An Important Lesson on {Not} Getting What You Want

I’d like for you to take a moment and close your eyes.  Okay, finish reading this paragraph first, and then close your eyes.  I want you to imagine a piece of furniture or an accessory that you’ve always wanted but don’t have for some reason.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So, what was the item that you thought about?  Was it a new turquoise sofa?  A fabulous piece of art?  A bed with a tufted headboard?

For the longest time, the item that popped in my mind when I dreamed of new accessories was a vintage cuckoo clock.  I spent hours searching local vintage shops and online stores trying to find the perfect clock.  I wanted it to be vibrant and have a lot of personality.  I wanted little dancing people.  And most importantly, I wanted the little cuckoo to pop out of his door and tell me the time.

One day not long ago, I happened upon my dream cuckoo clock on Etsy.  It was a great price and in working order.  Sold!

I had never owned a cuckoo clock before, so I couldn’t wait to get it up on the wall once it arrived.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I had no idea what was in store with my new/old friend.  I didn’t realize that the chains were quite so long, so I had to hang it about eight feet off the ground to keep Emma from touching it.  I had no idea that it was such a beast to set, so I spent lots of time up on a ladder advancing the hands to the right time.  I didn’t actually know that I had to wind the dang thing every day.  There was no way to turn it off at night, so we spent a few nights waking at every hour (and half hour).  And for some reason, that little cuckoo would sometimes chime 13 times at 2 o’clock and once at 7 o’clock.  I finally got fed up and stopped it’s pendulum.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It still hangs on my wall (in a new location that’s not quite so high), and I worship the ground wall it hangs on.  It just doesn’t keep time.  Or chime.  Or tick tock.

After all of that time I spent longing for a cuckoo clock, I felt kind of let down by the realization of my dream.  As much as I love my clock, it turned out to be a lot less fun than the dream of owning it.

Perhaps, there are some things that we need to keep imagining instead of rushing to embrace.  Part of the excitement of DIY and adding fun pieces to my home is the hope and promise of things to come.  Once they come to fruition, or as I’m in the process of DIYing them into fruition, my mind quickly moves on to the next piece.  Maybe the dream of a cuckoo clock is better than the clock itself.  I think the clock has taught me a valuable lesson on not always getting exactly what I want.

Have you ever had that happen?




Filed Under: Decorate Your Home 18 Comments

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).



Comments

  1. I haven’t but a friend of mine did. She really, really wanted one of these http://www.worldmarket.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3479111 but couldn’t afford it. Finally she got one that had been a floor model and was marked way down. Turned out to be the worst piece of furniture ever. With the ends up, it’s fine, but only seats one. With the ends down, it becomes a see-saw.

    Re your clock. You could take the clock works out and replace it with a new one that runs on a battery and doesn’t connect to all the chains and cuckoos, etc. It would still be a working clock, just not an annoying one. http://www.klockit.com/depts/QuartzTimeOnlyMovementsfeaturingQuartexBrand/dept-157.html

  2. I’m from Germany and my parents gave me an expensive handmade German cuckoo clock a couple of years ago. The cuckoo clock is battery operated which leaves the pendulums very short since they are only decoration but the nice thing above all is that the cuckoo is on a light senor…So the little bird is quiet when we are sleeping and it is dark outside. Sometimes it’s better to go with a new version of an antique. I also have a large cuckoo clock that has little dancing people and is on another light sensor. Technology is the key here!
    I actually just wrote on my new blog about my love-hate relationship with cuckoo clocks.

    http://cuckoo4design.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-lovehate-relationship-with-cuckoo.html

  3. My 3 year old wanted a cuckoo clock more than anything so, of course, we searched until we found one. Ours has a cuckoo shot off lever over the cuckoo door but let me give you some tips. You need to help the cuckoo keep time by sliding the pendulum up or down the stick to regulate. Slide it down to slow the clock down. Slide it up to speed time up. Make an adjustment and let it run for fifteen minutes to see if it is keeping time. If not, adjust again. Eventually, you’ll find the happy place – then, mark the pendulum on the back with a pencil so it’s easy to find again if you move it or it slips. Each of the weights run a different function of the clock. One runs the cuckoo. One runs the dancers. And one runs the clock itself. If you don’t want the cuckoo to wake you up in the middle of the night, let the weights either wind completely out or remove them from the chains that run cuckoo and dancer functions. The remaining weight will simply run the clock. I hung my cuckoo in the kitchen next to the phone jack/mount on the wall. We don’t have a house phone (we use our cell phones) so I keep the extra chains draped over that jack so the kids can’t reach them. My clock is an 8 day clock so it doesn’t have to be wound every day, though.

    Anyway – I hope those tips help you fall back in love with your clock. They’re pretty special and, in our house, it’s the only thing that still functions when the power goes out. ;-)

    • What great tips! Thanks! I just go her started again, so maybe we can be in love again.

      My biggest irritation is the wrong chiming. It will be just fine for a few hours, and then suddenly will chime too many times at the top of the hour. Any idea on that? I may have to take it to a clock repair shop.

      • Yes – you need to take it to a repair shop. Something needs replacing or adjusting. And they’ll want to clean it too, which is a good idea. Dust can get in there and gunk up the works. They can also set the timing for you. The last time I took my clock in, I was quoted $95 for the cleaning and $30 for some part. So, not cheap, but certainly not a wallet-buster either. When cared for, these clocks can last several generations! They’re such an amazing work of engineering. Our clock has been running very well for over two years now. And nothing gets my girls giggling or squealing more than watching that cuckoo bird emerge!

        • My kids love it, too. I started back up when Emma was napping, and when she came out of her room she got very excited about it. :)

          So, it chimed 12 times at noon and then 8 times at 1 pm. LOL I think something’s wrong. The Etsy seller said that it was cleaned and serviced, but maybe it got jostled during shipping. I’m going to take it to a clock shop. Thanks again for all of your advice.

  4. My MIL has an antique Grandfather type wall clock that didn’t work. She always said she wished she could find someone to fix it. My hubs searched and paid a bundle to get the clock working again. I don’t think she let it run for 24 hours because it woke her during the night. So, now it hangs on her wall not running, just like it did before my hubs went through the trouble of getting it fixed!

  5. I’m from Germany and my parents gave me an expensive handmade German cuckoo clock a couple of years ago. The cuckoo clock is battery operated which leaves the pendulum and cones very short since they are only there for decoration but the nice thing above all is that the cuckoo is on a light senor…So the little bird is quiet when we are sleeping and it is dark outside. Sometimes it’s better to go with a new version of an antique. I also have a large cuckoo clock that has little dancing people and is on another light sensor. Technology is the key here for me!
    I actually just wrote on my new blog about my love-hate relationship with cuckoo clocks.
    The clock that I painted for my mom is having the same problems as yours. I had found a very helpful website for my mom on google and tried to find it again for you but I can’t find it. I know there is a trick with the pendulum and how fast it moves.

    http://cuckoo4design.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-lovehate-relationship-with-cuckoo.html

  6. We have a cuckoo clock too, and only wind it when the grandkids come for the weekend. It has a little wire that shuts the cuckoo door at night so it doesn’t cuckoo all night. But yes, the kids love to get in the chains. I can’t stand the tick-tocking. Therefore, when the grandkids go home, we don’t pull the chains to wind it again. They do like it though. It reminds me of my grandparents house when I was growing up – they always had one. Good lesson learned here – unfortunately it’s that way with a lot of things we think we just HAVE to have. Enjoyed the post.

  7. well you heard the old saying:
    Be careful what you wish for, you might get it!

  8. I spotted a cuckoo clock at a garage sale just last weekend. But someone else was buying it as I walked up to the house. I was so disappointed I missed out on it by just a minute. You’ve made me feel a little better about it since it sounds like they can be a little bit of a hassle (although they look so cool).

  9. CUTE story!!!!

  10. We have a saying in my family “There is the fantasy, and there is reality”. It can be used for times like this, or for my children when they were younger – “there is the fantasy of having pizza every night, and there is the reality”…..

  11. @Murf – oh no, that’s actually the item I’ve been wanting since last fall for my craft room! I want a cozy spot that can fold up smaller so I have space for all my supplies, but that I can fold down an end for a cozy chaise to read on when I need a secret sneak away spot, or completely fold down for extra sleeping.

  12. My grandfather and father are huge clock collectors – coo-coo and key-wound clocks. I grew up with the hourly (and half hour) chimes, and have a small collection that have been gifted to me over the years. I love listening to all the clocks when visiting my father’s home, I am programmed to sleep right through them… If it isn’t keeping time, you will need to take it into a clock repair shop. You will also need to oil the gears on a regular basis as well. Don’t wind too tight either, that might be why as well. Stopping the clock is also not good for it.

  13. This is a great post, Lindsay! Like the old saying goes, ‘be careful what you wish for’ and ‘the joy is in the journey’. All wise sayings, even when it doesn’t feel that way (and a good reminder). It is a beautiful clock. I had no idea they were so much work!

  14. Pat Matera says:

    It may be that you have to be raised with a cuckoo clock to understand them. They have attitudes. The little bird that lives in that house is not necessarily your friend and may have been trying to escape for many years.
    The clock I own was my Mom’s and she had it since I was about 10 years old. Because it is wood, humidity will affect the time keeping aspect. High humidity makes the pendulum slightly heavier, hence it swings slower and your clock loses time. When the weather dries out the opposite can occur (especially with hot air heat). They do occasionally chime the wrong hour, 13 o’clock is not unusual to hear, but come on, it’s a bird locked in a little house that doesn’t get fed. Cut it some slack. Name the bird, hit the pendulum and remember your kids will have wonderful memories about the darned cuckoo clock!

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