Tag Archives: Hickory Dickory Dock


Aubren watching the clock strike.
Aubren watching the clock strike.

We’re still moving.

Although the move has gone smoothly, we’re still adjusting to a new home and can’t seem to find anything when we need it.   Or it’s still at the old house!

One little thing has made quite a difference.

In 2002, our youngest daughter bought an “antique grandfather clock” from England that was a limited edition clock to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.   The clock bears a commemorative plate on the front.   Of course, it’s not really an antique as it’s only 14 years old, but it looks like an antique.   Finally, we have a good place for it and it’s now chiming every 15 minutes from 7am to 10pm.

Our eldest grandson loves it.

Wherever he is in his “new house” he runs to the clock when it starts chiming and is fascinated by it.   He then comes running back to me pointing in the direction of the clock and repeating enthusiastically “Hickory Dickory Dock.”   (Long-time readers will remember his love of the old nursery rhyme.)   I’m taking the opportunity to teach him time using the clock.   Every hour you hear the number of strokes denoting the passage of time.   The chimes are “Westminster” chimes, just like Big Ben.

Although, to be exact, not like Big Ben, which, after 150 years, has now been silenced for extensive repairs.  I don’t know what the BBC will do.  When we lived in Ghana, we heard the chimes of Big Ben every day on the BBC World Service, the most listened to radio service in the world.   In a period of turmoil, it conveyed a sense of stability, normalcy and even sanity.  But it’s now too old to continue – until it’s fully repaired.

Our clock and London’s famous clock are reminders of the passage of time.

No two days are exactly alike in this world.   Every fifteen minutes, there’s likely to be some change.   I wonder what the world of our grandchildren will be like when they are 65?

This year we are seeing some changes that may turn out to be very significant.

On Sunday, Austrians gave the right-wing Freedom Party the most votes in the first round of the Austrian presidential election. Now, the president of Austria does not have executive powers.   His responsibilities are more ceremonial, similar to what the Queen has in the United Kingdom.   However, he can dissolve parliament and call an election.   If he does, we may find his party wins and controls parliament.   Europe is moving to the right as the people reject the traditional centrist parties that have governed for seven decades. It’s similar to the 1930’s with a rising nationalism, xenophobia and economic stagnation all contributory factors.

Arguably, the same phenomenon is taking place in the United States with Donald Trump.

We see it in a number of different countries.  In the United Kingdom, a referendum is to take place in a few weeks on the country’s continued membership of the European Union.   We should not confuse this with the euro-zone – Britain has an exemption on this issue regardless of the outcome of the vote.   The EU itself is the issue in June. The EU has a great deal of support, but many want to put “Britain First,” the name of one of the anti-EU parties on the political right.

In hindsight, it was a big mistake for Britain to enter the Union in 1973.  But after more than 40 years of marriage, divorce is not going to be easy.   In the short-term the outcome may not make much of a difference.  The EU is evolving into something more akin to the Holy Roman Empire than the United States, with no two members seemingly alike.  Whatever the outcome of the June 23rd vote, the UK will have to come to terms with a German-dominated potential superpower on its doorstep.

So will the US.   Donald Trump gave a major speech yesterday calling for a radical reappraisal of US foreign policy.   He promised to put “America First,” the name of a movement in the 1930’s to keep America out of Europe’s rising conflict.

It’s been 25 years since the fall of communism but the US continues to spend billions each year defending long-time allies against Russia, China and North Korea.   There is growing resentment amongst American voters who feel that the US has to spend more than its fair share, at a time when Americans are experiencing a fall in their standard of living.

There could be significant changes if Trump wins the election in November.

At the same time, there could be significant changes in Europe regardless of who wins the US election.

King Solomon wrote 3,000 years ago:

“That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Future historians may label this period in time as “the rise of nationalism.”   But it’s nothing new.   We’ve been there before.   The post-World War II international set-up is increasingly falling apart.   Within the next few months we could see some real changes.

In Daniel 2:21 the ancient prophet says of God:

“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   America, like Britain before it, has had its period of pre-eminence.   A withdrawal from much of the world would inevitably diminish America’s international standing – the president would no longer be “the Leader of the Free World.”

It would be time for another superpower to fill the vacuum.

Like our grandfather clock, our grandchildren are likely to see these changes and feel the impact as their world dramatically changes.   They will need to remember the words of Jesus Christ to pray fervently for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10).



My laptop gave up the ghost on Sunday.   The result has been mixed emotions – I have to admit to being somewhat lost without it but my life is less stressful.

On Monday I went to the Apple Store, which has only just opened here in Lansing. I felt like I’d walked into the bar scene in “Star Wars.” The place was full of really weird people. Nerds and geeks were in plentiful supply. I’m just thankful that neither of my daughters had brought one of these guys home! (Although, admittedly, he might have proved useful in this instance.)

The diagnosis was that I needed a new hard drive, which would cost me about $160. But they could not take anything off the old hard drive. I would have to go elsewhere for that. Diane said she could do it, so I took it home again.

The following day, today, Tuesday, we took it back. I needed her to go with me as she at least speaks the language and could communicate with the employees. I zone out as soon as they start talking. It’s all Geek to me! (Sorry!)

The guy I saw yesterday wasn’t there, so we had to get another diagnosis. Once again, it was determined that I needed a new hard drive. It would also mean leaving my laptop with them for five days as they had a huge backlog of computers that needed fixing urgently for MSU students.

Alternatively, we could go to Best Buy and buy a new hard drive, which we could install ourselves. Well, not me exactly. I wasn’t about to attempt that. But Diane got positively excited at the prospect, so we (she) decided to opt for that. After installation, we would then have to return to the Apple Store for additional software, which they said they would install free of charge while we wait

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this was all having a serious effect on my relationship with the two grandsons that live with us. According to our daughter, in the middle of the night, Aubren, the eldest, had woken up and kept repeating “Grandpa. Hickory Dickory Dock.” By morning, he was ready for a nursery rhyme session on Grandpa’s lap.

But he was soon disappointed when I told him my laptop was “broke.” I’m not sure he really understood the word, as he kept on looking for the computer anyway. I just kept on repeating: “Broke! Broke!” in the hope that he would figure it out. But he didn’t.

This is where Grandma seized the opportunity and invited both boys to sit with her to watch “Hickory Dickory Dock” on her laptop.   Suddenly, Grandpa’s lap was empty and the boys were on the couch with Grandma, totally engrossed watching their favorite rhyme on Grandma’s smaller and cheaper screen! How fickle!

The truth was out – it was my laptop they had really loved all this time! Is this an example of the new electronic generation? You see evidence of it everywhere you go, family members in restaurants each looking at their own favored addictive device, bowing down to their plastic idol. Does it start when two-year-olds reject Grandpa for another laptop? Will they similarly reject friends motivated by the simple desire to see the latest technology?

Thankfully, Grandma’s laptop didn’t last long. By the end of the day they were ready to sit on my lap anyway. Bottles in hand, they just wanted some Grandpa time before going to bed. Human contact is more important than a gadget, after all.

Hopefully, my laptop will be fixed by tomorrow and life can get back to normal.



I took our eldest grandson out this morning – the first time since going into the hospital six months ago.

As he’s only 2 and a half, he had forgotten our daily trips last summer. Today, he was quite fearful about going anywhere with Grandpa.

This was not helped when I lifted him into his car seat in our Ford Expedition. It wasn’t easy to lift him. I had doubts myself as my surgeon said I should not lift more than ten pounds. But I got him into his seat and we drove to a nearby store.

He was still resisting me when I got him out of his car seat and into a shopping cart.   Thankfully, he’s easily bought – I gave him a packet of cookies and he calmed down. From that point on, he behaved himself perfectly, helping me select grocery items as we walked down the aisles (more cookies!).

I’ve started to address him as “Cookie Monster.” He’s a fan of Sesame Street and has learned the alphabet partly by watching the show. When the program today showed an ‘N’ and a ‘P,’ he came up to me pointing at the television screen and saying ‘O’, ‘O’ and again, ‘O’.   He’s not even three and he’s already correcting mistakes on TV!

He and his younger brother still favor “Hickory Dickory Dock” over all other electronic fare. Only they don’t say “dock” – they say “duck.” When I’m using my laptop, they will ask for “duck” and I switch over from whatever I’m doing to show them yet another variation of “Hickory Dickory Dock.” Does anybody out there know how many versions of the old nursery rhyme are on the internet? It must run into the hundreds! I can even sing it in Hindi.

I used to take both boys out for a daily walk but have not been able to this summer for health reasons. Today was a big step, taking Aubren out for an hour. Next time, I will take his younger brother Leeson. It’s going to be a while before I can take both out at the same time. But today was one small step forward into full recovery.

Diane and I are both recovering from surgery at the same time. It’s a slow process. We have to help and support each other. Hopefully by next spring we will be back to normal and able to go places and see people. I also hope I will be up to walking both boys again, on a daily basis. They won’t want to walk with Grandpa much longer, so I don’t want to miss any opportunity now.