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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CT DAY..... 

Today Rocky is scheduled for another CT which will take most of the afternoon. The Clinic has shortened as much of the waiting time as they can but there is always delays of some sort or another. It seems our world has so much red tape anymore we will surely smother in paper one of these days. I can’t imagine how it is with John and Barbara who are both employed at a psychiatric hospital. That has to be even worse.

We won’t know anything about the CT until next week when we have a consultation with Dr. Morgan. He will have time to confer with Rocky’s hometown MD and some others who are sitting in on the decisions.

Meanwhile, Rocky is getting ready for his Friday’s trip to Mexico, MO for his PowerLifting Meet. He is riding with a couple of the guys he trains with and will leave around 3:30.……arriving for a late supper and Meet on Saturday. When he calls with his stats I will be letting everyone know here at the blog site.

His doctors, family and friends are pulling for him to do well once more. The way I figure…….he’s already a winner.

Go Rocky!!!

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Rocky’s daughter, Holly, is an assistant to a Veterinarian. She has the natural love and sensitivity towards animals that her dad does. She has rescued many dogs and cats that have been “thrown away” and keeps herself broke and busy taking care of the cast-offs. I have a great respect for her and anyone who is moved to help the poor little orphans who cannot help themselves. She sent us this piece and I’d like to share it with you.


When I am old…. I will wear soft gray sweatshirts….and a bandana over my silver hair…and I will spend my Social Security checks on wine and dogs. I will sit in my house in a well-worn chair and listen to my dog’s breathing. I will sneak out in a warm summer’s night and take my dogs for a run if my old bones will allow. When people come to call I will smile and nod as I show them my dogs….and talk of them and about them….the ones so beloved in the past and those so loved today…I will still work hard cleaning after them, mopping and feeding them and whispering their names in a soft loving way. I will wear the gleaming sweat on my throat like a jewel and I will be an embarrassment to all…especially my family…who have not yet found the peace in being free to have dogs as your best friends….These friends who always wait at any hour for your footfall…and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep to great you as if you are a God. With warm eyes full of adoring love and hope that you will always stay, I’ll kiss their sweet heads…and whisper in their very special company…I look in the mirror…and see I am getting old…this is the kind of person I am…and have always been. Loving dogs is easy, they are part of me. Please accept me for who I am. My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives…they love my presence in their lives….When I am old this will be important to me…you will understand when you are old…if you have dogs to love, too.

Author Unknown

I love dogs and cats and like the old lady who was asked which one of her children she loved the most……she replied, “Why, the one who needs me most, of course.” That pretty well says it for me……I rescue both because they need it and I need their love……..

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, February 26, 2007


Monday morning and time to get organized for another week. We had an enjoyable weekend with a lunch guest on Friday, Becky, Rocky and I went to the gym on Saturday and yesterday we took a day of rest. For the most part, Rocky is feeling well and able to do anything he has energy for. Of course, you have to consider our ages……it’s natural at this time of life not to be out front leading the pack. Swimming upstream is not my idea of a good day and sometimes floating downstream is just fine with us.

We always hear the same thing when people see Rocky. “Gee, you sure look good!” and he does. …..it’s hard to look at Rocky and realize he has cancer digging in on his liver. We have managed to keep it “at bay” for a year now and it is by God’s grace. We have a great prayer support, family and friend support and a wonderful group of medical folks that are trying their best to keep him going to the Power Meets. They are amazed at his strength and determination.

I’ve mentioned so many times how the “kids” at the gym love and look up to Rocky. He is embarrassed at the adulation he gets from his lifting team. When he comes over to the weight section of the gym we always hear, “Hey!! There’s the Rock Star!!” Grins and hand shakes all around. Becky and I are up on the treadmill section looking down on the action as they help one another, rest their muscles and enjoy catching up with one another. There is an evident bond between all of them.

Today we will meet a trucking friend of his from the other part of the State. He is hauling through our town and called to see if we could meet him. Rocky has long time friends who still call to see how he’s doing or wondering if he can meet them for coffee. Of course they all worry about him and want to check in to see how he’s doing. It’s very reassuring for them to see him looking as well as the last time they saw him.

We are quite often told at the Clinic how important a good support team is. I never thought about it much because our family is tight knit and when one is down we all rally to help. So many at the Clinic are without family or friends…..no one to see them through, other than the doctors and nursing staff. I have seen first-hand what “hope” does for the patient…..it is truly their lifeline.

To be able to laugh and joke…. …takes cancer off center stage. Cancer doesn’t define the patient……courage does. Ask Ellen and Rocky………….

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Rocky is feeling really good since he hasn’t had chemo for a couple of weeks and is at the gym working out at the moment. He is getting lined out on the Meet he and the fellows will be going to March 1st. They always have a ton of fun and I’ve decided getting away with those guys a couple of days is more beneficial to him than me trailing along. They ride up several to a car and bunk a couple to a room so I’m electing to give him up for a couple of days.

The weather here has been great the past few days…..high 60’s and we’re loving it. Just wish it could have been that way when the family was here but Missouri is not called the “Show Me” State for nothing. Never know what will turn up at any day and time.

The thing I’ve noticed about Thursday’s is that Friday’s always follow. We look forward to Fridays because that’s most usually reserved for Becky and pizza at our house. Since she is teaching at the Academy and meeting herself coming and going it’s nice to catch up with her and find out about her week. Other than medical appointments, that’s about all the socializing we do. Don’t get the idea retired folks have a lot of time…….they don’t……but there is always time to dream and do the things that are really close at heart

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Today was Clinic day but we had a change in plans. Rocky wanted to cancel next week because he is competing in a Powerlifting Meet March 2nd. He needed the time off to be in top condition. Dr. Morgan decided it would be a good time to have Rocky do another CT which would free him up from the chemo treatment today and next Wednesday, giving the doctors time to think about the next approach.

We are lined up for the CT next Wednesday and will have pre-preps done so it will speed up the procedure. Always a good thing. They really take care of a lot of unnecessary waiting time for the patient which is very much appreciated. So Rocky is feeling better each day and everyone at the Clinic is waiting for the results of his Power Meet…….hopefully will be able to do much better without the debilitating effects of the chemo.

We are having weather in the high 60’s since George, John and Barb left. We really had some rotten weather when they were here but other than them not getting to see much of Napoleon, it didn’t dampen our spirits.

I will be going with Rocky to the Meet in Mexico, MO so I’m looking forward to him breaking his own record. He has recently been written up in another Power Magazine by his coach which was very humbling……but the affection shown by his teammates and coach is really special. They are a great bunch of guys and proud of Rocky’s participation where he stands alone in his age bracket.

Just remember: “The man at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there!!”

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


As I write, John and Barbara are nearing the end of their journey home. George had to leave on Sunday but it was so nice to have the Strain kids together in one place. It doesn’t happen often and we make the most of it when we have the chance.

We celebrated early for John’s 50th birthday which is the beginning of several he will have. Living close to New Orleans there is always a party going on somewhere for some reason. Sometimes just because it’s Monday, or raining, or whatever.

I was in charge of food and lodging, Becky shopped for and made up our goofy gifts and George brought the rest with him. It was a joint effort for the three of us and we had a lot of fun watching John’s reaction…..believe me, he is never one to disappoint your anticipations. I’m sure he will be putting some pictures on his blog when he is back in the groove and has time.

Our weather was nasty the first day and Napoleon hates wind so lays low until it blows over. On Sunday evening he came strolling around the house so I called him to come eat. John and Barb wanted to see him in the flesh after seeing so many pictures of him. He came up to the porch and ate canned cat food and some bread while John clicked away.

We wanted him to fan his beautiful tail for them but he was too interested in eating and going to roost. Why is it when you brag on your kids they never show off when prompted? They did get to see him fly up to his roost near the top of our big oak tree. I never tire of watching him and I’m glad they got to see him, briefly…….the next day was terribly windy and he didn’t come again.

We were all pleased our pets interacted as well as they did. Amazingly they were quite considerate of each other and enjoyed the treats and attention. There was lots of tail wagging and sharing of toys and chewy bones.

John and Barb’s wedding anniversary was yesterday and we had a wonderful lunch with dear old friends. We toured their new home before lunch and had a nice visit after. Rocky did quite well even though it was a break in his routine……he doesn’t complain but I knew he was tiring mid-afternoon when we said our goodbyes. We came home and had another celebratory dinner here in honor of their wedding day some 24 years ago.

So today they are close to home and Becky is back in Jefferson City. George is home in KC and Rocky is at the gym…….what am I doing? Lots of laundry and straightening………but with a full heart that only a mother can understand. Tomorrow we go back to the Clinic but we had a nice break in our routine.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, February 16, 2007


On the heels of our good visit with Richard and Helen I am now getting ready for the Strain family to arrive. John, Barb, Bear, George and Murphy will arrive tomorrow to celebrate an early 50th birthday for John. Rocky loves dogs so he will enjoy Bear and Murphy as much as the rest. We’re wondering what Mandy will do with a Lab and a Westie for company over the weekend……to say nothing of our house cats, Morris and Sassy. We figure it’ll be a raucous good time all around.

We are very happy that Rocky’s blood-work was positive. The Clinic nurse called yesterday and said his hemoglobin and white blood cells were good, along with the other things they check for. Wouldn’t do much good to go into a scientific discussion with me any further than the obvious results they look for. As long as the blood-work stays normal we figure we have more time. It is like dancing with the devil every time the report comes…….we know it can “go south” in a hurry but we made it through another time. That’s always good news.

I’ll be off the charts until next Tuesday. The family will be leaving that morning and I’ll get a blog off to share our time together with you. I know our extended families will be wondering about us by then. We hope you have a great weekend and enjoy President’s day on Monday.

Until next time, I am,
Essentiallly Esther

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The first Valentine was not sent by St. Valentine, as thought by most, but by our Father, in the giving of His most prized possession - His Son - to save a lost and dying world. As His own heart was grieving, He gave, that we might be redeemed. How He must have loved us.

Love, who can define it? Nations rise and fall for it, men are traded as pawns for it - it is so powerful it can motivate the deepest human emotion and so weak it can fail to hate, fail to take it’s own part.

Love is never in a hurry, her house of trust is built slowly and lasts eternally - yet can be born in a touch, a glance, a need….a fleeting moment.

Who is great enough to measure love? Men struggle through life with yardsticks and plumb-lines but are blind and deaf. Fools measure what they think they see….a wise man knows you cannot measure something that is still growing.

Who is great enough to contain love? No matter how we hunger and “need” within, we are unable to keep what little we may have. Even an enemy is begged to eat well on our portion.

Love is bought and bartered in every market place. Merchants set a price on wares they cannot own, do not posses and cannot produce. They rob it from the innocent and sell it to the ignorant and grow fat while they starve to death.

They say there is power in love. It has a saving and preserving quality. It’s greatest gift is the eventual outcome of all righteousness and it is never without hope. It transcends human understanding for even animals and plants respond to love and evil is dispelled by it.

It is a word that has been written about on stone, papyrus and the human heart….spoken, screamed and whispered since man began and will survive into all eternity.

You can abuse it, ignore it, try to kill it, or use it but such things only increase it’s capacity to love more.

Love!! Invisible, indescribable and elusive….yet so obvious to all who possess it.

Why do we wonder at it’s goodness, power, necessity, wealth, size, endurance or greatness? The smallest child can declare with certainty the definition of love is God……and God is love…….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


After having four days off, I’m ready to roll again. We thoroughly enjoyed brother Richard and wife Helen, arriving on Thursday afternoon after a long drive down from near Chicago. They said they left snow covered countryside and the further South they came, the less of it they saw.

We were sorry sister Marie and Harold couldn’t come at the last minute as Marie had dental problems to contend with. They live in St. Louis so we will be able to see them sometime soon.

Becky joined us Thursday night for pizza and breadsticks……then dessert later. She had to drive to Jefferson City the next day to teach her class but she did get back in time for a very nice dinner, compliments of Richard and Helen.

They brought a beautiful crown rib roast that barely fit in my large roaster pan, baking potatoes, tossed green salad and all the fixings. When they said they wanted to bring dinner, they weren’t kidding. Helen thought of everything right down to the condiments and croutons for her salad. She had a chocolate bunt cake with fudge icing that begged for ice-cream to go along.

I would venture to say it was the best “Meals on Wheels” delivery anyone has ever had. We had a leisurely morning on Friday and then took in a gift shop before coming home to start dinner. Becky arrived around 6:00pm and everything was ready to come out of the oven….perfect timing. We spent the evening visiting and enjoying the short time we would have together.

They left the next morning and planned to stop in St. Louis for coffee with Marie and Harold……then arrived home around 6:00 that evening. Becky was off work for a three-day weekend….a State holiday for Lincoln’s birthday. We did some running and eBay shopping……before we knew it her three days were up.

So now we are caught up to today and the weather is the big issue. Dropping temperatures, wind, ornery sky and snow flurries off and on. I fed Napoleon good and the garage kitties…….then shut them up safely for the night. While Richard and Helen were here, Napoleon went out of his way to pose for them and show them how tame and what a pretty bird he is. They got quite a few nice pictures of him. He is a unique bird, that boy is!!

We are thankful for family, for their love and generosity…..for their big hearts. I know they were pleased to see Rocky looking well and able to enjoy the visit. When you can’t be with family other than a few times a year, it’s really special when it happens. Family and friends are two ingredients that make life so much richer…….

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Rocky is sleeping late after his Chemo yesterday and I’m making ready for family expected late afternoon. The critters are all excited because they have keyed in on my change of their daily routine. They’re choking from the dust I’m stirring…..haha, yah, right!! Like I move that fast anymore…..but it sounds good, don’t you think?

Needless to say I won’t be writing for a couple of days but I wanted to share a college course with you. You get “credits” every time you put these suggestions into action so don’t just read and flip by. The “learning curve” is easy so here goes……from “THE BOX”…..


The SIX most important words: “I ADMIT I MADE A MISTAKE”

The FIVE most important words: “YOU DID A GOOD JOB”

The FOUR most important words: “WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?”

The THREE most important words: “IF YOU PLEASE”

The TWO most important words: “THANK YOU:

The ONE most important word: “WE:”

The LEAST important word: “I”

“One life is all you’ll ever have, slow down before you lose it. It seems a crime to make good time…..and then not live to use it.”

(Thanks Mom.)

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Some time back I printed off a FW we liked very much. Being pet lovers, we found this to be pretty interesting. You have to be a pet person to fully appreciate the article but here are a few excerpts and additions of my own.

Remember: Dogs and cats are better than kids because they eat less, don’t ask for money all the time, are easier to train, normally come when called, never ask to drive the car, and if they get pregnant you can sell their children.

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food, the other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note the difference. The hallway is not a race track and beating me to the end of it is not the object…..I can fall faster than you can run so watch out.

I realize you think fur all over is admissible since it is called “fur”niture but when company comes please refrain from leaving your hair on everything. They aren’t used to furry clothing…..we are.

I appreciate the fact you don’t want to wear my clothes, don’t smoke, and don’t have to be entertained. Oh, and thank you for loving me like you do…..life wouldn’t be the same without you.


Today is Clinic day so I’ll tack on the results when we are home late this afternoon.

CLINIC NEWS......nothing new to report. The bloodwork is good. Dr. Morgan gave Rocky some nausea pills that won't make him want to sleep 18 out of every 24 hours. He was given a different nausea medication. So next week we will get the next CEA number and this time I'm going to ask what it is.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Yesterday is gone and Today is here. Today is the Tomorrow we looked forward to Yesterday and it is now Past. I love that. What ever Yesterday’s fears were about Today can be dealt with now. We get a chance to clean the slate for our next Tomorrow.

OK…..if you’re still with me……we’ll go on. I’m personally mixed up with all that but I’ll chew on it Today. We are looking forward to Rocky’s brother and wife, Richard and Helen and sister and husband, Marie and Harold on Thursday. They will be with us through Saturday and we always have a wonderful time of visiting and catching up on one another’s families, etc;

We are expecting John and Barbara the 17th through the 20th of this month. We will be able to celebrate Mardi Gras, their wedding anniversary and an early 50th birthday for John (March 2) all in one visit. I’m not sure about LJ coming along since he’s busy at LSU….but we’ll take any and all of the Louisiana family. George will be coming down to join us hopefully so all of the Strain kids can be together.

I had good intentions yesterday about cleaning some “corners” and got stuck. Kind of like painting yourself in a corner. I ran across a box in the closet that contained all of the clippings I’ve saved over the years, plus my mother’s and some very sentimental things such as the poems read at my mother and father’s funerals. Just stuff like that……trash to another but treasure to me. I will be sharing some of the bounty of the box, going forward.

Anyway, I forgot the clock, the necessity to clean and took a walk down memory lane with each piece I read. You know, when you are my age, you have a great deal more “memories” than you do future plans. I always liked Willard Scott’s remark about being so old he didn’t even buy green banana’s anymore. I realize I’ve been talking more and more about “old times” and more about the final destination of our “journey” but it’s the “stage” I’m in. From birth to death we all pass through “stages”……it doesn’t stop after the terrible two’s.

Our family was always great on story telling. Didn’t matter if we’d all heard them or told them a million times, we always listened with great expectations, going from grins of recognition to belly laughs and tears by the time the story ended. It is so healing to hear those dear stories over and over. Life is good and some of it bad….but it’s all pretty funny when you look back…..and if you’re an Andersen, the embellishments that stretch facts all over the place are even funnier. We know the truth of it all but the wild rearranging is very dear.

Taken from the box:

As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say,
“You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?”

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, February 04, 2007


There is a place called Suffering…..where not many choose to go….but at some point each of us will be asked to bear the suffering of others…and in due time we will have to bear our own.

Suffering is strangely a great teacher. We are made uniquely different and so our suffering is uniquely different. It is geared to make an impact on us as well as to those around us.

I have been in great company to observe suffering and strength. The people in my life have shown me many times how to react to tragedy, to loss, to disappointment and to failure. I have seen widows whose conduct was exemplary in the loss of their husbands. We can all learn by example.

My maternal grandmother was widowed early…..her resolve was to raise her children and give them a good education. She was hard working and prudent….she never knew what welfare or Social Security was. She made the long walk into town to clean the parsonage of her pastor when she was a lot older than many of the women in the church. She found a way to be useful after the children were gone, and she didn’t let her age become a handicap. We can all learn by example.

I had great teachers in my aunts and my mother as well as many women who have passed through my life. I saw many different problems, each handled with the same courage and strength. I learned compassion at an early age. Seeing animals hurt or killed made me very sad. I was a kid who always wanted everything to come “all right” and did everything I could to help. I don’t say that from pride but from the words my aunt Mary told me one time. She was talking about my childhood and that was her assessment. I cared about others at an early age. We can all learn by example.

If you are blessed with good health and long life it is most surely going to follow that you will suffer many losses. How you stand up to them is how you will handle them when you are the target. I have lived long enough to see the best stand up to the worst……and I have seen the worst stand up to the best. Your defining moment is how you act upon the final chapter of your life. We can all learn by example.

Will your life be taken from you or will you give it away? I have found the people who are least concerned about dying are the ones who gave their life for others all along the way. Giving your life up begins a long time before the final breath. It is yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We can all learn by example………..

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, February 02, 2007


I had an email waiting when I turned the computer on this morning. My cousin wrote that her mother, my aunt Sally passed away around 10:30 last night. She is the last of six children…..my mother being the oldest.

Aunt Sally raised six children of her own, marrying after college years to a man who was stricken with polio when he was young. Just because you wear braces and walk with crutches does not mean you are handicapped……uncle Rod was very much a “hands on” dad and provider for his family.

Their children married or left for college…..uncle Rod passed away, leaving aunt Sally alone in a very big house. She spent most of her years there, very active in church, Sweet Adeline’s, the town Library, and other ventures that were worthwhile to her. My mother and her three sisters had the most beautiful, uniform handwriting I’ve ever seen. Aunt Sally was no exception. Their writing was always recognized before you opened an envelope.

She enjoyed her children and their sports, always a big supporter of their endeavors, her grandchildren and her many friends. She was more a sister to me than an aunt…..we were only 10 years apart.

I will remember her spontaneous smile, her pleasure in a good prank…..and her laughter. She enjoyed life and I don’t think she ever let mundane tasks keep her from participating in a good time. If I were to sum up the memories I have of her, I think maybe I’d say she was kind of a “dessert first” kind of gal.

I know the family was at the gate when aunt Sally came through, the last of the six of them. Her journey over……and safely home……we will miss her.

Our condolences to my cousins………..

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Some days I have troubles and some days I can fix them. Like all senior women, I am not electronically inclined…..yet I am more so than many of my friends. I’ve tried and tried to “sell” several of them on computers to better keep in touch with their families……giving glowing remarks about how fast it is, how you get answers back quickly, etc; but they keep giving me the same answers I used to give my kids when they tried to sell me on the idea.

Several of my friends live alone and one is amazing. She is 89 and a real feisty lady. She traveled the globe with her husband who made a career in the Military. She raised two boys and after they left home and she lost her husband, she still lives in California, far away from her relatives.

She has had several mishaps, surgeries and so on…….made it by herself in her own home….she lived in a wheelchair for weeks. Of course, to get back to the computer thing, it would be good for her now that her fingers don’t “write” so well. Something most of my pals and I are going through. For me, it’s osteoporosis, for some it’s “Arthur” and for one of them, broken bones. Sooner or later, body parts come to the place where they are considering retirement.

With the mountains this lady has climbed I am surprised she didn’t go for it but when I call to check on her, she is witty and interesting and I’m always glad I’ve called. Maybe sometimes it’s nice to hear a human voice rather than read an email, after all. I can appreciate the fact that it takes most of her day just taking care of herself…..it’s becoming more clear all the time. The older we become, the more maintenance….but why should that come as a surprise? Think of old machinery! Nothing runs forever without overhauling and TLC from time to time.

Well, back to my troubles. I was trying to get on line part of the day and was having no luck. After a while I decided to try Becky’s system of unplugging and re-plugging the line to the cable. When I crawled under the desk and checked the wires, the one to the cable was unplugged. Why, I felt positively proud of myself! Plugging in that little feller put me back in business.

The kitties are in and fed, Napoleon has been fed real good (baby, it’s cold out there and the ground is covered with snow)……it’s time to take Mandy out and then time for Rocky and me to spend the evening improving our intelligence in front of TV. (The smart thing about THAT is…..turning it off!!) Whatever happened to good TV anyway?

Just remember: “Failures are divided into two classes - those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought.” John Charles Sak

Until tomorrow, I am,,
Essentially Esther