Essentially Esther Banner

Friday, February 29, 2008


The sun is up and the world is providing beautiful pictures for me. Dr. Jones said I would have the vision back I enjoyed as a child….well, he’s right. As a child I’m sure I took my eyesight for granted but after years of cataracts growing in both eyes my vision lost it’s sharpness, clarity and color, the qualities my jeweler says to look for in a good diamond. At my age and experience I have learned that good eyes are worth much more than diamonds so I’m happy.

I go back for the left eye March 11 and I’m told I won’t need my glasses anymore. After all these years of wearing them they have become part of my face…..I’m not sure I want to look at life without them….my “windows” through which I view my world…..but I will manage.

Today is the last day of February…..and with the bonus of an extra day. As a kid I used to read the comics in the Omaha World Herald and one of the great interests was “”Sadie Hawkins Day”…..the day when the gals could chase the guys and drag them to the alter. I could never see why Lil’ Abner didn’t want to marry Daisy May…..she was the forerunner of Dolly Parton and he looked strangely like Superman in those days, only with one strap hanging from his shoulders. For some reason I was thinking that was on Leap Year…..maybe not. Those of you who remember will have to let me know on the Comments section. Maybe it was simply Sadie Hawkins Day at the Cartoonist’s whim.

After so much “sunshine” in my life there has to be a little rain. I’ve been feeling a tooth for some time that put out little messages of impending trouble. Of course I wouldn’t make an appointment when it gave me a little warning……oh no…..I had to wait till today when it’s hammering on a couple of nerves that won’t go away. The next thing I will do today is call for an appointment……my dentist is 80 miles away and I gladly make the drive as he is the only “painless” dentist I have ever had.

Now that my eyes are near to being fixed I suppose I’ll inherit tooth problems and next will be hearing aids. Retirement means having time to see all the doctors and dentists…..plus other “special” people who are now the folks you see routinely in place of the work-place buddies you’ve had in your employment. One thing I can definitely say of being an elder citizen…..you MUST learn to be flexible. When you’re younger you push the world along at YOUR pace……but enjoy it….the time WILL come when you stare at pictures in waiting rooms….and it takes all day to apply ointments, take pills, put drops in your eyes, finding something on the menu that will accommodate your dietary needs and finding “things.”

Finding things is a “biggie.” When you have time away from the aforementioned needs there are always a few things you need to look for. I can’t find my car keys. I have looked everywhere and torture my brain trying to visualize where I might have had them last. Of course with each passing day my brain is getting further away from the vision. I loved my keys with the little cats bedecked with fake jewels on the clip so I wouldn’t lose them in my purse. I miss the car thingy that opens, locks and does other various things…..occasionally I would hit the panic button in the WalMart parking lot and then keep walking as if the car didn’t belong to me. Further down the line I could hit the “stop” gadget, return to the car without embarrassment and go home. I shall keep looking………

Today being Friday, I shall visit my friend in the nursing home and make pizza for Becky which is Friday’s fare at our house. Those of you who know John need to go to his site and wish him a happy birthday which is Sunday. Fifty-one years ago on that day he made his entrance and began the journey we call “life.” He has been a very special person and made our family complete. George was special because he was first, Becky was special because she was a girl…….John was special because he was born with needs only our family could give.

I loved them all as much but differently….only mother’s will understand what I’m saying……..

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


WOW!! What a difference a day makes. My right eye which was the worst of the two is amazing! Color?? Yes indeed…..color is overwhelming. If I close my right eye and look through the other one the world is dingy but when I look with my new eye…..I feel like the blind who has miraculously received sight. If the worst eye makes such a difference and my best (other) eye looks so dull…..I can’t imagine how bad my total vision was. Now!! Where’s my dust cloth? Duh!!

The procedure was so quick I didn’t even warm up the table I lay on. Dr. Jones was last to make himself known to me and his introduction was hardly said before I was helped into a wheel chair to return to the car where Becky was waiting. Talk about modern efficiency and results! I could see better instantly and just had a slight stinging in the eye which soon disappeared.

I was told I wouldn’t have the full benefit today as there would be some swelling but by tomorrow I should reach the desired effect. I am looking forward to the next surgery so both eyes will work in tandem once more. Of course on the negative side, when I looked in the mirror this morning I find I’m not nearly as beautiful as I thought I was (laugh loudly)…….and Rocky must have had cataracts too for he constantly told me how pretty I was. He either had cataracts or learned what to say to make me happy. (Laughing is permitted.)

Becky was an excellent nurse and treated me to biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon afterwards. A new restaurant opened so we tried it out…….it moved in where the old Shoney’s used to be. With redecorating and a new menu it passed inspection the first time. I’ve learned not to be so quick to recommend a place until we’ve eaten there three times. A new place starts out with a bang and once they become complacent the quality and service goes south. Personal opinion.

Well, I’d better take my good eye and introduce it to household drudgery. I’m not given to cruises or travel so once my eyes meet the family and either host or visit them, the thrill will be gone. Now if I were a younger woman I would……….oh, lets not go there. My morning chores await………

Essentially Esther

Monday, February 25, 2008


Those of you who are old enough to remember George Gobel's famous line will know where the title came from. If you “don’t remember” that you probably have Alzheimer’s….. if you “don’t know” what I’m talking about you are probably too young…..if you “do know” what I’m talking about, read on…..you’re MY age!!! I’ve thought of that line many times as I watch Napoleon leaving “potty” on top of the minivan.

The worst “dirty bird” thing he did was when I left my window open and he had a huge deposit of YKW (you know what) that found it’s way down the slopeing top into the car. It wasn’t fun to clean up but Napoleon doesn’t speak English so it’s something I endure. Why don’t I put the car in the garage you say? Well, my dirty bird goes in there and potties on it……I do leave the side-door open so he can eat cat food which he loves and is always available. This kind of weather I can’t deny him one of his main food sources.

Speaking of food….he loves WalMart’s cream cake. I feed him at the front door when he sachets around to let me know he’s there….also canned cat food to make enough heat in his body to stay warm….and a little dry cat food for his fiber. He loves anything sweet so I oblige his favorites. I’m not even going to get into how and what I feed all my kitties.

It’s a foggy day in the Ozarks. We received an ice-storm earlier in the week which didn’t melt and then more ice came. I was housebound for a couple of days and then my private nurse, Becky Strain, put her life in jeopardy to get me from the house to the car and back so we could make my appointments to the surgeon (who will do my cataract extraction in the morning) and to my MD appointment for a check-up. I should be a new person with eyes like an eagle when they’re through with me.

Please remember Becky in your prayers. I will be fine but she will wear herself out in the waiting room and beyond. I’ll write as soon as my anesthesia wears off….to let you know how I’m doing (unless Becky won’t let me) and in that case, you will be hearing from her. I couldn’t hire a nurse for everything she does for free…..I’m one lucky mama to have such good care. So, see you later somewhere down the line……

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


It seems my writing has taken a hike since the last offering. I have many good reasons for being tardy but I do miss writing when I don’t have the time. This morning when I woke up it was sunny and balmy….however, the Canada Clipper is drawing a bead on Smalltown and our temps are due to drop throughout the day. OK, I don’t expect Spring weather in February and so far the worst of the ice-storms, tornadoes and floods have not hampered us. I am truly grateful for that and truly sorry for the folks who weren’t as fortunate.

I read the blog John wrote yesterday, commemorating their 25th wedding anniversary. They have shown the rest of us what a good marriage is. God has blessed their life because He has always been first in their lives. Love seems to manifest itself where harmony prevails. I know a little bit about happy marriages myself. I pray they have many more years together.

Becky was off work from noon last Thursday until yesterday. When she has time off we usually embark on a dozen ideas to make good use of the time. Since we are both very much alike we normally get some cockamamie idea about the same time and the race is on.

The first afternoon we went to meet my surgeon for the preliminary visit before cataract surgery. Becky sat nervously in the waiting area where I was last seen following the lady down a long hall. She put me through the expected routine and then took me to another room and finally a patient waiting area. When I joined her 3-hours later she was the only one left……she had imagined all kinds of bad things, one being that they did surgery and something went terribly wrong. Isn’t it great having a family member that dedicated? Poor Becky has imagined a lot of things where I’m concerned and I keep her constantly in a stew (as my mother used to say).

One of the days Becky and I went to Springfield and spent the afternoon going through our favorite Flea Market. It’s a huge warehouse kind of building that is all sectioned off to individual vendors and it remains our most profitable place to buy “pre-owned” treasures. You are either a “junk-monkey” or you aren’t. Becky and I find it an inexpensive way to change the theme in our homes. Of course if something comes “in” then something must go “out“. It’s our cardinal rule.

Therefore we found our need for a small booth at our local “Antique Barn”….yes, you heard right. Another booth after 6-weeks being out of business. However, it has it’s merits and so we are back once more. The owners are like family to us and we live only a mile or so from the Barn so it will not be as burdensome as the large booth and showcase we had before. Dad always said, “Only a fool never changes his mind.” If that’s true I must be brilliant!

Monday Rocky’s daughter Holly and husband (plus two friends of the family) came for lunch on their way back home from a “get-away“ weekend. Becky and I had the food ready when they came and we had a nice visit after eating. That pretty much rounds out our five days of fun, so now it’s time to pay the piper and get busy here. I hope you have a great day and every good thing comes by the dozen for you. Until the next time then……

Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today is a universal celebration for the gift of love. Two people who find each other in this big world and pledge to love one another forever is the act of love. That gift and act is something of a mystery.

Ask someone why they love another and they can’t tell you. It cannot be defined with language….it can only be felt….and therefore it remains invisible between two people who experience that feeling together.

Some find that kind of love early, recognize it and spend their lives together. Some find it, don’t realize how seldom it comes along and hurry on. After settling for something less many realize what they have lost, too late.

Today I will not receive flowers, a box of candy or a card. I won’t even be able to touch the face of Rocky or feel his strong embrace…..I do not know why death separated us but I believe God, knowing our hearts, allowed us a few years together. For most of us we never know the “why” to events that happen in our lives.

I do believe that when two hearts reach across years and yearn for real love lost, miracles happen. Miracles need not be explained, but are forever held within the confines of the heart…..never to be lost again.

I will always be grateful for the love I have been given…..and though I see my lovers face no more we are joined together with an eternal bond. The tragedy is not losing love by death……but for ones who have never loved at all…..

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Becky is back to work today so it is time for me to get out of the visiting mode and get back to work. Laundry never stops when I do and the room I’ve started working on is waiting for me to finish. I have dust from cat litter on the shelves in what I call my “office.” I love my cats but the side effects from having them is not enjoyed. There is always a little snag in any endeavor and cat litter is mine.

I woke this morning to a beautiful sunrise shining on the trees dressed in ice. Before sunset last night there was a breeze which worried me but no harm came to the trees in our yard. Their groaning and letting loose of some branches in the back woods was a sorrowful sound.

We are to have sunshine all day with another flow of warm air coming up from the Gulf and temps rising to the high 30’s. The melting will make it possible for me to get out to feed the birds and allow the garage kitties to come out. They have been shut up three days and I know they are ready to roam and prowl…..they have sat at the garage window looking out through all this ice, sleet and snow.

I want to do some painting while it is bright and sunny. The cataracts I have make some colors look strange and small print is impossible. I go tomorrow for an appointment…..I don’t know if they will do one eye while I’m there or if it’s just a consultation visit. At any rate, I will know once I get there. It’s a late afternoon appointment.

Duty calls so I must get busy. Hope it’s warm and pleasant where you are. John wrote a blog today and I know a lot of you read him so stroll over and see what he has to say. I’ll be back here tomorrow……maybe, with one eye working.

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Richard and Helen arrived Friday afternoon and were happy to see landscapes without snow piled up. They said one snow never melted before another one came where they live. We had a pretty weekend here……warm temperatures and sunshine so it gave us time to get out and enjoy the nice weather.

Richard took us to lunch after shopping in our favorite gift shop. The restaurant is new to our area and still clean….one of those places where a bucket of peanuts are on each table and you are to shell and eat them……then throw the shells on the floor. It’s hard for me to do but I manage. We enjoyed their visit so much

They left in sunshine on Sunday but there was a weather front moving in and by evening we had sleet and freezing rain. Accumulation around ½ inch. Yesterday it began once more and made a miserable day for the birds and stray animals trying to find food and shelter. They are pretty much up against it unless someone takes action in their behalf.

Becky had taken yesterday and today off and we had planned going to a couple of flea markets in Springfield….have a nice lunch out, then coming home with a nice collection of bargains. Although we don’t have the booths anymore at the “Barn” we still enjoy rummaging through flea markets. A trained eye can pick up a lot of bargains and we still have a way of getting rid of things we don’t care for anymore.

Since the weather changed our plans it will give us something to look forward to later. TV is a lot of company to me and I spend a lot of time on the computer when I can’t go out. I never got to my fall cleaning so now I’m getting an early start on spring cleaning. (An old excuse.)

I enjoy changing things around and making a fresh start….it’s also a good time to email friends or make those calls we keep putting off. I’ve been trying to read up on past issues of magazines and books I haven’t finished.

I have great concern for the pines in our front yard. Their branches have dipped clear to the ground and if we get any wind at all they will break off. This is the second time in a year we have had this same bad ice. Nature on a rampage is nothing to bargain with so I wait and hope they will stand one more time.

With so many people having more damage to their homes I realize a few trees aren’t to be compared, but still…..we planted them as 6-inch little seedlings in the mid-70’s and they have grown to mighty pines, keeping silent vigil over our home. They are old friends and somehow seeing them hang on I see they are like me….growing older and less able to hold the winds of change back. Life rushes by and time moves us onward to an unseen destination. It’s a little thing called “life”…….

Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Rocky’s brother Richard and wife, Helen, will be coming tomorrow afternoon and we are looking forward to their visit. We always have a good time when they come. It is bitter-sweet in a way because when we are together there is one special person missing.

I have mentioned before that the Rockenbach siblings have met once or twice a year at some interesting place for a day or two to tour the area and catch up with each other. I think that is such a good idea…..making time for the people who are important in your life.

So today I have done a little preparation for them and at the same time, I’m aware it is the 11th year since my second husband, Warren (Bear) died. Sometimes we wonder how or why things happen as they do but I believe God has a plan for our lives and what happens is meant to be. I am thankful I was able to care for Bear at home so we had more time together. Hospice is a blessing for families that want to take care of their own.

I never intended to remarry but God thought otherwise. Rocky came into my life 4 years after Bear died and I think everyone knows the story of our high-school sweetheart years…..when we found one another again it was kismet…..and as they say, the rest is history. Soon it will be a year since we said goodbye to him for the last time……

…….but tomorrow there will be laughter and food and fun and we will enjoy the time together as we always have. We are determined to take life head-on and enjoy the good things and to be grateful for the blessings given to us.

I will be silent until Monday when I will be back with more chatter. Here’s wishing one and all a very happy weekend and lots of sunshine in your life. So until then……I am,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


You never know what a day will bring. Yesterday was such a day. It was so warm here I had the door and windows open for two days. It was nice to shut the thermostat off, however, when this happens, we know we’re in for trouble. Trouble that happens after dark when we are the most vulnerable.

Our normal action for tornado warnings is to keep TV on the weather station. It wasn’t long until hail the size of softballs and tornadoes just south of us was reported. Every few minutes it was coming closer to us.

In South Missouri we are close to that warm, soupy, weather from the deep South and with the cold front traveling with breakneck speed from Canada….we are usually in the area where the two fronts collide. Just where tornados love to spawn. Becky and I held our ground as the path was about 100 miles south of us. Then it traveled through areas we are familiar with and was directly over West Plains which is 20 miles South of where we are.

Torrential rain poured down with some straight wind and I’m not a scardy cat but those sirens are very convincing…..after dark, they are right down spooky. Becky and I took one look at each other and headed for the garage. There is one corner that has been built back in a bank about 3 to 4 feet high. It seems our best place to go for safety because it is universally known the worst place to be is in a mobile home.

Thunder and wind raged outside and we couldn’t tell much of what was going on. It seemed to last forever…..and then, silence. We came out into the dark and looked around…..the storm had gone around us. Thunder was rumbling off to the East of us and the rain stopped. It was over.

Today I have been watching the coverage on areas around the country who weren’t as fortunate as us. As always, my heart goes out to the people who are faced with such tragedy. In all my years I have been spared losing a home and I cannot imagine everything you own being uprooted and blown away. The pain they must feel as they look at the mess of twisted wreckage left behind…..and the gratitude they feel for escaping with their very lives.

To all those affected by loss, for all the neighbors helping one another and for the City, County and Federal help……the acts of kindness on every level, I give my thanks. With so few deaths in such an enormous outbreak of tornadoes, I would have to say……God was merciful…..but then, He always is……….

Essentially Esther

Monday, February 04, 2008


I’ve been watching ESPN all morning, reliving the great game last night. If you ask, “what game” stop reading right now. The rest of this won’t make any sense to you. I was absolutely thrilled for Eli for all the reasons the commentators made throughout the game. No one gave him much of a chance….actually no chance. I love it when the under-dog wins. As they say, “Every old dog has his day!”

Though Eli isn’t old he sure took a beating from the press and even the fans at home. We heard it all…..about his demeanor, how lost he looked at times with a busted play, body language….on and on. I don’t know if he read any of it but surely if he did it produced a quiet resolve. He is one young person that never lost sight of the direction he wanted to go.

I am impressed with both Manning boys. I love a sports figure who isn’t “needy” when it comes to all the hoopla. They just go about their game as a business or a job with the intent of winning. Too often sports figures get too full of themselves and prance around, and yes, flap their lips, to be outplayed at the end of the game. Ooops! Oh, oh!! Shut my mouth!! (Should have thought about that earlier guys.)

Which brings me to one of my favorite parts. The pre-game stuff when they interview the most outstanding players of each team. The laugh (and yes) the body language of Brady couldn’t hide his reaction when told the predicted score would be 14-17. It was brushed aside with a hint of arrogance unbecoming to Brady. Little Eli? The low score was unthinkable to Brady.

But then, that was before the game.

Little Eli went out on the field with guys who believe in him and all he did was pick the Patriots apart…..play after play. Eli made no mistakes and the rest of the team worked hard to protect him. The defense worked Brady over on every play. At half time it was expected the game would take a turn-around when the teams took to the field. This is where I began squirming.

As the game went on and with time running out Eli out-stepped several Patriots and fired a long shot down field. How on earth David Tyree caught it was a miracle. It seemed he held it on his helmet forever. With two of the Patriots going up after the pass with Tyree I figured they’d intercept or strip it from him and that would pretty well wind it up for the Giants.

With seconds counting down and Eli tending to business the game ended with the predicted 14-17 score with Brady and the Patriots coming in short. After playing the regular season without a loss the Patriots took a sound beating. It wasn’t won with mistakes, bad plays, or injured men. Eli and company tore them apart and made the game theirs. How sweet it is………

Essentially Esther