Spelling Man and time in a bottle

Pretty sick of hearing the phrase "time is running out" regarding the debt ceiling debate.  Time, though, is of the essence, or at least a recurring theme this weekend.  So let's share a brief horological moment. Horology? Yes, indeed:

horology Look up horology at Dictionary.com  

science of time, 1819, probably from Gk. hora “hour” (see hour) + -logy. Earlier it meant “clock, clock dial” (c.1500), from L. horologium. Related: Horologist.
Spelling Man phoned the library yesterday, and it was my good etymological fortune to answer his call. Spelling Man wondered how to spell the name of an antique French country clock that chimes on the hour for prayer, and again a minute later to signal the end of prayer.  Spelling Man seemed insulted when I asked if it was a domed clock.  No, like a grandfather clock! It was difficult to distinguish the consonant sounds as he pronounced them, and also French.  I know Spelling Man was not impressed, but a quick search of the reference desk dictionary provided no answer.  I would have to find some references for antique French clocks and call Spelling Man back with an answer.

Books in the 749 Dewey category had pages that crumbled at my touch, but I eventually found the word "Morbier".  Could that be Spelling Man's clock?  Later online searching confirmed that Morbier clocks had the prayer chimes described by Spelling Man:

Another unusual feature that Morbiers have is that they strike twice on the hour: for example, at 6:00, the clock strikes six times, and at 6:02, the clock strikes six times again. My understanding is that the first strike was a call to prayer and the second strike was to indicate when to begin prayer. The clock also strikes once on the half hour. The religious tradition seen here dates back to the 12th Century, when most clocks were built for churches. People listened to the church bells to know what time it was, when to pray, and when to eat. The plates holding the gears together in Morbier clocks are somewhat similar in design and construction to the medieval church tower clocks, made of strips of forged iron, as if the Morbier clocks were small versions of the great tower clocks. 

Every library has a Spelling Man who calls with impatient requests.  I'm not sure how many library staffers return the call to be answered by an automated sexy-voiced virtual assistant named "Sharon". This seemed straight out of a Clive Cussler novel.  And, okay, here I must admit my firm belief that reading a Dirk Pitt book keeps my airplane safe when I am a passenger if I also drink Mr. & Mrs. T Bloody Mary mix with my peanuts.

A friend recently visited Munich and brought these postcards of the famous clock tower glockenspiel. The cards turned up under the newspaper comics section where Bizarro showed a man strapping a cellphone to his wrist with Velcro so he could tell time.

It is time, indeed, to clean up the stacks of papers around the condo! But first we must dust the cobwebs off the condo debt ceiling...  And that will take at least a five-hour energy drink.

Should we turn back the hands of time, or keep fretting?  Maybe we could encourage our dang congresspersons to work together by playing Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" on a continuous loop at loud volume in their chambers until they find a solution.

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

What hands?  What time? What bottle?

This link is to an NPR interview with Howard Mansfield about his book, Turn and Jump: How Time and Place Fell ApartTime is a strange, abstract, evolving concept. We all know people for whom time stands still or slows to accommodate their over-booked schedules.  Perhaps they are horologymnasts. But they better not make the economy jump through hoops.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kim said...



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