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An Exercise in Patience

Are you tired of waiting for patience?

Model railroading is a great exercise in stretching your ability to wait for something good to happen. My current layout project began, literally, on the floor. The room I am using was a storage place for all the overflow stuff. I had to move, package, stack, sort, discard, retrieve from the discard bin, and re-stack, so that I could actually begin building a model railroad.

I’m trying things I’ve never done before. This is definitely the most pain-staking, detailed layout I have ever attempted. The bench-work is very sturdy. In fact, I have been ON TOP of the bench several times, working on the styrofoam risers, also something I have never used before.

I purchased the risers from Rider’s Hobby Shop in Flint, MI. I’ve had layouts with mountains for the trains to climb through, but the inclines were too steep, so the engines could only pull a few cars. Not this time! I’m using 2% inclines, which require 16 feet of space to lift the train four inches. Since my layout space is 21 feet long, I have plenty of room for a 2%, four inch lift! Voila!

I have two total loops, so I can continuously run two trains. The town of Maple Valley is going to be an attraction for those who climb aboard the old-fashioned passenger cars, pulled by a vintage steam engine. Beautiful!

Back to patience. It has already taken me over a year to get to this point. I still have not placed a single section of track. The bench work is incredible. The 1 1/2 inch foam underlayment is terrific. The 2% risers are all in place. The scratch-built bridges are really cool. They still have to be painted. Mountains are beginning to take shape. I have built a huge number of houses and buildings. I am scratch-building floral wire trees. Also something I’ve never done before.

If my plan was to run trains as quickly as possible, I would have quit a long time ago. Here’s the point. The process is the fun! But, the process is also the patience growth time. The secret is to be pleased, or at least “okay”, with where I am right now. If I do my best with each step of the process, then I can leave the layout at any time along the way and be satisfied.

I am not yet where I’m going. The goal line is not placing the last tree and bit of model grass. The process is the goal line. It isn’t stationary. The goal line is constantly evolving. The beautiful thing about model railroading is I can change my mind at any time, just because I decided to do something different.

Life is not fixed. It’s a process. Constantly evolving. Patience is a project of effort, trust, and satisfaction.

Coffee please.

Will Covid-19 Ever End?

I read a book a while ago (I’ve read a ton of books in the last couple of years), and there were several paragraphs that have stayed with me. Especially now.

The story was fiction, but the implications are startling. The section that keeps rolling over in my mind concerned what the author called, “the economics of fear.” He wrote that the media, by the design of some higher and secreted power controls the population, and therefore, the economy, by the words they continually use. The narrative changes as time passes and new descriptors are used because the public grows accustomed to the old ones.

New words selected bring another wave of fear so the public will once again hang on every word the media says, even though they keep saying the same things over, and over, and over again. Network selection doesn’t matter, the words and phrases are interchangeable. The purpose is to corral and herd public feeling and reaction. In this very interesting novel of fiction, it worked.

I haven’t been able to get the author’s words out of my mind. It feels like reality. I don’t want to mention the author or the book title because it’s not my intention to start a discussion about either one. It just struck a chord with me.

I’m sure I am totally wrong. I’m thinking nonsense. Quarantine has left me babbling, unable to make words fit together in any meaningful way. Instead of clouds passing overhead, I’m seeing fluffy forms of catchers squatting behind plates, and outfielders making heroic plays.

It’s fiction we’re being herded. Told what to believe. We’re not really being conditioned and trained. The media hasn’t been informed which words to use. Startling, breaking, unrelenting, endless, broken, terrifying, contagious, rampant, breathless, Covid-19, second wave, third wave, collapse.

Obviously, there is no economy of fear. We know what to believe, we’re not fooled by anything that isn’t true. We don’t react to fear in an unreasonable way.

I really just need to forget about the book I read. It’s fiction. I should spend my time watching news shows so I can stay informed. I’m sure there are enough programs to keep me occupied during all of my waking hours. That would be much more productive than reading. Especially fiction.

I feel better now. Thanks for your help.

Managing Covid Media Mania

It really is everything I can do to not yell at the TV. I really am trying. In fact, I have been making serious effort to cut off my natural inclination to sarcasm and cynicism. The more I refuse to give vent to what is happening in my head by keeping my mouth shut, the easier it becomes. But the news media makes it difficult.

I have to admit the ubiquitous “this is horrible, it’s getting worse, the death toll is expected to rise, we haven’t seen the worst, there’s no end in sight, will we ever recover?” comments have been followed, a few times, with reporting on the numbers of people who have recovered from Covid-19.

Why are the media constantly reporting polls? Really? If the nation’s response to this virus is being run by what random groups of people think about it, we are all in a lot of trouble!

Why do we have to constantly hear about celebrities? This one I cannot stand! In the midst of people dying, thousands of families without enough food to eat, doctors and nurses who have no strength left, first-responders doing everything they can to keep up, we are deluged with “news” about how celebrity so-and-so is coping. Who cares?! What really burned my biscuit was a report, meaning it actually received air time, about what a famous singer wore for a workout!

I do believe in statistics. I believe the threat of Covid-19 is real. I know the numbers are telling a frightening story. But I absolutely hate feeling manipulated.

I wonder what would happen if, instead of twenty-seven minutes of horror and three minutes of some remarkable and uplifting story, the news programs committed to just the opposite.

Thankfully, we are told “we’re going to get through this”, and I believe we will. However, it’s not going to be the major media providing the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be the every-day-people, day after day, doing the right things, helping a neighbor, waving at a stranger, saying “hi” through their mask, all without ever being noticed that will make it happen.

Anxiety: The Short-Circuit

How would you define anxiety? Feeling nervous? A lack of self-confidence? An inner uneasiness?

However you define it, anxiety is real. Since it is experienced in so many different ways, and affects so many parts of life, it is difficult to nail down. Anxiety tends to lurk in the shadows but makes its presence known, often at the worst times.

Anxiety is not the same as a sense of nervousness about a new situation. For example, anyone would feel fearful about speaking in front of a group of people for the first time. That person, however, would find with each experience it gets easier. While speaking, the person with anxiety might be thinking about what listeners are thinking, whether they like what she is wearing, if her hair is sticking up in back, if he has something in his nose, if his zipper is down, what she would rather be doing, and why she agreed to do this in the first place. And no matter how many “that was wonderful” she receives, there is still an underlying uncomfortable something.

Anxiety can be a life short-circuit. It can divert energy and motivation to itself with no explanation. No matter how perfectly a circuit is designed, a short not managed becomes the focus.

What does anxiety mean to you? How do you function with it?

Your value is in you. Your life is not defined by anxiety.

Your Value

Nothing you do, no matter how you try, will add to your value. Your value has nothing to do with what you own, the size of your income, where you live, who you know, or how many know you.

Your value is in you. Nothing you do will decrease your value. Your value is yours alone.

You will always be disappointed if you look to others for your value. It is already yours.

Realizing and protecting your value is your responsibility. These affirmations can help. Speak them to yourself.

  • Words do not create value.
  • Value is in me, not in words others say about me.
  • Worth is mine alone, not in what others approve.
  • No amount of compliment will add to my value.
  • Worth and value are mine in the absence of any words of approval.
  • Touch is not my source of value.
  • Value is in me, it is mine.
  • My approval is in me, not in what others say about me.
  • I affirm my own value, it is mine alone.

Write these down and keep them with you. Repeat them to yourself until they become part of you. Then, and only then, keep reading them to yourself.

Your value is yours alone. You already have it. Stop looking.

Time for coffee.

HO Scale Layout Progress

Are you working on your HO scale train layout? Are you anxious to see trains moving through your scenery? So am I!

This new layout I’m working on has taken a very long time, but I am taking serious steps to move forward. I have never used extruded foam as a base before, so I’m excited about seeing the results. I never thought I would use printed buildings, but I have. The bank building at the left is printed on card-stock and then cut and glued together. I’m happy with the results.

Something else I’ve never done before is scratch build bridges. I have three completed, and I think they look great. I still have to paint them, but I’m working on height alignment with the adjoining roadbed so I don’t have any bumps. The bridge on the right is actually two identical sections that will hold the track. The supports are three separate bases that are the same height. I used basswood and balsa.

The tunnel portal on the left was hand-carved by my uncle who is an artist and master model railroader. I had just tunneled through four inches of foam, on an angle, and then thought about the portal. It’s a perfect fit. Now I have to make a few more portals for other tunnels.

I don’t normally use Illinois Central. The engine below just happened to be within arm’s reach, so I placed it on the bridge over what will be the Maple Valley River, just to see how it looks.

That’s it for now. More to come. If you’re building a layout, just keep making progress. You don’t have to work on it every day. No deadlines, no schedule. Do what you want, when you want. Enjoy it.

It’s time for coffee.

Staying Sane in Isolation

Everyone likes a little alone-time, at least once in a while, but this is ridiculous. Even for those who are introverts, this command to stay home is a challenge.

If we’re going to stay sane while all this is happening to our country and the world, we have to find ways to break up the weeks, days, and hours. If we don’t, the minutes are going to drag by and misery will be a constant companion.

We may have projects we’ve been wanting to complete, but now that we have extra time, can’t find the motivation to actually do it. So, an answer might be to try something totally out of your normal experience. Are you a dancer? No? Then give it a try. Put some music on, (maybe start with something slow and soft so you don’t break anything, either furniture or bones), and let yourself go. You may create something totally new. If you feel inhibited, even better. Press on! Let your imagination be your partner. You might really surprise yourself.

Are you a builder? No? Then go out in the garage and find some scrap pieces of wood, and build something. Anything! Even if it’s just a frame with four pieces of wood nailed together so it’s square.

Are you a writer? No? Then get busy writing. “What should I write about?” you ask? Anything! Write about how your toothpaste tastes. Write about blades of grass and how you love seeing it beginning to grow in the spring but hate to mow it once it gets tall enough. Write about an ant named Bob. Bob is shorter than the other ants his age because he has a condition that hinders his growth. He also has hair on his head. No ants have hair.

Do you sew? No? Here’s a huge challenge. Find an old shirt or blouse that you’ll never wear again, and carefully cut it apart on the seams. Cut the sleeves off, the buttons, and the collar. Now, put it all back together. If you don’t have a sewing machine, all the better. Find a needle and thread and do it by hand.

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Do you draw? No? Get a piece of paper and a pencil and start drawing. The challenge is not to say, “That looks stupid.” Just do it. Keep your self-doubt voice quiet. You may discover you’re a natural.

Do you have boxes and boxes of photos? Sort them in some meaningful order. Put all vacation pictures together. Put family reunion pictures together. Or, put photos together by colors people are wearing.

Use your imagination. You can come up with something, a project, a plan, a design, a dream. You might come out of this isolation with a new way of thinking that could really change your life.