Then They Came for Me

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Martin Niemoller, German Lutheran pastor and theologian

I consider myself to be a kind woman, a compassionate woman – a woman of integrity and morals. I love my partner, my family, my friends, and my country. 

That being said let me take the time to say that what I have witnessed in this country over the past week is far from kind, compassionate, loving or moral.

And I am disheartened, disappointed and dare I say angry with those among us who keep supporting a leader who continues to breed contempt, misinformation and division among citizens that he took an oath to protect and represent.

Mom taught me to respect different religions, cultures, opinions and political persuasions. 

God and my innate ability to see right from wrong has taught me that I can not remain silent when I witness overgrown school yard bullies harass, intimidate and threaten those among us who try to be reasonable and understanding.

So today I say to you:

Do not assume that my silence has been one of approval.

 I do not approve of the hatred and violence that is being shown by some of my fellow Americans.

Do not assume that my tears that are flowing are tears of weakness or old age.

 My tears represent my humanity and the wisdom of a life long lived.

And by all means, do not assume that I believe in liberal or socialist views because my opinions are steeped in the belief that education is important to a free, democratic government.

 My openness to people’s differences and my wishes to help my fellow man were fostered not by just a well-earned education, but by a hard-working woman raised by proud, hard-working Italian immigrants.

What we witnessed at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 was not an act of heroism or courage, as much as an act of cowardice and terrorism incited by individuals who truly have no business in governing this country.

And I am sad and ashamed for my country and for myself.

We can no longer remain silent or politely “stand by” because to do so makes us complicit in what we know in our hearts is wrong.

This is not a political issue as much as it is a personal one, People.

It’s time to start speaking to each other (and for each other) before there’s “no one left to speak out for you”.

I sincerely pray that all of you remain safe and healthy and I’ll catch up with you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

The Christmas Letter

My desk is a disaster area. 

Now for those of you who intimately know me, this is not exactly a news event. My ability to stay organized in my head, depends on where I “see things” on my desk (or any other flat area in our home, for that matter!) 

Don’t get the Princess started on this endearing habit of mine. She’s threatened to divorce me many times over. 

And we are not even married.

I don’t know how my teaching assistants put up with me all those years, but they did and here I am today: retired with a desktop that you can barely see.

So, I woke up at 5 this morning and told myself that I wanted a small Xmas tree in the corner of my room, but I wasn’t going to put it up until I cleaned off my desk top.

Being the person that I am, though, I couldn’t start with the offending piece of furniture that needed organizing the most.

No. 

I needed to start way to hell over at the other end of the room with my bookshelf. A bookshelf, mind you, that has more stuff on it and in it than books.

An hour into the dusting and organizing, I came across a folded up letter that was dated December 13, 2007. A Christmas letter addressed to my Mom, written by me, that my sister-in-law must have found in my mother’s belongings when she died and gave to me with some other mementos that I had stored away in 2018.

I should be ashamed to say this, but I’m thinking it’s probably been 2 years since I’ve dusted this particular piece of furniture. My Mother is in heaven chuckling right now because she, of all people, knew how I loathed dusting. 

I could never, for the life of me, understand how as a youngster it was one of MYresponsibilities to do and not one of my BROTHER’S responsibilities. I would have gladly taken out the garbage once a week rather than had the job of dusting the furniture.

Guess my Mother never quite grasped the concept of “gender neutral jobs” in the 60’s.

But I digress.

In the letter I told my mother, “You’ve brought me much laughter, much joy and much love. You’ve taught me to be a woman of honesty and integrity; my morals and values of life are your morals and values. You’ve taught me to be loving and kind and accepting; and above all else you’ve taught me the value of friendship and how important family and friends are in our life.

I went on to write that “it is not the money that we’ve made or how many degrees we have that will define our self worth, but how much we’ve loved and how much we are loved that will matter most when it is time for us to leave.”

My letter ended telling my Mom that she “was so very rich in friends and love of family and [more importantly] in the knowledge of what is truly important in life.”

I pray that with the coming New Year that I take the words that I said to my Mother and use them (to heal) in my own life.

I, like many in the country and world, have had a challenging four years since our last Presidential election. 

And I’m tired.

Tired of the vitriol. Tired of the hatred. Tired of the threats.

We need to heal.  (I need to heal.)

And what’s more important is that we need to talk to each other and be heard. Heard not as black people, or gay people, or Republicans or Democrats. 

But simply as people; as caring, loving people.

My tree finally got put up. Unfortunately, my desk is still a mess. 

But it’s ok, because it was important for me today to share my mother’s letter, to share my mother’s wisdom.

I sincerely wish for you a safe, joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year and I’ll see you in 2021, looking at life from my shoes.

Strange Bedfellows

“We’ve probably got rats!” the Princess yelled while all 3 of us stared at the wall with the offending scratching sounds.

“Great. Just great!” she continued.

“I told you to take care of that darn garage door sealer way back in June,” she said with disgust, while Mabel and I slowly got up from the lounge chair.

I’m no expert with rat scratching and I didn’t want to make a bad situation worse, (because I really wanted to get back to the show we were watching), but from what I was hearing, it sure as hell didn’t sound like any rat to me. 

Whatever or whoever was scratching on our living room wall sounded bigger than a rat, but I wasn’t ready to argue with the Princess.

“You’re right, hun,” I said.

“I’m not quite sure how a rat could have squeezed himself into one of those two miniscule spaces at the end of the sealer, but why don’t you call your humane exterminator out here tomorrow and I’ll give Jeff, our handyman, a ring to come out and fix it,” I continued.

Well, long story short: the exterminator dude came out, checked our home for rodents, told us that the buggers probably got in via the little spaces at the end of the garage door sealer, charged us $350 for that brilliant fact and went on his merry way.

So now we’ve dished out mucho bucks to a rat friendly exterminator, plus the cost of our handyman. 

And all because I didn’t listen to the Princess way back in June.

Yep.

When your partner’s right, they’re right. Ya just gotta apologize and go on with life, ya know?

So, last night I went out to empty our garbage and surprise, surprise. I opened our laundry door to go into our garage and lo and behold the outside garage door was WIDE open and had been left opened since 3 p.m. when the Princess came home from her bike ride!

Hm…ya think maybe an opened garage door is large enough for a rat (or any other creature for that matter) to enter?

At this point, I’m thinking we’re starting the winter seasonso maybe it’s best we just leave food, water and bedding for the little guys and all just get used to living with each other.

Oh well. 

I’ve had stranger bedfellows.

Have a great day, People, and stay safe. 

May you all be blessed with a healthy, happy Thanksgiving and I’ll catch ya the next go round, looking at life from my shoes.

One Last Gift

My friend died yesterday. 

Three months ago when she called me to tell me that she had stage 4 cancer, she let me know that her biggest regret about this “whole cancer thing” was that she probably wouldn’t have the time to see the results of the presidential elections.

She was right. 

She didn’t.

What she DID have the time for, though, was to make sure that her many friends were all made abundantly aware of her love and appreciation for her time with us and that each of us were a joy and gift to her and sent us blessings via emails that her daughter graciously sent on.

And in this solitary gesture of love and kindness, what she did was to give us a gift; one last (and in some ways, lasting) gift from a woman who had given so much joy, kindness, laughter and encouragement to so many of us.

I am heart-broken, but so very grateful and honored to have known her and to have called her my good friend. 

The last message to all of us was for us to “be as loving and compassionate as we can, to our self and others” and then she fell asleep!

My dear, sweet Rozie Roo. She was my mentor, my friend and my surrogate big sister. 

And I loved her with my whole heart.

Thank you, dear Rozie, for your gift of joy and kindness; thank you, dear friend, for your unconditional love.

R.I.P. my loving, sweet, funny friend. 

I’ll see ya on the flip side!

My sweet Rozie

You prefer WHAT party?!

Got my official mail-in ballot last week and decided that I better take a few moments today and give it a serious look-over.

Un-Hun.

I opened up the envelope and saw that we have 36 candidates running for state governor.

Yes, you saw correctly – THIRTY-SIX people!

But that in and of itself isn’t the only little caveat that has me raising my hairy, untouched, pandemic eyebrows; it’s the fact that these candidates belong to parties that I never heard of!

We’ve got one who prefers the “Stand-up America party”, another one who prefers the “Socialist workers party”, one who likes the “Propertarianist party”, (yeah, I had to Google this one myself just to pronounce it), one who’s affiliated with the “American patriot party”; another one who prefers the “Cascadia labour party”, and another one who affiliates with the “New-liberty party”.

The candidates who have listed themselves as preferring the “Trump republican party” are pretty easy to understand.
And I guess I get those who have identified with the “Pre-2016 republican party”. But what, pray tell, is a “Fifth republican party”? Did I sleep through the first four republican parties?
One of the candidates listed himself as preferring the “Fifth republican party”.

Damn!

Guess I’m gonna be busy today.

Hopefully, you’re all staying safe and sane during these challenging times, People!

I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

A Moment of Levity

For those of you who know the Princess, you know she loves animals – really LOVES animals and anything living. She tried her darndest years ago to resuscitate a caterpillar by flipping over its lifeless body and gently rubbing between its legs to bring it back to life. Her innocent attempt actually succeeded and the little bugger crawled happily away.

I, on the other hand, am very selective with my love and have a slight fear of any animal that shows too much enthusiasm. Jumping dogs. Bucking horses. Running bulls.

And if the truth be told, I’m guilty of stepping on spiders, squishing most insects that I find in my home and am not a fan of bees while I garden.

You get the picture.

This coronavirus pandemic has us (like most of society) stressed to the max. So we’re making a lot of cupcakes, eating bags of popcorn and cookies, and binge watching a lot of Doc Martin, lately. (If the woman calls me “tosser” one more time, I’m gonna toss her and her little animal-loving self out into the cold!)

To offset this binge eating, we’re taking daily walks. For most couples this is a lovely, outdoor experience bordering on spiritual enlightenment. For the Princess and I, there are times it turns into a lovely tug-of-war; with SHE running over to pet and love on one of the neighbor’s dogs, and ME gently reminding her that we have a “six foot rule” to abide by.

So yesterday during our daily outdoor ritual, I saw one of the neighbors give her dog a treat for not running toward us and jumping, and I got an idea.

Today we went for a walk and the Princess smiled at the dog-walking neighbor, said, “Good morning” and kept walking.

Genius here pulled out a Hersey Kiss, gave it to her and said, “Good job!”

Needless to say, I now have a black and blue arm and she has been calling me “tosser” most of the day.

Oh well, a moment of levity in the midst of a pretty scary time in our lives.

Stay healthy and safe, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Hangin’ in Costco’s Egg Aisle

My GP wanted to know why I needed another prescription of Xanax. I wasn’t quite sure how to answer her.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, I walked in from doing my weekly grocery shopping and discovered that it took me an hour and a half longer than it usually did.

 

The Princess had some shopping to do Tuesday, too.

 

Women have told me, “Must be nice shopping for the two of you gals. My husband HATES shopping. Thinks it’s women’s work and all.”

 

Un-huh.

 

“So,” I asked these clueless individuals. “Have you ever gone shopping with a five year old in a toy store?”

 

“No?” I continued. “Well, you really don’t want to if you don’t have to,” I informed them.

 

“The Princess is a grown up version of a 5 year old.”

 

The Princess needed to see my grocery list while we were still in the parking area of Costco, so I gave it to her.

 

Not thinking that I would actually NEED the list while shopping, she left it behind in the car when we went in, and when I asked her for it, she innocently looked at me and mumbled, “Uh, the list is in the car. Maybe I’ll go out and get it, eh?”

 

“Hm,” I answered. “I think that would be a smart thing to do in light of the fact that I know there were at least TEN items on that list, and I can only remember ONE– eggs.”

 

 

“You go to the car and I’ll meet you in the egg aisle,” I continued and off we both went in opposite directions.

 

I quickly got to the egg aisle, picked up the eggs and began to wait, thinking, “Well, maybe she forgot where the car was and she’s out there walking around aimlessly looking for our white Subaru.”

 

(Have I told you, People, that here on the Olympic Peninsula in Western WA everyone and their mother’s uncle owns a white Subaru? Well, they do!)

 

“No,” I told myself, “She couldn’t have gotten lost. We parked too close to the store for her to have gotten lost. She must have lost my list and she’s afraid I’ll get mad, so the poor thing is probably asking the Costco door people if they’ve seen it on the ground.”

 

“Yep,” I assured myself. “That’s what must have happened.”

 

“Let me call her up and see what’s going on.”

 

“Hey, “ I said to her when she answered. “Where the heck are you? I’ve been waiting forever in the egg aisle.”

 

“I’m in the food aisle,” she said. The Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars are on sale and they’re giving samples today. You need to get a sample.”

 

“And oh,” she continued. “You know those wool socks that you and I like for the winter?”

 

“They have them by the towels on the other side of the store, “ she added, before I could answer her question.

 

“So, let me get this straight,” I answered, keenly aware of the fact that I was talking to her in a very public place.

 

“You are in the store right now shopping, and I’ve been hangin’ in the egg aisle for the past 15 minutes waiting for you to come back with my list?”

 

“Well,” she answered having a hard time not laughing out loud at my annoying tone with her.

 

“I looked down the egg aisle and didn’t see you, and then I saw the Haagen-Dazs lady and went there, and I ran into one of my biking buddies and started chatting and then…well,” she continued.

 

“I started wandering around, checking out stuff, and that’s when I saw our wool socks.”

 

“You still want the list?” she asked me when I wheeled my cart out from the egg aisle and saw her in front of the ice cream lady hitting her up for a second sample.

 

“No,” I answered her. “I just sent you out to the car to get it ‘cuz I have nothing else to do but hang in Costco’s egg aisle today.”

 

Lord, please help me keep my sense of humor today, ‘cuz I’m gonna strangle her if I ever get ahold of my grocery list!

 

Life with the Princess is never boring. Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya next time looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness

20190601_093841.jpgThere are days I find happiness personally elusive.

There are endless chores and medical appointments and sad news on the telly and from my hometown.

Today my tomato plants were placed into their new garden house and my deck painted red.

20190604_110604.jpg

My neighbor stopped by and brought us popcorn from her trip to Colorado.

20190604_173819.jpg

“I can’t thank you enough,” she said, “for taking care of my plants while we were away. I know you both like popcorn. I hope you like these.”

Today I am happy.

My tomato plants have a new house and my neighbor stopped by.

My partner is snoring and enjoying her nap.

I picked up a new Mary Oliver book and am excited to begin.

I opened the front cover and suddenly remembered the librarian’s sweet gesture.

She checked out my book, but before handing it back, wistfully touched Ms. Oliver’s photo on the inner sleeve of the cover and then smiled at me.

I took my selection and answered her in kind, “Her books touch my heart and I’m sad that we lost such a lovely human being,” I began.

“I’m grateful, though, for her writing and thank God for her talents.”

“Yes,” she grinned and bid me a good day.

Today was a fine day and one my mom would have loved. She taught me to be grateful and taught me to love life.

Today I am happy and grateful to be alive.

Today is a good day and I hope yours is, too.

Be well, People, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Education was Important to my Mother

Education was important to my mother.

Keeping her children happy was even more important.

So, when her oldest daughter lost her sense of humor and started freaking out about final exams the week before graduation, Momma Benedetti went to her bag of tricks to ease the tension.

She dressed up in my graduation cap and gown and declared she was a “college gad-gee-ate”.

20190109_150130.jpg

When that didn’t so much as get a smile from me, she tried walking into my bedroom with a rose between her teeth and asked me to tango.

20190109_150113.jpg

Unfortunately, I was so hung up on doing well on my finals, that neither action made me any less anxious.

Yes, I was her more sensitive child. The one the doctors always referred to as “emotional” and recommended enemas on a regular basis.

You know the kind.

Every family has one.

And lucky me, I was the one.

It wasn’t until the next morning, while I was sitting on the throne, looking down at the painted toenails of our clawfoot bathtub, that I burst out laughing.

Mom had painted all of the nails on the claws with bright red nail polish.

Her oldest daughter needed to laugh, and Mom wasn’t giving up until I did.

She succeeded.

I sat there on the toilet laughing hysterically and shaking my head in awe.

Mom got me on that one.

I was now prepared to kick some serious butt on the last of my final exams and to graduate from community college.

20190109_150144.jpg

Thanks, Mom.

It’s because of you that I went on and became a “college gad-gee-ate”.

I miss her every day, but it’s memories like these that keep her close to my heart and very much alive.

Love you, Mom.

Love you to the moon and back.

Continue reading Education was Important to my Mother

One More Christmas Memory

20181213_111610-1.jpg

It’s that time of year, again.

Christmas music is playing non-stop, the stores are jam-packed with holiday shoppers, and kids are busy making their lists to send to Santa praying they’re on the nice list – not the naughty one.

The Princess and I have been busy attending Christmas concerts and enjoying the company of good friends and good food.

The outside lights are up, the tree decorated and my Dicken’s Christmas Village painstakingly set up with careful attention given to the placement of each piece before having snow dumped all over it for that added, cozy Christmas touch.

The holiday season is here in full force. I’m laughing, listening to Christmas carols and starting plans for my Christmas dinner party.

God has been good. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food to eat and the love of family and friends.

So, why do I feel so empty? Why does my heart ache?

The (Dicken’s) Christmas Village that I started years ago was bought with money that my Mom sent me in my early days in CA. Bought with the thought of times past and the innocent memory of childhood trips to our downtown to see lights strung on Xmas trees and store fronts.

As a child, we didn’t have a car, and my Mom hoofed it to work every day and stood on her feet for hours-on-end at a Jewish Bakery in upstate NY; schlepping rye bread and jam-filled jelly doughnuts to an endless stream of customers who waited patiently to purchase fresh baked goods and to chat with the animated Italian who had a smile as bright as a summer day.

She could wait on 2 to 3 customers at a time, give a hug and a cookie to a munchkin and make everyone feel loved and important; all without breaking a sweat.

And home she trudged through snow and ice after a hard day of standing on her feet, only to be greeted by youngsters anxious to go downtown to look at the Christmas lights twinkling in store front windows and draped on snow covered trees.

“Please, Mom,“ I’d beg. “We’ve all eaten dinner and I’ve washed and put away the dishes. Can you please take us downtown? Please, please, please?”

“I’ll help pull the little ones on the sleigh and we won’t ask for anything, Mom.”

“Honest,” I’d plead.

“We won’t ask for anything,” I continued, looking at her with my best puppy dog eyes.

And Mom being Mom, she quickly grabbed something to eat, bundled us all up and off we’d go downtown looking at lights and talking about our school day.

Over the years, I’ve added on to my Dicken’s Village and always smiled with love and fond memories of a time when we were poor with material comforts, but rich with Mom’s love and steadfast support.

This Christmas season my heart aches for a time past when the snow filled our sidewalks and the tree lights sparkled on the snow as our sled quietly slid-on through the new blanket of white stuff.

As an adult, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, and I’ve always called my Mom to share with her the joys of the season.

I never realized until recently how my Mom mirrored that joy and how much happier I was after sharing my experiences with her.

With Mom’s passing this October, I find my mirror has a crack and my joys are not as colorful, not as merry.

She wouldn’t want me to feel sad and I’m trying hard to stay merry, but there are times a certain song, a certain smell, a certain Christmas scene takes me back to a time when my Mom was my Mom, and I was her little girl.

And my heart aches for one more moment, one more conversation, one more Christmas memory to share with my mom.

“Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you to the moon and back. Always have. Always will.”

I wish for all of you the merriest of Christmas’s and a Happy New Year, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Thank you for your continued love and support.

20181213_111138.jpg