“might as well get….”

I can’t sleep. I mean, I’m tired and awake at the same time. These days it’s like everything is supposed to be a distraction “to get away from it all” but I’m old enough to know there are things you’re just wasting your life trying to ignore. I remember hearing once, how there was always an answer, always a reason, always a plan…you just had to make room for it and not be impatient. Be ready.

I’m so glad this project is here.

It’s late at night here at home and my family are asleep. Sure, it’s frustrating that sleep is a place I can’t find but, you know, this is a time of day that reminds me more than any I am good at being a father, partner, friend because our home is at peace. Part of calming my mind on a night like this is letting go of the things that seem to only exist to obscure and distract from this most important truth. Our home, that we built, is at peace. And I’m grateful that I know that.

I figured I’d pour off a glass of wine and stick down some railway ties. Among the music I’ve been listening to this week is a Chris Stapleton album that I fell in love with a few weeks ago. I won’t turn on the stereo; instead I’ll just think about that song while I work. It’ll feel the same to remember the song as it does to hear it, again. Even if it isn’t the same I’ll never know because I’ve already decided it’s as good.

The plan for now is stick down the replacement wood ties. These Mount Albert ties are so damn beautiful. They look nice. They smell amazing. They feel right. I know, that’s not the wine, that’s just a confession. Why would I want to work in any material that doesn’t connect with my senses? Sure, a plastic tie looks as nice but that plastic was never alive. It’ll never feel. These ties came from Ontario, like me, and they’re making a home here, also like me.

Model railroading has been a lot of things for me. Tonight, it’ll stay up with me when it’s late. We’ll share a glass of wine. We won’t say a word. We’ll know what’s on our mind. Tomorrow these ties’ll be glued into place and I’ll spike at least one of the turnouts back into place. What I’ll’ve done is something I’ll look back on and see as a direct line to the child I was, dreaming of who I’d be someday. I’ll wonder if that’s what my heroes thought of while they worked and think that this is what connects us; not the evidence but the coincidence.

Take care friend

Might as well…

Categories: How I think

8 replies

  1. A beautiful piece of writing Chris…
    Insomnia and it’s mindful acceptance.

  2. I enjoyed this post Chris. I have those kind of nights too. As a shift worker sleep is one of those things that seems to decode often when it gets me, not so much the other way around. Much of my best modelling has been done at 3am.

    In another note, any chance we could see your N scale Canadian National caboose on Shapeways again? I’d love to get one and I know another fellow who would as well.


    • Thank you Craig. It would be fascinating to have a discussion where we discuss the various times of day where our model railroading actually happens. I remember a Tony Koester column where he advocated for setting a time of day he dedicated to his layout.

      Those N scale cabooses are not lost. I’m still looking for a way to return them to production and think I’m very close. I know that sounds very ambiguous but it’s also the most accurate detail I have so far. I should have an answer within the month.


  3. Sometimes the quiet times in the middle of the night are the best thinking times – or writing times.

    • The focus at that time of day is amazing. During day my thoughts can be grander as if seeking greater meaning but late at night they are so much more focussed on a need to calm an anxious mind and calm nervous energy, expressed out and into something productive that invites in a calm that makes sleep feel more accessible.


  4. Sounds like you know how to get into a modeling zone. For me it’s some cold brews, a cool breeze and classic rock and I play for hours.

    • That sounds like an equal paradise. I do that too. Because the layout lives in the same space where we do I can open the windows to let the air in, feel the sun as it moves through the day, and I can be working on it while we listen to music or watch some TV. As a longer range project I sometimes wonder about more closely integrating aesthetic elements like those you suggest more closely into a layout. I have certain albums I’ve listened to in the car while out railfanning or here at home while working on the layout. I love the imagery they create in my head or, because they were the soundtrack for my railfanning, the way they are now associated with the trains. We have sound in our models and it’s amazing. Sometimes I wonder if instead of layout sound of diesel engines or air brakes we instead designed the layout to be like the ones from our favourite bands. For example: a suburban layout with a parade of 1960’s commuter trains where the “layout sound” is not each locomotive’s voice but the jazz of that time played during an operating session to remind us of that time?

      Anyway, it’s probably close enough to beer o’clock here in Halifax and I should probably observe that.


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