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Friday, December 23, 2005


“Grandma’s in the kitchen, making cakes and pies,
Children looking everywhere with happy, wondering eyes.”

Those lines are from a favorite poem of mine. Aunt Mary gave me a reader that was out of date in her school system and the poem was in there, called, “Grandma’s House.” As a little girl it spoke to me in a different way than it does now that I’m the grandmother.

Today there is certainly excitement in “grandma’s” house. George will be on his way to arrive between 2 - 4 today. Jennifer called and is arriving next Tuesday to stay a few days and play with her little nephew, Brady. She will be here from Tuesday until Friday.

I am cleaning house for the last going over before everyone arrives for George’s birthday party tonight. Then I shall go to the kitchen and work magic in the oven. We hope you and yours are having family arrive, good things to eat, happy memories, hugs, Kodak moments and all the rest.

May the little Christ child come into your heart and may the Star shine over your head…..may your tummy’s be full, and your shoes never wear out….may you find contentment in how God made you…one of a kind…and may you always remember to shine right where He put you.


Next week we return to the Esther story at,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I’ve been writing about Christmas memories this week and one that stands out above many is the birth of my first son, George. I was a mere wisp of a girl at 18 when George surprised me in May……he made his announcement to me standing over the stool in the bathroom, barfing up my sox. I didn’t get the picture right away and when the vomiting never stopped I had to accept the fact that I was, in fact, pregnant.

My first emotion? I was scared silly. Girls are privy to older girls filling them in on the big event……the pure misery that ends in a long, torturous birth ordeal. By the time I finally quit upchucking all day long, I was well into the pregnancy. I did the normal things….learned how to crochet booties, bought and borrowed baby stuff and watched my body grow into a Humpty-Dumpty figure.

Well, there is never excitement quite like having that first baby. Everything is new from the experience to the baby things ……and discovering you are now financially broke. It’s the beginning of a long journey for the parents and for the baby. I’ll have to confess we were hard on George. We thought we had to have a perfect child who didn’t cause embarrassment by misbehaving. Ha!! Parent alert!! They are going to embarrass the sox off of you……and they don’t wait very long to do it. Every parent I know falls into the same traps…..get over it…they don’t come perfect.

Well, when you stop to think about it….living with a perfect child would be awful because then you would stick out like porcupine quills with all of your bad habits. The way it is, parents come out looking pretty good to a kid who is, ah, spoiled and slightly uncontrollable.

Here’s to you, George, for blazing the trail for your sister and little brother. You took a lot of lectures until we wised up….well, sorta. By the time the other kids came along we didn’t bother with the small stuff……and it’s all small stuff. You gave us a lot of good memories and I hope you have a wonderful birthday. We’ll celebrate tomorrow night with pizza and cherry cobbler………mama’s little boy has turned 55. Happy Birthday George!!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Shopping. Do you know anyone who has enough money to get what they’d like for everyone they know? I think not. No matter what the financial status is I would imagine even the extremely wealthy have to stop somewhere. Granted….not as soon as the rest of us but, hey….they aren’t worth all that loot by giving it away. We all have an invisible number where we plan to stop.

I shop like I diet. I shop with the sensible list I have made out and then proceed to exceed the list by doubles or triples. I mean well…..(those are the first words spoken to my husband)…..but somehow, indulgence takes over and I throw caution to the wind. My goal is not to die rich but to make people happy.

When I diet….I eat my diet first. Sensibly……and then……that bad Esther takes over and I level off the Fannie Mae Chocolates, my homemade fudge, fruit cake, cookies, ice-cream…….well, you can fill in the blanks. Today I shopped AND over-ate. What am I saying? I do this every day…………(Santa may be watching so I’ll come clean.)

I had a fun experience at WalMart today. I was telling Ellen in an email that all those other shoppers looked like zombies, desperate, angry and looking straight ahead as if in a daze. They tried not to look at me because I was smiling and enjoying myself. When they finally did look, an itty bitty smile crept up on one end of their mouth. Come to think of it, it was more like a leer…….maybe I didn’t perk them up as much as I thought.

Girls, I was lost at the perfume counter. All those old perfumes I loved as a girl…….they were all there, and very reasonable it seemed to me. I told Ellen I broke down and bought a trio of Prince Matchabelli for only 4.88. Three bottles holding 1.7 oz. of mind boggling passion for the wearer. Of course you couldn’t squeeze a smell out of the steal-proof packages so I bought my bargain and brought it home.

Now, girls, you may not be into packages like I am. I’m a package snob. I not only want the dressings to be fetching but I want crystal bottles of the chosen elixir to adorn my bureau. Well, guess what? When I pried into the package and retrieved the spray bottles…….they were…..plastic. What a hoot. Well, what the heck….I drenched myself in all three of them and I’m lovin’ it.

I have the last of the packages wrapped and I’m through shopping. I have all the food I need until the next millennium and I’m one happy old gal. I hope you had some fun with your shopping……and if you want to screw up someone’s day, just give them a big Ho Ho Ho kind of a smile and look happy. Drives everyone nuts!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


We are to the part of the year that it is either “do or die” time. Mailings will not get there now…..time to relax and go with the flow. Almost everyone in our family is employed and in serious occupations…… and like many of you, Christmas is sandwiched in with everything else. When you have children, their school programs and activities vie for time and there is the shopping, the wrapping, mailing, baking, candy making, decorating the house inside and out, the cards…….at one point you wonder if any of it will be finished on time. Then a wonderful thing happens.

We are all much like the Grinch who steals Christmas. We are so wound up with all the “stuff” that many of us don‘t see what we‘re missing until it‘s too late. The opportunities to share, help others, give of our time, go the extra mile…..those other things steal away the time like a dastardly villain, not that they are bad but because we didn’t plan ahead well enough. In the midst of chaos, in the middle of being the busiest, at the most inopportune time is when God likes to surprise us with some of his best gifts.

It happened that way one cold night when the inns were full and there was no room for the little child who brought the light. It happened to me today. I was remembering how my mother was always so excited about Christmas….she would talk with fondness about how her dad would come to the door of the upstairs and call, “Christmas gift” as six sleepy children tumbled out of bed and dashed down stairs to the tree in the living room.

Mom enjoyed baking and making candies to take around the neighborhood and for friends and family. At our house, Christmas always meant congregating in the kitchen and watching mom make her goodies. The movement of her hands were mesmerizing as she worked the dough. Her rolling pin had one handle missing. She couldn’t remember which one of us broke it playing in her cupboards as little toddlers. She never thought to get another…..it did the job very nicely and was the only one she ever used her whole life through. I still have hers and I still have the one she bought me when I married in 1950 as a young girl. Both have seen families come and go as they did the work of the cook.

As the Grinch’s heart began to grow, he was suddenly filled with uncontrollable enthusiasm to give………to give everything he had. He raced madly down the mountain to do just that. I didn’t really have the time but somehow, this morning instead of writing my usual blog I decided I must “bake and take.” I could almost see my mother smiling as she sat by the table to watch my inspired actions. Christmas is really a “work of heart”…….and my heart was in the right place.

“It was the best of times….and the worst of times”…..but Christ came, “just in time.” His evidence is everywhere but never closer than when I pick up that old broken rolling pin…….

Essentially Esther

Monday, December 19, 2005


Christmas week. As a young girl in the 30’s I had quite a different kind of Christmas decoration and anticipation of Santa coming. I have always loved to read, I suppose because my mother’s family were readers. My grandmother was a staunch supporter of education and two of my mother’s sisters became teachers. One taught for 38 years and one married and never taught at all.

I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house as a young girl and was deeply influenced by her and my aunts, still at home. I loved learning and was full of questions…….and often told to read such and such a book. I read all of my mother’s favorites when she was young. They were full of character and ‘good’ always predominated over ‘evil’. I was full of ideals about life.

When we lived in Omaha, NE. there was always a serial story which began the first of December and ran until Christmas Eve in the Omaha World Herald. I couldn’t wait to come in from school, warm up, have some of mama’s cookies or cake and read the story of the day. I would lay down on the living room floor with the paper stretched out before me and eagerly read the day’s adventure. After all of these years, since, I still think of that every year. Oftentimes it is the little, wonderfully insignificant things that we carry with us our whole life through.

It is hard to imagine that children today would be as intense and content with a story in a newspaper. We were taught in school to read the daily paper and one teacher always had us take five words that we didn’t know the meaning of….look them up in the dictionary and then write a sentence using each one. The next day in class we each took our turn, standing by our desk, reading the five words and our sentences…….we had memorization constantly. We not only read poems or passages from great works but we were to recite them as well.

I thank God for good teachers. I had wonderful teachers who taught because they had a “calling.” Their pride was in seeing how much they could stuff into our little brains before passing us on to the next grade. I can almost recall every teacher’s name that I ever had. I’m sure they are all gone now but their hard work lives on in those of us who profited from their influence.

This week I am going to recall simple pleasures of my past and I hope you will share some of yours. The memories that have stood the test of time are what Christmas is all about. The gift. The gifts we have been given to carry the rest of our lives……it all began in a manger.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, December 16, 2005


After deciding to get married, Rocky and I both had a lot of loose ends to finish before we could start thinking of marriage. He had a farm and animals to think of on the West side of the State……I had to get my small home ready for another person. In the four years I was widowed, the house slowly became very feminine and a big ole guy like Rocky looked strange in those surroundings.

He had stabilized things at the farm enough that he could continue his trucking and at the time was hauling plastic pipe out of Pittsburg, KS. He asked me to go on a short “run” with him down to Brisco, MO. which is over in the “boot heel.” I drove out to the truck stop and waited for him to arrive from Pittsburg……it was fun being in a big “rig” like his Freightliner to see what life is like from inside the cab. After all the hundreds of CDL license’s I had written up in my DE job it seemed odd to actually be in one. Of course, everything about being with Rocky then seemed hard to believe.

We ran into a bad wreck on our drive into Poplar Bluff which delayed us somewhat. When we got to our drop place Rocky had to find out where and when he could unload, there was quite a bit of waiting and discussing…..all part of a trucker’s life. I was beginning to see it wasn’t all that glamorous and certainly not tailor made to accommodate the trucker. An old hand like Rocky had learned patience and how to work the system he worked under so we were unloaded and headed for something to eat before driving back.

I enjoyed the vantage point you have in the cab of a truck. One thing I didn’t like was the noise inside the truck. Rocky had an old truck which was devoid of any creature comforts so we had to yell at each other the whole time and as I remember, the heater wasn’t that great, either. Rocky was oblivious to any discomfort…..he had spent his life behind the wheel and with the dinosaurs he drove over the years, this was a Cadillac as far as he was concerned. Rocky didn’t require much in the way of “extras” and was used to “making do” when problems came up. I thought he was amazing. This man was content with so very little.

When we got back to the truck stop I brought him home for some heated up leftovers and after eating, took him back to his Freightliner so he could drive on to Neosho. He called later to let me know he arrived safely. That night I had lots to think about…..I made up my mind he was going to have a lot more consideration than he was even willing to give himself. This man needed a wife!! I’m glad it was going to be me.

We had been trying to settle on a date. Rocky didn’t think it looked good to be married so soon after Mary died and I didn’t want to be married in May because of Mother’s Day and my birthday in the same month. I didn’t want to be married in June because that was when Bear and I married and so it was either July or later. In the final analysis we decided to throw caution to the wind and get married the last day of April. We knew we wanted to be together and at our age, why wait? Also, Rocky was spending a fortune on long distance or cell-phone calls….it seemed practical to just do it. So on April 30th Rocky and I drove to Eureka Springs, AR., found the City Hall for our marriage license and drove to the Chapel of the Angels to be married.

The drive to Eureka Springs was beautiful. The rugged, rough beauty of the deep Ozarks is soul food for the eyes. Just Rocky and me together after all those years…. on a drive to be married. The whole thing was surreal…… two kids from high school who never ever forgot each other or ever gave up on the dream of being together….somehow…. somewhere…..someday……..this was the moment.

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I didn’t hear from Rocky again until March 8th……he called and was in the process of downsizing the dog kennel operation he and Mary had. They raised several small breeds of dogs and Mary had successfully bred a color into her line of poodles that put them in high demand. Her poodles were the reddest and were shipped all over the country.

Rocky was a truck driver. He was not used to being tied down in one place very long. With the emotional stress of losing Mary and having to deal with the “at home needs” he decided to sell his dogs. Now that was not an easy decision to come by. Rocky is a born animal lover and a stray animal always found a home with him. He had some cattle, goats, sheep, dogs, cats and everything in between.

Rocky also had a Freightliner truck and trailer that was parked. He was trying to decide what to do with the sudden change of fate that came upon him. His son, Michael, came to help out when Rocky decided to sell the dogs. His daughter Holly and Lisa, a close family friend, also pitched in and they shampooed, groomed and cleaned all of them for sale. It was a gargantuan task but they finished in time for the next dog auction.

That was the beginning. Eventually, Rocky let all of the animals go and I’m sure it took part of him with them. Rocky is fiercely loyal and any separation is tough for him. Even today he wonders where some of his old animal friends are and he calls them by the names he gave them……and then becomes lost in his own recollections. It’s sad.

Along with the above, Rocky and his late wife had a Flea Market at one time and he was encumbered with a house full of “stuff” he wanted to get rid of. He knew Becky and I had booths at the Antique Barn and asked if I would be interested in any of it. I offered to drive over and price it for him to sell locally but he didn’t want to fool with it……he counter-offered to bring it to me and I could do as I pleased with it….no price involved. I tried to talk him out of it but he wouldn’t hear of it.

I was working at the Antique Barn a lot of hours but we set a date for him to bring the things…. I said I would cook dinner for him. He came in a van loaded to the gills and I realized I had a huge job ahead to get the things cleaned and marked for sale. Becky, Rocky and I had Sunday dinner on March 18th. Becky and I went to early church and he arrived straight up at noon. He brought a lot of pictures to show me of his family and all the years since we were in school together. It was a nice day of remembering old times and I’m sure we bored Becky to death. We unloaded the van and he left late that afternoon. My mind was trying to realize that Don Rockenbach had just been here for dinner after all these years.

I was very sad to hear that a young church music director from our old church had died of lung cancer. He drove back and forth to Jonesboro, AR. to receive his Masters Degree in Music at a great sacrifice of time and effort. It was a shame because he had so much to live for…….even in the few years, since, medical advancement to cure cancer is saving so many more lives now. It’s coming too late for some of our loved ones.

Rocky was calling daily now. Sometimes six times a day…….he was making some big changes in his life and with each one he wanted to talk about it with me. I felt like a teen-ager with all the calls from a special beau. He drove over on one of my days off later in the month to show me the new van he bought. He was very proud of it and he knew I had been talking about going to Mountain Home, AR. to look through some flea markets so he suggested we go for a drive and try out his van. We ended up at Mountain Home, had a nice lunch and then checked out some Antique stores.

The next day was Becky’s birthday so we took her back to Mountain Home to all the places we had been……we had a nice day and we bought some things….then stopped at a favorite Chinese restaurant of ours for supper on the way home.

On March 30th Rocky came back and brought more stuff for me to clean and sell. After he unloaded it we drove up the road to Cabool where we first met, up on Bulldog Hill and looked around the school grounds. Of course a lot of it has changed and is very new but the old buildings are still there and with any imagination at all we could visualize how “it used to be.” Memories came flooding back like yesterday. We drove around town, laughing about things that happened here and there……recalling those fun school days……and then drove out to his family farm. His parents actually left Cabool sometime around 1952 (Rocky couldn’t remember for sure)…..it made us both sad to see it. Nothing stays the same except in our minds and hearts.

We drove by the old farm at Tyrone where mom and dad bought their little piece of heaven in 1945.…….we each were touching base with our roots and the path that brought us together so long ago. When Rocky brought me home, he asked me to marry him and I said I would…….and so, after all these years, we had come full circle……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


A look back at December 2000. You have heard me mention Don Rockenbach over the past years, since our 40th high school reunion. Those of you who have come to know me are aware of my last name and have been waiting for the explanation. Don or (Rocky) would call from time to time after we discovered each other at the reunion……..at that time we had not seen each other or knew anyone who had information about one another.

Over the years he would come to mind…..and I would wonder where he was, I knew he was married but didn’t know if he had children….and I would hope that he was happy. I had always loved his family. I had done some typing for his mother at times….she was an attractive lady who drew you in immediately with her dancing eyes. She was born in Finland and had the Nordic look that I was used to with my Danish ancestry. I only knew his dad by sight…he was a hard working man and ran a dairy that was years ahead of the times around Cabool. Rocky’s older sister, Marie, and brother, Richard, were mostly at college during the time I knew the family. Both went on to have very interesting and impressive careers.

Rocky and I were in high school in Cabool our junior and senior years. He actually was in school a few months before the end of the sophomore year. We were oblivious to each other until we were seniors…….sometime during the last semester. I was his prom date and we were double dating with my best friend and a friend of his. She and I were the only two girls at the dance sporting an orchid corsage. In 1949 there weren’t orchids to be found in a small town florist shop so the boys managed to get two from Springfield for the occasion…..an 85-mile trip back then before the highway improvements. You might say we were impressed.

High school romances are sometimes brief but there was a strong connection that lasted for each of us. The years went by….I was married 20-years to the children’s father before we divorced and I later married Warren (Bear) Rosenbaum. My life with George and Bear is cataloged in the archives on my site. December 2000 I was widowed almost three years when I received a startling phone call mid-month. It was Rocky. When I heard his voice I wasn’t surprised as he had called on and off over the years after we found each other at that 40th reunion (1989).

After we said hello to each other, his first words were….. “Mary died.” It took a moment to register……..and then…. “What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. He repeated, “Mary died”…….when it began to register I flooded him with questions….. “well, how? how did it happen?…. when?” Mary had died suddenly in the night. He didn’t hear anything and she hadn’t been distressed. She died quietly while they slept. He was very emotional, of course, and I was just dumb-founded. This was about 10 days after she died and he was trying to come to grips with it. Mary had a long history of medical problems and her heart just gave up.

I attempted to console him since I had been through the loss of a mate and when we finished our conversation, I called our class treasurer to send a Christmas arrangement and to notify our classmates about Mary. Christmas was very close and other than sending a card I had no further contact with him until the evening of February 13th……..he surprised me with another call. He said he found something that made him think of me and on an impulse had mailed it to me…..he didn’t want to seem over-presumptuous so decided to call and tell me to be looking for it.

We visited for some time and then said goodbye. The next day the package came….it was Valentine’s Day and when I opened the box it was a porcelain pendant with For-Get-Me-Not’s painted on it. It was very Victorian and pretty and he had asked me to call when it came. I did call and a voice I didn’t recognize answered. “Is Rocky there?” I asked…..and the voice said, “Well, yes, but which one do you want to talk to?” It was Rocky’s son Michael so we introduced ourselves and he called his dad to the phone.

………from that moment on, romance was in the air. It all started on Valentine’s Day 2001 and now you know…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


While the networks were in a hubbub about who was going to be president, I was up to my eyeballs in work. I was working every day at the Antique Barn and trying to get the leaves up for the year. Time was flying by but not fast enough to get rid of all the anger and insinuations thrown back and forth by the media about the presidential race. If Americans are tired of anything, it is the way campaigns are fought and won…….and now, we have to listen to all this for weeks after the supposed election results. Frankly, I didn’t care WHO won……just get it over with.

Jonathan was our only diner at our Thanksgiving table this year. His Becky was not doing well and didn’t feel up to coming. Becky, Jonathan and I ate together and then drove out to Becky’s grandmother’s farm to see her and her family. They have a lovely view from their living room which extends down a long slope where cattle grazed, boxed in by timber. As long as I have lived in the Ozark hills it’s raw beauty still affects me as it did the first time I saw it. One of my long love affairs.

We could tell Becky W. didn’t feel well, she was looking even more frail than her small frame normally was. She made every effort to appear her usual self…..and never one complaint from her. We all avoided any reference to her condition. It was easy to look at her parents and grandmother and see their shared concern. Becky was content as long as Jonathan was with her…….he stayed but my Becky and I came on home. We were not only sad about Becky but we could see the toll it was taking on Jonathan and her family…..Becky had been fighting this for a long time.

The month ended on what would have been Bear’s 76th birthday. I thought of him all day….I was working and Becky and I had spent several days putting in our third booth at the Antique Barn. We had a double booth downstairs, a large booth upstairs and two showcases in the entryway. Business was flourishing.

December was fairly normal with average weather until mid-month when we got a 12” snow. It was beautiful and we only get about one deep snow a year so we always enjoy the scenery…..we were hoping it would be a white Christmas. The snow works a hardship on the birds so I scooped an area off and put excess feed out….the heaters in the two bird baths keep them supplied with the necessity of water. When I wasn’t working at the Barn I was busy caring for the birds.

George came on the 23rd to spend Christmas with us. His birthday is the 22nd so after we ate his favorite supper…..pizza and cherry cobbler, he opened his birthday gifts. We had a nice evening, just the three of us. On Christmas day we had our neighbor’s, the Hockings, and Jonathan join us for a traditional ham dinner, so with Becky, George and myself, we had a full table. Later, we opened our gifts and Santa was very good to us all.

My Becky had been feeling bad for several days and was on sulfa to get over her illness. The day after Christmas she had sores in her mouth and a swollen face…she slept quite a bit so we hoped it would improve her condition. By the next day it was worse and she was miserable. I took her down to the doctor at the Clinic and he said she was having a reaction to the sulfa……so I could relate to her misery, having had bad reactions to the drug earlier. George left for home around lunchtime and Becky slept most of the afternoon.

I closed the year 2000 out with these comments taken from my journal on New Year’s Eve……..

This year has been good to me. I’m feeling productive again and my Fibromyalgia has been manageable. Financially I am not a wealthy woman but the Lord continues to give me enough to share with others. I am rich in a loving family and good friends. The song, “Nearer My God to Thee” is one that probably sums up my spiritual life. I feel closer to God than I ever have, the inevitability of death is ever closer but youthful fears have given way to great expectations of seeing my invisible God face to face along with dear friends and loved ones, gone before me. Until then I hope to live each day fully and leave a few flowers along the paths I have traveled……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Rocky power lifting
Click the photo to see more pictures

Yesterday, December 10th, was the Power Lifting Meet at our gym. Rocky began training a few weeks before the first Meet, this past summer. He did well and received some awards but thought he could do better. The Meet yesterday was to prove to himself that he could beat his own record.

With the support of his daughter Holly and husband Eddie, Rocky’s son Michael and Becky and I he did just that. He broke some State and Regional Records but the one he is proudest of is breaking his own personal best.

At 74-years of age I think he deserved the applause he received from all the “kids” that he trains with. They have adopted him as Mascot of the Power Lifting Team…….he is a constant inspiration of what can happen if you just get off the couch.

I’m emailing pictures to John who will put a link on my blog so you can check it out.

Bench results……135, 155, 185, 200 pounds.

Dead lift results…..215, 2421/2, 255, 270 pounds.

The next meet is in Rolla in March 2006.….his family will travel back to see “dad” perform and to cheer him on.

Until tomorrow,
Especially Proud Esther (AKA) Essentially Esther

This just in from his coach: Rocky is a Masters Lifter that set a new American and World Record in the Deadlift of 270 lbs. and a State Record in Bench Press of 200 lbs.

Friday, December 09, 2005


September was busy as Becky and I were working a lot at the Antique Barn. By the time she worked her “day” job with the Patrol and worked at the Barn she met herself coming and going. I spent my “off” time in the yard getting things prepared for winter and other than that the month slid by without any hits, runs or errors. Becky and I took turns with fixing the evening meal….whoever was here at the appointed time did KP and it worked out great.

As October rolled around, the debates between Gore and Bush intensified and we were bombarded with political agendas from every side. I don’t know why they do this because it seems to me we voters have our minds made up the minute each party endorses their runner. It’s just a lot of hoopla and expense that could be used for a better cause. Usually the people we would like to see run never get to and so we are left in a political quagmire. October was a true battleground for the Presidency.

Becky and I went to see the Hockings quite a bit in the evenings as they never had company and we enjoyed them and Davy. Therefore we didn’t wear our welcome out and they were happy to have us come. Davy was getting so cute and his personality was developing more from one week to the next. I planned a birthday dinner for Patty but I was called into work….they were overrun with business and I couldn’t say no. Becky ended up fixing the meal for the Hockings, the Adams family and me……..it was a nice evening for us all.

The morning of the 18th I woke up to the news that our Governor was killed in a plane crash and his son was at the controls……it was anticipated that they had mechanical problems. They were enroute home from campaigning and all on board were killed. After a huge vacuum and scramble to replace him in the election, his wife agreed to run on his ticket and there was all kinds of political hub-bub over the whole affair. Politics makes strange bed fellows they say and she was gaining support around the State.

The rest of the month was spent working. The business kept increasing at the Barn so that it took three of us to keep up…..my part-time job became pretty much full-time. I realized I was going to have to make a decision about working so much but it’s hard to quit so much fun. I was very happy in the employment and I was learning a lot about the antique business…..however, my old body began to send signals to slow down. When you don’t sit down for 9-hours straight every day, plus all of the wrapping and rushing to shorten the lines at the register those “brain waves” become louder. I had been doing this some time now and it was time to slow down.

I only know one guy who was actually smart about his retirement. My cousin, Dale. When he retired…….he made good on just doing what he “wanted” to do. “I’ve got to, I should, I have to, I ought to”……..all went out the window and he did exactly as he wanted. He still tries to talk sense to me but his influence wears off between emails and phone conversations and I find myself back in the saddle. I guess I’ve always been flattered that anyone wanted me to work for them enough to ask me….there were only about 2 jobs I ever had where I asked “them” for the job. Besides the flattery, the extra money was nice but I was looking for “something” to make my mind up about working…..or not.

Yes….you’re ahead of my story….you know I found the answer, but not quite yet.

Until Monday,
Essentiall Esther

Thursday, December 08, 2005


July came in on a Saturday and the crew from the Basketball Camp came wheeling in around suppertime again and I was ready for them. I had the 11-pizza crusts made the day before with toppings galore. Becky took orders and each pizza was made to order. I doubt Pizza Hut could have done any better than Becky and me. The guys were all happy to see pizza and we adults had a spirited evening around the kitchen table while the guys piled up in the living room to watch TV and eat.

We followed the same sleeping pattern of their first visit…..Mr. Roy and son Roy went to a motel which was down the road and would be on the way home. John and his crew was to hook up with them early the next morning so they could travel together. They left early and Becky and I sat down to have a hot cup of coffee and some breakfast. Suddenly the house seemed very empty. We pitched everything in the dishwasher and decided to go shopping…..a girls answer to everything. The Golden Girls always settled for cheesecake around their kitchen table while they poured their hearts out……..why do that when you can shop?

On the 8th George called to tell me a good friend of his, Nikki, was killed in an auto accident. Nikki was an older woman who worked at the apartment complex where George lived….she worked part-time cleaning the club house and pool area back then. She had 10 children and just sort of included George in with the rest of them. He went to family birthdays, gatherings of all kinds and he and Nikki ate on Sunday mornings at a First Watch restaurant together. They had a “meet and eat” time to exchange news and visit after she didn’t work there anymore and he didn’t live there anymore.

Nikki eventually had a job at Sam’s Club passing out samples of different foods. Every year she made all sorts of baked goods for her family at Christmastime, and a box for George. The day she was killed she was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when she was struck by another car and her jugular vein was severed. She died before they could get her to the hospital. George was invited to sit with the family at the funeral and I’m sure Nikki would have liked that. I liked Nikki….she wasn’t a whiner and certainly had worked hard in her life.

I was getting ready for a cousin of Bear’s to visit the next day. I got a phone call from him a day early….they were in town and wanted to know how to get to our house. I was in panic. I like to prepare food ahead for company and didn’t have a thing I could offer them lunch with…..it was noon and they hadn’t eaten. I loaded them up and took them to lunch at a local restaurant. When Becky came I took them all to a cafeteria in West Plains for supper as we continued our visit.

George Rosenbaum and his wife were Morman so didn’t drink any caffeine and had several other restrictions in their eating habits. He was deeply into genealogy and wanted information as to my former husband, his family…all of mine and so on. I can’t imagine anyone being so involved in genealogy….I have often stated that I’m leaving a “story” of our family as I heard and saw them growing up. That holds merit for me…..names and dates (only) do not. They left early the next morning and I was sorry Bear was no longer here as I was sure he would have enjoyed meeting his cousin. They lived in Washington State.

Later in the month, two other cousins of Bears, Helen and Alta, stopped in on their way home from Branson. The next several days we shopped and enjoyed scenery around our area and they left on a Friday morning, intending to stop at Carthage, MO. to see the Precious Moments Chapel. It is a beautiful area that Sam Butcher is continuously building (to give back to the public) for the love and support given his art over the years. I bought a first piece that ever came out in a figurine and still have it.

That afternoon when Becky came from work we loaded the car and drove to the Lake of the Ozarks to visit the Bryant’s again. Besides the good visit we always went to the Outlet Malls (which are beautifully designed) to shop. We went to church with them on Sunday and came home after lunch. We always enjoyed our visits to their home.

I had several groups of company the rest of the month and before I knew it, August was here. July had been busy but August passed with little fanfare. It was miserably hot and dry…..the worst month of the year for Missouri. I spent a lot of time watering my flowers and trying to keep things alive until the rains began again in September.

As I write about these years of my life I see a pattern of living which evolves around the seasons…..and events….and people who have passed my way…. Some I only saw once and others, more often. John once asked in his blog….“if you only had two hours to live, what would you do?” I knew at once! I would call everyone I could think of who has impacted my life and let them know how much I loved them. Love is the most powerful and uplifting device that God ever invented….and he gave it all to us……and for us.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


A co-worker of mine had been coming for some time to weed-eat the edges where I couldn’t mow and cleaned our back wooded area as well. It was a mammoth job but he volunteered and stayed with it. When I was working on his crew I quite often took baked things to share and always a pineapple-upside-down cake for his birthday. He told me once it was what his mother always made him. Corky was a good guy….he had a wild sense of humor and I always enjoyed his visits. He was the age George Jr. was…….a little older. He was born the year I graduated from high school so I always told him I could remember how old he was.

He was well acquainted with Jonathan since his niece, Becky, was engaged to him. So I invited them, the neighbors and Becky for a party in his honor. His mother died some years before and his father had remarried……he never had anyone make a fuss over him for any of the holidays, birthday included. Corky had been here to eat quite often after I retired….he wouldn’t take money for what he did so the best way I could show my gratitude was to invite him for a meal.

He loved my Mexican fare so that was what I had most of the time and especially on his birthday. We ate on the deck and enjoyed each other’s company…..and so the first week of June was already gone. I had been helping Becky fill cracks in her paneling so she could wallpaper and we had a good system. I’ve shrunk in my old age and so I traveled along on the floor while Becky did the top. We made it around the area she wanted to paper in no time. Becky decided to have Karen and Debbie do her papering as I had done and they did a beautiful job. Becky had taken the week off for her remodeling project and was well pleased with it all.

June is always a good month for the clematis and roses. They bloom profusely and cover the fence….I take pictures every year to remember how beautiful they were when the snow is falling in January. It is never too early to begin thinking about Spring again……..that reminds me of our pastor once where we went to church in Overland Park, Kansas. He was telling about looking forward to the future with hope as Christians and told the story about a farmer whose land was flooded and he was rescued by boat. He went on to say as the farmer was being taken to safety he put his hand in his pocket and touched the seed he would plant in the Spring…..the moral of the story was that no matter how bad things are right now, they WILL be better for the person who is secure in his future. I’ve always carried that story with me…..and I have lived enough years to bear it out.

On the 23rd, John and Barb, LJ, three of his friends and another parent arrived about supper time to stay over and then travel on to Lawrence, KS. once more for Basketball Camp. I always enjoyed having them…what is more fun than feeding a bunch of hungry boys? I was ready for them, I had an array of Mexican dishes, Chocolate Chip cookies and pies made. Three of the boys stayed at Becky’s, John and Barb stayed with me and Mr. Roy and young Roy stayed at a motel.

I was up early to fix breakfast while everyone congregated again…….I made biscuits and Becky made sausage gravy……..they pretty well leveled the field before they left. They wanted to stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield (on their way) as it is a Mecca for men and boys……..I’ll have to say it is a huge and interesting place…the home store of that chain of sporting equipment….stuffed animals of every kind and displays to equal any museum. It is visited by President’s and the famous routinely.

On the 28th a high school friend called to tell me one of our classmates died of cancer a few days prior. We knew at our 50th reunion that she was battling the disease and she gave it a tough fight before it took her life. Betty was always so full of laughter and activity….I’ll always remember her that way.

On the last day of June I baked two kinds of cookies, a chocolate cake and 11-crusts for pizzas for the guys and Barb who were scheduled to come back through the next day. I wanted to have most of it done so we could visit as much as possible when they arrived. The day marked my third year of retirement and the Captain’s secretary was retiring this same day. In a few short years most of the good people I had worked with were retired and gone from the scene with new folks coming on……..and that’s what the seed in the pocket is all about………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

APRIL AND MAY....2000 

Bear’s brother and wife came to visit a few days as they were traveling through the area. They had been to Florida and were driving back to Walla Walla. We had a good visit although it was short in time……..later on our friends from the Lake of the Ozarks came to visit over a long weekend.

The grass was already growing enough that I had to mow a few times and the wall-papering came to a halt since the rest of the paper hadn’t arrived yet. The girls were finished with everything they could do until the order came.

LJ’s birthday was the 19th and he was 15 on that day. I never got to be much of a grandmother to LJ……they have always lived so far away that it was impossible to have a personal relationship with him and I know I missed a lot. He was and is very talented in sports and art. He is bound to have an interesting life because his interests are wide and deep. Anyone who creates and dreams big will reap more happiness than they can contain. Life is a bouquet of possibilities. The one thing I know always pleases him is a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies and that’s what I made and sent that year with his gift.

With all of the decorating I had done, Becky had projects of her own going on. She had papered and painted by herself…..in fact, she started the whole thing. When I saw her change for the better…..was when I contracted mine to be done. I enjoy painting but not papering and certainly not the wall sized bookcase in the living room or the woodwork which I was changing to white. The effect it had was worth every penny to have someone else do it.

Our neighbors were planning to move to St. Louis for better work and opportunity and Becky and I were just sick about it. Dave no longer had the health to be a police officer and had taken early retirement. We had grown to love them all and knew we would miss them terribly. The baby was about 2-months old and getting so cute. I asked some of the other neighbors a few days later to join us for a farewell dinner and we did the best we could to give them a good send off…..even though we hated to see them go. It was the Saturday evening before Mother’s Day in May.

The next day I was walking around the yard looking at my flowers when the neighbors walked over to the fence to tell me they decided not to move to St. Louis after all. I’m sure my mouth dropped open and before I could say anything……they told me after they went home from the party they decided the important things in life were right here with people who loved them…..not in a city where it wouldn’t be good for Davy to grow up. I was so happy I teared all up and hugged both of them at once. Needless to say, when Becky walked down to join us she had the same reaction I did. It was wonderful news and they still live next door. Davy is now five years old. I did however, tell them that was a tacky way to get a nice meal and then back out on leaving…….we had a good laugh over it.

Don Rockenbach, an old classmate of mine called on May 15th to see how I was doing. It was always a nice surprise when he called. He and his wife lived over on the other side of the State and enjoyed having animals of all kinds on their farm. They raised small breeds of dogs and sold to other breeders……..Don was always dragging something home with him that he found on the road. He rescued everything from ducks to possums and they traveled in his truck with him until they arrived back at the farm. A person who loves animals as much as he does is very special.

Unknown to me, Becky had planned a surprise party for my birthday and we had taken flowers to the cemetery for Memorial Day…..when we came home, George was walking Murphy on our road. He had just arrived as part of my surprise. Shortly after, one of the guys I used to work with arrived with his wife; Corky, another co-worker, the neighbors from next door and Jonathan. It was a perfect day for eating on the deck and that’s just what we did.

Becky had ordered food from the Deli and it was wonderful along with a special birthday cake. I am easy to fool…..I never expect anything going on and a surprise works great with me…..everyone always enjoys my reactions. It was my 68th this year and I certainly enjoyed the party. John’s and Jennifer called to wish me a happy year.

George had to leave the following Monday, which was Memorial Day, and Becky and I ate leftovers for several days…..all in all, it had been a very good month. Babies born in May are blessed to arrive with the promise of summer ahead and the freshness of Spring in their souls…….life is ever new for a May baby.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, December 05, 2005


I welcomed March with another colonoscopy….not my idea of fun but my doctor takes my health very seriously. I had been having the same problems that necessitated the first one so after the glorious evening “before” Becky called to get me up at 4:15 a.m. for our drive to Springfield. We were to check in to the Outpatient Clinic at Cox South by 6:00 a.m. There was already a group of early risers with family in attendance when we arrived…..everyone with a grim look on their face. A little adventure like this affects the immediate people around the patient as they have to listen to the endless complaints until the ordeal is over.

On the day of the event, I am always more in need of coffee and breakfast than I am an 80-mile drive to a hospital….I’ve been spoiled over the years with good health. I’m a better care-giver than I am a patient…..the “active role” in a procedure is not something I’m used to, obviously. Becky, who has been a patient of many afflictions over the years, has little sympathy for my denial and then complaints about the inconvenience of it all.

I had a 3-4 inch problem area and Dr. Miller said he would call as soon as he received the biopsies, which he did, and said all was clear. I had oral antibiotics to take for a while and the episode would then be over. A few days later our neighbor’s were the proud parents of a baby boy, little Davy. Becky and I took a meal to them when they came home....Davy didn’t have any grandparents as they had all passed away so Becky and I became aunt Becky and gramma Esther. To this day we enjoy him and his parents, as family.

I launched forth on a big make-over on the house. I contacted a woman in town who did papering and painting…….then Becky and I went to the wallpaper store and poured over the books. There are so many more choices now that it’s very hard to make a decision……wallpaper and the trim can make a house take on a new personality. Of course, the trick is to choose something that will compliment the furniture you can’t afford to replace……that makes the choices pare down a bit.

The next couple of months I was living in a total mess. Karen and her sister-in-laws were painting ceilings, woodwork, doors and the bookcase in the living room. Then they began papering. By the time they finished I was very satisfied with it all……and took my time putting everything back in order. I cleaned as I went and eliminated the need for the usual Spring cleaning ritual.

Everything was going well and then I began feeling really sick. The symptoms returned that I’d had the colonoscopy for, so I called for an appointment with Dr. Miller to check me out. He suspected I was having reactions to Asacol which surprised him as it rarely causes any adverse effects. I had flu-like symptoms and felt weak, sick and drained. I remained on the medicine since it seemed unlikely that was my problem until I woke one morning with further bleeding, vomiting and high fever. I called Dr. Miller who told me to quit taking the medication immediately. He said I was definitely having an allergic reaction….one of the few.

It seems I’m allergic to any medication. After a few days of rest my strength returned and I never had any more trouble. When I asked Dr. Miller if I had caused it by not eating correctly or too much stress he assured me that was not the case. He said colitis just happens for no reason and it wasn’t because of any neglect. That made me feel better about it all and was the last time I had a colon problem.

I was happy to bid March farewell. It had been a busy month with all the medical appointments, the painting and papering and the March birthdays. I was ready for a change to the better……and life being what it is….things got better!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, December 02, 2005


The month of January was warmer than normal but we did have snow towards the end of the month. The flu epidemic was in full swing…schools were let out and people were urged to stay away from crowds. Becky and I obliged and stayed in. It was hard learning to write 2000.…I kept writing 19 before I could catch myself. When I was a young girl in school I remember subtracting my birth year from the century change and I thought….. “ I’ll be 67 when that happens…I’ll be a very old woman then.” Well, here I was……and wondering where all those years went.

I had some friends in for dinner occasionally. January is a long month and once Christmas is behind us, it’s nice to relax with guests. When January is gone we begin looking for better weather conditions and thankful February is a short month.

Becky went to Kansas City to help her father celebrate his 75th birthday Open House the last weekend in the month. When she came home we watched the Super Bowl and it was an exciting game. Our St. Louis Rams were playing the Tennessee Titans and the decision wasn’t made until the last second. Warner called the play and there was a huge pileup at the goal line……a Ram managed to punch it across the goal line at arms length. By that time Becky and I were out of our chairs helping him get it over. It had been a storybook year for the Rams with a miracle ending…..a perfect finish.

I made a notation on February 3rd that OPEC had raised the price of crude oil….we were paying $1.15.9 per gallon and it had jumped to $1.21.9 overnight. We were stunned at the price hike and OPEC was withholding oil to keep the price up. Now, in looking back, it would be nice to have those prices again.

February was uneventful, but sometimes that’s good. I kept myself busy with cleaning and crocheting, writing letters, reading and the like. Some folks don’t like being alone but I am never bored. I suppose after retirement most people find things to fill their time but I can always do that right where I’m at. Contentment is a word that graces solitude if you just let it settle on you…and for me…that is a good thing……….

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I don’t think I have ever been “in sync” with the current date since I started writing our family history but today is December 1st and I am writing from the same date in 1999. It seems strange but they say “truth is stranger than fiction” and that is certainly the case. Our weather is also synchronized with the date……I have written that it was cold and sunny bright…..exactly as it is today. So come along and we’ll walk along the month of December 1999.

The first few days I was busy getting family packages in the mail for Christmas and then turned my attention to a birthday dinner for Jonathan’s fiance, Becky. We have three John’s in the family and will have two Becky’s after their marriage. Becky was routinely traveling to St. Louis for cancer treatment resulting in the loss of her right leg….and then later, it was discovered in her lungs. Becky graduated high-school this past May and was employed. We were having an early Christmas gift exchange because my Becky and I were planning to be with George for Christmas.

By the time they arrived for the noon meal, I had everything ready and we enjoyed it until Becky W. became sick in her stomach and they left early. Becky was deciding whether or not to have surgery on her lungs and it was a tough call for her. We were afraid she was waiting too long to make her decision but knowing she was the one it most affected, we kept our silence. She and Jonathan were going through a tough time with her cancer and all we could do was “be there” for them.

On the same day, Jennifer had gone to New York City to apply for a job with a huge corporation as Senior Buyer for their new project. After the interview she was hired with a hefty salary and a starting date. She was on her way to bigger and better things after starting out as a Kelly Girl at her last employment. She was a true example of someone making the most of their opportunities. A college grad with two degrees but working in an entirely different field than she prepared for. Of course we were very proud and happy for her.

The first half of the month Becky and I enjoyed having people in to visit, enjoy the decorations and eat some goodies. It is always such a warm and friendly time to entertain and offer hospitality….we attended some of their invitations as well. I made cookies and fruit cakes to give to my old Driver’s Examiner crews and it was wonderful to see the guys and hear about their families. They had been a large part of my life for many years.

I was busy crocheting snowmen to give to the family and our friends along with their gifts. I enjoy making part of the gift as a personal touch from me…..and I appreciate the time and effort it takes when I receive one. I’m happy to see people taking more interest in crafts and handwork than in past years when “home made gifts” were thought…..poor and tacky. I have treasures from family members who are no longer with us and they continue to emulate the love with which they were made and given.

On George’s birthday, December 22nd, we loaded the van, made the usual stops to take the pets to boarding, stop at the bank and so on. Finally we were on the road to Shawnee and arrived safely and full of holiday spirit. We drove to the airport to pick Jennifer up who was flying in from CT. for the Christmas festivities. Her plane was on time and once back to George’s we unloaded everything and piled into George’s small home.

With three women and their luggage, plus all the Christmas gift paraphernalia the room shrank considerably. His dog, Murphy, looked at all of us like we landed from Mars. Once unloaded we headed for our favorite Pizza Shop for an evening with other friends and George. It was wild and spirited with everyone talking at once……..my kind of a gathering.

The day after Christmas we took Jen to the airport for her return flight and the next day Becky and I retraced our steps back home. Rain and snow showers followed us all the way but the roads were no problem. The big thing that loomed in the immediate future was all the fuss over Y2K. Everyone thought the computers would go nuts and chaos would rein worldwide.

This was one New Year’s I actually stayed up. Becky and I watched the clock tick down in Time’s Square where the throngs waited for the magic hour…..finally the ball came down……the clock changed…….and NOTHING happened. After months of hoopla about the whole thing it was as if the world held it’s breath for a moment....and then let out a big, long, sigh…..the year 2000 slipped into place and the world was joined together for one moment in time.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther