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Monday, July 31, 2006


We truly had a nice weekend. Rocky was able to go to the gym to work out and came home with another magazine the guys gave him that published his picture and record of the last PowerLifter’s Meet. He can’t figure how they are getting the story of his record and surgery following. It is humbling to say the least…..he doesn’t feel that noteworthy. When you do what you do because you love the sport you already have your fulfillment. As his wife, I am extremely proud of his accomplishments, not only in his sport but his conduct in the battle with cancer.

I believe athletics of any kind teach teamwork, fair play and self-control. Organizations accomplish much the same. When the children were growing up I tried to get them in as many “team” functions as I could. Scouting, Camp Fire, school activities, church activities and music help the group as a whole and individually for all who participate.

We were able to go to church our first time since Rocky’s surgeries and chemo treatments. It was such pleasure to sit in the congregation and be part of corporate worship after almost five months absence. The music, the fellowship and sermon were appreciated and nourishing to both of us. If something becomes fairly routine in your life, you only have to be away for a time to fully appreciate the combined effort of many who work to make it happen.

It was heartwarming to be welcomed back by those who held us in their prayers and concern. They were greatly encouraged to see Rocky looking fit and tan. He doesn’t look like someone fighting colon cancer and it is easy to forget the disease’s attempt to take his life. I am so very grateful for the progress he has made thus far and we have been strengthened to keep at it. I continue to praise Dr. Miller and Dr. Weihe for their contributions and efforts.

I kept thinking about how people around the world are persecuted when they take on the Christian faith and how they are not able to meet in public to sing, pray or hear the gospel. It is sad to know that with the great privilege we have many neglect the opportunity to go to any church of choice. If we ever lose the ability to worship openly in this country I fear the consequences and loss we will realize. Too many times it is only then that people see the values lost in their neglect.

“Much of life cannot be explained….only witnessed.” Rachel Remen, MD.

……..and sometimes we hear that still, small voice.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 28, 2006

MRS. CLEAN..... 

I am glad to report that my colonoscopy came out fine today and I got a clean bill of health. Boy!! When I say “clean”……I’m not kidding. For all of you who have gone through the procedure you know what I mean. By the time you down a gallon of Golytely you’re about as clean as you’re ever going to be on this earth.

That pretty well took the day yesterday. My fun began at noon with four cute little pills….then another pill at six o’clock. One half hour after that came the drinking binge which lasted three hours at one cup every ten minutes.

Oh alright!! I know I don’t have to draw a picture for you…..but I’m usually the one sitting by the edge of the bed when someone in the family is undergoing medical procedures of some kind and lately, some pretty serious surgeries. So when I go for my colonoscopy every five years I think it’s a big deal. Becky and I have gone together for years and years to have our physicals. It was/is required by the Highway Patrol and since retiring I’ve kept the habit. I’m a great believer in preventive medical practice. Early detection is the best advocate to nip something in the bud.

Dr. Miller has always been the one I go to and he is excellent. This year there were changes. He has moved to another huge medical complex from the Cox South Hospital. The more serious needs are taken care of back at the hospital while the Outpatient needs are taken care of at the new building.

The prep is done differently now. A nurse does all the vitals in the entry room and asks a cazillion questions…..then you receive an I.V port there before going to the surgical area. It’s all very chatty and upbeat……I guess that’s the bonus for being up half the night gorging on your gallon of prep stuff and being without food for what seemed like a week. I am not a candidate for a hunger strike. It just would not happen with me….I don’t like missing meals at all. Then we had to be up by four-thirty to leave by five-thirty to drive the 80-miles to the Clinic. (Does this sound ‘whiney’ to you?) It does to me………..

Well, soon it was all over, I didn’t know a thing and Rocky was there to take me to a great breakfast and a nice drive home. We got a wonderful rain which we were needing so bad…….I just can’t think of anything that could spoil the good day we had. Poor Becky is due for hers next month so we will be on hand to take her and we will repeat the journey.

Since this is Friday I know all of you will be finding fun of your own over the weekend so we wish you a good one and we’ll see you on Monday…..and may all of your drinking be your personal preference……

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I’ve been pulling weeds all morning and I had a lot of time to think while doing it. When I was a little girl, I used to spend summers with my grandmother. She had a small farm on the edge of the city limits. It was a typical kind of farm. She had a cow for milk and pigs and chickens to help the menu.

It was fun to watch her milk. I played with the cats while they waited for their warm bowl to drink when grandma was finished. She also had a dog…..old Snuffy. Some kind of a Terrier I guess but she was a nice dog.

Well, grandma raised a garden and she had raspberries and lots of flowers. She sold Peonies at Memorial Day time for decorating the graves. Naturally, on a small place like hers, there were lots of weeds. At certain times of the year she would have a hired man come and mow a lot of them down with a scythe. He was an unusual man, quiet and kind of simple minded.

Grandma always cooked dinner for him because she knew he wouldn’t have anything to eat unless she did. When the noon whistle blew I always came running and Ashly, the hired man, came to the house as well. Dinner was always a time to take a break from morning work and talk over the news and weather.

But to get back to the weed pulling, I remember sitting near wherever grandma was working at pulling her weeds and I thought I would never, ever, do that. It was tiresome and hot work. Grandma was a very small woman and sometimes she would use the big scythe, swinging it back and forth, taking big swaths with each swing. She would take her old straw hat off and wipe her forehead…..I felt sorry for her because she had to work so hard.

I’ve learned a lot since those days. A lot about weeds. I learned that if you love your flowers, the weeds are the enemy. As a little girl it looked like terrible work but as an adult I found it was a good time to think. As I pulled and separated them from my flowers I found they had a survival plan that was pure genius.

They come up right where the flower is and blend in as much as they can. When you are walking by your garden, they are mostly unnoticed because they are so artfully concealed. It is only when you do serious weeding that you see them. They love to twine their roots with those of the flower so if they have to go, the flower does too.

Another thing is that when they are growing in the open in a large clump they have a carefully devised plan to avoid your tugging. They give up a piece here and a piece there but avoid being pulled in total. If they must, they will give up the visible foliage but they know the roots are still in tact. Many a lazy gardener will let it go at that and in a day or two the weed is back. I don’t give up until the root is out and laying in the hot sun. They won’t be around very soon again.

Something you must not do is overlook the little weeds. They look unobtrusive enough but in a day or two they will be choking out your flowers….they can grow without rain, without fertilizer and the hotter and dryer it gets, the better they like it. When your flowers are drooping and gasping their last the weeds are comin’ on strong.

Weeds are a lot like some people. They can blend in and hang around until they choke the life right out of someone else. It doesn’t matter how precious or beautiful, useful or prized other plants are, weeds like to “take over.” I’ve known folks like that who just move in on a good plan and take over before the culprits can be weeded out.

I weed because my mother and grandmother before me, weeded. I learned a lot from them about other things too. I try to keep the weeds out of my life and make sure the blooms in my soul are well tended. There is a Gardener who watches over me……..and I know He watches over you too…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I’m happy to report Becky’s kitty is feeling better. At least she felt like NOT going to her doctor. I went up to see how she was doing and even though she looked better I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take her out to the Vet and let them give her a shot of something to knock whatever it was that was bothering her.

Callie, my Calico cat decided to walk up with me and I thought this was going to be a problem. Chicky and Callie have had a long standing feud between territorial rights. Poor Chicky was run out of our yard more than once when she was looking for a hand-out. Callie was merciless and would run her clear back to Becky’s.

When Napoleon came along we called him “Chicky” to entice him to come eat. In the beginning of his visit we worried he would go hungry and made sure he ate at least in the morning and evening. It was funny at the time, because when we raised our voices in a “Chick, chick, chick” call she would stop what she was doing and run as hard as she could to Becky’s house where we fed Napoleon. She was a little vagabond stray and would come with silent meows all the way, opening her mouth with nothing coming out.

She and Napoleon had dibs on the bread, each thinking it was for them alone. Chicky soon earned her name because wherever we saw her in the neighbor’s pasture, she would come right to us when we were offering bread. She won our hearts with her survival instincts and courage. She was much smaller than my Callie and certainly smaller than the peacock…..still she made her place at Becky’s and no one could run her off. She set her limits on that yard and no one could come across the marginal line.

I picked her up and she looked much better today…..her runny nose stopped running and she looked pretty fit, compared to yesterday. I decided to put her in the pet carrier for transporting her but she had other ideas. After several attempts of pushing and shoving, I gave in to her claws that kept digging her way out of the carrier. I barely escaped getting slashed up real good on my hands and arms……I decided if she felt that good she didn’t need a shot.

I was surprised when I put the carrier down and headed towards her…..I figured she would bolt and run after our skirmish but she didn’t hold it against me and allowed me to pet and hold her a little. She kept looking at Callie, who had watched the whole experience with some interest, and there was no doubt as to who got the blame for the melee.

Well now I don’t claim to know a lot about cats but I decided if she had that kind of strength and determination she must be feeling pretty good. I put the carrier up, petted her a while and came home. Callie trotted along behind me and I relaxed a bit on the deck with Callie and Chevy. Case closed………..so until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I know when the chips are down we each walk to our own song or not at all. I have watched many people in my life deal with health issues, life’s disappointments and downright disasters and when push comes to shove…… it’s what’s inside a person that will see him through.

I watched my mother over the years deal with hardships and hers was a quiet resolve that just hung on until things got better. My dad was one who flew into action when his world tumbled down and the mere fact of doing something about it was his salvation.

I suppose we gather a lot of information along the way that we fall back on when times get tough or things happen we have no control over. Those are the worst times for all of us. If we were being punished for something of our own making we could feel we deserved a backlash but it’s the things that happen out of the blue, totally unexpected, that get our attention.

Life ought to be fair but it isn’t. When you’re careful with things they shouldn’t get broken but they do. If you’re nice to people they ought to be nice back but some aren’t. The hard part of life is finding out that no matter how well you do things and how good you try to be…..you will have hard times. Sometimes a lot harder than you think you deserve.

Books have been written on why bad things happen to good people……and sometimes it seems good things happen to bad people more frequently. There is a lot of religion in the world and religion alone will never make anything better.

No matter how large the scale or how small and insignificant…. we are ultimately the one who decides the size of our world. In a million people we alone must stake our claim on the country we live in. It can be as good or as bad as we want to make it. We are bound with body, mind and spirit which are relatively free agents. It seems to be a good thing to like ourselves because we are the only person we can’t get away from.

When we are quiet, alone and the chips are down…..that person inside is all we have. In those quiet moments truth and reality come together in an indisputable litany for reason. We can kid everyone else…… but God makes it impossible to fool ourselves. There is always the small still voice of reason to make peace out of turmoil.

I welcome those times because I feel strength coming from a long ancestral line…..resolve coming from the God of my faith….peace and contentment for my soul. The quiet times alone will guide us right…..no matter what cross we may bear.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 24, 2006


Well, Monday flew by like a jet headin’ for home. Becky and I made a trip to the Barn to take some things out while she’s home recuperating from her tooth surgery. Then a trip to the Vet to return their pet carrier and pick ours up……a little mix-up by some of the staff. It was left in Mountain View where Tuffy was hospitalized for a week. Incidentally, he’s feeling much better and eating better.

Then home, fix lunch, and out to the garage to Kilz a table we bought at the Flea Market…..a sturdy little pine table but I wanted Antique White on it to match the kitchen. I’m nutty about the color and never tire of it.

During the afternoon I put two coats of paint on it after the Kilz dried and off to see how Becky was coming along. Aimee came with Brady to pick up some things Becky had for them and we enjoyed seeing both of them……..back home to pull weeds and do some watering…..immediately after that, it was in to the house to shower and put some medicine on a million mosquito bites.

I knew it would happen with the warm winter we had, lots of rain early and then heat enough to bake the skin right off a person. I think our little Lovey may have given me some poison ivy while she twined around my bare legs…..some of that itching looks like more than mosquito bites. Heaven forbid! I battle poison ivy all summer……..I may have to quit wearing shorts to work in the yard.

Tomorrow we head to West Plains for another checkup on Rocky….not related to his cancer. We get a week off from that. He intends working out at the gym while I make a food run to WalMart……keeps me busy buying produce to eat and juice but if it’s working……it’s worth it. He looks great…….one would never expect him to be a cancer patient.

I hope your Monday was memorable and everything turned out just the way you hoped. I know it’s a tall order for Monday……but I think Monday gets a bad rap. There are a lot of great Monday’s and …….OK….more so since I retired! Ha!! If you’re still working, your day will come……if you’re retired and didn’t make it great……then…..shame on YOU. Tomorrow is another day….make IT great.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 21, 2006


Today was Becky’s appointment at her endodontist’s for root surgery on a bad tooth. She’s had trouble with it on and off for several years……finally after enduring several abscesses it has been taken care of.

Rocky and I took her to Springfield early so we could do some necessary shopping and have lunch……then off to the surgical date. We read through several magazines before she appeared holding an ice pack on her jaw…..looking like she’d been in a fight and got the worst of it.

It’s an hour and a half drive home but we got her things inside for her and left her to get settled. She thought she’d be more comfortable at home than staying with us. Our new dog, Mandy, has taken a liking to her and jumps on her lap every time Becky sits down. Then we have three meandering cats who like attention also. It’s a bit of a zoo around here when you’re down and can’t defend yourself.

I took up some soft food items for her so she wouldn’t have to worry about something she could eat……she opted for the ice-cream on the first selection. Hopefully she can eat enough to take care of hunger until morning when she may feel more like eating. Becky has survived many tooth problems and all have been severe. She’s a real trooper.

Rocky and I have been on medical runs all week and we’re ready to put our feet up and relax…….tomorrow looks like it may be cool enough to mow the lawn which is about a foot high. I’m thinking I will be doing some serious weed pulling and I’m sure the outdoor kitties will be happy to have us out and about. This week we’ve been hemmed in what little time we’ve been home due to the extreme heat.

So from the Rockenbach household all is quiet and we’re going to keep it that way for a few days. Stay cool and we’ll see you on Monday…..good Lord willing.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today was spent organizing the household and taking care of business. I grew up in simple times with no credit cards and nothing was done by telephone. My mother and I rode the streetcar downtown where the few necessary bills were paid with real money. Dad thought owing anyone anything was shameful and he always paid cash or we did without.

We grew up knowing the value of a dollar. There was no such thing as an allowance to be had. Dad thought it was like telling your parent’s “if you want me to do something around here you have to pay me for it” …my brother and I never thought of asking….but when we were old enough to begin making our own money we were thrilled and proud.

Money in and of itself is disappearing....giving way to plastic and telephone transactions, transfers, automatic withdrawals and the like. I feel it is a delusional way to do business because we don’t “see” the money going out of our hands….it’s almost like getting it free to toss a piece of plastic for the desired item. Free, until the end of the month when most shoppers have “buyer’s remorse.”

I rather miss the personal side of money and the days when a handshake was a firm business deal that neither party would “fudge” on. Life has taken on a lot of numbers and changes that take the personal side out of many transactions that were gratifying. I may be a dying dinosaur but I regret a lot of good things that have been lost in our modern world.

What do YOU miss?

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Back home after a busy day. Rocky is off chemo for the time being. Dr. Morgan felt his body had all it could take of this strength for a while. He will be on Avastin every two weeks while we coast along and see what’s going to happen.

The CT showed shrinkage of the spots on the liver. He wasn’t sure if it was scar tissue or what remained of the tumors but he said Rocky had done remarkably well and he wanted to see if he couldn’t continue to shrink what was left with a lesser medication.

We are still ‘juicing’ and on the Integrated Medicine so I feel after letting his body rest from the chemical assault he will continue to do well. After a point the chemo does more harm than good. The trick is to know when to stop.

Rocky feels well and looks good. We continue to be optimistic about his condition and the next few weeks will be time for us to take a break. He will only be going to the Cancer Clinic every other Wednesday now so it will be two weeks in between visits.

Rocky’s CEA was 9.0 today. It isn’t dropping as dramatically now as we’re almost down to the normal range. We are thankful for that. Still, the magic number of 5 or lower is our goal so we will be working towards those numbers.

So for now we will deal with the heat and catch up with some needed things around the place here and try to see what being “normal” is all about. It‘s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you watch the evening news every evening…..it’s enough to make us feel fortunate our fate isn’t worse. For some reason that has always made me feel better…….and very grateful.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Becky and I did well. She had the lowest cholesterol she’s had in years. I’m sure she mentioned it in her blog today……which I haven’t read yet. Mine was lower than last time also…….178 which was quite a bit lower than the hefty 248 last year. What can an old gal expect when ice-cream is her staple food? Of course I was put on pills last year so Becky says I’m “cheating” to have lower numbers. Sounds like a “spoil sport” to me……Ha Ha.

When we finished with all the tests we went for a nice lunch and enjoyed a treat to change up our usual fare……….then to the next appointment for Becky to find out what the plans are for her tooth. Not good. She will have surgery on Friday. To ease our concerns, we went to a couple of huge flea markets and bought some bargains……….then headed home. It was a fun day but I’m beginning to think fun is as much work as…..work!!! It is the heat factor, I’m sure.

Tomorrow is Rocky’s big day. I can hardly wait to find out about his progress on the cancer. When we get home I’ll put the news on the blog site so you will know. I am expecting really good news but then………I don’t want to throw caution to the wind and set myself up for a big letdown.

Lets just hope it’s good news. I’ll see you then.

Stay cool,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 17, 2006


Rocky gets a break today. Becky and I have our yearly physicals in Springfield this morning and we will be leaving at 6:30 am since the first appointment is at 8:00am. It’s a long day with all of the lab, mammo and doctor visits for the two of us……then Becky has to see about a tooth that has abscessed. For once, Rocky can sit in the waiting room and read his Western books while we run in and out of rooms. I’m sure he’s happy to have a break from his own appointments.

Speaking of which, we will be hearing from the CT scan any time now. If not today, then on Wednesday when Rocky has his visit with Dr. Morgan. This will tell us a whole bunch about how Rocky is doing after six chemo treatments, all of the Integrated Medicines (which he is on his second round of), the CEA and new lab results.

The nurse who takes care of Rocky’s treatments called on Friday to tell us those lab results were very good. He’s holding his own on the lab work…….now if we can stamp out the grip of the cancer on the liver…..we’ll have some time before another surprise attack comes from somewhere else.

I am anxious to find out about Tuffy as well. I talked to the Vet on Friday and he wanted to keep him through the weekend. He couldn’t find anything significant in any of the tests but said he was eating and felt good. He still had diarrhea and he was giving him sulfa-something for infection…..he seemed to think it was irritable bowel syndrome. I hope that’s all it is……I’ll take that rather than something terminal. Since we will be gone all day on Monday, I’ll call on my cell phone to see if he’s able to come home.

Speaking of physical check-ups, I read an interesting devotional the other day about a man married to a nurse who always made sure he had his check-ups on time. He would like to avoid them but she never allowed it. He got to thinking it might be a good idea to have a “spiritual check-up” routinely as well. He made a checklist that I found very helpful.

Proverbs 4:20-27

Ears…..Are we hearing God’s Word clearly and with understanding? Are we doing what those words tell us?

Eyes…..Are we keeping our eyes on the teachings that will guide us toward righteousness?

Heart…..Are we protecting our heart from evil?

Tongue…..Is our mouth clean and pure?

Feet…..Are we walking straight toward God’s truth without wavering?

Regular checkups will help keep you from becoming spiritually ill.

I hope you have a clean bill of health in every way….mentally, physically and spiritually. We live in a wonderful world of beauty and opportunity…..with a new day every 24-hours to begin fresh again…..Our bodies were made to renew themselves with proper care, our brain is a free agent to help us obtain a good attitude and we all have an invitation to live forever with the God of the Universe.

I know of no other world like ours.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 14, 2006


Here it is Friday once again……the benediction of a week we have spent. Do your days and weeks, months fly by and you wonder where they went? What have you accomplished that will last, that will live after you are gone, that will make “you” feel better about “you.”

Time is a priceless commodity. We are each given the same measure every twenty four hours…..no more and no less. No matter how much some may deserve more than others, it doesn’t work that way…..we all get the same.

You can’t buy, bribe, steal or bring back time that is gone. It is gone forever. Will it be good to remember or something we can build tomorrow on? Gone is a scary word. Gone means it’s used up, not coming back, all over…….gone. Too late to wish it could be different…..it is gone.

People become foolish with time. Some realize it is fleeting and each day is worked in a frenzy because time is flying by. We will all be bankrupt when our time runs out and there will always be work left undone. Like the man who kept building bigger barns……eventually there is no more time.

Some are sluggards and live like they will be here forever. Every day they put off what should be done or contributions they could make because it can always be done tomorrow. Don’t get in a hurry, it’ll keep……and their sand runs out too.

All work and no play or all play and no work will never balance our gift. While we are here we are to respectfully obey whoever is in charge of us and be ready to give an account of our time. We didn’t set the rules into play that will judge us but we shall be judged, just the same.

John Wesley wrote some lines I like…….familiar to many of you.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.

Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 13, 2006


We are home and that’s about it. We spent the whole morning in the lab, waiting room and then the CT. Of course, since this is Thursday we probably won’t know anything until the first of the week……and maybe not until Wednesday when we have our regular lab and doctor visit with Dr. Morgan.

On the way home we stopped at the Vet Clinic to see if Tuffy was doing better. I talked with Dr. Lewis and he said Tuffy was still in Mountain View (the original clinic 15 miles down the road).

They had run quite a few tests on him and were presently thinking Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Go figure!! Seems our critters get the same thing people do. They are treating him with Sulfa-something-or-other and said he was eating good and feeling OK. They want to keep him to see if he’s going to respond to the Sulfa and then put him on a dietary food for his digestive system.

They don’t think he is in any danger, but hey!!! He’s MY cat. If he’s not here but in the Vet’s Clinic…..he’s IN danger. He’s in his mid-life and I hope to keep him another 11 years.

So all is quiet here…..Rocky is already dozing contentedly in his chair and I’m ready to go relax a little and organize myself. Mandy is anxious for me to get quiet so she can settle down and take a nap too.

Sounds like a good idea to me!

See you next time,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today is better for Rocky. He is coming out of his cocoon of misery from the last chemo. I can tell by his eyes that the strength is returning and he initiates more conversation……that’s my big clue right there. When I have to drag answers out of him I know he’s in a deep hole. Thankfully he will be even better tomorrow.

Reason being, he will have his lab work early and then a CT. My problem is that I always want to know something the minute they are finished with Rocky but medical reports go through more channels than a TV satellite. Hopefully we will know something before the week-end. We received our second order of Integrated Medicines this morning so I have those separated and ready for the next doses.

I was in hopes little Tuffy would be coming home today but he was still having some problems and they wanted to keep him a day or two to make sure they’ve explored all possibilities. He is finished with his X-rays so I’m thinking they didn’t show anything conclusive unless doc hasn’t had a chance to look them over yet. Pet business is flourishing to the extreme that we even have to wait on results for our pets now. Color me impatient.

Becky is counting the days until she can get her abscessed tooth fixed next Monday. It is also the day she and I will have our yearly physicals. It’s a hectic day getting both of us through lab, mammograms and seeing Dr. Powell. I think I’ll make a list of things for him to consider so I don’t forget to mention them in his office. Becky always complains that I make it more of a “social” visit than a doctor’s visit…..I promised I wouldn’t give him my usual answer when he asks how I’m doing. Normally I say, “Just fine, thank you.”

The thing that prompts my remark each time is because I have been sitting in the waiting room for a half hour watching the lame, the maimed and the halted appear at the desk for their appointments. After viewing their much worse health issues than mine I feel guilty for even seeing the doctor. I figure he’ll give me one look and wonder why I’m even there.

How can I complain about my knuckles getting bigger when the person he just saw is terminally ill, in a wheel chair and an amputee? I have been told my knuckle thing is the beginning of osteoporosis. My maternal grandmother had a hump on her back and my mother was affected also. Not as bad but she had osteo as well. Now I understand why some of the elderly ladies in church cringe when someone shakes their hand. My hands have become increasingly painful and sensitive to the point it’s a problem.

Dropping things, being unable to twist lids or use my fingers for screw drivers any more is out of the question. I have adjusted and it is a small problem but it is ‘my’ problem. I take Fosamax and will ask about the once a month pill I’ve seen advertised. I have no life threatening illness, just little nuisances that appear all through the day. I can live with them. Sometimes my body seems very foreign to me. I keep hearing my mother say, “Just wait….you’ll know how it is one of these days….” Boy!! Was she ever right. I see more clearly every day.

Thankfully I have a lot of diversions so I don’t have time to think anything most of the time. At the moment I’m fighting for Rocky and Tuffy and will relax when they are out of danger. I will post tomorrow when we get home from the hospital and as soon as we know anything about Tuffy.

Oh! And don’t waste any sympathy on my ‘hand’ situation. As long as I can knit and crochet I’m a happy camper……the other stuff is just……stuff.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


It is still overcast with occasional rumbling and lightening strikes. At times the sky lightens and the sun comes briefly but very briefly. It is a gift to the vegetation and livestock in our area which has really taken a beating the past couple of months. I may sound like a broken record on the subject but I am so very grateful for the rain.

I have failed to mention the results of Rocky’s hope to be in the PowerLifting Meet on the first of July. He trained up to the last few days and finally said he would have to withdraw. He knew his strength wasn’t up to par for a Meet and he didn’t want to take up time with a less than average capability. These guys are very competitive but only with their own records…..they are a close group and pull for each other.

They were disappointed Rocky wouldn’t be in the Meet but we went on Friday evening and again on Saturday to cheer others on…..they were happy he showed up for them and that’s what they like about him. It isn’t all about “him.” He’s a Gary Cooper kind of guy…..doesn’t say much but what comes out is worth listening to.

Tuffy is still at the Vet’s and I would imagine not liking it very much. He was to get stuff in his digestive tract and then X-rays every two hours for a total of four. Dr. Orchard was hoping it would clear up the mystery of his weight losses. So do we. I’ll be very glad to get my kitty back tomorrow. Morris, Sassy and Mandy are uneasy because that’s two of the residents gone from our home. The minute Rocky or I sit down it’s an open invitation for one of them to hop on our lap and ask for some TLC. Our home seems a lot bigger without Amber and Tuffy. But sadder.

Rocky has been down and out since last Wednesday but today decided to drive down to the gym for some exercise. We got a letter from the Lance Armstrong Organization this morning and after reading it we were inspired anew. We are both big fans and who wouldn’t be with his amazing story? LIVESTRONG has circled more than a few wrists…..it has literally gone around the world.

I read a quote I liked today…… “ Getting something done is an accomplishment; getting it done right is an achievement. (Anonymous)

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 10, 2006


We woke early morning to the sound of thunder and lightening……and then rain. It may not be music to your ears but after being so dry for so long it was a symphony to me. I wouldn’t have needed to water everything on our half-acre before coming in last evening but if it brought rain, then I’m glad.

I guess it pays to talk about needs. I wrote Ellen last night and mentioned how dry we had been, how mixed up our seasons have been for several years and how we never seemed to have systematic rains, thunder and lightening like we used to. You can imagine the first thing that came to mind when I heard the approaching signal for rain. Thank you Mother Nature……I’ll quit whining now.

To catch you up on some subjects you may be wondering about……Napoleon is still here and doing great. He has broadened his territory and instead of traveling back and forth from Becky’s house to her neighbor on the other side and then to us, he is now visiting on the other side of Rocky and me……as well as across the street to the ‘new’ neighbor’s. He still likes to tease our cats and follow me around the yard and eat the bread and stuff I save for him. He loves to be talked to and I never tell what we talk about.

Our friends a few blocks away have never found their dog. I called this morning to make sure so I could mention it if they did but they’ve never seen or heard anything of her. Like Amber, she just disappeared without a trace. Very strange.

Rocky (last but not least) has felt the effects of the chemo more this time than any before. No doubt that is why Dr. Morgan said six would be about all he would do at this time. We are looking forward to Thursday when he is to have the CT scan and then we can find out how he’s looking inside for a change. The numbers have caused Dr. Morgan to be very encouraged about Rocky’s progress…… “pretty amazing” is what he said.

After lunch we have an appointment with our Vet to have Mandy’s ears checked again after her medications and Tuffy, our cat, who has been losing weight for the past year. I just want to make sure his thin little body is OK and not a reason to panic. I’m not very good at losing pets.

Last, I would like to wish Becky’s best friend a Happy Birthday. They have been friends since those teen-age years…..you know…..when mom and dad are stupid but your girlfriend is a genius? I’m so glad they found each other then because they have had a lot of sharing over the years that helped them both cope with a little thing called….life!!! We all need a special person we can cling to when it gets a little rough. So Happy Birthday DiDi…….you are loved.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 07, 2006


Several people have asked about Mandy recently. I realize I haven’t written much about her lately so I’ll try to fill you in. Amber’s absence has been less painful because Mandy has been here to take up some of the slack. In caring for the pets we ‘have’ we naturally have less time to think of the one who is missing. I sometimes think God sent Mandy to us, knowing Amber would soon be taken from us. At any rate it has been good to have her. It in no way diminishes our grief in losing Amber but it helps to work out the pain. Pet owners will understand what I mean.

Mandy has been here now since April 23rd…..it’s hard to realize she has been with us over two months. In looking back I can see how hard it was for her to adapt to a new family with more pets in the house than she was used to. She came from a young couple and one other dog and one cat to our home where we had three cats and one little dog. Rocky and I could hardly be called a “young couple”….just young in heart.

She was over two years old at the time and will be three next month. August 29th is her birthday. She had an ear infection and the previous owners sent her prescription with her but Mandy didn’t seem to respond to the treatment. When we took her to our veterinarian he cleaned and treated her for the ear infection and gave us some pills for an allergy which had caused her to chew on her feet and scratch constantly. Both have helped her but is something we have to continually deal with. Part of it is her breed and part of it is Missouri where we have more noxious weeds, plants etc; than any other State in the Union.

Mandy is a joy. She wants to please and is a smart little doggie. She had not been trained with a ‘lead’ so at first when we took her out on her leash she was almost humiliated. Instead of walking ahead and realizing this was “potty time” she just stood and looked at us. We didn’t dare let her out without it……even if we were with her. She didn’t know where her boundaries were and would dash off in any direction, helter-skelter.

Over the weeks she learned the length of the leash and just how far she could pursue the three outside cats before getting choked and coming to a screeching halt. The outside cats learned quicker than she did and would run just far enough so that Mandy couldn’t get them. It took a while but now she is pretty well educated to the whole idea and our walks are much shorter in duration.

Mandy would love to play with Callie, Chevy and Lovey but she sputters and snorts and chokes on a dead run to get to them and it freaks them out. If she could curb her impulse to run after them like a charging buffalo they would like to play but she’s a little too much dog for them yet. They are getting less and less afraid of her so now it will just take time to settle her down enough.

She loves to go in the car where the bank and drug store send a doggie bone to her at the drive-up window. She has learned to hang out the window on Rocky’s lap so the clerks can see there’s a dog in the car……they always talk to her and send her a doggie bone…..Mandy loves the attention and the treats.

At home when she comes in from her potty walk she gets a “nummy”…….a word Rocky used with her and she picked up on real quick. After her potty, she races to the house dragging whoever is hanging on to her leash because she knows she gets her nummy when she goes in. I buy wieners for her and break off a piece of one each time and she knows the drill so well, she runs to the frig once we are inside. Otherwise she is fed her Science Diet dry food which is much better for her, I’m sure. But doggies do love wieners…….trust me.

Well, that’s a little bit about Miss Mandy. She has brought a lot of joy into our home and we are thankful she came our way. Sometimes the best gifts come on four legs……..

Until the next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Today has been a good day. The humidity is low, there’s a nice breeze and we got a lot of things done. Rocky finished mowing what he didn’t get done the other day even though he had a restless night. For some reason he couldn’t sleep and when I woke up this morning he was asleep in the living room recliner.

I knew the chemo would kick in sooner and harder this last time. It’s the breaking point of what the body can stand and time to do something different. The only good thing is that cancer doesn’t like it either and is in it’s last stages of shriveling up. I keep that picture in my mind…..sort of like the weeds that shrivel up after being sprayed with weed killer.

He hadn’t needed the severe nausea pills yet so I decided now was the time to try them out. After Rocky ate breakfast I gave him one and he fell asleep again…..yes, back in the recliner holding the remote in his hand. Pardon me guys but it made me think of babies sound asleep with their pacifier hanging out of their mouth. Yes, I used the things on my babies because they worked like a charm…..almost as good as a remote in your hubby’s hand.

I baked a couple of coconut pound cakes to take to friends and a loaf of bread for Rocky. He loves home made bread and is spoiled to eat anything different. It’s a match made in heaven because I love to bake. Some of my fond memories of home were watching my mother bake …..I sat at the kitchen table which had to double for counter tops that we didn’t have. Mom made everything from that old table. I was blessed with an old fashioned mother who cooked everything from scratch and did all her own baking. She ruined all of us for commercial food.

I watered all of the bushes and flowers this morning and need to spray the roses and hollyhocks this evening. Something likes to eat the leaves of each but I found a good spray that holds them back from week to week. Tomorrow will find me pulling weeds early before it gets too hot. It would be nice to have another cooler day with a good breeze but those don’t come along too often in July.

I had a very nice email from a lady in Milwaukee who sent her sympathy for the loss of Amber. She had worked for a veterinarian over 43 years and was a pet lover as many of us are. It tells me that there are many nice folks out there who read each others blogs and identify with their life struggles. It isn’t a soap opera….it’s life. Sometimes it comes faster than you can deal with it and sometimes not but the nice thing is that we’re all reaching out to each other to give a helping hand.

I hope if you’re having a bad time out there that someone’s words will help you through. There are lots of nice folks who really care about the other guy…….God bless ‘em.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


As you all know we have had some tough days of late. But God is alive and well and in Him we have all hope of glory. Out of our recent loss of Amber and with Rocky’s fight with colon cancer came an extraordinary day.

We were at his sixth chemo treatment today and had a visit with Dr. Morgan. He addressed each of the effects Rocky has had with the treatment and said he was “right on target”……and now it was time to begin the next phase.

A week from tomorrow he will have a CT of his chest area, abdomen and pelvis. He will begin I.V.’s of Avastin and then one pill a day for five days after each of those treatments. He will continue having the blood-work done each Wednesday as before and we will find out the CEA numbers once a month and on the day of the CT. Dr. Morgan said Rocky had made an amazing recovery and so far he knows there is no other active cancer.

I believe in Dr. Morgan because I have a simple faith. I just believe God can do anything and trust that He will. I believe He had the right people in place to care for Rocky and help in his recovery.

After Rocky was underway with his I.V.’s running I left him to look for something special. Early on, when we were in the first stages of treatment, a classmate of ours who is living in Germany sent us a gift…..I believe through his daughter. (I may be wrong on the connection.) Anyway……it was a lovely angel…..made by Willow Tree. Some of you maybe familiar with the line….they were new to me. We loved her and each time we passed by where she sat we thought of the kindness of Don and the significance of the little angel.

I found just the right one for Rocky. An angel hugging a little dog to her breast. I hid it in the car and when we came home I picked the right time to give it to him. It was to celebrate the last chemo treatment and the hope of being free of cancer for a while……or longer than a while. When Rocky pulled the little angel from the box and saw the dog in it’s arms he shed some tears. Yes, real men cry. So now the one our friend sent has another to stand beside her.

I stopped in another store to look for a card for a friend having a birthday. She is a long time friend who used to live across the street from us in Shawnee, Kansas and our children grew up together. I noticed a lady intently looking at cards up the isle a ways from me and not finding what I wanted, I went on to another isle to look further. Before long she came to the same isle and I was compelled to say something to her….. “ I don’t see my favorite cards I like to send….Helen Steiner Rice.” I assumed she was probably a local resident but she began telling me she was just traveling from Mountain Home (Arkansas) to St. Louis where she lived. She had been to her parents to help out while her mother recuperated from surgery. We talked on and told each other our names, shook hands and parted.

As I was checking out she appeared behind me with her shopping cart and we began talking again. I laughed and said, “It looks like we were meant to meet each other today”….and she agreed. I told her I was hurrying back to the Clinic where my husband was having his last chemo treatment for cancer……her eyes widened and she told me they were waiting for the results of tests her husband had taken. They feared cancer of the esophagus.

I asked her husband’s name and told her we would pray for them and she asked for Rocky’s name and said they would pray for us. I wished her a safe trip home and left the store. It was on the way home that it dawned on me their names were identical to our neighbor’s. Patty and David. I can’t explain but somehow the connection it made gave me a feeling that our paths crossed for a very special reason.

Don’t ask me why or what. I only know the brief encounter made a great impact on me. I feel an extraordinary sense of God working……..though I do not and probably never will know why.

It has been a very special day……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 03, 2006


Reality set in yesterday that Amber was gone…..really gone. Not coming back. That part of the grieving stage had made it’s mark when we got up and looked in her empty apartment and her bed yesterday. No little wiggly dog to wake up and say, “I love you,” by ripples of wagging from her tail to her nose.

If this happened to anyone else I would have thought after a few hours…….it was something “they” would have to accept…….but when it happens to you, there is no stone left unturned because that driving force of love carries you on. Maybe I’ll find her here, or there, or in the back or. …. You know it’s no use but you go on.

There will be no homecoming for us. Rocky’s little pal that rode shotgun in his 18-wheeler from coast to coast and from north to south is gone. Almost a premonition when Rocky went to town a day or two before she disappeared, he turned around and said, “Do you want to go, Amber?” Her eyes almost popped out of her head with her eagerness to go with him.

It’s funny how a pet can grow into you almost as much as a human. They become the companion who is always there through thick and thin…….no matter what. They never talk but their emotions are always felt by their owners and those with whom they trust.

Pet owners spend themselves short of money to make sure their friend is taken care of, provided for and happy. They laugh with them, play with them and do all kinds of goofy things just to see a reaction from their “pet.” You can’t buy love as strong as a pet has for an owner. It is only earned.

There will always be a little room in our heart for Amber. She didn’t take up much space, was not demanding in any way and was always happy if she could just be with you. Becky was very special to her. She always brightened when Becky came to see us and loved the time she got to spend with her. She was usually snuggled around Becky’s neck and happy as a lark.

I was more the “mother” to her. I cleaned up after her, fed her, changed her bedding and kept the papers dry. She was a special needs dog and I fixed all kinds of things for her to eat because of the difficulty she had. I know I was loved, as a mother knows she is loved by her children……..but we are with them so much they naturally take a mother for granted. Rocky and Becky were her great delight and I understood that. It was earned and well placed.

Goodbye to a little dog that had a courageous heart and had overcome so much. I hope she is romping in a beautiful meadow with all of her doggie pals who went before her. She was two and a half pounds of special love…………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther