I had been looking forward to last weekend for almost a month because I knew it would be a good opportunity to visit one of my favorite shopping haunts – a hobby shop. Unfortunately, circumstances foiled my scheme.
We have a railroad layout in the basement, not twenty feet from where I sit, dream, plan, write, grade, fume, and for the most part, avoid real work. I suppose I could be over at the table avoiding work instead of sitting here, but the layout has been gathering dust for the at least the past year, perhaps two, who knows, I’ve lost count. I have been lured away from my railroad by other activities – family, sports, scouts, school, and you can just about name it, whatever it was it had a higher number than railroading.
I had a model train as a kid and then, I grew up. Several summers ago, I came across a yard sale with train cars and gobbled them up thinking it could be a fun hobby for W and I, and it was for a while. We would run the trains and we’d visit hobby shops and dream, and buy. We’d go to an occasional model railroad convention and get excited. I would come home, feel guilt, and almost have to sneak my treasures in the door. And, then slowly we stopped running the trains and having fun with the layout. I even let my subscription to the hobby magazine Model Railroader and its companion Trains lapse, but I still kept up on the hobby by visiting manufacturer’s websites and dreaming. Though, I was able to finish collecting Micro Trains’ entire presidential series, I haven’t been very serious about collecting or operating the trains for a while. I was collecting their Presidential Series a series of rail cars for each of the forty-four presidents and I had to be extra vigilant because they released one rail car each month and if I hadn’t been careful, my collection could have been short a Garfield or an Eisenhower. But, I kept dreaming of more time and, more importantly, more money.
Several months ago, I saw an e-mail from one of favorite manufacturers and it was planning to produce a prototype locomotive for Metra, the regional commuter line that connects the suburbs to Chicago. We live only a few miles from the western branch and the locomotives they were producing run on the line. Metra names its locomotives after the cities or villages along their lines and Kato was producing three locomotives from the western branch: Elmhurst, Winfield, and West Chicago – radiating from east to west. I had to have one to compliment the commuter cars I had purchased a few years back when I was more serious about model railroading.
But, my plan was foiled. I didn’t get to take W to scouts, or pick him up. The drive would have taken me right past my favorite hobby shop. Instead, I was waiting at the car dealer while the car was being repaired. There was no way I could get to the shop and do the errands on my list. However, B and O were driving past the hobby shop and I wondered, could I ask her to get it for me?
I did and I got an earful and rightly so. If we ran the trains, it probably would have been a different story but there hadn’t been a train circling our ghost town for a while. I tried reason, well a sort of model railroader reasoning, which is slightly biased and rather faulty. I finally gave up and rationalized I would have to go over on my own, another day. Nevertheless, when B and O came home, they had a new locomotive bright blue and red – the Village of Winfield.
Saturday night O helped me clean off the layout. I cleaned the track and ran a locomotive to test the track and slowly we had all of the rails running. We had a few derailments and had to re-learn the rules of the road, but we had a good time. O and I operated a couple of trains – a freight train and a Metra commuter train and we both dreamed. It was fun digging out our ‘old toys.’ W came down and joined the fun as well.
O came down Sunday morning and wanted to run them again. I told her I was busy and had a full list of jobs to do, but I put them aside and we operated the layout for an hour or so. They’ve both been back down to the layout after school a couple of times this week and we’ll probably have a fun time this weekend, at least I hope so. No matter what, the days will count.
It’s Friday morning and I have a fun day a head. It’s a day of teacher meetings and classes and I am looking forward to learning ways to better reach kids, but what better way to reach kids than to share a passion, a dream, or just have fun. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, even working on the railroad.
Is there a hobby or pastime you enjoy that is just plain fun?