Status Reports on Your Dad’s Model Railroad

Monday, 6 pm

Track laid in the basement. Engine functional. Ordered two new boxcars. When they arrive, I’ll have to weather them so they don’t appear too new since layout will be circa 1930s. Considering how many two-inch trees I need for twenty yards of track. Also, color of landscape sand: desert sand or dusky sand?

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Tuesday, 3 pm

Who is PayPal and why does he want my money? No pal of mine would ask $40.99 each plus shipping for a set of boxcars that I’ll have to weather myself. Will write letter to manufacturer. Pursue paying by check or money order. Your mother made sauerkraut for dinner last night. Misplaced the Mylanta. Made for early evening. Thinking about settling on desert sand.

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Thursday, 4 pm

Considering changing the theme of the layout from 1930s desert mining town to 1943. This may require a different set of couplings for the boxcars I ordered the other day. If I need to re-design the ones I have, that’s fine, too. I’ll borrow tweezers from your mother.

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Friday, 2 pm

Accused of losing your mother’s tweezers. Technically, not lost. First, bent them trying to remove glue, then dropped them on the basement floor. Too dark down here to see where they landed. Hopefully they didn’t fall in the floor drain. Reminder: flashlight and magnifying glass needed in work area. Sheltering down here all evening. Missing tweezers has sparked some upset upstairs concerning borrowed items.

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Friday, 6 pm

Hungry. Should have thought to bring snacks. In addition to flashlight and magnifying glass, should bring sunflower seeds. Cans of V8. Now seeing the benefit of dusky sand over desert sand. This is significant since your mother says I can’t tell the difference between taupe and khaki. Considering ordering tape-recorded locomotive sounds.

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Sunday, 1 pm

Ordered jar of dusky sand. Boxcars arrived yesterday. Bought two new pairs of tweezers, too: one for your mother, one for me. Also, can of sunflower seeds — 99 cents! Working on couplers à la 1943. Weathering of boxcars is delicate task. The cat is trying to knock off the tiny townsfolk from along the track. One tree got stuck in his tail and your mother found it in the kitchen sink. Unable to repair damage from the garbage disposal. The conductor’s cap I ordered is a little too small and is giving me a headache.

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Tuesday, 5 pm

Dusky sand is all wrong! Should have gone with desert sand! Minor setback. More importantly, might have over-weathered one boxcar. This is a more major setback — doesn’t quite look like a boxcar anymore. More like an egg. Sanding too tough on the edges. Might need to order a few more flatbed cars. How many? Need to do more research. Librarians know me by first name. I teased your mother by saying I’m meeting my lover when I go there. She said she didn’t know I ever went to the library.

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Wednesday, 4 pm

Big day! Engine, boxcars roaring along! Papier-mâché mountain range in the back is coming together. Borrowed your mother’s hairdryer for efficient and even drying. Must remember to return it. Looks like one waving conductor is missing from the station — I blame the cat. Working on trees this evening. I think I need a total of 46 pines. Maybe a few oaks. Returning dusky sand for desert sand. Also, locomotive soundtrack came in a portable flash drive. Where does this plug into my tape player? Baby aspirin not strong enough for hat headache.

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Friday, 9 pm

Disaster, two-fold. Grandkids over. Your mother let them down to “play train.” This is not a toy. I REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A TOY. Couplers on engine now bent and there’s a dent in the mountain range — how did that happen? Also, forgot to return your mother’s hair dryer. In retrospect, perhaps the release of the grandkids was revenge? Interesting theory. Flash drive knocked on the floor, can’t find it even with flashlight, although perhaps no big loss since I never did figure out how to play it.

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Sunday, 3 pm

Up and running again. Couplers repaired thanks to my trusty tweezers. A few sunflower seeds somehow became glued on the side of the mountain range. More townsfolk are missing, including, I believe, the “young couple on park bench.” One grandkid made a decent suggestion: where are the animals? To purchase: a few grazing Herefords. No, Texas Longhorns.

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Tuesday, 8 pm

Tragedy. Total town carnage. The cat leapt on the layout when my back was turned as I was attempting to age these damned flatbeds. The station has a paw print right through the roof, trees are down, engine derailed, bodies of townsfolk everywhere, some missing. Unnervingly found a tiny plastic human leg in my can of sunflower seeds. Looking at it now, I’m starting to think dusky sand originally was the better choice.