22 October 2007

Intimations of Mortality

One day I will learn not to get comfortable. Getting comfortable seems to be a signal to the universe that there are applecarts that need upsetting.

So it is that what should have been a lovely day off in the mountains of western Maryland with the Viking and Maman, and Sis, the Engineer, and the Wee Boy, was framed by, on the one side, the message that a friend of Maman's (no longer young, with no children of her own, and with apparently a well-founded mistrust in her remaining family's ability to cherish certain family heirlooms) is divesting herself of some cherished family heirlooms and desires to give me a clock. The clock in question is a tall case clock (aka a grandfather clock) which, she tells Maman, was made in Scotland sometime during the 19th C, and which marks the hour of twelve with a depiction of Mary Queen of Scots being decapitated.

I haven't seen the clock in question yet -- the desire to give it to me was communicated first to Maman, who conveyed it to me -- but it sounds like the sort of charmingly awful Victorian morbidity which has always amused me, and anyway, I can't very well say 'no thank you' under the circumstances. On the other hand, I am going to have to find space on the floor for it, and the deities alone know where I'll find that.

The Viking suggested downstairs somewhere, as he is a light sleeper and likely to be disturbed by chiming clocks (though not his own snoring, despite the fact that the barest whistle of my own schnoz disrupts his slumber. One evening he woke me up 4 or 5 times because he thought I was snoring. By the last time, I was sufficiently annoyed that I didn't go back to sleep instantly, so when he shook me again I was able to shout, in righteous indignation, that I was not asleep and not snoring. The source of the 'respiratory roughness' that had so offended his delicate ear? Was Maeve, curled up on his feet).

I am sort of opposed to downstairs, because downstairs is more prone to damp, which is not perhaps the best thing for an elderly clock. I know some old clocks of this kind have the chime running on a different weight from the works, so it may be possible to run the clock without running the chime. Assuming, of course, that the poor clock accepts its transfer to a new location -- I've had bad experiences with trying to move old clocks and then get them running right again.

And now I am hopelessly off track. See, the plan for this weekend was 'annual trip to western Maryland to visit orchards, buy apples and pumpkins, and have a picnic and walk in the woods at Catoctin Mountain Park.' The pleasant trip became framed by 'aging family friend wants to give you family heirloom' on the front side, and, on the rear, a double shot of news: An elderly family friend (a friend and contemporary of my grandmother's, in fact) had passed away, and the Avuncular One was hospitalised following a stroke.

The good news, so far, seems to be that my uncle sought treatment promptly and the damage from the stroke doesn't seem to be severe, so he has a good chance of a strong recovery.

The 'visitation' for my grandmother's friend is tonight. After that, I should really try to figure out where I could put a clock.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I remember my Dad spending considerable time getting the grandfather clock running correctly again after moving it from his parents' house in Kansas City to Boston. It worked OK, but took a lot of tinkering to get the weight adjusted correctly for keeping correct time.

    Ironically, the person who's said he wants the clock when my Dad is gone is my brother, who lives in..... Kansas City.


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