Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Grandfather Clock

     My parents have had a grandfather clock in their house for many years. I have always liked grandfather clocks. There is something about them- beautiful, stately, musical- that speaks to me. My Dad bought it as a gift for their 33rd Anniversary, in 1987. There is a brass plaque on the front with their names, 33rd Anniversary, and the date: June 19, 1987. The pendulum is engraved with an M for McCormack. It seems I said I liked it, and would love to own it eventually. From that time on, Dad always referred to it as "my" clock.

     Mom is moving to a smaller apartment on April 1. She will be living in a senior apartment building, where she will feel more secure than being alone in the apartment she is in now. We drove to PA last week to pick up the clock. We brought it here to NH in the back of the van, all wrapped up in blankets. The weights and pendulum were wrapped in bubble wrap.

     Mom said that it wasn't running well lately, and we thought perhaps it needed oiling, and maybe needing a good cleaning. We decided to see what happened, and, if necessary, call the clock shop in town to get it serviced. We got it into the house (with only minor problems. Like the 12 pack of beer I knocked off the counter on the way through the kitchen. Oops.), and put it in place in the dining room. Got the weights and pendulum hung, and set and wound it. It ran for a while, then stopped. Started it again. It stopped after a while again. So the BaldMan did a few adjustments, and it has been running nicely ever since. It was a bit slow, but that's fixable. The strike was an hour ahead, but that's been adjusted, also. It seems a bit quiet, which is not necessarily bad, although I do wish it were just a bit louder.

     It has a "secret" compartment in the bottom, and there is a scroll, hand lettered with Mom and Dad's name, address, and the date, that is supposed to go in there. I will put our names on it, as well as fill out some of the other paperwork that wasn't when it was bought.

    So, Dad, I have "my" clock now. I see it and hear it everyday, and it makes me happy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Review: Swift, Brutal Retaliation by Meghan McCarron

Swift, Brutal RetaliationSwift, Brutal Retaliation by Meghan McCarron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a nice quick read. It can easily be finished in one sitting. It takes place in the few days after the death of Ian, the oldest child in the family. It is a ghost story, since Ian appears to his younger sisters several times after the funeral. It is also a complex story about family relationships and grief, for all its short length. The family is dominated by the father, who is strict and dictatorial. Mother is withdrawn and distant, afraid to antagonize her husband. The two sisters are confused and unsure how to deal with the changes in the family because of the death of their brother.

The interesting thing about the story is the framework. The girls grew up dealing with their brother's constant pranks and bullying. They fall back on that familiar behavior in trying to deal with their own grief. The ghost of Ian seems to be continuing his pranking behavior even now that he is dead, but there are hints that it is something more. The hints are there, and the girls are trying to figure out what he wants. Without spoiling anything, I think the message is different from what most people might think. The ending is not quite a "tie up all the ends" type, and can seem a bit abrupt and unfinished. It did fit the story quite well.

This is not a typical ghost story, but its subtlety and psychological aspects make it worth the short time it takes to read it.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Musings

Just a few things I've noticed lately:

We were in the grocery store, purchases made, and ready to leave. Coming in the door was a woman with a toddler, maybe two years old or so. They walked in the automatic door, and he just stopped, with a look of pure awe on his face at the door that opened all by itself. He just stood there, staring at it, eyes wide and mouth open in an O of wonder. It made me smile. Just a reminder that we, as busy adults, take so many things for granted, and perhaps we need to just stop and enjoy the wonder of little things more often.

I find great comfort in baking bread. I baked two days in a row last week, and it was so calming. I do use a stand mixer to do all the tough work- mixing and kneading- since my tendinitis makes it hard to knead by hand. But just watching the dough come together, and change from a ragged lump to a smooth dough is amazing. And it requires patience. The dough is going to rise and proof in its own time, and it won't be rushed. I don't know why, but I always feel better when there is bread baking going on.

The White Mountains here in NH are very pretty, even now when they are dark and wintery. The highest peaks are covered in snow, white and frosty looking. On the lower mountains, the ski trails are white streaks among the surrounding trees. It looks like a postcard picture as you drive up the highways.

I was outside at night a while back. I don't even remember why I was out there in the dark, but I looked up and thought to myself that I should just go out and look at the stars more often.

We had our usual St. Patrick's day dinner on Sunday. Both grandsons came. The house had laughing, shrieking kids and an extra dog in it again. It freaks out the cats, but they get over it. And we enjoy it, of course. Family dinner- nothing like it.

I kind of enjoy the slower walks I have to take with Murphy now. Since his legs are giving him trouble, we don't walk as far or nearly as fast as we used to. I miss the extra exercise, but the slower pace means I see and hear more now. More and more birds are singing, there are buds on some trees and bushes, and it gives me time to think. It's good to slow down sometimes.

There is your week's dose of trivial minutia from me. What have you been noticing lately?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Review: The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Wheel of Time is one of the most widely read fantasy series around. I've just started it, not because I was waiting for it to be finished (the final volumes, written from extensive notes after Jordan's death, were written by Brandon Sanderson. The final book was published this year), but more because I wasn't sure I wanted to start another long continuing series.

The book certainly stems from the Tolkien school of fantasy. It is a sweeping epic, with a large cast of characters and plenty of action. I found it a bit wordy, something I have also found on re-reads of Tolkien's works. There were repeating sections with the same basic pattern that took up multiple chapters. Escape pursuers in one village, walk to the next, get attacked again, escape, etc. I could have done with a bit less there.

The characters were a mix of good and bad for me. There are strong female characters, although I did find Nyneave rather irritating after a while. The Warder, Lan, is a typical fighter/protector, although he was one of the characters I liked. As for the three main characters, I found Mat and Perrin a bit less developed than I'd like. Rand, while certainly one of the main focus points of the story, was just a bit too whiny for me. I am not sure I'd be any different given the same circumstances, but I was not inclined to like him because of that.

The setting is typical for a large scale fantasy of this type. Descriptions of the places and peoples in the world are detailed and vivid.

I didn't dislike the story, but it didn't break new ground for me. I will read the next volume, since the first of a long series is often more a setting up than the meat of the story. Those who like Tolkien-esque fantasy on a grand scale should give this a try, if you haven't already.

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