Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rail fanning as a hobby

June 9, 2002 I officially became a rail fan. A rail fan is a person who goes out to the train tracks and photo graphs or video tapes trains as they pass by. These people may carry hand held scanners and listen in on railroad communications. People might ask "Why on earth would you do this?". First off it gives me a chance to spend time with my son and daughter. Secondly, after you have the equipment the only expense is the gas. I usually load snacks and a cooler with drinks in it so it is sort-of like a picnic in a way. Finally, I now have another hobby that I don't have to spend any more money on if I don't want to "Photography".

I have loved trains ever since I was a kid. On June 9, 2002 I loaded my son who would have been approximately 1 1/2 years old, the diaper bag, the camera equipment and off we went. Now, I had driven by and taken a few pictures now and then, but nothing on a regular basis. Now I go at least two times a month to take photographs of trains. The picture at the above is one of the pictures I took that first day.

At first these outings included going to a park as my son was really small and I didn't want him near the tracks. It would take time to train him about the dangers of being to close. There are several places near the railroad tracks where we could stop and he could play in the park and I could see trains. Sometimes the railfan trips included stops at places where special events were being held. Unfortunately my daughter didn't get the exposure to the rail fan trips until recently. The picture on the left is a yearly event called "A Day out with Thomas". This was an actual steam locomotive that pulled a set of coaches and rides were given for a fee.

From time to time my daughter goes out with my son and I. I try to limit the time we spend someplace where there isn't play equipment to a minimum as she doesn't seem to like to rail fan. What I thought was my hobby has turned into two hobby's in one. The picture on the right was taken at one of mine and my son's favorite parking places near the railroad tracks. We usually go somewhere where there is play ground equipment for her to play on so that she has something to do.

This past Sunday my son and I went on a real rail fan trip. We started the day before sunrise. We went and got breakfast then off we went. Yes, we ended the day at the play ground equipment, but he seems to like going track side and taking pictures. I have two cameras now and he takes pictures as well. I think for him it is just the one-on-one attention that he likes. It is amazing how a simple hobby choice has turned into a source of great enjoyment for me. I get to spend qulity time with my children. I originally started this hobby as a way to spend some time out doors as my job at that time kept me in doors most of the day. I also now have a photography hobby that I didn't expect to have. I will finish this post by showing some of the photo graphs that we took on Sunday.

This first photo was taken just before sunrise. My sun is facing east near the CSX double track main line. We weren't hearing anything on the scanner so we decided to move to the Norfolk Southern double track main line.

Our first train of the day was a Canadian Pacific train. Canadian Pacific has trackage rights on Norfolk Southern tracks.

The second place we stopped I decided to take some photograph's of some horses. My little girl loves horses. As I shot pictures of these horses, I was hoping the people in the house wasn't going to shoot back.

My son waiting to take a picture of the next train.

Couple of photo's of Norfolk Southern trains.

My son and I at one of the places with play ground equipment near the railroad tracks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remembering the good old days

Today I was talking with a lady on the route I deliver. I am a letter carrier and I have seen her on her porch many times over the past several months. She told me that she will be 93 on Monday. I have spent several of my breaks standing on her sidewalk talking with this lady. Most of the time she talks about things she has done around the yard like trimming her bushes, weeding her yard, or the fact that she repaired her side walk. I have seen her doing some of the work.

Today she started in talking about improvements that were made to her home and her husband who is deceased. She said that she and her husband lived through the great depression. They bought their house for $2500. At the time the house needed a lot of work. People would ask why they bought a house that needed a lot of work. They would say because it was what they could afford. She said her husband was a proud man. He was proud to have a job at that time. Other people tried to get him to work for the WPA, but he chose to keep his job even though it required him to work harder and more hours. He was working 84 hours a week (12 hr days 7 days a week) and the WPA would have had him only work 3 ½ days at the same take home pay. At that time the going wage was $0.13 per hour.

She and her husband started working on the inside of the house. The first thing the wanted to do was tear out the inside walls and put in more insulation. She said they did all the work that they did to the house when they had money ahead. The only thing they ever owed for was the siding that was put on the house. They would work on the house in the evenings. She said when it got to point in the evenings she would say to her husband that it was enough work for that evening. They would stop work and she said they left the mess for the next day.

After her husband went to work the next day she would clean up the mess for the next evening. One day she decided she was going to work on one of the rooms during the day. She took a crow bar into the room and removed all the inner walls. When her husband got home she had all the stuff that she removed laying in the middle of the floor. She helped him install the insulation and helped install those one-foot square-ceiling tiles. She said she put some kind of glue on them that held them together and they still look as good as they did 50 years ago when it was done.

After they had this work done they decided they were going to put in a utility room. They talked about where they were going to have it in the house. She said most of the rooms in the house are small with the kitchen being the biggest room. One evening while she was gone to a meeting somewhere her husband decided to worked on this improvement. They had a small porch off the backside of the house that had an entrance to the basement. It was a cut-in in the backside of the house. Her husband thought it would be a good idea to square the house up and use that area for the utility room. He put together a 1-inch equal’s one-foot square model of what it might look like and had it ready to show her when she got home. That is where they put their utility room.
They bought a cement mixer and set out to do the work pouring the foundation. She said that the cement was heavy. She said the only work they didn’t do was the cabinetwork, which they hired someone to do.

Last winter she feel and broke her hip. Her children tried to get her to move to one of those yellow houses up on St. Joe Rd. I think she was referring to a retirement community. She told them she wanted to go home. She said she felt like a part of her husband was there. She said that is silly isn’t it. I said without hesitation "No it isn’t." I am sure she has a lot of found memories in that house. She said it is sometimes a little depressing. At this point I had to go as my break was over. I told her I wished her happy birthday incase I didn’t see her on Monday and left.

I was talking with a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. He is having trouble in his marriage. At one point I told him I felt people need to work together to accomplish things in life. Here is a great example of two people working together to accomplish they things they had decided to do. I also told him that I felt like I had been born at the end of "the good old days". Technology was supposed to make our lives better. Did it really? I would bet if her husband was on the porch today and she was gone that I would hear something very similar from him. They were born in a simpler time. I believe they formed better relationship back then because they didn’t have the distractions we have today. In sure in doing all this work together they formed a stronger bond. I am sure there were bad relationships back then as well. This one probably wasn’t perfect, as there is no such thing. It had its ups and downs like any relationship will. The bottom line is they worked together, thought of each other, and stayed together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Planted with love

Earlier this spring my mom and dad bought a package of seeds for my son. He brought them home and immediately wanted to plant them. I was tired at the time and told him we would do it the next time he came to stay with me. The next time when I picked him up he asked me where his seeds were.

I went to where I had stored them and got them for him. The next day he asked if we could plant them. Now at that time I just viewed this as something else I had to take care of when he wasn’t here. Oh great more work. Not wanting to discourage him I went and got the gardening tools and tilled up a couple of places for him to plant the seeds. I took a second to show him how to spread the seeds, told him to cover them up, then told him he needed to water them when he is done. He set out to do the rest. If it had been left to me we wouldn’t have had a flower garden.

They went home to be with their mother at the end of the weekend and I took up my role of caring for the plants. After a couple of weeks my children came to stay with me for the half of the summer. My son was very diligent in taking care of the plants that had sprouted from the seeds he planted. For the six weeks he was here he took care of them when they needed watering. The kids and I would go out there and monitor the progress as the weeks went by. After the six weeks were up and my son and daughter went home I found that each time I watered these plants I thought of my children and the time we had spent together. The times we had spent reviewing the progress that was made. On Sunday I took him out there and we took photo’s of the flowers. I told him he had done a great job with the flowers. My guess is this will be a tradition we will continue. Sometimes it is the simplest of things that bring the most satisfaction in life. It may have been my son wanted to see them grow or it may have been he wanted to make daddy’s house look a little better. It may be that they were planted with love.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Forgetting to consider the things we are blessed to have!

Yesterday, I posted to my sister’s blog a comment that I had considered starting my own. I decided today to give this a try. I have chosen a different topic to start things with. On a daily basis I think we all forget to consider the blessings that we have received. We take a lot of things for granted. I have spent some time feeling down lately because of a recent divorce. The divorce was the hardest thing I ever did. Leaving a relationship after fifteen years wasn’t easy. I have been reading her posts for some time now and those posts set me to thinking about life.

As I was working today I started thinking that I just need to let God drive. Hand the wheel over to him and let him take care of things. I also felt like I needed to consider all the good things in my life that God has blessed me with. As I continued to work I started making a mental list. I was born to two wonderful parents who where loving and caring. I have wonderful and loving and supportive sister. I was blessed to have two beautiful children. I have friends. I have a good job, a place to live, a car to drive, and food to eat. I am still alive and healthy. It was a warm sunny day not a cloud in the sky. The list could go on from here. I think we all just need to take a moment every now and then to appreciate the good things going in our lives. A moment to consider the things we are blessed to have.