Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Pocket Watch

My dad loved pocket watches.
Actually, he liked all time pieces: wrist watches, alarm clocks, wall clocks, grandfather clocks and others. If you wanted to please him with a gift, you could never go wrong buying a clock. Any clock. The more unusual, the better.
Still, it was clear that pocket watches were his favorite. He had a whole collection of them.
He always carried one in the watch pocket on his pants. It was secured with a sparkly gold chain and attached to a belt loop to lessen the danger of losing it. I loved watching him take his watch out of his pocket several times a day, look at the time – and then put it back, leaving the gold chain visible on the front of his pants. 
Throughout my childhood, I watched every evening as he went to a cabinet in the dining room and took out a small jewelry box. He sat down in the living room, opened the box and removed a pocket watch, wound it, listened to its ticking, and then, after wiping it off with a jewelry cleaning rag, he put it back ever so carefully and took out another one. He continued until he’d wound and cleaned all eight of them. And he went through the same routine every evening.
When I was older, he told me the story behind each watch. The one I found most interesting, he called a “Railroad watch.” He said his Uncle Victor, who was once an engineer for the C & O Railroad, left it to him in his will. He was so proud of it!
Another one that intrigued me was a big silver one with Roman Numerals. He said his dad had given this one to him. And again... he beamed with pride as he showed it to me.
I can’t remember all the stories, but one day, I had sons, and when they were old enough, they became just as interested in their grandpa’s beloved watch collection as I’d been. They listened with rapt attention as he told them the same stories I’d heard years before. At some point, he told each of them to pick out his favorite watch and he’d make sure their grandmother gave them to them when he passed away.
They were elated!
From then on, every time we visited, the boys asked to see their watches. My dad would let them hold them and he taught them how to wind them correctly so as not to overwind and destroy the spring.
And so... years later, when my father passed away, my mother couldn’t part with the watches immediately, but she eventually did give each grandson the watch he’d picked out at least two decades before. Each of them carefully put them away for safe-keeping. Neither wanted to take a chance on losing or breaking an item with so much tradition and emotion attached to it.
The youngest son bought a glass dome with a hook to hang his watch on and displayed it in a prominent, but safe, place in his home. For several years, it stayed there, a conversation piece for visitors and sweet memories for him.

Then – disaster!
He awakened early one cold, snowy, January morning to find his small home on fire. He tried to put it out, to no avail, and finally had to give up and jump through a window to save himself.
He lost everything – even his cat!
So heartbroken about losing his home and everything in it, the watch never crossed his mind until the next afternoon when he and a friend poked around in the dying embers with sticks to see if anything had survived. Suddenly, the sun glinted off something in the pile of ashes and shone in his eyes. Looking a little closer, he couldn’t believe what he saw!
It was the glass dome! And the pocket watch was still hanging on the hook!
Everything he owned was gone. He had only the clothes on his back. But the watch had somehow survived! In fact, he wound it and it started ticking, as always.
I’d like to know how and why this happened—to have a logical explanation that makes sense—but nobody will hazard a guess. It's as if no one wants to question such a bizarre happening.
“Just be happy he didn’t lose the watch and let it go at that,” a friend said. Seems I have no other choice.
Truth really is stranger than fiction, isn't it?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Too Many Interruptions

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get outta bed! Yesterday was one of those days for me.
I had the day all planned; I was going to do everything constructive: clean out the fridge (yuck!), do laundry, pay some bills, catch up on mail, and cook a nice dinner.
But... I had so many interruptions that the only thing on the list that I accomplished was the dinner, and I did that holding the phone between my ear and shoulder while talking to a friend. I didn’t want to appear rude by saying, “I’m having a busy day.” So I cooked and continued talking at the same time, ending up with a stiff neck and a headache.
While I was multitasking, Mr. H. came in and said, “I’m going to take your car and fill it up with gas.” I nodded. Pumping gas is one of those things I  don’t do – right along with cutting grass and emptying garbage! Call me old fashioned, but I think there are still a few things that only a man should do. Now, I understand that someday, I could find myself alone with no alternative but to do these things myself, but, until then – I’ve got Mr. H. so excuse me while I milk it for all it’s worth! 
One of our neighbors always cuts grass while her husband relaxes in front of the TV. She has three small children, does all the housework, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and taxies the children to and from their activities. I often wonder what he does. He doesn’t seem to be debilitated unless it’s something you can’t see, like a bad heart.
I often tell the woman that she’s messing things up for the rest of us who don’t want to cut grass. She just smiles and says, “It’s good exercise.”
She’s right, it is. But I’ll get mine in a more enjoyable way, thank you! Like going to the gym where I can watch body builders with big muscles sweat while they work out!  (Just joking, Mr.H.)
I digress.
And so... Mr. H. leaves to take my car for gas. In a few minutes, he comes back in and says, “Your car won’t start. Battery’s dead!”
“Oh, great!” I say, my mind wandering back to the last time this happened: I had left an inside light on – for about a week. I’m in trouble if I did it again, I realize.
He changes into work clothes (this is serious!) and goes back out. His truck is in the driveway, right in front of the car, which is in the garage. There is no way he can jumper from his battery to mine. So he removes the truck battery, takes it into the garage, puts jumper cables from it to my battery and Voila! it starts. However, when he takes the cables loose, it stops again. Bad battery!
He realizes that the only thing to do is put his back in the truck and go buy a new battery for my car, but when he puts it back, guess what? The truck won’t start either! So now... we have two vehicles with dead batteries! What were the odds of that happening?
I panic!
Don’t like the feeling of not having transportation in case of an emergency. Our family is known for its emergencies.
What to do?
Aha! Son #2 lives only five minutes away. Mr. H. phones him. No answer. No callback. Hmmmm...
Thirty minutes later, Mr. H. calls his number again. He still doesn’t answer. After about an hour, he phones and says he went out for a while and forgot to take his cell phone. It’s still 45 minutes until the auto parts store closes, so he hurries over with his cables and saves the day by starting the truck.
Off goes Mr. H. and returns with my new battery. I don’t have to worry about emergencies after all. At least, not tonight.
My life often reminds me of a soap opera—especially the part where the announcer says, “Sorry for the delay; we’re experiencing some technical difficulties.”


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Poor Old Clyde

I'm repeating Poor Old Clyde at the request of some friends who missed it last time.
     My son, Mark, has a friend, John, who swears that his cat regularly tries to commit suicide. When he told Mark about it the first time, Mark laughed and said, “Oh, you must be joking. Cats don’t commit suicide.” But John insisted that when he goes home in the evening, he can tell Clyde has tried to kill himself because he finds plastic bags everywhere, and, only the evening before, he'd opened the door just in time to see Clyde trying to put one over his head.

   “I stopped him in the nick of time,” he said.

    When Mark laughed aloud, John became quite indignant, “Don’t laugh!” he said. “This is serious! You don’t know what it’s like living with a suicidal cat! I never know what I’ll find when I go home in the evening.”
Mark shared this story with us, his family, and we all had a good laugh at the very thought of a feline named Clyde trying to commit suicide.

     It went on for a while with John telling Mark fairly often that Clyde was still trying to do himself in and he was afraid of what he’d see every day when he opened the door to his house. He hid all the plastic bags but feared that poor old Clyde was so depressed he’d find another way.
 And he finally did!
Yesterday, when Mark got to work, John met him with a glum look on his face and said, “You won’t believe it! Clyde is at it again.”
Mark – ready for anything – said “What happened, John?”
Rolling his eyes, John said, “He climbed on the kitchen counter and tried to hang himself with the toaster cord.”
“Oh, John, that’s ridiculous!” said Mark. “He couldn’t do that by himself.”
“I’m not kidding, Mark!” John declared. “The cord was dangling all the way to the floor. I know old Clyde tried to hang himself with it, but thank goodness, he didn’t succeed!”
Finally realizing he’d never convince John otherwise, Mark decided to go along, “I’m happy Clyde is okay,” he said. “Maybe he won’t try it again.”

    “Oh, I’m sure he will," John insisted. "That cat's just not right in the head.
Never has been!”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fun Facts About July

1. The birthstone for July is the Ruby.
2. The zodiac signs for July are Cancer (June 21 - July 22) and Leo (July 23 - August 22)
3. The birth flower for July is the water lily.
4. The month of July was named after Julius Caesar.
5. On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was established due to the British North America Act.
6. On July 1, 1898, the San Juan Hill was occupied by the American troops during the Spanish-American War.
7. During World War I on July 1, 1916, the Battle of Somme began.
8. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau.
9. On July 2, 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act (an Act to prohibit trusts) was passed by the United States Congress.
10. On July 5, 1971, Amendment 26 was proclaimed which set the voting age at 18 in the United States.
11. On July 6, 1854, the Republican Party held its first state convention at Jackson, Michigan.
12. On July 11, 1804, during a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton was killed.
13. The 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, was born on July 1, 1913.
14. On July 16, 1790, District of Columbia was established.
15. The first atomic bomb was set off by scientists in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945.
16. National Blueberry Month
17. National Ice Cream Month
18. National Hot Dog Month
19. July 1 - Canada Day
20. July 4 - Independence Day
21. July 7 - My daughter, Pam, was born.

And don't forget, just six months from today, we'll be celebrating New Year's Day - 2015!