Tell Me a Story about … a Wristwatch!

Wristwatch 4What goes “tic-tic-tic” and brings smiles of wonderment to the faces of toddlers? A wristwatch … or a pendant watch … or a pocket watch.

Ah, the joy of receiving my first wristwatch! Christmases in my childhood home brought lots of presents for me and my two younger brothers. We didn’t get many things throughout the year, except an occasional sand bucket in summer or coloring book in winter. So, the anticipation of birthdays and Christmas filled our minds.

On Christmas morning, our stockings held such treasures as tiny figurines, cars, craft supplies, yo-yos, and candies galore. Our tree stood on top of the platform, so no gifts sat under it. Dad and Mom kept those hidden upstairs in their bedroom. After we unloaded our stockings, the big reveal would come. Jitters and wiggles abounded when Dad walked out of their bedroom carrying a giant Charmin toilet paper box, sometimes going back for another.

From the depths of those boxes, he or Mom pulled gift after gift. Puzzles and books, dolls Wristwatch 1and model cars, clothes and more. And when they emptied the box, the moment for the “big one” came. For there was always a big one, the major gift of Christmas. Once, I got Dancerina, a magical doll that, with one push or pull on the button hidden in her tiara would twirl or bourrée across the floor. The boys got “boy things.”

Then came the year of “The Lesson.” Christmas morning came with excitement in our hearts, “Jingle Bell Rock” on the record player, and wrapping paper on the floor. It was time for the “big one.” We sat on the living room floor while our parents brought the gifts down. Huge boxes hid their faces as they both came down the steps. If our eyes had gotten any bigger, they’d have popped out of their sockets.

Mom placed one big box in front of one brother; Dad put a second giant box in front of the other. The boys ripped the paper off in one second to reveal race car tracks with real motors.

I watched, smiling with happiness for them. Then I looked at my parents, expecting them to return upstairs to get mine.

Instead, Mom handed me a small package. And when I say “small,” I’m talking small enough to hold a single bar of soap. Talk about disappointment. I was shocked. Dismayed. And just plain mopey.

I don’t remember which of my parents said it, but one spoke words I’d never forget: “Big things sometimes come in small packages.”

Wristwatch 2I sighed a little and opened the gift slowly to drag out the inevitable. I don’t know what I expected, but when I opened the tiny box, the world changed. Christmas angels sang, bells rang! Delight poured through my heart and soul!

I had a wristwatch! And not just any dime store watch, but a Cinderella wristwatch, with a sparkly light blue band, a pink face, and Cinderella in her ball gown. Delicate hands pointed at the numbers to show the time. A tiny dial pulled out to wind it … but not too many times or it would get sprung, my dad warned.

I had a wristwatch of my very own! And I learned a valuable lesson, one I repeated for each of our daughters when they got old enough to wear a watch.

And yes, it ticked! But today, you wouldn’t believe how many wristwatches don’t tick.

When I went through menopause, something in my molecular system changed. Something in my skin now “eats” away at various metals. I can’t wear necklaces or earrings for more than a few hours. But wristwatches are the worst.

Because of this, I have to buy new watches every few months. And yes, before you ask, I’ve tried leather bands, clear nail polish and tape on the metal, and ones with bands you change, which worked well until they stopped making them! And one time, for fun, I bought a kids’ watch with a plastic band, a princess, and a button to push for light and music.Wristwatch 3

Now, in itself, this wouldn’t cause a problem. Drop in at the local department store and pick up a cheap watch. No trouble there.

Except I have grandchildren. Soon after each grandson was born, I would hold my watch to his tiny ear each time I laid him on the changing table. As they grew, they began grabbing for my arm the moment I walked in the door. When our most recent, a now-one-year-old granddaughter, got to have this special grandma experience, she added the delight of the cutest smile when she detects the “tic-tic-tic.”

So, you can see why I must pick a watch that ticks. And it’s getting harder. Digital watches don’t tick! Smart-watches don’t tick! And I need a new one soon, so prayers for an easy find, please!

PS: Do you realize how many strange looks a person gets when she picks up twenty or thirty watches from the store shelves and holds them to her ear?


How many types of watches have you had in your life? Ever had any that weren’t wristwatches or … horrors! … that didn’t tick? Share your stories with us!

Tell Me a Story about … the Moon!

Who else had parents wake them overnight on July 20, 1969, to get up and sit sleepy-eyed and wondering what the big deal was? I remember sitting on the stairs in view on our black and white television in the living room. Dad and Mom seemed excited. I don’t recall how my two younger brothers felt.

But as for me, I thought the idea of getting up after I’d fallen asleep to watch some Moon 1astronaut walk on the moon a bit over-dramatized. At nine years old, I was only interested in playing house and taking our cat for walks in my baby carriage. I let the space stuff to others. Even today, my interest in space lies in whether or not I’ll get to see the full moon this month and for the day I’ll share a moonlit walk with our grandchildren.

However, there was one time, over 25 years ago, I learned an important lesson concerning the moon. It happened the year I planted potatoes for the first time in my life.

During my childhood, my parents put in a small garden every year. They always planted Moon 2the same plants. My dad planted his spring onions as soon as the ground warmed enough. Next came the sugar peas and radishes. Then, carrots (which never amounted to much), green beans (which amounted to too much), and cucumbers (which amounted to more than all the others put together). They also planted marigolds as a border to ward off the rabbits. (Disclosure: don’t bother. The rabbits ate them!) And finally, they added tomato plants: red, yellow, and cherry.

What does this have to do with the moon? Well, the year I had my first large garden as a married woman with a young family to teach about gardening and canning, I decided to try a few new varieties of plants. Since our plot was much bigger, I planted mounds of melons, rows of sweet corn, and a section of … potatoes.Moon 3

I’d let a bag of potatoes sit until they sprouted, cut each individual eye apart from the others, and planted them at one end of my garden. I watered and weeded and watched my garden, being especially vigilant of my potato bed. The spring onions tasted wonderful slathered with butter; the cucumbers did the usual never-ending growing season; and the corn … well, the corn fed the deer.

Moon 6But the potatoes … oh, the potatoes! I never saw more luscious, vibrant plants. From the moment they broke through the soil, the leaves turned a deep forest green, and as they grew, they took on the look of mini-landscaping bushes. I was proud and excited, imagining the harvest of potatoes from such amazing plants.

When the time came, I grabbed my gloves, a dull spade (so as to not cut into any of my robust potatoes), and an extra-large tub to put all the spuds in. I began digging carefully, an inch at a time. One inch, two inches, three … hmm, no potatoes yet. After digging quite a few inches, I hit pay-dirt. My first potato! I didn’t care that it was only the size of a quarter in diameter. I’d grown a potato!

However, that elation deflated after digging many inches under ALL the plants and Moon 7having only a literal handful of itty-bitty potatoes. I could not understand it. Those gorgeous specimens of plants produced only this pitiful harvest? Why?

That’s exactly what I asked my grandparents when I next saw them, the ones who had plentiful harvests from gardens grown in the postage-stamp backyards of inner-city Harrisburg, PA.

Get ready for it … because their answer is why this blog post is about the moon. According to my grandparents (and The Farmer’s Almanac and a few scientific websites), if you want a high harvest from root vegetables, they should be planted on the “down-side of the moon,” as they called it. And if the veggies grow above ground, then plant them on the “up-side.” When looking to verify what seemed to me an “old wives’ tale,” even though I trusted my grandparents’ wisdom, I discovered the “down-side” means when the moon is waning (going from full to a new moon), and the “up-side” is when it’s waxing from new to full. Down to grow down, up to grow up!Moon 5

Look it up for yourselves! Think about the tides in reference to the waxing and waning moons, as well as a host of other physical and psychological issues. It makes sense. I never had the chance to test my grandparents’ advice, though; so, if you’ve never planted your potatoes according to the moon and try it for yourselves this year (though it’s a tad late for many areas), and you grow potatoes so large that one will feed a family of four, PLEASE let me know! Thanks! Happy gardening!


Time for your moon stories … at least the ones you can share on a Rated “G” blog! And in case you didn’t know, the next full moon isn’t until July 5th.

Tell Me a Story about … Cereal!

Quick quiz: can anybody identify the source of these quotes:

Theyre Gr-r-reat!”®

“Snap! Crackle! Pop!”®

“Let’s get Mikey! He hates everything!”®

If you said “cereal ads” or slogans, you get five points. However, if you can name all three cereals … without looking them up, you win the prize! (Leave a comment on this post with your cereal story, and I’ll send you a box of your favorite! No kidding!)

Ah, I remember when my brothers and I would actually get to go to our dad’s grocery store. It wasn’t really his; he worked as the Cereal 6assistant manager for the A&P chain, but we called it “Dad’s store.” As with most dads who worked (or work) at grocery stores, our dad always brought home what we needed.

But now and then, Mom would bundle us into our station wagon and off we’d go. We’d drag our feet through the aisles of condiments, canned vegetables, and aluminum foil, but when we got to the cereal aisle, magic happened. Our feet began to dance and our eyes to pop! The number of choices blew our minds.

And Mom usually would say, “Each of you can pick one box.” With our senses reeling, we looked from one end of the aisle to the other, then turned around and did it in reverse. Sometimes, we’d choose one, clutch the box to our chests, and carry it through the rest of the store to the check-out counter.

Cereal 4Before we go further, I should mention the prerequisite for choosing. It had a little to do with taste, nothing to do with slogans, and everything to do with the treasure inside the box. We’d been known to skip our favorite to take a box with little taste appeal just because of the trinket hidden in the bottom of the box.

When we opened the box at home, we’d wait until Mom wasn’t looking and squeeze it from, first, the narrow sides, then the larger ones, shaking the flakes or Os so to see down the depths of cereal dunes to catch a peek Cereal 5of the missing treasure. And when we found it, our hands (hopefully clean) reached way down, plucked the surprise out, and reshook the box, trying to make it look like the toy was sitting on top all the time. Of course, the bloated box that never fit quite right in the cupboard told a different story.

Then, breakfast could begin. We’d pour our chosen cereal into our bowls, add milk, and, if unsugared, enough sugar to make up for not having the sugared kind (and then some). And depending on the kind of cereal, our senses set to work next.

You know how moms and dads always tell kids not to play with their food? If so, why did they create Alpha-Bits®? The sense of touch couldn’t wait to pull out the letters to spell our names, placing the milk-covered letters on the table. By the time we got all the letters, the first ones were soggy and hard to pick back up to return to the bowl.

Cereal 2Of course, we all know which cereal wins the prize for the best auditory brand. You guessed it—Rice Krispies®! Okay, ‘fess up—how many of you actually listened to see if you could distinguish a “snap,” “crackle,” or “pop”?

For a treat for the eyes, I’d have to pick any of the many kinds of colorful cereals—ones with blue, red, green, and yellow Os or tiny flakes. We didn’t care about the taste, just the colors.

How about our sniffers? What cereal’s unique scent comes to mind? Okay, let’Cereal 3s face it, the apple spice smell didn’t mean apples were in the box, and the enticing chocolate odors may have added pounds from just a whiff or two, but it wasn’t from any real chocolate in the box. We admit our parents were right about the imitation this or that, but the sense of smell won us over at the time.

And last … taste. On this one, we have to agree to disagree … or agree to agree if you think the best tasting cereal was—

Oh, no, we’re not playing THAT game! You have yours and I have mine and never the two shall meet … at least in my mouth.

One final sense comes to mind before I end … that warm sense of feeling that comes from eating a cereal that brings to mind the love that went into making it. One cereal brings that to me: mush and milk, we called it.

Cereal 7Anyone else grow up having this delicacy made from Brinser’s Best Yellow Corn Meal and water, cooked over low heat for half an hour or more until thick and creamy. Poured hot into a wide bowl (to allow it to cool faster … and have more space for sugar), doused with pats of butter, covered with plenty of sugar (the bowl took care of that), and topped with milk. Nothing says breakfast cereal … and love … to me like mush and milk.Cereal 1

God sure knew what He was doing when He created the plants which give us grains to make the cereals we all enjoy and feed the cows that give us milk to pour over them … no, we won’t talk about those uncouth people who DON’T drink the milk in the bottom of their bowls when the cereal is gone.


So, anyone who wants a free box of their favorite kind, leave your cereal story here in the comments! Even if you don’t want the free box, we’d still enjoy reading your story!