Homepage | Introduction | Parenting Columns | Travel Features | Misc. Musings | Contact | Purchase Info


Learning how to care for my new 'pet'. (#1146)

My Grandmother's Clock

447 words (not counting the extra w's)


Babysitting comes in many forms
by Dianne Roth


As a small child, I would sit on my grandmother’s sofa, braiding the long fringe on the end table’s velvet tablecloth. I would gaze around the room at the large pot bellied stove that kept the room warm and the platform rocker that was placed in front of the fireplace that was never used because it smoked.

My grandmother’s mother would occasionally awake and make end-of-the-world pronouncements that were either chilling or humorous, though we were expected to keep those opinions to ourselves.

The most entertaining thing on those Sunday afternoon visits was my grandmother’s Seth Thomas mantle clock. It was above the unused fireplace and was mesmerizing with it’s constant “tick tock, tick tock, tick tock” and the chimes marking the minutes and hours of our visits.

I loved that clock, and when my grandmother needed to empty her house, the clock became my father’s. He and my mother kept it on an old fashioned table of my grandmother’s, but they only wound the time. The chime apparently was an annoyance to one or the other of them.

A year ago the clock became mine. I found a note on the back that said it was given to Mary Roth, Christmas, 1909, and showed the history of it’s maintenance.

As with any new pet, there was an adjustment period. I was on my own in figuring out how to make it “sit” and “stay running”. It did not come with directions but my mother always said, “Remember, never overwind the clock. It will break.”

It turns out that years of under winding had caused wear and tear that needed fixing. I found a wonderful clock shop in Eugene and took Grandma’s clock in for long overdue attention. When I picked it up, it came with explicit directions on care and feeding. One of the first things the clockmaker told me was to wind the clock until it wouldn’t wind any farther. Apparently, winding it less than fully means the clock must work extra hard to keep going and the workings are always stressed.

The clock falls into my category of “babysitting”. It needs regular attention to perform well. Anything that needs my regular care, needs babysitting. Along with the clock, there is my sourdough starter, my batches of kombucha, my goat milk kefir which needs attention every other day, and my grandchildren.

The good news is, my grandmother’s clock only needs attending once a week. So, I tell my grandchildren, “Hey, it is w-w-w-Wednesday, w-w-w-wind the clock day.” They, of course, roll their eyes, but w-w-w-Wednesday seems like a very good day for w-w-w-winding the time and the chimes on my grandmother’s clock.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on November 2, 2015