This past Saturday morning the family clocks were taken from the house for cleaning and regulation. They were taken by a man I have known since the early seventies. I have known that something needed to be done with them for many, many years. They used to run. I missed their chimes and the deep tick tock of the oak wall clock. There is nothing that whisks me back to childhood faster than closing my eyes and listening to that clock. There were times at my grandparents house when it was so quiet that was all you heard (I have to add that it is a particularly loud clock).
The story goes that this clock was taken from a factory by my grandfather. They were replacing it with something else I assume, I’m also assuming it came from a woolen mill. It was filthy, black I’m told. He painstakingly took it apart, cleaned it up and got it working. Then it was placed on the wall in his parlor on Stafford St. There it ran for most of my life, it probably ran for a good deal of my father’s. When my grandmother left the house for a nursing home it was the first thing that came to Rowe. There it ran on the wall in the living room for another 20 or more years. My children had the pleasure of growing up with it’s sound and presence for their childhoods as well.
The workmanship on this clock is spectacular. The woodwork, the brass is beautiful. It is the sound that is most important to me though. We complain about not knowing what time it is in the middle of the night because it no longer runs.
I have to tell you there was a little anxiety when these clocks went out the door on Saturday morning. The only reason they did is through a conversation I had with someone the day before. She told me her brother in law was repairing clocks now that he’d retired to Heath and gave me his phone number. I went to high school with him, worked a summer job with him, knew where he lived. The only other lead on clock repair I’d had was a guy in Conway. I didn’t know him but I knew he was good – I just couldn’t call him. I didn’t know where he lived and I couldn’t let them go.
I’ve been told it will take about 6 weeks to get them going again, they will then be returned, put in their respective spots and started up. They will be worked on until they are running perfectly. I’m beyond happy about this and so pleased they are with someone I know. I’m also looking forward to waking up at 4:00 AM and knowing what time it is.
There is a flat file in one of the old workrooms at the house in Rowe. It is probably 3 feet wide and 20+ inches deep ( I haven’t measured it yet). The room that it has been in for as long as I can remember has a tendency to be pretty damp in the spring and summer. Not having a dehumidifier has caused a lot of strange molds to grow in and on things that have been around for an extended length of time. When my brother and I were cleaning out the room I laid claim to this particular piece. It was used by my father, grandfather and I would hazard to guess my great-grandfather as well.
I decided that I would repurpose the box itself as a table in the living room. It will need a base to bring it to height, that in itself solves one of its problems. You see this was a utilitarian piece and was “modified” over the years. It was filled with nuts and bolts, manuals and instructions, tools, spare and used parts. It also had a collection of my father’s elementary school papers. I cleaned out each drawer, everyone having its own story to tell. Electrical in one drawer, old pocket calendars and date books from the 30’s in another. There were probably 2 drawers of tools and parts for looms which seems to be an ever-present theme in every work room or shop on the property.
I kept what I could in a couple of boxes and set them aside.
The entire unit smelled of mildew so I pulled out all of the drawers and decided to let it dry and air out. It’s been doing that for over a year now. This past weekend I started cleaning it up. It cleaned as well as can be expected since it has probably close to century’s worth of dirt and grime on it. It no longer smells.
I’m in kind of a quandary about my next move. This thing is splattered in spots with paint (what looks like white paint in the photo above is actually a really reflective silver). There is some green paint splattered on the side of the cabinet towards the back. To strip and refinish or to leave it alone other than a bit more clean up. I could just redo the top making it a little smoother (the varnish is crackled at this point). I am more inclined to leave it the way it is and make up stories about what has happened to it over the years. All kinds of stories were in my head as I cleaned the stuff out of it. If there wasn’t so much mold and mildew I might have just left some of the drawers the way they were. It felt as though the ghosts of generations past were still in there.
Bill thought if I was to strip it I could bring it to people we know who refinish furniture and have them do it. I told him the little secret that really made this piece special to me. There are greasy fingerprints all over the bottoms of each of the drawers and I didn’t want them to disappear. They are the prints of three generations of working men in my family and that spoke to me more than anything else. I don’t want anything to happen to that aspect of it. The amazing part for me it the fact that no one will know about that little secret unless the drawers are removed. For me this is what has made a piece of junk into an heirloom.
Many people are getting their seed catalogs out and pouring through them this time of year. It’s good to do a little planning and have your seeds ready to go whether you need to start your tomatoes in the house, are sowing some seed in your hot or cold frame or are just thinking about what will go where in the garden this year.
I’m a planner, it’s one of my favorite parts. I plan what I’m going to plant and where it’s going to go in the garden this year. I plan what plants will be next to the others keeping companion planting in mind. I plan different designs because I hate how boring it is to look at a garden with plants in rows. I pour over the charts I’ve kept in past years to make sure I don’t plant the tomatoes and potatoes in the same place year after year.
I work on an order with High Mowing Organic Seeds that I continue to change week after week from October on, waiting until the last minute to place it. I read their website for all the info I can gather about the new seeds I want to try growing. There are always the tried and true to grow like last year’s Gold Rush yellow snap bean. I cannot say enough about this bean, it was prolific. I started picking beans in July and picked them until frost. They weren’t those tough, tasteless beans either. They were tender and tasty until the very end. I lost count of how many pints I canned but I know Sue and I complained towards the end of the season every time we picked enough beans to can once more. Of course now I’m glad I did.
The other plant I grew this year and introduced to everyone I knew was Joan Rutabagas. I grow them every year and was a little in awe at how few people had never tried rutabagas (probably because they are my favorite vegetable). They require a fairly long growing season but are very cold hardy so they weren’t dug until well into October. I fed them to everyone.
Every year I pick one or two new plants to try. Some work out very well like the Gold Rush beans. Some don’t
but I feel like I haven’t given it a real chance unless I plant it a couple of years in a row. Each growing season is so different. Here’s the problem, every year there are more and more things I want to plant but I don’t have the space to plant them all. I have to cut down my list of seeds.
There are currently 27 items in my cart. I probably should get rid of half.
What it really makes me do is plan a new garden in another spot on the property. It’s always some nice piece of lawn that Bill has worked on for years. He’s not going to like this.