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Thursday, June 30, 2005


Jennifer was graduating May 14th from Culver-Stockton College at Canton, MO. The college was beautifully set on a high hill overlooking the Missouri River; the campus was old and traditional, very pretty. Jennifer was receiving degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice, and had worked all through college. She was active in her Sorority and had a lot of friends…..but now, she would be leaving her nest of four years and moving to Florida where Jamie was. At last she would be able to set up a home for the two of them.

We gathered together, George came from Shawnee and Becky came with us. Hank and Jonathan drove up to help celebrate the occasion and we were able to get seats near one another at the gym. It turned out we picked our seats at a good vantage point to see Jennifer walk in the processional. She caught our eye and I snapped a couple of pictures when she waved. It was a joyous time for the graduates, the air was light and lively and smiles were overflowing everywhere. Families rejoiced in the achievements of their relatives and anxiously waited to see their very own walk across the stage to receive the diploma.

Afterwards we were invited to Jamie’s father’s home for a cook-out to celebrate the occasion. We had a nice afternoon there and then went to Jennifer’s apartment for a little cook-out of our own. The apartment was neat as a pin and full of wedding presents we remembered from the wedding in January. It was fun to see how Jennifer had set it all up and took charge of the hostess duties. We left the next morning and it was sad. We knew she was leaving right away for Florida and didn’t know when we’d be seeing her again. Still, it was time for her to begin her life with Jamie and a career so we were happy in that respect.

George and Becky rode together until we were at Kingdom City and then he went West to Shawnee and we drove South towards home. Later in the month George drove down for my birthday and we had a cookout with steaks to celebrate my coming of age for Social Security…..62-this year. Bear, Becky, George and I had a nice meal together and gift opening. George stayed a couple of days longer and we cooked out on the deck and enjoyed the nice weather.

We were happy to hear from Jennifer on my birthday that she had found a job already and was very happy. She had the apartment all fixed up and everything under control………Jamie’s brother had driven a U-Haul down with the furniture and she drove her car. With the wedding and graduation behind her and a new job she was brimming over with happiness………..that’s as it should be when you’re young and the world is there for the taking. Youth is always in a hurry to tackle the future, so much so, that sometimes “today” gets over-looked. As time goes by, it’s enough to just take one day at a time………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I always begin March with a call to John on his birthday. This year it was his 37th….just a kid yet. Today he is in his 48th year and I feel sure he isn’t any “older” than he was then. John has a way of perpetuating enthusiasm for living that is infectious and eternally youthful. Watching him in action, I realize that I really am my age and that the years have slowed me down, although in spirit I am still young. I love the piece General MacArthur wrote on Aging. It is an excellent read on growing older that is only understood by those who are older. You cannot talk about something you have not experienced.

It seems there were a string of deaths that claimed famous people in the past weeks. John Candy died of a heart attack while filming in Mexico. He was as loveable off screen as on, just a big guy with a big heart. He was only 43-years old and had been warned to stop his eating habits…..the heart just couldn’t maintain his huge size any longer. His father died at a young age also.

On the 9th of the month we were hit with a snow storm that accumulated 15”…..in our part of the State we don‘t often have that much snow all at one time. Of course, it’s always pretty, but causes lots of problems. Work was called off and I made good use of the day, it kept me busy making sure the birds had plenty to eat. The very next day it turned warm and we worked in our shirt-sleeves…..melting made a messy day for us to give driver’s tests but our boots were water-proof. Good thing.

The following Saturday I made a birthday dinner for Jonathan. Becky made his cake and brought candles for it…….#19 this year. We always have a family tradition of singing Happy Birthday and the grandkids were getting old enough they got to the point where they thought it was too childish, but the custom goes on. Eventually, it won’t seem silly anymore, but a loving gesture to be enjoyed as the birthday person. A few days later, I took flowers to the cemetery for mom and dad. It would have been their 69th wedding anniversary.

We celebrated Becky’s 40th birthday with a nice dinner here. Just the three of us, Jonathan wasn’t able to come. The boys called to wish her well and we all had a nice visit with them. It wasn’t a very good day for Becky. She broke out with a case of poison ivy and was off work a few days…..she was very susceptible and it didn’t stop until she was covered from head to toe.

I took a week off work to paint kitchen cupboards. I left them in the wood-tone they were originally covered with until then but I knew it would make the kitchen much lighter to paint them off-white like the walls. It took the whole week but with painting they had been cleaned out as well. Bear stayed right with me and helped a great deal. He couldn’t crawl in them like I could but did a lot of painting on the outsides. It was one big mess but the finished result was worth all of the work. The guys couldn’t figure out why I would use vacation time to work at home…..their time was always used for hunting, hunting or hunting. I just had a different idea about what “fun” was….and it wasn’t hunting.

Our friends, the Bryants, came in early April for a week-end and we made a trip to visit George, mid-month. I made potato salad and baked beans to take…..along with his other request, Toll House cookies. He always grilled hamburgers for us so the add-ons went good with the burgers. We had a good week-end and were back home and to work again before we knew it.

April 22nd, President Nixon died. The funeral was very impressive and emotional. He is probably the only president to have four ex-presidents attending his funeral, (Carter, Ford, Reagan and Bush). It’s too bad the Watergate scandal will always be identified with him. He was brilliant in many ways but fell victim to his own demise. So often happens that way with great men.

Severe weather and tornados sent Becky, Bear and me to the basement at Headquarters where it was safe. The storms were frightening with ominous skies and wind…..the sirens sounded all over town and a tornado was sighted with Willow Springs in it’s path. We took our Jakie and Morris and Becky took Dara. We didn’t want them blown away and it looked like a very real possibility. Thankfully, the storm passed by and peace reigned once more. There is always such “calm” after a severe storm it almost seems an imagination……

The month ended with heavy rains………just like April is supposed to do.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The movie star, Joseph Cotton, died February 6th of cancer. I had seen him in a lot of movies as a little girl. Movies were an important diversion from the hard life of the 30’s and 40’s when we lived in Omaha. Dad loved the movies and would laugh and talk about them until we saw another one. A few of them were fondly talked about forever and we laughed each time like it was the first. He was such a wonderful story teller we didn’t care how many times we heard his stories. Dad had a good memory and knew the lines perfectly. I guess I picked that up from him…..remembering things and just how it happened, word and action. I can even remember what people were wearing in my memories……and details like worn out shoes, etc; Don’t give me a lot of credit….I don’t remember anything about the day before yesterday……..

William Conrad, TV star, died of a heart attack on the 11th at 74-years of age. The same day, Neil Bonnet was killed in trials in Florida where he had been trying to make a come-back. He had been hurt in a car-wreck the year before and had been an announcer but just couldn’t get racing out of his system. He wanted to run again but it wasn’t to be. He lost control of his car and rammed head-first into the retaining wall and he died instantly.

For entertainment we spent a lot of time watching the Olympics. It’s always a source of enjoyment to see how hard the “kids” work to make good for their countries and the thrill of winning for them. On the 18th we drove up to George’s to stay a few days. George was celebrating two nice raises and took us all to dinner while we were there. We visited friends and shopped till we dropped, watching the Olympics in the evenings. It’s always fun to go back to what used to be “home” for so many years and hit our favorite old places. We left on Monday to get back in time for work on Tuesday.

Dinah Shore died on the 24th of cancer….she would have been 77-years the next week. I remembered her best from her Dinah Shore Show for Chevrolet…… “See the USA in your Chevrolet” …she always had top notch guests and a good show, throwing a kiss to the camera at the end. We lost four very public people this month in 1994.……but that’s the way it was and will remain in the archives of the stars……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, June 27, 2005


The New Year greeted us with two inches of snow. We woke up to a winter wonderland with frosting on all of the trees and bushes. It wasn’t so pretty at our Ellington office. The heat was still off and we worked in a frosty room and had to keep our coats on all day. It wasn’t exactly the glamour side of our job…….when you could see your breath and everything you touched was permeated with cold, it made for a very long day. The applicants who came for testing couldn’t believe our situation. They had misery of their own just staying long enough to fill out the test and leave.

On a Saturday I helped Becky baste her quilt top and batting to get ready for hand quilting. I finished up some cross-stitching I had been doing on some sweat shirts and cut some blocks for another quilt I wanted to make. January is always a good time for stitching at our house. Bear was engrossed with the Chief’s football games as Montana and Allen were a great combination who came to the Chief’s that season. We were concerned because it didn’t look like the coach was letting Montana play “his” game. When you have the best quarterback in the league why wouldn’t you let him pass the ball? Instead he was given plays by the coach and continually had to hand the ball off for a running game. Oh Marty, what are you thinking? If stitching is my pass-time…..football is definitely high on my list.

The weather didn’t improve all month. The Northeast was locked in with deep snow and traffic snarls. The news showed home-owners trying to shovel out with more snow coming down….it was bad enough, here, but they had it much worse. Bitter cold came along with it for added complications. We couldn’t get to work some days and stayed at Headquarters. California didn’t get by without problems of their own. A 6.6 earthquake hit Los Angeles and did terrible damage with lives lost. We had CNN on all day to watch the events…..the quake happened at 4:30 am their time so people were mostly home sleeping.

As hours passed by more reports told of damaged freeways and overpasses, an apartment collapsing into the first floor and many stories of rescues and heroic efforts by citizens and emergency crews alike. Fatality numbers continued to climb. There were many after-shocks and people were afraid to return to their homes so were camping in the streets. On January 22nd Tele Savalis died of prostate cancer….he was 70-years old, born in 1924. We had watched a lot of Kojak episodes and hated to hear of his passing. His catch line, “Who loves you now, baby?” and sucking on suckers will be remembered.

The weather didn’t get any better. Our car battery was dead from the intense cold and we had to call for someone to come get us going again. If anything is going to cause trouble it always happens with extreme weather. After what seemed to be an eternity, January passed and we were looking forward to the short month of February. How much damage can 28-days do? We’ll find out tomorrow…………

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, June 24, 2005


December 1st marked my 14th year with the Missouri Highway Patrol. I spent 6 ½-years as a clerk and then 7 ½-years as a Driver’s Examiner to reach that milestone. Pardon the pun. I started out with 6-guys and we were still a team, except for one who retired. In this day and age it isn’t always possible to work with the same people that long. Over the years we knew all about each other and what made us all tick. Each day as we rode to and from the towns we would work in for the day, we exchanged family news, the latest news about town and wider to the world scene. We always “fixed” everything in a neat package by the time we got to our office for the day.

Some things weren’t always easy to fix. Some of us lost loved ones or had serious medical problems……..it always helped to talk about it and give or take the welcome sympathy. Life is best lived when shared with one another and we were a family of our own making. I have been retired 8-years now and I still miss the camaraderie of the men I worked with. They were special guys. We lost Pete last November and the rest have all retired except one. He and Becky are all that’s left of the original group. Retirement gives you more time but never takes away the friendships of the work-a-day world.

Pearl Harbor Day passed on the 7th….the 52nd anniversary. I never fail to remember the day it happened and how it changed life as I knew it….. a girl of nine. Don Ameche died on the the same day this particular year…..he was 85-years old. I couldn’t count the movies I watched with him as the principle character. He worked right up until his death…..a true actor at heart, he could never get away from the greasepaint and the theatre. Myrna Loy, an actress who had worked with him some, died on the 14th…..she was 88-years old. She was best known for her character in the Thin Man series.

Mid-month we watched the Bob Hope Christmas Show……..he was another one who just couldn’t hang up his hat and call it a day. He “fed” off the audience and their unabashed love for him. I will always remember him most for his USO tours he made every Christmas. Making people laugh is a gift……..and good medicine.

Becky had been working hard getting things ready for Jennifer’s wedding to be at Canton, MO. She was to be married near campus so all of their friends could attend. Becky had been mailing things back and forth for some time, trying to get as much taken care of early, as possible.

Bear came down with fever and bad sinus infection that made him miserable and I wondered if we’d be able to make the wedding but after a few days it cleared up. George came home for his birthday and we celebrated with Becky and Jonathan. The next day Bear and I both woke up with full-blown flu symptoms and we were miserable. George came down with it the next day and we were a house full of miserable people. Becky had to do the cooking on Christmas Day because I was just too sick. Bear and George had normal appetites and were hungry but the thought of food made me sicker. George was well enough to drive home a day or two later and I had to go back to work as others were off sick…..I was better but miserable. The Patrol finally had to close down the Mountain Grove office which had never happened before but everyone had the flu and couldn’t work. This was one bug none of us could ignore.

On the 31st of December we drove to Canton for Jennifer’s wedding. George arrived shortly after we did. Becky needed to go to the rehearsal dinner so Bear, George and I went to eat. We watched movies in our room until bedtime. We were up early the next day…..Hank and Jonathan arrived and the guys all visited while Becky and I helped the bridesmaids and Jennifer get all “gussied” up for the occasion. The church was a very old Methodist Church with beautiful stained glass windows. The light filtering in made pretty reflections on the pews. Hank gave Jennifer away and the ceremony was short but nice. Friends supplied the music. Later, pictures were taken and then the reception was held in the church. The cake and decorations…..the bridal couple were all very lovely…..as it should be. Later there was a dance at a local place and happiness on feet danced the night away. It was a very nice time to remember.

Bear and I were still feeling punk so we left early and got a good nights sleep…..the next day we drove to Hannibal for breakfast. George and we stayed with each other until our roads divided and then we drove on home alone. It would seem strange not to have Jennifer coming home like she used to do…….parents and grandparents have to learn the art of sharing their loved ones with others, sooner or later, and practice never makes it easier………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 23, 2005


On the first day of November, my diary reads, “The day was cold and routine at Hartville today. I wrote letters. Fires are burning in California….terrible Santa Anna winds are burning thousands of acres in the wealthiest part….mansions of the rich and famous. The immensity of these fires is awesome.” It struck me as odd because I had just turned the morning news off and fires are again burning in California, burning many homes in their path. In the Mid-West we are already as dry as we normally are in July with no sign of rain. When I read John’s blog this morning about things that make us feel “life is good”…..I was thinking how in our area we are always grateful for rain. It seems it either rains all in one place to flood and run off or others get no rain at all…..either way, no one benefits from a good soaking rain. Rocky is figuring out a sprinkler system to water our vegetation since I seem to be a risk for serious heat stroke.

The second day of November I noted that it was a cold, gray and rainy day. Miserable to work in…..and the next day I made mention that the sun broke through the clouds and we worked without jackets because it was so warm. The weather is definitely fickle at best……..

Uncle “Buster” and aunt Phyllis came to visit on a Friday evening. They drove in from Nebraska to spend the week-end and we were always glad to see them. He tried to come near the time mom was buried every year but we hadn’t seen them for two years. We did some shopping the next day but he became ill so we came home and he rested the remainder of the day. He complained of dizziness and being unable to focus his eyes. The next day was better for him and we had a leisurely day at home. Heavy rains in the area made flooding in towns all around with water in many of the businesses. I had to go back to work on Monday and uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis left a little before I did.

Evidence of the high water was everywhere. We were amazed that some of our offices had water in them the following week…….the worst was at Ellington, MO. where we worked out of the City Hall. The whole town had flooded terribly because it was built on a creek bed. We worked in a cold and wet office all day but managed to take care of the applicants.

On Saturday the 20th we were excited because John’s were coming from Covington and George was driving down from Shawnee. It would be wonderful to have all three kids together at the same time. George was first to arrive around 3:00pm and John and family arrived about 5:00pm. I had supper ready and we spent the evening catching up with everyone’s news and laughing our silly heads off. The next day we had a lazy breakfast….football in the afternoon and evening….Barbara and Becky were working on cross-stitch and doing a very nice job. Both girls were adept at the craft.

Monday, Becky had to go to work but I took off. We loaded up in the van and headed for Branson to see a show and shop the Outlet Malls. We decided on the Osmond Brothers which we all enjoyed. They are a gifted bunch of guys and extremely pleasant. Their mother and father were standing out in the lobby as we left and I stopped a minute to speak to the mother. The next day we split up and went in different directions. Barbara and I shopped our home area while Becky worked; the guys did their own thing. John took his “run” after missing a couple of days. The day before Thanksgiving we went back to Branson to exchange some things and then on to Springfield to go through Bass-Pro…..it is the headquarters for the string of sporting goods stores and a real Mecca for guys. The aquarium and natural setting for the animals that had been restored to life-like specimens in their habitats were impressive.

The next day was Thanksgiving and I got up early and recruited lots of help to get our traditional meal ready. Jennifer and her fiancé, Jamie, made it in time and we had a family wedding shower for them…..it was an altogether wonderful day for all of us. Later that evening we began getting sleet and freezing rain. Everyone decided to leave the next morning because the weather reports didn’t look good. We had a wonderful 5-days together and everyone made it home safely. As John said in his blog today…… “Life is good.”………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I was outside, watering, when I became overheated and thankfully Rocky was still home……..he carted me off to the house and I have instructions to “stay put” until he gets home. Today is reported to become the hottest day of the year so far and I believe it. I had no problem promising to stay inside. He “ratted” on me to Becky and she called to make sure I was “in”…….they are both like old mother hen’s when they zero in on some of my endeavors. I’ve always been able to do everything I wanted and thought it was just when you were working outside that you became overheated. I found out, just holding a hose can have the same effect. Oh!! It’s the HEAT that does it, I get it now.

OK, so now we start with the month of October in 1993.……….

October 4th began a huge revolt in Moscow. We stayed close to the news on CNN and watched an amazing history lesson being played out before our eyes. Luckily, Yeltsin was able to maintain power and the others were afraid to continue, and so, surrendered. It was a highly volatile situation and many were killed in the streets.

Our weather turned beautiful with the flip of the calendar. October never fails to bring the most beautiful sky of the year. The blue is so intense and the white clouds are so white it almost hurts your eyes………a favorite month of many, including me. Bear needed to go to Fort Leonard Wood so I took the day off and went with him. There had been talk of closing the Fort down again…..this routinely happens ever so often but so far had escaped the cut. We decided we’d better get all the check-ups we could before something happened, so we made a day of medical rounds and then the Commissary before coming home. (Note: The Fort is still there and going strong. There is consideration in the works of closing some or part of it again but I doubt it will happen. It’s a huge institution and houses many aspects of the Military.)

I was working at Eminence on a Friday when an armada of pickups with horse trailers began driving down the street. Our office was in the Court House and the building was the most prominent building in town. It sat above the street and we could see everything going on from the windows…….there was a huge protest going on in the area because the National Park was going to kill a lot of wild horses in the Big Springs area at Van Buren, MO.

The RV’s, busses, trucks and horse trailers filed by honking horns…..there were over 100 leaving town to drive to the Park area to protest. There was an 8-mile caravan of vehicles on their way to Van Buren escorted by local police and sheriff’s departments…..as well as our own Highway Patrol. All sorts of coverage from local and national news media followed the protest. It went on for days and eventually the horses were placed with owners who loved the animals and would care for them.

The 911-service was new in our town this month and because of it, we were given a new address. It took Bear weeks to get all of our mail etc; changed over….what a mess it was. When the fall leaves were at their peak, we spent the week-end with the Bryant’s at Lake of the Ozarks. The blue sky and the blue of the water, the big white puffy clouds and the blazing color of leaves along the shoreline were indescribable. The weather was mellow to compliment the earth which had turned into a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues…….October at her finest.

By the end of the month, we had a surprising and early cold snap. It spit snow flurries on and off all day until there was a light dusting on the ground. It froze the last of my blooming flowers that had given us so much pleasure throughout the summer. Jennifer called to tell us she was home for a few days. She was engaged and going to be married in January…..before she would graduate in May. We had been aware of the upcoming engagement and we liked the boy she was planning to marry. He was a local boy, attending college there in Canton. He planned to enlist in the Navy and that was the reason for the quick decision to marry by the first of the year.

Becky, Jennifer and I spent the next day shopping for a wedding dress and I would have to say, the one she picked out transformed her into a little princess. It was amazing how the dress made her look so much like a “woman” and not our little Jennifer. Sometimes a dress can send a message….and this was one of the days. She was all grown up now. She went back to school on the last day of the month and we settled in for a quiet evening as November came to call………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Becky, Bear and I went to visit George over Labor Day week-end. It would be the last holiday we would have until Veteran’s Day in November….typically the last of the “summer holiday’s.” The high-ways were full of cars heading for the lake areas or family gatherings to have one last fling before school started. We drove up on Friday evening after work to avoid as much of the rush as we could. Travel is always treacherous but at holiday time the risk is much greater.

We arrived at George’s around 10:30pm, carried in our luggage and visited with George and Mac-dog for a while before turning in for the night. The next day we did some shopping and Becky’s high-school friend came by in the afternoon to visit. For our evening meal we decided to go to my favorite place….Stephenson’s Apple Farm Restaurant. I mentioned this before in a blog but misspelled the name. This is the correct spelling. Phyllis was interested in the place and I decided to put a little information about the restaurant for those of you who might be interested as well. It is taken from the introduction of a cook-book purchased there.


In 1870, when Highway 40 was a mud road, the Stephenson fruit and vegetable farm had it’s beginning. From a little, one-room stone building, our grandparents sold home-grown produce to folks traveling between Lee’s Summit and Independence. Old Timers say the little building was regarded as the half-way point between these two towns. Like most early Missouri settler’s our grandparents smoked meats, made apple butter, canned their own fruits and vegetables. And so, on April 16, 1946, when we opened our restaurant in the original stone building, it seemed natural to call it The Apple Farm. We had 10 booths then and served only 38 people the first day.

Then, as now, we served old-fashioned hickory smoked meats, home-made apple butter, preserves and relishes-all prepared in our kitchens in the unique manner which our grandparents had taught us.

Gradually, during seven remodelings the original stone building has been engulfed. It remains, however, as part of the restaurant’s superstructure.

In 1935 Norman, our older brother, joined father in the orchard business. Since then, the orchard acreage has spread from Lee’s Summit to locations in Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Sibley. From these orchard’s come our fresh apples, peaches, berries and the sweet cider which we serve all year long. Fresh produce from these orchards can also be bought, in season, at Norman’s stand next to the restaurant.

We join the young men and women who are serving you in a warm welcome.

Les and Loyd
The Twins

This cookbook was republished in 1967 and I know there have been many changes since but not in their wonderful food or the service.

We were able to visit some of our old friends, relax on George’s comfortable deck and enjoy his grilling. We always look forward to his burgers and he always looks forward to my Toll House cookies. We left on Monday early enough that we missed the worst of the traffic. We ate supper in Springfield and got home in time to unpack and do laundry. The next day would be another work-day.

The rest of the month was routine. We had rain again after a dry summer but it came in the midst of a storm and flooded a lot of people. For now, the rains would be more frequent and the dry earth and vegetation drank in the moisture…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, June 20, 2005


We hope all the dad’s out there had a nice Father’s Day. Rocky has been getting presents weekly from me for the big day….I kept seeing things he could use or would find interesting. I still have one to come that will be a huge surprise and I’m anxious for it to arrive. It’s on “hold” until they can fill the order. I can’t tell you what it is until it comes and he sees it. You never know who might be looking in on the mail………

Becky has been clueing you in on the “big bird” that arrived a few days ago. I have to laugh when I think how fast I ran to get the camera, afraid it would fly away before I could get his picture. This is the fifth day he has been here and doesn’t look like he’s in any notion of leaving.

As for Father’s Day, Rocky was honored royally. He received cards from my three “kiddo‘s” and a phone call from Janet, his daughter in California. Rocky’s son and daughter Holly, and her family, came from 3-hours away and Becky joined us. We stuffed ourselves with Mexican fare and enjoyed cheesecake much later when we could eat again. We spent the afternoon trying to lure the peacock into captivity but efforts failed miserably. We found him to be a sly old bird who had no notion of being caught and taken away from his new domicile. Becky has herself a new friend who seems intent on staying with her.

It was a very nice family day and a day for all of us to remember our own dads. Mine had a pretty rough time keeping food on the table and worked harder than anyone I know…..for a lot less. It has to be difficult for a man who realizes the responsibility of a wife and children and wonder how he’s going to keep it all together. Life is hard for any wage-earner and back when we children were growing up women didn’t work outside the home. There was no “extra” income…but a family we were and given life and good examples we are still kicking and attempting to “give back” to the generations coming on.

I hope your day was filled with love and happy memories………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, June 17, 2005


Jennifer came home over the 4th of July. She made it home safely, driving from Canton. That was quite a drive for her but she was becoming more independent all the time. I still caught myself thinking of her as a “little” girl. The next day we decided to go to Springfield shopping. Jennifer was working part time at a Petite Sophisticates store in Quincy, IL. which was just across the river from Canton. She wanted us to see a “sister” store at our mall in Springfield…..and she buzzed around the racks finding coordinating outfits for her mother and me. She was quite the efficient little gal. We had dropped Bear off at the movie while we shopped and he later raved about how funny Dennis the Menace was with Walter Mathieu.

The next day was the 4th so I fixed the usual cook-out fare….potato salad, baked beans and fresh apple pie. We grilled burgers on the deck and made a day of eating and relaxing. Later that night when we were alone, Bear and I watched the final performance of John Williams with the Philadelphia Symphony. He will be missed. We always watched the fireworks from the big cities all over the East Coast on TV…..when one finished we turned to another. The pyrotechnics are absolutely amazing. It seems every year they become larger and more of them. I cannot imagine the brains behind wiring the many containers of powder to go off with certain music…..and on time. It certainly beats out any little back yard celebrations.

Jennifer had to go back after the weekend and we were concerned with the flooding going on up near Hannibal, MO. With her old car and the flood, we had reason to be concerned. It was rising higher every day. My cousin, Mary Powell, called to tell me aunt Inabelle died about 3:30pm our time. (July 14th) Uncle Tom had been lovingly taking care of her for several years in their home and now she was gone. I called the three children to let them know and each had different stories to relate of aunt Inabelle that was special to them. She was buried the following Saturday…..in the Blair Cemetery where the family gravesite is.

Bear and I went to the Lake to visit the Bryant’s again for the weekend. We always enjoyed the area and relaxed way of life. We did some shopping and some boat riding…had wonderful food and came home on Sunday. Becky called when we arrived and told us Jennifer was stranded in Quincy. One of the dams broke and the bridge was impassable….it had been closed. At the height of Becky’s anxiety, Jennifer called to tell her a friend picked her up, took a round-about-way up river to Iowa and then down on the Missouri side. It worked well and she was safe. The flood was 10-miles wide in some places and we watched unbelievable scenes play out every night on TV……houses floating down stream, cars, you name it…..all caught in water they couldn’t get out of.

Jennifer’s birthday was the next day, she was 21 this year. She was feeling blue because she had no cake, no dinner and no presents. We all thought she would get to come home for her birthday but she totaled her car and couldn’t come. We ended up mailing her gifts which took a while to get there so she had a pretty slim birthday at the time.

Pete called early in the morning one Friday to tell me his left arm was numb and he wouldn’t be able to go to work. He asked if I’d come get the car and pick Corky up. When I went to the door to get the key, he looked terrible. We were all worried about him. He was off to the doctor’s office.

Jonathan came into our office at Eminence to apply for a CDL license that same day in August. He had dreamed of driving a truck since he was a little boy. Now he was legal age to get a license and he passed the written. He had been promised a job if he had proper licensing so he was now ready to make application for the driving part of the test. He left the office with wings on his feet and a big smile.

Later that same day we received word that our retired supervisor had surgery for colon cancer. He hadn’t been retired very long and we were hoping he could have a full recovery to enjoy more years. He was an avid gardener and we knew he would be anxious about the condition of it while he recuperated. I bought a bushel of peaches off a truck near the Court House in Van Buren and put them out to ripen more before preparing them for the freezer. I love the taste of home-grown fruits and vegetables. We didn’t have a garden so we relied on roadside stands and the surplus friends had from their gardens.

Thursday, August 12th was a banner day for me. It was the first Chiefs exhibition game of the season and the first game Joe Montana played with them. He was only in a few times and we were subjected to bad officiating on both teams. We were star struck with Montana playing for the Chiefs………surely it would bring a better season for us.

The Bryant’s came to visit the weekend of the 21st and we took them to Van Buren to see the park and Big Springs. It is the largest single spring in the world…..millions of gallons boil up each day. Besides the spring, there is a lovely area to enjoy a picnic and the bounty of Nature. A young man was working out front of a shop making a “John Boat” with old tools used many years ago. We took pictures and had great respect for his ability. A quilt shop with handmade items took my eye and I stopped to admire handwork of the contributor’s who were local ladies. There is much to enjoy yet in this old world of ours. It just takes a little time off the beaten path……and eyes to see………

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 16, 2005

MAY AND JUNE....1993 

We went to George’s for Mother’s Day weekend. Becky rode along with us and after the luggage was put away we ate a bite and visited until quite late. The next day we drove to Olathe where George usually purchased his lawn equipment. I was impressed with the spreader he had….I had been using a hand spreader and it was a laborious job. The fertilizer was heavy and my arms were too weak to do much at a time. George had a stainless steel one with wheels that worked great. I was determined to have the same. After that was accomplished we bought a few plants that were new and different to bring home.

For my Mother’s Day dinner, we decided to beat the rush and go on Friday evening, rather than on Sunday. George drove us over on the east side of the city to a favorite place of mine….Stevenson’s Apple Orchard. It had been converted into a restaurant years ago and was no longer a “working” orchard but was a delightful place to eat. They had different rooms you could dine in, like the fruit cellar, patio, hayloft, back porch, etc; The walk from one of the parking lots had overhead trellis’ with hanging flowers and twinkling lights around the patio where people enjoyed their meal outdoors. My favorite was always the cellar. It was concreted from the floor up to the domed ceiling and had fruit jars full of pickles, corn relish, apple butter and so on. It always made me think of grandma Stricklett’s cellar.

The specialties were baked chicken in cream, broccoli rice and cheese casserole and a little cheese carrot on top of your salad. It had a tiny sprig of parsley at the top for the greenery. Of course, dessert was out of this world. Apple dumplings and carrot cake were our usual picks. Of course the menu had other selections but I preferred eating the food that made them famous. The kids who waited tables were exceptionally nice and managed to keep the table full without being obtrusive. Most of them were college kids and the service was impeccable.

We left on Sunday afternoon and drove in rain all the way home. I didn’t go to work the next day as I wanted to go to the Social Security Office and get some idea of when I would be able to retire. When all of the numbers were calculated I decided it would be too premature as I would lose so much from both my Highway Patrol retirement and also the Social Security. I braced myself for another four years and decided to do the smart thing. I have to tell you, those last four years looked pretty long as I was approaching my 61st birthday……I would be working until I was 65 and could take full benefit.

Early in June we drove down to see John, Barb and LJ. We got away early and had a pleasant drive down. By the time we arrived they had a cookout in progress and we sat on the patio and enjoyed their yard. We couldn’t get over how much LJ had grown since the last time we saw him. John was up early the next morning to run and then shower and go to the hospital to conduct services. We had breakfast and when he came back we drove over to Slidell where we visited some Outlet shops. The weather was hot and dry but not humid as it would be normally.

John ran again the next morning and then we drove over to New Orleans. We decided to eat at one of our favorite places…..the Camelia Grill in the Garden District. It’s like an old 50’s diner. Black and white checkered floor, short stools at the counter and cooks making your breakfast just across from where you sit. The head cook barks out the orders and the cooks at the grill go into action. They have such a flair it’s entertaining just to sit and watch. John ordered his favorite, a chili, ham and cheese omelet. I followed suit and believe me, it’s a power breakfast. I wasn’t hungry the rest of the day. The Grill is absolutely a must see if you go to New Orleans.

Later that afternoon, John had to go back for “group” sessions at the hospital so we took LJ and Barbara to LJ’s T-ball game. There was much contention and after a very long game LJ’s team won and we left the field. I was exposed to rabid parents who yelled and screamed the whole game at their kids…..and other people’s kids. Each day was preceded with John getting up early to run before we took off in a different direction from the day before. We went to the French Quarter several times to shop and eat at our favorite places. John and Barb took separate days off to be with us. We left on a Saturday so we could have one day at home before I had to go back to work……..we arrived safe and sound by suppertime.

Our wedding anniversary was on the 19th and Bear’s niece, Connie, and her family were coming the next day. They had an extra little cousin with them and we fed them all and found places for them to sleep…..Connie was an excellent little mother and if I remember right, was home-schooling the children. I had to work the next day and Bear told me later they left around 9:00am…they were a happy little group.

The rest of the month played out quietly……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Early March sent the three of us to Springfield. Bear and I had dental appointments and we wanted new glasses. Becky went along for shopping and lunch. John celebrated his 36th birthday that year and Jonathan was exactly half his age, coming in at 18. We mailed John’s gift to him and I had Jonathan’s birthday dinner with his favorite food….lasagna. Birthday cake and ice-cream, of course.

Our friends, the Bryant’s came for a week-end and we enjoyed their visit. They always brought their little dog, Lily, and she was a doll. I don’t know why but when our children are all gone I guess we survive the “empty nest syndrome” with pets. They take the place of the vacuum left by the activity of raising children and sending them off on their journey.

I had been bothered several times with chest pains that were quite significant. Once over the immediate occurrence, I fell into denial about how bad they really were. I convinced myself it was just indigestion. We decided to have our bedroom, hall and living room papered and found a couple of local women who had a good reputation of papering. We moved all the furniture into the center of the rooms to prepare for them and it was quite a job. We didn’t realize how furniture is always around wall space.

They came as promised and the first day filled cracks in the paneling. The second day they came and put a second coating over them. The third day they began sanding off smooth and the fourth day began wallpapering. Of course we were unprepared for the length of time it would take to do the job right and believe me, we were only too anxious to get our little house back to order. When finished, it lived up to our expectations and the women did a very nice job. We spent the week-end putting everything back that we drug out and it took days to get rid of the dust the sanding caused.

We went to Springfield to celebrate Becky’s birthday and treated her to lunch, along with her gift. The house was too messy at the time to fix a proper dinner at home for her so the next best thing was the Pizza Hut. Her personal favorite. The end of March we were wakened with a severe thunder storm, preceded with hail and high wind. Hurrah!!! March went out like a lion so Spring is near.

What follows a simple bit of redecorating? Right! New furniture. The pretty walls somehow made our furniture look “less” and showed up every blemish. The size and color of it now looked out of place with the new walls. We began shopping for a new bedroom set and it didn’t take long to find something better than we had. While the salesman was putting the finishing touches to the sale we roamed the store looking at other items. Then we found a curio cabinet we couldn‘t resist. Becky, being the arbitrator, told the salesman if we bought the curio and also the bedroom suite, we should have a lamp thrown in. The salesman agreed, to our surprise. Bear and I would never quibble about prices or “add ons”……if we thought the price was right, we bought it, if we couldn’t afford it, we didn’t. Becky was showing us a whole new way of furniture buying. We liked it a lot. We were promised delivery the same afternoon so we hurried home to make room for the new additions. Out with the old; in with the new.

The 9th of April, George arrived to spend the night so he and Becky could drive down to Louisiana to visit John, Barb and LJ. I fixed a pizza supper for all of us and they left early the next morning. They stayed a week and had a barrel of fun. When they returned, I had a cookout for them…..they were starved after a long day’s drive. George left for home the next day. I spent my day making curtains for the bedroom and Becky helped us get new mini-blinds up. The difference from heavy drapes to the new blinds and curtains was like daylight and dark. We loved the “new look.”

After the severe pains I had suffered in March, Bear insisted on me getting a check-up. He was concerned and thought we should pursue some tests. After an upper GI at the hospital a Hiatal hernia was discovered and I was given medication to relieve the problem. I had been so free of any physical disorders I was surprised to have something “wrong.” Now, I was on two pills. One for low thyroid and this one for Hiatal hernia. At the time I was 61-and had never had any type of surgery and never really been sick. I was truly blessed and I knew it. I never took my good health for granted.

The month ended and at last we could get out of our long-sleeved shirts and ties at work. It was always great to get into short sleeves…….for comfort but also because the time of year signaled, Spring…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


After the first of the year the rains continued so much that water was everywhere. Some roads were covered, fields and yards were full in the lower areas. Where we should have been getting snow the warm air was full of moisture and the rains continued. Here in the Ozarks we have many farm roads that cross creeks with a concrete slab to drive over. Even though people are warned not to cross when there is running water they are so used to doing it and getting by with it…..the time comes when the water is deeper than they thought and the car is washed away. Tragically, there are preventable deaths or narrow escapes.

For some reason, many of our January’s are unusually warm. I remember when George was just a baby I took him for walks in the baby buggy in January. We may escape in December and January but February usually makes up for the favor we find in past months. I have lived in the Ozarks long enough to remember some bitterly cold October and November’s. I guess there is just no “usual” weather no matter where a person lives. Our old weather patterns have been so disrupted as compared to when I was a child in Nebraska, it is hard to anticipate weather at all. When the forecasters are wrong so many times with all of their hi-tech equipment, we shouldn’t be surprised when our own expectations fail.

Jennifer had been to visit uncle George in Shawnee for a week so Becky drove to Springfield to meet them for her return home. Later in the month, Jennifer left to go back to Culver-Stockton…..we always missed her after she went back. She continued to work along with keeping her grades up at the college. She was working on a double major and we were rightly proud of her.

Later in the month we did get temperatures cold enough to freeze ice on the trees, and eventually, some snow. Jennifer was safely back before the roads became dangerous. The last week-end in the month we went to visit friends at the Lake of the Ozarks and had a fun time of gadding and shopping. The area is beautiful even in winter and we enjoyed the wild ducks on the water in their cove.

Work was pretty slow during the month. We had more office time than usual because we didn’t give road tests to new drivers and most of the expired or out-of-state drivers were only given written and eye tests. We spent a lot of time reading and in my case, I did a lot of stitching. I took a quilt top to a lady in Van Buren for machine quilting. It was put together on the machine so I didn’t mind the machine quilting. I was still working on the quilt at home that was all hand-stitching.

To our surprise, in February, John had a King Cake sent to us from Louisiana. It is a special cake at Mardi Gras time….the icing is in Mardi Gras colors, bright green, purple and yellow and the cake is quite large. It looks like a coffee cake, actually. Anyway, the fun is to see who gets the “baby” in their piece. Whoever gets the baby must buy the next King Cake…..I think. John will have to correct me on this if I’m wrong. The baby is a small plastic doll put into the cake before it is sold. We love going to New Orleans with all of the customs and different culture. It’s always a learning experience each time we go. I think it is safe to say we have lost John to the South….I don’t think he will ever live North again. A friend of his says he is more of a Southerner than they are….. “they” meaning the people who are born in the South. He has certainly embraced everything the South has to offer and shares with all of us when we visit.

We got our big snow in mid-February. I was off work due to President’s Day and we tried to keep it scooped away so the birds could eat but it kept snowing over the feed. It was up to my knees when I walked up to Becky’s to finish painting the glass in her door. It was hobby paint to look like a stained glass window. I had been working on some of the glass at home and liked the outcome. One lesson and Becky went on to paint some of her windows…..turned out very pretty.

The next morning the roads were in good shape but our drive was blocked when the road-grader pushed snow across it. A young man from church came and shoveled us out…….people are so good to think of others. A few days later we woke up to six more inches of snow. It was putting a freezing mist on all of the snow which made a strange sight. It looked like a plastic covering. We were given a couple of days off due to conditions and so I made good use of the time at home.

John and Barb had their 10the wedding anniversary on the 19th and I made cookies to send for his birthday coming up in March. We closed out the month with Bear having some kind of intestinal bug so he didn’t feel well for a few days. So far we didn’t have the flu like so many but there was still a lot of time to go before we could consider ourselves lucky. With February over it wouldn’t be long until the daffodils would be peeking out of the ground and we could celebrate Spring once more……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, June 13, 2005


Fall was very much normal this year. I painted more rooms and Bear did all the moving and picking up that painting entails. We bought a new kitchen set for our newly painted kitchen and it finished off the project nicely. As we finished the living room we added two new wing-back chairs to that room. We were delighted with the finished project.

Of course, football IS fall. At least in our house. We enjoyed college ball on Saturday’s, Pro-football on Sunday’s and Monday night football. Where most wives are widows on week-ends, I had to plan my work to see the games. When October rolled around, Gail made arrangements to fly back for a visit. It was her custom to come every year at birthday time to put flowers on Louis’ grave. I felt sorry for her because his grave was so far away for her…..I always found it comforting to visit the cemetery with fresh flowers and to linger a while. She could only do that once a year.

While she was here we took her to Carthage, MO. where the Precious Moments Chapel is. The grounds are lovely and the special decorating that Sam Butcher is doing all over is phenomenal. His artistic work is truly inspired and that sense is evident in everything he puts his hand to. It is an ongoing work he is giving back to the many people who have purchased his art forms over the years, but more importantly it’s a dedicated work back to God.

We went to Branson one day to take in a “show” before her visit was over. We decided to see the Osmonds and it was an excellent choice. Those men can play any instrument, as well as sing and put together a great “heartfelt” show. We enjoyed the area as long as we could….it was a long road home. I had to work the next day but Bear took Gail to the airport for an early flight.

Into November Bear finished up all the leaf gathering and cleaned the garage. His favorite way to clean was to move everything outside of the garage, sweep it out with the shop vac….then hose it down good. Everything was cleaned before going back in. It would be quite a task for any guy but considering it was done by Bear was exceptional. He could do more with one leg and crutches than a lot of guys who were walking around on two legs. There were few things that he couldn’t do.

It was a small Thanksgiving. It was just the two of us, Becky and Jonathan, but a good meal and a relaxing day. Becky fixed a German meal for Bear’s birthday a few days later…..a surprise….and he complimented her on her fine meal. She followed the cookbook to the letter and did a great job. Early in December we put our tree up and decorated the house for the holidays. Locally, we had been having a lot of rain which was causing flooding in the low areas around and the ponds were all out of their banks.

I had been having headaches and feeling unusually tired all the time…..my doctor, tested for several reasons and discovered I had an extremely low thyroid count. He said it was a wonder I hadn’t been brought to him on a stretcher. I had supposed it was just the holidays with all of the events connected with that so I was amazed when I felt so much better in a small space of time. I had been dragging my way through the past few months and now I was like a new person. It’s amazing what a little pill will do.

December ended with freezing rain and sleet. I was working about 93-miles from home on a Thursday which was the last day of December. My supervisor decided we’d better pack it up and head back so that’s what we did. I enjoyed the extra time I inherited that afternoon and headed for the warmth of home. A nice way to usher out the old year………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 09, 2005


We spent a lot of time in August watching the Olympics. The US was doing pretty good in 1992.…better than some of the past years. The Dream Team took the Gold Medal for basketball and the relays were exciting to watch. There was criticism about our professionals playing in the Olympics but other countries had been doing that for years and our college kids were well outclassed by them. For once we put our guys in who would show them that Basketball is America’s sport and we showed them why. My bias is obvious.

Jennifer was twenty on her August birthday….it was hard to believe she was almost ready to begin her third year at Canton. She flew in from Louisiana after spending the summer with John and Barb, and working as a counselor. Becky and I picked her up from the airport on the 15th and after a few days home, she and Becky left for Culver-Stockton. They took both cars full to the brim with Jennifer’s things.

We had a bad storm earlier in the month. Winds 60-70 miles an hour plastered leaves all over everything where they were ripped from the trees. Power lines were down along with many trees and shrubbery all over the city. We called a man to come haul the worst of it off. It split a double oak we had in back, losing one at ground level. We worked several days getting all of the limbs, branches and leaves raked up and hauled off. Power was off for part of the time but thankfully was restored quickly. The display of lightening and thunder was pretty awesome. I hadn’t been privy to a storm like that in quite a few years.

Mid-month, Bear’s brother Don and his wife, Sally flew to Springfield from Washington State and we drove there to pick them up. Their plane was delayed and their luggage didn’t arrive. They stayed with us for a week and then Bear took them back to the airport. We went to Branson one day while they were here and we saw a couple of shows, did a lot of visiting and Don helped Bear with odds and ends that had been bothering him. It was always nice to have them come for a visit.

Their plane left early on a work-day morning so Bear took them to Springfield to catch their flight and that evening, George came to visit. He had also been up early that morning to take John and Barbara to their flight home to Louisiana. They had flown up to visit him a few days.

Hurricane Andrew was pelting southern Florida with 140-mile an hour winds and the Chiefs were playing their exhibition game and getting ready to start another season. Meanwhile, Andrew crossed Florida and came over the Gulf of Mexico to come ashore south and west of John’s. It really caused havoc on the coastline and the power was off 9 ½ hours. They got the same amount of rain (9 ½ inches) but other than being flooded somewhat, they were all right.

The following week-end we drove to the Lake of the Ozarks to visit our friends from Shawnee who had retired at the lake. When we arrived, they gave us iced-tea on their deck and we sat on the balcony and visited while Frank fixed steaks on the grille. Betty had fixed a meal fit for kings and we enjoyed every bite of it. We finished up with cherry pie and ice-cream…which is a good way to end any meal, in my estimation. After our meal settled a bit, Frank took all of us on a nice ride around their area of the lake. The next morning we went to Sunday School and Church with them……another good meal after and then more visiting. We left for home and arrived before dark, safe and sound.

Once August is out of the way, we can begin to look forward to better temperatures and not so much humidity. School begins once more and all of the factors that make that possible are in play. It’s time to take a deep breath for the vacations are over for a while and life begins to slow down. Nature does the same because soon the days will shorten and the leaves begin their downward spiral…….Fall will soon be here………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

JUNE AND JULY....1992 

The week back to work after our Nebraska trip was routine. The only difference was the fact that Pete had to have open heart surgery after weeks of being in and out of the hospital. Becky and I normally worked on different crews (policy) but in times of necessity we worked together. The brass would not have had a problem with us. After all, I had worked for Becky at the convenience store she managed for a long time and we worked well together. Albeit, policy is policy and it was followed most of the time. Our concern was for Pete, our supervisor and friend. Surgery was on the 4th of June and we were informed it was successful. I have mentioned before, the DE’s were family. We were greatly relieved to know Pete was going to be OK. He would be off most of the summer which meant a lot of doubling up…..but he would have done so for any of us. Period.

One evening after work, a few days later, Bear and I drove to Springfield to pick up some crutch supplies he had ordered and we went to see Pete. He was his old wise-cracking self and giving the nurses (and anyone who ventured into his room) a good laugh and a hard time. We stayed over an hour and then headed home.

Becky told us their dad was in the hospital at Tyler, TX. to have the veins in his left leg redone. His vascular system was greatly damaged from years of smoking and he had vein replacements in the leg that continued to become infected. The medical exams also showed cancer in his bladder at the same time so it was a blessing he was admitted and the cancer was found. He was in for a lengthy time of surgery and treatment ahead……….

While we were off for the Fourth of July, Becky had been painting the kitchen in mom’s mobile home (where she was living) and when we went up to see it, we were amazed at the difference. Both mom’s (and our) mobile home’s interiors were mostly paneled which made them dark. She took the drapes and curtains down and put up mini-blinds. With the light painted walls and drapes down it looked like a different place altogether. I was struck with wanting to paint ours immediately. I loved the clean, light look.

The very next night after work, we picked up the supplies we would need and Bear began filling the grooves in the paneling the next day. By the time I came home we were able to begin with the primer. As the walls became lighter, my enthusiasm mounted. We got the complete kitchen finished that evening and decided to put another coat on the next night. Bear went back to West Plains to buy more primer and came home with a large pizza. Becky came to help put on the second coat and we were done in no time. Becky is always a push-over for pizza, no matter how much of a bribe it is. I think she could eat the stuff three times a day…..and has!!!

Bear and I finished the job with two coats of our desired color…..Antique White, which was what Becky had used. Bear had been a holdout on doing it at all. He initially said it was OK if Becky painted mom’s mobile home but he didn’t want ours to look like a $10-a month “rent trailer.” Of course, he couldn’t resist my determination to update our own. When finished…..he was a believer!! When we backed off to look at our project, his first words were, “When are you doing to do the rest of the house?” My retort…..“as soon as I have time.” It was a total success. Becky was pleased and relieved when Bear decided it was a good change.

It fell to her to put up the mini-blinds and hang our new curtains, etc; and she did a nice job. We decided at the time not to paint the cupboards as it would require a lot more time and we were satisfied enough with the walls being painted. The next day I began painting the spare bedroom which had pretty cramped conditions to work in but I managed to get the primer on in one evening. And so it went. Each evening after work I primed and painted all around the house until every room was now light and liberated from the dark paneling. Our mobile home was new in 1982 and now, ten years later, it was very out-of-tune with the new ones coming out which boasted wall paper and/or painted walls. Dark woodwork was out and white was in. We had kept our home in good repair but it definitely needed the make-over.

Friday, July 24th, we packed up and left for Shawnee to stay over the weekend with George. Becky’s High School Reunion was Saturday night and we decided to take her up and visit with George. I had promised ahead that we would all help him paint if he had the paint when we arrived, so Saturday morning we were hard at it. I painted the utility room which was in bad need of freshening up. With the small room shut off from air-conditioning, the door was shut to the kitchen and by the time I finished I was sick from the fumes. Nonetheless, the next day I put the second coat on the room and by then I was much worse.

George kept our paint pans full and fixed the meals so Becky and I could keep painting. She did the kitchen while I worked on the utility room. We both finished by Sunday afternoon and loaded the car to come home. George was pleased with his new look and we were proud of the difference it made. My congestion lingered on for several days but finally left me feeling better.

The month ended on a Friday so August started with a week-end. Not a bad way to begin a new month………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


We were short-handed at work all month due to several people being on vacation. That always meant whoever was left had to pick up the slack. It was tough getting past Mother’s Day and mom’s birthday that year……the first year she hadn‘t been with us. By the 21st of the month we left for a few days as well….it was Bear’s 50th High School Class Reunion at Newman Grove, NE. and he was excited about attending.

We packed, closed the house down, took kitty to the vet for boarding and got away by noon. We had a nice drive to Shawnee where we planned to stay over night with George and see his new home. He was there when we arrived and proudly showed us all over his house and yard. It was in very good shape and he had a large yard and good grass…..a good selling point for me. The house was two doors down from good friends of ours who lived there while the children were growing up. It was a good “homey” feeling for George and we were happy for him.

Later that evening an old classmate of George’s (that he went all through school with) and who lived a few doors down, came to say hello. Dennis and George had been buddies from mid-first grade and Dennis had married another of their classmates, Kathy. Dennis was like one of the family and it was good to see him again. We enjoyed cold drinks on the deck and George grilled hamburgers. It was a very satisfying evening. Going back to the old neighborhood is always pleasant for me. We had good neighbors and everyone watched out for each other. We literally saw the town fill in around our suburb as most of us had been there long enough to remember a fence at the bottom of our street which kept cows within the pasture. Little by little over the years the vacant places became houses and businesses and our pristine little neighborhood became an oasis in a growing city.

Before we left the next morning, Becky called to tell me a good friend of mine back home, had been taken to the hospital for breast cancer surgery. Naturally, it was upsetting news. As we left, George went on to work, and we would see him on our way back again. We drove on northwest, to the Nebraska line, past Lincoln and Omaha, on to Newman Grove, in northeastern Nebraska. We arrived at Bear’s cousin’s home around 3:30pm and she was waiting for us. Bear and Alta were very close as they were almost the same age and had gone all through school together with Alta’s twin sister, Alma. Bear’s maternal family were all very close and warm, loving people.

We had dinner at the Country Club that evening where 50-some class members and spouses gathered before the all-school banquet the next night. It was fun to watch the joy of best friends greeting each other and laughing over how they look now. There were lots of squeals and laughter…….an overall feeling of good will even for those of us who were there simply because we were married to a class member. At the close of day, we returned to Alta’s where we watched the last show of Johnny Carson. Nebraska is proud to be the State where he was born. For Nebraskans there is no one other than Johnny. (Date: May 22, 1992.)

The next day was spent with family and a great deal of visiting. Bear showed me the whole town, pointing out special places of meaning, we bumped into a couple of old teachers of his and he had a wonderful time reliving days gone by with them. That evening we assembled in the gym of the old school where we were fed a catered meal. We sat across from a cousin on his paternal side, Lowell Rosenbaum and his wife, Doris. Lowell farmed his family’s old farm property and was a large, robust, pleasant man. The German/Irish heritage gave him a pleasant personality and he was a strong, hard worker.

Bear’s Class of ‘42 was honored at the dinner and they held the stats of being the largest graduating class before or since that year. After the dinner and honors, the Class of ‘42 assembled in the new gymnasium for pictures. Most of the men of his class went right into the Service after graduating and many never made it home. There were moments of silence for those lost so long ago. As for Bear, he joined the Navy later that same year of graduation and served his time as a submariner, until WW11 was over.

The next day we went to church in the little Methodist Church where Bear went as a small boy. The squeaky floor, stained glass windows and varnished pews spoke of the years it had been in existence. After the morning service we then met at a restaurant to honor aunt Martha’s 94th birthday. She was a delightful woman who had worked hard on the farm ever since marrying the brother of Bear’s mother. She had to be strong to survive 94-years on the harsh Nebraska landscape. Later, we went to Alta’s for special birthday cake and ice-cream….and visited with family members until late.

The next day we woke to cloudy skies and strong winds. It was Memorial Day. Bear and I drove to Albion, NE. to visit cousin’s on his father’s side. We had dinner with them and the men went to the cemetery after the meal but it was too cold and miserable so the women stayed home and visited. Later in the afternoon we drove back to Newman Grove and visited with the King cousins.

When we left the next morning, we were to meet still more cousins at a restaurant on the highway where we were treated to breakfast. Later, there were hugs and goodbyes……..and then we were headed South for Blair where we had lunch with my aunt Phyllis and uncle Roger. We stayed and visited as long as we could and then drove back to Shawnee where George fixed a good supper and we stayed the night once more.

The next day we visited friends in the old neighborhood and that evening four couples of us, and George, went to a steak house for dinner. We celebrated my 60th birthday in fine fashion. It was the last time we were all together. One couple was moving to Emporia, (back home) after retiring, and it never worked out on later visits to go again. Sometimes, things happen once…..and once only. It was a wonderful night of friends and visiting. The next day we took time to visit other friends before leaving for home. Becky had taken Jennifer to the airport in St. Louis to catch a flight to stay with John and Barbara again that summer. She was going to work with mentally challenged kids at camp again. It was wonderful experience for her.

We packed a lot of family and friends into 10-days and for Bear and me…..it was always returning to our roots when we “went home” to Nebraska…..sentinel of the Great Plains………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, June 06, 2005


Monday, Monday. Even us retired folks dread Monday’s. Why? Because we let everything go last week, thinking we would get it all done….THIS week. However, as each week goes by…..we always put it off until the “next Monday.” At some point in this practice, THE Monday rolls around where you just can’t put it off any longer. That is where I find myself today. I decided to get a blog written and then attack the long list of priorities. Someone has obviously screwed up the system and now there are three Monday’s to every week, instead of one. Must have been a government project…they never get anything right.

I just had a conversation with a dear friend of many years who now lives back in Emporia, Kansas. Wanted to thank her for a very special shawl she made for my 73rd birthday. It seems the ladies group at her church adopted a program of knitting/crocheting shawls for special people. They cannot be sold, but given, to people in some kind of need, life changing crisis….or birthday. I fell into the birthday category….(for which I am grateful.) I have had my share of trauma in past years and believe me, birthdays are better than trauma. A history of shawls and a birthday blessing came with the gift….an impact of the reason and the love that comes with the shawl.

Rosalie is a special person who lived across the street from us for many years in Shawnee, Kansas, and our children grew up together. We shared many occasions but the ones I enjoyed most were the quiet times when we shared a cup of coffee together and knit, crocheted or quilted together. Our time was never wasted because we kept our fingers busy. Our hopes, dreams and dilemmas were talked over and put to rest during our visits. And so, the shawl I received has been prayed over, individually by each lady before it came to me, and the dear hands of my friend brought it to completion. You cannot buy or sell friendships like that.

Today is catch-up day for me so tomorrow I will resume with 1992.….beginning with the month of May. Hummmmmm……my favorite month. There is so much more to tell about the life and times of Esther Belle………..sorry. I love rhymes.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, June 03, 2005


Well, the day got out of hand very early. The week-end is going to be a busy one. Sounds like summertime, doesn’t it? I will have to cut corners and since most of you will be busy too……..I’ll catch you back here on Monday….good Lord willing. I hope you have a great week-end……go ahead!! Have all the fun you can stand. I am giving you permission…….

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 02, 2005


March came in on a Sunday and we had word that my supervisor, Pete, had been taken to the hospital emergency room with a possible heart attack. He was off for a week and had an angioplasty which cleared a 90% blockage in the lower heart. We were all dumb-founded. Pete was one of those guys you would never suspect with serious medical problems. We were all hopeful he could return to work and be OK.

Our daughter-in-law, Barbara, had surgery the same day and also came through without mishap. The date was March 6th. We were happy that the worst was over for both of them. It seemed as if the sky was angry that day. We were working in Eminence, that Friday afternoon, when a terrible hail storm hit the area. I happened to be giving a driving test to a young man in a pick-up. The hail was hitting the roof so hard we couldn’t hear anything. We pulled to the curb and waited until the storm passed by and then drove back to the Court House. The other examiners were watching for us to get back and were concerned because the tornado sirens went off and the hail was intense. Wind damage added more problems and the town was pretty well beat down.

It turned cold by mid-month and we had Jonathan’s birthday supper at our house with his favorite dish, Green Enchilada Casserole. He was 17-years old this birthday. We received a phone call that a friend, Joe Tylke, had tumors in his brain and lungs. We were sorry to hear of it. He and his wife had been in our home Bible study for quite a few years. They were leaving for Chicago for expert advice on how to treat the malignancies.

Bear worked several days burning leaves at Becky’s, George’s lot and our yard. He picked up several loads of rocks to add to a rock wall in our flower garden in the back. It’s very nice and rustic. Bear lost his leg 12-years ago on the 26th day of March…..it still doesn’t seem possible. On the 5th of April, Sam Walton died of cancer. His WalMart empire was to be run by his children and a few trusted business partners. He was quite a legend in our area. The little man who made good and proved everybody wrong with his business practices. Cancer has no favorites.

After working all through the big CDL licensing process, the deadline for grand-fathering in was April 1st. No one was happier than all of the driver’s examiner’s who had the brunt of the responsibility to get them processed. It started January 1st, 1990 and went until April 1st, 1992. We had hoards of applicants, continuous complaining and commercial drivers who tried every way in the book to get by with less testing. Of course, we had nothing to do with the Federal Regulations and it made twice as much work for the examiners. Believe me, had there been an easier way to work through it all, we would have gladly complied. When April rolled around, we were ecstatic. To celebrate, we decided to have a “CDL” party at our co-workers cabin which was on a wooded area outside of town. The very thought of all that behind us, and a party to boot, was like gasoline on a fire. We couldn’t wait.

The day finally arrived on a Saturday and we were all to bring food to go with the grilled meat and drinks provided by the host. I fixed a blackberry cobbler to take and absolutely everyone showed up, ready to celebrate. We had lots of food and all the rest……it was truly a memorable evening with laughter, stories, and the feeling of a big job that was finished. Our merriment went on until the wee hours…..

And then……..we could not imagine “the rest of the story.” The State decided to prolong the grand-fathering until 1994. It is a source of amusement any time the subject comes up between our original group……we are all retired now except for Becky and one other male examiner….but when we get together for any reason, sooner or later, one will mention……the party to celebrate the end of CDL.

On the 18th, Pete had a heart attack and was taken to a Springfield Hospital. We were all concerned because he had not been feeling up to his old self. Little John’s 7th birthday was the next day and Jennifer came home for Spring break on the 23rd. Bear and I left to visit friends at the Lake of the Ozarks for a week-end, later in the month. They had a very lovely home on the lake with two boats and a paddle boat to accommodate their children and grandchildren.

We were told that Pete was doing well but would be on extended leave until he was able to come back to work. We were willing to take up the slack for him….he would have done the same for any of us….and so, April passed by another year……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


The new year came in rather mild, but gloomy. We took the tree down while watching Bowl Games and carted all of the Christmas decorations back to the garage for another year. The games didn’t go to suit us but other than the play-offs and the Super Bowl, football would be over until fall again. It’s always a big let-down when the season is over. New Year’s Day was on a Wednesday this year so I went back to work on Thursday and Friday.

Bear and I went back to choir practice again. I just couldn’t sing with the heavy heart I had after mom died. I’d never make a professional singer……how they do it with a lump in their throat is beyond me. From the choir loft I could see the pew where she sat each Sunday until her health failed…….it was vacant, now. It seemed to take longer than I thought to get over mom being gone. We had certainly known the day would come but she always bounced back and I suppose I thought it would go on forever like that. Of course, I knew better, but the mind plays funny tricks on you. Denial is only too happy to drop by….often.

After a drizzly, gloomy and gray start in January, by mid-month we got 4-inches of snow and it turned bitterly cold with a north wind. Jennifer had to pack the car to go back to Canton (for classes) so we went up to tell her goodbye on the 18th. She made it just fine….the roads were clear all the way. By the end of the month we were working in our shirt sleeves as the weather turned mild. Don Rockenbach, a high-school classmate of mine called the evening of February 1st and asked if we’d like to meet him for coffee at the truck-stop in our town. He was passing through with a load on his truck. Of course we did and had a nice visit…… Bear became acquainted with him at our class reunions and enjoyed visiting with him.

The boys call home almost every week. I am so fortunate to have kids who still include me in their lives. Every time we talk on the phone I wonder how many mothers don’t even know where their kids are……Becky is here a lot because she lives one lot over, in mom and dad’s mobile home. George was very excited this particular call…..his loan went through for his own home and he was thrilled. He bought a nice house with a big yard just up the street and down the next block about half-way. He had been living in apartments since he came home from the Navy and was thrilled to be back in our old neighborhood. Several of his class-mates from Grade School through Junior High and High School lived within his same block. Most of the parent’s had moved off to bigger homes and the younger generation’s were buying in the same old locations. It just felt more like “home” near where George, his siblings and buddies grew up. We were very happy for him….AND anxious to see his new place. He was getting ready to move when he called.

I fixed boxes of home baked cookies to send to Jennifer, George, and John’s for Valentines Day. The next day it came a drizzly rain that froze on the trees everywhere but didn’t bother the roads. I had been working on a quilt top that mom and I pieced together. I planned on hand quilting it when I visited her at the nursing home. After she died, I determined to finish it just the same. It was a Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern and going around each and every hexagon proved to be very time consuming but I worked on it most nights when I came home from work. My only regret was that mom never got to see the progress. She did see the top put together and was looking forward to the end result.

John and Barb’s wedding anniversary was on the 19th so we called to visit with them over the phone. It was their ninth. The two of them were so in tune with each other, they made marriage look easy. Still do. They have one of those matches “made in heaven”……..I’ll have to say, they are both really inside each other’s heads. They compliment each other perfectly.

George called on Saturday, the 22nd to tell us he was moved in and I could hear the excitement in his voice. He and Mac-dog…..his first West Highland Terrier. Mac was loving the yard after having to walk on a leash all the time in the apartment complex. Now he could run out the door and chase birds and squirrels.

This February had an extra day due to Leap Year. I think it would be good if each month had an extra day so we could do all those things that never seem to get done. My quilting was coming along slowly but it was a labor of love and I wanted it to be an heirloom to hand down to the children. I had another cut out to hand sew at work when we weren’t busy…..it’s called the Bear Paw. I selected brown, rust and tan prints to resemble bear colors. With a husband who had the nick-name of “Bear” why do you think I selected that pattern?

February slipped away rather mild and the daffodils were coming up. The promise of Spring was evident but March can be a very fickle month and so we don’t count our bad weather out until April. Riding to work gave opportunity to see the new Spring calves being born as we traveled from town to town each week to give driving tests. There was always a new canvas to look at each day as we took a different road of our schedule…..I am not geared to city living. I like open fields where I can watch all the spring babies romp and play. They make me feel the world is alright…..even when, in so many ways, it isn’t………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther