My Antique Clock: A Reflection


My Grandmother’s Clock:  When I was younger, visiting my elderly grandmother, I would wake in the early hours of the morning to the quarterly and resonant Westminster chimes of her Canadian Seth Thomas clock.  Every fifteen minutes, with tremendous precision, the famous chime jingle extended a little bit longer until it would ring out the correct number of chimes.

For many years, I found the whole nocturnal Big Ben experience noisy and disruptive of my sleep.  Many times, I practically begged my mother to stop the clock–move the clock–do anything to stop the almighty racket.  One night I went so far as to lift the wooden box and stop the pendulum from swinging back and forth.  I went back to bed in the new found silence, guilt-free, only to find it re-wound, re-set and working the next morning.  My grandmother likely did her clockwork rounds, and made sure that all things were ticking away.

In Search of the Perfect Clock:  Later in life, after my grandmother had passed away at the age of 93, I went in search of a Seth Thomas clock.  I missed the lovely deep timbre of those tenor chimes that were not tinny and synthesized like the newer versions.  I had not had the good fortune to inherit the original 1920’s clock, but I was determined to find one like it.  Shopping antique stores became my weekend past time where I would bee-line to the old clocks sections and beg the owners to wind and play the clocks for me.

It took a couple of years until one afternoon, I landed on one that looked and sounded identical to our family clock.  It was thrilling to find a working twin of the original.  When opening the back of the clock, it had instructions about how to wind, set and take care of it.  After a bit of trial and error, I was delighted to find that it not only worked, but kept accurate time with regular chime announcements every quarter hour.

Keeping My Clock Wound:  Over the decade after I purchased this treasure, I rarely kept it wound and running.  I always told myself that I would someday get to be its reliable operator when my life levelled out.  My son grew through his teens and into adulthood, and still, the clock remained silent.  Its dormancy reminded me of the atrophy of my spirit as I worked from morning to late at night as an educator, mother and an academic student.  I promised myself that when my life got on track, and my heart started ticking again, it was my promised to bring my clock back to life.  I would become dedicated to keeping both of us alive in a more balanced life together.

Recently, after a difficult transition in my life from one house and job to another, following my husband to a new career; I found myself in a beautiful old home, also built in the 1920’s.  It overlooked the Georgia Strait and from it, I could see Vancouver and Texada Islands.  Through the move, I had uncovered many things about myself, some of which I liked and much of which required some care and attention.  Along with this, I unpacked the clock.  I wavered for awhile on exactly what to do with it again.  Should I start it?  would I have the discipline to keep it going?  What occurred to me next was important.  Why not bring the clock back to life, and then by caring for it, I would re-start my own inner metronome.  The discipline of caring for one might inspire the other.

Starting Over:  Once I figured out the mechanisms of the clock after years of forgetting, it started without difficulty.  The bells celebrating the changing hours came back with amazing regularity, and I was comforted by all of the memories of my past.  Everyday I wind the clock.  Like the instructions at the back of the clock, I have some carefully written ones on the inside of my heart.  Everyday I drink my water, take my vitamins and eat my breakfast.  I take more time for myself.  This regular re-winding is a good start to my new life.

“We progress a step farther, in each tick of the clock”
― Ronnie Cornelisz



The Flip Side: A Reflection


I have spent my whole life considering the flip side of things.

For example, the flip side of my organized personality is the tyrant “would’ve-should’ve-could’ve” task master.

The flip side of making money is being a slave to the institution.

The flipside to being single, free and independently adventurous, has been (before I got married) a lonely bed made for two.

And so, I challenge the yin and the yang.  I welcome the good and the bad; the pros and the cons; the black and the whites; the highs and the lows.  However, what I would really like is to take a stab at landing somewhere in the middle of things, balancing solidly, not precariously on the fulcrum of life without it feeling like an actual tipping point.

It would be nice to have all matters of attention rooted solidly on the top side of things, running round and round, like the earth spins comfortably on its axis, changing only minute by minute — with no flat flip side that we can suddenly fall over and lose ourselves to the shadow side.

Random Karma: A Reflection


A House of Character:  I had always envisioned myself in a house of character overlooking the ocean.  In my youth, I could taste the sea salt coming in off of the water in my imagination of what life off of the prairies would resemble.  The setting would be at the end of the world looking out over barges and sail boats that cut lines across the water.  Sea lions would bark out at me and porpoises would leap in my path as I kayaked.

I had never really known that all of the pictures of the ocean that I had tacked on my wall since childhood, or the whale figurines that I had collected  (and now cluttered my bookshelves), would manifest into one tumultuous move.  It was a move that had come unexpectedly and with jarring, life-changing force and not entirely by design.  My husband landed a good job in a large company doing what he does best.  It was a good decision for both of us to make some significant changes in our lives.  However, it took every bit of my energy and willpower to extract myself from the home where complacent life “attaching” had started to take over.

Within three weeks of his job offer, my new husband and I uprooted–pulled the plug and landed in the only rental available in the old townsite in Powell River adjacent to the pulp mill that from the other side of the Georgia Strait seems to be a terrible eyesore.  However, from the other side, this mill is the heart of a town destined to continue.   I was fortunate to rent out my home and cottage (again, serendipity at play), so I was flexible to leave quickly.

Powell River:  My new home looks over the water, synchronously mirroring the artwork collection that I amassed in a desperate effort to feel closer to the ocean where I felt trapped in Calgary by a career; parenting a child with an ex-husband, and other familial responsibilities.  It seemed that through this visualization of what I had wanted so badly, Powell River came to be.  This little place known for its clean air, wild life, lakes and fishing, is landlocked, and is truly at the end of the universe.  The highway actually ends in Lund.  The only way out is via Desolation Sound by water, or through some windy and precarious logging roads.

It is a delightful town (city) with an interesting First Nations history.  The Sliammon First Nation (Tla’amin Nation) once lived where the pulp mill resides now and it was a contentious relationship from the beginning that seems to have resolved on some matters.  What I have found is that the people are welcoming and engaging (even the bears in our back yard); the fine arts community is thriving; and most importantly, I feel inspired to write as I look out over the Georgia Strait from a new perspective.

The Call to Write:  My husband reminds me regularly of our insanely busy year where we have recently moved in together; hiked Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands extensively; married; travelled to the Dominican Republic and then to Vietnam for some overseas opportunities.  He frequently tells me:  “You have worked since you were 15 years old (35 years) giving everyone else your creative inspiration.  You have always fit your writing into the cracks of your life.  Now you have a chance to give everything to your true calling.  Do it!  Take the time.  You finally have this opportunity.”  It is an unbelievable gift. With new technology, I can do it in a variety of ways, so it is easier to do than before (on my eyes, and ergonomically).  I can work at my own pace and involve other mentors as they appear (and they are appearing).

And so, this year, I will write, and market it, and see what happens.  I also hope to integrate into the community and do other work (as I feel capable and ready to do so).  However, this time, the work will orbit around my creative dreams, and not the other way around.

Stay tuned.