Essentially Esther Banner

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


We are back from the Clinic. Rocky’s labs on the liver were some better this time. The strange thing is the CEA is “considerably higher.” Dr. Morgan didn’t give us the count and we didn’t ask.

He had Avastin put into his Chemo this time, hoping it would help. At this stage it’s just pretty much a guessing game. We have about two options left. After that…..we don’t know.

It is snowing lightly here so we’re settling in for the day and glad to be home. It is warm and comfortable and we’re looking forward to a bowl of hot soup.

Hope it’s warm where you are.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Yesterday Becky put a picture on her blog of Napoleon that I took to let you see how his tail feathers have grown. In the sunlight he is breathtakingly beautiful. With his vivid colors glistening, he appears iridescent. If I had more experience watching peacocks I might not think him so wondrous but he is the only one I’ve ever been up close and personal to.

It amazes me how a creature like him can visualize what a human is trying to get him to do. Over the months of calling, offering food, keeping my distance so he doesn’t feel threatened…….he is as tame as a pet chicken. When I call, he comes running because he knows I have food for him. He is programmed to eat on our front walk, however, and if I take food anywhere else, he doesn’t give it his full interest. And he can be very independent at times but for the most part we operate on a schedule we both understand.

He has his own little dish on the walk and yesterday I fed him some canned cat food. Lovey, Chevy and Callie were close by and smelled “their” food being put in a dish. They ran over for it but Napoleon cocked his head and in one swing of his head, he pecked Callie………she was unfortunate enough to be the closest. That was enough to tell the cats he wasn’t sharing and they gave him space. It was so funny because they all buddy around together during the day and he goes in the garage to eat their food whenever he pleases……..it was a little humiliating to be pecked by him, and poor Callie slipped by him to pout. Can’t say as I blame her.

Rocky and I watch for him around dusk. He grazes here and there but about that time of day he comes to the front of our house. He peers in the windows as if to tell me he’s thinking of supper……and bed. So I take out his canned cat food in his own dish……and muffins, cake, bread…..whatever. He eats hungrily for a little bit and then goes around to the bird bath to drink. Rocky has small heaters in our bird baths……it’s such a treat for the birds, Napoleon and the cats all winter. Oh, I forgot the squirrels…..they drink from it each day also.

He comes back to polish off the last of his food and then grazes his way to his favorite tree. When it is almost too dark to see the limb he lands on, he lifts his huge wings, gives a shove with his strong legs and flies up about 30 feet before wending his way on higher for the night. We watch him settle comfortably and as the last sun disappears, he tucks his head beneath his wing.

It is the benediction of our day……..

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, January 29, 2007


We had a nice weekend with family. Becky will soon be going to Jefferson City three days a week to teach at the Academy so it will be like having “company” when she is home. She is always included with our guests and helped us celebrate a late Christmas with Rocky’s daughter, Holly, her husband Eddie and youngest daughter, Sara, who drove over with her boyfriend. He is a nice young man who is interested in cars, trucks, engines etc; so is interesting for Rocky to visit with.

Holly has an embroidery machine and usually makes some beautiful gifts for special occasions. This year I received a denim shirt with red-birds artfully placed here and there……even a tiny little guy on the cuff of the right sleeve. Adorable…..and I shall wear it with pride. I also received a decorated set of pot holders which were joined with floral stitching. Do I love it!! Yes, I do.

Holly is very creative and her gifts show off her talent. Rocky received two decorated shirts, Becky received one and two small bags for make-up or holding crochet hooks etc; Both Rocky and Becky liked their personalized pieces. Eddie, is gifted with wood crafting and furniture making and has made a few sentimental pieces for us.

Holly and Eddie had a weekend rented at one of the cabins in an area that caters to Trail Riding, nearby, and they wanted to check out the accommodations. While there, the lady who owns the resort liked her “horsy” decorated shirt so much she contracted Holly to make them for sale in her gift shop. They came here Saturday evening for pizza with Rocky, Becky and me……then drove back to their cabin. On Sunday they stopped on their way home and we waited for Sara and Jessie to arrive for dinner and gift opening.

Our families all live away from here so it is always nice when any of them can come. Soon we will be hosting Rocky’s brother and wife and his sister and hubby. We will have a good Rockenbach visit and catch up with each other along with some good eats all around. The six of us are like professional ice-cream eaters so I’m laying in a good supply from our Schwan man when he comes this week. Our generation seems to be expert on anything sweet so I’ll stir up some of my favorite desserts.

In closing I would like to thank the women who wrote emails or made comments on Friday’s blog, “The Bluebird of Happiness.” There are a lot of women out there who have had traumatic experiences locked up inside since childhood. I am glad I gave an opportunity for some to be heard.

Most of us have lived with circumstances out of our control at one time or another and those memories are painful as well as shameful……I could only speak of one that happened to me. The others will go untold due to the degrading nature but thankfully I was spared beyond what some are forced to endure. Children who are victims need our prayers because they are for the most part, invisible……and because too often, cannot escape.

I pray for children who are victimized and for the people who have sworn to protect them. Why some are spared and some are not I do not know. Surely not because some are more blessed or loved and surely not because they are more cunning or outsmart their captors. The mystery of selection is beyond my knowledge but I know there is a loving God who grieves over each one who is harmed.

I don’t have to understand God……I only believe that He IS……………

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, January 26, 2007


When I was a little girl, around the age of 10, I begged mom and dad for money to walk to the neighborhood theatre to see “The Bluebird of Happiness.” I read everything I could get my hands on and loved movies geared for children. With money in hand, I raced to the theatre, got my ticket and found a good seat. I was ready to enjoy myself for a few hours.

In those days, you saw lots of previews for movies to be seen at later dates, there was always a News Reel and finally the movie of choice. I was deep into the movie when a man sat down beside me. In the dark I didn’t pay too much attention until he put his hand on my leg……. “This is a good show, isn’t it?” he said. I was immediately frightened but didn’t answer him. Pretty soon, his hand went higher up on my leg and he started talking again…..I jumped up, prepared to run home as fast as my legs could carry me.

Once out in the lobby I stood at the half wall where I could see the picture. I wanted to see the movie but I saw the man looking around for me. Suddenly, my eyes spotted a seat between two people. Perfect!! I walked down the isle and slid down the row where I’d seen the seat. I scrunched down so I wouldn’t be recognized if he walked back to the lobby where he could scan the seating for me. In fact, that is exactly what he did, when I saw him he was standing there looking around. I sunk lower in my seat.

Once the movie was over I filed out of the building with a crowd of other kids and people……once outside, I began running and didn’t stop for two blocks. Breathless, I kept looking behind me, expecting him to run after me at any moment. Finally I reached home and safety.

My parents taught my brother and I as best they could about strangers and the dangers children could get into. Of course there wasn’t the publicity of child abuse back then but we both knew what was right and what was wrong about strangers. I escaped a very bad situation because I took action. Sadly, some children are too afraid or incapable of getting out while they still can.

I doubt there are very many children who grow up without a similar experience and if it only happens once, consider yourself lucky. I personally do not know anyone who grew up without some sort of mishap. The good thing about it is……it makes you smarter and more confident if it ever happens again.

In my bag of memories, this popped out today and I was thinking how rotten that man was to go to a “kid’s show” looking for a little girl to accost. I find little sympathy for his miserable life or for anyone who goes after innocent children. It’s sad to think that it’s much more prevalent today and the opportunities are difficult to define or stop. God help those people who spend their lives trying to keep American’s children safe.

The search for happiness goes in many different directions but in the movie, after looking everywhere else, the bluebird was found at home. It is usually true with all of us…….we may travel far but genuine happiness is not in a place.

It is found within.

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Cancer is a funny animal. It slinks around invisible spaces and picks and chooses who it will invade and where. The condemned carry on their lives with normal thoughts and activities. Life is good….or so they think.

Slowly and ever so cunningly the disease masks it’s face with other ailments. The victim begins to take notice that something is going on which is somehow different. With most, it seems right that it is just “age”……..we are programmed to expect limitations as we grow older and it seems logical. With those young in years, they assume it is just a bump in the road. They expect a quick fix.

TV commercials explain treatments……pills in a bottle. They come in all colors and shapes with a bevy of disclaimers….there are mountains of information on the internet. By the time the victim has self-diagnosed himself and heard more from family and friends…..there is a little clock ticking that tells him it is more than just a simple problem.

Doctors are pretty much used to your ailments and begin with the usual treatments. Depending on how much pressure you bring to the table……more time ticks by. Somewhere, at some point, the realization that all is not well hits like a brick wall. The doctor is now in tune with your insecurity and orders a CT or MRI….after the wait is over, he summons you back for the results.

What did he just say? Why does he look so solemn? Did he just say, cancer? Me? How did this happen? Where? How long have I had it? The mind is racing in roller-coaster tracks. Denial…..fear, the heart is palpitating like a sledge hammer. The doctor appears to have as much trouble giving you the results as you do in hearing them. He has had a long relationship with you……he knows the family….he respects you and has always admired your humility in great accomplishments. Now he is handing you a death sentence………it is terminal.

The two of you stare at each other for what seems to be an endless amount of time. You ask, “How long do I have?” and he says, “It has metastasized and gone to the liver. You don’t have much time.” After that you feel nothing…..there are no more questions. The doctor goes on talking about what you need to do first, in the way of treatment but his words are muffled while your thoughts stray away…..far away.

Cancer has thrown the gauntlet down……and he is smiling…………

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Today is lab day at the Clinic…..we will be back late afternoon. I doubt if we have any results today but if so, I’ll post the latest.




Essentially Esther

Monday, January 22, 2007


We had an interesting week-end. Of course the weather pulled a few punches that made us nervous as cats but after a freezing rain that could either get worse or not, we went to bed and woke up with the power still on. That’s a blessing after half of Missouri being down with no power.

We had a surprise visit from Rocky’s son and his family on Saturday. They just gave birth to a new little boy on January 4th and they wanted to show “grampa” the new little bud on the family tree. They had sent pictures to us but there is nothing like seeing them in person. He is a little guy….I think they said under six pounds and sure enough, he was tiny…..but oh so CUTE. I know it’s cliché’ for grandparents to think the grandbabies are cute but I’m quite impartial and he IS cute.

Becky was here to enjoy their visit and we had a lot of fun looking at the new baby wardrobe and all the things that go along with a newborn. His skin was very smooth and not red and he slept the whole time he was here except to stretch and take a bottle…..like most babies, they say he gets them up about every four hours during the night but doesn’t fuss.

I got some pictures of grandpa holding him and will try to get them to Becky so she can put them on her site for you. (I’m still not able to do that……I had Becky working on un-jamming a new spy system I installed as it was blocking out stuff I wanted. Didn’t have the heart to ask for more help on the pictures.) Maybe later……..

They left when the freezing rain and sleet began as they were 3 ½ hours from home and didn’t want to have car trouble with a new baby. They called later to say they arrived safely and did have power at home.

Yesterday I enjoyed football all day. Listened to all the experts putting their spin on how they thought the games would go…..it’s always fun to listen to them. Besides being very knowledgeable they are a riot. Who has more fun than ex-players who are now the game callers on the networks? Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long are a hoot and Jimmy Johnson, Michael Irvin add a lot as well.

Rocky napped until the first game started as he is usually nauseated after breakfast each day…..a nap helps him get by for the rest of the day. Becky and I sat on the couch, me knitting, her crocheting, and Rocky got up in the second quarter. Becky and I were for the Saints because of our love for New Orleans and we always pick the underdogs. Rocky was for the Bears……….

Needless to say……our team lost, his won. However……I also like the Bears so I wasn’t disappointed when they won. They were just too much power for the Saints. I was happy that poor Grossman finally quieted the naysayer’s about his game. The poor kid has had a lot of negative publicity to the point some wanted him benched. I’m glad Lovey Smith believed in him and game him the chance to prove himself.

I thought the Colts-Patriots game was the best. We were on the edge of our seats the whole game and I have to say I wanted Manning to win. Like Grossman, his city seemed to hold him accountable for losing the big games and as one of the commentator’s said…… “Manning’s window of opportunity is small now….” How many times can you come back to the big game and miss before your body and the years count you out?

I am also a Brady fan but my reasoning was this: Brady has Super Bowl rings….Manning does not. Brady is bigger than any loss he can have now….Manning really needed this win to round out his great career. I shall also hope he wins the Super Bowl but I will take pride in Brady if that’s the way the ball bounces, as they say.

At any rate, the weather has to be better in Miami than it was in Chicago yesterday. You can’t tell me it isn’t a factor even to the Bears……I’m with Michael Irvin on that…. “don’t tell me those guys go out on the field and love to play in that weather….SHUT UP!!!!” No one likes that kind of weather.

Forgive the Monday morning quarter-backing. I’m living it up while I still have games to watch. Soon there will be a football dessert until August when my old friends come back and we will fight and claw our way to the top once more. One last request!!!

PLEASE, Brett!! Don’t retire……I have loved you for too long!! Don’t leave me now…..PAAALLLEEEEAAAAAASSSSSEEEEE COME BACK!!!

Begging you, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, January 19, 2007


What kind of friend are you? Do you ever stop and think about the friends you’ve had from childhood to where you are now? Do you ever wonder what happened to those school day chums…ever give them a thought? How many from each grade level can you name off?

They say elderly people have bad short term memory but excellent recall from those early years. I suppose I am considered “elderly” and I think it’s probably true about the memory thing. I can be introduced to someone who is very interesting and I want to remember them…….but five minutes later, unless there is a “word recognition” with the name, I’ve forgotten it.

At first I was embarrassed about it but I no longer chide myself for forgetting things. I am human and I have had a very productive life…..when it counted I was dependable for remembering everything. I was a multi-task person most of my life and I have accomplished many things…..most of which is no longer needed.

I am always analyzing and taking stock of myself……when you have lived 74 years there is a lot to consider. Today I was thinking about friendship and how it affects our lives. What kind of friends did I have and what kind do I have now? Most of the people I call “friends” live away from here and we try to keep in touch as much as possible.

Some of my friends are older and engrossed in serious health problems, some of my friends are younger and caught up with their adult children and grandchildren. Very few are my own age……but a few. Having a variety of friends is good. You learn a lot from every gender and every age, personality etc; We are an open book to everyone and especially to our friends.

It’s funny about friends. You may go several years without seeing them…..yet when you meet again, it is as if you just saw them yesterday. They fit like an old shoe on the same old foot. They do not require constant attention to hold you in high esteem and they are always glad to hear your good news…….always sad with you when times go bad. Friendship is never in competition and is never envious.

I read a line the other day that said volumes.

“A friend is someone you can sit with, saying nothing, and when you get up and walk away you both feel you’ve had a good visit.”

Friendship is a gift we give away and if it comes back to us we are blessed. “Make new friends, but keep the old…..for one is silver….the other, gold.”

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We are castoffs in a gray and cold world. We listen eagerly each night when the “weatherman” is on but though the temperatures are warmer some days the nights are down to single digits, and we continue to be very cold. When the temperatures are very low to begin with, how much does 10 or even 20 degrees help when the wind is freezing your face right off?

When Becky charmed me into giving Mandy a home so she could be a “buddy” for Rocky during his cancer therapy, it was April. The end of April when it was balmy and warm. It seemed like a good idea at the time…..however……walking her around the yard in December and January has not been fun.

Mandy seems to take great delight in staring at the lights across the street, stopping to listen to dogs barking up and down the road and going over every inch in our yard to pick just the right spot…….I am freezing in my two jackets, polar gloves and stocking cap. Oh yes……and a scarf tied around my face.

She has had very few nights without having to potty on the paper in her crate. She was billed as being “house-broken”…….yah, right!! Each time I think we might be to the end of our “problem” she leaves little calling cards on either of the two white rugs in the bathroom. Why the rugs seem to be the drawing card for her little offerings, I do not know. Rocky says, “After all, she is very smart. She goes to the ‘bathroom’ to go potty.” My retort is, “If she was smart at all, the yard would be the big attraction.” I hate to tell you how many times I’ve laundered the rugs.

Anytime I put up with that much trouble it is because of Rocky. Mandy was to be his recovery dog and I take my commitments seriously. She is a special needs dog with her allergies, spastic colon, constant yeast infections in her ears and her one bad eye. I love critters and I love Rocky more than critters……believe me, if it wasn’t for that fact Miss Mandy would be on a slow boat to China.

I have always been a cat person. Low maintenance. They have great personalities, they are playful, inventive, entertaining and they force their love on you equaled only by the hair they leave behind them. They take care of their own potty…..do not have to be coaxed, walked, cleaned up after…….just scoop out the litter box and case closed!!

Actually, it has been much easier to train Napoleon than Mandy. He comes in the morning for whatever I have……he isn’t picky. He doesn’t require anything until dusk when he comes up on the porch, looks in the window and says, “OK, mom, it’s time for me to eat and get ready for the penthouse.“ I feed him canned cat food and anything that is on hand, from cookies to muffins, bread and all in-between. He is thankful and eats with gusto. Then he is ready to fly up in the big oak out front.

All day he follows the outdoor cats around the yard and back in the woods……they have a great relationship. When I take trash to the burn barrel in the back yard the cats and Napoleon follow along to inspect the procedure and stand around with me until it’s safe to leave the fire.

Chevy always reaches his front paws up and wants me to pick him up and cuddle. Callie has to be cuddled too but she waits her turn like the lady she is. Lovey likes attention as well but is more into wrapping around my legs and likes being petted from above. She will let me hold her but not for very long. If I am ever trying to get an idea where the cats are when it’s time to put them in the garage…….I look for Napoleon. The four of them will be together and from habit are more or less waiting for my call.

With the great variety of love in such different packages, my days are full when I stir Rocky into the mix. They all allow me to love them and care for them…..which is really special. You can’t buy love like that with a million dollars……and I wouldn’t want to.

Critter’s live here…….and you MAY feed the animals!!

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


If you have heat and power I hope you are grateful for the comforts it provides. We have been spared in our little area of the State but almost everyone else is in a disaster beyond comprehension. Our grandson, Jonathan, (Becky’s son) works for a power company in Arkansas and has been deployed to Mount Vernon, MO to help in clearing the debris from the streets and roadways.

Becky talked with him this evening and he said there is not a tree in the whole area more than 15 feet high. The limbs are broken down, many splitting the trunks wide open, and most of the electrical poles are broken or out of the ground. He said it is amazing how much damage 2 inches of ice can do to a tree. The whole area is a disaster and unlike anything he has ever seen.

Jonathan worked in the Mississippi tornado one year with his crew and said it didn’t compare to the damage the ice storm has done. It’s cold work and hard to keep equipment going but people were so grateful it was very rewarding. Many are elderly and sickly but still found it necessary to come and thank them in person. He was very moved by their gratitude.

How many of us go to bed every night in warm, dry beds, food in the refrigerator, hot running water……all the comforts that power brings…..and stop to say thanks? I can honestly say I’m very grateful for I have experienced difficult times enough to know it is a blessing when everything is working and providing the necessities we depend on. I for one am going to pray for Jonathan and all the men who are out there helping those who cannot help themselves. They are to be commended in this dangerous work.

Rocky and I were at the Clinic today and were home by 5:00 this evening. The lab work is still looking good and he gets next week off of the Chemo but we’ll go in next Wednesday just for the lab work. We had a long talk with Dr. Suzi and when I asked just where we were in the scheme of things since we started a year ago…….she said we aren’t making significant gains but we also are not making significant losses. They have been surprised that Rocky has felt so good, looked so good and not had any serious setbacks, so they expect he will continue to respond to treatment and still maintain a good quality of life…..we hope for a long time. I know he has surprised their expectations from where he was in the beginning.

She said the most important thing for a cancer patient is good support from whoever the caregiver is. For them to be there handing out the pills, taking care of the needs, be a steadying force and staying positive, is invaluable. We realize that but also know cancer isn’t an easy foe……we aren’t letting our guard down or becoming complacent.

We were happy to see a few of our cancer friends at the Clinic today who are still doing well. The young girl from our church (who has the little toddler I mentioned once) was there and we were amazed at her progress. At first she seemed fearful and “lost.” We hadn’t seen her for a while but today she was there, glowing, smiling and very responsive. She had the swagger back and was definitely “in charge” again. It was good to see.

Another friend who has breast cancer was there and we caught up with each other. She had a big smile, confidence and we talked of normal things. It was good. I’m sorry to say a friend I used to work around one day a week……lost her son. They were there a few times and since she and I had both retired, we had a lot to catch up on. She lost her husband to cancer and two weeks later, her only child, a son, was told he had cancer also. He had worked overseas in an important position but cancer took him quickly. We will not be seeing them anymore at the Clinic.

Napoleon and the kitties were waiting in the front yard when we came home and we fed them and got them closed in for the night. Napoleon ate his canned cat food and my bread……then flew up in the big oak for the night. With full tummies and a place to sleep they are happy little critters.

Life is so full of crooks and turns it is impossible to be removed from either our own trials or for those we love. God didn’t promise we would be spared of such but He did promise to go through them with us. It is that strength that we operate from each day.

Here’s hoping your trials are all small ones,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Our poor State has been put through a rough time of it the past few days. On Friday it began raining and there were weather updates keeping us posted as to whether we would have ice. The rain was a steady drip, drip, drip for 48 hours and lucky for us it never materialized.

Every area in a twenty mile circle in all directions was hit and suffered the damages. Small towns were completely without power and the city of Springfield was 70% without. Ice was over 2 inches thick in much of the State. It was an impossible situation because as soon as crews could restore power, more limbs broke and fell, causing the lines to break once more. It was horribly cold, wet and miserable and I can’t imagine how those poor men could keep at it around the clock.

Once the power goes, the first thing you notice is the lack of heat, but almost as soon, the dark settles in and the world becomes very black. The plumbing in homes is subject to freezing after several days and the refrigeration is no longer keeping foods from spoiling. It is such a loss but the worst thing is the cold. For the elderly and the young it is especially cruel. Some of those people won’t have power for another week or maybe two.

We were very fortunate here. We did have one short period without power this fall but this most recent storm stopped within a few miles of us. My greatest concern was poor Napoleon since he is pretty much up against it when the weather turns this bad. I have been feeding him canned cat food morning and evening, along with his usual home-made bread. However, food can only do so much against a long night high up in a tree. We have tried to get him to come in our garage but have never been successful.

For the two days it rained and was so cold, he stayed on the neighbor’s porch rail. Their porch is roofed and so it gave him that much cover from the cold rain……but the frigid West wind blew his feathers so I don’t know how it could have been very comfortable. I’m thankful he is surviving. We have several more days predicted with the extreme temperatures and then he should be OK again. I surely hope so. We would all miss him like crazy if anything happened to him.

The outdoor cats have been staying in the garage much of the day. It’s been too cold, wet and miserable to come out for any reason. I wish I had a robot to walk Mandy on these cold days and especially when it’s raining. Rocky slept most of the three days. He was nauseated and the pills for that put him right to sleep….which is a better way to get through the times he doesn’t feel so good. Tomorrow we go for his next Chemo on this schedule so I’ll be writing when we are back home in the afternoon sometime.

I hope you are warm and well, so until tomorrow, I am……

Essentially Esther

Friday, January 12, 2007


For those of us seniors who are three score and ten….plus, plus, plus….the world has changed drastically from the one we grew up in and raised our children in. We remember the first “banned in Boston” movie, Gone With The Wind, because at the end of it, Clark Gable used the phrase, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” My grandmother was adamant about the lack of morals and thought someone should make the movie industry accountable for their bad taste.

Now I am the grandmother who is shocked at what can be seen on television at the times of day accorded for family viewing. I have an active imagination which I prefer to use rather be shown every act of sex devised by the TV industry.

Sex has been around since Adam and Eve and I would imagine there is nothing left by now that hasn’t been tried. I am not a prudish woman nor have I lived in a bubble all my life. There are just some things that are never in good taste. If I am to believe the masses enjoy this kind of viewing I am much afraid for our country. From story lines to advertisement, it is all sexually oriented. Enough already!! How about a good story without the explicit scenes to “sell“ the time slot. The networks have gone through the roof to outdo rating wars.

I was reading a little article on “How To Be Happy” today and the first suggestion was to “Give something away”……..it was followed by, “Do a kindness, Give thanks always, Work with vim and vigor, Visit the elderly and learn from their experience, Look intently into the face of a baby and marvel, Laugh often, it’s life’s lubricant, Pray to know God’s way, Plan as though you will live forever-because you will and Live as though today is your last day on earth.

Inch by inch we have been shown a little here and there that was repulsive but no one did anything about it. Unchecked, a trend becomes more and more focal until the problem is so large no one can deal with it. The article I read on How To Be Happy is poles apart from most of what’s offered on television.

I remember our World History teacher in high school who said every country who was at their peak of dominance was ultimately brought down by the lack of morals. They eventually fell apart because of interior decay……..not from an enemy. Abraham Lincoln and many others warned about the same fate for America. Stay morally on the straight and narrow or suffer consequences that would be irreversible.

We are our own keepers……what will we do with it?

Concerned grandmother,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I have written about this incident some time back when I included it in the story of my life…..but it comes to mind again so I’ll tell it once more in detail. We were back from our 3-day wedding trip to Little Rock and I was all excited about opening our wedding gifts. I don’t know how wedding showers go now but back in 1950 we received very practical and needed items to run a household. Money was tight in small towns so gifts were mostly sheets, towels, a table cloth or two (for the metal kitchen set) and lots of Pyrex sets.

As it went, there were lots of linens and I wanted to wash them before putting them in the closet for use. How many of you remember the 50’s when Laundromats were the big business of the times? Not many of us had washers and those who did didn’t own dryers for the most part. The Laundromat was the village meeting place for housewives.

I arrived with laundry, soap and high hopes. Even the Laundromat didn’t have dryers then so it was home to hang my things on the line. It was one of the first things I’d asked for when we moved into our new little FHA financed home. My husband and his dad had put lines up for me and I was happily hanging my clothes for all to see. Beautiful white linens in three rows across our back yard.

I had to hurry to work. I had alternating hours……one week from 8:00 to 6:00 and the next would be 12:00 to 9:00. This was my 12:00 to 9:00 week so I hurried to wash and hang the things before leaving for work. I planned to get them in the next day since it would be dark when I got home.

As I turned in the driveway that night, the car lights illuminated the laundry on the line and we all know what I should have done…….left the lights on and gathered in the clothes……but foolhardy, I didn’t. That night we had a real toad strangler rain that blew and pounded against the house. Not a care in the world, I slept on until morning.

When I woke and went about the morning routine I happened to look out the window and I couldn’t believe my eyes. My beautiful laundry was on the ground as were the posts and lines……the sheets and towels had been pounded into the red clay dirt and were the same color. In a panic I ran to the area and began picking up the mud soaked things in a basket to take back to the Laundromat.

My husband was in shock as well……he saw his bride throw a real screaming tantrum who demanded to know why this happened. I was young. I blamed him. When we went out to look further, he said, “Well, I guess we should have set the posts in concrete.” HELLO!! I thought he and his dad should have known better than to sink wooded 4 X 4’s into dirt and expect them to hold lines of wet laundry. Now I blamed him AND his dad.

After he left for work, I made the trip back to the Laundromat and told the owner my sad story. She was horrified when she saw the mess and I could tell she had grave doubts about them ever coming clean. However, she did her best. First we ran them through three big wash tubs of clean water to get as much soil out as we could……then the hottest water she had in the Maytag wringer washer and the three big wash tubs for rinse water.

That day I was introduced to “Bluing.” Remember that, ladies? I haven’t seen Bluing for years……anyway, with a lot of Clorox in the washer and bluing in the rinse water they came out fairly decent and I was told with each washing they would improve each time, she thought. It took a LOT of time.

The posts were set in concrete by the next laundry day and I never left clothes on the line again. No matter what. Strange things happen when you sleep and it’s best to bring your things inside once they are dry. I didn’t have my own washer and dryer until the late 60’s and I can tell you……to this day, I appreciate being able to do my own laundry at home.

OK….this is the last “laundry” story. I got lost in thought and looking back it’s more funny than tragic……new brides have so much to learn and right at the top they find out why mother’s cry when their daughter’s march down the isle. They know that pitfalls are sure to come and wedded bliss sometimes gets stuck in the mud…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I was very interested in the comments from “Wash Day” yesterday. You have to be a little older to know about hanging clothes and the ritual it involved. I had forgotten the old “sprinkler bottle” until Phyllis mentioned it. Oh yes!! Mom had a pop bottle with the sprinkler nozzle on top and once the folded laundry was out of the way it was time to sprinkle the pile of clothes to iron. And Sally, you talked about the diapers freezing as you hung them……we really liked it to be that cold because the older ladies told us it made the diapers whiter!! Did you ever hear that?

OMG!! Ironing!! I can’t believe the ironing I used to do…..and it took a while to learn how to do men’s shirts after I married. My mother-in-law smiled when she watched me labor on a white shirt of her son’s. She wasn’t mean spirited and I knew her remark didn’t mean to be unkind……but when she saw my finished product, she said, “George would throw that back to be done over at home. He is very particular about his shirts.”

Of course in those days, he was fresh out of the Army and used to the creases that would cut your fingers…….I just laughed and said, “Well, I’m not very good, but I guess he figures it wouldn’t do much good to throw it back here.” Getting the starch right to starch them, dry them and iron them was a chore for an 18-year old, even if I did think I was quite mature.

How many of you gals out there let them mildew in the plastic bag before they were ironed? Then I learned the trick of putting them in the refrigerator……that was before I graduated to the freezer. It seemed I always had ironing to do in some form or other. But as years went by I became more efficient and because of the eternal dread of knowing I had ironing to do I would try and iron it up as quick as I could. I had a plan……always do the worst first and then the rest was a breeze.

Oh those were the good old days we like to think about. It seemed I got as much done back then without all of the benefits we have now so I must have been a lot faster and more efficient than I am now. Somehow the modern conveniences haven’t provided the extra time we thought they would. My ironing board stays in the closet now unless there is a special reason to do a little pressing. I’m very good at dragging the things from the dryer to hang and we do very well with “wash and wear.”

Today we went for Rocky’s lab work, the doctor visit and Chemo. Dr. Morgan said Rocky’s liver function was better this time than last and we wouldn’t have a CEA until we finish the three week schedule he wants to try. Rocky gets Chemo two weeks in a row, then skips a week, then we find out how it’s working. If it isn’t too severe with side effects we will continue this for a while.

When they tried this the last time he had the intestinal flu the very next day so it was impossible to know if the Chemo was part of his problems or it was flu connected. We will know by tomorrow if the side effects are going to click in. We’re armed and ready with plan B and C.

I’ll keep you posted on Rocky’s progress and if you have any comments or additions to washing and ironing days I would enjoy hearing about them. It’s so fun to remember those things and compare notes with the rest of you.

I have a funny story about my first laundry after I was married way back when. I’ll have to tell you about that tomorrow……………

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

WASH DAY..... 

We are having a “clothespin” popping day here today. It reminds me of when I lived in Kansas……in those days I hung the family laundry on lines in the back yard and the wind blew so hard the sheets often blew straight out. I had to put plenty of clothespins in them to keep them on the line and some days, they popped loose and drug the ground. I soon learned to watch and make sure that didn’t happen.

In deep winter, the clothing would freeze from the basket to the lines and I’d have to bend the frozen corners over the clothesline to pin them. It even sounds far fetched to me as I write this but trust me, we had some mighty cold wind and weather in Kansas.

The yards were huge and at the bottom of our little hill was a cow pasture so there wasn’t much to break the winds. Now when I go back to our old neighborhood there are apartments and businesses built in all of the empty spaces so it doesn’t even look like it did back then. Of course I miss the way it was but I’ve seen a lot of changes in a lot of places along the way.

I cherish the good memories I have which don’t include those changes. The mind is a wonderful editing machine if you train it. Block out what you don’t like in all those memories and make them just the way you want them to be. Is that what all old women do or is it just me? As long as it works, I’m happier for it.

I miss hanging clothes. It used to be a fun time with the kitties. They would see me heading to the line with my basket and they’d come running, sure to get a petting. They would twine around my legs while I hung the pieces, one by one. After the laundry I liked to pin the pillows to the line for a good airing……and invariably I would walk over to the clematis to see how they were coming along.

I’ve watched big white clouds float overhead, watched the birds busily building their nests in Spring and making such beautiful songs……there is so much to enjoy when hanging clothes. I would always be careful where I put my basket because of the ant hills and the hard work it took to build them.

Clothes hanging is an individual action. It was interesting to see how the neighborhood women hung their clothes. Some doubled their sheets lengthwise, others by the top and bottom hems. The towels and wash clothes were hung in sections together, not helter-skelter……it made easy folding when you took them from the line. They were already separated for the closet.

Most of the time I put the sheets back on each bed. The children got their nightly bath, clean pajamas and snuggled into those clean sheets and blankets. All the while I helped them to bed, I was anticipating my own entry and the good smells of fresh air in the covers. They say “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” and I believe it because of the good feeling it always gave me on wash-day.

There are so many things you don’t appreciate or miss until you’ve lived a lot. I can entertain myself quite handily just thinking about days gone by. I understand how mom talked about the way they did things when she married and had my brother and me. It sounded to me like she had a hard time of it without much convenience or help…..and when I’d talk about how much better it was now, she would drift off in thought and say things like…..”well, I don’t know…it was just the way we did things then and it didn’t seem hard at all.”

It is such a blessing to love simple things. To love where you are and to be happy with what you have. Mom always said, “I don’t have to own things to enjoy them. Let others own things for I find as much pleasure without having them.”

I had to become my mother’s age to understand the truth of what she said. Life is not about ownership……it is being content with life just as it is, right now.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, January 08, 2007


I write today for prayer for our friend, Ellen. Those of you who are “out there” either know her from her site, or from friends like me, who mention her from time to time. Lately, it seems Ellen and Curtis have had a lot to shoulder. Her health is always an issue and at the same time has seen her mother’s health decline to the point of being moved to a facility to care for her.

I was happy to know Ellen was able to do some Christmas entertaining, make her gourmet meals, the shopping, wrapping, decorating and all the joys that make Christmas a personal experience. Then yesterday the pastor she and Curtis love so much divulged he will be leaving his pastorate April 30th of this year. Sadly, not because of his own choosing but by the decision of the Bishop to fill another pastorate.

The ones of us who are in touch with Ellen on a daily basis, know how much Father Robin has meant to both Ellen and Curtis throughout their fight with the cancer. He has been a rock for their faith and a good friend on a personal basis. He has brought joy to them in the worst of times. Just being there……

An email from Ellen today with the news of Father Robin as well as continued serious digestive problems caused by the cancer have brought great distress, both to Ellen and to Curtis. As the rest of her friends and family, I would do anything to be of help but the best thing any of us can do is to pray for the two of them and the situations they face. In her need for physical healing it adds more stress knowing her pastor will soon be forced to leave.

As I write today, Rocky is doing some better. In fact, much better than the week he had the intestinal flu. He has had a 2-week break from Chemo and will go back on Wednesday for more treatment and consultation with Dr. Morgan.

When people throw their lives away every day with drugs, suicide and foolish living it sometimes makes a person stop and wonder why? There are so many good people who want to live and who contribute so much to society at large…….and especially to the families and friends they have……why do good people have to suffer so many losses?

I don’t know what God’s reasons are but I have an understanding that helps me. We are all an open book to “someone”………a book that people read daily who are in and around our lives…..sometimes it isn’t about “us” at all but about who God reaches because of us. He chooses the ones who are good troops to send into battle for the war He wages.

In seeing others suffer with courage and faith it makes the rest of us stronger. Sometimes we are strong in dealing with death ourselves and sometimes we are strong standing by our loved ones as their caregivers. There is strength in all of us which God chooses to use at His will and for His purpose. It is to that purpose we were born into His family and it is for that purpose we live and die.

I am never afraid and I do not flinch because I know God’s plan is perfect……and thought we may never know the “why’s” we do know the “who.”

Psalm 91:14,15,16

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him: I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him, and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, And let him behold My salvation.”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, January 05, 2007


My mother introduced me to Edgar A. Guest as a young girl. She loved his poetry and often quoted parts of his poems to make a point. It served to make an impression on me, first to always try for the “high road” and secondly to learn that a few lines of poetry teach more than morals.

I have always been amazed how a few lines can mean volumes…..how artful words can speak to the heart, the soul and to the person. His words live on and continue to find converts, not only to poetry but to his kind of poetry. My mother always said it was written for the common man.

I came across one of his poems, appropriate for this time of year. I’d like to share it as we come to the close of the first week of 2007.


Grant me the strength from day to day
To bear what burdens come my way.
Grant me throughout this bright New Year
More to endure and less to fear.
Help me live that I may be
From spite and petty malice free.
Let me not bitterly complain
When cherished hopes of mine prove vain,
Or spoil with deeds of hate and rage
Some fair tomorrow’s spotless page.
Lord, as the days shall come and go
In courage let me stronger grow.

Lord, as the New Year dawns today
Help me to put my faults away.
Let me be big in little things;
Grant me the joy which friendship brings.
Keep me from selfishness and spite;
Let me be wise in what is right.
A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye.
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I’ve played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year. Edgar A. Guest

I’m thinking of Ellen and Rocky and all who fight cancer and other illnesses, who struggle on to stretch the days they can be with us. God keep them in your care and grant them peace to match their courage. Those of us who love them fight to keep the illness from claiming them…… we all do battle every day. Thank you for the strength and the hope that you alone can give……the peace that passes all understanding.

We are most needy and know that in great distress you make the way clear for your children. We thank you for your mercy and your love that is no longer written on stone but upon our hearts……….Amen.

Until the next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Today is the third anniversary of blogging for me. I went back to the Archives and read a few of those first posts and find it hard to believe so much time has passed. I still feel like a newcomer, drafted in by John, Becky and Mary Lou. Others had been reading my comments on their sites and began encouraging me to write as well.

I was tongue-tied at first and certainly in need of help to get me to the publishing point but after a few weeks it began to fall into place. I’m sure John and Becky appreciated it when I quit calling for help. I’m a well trained monkey now and in command of the few steps it takes to publish. I would like to learn how to get my photo’s into the blogs I write……I’ve been waiting for Becky to have the time to figure it out. Since our computers are different, she has been dreading the exercise.

In the beginning, my goal was to write about each of my grand-parents and their families…..eventually of my own family and to finish with my life story. I have not been enthused over genealogy in the true form but I wanted my children to know where their roots came from……..with a personality sketch of each person as I knew them.

Since my children came into the larger family, late, they had no idea of the connections and early lives of each. I am the last of the Stricklett-Andersen line who can do that for them…..so I took a deep breath and started out. I knew after I’m gone they would regret not having asked more about “family” things……so much information goes to the grave with our loved ones and lost forever.

After writing about the Andersen’s, then the Stricklett’s…….our own family of four; my mother, father, brother……I then wrote of my own life. When you are in your 70’s, that takes a lot of writing. I couldn’t imagine the joy, despair, sorrow and pride I would garner each day as I wrote of our lives. When I look at the larger picture and weave the colors into a family portrait….I am immensely proud to have belonged to such strong people.

As a child there are many things that transpire and go undetected until you are an adult yourself……then the mysterious things that went on begin to be reasonable. Sometimes you have to be an adult to understand why adults do the things they do.

For the friends I’ve met as a result of blogging and the interest they have had, I am thankful. In a small Ozark town I am one little old lady with a computer who spans the world through space. It has given me purpose and direction and one more reason to get up every day and do something positive.

To all the readers, near and far, I thank you for stopping by. God bless you…….

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I am happy to report that Rocky’s lab report was better than last week. Due to the intestinal flu he suffered the day after he received the chemo gave the oncology folks pause to rethink how they would treat him today.

After conferring with each other, both Dr. Suzi and Dr. Morgan felt we should put off the chemo treatment for a couple of days or even next week. It is difficult to know the effects of the chemo if there are other factors driving the numbers.

Rocky felt good yesterday but was sick during the night and nauseated this morning when he woke. They gave him medications in his I.V.’s for the run-a-way diarrhea, the nausea and a couple other things. We came home and fixed lunch……he is resting now and feeling better.

If he can’t keep enough fluids to stay hydrated we are to go to the Clinic where they will give him more I.V.’s……we had discussed the problem of drinking enough when you’re throwing it right back up and severe dehydration is life threatening in Rocky’s case. We’ll keep a close eye on progress there and hope to avoid another trip to the Clinic.

I took time away from writing to watch the burial of President Ford. It reminds me how that generation is passing away at an alarming number each day. My two former husbands served in WW11 along with men like Presdents Ford, Carter and Bush. I also had two uncles and a brother who served. They were good and decent men who didn’t flinch when their time came to step up.

The children’s father and one uncle are still living and although they are 82 and 90 now, they still stand tall and both lead productive lives. They are part of an era who set a standard for freedom that demands the best.

All gave some……some gave all.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Hello World. I’m back. Did you miss me? I sure missed YOU. I am a person who is rarely sick but when I am sick……I’m the sickest woman you will ever encounter. Needless to say, our Christmas was a wash. We were all sick, couldn’t eat or even think of eating.

Becky was first, then George, I came next and Rocky followed. Problem being that Rocky had chemo the day before he inherited the intestinal flu bug from the rest of us and with the combination, he topped the charts for our sympathy. The poor guy was one sick puppy.

He became dehydrated quickly, had a couple of small seizures and I was too sick to accompany him to the Emergency Room. Becky called the ambulance and went with him, spending the whole day while they got Rocky patched up enough to come home with her.

I have great respect for the medical folks who were working through sickness themselves to administer aide to us and others. I am happy to report that Rocky is much better. Last night he slept the night through without having to get up once. That was a giant step forward from our starting point. We have both been trying to catch up on rest and to get our strength back.

I know I’m better because I’m finally worrying about the house. I have had buckets of Clorox and soap to sanitize the bathroom once more and the kitchen is next on my list. Those are the two traffic areas that harbor a lot of bacteria when there is sickness in the house.

I guess I will be recovered when I begin to worry about how I look. At the moment, Rocky and the house are getting my energy……I have avoided the mirrors. No need to be depressed with everything else going on. I’ll settle with that later.

Thanks to Becky who stepped in the gap when we needed her, to our families who called to check on us and to the prayers and concern extended towards us. Rocky goes for another chemo treatment tomorrow and we will both be able to go. This is a different chemo again and one that promises nausea, serious diarrhea and hair loss.

He had the first one last Wednesday and it was hard to tell the effect of it because the flu complicated things. This week we will know just how bad it is without other factors figured in. Meanwhile, we’re trying to get our rest, and get things under control in the household.

With the New Year beginning, we have hopes it will be a better year than 2006. It threw it’s worst at us but we’re alive and kicking so we’re grateful. Our hope is to get the upper hand on Rocky’s cancer and buy more time to be together. That is our only resolution for the coming year. I will be writing late tomorrow after we are back from the Cancer Clinic.

May God Bless you and yours for a healthy, happy and profitable New Year.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther