The arrival of Winter gives Railroad Hobbyists plenty of time to plan exciting new layout possibilities.
If you’ve followed the standard Dietz-McCormack protocols for your designs, you may want to consider the fresh blueprints unveiled at ChooChoo Expo 2011 in Brussels. They embrace the natural changes in Real World society and incorporate them into the miniature worlds that we’ve created.
The results are vibrant communities that mirror the 21st Century in all its diversity!
OK, guys — trust me, no woman on earth made it this far — this is a warning from your pal Luke.
Valentine’s Day is three weeks away! If you’re like me (and believe me, whatever our vast differences may be on virtually everything, on this matter you are) this holiday normally wouldn’t enter your consciousness until around the evening of February 12th and you wouldn’t give it any serious thought until the afternoon of the 13th.
But here’s the thing — the woman in your life has had her eyes fixed on this Splash of Romance Embedded in the Bleak Winter since about the first week of January.
She can’t help it, women have been freighting this holiday with all sorts of impossible expectations since the Sixth Grade (at precisely the same time that our teachers and Moms no longer force us to exchange Valentines — it’s observations like this that led theologian St. Martin of Vichenes to conclude that God really likes messing with us.)
Anyway, you can’t get caught flat-footed on this!
On one particularly dark Valentine’s Day I had to dash out to the car at 9:40 at night. I returned a few minutes later and presented the lovely and talented Mrs. Osteen with her carefully selected Valentine’s gifts — a slightly dog-eared Rand McNally Road Atlas and a set of jumper cables (I’d decided against bringing in the crushed but unopened box of Good n’ Plentys I found wedged between the seats).
It shouldn’t surprise you that she’s now the lovely and talented ex-Mrs. Osteen.
And here’s the miraculous part: You don’t have to sell your pancreas on eBay to pay for this! With women, it really is the thought that counts on Valentine’s Day — it’s observations like this that led theologian St. Ormond of Meyaud to conclude that God really is a Nice Guy.
If you can make something — something that’s uniquely you and uniquely her — you’re golden, my friend.
After years of domestication, I’ve learned that I can write pretty decent poetry. There’s really no reason you can’t do the same, nothing has to rhyme, and the meter doesn’t matter — it can be a reflection of your unique personality.
If you’d like to go this route (and believe me, it has a tremendous effort-to-reward ratio) and you’ve never really dabbled in poetry, there are a couple of simple steps you can take.
First, immerse yourself in the works of John Keats and William Butler Yeats and Pablo Neruda. These guys understood the mystery and magic that are at the core of life and the seductive power of the carefully-chosen word. It’s the rare woman who isn’t ensorcelled by their poetry.
By marinating in this stuff, you’ll gain a perspective on the woman who fancies you and the extraordinary ways she graces your life.
Second, pay attention to the tiny rituals that attend her everyday existence. They’re the things that she may not even be conscious of, yet they illuminate her soul in unique, profound ways. Notice these things, and let her know that you notice them, and you may earn enough Bonus Points to carry you through your next Big Screwup.
The next part’s a little trickier — you’ve got to force yourself to sit down and write the thing. This may seem daunting, but stick with it and eventually something will emerge.
Every writer, even the ones who’ve lasted through the ages, has struggled with mapping the intricacies of love. Don’t believe me? Watch Shakespeare in Love or Bright Star (the story of Keats’ deeply tragic love affair) — those guys were tormented! (You’ll get Extra Points if you watch these DVDs with your sweetie.)
Trust me, whatever you come up with, she’ll cherish the imagination and the courage that it took to pull this off.
Of course, if you’d rather rely on your hands than your words, consider The Art & Craft of Making Jewelry : A Complete Guide to Essential Techniquesby Joanna Gollberg; Weekend Furniture Facelifts by Helen Carey; or, “The Sauna(!)” by Rob Roy. Come through on any of these challenges, and she’ll write a poem for you!
If none of these ideas work for you, go ahead and ask her closest friend what sort of gift would be most appreciated. A word of caution: Tell her to Be Specific. For the first Valentine’s Day of our marriage, I asked Mrs. Osteen’s friend for advice, making it clear that I had a tiny budget to work with.
She explained that every woman appreciated a nice romantic candle. Hot dog! I went straight to Target and bought Mrs. Osteen not one, but a dozen, white safety candles. What could be more romantic than thinking of your wife’s peace of mind during a blackout?
As I noted above, she’s now the ex-Mrs. Osteen.