I have clock that was given to my father’s parents on the occasion of their wedding. Usually it sits on a mantel above a fireplace wherever it is I happen to call home.
In my lifetime the clock has never worked properly. There is a key to wind the clock, and a pendulum to keep time, but the two pieces never seem to be able to work together.
When I was a child my father would sometimes pack the clock up and take it to the newest clock repairman in the small rural town where we lived, but none of the repairs ever seemed to take. Then, when my father died in October of 1997, the clock became mine, and today — since I am in the middle of the final stage of a three-part move — I was trying to find a way to pack it.
Yesterday, time stood still — not unlike my clock — allowing me to avoid all of the tasks that were in front of me. But at some point time once again became fluid, and when time once again started moving, I got unstuck; my packing and moving mojo returned. Today, with fewer and fewer things left to pack,I found myself looking for a box that was the right shape for my clock.
I had even gone out in search of the perfect cardboard vessel, but the assortment of boxes at the U-Haul where I had shopped did not include one that was just right for a ninety-six-year-old timepiece.
Fortunately for me, the back porch of the condominium where I have taken up temporary residence did have a box that was the right shape and size for my clock that doesn’t keep time. It even has enough room for additional packing peanuts and newsprint paper to protect what will be it’s precious cargo from anything that it might come up against while we move, and I only noticed it because I had, for a moment, given up, and was sitting on the small porch contemplating life in general and moving in particular.
As I tracked down the rest of the materials I would need to get the clock travel ready, I was reminded of a summer that seems quite long ago now when I reproduced that very clock in crochet.
I wanted to make an afghan that was an homage to the life of my paternal grandmother. She died twelve years before I was born, so I have no memories of her that are my own. My father was just thirteen, and in retrospect I can see that he dealt with the pain of that loss by not acknowledging it, so the stable of stories my father told me about my grandmother was very limited.
There was one about how when he was five or six she brought doughnuts to school for the children in his class, and he ate his in one bite.
There was another that involved the two of them traveling by bus. In this story, someone said something to which my grandmother objected, and she advised the person who offended her that he could “kiss my ass.” The last part of the story was my father’s favorite.
The third story involved my father not eating his dinner one night. She told him that if he did not eat his dinner, she would put it in the refrigerator it would be his breakfast, and it was. He ate his dinner every night after that.
While I treasure each of those stories, I didn’t really get to know the woman behind them, and they weren’t enough for an entire afghan. And even if they had been enough, I did not have any ideas for how to render them in crochet, so instead of trying to create a narrative afghan from what I didn’t have, I decided to create a narrative afghan from one I did have, and the clock was one of those things.
I started by removing the pendulum and laying the clock on top of a brown paper grocery bag I had cut open, and then I used a pencil to trace the outline of the clock. With the template made, I then measured the face of the clock, and duly noted it. Then using a gray yarn and a 5.0 mm hook, I got to work.
It was slow work. I didn’t have a pattern, I just had the template fashioned from a paper grocery bag, and as I crocheted, I would lay the piece on top of the template, unraveling and reworking stitches as needed.
It was slow work.
Very slow, but eventually, I finished the clock.
And it would seem that is where I am in my move now. I need to pack up the boxes and fit as many of them into the van I am driving as I can. Like the clock, there will probably be some trial and error, but also like the clock, I will be moving forward, even if I am standing still.