Gardening, painting, learning to play the piano, sewing, volunteering, collecting coins and model building are just a few of the hobbies folks have been engaging in during the pandemic. According to a CNN report, hobbies are essential self-care tools in extreme times of unemployment and under employment, such as during the Great Depression and the Covid pandemic.

Mayo Clinic listed hobbies as a pandemic coping strategy. Among the many benefits  are warding off depression, providing new experiences, improving one’s self-esteem and memory, as well as providing opportunities to help other people.

“In this time of uncertainty and instability, and a world and existence we no longer recognize, people need an anchor to familiarity and what once brought them comfort, stability, safety and happiness,” clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere said.

            I married a model railroader, a.k.a. a trainiac. My spouse the Binmeister has loved trains since he was a youngster. I should have paid heed when we met in graduate school, and he told me about his early training, However, my first thought was I had an under-the-Christmas-tree track and trains at home that might attract my new found love. Unfortunately, my mother informed me she gave my train to the little boy next door; my love married me anyway.

We’ve been transporting his hobby around in one state of “build” or another for many years. Working on his railroad has proven to be a stress reliever during the pandemic.

For folks interested in relieving stress by “Riding the Rails,” Pablo Beach Train Day will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 11 at the Beaches Museum and History Park. Activities include three operating model train layouts, a display of historic model trains and antique cars as well as the popular trackless train that tours the neighborhood. The museum’s 1911 steam locomotive, the 1900 Florida East Coast foreman’s house and the Mayport Depot with a kid friendly layout also will be open.

Binmeister will never give up his passion for trains. Nevertheless, he decided to try his hand at an additional hobby—cooking. He took over the Rooney Bin kitchen with great enthusiasm and assigned tasks to other family members. Bin #1 daughter is sous chef. I’ve been demoted to dish washer and the “get me some onions” and “where is the spatula?” finder.

My preparation tips are usually dismissed. Although no one appears to be starving, my 54 years preparing homemade dishes for this family apparently can’t compare with Wall Street Journal recipes. However, I’ve grown to like my new role which is to relax and effusively praise his culinary efforts. As singer/Spice Girl Emma Bunton said, “I do love a man who can cook.”

*Final word…Binmeister’s other hobbies include growing herbs and collecting wine. They pair nicely with his cooking hobby. To paraphrase chef Julia Child, “He enjoys cooking with wine. Sometimes He even puts it in food.”

            A glass or two of wine also eases the stress of cooking. One night before dinner he plopped down in his chair with a goblet of his favorite red and gave a big sigh.

“What’s wrong,” I asked?

“I don’t know what to make for dinner he moaned.

“Aww,” I said. “You only have 53 more years of menus to plan to catch up with me. Revenge is sweet.”