Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday's Word, a prayer for the new year...

Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.---(Psalms 80:14-19)

2009 Favorite picture countdown, 3 and 4...

Rivarossi articulateds, my favorite brand and my favorite type of steam locomotive.


Southern Pacific 4-8-8-2 AC-11 Cab-forward...


Norfolk and Western 2-8-8-2 Y6b "Mallet"...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009 Favorite picture countdown, 5 and 6...


Though clearly the scenery is unfinished, this shot enhances the sun baked and worn look of my grade crossings and roads.


I like the disembodied look my old photo set made on this picture. It captures the look of the old engine builder photographs well. Alas, I sent the set down the river for lack of space.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Train Mondays...

2009 Favorite picture countdown, 7 and 8...


I took this one several years ago and could kick myself for not keeping the original shot, it just screams Norfolk and Southern...


Is there really a need to explain why I like this one?

Eastbound and down loaded up and truckin
Ah we gonna do what they say can't be done
We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I'm eastbound just watch old bandit run...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As a very uncertain New Year approaches...

---And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

---Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bachmann HO scale N&W Class "J" 4-8-4 circa 1985...

Hard to believe it's winding down to 2009. I'll wrap up with my favorite 10 pictures in no particular order...


I like the look of two guys just admiring a Class "J" from up close, free from the crowds something like this might draw in real life.

...and this shot of a mixed local on the Miracle Strip Model Railroad club layout.


For an inexpensive camera, the depth of field came out real well in this shot.

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 26, 2008

The definition of poverty in America is a rather loose one. My car is 14 years old, I rent and I make several thousand less a year than the powers that be say I should therefore we fall within that definition---in the eyes of some. As one who sponsors missionaries in a third world nation, the picture of my two children, warm, dry, fed, healthy and gleefully tearing through their small pile of presents, was not one of poverty. Because we don't spend a whole lot or allow requests for a particular gift or buy big ticket items, our children could not tell you from one year to the next how we were doing financially based on what lay under the tree.

This year, like most, found my beloved and I facing whether we'd allow ourselves any gifts, preferring to have a little more under the tree for our children. Unlike years past though, there were no last second "rescues" and thus no gifts. However, with a son bouncing off the walls, light saber in one hand, Nerf gun in the other, and a daughter vibrating from the excitement of landing an impossible to find doll and her own mp3 player, one would be hard pressed to say that we had no "gifts" for each other yesterday.

Then my beloved and her mom ran off to the bedroom with a twinkle in their eyes. Out they came with a large something covered with a blanket. Pulling it away, I found my wife had, on her own, made a custom fitted cover for my diorama, using foam core art board, hot glue and some aluminum angle. My artwork had been taking a serious beating lately (note the church steeple and the trees behind it), enough that I pondered dismantling it to save what was left. Now it is protected and freestanding, with velcro securing it on all four corners...



Pictures don't do it justice, it really is a well built, tight fitting lightweight cover that will allow me to bring my work to local train shows, as well as keep it protected as I use it for a photo set.

And yes...I got to sneak in some of her favorite dried dates and candies...I kinda pity those who only got what they wanted this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Truth about Christmas

By Miguel A. Guanipa

The story of Christmas is one that warms the heart and inspires our most enduring thoughts of peace and good will for all humanity; it gives us an opportunity to engage in the wonderful act of gift giving; it allows us to briefly turn our gaze from the stresses of daily life and refocus on being thankful for the pre-eminent joys amidst our circumstances.

But beyond all of the aforementioned very good reasons, the first reason why we celebrate the Christmas story is because it is a true story. And the spellbinding truth which Christmas proclaims is not the birth of one who came to teach us a new philosophy, or a new set of moral principles, but one who claimed to be God.

The singularity of this claim would then make it a matter of supreme urgency to dedicate our most sincere efforts to confirming its truthfulness; not only because it was Christ who made it, but also because of the weighty repercussions he cautioned were bound to the vindication as well as the negation of his claim.

It is important to note that unlike the frothy heroics of so called "blind faith", the logical consistency of this claim does not vanish once we summon our most basic faculty of common sense. Once a fervent agnostic himself, C.S. Lewis said it best in a brilliantly succinct catchphrase: "Jesus Christ was either a liar, a Lunatic or Lord".

That is, if Jesus Christ lied when he said that he was God then he should be denounced as a bald-faced liar or dismissed as a hopelessly insane individual. If he was either of the two then it is absurd to patronize him as a great prophet or teacher. But if perchance he was merely a well intentioned sage, whose teachings have been grossly misunderstood, it would be to his great discredit to leave his most crucial pronouncements veiled in impenetrable obscurity. Yet his contemporaries left us with no indication that they were beset by such ambiguity.

On the contrary, everyone who heard Jesus speak -- especially his most passionate adversaries -- clearly understood what he was claiming. Some believed and others simply did not believe and instead took him for a blasphemer, a charlatan, or a dangerous deceiver of the people. Though they offered no affirmation of his claims, there was never any doubt as to what he was claiming. And that is precisely why they responded with such virulence.

But their response is more a reminder that the truth sometimes is not immediately obvious, but still a very real and precious commodity. One should never squander our belief on any given truth claim until we have first proven that it can withstand a good dose of responsible scrutiny; because when we believe something that purports to be of great significance, we are obliged to act in accordance with that new revelation, and it would be a tragedy to invest the type of commitment some claims necessarily require, later to find out upon closer examination that we have committed ourselves to a lie.

But of most importance is to be certain that that which we have come to believe as true is actually the truth, since every action we take in response to the truth is another step closer to it. But when that which we believe to be the truth is actually a falsehood, and we have not securely bridged the gap between simply knowing about it and ascertaining its veracity, then every action in response to this "truth" is a deeper plunge into an abyss of deception.

If, on the other hand, we have indeed ascertained the veracity of a truth claim, but choose not to believe it, we can no longer claim ignorance when asked why it did not compel us to action, because we have knowingly chosen to reject it.

Now, any claims of truth raise a hedge of exclusivity, which is forbidden in an age when total inclusiveness is the only absolute criteria upon which any statements of truth can be made. But the ever-adjustable notion of inclusiveness and the transcendental virtue of truth do not always mix well, since truth can not logically embrace contradiction, even when it is done in the name of inclusiveness.

Those who deny the truthfulness of Jesus' claim are themselves affirming something which explicitly excludes that which it negates. Thus the charge that Jesus' claim is unnecessarily exclusive is something that anyone who proposes a declarative statement of truth is guilty of, including those made in opposition to that with which they disagree.

Conversely, Jesus does not coerce the inclusion of those who wish not to partake of the redemptive offer of his claim. His claim is exclusive only by default, as it has to exclude those who stand in opposition to it; because it is not Jesus who excludes those who reject him, but rather those who by rejecting his invitation freely exercise their prerogative to exclude themselves.

As an antidote for this moral conundrum, the implacable idols of tolerance have decreed that those who do believe in the claims of Jesus Christ settle on an amicable compromise, by conceding that this knowledge is true only for those who believe it. Anyone who views Christmas as simply a charming but essentially vacuous, mythic tradition will heartily agree with their assessment.

But Jesus Christ staked his whole reputation, without reservation, on the claim that his equality with God was firmly anchored on nothing but the truth. And the truth is not subject to one's preference; it is true, whether one believes it or not. It is not contingent upon belief, but rather belief is only justified when that upon which it is grounded is the truth.

This is the context within which Jesus Christ made his rather astonishing claim, the truthfulness of which endows the story of Christmas with its enduring significance. And though he made it in a least intrusive and most gentle fashion, he did not seek - then or today - to indulge the neutrality or merely passive assent from his hearers, because like no one else, he fully understood the full force of its implications.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

It's been a hard year for some of us. Our jobs are not secure (those of us that still have them), the financial future looks pretty bleak, our enemies grow bolder and the inmates now run the asylum.

I was reminded of the loss of my grandfather earlier this year when I removed his name from the mailing list as we were sending out our family calenders.

He spent his last hour this side of Glory in the arms of my sister, recounting the names of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When she got up to go home, he said "Goodbye.", something he never did was always "See you later." When she sent the orderly back to give his meds, he was already gone---less than ten minutes later.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.---(Psalms 116:1-19)

Without fire, gold and silver cannot be made pure and pottery is a well shaped but worthless pile of dried mud.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.---(1 Peter 1:3-9)

If you are numbered among His Redeemed, Rejoice, for your King has come, overcome and will soon come again and bring the god of this world to its knees.

Dost thou understand him as the sin-bearer, taking away transgression? Canst thou see him bleeding as the substitute for men? Dost thou accept him as such? Does thy faith put all her dependence upon what he did, upon what he is, upon what he does? Then Christ is conceived in thee, and thou mayest go thy way with all the joy that Mary knew; and I was half ready to say, with something more; for the natural conception of the Savior’s holy body was not one-tenth so meet a theme for congratulation as the spiritual conception of the holy Jesus within your heart when he shall be in you the hope of glory.

My dear friend, if Christ be thine, there is no song on earth too high, too holy for thee to sing; nay, there is no song which thrills from angelic lips, no note which thrills Archangel’s tongue in which thou mayest not join. Even this day, the holiest, the happiest, the most glorious of words, and thoughts, and emotions belong to thee. Use them! God help thee to enjoy them; and his be the praise, while thine is the comfort evermore. Amen.
---Spurgeon, from a sermon entitled "Mary's Song," delivered December 25, 1864.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I thought I had avarice beaten...

...then I saw this, posted by catfordken at the Tyco forum.


I soooo want inner rivet counter's just screaming to find out if there is a prototype. It's like Gerry Garcia and the Easter Bunny were let loose in an engine shop. Anyone know where I can get one? I know, I know, most likely way beyond my spending protocols, just lookin' to do my part to spur the economy on, you know...sigh...

UPDATE: Found it...and at 3 bennies, it'll be awhile before it runs around my layout.

Just another Christmas layout shot... Southern "Tennessean" taking on the German Duchess, oblivious to Thomas and a passing pig train...


I hope that you and yours have a blessed time together with family and friends this holiday season, amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Train Mondays...

Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company, Dundalk, Md. This is the stuff that my dad would take me to as a kid growing up...

We used to have one at Liberty Road for a short time, but that was many years ago. I don't recall it being a Christmas one though, I think it was just set up by one of the guys on a whim in a spare room.

I miss my days as the son of a fireman, running around the engine bay like it was our own playground. I'm saddened at times that my kids won't grow up with those same memories. I don't imagine they allow the access to the equipment nowadays like we had back then.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Simeon's song...

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,...

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother,...

Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

From Anger to Love

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

God never turns from His love, but He soon turns from His wrath. His love to His chosen is according to His nature; His anger is only according to His office. He loves because He is love; He frowns because it is necessary for our good. He will come back to the place in which His heart rests, namely, His love to His own, and then He will take pity upon our griefs and end them.

What a choice promise is this–”He will subdue our iniquities”! He will conquer them. They cry to enslave us, but the Lord will give us victory over them by His own right hand. Like the Canaanites, they shall be beaten, put under the yoke, and ultimately slain.

As for the guilt of our sins, how gloriously is that removed! “All their sins”–yes, the whole host of them; “thou wilt cast”–only an almighty arm could perform such a wonder; “into the depths of the sea”–where Pharaoh and his chariots went down. Not into the shallows out of which they might be washed up by the tide, but into the “depths” shall our sins be hurled. They are all gone. They sank into the bottom like a stone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wizards in Winter - Model Train Edition

By mtrails, just too cool...

Christmas 2008, the village, Part II...

Growing up I was surrounded by Christmas gardens and so my intention was to recapture those memories in my own scenery. Plasticville was a required element...



Christmas 2008, the village...

About half of the buildings on our Christmas layout are made of various grades and thicknesses of paper. I would design and build them and my wife would paint them. Window art was done by me with pencils, pens and colored markers. This diner is my favorite and named for my beloved...


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Night Christmas Lights...

...these leave me feeling like I've been mugged by a Donkey Kong machine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There are limits... what you can do on a small layout...

...just leave enough room to throw the switch and you can still be big time railroading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday's Word, The days of Advent...

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.


More of my mother's ceramic work...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Working FRED, flashing rear end device...

While I had my pig train running around the layout at the Christmas party, I took a video of the FRED I built in action.

While it does flash a good bit faster than a real one, the effect is still there and well worth the minimal funds used to put it together.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Train Mondays...

The Polk County Heritage Society Christmas layout 2007...

chessie4155 railfanning the Chessie System 1983...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Campbell Scale Models #382 HO scale Country Barn

Two years ago I had a massive selloff of many items I had acquired that would have made for a great layout. A large roundhouse, 2 turntables, a carshop, all manner of wood craftsman kits, etc... Why? I had to make a conscious decision as to where this hobby was taking me, how much time I had to spare for it and what I'd have to surrender to pursue it to that level I enjoyed at the time.

The price of a layout is more than just dollars, it's time away from other things like one's children, one's spouse, one's other family and friends, the list goes long but, you get the idea. In my case, I had to add to that a weekly Bible study where the input demands of my listeners go beyond that of most seminaries. They simply will not settle for---nor will I give in to---spiritual one verse Twinkie fests with all the intellectual depth of a fortune cookie. I had to make a choice and the layout lost.

As I was gleefully Ebaying my HO largesse to the four winds, I came upon this one kit that I just couldn't part with. I won it in a Secret Santa game. Campbell's kits were the best to me when I was an eighth grader starting out in this hobby and they've never lost their luster over the years. The smell of aged basswood beats the finest incenses of the world, I simply couldn't let it go...


"Well then why ain't it finished?"

Weeeelll...I'm currently caught up in what's going on around me...


...and that certainly can't be a bad thing when you're watching it with your beloved and two children at your side.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The traveling Christmas layout saga, Part II...

Here it is, set up in the corner of the office, just before the festivities began.


Power was provided by my trusty MRCs and a Marklin 30va, 110v transformer made for the Yankee market (NOTE: Marklin is made in Germany and normally uses 220v. They are also 30v AC models rather than the 12v DC we use.). I have them set up with modular plugs that are color coded for easy setup and teardown.



Thursday, December 11, 2008

The traveling Christmas layout saga...

Today was my first attempt at setting up my layout for an audience. I found that it requires more logistics than I imagined, a small trailer falling out of the sky before my next attempt would be a good start. There are quite a number of small elements I didn't take into account---extension cords, for instance.


Sadly, one thing I'll have to provide for is a blatant lack of respect for another's property. The vast majority of my little audience felt it necessary to dance their fingers across the roofs of passing cars---or---leaving their fingers in the train's path 'til the last second, both of which made for three bad derailments. I really would have liked to hand the throttle over to more kids but, alas, it was not to be.

My memory may be foggy but I seem to remember when I was a kid being left with the impression that I would draw back a bloody stump should I feel so inclined to pull a similar stunt with someone's trains. A hat tip to the parents of my better audience members, among them two 4-year-olds, Jason and Riley, who respectfully kept their hands at their sides until offered the throttle. Another bright spot, a severely autistic boy who was just enraptured---completely oblivious of Santa. Don't worry dad, I knew his was just a bit wowed when he sent my pig train to the cinders.


All in all, it was a fine first time out, I just have to take man's fallen nature more into account next time around...and an extra extension cord.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday's Word, The days of Advent...

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


The Christmas tree was made by my mother. The Nativity set is the work of me and my beloved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Model Railways" by Cyril J. Freezer...

...a Paperback find that would make an excellent inexpensive gift for a new model railroader. Many of the photographs are recognizable to long time Model Railroader magazine readers but it is not a Kalmbach work.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Marklin HO scale tinplate cars #346/1, 346/3 and 374...

One of those "Right place, right time" moments as these, along with a large number of other vintage Marklin cars, locomotives and accessories, were bound for the trash when they were offered to me...




They were wrapped in newsprint dating to just after Christmas 1956. Because the paper showed no sign of frequent use, it's safe to assume that these rarely, if ever, saw the light of day after that Christmas.

Christmas Train Mondays...

Took me awhile to figure out what made this a Christmas train, guess I enjoyed the '70s way too much. Excellent dubbing, hope you have a sub woofer...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold...

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So that they are without excuse...

10:00 p.m. Christmas Eve 1967 found my mom 25 years old with four children under the age of seven and no money. She had just sent to bed 4 kids who were eagerly anticipating what Santa Claus would lay under the tree that night. Unknown to us kids at the time, there was nothing coming, there simply was no money for it that year.

As she sat in the couch weeping, not at all looking forward to the four faces she would be seeing early the next morning, a knock came at the door. Old Mr. Webbee, the head deacon on our church deacon board, was standing outside. He explained that every year on Christmas Eve, the deacons would get together and, out of their own pockets, would pool together their money and give the money raised to the family in the area they believed most needed it. He quietly tucked $50 into her hand and walked away, not even giving her a chance to say "Thank you".

The only store in our part of town in 1967 that was open that late was Toy Barn. As she walked into the store, the manager was putting the finishing touches on a clearance table filled with $10, $20 and $30 toys marked down to $1, $2 and $3. That coupled with stockings filled with all manner of clearance dime toys and penny candies made for a Christmas morning that all four of us remember to this day as the best of the best. It came at a time when Mom was at her lowest and her relationship to God at its most bitter, yet He graciously provided for her and us in spite of that.

OS Max FP Series .40 and .25 engines...



Our area has been going through some pretty tough times these last 3 years. My own property has been seeing occupancy rates that barely meet the mortgage, much less payroll and operating expenses. Christmas 2007 was looking pretty bleak, none of us counted on or expected any bonus that might help out,--our own employer had troubles of his own--being grateful just to have jobs and a paycheck that cashed.

Because we live in an area with no public trash service and so relies on private contractors that each homeowner must hire themselves, people were starting to sneak their garbage into our dumpsters late at night to save a bit of money. My job now has the added responsibility to rearrange this late night dumping to make sure our own contractor will remove whatever winds up in there.

Three weeks before Christmas found me going from dumpster to dumpster, ensuring that everything would go when tipped. As I aproached the last one, the sight of the top of this model airplane engine peeking out of a box bid me look further...


Setting my pride aside, I pulled the box out to find, not only the used engine, an OS Max FP Series .40, but also the two new in box FPs shown above. Those, combined with the other things in the box--mostly new, unused R/C aircraft parts and tools--netted a sizable chunk of change on Ebay. Unknown to me at the time, my finances would take an unexpected hit the last week before the holiday, leaving the monies gained by this find as the sole source of money for my children's gifts.

Needless to say, that old engine sits on my shelf as a reminder of God's unmerited favor on an unworthy and all too often unthankful man and his family.

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

May your own eyes be open to His marvelous provision in these weeks before Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and yours...

A Tyco wish book train sets Christmas video... Brianstyco over at the Tyco forum. Talk about a trip back in time...sigh...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

50 car coal drag...

...on an N scale model of the Western Maryland Railroad.

N scale 2 1/2 ton trucks...

Found these at Wal-Mart for $1.97. Think of the kitbashing possibilities for a modeler of the postwar transition era. They could be made into all manner of trucks, from tankers to delivery trucks. The town of Ocean City, MD, a resort town I grew up near, had these and other military surplus vehicles in city service all the way up 'til the early 80s. They painted them a light blue and used a simple stencil for the markings.



The halftrack? How 'bout an old school S.W.A.T team assault vehicle?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday's Word, The days of Advent...

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


The ceramic figures are my sister's work. Sadly, the ceramic stable was crushed in packing some years back.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This year's Christmas train setup at my house...

...features ceramic houses and figures made by my mother over the years and dimestore decorations I've known since I was a child.


The LGB locomotive, cars and track were an amazing yard sale find.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Train Mondays...

Most of us in the hobby can trace our interests back to these Christmas gardens. The firehouses in Baltimore made it a full contact sport in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up, each house tried to outdo, outshine and out animate each other to the joyous sensory overload of many a kid.