OCKS AND CLOCKS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge: Words that end in “ock”

I don’t have a lot of “ock” words in my house, but my son is very seriously into chiming clocks. He has at least 8 chiming clocks downstairs and we have 3 chiming clocks, one “world clock,” and then about four or five more regular clocks, a couple of which haven’t been updated for Daylight Savings Time and one mantel clock that needs repair and isn’t currently running. All the chiming clocks are in working order, however, and when it gets late in the day, the entire house sounds like a cathedral.

No two clocks chime in exactly the same way — they may not even have the same chiming format (there are three and some of the clocks you can choose which type of chime you want) — and they never all start at exactly the same time. Nor do they end at the same time. So around 10 at night, the chiming goes on for quite a while. Oh, and some clocks chime very slowly while others are fast.

We have a big grandfather’s clock in the dining room and a chiming wall clock. We have another wall chiming clock in the living room. The kitchen has a “world clock” and you can see what time it is almost anywhere on the globe. You can also see where it is dark and where it is light. That is the only clock that is electric. All the others are windup or based on weights. The mantel clock doesn’t chime, or at least I don’t think it does. It currently isn’t working, so it’s just pretty.

The difference, in case you had no idea, between a “grandfather” clock and a “grandmother” clock is its height. If it stands seven feet tall or more, it’s a grandfather clock. Between five and seven feet, they are grandmother clocks. There are ones that are even smaller and I’m sure they have a name, but those small standing clocks are not very common and I think I’ve only seen them in museums.

When I was a kid, I had a copy of this song on a small 33 RPM vinyl recording. There were other songs on the album, but I listened to this one all the time. I still know all the words.

My son managed to find a 78 RPM copy of the song, but the one I had has vanished and as far as I can tell, no one has a copy of it. Anywhere. If one of you just happens to have a copy — it would be around 60 to 70 years old by now, so I’m not counting on it — but I would love a copy of it.

Meanwhile, thank you YouTube!

Cee's Black-White

YOUNG AND MATURE GOLDFINCHES – Marilyn Armstrong

You know the weather is warm very early because we have a crop of fledgling and adolescent Goldfinch. The very young ones show only a hint of yellow. They look closer to grey than yellow. It’s interesting having a whole new generation and it’s just the beginning of March.

Full-grown Goldfinches

I think this youngster just popped out of the egg

A big plump Goldfinch

Adolescent Goldfinch

At this rate, we’ll have more Goldfinch than dandelions this spring.

HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR MATE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #60

This could be a very torrid post, but as Serendipity is G-rated, I’ll tell you a story. You are free to fill in missing details using your own rich imagination. This is perhaps more than the question requires, but it’s a complicated story.

I married Jeff in August 1965. I spent the next year finishing my B.A. and having my spine remodeled, so it was a few years before I got on with life. My son was born in May 1969. We named him Owen Garry, Garry being his godfather. Fast forward through a non-acrimonious divorce. I later realized if you just give up everything and walk away, it’s easy to be amicable. It’s also something you will probably regret — eventually.

In 1978, I was off to Israel with The Kid. Not too long thereafter, I married in Israel. The less said about this mistake, the better. In 1983, a state visit from the ex and (now) current husband (they rode together), showing up right in time for war in Lebanon. It ruined our plans to visit Mt. Hermon and the Galilee but created great anecdotes.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

August 1987.

I’m back from Israel. Garry and I are an instant item. Having been apart for so long brought us closer together than we’d imagined possible. The previous decade hadn’t dealt kindly with either of us and we saw one another with new eyes. I think we’d always been a little in love, but there were so many reasons why it wasn’t the right time to do something about it.  Now, shortly after my Israeli divorce from husband number 2, Garry and I got married.

Here’s how it really happened.

I’d been away for two weeks in California on business. I had come back early because I got sick, came down with the flu. Just as well, because an earthquake — the one that stopped the World Series — occurred the following day and if I’d stayed, I’d have been crushed under the collapsed highway.

Garry was glad to see me … until I coughed. Then he wasn’t so glad. If you want to know the definition of “mixed emotions,” it’s a man overwhelmed with joy to see the woman he loves — but knowing the first kiss will include influenza. The definition of true love? He kissed me anyway. And got the flu.

So after we both stopped coughing, Garry took me out to dinner. He was nervous. He was driving and we went around Leverett Circle at least half a dozen times. He kept missing the turnoff. Meanwhile, he was explaining how he’d had a conversation with his pal about real estate, and how prices were down, and how maybe we should buy something. And live together. Like maybe … forever? Was forever okay with me?

So having listened for a pretty long time, I said: “So let me see if I’ve got this right. You want to buy a house? Move-in and live together? Forever? As in married?”

“All of that,” he said and drove around the loop one more time.

“I don’t know about you,” I said, “But I definitely need a drink.”

The following morning, I asked Garry if I could tell my friends. He said, “Tell them what?”

“That we’re getting married,” I said.

“We are?”

“You said we should buy a house and live together forever.”

“Is that a proposal?”

“It is where I come from,” I assured him. Wouldn’t you think that was a proposal? I had to remind him about buying a ring, too but eventually, he got into the groove, realized all he had to do was tell me what he wanted and show up in a tux and he’d be a married guy. Piece of cake.

We got married 6 months later having known each other a mere 26 years.

I declined to have my first ex-husband be best-man at my third wedding. We did, however, have the “real” reception at his house. There was the official one at the church, but the fun event, with all the friends, music, wine, and sharing was over at the old house where I used to live with Jeff.

Life has a funny way of turning around when you least expect it.

A GAZE OF RACCOONS – Marilyn Armstrong

Groups of animals have collective names that are often archaic and unique. Raccoons are a gaze.


Whales are a pod. Crows are a murder. Squirrels are a dray or a scurry. I haven’t found out what a bunch of flying squirrels are so I guess they are a dray or a scurry too since no one has a better answer.


Last night, for the first time, we had only raccoons visiting us. No flying squirrels. But last night’s raccoons were big raccoons, not the adolescent ones we’ve had earlier. I was trying to explain to Garry, who though our raccoons looked pretty big to him, were actually not big raccoons, but young ones. Not babies, but not grown up either. Short tails, incomplete masks. Nor fully furred.


These two were a lot bigger, darker in color. Longer, darker striped tails. Real masks. They show up better in the photographs too. The little guys didn’t come by because they didn’t want to be a fresh snack for the big kids. Those big masked guys might just decide to eat them.