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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It has been a while since I’ve written anything about Rocky and the Rocky Memorial Power Meet Fund. Becky, Holly and I were making a lot of plans for the shirts and the trophies when Dale suddenly died and I turned my energy to his estate. It was and is a lot to deal with……more so than when Rocky died.

Location being one big factor and then taking on a whole household as well as the finances of another person. With Rocky it wasn’t a total change-over since I will remain in our home and keep everything except his personal belongings. Of course I kept the things most important to me but I also gave a lot to his children in the way of individual sentiment.

With Dale I had to guess at decisions and hope they were ones he would have made. It has been enlightening to see how much we all keep that is worthless and of no value except to take up room. Dale had all of his flying log books, years and years of bank statements, tax records and receipts for almost everything he ever owned.

I hated to glance and pitch but most of all that will never be needed again. He was very punctual about paying bills……most of which were withdrawn electronically. A great line of creditors appreciated his business. Closing accounts and trying to find insurance records were not that easy. However, after almost two months of scrutiny I am coming to the end.

Once the mobile home is sold I will not need to give so much time to the estate. That will free me up to go back to Rocky’s Memorial Meets and finish plans for the first one. It has been set for August 25th and Holly will have a lot of shirts embroidered for sale, Becky and I will have the trophies ready to go and it should be a lot of fun.

His gym buddies always figured he was full of baloney about carrying a full milk can in each hand from the farmers barns back to the truck. (One hundred and twenty five pounds in each hand.) One time Rocky took a picture down to show them where he was indeed on record with the two full milk cans. It wasn’t just an occasional thing but at every stop on his route. He was written up in the Globe Democrat……a paper out of St. Louis, who sent a reporter on his route to see how milk gets to market.

Handling all of the cans each day three times, to load and unload the truck the reporter figured he lifted 20,000 pounds every day….starting at 4:30 a.m. After unloading in the afternoon he changed truck tires at the local station for extra money. Rocky was not lazy…..not ever.

So now we have the fun of seeing his buddies compete with milk cans full of water (which is less weight than milk), running to a dock where they will hoist the cans up as into a truck. There will be teams from all around who will want the trophy of Rocky’s Memorial. Lifters from our State and others were acquainted with Rocky and will want to make a good showing.

I can see Rocky looking down on the event with glee in his eyes. I’m betting if he were still with us, he would win the match single handed…….that’s just the way Rocky did things.

He would stand with arms folded, waiting for his turn to lift…..then when they called his name, he walked up, picked up the weights and set them down…..walking off with a smile. He wasn’t out to show anyone up……he just liked to see how far “he” could go.

Big boys playing with heavy toys was always fun to watch. Their respect and camaraderie for one another was a joy to behold. They dubbed each other with goofy names and were pals.

Rocky loved the sport and the guys…….and they loved him back. Still do!

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 30, 2007


Another week is underway and with it a promise of renewed energy. I rested as much as I could over the weekend…..I’m finding naps are a good thing. I don’t sleep long but the mid-afternoon snooze is very relaxing. Speaking of napping our pastor has been out two Sunday’s on vacation so we have had guest speakers in his place. It’s a dead give-a-way when you pull into the lot. Fewer cars means unoccupied pews inside. I’ve never read where it says “you” can go on vacation too when the preacher does. OK, I guess that’s it from the “church cop.” J

The ones of you who follow Ellen and/or Curtis’s blogs are no doubt worried as I am. When the blogsite goes quiet for a blogger, it’s serious. Their last words were very disturbing and I keep searching in hopes of finding them writing again…….to no avail. All we can do is pray for them both and hope for the best.

For ten years I have had a friend who used to drive out for lunch one day a week. That went on until she had more major health problems. She couldn’t drive anymore and so I went after her and took her home. She adored Rocky and always enjoyed the lunch and visit. She has recently been in the hospital again and moved to the nursing home where she will stay now. This happened over the weekend. So many people in my life are having life-changing situations and I’m trying to adjust to them. Our lives seem to change direction every time a family member or friend faces crisis.

I want to thank the folks in my comment section who take time to write with love and advice. I really do listen to you and once in a while I even follow my own advice. J With all of life’s ebb and flow, there is always something going on to make it extremely worthwhile.

As you know, Becky and I feed stray cats after our own little residents are locked in the garages every night. I put a can of wet cat food along with dry cat food. Then I enjoy watching the little guys come and eat….it makes me feel so good to fill their tummies. Saturday evening Becky and I were sitting in the living room and she noticed two young cats……pole cats, yes they were, who came to eat the food. They were small and loving the dinner table. Last night I watched as one came back to clean up the strawberry doughnut that Napoleon didn’t quite finish. (Napoleon has a sweet tooth….he loves doughnuts and muffins!)

I’ve smelled “skunk” in the night before when we’ve had the window open so they’ve been around a long time but now have decided to make us a regular stop in their quest for food. No doubt we have an expanding family of little “stinkers.”

Remember: You know you’re getting old when you stoop over to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there. J

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 27, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned that I loved learning new things. Well, I do and I’m getting quite the education from my first attempt at being Administrator of Dale’s Estate. It has consumed my time since they called me of his death on June 9th. Because I was the only one that could be reached as far as any family went I volunteered to leave the next morning and claim his body and make arrangements.

I was shot out of the cannon with a quick and fuzzy idea of what I was in for. I would like to take a deep breath and tell any of you reading this, MAKE A WILL. It would have been so much easier had Dale done that but after searching through mounds of papers, his computer and file cabinets…….not a slip of paper to help.

I made the rounds to the Police Station, the Coroner’s Office, the Funeral Home and then began accumulating information to close down his accounts. I am still working on that. There is no helpful information to speed up the procedure so it’s just hunt and peck to wade through the tangle. Today I was working on a plan to sell the mobile home and nothing seemed to jell for me. I guess I’ll begin on Monday when the week and I are both fresher.

It is becoming more and more difficult to “just do……ANYTHING.” Being born, having surgery, going to school, getting a job, marriage, divorce, dying…..buying a home…all a nightmare. No wonder there are so many lawyers and accountants. Dale was retired, no wife, no children and I’m into the second month trying to close out his paper trail. He had a modest mobile home, one pickup and a simple existence. I shudder to think how much worse it could be.

Well, it’s Friday! Time to load up the paper on the kitchen table and call it quits until Monday morning when I can go back to work on this. I would advise anyone to avoid Administrating an estate unless you really, really love the deceased. And I did, I do and I always will be willing to do whatever it takes for Dale!!

Have a great weekend. Until Monday, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Teachers put in hard hours and struggle to bring their classes up to par by the time school’s out, each year. I had several relatives who taught and I married into the Rockenbach’s where almost all of the aunts and the grandmother were teachers. Rocky’s sister and brother both taught.

Once in a while teachers can become preoccupied and find themselves caught by a small student. A friend of mine had a little kindergartner who was busily drawing a picture. The teacher came by and pointed to an object she colored purple. “What is that, Janie?” she asked. Nonchalantly, Janie answered as she colored, “It’s a cow.” “But Janie, I never saw a purple cow” the teacher continued. Without missing a swipe of her crayon, Janie looked at the teacher and said, “Ohhhh!! That’s too baaaaaad!”

The moral is obvious…..don’t overlook new ideas….. even if it’s a waif in kindergarten who steps out of your box.

When John was in kindergarten he traveled to the Kansas State School For The Blind every day. He rode with a neighbor who taught there and I picked him up each day. His teacher was blind and we didn’t know it for several weeks. She was a very capable woman who didn’t go around with a dog and a white cane. Because of her dark world she and the other educators at the school thought John should take Braille lessons because it takes a long time to develop the sense of touch needed to be accurate.

From their past history it was good theory because no one knew if John’s eyesight would last throughout life. It would be far easier to train him at that age and then he would be prepared. I thought about it a few days and decided since he did have vision he should continue with “sighted” material. I am sure the teachers would be happy to know of John’s success in a sighted world and especially as one of their students who has given back so much to others.

I’m not downing teachers at all. It’s just that sometimes things turn out really good when otherwise they could be really bad. The difference could go either way at a certain point but once in a while we get a nod in the right direction.

Teachers and parents….add in friends chosen by our children. The three elements can make such a huge difference in a child’s life. How they turn out is usually the time spent putting the right things out there for them to choose from. I’m no expert on raising children but I know when trouble comes and there is a good built-in support group….things turn out for the better.

It’s hard to know when to shove and when to pull but I do know that too much too soon can ruin a young person. Look at the evening news and you’ll see the effects of youth gone wild. It is sad to see those who have been given so much opportunity throw it away. It isn’t their youth they’re tossing……it’s their life. They won’t live enough years to overcome the losses of these very precious years. It’s like someone swimming downstream towards the falls with ear plugs on.

Sadly, you never know it’s gone until……..it’s gone!

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I can’t imagine living without learning. I have always been an eager learner and I love it when I learn something new. Having a brain that has stagnated would not be fun for me yet I have known so many who are content to do the same thing every day and don’t want their routine messed with. That would be the death knell for me for each day I change-up how I do things and try something new.

It has always been puzzling to me that Monday was to be “wash day” Tuesday was to be “ironing day” Wednesday was “mending day“ and so on down the week. I saw many tea towels embroidered with the little captions for each day of the week growing up. Now tea towels are a thing of the past…..hello to dishwashers. Laundry day is any day you have a load to do and they can be dried within 30-minutes. American women have automated magic all over the house and they can pick and choose when and what they want to do. Multi-task moms.

Sometimes I muse over my childhood…..how different it was then. I learned so much staying with my grandmother and aunts at summer vacation time. They had a different “take” on me than mom and dad……..at home there was discipline and consequences, entertaining myself. Dad worked all the time and mom worked all the time at home. They neither one had much free time until later years. I had to entertain myself because my brother was 3 ½ years older and had lots going on. I found reading to be a wonderful avenue to take me beyond my circumstances. Reading is learning on every level.

Life at grandma’s house was discipline in a different way. Not so many rules to follow but I was constantly being reminded to sit up straight, not to throw my leg over the arm of the living room couch, not to be loud, wash hands before eating, don’t take big helpings when there isn’t enough to go around……..it went on and on. You would think by now I’d be a refined lady but I’m just plain Esther.

Living at grandma’s was much like “Little House on the Prairie.” She lived in a small town, had a small farm and worked hard. I loved snooping in the barn, the chicken house, pig pen, the closed off rooms upstairs and the pantry. She had every manner of dishes along the wall of shelves……..I loved going in there and looking at the beautiful colors and shapes.

I learned so much from all of them. My parents, grandma and my aunts….what do kids learn these days with most of their relatives hundreds of miles away? Older people in children’s lives is so important……family values cannot be taught if you aren’t connected to the family. Older people have the advantage of experience, lots of failures they learned from and modest successes to keep them going.

I’ve been very blessed to have spent a lot of my life around aunts, uncles, cousins, mom AND dad in the same house all those years. The more people you learn from, the more perspective you have about life in general. The next time you see a senior citizen in your realm of acquaintances…….stop and say thanks. They’ve had their share of lumps and might be able to save you a few. You will always learn more from listening than from talking…………….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 20, 2007


Yesterday, I spent the morning on errands again and the afternoon looking at old photo albums. Aunt Beulah worked for a photo shop in Omaha when she was young and always took lots of pictures. If it hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have any pictures of my baby days at all. They are scarce as it is because I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house in Blair, twenty five miles away from Omaha where we and uncle Ted and aunt Beulah lived.

Seeing the happy faces of my mother and father when they were young and had their lives before them made an impression on me. It seems generation after generation travels the same road. Only the circumstances are different and will bring meaning to our existence. They had hopes and fears but there they were, caught in time with my aunts and uncles and their lives all in front of them.

The Andersen men had a passion for cars. They were a wild bunch of boys who grew up with immigrant parents and old world ideas. Dad and his six brothers were obsessed with cars. Of course they saw the first Henry Ford and all the rest that followed. Boys growing up with horses to work the family farm instantly saw the advantage to “horse-power” from machines.

I loved to hear dad and my uncles sit around the table after a meal talking about racing with each other on dirt roads, racing trains like fools along the tracks, and plowing through corn fields when their cars went out of control. Dad always said the minute he was beat in a “race” with his brothers or others who prized their fast cars, he sold what he had and bought one he deemed faster.

Where did he get the money to do that? Hard work and saving money for his love of machines. Dad would be in love with Henry Ford all his life……always regretting when he bought another brand. To him, Ford was magic and brilliant. A poor man by some standards, dad’s life would always revolve around working on machines and driving them.

When he and my mother married in March 1925 he was 21 and mom was 20. I look at their pictures and see how beautifully young and in love they were. Never ones to publicly exhibit their feelings, they had the language of the eyes that spoke of it. I never saw my dad kiss my mother but they were married 50 years before dad died and their undeniable love tied them to each other. My mother never remarried and lived 17 years after dad was gone.

Mom and dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents……all gone now but they left a path where they trod. Pictures of laughing groups roasting franks over a roaring bonfire by the river..…..always their cars in the pictures with them, their road to freedom.

Those were heady days and it is wonderful to see the youth of my forbearers. It teaches parents have a life and a personality that their children rarely see…..unless you have an old photo album……….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Today I will be in and out. I don’t like running errands….and my “errand guy” is no longer here. It’s shocking at times when I need help in a particular area and I remember Rocky can’t do it for me.

Yes, I was a spoiled wife. His power, his knowledge, willingness to help and his kindness were something I could count on. I didn’t say “I could take for granted” for even before we knew he had cancer I never took any thing about him for granted. When we were married we promised each other we would never try to change one another and the honeymoon would never end until we said so. Sadly, it ended without either of us asking.

He would have been so much help in bringing Dale’s estate to a conclusion. If you can imagine loads of electrical cords, wires and everything being hooked up to surround sound, every conceivable piece of electronic “stuff” that Radio Shack had and all being hooked together in Dale’s home you can imagine the work it has taken to just get it undone.

Loading, did I mention loading. The first trip up, we loaded as much as we could bring back in Dale’s pickup. It had a nice flat, metal cover which only raised so far. Thankfully I didn’t have to scrunch down to push things to the back of the pickup bed or I would still be there in the shape of a pretzel. Helen (sister-in-law) and Becky did that on separate trips and I was grateful. Richard (Rocky’s brother) and I carried box after box to be loaded.

Rocky would have had a “plan.” He spent a good part of his life hauling furniture around this country and he was good at what he did. He had the strength of a bull until the day he died…..but he didn’t use up his strength needlessly. He was master at finding the simple and easy way to do things. I loved to hear his stories how he and his boys moved impossible furniture in impossible circumstances.

One that stands out is coming down a circular stairway with a piano. I don’t remember who did what but it got away from them and made a hole in the wall before stopping. He and the kids would laugh over all the things that happened during those years and I never tired of hearing about any of them. What a life he had!!

I could rattle on and on but remember those errands I talked about? They are still waiting so I’d better get cracking.

I miss you Rocky…….not for the help you were but the love you are.

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 16, 2007


I’ve traveled a great distance this morning sitting on my couch. I am going through mail that Dale saved of his mother’s (one of my very favorite people) and found quite a few cards, notes and letters I had mailed over the years to her. It is odd to read things you wrote almost 20 years ago and amazing how time changes all of us. There were letters from my mother to her and of course other family members.

I have often said I grew up in a family of writers. Letter writers. Up until a few years ago anyone I called was afraid of what I might say when they heard my voice. “What’s happened” was usually their greeting because it was only sickness, death or something serious to make any of us call. We thought it an expense to be avoided.

My mother and all of my aunts would not believe how it is now where every car you meet has someone talking on the phone. It seems the world is full of voices all talking at once on cell-phones. If it is true that any sound is still “out there” and can be traced back…..I think it’s going to be harder now with all of the cell phones. I don’t understand the science behind it and maybe it has been proven untrue but I read once where any sound since the beginning of time is still able to be picked up by a certain capability. We might find it hard listening to some of the things that have come out of our own mouth.

It is interesting what people have to say about you when you aren’t present. When I made the trips to Illinois to take care of Dale’s belongings his neighbors, one by one, would come to the door asking if something happened to Dale. When I told them he died, they were very sorry. After all he had lived there and near there for many years. He worked at the airport, nearby, but had retired and devoted his life to learning all about electronics.

He wired his home in every room for “surround sound” and a CD and DVD collection that was extensive. Almost everyone said the same about Dale. “What a nice man he was.” Never bothered anyone, was always friendly and never got out of the house very much. After years of being in the Navy, private lessons to learn to fly and then becoming a flight instructor with an impressive record, he then went to work for the FAA at the same airfield and retired from there.

I am very happy he was in my life….more a brother than a cousin, and over that a very decent person. If people can say that about me when I’m gone, that will be good enough.

It seems to me the undeserving get the longest eulogies and I figure it’s to cover up a mess they’ve made of their life……if you’re the real deal it doesn’t have to be said.

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 12, 2007


-----I have come in from a walk around the yard. Callie, the girl who now cuts the grass and weed-eats for me, does a beautiful job and I enjoy my flowers even more when they are displayed around a pretty lawn. I especially enjoy the little guys who come up naturally for they have had a battle to process the necessary events to become a plant. They are not particular….they come up from under rocks, sidewalks, the gravel drive and in thickets of weeds.

Of course the hybrids are lovely but they should be. They have been in the care of greenhouses, loamy fields of flower-growers who devote every attention to their needs….water when they needed it, shade, fertilizer and all the rest. I look at it this way. Most of them will produce the desired results because they have had every possibility of care.

I was delighted to spy blooming cone flowers at the edge of the tree-line we left natural in the back of our property . Regardless of their struggle to reach sunshine from under the red bud trees, the fact they were never watered except by rain and many of them never seen……they press on to begin their cycle of life.

I have always been for the underdog, the disadvantaged, the lost, the strays…….one look in their eyes tells the story of their sad existence from dogs and cats to flowers and their need for tender care. I am a nurse to the sick plants, a friend to the abused and a really angry woman when someone treats “life” of anything as fair game. Life is precious….it doesn’t last forever….nothing does.

I have had the most unusual Spring of my entire life. I have been uprooted, dried out, watered too much and left empty. I would stay that way but I know I am one of those plants coming up from under rocks……it is tough going but I know I will bloom when it’s time.

The flowers are lovelier this year than ever. I have only had time to pluck a weed here and there but I have selected to ignore the weeds and feast my eyes on the flowers. I may find time to weed, or not……but I will not miss a flower that blooms for me.

We shouldn’t busy ourselves with weeds and forget to see the flowers……………

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 09, 2007


Becky and I left home July 4th for Illinois. I drove and she was the navigator…..when you are on unfamiliar roads, such as going through St. Louis, you need four eyes for the correct lane to be in for the next exit. I may be prejudiced but I don’t think Illinois marks their highways, freeways and exit signs as well as Missouri. Maybe I’m just used to my locale but every time I go through St. Louis with someone or by myself, it is always a challenge. I have taken measures to try and end the return trips.

We arrived around lunchtime and went right to work in Dale’s home. Our objective was to fill the pick-up on Wednesday, lock the cover down over the top and go for a U-Haul the next day. It all worked out great, but the weather was so oppressive, humid and downright miserable we struggled to stay with it. By 5:30 we had loaded all we could and headed for the shower.

Next morning we rented a small truck and Becky opted to drive it back to the mobile home. We grabbed a snack and went to work. At 1:00pm the two boys showed up to move the washer and dryer to the U-Haul…….we had been helped by an employee at the local renting site, when I said we would need someone to do some heavy lifting. They proved their worth and in two hours they were on their way.

Becky and I loaded the last of the things to go back with us, cleaned the place as well as we could with only a broom and dust-pan but with it emptied out it looked much more presentable. I still intend hiring a cleaning lady to go in and finish the job.

We drove home without mishap and Becky’s son, Jonathan, was on hand to do the heavy lifting and emptying of the two vehicles so I could return the U-Haul before closing time. George arrived mid-afternoon and helped with much of the activity so we could close in the garage and call it a day. George and Jonathan loaded up my John Deere mower on George’s trailer and left after lunch on Saturday.

Rocky’s daughter Holly and husband Eddie came yesterday to deliver shirts she made for orders we’ve received concerning Rocky’s Powerlifting Meet. They were good help with all of the cables, wires and electrical toys of Dale’s. Becky and I have a lot of items to sell which will go into Dale’s Estate. I am not anticipating a trip very soon since the paper work has been completed and we have emptied out the mobile home and shed for sale.

The lawyer thought we could complete the papers we need to by mail so we may never go back there. It has been a sad affair and a lot of hot, back-breaking work…..but I think we have completed this the way Dale would have wanted.

It is with great sadness that he is gone……but God has a time for us all and Dale was allowed to call the shots on his terms so I will accept that and go on. I have many happy memories to keep him in my heart until I see him again.

Thanks for your prayers, for your condolences and for your interest in this sad loss for us. You are appreciated.

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


There is a place called Happiness. It lies between two cities called Gratefulness and Forgiveness. The road is easy to go there but it’s amazing how many choose a much harder road. They are encumbered with Hatefulness, Greed and Selfishness who keep them off the good road.

The load is light and the scenery bright on the way to Happiness. Those who travel there do not need much luggage……and they often stop to notice the view and take time to greet one another. Their faces are beautiful and shining because they left Worry and Fretfulness behind. They do not carry Time with them because they are not in a hurry. They are simply enjoying the view and each other on the road.

Happiness is such a wonderful place to be. Her friends live there and never leave……there is Truth, Faithfulness, Joy, Peace, Patience and many others but of course you would have to go there to find them.

We travel many roads in life but so many carry us into the city of Unhappiness. An experienced traveler is so necessary because they can show us the way. The Guide is happy to show anyone how to get there and actually carries whatever luggage you think you need……but after a few days on the road you realize you don’t need Things and you bid Him set them down…..they will not be picked up again.

On the gate of Happiness is a large sign that simply says, Freedom. It is a word that best describes Happiness. Free of any and all corruption the city is a beacon to travelers and welcomes each and everyone.

Happiness is a place that cannot be shaken, cannot be destroyed, cannot be bribed. It stands forever into eternity……….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 02, 2007


Becky and I are two pretty good movers. Rocky would be proud of us. We got to Dale’s home by lunch time on Thursday and worked until time to visit with the lawyer later in the afternoon. He is a very nice man and is working with what little we have to go on. Still, it is a task that begs finishing.

We worked all day Friday from early until late and then headed home on Saturday morning. It was the last day we had for our small booth at the Antique Barn so we ate a bowl of soup and headed out there to finish up. We saw old friends that we stopped to visit with……we have a 10-year history with the place and know many of the vendors and local buyers. The “help” changes as people have schedule conflicts like Becky and I do at the time, but one can always sign up for part time work if you are so inclined. We have enjoyed being long time customers, then vendors and then worked part-time. It has been a great experience but time to cut back and get out of Dodge, as they say.

Becky and I plan to go back to Illinois Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. We are well beyond making a big blast out of July 4th because we are alone here except for Jonathan and his little family……..we enjoy the day differently now….like going to Illinois. Should be back by Friday but plans are subject to change.

Becky and I tore into the CD player space and changed location for it so I can enjoy my music more as I work around our little home. That necessitated moving all the books out of the bookcases and creating a different “look” in the living room. Today and tomorrow I will finish the obvious job of rehabilitation for some things that no longer have space.

Needless to say, Napoleon, Mandy, Sassy, Chevy, Lovey and Callie were thrilled to have us home once more. We got a lot of loving from those little critters and it’s nice to have someone waiting for us. They are all a big part of our life.

I’d better get busy now and hopefully, in our absence life has been good to you and the ones you love. Take care and have a great Monday.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther