The Great Clock Repair Caper

Cal's Clock 004In the latest instance of how It’s the Little Things That Make Cal Happy, I got my grandmother clock repaired yesterday. Which made me so inordinately gleeful that I’m using it a pretext to natter on a bit about why this small change in my domestic environment seems so worthy of an entire blogpost.

For as long as I can remember wanting anything in particular in my house, I’ve wanted a grandfather clock. And an old one, too.

I don’t remember my earliest childhood memories of such devices, but I’m certain that several of my Arkansas relatives had grandfather clocks in their homes. Like other things these relatives had that my family didn’t own – a huge organ with two giant foot pedals, a hand-cranked washing machine, great swaths of hydrangea bushes in the yard), they fascinated me as a visiting kid.

Eventually, buying such a grandfather clock for my own home became a standing household goal. I kept putting off buying one because of how expensive they are – and because, relative to other things, they are hardly necessary.

Year after year would pass without my having found one I could afford, but I never stopped drooling whenever I’d espy one at some antique store or discover one in the home of an acquaintance.

At least ten years ago, my sister Gayle retired from her psychiatric nursing job and set about furnishing the house she’d bought in the north Georgia mountains. In nearby Murphy, North Carolina, Gayle found and bought a grandmother clock whose chimes she liked the sound of.

I came to love Gayle’s clock, and eventually realized that not only would a grandmother (vs. a grandfather) clock probably satisfy my antique clock-owning fantasy, but that a smaller (and therefore also less expensive) clock would be more suitable for my tiny living room.

I therefore revised my antique clock-owning fantasy to hoping to locate something similar to Gayle’s wonderful machine.  A few years later, I did find one – in fact, at a shop in Blairsville, where Gayle lives. It met all my requirements:

  • Its case design was pleasingly plain instead of frilly or overwrought.
  • Its clockface was inscribed with Arabic numerals instead of the hated (and more commonly found) Roman numerals.
  • Although they were not as sublime as the clock Gayle owned, I liked the sound of the clock’s chimes.
  • The clock had an interesting provenance. (Made in Germany, it was previously owned for many years by a down-sizing clock collector who’d retired from his job as an administrator at the University of Georgia.)
  • The seller’s price seemed as reasonable as I was ever going to find for something comparable.
  • I had Gayle’s unreserved endorsement for this particular purchase, and, using my trusty “If not now, when?” purchase-timing mantra, I talked myself into believing I could afford it.

Reader, I bought it. And have since then enjoyed every minute (!) of hearing it ticking and chiming away as a background to my daily domestic routines.

What I hadn’t realized until it stopped working a few weeks ago was how much I enjoyed having this clock in my life.

The longer I put off taking it to the repair shop, the more uneasy I was with its abrupt subtraction from my sonic environment. Eventually I realized that, over the years that I’ve owned it, this clock had apparently become the stand-in for all the other antiques I’d never be able to afford; that – even more than the sounds of the wind chimes I’ve installed outside each entrance to my house –  the clock’s ticking and chiming had come to symbolize the reassuring safety and coziness I feel living in my modest abode.

Paradoxically, the clock also serves as a persistent and melancholy reminder of the fleeting duration of our pathetically limited time on this mortal coil.

At any rate, exacerbating my recent bout of clockless uneasiness was the fact that since I’m in my house so much more these days than before I retired a year ago this month, I was more acutely and continually aware of the Sudden Inertness of My Beloved Clock.

Nevertheless, for several weeks I postponed a trip to the clock repair shop. I worried that maybe the Nice Friendly Clock Repair Guy across town wouldn’t be able to repair the machine, or that the N.F.C.R.G. would charge me an arm and a leg to fix it, or that by the time I jostled my expensively repaired clock back across town in my pickup truck, it would be out of whack again.

I was wrong on all counts. Not only was the clock salvageable, but the N.F.C.R.G. showed me how to fix it myself the next time and for no apparent reason the pendulum stops swinging; he charged me only $10 for my visit; and the clock began ticking properly the instant I re-hung it on the wall – and it’s still running 24 hours later.

Domestic sonic homeostasis has been restored, and I can now wander in and out of my living room throughout the day (or the evening) with the sight and sound of the pendulum swaying back and forth in its reliable, reassuring way.

It’s The Little Things That Matter – to Cal, anyway. And though Cal may be long-winded in describing them, at least Cal is Easily Amused.

Thanks for reading!


3 thoughts on “The Great Clock Repair Caper

  1. Dude! Wonderful post, about your clock and all, but “Paradoxically, the clock also serves as a melancholy reminder of the fleeting duration of our pathetically limited time on this mortal coil.” Since that clock chimes every half hour or so, you get a lot of reminders. And what is this…hating on the Romans? I like their numerals. – Kris, writing a comment at IX o’clock

    P.S. I guess you are a Victorian at heart, pondering our fleeting lives.

    P.P.S I do love the thoughts about the significance of the clock now and about when you first saw one. Unlike you and Roger though, I don’t like all that chiming. I have a little clock like this (a grandchild clock?) but don’t have it chime. I like a Big Wall Clock and the one I have now doesn’t even have numerals. It has indicators – all of the marks are the same – and one tells the time by position of the indicators on the face of the clock.

  2. A fun to read post. I’m glad it’s working again, Cal, perhaps because I love grandfather (and grandmother) clocks, too, although I don’t have one.

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