View online edition


Four Months In

The challenges of shopping, gardening, cooking.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

July is ending and August looks good as we might have a family reunion then, if all of the pieces fall into place.

Each day I am faced with news of the Covid-19 illness. Yesterday, I took my sister out for lunch, at a nice Italian restaurant with tables outside on a patio. It was good food, great service, and shaded seating. We could almost believe things were back to normal.

We talked about the day’s news, which was that thousands of bottles of antibacterial gel that were distributed widely to hospitals, schools, restaurants, etc. contain a chemical that tested positive as a carcinogen.

Oh, the irony. All of the people are following the directions from the government to constantly use hand gel to stay healthy, only to find out it could be a deadly practice.

We, in my family, have practiced frequent soap-and-water hand cleansing and used some antibacterial gel and have not gotten any cooties yet.

Who needs more cancer? I will say that if my hands rot off from using sanitizer, somebody’s going to pay.

My sister and I are pretty much on the same page in thinking that the country’s edicts for containing the virus’s spread are an overreach. If we are required to wear masks inside a store, we just don’t go. It’s too hard to breathe with your mouth and nose covered over. Makes me dizzy. And nauseous. Two symptoms of the coronavirus.

I have never been an online shopper, but I do prefer it to shopping while suffocating. Honestly, I have not spent much on any non-essential items—gas, trips or breakfasts with friends—in four months, because of the shutdowns.

I plan to keep up the austerity when stores open again. (Except for the odd short stack of blueberry pancakes. They are essential.)

The status of my gardening is still quo.Outside on my deck are the two spindly palms that I transplanted into larger containers and watered twice a day because it is hot and dry out.

I thought they were pot-bound indoors, so that’s why the new homes. They have showed no signs of settling in to their new environment, and have in fact stopped growing at all.

I brought home a green and shiny basil plant, and I should replant it, but I’m reluctant to subject it to my black thumb.

I love growing and harvesting fresh basil in the summer, and I have succeeded with it, but still I hesitate. I know most of what happens out there is out of my control, but what if it dies, or the bugs eat it? Or a rogue thug walking by steals it?

The guilt might just kill me.

You have probably guessed that my guilt gland works overtime.

So, I’m really looking forward to this family reunion. We haven’t had one in years and they are so good for me. I do not have to cook, clean or do the dishes. Or worry about who’s eating what. It’s like heaven on earth.

My Mom loved it too, although now that she’s in heaven we know she’s happy there. We’ll miss her, though.

My son is watching the Food Network, and they have some good dishes and some outrageous ingredients that I can’t even look at. I just caught a glimpse of a chef dropping a huge octopus into a steaming cauldron.

Can anything good come from that? I have tried some baby octopus that my friend seasoned with Korean spices, and it wasn’t bad, but the one on television was tall and twisting and slimy, so the chef had to stand on tiptoe to get it in the cauldron.

If my son is as freaked out by my cop shows as I am by his food shows, perhaps I should take up macramé for entertainment.

When I was a kid, we all thought our father was a bad cook, because he tended toward the weird—meat stew with sauerkraut, sauerbraten, strange-tasting sausages. He was fond of liverwurst and onion sandwiches, which weren’t that bad, but his Limburger cheese was something to clear a room. I still can’t eat stinky cheese.

But he showed us he could cook. When he made tomato sauce with sausage and served it over spaghetti, we all started dancing when we smelled it. He made extra sauce because we couldn’t help dipping some bread in and sampling it before dinner.

Good or bad, the sights and scents of cooking make lasting memories.

Life Sentences