March 20, 2020


Veterinarians Serving With Care During COVID-19

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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.

IMG_2728 2

March 14, 2020


Food Hoarder Maybe, But Not for a Pandemic

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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.7624D839-A344-445D-9DD6-830A979B843E_1_105_c


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.


March 10, 2020


Procrastinating or Saving the Landfills?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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.

February 7, 2020


What to Do With Excess Used School Supplies

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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.


Hallelujah, The Book Baby is Born! by Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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 book section for paperback and ebook or for paperback format. Again I say, “Hallelujah!” 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. 😁

August 2, 2019


Birthing a Book: Whew! It Takes Patience and Persistence

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.

July 18, 2019


What’s in Your Fridge?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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. IMG_3323

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.IMG_3322

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.IMG_3330

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.IMG_3326 But more likely, I probably won’t pitch them until they are furry and making their own penicillin.IMG_3328


June 3, 2019


Pet Hair Piling up? Your Feet May Hold the Solution (This is not an ad. I’m just smart.)

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Pet hair got you down? Tired of spending money on sticky rollers and gadgets to remove that hair? I’ve found the solution for your furniture, rugs, even your fabrics. Take off your sneakers and put them to work. Check the bottoms for gross stuff. Then use your cleanest pair to rub the rubber soles of your shoes all over that fluffy pet hair squishing it up into a ball and “Voila!” Hair-free surfaces and a cleaning process that doesn’t cost a dime (except for whatever you paid for those sneakers of course). Seriously. It works. Check out the before picture of my nasty cat tower.

Now take a look at my quick fur gathering system, courtesy of my walking shoes. Then scroll on down to see pictures of the final results.



Cleaning rugs is especially fun. Just scrub your sneakered feet around and the hair comes up in bunches. I found this out by accident rubbing my feet over a clump I saw on a carpet. I was amazed. I’d discovered a miracle method. Now y’all have fun. It’s almost as exciting as using a power washer to write on your pavement. Try it on your own fur covered house and let me know how it works. Enjoy.

May 20, 2019


Empty Nest: Obstacle or Opportunity?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman


“For every stage your baby passes through, for every sweet phase you think you’ll miss, you’ll get new stages, new phases. It’ll keep on getting more and more interesting all the time. Just wait until you can have a conversation with your nine-year-old. It’s wonderful. Change doesn’t have to be bad. It’s different of course, or it wouldn’t be called change.”


This is a paraphrase of what I told my oldest daughter as we discussed her dreading to see her nearly four-month-old baby boy change so fast. I remember having this same conversation with our very wise veterinarian when he asked me how I liked being a new parent. Yes, veterinarian, not pediatrician. I had taken my dog in for a checkup, not my child. You never know where your pearls of wisdom will come from so keep your ears open.


Yesterday, while sitting in church experiencing what we call “Youth Sunday” I was struck with how much I missed the years my husband and I were youth leaders; having an intimate knowledge, a friendship with so many young people like those leading this service. As a trio of young ladies sang their solo parts and then harmonized, I was taken back to a time when that would have been my oldest daughter and her singing partners. I recalled how our triplets, now twenty-two used to sing, play their instruments, speak, and participate in mission trips like these kids were doing. I thought back to days when we’d have anywhere from forty to eighty young people and their families at our house for what we called, “Fun on the Farm” or a “lock in” or just to hang out. Those were busy, exhilarating times.


For a few moments, I allowed melancholy to set in. I even told our minister and a few friends how looking back had hit me. They all get it. They’re in similar stages of life where their kids are off doing their own things, forging paths, as we all did a few decades ago. I marvel at how little time I spent back home once I left my parental nest. I was off to whatever life held, hardly giving a thought to how my absence affected my parents. It’s hard to know what an empty nest feels like until you’ve tried it for yourself. Now, I can’t get enough treasured time in my mom’s nest, heading there every chance I get.


Life is one change after another. One more readjustment to a new normal. Unless we live in a household where nobody leaves, and the whole extended family stays on the block or the farm, there’s bound to be change. An alteration of sounds, smells, and activity. Perhaps an empty feeling or possibly, a feeling of completion. A million unexpected feelings may swirl around in all that newfound space.


Like it or not, babies grow, turning into people with their own paths to explore, mountains to climb, and passions to pursue. Hopefully, we grownup people keep exploring, climbing, and pursuing. There are opportunities enough to go around for each age—each stage. It’s all in how we look at them. Are they obstacles or opportunities? A change might squeeze our hearts or a change could allow more time to work on a long-ignored bucket list or at least time to tackle a to-do list.


While trying to keep up with our household of six and their busy schedules, I remember saying on a regular basis, “I’ll do that once the kids are grown.” Well, they’re grown and gone. Actually, they’re more like in and out, here and there which is fabulous.


After four years of this big-old-empty house business, I’m actually enjoying this new stage of life. The one where my calendar is less filled with my kid’s schedules and more filled with my own. That’s a pretty sweet place to be. I must admit, with a new grandbaby, I’m happy to fill a few of those calendar blocks with his schedule needs. Keep Baby Wesley. I’m moving into a new stage, yet again, and it keeps life interesting. Whatever we give up in one stage, we get back in multiples in the next ones. That’s what my wise veterinarian told me about parenting, and it’s still true.






%d bloggers like this: