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Thursday, November 29, 2007


…………………..yes they do. I heard them the other day. I heard them say they are jealous of the birds who fly into their tree and fly away. One of them told the other one it had always been his dream to fly like the birds from branch to branch instead of just staying in one place all the time.

The other one thought for a while……and then said, “I have always been afraid of falling. I heard some of the leaves say that when they come loose from the branch they fall down, they don’t fly at all. The older ones who have talked with the Maker of Trees said we will all come down because He needs us for another purpose. He said we would be part of the soil that holds the whole tree up. Can you imagine………. hold the whole tree up? Wow, that IS important.”

They were silent for several minutes, watching other leaves leave the branches in their neighborhood……then the first leaf said, “I know you are afraid of falling but just take my hand when the next breeze stirs through our tree and we’ll go down together.” After a while, the second leaf held out his hand and I swear, I saw him put some goggles on.

He gave a red scarf to his friend and said, “I saw a plane go over once and the pilot was wearing goggles and a red scarf……he was having so much fun I wanted the same. I won’t be so afraid of falling if we hold hands and go together.” In their excitement they did just that. They floated and fluttered and circled around in the air for some time, coming to rest on a path.

A little boy came walking by some time later and noticed the bright red on one leaf that was fastened to another leaf. He looked closer and saw a tiny pair of goggles on the other one. He held them for some time and as children do, he understood perfectly what had happened. He laid them carefully under the large tree they came from and left them there.

The two leaves talked for some time about their big adventure and how things look so different on the ground. While they were talking excitedly a soft snow began falling in the woods……a full moon came up to turn the snow into glistening diamonds.

The little leaves each took a blanket of snow and snuggled in for their next big adventure……holding up the tree they called “home.”

Now I know adults are skeptics and don’t “believe” but I do know that children will understand my story and in the Spring will find soft dirt around the bottom of the tree……and if they look close enough they will see a little pair of goggles and a red scarf…..

Essentially Esther

Monday, November 26, 2007


The big Thanksgiving weekend is over and today we start the countdown to Christmas. The commercial folks have thrown enough bones to the shopping hounds to sink the Queen Mary but small income and small retirement programs leave many folks wishing. It makes you wonder how retail can sell for 50% and even more at this time and still keep their ledgers in the black. Could it be they are very greedy with their normal selling prices?

I find more charity requests in my mailbox every day. The ones of us who mail money have to make sure the monies go where they are intended and where most of it gets to where it’s needed. I understand there has to be staffers to organize, project profit, and come up with innovative letters to promote their causes.

This becomes very personal for me as there are so many causes I would like to give more to. I also know this is the best time of the year to bilk people out of cash because they’re in the December give-away mood. I have been raised to give and physically help those who need it. I have also been raised to be careful where my spending goes. Our money is a trade-off for our time so it takes away something we can’t replace. Time spent is time gone. Use it wisely.

So where to spend? I first give to the Service groups and there are many. Everything from the Marine Corp “Toys for Tots” to the DAV, VFW, Paralyzed Vets…..there is a long list of them and I always give because freedom isn’t free. Some of these guys are laying in the VA Hospitals from WWII, Korean, Viet Nam and the dessert wars of the Mid-East.

There are young men and women getting help in our Military hospitals who are from every walk of life. Rich to poor and all in-between……they leave family and comforts to go to a foreign shore so they might have freedom. Many times, they return maimed, arms and legs gone, terrible burns, internal injuries ……but still they go. Freedom isn’t free.

There are charities for every known disease, illness, abandoned children, pregnant unwed mothers or requests from the many denominations of religious groups. I give to them as well. No, I’m not rich and I’m not bragging. This entry is hopeful that there are more of you out there who feel the same responsibility I do for the freedom I enjoy. Some young man or woman had to die for that. Those deaths aren’t pretty and they aren’t in a hospital with family around.

They are in a foreign country in a foreign village fighting a foreign zealot who wants to kill all of us. He is cold at night and hot during the day. No matter his strength or size, he carries at least 50 lbs on his back. There is no shifting or changing the weight except to run, shoot the weapon, take cover and start all over. Their death is bloody, it’s hard and with only their buddies to grieve at the time they are killed.

Freedom isn’t free……..step up the pace and do your part. These men and women realized their responsibility and stepped up to the plate for you, yours, others and me. Don’t go to sleep without a prayer for them and don’t forget to send money to help with the ones who come home in a flag-draped casket or to a ward in an Army Hospital. They leave grieving young widows, their children and family members who don’t always have an income to replace their loss.

That’s where we come in. We can help with all of that. I read once and many times since about a poor widow who came into her place of worship and dropped in her last coin. It was recognized by a man standing by who knew the sacrifice she made. He mentioned it to those around him and said, “This woman will always be remembered for giving all that she had.”

So many give out of their poverty while others with-hold in their plenty. It is in giving sacrificially that the giver and the receiver are blessed. If it is only a “mite” it will get the job done.

No, freedom isn’t free…………

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


…..a loving God who has never given up on me…..that He knows me by name and it is written in His Book of Life. For His constant training to make me a better person even when I didn’t know Him. I’m thankful He never let me by with second best….it would have made me weaker and less thankful. I’m glad He never changed His mind one day to the next on what His expectations were of me. He was and is, constant. I love that. I know my boundaries and they are not difficult.

I’m glad He gave me a heart that cries out to Him in the good times and the bad. He loves to show me what He can do…..He just wants me to ask Him, to be grateful and to share what I’ve been given. It is not hard for He gives so much more than I could ever hope to give away.

I am grateful for rest when I’m weary. He always knows before I do and I am either given strength to finish or the wisdom to let things go. I am thankful for the strength of my youth which carried me to the next stepping stone of maturity. We are not meant to stay on one step too long.

I am thankful for comfort in the tough times of life. When I am sad or hurt, world weary or enveloped in the pain of grief, He comforts me. He is gentle and quiet and I feel His presence holding me close…..He is the one who never leaves me and will always be with me, here and in the life to come.

I cannot comprehend His forgiveness, His love, His caring. I am made of dust and He gave me life……I am in a long line of family who sought to know Him better. I realize in my lifespan the amount of knowledge available far exceeds what they knew. Yet, with blind faith they continued on, believing what they could not prove.

I am thankful for my mistakes….I learned from them. I am thankful I can feel pity and mercy and act accordingly. It is because I have received mercy and a loving God feels pity for me. He helps me forgive when I don’t want to…..He gives my soul freedom when I would otherwise be condemned.

I am thankful where God put me. For the family I was born into, for the children He sent me to mother. For the gift of love He allowed me to receive and give….I am blessed far beyond what I could ever imagine…..and my heart is truly thankful.

Essentially Esther

Monday, November 19, 2007


Lately I’ve been reading some editorials on aging. I guess at my age I navigate to material discussing those golden years. It is very interesting to grow old in America…..no one goes over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house anymore.

Grandma has been busy getting a pedicure, going to Red Hat meetings, and working out at the local gym. Most likely she’s had another face lift before the holidays and is ordering the Christmas meal from a grocery chain which she’ll reheat in the oven and microwave. Why? Well, she’s too busy to cook and the family has special needs when it comes to eating……everyone has a personal preference and you wind up with pizza, cheesecake and brownies.

Those “good ol’ days” where it took a week of cooking to make everything from scratch on a wood cook stove are gone. I grew up watching my grandmother and mother and the aunts working for days on the special meal. No one I know misses the long hours of preparation. Nice to remember, though.

I came across an article that begged to be read. The title asks…..What Are Older People Good For? It begins by saying we need to get away from the negative thinking about “old folks.” We have served in the work force most of our lives and need to be included rather than stuck in a corner. We have contributed to the arts, invented new products, spanned the country with every kind of shipping, worked in factories and the list is endless.

The best commodity of old age is that we have time. At last we can do those things we could only dream about on the jobs. We’ve done it all…..a treasure of wisdom and experiences to make life easier for folks coming after us. At the time it seems that no one listens but later on when reason takes over they remember. Someone needs to put it out there though.

Back to the article, they say older people have much to offer. Their suggestions read like a good resume. “Wisdom, storytelling, family heritage, unconditional love, anchors in the family, community volunteerism, keepers of valued traditions, living history, grandparenthood, good listeners and role models of aging well.”

It goes on listing the amount of money we all spend to look and feel younger. The craze in America is to look thin and have those perfect proportions. Men and women both go under the knife to achieve the desired look which doesn’t always provide the result. Instant gratification is the motivation.

I have always been a non-conformist. If the crowd goes one way, I desire another. It makes more sense for me to be who I am……not to look or act like anyone else. It is amazing how God has made us uniquely different and I want to stay the way He made me with the possibilities He put into me. There is nothing wrong with looking as good and attempting to grasp the possibilities He put into us.

Old age is not scary or I would be scared stiff. Old age gives more than it takes from us. At last we are content with the world we call our own, we have mellowed and have grown to respect the fact we aren’t perfect or higher achievers. Old age means we have the time to be grateful for the years we’ve had, for the people we have loved in our life and to show that love every time we can.

For many of us it also means we will have to face losses. I can honestly say that I am stronger because of the losses. I have been blessed by the lives of those who have gone before me and I know I will see them again in a better place.

What is old age anyway? I think it is a preparation time for the next big event in our life. We entered this world with no choice in the matter and there is a time we will leave…with only the choice of where we go from here. The time is unknown but the place can be known if you desire it.

Essentially Esther

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Today is Rocky’s birthday. Becky and I will be meeting some of his family for lunch in his honor……we have arranged to meet half-way of the distance between our homes……to celebrate his life and the love he so freely gave to us.

It will be bitter sweet and I’m sure tears will flow but yet we feel his presence strongly for he left a rich legacy for us. It was hard to let him go but he leaves us knit together with memories and resolve.

My heart goes out for families like ours who have been through the cancer/chemo treatments and have lost their loved ones. It is not an easy road for the patient or the family who desperately hopes it will be successful.

Rocky not only had physical strength but was strong in character to the end. He was the most unselfish person I’ve ever known which drew people to him…..he always had time to listen which for the most part is the best therapy there is.

Today we will celebrate his life and share favorite memories for we know he lives beyond the veil between us.

In loving memory,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I think I’m coming “down” after a very nice change in routine. I told you about going to visit Rocky’s brother and sister……and we did and it turned out great. We left last Thursday around 3:00pm and the drive is pretty much routine for the first 100-miles…..getting out of our box, so to say. Once we take I-44 at Rolla, the driving is automatic on the inter-state and the extra traffic isn’t a problem.

It began getting dark after we drove through Rolla and headed north to St. Louis. We began noticing a string of oncoming cars that looked like a funeral procession. In the dark it was very pretty but we couldn’t imagine that much traffic coming out of the city on a Thursday evening…..headlights continued over hill and dale as far as we could see.

It was nice for a while and then it became very tiring. I was fresher at the beginning and the constant glare of lights were making little halos in my glasses. I’m not much of a night owl anyway and normally I don’t drive after darkness but we didn’t have far to go so it was OK. Once we reached Marie and Harold’s home in St. Louis we were greeted with a pizza supper and apple pie a’la mode. We threw caution to the wind and enjoyed it all as we visited over family news.

They asked if we’d had any trouble with traffic coming “up” and we mentioned our surprise at so much traffic leaving the city. Our inquisitive mind was satisfied when they told us there had been a terrible gas tank- truck which crashed and burned. Someone swerved towards him from the oncoming lane and to save them from certain death he jack-knifed over his side of the road and was killed when the truck broke into a terrible fire. He did save a woman and two children and traffic was stacked up most of the day…..it had only opened up when we started seeing all of it coming our way.

We stayed the night and left around 9:00am the next morning. I drove almost half-way and Becky drove the rest of the way without mishap. The weather was ideal for traveling and a fun week-end. We arrived at Richard and Helen’s home early afternoon and Helen had a Thanksgiving dinner ready to serve which was delicious. We enjoyed their beautiful yard, large and inviting. Walking on the grass was amazing…..thick, lush and dark green. Underneath is that good northern earth that is black as ebony and can grow anything.

The next day they drove us around showing more of their area and we ended up at The Little Traveler Antique Shoppe……..a shoppers paradise for hounds like Becky and me. I bought a couple of items that made me think of Rocky. We used to shop Antique stores frequently and he could always spot some very nice buys. He surprised me with his good taste and he never fussed over anything I wanted…..the perfect husband for a junk-hound. We both loved a good bargain.

We had a unique lunch at a local place. It was hard deciding but we tried the jalapeno soup. It was excellent….in a cream and cheese base….not too hot but it had a definite “kick” to it. The café seemed to be filled with folks who enjoyed the exceptional food and the servers were personable. It was a nice experience.

We took Mandy with us and had arranged for our kitties at home so it was a pleasant time away. Mandy minded her manners and was a good little traveler. We left after breakfast on Sunday and the trip back seemed shorter than going up.

Thank you, Marie and Harold and Helen and Richard for a pleasant time in your homes and making us feel so loved and welcome. Thanks for the wonderful food and for all you shared to give us a nice weekend.

You are loved and appreciated!

Essentially Esther

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Photos in Illinois 

I got an email from Richard that had a link to some photos of the "goings on" up there in the Land of Lincoln. It certainly looks like they are not running out of provisions.

See for yourself.

Photos in Illinois

Posted by,

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This afternoon Becky and I will leave to visit Rocky’s sister and husband in St. Louis. We plan to stay overnight with them for a good visit, catching up on family news. Marie is a retired teacher and loves travel and keeping family history. She and her husband, Harold, are always fun to visit because they are a very young “80’ something” and well informed of the world at large.

Tomorrow we will drive on to near Chicago to visit Rocky’s brother Richard and wife Helen. I haven’t been there for (I’m thinking maybe) five years. At the time their lovely home was new and they were working hard on their yard in a new sub-division. By now, from looking at pictures, I can see it has a “finished” look and there are more houses everywhere. It will be fun to see the changes.

Richard thinks he is retired but the rest of us know he isn’t. He does volunteer work in their community, is an excellent wood craftsman and designer, an authentic vintage knife producer, complete with his own anvil and whatever else blacksmith’s use. He has enjoyed learning all of the crafts and we love the gifts he makes to bring for each visit. His latest attempt is painting. He is taking lessons and improving every week.

His wife, Helen, is at home in her kitchen……(or mine) Ha!! She grew up with Greek parents and big meals….. making her guests anxious for the next feast. Watching Helen, I realize how much I used to do at her age, and how I’ve slowed down since Rocky came into my life. (Well, OK, maybe age has something to do with it.) Helen operates on one speed, fast, and she is organized to a fault.

With the holidays coming up I know we won’t be seeing them again until the roads are safe next year (if the gas prices don’t keep us all home) but like so many families we make good use of the times we can be together.

Here’s hoping your roads are safe if you are traveling this weekend. On Monday we honor our veterans and in these turbulent times our prayers need to be with them more than ever. May our flag always fly over the brave……..

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


A neighborhood is made up of many small insignificant things. The sound of the UPS truck coming down the street, the lights in the house across from you coming on at dusk…..the drone of a lawnmower, leaf blower.. ……the cars that come and go from each home on the block. There is one vehicle that goes up and down our street and I’ve always called him “the tank man.” I can pick him out by the way he mashes on the accelerator. I usually hear him going to work late in the afternoon and coming back when I am eating breakfast.

A weekly event is the garbage truck coming on Tuesday to pick up whatever is at the curb. I usually watch for him because it’s fun to see what he picks out to save. I don’t know why I should wonder…..I just do. On Tuesday mornings while I listen to the news and have my second cup of coffee it is an event. I’m not ashamed of talking about such ordinary things……people who live alone find many ways to make their day have meaning, or maybe it’s just me. I like simple things and do not count it wrong to enjoy the day.

This morning I watched a wren at the bird feeder and admired his nifty feather suit he was wearing. It’s amazing what you can see just having coffee and watching the bird feeders. I think birds are very social minded and very hard working. You don’t see a bird who isn’t working hard to feed his family. Mom and dad both take it seriously as they train their fledglings to avoid cats and well they might. I’m sorry to say I can’t save them all.

The last few days I have enjoyed watching the leaves fall. They make such pretty motions on their way down……it’s delightful to watch them. Although I did get the outer windows cleaned with an attachment to the hose, I still have the insides to wash. I figure there are days coming when I will find it to be fun and I should wait for that to happen. I love to do things when I’m in the mood and now that I’m older I don’t wear myself thin worrying about dirty windows. There will always be dirty windows……I know that now.

I am so thankful I live in a small town without a WalMart. We are little because the town fathers never wanted progress. Thirty -six years ago it irritated me that we had to drive to another town to shop…it was a necessity if you wanted good prices. Now that I’m old, I’m grateful. We don’t have a lot of traffic and confusion running amuck like the town I shop in. In fact, I find being older cures a whole lot of bad ideas I used to have.

I miss the dogs barking next door since our neighbors moved. Badger was a big old dog full of dead hair and who knows what…..he learned to watch for me so I could talk things over with him. Daisy was a small wire haired terrier who was a little busy body. She ran to the sides of the outer buildings to search for little critters. She was always on the hunt…..and very noisy.

Daisy and Badger are gone now and it is quiet. Mandy still runs to the fence to look for them but they are not there. She waits, while searching with her eyes over the yard but no one comes to pass the time of day. Finally, she gives up and goes on about her morning routine.

I hope the next people who move in have a dog or two. Barking dogs annoy some folks but I find it pleasant. They are just interested and want to talk or have a little attention. Sunday night the U-Haul pulled out of the driveway and Badger and Daisy are gone now.

Part of the neighborhood has gone silent in their absence……….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, November 05, 2007


As you can imagine once I brought Punkin home it took up my time over the week-end. When I carried her in the house with the carrying crate Sassy took off for the bedroom and wouldn’t come out. The rest of the weekend she was pretty much in denial about another kitty moving in.

Punkin was tired from the anesthesia and slept on the couch a lot. Mandy enjoyed sleeping in Rocky’s chair and wasn’t bothered at all. Watching the three house pets was quite entertaining……yesterday was the first day that Sassy decided to join the household. This morning I took Punkin back to the Vet to check out her paws and incision……I decided to use my time wisely until I go after her.

We had another event in the neighborhood while all this was going on. The neighbors who lived next to us brought in a huge U-Haul and a steady parade of household goods began coming from the house to the truck. The area we live in is difficult to find work, especially if you aren’t a native. If you’ve lived here a long time and are “known” you can find work but it doesn’t pay anything like wages in the northern states.

As in many parts of the country there is “old school” and “new school”…..sometimes it just doesn’t work with the expectations. While I have lived in the same spot for thirty-six years, there have been six different families move in next door. It is always sad to see them move out because you can just look at a house and tell it is empty. We also lost the couple next to them. They built the house and were there before we moved in but they preferred living with more privacy. They left last month to put a mobile home on his father’s farm.

I had a hard time adjusting to new property going in across the road but my practical side took over. In no way do I want to move again. It has taken all these years to grow trees, the flowering shrubs or starts from my mother’s garden. I am too old to want to move again……I do not crave a larger home or a better looking yard. This is the house where my memories are….a lot of living has gone on here in thirty-six years.

I cared for two husbands who valiantly tried to beat cancer here. They died in our home and I will never leave. Growing older is an art and if you do it right there are no regrets. Since we can’t go back and erase different things here and there it is imperative to make sure you aren’t setting up regrets for the future. I’ve made my share and it is a work in progress to make each day memorable ……..with the “right stuff.”

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Today is another beautiful fall day. Crisp and clear with an azure sky and no humidity. My kind of day. After lunch, I drove out to bring Punkin’ home from the Vet. She withstood her surgery very well and as soon as she gets used to being an inside kitty she will love it here.

Mandy was very concerned because Punkin’ is in a large pet carrier and her little whiny voice is upsetting Mandy. No reaction from Sassy yet. When I brought the carrier in the house, she feared she was soon to be put in for a trip to the Vet. She ran to the back and is presently under the bed.

This time it wasn’t meant for her but she’ll figure that out in due time. I’m sure Punkin’s meowing is making her curious but it will be a major choice to risk being put in the carrier herself.

It makes me realize how many times I’m the “scaredy cat” when God does something in my life that is out of my comfort box. We are all afraid of anything new and just like for Punkin’ it will all be better in due time….just because she doesn’t know, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. She will come out of the pet carrier and learn to be an inside kitty.

I guess when you’re over-the-hill the only thing left to fear is death itself. I personally think people lie when they say they are ready to go anytime. I’ve never met anyone who wanted to go “right then.” There are religious zealots who see it as the ultimate adventure but in my case I’ve never wanted to climb Everest or swim the English Channel to France…..jump from a plane or feast on octopus.

It is my faith that calms my own thoughts about that last breath. I’m old enough to look back and see that God never missed a step in any of my big life-trauma’s. He was always listening when I called and always gave me good advice. Although I’m impulsive and impatient by nature, He has always had a loose rein on me to let me figure out whose idea was best….His or mine. Of course you know the answer to that.

I’m pretty sure you can trust someone who knew you before you became a fetus in your mother’s womb. I’m pretty sure you can trust someone who only wants to make your existence fulfilling. I’m also sure you can trust someone who dares to let you travel the road you want and then pick up the pieces when you crash.

The best rule book tells us to learn from our mistakes, try to make others happy, leave your world a little better than you found it and be an example of what’s right. It’s kind of like driving a car without a steering wheel…..we need a lot of help.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther