Life Sentences: Chores and More

2074

By: Fran LoBiondo

Here’s my good news for the week: I was feeling a little low, and I took a rest, but my mind wouldn’t calm itself. It made a little windstorm of a thousand things I could do, but I could not settle on one so I got up and said, “Get up, you procrastinator! Do something. Pick one of the many chores you’ve been thinking of.”

So I did. My dark clothes laundry basket was full to the top, containing mostly my son Greg’s clothes. He’s a big guy, and his clothes are big enough to fill three loads a week, so I took them down to the washer and stuffed them in. Then I looked around and saw something else was amiss, so I forgot about the laundry and started cleaning the grimy, food-stained stovetop. I don’t know how I let it get so bad.

I grabbed my can of Comet powder and went to town. It has two cast-iron grates that I take off to get at the ceramic parts. I scrubbed and scrubbed, using Comet. But the stuck-on food hung on. I got out my Bar Keeper’s Friend and put my hands on Elbow Grease cycle. When the surface was not clean and white, I went for the big gun: Dawn dishwashing liquid. It works for clothing stains, greasy bathroom surfaces, mirrors, kitchen floor schmutz and things I’ve now forgotten.

One more pass over the stovetop and I could demonstrate Dawn’s amazing power on TV. First, of course, I would have to put on my best dress, heels, pearl necklace and earrings. And my wig.

Now, to make a long story endless, at around midnight, I remembered the huge load in the dryer. I went downstairs, to finish what I’d started.

When the clothes came out I reached in for lost items and found two earrings I’d been looking for since the poltergeist took them. I have strewn earrings all over creation in my life, and never, ever retrieved both in one shot. They went through both cycles, and they look like new. Who says miracles don’t happen?


Another morning we watched the news and the big story was a tornado warning in the Carolinas, into Tennesee and Virginia. In South Carolina, there was footage of tractor trailers that were flipped over on their backs by gale-force winds on a major highway. There were also warnings of rivers and creeks jumping over their banks and flooding towns.

When I got home, I called our friends in Virginia to see if the storm had reached them.

“Um, well, I haven’t heard any of that. I don’t have the television on,” Chas said. “Sally is on a trip with friends so I’d better watch the weather, and give her a call to see if they’re alright.”

Did you ever get the feeling you were the only one who got the memo? Seriously, it was all over the newscasts up here in South Jersey. I didn’t make it up. I’m not Chicken Little, either, but in those southern states, the sky really was falling.


I have a date planned for breakfast tomorrow with my friend Lin at our favorite diner in Vincentown on Route 206. We’ve met there since our daughters were little and I’ve always liked their blueberry pancakes with all-natural maple syrup.

This date was postponed last Friday due to family issues, so I hope this time works out. At least if she can’t make it, I hope she cancels before I drive all the way up there.

It has happened that I sat in the parking lot at this diner, slavering for breakfast, and Lin was more late than usual. So I called her and she said, “Oh, Franley, I totally forgot about our meeting! I just got distracted. Are you on the road?”

“No, I’m in the parking lot, waiting for my friend to show up,” I said.

Every once in a while since, I have reminded Lin to call me early if she can’t show up.

Our schedules don’t usually match, but when the stars are aligned, we eat pancakes and talk until lunchtime, then part for our Mom duties at home.

We have kept the tradition through her moves to Poughkeepsie, Pittsburgh, Hong Kong, and the wilds of Princeton, — and she seen me through brain cancer, open-heart surgery, and autism, et cetera.

One day we will not be able to meet there anymore, so we’re enjoying it now, while the pancakes are hot.