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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It’s funny what holidays do to your thinking. Memorial Day has been an important day as long as I can remember. My grandmother Stricklett grew peonies for sale when I was a little girl. People came from all over town to pick their color from the rows upon rows of her flowers. Grandma was a very good business woman out of necessity since she was widowed with children still at home.

When I was young, people took fresh flowers to the cemetery for all occasions, not just Memorial Day. I remember a respectful tone when grandma and my aunts would talk about taking flowers to the gravesites. They would decide which flowers to put on them, knowing the favorite flowers of each person. The best were picked and put in jars of water to keep them fresh as long as possible. Birthdays, anniversaries and Memorial Day were times to make the trek to the cemetery.

They would pull whatever stray grass was around the gravestones and then set the flowers just so. Having done that, they would stand and look at each place, talking about times gone by and things about the relative that came to mind. It was the way they handled the blooms and arranged them that impressed me more than the things they said. It was with obvious love and devotion that ruled their actions.

Here at home there were parades with flags and cemeteries draped in flags. Times have changed since I was a girl. I have buried a husband who was a Veteran, a brother, and lost a dear uncle……all had served on foreign soil. As I go to the cemetery now I place flowers on the graves of my mother, father, brother, late husband and an uncle. We came from Nebraska years ago so our other family is buried there.

I have seen many changes in the years since I first became aware of the true meaning of Memorial Day. The flowers are no longer real but people don’t change that much. Most of us are grateful for the lives we honor….known and unknown. Those flags at the graves were men…….and boys who became men when their country called them to arms. They gave….and some gave all.

Every day I live I am grateful for their sacrifice and the freedom I enjoy. If I could, I would like to let them know they didn’t die in vain. There are a lot of us who aren’t worthy of their sacrifice and I’m sorry for that….the only thing I can do is to be sure I don’t dishonor their gift. They have a loving God who holds them in His arms now and until that day when we will see them again…………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


We had such a wonderful birthday and Memorial Day I am still trying to realize it’s time to get back to work. I sort of slid for the three day weekend and enjoyed every minute. Thanks for all the kind words, cards and gifts….they were appreciated.

Life has a funny way of running in cycles. I was thinking the other day why older folks seem to get a grip on “some” things and let a lot of other things “go.” When you’re little, you do what your parents want, when you date and marry, you do everything you think your sweetheart wants, then children……and what they want….pets….family….PTA, Cubs, Scouts, Bluebirds, Camp Fire Girls, piano lessons, drum lessons, Bible School……the list goes on and on. If you’re a working mom you have the job thrown in and most of us have been there and done that.

Eventually, the nest is empty, but the family is growing larger outside your perimeter. Son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and yes, now it’s great grandchildren. If you’ve had a divorce and/or lost a mate to terminal illness, there are those family members you still keep in touch with……and if you’ve married again, as I have, there is still a third family to become part of.

When older folks sit down and size up where they’ve been and the number of years they may or may not have left, they decide it’s time to prioritize. I do hope you’ve been the person you can respect in your golden years. To reach old age without making mistakes is impossible but to be less than you expect of yourself is a real tragedy.

Honesty, common courtesy, a helping hand, loyalty, friendship….these are the things that put expression to your face and make a satisfied person. I feel sorry for people who are unhappy with the lines on their faces and who turn to plastic surgery. I still want to see “me” when I look in the mirror, not some mannequin. I love the lines on old faces. I love the bent stature of old people. It tells a story far better than words about the person and the hard work they've done.

Age is not to be avoided but celebrated. I am blessed to have reached 74 and I thank God for each day. I hope the ones I have left will be opportunities to learn more and to understand more. I’ve always said life is too serious to be taken seriously so keep a good bit of humor in your pocket and smile at everyone you meet. It kinda makes them want to smile too…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, May 26, 2006


Rocky and I want to wish you all a happy Memorial Day weekend. George comes tomorrow and Becky is planning a cook-out for Sunday. That will be fun with Jonathan, Aimee, Brady and our good neighbors over the fence from us.

I will be off the site until next Tuesday when things go back to normal. Rocky doesn’t see anyone now or take more chemo until a week from Wednesday so he’ll get a little break. Meanwhile we’re juicing and popping pills to keep him full of nutrition and energy.

We are so thankful for our family, blogging friends who seem like family, and for all the prayers to the right One who can make a difference in Rocky’s outcome. We are blessed and want you to know YOU are appreciated.

Happy Holiday!!
Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Spirits have been high around our place since our good news yesterday…….it is really great to be so sure of something and then see it WORK. I am not one to die easily on any project and Mr. Rocky is very much a project I’m on. The only thing I take credit for is the counting and dispensing of what comes to lots of pills six times a day. I have a plan that’s working and I’m working my plan.

I had to laugh at doctor Morgan yesterday when he sent the news by one of the nurses about Rocky‘s good CEA report. I noticed in the material on Avastin (which Rocky was given for the first time yesterday) it said if any over-the-counter drugs, vitamins or herbs were taken the doctor should be made aware of it. I told the nurse she’d better mention to him about all the vitamins, minerals, herbs etc;etc; that Rocky is taking. She came back with a grin and his reply, “He said if you could swallow all those pills a day, more power to you.”

Since Dr. Wiehe and Dr. Morgan are good friends, I imagined a conversation between the two men that went like this………. “Hey, Chuck, I got another one of your patients on Integrated Medicine……name of Rockenbach.” “Yah, the poor devil……he’s taking all those pills like it’s going to make a difference. You know the chemo and Avastin are doing the heavy work in this…. how anyone can take that many pills is beyond me. Bob, why don’t you just admit I cured you with chemo? How much money are you making off of these poor people?”…….

“Now Chuck….look who’s talking about making money off of people……how much are YOU making on chemo and all your chemicals?” Both men smile and turn back to their fishing……..a much needed diversion after a week of patients who may or not make it…… As far as I’m concerned, whatever doctor's earn is well worth their price because we have the utmost faith in them……right up there under God.

Doctor’s are like preacher’s. People love them, then fall out of love with them. As long as things go along smoothly they are pretty well liked……then hated when they can’t perform the miracle. I know professional people are like us. They go into what they do because there is a desire on some level to render service and make a living at it. Even people who make a lot of money at their chosen fields have problems, good days and bad, and certainly can’t save everyone. They deal with incompetent co-workers and patients who complain and never pay. Still, they go to work each day and try to do their best.

I told Dr. Morgan yesterday (before the good news) that if anyone could pull Rocky through, I knew it would be him, because we believed in him. I think he was embarrassed at my compliment, but he knew it was genuine and I swear, he walked a little taller the rest of the day. God bless him and all the others who go to battle for us…not because they took an oath but because they believe they can save some of us……..

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Good News!!! We just came from a 9-hour session undergoing lab, then a visit with Dr. Morgan and the chemo. Dr. Morgan recommended the addition of the Avastin which attacks the blood vessels that feed the tumors on the liver. We knew if he proceeded it would be a good sign since he told us early on he would do so only if he felt it would help.

While Rocky was getting the chemo preparations a nurse came in with the news just received from the lab that Rocky’s CEA count was great.

First CEA on 04-26-06 was 148.7
Today it was 43.0

As you can see, it’s quite a drop. In simple terms the nurse said……. “It means the treatment is working and the tumors are shrinking”…….when I questioned her further she repeated her first statement. I could tell she was pleased with it and we were both greatly encouraged.

We’re home getting our 8 critters taken care of and it’s time to get some supper. You can bet we will continue our Integrated Medicine and diet which I am positive is partly the reason we got the good results. I may be silly but good nutrition can’t hurt anyone……cancer or no. Will talk more with you tomorrow. We’re tired after a long, long day.

Color us both with a SMILE!!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Rocky Rocks!!!! We have been on the “diet” and he has been on the dietary supplements, plus, plus, plus now about 5 days. His many pills with his meals and “betweens” are making a difference in how he feels……..and who knows how much better it will make his attack on the cancer?

He has more energy than I’ve seen in him since we were married 5 years ago. It used to be that any time he sat in a chair…….his chin would hit his chest and he would be asleep. Not just a little bit……a bunch!! He could sleep on command in any position.

I asked him yesterday if he could feel any difference yet and he said, “Oh yah!!! I feel a LOT better now. I don’t feel like I want to go to sleep every time I sit down.” For him, that was huge!! I’m sure the cancer had been draining his strength for some time. His color is good and he’s losing the weight that he didn’t need to be carrying around……he’s percolating pretty good.

I am anxious to see how the lab results come out tomorrow when we go for his third chemo treatment. We do labs first, then visit with the doctor and find out how his grade card is stacking up. So far the labs have been normal which is OK when you have cancer I should think……however, I’m hoping for a better than OK tomorrow since we’ve been doing the dance with Dr.Wiehe’s Alternative Meds…….if Rocky’s feeling so much better, surely the labs will indicate that. However, I realize I’m always expecting big changes in a short time…….I’m overly optimistic and can’t seem to break things down to realistic time frames. Believe me!! I’m in a hurry to get this man of mine over this hurdle.

I hope you're dancing with someone other than your doctor right now……and I’ll be back tomorrow evening to let you know where we’re at with Mr. Rocky……if you have any space left on extra prayers, we would sure appreciate them going in tomorrow. See you then………….

Essentially Esther

Monday, May 22, 2006


I’ve been out trimming my roses which is always a pleasant job. Their beauty has been written about in every language and their history is world wide. From the first explorers to just between neighbors, they have been carried and shared to new horizons. People of high status have roses named for them and collecting favorites is a very personal matter. In kings gardens, blooming from a high-rise balcony or just in the back yard, they bring so much pleasure to those who tend them. My grandmother raised them, her children raised them and most of we grandchildren raise them. Always a pleasant memory as we plant, water and cultivate one of nature’s best.

Gardeners are different from most folks and often thought a bit strange. We dig and plant and worry over each little twig until it “takes hold” and begins to show signs of growth. It takes faith to wait out the work that’s going on under ground. Often plants are jerked up and discarded by those of little experience because they appear to be dead. It isn’t what’s on top that tells the story, but what’s going on below surface.

Gardener’s are visionaries for the most part. We plant things that will go on after we’re gone. I remember my mother mentioning how pretty flowers were as we drove by houses in our small town……. “Mrs. So and So” planted those” she would say with a wistful tone. “I remember how she used to work in her garden, always out working in her flowers”……and she would stop talking, lost in her own thoughts. Now I tend my mother’s flowers that used to bloom for her.

Mom took a daily walk among her flowers to see the new buds, pinch off dead blooms and take inventory of tomorrow’s expected blossoms. “I think my wild phlox will bloom tomorrow”……it was always awaited with anticipation. Mom’s hands were so small and gentle as she worked in the dirt around her plants. She never thought of wearing gloves…… “I like to feel the dirt in my fingers,” she would say, as she worked out the unwanted rocks and sticks from her planting.

Oh that we would all plant gardens in hearts around us. A package of love, some seeds of patience….waters of understanding, sunshine of forgiveness and tender care that nothing is stepped on or cut down with careless talk. If only worldly concerns could be worked out like gardens……planted, cared for and watched over with loving anticipation. Those qualities will bring the desired blooms down the road a’ways……..we may never see them but someone else will be coming along to enjoy the view.

Gardening is easy. Be careful what you plant, tend it well and look to God for the rest. Long after you’re gone the fragrance will remain in your garden………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, May 19, 2006


Rocky went down yesterday and picked up his Alternative Medicine order. When he came back, we broke the box open and stared at the contents. There is every mineral, vitamin, natural plant or “whatever” that can be swallowed in pill form. There was even one jar of powder to take one spoonful with each meal. Rocky was thinking maybe beet juice wasn’t so bad after all…..Ha!

Some are to be taken with each meal, six in-between meals and five can be taken anytime……just so you take one a day. OK…the math adds up to twenty-eight all-together. He had seventeen pills before eating his lunch. My friend, Opal, was here for lunch today and we were amazed as he put them in his mouth all at once, then swigged down some water. I don’t know of any woman who can do that.

I gag down my vitamins 2 or 3 at a time and almost barf them back up. I have decided swallowing pills is hard to do. Don’t ask me why…..my “swallow-er” goes into lock position and I have to almost cram them down my throat with my fist. I guess it’s an “old age” thing……most of my “old” lady friends say they have the same problem. Life gets interesting anytime after seventy……..

With his three clinical meals a day, his juicing mid-morning and mid-afternoon, all of his pills…….six cats, two dogs and a yard to keep up……laundry, blogging, emails, housecleaning, shopping……….well……let me just say we aren’t ‘out and about’ causing trouble. Good thing most of us have medical problems when we retire because, believe me, it would be difficult to manage if you and hubby are both still working.

I have never doubted the outcome. I know going into full scale offense is a lot better than a poor defense. With everything we’re attempting to do, I see the end result with quality and length of life. Even if that means just one more day and one more pleasure of living it will be worth it all. Ask anyone who is terminally ill and they will tell you life is a precious gift and living it to the hilt with gratitude is the best medicine…………

“An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a row-boat and takes Tarter Sauce with him” ……………Zig Ziglar…………. (Now where’s my boat!!)

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 18, 2006


It is almost noon as I write today and I need to assure those of you who read Essentially Esther that we are not….I repeat…..NOT…living on fruit and veggie juice. Thank you for giving me some good belly laughs when I read your comments on it. It is only a small amount twice a day….fruit in the morning and veggie in the afternoon. It is the “between meal” snack, if you will, the doctors want Rocky to have.

The only reason for the juicer was so Rocky could absorb more of both without bulking him up. The cancer and the chemo both make it difficult to absorb all the good out of what he eats. Since he needs 80% of his diet in fresh fruits and vegetables, we steam some, bake some, juice some and once in a while for a treat, we stir-fry some in the purest of olive oil.

We both decided the remaining beets would be eaten cooked, with a little natural butter for a treat. My theory is this. Since Rocky doesn’t like most vegetables, if I fix some really yukky stuff…..then give him the option of having it another way…he thinks he bartered a favor. Then he eats the next offering without complaint. I’m aware it’s manipulative, but hey……I raised three kids and I know for sure this works. If it weren’t for keeping this man alive, I would NEVER stoop to bribery….(or would I?)…..huummmmmm….

I bought an excellent book on juicing and one came with the product, so I promise you won’t have to gag along with Rocky. The next try will be just plain ol’ orange juice…….after that, we’ll try some recipes. Believe me, Becky and I went goofy on juicing one winter (my life before Rocky) and I can’t look ginger root in the face at the produce department. Even I have my limits……juicing has it’s place for older folks that just can’t eat the bulk of all the fresh garden and orchard variety…..and the fresh vitamins are quickly absorbed into the body of those who need it most…..the terminally ill.

Before I sign off for today, I would like to herald what John and Becky wrote about their brother, George. The draft was about to come up with his number in the war with Viet Nam…..he decided to quit college and sign up with the Navy and take charge of his own destiny. The Oriskany was his second ship and he was on her until he was Honorably Discharged at the end of his tour.

In talking with George a while back, he said he would never have been able to travel to the places he saw all over the west rim of the Pacific. He went to Alaska, Japan, the Philippines, Guam, Australia, Diego Garcia, Viet Nam, east Africa and probably many more that I don’t remember. He was an excellent traveler. He loved the different cultures, sights and sounds that he’d only read about before. His was an enriching experience in the Navy. George was an Eagle Scout, elected into the Order of the Arrow and received the God and Country award in Scouting. He had to be prodded at times……but he was always a finisher. That says a lot about a man.

His dad once told me when I worried about his small size compared to the other Scouts…….(the canoe portage from Eli, Minnesota into Canada, the long hikes they took at the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico and all the other places….) that George might be small in size but he always comes in slow and steady.

That is George. He may not be grandiose but he gets the job done…..he is someone you can count on and he is loyal. Just the kind of guy who would serve on the Oriskany and mourn her passing……he stands with many of us who never saw her or felt a wave under her but felt sad when she went down.

……. “no falling apart even in it’s final moment in the sunshine”…….I’m sure that made you proud, George………….and you make us proud.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The day is practically gone and I haven’t written anything today. It could be because it has gone so fast. We had a 10:00 a.m. lab appointment in West Plains, then Rocky wanted to go to the gym while I did the WalMart thing. Our juicer arrived early this morning and since WalMart gets their fresh produce on Wednesday’s I wanted to make sure I had lots to play with.

We then came home and I fixed lunch quick as Rocky’s sugar level was getting a little low…..then I decided to wash the juicer so I could practice with some of the recipes. Took me a while to familiarize myself with how to take it apart and reassemble….the directions didn’t seem clear to me but then, nothing does anymore. How they confuse the simplest things by making them difficult is a mystery.

After a few awkward moments and I was beginning to rethink my juicing quest I was able to get it working. One fresh beet, two stalks of celery, one orange and an apple. OK…..this was me just having fun and not using a recipe…..however, I didn’t mention that to Rocky.

I was a little nervous about the offering…..it was very pretty and “beet” red but I was afraid it wasn’t going to taste that great. I was right. Rocky noticed that right away, too. I plopped a couple of ice cubes in each glass and managed to get mine down……Rocky drank half of his and asked if I could freeze the rest so as not to waste it. I’m wondering how good a beet Popsicle is going to taste but I’ll let you know.

I can hear my brother-in-law, Richard, gagging as he reads about this adventure. The Rockenbach boys were raised on a very simple diet evidently as their culinary tastes are very limited. Meat, potatoes and bread…….desserts and ice-cream, mainly. Helen and I like a variety of veggies and fruits, she eats no meat and I eat very little……now Rocky has meat in limited quantities. He says he doesn’t miss it that much.

Supper time is drawing near and I have a wagon full of produce to choose from so I’m off to the kitchen to see what I can come up with. We’ve had our drink for the day, now for some chewing………

See you tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


…..but the greatest of these is love. (Cor. 13:13)


What kind of world would we have if everyone made the decision to show love today in every thing they do? If hostility were bridled for a week would the world be different? If reason overpowered misunderstanding would we be less critical? And suppose we lay down all of our frustrations, resentments and fears…….would we need less medicine?

I collect coffee mugs and the one I picked up this morning had “Success is doing what you love” on one side…….on the other it said, “Success is loving what you do.” As I drank my coffee and contemplated the message on the mug, I wondered what it is that makes us “tick.?”

Why is it so easy for some to love and show love when others don’t seem to “get it?” It has nothing to do with genetics or environment…..because not having love can give one an enormous appetite for it and the ability to receive and return it. We know of people who have been shown love from birth to old age and yet they don’t accept it and certainly never show it.

Is it a random gift or magic potion? I think not……because I believe love can be learned. In seeing deeds that show love, mercy because of love, generous giving out of love, unfailing loyalty regardless of price, and undying love……because it can bridge heaven and earth.

It’s kind of down there in us, in that place they call a vacuum, that needs to link up with our Creator. Until that happens, love may be a learned thing but once God fills that black hole in our hearts…..we’re hooked. But good!! It’s impossible to deny the mechanism put in us by our Maker.

Love is not a vanishing commodity. The more you give away, the more you have…..the more someone wants to stamp it out, the more it grows….it is clearly written that if we feel cheated by love it is because of the miserly amounts we have expended. The world doesn’t understand anything about giving more than you get but if you want happiness……..give it all and give it often.

It’s impossible to deny or to hide or to contain. Our face is a mirror of our soul, the eyes, a window. Who is looking back at you………and what do you see?

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, May 15, 2006


Rocky has gone to the gym this afternoon to work out and visit with his buddies. I’ve finally let him out on his own……Ha!! He has done so well with his new diet that our next step is to get him back to serious exercise. I know it will seem a more normal life again once he can “hook up” where he left off. It was March 13th when he had his colon surgery and he has since had a port put in and two treatments of chemo already. We have the Integrated Medicine ordered and we should be hearing from Dr. Wiehe in a day or two about picking it up. It should be quite a stash with two months at a time.

Yesterday I had a very nice Mother’s Day. I was bent down in the frig getting some tuna to feed the cats and when I stood up, Becky was sitting at the table grinning. She slipped in the back door and I didn’t even know she was on the place. I was so preoccupied with feeding the cats that I chatted with her for a few minutes before I noticed a large bowl on the table with a card in it. When it caught me attention I guess I had one of those “looks” on my face……like, “where did THAT come from.?” Then she was laughing because she “got me” again. I’m just too easy, that’s what.

George called around noon and we had a nice visit. He keeps me up on our old friends from Shawnee and what’s going on with his yard, Murphy and Cheeta, his dog and cat. George has a landscaped yard to die for and has the good black dirt to do it with. I am always envious when I think of that wonderful dirt where we used to live. George will probably come for a visit over Memorial Day and to help celebrate my birthday. We hope so.

I invited our neighbors and Becky over in the afternoon for apple pie and ice-cream. I have a lot of food in the freezer that needs to be eaten and since we can’t cheat too often on Rocky’s diet, I plan on using it when we have “help” in eating it. Becky came down for the ‘company’ but is on a diet of her own so didn’t eat any pie. The rest was sent home with the Hockings. Davey is a six-year-old who loves apple pie so it won’t last long at their house.

John called late afternoon……LJ was working but would be home around 6:00 p.m. so they could all go for dinner together. I had a nice visit with John and Barbara both and LJ happened in before we hung up so I got to talk with him. It isn’t often I catch him anymore…….he’s a busy guy and usually somewhere between work, school and home.

Mandy is doing well on her training. Holly’s idea about the cage was excellent. She only had one accident the first morning but since has had a “clean slate.” She has not had an accident in the house, either, so all of a sudden I’m waking up to dry rugs and a dry cage. She has her system in tune with my expectations and I don’t know how it worked out…….but…….I’m happy.

Phyllis, if you read this, your menu today is: two strips of chicken breast, floured and seasoned….fry in 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil….Stir fry a baby zucchini in 1 tablespoon of EVOO and fresh garlic….and one fresh carrot cut in Asian strips. We also had a slice of bread I made……whole wheat with wheat germ added and sunflower seeds……1 pat of real butter. One fresh orange for dessert. Hope it helps you for an idea. Rocky thought it was pretty good.

Happy Birthday to Rocky’s brother, Richard, and Happy Anniversary to him and his wonderful wife, Helen today. Mandy is telling me she needs to go out…….so we’re outta here……..

See you tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, May 14, 2006


My mother was born at home down at De Soto Bend of the Missouri River. She was the first of six children and was adored by her dad. She had her mother’s big brown eyes and would tag along behind him, barefoot, as he plowed the earth for their crops. He walked behind a single horse with a single plow.

She was born into a world of simplicity and lived in that world until she left us. Mom never had much in the way of worldly things…..her stark raising and early married life gave her much more than material things. She loved the land and was close to it as well as God’s creatures.

My brother and I were nurtured by a gentle mother. Our dad was hard-raised from an emigrant family and only knew hard work and hard times until later in life. As children we were balanced between the two, soft and hard, and it seemed to stick in both of us. Though we were not spoiled we were well taught and that served us both in years since.

If I were to describe my mother in one word, I would say…..gentle. She was a gentle spirit and safe harbor to come to when an unfriendly world closed in. Unassuming, she always stood back and let everyone else take their bows, content to let them have the limelight.

Her talents? No one could bake or cook as well, take a sick plant and place it in some dirt somewhere to nurture, or write a letter as well. Her brothers and sisters loved receiving her letters……long testimonies of her daily life in story form. Mom loved to read and mostly about pioneer days and Indian stories. She loved the call of the unknown and the bigness of the Wild West. Later, she traveled to many of the places she read about with our dad.

It was not uncommon to see her walking down the road with a loaf of fresh bread out of the oven or some flowers she’d picked to share. She always brought me her last rose of summer in a tiny little vase. That was my mother. It would never occur to her to keep it……only to give it to me. That’s what mothers do…….they give everything away that’s worthwhile…….

In honor of my little mother,
Essentially Esther

Friday, May 12, 2006


Rocky and I found the lovely home of Dr. and Mrs. Wiehe by 10:15 this morning. They live on a lake south of West Plains and have a huge home filled with family antiques and charm…. complete with view. Dr. Wiehe was also charming and hospitable as well as being helpful and encouraging.

We had a 45 minute visit with him and ordered the Integrated Medicine we would need for Rocky before we had to leave for his appointment to remove the chemo fanny pack……then head to Subway for a sandwich. We stopped at WalMart to pick up high voltage foods recommended for boosting the immune system……looking at cantaloupe, grapes, bananas and all the rest, somehow didn’t look as appealing as a cream cheese strawberry Danish but I suppose in time it will look even better. Oh yeah!! I’m believing THAT!!

Tonight I’m thinking baked acorn squash, steamed broccoli, sliced tomatoes and a fresh fruit cup. Yahoooooo!! I’m feelin’ healthy already. Our stomachs will love the kaleidoscope of colors and our little immune systems will sing us to sleep. I’m thinking how healthy it will make Rocky after a life of truck-stop food. The best part is, his body will be enabled to begin a battle with the cancer that hitch-hiked over to the liver……..and will begin snuffing out the little tumors that were just lovin’ all the sweets, fats and junk food.

I have a mental picture to support the effort to stay with this…….I think of 20-lbs of greasy fat mixed with 20-lbs of sugar boiling and burping busily like the sulfur pots in Yellowstone Park…..then I think of drinking that into my body…….yuk!! I don’t think so….. and yet, week in and week out we stuff greasy and sweet food into our mouths. Consider the chemicals added, the food coloring and Lord knows what else is put in our food for “shelf life”………..I’m not doing that anymore. It’s a wonder any of us make it to old age without cancer.

There’s nothing worse than a convert so I shall try and keep my new food attitude under wraps…..however, it WAS tempting to comment between ourselves about what other shoppers were putting into their baskets. (The same stuff we would have been piling in before.) We also found it eliminated about 75 % of the isles one can walk down in the grocery store. It will save time to just wheel into the produce area and come home…..Dr. Wiehe suggests 80% of the food intake should be fruit and veggies. Well, I can also sell a bunch of my bake ware, a collection of the finest cookbooks in the land, and 10 sets of my dishes.

Although I jest, there is no kidding that I would and will do it all for Rocky. Losing a second husband to cancer is just not going to happen without a good fight or accepting whatever God wants to do with us………

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next week,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I had plans for tomorrow but they have been tossed aside for a meeting with Dr. Wiehe, in West Plains. I have had several conversations with him over the phone which enabled me to buy his book and now we will meet in person. Rocky is to have his fanny pack taken off at 11:30 a.m. (at the clinic) so we plan on meeting with Dr. Wiehe before that.

We will meet at his home to discuss the medicine, usage….. and changes needed in nutrition and life-style. A lot of it we all know and ignore, like getting the sugar and fat out of our life, processed foods etc; well, now it will happen because I’ve said before, that I’d rather have Rocky than my addiction to ice-cream. I have read that sugar is what cancer feeds on……..yikes!! I must be full of it with the amounts of sweets I indulge in.

Dr. Wiehe is a man who believes in total blending of the mind, body and soul. Man is not complete if either is missing. I am so anxious to visit with him and for him to meet Rocky so he can see the good health he has aside from the cancer. In talking with him before, he said Rocky’s strength and activity at his age is a definite benefit. We know one of the friends of cancer patients is optimism. The more focused and positive we are, the better.

I shall give you a report on our visit tomorrow afternoon when we are home again. I believe Dr. Wiehe is the third man God has put in our case to bring the healing we need. Dr. Eck, the surgeon, Dr. Morgan, the oncologist and Dr. Wiehe for Integrated Medicine are all excellent in their fields. These special men have and are doing all they can to bring Rocky time and quality of life. We are most grateful for their integrity, knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile.

Until tomorrow, then………
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Rocky’s lab results were on target. “Normal” is a good word when you have cancer. So far, so good. We took Mandy today because we didn’t want to keep her in the cage all day. I did double duty by running to the Van every couple of hours to walk her and make sure she had water and a “goodie” ……..then I left her in the Van and went back to sit with Rocky.

I wanted to make sure I got to hear what Dr. Susie had to say. She is such a good doctor……knowledgeable without being condescending and informative without being boring. We feel we are on solid ground with things so far.

I drove out to the office of Dr. Wiehe to order the Integral Medication for Rocky but he was in Illinois conferring with a group who want to use his books. I will hook up with him soon. He is really a front runner because he’s been there and experience is worth a thousand words. We will also buy a juicer which will step up the absorption of fruits and veggies since chemo destroys a lot of that ability and undermines the natural immune system.

He is in good spirits, Mandy did exceedingly well…..she went from bedtime to 7:15 a.m. this morning without soiling the paper in her cage so she got an “atta girl” for that which doesn’t do near as much for her as a piece of cheese or hot dog…..but she gets that too.

We are all tired and ready to crash on the couch and stare at TV while we rewind. Hope your day has been eventful in a good way and we’ll be back here tomorrow.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


It is time for an update on Rocky and Mandy. It’s been a few days since I’ve written and so I know you are wondering about us. We had a rainy weekend here………Saturday we got into some projects around the house and on Sunday we drove to Springfield to meet with Rocky’s daughter and family from Neosho. Springfield is half-way for both of us and with gas prices and the tiring drive from point A to C……we decided it would be smart to meet at B.

We had a nice dinner at a fun restaurant……Lambert’s, Home of the Throwed Rolls. Some time back, there was an article in one of the major magazines that showcased the original restaurant in Sikeston, Missouri. In a little Mom and Pop café, “in a place where everyone knows your name,” one of the local customers said, “Hey, throw me a roll!,” to which the proprietor literally threw him a roll. It caused such hilarity that it became the custom to throw rolls at the diners. In time, everyone heard about the novelty and soon long lines were waiting to get in and see for themselves…..you know Missouri, we are the “Show Me“ State…………

They have since opened several other restaurants, one of which is located a little south of Springfield on the road to Branson. The tour busses stop there for passengers to enjoy the meal and the fun. During your meal, young waiters stroll the tables and booths to offer a spoon of fried okra, tomatoes and macaroni, or my personal favorite, fried potatoes. They scoop out a helping with huge spoons and you can have as many of those as you can hold. If you ever look up, a roll comes whizzing towards your table. They don’t land on the floor too often.

Meals are in such proportions it is impossible to eat it all so we always leave with doggie bags. Our grand-son-in-law, Marc, who is married to Becky’s daughter, Jennifer, was greatly impressed when we took him there for a birthday dinner one time. He ordered a steak with the “extras” of his choice and at the rate the rolls were being tossed to us we couldn’t keep up. The waiter kept coming back to see if any of us wanted anything else to eat. Once ordered, they will keep bringing the same as long as you can eat it.

Marc couldn’t believe they would actually bring another steak…..he asked 3 or 4 times “are you sure I can have another? Without charge? He was assured each time….. “YES”……Even Marc (who is something like 6’7” and a good sized boy, couldn’t eat another one. He was amazed he could have it if he wanted it. He just laughed and shook his head. Connecticut doesn’t have such a place, he said. I know where we’ll be going the next time Marc and Jennifer come to visit.

OK……about Rocky. His appetite is improving which is good. We drove down to West Plains yesterday to purchase the book recommended by a cancer survivor, Dr. Wiehe, who is a Chiropractor. He has been cancer free for several years by using Integrating Medicine…….combining chemo with Alternative Medicine. With good nutritional sense, which he practices yet today, combined with all of the above, he has written a book on a sensible way to beat the odds. Of course, he doesn’t make claims to cure cancer, only tells what worked for him. With more of the country coming to Alternative or Integrated Medicines all the time we have done the homework and feel it is worth a try…….we look at it as a good backup for the chemo. If each is good to stamp out the cancer, then both would seem realistic. Tomorrow, Rocky goes for his second chemo and we will be making a trip to the grocery store for lots of fresh foods we already eat, BUT, no more junk food and the other evils like bad fat, etc; (Pardon me while I dry my eyes.) I love to bake and it looks like sugar and most of my cookbooks will be lost in the battle. (*sniff, sob*)

OK…..when I think of Rocky……it’s easy to give up. Ice cream will be the hardest but when I think of Rocky….I can do it. If it’s good for him NOT to eat these things it will be good for me not to eat them. I’ll keep you posted on our “withdrawals” from junk and sweets. Oh yeah, you’ll be hearing a lot of whining……..

Mandy is coming along great. Just when we thought we couldn’t take anymore and I was getting paranoid about her making unwanted designs on our carpet, she seemed to snap to it and become a well managed little dog. She was always sweet and adorable but she didn’t get the “potty” thing at all. Now she knows she’s going to be going out a lot and the leash means if she does “good” for mommy, she can race back to the house, dragging mommy on the leash, and get a bite of cheese, ham, hotdog……and all those other “bad” foods we can’t eat anymore. I know……you’re thinking we’re going to kill Mandy with our bad food. I’m not giving her bundles of it and when it’s all gone she can eat what we eat. I wonder how she’ll like grapes and tomatoes?

Well, I can keep you posted on that, too. I will be posting late tomorrow when we come back from the chemo. Since he has a lab appointment first, I may have something of substance to tell you. Have a great Tuesday…….stay healthy and know that we think of YOU as you think of us. Love is a circle………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, May 05, 2006

A DOG NAMED "BEAU"........ 

Our granddaughter, Jennifer, recently lost her beloved dog, “Smokey.” He was a black lab who looked like John’s “Bear” and he was Jennifer’s best friend. Those of us who have been owned by dogs know the heartache of losing such a pal. Some years ago, John sent me a poem written by Jimmy Stewart, the movie star. He lost his dog and wrote the poem in his grief. I’d like to share it with you today…….no matter who we are, where we came from, where we are going…..we have all loved a very special dog, some where, some time. No matter how long ago, we’ve all loved a dog like Beau.



He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn’t come at all.

When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.

Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him things sure didn’t drag.
He’d dig up a rosebush just to spite me,
And when I’d grab him, he’d turn and bite me.

He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey,
The gas man wouldn’t read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.

He set the house on fire
But the story’s long to tell,
Suffice to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.

On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.

We would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.

But every once in awhile, he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around,
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.

We are early-to-bedders at our house --
I guess I’m the first to retire,
And as I’d leave the room he’d look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.

He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs
And I’d give him one for awhile,
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I’d fish it out with a smile.

And before very long
He’d tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner
In no time at all.

And there were nights when I’d feel him
Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I’d pat his head.

And there were nights when I’d feel this stare
And I’d wake up and he’d be sitting there,
And I’d reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I’d feel him sigh
And I think I know the reason why.

He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he’d be glad to have me near.

And now he’s dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed and lie between us,
And I pat his head.

And there are nights when I think
I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he’s not there.

Oh, how I wish that wasn’t so,
I’ll always love a dog named Beau.

**written by Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997)

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Last night was stormy. We had thunderstorms with damaging winds and hail all afternoon and way into the night. I haven’t heard so much thunder in several years as we have been going through a dry spell in our area. At dusk, Napoleon was perched across the street on our neighbor’s pick-up truck. We called to him and as soon as he saw me coming out the door, he came on the run. His favorite treat (a slice of bread torn into bite sized pieces) was enjoyed before he trotted off towards Becky’s. For some reason he has been sleeping in her tree where he first roosted last year. I guess he is making both of us happy.

This morning as I was walking Mandy I saw him in her tree busily grooming his feathers before the flight down to graze. No matter what the weather he seems to come through undaunted and sprightly. Rocky and I worry over him like two old hens but so far he has managed to roam free without disaster.

Mandy is making me proud. So far, no accidents in the house. I’m convinced she must have had an infection or something with her frequent messes previously. Boy, I was beginning to think I had bitten off more than I could deal with so I am exceptionally happy she has done an about face. I’m still a little jumpy but try not to let her know my anxiety level. Rocky sleeps late in the mornings so I’m always on the first detail of walking, feeding etc; Mid-day is his special time with her and she gives him lots of doggie attention. He is very pleased with her and missed her already when she was at the Vet.

The storms will continue throughout the day. Rocky and I are going to the Antique Barn today to remove all items from our showcase in the entryway of the building. We need to cut down as we can’t give it the time we have in the past but will keep our two booths inside. It will be nice to have a little something to do but not too much to be worrisome. Finding balance in our lives right now is the goal.

We were put in touch with a chiropractor in West Plains who was on his death bed with cancer and was given two weeks to live. He had been bedfast for some time and extremely thin. His wife turned TV on for him as he didn’t want to think about the news the doctor just gave him. (Dr. Morgan, who is Rocky’s oncologist) He happened to watch Naomi Judd who was on with several experts of Alternative Medication…………he was struck with her information and asked his wife to call for the book and have it sent by overnight mail.

In ten days he was out of bed and in 2 months he was making garden. He ate a healthy diet and took the medication which boosted the immune system. When I talked to him on the phone last night he said he is cancer free, it’s been seven years since he began the treatment and for insurance he still takes 1/3 tablet daily. He opened his practice up some years back and is now busy in his profession once more. Now I’m not one to buy snake oil off a wagon but I am going after his book and read it. If there is any way to rid Rocky of cancer I’m all for it. He and Dr. Morgan are good personal friends and although Dr. Morgan is a medical doctor who uses chemicals for treatment, when asked about the alternative medication, he said it would be perfectly fine to use them along with the chemo. Several of his patients are doing this and he is OK with it. If it has merit we will know after trying it. I’ll keep you posted on progress. First the book, then the medication and then we’ll see.

I’m from Missouri and when you show me someone who should have been dead seven years ago who is now cancer free, you have my interest.

Rocky is up now, I need to feed him and then we need to get busy on our project at the Barn. Mandy performed very well for Rocky when he took her out just now so we are properly appreciative of that. Brother Richard and wife Helen called to visit and it was so nice to hear their voices. They are leaving for Florida tomorrow and we wish them a very happy and safe trip. We have been missing them since they were here…..we have a lot to laugh about in an otherwise serious situation…..humor is always good, no matter what the circumstances.

Here’s to humor and all the folks who like a good laugh! Have a great day wherever you are………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Today was lab day for Rocky. We got that out of the way, ran a few errands and stopped at the Vet’s to pick Mandy up. She was so happy to see us she wiggled all over. She was very happy to be on her way home again and has been a big girl about her potty…..she must have thought it all over while at the Vet’s because she’s been home three hours and so far……so good. Pa-leez, Mandy………..no more “accidents”.

Rocky is doing OK with his treatment so far and we don’t have to go back until next Wednesday when he will have another round of chemo. After that he will have a visit with Dr. Susi who is Dr. Morgan’s assistant in the oncology department. She is thorough in her assessments of each patient and takes a lot of time with each. She visited with us some when Rocky took his first chemo treatment and will head up the next one, then on the third chemo we will have a consultation with Dr. Morgan.

Of course we get anxious for results but it’s way too early to speculate on any of that. So we content ourselves with the daily necessities at home and all of our critters who are all very “needy.” The cats get a little jealous of Mandy when we speak to and “make” over her so we have to do a round robin and pet them all.

Mandy is quiet and lady-like. They complimented her at the Vet’s, saying they wished all of their patients were as well behaved. In time I know we will all bond very well together as Rocky and I like quiet pets. So far, our “free doggie” has cost us a fortune. Since she has, it’s really appreciated that she is a good girl.

The head nurse in the unit told us she would call with results of the lab workup this afternoon. If she does, I will put it in the comment section of this blog. It’s getting late in the afternoon so I don’t know if she’ll get to it or not……..

Thought for the day………

“Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; wisdom is humble that he knows no more.” Cowper

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Mandy is at the Vet’s. No we didn’t put her out for adoption. I actually tried to kill her with good intentions……I was fixing steak for our anniversary dinner on Sunday and Mandy was very attentive to my culinary moves around the kitchen. She really came to life when she smelled the steak. I thought, “Well, why not? I’ll give her a little piece or two of the trimmings.” She ravenously gulped them down and looked fetchingly for more.

She looked so happy…..I thought, “Well, OK, just a little bit more.” This went on until she had eaten the last scrap. She was happy and I thought I did a good thing. Sunday went well and Monday morning I was overcome with joy when, for the first time, she pottied big for me twice and even did a “pee pee” as we walked about the yard. I thought we were over the problem of “going” in the house.

I began my morning routine feeling great. Mandy was not feeling that great, and her growing discomfort was oblivious to me……..then I smelled something. I looked about and she had left her calling card in two places with a wet spot as well. It looked “runny” and odd. So did Mandy. I cleaned it up and we continued this ritual until I finally put her in Amber’s cage to alleviate me from being the “middle man” so to speak.

After changing the papers as fast as poor Mandy could mess them up, I called the Vet. Of course they asked me if she had any thing different recently……to which I responded, “Just the allergy medication you gave me for her.” I didn’t think about the steak scraps playing a role in her demise……..however, I asked if the Vet was in so he could look at her and as Rocky went out the door, I suddenly thought of the steak, and told him to mention it to them……….

When Rocky came back, sans Mandy, he said Doc was keeping her……she was dehydrated and running a fever, and was a very sick puppy. I was advised not to give her any more meat treats, especially fat treats. I called this morning and she had a pretty good night……..we are to pick her up probably this afternoon. Miss Mandy will now have treats from the Vet that will accommodate her delicate stomach.

One of our other critters had a wild night……as we were drifting off to sleep we had a vigorous thunderstorm and one blast sounded like it hit outside our window. Our thoughts turned to Napoleon who had been serenading us from one of the oaks. He was silent after that and we feared the worst. As morning came I looked for him without any luck……then later, he appeared routinely atop Rocky’s old Plymouth Van, busily grooming his feathers. He seemed rather undaunted by the near miss of the lightening bolt last night and followed the cats off to play………who says old folks don’t have any fun? Our life is full of drama.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, May 01, 2006


After a quiet weekend we are beginning another week here. After Rocky’s family left on Friday evening we turned in early…….it began raining during the night and made for wonderful sleeping. It rained most of the day on Saturday and we took the day off……mostly reading, TV and knitting. I managed a few loads of clothes.

Our new little dog, Mandy, did not come house-broke as advertised. Either that or it was just too much of a week for her…….first coming to a new home, going to a new Vet and being run through her physical and grooming……then lots of company and different noises. Somewhere along the line she just didn’t get the idea of being taken outside on a leash……another thing that may have been new to her.

We cleaned up lots of her “gifts” to us and didn’t really have time to get into a schedule where she might become more inclined to our way of thinking. Of all the things a pet can do to be a problem, not being house-broke is the one that tops the list for me. We’ve had very good success already today and things are looking up. Rocky loves Mandy and she is a sweet, sweet little dog.

Yesterday was our fifth wedding anniversary and it hardly seemed possible. I don’t know where all of those days went …….we both feel like honeymooner’s yet. At this time of our life we are going through some things together that most people don’t….he often reminds me that when we married, he wasn’t taking any medication, didn’t have diabetes, a brain tumor, the one seizure, colon cancer or the liver cancer. Of course I jokingly tell him to quit complaining………

The card he gave me made my day. Somehow he always finds the special card that puts his feelings for me into words……..Rocky hasn’t kissed the Blarney Stone and isn’t artistic with words but he sure has a way of getting his feelings through to me. Of course we always relive our wedding day each year….which was memorable in many ways……no more no less than anyone else, but still a day that lives forever in our minds.

Our story goes like this……once upon a time a young boy and girl fell into “puppy love”……a wicked witch cast a spell and they were lost from each other. The boy became a man and raised lots of puppies, hoping it would make him happy, but alas! it didn’t. The girl grew up and always wondered when her prince would come for her…….little realizing the spell that had to be broken. One day the good witch came and told the man where the woman was that he had loved all his life……and when he found her, the spell could be broken if his heart was true.

He thanked the good witch and went in search of his true love and after many days he found her……she had been waiting and waiting to see his dear face one more time. He gave her a gold ring and told her it contained his love that would never end……just as a circle never has an end to it. His heart beat with true love for the woman. They kissed and they were both young again with their life before them….the terrible spell was broken….and..…they lived happily ever after.

Aw, come on…..you knew it was going to have a happy ending, didn’t you? What good are fairy tales if they don’t end the way you want them to? Oh yes, the “plot” was stolen from other writers….don’t call your lawyer….I admit it.

……happily ever after…….I kinda like the ring to that……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther