Monday, July 26, 2010


Engine, Engine number 9 heading down the Chicago line....

I don't like trains. Oh it wasn't always this way. I used to think trains where cool. I used to write it on my Christmas list every year. I was never so sure of Santa existence as the Christmas that my request was granted. I loved my little train. It wasn't much but it was all mine. I was told that I would get a chance for a real model train if I took good care of the one I got. I did take care of it but I never got the real model train. Nor was I heart broken over it.

I knew a gentleman whom we called Karlos who worked in the train yard. He also worked in the caboose back in the day when there was such a thing as a manned caboose at the end of the train. Karlos told marvelous stories of seeing bear, moose, elk and eagles along the route. He also told not so great stories about the idiots who would race the train. One day I was lucky enough to get to see him at his work. He took me for a tour of one of the trains.

It was huge and hard to climb on as I was so short. I had to get a helping hand to climb up and then to go from car to car. I struggled so badly to get aboard and change cars that I simply couldn't imagine doing it when the train in full motion.I remember the guys all having neckerchiefs or bandannas.  I also remember clearly seeing the bunk beds. Much to my mothers dismay I begged and pleaded for her to set them up. She wasn't happy with  that nor with my insistence of wearing a bandanna knotted around my neck.

I'm not really sure how long I wore the bandanna around my neck. I remember vividly when I took it off and swore never to wear it again. That was at my friend's funeral.He too liked trains. He too wore a bandanna around his neck. He wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.

I know that I'm a bit of an oddball for not liking them. After all they do a job that is necessary even vital to a point. I'm not quite sure why I don't like trains. Is it the shrieking whistle? The feeling like the ground is being shook out from underneath your feet as they rumble past? The weird clicky click noise they make or is because I was horribly scarred by the story "The Dollmaker". I saw the show and read the story.  I'm not sure the show can take all the credit but it did brand the danger of trains deeply in my mind.

I think the real reason I don't like trains is a mix of all of the above but mainly because they bring about a lot of sadness for me. I've seen a couple of in real life train incidents. They weren't pretty. I've also heard of a few stories that were told so vividly that I might as well have witnessed them. Yes, I have a very vivid and active imagination. 

I remember being young enough that admired the neighbor boy his brave feat of walking the tracks to cross the bridge to get to the candy store. The only danger we saw was the fall as it appeared to be a very long way down to the ground. We knew it was a set of tracks that were still in use but only 1 day of the week. We we're careful not to be on the tracks on that day. He'd pretend to be a tight rope walker as he went across the bridge. We'd watch him as we hurried around the long way. Always impressed when he made it across. Well one day he didn't luck out. Never have been sure if he got the day mixed up or thought that he'd done it so often that he could do it again before the train came. He did make it across the bridge but he didn't make it out of the trains way. Something about getting hung up on a nail or ... Any ways it wasn't pretty. 

I also had people who were close to the family who had tried to race a train to the crossing and of course they lost. Such a sad and foolish way to go. I often wonder what the great rush was about. Was it because it was a game? was it for the thrill of the moment? or was it an emergency dash to the hospital? I realize I'll never know.

My young friend who I mentioned above well he loved trains. We would watch them from his room as he lived near the tracks. I remember sitting on his bed and eating Zingers while watching them from his bedroom window. One of the perks of being on the top bunk we had a great view. I miss him at times still. 

I miss my friend because he passed away. I don't know what happened to him.  I know that he saw a new train because he wrote it down in his little journal book. I don't know how long it was before his brother came to get him for supper. I do know that too much time passed. It was a weird incident. His bandanna got caught on the bed post. He hung himself. 

I have family who were big with the railroad. Many members worked for the railroad. They have lots of icky stories they share. They have some interesting stories about what they saw on their journeys. 
I know another train enthusiast who passed away at very young age. He too wanted to be an engineer. He loved to listen to the family railroad stories. He also passed away because of his engineering bandanna getting caught on the bunkbed.

Time has passed and while these incidents are tragic and have left a mark on me, I can still honestly say, "I don't like trains"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Apple Crumble

1½ lb cooking apples
1/3 cup water
¾ c brown sugar
2 t grated lemon rind
½ c butter
1¼ c flour
½ c sugar
¼ t ginger
½ t cinnamon

Peel, core, and slice the apples. Combine the water, sugar and lemon rind in a saucepan. Add the apple slices and cook, covered, until soft. Put into a well buttered pie tin. Combine butter, flour, sugar, ginger, and cinnaom. Mix until looks like fine bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the apples. Bake in a 350°F oven for about ½ hour or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Serves 4-6

Monday, July 19, 2010

Starting Holiday Shopping Early

It's that time of year the early bird shoppers are at it again. There's just something about the annual Christmas in July sales or maybe it's the heat that makes their minds go to colder weather or maybe the heat causes them to grasp at anything so they can go spend hours in air conditioned comfort at the mall, shopping center, or some store...  What ever it is it triggers the phone to ring (or emails or text messages) with requests from people wanting to know either what I want this year as holiday gifts, what I think ____ (insert name of person) might like, or where they could go to get ideas or some unique gift for the difficult person on their list.   With that in mind, I present you with some of my choices from the handmade artisans and smaller shops that I know.

Willow Walker Designs

The Vintage Diva

Studio DTQ


Linda Rose Originals

Skyline Candle Company

And yes, a few of these are items are what came to mind for those on my shopping list this year.