Tell Me My Worth

I don’t know what’s more difficult: moving or selling your home.

Frankly, I think both of them are a pain in the butt! And lately, I’m thinking that maybe adding some medicinal marijuana to my chocolate chip cookies may be good for what ails me.

For the past 6 months,
the Princess and I have been prepping for the big move to the state of WA, and as much as I’m excited and looking forward to this new chapter in my life, I’m also sad about saying goodbye to loved ones here in CA and a tad frightened of the unknown of what lies ahead.

Recently, our CA home was professionally staged, by a young woman who spent all of 45 minutes schlepping our furniture around and strategically placing a couple of lamps and pictures in our rooms. This Herculean endeavor cost our realtor $1600, and our house looks like a million bucks.

But $1600 for moving furniture around? Seriously?

Damn!

I think I spent too much time in college getting all those degrees for a field of study that in my earlier years, paid $1600 for the whole month.

What was I thinking?

When I was a kid, the school’s career counselor asked me, “So, what do you want to study after you graduate from high school, Lucie? Nursing? Secretarial science? Education?”

“I think you’d make a good teacher,” he continued, and off to an all-woman’s college I headed with my future career firmly etched in stone.

Never, and I mean NEVER, did I ever hear him or any one of my counselors broach the topic of me pursuing a career as an astrophysicist, or an electrician, or a veterinarian, or any one of a bazillion other fields of study that I, as a woman, could have pursued. Mind you, my science grades weren’t anything to write home about, and I couldn’t tell you which end of the chord to plug in on the vacuum cleaner; so becoming an electrician might have been stretching it a bit, but gee whiz, he could have directed me toward becoming a house stager or maybe even a professional belly dancer.

Then, again, there wasn’t too much demand for house stagers in upstate New York in those days, and my belly wasn’t very Buddha-like in my youth to pursue the art of belly dancing. So, maybe teaching wasn’t such a bad field to encourage me to pursue. I always liked kids, and I played school for hours-on-end on our rickety, uneven back porch that needed to be condemned long before we ever moved into the place.

And, here I sit today in a million dollar, staged home thinking about this 30-something-year-old stager who did her job in a quick 45 minutes and got paid this obscene amount of money for moving furniture around, and I’m asking myself: “What kind of society and time period am I living in when the value of a house stager, and basketball player, and movie star are all paid so much more than those of us entrusted with shaping our country’s future?”

I am truly happy that this young woman is earning her creative worth,
and I hope that other young women start demanding their fair share of the pie. I just hope that in my lifetime that what I did for a living becomes as important to others as the house stager and the basketball player and the movie star.

Until then, I need to keep packing and hiding my underwear and cat bowls in the closet, and wait for the house appraiser to do his job this week and tell me my worth.

Have a great week, People,
and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Routine is Important: Just ask my Mother

As we age, we’re told to mix up our routine. Keep our brain challenged and break out of our day-to-day pattern. It’s healthy for us, or so we’re told.

And to some degree, I think there’s some merit to the medical studies that espouse such recommendations, but I think there’s also something to be said for sticking to a routine.

Routine is important. Just ask my mother. Disturb her before she has her first cup of coffee and visits the loo in the morning and she’s not a happy camper. God forbid, if you should bother her before her favorite television show, “The Price is Right”, is over. Not a pleasant experience to have with her.

Every morning, my cat and I dance. She whines. I feed her. She jumps up on my desk, starts chewing on my paper work and walking across my computer key board. Then she wants to go outside. Of course, she can’t simply walk out when I open my patio door. She has to walk around the perimeter of the living room first, then around the overstuffed lazy boy rocker and finally she’s ready to exit. I have to patiently wait while she does this little two-step of hers, and then I can close the door and go back to whatever I was doing.

There are days that I’d like to choke the little twit as she slowly prances by me and looks up as if to say, “Humans are so clueless.”

Maybe Boo’s trying to teach me patience, or maybe this little tango is something that keeps her safe and she depends on it. I don’t know. I’m no cat whisperer, and I certainly haven’t a clue as to what makes a cat tick.

I do know, though, there are days in my life when everything is crazy and life is one crisis after another. Having a routine and sticking to it keeps me secure: Taking daily walks. Going to exercise class on Wednesdays. Seeing my yoga buddies on Fridays. Reading a good book and falling asleep on a rainy afternoon with our other cat, Molly, spread-eagle on my belly. All routines I relish and enjoy.

And when the sump pump breaks, the IRS notifies me that I owe them $5,500, the inspector says my house has termites and my doctor tells me that I have pneumonia; I remember to get up, wash my face, put on a little lipstick and face the day, ‘cuz that’s what Mom taught me to do.

I’m not so much into the lipstick, like my Mom, but I definitely understand and appreciate the need for a consistent schedule to keep me going. There are days when I need the safety and comfort of knowing that I have certain things planned. So, when life comes along and messes with those plans, I still have the comfort of knowing that my daily regimen is still intact and it can be restarted with the dawning of a new day.

I keenly remembered how my special needs kids depended on a routine. They vociferously complained about it on a regular basis, but change it on them once in a blue moon, and they let you know they weren’t pleased. For many of them, their day to day home life was chaotic and their only source of reliability and sanity was my classroom and the safety of its expectations and schedule.

As I slowly age, I realize that I need to keep my mind challenged and continue to learn new skills and stretch my imagination, but I also realize that there are days that I need to feel stable and safe and having some structure and routine in my life is ok and actually beneficial to me in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally. So, I give myself permission to throw caution to the wind, and on those days I need to have a miniature snicker’s bar after I eat lunch, I go for it and sometimes even have two!

In the meantime, I need to feed Boo Boo, again, and wait at the patio door while she sashays around the border of our living room furniture. Have a great week, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes!

A Time of Thanks

Dusting never came natural to me. Mom tried teaching me the finer nuances of the activity, but I wasn’t a very adept student and continue to have difficulty with the skill to this day.

My paternal grandmother never liked dusting, either. I think my dusting aversion was acquired genetically, or at least that’s what I told my mother. I can remember writing out my name with a smiley face in the dust on Grandma Hattie’s end tables a number of times when I went up to Caroga Lake to visit her. The funny thing, though, I really didn’t care one way or another about her dusty furniture. I just remembered the blue enamel turkey roaster that she kept loaded with popcorn on her kitchen cupboard, and how you never went hungry in between meal times at Grandma’s house because you always had access to popcorn and butterscotch candies. A candy, mind you, that I learned to hate after choking on a piece, one afternoon when I was 7 years old. Guess I laughed and swallowed at the same time and got the stupid thing lodged in my throat. It stayed there for most of the day, despite numerous glasses of water and attempts to force it down by having me eat bread. To this day, I avoid butterscotch candies like the plague and find my throat contracting every time I see them on the store shelf.

Grandma Hattie wasn’t a wealthy woman, by any stretch of the imagination. She lived in a tiny home with one bedroom and a bathroom that was later converted into a bedroom to accommodate my older cousin, Kip. And when Kip grew up and moved out, we kids slept in it for sleep-overs and felt pretty darn special.

Yep. Had a cozy bed and warm, comfy blankets strewn all over the lumpy mattress, and I felt like a princess in that room with a toilet in it. Sounds a little weird to have a bedroom in a bathroom, but I haven’t really moved up in society all that much, lately. My bathroom is still a stone’s throw away from my bed. Only now-a-days, it’s called a master suite with an adjoining bathroom. And my old body is grateful for a bed that isn’t lumpy these days, but I miss the quiet and the calmness I felt in Grandma’s country home on those winter, Adirondack nights; nights when the snow quietly accumulated, and my sleep was momentarily interrupted by the clanging of the tire chains on the town’s snow plows, as they whizzed-by, scraping it from the packed roadway.

My Grandmother never dressed in the latest fashions, and certainly didn’t have the money to spend on things other than the bare essentials, but she certainly made me and my siblings feel loved and wanted. Every summer, she’d load up her old, beat-up baby buggy with the youngest of the brood, pack our lunches and make sure we each had a beach towel and a swim suit and off to the lake we’d head – big kids holding onto the hands of the little kids and some of us littler kids holding onto the side bars of the baby carriage – brothers, sisters, cousins, alike. And off we went with Grandma for an afternoon of swimming; an afternoon of being a kid.

I remember the smell of the freshly tarred road that we walked on and the laughter and teasing and how patient Grandma was as we peppered her with questions:

“Why’s the road stink so, Grandma?” I’d ask as we walked and our sneakers stuck to the road. “It’s sticky and stinks; not like our roads at home,” I continued. “Why are country roads stinky and rocky and city roads smooth?”

“It makes my feet hot, Grandma,” my cousin chimed in. “Can’t wait ‘till we get swimming, Grandma,” he’d add on. “Are we almost there, Grandma?”

She’d smile and nod and acknowledge each one of us, and down to the lake we’d waddle, baby carriage, kids and all. And today when our local freeways are jammed and the news is overwhelming, I think back on those moments and think back to those times; when the roadways were stinky and my sneakers were hot, and I smile with the warm memories of a less hectic time and remember my Grandmother and am thankful she cared.

Those were good days; days of innocence – days few in number – but days remembered and treasured.

May this season of thanks be one that is joyful, and may you be blessed with the memories of days past when your sneakers were sticky and your grandma was kind, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

A Hoarder’s Paradise from Hell!

Garage sale, moving sale, yard sale…they’re all a hoarder’s paradise and most definitely an interesting study of mankind. And the Princess and I, having nothing better to do with our limited time one Saturday, decided that it was time we tried throwing one ourselves.

After all, why not join the hordes of others and hang-out my outgrown biker undies for the world to see? I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’ve put on a few pounds since my mountain biking days. I’ve earned this midriff fluff that I’m sportin’ these days.

So, that’s exactly what the Princess and I did last month – joined the multitudes; gathered everything from clothing and books, to sporting equipment and household goods, and put the whole kit and caboodle out for the world to rummage through.

And rummage, they did!

We meticulously sorted everything – making sure we didn’t confuse anyone by placing a coffee maker next to a pair of biker shorts – and ten minutes before the scheduled 9 a.m. start time, we innocently opened the gates of hell to a stampede of garage-sale-savvy-shoppers, who picked through our meticulously placed items, like frenzied piranhas.

Cazzo (Ot-so)!

The Princess, naively thinking that she’d read the morning newspaper and leisurely enjoy her cup of coffee, choked on her first gulp of hot Joe and spilled it down the front of her shirt as one of the frenetic shoppers elbowed past her and stepped onto her Croc-covered toes. Meanwhile, I stood-by – totally frozen in place – and watched in horror as people magically appeared and ruffled through (what moments before) had been our meticulously organized belongings.

Talk about the trauma of coming out! I’ve changed clothing in our car, many times, while the Princess has been driving on the freeway, but never in my days of freeway strip teasing, have I felt so naked and tossed about.

Geesch!

I never realized how crazy people can get over a pair of well-worn hiking shoes and some padded biker underwear. It’s enough to make you swear-off drinking for a while – or if you’ve never taken it up, START!

The first wave of descenders disappeared as quickly as they showed up, apparently not interested in our high-end merchandise of Barbara Streisand CD’s and Harry Potter books, and I settled into reading the first paragraph of the new Karin Slaughter book, when a new trickle of fellow hoarders dropped by to look over what we had spread out for the world to pick-through. Only this time, we actually had a real customer…or so we thought.

“So,” he began. “What do you want for this book and hat? I’ll give you a buck-fifty for the two of them,” he bargained.

“Hm,” I responded. “The hat is brand new, and as I’m sure you’re aware, is worth over $25.00.”

“I’ll give both to you for $3.00,” I continued. “How does that sound?”

“Well,” he answered. “Sounds to me like you’re gonna be keeping a lot of your stuff today,” he gruffly responded.

“Have a nice day,” he added, and out the gate he marched.

Un-hun.

At that point, there were other potential bargain hunters within our midst, and I looked at the Princess with raised eyebrows and telepathically asked her, “Are we supposed to be paying THEM to take our stuff, or what? I’m not quite sure how this works.”

The Princess, living with me long enough to read my mind, gave me one of her dumb-founded looks and just shrugged her shoulders while mouthing, “Don’t ask me!”

OK.

We got another book buyer interested in our leather-bound, illustrated edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, “The Hobbit” with matching slipcase. This isn’t one of my books and I had no idea how much to ask for it. In light of my last negotiation, I figured a buck would be a fair asking price.

“Uh,” guy number two started. “What ‘cha want for this Hobbit edition? Your Harry Potter books, ya know, are going for 25 cents these days?” he coyly added on. “Just thought you should know.”

“Well,” I started out, keenly aware of gentleman number one’s rejection. “How’s a buck sound?”

“Sounds fair to me,” he said. He then quickly handed me the dollar and proceeded to tell me the story of how he and his wife met in her English class over thirty years ago; and the first failed assignment he had with her was an assignment on “The Hobbit”.

“Yep,” he continued. “Gonna give this book to my grandchild for her birthday present this week.”

“Well, what a lovely story and family tradition,” I told him.

“God bless you,” I continued. “Glad to hear that our book will be going to a loving family. Have a great weekend.”

“Yep,” he winked at me. “This book just made my day. You two have a good weekend, too.”

And with that, he got into his truck and high-tailed it down Woodside Avenue.

Now all the while “The Hobbit dude” and I had been talking, the Princess (like the proverbial rancher who closed the barn door after the horse got out) decided to use her smartphone to research the actual price of said “Hobbit book”.

“Well,” the Princess began. “I’m really glad you blessed the dude and he politely thanked you, ‘cuz you know how much MY hobbit book was worth?” she asked, while crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“Just guess,” she continued. “Take a wild guess, Lucie.”

“Uh,” I clumsily began. “I haven’t a clue.”

“But,” I continued while raising my voice. “If it’s more than five bucks, I told you to price your stuff! So, it’s not my fault.”

“No Sir-ee!” I persisted. “It’s definitely not my fault.”

“Yah, Babe, you’re right,” she jovially responded. “No biggie, Hun. Karma will bite him in the butt someday and 60 bucks ain’t gonna break us or make us. This is just another day in our storied lives; just another day in Lucie’s Shoes,” she said while winking at me.

And, of course, People, she was right.

Hopefully, this was our FIRST and LAST garage sale. The next time we need to down-size, I think a donation to some well-deserving organization is in order.

In the meantime, be kind to one another, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at “Life in Lucie’s Shoes”!

 

 

Shit Happens!

I called my Mom this morning to check-in with her before I started my day and had another one of those Momma Benedetti conversations that had me giggling before too long. Unlike last month, she had now decided that maybe a woman President wouldn’t be so bad for the country because as far as she was concerned, “Men aren’t thinking too clearly, lately, and maybe handing over the reins of the country to a clear-headed woman would actually be good for our country. At least women have the sense that God gave a mule and know that shit in the local waterways isn’t healthy for our local townspeople. Sometimes men are total stoonods, idiots, and need protection from themselves.”

Ok. She got my attention.

Last month she thought BOTH candidates were stoonods, and I was curious as to why she had suddenly changed her mind, so I asked her, “Ma, what’s up with your change of heart in voting this November? I thought you didn’t think a woman could handle running the country and that we were better off with a man? What made you change your mind?” I continued.

“Well,” she started. “The stoonods that are running the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Hoosick Falls, or one of those cities just south of here, allowed over 50 gallons/minute of shit to end up in the Mohawk River on Monday. I don’t hafta be concerned about MY drinking water, because I use a Brita water filter for my water, but can you imagine what those poor people in Hoosick Falls are going through?”

“Cazzo!” she continued. “We don’t hafta worry about enough stuff in our day to day lives, but now we hafta worry about drinking shit in our water. Che schifo! (keh SKEE-foh: how disgusting). Those poor people in Hoosick Falls. They should fire the whole bunch of them and elect some women to run the plant. At least a woman would have the sense that God gave a flea and stop it before it got out of control. Men hafta have a meeting before they do anything and see what department is responsible and who to blame before they do anything. It’s a bunch of shit, if you ask me; a total croc of shit!” she lashed out.

“I’m thinking Hillary won’t be such a bad choice in November. I think she’s dealt with enough shit in her life to take on this job. After this disgusting episode, Hillary definitely has my vote this Fall,” she rattled on.

OK.

By this point, I thought that telling her that her Brita water filter was totally useless for protecting her from the nasty illnesses that she could acquire from drinking shitty water was gonna fall on deaf ears, and I wasn’t quite following her logic as to how this incident in the Mohawk River directly affected her voting choice, but I wasn’t prepared to negate Momma Benedetti’s logic; so I said to her, “I’m pleased to hear that you changed your mind about voting this November, Ma, and that it only took a load of shit in the Mohawk River for you to do that. Good for you. I’m sorry for the poor people in Hoosick Falls, but I’m really glad to hear that you’re re-thinking your stance on who you’re voting for in November.”

“Fa-nabole (get out of here)!” she responded. “I gotta put on my lipstick and meet the girls for cards today. Ciao!” she said and abruptly hung up.

Yep. Another enlightened voter headed for the election polls in November, People. I can now sleep soundly knowing that individuals like my Mother have the fate of our democracy in their hands.

Have a lovely day and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

Lucie Tells the Princess to Take a Hike!

Sometimes people just need a break from each other – not saying that these people are grumpy or need an attitude adjustment or anything – just saying that there are times in a relationship that certain individuals need a little breather from each other’s less than endearing habits.

Hiking in our local Redwoods is something that I find exhilarating and absolutely spiritual and a perfect anecdote to a loved-one’s quirky habits. The beauty and grandeur of these lofty denizens is something that one has to personally experience themselves to truly appreciate their majestic presence. There are times, when in their presence, I feel the overwhelming need to hug one; so, I do – often at the embarrassment of my hiking companions.

Persuading the Princess to forego the morning paper and instead head-out into our local hills for a short hike on the weekend, most often requires an act of God; and even then, He or She doesn’t always inspire her Royal Highness to spend a Sunday morning away from savoring a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and the funnies.

But the Almighty doesn’t know how to whine.

I, however, am the Queen of Whiners and really needed to hug a Redwood that Sunday.

So, I finally convinced her highness that a hike into Wunderlick, one of our local parks, would be just the thing for our relationship.

We’re quietly walking up the oak and madrone-lined hillside, totally absorbed in the solitude and ambiance of the mountains, looking for the beneficiary of my hug; when the Princess interrupted my reverie and said, “Ya know, Hun, I didn’t get a chance to have my morning cup of coffee.”

“Yes,” I patiently answered. “I’m well aware of this fact and very appreciative that you decided to come with me. Isn’t this just a glorious Sunday morning?”

“Un-Hun,” she mumbled and continued to hike in silence, until once again she broke my spiritual connection with my beloved Redwoods and snapped, “Ya know, Lucie, I didn’t get a chance to eat any breakfast this morning, either!”

“Is that so?” I responded. “I grabbed a breakfast bar for myself before we left. Did you bring one with you this morning?”

“No,” she hastily answered. “We only have Kind bars and I don’t consider them to be breakfast.”

“OK,” I mumbled between clenched teeth. “Can your highness maybe give me 10 more minutes of hiking? Just 10 more minutes, please?” I asked.

The Princess, rolling her eyes, answered, “Fine. Guess 10 minutes ain’t gonna kill me.”

We walked-on when Miss Grumpy Cat (a.k.a. the Princess), miraculously became little Miss Merry Sunshine and chirped, “I keep tellin’ ya, Hun, we gotta get out and hike more often. Look at how beautiful it is here, Sweetheart! It’s right where we live, for Pete’s sake. We have no excuse for not getting out more,” she continued, as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

I, Ms. Sweetheart herself, stopped dead in my tracks, eye-balled the endearing Minion-being and squeaked, “Seriously?! Seriously?! You tell me that we need to get out and hike more, and this is from a woman who I had to get on hands and knees and beg to leave her funnies behind this morning?”

I then took-in the deepest of cleansing breaths, and said, “You’re right, Hun. You’re absolutely right.”

By that point, the Princess had acquired the cheesiest of Cheshire grins and declared, “Guess both of us are a little hungry this morning, eh, Hun? I’m thinking maybe a certain tree hugger needs to munch on her Kind bar, before she gets her knickers in a knot.”

Cazzo!

I think, People, this tree-hugging, knicker-knotting, hungry-hiker needed more than a Kind bar. Maybe a little vacation from a certain, red-headed Minion was in order. What do you think?

Until the next adventure, keep a Kind bar in your backpack and your hiking britches un-twisted, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Obama Messes with Ma’s Routine

There are certain things that are as regular as rain in my Mother’s life; and you don’t mess with her routine or she gets a little grumpy. Morning coffee, visiting “the facilities” after morning coffee, playing her weekly card games with the gang; driving to the Dollar Store, and watching her favorite morning show, “The Price is Right”, are set in stone for her.

This morning, President Obama messed with one of Mom’s routines; and as luck would have it, I was the fortunate offspring to make the phone call to her just after Mr. Obama’s untimely faux pas.

“I missed the last 5 minutes of ‘The Price is Right’ this morning and I’m pissed off,” she said when I asked her how she was doing. “I didn’t see who got the car or boat,” she continued. “Obama interrupted the show and I missed the last few minutes of it. Damn it! The man is always 5 to 10 minutes late when he gives a speech, and this morning he had to be early. Boy, he pissed me off!”

“Hm…,” I responded. “How inconsiderate of the guy. What was he talking about?”

“How the hell do I know?” she shot back. “I like the man and all, but I don’t always listen to him – especially when he interrupts my shows. All I DON’T know is who won the car or boat today!”

“Well,” I answered. “Glad to know that ya got your priorities straight.”

“So,” I continued, deciding to strike while the iron was hot. “Ya know who you’re voting for in November?”

“Cazzo,” she answered. “I’m 87 years old, Lucie. Who the hell knows if I’ll even be around this November? I just picked up my car from the garage this morning for the 3rd time this month, and I think my car and ME are both are on our way out. Best I felt was today and yesterday,” she continued. “Must be I’m ready to kick the bucket. They say you feel your best when you’re on your last legs.”

“Well, that’s a sobering thought,” I remarked before she quickly continued.

“And who the hell knows who I’m voting for?” she answered. “They’re both stoonods, idiots, as far as I’m concerned, and Trump seems like a bigger stoonod than the other one, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for a woman to run the country. I’m not gonna worry ‘bout it. I could be dead by then. Who knows? I gotta let you go, Lucie. I’ve still got put-on some lipstick and iron my shorts before I go play cards. I ironed my dungarees this morning, but totally forgot to iron my shorts. Sometimes I’m a stoonod myself. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, honey. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Ma,” I said and the next thing I heard was the phone click off.

Sometimes life throws us these little challenges to keep us on our toes, People. We can either put on a little lipstick and show up, or crawl back into bed and start over again tomorrow – totally your call.

In the meantime, be kind to one another and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.