Train, Train – a song by Blackfoot

I’m always on the lookout for train songs. A good one, my opinion, is when it let’s you believe you really are on board if you close your eyes.

This one was recommended by a gentleman visitor to the layout. The harmonica is awesome.

It can’t be just me who likes it – it’s received 6,392,510 views!!!!!!!

Well, train, train, take me on out of this town.

Train, train, Lord, take me on out of this town.

Well, that woman I’m in love with, Lord, she’s Memphis bound.”

Pie-eyed and all that!!!

Every March, St Mary’s church in the Leicestershire (England) town of Melton Mowbray becomes a cathedral of pies: it fills with tables bearing more than 800 pastries.

Melton Mowbray Pie Festival

Melton Mowbray Pie Festival

Pies have been adding rich flavour to the English language for centuries. Take, for example, the Bedfordshire Clanger Pie: a British classic which cleverly combines main course and dessert, with savoury ingredients like pork at one end and sweet ingredients like pear at the other. The name comes from a local slang word, ‘clang’, which means to eat voraciously. However, cramming two courses into a pie makes a clanger rather unwieldy – and all too easy to drop, inspiring the English phrase ‘dropping a clanger’ for a careless mistake.

Ready for another one?  The description of a drunken state as ‘pie-eyed’ likely takes its cue from someone who, thanks to having over-imbibed, has eyes as wide and blank as the top of a pie.

One more? ‘Eating humble pie’, meanwhile, comes from medieval deer hunting, when meat from a successful hunt was shared out on the basis of social status. While the finest cuts of venison went to the rich and powerful, the lower orders made do with the ‘nombles’: a Norman French word for deer offal. Anglicisation saw ‘nombles’ pie become ‘humble’ pie.

Last one:

Sardine pie

Britain’s most eye-catching pie, this sardine-packed pastry dates back to the 17th Century

Cornwall’s eye-catching Stargazy Pie might be the most distinctive pie of all. Cooked with sardines gazing up from the crust, this distinctive pie has roots in a 17th-Century tale from the fishing village of Mousehole. The story goes that a fisherman named Tom Bawcock braved December storms to land a huge haul of fish that saved the village from starvation. To celebrate, his catch was baked into a giant celebratory pie – with fish heads left poking out as proof that the fish famine was over. Today, Stargazy Pie is traditionally baked with seven kinds of fish, boiled potatoes, boiled eggs and white sauce. The fish serve a practical purpose, not just a symbolic one: oil from the heads enriches the pastry and moistens the pie.

So, now you know!

Bourn’s Landing near Gualala on the Mendocino Coast – 1910 pics

I( get a lot of questions when “working the crowd” at our layout. Today I was explaining to a couple and their son that the 1906 earthquake not only devastated San Francisco but also devastated all the communities along the Mendocino Coast. At the conclusion of my “spiel ” the lad, in a very serious voice, asked if I was there!!!!!! We collectively did some sums and concluded that if I was born in 1906 I would be 109. The lad concluded that I was definitely old but he wasn’t sure I was more than 100. Hmm. Botox maybe?

One lady recently astutely observed that there was little “social” history on the layout. She explained there was nothing to tell you how often people had baths or showers. How did the “ordinary” people dress? What did a schoolroom look like? As with all the questions I get I note them down and admit that I haven’t a clue but will try and find out.

Well serendipity being what it is I recently received the following e-mail from John Ricca which said in part:

My father-in-law Joseph R. Mixer (age 94) had an aunt, Miss F.S. Mixer, who taught school at the Bourns Landing [near Gualala] schoolhouse around 1910.  I’ve attached photos of hers from that era that I scanned and was hoping that you might be able to use them, or at least know of some other organization that might want them.”

Here are the photos that give you an idea of what school was like and how the ordinary folk lived. Alas info on peoples bathing habits so far elude my research.

Thank you John.

Stepper motor to be installed on Joe DuVivier’s Nn3 diorama of Caspar Mill on the Mendocino Coast


Nn3 is narrow gauge in N scale, primarily, but not exclusively using Z scale standards to represent 3ft narrow gauge railroads.While it’s obviously a minority interest, it’s followed by an increasing number of modellers worldwide. N scale uses 9mm track. Z scale use 6.5mm. So, Nn3 is N scale rolling stock on Z scale track. In other words VERY small.

Stepper motors-The stepper motor is an electromagnetic device that converts digital pulses into mechanical shaft rotation. Advantages of step motors are low cost, high reliability, high torque at low speeds and a simple, rugged construction that operates in almost any environment.

Ok, you got your mind around that.

Here’s the stepper motor that is being used to operate the sawmill carriage of Joe DuViviers diorama of the Caspar mill:

Stepper motor alongside a penny

Stepper motor alongside a penny

If that didn’t freak you out look at what it takes to control the little beast:

Stepper motor control board

Stepper motor control board

That’s Joe’s finger in the pic. And, he did all the soldering.

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge – a feature being constructed on the G Scale Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Company

In the north west corner of our layout a ten foot high hill is being constructed – Three Chop Ridge. Why name the hill Three Chop Ridge? The logging operations along the Mendocino Coast began as a result of the wreck off of Point Cabrillo of the schooner Frolic en route from China to San Francisco in 1850. The remains of the Frolic were discovered after an archaeological dig on Three Chop Ridge at a Pomo village unearthed Chinese pottery and silk. Detective work connected the finds to the Frolic. Our layout has a diorama of Point Cabrillo. Building Three Chop enables us to depict the history of the Pomo who spent time each year at Point Cabrillo and on Three Chop Ridge.

Here’s Mike Aplet taking a break from constructing Three Chop Ridge:

Mike Aplet resting whilst building a model Three Chop Ridg

Mike Aplet resting whilst building Three Chop Ridge

Three Chop Ridge will be over ten foot high (250 scale feet) when complete. As Mike was way upon high he was asked to take some pics of the layout as the Pomo might have seen it.

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #2

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #2

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #3

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #3

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #4

View from the top of Three Chop Ridge #4

Three Chop Ridge from the grounf

Three Chop Ridge from the grounf

March is the Month of the Worm Moon

The Worm Moon

The Worm Moon

I was in a bookstore in Eureka yesterday and was confounded by a conversation between two youngish young ladies talking about the Full Worm Moon. I know that the moon is made of cheese but does it also have worms?

It turned out that these two ladies were avid gardeners trying to use the knowledge of the Yurok Indians. From what they told me and what I have turned up it seems the March Moon is aptly named.

The Full Worm Moon – March.  As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

I’m off to hunt earthworms tomorrow!