shadows and light.

If my model trains lived in a train room in the basement their existence would be like Schrödinger’s cat but they don’t. Instead they exist in a space not far from where I work and they are treated to the same sunlight that warms to everything in this place where I spend my day. My smaller scale models and layouts will never know…their small size creates a barrier between their place on the layout and the environmental context of the room they coexist within. “Why sixteen millimeter?” is answered not just because it facilitates models of nifty little machines like the Lister but because that Lister itself is a study in shapes; very few of its mechanical parts are hidden behind a curtain and the “how I do it” are just, right, there.

While making coffee I looked over from the kitchen to see how this afternoon’s sunlight peaked through the front of the Lister’s hood and I wanted to share that with you. This isn’t about “see through photoetched grills for maximum realism” but the way that sunlight invites me to see model trains in a playful and fascinating way. The Earth has moved through this rotation and the Sun has burned off those gases it uses to cast this light. This time is finite. That moment slipped through my fingers just like how the light looked into the empty hood. This thing is beautiful not because of what it reminds me of but the way it itself is a place beauty is attracted to.

I hope the hobby always feels this right.

Categories: 16mm scale 32mm gauge, 16mm scale IP Engineering Lister, How I think

2 replies

  1. Somebody ought to give the experts a ‘photoetched grilling’ as to why the hobby has evolved the way it has.

    My perceived misperception of this evolution came this week as a listing of upcoming Zoom layout tours mentioned several layouts’ features and under the space for “Operations” there was only an “N/A” and it seemed like missed opportunities to explore the whys and wherefores of why our tiny trains even exist.

    But first, as you said, Chris, coffee.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • It’s fascinating to contemplate why the hobby has evolved the way it has. I think there’s a tendency to look within the hobby for, if not symptoms, combinations of events that help us understand this place but I think maybe it’s more broad. Do we live in a time where we practice self-expression? “Yes” if we scroll through any social media feed where it seems we’re all too comfortable telling each other why we’re right to ridicule someone who clearly is wrong. “No” when learning to practice expression is learning to say what it is that’s inside each of us that describes how we are, how we feel, what we see. Not just practicing how to describe those emotions but see them as the way they are and not the way they present. Instead of meditating on what causes us to act as we do we look to salve the presentation of the symptom. “No one makes kits anymore” is what we say but we never bother to ask questions like “why was it ever important to ever make someone else’s kit?” or “just because XYZ makes kits and is a popular and influential personality within our sphere does that mean their choices are right for me?”. I suspect that “no one makes kits” is a lot like the logical pattern that parallels “why isn’t anyone smoking anymore?”

      It’s wonderful to hear from you. I’m so glad to see your note here. There’s tea and coffee on and trains out there for us to see. It would be wonderful to meet, see those trains, and share a coffee and pie. I think that sounds wonderful.


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