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Thursday, August 31, 2006


Life is made up of many relationships. We move in and out of some easily or out of necessity. However, there are many who remain with us our whole life through and are never forgotten. With some, we are as hooked on impact, as a bug on a windshield while others never seem to hang on at all.

As most children raised in my generation, we were not doted on. My mom and dad went about every day in their work-mode and there were never any plans made for us especially…..they were the nucleus we traveled around. We sort of grew up like Topsy……learning by watching and listening.

School teachers were law enforcement in those days. No one dared being disrespectful to a teacher…..it’s been over-stated but it was true….if you got in trouble at school, there was sure to be trouble once you were home. Because of all this, when you were a kid in the 30’s and someone was nice to you, actually took notice of you and seemed interested in what you might have to say…..they became an instant hero to you.

I have been most fortunate in the area of hero’s. It seems just when I needed one they popped up in the nick of time. I learned many of my strong morals from Walt Disney movies and the many children’s classic books I read. Though times were hard at home, books were my friends. Books took me around the world and filled my head with wonderful fantasies.

As a little girl, I longed to have someone tell me I was pretty or I was smart or I was anything. Parent’s didn’t worry if their kid would grow up with a diminished feeling of self-worth……they worried about food and sickness and being unable to work. I know now that I was blessed with a very special gift. The ability to think I was worth “something” and although I didn’t know where that would take me, I thought I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to be.

Thanks to a lot of hero’s along the way I have been enriched beyond what I could have been without them. I like to think they are angels of freedom. Angels who appear when you desperately need help and they send you on your way of safe passage to the next angel who sends you on when the time is right.

One such angel was named Opal Plummer. She was in my life at the crucial time of having my first child. She gave over and above what any friend should do for another…..yet, she came day or night when the need was there. She moved away shortly after young George was born and we lost track of her but I will never forget her generosity of spirit and helps.

When I asked how I could ever repay her…..she just laughed and said, “Why honey, you can’t repay me. Just remember when you see someone else who needs help, give them a willing hand. That’s the way it works. Someone else will help me down the road somewhere.”

I hope you’ve known an Opal Plummer in your life and the lessons learned have been handed down by you.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Our day leaves me happy and sad. Rocky had a visit with Dr. Morgan and everything is looking good there. We won’t have a CEA report until our next visit two weeks from now. Dr. Morgan is extremely happy with the way Rocky feels and looks and has only made one more appointment until we see how the next visit goes. If he has dropped to normal ranges of the CEA I’m thinking we won’t visit as soon. I’m feeling very good about Rocky…..and very grateful.

My heartache now is for Tuffy. He grows thinner by the day and is just skin and fur over bone. He eats only a couple of licks here and there……and even those few little bites seem to come back up. He cannot quit vomiting. His elimination seems to be working yet but I don’t know for how long. He tries so hard to do the daily things he has always enjoyed but it is obvious it takes a lot of effort.

He never complains, never acts like he hurts. He’s just quietly disappearing before our eyes. I quit giving him any medication about a week ago because it was so traumatic for him and he just threw it up anyway. Not much point of putting him through all that for no benefit.

You friends out there who love cats as I do will understand my feelings. I wish I could keep him but I’m afraid he has gone beyond that. Just remember us as we try to give him up……..nature is very hard to understand at times. Tuffy is only 11 or 12 and I didn’t expect to lose him so soon. I respect the way he is taking charge and making terms of his own choosing. I allow him the chance to do that.

Thank you for your love and concern…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


In the days of so many people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it makes me think how perfectly wonderful our memories are. Stop and think for a brief moment how it would be if we didn’t have memories. For one thing, you wouldn’t remember the suggestion I just made.

My mother was a victim of several life-threatening strokes and dementia made her last years very unstable. At times she would know me and we would have a wonderful visit but other times she looked at me quizzically trying to figure out who I was and why I was talking to her. Her last five and one-half years were spent in our local nursing home.

Most of the time she had good care but on the few occasions she didn’t, I was overcome with guilt and sadness to think her last years had to be like they were. Mom would be trying to tell me something but the words wouldn’t come for her. She knew what she wanted to say but the brain and the mouth didn’t work together. I spent many visits playing charades…….at times mom would become very frustrated and so would I, trying to connect on what she wanted to say.

I remember one visit when mom was telling me she was wakened in the middle of the night by someone in a leotard giving her medications. Of course, it sounded positively preposterous and I said, “Oh, I don’t think so, mom.” She said, “Well I know you don’t think I know what I’m talking about, Esther, but I do” and then she repeated the incident. It was one of mom’s lucid moments I was to find out later.

A week or so after, I mentioned this to the girl who usually took care of mom and she laughed and said, “Well, mom was right!! Some of us girls got off at 1:30 am and put on our leotards and were exercising in the therapy room. It was time for med’s so we didn’t change clothes, we just went back and passed them out to our patients.” Because of times like that, I never knew when mom was on target and when she was off in her own prison of thoughts that didn’t make any sense.

It makes me sad to think how many poor souls were considered crazy and put in mental institutions when they actually had misfires in their brains. With stroke it is very possible to be unable to talk or move while the patient has the ability to hear and reason. Things are just mixed up and the brain is sending out signals to a body that doesn’t respond.

Memories are wonderful in the golden years. The good memories of family and friends are a great comfort…….and even the bad memories have long been good lessons to steer us away from making the same mistakes over and over. A life well lived will produce many pleasurable moments that “stick” in our brains like a Kodak moment…….recalling those times is always pleasant.

I have known a few people who say they don’t remember much about their lives. I think that is so sad……it gives the image of one who is just putting up with life and enduring it rather than “living” it. I believe I have packed three lifetimes into one and I have all the memories to remind me of how fortunate I have been. I may not keep them until death, I do not know, but as long as I have anything I will be grateful for life, for family, for friends …..and the rich trove of memories I have been allowed to keep thus far.

Open your box and see what you’ve saved and savored along the way. Visit it often and enjoy all of those pleasures again and again……they are waiting to be enjoyed each time you stop by.

It is a gift you give yourself.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 28, 2006


Normally we do not think of gentleness when we think of strength. Rocky holds World and American records for his weightlifting achievements and is never lacking when it comes to big, hard jobs at home. I depend on his strength when I come to the end of mine. I can always call on him and he never fails me. I love him for many different reasons but high on the list is the fact he is also a gentle man.

Today he came in from the garage holding a hurt and frightened red female cardinal in his massive hand. His fingers closed around her frail little body in a protective way. Callie, Chevy and Lovey had all been in pursuit of her when Rocky happened along and was able to wrest her from their clutches. They had damaged her some but we hoped not beyond our help.

I love my kitties but I also love our birds. We feed them year round and enjoy the fresh hatches as the parents bring the newborns to our feeders. It is always a battle to keep them away from the cats who love to catch, toss and play with their prey. I’ve saved quite a few hapless little critters of different kinds and try to remember that cats are only being cats when they hunt. It never makes it easier when they have a victim.

Rocky and I had a discussion over what to do for the little cardinal and we decided first thing was for her to drink. He took her to the bird bath by our kitchen window and gently put her down in the water. She seemed to be in shock and Rocky stood there scooping water up in his hand to her but she was not able to drink. She seemed to relax as he washed the warm water over her and she turned her head a little as he continued. The feeder was close by with a large landing on it and he placed her there, safely higher so the cats wouldn’t find her.

He came in to get a small dish filled with water and we watched as she sat there with the soft breeze blowing her feathers. She seemed to gain strength after some time and she went to the other side of the feeder. Other birds came and went and we watched to see her reaction and also to make sure that they didn’t peck her as they do sometimes when one is hurt.

After a while we went back to what we were doing and when I thought to look again she was gone. At first, my eyes searched eagerly for the sight of her on the ground, and not seeing her I then looked at the fence-line and into the bushes. She was no where to be seen. Rocky went out and walked around……there were no cats and no sign of the little cardinal.

I would like to say we saw her spread her wings and fly away but we didn’t. Sometimes those fulfilling moments aren’t meant for us to have…..but somewhere out there I believe she will live out her destiny…..given to her by my gentle giant.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 25, 2006


It’s late in the day but we made it to Springfield for Becky’s colonoscopy which seemed to go on for hours. She was scheduled at 10:45 A.M. however it was three hours later before they took her for the procedure. She was getting mighty hungry and Rocky and I were too. Once she was started, it only took an hour to have her back in the room, wake up and be alert enough to dress and go to the car.

The best part of the whole day was her good report. She had feared all kinds of problems but Dr. Miller told us she had no damage to her colon at all and the procedure had gone very well.

The first thing we did was go to a favorite restaurant for something to eat and then for a couple of quick stops before heading home. Our critters were glad to see us and we took care of their immediate needs and settled in for the evening.

George reported that he was feeling much better and he certainly sounded better when we talked with him on the way home. I am grateful that both of my little kiddos are “all better” now and can get back to what they need to be doing.

All’s well that ends well so we’re calling it a day and heading for bed. See y’all on Monday……have a great weekend.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Thursday is a wrap. After being busy all week with cleaning and organizing the hard part is over. I’m thinking…..why not have a TGIThursday? Why wait until Friday to have a TGI something? I declare at our house we will settle down with a glass of tea, put our feet up and feel completion of the work we accomplished…. and then tomorrow we can do the same because it is TGIFriday. I like the sound of that. Two TGI’s in one week is a good thing.

I have a friend who has been a friend for many years. When we moved to our little town and joined a church we met this couple in a Bible Study Group….we visited back and forth and our husbands shared WW11 stories……Bear had been in the Navy first and then in Army Intelligence. Clyde had been in the Battle of the Bulge and the guys never talked about it until one night I persisted……. “ Tell us how it was where you were in WW11.”

Bear and Clyde opened up with amazing detail and recollections of their time in service. Bear had served in Submarines in the South Pacific and Clyde was shipped over and ultimately was in one of the fiercest battles of WW11 in Europe. Opal and I were fascinated and I am still very much so when I hear the stories of the guys who served. To me, they are a cut apart and are deserving of all the credit that may never come their way. Getting them to talk about it is hard……but once in a while they open up and share some of their experiences.

Years went by and Opal and I served together in church activities as did our husbands. One Fall day in 1996 Clyde was concerned about a large limb that had fallen on their roof and proceeded to climb a ladder to remove it. He was atop the house and pulling on the branch when it sprang back, pushing him over the edge. He fell scrapping the huge, rough tree trunk all the way down and landed hard on the ground. The fall broke his hip and seriously injured his kidneys.

He was taken to the hospital where he fought for his life but was unable to recover from the complications. He died in the last week of October that year. Opal stayed with him through it all and returned home to bury her loved one. A few days later we learned that Bear had a fast moving brain cancer that was inoperable and advanced. He was given a few weeks to live and died the first week in February the following year. Opal and I were both widowed and trying to make sense of our lives that had changed so suddenly and tragically.

I began having Opal come one day a week for lunch and we would share and support each other in the difficulties of finding ourselves alone in our golden years. I had watched several ladies in our town who lived beyond reproach and with a good deal of grace when they lost their husbands. I determined that would be my journey. Staying happy and productive means doing for others and finding new meanings for each day.

Opal’s health finally made it impossible for her to drive any more so Rocky or I go after her and bring her to our house for our weekly lunch. It is good to talk over family news, news from folks around town and the pleasure of sharing good food together. Yesterday I talked about being comfortable with people……Opal is comfortable to be around and Opal is a good listener. She has been denied many of the activities she once enjoyed and is more isolated now that she can’t drive but she is full of peace and calm……acceptance of her situation. We can learn a lot from people like Opal, one of the quiet people.

Opal was here for lunch today and we had our usual good visit, lunch and talk of our children. My mother used to always say, “Make new friends but keep the old, for one is silver……the other gold.” I have been blessed with good friends all along the way and I am grateful for each one…….the friends I had earlier in my life are still my friends. They always say the distance to a friend’s house is never long and I know it’s true, they are only as far away as your memory or your heart.

Write, email or call….visit….your friends often. They are a special collection of God given blessings to add much happiness, humor and love to your life.

They are priceless.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

HUMP DAY..... 

Today marks the traditional half-week. Hump day as it is called. Rocky and I finished our heavy cleaning of the carpet yesterday and today the divan and two wing-back chairs. From the dirty water that came out of the Bissell I would say we made a difference.

Making a difference. Do you ever wonder if you’re making a difference? Most of us grow up more advanced than our parents because they weren’t privy to all the new gadgets that seem to make us smarter. Where they raised us and answered all the questions, later they looked to us for answers. The world was getting far too technical for dear old mom and dad and they didn’t like the direction things were going.

If I were guessing, I’d say they didn’t think they made a difference anywhere by being here. Oh but they did. For one reason……they made me (after they made my brother) and we grew up watching what they did and what they said. If they never made any other difference but the two of us, I would say it was a great investment for we have both enjoyed the life they created.

I remember my mother being overwhelmed at the amount of cards received when my dad died suddenly. She looked at them in amazement…….he had touched many lives that she wasn’t aware of. Probably that he was never aware of. His funeral was large with prominent people down to very simple people……he had touched a lot of lives in his quiet, unassuming way.

Few people knew my dad as the family did. He was always uncomfortable with social or public matters…..he hated going to weddings and funerals because he never knew how to act or what to say. With the family he was a story teller of gargantuan proportions and had a wit that would befit a cartoon character. He had a keen memory and could quote dialogue from movies he’d seen with mom clear back to their courting days.

Mom was the same. Always in the background and content to let others shine. She was a great audience for dad and my brother……though she’d heard the same stories for years upon end, she continued to think they were funny. Actually, it was dad who made them funny and we all loved to hear them over and over. We listened with glee as if we didn’t know the ending and yes, we all laughed along like the first time. Now THAT is a real story teller.

I imagine they would be very surprised at the people who still mention them and share a memory of something they said or did. I had a lot of time to think about the impact they left on all of us and I think I know. They were just themselves…..true grit. They weren’t caught up in what the neighbors had or were doing……no Jones’ complex…..they didn’t try to create a perfect image or impress anyone.

I remember mom trudging up the road to take baked goods to an old neighbor, soup to the sick, flowers to a friend and lots of time to visit and comfort folks. She wore clothes till they wore out no matter what the style was for the season. Didn’t waste anything that could be used again and didn’t waste time talking about others in a gossipy way.

Did they make a difference? In many simple ways they made all the difference that counts….that people remember. They were comfortable to be around. How many people do you really like to be around? How many people do you think really like to be around you? There are many ways to draw a crowd but the best are still the simplest, like listening to people. The art of listening is almost gone from society.

If two people are conversing, there are four people talking at once. No one wants to listen anymore. Simple courtesies are still a very good way to make and keep friends…….. and making a difference is easy.

Just be YOU. It’s your greatest asset.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


We’ve been such good kids today I can’t stand myself. For several months, we’ve been looking at the growing spots on our (new three years ago) carpet. They kept appearing like lily pads on a pond…..one now and one then. With three inside cats and Mandy, the dog, they contributed to floor designs real often. Real and often.

Tuffy has always had a hairball problem. I’ve never figured out why. We’ve done all the obvious things to correct it but nothing ever worked. The past year he has mysteriously grown thinner and thinner, vomiting often. We’ve had two different lengthy Vet bills for dehydration, X-rays, all kinds of lab work and testing but the result was always the same. Tuffy was reading normal on all of it.

He went from a fat cat a year ago to an anorexic cat now. He never got the nutrition from his food before he threw it up. Believe me, it made for lots and lots of frustration and fear on my part. The frustration because I was the one who cleaned it all up and fear that he was never going to get better.

After $1000 in Vet bills we seem to be doing better with a suggestion from Rocky that I mentioned earlier……giving him Pepto-Bismol. He had thrown up the antibiotics and the medicine to keep him from vomiting. I figured for sure Tuffy was in the last stages of death. After three doses of the Pepto-Bismol he has stopped vomiting and is eating again. He seems hungry and even comes to the kitchen to beg for canned Tuna that I give all the kitties twice a day.

OK, why did I go through all that when I was talking about the carpet? Because I am hoping that now we will have less barfing and it will stay clean a while. I was very tired of scrubbing the spots on my hands and knees each time. Rocky dug the Bissell out of storage in the garage and thankfully all the parts were in tact with the instruction book. We assembled the Bissell and read the directions, Rocky started and before long a transformation appeared right before our eyes.

I gave him a couple of time outs and we traded back and forth. In no time we were finished and the carpeting looks beautiful. Tomorrow we’re going to shampoo the divan and the two wing-backs while we have the Bissell out.

Early this morning I fertilized all of the trees, bushes and plants one last time. It took three hours to water it in good….the heat is so hard on them I thought I’d give them some extra nourishment. It won’t be long until time to prune and cut back for another Spring. I’ve already begun on some things. Tuesday was very productive around here…..Rocky has gone to the gym for a couple of hours and I promised him potato salad for supper so I’d better head for the kitchen……see you back here tomorrow……..good Lord willing……….

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 21, 2006


We woke to cloudy skies and much cooler temps this morning. After breakfast we went outside and worked in the yard till we ran out of steam somewhere past noon. It was such a pleasure to be able to work without contending with the heat and actually be able to get to some of the Fall pruning that needs to be done. I’m starting on the crepe myrtles who are still blooming but if pruned, they will bloom until frost.

The outside kitties love it when yard day comes around. They like to hop in and out of the wheel-barrow and jump in and out of the clippings that fall under the trees and bushes. Callie, the oldest female, was a hungry stray that we took in when love won her over. She likes to show Chevy a thing or two once in a while and jumps on him to wrestle. Chevy is the little male who was sitting under a car at the Chevrolet Dealership here in town. We tried to catch him several times but he was too fast for us……he was finally caught by one of the mechanics who called us to pick him up. We knew it was just a matter of time that he would be run over on the busy street, or starve. The mechanic is soft-hearted like we are and didn’t want him to get hurt.

Lovey is usually the loner but got her name because she was so loving and grateful for a home. She’s the Blue Russian and during the day she stays to herself while Callie and Chevy stay close together. Chevy is the baby at two, Lovey is three and Callie is probably four or five. They are so much pleasure when I’m outside and provide many a laugh for me with their antics. Is there anything more playful and mischievous than kitties?

Speaking of cats, Tuffy is seemingly coming out of the long dark tunnel he’s been in lately. He had a terrible spell of vomiting over the weekend and by last night Rocky told me to give him some Pepto-Bismol since he even threw the medications up from the Vet. Rocky said they used to give it to their puppies when they had upset tummies. Tuffy took it pretty well and kept his food down last evening and so far today. That makes me very happy. If he can begin to get some of the nourishment from his food he will grow stronger. I really hope the little guy makes it. I’ve had him since 1994 when he was about six weeks old. He found me on one of my walks and made me take him home.

Morris, the elder statesman, is seven-teen plus and quite the old man. He lowers himself down to sleep very carefully……I think his hips have been painful for some time and he has lost much of his hearing……however, not to count him out. He has a fierce attachment to us and especially me. In the evening he will appear from nowhere to sit by my side or on my lap. He has a secret radar system that tells him the minute I sit down…..then here he comes with his eyes trained on me.

There are times I would like to just sit and ponder a while but I never slip one by him…….he knows when I’m available. If I’m knitting or reading a book he makes allowances for the space and clocks out to kitty dreamland. That is our special time together. He knows a lot about knitting and crochet too, for he has watched many a stitch go together at close range. I’m beginning to think I’ll go before he does…..he’s pretty resilient.

Sassy got her name for being a little sassy pot. She was a holy terror when she was young. Rocky brought her home with him as he found her crying and hurt in a weed patch. She apparently rode into town on a truck and burned her foot on the manifold exiting her transportation. She was about six weeks old, black and white and marked so beautifully. She was spoiled immediately because of her injury and then because she was so cute.

Since Mandy came to our house, Sassy has calmed down a bunch. She used to follow me everywhere in the house but now Mandy does that so Sassy concentrates on Mandy to see what “she’s” up to. After several months of keeping their distance, the cats have pretty well accepted Mandy and they stroll the house together and enjoy many of the same pastimes together.

Monday is pretty well over by mid-afternoon so I’m going to wind up some little chores and think about something for supper. Rocky is doing very well and we are so glad he continues to respond to the medications. Peace reins supreme at our house for the time being and we hope the same for you and yours. School has started here and things are beginning to look like Fall, one of my favorite things……...

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 18, 2006


Well our happy little faucet didn’t wait long to cry big (and too many) tears. After I’d cleaned everything up under the sink, put everything back and enjoyed part of the football game (that is if you enjoy seeing your team lose) I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. It took a moment for it to soak in why water was soaking into my stocking feet. Then reality hit both of us…….mid-sentence…..we KNEW!!! The pipe was leaking under the sink.

Yup!! We were only too right! One look at my waxed paper floating over to the door pre-empted some very bad language from Rocky and me echoing his verbiage. I had Rocky get a towel and a throw rug and began soaking up the water…..Rocky went to the water main out by the road and shut it off. Everything came back out, dripping wet, and again, the under sink area was wiped dry. Needless to say, the critters all headed for the back of the house……they didn’t know what was going on but the tones coming from our mouths must have been pretty picturesque. They left in a hurry.

Rocky fumed the rest of the evening, knowing he was going to have to squeeze his shoulders to an 18 inch capacity so he could get back far enough to replace the pipe. First light of day we were up and after breakfast he was off to the hardware store to get more tubing, fittings, whatever. He came home and by that time everything was freed up so he could get at the job and he finished very quickly. I cleaned the under area one more time and waited to see if it was going to leak. After a half-hour, things looked pretty safe so everything was put back in order.

I don’t know how plumbers do it!! No wonder my dad was cranky a lot of the time. He did that for a living and I can’t imagine that he had the help I gave Rocky. I ran every two minutes as he called out his needs from the small area he was working in. I can imagine if you didn’t have a helper you’d get pretty mad about the fourth time you had to come out and go back. The day ended with both of us looking like leftovers from a war zone.

So we finish our week with a new table and six chairs, and a new faucet, all of which we hope lasts longer than our needs. Ah the blessings of being a “home-owner.” It keeps you entertained and broke…….just think, we could have been wondering what to do with ourselves, but we didn’t have that problem. Old Murphy took care of that for us.

I hope your home is in good repair and you have more interesting things to do with your money. I almost fainted when I saw the cost of a new 4-piece faucet. Yikes!! I’ve become my mother!!!! Every day she would tell me how cheap things “used” to be. I’m with YOU, mom…….give me the good old days. Ha!!

Have a great weekend everyone, see you Monday…..maybe….
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Hi everyone!! I know……I haven’t been writing but we’ve had a lot going on. Monday we took Becky to Springfield for more mouth troubles which, luckily seems to be a minor thing. Then we bought a new kitchen table and chairs and Rocky had to dismantle them to get them in our van…..made it home with three chairs lashed to the carriers on top. I know people got a hoot out of us going down the highway in our Chrysler Mini-Van with chairs atop…..but hey….it worked. That’s the name of that little game. I had visions of Oklahoman’s en-route to California.

So yesterday we cleaned our present set of table and chairs and took them to the Antique Barn for sale……then commenced putting our new set together. Well, we finished about 4:00 in the afternoon and we were both half goofy. After the 999 nuts, screws and bolts that went back into it we slid it together and had a nice crack down the middle……we mused and messed for an hour and then Rocky decided two under boards were not able to meet as one was too long.

Don’t ask me to be technical here…..all I know is, he used the rasp for fear we’d tear something up or ruin the finish. Well, after a half hour of slow to no progress we threw caution to the wind and Rocky brought his electric sander in from the garage. One look at that puppy and the table coughed a few times and went together like clockwork. That man is one mean dude with a sander.

So here we are up to today already. See how fast time goes? Off to the clinic for Rocky’s lab work……then to WalMart for hardware and grocery needs……back to visit with the doctor and to get the news that Rocky’s CEA was 6.6 today. If you’ve been keeping count…….it has continued on a downhill slide since our first report. We are not bragging…….believe me. Humbled would be a good word. I know and see so many others who don’t have those good reports that I only feel sorrow for them and gratitude for us. I pray they will see advances to help them in time and to continue healing until that happens.

Believe me……..we are both beat. So if you will excuse me, I’m going back to the kitchen and finish cleaning up our mess, admire our new faucets and try to un-kink Rocky’s anatomy since being under our sink for several hours. Early bed tonight….we are feeling very old right now. A guest comes for lunch tomorrow so we won’t rest on our laurels too long…..morning brings more adventure.

Good night from the Ozarks…….hope your day has been great!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 11, 2006


Yippee!! Today is Friday and Becky, Rocky and I are indulging in a pizza party. It’s Friday night and we’re going to enjoy!! Of course, it will be at our house because that’s where the best pizza is.

Pizza is an art. When my brother came home from Italy we all made a trip to Nebraska to visit uncle Ted, aunt Beulah and Dale. We were so happy to see Louis after his stint in the regular man’s army after WW11 was over. Louis was stationed up in Trieste where they watched the Czeck border and made regular patrols.

Louis had changed and his appetite had changed. He talked about pizza, lasagna, and tons of other dishes that we knew absolutely nothing about. He wanted us all to try pizza and none of us had a clue what he was talking about. Uncle Ted said, “Your best bet to get something like that is probably down in South Omaha……there’s a lot of Italian people living there.”

Louis was off like a rocket and returned sometime later with all the fixings for some pizza. Well, it was very enlightening. None of us were as fond of it to begin with as Louis. He ate and ate and rolled his eyes looking to the ceiling with every bite. He explained that the Italians didn’t have all the meat we do to fix it like we were eating so they only had meat pizzas on special occasions and holidays.

We were all polite and ate some…….uncle Ted was not impressed with his house smelling like garlic. In those days garlic and Italians were synonymous. Boy, have times changed. I think America eats more pizza than Italy does. Louis had been in Italy long enough to speak pretty good Italian and it was one of those times a kid sister doesn’t forget.

To his dying day he loved and ate pizza. If we were not properly impressed at the time we sure caught up with him. As for my kids…….I would say pizza is very high on their food chain…….count Rocky and me in on that too……Friday night was made for pizza, friends, family and a happy feeling that we’ve wrapped up another week in style.

Guess I’d better go get the fixing’s ready so have a sip of whatever you call your favorite beverage and I’ll be serving up in about a half hour. See you next week……have a great week-end.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Day is done at the Rockenbach’s. Rocky has had a quiet week as it’s been too hot to do anything outside and so he talks to our animals and watches TV. We went to the gym Tuesday evening and he is there this afternoon but I begged off. I had a lot of sorting to do and some cleaning. Since we’re confined to the house I’ve been cleaning drawers and closets…….it’s a never ending job. I think things grow and multiply when we close the doors.

I bought both of us Ultrasonic toothbrushes and it has given Rocky something to think about. The first run at it he said he couldn’t stand the vibration of it against his teeth. I thought it a peculiar fetish but set it aside. In a few days after he thought it over, he tried again and decided it was going to be OK. He is concerned about his teeth and gums since the brain surgery and consequent anti-seizure pills he must take. (Which have an effect on the gums.)

Rocky goes back to the surgeon on the 25th of this month so will again ask if he can be taken off the seizure pills. He hates them with a passion and doesn’t see any sense in them. The reason he had the seizure was because it is quite prevalent after brain surgery. The one was all he had the morning after surgery. I think the guy needs a break but if Dr. Ferguson thinks best, we’ll go with it.

Mandy is settling in and loving her new home. She gets handouts from the table and expects to be able to lick each plate after we finish. She sits between us and looks intently with one eye on the cats, who sometimes wonder why Mandy is that interested in the table. She loves pestering the three outside cats who run just beyond where her lead stops. They have it figured out pretty good and it’s a terrible annoyance to Mandy.

Tuffy is not eating much and takes spells of spitting up every thing he eats. We worry about him but he seems to feel good enough…….he lost more weight at the hospital and is a rag of bone and a hank of hair. Still he carries on normally and we keep hoping he’ll put some weight on……sure don’t want to lose him.

Rocky is home from the gym, hungry, and Becky just walked in so I guess I’ll end my visit for now. Have a nice evening and we’ll be back tomorrow……good Lord willing.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


When I was in high school and it became evident that it would end someday I wondered what I would do next. For kids planning on college, there were required subjects to take, and others required just to graduate without being a dummy.

I have talked to a lot of people who say they always knew what they wanted to do. I never had that inclination or if I did, I screwed up and didn’t realize it. Life seemed an endless potpourri of choices and endless time to try a lot of them.

After high school I worked in the drug store a year and then got married. I grew up in a family where women got married, raised a family, didn’t work out of the home and never divorced. Marriage was probably the first order on my menu. I didn’t think about it enough or I would have realized I was far too immature for the big leap.

But youth is wasted on the young as they say!! I married and planned to work and maybe have children when I was 20 or so. However, that decision wasn’t meant for me to make…..and a few months after marriage I came up pregnant. I was scared silly. This was something I hadn’t decided I wanted to do and worse yet, something I couldn’t get out of.

Life rolled along and the baby came, I quit work early into the pregnancy, and was busy with all the joys of motherhood. Baby two and three came and I was still a stay-at-home mom. That was certainly more gratifying to me than a career would have been…..and just because you haven’t had higher education doesn’t mean the learning stops. Reading books, taking advantage of the Internet and a zillion other resources can feed your hunger to learn.

Back to choices…….I never really made many on my own. They found me. I have had several good jobs since the children were in school and they all happened because someone knew me. It seemed I was “picked” for the jobs I agreed to because someone found me to be dependable, honest, hard working, a good communicator, pleasant, neat in appearance and so on.

I am not one to discredit higher education but I have known too many people who were given the privilege of a college education who partied, skipped classes, lied, cheated…..well, sadly the list is long. But being all of the attributes I mentioned about myself wouldn’t get a rocket to the moon, become a brain surgeon, teacher, or any other professional, either.

I am saying it seems to me the best candidate for a serious job would be the college grad who was honest, dependable, hard working….could read and write…..also speak intelligently and be an asset to any organization. Jay Leno does a sidewalk interview on a routine basis where he asks some very fundamental questions. Things a kid should know in the lower grades……and most of the answers are unbelievably stupid.

Sadly, education is lacking to the extent that people who give wrong answers don’t care, aren’t embarrassed about it and laugh about their incompetence. It’s funny. NO! It’s SAD! I do not know how teachers can teach when parents don’t care and show no interest or concern over their children’s education. Many teachers are good caring people who obviously care more about education than the kids or their parents.

Of course, I’m speaking to the low achievers and not to the whole. I know there are still kids out there who excel in their subjects, have great morals and embrace education as the gateway to a better life. The “not caring” about “not knowing” is what is so hard to deal with. How can a young person not care about his own future?

OK……I know a lot of my readers are more educated than I am so I’m opening a forum and asking you to come up with some solutions here. I think I hear school bells ringing and we’ve got to work fast. There is so much wonderful information to be digested it’s a pity to starve at an early age. Let’s show a little pride here and wake up. Picture Abraham Lincoln walking miles to borrow books and reading by fire light…….how long has it been since you’ve felt the urge to read and learn like that?

I open windows to see out,
I open doors to go out,
I open books to FIND out.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Becky brought some startling news last evening. She had been to the neighbors to visit and learned they have their place up for sale. They had broached the subject to us a few times in passing but we didn’t take it seriously. It’s funny how your mind does a recoil when information pops in unexpected. Somehow I thought they would always be there……next door to the Rockenbachs.

Sudden and sad images flashed across my mind of the good times we’ve had together. We’ve eaten back and forth, shared birthdays, funerals, the birth of Davey, holidays and lots of visiting over the fence as we worked in our yards. Now they would be moving to St. Louis as soon as they sell their property.

I understand their reasoning and I’m sure it will be a good move for them. Dave was hurt in a routine motorist-check some years back, injured pretty seriously, in fact….and was forced to retire from the City Police when he realized he could no longer perform his duties as he knew he needed to. It was a personal decision made by him.

For a man used to working, his forced retirement was difficult. A small town doesn’t offer much in the way of employment for someone who has health issues. There just aren’t that many places to work…….still they made the best of a bad situation.

They will have a lot more opportunity in St. Louis to work and enjoy more of their family members. Little Davey will also have more opportunities growing up in a more progressive school system. Somehow the good reasoning of it doesn’t change the lump I feel every time I think of it. I can not blame them at all……it’s like a death. You are happy for the person knowing they will be in heaven but you feel a terrible loss in their absence.

Much has been written about old folks not liking change and I confess I am normal in that assessment. It’s a sad state of affairs because the older you grow, the more changes you have to face. Certainly a different stand than I took in my teens, twenties and beyond. I loved change and required it. But something happened.

I remember talking with mom and trying to get her to go places, call her friends, go shopping……..to DO something with her days. She only looked at me with a slight pity registered on her face…… “You’ll see, Esther. You’ll find out. Being quiet and being at home is not a bad thing. I enjoy my quiet time.” I used to think mom and I were geared so different……..but I discovered only at that time.

When I reached the age she was when I was giving her my pep talks, it dawned on me how right mom was. It’s wonderful to be quiet, to relax, to be out of the loop and letting the day “happen” rather than trying to push it along.

So much of my life was constant motion. I packed 900 years into one short lifetime. I left home early, married early, had three children early………worked at several responsible jobs…kept up a constant social life…raised children, took care of several elderly family members and retired at the age of 65.

I’ve had three husbands, several step families and have always done my own work. Trust me when I say I was packing a lot into a few years. Now as I reflect on my life I didn’t have a lot of time to waste or relax, however you prefer to call it, but I find that sitting down with a magazine, a good book or keeping up with emails is a good thing.

Gone is the desire to be with people all the time…..the need to be busy all the time or to look for things to do. Change is for the young, the restless and the ambitious. I am no longer any of that…..but I applaud those who carry on for the next generation.

Someone wrote once that the only change we can really count on is that there will always be changes…….well, here’s to the champions of change……now where is my cup of coffee and new magazine?

I wish Dave and Patty God-speed and an open door whenever they come our way again…………we’ll leave a light on for ya‘.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 07, 2006


I used to wonder why my mother kept things. The older I grow, the more I think I understand. She grew up when nothing was wasted and they saved every little thing that could be used later…..or even if they ‘thought’ they could use it later.

I’m sure if I had an early married life like my mom and dad I would have had a far different attitude about a lot of things. It is very difficult for one generation to understand another, either forwards or back. You have to ‘be’ there to truly get the big picture.

Although I started out a lot different, we did know hard times here and there but never to the degree my parents did. I used to listen to their stories in awe because it was amazing to think they could come through times like that and not be bitter or self-serving.

As the years went by it became apparent to me that being wasteful in anything was wrong, whether you could afford to be wasteful or not. There was a commercial years ago where an Indian comes to a stream of water, picks up some trash from it and a tear rolls down his cheek. I think that did more for my understanding than words ever could. The look on his face made me realize how America wastes……. and we aren’t even concerned about it.

As I grew older, I began scraping butter wrappers before throwing them away, I found I was wasting a lot of water and curbed that habit, shut lights off when leaving rooms, turned the oven and burners off a few minutes early to use the heat already expended…….and a lot of other things which made good sense.

It seemed ridiculous to pay for wasting things. How many of us gals haul fresh produce home only to watch it deteriorate in the frig? My good intentions were ‘good,’ naturally, but I somehow never got to them before they were over the hill. After a few more years of wasting groceries on every level I got smart. Now that I “juice” daily for Rocky and me too, the fruit and veggies are not around long enough to grow old. Those vitamins are no longer going to the compost pile (another way to use waste) but are energizing our systems.

Don’t over-buy, use what you buy and save all you can. It’s a shame that we have become a “throw away” society and I’m doing all I can to shore up the areas where I have been guilty. I just hope mom is watching because I know it would make her happy………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 04, 2006


John’s wife, Barbara, sent an email that I enjoyed very much. In fact, it was so good I’m re-printing the quotations I liked best for you to enjoy. I like the way it sends mini-messages in one-liners. Maybe you will identify with some of them as I did. Here goes…..

Don’t let your worries get the best of you, remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn’t belong.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead, so why should you?

Some minds are like concrete: thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

I don’t know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He’ll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers “fruits of the Spirit” over “religious nuts.”

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!
If God is your co-pilot….swap seats!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.

We don’t change the message…the message changes us.

You can tell how big a person is by how much it takes to discourage him.

The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

Thank you, Barb. Thanks for the smiles this brought……….

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Today is a special young lady’s birthday. My grand-daughter, Jennifer. She was born in a hot month and at the ripe old age of 40, she made me a grand-mother. She and I have always had a close relationship…..like grandchildren and grandma’s are supposed to have.

She lived in our town for years and as the family moved here and there we were always able to keep close touch with each other. Of course, like all little girls do, she met her prince charming and married……leaving our part of the world for unexplored horizons.

She burst out of being a shy little girl to an accomplished business woman and never looked back. She happened to be working just blocks away from the Twin Towers when the airplanes flew into them that day. From her high windows she watched the horrifying tragedy play out until they were told to leave the building and walk to the Subway’s to try and board their commuter trains. She caught the last one home.

She described how so many of the usual passengers weren’t on the homeward bound commuter trains that evening……..and a lot of cars stood empty at the commuter parking areas along the way……she feared the owners were lost and later learned many of them were.

She is extremely talented, vivacious and pretty. One thing she inherited from her grandmother is her love of ice-cream……well, chocolate is close there, too. When she was very little we bought a rocking chair to rock her to sleep in. We kept her a lot and couldn’t do without a rocker.

One day we loaded it up and took it all the way to her house……..it is on her front porch now and I hope once in a while she sits in it and remembers either her grandpa or grandma singing her little, “Jennifer Ratcha Bunny” song to her. We spent a lot of time in that rocker and so, we made up a special song, just for her.

Happy Birthday, Jennifer and may you have many, many more…..all of them happy and fulfilled. We love you…………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Good news abounds. We had our visit with Dr. Morgan today and the results of the lab work. Everything is stable and Rocky has no effects from the Avastin. He has had two doses now and only a little rawness on his inner upper lid. I guess that will explain where that is…..at any rate, nothing to worry about. His mouth-wash takes care of that.

I was anxious to hear the results of the CEA report and if you are keeping up with us, it was 9.4 last time. Today it had dropped to 8.3.…… it continues to go down. Dr. Morgan is telling us the cancer has stabilized and that’s how we want to keep it. I know it’s probably Russian Roulette waiting for it to strike somewhere else like we know it will eventually have to do but that’s where we’re putting our bets on Dr. Weihe’s Integrated Medicine.

According to his track record, the diet, juicing and pills will pump the immune system so high that the cancer will have a hard time finding a place to call home. Of course, being from Missouri, I have to be shown. It’s one thing to get the CEA down to the wonderful digits where it now sits but it’s a whole other thing to keep it there or see it drop even lower.

My goal is the perfect number of 5. Dr. Morgan told us 5 and under is “normal.” Well, I really like normal right now. We aren’t letting our guard down because we know cancer doesn’t play fair……..so we aren’t either. Every waking moment we are devising dastardly disaster for the ornery disease.

Rocky is on safe ground for the moment, my yearly physical came out very good, the colonoscopy came out normal and my cholesterol has dropped 68 points….down to 178. I know I can do better than that but right now I’m still eating my ice-cream and topping it off with a pill. (I have no shame when it comes to ice-cream.)

Who knows? It may cool off and rain one of these days and that would suit me to a Tee. I hope wherever you are, the weather is good, your health is great and you’re very, very rich. Well……..if you can’t be rich…….I hope you have a sense of humor…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


A few days ago we received some information from the foundation of Lance Armstrong. I know a lot of you may have it already but there are always some who don’t and I’d like to print the manifesto from that organization.


We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors.
And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.

We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.

We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility.
Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.

We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.


Most of us have to make our fight outside of the Lance Armstrong Foundation but that manifesto has a lot of power in it that fits hand and glove for us all. We know people with cancer, we may have cancer……we may have cancer before we leave this earth.

It’s a tough fight. You either fight to win……or not at all.

It requires everything in you that wants to live.

God bless Lance Armstrong for going to bat for the ones who can’t fight without him.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther