Monday, July 2, 2012

Artistic Expression

train pix

It was a conversation I had with our realtor/former elementary school principal Rod about 5 years ago-one I will never forget.  And it went something like this:

Hi Valerie, it’s Rod.

Hey Rod!  What’s up?

Well I have someone interested in looking at your house…

(Train whistle sound in background.)

Oh my gosh!  Oh My Gosh!!  The train!  It’s coming right at me!  Help!!!  Help!!!

(Silence.  And then snorts of laughter.)

As it turns out, Rod, who once presided over a school assembly dressed as his own wife, was much better at  humor than selling homes…


I live in a town where both day and night, trains rumble by just a few blocks beyond Main Street.  I’ve gotten so used to the sounds of their whistles blowing, that I usually don’t really notice them.

The other night though, I couldn’t sleep, and around 3 am, I heard the familiar blasts of a train whistle. At intersections, train engineers usually blow their whistles in the same pattern. Long.  Long.  Short.  Long.  Morse code for the letter Q. 

What’s the story behind the letter Q? When the ship carrying the Queen of England would come into harbor, it sounded the letter Q to let other ships know it should be given the right of way because the queen was on board. Trains went on to adopt this same signal as a warning to yield the right of way.

This particular train engineer had a flair for the dramatic.  He varied the lengths of the long and short whistle blasts at each intersection, until finally leaving town with and his final Q.

Long.  Long.  Short.  Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong. 

I didn't think he would ever stop! 

I’m glad this guy was having fun with his job, and I’m glad I was awake to hear his performance.  But I had to wonder.  Does Rod have a new job now?


My latest concoction, the day tripper backpack done up in a lovely tan and red hibiscus barkcloth.  Might I modestly add that I think it’s pretty Long.  Short.  Long.  Short?  

(Make that C for cute!)

Happy Monday, my Dears !


  1. That is a cool little historical tid bit. I still need to learn SOS, but it couldn't hurt to let people know the queen is on board too. lol.

  2. That bag is soooooo cute, Valerie, and your flair for telling a story has me laughing and admiring at the same time! Bravo!

  3. Exactly Tina! I'm thinking of having Stuart and Amy signal the letter Q when I come into a room LOL! ;)

    Dawn, thank you so, so much!!! Your comments make me so happy:)

  4. We used to live right by a train track. The first few nights I had a hard time sleeping, but after a while you tune it out.

    Pretty bag! I like the red hibiscuses (hibisci? LOL)

  5. When we lived next to the train tracks, I NEVER tuned out the noise, despite my best efforts! It was horrible. I remember one night the engineer blew the horn 11 times. ELEVEN TIMES. Way, way overboard. We even had people call and complain about how much they blew the whistle. It was really bad. My husband (a former railroad conductor) told me there was no need for them to blow the whistle like that - they were just being jerks about it.

    Anyway...interesting about the Q part. I didn't know that!

  6. Lisa-thanks! And I wonder about the plural of hibiscus too! I have a great train ghost story I'll have to tell some time...;)

    Melissa-11 times?! What a jerk indeed! I had an apartment once that bordered the train tracks, and the train used to stop right there-behind the building and groan and creek all night. It was very maddening and creepy too!

    Your poor brother! Farmers have such a stressful job! My thoughts are with him:)

  7. I loved the story about trains and the whistles. You taught me something and I used to live near a train track:~)

    The bag is as usual lovely. I like the bright colors very much!

  8. Very cuuuuuuute! ♦ We have a train very close also .. well trains and that would be at 3 am as well ... I will have to listen to the longs and shorts... verrrry interesting

  9. Very funny. But then, I guess you never can tell what to expect from a guy who dressed as his own wife at a school assembly!

    Lovely bag. I especially like the contrast of the tropical, girly flowers against the more wintry and rugged plaid.

  10. Thanks Sara! I just learned that little fact fairly recently myself!

    Lisa-I also learned that two short whistles mean the engineer is saying hello to another engineer! I never knew before that here is a whole train language using long and short whistle blasts-very interesting!

    Tracy-thank you too! Rod was quite a "ham" as it turned out!

  11. Gorgeous bag! And I always learn something new from you. I love that tidbit about the letter Q.