Monthly Archives: December 2015

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The Value of Attending Model Train Shows

IMG_0555The weather has been very warm for December, making it difficult to commit to spending hours at a time in the basement with my trains.   One Saturday morning, however, as I was walking by a table in my living room, i spotted the corner of a bright orange flyer peeking out from under a stack of books. I knew what it was because I put it there. Still, I felt compelled to pick up the paper and glance at it.

The model train show it advertised had started an hour ago. Instead of being infused with excitement, I found myself balking at the idea of attending.  Was it bad timing to attend a train show right before Christmas?  I couldn’t classify it as going Christmas shopping, since I was the only one in my immediate family bound to model trains. What to do?

The next thing I knew I was standing in line, waiting to plunk down five dollars for the privilege of taking in the R.I.T. Model Train Show. Judging from the number of cars filling the parking lot and crowds of people milling around, I’d have to say the model train hobby appears to be alive and well. Once inside the arena, my heart stirred as I observed fathers and mothers escorting their young children around the venue. This brought back fond memories of interacting with my own kids, who have now grown into men.  I found it invigorating to mill about with so many fellow enthusiasts.

IMG_0556Because I was alone, I didn’t feel pressured to linger at places deemed not relevant to my particular interest. Come to think of it, what was my stated interest for being here? I didn’t have an immediate need or a grocery list to shop from.  I decided to look for one good bargain.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to say when we are out shopping for no apparent reason?

While in the process of looking for the ultimate bargain, I took some time to watch trains passing by me on the F.C.T.T. HiRailers layout. As you can see by my photos, it was inspiring to look at.

Eventually, I did find my bargain. I encountered a guy who was getting out of the hobby altogether. His wife was positioned beside him, apparently offering a strong arm of encouragement. My eyes were drawn to his table because it featured one of kind, O-gauge buildings. The structures he built were of high quality, and his prices were reasonable. I settled on a meat-processing factory, determined to give it a home on my layout.  I tried to negotiate the price down but he wouldn’t budge (despite his wife jabbing him in the ribs).  We both knew his price was a bargain. IMG_0566

It is difficult to explain to people the inspiration that comes from placing a building, such as my newly purchased factory, on the bare plywood surface of my train layout. There is no apparent connection between the track and the building yet. However, when the time comes, livestock pens and scenery will surround the meat factory. A flurry of cattle and refrigerator railcars will visit the site. Imagined life, spurred on by a hint of realism is what I find compelling about model railroading.

Table Scraps – “Leftovers”

IMG_0561Leftovers is the subject of this week’s post, the sixth installment in a series of words likely to be used at family gatherings during the holidays, which I affectionately call, “table scraps.” I am torn as to which direction to take this piece. Do I champion leftovers because I happen to love them, or do I point out the ills of wasting and neglecting them?

It has been my experience that people deal with leftovers in one of three ways. They are hot, cold or lukewarm to the idea. I am not referring to the temperature of the leftovers about to be served, rather, to a person’s philosophy of dealing with them.

Those who are “hot,” myself included, are totally committed to leftovers. Because I love them, I will make every effort to preserve, and later eat them. Coming home after working late, and spotting last night’s goulash in the refrigerator, definitely brings a smile to my tired face. People committed to leftovers refrigerate them, freeze them and incorporate them into their meal plans.

I’m sure there are a few people out there who are “cold” to the idea of leftovers. Maybe they don’t like rewarmed food or the leftovers they do generate are insignificant and not worth the effort to save. Tossing the food out immediately makes the most sense to them.

The third group is half-hearted, or “lukewarm” about dealing with leftovers. They spend the necessary time and energy storing the food but that’s about where the effort ends. Food piles up in their freezer or refrigerator where it is neglected. The neglected food then spoils or frosts over to the point where it is no longer edible.

Since Christmas is less than a week away, I thought it would be fair to consider opinions on the birth of the Savior of the world. I am of course speaking of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas day. Are you hot, cold, or lukewarm to the idea of a savior? Have you embraced him, rejected him or neglected him?

The Apostle John recorded a vision he received from Jesus in the book of Revelation. In the opening chapters, Jesus addressed seven different churches, chastising some, and commending others. To the church called Laodicea he had this to say,

“I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold, I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

Jesus is speaking out against lukewarm believers in Him. My Life Application Bible notes had this to say about lukewarm ChIMG_0562ristians, “The believers didn’t stand for anything, indifference had led them to idleness. By neglecting to do anything for Christ, the church had become hardened and self-satisfied.”

Jesus goes on to say, “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.” Revelation 3:19-20

How will I respond to the message of Christmas this year?  Will I pack away my faith after Christmas along with all my Christmas decorations?