Saturday, August 30, 2014


WE HAVE BEEN BEYOND BUSY down at the Train Station. As most of you know, that is where I spend my Saturday mornings. Some weeks, I spend several other hours either there or doing other Station related business. Because I am so limited physically, I am the one that does much of the misc. stuff. You know that category Misc. on every form you fill out? That would be me. On my better days, I might be weed-whacking the tall grass the Town’s employees don’t bother with. Last week I spent the morning cataloging train car (HO) building kits. Some weeks I get to paint or build the scenery for special projects, like the Boxcar Children, or scenery for one of the layouts. Or maybe I am painting the walls with trees, mountains or clouds. Often I am the one taking the pictures which explains why I am almost never in the pictures.

As many of you also know, we are adding a room onto the Station… well, a room within a room, in a way, as our ADA compliant bathroom is part of the new addition. Everybody seems to have a job these days as the excitement builds as we can see the light at the end of a very long tunnel – a tunnel we started working on back in 2009 when a couple of us decided to save the old Train Station from being destroyed. The SPOTS blog, details our work and events from the beginning, the first post was in August 2009. This picture was from that post.

This is the end of the building where we now have a new but unfinished room. Sometimes it blows my mind when I think of all the work we have done… well, OK, the men have done most of it, true, but I have not spent all that time sitting on my butt twiddling my thumbs! Here we are today, er, last week, since we have a coat of paint on the battens now, and the big doors have been moved out and into place. DSC_0824

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We are putting in electricity in the addition, fixing the electricity under the O scale layout, the plumbing is in place, and the scenery is being made and placed like the Exmore Diner and like mountains for the trains to run thru…

DSC_0867DSC_0868 DSC_0858 DSC_0869 A word of explanation – these are not finished… this is just the first coat of paint and shrubs, weeds, etc will be paced on these tunnels. As you can see, it is a long process. Paul is building them as I cannot get back to that side of the “O” layout. Then he brings them to me to paint and add plants.

DSC_0799 These tunnels will go on this layout on the right hand side and back into the corner.

DSC_0682then roads will be built, more scenery, buildings will be added, people, animals… who knows how it will grow. Once this one is done, and the track is finished on the “HO” layout, then the scenery will begin there. A lot has been built since the wall got painted! Matt is actually laying track!

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Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


AS I TYPE THIS, Rusty is “sleeping it off!” He has had an exciting day. A little friend came over to visit and go Back-to-School shopping today, but Rusty thinks she came just to visit him. Being a love-bug, I was not surprised that the 2 hit it off as well as they did. Before the morning was over, just about all the toys were out of the toy box and scattered over the floor.

In keeping with my policy of not identifying kids, her identity will not be disclosed, not will her face be shown clearly. Just sharing a joyous occasion as the 2 of them played together.

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I am not sure who had the most fun!

Monday, August 25, 2014


It’s staggering: More than 1 billion pounds of dangerous pesticides are used in the production of agricultural crops in the U.S. annually,1 poisoning up to 20,000 farmworkers each year.2

Right now the Environmental Protection Agency is deciding whether to update rules that protect farmworkers from harmful pesticide exposure --

We know that big corporate agribusiness will be piling-on the pressure from the other side. We need to fight back and provide a strong showing of grassroots support for protecting farmworkers from dangerous pesticides.

On the other hand, of course, we have the GMOs where the poisons are part of the plant. Remember that old phrase “Pick your poison?” Eat the plant, fruit, veggie, eat the poison. Remember the news post I sent a week or 2 ago that China was refusing future shipments of GMO beans and wheat from the USA? Europe jumped on that bandwagon early on. Our exports of food are getting less and less – and, hey, what else do we have to export? China makes most everything else, or India or Japan… Meanwhile back here in the good old USA, people are developing allergies like no other time in history. We now see entire sections in the grocery store for gluten free products, for example. much of our wheat has been GMO for far longer than anyone will ever tell us, and they will lie to cover it up. We are becoming a nation of ailments seemingly without a cause… stomach problems, aches and pains, chronic headaches, backaches, kidney problems… the list goes on forever it seems. Do I even need to mention the high rate of all kinds of cancers? And I ask, why shouldn’t we have these problems when we eat so much poison? And the poisons that go down into the earth eventually make their way into our water supply, then we drink poisons.

Each day for over a couple months these huge vats of chemicals have rolled past my house, generally 4 at a time, sometimes several times a day. i have learned that some poisons are mixed into the water that is then piped out into the fields in drip irrigation – especially tomato plants. Some days Carter flies over the fields spraying with his plane. Other poisons are sprayed from the attachments to tractors going up and down the fields.

The argument FOR GMOs is that it reduces all the spraying. So My guess is that the fields that don’t get sprayed are GMOs?

Tell me, how does your food taste? If you are over 50, I bet you can tell the difference in the stuff we eat today and the food we ate as kids.

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One other dumb fact – did you know that the folks that drive this equipment do not have to have valid driver’s licenses? In fact, I have been told that there is no age limit, that 12 year olds can drive these tractors down our streets and highways. And you can bet none of them speak English.

Friday, August 01, 2014



If you are looking for a new hobby – or a part time job with no paycheck… read on!

Folks with limitations or disabilities often feel left out when it comes to finding something fun or different to do for a hobby or a truly creative project. Some of us are just not that athletic anymore – or perhaps never were. Years ago I tried wheelchair basketball, and I discovered I was no better shooting hoops from the chair than I was when I could run up and down the court! Oh well. I tried knitting and soon began to despise that. I am not into things that tedious, and I hate being near the end of something and having to rip it all back out because I dropped a stitch 2 days ago. So, I quickly gave up on becoming a knitter.

I have always enjoyed painting and sculpting and have just recently found a way to take that to a whole new level in a different place… creating scenery for our local Train Station that we are filling with model trains.

 DSC_0489Back in 2009, we heard that the local RR was going to burn down our ancient Train Station… it was over 120 years old and had been abandoned for over 50 years. The roof leaked, the steps were broken, windows smashed out – I mean, what do you expect from 50 years of disuse? But the wood in it was still sound – except for the roof, and in fact, it still smelled like turpentine when we cut some of the boards when making repairs. Quite honestly, the new wood we have used to repair the place is just inferior to the 125 year old stuff we had to remove. Back then, 2x4s were actually 2x4. Imagine that!

Anyway, long story short, I got on board with trying to save the Train Station, and  finally, after many years of hard back breaking work, we are at a point of finishing the building and making it DSC_0635handicapped accessible. As a lifetime member and DSC_0141member of the Board, I have tried to make sure that every part of our station is usable for someone in a wheelchair – with the exception of the attic, of course. We have been blessed with getting grants to help us to do most of this work, and most of the work has been done by volunteers. You can follow our progress on our  Train Station blog: We have received grants for the biggest jobs, but our ramp was funded by 2 members of our group. 

Inside the station, the train layouts are somewhat accessible to someone in a chair. Sadly, it has been a bit of a battle trying to get things the right height – if you have not been stuck in a wheelchair, it is hard to understand the limitations. Needless to say, there will always be limitations. But, some layouts can be made on a small scale and completely done by anyone who has fair eye-hand coordination. This N scale layout was done in sections on my dining room table, and placed in a cabinet for display in the office of the Station. It is accessible to someone in a chair to work on or if the train jumps the track.

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The layout table for the next size up (HO) has an area where wheelchairs fit comfortably in one section, and hopefully, we will be able to lay our own track and build our own scenery and control our own trains.

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The next size up is called O – this is the basic Lionel size train. This particular layout is not as comfortable for working, its size limits accessibility, and this layout is just a couple inches too high making one really stretch to reach anything beyond the first line of track. One could make scenery for different areas but would need help placing things on the layout. The controls are not all accessible on this layout for someone in a chair – another reason I, personally, love the smaller scales.

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This has been my first experience with Garden scale trains (G scale.) This mini diorama is an illustrative piece to  go with the book set, the Boxcar Children, that we will be using with our little kids during our Read Along Hour. This is made with foam pieces fitted together and painted. I use ordinary acrylic paint – it works best for me, water clean-up, fast drying time, and thus works pretty good for the slightly older kids and adults. You are limited by your imagination only. The trees are trimmings from bushes in my yard… there is always something that needs to be trimmed, and I save those pieces instead of throwing them out on the compost pile. The gravel is actually kitty litter, and the ground cover is moss, also scooped up in my yard. Twigs, pebbles, crumbled leaves, dried flower petals all make wonderful natural looking scenery. The best part of it is, I am able to get these things free and glue or shove them in place on the foam board.

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Buildings can be built from cardboard, balsa wood, or kits can be purchased and glued together, painted to suit your scene or altered to suit your mood. People and animals can be added to make your scenery more interesting as well as cars and the usual junk you might see laying out in the yard. Again, you are limited by your imagination – or your budget as these kits and figures don’t come cheap.

The good thing is, if you find a place like ours, those kits, paints, bags of moss and other fun things are available as are the trains, track, and general tools for putting this stuff together. Someone will have already trimmed their shrubbery so there will be tubs of twigs and branches for trees. Eventually, (may I say soon?) we will be able to have classes in making and painting scenery. I hope to include making people and animals out of Sculpey.

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You need pretty good eyesight and coordination to work with the smaller sized trains, but the larger size trains, O and G are easier to handle and not as fragile. Scenery on the N scale often needs to be placed with tweezers!

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We are in the process of adding on what I call the Rugrat room where we will have Brio and Thomas trains for DSC_1335the little ones, a reading center, and a work space for making and painting scenery or having meetings. This room  will also have an ADA compliant bathroom when it is finished. This will be Santa’s sitting room in December when his train arrives at our station. The first year he came, we had to put him under a tent IN the building because the roof leaked so bad and we were having some serious rain!


Ah, what progress we have made, and even tho I cannot get up on ladders or climb under the big layouts, I still feel I have been a valuable part of the team that got this project going and hope to be a part of the classes we will have for kids and adults regardless of their abilities as we move forward. So, wherever you live, check around and see what is available. It might be something you have never thought about doing, but if they have a ramp, go up it and check it out! You might be surprised!