Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My (Grand) Father’s Clocks

If you are of a certain generation you may have sung an old song during music class in the early years of your school experience. It goes like this:
My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
The song goes on to recount how the clock knew all the ups and downs of the grandfather’s life – but it stopped short – never to go again – when the old man died. While I always sang it with gusto during music class I thought the song was sad and a bit morbid – and I often wondered the purpose it served in our elementary school song books.  I didn’t think of it often until many years later, shortly after my own father passed away.  My grandfather didn’t have clocks that I remember – but my dad loved clocks, and he was a ‘grand’ father!  He would have had a house, or a museum, full of clocks if his budget had allowed that pursuit.  I don’t think he ever saw a clock he didn’t like.  He had more clocks in his home than most people I know but they were special clocks and very well displayed. There was a story behind most all of his clocks.  I’d like to share a few of my dad’s clocks and a bit of their story with you.  No, they didn’t stop the day he died - all are still keeping time quite nicely except for one that needs a bit of repair.  I’ll tell you about that one, too, because it has special memories for me.

A gorgeous ‘Victorian Gingerbread Clock’ stood on my mom and dad’s mantel for many years.  Right after I graduated from high school I had a job at a local azalea nursery where I met a young, married woman.  As we became acquainted she told me about her home and husband and children.  One day she told me about an antique clock she wanted to sell.  Immediately I knew my father might be interested in the clock so a day or two later he and I went to her home to look at it.  He bought the clock and proudly took it home where it stood on the mantel of his new home.  Over the years the clock chimed on the hour and the half-hour until one day it stopped chiming on the hour.  It also stopped chiming on the half-hour – but it did chime at twenty-five minutes after each hour.  Many times my dear mother would be somewhere in the house when the clock chimed and she would say, ‘It’s twenty-five minutes after something!’  It worked that way until after my father passed away.  One day my sweet mother met a clock repair man who cleaned and repaired the clock so it would chime at the right time again.  It sat on her mantel over the past years and was always a conversation piece when someone stopped to visit her for the first time.  This beautiful clock has found its way to my home now and it almost always brings a smile to my face when the chimes ring out through my home.
You may remember the days of S&H Green Stamps.  Many things in my parents’ home were the result of my mother saving Green Stamps over the years.  She spent countless hours looking through the Green Stamp Redemption Catalog as she carefully planned what she would get the next time we were near a redemption center.  This clock was one of many things that became a favorite in our home.  It has hung for many years in the closet of a bedroom that Mom and Dad turned into an office/library room.  They took the doors off the closet and used that space to add room for more of my mother’s vintage book collection.  This clock has also found a new home at my house.  It now hangs on the wall of a bedroom my sweetheart and I turned into our office and my creative space/sewing room.
The purchase of one of my father’s clocks was the cause of ‘discussion’ between my parents.  My father was the pastor of a church in a small town in the Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon.  We often drove to ‘the valley’ for conferences and meetings.  It was one such day after a meeting in the valley that we stopped at a jeweler’s shop before we left the city to head across the mountains toward home.  I don’t remember the purpose of our stop at the jeweler’s shop, but I will never forget that day – or that clock!  I  still remember how it hung on a wall that was filled with all kinds of clocks.  I don’t remember why we went to that little shop but I do remember that almost the minute my dad walked in a cuckoo clock that hung in the center of the wall caught his attention.  And his heart.  By the time we walked out of the shop that clock had been paid for, removed from the wall, carefully wrapped and placed in a box that was handed to my father.  My memories of the trip home are vivid.  It’s as if I’m still that little dark-haired, dark-eyed girl in the backseat of the car as I listen to my parents discussion in the front seat - they were discussing the clock! It must have been sometime around early May because my father bought the clock for my mother - for Mother’s Day.  The problem?  She didn’t want a cuckoo clock for Mother’s Day.  Her heart was set on a beautiful teakettle she had hinted about many, many times.  In her disappointment, somewhere in her heart she devised a plan.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise when a month later she gave my father that beautiful teakettle for Father’s Day!  I have no memory of the teakettle but I know they both laughed a lot about it through the years and the truth was that my mother absolutely loved her cuckoo clock.  She loved it so much that when it stopped because a handmade, wooden gear inside had worn out she kept it on her kitchen wall and lovingly told the story of ‘her’ clock.  She wanted to have it repaired but she couldn’t find anyone nearby who could repair or replace the worn gear.  This is the clock doesn’t needs some repair.  It works, but not quite right!  It runs, it keeps time and the little cuckoo bird comes out at the proper time but he seems very confused and tired.  He comes out and begins his ‘chirp’ but he never finishes what he starts.  He says ‘cuck’ but can’t seem to find his voice to finish and add the ‘oo’ so he just sits there until someone lovingly reminds him with a slight push of their finger that it’s time for him to go back inside and close the door. 
This clock will soon move to my home, too.  My sweetheart wants to have it repaired or he may try to hand-carve the cog and repair it himself.  He's good at things like that!  We are all very happy  that these clocks are still at home with our family.  I know my dear mother would be pleased – and I’m sure my ‘grand’ father must smile with pleasure to see our joy as we recall our memories of his dear clocks.

 (The photos of each of these clocks were taken when the clocks were in my dear, little mother's home.  The photo of the mantel clock was taken when her mantel was decorated for Christmas.)

song: 'Grandfather's Clock' written by Henry Clay Work (1876)

Friday, February 17, 2017

If You Give A Moose A Muffin

I have a book on my 'grandma' bookshelf - it's been a favorite of more than one of my grandkids. Maybe you've read it, too!
If you don't know the story, it goes like this: If you give a moose a muffin, then he wants jam to go with it. When he's finished he will want another. . .and another. . . until they are all gone.  Then he wants more so you go to the grocery store to buy muffin mix - and he goes with you, but he's chilly so he asks to borrow a sweater. Once he puts your sweater on he notices a button is missing so he asks for a needle and thread. While sewing he remembers the puppets his grandmother used to make so he asks for some old socks to make sock puppets.  The story goes on and on with the moose asking for things to make backgrounds for his puppet show. He keeps asking for things until he finds himself outside your house where he sees your mother's blackberry bushes. That reminds him of the blackberry jam - and if you give him the jam he will want a muffin to go with it!

That's kind of like what's happening at my house these days.  No, we don't have a resident moose and we aren't baking muffins.  Instead, we are beginning to deal with my dear, little mother's home and the many things she treasured through the years.  Easy, you say?  Not so!  It's like the moose in the book.  We have chosen some things that will move to our home.  We need a utility trailer to move a few big things. That's not a problem because my sweetheart owns a little utility trailer for such things.  So, what's the problem?  A few months ago we had some big trees removed from my mother's yard. In the process there was wood for our fireplace - more wood than our little wood shed could hold. Over the past few months the wood has stayed in the utility trailer that was parked in the back corner of our yard. So, here's the problem:

My sweetheart decided to enlarge our little woodshed so he can store the wood where it will be dry.  In the process he discovered that the fence behind the little woodshed has leaned and slumped and is affecting the roof of the woodshed.  He can't just add to the little woodshed without dealing with the fence situation.  So, he is outside fixing the fence.  He's replacing two tired and worn fenceposts, resetting the sagging gate and stabilizing things.  Then he can build the addition on the side of the shed and unload the wood from the little trailer and then we can start to move things from my mother's house.  Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it.

Good thing we don't have a moose!  Or, do we?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Different Sort of Birthday

Today is my dear, little mother's ninety-fourth birthday!  We are celebrating it in a different sort of way this year.  We are celebrating without her.  On the other hand, we're sure she is having a celebration in Heaven that we can't even begin to imagine!  The day has been filled with hard spots throughout the day, phones call to check in with me, hugs and text messages to and from family and many, many memories we cherish.  Just a year ago today we had a wonderful lunch with her and some of our family.
My mother lived a long, full life and she left a legacy that money can't buy. Here's what I wrote for her memorial service.  It was hard to put ninety-three years into a small space but this is her story.

Carol was born February 12, 1923 in Lompoc, California. Her parents were Clifford and Mildred (Hooker) Cooper.  She committed her life to the Lord when she was 15 years old. Following graduation from high school she worked as assistant librarian at the Lompoc library for two years. She attended Simpson Bible Institute in Seattle from 1943-45, where she studied Christian Education. While at Simpson she met the love of her life, James (Jim) Thompson. They were married on June 24, 1945.

Jim and Carol moved to Salem, Oregon where he began his ministry as assistant pastor at the Christian & Missionary alliance Church. Through the years, she served as a very active minister's wife in the churches where her husband was the pastor in Granite Falls and Everett (Pinehurst), Washington, as well as in Bend, Springfield and Milwaukie, Oregon.

In 1963 they moved to Canby. Jim and Carol traveled extensively through the U.S. and Canada for 15 years to conduct evangelistic meetings, Bible camps and Kids' Crusades in churches of various denominations. They organized a new Alliance Church in Ketchikan, Alaska and served on staff at Canby Grove Conference Center. They were honored by the Christian & Missionary Alliance for 50 years of service.

For several years, Carol served as secretary to the director of Love Your Neighbor Ministries, a Gresham (Oregon) based chaplain ministry to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Carol was a woman of deep faith and prayer. When she prayed, God answered. She touched the lives of people wherever she went. She led countless children, teens and adults to the Lord during her lifetime. She led a ladies' Bible Study in her home until recently and she was a spiritual mentor to many people of all ages.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

If We Could See Beyond Today

This song has been on my heart over the past few days.  My dear mother and father often sang it as a duet through my growing up years. The words touch my heart again.

If we could see beyond today
As God can see,
If all the clouds should roll away,
The shadows flee;
O'er present griefs we would not fret
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet,
For you and me.

If we could know beyond today
As God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away,
And tears must flow;
And why the darkness leads to light
Why dreary days will soon grow bright,
Some day life's wrong will be made right,
Faith tells us so.

If we could see, if we could know,
We often say.
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way.
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more
He leads us till this life is o'er,
Trust and obey.

You can hear it sung by George Beverly Shea (soloist for Billy Graham Crusades) here.

copyright 1943 in "Word of Life Melodies #1" by Norman J. Clayton

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Home At Last

I have been absent from my blog over the past few weeks. I had some wonderful things to share through the holiday season and I planned to be here often but life didn't allow me to do that.  My dear, little mother's situation required much more attention than it had in the past and we were aware that she was declining more every day.  Our attention turned to meeting her needs and making the holiday season the best it could be because we knew this would be the last one we spent with her. And it was!

My sweet mama quietly slipped into the presence of Jesus late on the evening of January ninth.  We had planned to move her from her home this month because her needs were increasing so quickly that we knew we could no longer carry the full load in the best way possible for her - but she moved up instead!  She is in Heaven with Jesus and with my father and my baby brother who died at birth. Mom didn't want to move from her home. Her heart longed to stay in her earthly home until she moved to her Heavenly home.  When that day came she wanted to be surrounded by those who were dearest to her on earth.  And that's exactly what happened! 

My sweetheart and I stayed with her twenty-four-seven through the last weeks of her life. That brought such comfort to her and to us.  It was very hard but we will always treasure those days with her. She was placed on Hospice for the last two weeks of her life so we had their incredible staff to help. Our daughter is a medical assistant with training and experience in elder and memory care.  She has worked closely with Hospice groups through the past years.  She took a leave of absence from her job in order to spend the last week of her Nana's life with her and to help us with the day-and-night care required.  I honestly don't know what we would have done without her.  Our son was there often, as was his sweet wife and, at times, some of our grandchildren.  Our son and our daughter and my sweetheart and I were beside her when she walked through Heaven's gates.  She was home at last!

Last Saturday we had a beautiful service to celebrate her life and ministry.  It was a time to shed tears, pay tribute to a long life well-lived, share her favorite Scriptures and sing her favorite hymns. And there was laughter as we recalled memories of her fun, loving, creative spirit.  We were surrounded and loved and hugged and prayed for by family and friends from near and far.

I am just beginning to process the loss of my dear mother. I have good days and I have days filled with poignant memories and many tears.  My sweetheart and I are at the Oregon Coast for a week with our home-on-wheels and our little dog.  We're taking time away to rest and begin to heal. We're parked above the crashing winter waves that sound like thunder when they hit the beach below.  At night a string of lights line the dark horizon as crab boats brave winter seas to work their craft while we rest and sleep.  As I write this post a pod of seals is floating on the surface just below the bluff where we are parked. God has a way of sending special things just when we need them most!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Magical Place

A year ago my sweetheart and I spent a few days with my cousin and her hubby who live on the South Oregon Coast. They had discovered a few Christmas activities they wanted to share with us. They had never been to this train show and didn't know what to expect - but I knew all about train shows!  When our son was young he had a pretty incredible model train collection. Because of his love for trains we had attended a model train show or two in the past.  Model trains come in all sizes from very small to large pieces and all the accessories that add to the fun. I had this one figured out. Or, at least I thought I did!

We arrived at the building where the train show was held. It was an old school gym and we all wondered what could possibly wait behind the doors of that old building.  But, oh, my! When we opened those doors and stepped inside we were transported to a magical world.

This wasn't just trains - it was villages and communities and action and twinkle lights. My photos can't possibly do it justice.
There was a huge 'table' in the middle of the big room. We could walk around and look at each piece, watch the trains go round and round, in and out of tunnels, over bridges and turn corners.
Village displays filled multi-layer shelves all around the outside walls.  It was hard to know where to look next.
There were lighthouses. . .
And mansions and people and animals. . .
And places real and imagined.
There were Santas coming and going.
Lights had been strung on houses that were decorated for Christmas. Snow and snowmen and children playing everywhere. . .
And ballet dancers twirling and dancing at The Nutcracker Theater.
This was the collection of one man and his wife!  He has collected the trains and she has collected the villages and all the pieces that make it come together. Many of the pieces were found at thrift stores and garage sales and some were gifts to her. They present this to their community every holiday season for a small admission fee.  It's a fundraiser for a local community organization they support. It's their way to give back to their community.

It was a special evening.  Time spent together with our dear ones in a place that made us forget the outside world for a time.  Time in a magical place. From the heart of two people who are willing to work long and hard to share what they love to help others.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Past

Thank you for your kind comments on my blog posts while I was away recovering from oral surgery last week. Things are progressing in a very normal way. Last evening I was able to eat a 'soft' meal without having a plastic guard over my upper teeth to protect the roof of my mouth that was affected by part of the surgery. I will spare you the details!  Even though I have chewing limitations for a few more days I was able to venture out to eat something a bit more interesting than the same-old-boring soft foods.  My pain level was less than the surgeon predicted although I did have some 'happy' pain meds for the first few days.  It's amazing how much I craved things that were forbidden during this initial healing process!  And every advertisement on television was food! Food and holiday goodies galore.  But I survived and probably am a bit healthier for it.

Two weeks ago I traveled a few hours from our home to visit my dear cousin on the southern Oregon Coast. Just me! Time away while I sweetheart tended the home fires and was here for my dear, little mother. My cousin and I have always been very close - like very close sisters. We usually gather and collect things to give to each other when we get together and this time was no different. She had gathered some magazines she knew I would enjoy and I took a few well-loved magazines to her. One of the magazines she gave me was a real treasure! Just what I needed to kick off the Christmas season. It was inspiration on each page - a December nineteen-sixty-six Family Circle magazine. The art on the front cover always makes me smile when I look at it.
Every page is filled with memories of Christmas Past and things once thought so 'cool'. I could have ordered the 'Troll Cookie Cutter' for fifty cents to make a cookie tray like this one.
My home was built just three years after this magazine was published and - if I wanted to decorate my home in vintage mid-century style - I could make one of these to hang from my chandelier in the dining room.  Of course I could decorate my table like this, too!
But, since I'm not inclined to do that, I think I'll just keep dreaming of a much more simple Christmas this year.
Oh, wait - there's no time to dream! I've got work to do!  I have to get busy and decorate and finish plans for the big day that's only thirteen days away!  Time to stop thinking of Christmas Past and get ready for Christmas Present!!!