While appreciating our shelter and safety we seem to always want those greener pastures beyond our own space. You know how the strawberries always look plumper and redder on the next row over but you have to pick on your assigned row? Such is life at the moment.
Never, ever did I expect to be mailing our 23-year-old daughter a care package during a pandemic. But here I go. Thank heaven for the postal service still being an option.
The used mailing envelope I stuffed is available thanks to my compulsion for keeping such things, just in case. I also had plenty of stamps for postage and packing tape to seal the deal. My husband and I both grew up with parents who lived through the Great Depression and as a result, were nearly always prepared for lean times. The waste not, want not generation. It must have rubbed off on us. That and being in Scouts. You know, that part about being prepared?
Today, simple living is a huge thing. I appreciate that philosophy. Materialism can get in the way of truly enjoying life. I know from experience. I spend far too much time shuffling my stuff around instead of giving it to someone who needs it or at least would appreciate it more than I do. I’m working on it. This care package is a tiny example of giving things to someone who needs them more.
Living in a studio apartment means our daughter keeps only her basic needs around since there’s no room for storing extra items. She has to save room for art and yoga supplies and a doggie bed. An artist and a yoga teacher, she, like so many others, is now working online from home. Every little bit of floor space is essential yet during this stay-at-home period, a few extra items we have in our house are essential for her as well.
This package contains items she can’t easily obtain at the moment: Heartworm preventative and ear medicine for her dog, pepper spray for all her dog walking excursions, a roll of paper towels, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, muscle ache lotion, and a pair of sandals. As a heartfelt bonus, I included a fun greeting card in an extra-large envelope with a personal message from moi, stuffed with note cards, envelopes, and stamps because sometimes, you have to send a check somewhere or communicate by mail. Essential goods are heading to our daughter, no longer taking up space in our house, but needed in hers. Sending them and our love, just in case.
We used to garden all the time and put up veggies (for non-gardeners, that means preserved foods in jars or the freezer)
This year, with our stay-at-home order to fight this infernal coronavirus, I decided not only to stick the root ends of my romaine in a bowl of water and wait for it to sprout leaves, but also to start a pot garden on our deck. No. Not that kind of pot. I planted seeds I found in my kitchen junk drawer that I had saved just in case I felt the urge to patio garden. Well, the urge hit. The thoughts of not having green leafy veggies at hand inspired me. You would not believe how fast those suckers, I mean seeds, pop up and start growing. I’m so excited. It’s gonna be Saladville around here. We’re gardening again. Deer, you’d better stay off our deck.
Today, in the midst of COVID-19 I experienced veterinary care at its finest. First thing this morning I received a call from our vet, Dr. Baron, telling me about kidney issues with Daisy Mae Kitty’s bloodwork from last week, back when life was nearly normal and their office was bustling with pets and people. We discussed the need for a recheck for her and for our dog Mandy who he also saw last week for her continuous pain and panting.
Our clinic sent out an email explaining options for our COVID-19 safety which included pretty much a pet drive-thru service. They offered Drop-off options, Low Contact Appointments, and Curbside Service for meds and food pickup. I chose the Low Contact Appointment where a tech would come outside and get animals from owners and the owners could choose to either leave the pet for a while or wait in the car until time to speak with the doctor. That could be a phone consult if desired.
What a concept! I walked my dog around outside so she could sniff everything as we waited for the tech to come fetch her and Daisy Mae, also known as Ninja Kitty since she doesn’t like to be held and disappears regularly. The tech offered to take the animals or we were all invited to go into a room if I was comfortable with that. I chose the room. Wow. We walked in and went straight to the examining room which was squeaky clean as always.
Mandy had blood drawn and Daisy tolerated having her blood pressure taken before the doctor came in to discuss our situation and possible steps to make things better. Our animals are old so they have health issues and I know they’ll likely continue but I left with a plan to improve their golden years.
Even with the craziness in our world right now, it’s a huge relief to know there are compassionate people ready to help ease pain and suffering for both pets and people. Health professionals deal with all kinds of medical needs that have to be tended, from oncologists providing lifesaving treatments, to orthopedists repairing broken bones, to speech therapists helping babies learn to eat. Not to mention emergency medical personnel on the front line. The world comes to a screeching halt in many ways, yet some things simply cannot do so without severe ramifications. Risk worth results is what I keep hearing.
That thing that I take for granted all the time, an open veterinary office didn’t have to be there for us. The fact that it was available was comforting beyond belief. I thank them for taking great pains to protect us all in these scary contagious times, yet being there as helping professionals. They almost made the world seem normal today.
My sincere thanks goes out to all those folks putting their own safety on the line for others. Hopefully, when life settles down, we will all remember those acts of kindness and pay them forward.
Okay. Honesty time. It’s official. I have a food problem and it’s not got anything to do with how much I eat. I am going to swallow my shame and admit, I’m a food hoarder. Oh no, not a pandemic hoarder. I haven’t shopped for that at all. Why? Because I have two fridges in my kitchen loaded with food. Ever since we had the triplets, we’ve had two fridges. Actually, that’s not true. We’ve had them forever, since we used to can and freeze a gardenful of organic veggies. There’s a newer one, the older one, and in the barn, there’s the oldest one still good enough for drinks and excess holiday leftovers. There’s also an ancient freezer in the barn with some backup items that don’t fit in the house. Who needs to buy more food?
Apparently, I do. Feeling unusually productive, I decided to check the dates on the foods in the barn freezer. Ah ha! There were those five loaves of garlic bread I couldn’t find so I kept buying fresh frozen ones for each Italian meal. No problem. It was a beautiful day to handle old icy meats and veggies so I grabbed a few empty grocery bags, filled them with ease and chunked those old ice blocks into the roll out trash bin. Realizing the next day would be trash and recycling pickup and still feeling energetic, I continued my purging project in the house starting with the second oldest kitchen fridge, a side-by-side. The one where you’re supposed to be able with a glance to see what you have. Right. Except for those items in the back that haven’t seen daylight since the last solar eclipse.
This is really embarrassing but since I’ve started confessing, I’ll keep going. Have you ever cleared out your freezer and hit six-year-old “best by” dates? Even if you’re standing in front of your freezer staring at the sell-by 2014 date on the stirfry vegetables and no one else is around to know, you can still feel shame. That well of embarrassment digs deeper with each ancient family size glacier-like bag of yellow squash and broccoli. Wedged beside the no longer healthy food section, I found four-year-old boxes of waffles in both glutenous and g-free varieties. I kept digging. Oh yeah. Jackpot. Boiled peanuts and cooked collards. Yay. Those are in unlabeled Ziplock bags so they’re probably still good. I wonder if Pillsbury biscuits will still rise if they’re over a year old? Might as well cook them and see what happens. I shoved them back in for a later decision time.
Here’s the thing: I despise grocery shopping. Therefore, when I finally go, I buy enough to last through a Boston blizzard. I stock up a bunch of food for special occasions, for when the kids come home, for holidays. Then I ask the hubby to pick up fresh foods on his way home from work. You know. Milk, bread, eggs, salad stuff and fruit. He can get in and out with the items on my list and not get suckered into all the buy-one, get-one free deals that suck me right in on every aisle. If I went shopping regularly, our fridges would explode along with our credit card.
But Houston, we have a problem. By the end of my purging fridges and freezers, I’d filled our tall kitchen trash can three times, not to mention the boxes and bottles in the recycle can. Heck! After my numerous trips to the rolling bins outside, it was all I could do to tilt the heavy cans and roll them down the long hill that is our driveway. Who knew cleaning out old food could add up to steps and an aerobic workout?
There you have it. I’ve cleared my conscience and my fridges. I’ve added far too much to the landfill in my haste to get the bins down the hill before dark. I should have composted most of that frozen food and I’ll have to live with that big icy chunk of guilt. I’m a Southern woman so I know how to gnaw off a big bite of guilt and chew on it for a good long while. I’ll do that. It’ll make me feel better about all this embarrassment. I vowed to use all the food that is now remaining in fridge and freezer and stop buying like I did for a family of six. This nest only has the two of us now. Oh, wait. What am I thinking? I need to shop for the kid’s upcoming breaks and when our local daughter’s family comes over. That means I need to restock the gluten free items and food for the grandbaby. And about that pandemic thing. Maybe I should start hoarding a few canned items. I’ll have to make sure to get a good sell-by date.
A prime example of procrastination involves my To Do List that I didn’t do. In addition to not writing, I did not make the phone calls on my list, nor do the online banking. I didn’t go to Lowes for longer cabinet knob screws, nor take the cat to the vet for shots. I did, however, attempt to remove a goopy candle from a small glass container and not toss it in the trash. The wick was gone and the wax was honey-like so I used hot water to loosen the wax so I could chop it up and pry it out with a butter knife.
It made sense at the time. That is, until I realized how many gallons of running hot water went down the drain and how much electricity I wasted in order to run the water heater. In my defense, I was attempting to save the landfill from one more useless item. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound as good as it felt while I was digging out the melted wax. Dang it. Even when I try extra hard to be a responsible earth citizen, my carbon footprint grows. Well shoot. But on the bright side, we have another glass.
In preparation for a recent trip to Peru to build houses and work with the people of Chimbote, I ￼was packing clothes, toys, and various donation items. In my house, I made a ridiculous discovery. I found more than two hundred fifty left-over colored pencils I’d somehow hoarded from my four grown kids’ school years. Purchasing a fresh clean box at the beginning of each year meant we accumulated oodles of left over, used, dull pencils. My son Sam and I assembled Ziploc bags filled with a rainbow of those colored pencils, freshly sharpened, along with a personal sharpener, a notepad, ink pens, and lead pencils. By the time we were done, we had made￼ twenty-four bags mostly from supplies that had been lying idle around our house for years. I have a feeling I’m not the only person who has lots of partially used pencils, notebooks, and pens accumulating around the house that could begin a new life with a child who doesn’t have any of those items.￼￼ I’m just sayin’. Here’s how you can help. Search in your area for organizations that do mission work. You might find them online or through churches, colleges, and other schools.
It feels awfully good to get things out of your house and￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ into the hands of people who might use them.￼￼￼
Just Because I Used To Could…Life Stories and Beyond by Lisa Batten Kunkleman and illustrated by my delightful mother, Lois Ellis Batten is now available for purchase. WooHoo! Go to Amazon.com book section for paperback and ebook or Barnesandnoble.com for paperback format. Again I say, “Hallelujah!” https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733152504 Don’t be afraid to skip around and pick an essay title that grabs you from the Table of Contents. They are fun snippets of life. Moments like we all have. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write down some stories of your own. I hope you enjoy this collection. 😁
Surprise! Here’s a peek at my soon to be born baby. I mean book. You may notice the cover is brighter now than the natural color plan I posted a good while back. I decided to brighten the book shelves of the world a little bit.
Some people say, there’s a book inside everybody. Maybe that’s true. I don’t pretend to know. I do know that getting a book written, proofed a zillion times, published, and out into the world is a huge undertaking. I had no idea how huge. I thought this book launch would have been by my birthday, September 24, 2018. I am a year wiser and am pretty sure that it will be out by September 24 this year, 2019. Every time I think it looks ready to go, I glean some wisdom from somebody who has been there, done that. Even though my finger is ready to push that ever present Publish button I find that there are a few more steps to follow to make the book worthy of using the phrase book launch.
To all who have put their books out into Readerland, I commend you. You are full of patience and persistence. I hope to join you soon. Just Because I Used To Could is on the way. Watch out for preorder opportunities.
I wonder if the contents of a fridge tell what a person really treasures, or how he lives his life. Lord have mercy? I hope not. If a researcher looked into our fridge about an hour ago, they would think we valued out-of-date milk, slimy veggies, and a ton of cheese and condiments. And he’d think we didn’t value food. There was no room for real food.
Even I was shocked at the refrigerator’s contents. We’ve been gone an awful lot lately so we haven’t kept the fridge stocked with fresh food. After spotting and removing the Romaine lettuce and the cucumber that had converted to brown water, I pulled out the crisper drawer for a full-blown soapy baptism in the sink. One thing led to another. Pulling the trash and recycling containers beside me to start purging, I dove in with fierce energy. Immediate gratification and feeling of accomplishment, here I come.
That’s when Mr. Environmental Conscience dropped in for a chat. “You need to rinse out that Fairlife Milk bottle and those jelly jars. Oh, and you should compost those old veggies. The worms would appreciate them. Worms gotta eat too, ya know?”
Shrugging Mr. Conscience off my shoulder, I took all thirteen of the most ancient condiment containers to the sink for later processing. It reminds me of another event I wrote about several years ago. Empty Nest Flutterings: The Multiplying Condiment Miracle Sorry. I digressed. Back to work. I didn’t want to slow my momentum, not to mention that the refrigerator door and drawers were standing wide open letting the cold air out.
Immersing myself in sanitizing, I realized we have some kind of problem. Who needs sixteen packs of cheese, especially in a lactose intolerant household? Who needs more than three dozen containers of salsa, jams, and mayonnaise? Olives? We don’t even eat olives yet we have two slightly used jars of the green ovals. Wonder how long a jar of baby beets can survive? There’s no date on the nearly full jar. And what about that unopened key lime juice? That stuff’s not cheap. Man I hate to pour that out.
Wow, so much expired vegan food that our daughter left here months ago. Shoot, I should take pictures of it so I know what brand of tempeh to buy since she’s coming home in a few days and needs something besides avocados and chickpeas. After all, she can’t help eat the cheese.
Ahhh. Done at last. The proud feeling of achievement may carry me for a few days. At least until I make a big grocery run to replace all that stuff I just tossed. I’m gonna try to avoid cheese and condiments. We’ve got plenty of them. I probably won’t even know they are there until the next time I purge the fridge and toss them in the out-of-date bin. But more likely, I probably won’t pitch them until they are furry and making their own penicillin.