, that I will add to this category bit by bit as the spirit moves. But right now, I am enjoying the wet weather and anticipating a new life waiting to be born…whatever her first name is.

…and so it goes…