Merry Christmas, Choo-choo!

Merry Christmas!

Choooooo…chooooo!

model train in Campbell

Model train in Campbell, CA

There is something nostalgic about miniature trains.  They harken back to a time when hobbyists tinkered with cars and rails, built sets and then sent scale versions of magnificent trains, happily around a track.

For at least a decade now, a local train enthusiast in nearby Campbell runs a set of model trains around the track…in his front yard. I haven’t had the courage to knock on his front door, but I would love to hear how he got started. I wonder if the family peaks out the window from time to time to see the joy they bring to others.

The Livingston home converts the front yard into a model train village. A massive platform fills the entire front yard, and stands about knee-high. There is a shorter platform circling the yard as well.  Three different trains run around the tracks, passing small villages, figurines and miniature versions of Christmas trees.

model train campbell Model train set

Some of the scenery has the vintage flavor of a train station in the 1940’s. Leaves drop from the massive tree above, lending a naturalized air.  Surprises include tiny figurines from the Pixar Car’s  movies, Star Wars and Mickey Mouse.

miniature train station

Mickey Mouse and Daisy wait at the train station

This year, there was an even bigger surprise: a delightful cat.

Campbell model train platform

The train platform occupies the entire front yard. (Can you see the cat)

I didn’t see the kitty at first. What an unexpected surprise.  Just before taking the last of my pictures I caught a glimpse of his fur.

kitty by the model train track

Look at this handsome face

Kitty stretched and yawned, then marched across the train tracks for a closer view of me. Far from being skittish, he was happy for a bit of TLC.

kitty near the water tower

Kitty near the water tower

cat yawning

Big yawn

He rubbed up against my hand, then jumped down for a pet.

When it was time to go, I carried him back to his spot. I didn’t want him to follow me into the street, and although he looks a bit cranky, he was entirely unmoved by the experience.

alys with cat

Returning kitty to his spot

I couldn’t help but drive by a week later to see if I could spot him once again. Sure enough he was sound asleep in the same spot. I think I smiled the rest of the way home.

Merry Christmas! May your day be filled with your version of miniature trains, nostalgic treats and whatever makes you smile.

Throwback Thursday, Garden Style

Today is ‘Throwback Thursday’ on Facebook.  Friends post photos from the past, and we all wax nostalgic. So why not some nostalgic photos of my garden during a simpler time?

It surprised me to learn that ‘experts’ once considered nostalgia a mental disorder or illness. According to this New York Times article, What is Nostalgia Good For?:

In the 19th and 20th centuries nostalgia was variously classified as an “immigrant psychosis,” a form of “melancholia” and a “mentally repressive compulsive disorder” among other pathologies. But when Dr. Sedikides, Tim Wildschut and other psychologists at Southampton began studying nostalgia, they found it to be common around the world, including in children as young as 7 (who look back fondly on birthdays and vacations).

“The defining features of nostalgia in England are also the defining features in Africa and South America,” Dr. Wildschut says. The topics are universal — reminiscences about friends and family members, holidays, weddings, songs, sunsets, lakes The stories tend to feature the self as the protagonist surrounded by close friends.

Most people report experiencing nostalgia at least once a week, and nearly half experience it three or four times a week. These reported bouts are often touched off by negative events and feelings of loneliness, but people say the “nostalgizing” — researchers distinguish it from reminiscing — helps them feel better.

Wow!  Just reading that article made me feel better!

Campbell apartment garden with cat

Apartment C…is for Cat

Campbell Garden Patio

Garden Patio in Campbell, circa 1994

I lived in Campbell, California for five years before getting married. My tiny apartment, behind a larger house, boasted a long concrete driveway, a smaller, concrete parking strip and a concrete stoop leading into my 400 square foot apartment. I was happy to find this tiny place to call my own, and a landlord that allowed cats! I didn’t rent if for the greenery. Landscaping the place was always on the owner’s mind, but sadly, there it stayed. I surrounded myself with houseplants of course, but it seemed a shame to leave all that concrete unadorned. One by one, plant by plant, I created my own little potted garden. As a renter, you never know how long the deal will last, so I started small, assuming I could always take my potted plants with me. Eventually, I dug into the soil around the perimeter and before I knew it I had a tangle of vines, herbs, flowers and succulents. I bought a tiny settee, relocated the cat climbing tree, and eventually had my own little garden oasis.

Of course the thing about nostalgia is that we tend to remember the good times and leave the rest. When I look at these photos, I remember the happy little garden, but I also remember the colorful neighbor up above. She worked as a stripper at a local bar, arriving home at 2:00 am most days, blaring her TV and screaming expletives at her boyfriend. Good times!

Do you like waxing nostalgic?