Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Well, it has been several years since my parents departure from this life and my siblings' needs for the future are in many ways beyond my ability to respond. The recent deaths of family members puts a pall over the season and leaves an emptiness that cannot be filled with tinsel and colorful packaging. It is at times like this that it becomes apparent that narrowly focused attention on presents, both given and received, cannot be all there is to it.
Why do we struggle to buy gifts for one another on Christmas?? Is it because of custom, after all I have no memory of ever doing anything else at this time of year? Is it simply because of the great deals one can find this time of year? Is it a one-upmanship, trying to show how great we are for the people who touch our lives?? No, I am quite sure that for the most part it is an effort to let one another know of the love we have and hope to nourish. Love is at the center.
It is not by accident that the season of sharing is intimately tied to the greatest gift of love we have ever received: the gift of God's only Son taking on our mortal flesh and being born as a man among us. It is not by accident that the whole period before the celebration of His birth is called Advent, for it takes a lot of preparation to accept the wonder of God's love in the birth of our Savior. We await His coming in the flesh and we await his coming in glory.
The first happened in history and is sometimes not grasped in all its fundamental human loving, earth transforming fullness. With the advent of Jesus the Love of God was made so intimately personal, touching the very core of human experience. It is in and through the Incarnation that the profound desire of God for our good is revealed and made manifest to a world that was so very wounded and darkened by sin in all its selfish and destructive manifestations. We still need to embrace that gift today as our world drifts farther away from the true meaning of the season.
The Second Advent will happen at the end of time. It is then that we will become overwhelmingly aware of God's love and either fully embrace it forever because we have been preparing for it all our lives or hide from it and refuse to embrace it because it is so foreign to those who have abandoned the good in their lives for so long that they see it as oppressive and foreign.
I hope and pray that those who read this will make of this season a time to renew their relationship with God and the good he has bestowed on us in Christ Jesus, that they might choose to live that love in their relationship with others. May this Advent bring forth an abundance of grace and peace for a world that is so very much in need of the Good News in Jesus Christ.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
You may have noticed a lot of SP&S equipment. It seems that the Rose Gulch got bought out, still retaining its distinctive look, but surrounded now with SP&S and the roads that will eventually swollow even it.
I almost forgot ... did you notice the trestle?? This magnificent structure was created by a friend, removing the Styrofoam 2% incline and replacing it with all those individually made bents. The above video gives you a feel for it. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this little visit. I hope to have more in the future.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
|Left end of the layout|
|Right end of the layout|
Saturday, September 10, 2011
The first part of the journey involved "Just Trains" in Concord, CA. I was thinking about going out there some day to pick up another grade set so that I could have two smooth inclines, one up and the other down. Fr. Leo was working on the curved trestle that keeps demanding so much attention, bending model timber into the perfect curve in preparation for attaching ties and then rails. He had proceeded as far as he could when he said it would be good to go to "Just Trains". I was all for it. I ended up buying more than the incline kit: An HON3 car for the other railroad, some DPDT mini switches, and some terminal blocks.
We then decided it was time for lunch and the guy at the store suggested we visit the Polish Street Festival in Martinez, CA. It was "on the way" so we decided that a real polish sausage would be just the thing. It was a good choice. The sausage was delicious as was the potato pancake. I also had a brew which was also delicious. We also enjoyed some polish dancing and music - no, neither of us danced, there were young dancers doing traditional folk dancing. Leaving Martinez, Fr. Leo suggested we should visit his old railroad club, a place he had not frequented for four or five years.
The club is actually called the Golden State Model Railroad Museum. They are open to the public and have operating sessions open to the public on Sunday from noon to five in the evening, from April to December. I suppose the winter months are difficult to heat because the layouts are very expansive. If you just wanted to look, without much in the way of action, they allow viewing Wednesday from 11am - 3pm, Friday from 7pm until 10pm, Saturday from noon until 5pm, and Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day from Noon until 5pm.
There are several different scales represented: N-Scale of the Tehachapi Loop and Donner Pass. There is also an Nn3 layout representing the line from Lake Tahoe to Truckee. Accross the aisle is a huge O-Scale Santa Fe Western layout covering an area in and around Point Richmond. Also represented in O-Scale is the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern interurban electric railroad. In On3 is represented the Eureka & Empire railroad, winding up from the Eureka interchange yard to the lumber town of Empire. In HO-Scale the first thing one sees is the local and inter-urban trolley system. Also represented are the Southern Pacific, The Western Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Both passenger and freight services are represented. In HOn3 is represented the California and Nevada narrow gage railroad.
This group has been in more-or-less continual operation for over 75 years! The whole display is amazing on many different levels: size, complexity, variety, detail, history and the folks who greet you upon visiting. A Highly recommended visit!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
It has been a while since I last wrote, but do not think I have forgotten you. In the last several months many changes have happened. The all began when I was privileged to be elected to our Provincial Chapter, the gathering of brethren throughout our Western Dominican Province to elect a new Provincial (major superior), enact legislation as needed, and make appointments to various offices in the province.
It would be good to check out the opwest.org website for the results of many of these appointments, but the one that had the greatest effect on me and the RG&PRR was my appointment to the directorship of the Province website. With that appointment I became responsible for a great deal of internet activity, beyond the website itself. It thus seemed wise to move me to a more central location in the province. I am now living at our house of studies (home of friars beginning their process of formation and education as Dominicans), St. Albert Priory in Oakland, California. The railroad had to depart with me.
Fortunately it was in sections, and not completed in any sense of that word. Here are the "modules" as they were reconstituted in the attic of St. Albert.
|As you can see, the track is still in place, but the "modules" are not put together.|
|The area in the attic is substantial. I have access to about 28 linear feet of space.|
Blessings to all!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
St. Albert Priory is the House of studies for the Western Dominican Province. I began my own Dominican life in its hallowed halls. I still remember with fondness the daily rituals of Office, Mass, meals and recreation ... even our common work days and bellman duties form a good part of the rich tapestry that the initial formation period offered. Then there were the classes, initially offered at St. Albert and then in facilities leased at the GTU in Berkeley. Some may remember that I was known for "Vincent van go!" Visions of one of my classmates running to try to catch the van as I drove off -- on time -- for our journey to DSPT are both amusing and sad ....
I look around and see so much good that has happened at this Priory. The priors and masters of Students and Novices came and went, but the heartbeat of the community rode out the changes remarkably well. At one time we were known as the most liberal of Dominican Provinces, then after Vatican II we were looked upon as ultra conservative. I believe we are probably seen as liberal again, although there has been very little that changed over the years. Our formation has remained on bedrock, our academic formation is even more rooted in St. Thomas Aquinas, we have not wandered as some other have ... the world just seems to keep changing around us. A good thing?? I do not know. I do know it has all happened while also deeply immersed in the world in which we live.
There have been a few bumps. After all this is a big family and it would be really remarkable if there were not a few odd characters, slackers and downright contrary personalities. There have been causes for great joy and great sadness. I would not change this ride for anything in the world. I am absolutely convinced it is a gift and manifestation of God's love for his people, and especially for those who chose to answer God's personal call within the ranks of the Dominican Order as manifested in the Western Dominican Province.
This present 24th Provincial Chapter continues the long tradition of Dominican Government handed on by Dominic himself. Every four years elected representatives of the province gather to elect a new Provincial, appoint friars to certain internal ministries, and adjust the particular laws of our province to reflect the current conditions and needs of the province. This Chapter has been, in general, a joy to me. It is my first, and the charity, insight and wisdom of the brethren has been most edifying. The desire to guide our brother as best that any laws can in the way of truth with constant care for the ministry of the word seemed to permeate even the simplest moments -- mind you there were many dull portions, as is natural when the details have to be thrashed out and coordinated with other legislation to make a cohesive whole. Thank God for secretaries! They are a real blessing!
There are a few more things to take care of before the last six (diffinitors) can sign off on the finished work (the ACTA). I ask you to join me in prayer for the successful conclusion of our Chapter and a positive response from our superiors in Rome. May God be praised, the people filled with blessings and Jesus be preached in all corners of the world!
Not to be outdone, a friar from the local area has joined in establishing a rail empire at St. Albert. Just a few paces from the Olean, Bradford & Warren is a still unnamed HO scale layout in progress. The layout is on two levels on a framework that seems to be about twenty feet long and about eight feet wide with a crawl-under access to the central control area. The layout is powered by a NCE DCC system with access points around the perimeter as well as in the central area.
I cannot yet determine the nature of the layout and have not spoken to the engineer in charge, but the double main line with sidings and a significant yard would allow for moving both freight and passenger service. I will await future developments as they present themselves (and I am able to observe .. distance makes things difficult).
Below are pictures of the Olean, Bradford & Warren Railroad and the other layout .. connected at one point so that some exchange can happen and it is possible for the new route's motive power to be stored in the OB&W storeroom.
|The Mill is ready to accept logs.|
|The engine house is now empty, waiting the return of the 4-4-0|
Meanwhile below near the main line, work cars are ready for duty as needed.
|These trestles have always impressed me.|
It is quite a task to deliver cars and pick up loads through this
switch-back of bridge-work.
|The new HO layout is on two levels|
This is just the start of the project
|Everything can be controlled by the NCE control|
The framework is solid.
|Complex crossing poses electrical problems that took a while to overcome|
This crossing involved both ascending and descending trackage crossing each other.
|The upper yard is significant and will be expanded|
to include a turntable capable of holding a "big-boy"
Meanwhile, this writer is happy to have been a part of the 24th Provincial Chapter of the Western Dominican Province meeting at St. Albert Priory from January 3 to January 22, 2011. A smaller group of friars continues to meet through the end of the month to tie up and loose ends and adjust assignments after making provincial appointments.
May the friars of the Western Dominican Province, always faithful to the the teachings of Holy Mother Church, continue to grow in grace and peace. May our vocations flourish and our existing friars be filled with zeal for the truth and its proclamation to a world torn by relativism and misinformation.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
|Small v-8 engine|
This show was an eye-opener to me. For although I was very much aware that there were people with such skills (i.e. Fr. Hugo Moschini, OP), I was amazed by the sheer number of participants and the variety of presentations. Some more of this sort of thing can be found at http://oregongears.org/.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
to the home town of a certain Religious Order founder. Not by accident.)
There was a group singing (I fell badly that I did not get their name) when I arrived, singing songs that I remember from my younger years, but which I would not immediately sense would be in tune with a retirement community until I reflected for a moment that the residents were not all that much older than I, and some just within a few years. They certainly brought back memories.
Speaking of entertainment! The above advertised Portland Metro Youth Pipe Band marched into the midst of the gathered people and performed a beautiful series of Scottish tunes. They were remarkable! I certainly hope that their fundraiser works for them as it seems that they make very good use of the gifts they receive in their service to the greater community. These young people deserve as much support as possible ... maybe even some day representing Portland in International competition.
Monday, April 5, 2010
My dear friends,
Over the last few weeks my mind and heart have been grappling with the continued attacks on the Church over the handling of priests who have abused others. On one side I am shocked and saddened by the public description of the abusers and their superiors. On another level I am just furious over the injustice done to the victims. Not just their abuse, but what seems to be a long-standing dismissal of the possibility they might have needed a response from the Church at the time the abuse was discovered, a response greater than a request that they keep quiet about it.
Then there is the way-out-of-proportion dumping on the Church over practices that, in their day, were normative for almost every area of society. I have a problem with the modern media which seems to make no distinction between a man who abused pre-pubescent children and an adult abuse with other adults, or even older teens. There seems to be no recognition that the best psychology of the day until very recently believed that abusers, no matter who they abused, could be healed. There also did not seem to be any understanding that, up until very recently, the children would be permanently injured in their ability to relate to others throughout the rest of their lives.
Of course there is also the deep pockets theory concerning lawsuits. If one cannot get anything, legal or civil, from the perpetrator of a crime, punish all those individuals or institutions who, according to our understanding now, should have known better and had some relationship of superior or employer to the perpetrator, even after fifty or more years. Lawyers who sue for great profit disgust me. I do not blame the individuals who were hurt. They could very well have simply asked for help in dealing with the past, and have had justice and mercy on their side. Lawyers turn it into a feeding frenzy, like sharks in bloody water.
The greatest evidence of this all being just another way of discrediting the Catholic Church was the lifting of the statute of limitations for such crimes (in California), JUST FOR CATHOLIC CLERGY. All others remained protected by a statutory limit created in realization that there is very little that can be proved for or against a crime after many years have gone by. It is even harder to get at the truth when the people involved have died. Yet some self-serving lawyers smelled a good deal wherein they gained enormous return for themselves and did very little to actually help the victims.
The present and continuing legal attacks and public smear tactics are an injustice meted against a Church that did indeed need to become aware of a major problem. But that same Church has changed dramatically and is probably much safer in head and members today than many other groups who continue to deal with children and vulnerable adults. The public outcry was a needed moment in history, not just for the Church, but for those other groups, large and small, who have similar if not worse problems in their recent past. Unfortunately for the Church, She is seen as a rich source of cash and as a monolithic unity that is easy picking for any lawyer willing to stretch the truth and smear the good name of many who have had no part in the abuse of a tiny portion of its members.
I hope and pray that true justice will be done, that victims be healed, and those incapable of being healed of their evil ways may be restrained for the rest of their lives. I also pray for that mutual forgiveness that is the root of our understanding of Christ's message of love.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This would give a nice visual distinction between main line, siding and yard tracks. As I am just in the beginnings of putting stuff together this is still a relatively easy option to consider. I must admit that if I had not received a wonderful gift in a Dremel tool I would be less likely to think of such things. With the cutting wheel of that tool I can easily fit in replacement rail that leaves little or no gaps.
Some have asked when I might be getting to this project. As things have started to take an upturn in my life, I can imagine being ready to tackle it withing a few weeks. Now if I could just get all this pesky ordinary life to open great gaps of time, I think I would be even more eager to begin. Life goes on.
I should be getting new pictures in about a month ... that will be when anything I do might actually begin to show. Meanwhile, happy Advent! May all your rails be smooth and your engineer lead you down the right track.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I have not been very busy on my layout for some time, but over the last two days I began the process of building the mountain I had evisioned when I first began to build. It is a simple mountain. It is made of plaster cloth that was laid over crumples newspaper, then the newspaper was removed so that the tracks would be clear again. It seems quite sturdy. I will be adding foliage and "rock outcropping" as time and energy permit. I thank Deacon Len for the awesome rocks that will be a part of this mountain.
You may also notice, in this short video, that I have two engines running in opposite directions. This is not by accident. As I have been playing with DCC, these two engines are very simple versions of DCC equiped engines and they serve my purpose for now.
Until the next time .... Blessings on this feast of St. Benedict ...
Friday, June 12, 2009
From May 14 until June 4 I helped my classmate and friend, Fr. Augustine Thompson, move from Charlottesville, Virginia to Oakland, California. The journey went through North Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, Marbury, Alabama, (Mississippi), New Orleans, Louisiana, San Antonio, Texas, Carlsbad, New Mexico, Tucson, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada (flight into Grand Canyon), Los Angeles, San Simeon and Pacific Grove, California. I actually left Fr. Augustine and Fr. Luke (who joined us in Las Vegas) at the Oakland airport. As of this writing Fr. Augustine is all moved in, with everything set up and running. Fr. Luke is back at work in the Eastern Province of Dominicans.
The details of the journey may, or may not be available. The short description is: Wow! so many wonderful places and people! Groan! so much time on-the-road driving, driving, driving, driving ..... Would I do it again? Only the love of God and a very worthy friend would ever get me to do it again.
I am so very happy to be home. Recovery time has been long, but the knees and coming around.... my own room and bed are good medicine.