Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Rediscovering an old friend

By Rick Blechta

Ontario, where I live, is in yet another Covid lockdown. Actually, Toronto, where I specifically live, has been in some kind of lockdown or other since last Boxing Day, so we’re approaching four months of staying home — more or less.

I’d like to say I’ve been kept very busy by writing, but the truth is, I didn’t have, I don’t know, the mental stamina for that these days. In speaking with other ink-stained wretches, and not just my littermates here on Type M, I know I’m one of many.

Not having performed in the past 412 days — but who’s keeping tabs that closely? — practising trumpet for the sake of practising is getting pretty old.

“You know the back of the basement is a real mess,” pointed out my very observant wife two months ago in a leading sort of way.

Little did she know what those simple words would unleash.

Yes, indeedy, the back of the basement was a mess. So with good intentions, going down to give it the old heave ho, I, well, got sort of sidetracked…literally.

You see, in the back of our basement on shelves and languishing for years was my model railroading equipment and tools. I began taking things off shelves, opening boxes and the wave of nostalgia was overwhelming.

In my late 20s and early 30s, I was really into this hobby — and I was pretty good at it. As our family arrived and grew, and faced with a ridiculous work load filling six days of the week, something had to give. I’d already been forced to give up performing music. Model railroading went next. I packed things up, put them on shelves I’d bought, and there it all sat for over 30 years. Sure I saw it from time to time, but I never felt inclined to go any nearer.

Until that day — as requested, remember! — I went down to straighten up the basement.

Something else happened a couple of days later that sealed the deal. I was browsing the site of the biggest model railroad retailer/manufacturer in North America. In the structures section was a model kit to build a charming clapboard-sided house. Nice, but what captured my heart was its name: Aunt Lucy’s House.

Our four-year-old granddaughter is named Lucy, or as we sometimes call her Miss Lucy.


I suddenly had to buy this kit, now and forever to be called Miss Lucy’s House.

And that kicked off the whole model railroading mania once again. With my wife’s enthusiastic approval (surprising, that), Miss Lucy’s House soon needed a vegetable garden, complete with a snake and rats(?!)), as well as a garage, a sporty car, and an adult Miss Lucy herself.

Then our grandson asked, “What about me, Grampa?”

So now I’m working on “Jackson’s Village Pizza” (Jax lives in the apartment upstairs), and Lucy lives on a soon-to-be-built side street with two other houses.

Going back to my hobby turned out to be a good decision. I feel more energized and enthusiastic about everything, and during our current lockdown, that’s a pretty big deal. I’m getting more writing done, more practising done and I’m ahead on getting our backyard ready for the warmer weather (with my son’s help). Life feels a lot better.

But the basement’s still a mess…


Anna said...

The characters who live in those structures, go on train trips, and have criminal impulses are just begging you to tell their stories. Surely you don't think they're in your world by accident?

Sybil Johnson said...

Sounds like a fun pastime. Glad you're feeling energized.

Susan D said...

Excellent, Rick.

As a lifelong miniaturist, all I can say is, welcome back to the fold.

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks to everyone who's commented.

Yes, energy certainly helps and these Covid lockdowns are very good at sapping that.

Susan, are you interested in painting any HO-size people? I've got lots! ;)

Anna, I have considered giving the main character of the series I'm attempting to start a model railroad addiction is indeed very tempting, but music has always been my thing. Maybe I'll stick him with both!

And as far as model railroad stuff goes, there are a surprising amount of HO scale figures who are doing things like safe cracking, muggings, armed robbery, hostage taking, and even a terrorist attack. Of course there are also police figures to arrest them, interrogate them and even lock them in jail cells.

Why you can even get a Donald Trump figure!

I'm amazed how much the hobby has changed!