The Time of My Life

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk thinking, “Hey Dave, time’s a-ticking. Gotta come up with a topic for tomorrow’s post”. I stared at the clock, considering a few interesting ideas. The slender second-hand edged ever closer to the next minute, to the next hour, time literally passing before my eyes. Suddenly it hit me. My topic. Time.  More to the point, clocks.  To which I lob an interesting question your way: analog or digital?

The Seth Thomas “Promise”

My house is full of inanimate objects screaming for attention. When I’m lost in thought and staring into space, a certain something in the room starts to say, “Pick me! PICK ME!” in a desperate attempt to become a blog post. Today my desk clock actually pulled it off. I was dead set on a couple other topics until my clock somehow ticked its way to the top of the list.  Perhaps today’s title should’ve been, “A Moment in Time”.

We’re not talking about just any desk clock, mind you. The little guy you see here (all of 2.5″ wide by 3″ high) is a Seth Thomas “Travel Carriage Alarm Clock”, a quartz analog model made by the hundreds of thousands in China. You can find one online for $14.99, the affordability belying its simple elegance. I chose this clock as a gift from Hewlett-Packard (HP) on the fifth anniversary of my employment back in 2002.

I had better choices than an analog clock, but the Seth Thomas somehow captivated me. Even twenty years ago when I got it, a desk clock waxed nostalgic, especially with arrow-capped hands and Roman numerals. The “Promise” model also makes a pleasing little tick-tock-tick-tock sound as the second-hand sweeps the minutes away.

German AND Swiss-made…

If my four-year-old granddaughter were reading this post she’d ask her dad what analog means.  Let’s face it; my granddaughter’s growing up in a wholly digital world.  Her watch, her smartphone, her computer, and the clocks she displays in her future house will exhibit squarish lifeless numerals instead of graceful minute and hour hands.  She’ll “tell time” the way McDonald’s cashiers push the hamburger key instead of entering the amount.  No interpretation required.

I took a stroll around my house and counted three analog clocks, each with sentimental value.  Besides my Seth Thomas, we have an intricate cuckoo clock we purchased in Germany (with the mechanics made in Switzerland), and a horse-head clock we’ve had forever (which no longer works but still graces our bedroom wall).  Our digital timepieces are many more in number yet I still prefer the soothing tick-tick of analog hands, as well as the lazy swing of the cuckoo clock pendulum.

When I was a kid, I grew up in the presence of a formal grandfather clock, standing guard in the curve of our entryway staircase.  I can still hear its chimes, with a higher pitch than you’d expect from its heavy-framed stature.  My bedroom was close enough to hear the bells of the hour in the middle of the night, a gentle reminder it was time to get some sleep.  Whenever I wind our cuckoo clock today, I remember my dad doing the same thing with the grandfather all those years ago.

Since we’re talking about analog, I owe my wristwatches a few words.  I have eight of them and most stopped ticking a long time ago.  Two are also from HP anniversaries (What the heck, were timepieces my only choices?) but three others have more significance.  One carries the logo of my father’s seafood restaurant.  I still have the Snoopy watch I believe was my very first timepiece (my granddaughter wouldn’t know Snoopy either, sigh).  I also have my first “big-boy” watch; a gold Pulsar with matching hands on a cream-colored face.  Yes, I may be wearing a sleek digital Fitbit as I type but I always wear one of my analog watches on special occasions.  At least, one that still works.

[Author’s Note: I’m a little unnerved to see each of my wristwatches in the above photos is stopped at the exact… same… time. I didn’t do this! Why would I do this? Either someone’s been playing in my watch drawer or my house is haunted. Maybe both.]

Prague’s Astronomical Clock

I can’t decide if my granddaughter will miss out with the lack of analog in her life.  She’ll take trips where she’ll see quaint clocks high up in the steeples of New England churches.  She’ll take a hop-on-hop-off double-decker bus through London, passing under the shadow of Big Ben.  She may even make it to the Old Town Square in Prague to see the famous Astronomical Clock, still operating since 1410.  But will she know how to tell the time?  Time will tell (ha).  More likely, her grandfather will teach her how.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.


Lego Grand Piano – Update #5

Last week

I describe this week’s movement as “allegretto”, or “light and cheerful” (read about my hesitant warm-up in Let’s Make Music!).  I completed the build of Bag #5 – of 21 bags of pieces – in a cool 46 minutes.  Maybe I’m finding the rhythm of this piece, though I did have a tense moment where two critical blocks were installed the wrong way and I had to disassemble several steps to get them right.  Whew – that was close!

Dare I say, we’re starting to see hints of the finished product.  Those four circles in the “this week” photo are part of what you’ll see when the piano lid is open.  All those little yellow “grabbers” will cradle the piano strings.  To the rear, we’re seeing some of the graceful curves of the instrument’s black body.

This week

Simple math tells us we’re approaching 25% completion of the build.  To put it another way, our concerto is about to wrap up the first of its four movements.

Running Build Time: 5.0 hours.  Musical accompaniment: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Leftover pieces: ZERO! (Holy cow – how did that happen?)

Conductor’s Note: I’m about 700 pieces into the build and this instrument is getting heavy.  Now I understand why you need special movers to relocate a piano.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

23 thoughts on “The Time of My Life”

  1. Made me chuckle with the idea that objects in your home are shouting “Pick me! PICK ME!” I have that feeling sometimes, too. I have a few wristwatches that I keep, not because they work any more, but because I like the idea of something analog still existing in my life. You’re making good progress on your Lego piano. I’m still amazed by it– and your willingness to take it on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I consider all of the “things” in my house, Ally, I probably have several years’ worth of blog topics ahead of me. Every one has a story of some kind; I just have to drag it out of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Prague clock – I visited it more than once when we visited that wonderful city!
    I have an entire wall of clocks – the Arizona house currently has 21! The most interesting is the one that the hands run counter clockwise and the numbers are too.

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    1. We were meant to visit Prague on a second Viking Cruise before the pandemic got in the way. I’ve heard so many good reasons to see the city; not just the clock. A wall of 21 clocks! You should write a post about them, Margy. Just hearing why/where you purchased each one would be worth the read.


  3. Over the last few years, I’ve done a number of marquetry and scroll saw projects involving clocks. I don’t make the clockwork – I buy that ready made – just make the face, stand and so on. I’ve made so many that my wife has said, “No more clocks.”

    The piano is coming together!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope we never lose Daylight Savings Time because I enjoy the twice-a-year tour of my house where I reset my analog clocks. But I only have three, unlike you. You really CAN have too much of a good thing (or so says your wife).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The objects in your house calling for attention reminds me of Beauty and the Beast haha. I am also concerned that all of your watches are stopped at the same time, my watch has been dead for 2+ years and now I like my Apple Watch so I know how many steps I have. I do like the look of a large analog clock though, my parents have a nice one.

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    1. I’ll be checking my wristwatches regularly from now on, Lyssy. If any of them change their time (especially if ALL of them do), we’re moving. And yes, we’ve toyed with the idea of one of those giant analog wall clocks too – the round ones with no “face” behind the numbers. Classy look if you have the right decor.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ohhh the days of actual alarm clocks!! I do have a thing for watches…I have 5? One is an Apple Watch. Honestly I dont wear any of them too often. Not even the Apple. Just one more thing to charge!!! Boo.

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    1. I agree about the watches, Pam. Even with my Fitbit, I wear it more out of habit than to regularly track data. We all have our smartphones if we need to know the time-of-day. Maybe I’ll go a day or two without wearing anything on my wrist and see if I can get used to it. As you say, I wouldn’t mind not having to charge one more electronic device.


  6. I have saved all my analog watches too Dave. Now I wear a cheap digital watch when walking on work day mornings and I free myself from watches on weekends. I had to smile that all your watches stopped at the same time. When I went to get a battery for this digital watch, I mentioned I should just wear the other watches, some dressy, some fun like a Mickey Mouse watch, instead of keeping them in a jewelry box, but a few are battery operated. He told me to pull the stem out to keep from draining the battery. I just wear the cheap watch and if it gets yard work dirt on it or I’m caught in the rain, I just wipe it off – no worries. I have a clock in the kitchen which ticks for each second with the second hand. It was my desk clock at work, shaped like an oversized apple. Both at work and at home, the ticking noise can be hypnotizing and many a time I have nodded off listening to it.

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  7. I like the stem idea. Maybe I’ll take my whole lot into the watch repair one of these days and get them going again. I think I’ll always have a ticking clock in the background, at least in our living room and bedroom. It’s more comforting to me than pure quiet.


  8. Wow Dave you have quite a collection of stopped timepieces. As for who did it, it sounds like something out of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew – The Secret of the Old Clock? I keep old timepieces too, as they were often jewelry type things. And I have my great uncle’s pocket watch from 1912 when he died, which just happens to have my initials carved on the back. I’ve often meant to see if I can get it fixed.

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  9. Oh my, hang onto that pocket watch and get it fixed! “The Secret of the Old Clock” sounds familiar. Maybe I need to reread it for clues on what’s going on with my watches. Not gonna lie; it’s got me preoccupied 🙂


  10. My analog clock life is much like yours, with too many that need mechanical attention. We got a large grandfather clock as a wedding gift from family, IN the last couple of years it stopped working and I need to take it somewhere for repair. I really miss the regular chimes. We have several other battery powered analog clocks that work. Then there are the watches. I wish I had avoided trying to disassemble my Yogi Bear watch when I was about 7 or 8.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes has to scramble to make a blog deadline. And Pictures At An Exhibition is a favorite of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a pretty good routine with posts, going from topic to draft to final in the space of Monday to Thursday, but every now and then Thursday creeps up on me. “Pictures…” is one of my favorites as well. For that matter, all 21 classical pieces I choose for the Lego build will be favorites.


  12. You have quite a collection of interesting time pieces. I know the one in Prague well. Sometime when you are searching for something to blog about, tell us about your father’s seafood restaurant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On your trip to Carlsbad, you were close to two of my father’s restaurant locations, Ruth. The Fish Market is in Del Mar, right on the harbor in San Diego, and in a few suburban locations in the Bay Area. You’re right, my memories inside of the restaurants would make for a good post.

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