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Friday, December 31, 2004

GOODBYE TO 2004.... 

How will you spend the last day of 2004? Finishing up old business, making a list of resolutions for the New Year or taking the day off so you can meet with friends and family to celebrate tonight? For me it is a day to re-think the past year and use it to guide me to a better year coming up.

The days of last year lay behind as islands in a sea of memory. The New Year lies ahead as an open book with blank pages. They are like buoys observed from a ship’s rail. A marker of distance. Wise ships see them and adjust their course as wise men observe calendars and adjust their time. I have used up 72-calendars and am nearing the return cycle to begin the next. I am a ship leaving port and steering across watery highways to distant shores. There are destinations and schedules - all is planned and made ready. Whether the winds be favorable or foul I do not know. I sail the same for I have no choice. The shadowy days ahead on my calendar are voids of space and future - waiting as distant port calls. Beacons of light and buoys guide me across the days. As a single journey is begun in trust, not knowing if we shall reach our destination safely, so is each day lived. Take hold of trust and welcome each new day.

I am rebuilding structures started long ago. Nothing kills like old dreams unrealized, new dreams not hoped for. I am re-charging my “dream machine.”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 30, 2004

DECEMBER 30, 2004 

Three cats are sleeping in the area where I write my blogs. They look so peaceful and contented. Don’t you wish we could give off vibes like that? I often envy my pets with their daily existence and wonder what might be going through their brains. They know us very well. Cats and dogs are very tuned in to our feelings.

They have taught me a lot as I watch them watching me. The expression on my face is a good indicator to them for what I am thinking. I have tried to teach them to stay off kitchen counters, the table where we eat and so on. When we are gone they do as they like and even much of the time when we are home. I have a spray bottle that is good for attitude adjustment. When I order them off the table and I mean business they leave immediately…however, sometimes I sound rather undecided and they wait to see just how serious I am. If there is any doubt, the spray bottle clears the room.

It’s odd because when they were kittens I could douse them until they were sopping wet. Didn’t matter…..they continued on their mission. Sometime during their teens (in kitty years) they get the idea that it is not cool to be sprayed…I suppose the look on my face began to register as well. After maturity, it has become humiliating to be sprayed….for one reason, the other cats laugh a lot when the offending cat gets “the bottle.”

When I was a little girl staying at grandma’s a lot, cats were my only playmates. They were pressed into being my buddies and endured all kinds of disgrace because I treated them like dolls. They were wrapped in blankets and put in my doll buggy…it amazed my aunt Mary that the cats just laid there and never attempted getting out. I suppose I grew to know cats very well. We have a way of passing thoughts to one another.

People who don’t like cats have all kinds of reasons for not liking them. The most common is that they are too independent. They are not….if you spend any time with them at all. Any pet who is brought home, dumped on the floor and never given any time except to feed them is going to learn to “go it alone.” I can always tell the pets who are talked to and bonded with their owners. If treated with respect, given play times, good food and exercise you will have a friend like no other.

Cats are very individual, just like people. Their personalities make them very distinctive and I for one, like that. They are not “cookie cutter” companions. Their main desire in life is to be with you, on you, near you, by you, in front of you….well, you get my point. They are very ‘hands on’ pets. The one thing that cats do is leave little reminders around to let you know they’ve been there. Hair and their toys. A toy is anything considered playful by the cat. Bottle caps, string, boxes, paper, they can make fun out of anything handy. It doesn’t have to come from the local pet store.

Cats fascinate me. I am amazed how they can thread their way around a table in the living room with a coffee cup, magazine, figurines….and never touch them. They are so agile and quiet. Almost like a thought on feet. Intangible and yet so available….a soft bit of fur wrapped around one of God’s most patient creatures.

I am owned by Morris, a ginger stripped male, Tuffy, a gray stripped male, Missy, a black female, Sassy, a black and white young female and Callie, a young Calico female. They give me their love in abundant doses and ask very little. They just want to be with me. I like that.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

DECEMBER 29, 2004 

The past week has been full of activity and warm fuzzies. I spent days cleaning and doing laundry, as well as a lot of cooking. George was coming on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and Becky’s son, Jonathan and his wife Aimee, were coming for a late dinner. I had the gifts ready, the food ready and candles blazing. We ate until we were stuffed and then went right for the packages.

Our room looked like a UPS warehouse. John and Barb and Jennifer and Marc did their shopping on the internet and brown boxes arrived every day for a week. Can you imagine my anxiety over WHO got WHICH box? John and I laughed over his suggestion to sit in a ring around the boxes….open all of them up and then each could grab what they wanted. Actually I think that might be fun….but maybe some other time….because I love what everyone picked out for me, personally, and I’m not that good at shoving and grabbing anymore.

After gift opening we all got on phones and called John’s, Jennifer and Marc and Dale. It made them all seem much closer and part of the gathering. John got a great Christmas present because the Chiefs won their game. Things are shaping up for a great 2005-season. (Hope burns eternally.)

George stayed with us until yesterday (Tuesday afternoon) when he loaded his truck and headed north for Shawnee. I’m afraid he had a “busman’s holiday” as Becky’s computer took a bad turn for the worse and he spent most of two days at her house trying to undo some strange ailments it had. She has begun to cast an eye at her old PC which we bought from her when she bought her new one. I have to frisk her every time she leaves to make sure she hasn’t confiscated it. She is having terrible withdrawals from not being able to post her blogs or to email. I can empathize as I’m sure many of you can. For now she is without wings……..

While George and Becky were at her house working on the computer, I busied myself making fudge and cookies to mail to John’s and Jennifer/Marc. I didn’t get that done before Christmas so wanted to get it done for New Years. I think it might be more appreciated after the big meals are now past. I took “orders” for each personal request so today Marc’s sugar cookies will get iced and mailed and Barbara’s thumbprint cookies will get made and sent…..the last of the list.

Then there is little Zach….Rocky’s grandson who is in Ramstein, Germany. We had an email from his mother, Janet Morand, (some of you see her comments on your blogs) and she said he is to be deployed to Iraq by November….I’m sure she would covet your prayers for him. He just graduated high school last June and is a pretty young kid to be going to Iraq…….however, we realize a lot of other young kids have already gone. Anyway, gramma will be sending him some cookies again, too. Zach has a sweet tooth and I can identify with that very well.

I’d better get on my stick here and get started with all this. I’m beginning to make myself nervous….Ha! I am aware that January is soon coming up and my life story will pick up with 1985. I am beginning to reflect on that year and I will be in print with it January 1st. So have yourself a good day. Remember our friend, Ellen, who is having to face some pretty tough appointments right now……

I hope your Christmas was wonderful in every way and leaves you with the warm glow of family, friends and the God of your faith. I am so grateful for the country we live in and for all those young people and career people who are keeping it free. Our comforts and safety really come home when we see what damage the Tsunami caused, along with the suffering and devastation it left behind. I cannot imagine a disaster on that magnitude…..and I’m sure the ones who are familiar with such things will try to set up a warning of some kind in the future. They deserve our help and our prayers…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Merry Christmas to all our cyber friends…we hope you are having a wonderful day with your families and friends. In the spirit of the season….MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EACH AND ALL.

Rocky and Esther

Friday, December 24, 2004


Ellen Crush is a lady who is an old friend to some and a new friend to others. That’s the way the world of blogging goes. There are some who started in this endeavor at an early time…. and some of us came late. Soon I will come upon my first anniversary. I don’t know when Ellen started but when I came on the scene she found my site, I suppose through John or Becky’s blogs. She was so encouraging and made such witty and winning remarks, I liked her immediately.

Ellen is a teacher who loves teaching and loves her husband and pets. She recently got the news that her cancer had returned and the prognosis is not all that great. Still she continues to claim her right to life and is making a very good argument for recovery. She has been told this is terminal. That is unacceptable to those of us who love her. We continue to pray and hope for a miracle.

I found a piece written by James E. Miller the other day in my file and shared part of it at that time. This is the other part, written by Miller….and I want to dedicate this to Ellen who is facing her adversary with courage and grace. God bless you, dear friend…….you are loved.
This time is a time you will not forget. It is a time that is breaking you open and re-shaping you. You will never be the same.

Remember: you can shape this time, even as it shapes you. You are not powerless. You are not entirely at the mercy of whatever has happened to you. It may feel that way to you at the moment. You may wonder if you’ll ever regain control of your life. The truth is this: you will and you won’t, and that’s good.

You will regain more control over your life with the passing of time and in the living of your days. Your hurt will decrease. Your feelings of emptiness will subside. You’ll be able to look back and see the happiness. You’ll find yourself starting to look forward and to feel more hopeful. You’ll sense you’re more yourself.

And at the same time, you won’t regain control. For you’re coming to know that ultimately much of life is beyond your control, and beyond anyone’s control. It can be lived, but it cannot be contained. It can be appreciated, but it cannot be narrowly confined. It can be embraced, but it cannot be held too tightly. For life ultimately is a gift. It comes from far beyond you, and that is also its destiny.

May the experiences you are living through help you toward those realizations. May you be on the path of living your life for all it’s worth. And never forget: it’s worth a great deal………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 23, 2004


If you could give anything to anybody….what would it be? If money were no object and you had this day to shop what would you do? Race to the mall and buy out the stores, get a new car for a family member, buy that killer ring? That’s not big enough thinking….what if you had everything in this world and beyond….where would you start?

Some of us are noble enough we would wave a wand and say “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” or maybe make it possible for all the service men and women to come home and stay….never having to leave again. Cure all the illness and mend broken hearts ….make it possible for the poor to have hope. Fix everything broken and make sad ones happy. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, it’s already been done.

That’s exactly what a loving heavenly Father did for us over two thousand years ago. He sent His only son to die….. that we might have the riches, peace, health, love and the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this life and beyond. I remember reading once of how the rich could hire a man to fight in the Civil War in his place. This was done because someone could afford the luxury and another man couldn’t. The poor man went in his place hoping to come home and have a good life with his family. If he was killed, he lost the gamble….but his family could survive with the monies given them.

It’s the same with God. He asked His son to die in our place….there was no gamble. He would have to die. He knew that going in. He came anyway. He did die in our place and the riches are ours for the asking.

How does this work?

I don’t know.

I only know it does.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


This evening at 6:35pm my oldest son will celebrate his prior entrance into a strange and wonderful world. He will be officially 54 years old at that time. As all great novels begin….. “Ah, yes….I remember it well.” It’s probably the last thing a mother ever forgets….the birth of each child.

The miracle of it all and watching a child grow should be the most rewarding thing for a mother. I really had no training to be a mother and if I had…I’m sure it would never have followed a pattern, anyway. Being a mother was something that was learned on the job. I sort of grew up with my first child….we are only 18-years apart.

I cut my teeth with George. Just about the time I thought I had it all down “pat” he would change again. This evolving continued through the years. Fortunately for me, Dr. Spock’s book hadn’t come out then or I may have ruined him. I do not agree with his child rearing at all….at the time I might have thought it was great just because some doctor wrote it.

George was an easy kid to raise. He tried hard to live up to the expectations of his parents and grand-parents….he had patience and could stick with things. His patience could border on procrastination at times, so I leaned when to push and when to back off. He made decent grades in school, became an Eagle Scout and our whole family backed the Scout Troop. We believed in keeping our kids in good programs to teach them about teamwork.

George went to college a while and then to the Navy. It was during the Vietnam war and he was away four years….when he came home he went right to work and stayed with the same job over the years since….although the job itself has changed many times and evolved into something else.

He had a great little Westie, named Mac-Dog and we all loved him. George stuck with him through old age and failing health…finally to cancer. It was tough but at the last he had to put Mac to sleep because he was in a lot of pain and was dysfunctional. It took a while but he eventually got another Westie and named him Murphy. Later, a friend asked him to keep a cat for a time so Cheeta has been in the family several years now.

George is a good son, brother, uncle and friend. He is loyal and dependable. He taught me a lot (and still does) ….one of the saddest things for me, as his mother; he just never seems to get the credit he deserves. Somewhere, sometime I believe it will catch up with him and he will finally receive the appreciation due him. I get goose-pimples when I think of my three children and that I was the one picked to be their mom.

So happy birthday George…..we’ll see you Friday and you shall have your special birthday cake. We are looking forward to your visit.

Until tomorrow,
Essentiall Esther

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


I have no idea what is going on with the weather. While the rest of the country is under snow, high winds and miserable cold, we are having a bright sunshiny day with no wind and temps expected to go close to 60*. According to last night’s weather report we are enjoying life between a high from the south and a low from the north. Or was it the other way around….I’ll have to think about that.

It sure makes it hard to think “Christmas” when the delivery guys are wearing shorts and a lot of the mall shoppers yesterday were in shirt sleeves. I wore a Christmas sweat shirt to the gym last night and almost roasted myself on the treadmill. It’s a battle of wits between me and it anyway….and when I’m hurting from an ingrown toenail or dressed too warm it makes it more miserable than usual.

While Becky and John are ‘in’ to their physical stuff, and George, their older brother, too….I cast an evil eye at the gym machines….hoping they’ll burn their little electric cords up one minute into my torture. Now you know. They don’t get that desire from their mom. Mind you…I’m not lazy. I just prefer to get my exercise the natural way a homemaker does….behind the vacuum, laundry, dishes, cooking….all that stuff. Can’t say yard work right now but I get a lot of that in the summer. Now I understand that kind of exercise…it needs to be done. Why would someone in their right mind run their silly legs off on a treadmill or pound the streets? And all that weight training only makes me more sore than I was when I went.

Oh I’ve tried to talk sense in them. But John went ahead and got himself in the Boston Marathon….now he has to even work harder…and Becky…..well, she lost 68-pounds in a year and now has to keep up this idiotic routine to stay that way. George has gone to the gym and worked out for years and years on a regular basis because he used to have a desk job and needed to balance out……now he just thinks it’s what you do three times a week. He’s been brainwashed.

Meanwhile, I’m baking cookies, making candy and enjoying life to the fullest. Or am I the “fullest”?……..my sweet teeth are happy and my kids know I’m a ‘hard sell’……but to make them (and Dr. Powell) happy, I do go and I do walk and I do weight bearing exercises. I just want the right to gripe my head off about it and to hate it to the fullest. I have often said I will do ANYTHING if I can just say “no” first. That works for me.

Weather bulletin: artic air falling southward from Canada….warm air coming up from the Gulf….we’re in for freezing rain, ice, snow….4” to 6” inches. Tomorrow will see a big change from today. Maybe it will snow too deep to go the 25-miles to the gym…….Oh what a pity! Please….do not do any exercising for the next two weeks….just eat, enjoy and kiss all your cares goodbye. I’m allowing myself to do that. I hope you do too. A guilt-free Christmas binge……..YAHOO!!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, December 20, 2004


After a busy week-end we are off to Springfield today. I was going through some of my favorite “stuff” and came upon something that might be good for today. Have you ever lost something? Have you ever lost a person? If you are young, you haven’t tasted of “loss” beyond losing a ball-game or not getting what you wanted for Christmas. As the years roll along and pick up speed…most of us lose our shape, our good looks and even body parts. Worse than all that, we begin losing those we love, financial ruin or our sanity. Whatever you have lost in life…this puts it in perspective. I like this piece very much.

An Affirmation for Those Who Have Lost

I believe there is no denying it; it hurts to lose.
It hurts to lose a cherished relationship with another, or a significant part of one’s own self.
It can hurt to lose that which has united one with the past, or that which has beckoned one into the future.
It is painful to feel diminished or abandoned, to be left behind or left alone.
Yet I believe there is more to losing than just the hurt and the pain.
For there are other experiences that loss can call forth.
I believe that courage often appears, however quietly it is expressed, however easily it goes unnoticed by others; the fortitude to be firm enough to be flexible, the bravery to go where one has not gone before.
I believe a time of loss can be a time of learning unlike any other, and that it can teach some of life’s most valuable lessons:
In the act of losing there is something to be found.
In the act of letting go there is something to be grasped.
In the act of saying “goodbye,” there is a “hello” to be heard.
For I believe living with loss is about beginnings as well as endings.
And grieving is a matter of life more than of death.
And growing is a matter of mind and heart and soul more than of body.
And loving is a matter of eternity more than of time.
Finally, I believe in the promising paradoxes of loss:
In the midst of darkness, there can come a great Light,
At the bottom of despair, there can appear a great Hope.
And deep within loneliness, there can dwell a great Love.
I believe these things because others have shown the way-others who
have lost and then have grown through their losing,
Others who have suffered and then found new meaning.
So I know I am not alone:
I am accompanied day after night, night after day.

Copied from James E. Miller
Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Christmas elves at work. Santa’s helpers will be back Monday morning. (I hope.) Have a great weekend.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, December 17, 2004


One thing I enjoy about Christmas are the legends and stories written about objects that pertain to the birth and life of Christ…..and how simple people find a way to honor and symbolize their faith. One such story is The Legend of the Candy Cane.

A humble man wished to use his candymaking art to make a Christmas gift for Christ that came straight from his heart. First he shaped the candy into a shepherd’s staff, a “J” to stand for the name of Jesus, who was born on Christmas Day. He used white stripes to symbolize Jesus’ virgin birth, and His sinlessness and purity during His time on earth. Finally, he colored the candy with stripes made out of red, to represent the scourging and the blood that Jesus shed. He had created the Candy Cane, to remind us during this season that Christmas is a sweet gift of love…Jesus is the reason.

When the candy canes are faced together, they form a heart……to show how much God loves us.

Of course, the poems that have endured over the years as classics in Christmas cards are not only heart warming but leave us with warm “fuzzies.” One such poem that says it all for me is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

Till, ringing, singing on it’s way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Many of you read John’s and Becky’s blogs. They have both confessed to the sin of shake, rattling and rolling their gifts under the tree days before Christmas. Now George, the elder brother, was a different kid. He savored the day when he could open his for the first time. He never bothered them for fear he would know what was in them and then the surprise element would be spoiled.

The two younger ones ‘wanted’ to know what was in them….in the most desperate of ways. In the room, they sat observing the tree like two little angels; once I was in the kitchen they descended on the packages like vultures. They knew anytime I went to the kitchen I would be gone; lost in preparing a meal or doing the dishes. This would give them the time they needed to inspect the packages.

They talk of rewrapping them so expertly….that I never knew. To this I say, “HA!!” Did they think I was deaf as well as blind? How many of you can tell when someone has been in a package? I bet even John and Becky could tell…..NOW! How do they think we knew all this stuff? Because……..we were kids once, too. I used to think I was so clever in my deceptions that no one would ever be the wiser. As I grew older and had children of my own, I of course, knew what to look for. The children always thought I had eyes in the back of my head but what was in my head…….was history and experience.

John was so wired by Christmas eve after family gifts were opened that sleep would never come. This was inspired by George, who one night, absolutely heard Santa’s sleigh bells going over our house. He tiptoed into Becky’s room to look out her window, wake her, and tell her of this great phenomenon. John was too small at the time to be an insider of this special event. Filled with this and other real or imagined stories of Christmas lore made it impossible for him to sleep on THE night Santa would come.

Most often on Christmas eve night their dad and I would tumble into bed about 1:00am after sewing clothes for a Barbie doll and putting up a gas station with a thousand pieces. ALL of the pieces were never with the set and so there were delays upon delays. By the time we finished Santa’s work for him we were totaled. One night we had only been to bed about an hour, when I woke with start. (yes, just like the poem.) I heard a muffled noise coming from the bathroom which was next to our bedroom. I could also see a light shining around the edges…..someone was in the bathroom!!

I sprang out of bed to see what was the matter (yes, just like the poem.) and when I opened the door………there sat little John, sitting on the floor with his stocking and the contents strung out all over the place. He was so excited he didn’t even consider he might be caught in a guilty act. He enthusiastically showed me what Santa left and then darted in to wake his brother to tell him what Santa left for him…..then to Becky’s room. So everyone is up at 2:00am with everyone clutching their favorites for the year before we could get some needed sleep.

Somehow the loss of sleep, the tired, the weary hours getting to this point are lost in memory now. What I do remember is how happy the kids were….and if I think about it I can hear their youthful voices and those dear little faces all smiley and happy….after it all died down we settled in for a long winter’s nap….I’m sure I heard a jolly old elf call ere he drove out of sight…. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”………………..yes, just like the poem.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Are you a rabbit or a turtle? I am definitely a rabbit. I never want to be “behind” on special occasions…or just any occasion for that matter….BUT…although I start early and get a jump on my goal, I usually enjoy my early start too much….and then, it’s YIKES!!!!! My time is gone and I’m running to beat the clock to get to the finish line. This would be tragic but I “always” make the finish line. That is what I focus on……not the fact I’m running fast or slow. The idea is to finish.

Win, place or draw, we have 10-days left to make Christmas happen. My idea is to make it manageable. We began putting our inside decorations out earlier this week and while I was cheerily typing out a blog for the day….my cat, Tuffy, was munching on the small fiber optic tree I intended using as a table tree in the living room. I would never have known of this evil deed but sated with his delicacy he got the heaves in the hallway and upchucked the whole sordid affair. Among the treasures he threw up were telltale pieces of the greenery and I’m sure (although I didn’t look too close) there were little fiber optics in the mess.

Tuffy was always murder on anything Christmas. It did something to his salivary glands and he just dove in without shame and devoured anything in sight. He is 9-years old now and I don’t see him growing out of it. Sassy, our 2-year old that Rocky saved and brought home one day, is learning his awful habits. In fact, she beat him to the tree this year and had an hors d’oeuvre, herself. After cleaning the carpet, the tree went in the box and may return some other year….maybe when they are too old to be able to get to it….or I’m so old I don’t remember the incident.

To make it manageable I said. Well, that meant mailing packages without the usual cookies and candies and deciding to put my little village out and my snowman collection. They are never eaten by the cats….just re-arranged somewhat. That and maybe some hanging decorations. So far, they haven’t learned to fly or climb the walls. A favorite of mine is to wrap a large picture on the wall in Christmas paper and then put a big bow on it….I did that years ago to excite the children because there wasn’t any money for decorations. They never knew the reason for the invention and they loved it.

That leads us to the “manageable” part. Just make it fun and enjoyable, early or late and leave some memories with your loved ones. By next year they will never know what was missing….it is, after all, the perfect time to give the greatest gift that only we can give……our love……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


How many of you enjoy birds? This time of year the little fellows that we feed all year long give us so much pleasure. Partly because we are in more and have more time to notice their coming and going. We have the run of songbirds in our area and of course, like many of you, we have our favorites but allow all “comers” to eat and drink our offerings. We let the squirrels eat along with the birds….they get along nicely together so other than a little extra feed there is no reason to scare them away. I know they don’t “scare” too well, anyway…..and they give us pleasure in a different way with their crazy antics. They are most entertaining. Since we are both retired we take time to enjoy the little guys that come to visit.

In our zeal to coax more birds, Rocky put up several feeders which he enjoyed making out of wide mouthed emptied plastic bottles. He screwed a plastic lid to the bottom for the birds to stand on while they ate. The idea was taken from a book we bought from the magazine…. “Birds and Blooms.” They love the feeders and it was a compliment to Rocky when they flocked to his feeders. He drove a lead pipe in the ground and then placed 4” plastic pipe around that….he made an arm to swing out and hold the feeder from the lead pipe.

Our kitchen windows look out on the bird baths and feeders and the table where we take our meals is front row, center. It is entertaining to watch and comment as we eat. One day Rocky noticed a little gold finch attempt a landing on the edge of the 4” plastic pipe to hop up on the feeder. He missed, fell into the pipe but amazingly was able to come out of it. We were astounded that a little guy almost fell into the pipe…….and then…..it sunk in that there may have been others. The very thought made both of us sick to think maybe some weren’t as lucky about getting out.

After breakfast, Rocky went out to check and then the awful truth made the full circle. As he raised the plastic pipe a little bird was at the bottom, on the ground, dead. He died looking up out of the 5-foot tall pipe towards the sky. It just broke our hearts to think we could have avoided his demise but we never dreamed a bird would fall into the 4” opening. Sadly, he then raised the other pipe and there were three other little finches dead at the bottom of that one. We were just sick about it.

Rocky took the lids of plastic ice-cream containers and fixed over the open ends so it couldn’t happen again. It was a hard lesson but we are thankful Rocky saw the one little guy who fell in and managed to get out or we still wouldn’t know about the danger and resulting tragedy. Birds are so beautiful and their songs are so uplifting as we come and go in our yard….we have tried to give them bushes and trees…flowers, for their enjoyment in return.

The books say even in winter it is important to see that they have clean, fresh water, so they don’t have to travel great distances looking for water to drink. We have three bird bathes and two small electric water heaters to keep the water from freezing in the winter. We are blessed with multitudes of every local species. One time I counted 14-bluebirds at one of the bird bathes…..and in the harsh winter time with ice and snow on the ground we have had up to 24-cardinals eating cracked corn and sunflower seeds at one time. With the land snow-covered their colors are so beautiful…….we feel honored to have them come to us.

These days of December I have enjoyed talking randomly about the daily thoughts I have…but after the holidays I will return to the story of my life again. I want to finish this year and then be able to editorialize more. As you know, if you are a regular reader, I am writing the family “story” for my children. Hopefully, if God allows, I may have many more years to write about…but if not, I shall always be glad for this time I’ve had with all of you.

Please remember Ellen today who goes back to her oncologist for the prognosis of her CT on Monday. Ellen and Curtis need our prayers every day.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, December 13, 2004


Jesus….the reason for our Christmas season. Yesterday our church bulletin had a nice piece printed on the back that I thought many of you would enjoy reading. Our pastor spoke of the power in the name of Jesus. Some years back, when John was going to the Baptist college over at Bolivar, MO., he invited us to hear Andre Crouch in concert. We loved his music and it would be a thrill to see him perform in person.

Andre had written a song previously....on the same pretext….of the power in the name of Jesus. We sat electrified as he and his vocal backup…along with his band, belted out song after song. That song was the last one he sang and by the time he finished the audience was on their feet, cheering. I thought, what a difference in seeing this crowd cheer for the One of their faith as opposed to cheering crowds for a rock star. We so misuse the word “star” in our world…..when I think about the Star used by God to bring the three Wise Men to Jesus, the intent and comparison to a rock star is vastly out of place.

I realize Andre has had his problems with drugs and alcohol so he is not the one to be deified here….he is a messenger, obviously one who battles the same addictions that most of the rock stars have, but the difference is the content of the music. Andre keeps trying to express his faith and belief in the Jesus who can free him of his sinful ways….kinda like the rest of us….living in a world of reality while looking up for The Star to guide us.


Someone has said that Jesus Christ came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of a woman. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became the Son of Man that we might become sons of God.

He was born contrary to the laws of nature, lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born…and that in His childhood.

He had no wealth or influence and had neither training nor education in the world’s schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and insignificant. In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood, He puzzled the learned scholars. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for his services.

He never wrote a book and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine and yet he has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors have healed broken bodies.

This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords and the healer of all diseases. Throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on.

Herod could not kill Him.
Satan could not seduce Him.
Death could not destroy Him and the grave could not hold him.
This is the Christ of Christmas.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Good morning everyone. As we go about our Sunday routine of church and more preparations for Christmas, let’s be mindful of Ellen Crush today who goes in for her CT this morning. We all love Ellen and wish her the best in her cancer recovery. She is very witty, warm and loving with a powerful zest for life. Send her an email today to tell her how much you love her.

Have a good Sunday and we’ll see you back here tomorrow. God bless………

Essentially Esther

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Shortly after getting started on my day we had a nice phone call from John…and Becky dropped by on her way to Springfield. We are all busy getting some things crossed off our list (and checking it twice). Time waits for no man (or woman) so after this week-end we are down to do or die. I have used several of the little phrases my mother often quoted during her daily tasks. I use them so I don’t lose them and therefore, lose a little more of her.

I well remember singing Santa Clause Is Coming To Town… Up On The Housetop Reindeer Paws….Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and all of the classics we sang in Sunday School. I mention this because I remember going to the Woolworth Five and Dime Store in Omaha, with my mother…. and in the back was a section closed off with a brass rail. Enclosed in the area was a grand piano and a man who would play any sheet music you thought you might like to buy. The music was encased in a nearby area for easy selection and while mom shopped I liked to hang on the rail and listen to the pretty music. This was especially fun at Christmastime when he was most often asked to play carols.

When I think how people make their selections now it is very sad to me. Everything is so impersonal and generic. Do you realize how much “feeling” is being lost by all of this mechanical stuff? We bought meat from a butcher, bread from a baker, milk was delivered by a milkman, ice from the ice man….we even had an egg man come once a week. There was the Avon lady, the Rawleigh man, the paper boy…..there were ‘people’….real live people with whom we made our purchases. When we called for information …..we got a person on the other end of the line who would help us…not 12-recorded messages….to go to the next message.

I realize I am sounding like my maternal grandmother who was the clarion against mass production, more highways eating up farmland, music that was just noise and made no sense…. and young people squandering their youth. The “old folks” are just voices crying in the wilderness who call for remembrance of values, personal contact, common courtesy and a fear of God himself. Sadly, we live in a society where old people are considered ugly, out of shape and stupid. We are not “with it.” I join all those who went before me who shook their heads and grieved over what is being cast aside.

Ugly means wrinkles. Out of shape means we are fat. Stupid means we don’t like what kids like. Those wrinkles are the lives we’ve lived…out of shape means we can give soft hugs frequently…..and as for stupid…We are not stupid. We are informed. The things youth runs after are so disgusting and worthless we have grown as far away from it as we can.

Am I angry or down on young folks? On the contrary. I was young and out of shape and stupid like the young folks once. Now I am old…out of shape and thought to be stupid. My journey is mostly behind me now but the closer I come to the bend in the road, I see it is all easily remedied. Love more, be more kind, more forgiving….get your eyes off of the exterior of everything and look deep within. The answers, the peace and the joy are still there, waiting for the next person to see the Star………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, December 10, 2004


Christmas means toys and school plays. It means friends and family dropping in and warm fires and good things to eat. Christmas is a time for remembering the joys we’ve had and the hopes we have for the future. It is the very day of hope for that is the day we honor the birth of Christ if we are Christians. He grew to be the only hope of a sad and troubled world.

It is Christmas when you see the Salvation Army’s red pots with the bell ringers. I love to hear their ringing to remind us that many others are not as fortunate as we. I love to see the U.S. Marines with their drive, “Toys for Tots.” Do you remember the commercial where a Marine is standing guard in the Capital Rotunda? A little boy walks up and talks to him about a Christmas list he has in his hand but gets no response. He tries again. No response. Then, ever so gently the tall Marine moves his open hand by his side to take the note. I cannot watch that without tears and a lump in my throat.

Whatever you do for Christmas the most important thing is to do for others. When I was little, that didn’t make sense to me. Now it doesn’t make sense to give presents to people who don’t need them and too many times don’t appreciate them. In a society where “too much ain’t enough” let the wise words of Christ come through to you this season. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Look around…the needs are there….lets do all we can to make someone else’s Christmas memorable….in a good way.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 09, 2004


It’s funny how a newspaper can play a significant role in one’s memories. Growing up in Omaha, every afternoon about the same time, we would hear a muffled “thunk” on our porch. It was the Omaha World Herald’s evening edition. Our house was on a terrace of 14-steps, top to bottom….then the porch had another few steps. The paper boy started at the end of the block and walked from house to house so he didn’t have to climb steps at each address.

The paper arrived about an hour after I got home from school. Every November, after the Thanksgiving holiday was over, the paper always published a continued Christmas Story. I couldn’t wait for the paper to come each day. I would read excitedly as the story unfolded and then wait impatiently for the next edition so I could see what happened. As a girl, I took my reading very seriously. I became the heroine with each book, poem or article. I often memorized favorite parts of a story to recite mentally as I jumped rope, played hop-scotch or rode my bike.

In thinking about Christmas, I remember how captivated we were with the simplest of pleasures. Going down town on the street-car to see Santa Clause at the Brandies Store was a tradition. It was a treat because we rarely shopped there. It had the reputation of being the most expensive store in Omaha and since our family shopped at Sears or Penny’s I thought it was only for “rich” people.

However, at Christmas, we stood on the sidewalk and looked at all the beautiful things in the “show windows”…..things I could only dream of were displayed with great care. Once inside, the smell was inviting. The perfume and cosmetic counters were filled with aromas that carried my little nose to new heights…..I loved the cosmetic ladies who were so beautiful. Most shoppers pass them by hurriedly so they aren’t asked to try the scents………but I still love to linger and smell their wares….and the bottles!!! Do you realize how beautifully the containers correspond with the contents they hold? It is truly an art and I hope I never get too jaded to appreciate those simple pleasures.

To all the paper boys who earned their first money throwing world news….or a Christmas story on a porch….and to all the ladies who try to make our world more beautiful with perfumes…..I give you thanks. You have made my life interesting and beautiful……..and unforgettable.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


When I read Becky’s post this morning on Christmas cards it made me realize how much I have learned about this “box” that I sit and look at every morning…. and throughout the day. Last year I leaned heavily on Becky to figure out the margins I would need to print off a greeting on some Christmas stationary. While she labored over the problem I sat and watched the process unfold. She had a new computer and we bought her old one….it took her a while to de-program herself back to the now…outdated PC.

Sunday, Rocky’s daughter came to visit and have dinner with us. Her two daughters, Kendra and Sara and Kendra’s boyfriend came with her. It was a belated birthday (Rocky’s and Sara’s) and Thanksgiving dinner. It became a visit without Eddie, Holly’s husband as he was called to St. Louis where his mother is in serious condition. Since Eddie and Rocky wouldn’t be putting doors on the new cupboard to go in the kitchen, we ended up in the ‘computer room.’ Holly is very knowledgeable about computers so I asked her to help me set up margins for the annual Christmas letter…same paper as last year. (Lots left over….and you know I save things…right?) So she went to the files, pulled up last year’s and showed me how to do it the easy way. I counted lines and only used the same amount as last years……….now….that WAS easy, wasn’t it?

OK. So I know you are thinking….that I didn’t really learn that for myself. Oh, but I did!!! I remembered how to do it two days later!! Now for you young folks I realize that isn’t much of an accomplishment. To that I will only say….. “just wait.” Another 40-years down the road it will look like a BIG accomplishment. Us Seniors hang on to everything we can to feel we are still “with it” and small stuff gets to be bigger as the years go by. One of my favorite quotes is from a song that Orson Wells sung once….one line was…. “I know what it is to be young….but you don’t know what it is to be old”……. Yes, my young friends, the day will come sooner than you think where “new anything” will be a challenge. Unless you are my uncle Tom. He was always on top of the new electronics that were out and at 88 or 89-years he is sharp as a whip……..my hero of older aged folks.

I did, however, erase the incorrect address labels in the file and make new ones. As I did so it hit me how many of my friends or family members are no longer on my list. I have three address books that go back to 1970.…as I mused through them it was amazing how many names had become extinct. Each name crossed off was a person I loved and spent a lot of time with….now there was a line through their name. I sat remembering each person as if to make them “real” once more….even if only in my mind. What good times they represented and how grateful I am that they still live so vividly in my heart. We don’t have to be older to lose loved ones….I think of many of the Service families who won’t be seeing their loved one this Christmas….and for some…never again.

I am one who has fallen to a printed generic letter in my cards. I never thought I’d see the day because I came from a long line of correspondents. My mom and her three sisters corresponded with one another their whole life through. Their letters were like journals because, after marriage, they were apart most of the time. I have always enjoyed mail in the mailbox and handwritten letters…..but after all the many years of writing letters and over 17-years of writing applications for driver’s licenses, my “write hand” is shot. I now rely on this electronic keyboard to do most of my writing.

As I go through my card list and write a personal line or two the strains of “White Christmas” will float through my mind….Bing Crosby will be singing it, of course, and I will be young and beautiful…the star of the movie…… and the snow will begin to fall…big cottony flakes …and………..

Sorry…….I’ve got to go write my cards.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I spent a lot of time at my grandmother Stricklett’s growing up. In my pre-school years it was for long stretches and then I began school in Blair. There was no kindergarten so at the age of five I went into first grade. Memories flood my mind at certain times of the year.

At Christmas time it was always the same. My three aunts who were still living at home, had sewing projects…knitting, etc; Aunt Mary, teaching art in a school over at Fremont usually had painting projects. One year she painted handkerchief’s…and so it went. I was always fascinated with anything that was a “project.”

I would sit at the square dining room table with the claw feet. It was oak and massive. I sat where I could have a straight view of the sewing machine that was aunt Mary’s. It was a fancy Singer that folded up in a pretty piece of furniture. The black machine part was painted in a scrolling design and the light on it was behind it. From where I sat, the light made a reflection on aunt Mary’s glasses and I could literally “see” what she was sewing on as she fed it into the pressure foot.

Grandma, aunt Mary and aunt Inabelle would discuss the things they were making and worked around any problems they may encounter. The ironing board was always up….grandma’s old treadle sewing machine faced a wall so that her back was to me. Above her sewing machine was a picture of a house with a thatched roof by the side of a road….tinfoil in the picture reflected light in the windows so that it looked real. The scene was snow covered and at night. I used to pretend I was walking towards the house and would go in for some cocoa and cookies.

When one item was finished, another was begun. Aprons were popular and every cook wore them. They made flannel night gowns for the girls in the family and pajamas for the boys. There were a lot of grandchildren so it meant a lot of cutting and sewing. I can still envision how carefully each piece was cut….how the patterns were laid out to save as much cloth as possible. They would place, remove and place again until they were satisfied there was no better way to cut. I liked the sound of the scissors as they moved around the cloth…against the wood table it sounded amplified. I dreamed of the day I would be grown up and could sew like they did.

The wrapping was as precise as the projects they made. One of the aunts would go up to the attic and find the box with all of the paper from last Christmas. The saved bows and ribbons were in another. The boxes were brought down and the paper carefully selected. As each piece came out they would comment, “this is the piece from Dorothy’s present last year….this paper is from Pearl…and so on.” Each piece was saved and rotated to someone else the following year. The paper was folded so carefully when it was put away it was in perfect condition when it was to be reused.

When gifts were opened, it was done with care. The paper must be saved. Scotch tape was used frugally so the paper wouldn’t cause too much tearing when opened. Even the children were admonished to be careful with the wrappings. I learned so many good habits at grandma’s house because she practiced the virtues of recycling before it was thought of many years later. Nothing was discarded that she could find a use for.

I remember she had an old coconut hanging on the side of the kitchen cabinet that had a face…. and the string came out of the mouth. When she opened a sugar sack or flour….anything with string, it was tied to the ball inside the coconut, to be used at a later date. My mother was much the same….we saved everything that could be used again.

It is almost time for me to perpetuate the ritual of my forbearers. Soon I will be wrapping gifts from paper on last year’s gifts. The family knows that at grandma’s house, we save the paper and ribbons. They admonish each other….“don’t tear the paper….save the ribbon…grandma will want to keep it.” They smile and look at me with teasing eyes but inside they know it is a tradition I keep. Mom used to say…”Waste not, want not.” In my heart, I honor them with the ritual. What Christmas memories do you have….and keep?

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, December 06, 2004


My mother’s love of poetry was something that was passed on to me. As a little girl I watched her read the old Capper’s Weekly paper she received in the mail and then cut out the poems or inspirational writings and tuck them in a box. She had a lot of yellowed, old clippings….recipes, obits, and poetry. One day she passed them on to me and said….. “there’s a lot of good stuff in here if you take time to read them…” I had them for some years and before one Mother’s Day I had an idea to give them back to her. After all, they were like old friends she had loaned me.

I looked through the old chocolate box she kept them in and sorted them into categories. I made a cover and painted it…then worded it… “My Memories.” In the first page, I wrote:

Mom…..These are old friends of yours, that I thought you would like to have back. I put them all together and snipped and pasted….and read every one. I have always heard it said that a persons character is reflected by what he likes to read….if that is true, this collection of poems that you’ve saved over the years, is a wonderful testimony of your inner thoughts. Knowing you as I do, I know that instead of yellow clippings pasted on paper, this little book will look gilded and beautiful to you. Your love of simple things is what I’ll always remember most about you.

Your loving daughter,
I am going to share a favorite of hers that she often quoted. It became a favorite of mine as well.


I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye:
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know,
The kind of man I really am:
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.

I want to go with my head erect.
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
And here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know
That I’m bluster and buff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience-free.

Printed in the National News….author unknown

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Because many of us are now decorating our homes for Christmas I want to share something that I wrote long ago…..December 1986. As I was stringing lights upon our Christmas tree, I grabbed a pen and wrote the following……

In our modern world, far removed from that glorious night when Christ was born, we have no star to guide us to His dwelling place. No physical star. Time even seems unwilling to protect the wonder, deity and miracle of this event. The world has substituted such glory for trash. The stars that are left are covered with the smog of man’s waste and the angelic sounds that proclaimed his birth are drowned out with electronic noise. Physical eyes strain to see the beauty of the sky that night though such beauty will never be seen again. But for the open heart…all would be lost. Scales are lifted from blind eyes and we are allowed to see and hear. A scarred hand gently takes dust and spittle and we are given spiritual sight. The plastic sights and metal sounds become different in the process and we see beyond the ugly to the beautiful. God gave us a physical light that night to mark a birth of spiritual light. His followers still see His star……..

Long ago, a star marked
a manger where the Light was born.
The Light grew and became
more beautiful…and men followed it..
as the Wise Men followed the star.
But the world was not willing
to receive such beauty or love
and plotted and schemed
until they hung the Light upon a tree.

Each year we remember so great a love
and His birth…
And I place lights upon a tree
to remember His coming…
and death…
And that He died for me.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Race or not? When I sat down to write my mind was speeding ahead with the many things I need to get done today. Then I thought….why? Have you ever been racing while standing still? I have done that so much in my life because I’ve had a very busy life. When I retired I promised myself I would learn how to “relax.” Three husbands have tried to get the point across that I just had too much going on. I could never see it because I had so much calling me to hurry on to the next “thing.”

I have written before how I always wanted to be ‘big.’ When I was young I wanted to be a teen-ager, then twenty-one….then thirty…….then I wanted it to stop. Unfortunately, it didn’t and neither have I. Don’t pity me because you may think I’ve missed a lot. On the contrary, I haven’t missed a thing. I read articles about the “A”-personality and the fact they burn out, have heart attacks….the list is endless.

I have led an excessive life. If I loved something or someone….it got all of me. If I started a project…I finished it. If I didn’t like something it didn’t get a second glance. If I believed in something or anyone……I worked hard to make it happen. I am relaxed only when I am happily into “a plan.”

Waiting, sitting still, driving the speed limit….is not for me. Fortunately, love ran fast enough to catch up with me and the slow moving traffic got out of my way. I am a woman on a mission and I want to make my life count. That is why….this time of year….I am racing ahead of myself, clearing the path so when I get to the next turn in the road it will be smooth.

I have seen much, loved and been loved, had fun doing for others and hanging on to the God of my faith with both hands. Will you run or walk through Christmas? If you run, be sure to remember ALL of the road you’ve been over, for that is the reason for the race. Inside of me is a marathon runner…….I’m just taking a different road……Life happens!! What is YOUR speed limit?

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, December 03, 2004


Getting ready for Christmas brings back a lifetime of memories. When I was a little girl we were at uncle Bud and aunt Pearl’s for the Stricklett Christmas dinner. When it was dark and the tree lights were on, aunt Mary gathered all of the little cousins together around the tree. The grown-ups were sitting around the outer edge and aunt Mary, the teacher, had it all organized. We sang songs with the house lights out and the tree lights illuminating the tinsel. It shone like stars in the sky. I remember intently looking at it while we sang and thinking Christmas was the most wonderful time I could think of. I can still visualize my cousins sitting in a circle around the tree with the lights dancing in their eyes.

In those days, late in the 1930’s, children waited for their birthday or Christmas to have any presents. We understood that and it was the rule of anyone’s family I knew. We were never jealous of another receiving gifts on their birthday because we knew when the year was up it would be our turn. We passed through many barren months, waiting for that special day. Christmas was the day we both received presents so it was equally enjoyed.

When I was young, I wore long, tan stockings with a garter belt in the winter time. I hated them because they would bag at the knees after sitting down a few times. I also hated them because I was one of a minority that wore them. My complaints fell on deaf ears because my parents wanted to keep me warm…..I, on the other hand wanted to be like the girls who didn’t wear them. Their redemption came at Christmas time. They held a lot of “stuff” and my brother even borrowed them every year to place for Santa’s visit.

This one year, I decided I would sleep under my stocking. We didn’t have anywhere to hang our stockings so I fastened it to a rocking-chair and slept beneath it on the floor. Perhaps I would wake when Santa came and I could “see” him. I was fast asleep when something hit me in the head….my stocking was so full it couldn’t stay where I had inadequately tied it. I remember reaching out of my covers and feeling the wonderful filled stocking and hugging it to me before I fell back to sleep. It is still one of the most gratifying emotions of my childhood. I knew in the morning I would have apples and oranges….hard candy and nuts to eat and covet the next few days.....

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Today we have sun and clear skies. There are decorations to put up, packages to get ready to mail and lots of chores that need my attention. I’m going to take a break from writing of my ‘past’ life…..to get some things done in my ‘present’ life. That sounds sensible as the days melt away into Christmas. I hope you are getting things in order wherever you are and that you enjoy the preparation. I’ll check in with you each day with a “quickie” just to keep in touch. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”…………………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


November 6th was the date for the presidential election. Reagan won over Mondale by a landslide. His humor was always enjoyable. When asked if he thought he would be as good a president as he was an actor, he said, “I hope not. Nobody liked my acting, either.” Presidents come and go but the things they say on a personal level reveals so much more than their presidential side. He was fun to observe and I enjoyed the “pot shots” he took at himself. The office is too serious to be taken seriously all of the time, and I find a little humor is a tremendous stress breaker for all of us…..especially out of the mouth of a president.

One of my favorite Abraham Lincoln stories is when he laughed once in the presence of a politician who thought his laughter was uncalled for in the situation. Lincoln looked at him with sorrowful eyes and said, “If I didn’t laugh….I would surely cry.” Sometimes we are laughing through great pain….but laugh we must.

November is the month of serious leaf removal. Before we had a mower with a leaf catcher or a leaf blower it was a “hands on” operation, back-breaking and arm wrenching. But being outside instead of cooped up in a building made it very enjoyable for me. The brisk air, the beautiful sky…….the fall colors were all medicine for cabin fever. I didn’t know how much longer I would work seven days a week……I was beginning to need a change.

December provided the yearly activities….extra choir practice for the cantata, parties at each office where I worked with the DE’s, the Fas-Serv party, several groups of friends we always invited here for dinner and gift exchange; the gathering of my three kiddos if and when they could come. This year, John and Barb came early so they could be in Vicksburg with her family by the 24th. We are always glad to have them….no matter when.

I made a note on the 24th that Peter Lawford, the movie star, died today. He was alone, penniless and a broken man. I shall always think of him as the first time I saw him. He played in “Little Women” and was the handsome suitor of June Allyson who played the part of Jo. I really wanted her to marry Peter Lawford instead of the professor but now that I am older and wiser (hopefully) I can see her choice was correct. “Looks” matter when you are young but when age piles up on you….a compatible mate is mandatory.

I worked December 24th and 25th. Christmas day was very busy…we did over $2200 in six hours. The day zipped by in a hurry….convenience stores are the only place to buy anything on those days because the grocery stores are closed. We ran out of everything edible and at the end of my shift I came home and we had “leftovers” from some of the previous company. I am one who appreciates leftovers….I do not throw them out. Warren used to laugh and say I only cooked one meal after we were married and thereafter we had…..yes, leftovers. Kinda like the one fruitcake that makes the rounds to every house.

George arrived December 28th so we had Christmas several times with different ones. Becky and children were here when their schedule allowed. Of course, mom and aunt Beulah were in and out with all of the dinners and gift giving. On the 29th John and Barb came back from Vicksburg with a new car that Barb’s parents gave them for Christmas. It was a Cavalier and they were understandably thrilled. And so, for a brief time, George, Becky and family, John and Barb, aunt Beulah and mom were all here together and we ate and visited our hearts out. These old walls are still ringing with the conversation, bursts of laughter and gifts of joy that filled our home. No where, no how and no way would I trade all that for anything. It is, after all, the gift of Christmas.

Mom went home with aunt Beulah for an extended visit, John and Barb and George all left for their homes, later calling to let us know they had arrived safe and sound. The food was put away, the beds changed, the Christmas wrap and ribbons all set back and we settled in for a quiet New Year’s Eve. Morris, our cat, curled up in my lap and Jakie, (John’s dog, now ours) curled up at my feet. It had been an eventful year but we were all present and accounted for. With the grief and trouble in the world at the close of 1984 we felt very safe and secure….and loved. Soon a newborn babe would herald in the New Year and a very old and tired man would fade into history. At this magical transition, hope is born anew and our fears and trials go out with Father Time…………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther