Saturday, December 11, 2010


It always sat on a shelf in the corner and marked the passage of time.

When Grandma put me to bed on her couch in the living room 
with the crocheted pillows and a patchwork quilt...

…I would lie awake in the dim light and listen to its steady ticking.

Grandma and Grandpa were often my babysitters

 …so I was there when the clock was opened for its weekly winding

 …with the big brass key.

Even then the hourly chiming was erratic.
Grandma said it rang twenty times when Uncle Ralph came home after his tour of duty in the South Pacific.

When Grandma and Grandpa died the clock went to Uncle Ralph.  When he was gone it ended up at my younger brother’s house.  He had no recollection of its history so he passed it on to me.   By then the hands were broken and the gears wouldn’t move.

After my mom was gone I took it to a clock smith for repair.
He replaced the hands and got it to keep time, but he never could get it to strike the correct number on the hour. 

Now when the minute hand nears the twelve, the gears grind and it clangs out some random number and returns to its muffled tick-tock.

At some earlier time the original pendulum was replaced by another that’s a little oversized. 

The clock has to sit slightly off the level to keep the pendulum from hitting the glass door.

The top of our old piano is warped just enough to accommodate the problem.

My cousin told me Grandpa bought the clock to celebrate the birth of his first son
 in December of 1907.  That makes it over one hundred years old.  
So I’ll forgive it for not being precise about the hour.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


A package arrived in my mailbox with "United States of America" written at the bottom of the address.  "Who is sending me mail from outside of the states,"  I wondered.

I flipped it over and then remembered.  I made a comment on Bush Babe's blog and was the first one to guess the name of a person in a photo and won a prize.  Bush Babe's blog is one of my very favorites.  Her writing is outstanding and her photography is beautiful, eye catching and just plain cool.  She carries that camera with her everywhere and posts pictures of scenes and people common to her in the Australian Bush which are both exotic and familiar at the same time.

For the second year she has published some of that photography in a calendar.  I ordered her 2011 calendar just as soon as I knew it was available.  It arrived with all its sunny brightness just as the dark days of winter set in here with a big snow storm.

Then Bush Babe announced that small samples of the calendar photography were available in the form of post cards.  When I learned I'd won a set of those cards I ordered a second pack. Then I promptly let the transaction slip my addled mind.

According to the all-knowing internet, there are approximately
 8,400 miles or 13,500 km between our homes.

The summer sun was still clinging to the envelopes even after all that travel.

These post cards are just wonderful.  I'll probably frame some and give others as Christmas gifts.
  I just wish I'd asked my famous friend to autograph a couple of the cards
before she wrapped them up for me.
I just know in the near future she will be a world renowned photographer.

Monday, December 6, 2010


News people seem to feel it‘s their duty to advise us about things everyone already knows.  For example, “The highways are snow covered and icy.  Stay alert, slow down and stay in control.”  Or, “The temperatures are dropping down below freezing.  Be sure and wear a warm coat and several layers of clothing if you have to venture out.” 

Duh.  How about, “Wear a brightly colored bra that you can remove and hang from your car antenna if you get stuck in a drift.”  Even if your car—like most new models—doesn’t have a radio antenna, just the removal of a red lace bra is sure to bring a guy in a four-wheel-drive pickup to your side quicker than you can say World Wrestling Entertainment.

 Even if the snow plow hasn’t left a wall of ice behind your car, just getting out of the driveway is a major challenge. Since your garage is full of boxes of clothes and broken bicycles you have to remember to go out and start the car at least fifteen minutes before leaving to defrost windows and heat up the interior.  It’s okay to run out in your pajamas since all your neighbors are doing the same.  Just wear flip flops or something so you won’t rip all the skin off the soles of your feet as they stick to the ice.

Yes, it's broken, but it works.
Keep the snow brush in the back seat so you can clear off the driver side door before entering.  Without fail there will be a heavy layer of snow on the door that will fly inside upon opening.  This heap of cold wetness will settle on the seat resulting in an unnecessary wake-up call when you plop down while wearing those pajamas. 

Don’t wash the car in the winter.  Or, if you do, don’t lock it.  The locks will freeze solid and stay that way until June.

If this happens, and you drive a Geo Metro, you can usually get the hatch door open and climb in that way and squeeze between the bucket seats to get to the interior front door locks.  But don’t lose the flip-flops and be prepared for getting snow in the pajamas during this maneuver.  It will happen.  I know.

Even though you are all ready far past late, be sure to clear the snow from the roof of the car.  This may seem unnecessary, but the first time you drive across railroad tracks all the roof snow will come loose and slide forward across the windshield leaving you literally snow blind.

When you try to get back in the house the storm door may have accidentley locked.  This will occur when you‘re the last one to leave the house.  When this happens, dig your way to the basement window where your son sleeps...that window you’ve never been able to lock since that past curfew incident. Re-enter the house hoping no neighbors catch a view of those pajamas with the split seam.

If you’ve lived in snow country you already know these pointers.  If you don’t live in snow country, you’re already smart.

And when will auto manufacturers figure out how to keep the big chunks of ice from forming in wheel wells?  We have heated windows, and heated car seats; but still we have to deal with those gravel-filled glaciers that tear up the tires and fall off in parking lots to look like so many Yeti turds.