RV Rookies

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So who said you needed to drive an RV on all six wheels? Certainly not my Princess!

 

As one who was accustomed to freeway driving in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of her life, learning to drive a newly acquired, 25 ft. Fleetwood Pulse across three states during a season of raging fires was a piece of cake.

 

There were moments that I felt this cake was gonna be of the upside down, pineapple variety, but I’m happy to report that me and our little blue house-on-wheels are right side up and safely home.

 

I’m currently taking multiple antacids for my stomach and need a new prescription for anti-anxiety medication, after our little road trip. Other than that, life is good on the Olympic Peninsula of Northern WA.

 

During the spring of this year, my oldest brother and his wife decided that tooling around the United States in a 30 ft. RV was something that was worthwhile and adventurous for two young’uns new to retirement. And the Princess and I – getting too old for sleeping on leaky, plastic air mattresses and squatting in poison ivy bushes to pee – decided that maybe my brother and his wife were on to something. After all, there’s something to be said about sleeping on a mattress without a rock, the size of Gibraltar, poking at one’s plump, highly sensitive hinny. And having access to an indoor plumbing facility, minus the thrill of an ivy bush, we felt was just peachy for these two old gals.

 

So we set out on an earnest search in the local area for an RV that we could afford and was to our liking. Unfortunately, after scouring the area and not finding anything we liked (and could afford) we were ready to throw in the towel until next season, when my brother, Anthony, called and got involved in the search… and within hours had us a perfect little house on wheels.

 

The one minor detail: this rolling abode of adventure was located in the state of fry sauce and mini vans (a.k.a. Utah). Other than that, it was a perfect vehicle for the two fur-balls and us.

 

The only thing the Princess and I needed to do was to drive out there – thru 3 smoke-filled states on fire – purchase it, clean it out, learn to drive and operate it, and get it back home before we took off for NY to check on Momma B.

 

And we did just that.

 

In between time, we learned to drive on a 7 lane freeway with wall to wall traffic, navigate tornado-like winds without steering off a cliff, question the quality of mom and pop gas stations selling old diesel fuel; and utilize friendly truckers, when navigating Mt. passes on fire about to get a snow storm.

 

And the mother of all-important things that these RV rookies are truly grateful for learning is that you ALWAYS (Yes, People, ALWAYS!) empty your black water BEFORE your gray water!

Or you may unwittingly find yourself the butt of your fellow RVer’s jokes and campfire conversations.

 

Yep.

 

With the addition of a gas additive the former owner left in the vehicle, the advice of a friendly trucker in Idaho, named Jolene, and all kinds of suggestions and prayers from family members and friends, we made it safely back home; where we were promptly greeted by two sick kitties, who were happy to have their mommies back for some special, bed-time snuggling.

 

Now we just need to figure out why our “Kwikee step” on the RV ain’t so quick to open, and get a local auto dealer here in no man’s land to replace Li’l Blue’s recalled passenger airbag.

 

Other than that, the Princess, Li’l Blue, and I are doing just swell here in the land of long underwear, rain slickers and roundabouts.

 

Hope the Fall Season is finding all of you healthy and happy. Take care and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All Good

20170620_142748I’m home.

Finally, after months of searching and agonizing and driving for miles, I am finally home.

The search for our perfect house was arduous. The negotiating was tedious. The packing and unpacking was endless and the unpacking is still going on.  I’m thinking we’ll be completely unpacked in another 5 years. But “it’s all good”, as our steadfast, loving Washington realtor reminded us on a regular basis.

It’s all good.

The cats are currently trying to figure out what kind of long-legged felines the deer roaming our backyard resemble. The Princess is trying to understand the complexities and logic of roundabouts while cruising around town.

And I’m still looking for my long underwear that’s somewhere buried in one of these mystery boxes.

It’s all good, though.

We’re currently experiencing balmy weather in this part of the country, but woo-hoo when it’s cold out here, it’s bone chilling cold.

Yes-siree, Bob, I’m sure glad the Princess and I like the cooler temps, because we’d sure as heck be SOL, if we didn’t.

The sun comes up early in the morning in the summer months and doesn’t set until well into the evening hours, and we just got internet services for the first time in two weeks. The world has gone on without Lucie and the Princess’s daily participation and knowledge of it.

And as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good. Mind you, the Princess doesn’t currently share that opinion, but the Princess has been through our local roundabout one too many times, lately.

Our journey here was challenging, but rewarding.

When we crossed the southern edge of the Washington border, rain, cold and clouds greeted us as we quietly drove-on into what seemed like an endless gray mass of cold and yuck. Each of us quiet with our thoughts and emotions, as the two cats slept-on snuggled safely in their special traveling carrier that we meticulously stuffed with soft, woolen blankets and items that smelled vaguely familiar and reminded them of home.

As the rain pounded our windshield, the car’s wipers appeared to quietly repeat my silent prayer with each passing stroke: “Please, Lord, keep us safe and let this be the right decision for my family and me.”

“Please Lord,” I solemnly mouthed while looking out at the cold, rainy scene of what was soon to be my home state.

When we finally pulled into the driveway of our house that Friday evening, tired and emotionally wrought, we gathered up our belongings and set about blowing up what would be our bed for the first two nights.

Todd, our Allied van driver, wouldn’t arrive until two days later. I remembered watching him carefully pilot his 18-wheeled behemoth, containing our furniture and comfy beds, crawling slowly down our roadway through a ghost-grey fog and hair-curling mist, and wondering, “Did the Princess and I really do this? Did we just move miles away from family and loved ones to a state where virtually no one knows us and leave behind most everything and everyone that’s dear to us?”

And then my older brother, Anthony and his wife, Lucy, showed up driving their RV from a visit with my niece in Seattle to come help us with our move in.

This gray-haired lug who I fought with as a child over everything from mowing the lawn to shoveling the driveway was suddenly Lancelot with his adoring Guinevere standing next to him, smiling and graciously offering us a chair that she had taken out of the RV.

“Here, Lucie,” she said while setting up one of their folding chairs in the middle of our empty living room floor. “Sit down for a minute. You look like you could use a little break.”

And then my brother came over to me before I collapsed into one of the chairs, embraced me in a bear hug and whispered into my ear, “You did good, Lucie. You both did good, and I’m proud of you.”

Yes we did. And we continue to do good with the support of loving, kind family members, friends and strangers who want nothing for us but good things.

We still don’t have television, haven’t read a newspaper in days, and are still waiting for the Maytag people to pick-up the broken microwave and repair the new washer and dryer, but life is good at our end, People, and I pray that life is good with you, too.

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

 

 

Just a Quick Post

Just a quick post to let my dedicated friends and followers know that me and my shoes haven’t run off. The selling of our home in Northern CA and buying in WA has had me in a slight tizzy.

Please forgive me if I seem absent from your lives and appear not to care. I assure you: I care very much and hold you each close to my heart.

I send congratulations to those of you experiencing recent joys, prayers to those of you feeling sadness and loss, and courage and strength to those of you who need it on a day to day basis “just to get by”….

Hopefully, within the next month or two my distractions will be fewer and my attention to my dedicated followers and friends more in line with what I feel in my heart.

Until then, I hold all of you close in thought and prayer and wish for each of you only the very best.

Catch ya next adventure, when my shoes find their way outta the muck!

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!

Dream On

As someone who definitely knows my way around gabbing with people, individuals are often pleasantly surprised to discover the quiet side to my gregarious self. So, my recent silence (both in writing and in speech) has been disconcerting to some folks.

Or so I’ve been told.

Recently, I have been faced with a plethora of life challenges and my body simply stopped working the way I wanted it to work, and I ended up with pneumonia.

The sad thing for me, though, is that my connection with God and my spiritual side has been as stuffy and muddled as my nose and lungs have gotten.

My heart is heavy with indecisions and confusion, and I’m having a hard time feeling hopeful these days. I feel anxious and stressed and often times scared, and I’m thinking that maybe now isn’t the time to be silent.

I am a gay, American woman of immigrant peoples and have serious concerns that my country is on a path of destruction and discrimination. I have significant worries that this administration’s policies are not policies that will “make us great’, but in fact, do quite the opposite.

On the morning of the “Woman’s March” that was held in Washington and nationwide, the Princess and I went to see the motion picture, “Hidden Figures”. The movie is based on the brilliant, black NASA physicist and mathematician, named Katherine Jackson, who was instrumental in the early years of the US space program. We both wanted to participate in our loc0al march, but prudently decided that my claustrophobic issues and our rainy weather would be reason enough to stay away. So, instead we went to an early showing of this film and were pleasantly treated to a quality story and an excellent reminder of past times.

As I sat in the theater, immobile with emotion, I couldn’t help but see the juxtaposition of the day. We were watching first-hand the outward discrimination of Ms. Jackson and her co-workers as they heroically pushed on, day after day, insult after injury. At one point in the movie, Ms. Jackson’s boss questions why she’s taking such “long breaks” during the day. He discovers, to his great embarrassment, that it was because there were no “colored restrooms” nearby. NASA’s only bathroom “of color” was over a half a mile on the other side of their campus, so she had to run back and forth every day; rain or shine.

It’s when her boss, played by Kevin Costner, takes mallet in hand and smashes the sign hanging over the woman’s restroom that says, “For Coloreds Only”, and declares to his employees, “As long as we pee all the same color at NASA, we all use the same bathrooms,” that the tears started to uncontrollably roll down my cheeks and my body felt sick with shame.

There I sat in a luxurious, remote-controlled, padded lounge chair – the epitome of American ingenuity and affluence, watching a movie depicting discrimination of a minority from the 1960’s; acutely aware of the various marches taking place outside of our local theater, and it sadly dawned on me, “Are we repeating history once again? Has America elected a man so intent on 0making this country “great” that he’s going to do it at the cost of those that actually DID make it great?”

We’re a country based on differences; a country based on acceptance. We’re all human and all valuable and all “pee the same color”. So, let’s not take that for granted, and let’s remember who we are – a country of dreamers and inventors and a country of freedoms and of hopes.

I care not that you voted for “him” or voted for “her”. I care that you stand up for what is right and what is wrong. It is important that we go forward, with the understanding that no man is better than the other; and no woman less than, either.

We must not go back to a time when “colored bathrooms” is a concept we agree to – whether in practice or in silence.

We’re all human and all valuable.

And all “pee the same color.”

I pray we all remember that and pray we all dream on.

Until the next time, be kind to each other, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

People Wanna Know if I Write Fiction

Now that I’m retired, people want to know what I do with all of my spare time. Many are pleasantly surprised that I don’t have a problem filling up my day with meaningful activities.

Between breaks with some heavy-duty storms that Northern CA was pounded with last week, I was bent over on my arthritic knees; looking head first, into a 4-foot hole, with my arse saluting my unsuspecting neighbors. I was trying to figure out why our back-yard sump pump wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do – sump water away from our home and into the streets.  I had difficulty assessing the situation because of all the standing water in the hole and decided to try using a portable pump to help me.

Un-hun.

I got my garden hoses attached to the pump and lowered it into the hole, when it started to rain.

Again, I was bent over with my larger – than – life buttocks shooting straight up into the air, when I suddenly felt water trickling down my hiney.

“No biggey,” I thought to myself. “My socks are totally wet and I need to change them anyways. Not a problem in changing a wet pair of undies, right?”

So, into the house I traipsed, grabbed a new pair of drawers, changed my underwear and socks, and headed for the loo before leaving to my exercise class. I opened the bathroom door, and Molly – the cat that I have the door closed for because she likes to piddle on bathroom rugs –  sashayed pass me.

“Cazzo (Ot-so!),” I said out loud, as I slid into the cat pee.

“I must have accidentally locked her in there when I left this morning for my walk,” I said to myself, while shaking my head in disgust.

“Shoot!”

All right, this was also no big deal. I have many pairs of socks. I changed into pair number 3 and out the door I headed for my morning A.P.E. class at the Senior Center.

Yep.

My Subaru decided that it did not want to start.

Dead battery.

O.K.

No big deal. I had a camper van that wasn’t used in a dog’s age and needed to be run. It was sitting under an ash tree for the past umpteen storms and unbeknownst to me had accumulated all kinds of goodies on the cowl of my van’s hood.

As I began to drive to class, it started misting, and I unwittingly turned on my wipers. Suddenly, my windshield – that was kissed ever so lightly by the morning’s mist – was now an impenetrable lens of mud and muck.

As I drove down Virginia Avenue, blind as a bat, I looked up to the heavens and shouted, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Ya wanna give me a break today?” As if on cue, the heavens promptly opened up and it began pouring – really pouring –  enough so that it cleaned the gunk off of my windshield.

Yep.

The Big Guy came through for me once again.

I got to the Center, pulled into the parking lot, made an abrupt stop and got slapped in the back of my neck with water that apparently had accumulated under the canvas of my pop-up roof.

At that point, I looked up to the skies, told God that he had a great sense of humor, but that he needed to find another muse for his merriment.

And People want to know if I write fiction?

No, People, this is my boring, retired life. Who needs fiction when you’re living life in my shoes?

Stay well, and I’ll catch ya next adventure.

Too Many Runs Down a Snow-Covered Hill

My mother taught me to play fair, be honest, treat people the way you want to be treated and say please and thank you. She forgot to teach me life is sometimes unfair, individuals can be dishonest, people will crap on you, and don’t expect a please and thank you from others.

As an undergraduate of a small, all-woman’s, upstate NY college called, Russell Sage College, I remember my dorm buddies telling me, “Lucie, you need to close and lock your door when you’re out of your room and tooling around. You’re gonna get ripped off some day and someone is going to steal your TV or stereo system. Lock your door, ya damn fool. This ain’t the country, Girl!”

Uh-hun.

I never did understand how someone could take something that didn’t belong to them and claim it as their own. Never made sense to me. I worked for it. I earned it with my hard-earned money. My logic said that if you wanted a portable TV or a stereo system; go out and get a job and earn it.

I was clueless.

Still am to some degree.

I was an education major in my undergraduate days. My friends were at Sage for nursing and physical therapy, so we didn’t see much of each other in our classes throughout the day. Evening meals were special because we’d gather in the cafeteria and swap sundry stories about our eventful days and express our various displeasure with the over-demanding instructors and talk about everything and anything important to young women of our time.

We studied hard, laughed often and shared our hopes and dreams of a promising future. On those rare occasions we got a snow storm and the urge to get silly in the snow, my friends would devise a plan to steal the food trays from the cafeteria to use for sleds. And off we’d go with our contraband and head for the snow-covered hills surrounding the school’s historic brownstone buildings for an evening of sledding and snow-angels.

Being the hell-raiser and prankster that I was, of course I was involved in the whole sordid scenario and was racked with guilt because we were doing something dishonest; something totally against what momma taught me.

“Relax,” Jonesy said, “and walk through the line real casual-like. I’ll put a tray down the back-side of your sweats and nobody will notice. I’ll walk real close to you. Just make sure you don’t walk funny, for Pete’s sake, or we’re all gonna end up in front of J-Board and put on probation.”

Yep.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized my special walk stayed with me well into my high-heeled, corporate days at San Francisco’s Bank of America. Nader, one of my co-workers and buddies, teasingly commented one day, “Benedetti, you need to learn to sashay like the other girls. You walk like you’ve got something stuck up your butt!”

And just in case I didn’t get what he was trying to tell me, he proceeded to imitate what I looked like when I walked; and what Sylvia, the office flirt, looked like when she walked.

Sylvia never walked around with a food tray in her pants.  I, however, was a master. Apparently, I was so proficient in the skill that it came second nature to me.

Served me right. I should have never taken that food tray. It was dishonest, and it was wrong. And I ended up with a funny walk that stayed with me well after my corporate days.

I did have a hell-u-va good time sledding that night, though. Laughed and had a blast until the tray cracked with one too many runs down the snow-covered hill.

We never did get caught stealing the trays that winter. Or at least the cafeteria lady never ratted on us. I always felt she knew what we were doing, but saw no harm in it, ‘cuz more often than not, we returned them, slightly battered and used, but still good for their original purpose.

I’m 61 years old and still can’t sashay like the other girls.  And on those occasions when I’m at a salad bar and spot a food tray, I find myself smiling with fond memories of a time when I remember how important it was to be honest and fair and treat people kindly and courteously.

As we go forward into the next four years of this country’s new administration, may we all be honest, kind, courteous and fair.

And lovingly remind those among us who aren’t, they need to be…

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

 

A Tradition Slightly Tweaked

Tradition.

Tevye sings about it in the Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

And the Benedetti’s live and breathe it every holiday.

Christmas Eve in our family means a traditional meatless dinner of fish and spaghetti. Christmas day you make lasagna and you carefully shape and fry the meatballs for the lasagna. It doesn’t matter that the meatballs are pulverized beyond recognition before you put them into the lasagna.

It’s tradition.

You mold and cook the meatballs before you cut them up. Period. You don’t mess with tradition.

So, one year when I was just a wee one and watching my Nonnie make meatballs for our Christmas meal, I asked her, “Nonnie, why do you roll up the meat and fry it, and then turn around and smush it all up before you make the lasagna?”

My Nonnie, never one to waste words when she didn’t have to, slowly bent her balding gray head to peer over her Ben Franklin glasses and said, “Lucie, non-ja bother Nonnie right now. I’m a busy makin’ a meat-ta-balls. Go outside and make-a-ta-snowman.”

Hm…

Years go by and I’m watching my Mom make lasagna one holiday. She makes the meatball mixture, gets out a small cast iron frying pan, puts some olive oil in it, and starts heating the pan to fry the meatballs.

I decide to bring up the meatball question again and ask my Mom, “Why such a small frying pan, Mom, for so many meatballs?”

“Because, Lucie,” she says. “You want the meatballs to fry evenly and you don’t want to waste olive oil.”

By this time, I’m in college and have some education under my belt, so I ask her, “Ma, why waste time, energy and olive oil? Can’t you just make a big meatball patty, fry it up in a Teflon pan, not use any olive oil and have a healthier meatball mixture for the lasagna? It doesn’t make sense to spend all that time making meatballs and then break them apart for the lasagna.”

Cazzo (Ot-so!), Lucie!” Mom responds. “You drive me nuts. Ya wanna leave me alone and go put up some Christmas decorations?”

Un-hun.

Eventually, I move out to CA from my home in upstate NY and start my own Christmas traditions and decide to make lasagna for my friends. I’m prepping the lasagna in advance, so I can just pop it into the oven on the night I serve it, and I catch myself standing over a small frying pan; carefully turning the meatballs in the olive oil. Suddenly, it dawns on me, “Cazzo! I’m doing the same damn thing my mother and Nonnie did for years. What the heck is wrong with me?”

Yep.

Today I’m old and balding like my mother and Nonnie before me, and I’m making lasagna like tradition dictates, but my meatball mixture is frying up as one monster pancake in a large Teflon pan as I write this. And the last time I tested it, the meatball tortilla tasted just as good as Mom’s and Nonnie’s.

Traditions are important. Carefully woven, they make a family a family, and certainly make for good memories and storytelling. Sometimes, though, traditions need to be tweaked, or we need to start a new one.

This was one of those times.

Hopefully, Nonnie’s looking down from the heavens – over those silly Ben Franklin glasses of hers and grinning from ear to ear – watching her pesky granddaughter still carrying on a Benedetti tradition; a tradition slightly tweaked, but a tradition steeped in love and years of family history.

Have a great Christmas, People, and a blessed, healthy New Year, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Turkeys Aren’t What They’re Cracked Up To Be

I love roasted turkey. Love it with gravy. Love it in a sandwich. Love it with bread dressing.

Momma Benedetti hates turkey. Hates preparing it. Hates stuffing it. And especially hates cleaning the carcass after we’ve polished off the holiday meal. So, being the imaginative, quick-witted mother that she is, she decided one year – at an age when all of her offspring were pretty clueless – to set up a little white lie and told each of us that the other hated the bird, and that we were pretty special and instead would be treated to a delicacy called Cornish game hens.

And for years we accepted this reality and never questioned Momma’s explanation.

Many years ago, while living in San Francisco, my oldest brother and his family agreed to drive up from Southern Ca. and spend the Thanksgiving holiday with me. I was totally thrilled to have the family visiting and wanted everything to be perfect. After making some brief inquiries, it was discovered that my brother and I were not among the siblings that disliked turkey and that we both actually liked it – liked it a lot.

Before they arrived for the holiday, I asked my office staff for recipes to prep this gobbling, beard-sporting bird.  And everyone agreed that the best and juiciest recipe involved putting it in a Crisco-lined paper bag, and cooking it on high.

Yep.

I meticulously lined the paper bag with Crisco, cleaned the bird, seasoned it; plopped it into the bag, placed it into my spanking-new blue, enamel roasting pan and slid it into a blazing oven.

My family and I settled into the living room to watch the holiday parades, and I snuggled into my rocking chair and smiled; envisioning a meal fit for a king, with a lip-smacking, juicy turkey coming out of my oven a few hours later.

One parade and a football game later, I opened my oven, tore open the paper bag with visions of a Rockwell turkey dinner dancing in my head only to be shocked to see before me a dried up, leather-looking football with scorched stuffing bursting from its seams!

Yep.

Wanted to cry.

Had five hungry people to feed and there staring at me from my shiny, new turkey pan was a skinny, dried-up, leathery piece of jerky.

Cazzo! (Ot-so)

Standing behind me, as I carefully pulled out the blue enamel casket containing the remains of the bird, my brother quipped, “I don’t know about you, Luce, but I’ve always been partial to Cornish game hens for the holidays.”

“Turkeys,” he continued, “aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.”

Uh-Hun.

That was my first and last year using a paper bag to roast turkey. Now I just undercook it, or leave the giblets in their plastic bag and cook everything together until the turkey, giblets and bag are a nice shade of putrid brown.

Did I mention that my siblings and the Princess’s siblings have been volunteering to bring the turkey to our gatherings, lately?

Yep.

I just love cooking for the holidays.  Makes me break out in a rash every November that doesn’t clear up until after the New Year.

Have the Merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.