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Monday, December 31, 2007

GOODBYE TO 2007..... 

Like most of you, it’s hard to believe 2007 is on it’s way out. I want to hang on to the years for they seem to be going much too fast. There is so much available to us on every level that I find myself swinging from branch to branch like a trained monkey. So much goes on that I would like to take part in, or accomplish…..but the merry-go-round won’t slow down long enough for me to get off.

This year has been significant for me and the family and friends of Rocky and Dale. It doesn’t seem right to mention Morris the cat along with Rocky and Dale but Morris and I had a long history together. He provided a very strange thing when he came to live with us the very day Rocky and I found each other at a class reunion. It had been 40 years since we were able to connect after our high school romance.

Well, life being as unpredictable as it is, we ended up finding each other quite accidentally after we were both widowed. We took one look at each other and the rest is history. Rocky and I had 6 wonderful years, living our dream as I’ve often said before. Strangely, Rocky and Morris died on the same day…..April 24th this past year. It is one of the strange “cat tales” you read about some time and there is no explaining it.

I lost four things I loved this past year, of course, being the three mentioned and then Ellen. There are many people, like me, who enjoyed her banter and wit on the blog site. She was a jewel and she and Curtis, like Rocky and me, had a wonderful but short marriage before she died of cancer. It’s hard to feel sorry for myself when I know what a miracle God arranged for us. There had to be a reason God chose to take them home.

With managing Dale’s probate affairs, the summer and fall went quickly. I learned a lot and also learned a lot of patience…..plus determination. I found the squeaky wheel really does make things happen. In late fall I finished my part of his estate and am waiting to close when the lawyer finishes his work. I don’t think I want to be a bill collector or a lawyer in my next life.

So today, I am finishing up the necessary things to end one year and begin the next. I know 2008 will be eager to start tracking through the coming months and it will go quickly as the past year. I am extremely grateful for the health, the family, the friends….our free country and so much more. I am a product of a lot of people who have loved and helped me along my journey.

I want to wish everyone a very happy new year, full of all good things and things that are good for you. May you prosper in every way……and thank you for your interest in the blogs I try to write. You keep me at it.

Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 27, 2007

CHRISTMAS 2007..... 

The house is quiet now. The children have all gone. The driveway is empty once more. The laughter, gaiety and sounds of Christmas seem to echo throughout the house. Stories of Christmas’ Past, the fun of the Present and hopes for the Future seem to resonate throughout.

Mother’s who are alone understand the emotions. Once such a big part of their lives to direct, encourage and take charge of……we now watch from the sidelines of the new generations coming along. Their lives have taken on the responsibilities we once had and it is as if, for a moment, we are looking back at ourselves.

Once upon a time I was born to two people who fought hard to make a living for my brother and I. Times were hard. I didn’t have a childhood like the stories I loved to read but I always knew that “out there” somewhere a world waited for me to take center stage. I was always eager to get to the next “time-line,” believing I would always have the Past and Present to come back to.

What one finds out is that the Past never stays the same. It is racing along with you, making the Past the Present and the Present the Future. Christmas after Christmas there are more names in our address book who have “gone on.” I was once the baby of the family and over the course of 75 years I am the last of the Andersen line.

It gives me the sense of history which I have tried to record for future generations. When I am gone, my children have no other source for information of the Andersen’s. I wanted them to “know” the elders as I had known them and committed to memory….a personality rather than a name and date under a picture peering back at them.

I was properly trained, tested by time and trial, and have lived through the many stages of life. I see my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ready to take over the helm with excitement and zeal for life. I pray their path on the journey is one of hope and living outside one’s self. That is the only way to ever be happy. God first, family, friends and strangers being better off because we were on the road with them.

Life is not hard. Loving is easy. Character, honesty, trust, faith……these will only be carved into your life as you give the reins to God. He is to be trusted, He is always faithful, He builds your character through trials of fire and honesty when you can be trusted by Him.

The journey may be long or short but the end is always the same. When He calls, we are ready to answer and we are ready to go.

Essentially Esther

Monday, December 17, 2007


I feel like Rip Van Esther. It seems impossible that Christmas is next week….. pardon me but where did the year go? It’s been a very difficult year with Rocky, Dale and Ellen leaving us and me taking on the Administration of Dale’s estate. I spent most of the last five months involved with that.

The year has brought some peculiar weather, with some of our country flooding while parts were burning down and impossible to stop. Mud slides, drought, wind and fire…..all of Nature’s worst tearing us apart at the seams.

There is always good that comes out of any tragedy. The folks interviewed were all thankful their families were spared and the “things” they lost could be replaced. I know personal pictures and family heirlooms cannot but the things necessary to livelihood can be and it’s coming through hard times that make us tougher. If we don’t harbor on the things we’ve lost we can count the blessing for what has been spared.

When Rocky left us in the Spring there was a heartwarming memorial in his honor of family, close friends and his weightlifting buddies. To make a lasting memorial we have taken on the task of future Meets at the gym where he enjoyed working out, training and competing against men much younger than him. In April or May we will be giving Scholarships to several young men who desire to continue the sport as they go on to higher education. This is a blessing Rocky would be proud of.

When we lost Dale in June I “found” the cousin on his mother’s side that I heard him talk about quite a bit and who commented on his blogs as I did. Over the years, she and I were the ones close to him after his dad and then his mother died. Dale never married and never had children so this other cousin and I became personally acquainted as we shared our grief over Dale together. Dale was not prepared for death and it came without warning one evening as he was watching a movie on the couch. He was a world class guy and I’ll always remember him smiling or laughing.

I am going to be working on the things I need to do before the Strain kids arrive next Saturday so I’ll write when I am able. After Christmas when they leave Becky and I will be closing down our booths at the Antique Barn. It was fun and I learned a lot but the years are catching up with me and Becky’s promotion requires a lot more of her time so we’ll be finished at the end of the year.

Once the first of January comes, I will be getting ready for the Rockenbach families who live close enough to drive but we will miss Janet and her family who live in California. This is such a nice time of year to remember friends and loved ones. May you enjoy the days ahead and make time for the people who make your world complete. Just five minutes of your time can be remembered for a lifetime if you wish it so…….

Essentially Esther

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Today feels like it’s time to get busy for Christmas. For me, it means clearing space for the family to gather December 22nd. George will be coming in sometime in the afternoon from Shawnee, John, Barb and LJ will be arriving around the same time, late afternoon. It isn’t often that I have all three of my little brood together at any one place…..so of course it is special when I do.

We will be celebrating George’s birthday Saturday night…..he will be 57 which seems impossible. He arrived around 6:35 pm on a Friday in 1950.….in a way it seems like yesterday and in a way it seems like a million years ago. We’ve had quite a few memorable birthdays when the children were young so when we are together we invariably bring them up and tell them over again, with the same pleasure of hearing and telling….even though we know them by heart.

When we are together it is a lot of eating, along with the fun of being in a mobile home with Mandy, Sassy and Punkin……..then the two grand-dogs, Bear and Murphy. They love coming to grandma’s house because she spoils them with goodies. Bear is huge but such a gentle doggie…..it’s odd but the three dogs do very well together and Sassy is getting used to Bear. The first time he came here she stayed in the back bedroom under the bed. Such a big ole black dog scared her out of her wits but since then she has overcome her fear.

Napoleon, the peacock, will be delighted with two more cars to fly up on. His favorite pastime is preening and of course leaves his “calling card” I shall say. I’m sure the four stray cats I feed with Napoleon on the front steps will be too scared to come around unless the cold and hunger overcomes their fears. My three outside cats, Callie, Chevy and Lovey usually stay clear of the activity until I call them in for feed and sleep. The garage is their domain.

In our families we’ve always preferred staying together rather than going to a motel and we have no motels in our town. When my aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, dad and grandmother used to come for the holidays we piled up like a bunch of hound dogs. The oldest family members got the beds, the rest of us put the chair and divan cushions on the floor, end to end for the length needed, the next choice was the divan with no cushions…….finally the rest took the floor. Imagine!! At times we bedded down 21 family members…….with ONE bathroom. You had to take a number and wait.

It sounds strange to outsiders I suppose but we loved being together and rather looked upon it all as a big adventure. I don’t think anyone ever left hungry and it was wonderful listening to all the laughter and conversations. How I would love to have them all again but time goes on and one by one they have left us.

Wonderful memories of the past that are a joy to recall…….

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


When trouble comes who will help? Almost everyone! I wanted to let all of you know that Becky and I are doing OK. The worst of the storm missed us. We had a thin sheet of ice Sunday night and each day this week it has rained but above freezing temperatures. Thank you for praying for us and being concerned. It all worked for our well-being and we have been praying for the folks to our West…..namely Oklahoma, Kansas and parts of Texas and Nebraska.

Yesterday Becky called early in the morning to say her furnace was making a terrible noise and she had called a repairman. Since she was at work I was needed to go up and unlock her door to let the man in. It didn’t take long to realize he was more in the selling mode than fixing it. He said it was too old and he gave me a long resume of faults he could see……all the time standing and looking at it.

Mainly I got the “might be, could be, should do” and finally we got to the nitty gritty. We needed a new furnace was the opinion. I wondered how he could find everything that “might be” wrong when he never took the motor out to look at it. I was on the phone back and forth with Becky and we decided to call another heating business in our town.

The man came right out, checked it over and said he didn’t think we needed a new anything. He cleaned it up, tightened up a few screws and the heat came on. He only charged for a service call and his work was done. Guess who we will be calling next time. Number one or number two?

Also, the man who agreed to fix the roof on Becky’s garage came yesterday and did a beautiful job. There was no indication where shingles had been replaced and he put good support under them. As with the second repair man, he charged less than we had expected. The weather held until he finished.

Mainly we were well taken care after we moved away from the first repairman. I am so grateful for honest people who work hard and don’t run the expenses up. I’m glad I live in this country and that most folks rally to help those in need. From tornados to floods to hurricanes, fires, mud slides or 9-11 we rush to help those in harms way. Let me also expand that to the world view…..Americans are mostly there before the local people can get organized.

Because we care we step up when it’s necessary. Neighbors arrive with chain saws and trucks to hall off debris….our elder citizens help with the skills they still possess. They are glad to help with food, lodging, getting medical help or just being a shoulder to weep on. Older people know how to deal with life’s setbacks or to console the broken-hearted. With so much good going on in our country, lets give a high five and encouragement to those who continually give a helping hand.

God help us to keep the ideals and vision that made our country unique. Freedom!!

Essentially Esther

Monday, December 10, 2007


Monday the 10th of December…….but it isn’t looking like Christmas. Rain began falling last night along with the temperatures and this morning I woke to thunder and lightening. December rain is always trouble….. in our area it begins freezing which initially begins with traffic accidents, people falling on the ice and of course worse than anything, the power lines.

I do hope we don’t get what we did a year ago. Folks everywhere in southern Missouri were without power for days….and Rocky’s sister and husband live in St. Louis where the power was off two different times. They were very inventive but when you are in your 80’s with no heat and no power it is a long time to be cold and eating cold food . They went through the outage twice and I know it couldn’t have been easy.

Also, my cousin Dale that many of you know from his blog, was alone without power and suffered through. He had a large tree fall on his shed and carport which in turn fell onto his pick-up. None of us knew at the time but I realized later the damage it did to Dale’s health. The owner of the mobile home village where Dale lived told me he had been sick quite a while. He was never one to broadcast his feelings or his health…..though 10-years younger than me we both grew up in the larger family where you just toughed it out. If you didn’t die you got over “it” and carried on.

When you’re raised like that it’s hard to take any symptom to the doctor. These days I think too many of us are over medicated anyway. I’ve noticed with Warren and Rocky both, the doctor’s attitude is more like……well, you’ve kind of lived out your best years and now we’re playing “catch up.” What reasoning is that when he has been your doctor all along? The trend now is, “be your own doctor…you know your body better than anyone…..when there is a change in your normal functions, come see me.”

I consider that to be contrary to the advice we hear by the health community. We are continually told to take “preventive” action on any small problem, lest it develop into something that can’t be treated. Well, there is plenty of food-for-thought with the medical community……doctors are expected to save the sick and it’s a classic case of electing who to save and who not. The insurance dilemma fires back by limiting hospital time, and therefore sending people home early because insurance doesn’t cover much and the doctors don’t want to work for nothing on a patient who can’t pay the difference.

Ok, so here is the simplified version according to me. Don’t spend a lot of time doing what you don’t love, love your family and forgive all past grievances, eat lots of chocolate…..use your “good” dishes everyday, don’t save your cologne for those special occasions……don’t think about anything that makes you sad. Focus on the good in the world, and there is a LOT of good if you look…….and stay close to God. Attitude is everything all through life.

Life is a mirror of King or peasant,
It shows all we think and do…..
So give the world the best that you have
And the best will come back to you. (Unknown author.)

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


As I sat down to take a break this afternoon I was surprised to see Omaha, NE on the national news stations. It caught my attention right away since I grew up in Omaha and know it very well. The Mall where the shooting took place was almost right at the same location where we lived for a time.

Dad built a small mobile home for us to live in rather than renting an apartment in the middle of town. It was moved to a farm just up the road from the Aksarban Race Track and set in the big yard of an asparagus farm. My brother had to walk a long way to school but I was not in school at the time. Things were not very convenient in those Depression days.

It is rare to have Omaha mentioned at any time in the news business and it’s too bad it had to come this way. I will never understand someone who wants to kill people and randomly finds targets. No reason, no connection, just someone to shoot and kill.

I was in a store one time when armed robbers came in and threatened all of us. It was pretty scary to realize it didn’t matter who you were, if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could easily become a victim. It all ended without incident, other than scaring the employees and those of us who were shopping at the time………the same couple robbed two other places that weekend and ran out of luck at the third place. They were apprehended and sent back to Kansas City for sentencing.

It seems life is so uncertain these days but then it has always been so. You would think we’d learn how to live along side each other in this age of knowledge and opportunity…but it seems each generation comes along with the same old bag of problems that has cycled on from the time Cain killed Abel.

I am sorry for those killed today and for those who have been injured. Right at the season when man is supposed to reach out and help his fellow man it seems doubly wrong. For the folks on the East and West coasts and the hardships they face at this special time of year, I am sorry for them. Nature seems to be raging in every corner.

This is why men need God. We are totally unable to help any of the offences from man or nature but there is a God who will take pity on those afflicted and make sense of it all. The how’s and why’s are not for us to know, but somehow we become stronger through it all.

I am thankful there was a Christmas and thankful there was an Easter. God sent the best He had to pay our debt…….even though the gift is misused, unappreciated and mocked, He loves us still. That’s the very reason why mankind needs a God…we don’t have the capacity to love others or ourselves without Him.

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Somebody call 911, I can’t move around the “stuff” in our 14X65 mobile home. Every room is bulging with packages arriving every day…..I hardly get one UPS delivery unpacked before they come back again. It’s very special this year with everyone coming home……in batches…..so I won’t have to mail out. This year my packages are coming FROM the Post Office and UPS instead of me trying to mail in the rush.

I breezed by the P.O. yesterday and saw cars everywhere with people lugging in boxes of every size and description. I have to say I startled people with my cheery smile and hearty “hello”……I purposely smiled at everyone in WalMart and gave them a nod and a greeting. They pried their eyes away from the coffee shelves to see who was speaking to them…I tried it down the pickle and spice isle….on to the cereal isle.

My experiment had a purpose. Try to “lighten up” the scowls on the harried shoppers. I know shopping for five or six kids can’t be easy or worse yet….cheap. Maybe a smile from a stranger or a simple sentence will help. Shoppers at grocery stores normally do not look you in the eye….they play like they are invisible and move past. I decided all by my self to make a difference. If not, at least I enjoyed the effort.

It’s Christmas time so let’s take heart in the things that always promise a happy ending. We know the temporary effort that comes along with it and if we don’t focus on the preparation too much we can still rejoice in the best part of Christmas…..which is the birthday celebration honoring the birth of our Savior. I know it isn’t the right day and time and I don’t care. A time is set apart to let love overflow all over the place and make people happy with the right things. Gratitude, generosity, honor and hospitality are just a few of the benefits along with priceless memories.

I love the Grinch Who Stole Christmas…..I make it a point to watch every year. The part I like best is his change of heart as it keeps bumping and thumping inside him and overflows beyond imagination. Christmas is always like that for me. It’s a time to bury the old resolves of things not done, disappointments within our selves and just decide to make everyone else happy.

Of course, once that happens you find you are happy too……that’s just the funny way it works……………….

Essentially Esther

Monday, December 03, 2007


Good morning everybody! Rip Van Winkle woke up and is beginning to get the impact of Christmas in her rear view mirror. How did it get so late so early? This year I am doing all of my shopping “on line” and evidently the whole country is doing the same. What do you suppose all of those circuits going through space looks like?

It is nothing short of amazing to me how I can sit here in my chair, shop the world by looking at a box on the desk and receive packages from any place I choose. I guess life is catching up with all those comic books my brother and I read as kids. Had those men chose science over comics, they would have been way ahead of their time. I guess it all comes into being at God’s timing.

Well, Seinfeld had a show about nothing and I guess this is a blog about nothing. I have tried writing ever since the last post but my timing was off. I had lengthy phone calls, Becky’s welcome company evenings and the weekend……and of course, football. I enjoy all of that and maybe more than I should this close to Christmas.

I am excited because all three of my children will be here and two of my three grandchildren. Of course, the grand-dogs will also come to entertain Mandy, Punkin and Sassy. They are amazingly hospitable to each other and the only negative thing is that Bear and Murphy are BIG drinkers and they are oblivious to the fact they slosh it all over the kitchen floor every time…….but hey, it’s not a big deal. Small amounts of water will not hurt my kitchen floor.

I discovered something the last time Murphy and Bear came to visit. Whoever took “their” dog out to potty took the other two as well……Mandy always gets a doggie treat when she comes in and guess how long it took Murphy and Bear to figure that out? About the third trip together I saw three little faces looking up at me with Murphy and Bear trying to look like Mandy. Their expression was sooooooooo funny……..like…..”maybe grandma won’t realize we aren’t Mandy.”

John says now when they get close to the end of the trip he tells Bear “we’re almost to grandma’s house” and he gets all excited. After all, grandma’s are supposed to be spoilers…..right? Of course, I believe everything John says….of course I do!

My Rockenbach kids and their families will be having Christmas with us when we can set a date. Because of the distance between and their multiple families it is usually after New Year’s when we are able to manage a time. However when any of our kids can come it is always special, no matter the calendar date.

I’d better get busy here and begin my race towards the finish line for Christmas preparation…….I told you this was a blog about nothing……..Ha!

Essentially Esther