The Measure of a Good Visit

Jan 25, 2013 | 1 comment

Postage ScaleOne of my most vivid memories of my grandfather is of him sitting in the rocker by the library fire talking with a neighbor or a caller from afar.  Everything stopped when someone came to the door and said, “I was just in the area and thought I’d stop by to pay a visit.”

Anyone in the household at such a time would settle into a library chair, my grandmother would offer tea or coffee, and for the next little while – maybe an hour or two – the adults conversed.  Any children “were seen but not heard” unless someone said “little pitchers have big ears” and we were told to “go on out and play.”

I loved those visiting times and, somehow, they are synonymous in my mind with the Oysterville of my childhood.  My father, a Bostonian and more formal in his ways, preferred it when people called first and asked when it might be convenient to come.

Gradually, perhaps as a necessity with our modern, fast-paced life, most people do now make an appointment before they come to the house.  Usually it’s to drop something off or for some other quick errand.  Except for Tucker.  He calls to see if he can come and visit.  Really visit.  I love it and, if possible, I try to put everything on hold for a bit, just as in the ‘olden days’ of my childhood.

Yesterday Tucker was in town and brought with him his friend Del. Our conversation rambled over many topics, including the fact that Del had recently retired as a metrologist.  I must have looked pretty blank and so he explained that metrology is the science for developing nationally and internationally accepted units of weights and measures.  It’s a subject that I knew nothing about but the excitement with which Del described his career made for an engrossing morning.

Portable ScaleLike Tucker, Del is a collector and Tucker asked if I’d show him around the house.  We had already established that my family were ‘savers’ rather than collectors and we had even discussed which was more difficult to part with when the time for down-sizing arrives.  (Our tentative conclusion: saved stuff is harder to dispose of than collected stuff.)  Tucker sometimes refers to our house as a ‘living museum’ and so.. we took a quick tour.

Right away Del spotted the little postage scale that sits on our roll top desk. It’s been used for at least three generations in this house.  That made me think of the portable gold dust scale (actually a “balance” not a scale) that my grandfather used in the days the family had a placer mine in Northern California.  It’s quite a curiosity with its ivory balancing stick, brass pan and weight, and bamboo closure on the wooden case.

I don’t often think about either of those quaint scales.  And I try not to think about the bathroom scale!  The only weighing we do on a fairly regular basis is with the kitchen scale.  But… I digress – much as our conversation did many times yesterday.  It was a lovely visit.

I only hope that Tucker will continue coming to call once he and Carol have moved here permanently.  Those visits not only give weight to our friendship but connect us to our common past in Oysterville.  I have no doubt that Tucker’s great-grandfather and my grandfather had many such exchanges a hundred or so years ago right in this very house and sitting in the same chairs!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Your house IS a living museum, Sydeny, but Linda likes to come because she thinks you’re so special. Next time I get her to the beach I’ll call and see if we can pay a call. It’s been too long. Have a wonderful concert this weekend.


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