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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


After a beautiful weekend we have had rain for two days. We needed it and I’m sure glad I got my mulch out in two of the flower beds. Would have liked getting my fertilizer down but couldn’t get to it.

In fact, I couldn’t get to a lot of things after my efforts with the mulch. I purchased 10 bags, some fertilizer and peat moss. First I spread the peat moss over it and then the mulch. I have weed killer for every purpose…..from the driveway to the porches and flower beds. Guess who’s muscles are sore?

It is supposed to rain all week so I plan inside work until I can get out to the other flower beds. I always have knitting and if so inclined I can always find something to clean around the house.

I saw a cute comment at one of the church yards in town…..I assume it needs to be updated since it involves Easter, but it’s still there and I definitely get the message. Very clever. (“There is much more to Easter than something to “dye” for.)

As I look out the window, Napoleon is taking issue with the stone pelican standing in the berm. His tail is spread out and he charges right up to it then does a little dance. Poor thing doesn’t remember the pelican has been there as long as he’s been here. Often times he snuggles up and sleeps by it and the proof has been saved on film. OK, Mr. Napoleon…….stop being mean to the pelican…….

Essentially Esther

Saturday, April 25, 2009


A high-school classmate of ours sent this email a few days ago because he knew Rocky died on the 24th of April, two years ago now. It may bring someone of you comfort as it did me. Thank you Don for remembering.


You are forever held in the love of God.

This is a day of remembering those who have blessed me personally and of honoring those who have blessed the world throughout their commitments of love and peace. As members of the family of God, each one has shined the light of God within them out into the world.

The faith they showed in times of adversity gives hope to those who need to hope, encourages those who are facing hardship, inspires those who follow in their footsteps. Their legacy compels the best within others to come forward and to be lived every day.

For those who are still present in my life and those who have passed on, I envision them through eyes of love, knowing that they are forever held in the love of God.

“For God,, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers.” Romans 1:9

Essentially Esther

Friday, April 24, 2009


On this, the 24th day of April, Rocky died at 9:35 pm. (2007) The piece you are about to read was written 2 years ago on our wedding anniversary April 30th. It isn’t easy and I’m no martyr but I choose to be grateful for the time we had together. We were a gift to each other.


Everyone who knew Rocky loved him in a different way. We never knew “why” we loved him, he just drew us in to the biggest heart in the Universe. I first loved Rocky as my high school “sweetheart.” At that tender age I will have to say the attraction was to the external part of him. He was beautifully built, powerful neck, shoulders and arms, (a little butt, girls) packed into jeans. His attire at school was always the same…….tee shirt with a flannel shirt over and tucked in (his winter wear)……then in the summer, a tee shirt that was always stretched over all those muscles. He was one handsome guy.

Though we each married someone else, had children and lost touch, there was always a place in our hearts, reserved for one another. It was 40 years later that he would come back into my life at a High School Reunion. Until that time we had been invisible to one other…….the Class had no address for him in all those years and not one of us ever knew what happened to Rocky.

God has such perfect timing, I am still amazed that we ever found one another again. Within the span of four years we were both widowed and alone…….. it was God’s gift to bring us together, eventually. We had almost 6 years together, today being our wedding anniversary. (April 30). Six days short of being 6 years.

There are no words that could describe our joy on this, our wedding day. The years have been all too short for this world, but will go on forever in the next. We didn’t “lose” Rocky, he didn’t “pass” away……..with a few easy breaths, he took the one last step beyond our sight. He was lovingly cared for by one of his daughters, my daughter and me.

Rocky, the man, was a big ‘ole humble guy with an enormous chest to cover the big heart he had. He was always a champion for the poor, down-trodden and the weak. He was a simple man of few words…….but if you hung around a little bit you would learn a lot about character.

We do not have a “hole” in our hearts since he left. Our hearts have become bigger. We haven’t lost anything, we know where he is……..

……….God just changed his address.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


You have often heard me mention my two housecats. Yes, we live in a cat house. The black and white kitty is big enough to tackle anything twice her size. She occasionally darts outside when the door opens and I have three outside cats who ran like gazelle’s about the first fifty times or so. Now, it depends on the “no blinking” to see if she will run from the three of them or they run from her.

Cats definitely have personalities. Sassy, the tuxedo cat, is like the Big E. I saw the carrier pull out from the dock in Frisco once. My oldest son, George, was preparing to leave on the Monticello LSD just across the dock from the Big E and we were there to see him off. Of course all eyes were looking for George……the way the sailors line up on both sides of the ship is tremendously inspiring.

My peripheral vision picked up something moving behind me. It was the Big E silently and slowly leaving port. What a powerful ship. We watched her until she sailed under the Golden Gate bridge and out of sight. We took turns looking at the Monticello and finding George until his ship sailed out into the Pacific and beyond.

OK….I digress. My point was Sassy is like the Big E…..silent and powerful, a real warrior. I wondered what would happen when another stray came along and eventually able to come into the house. Punkin was delicate and skinny…..her past was easy to figure out. Besides being hungry she was fearful and would only come to the porch to eat after I went inside. She was such a cast-off….orange and black little thing, just plain ugly.

She would run away when another stray came up to the porch to eat. Although I had enough bowls for all she was afraid of the other cats and me too, actually. In time she became tamer as my pattern never varied. Enough bowls were put out for everybody and fear left her a little at a time.

She has developed into a sweetheart. Her personality has blossomed and she has put on healthy weight. The Vet did all the necessary things to make her life better and now she is a happy resident.

Sassy? Well, she became a mother with Punkin and took care of her like a newborn. They are buddies and they think my bed is theirs…….I like to let them think so.

Have you petted a kitty today?

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Napoleon asked to have his picture taken again. He was on the deck parading around and when I came out with the camera he began his prissy step and showed his best side to the camera. I picked out a couple of shots to show feathers you don’t normally see when he’s face-in to the camera. He is such a pretty boy!!! This is our fifth year with him.

Last night when I was walking Mandy I heard him screeching high up in a tree in front of Becky’s house. I spotted him and he had spotted me. We said good-night and ended our ritual.

Temperatures here are going way up and I have the house open to air out. How else could I find enough dust to clean up every day? I painted some kitchen areas that needed a touch up, put on new electric wall plates and getting ready to fix a bite of lunch.

Napoleon has nestled in among the flowers/bushes in my berm. He was dozing with his beak on the ground, straight down………but a wasp settled on his top-not and he shook it off. How do I know all this? He is right outside my window as I type.

My thought for the day…….

The truth is always the strongest argument. (Sophocles)

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


We are experiencing very windy weather. It has blown my front mat off the porch several times and knocked over a figure by the door. The cats are freaked out with the windows and doors rattling and the wind chimes outside my kitchen and bedroom have been in constant motion. I have a very special one that Rocky and I bought when we toured the Amana Colonies in Iowa with his brother and sister and their spouses once. I love the sound of chimes that continually sing out in song.

Napoleon has stayed under the deck most of the day. He doesn’t like wind because with his long tail now he becomes almost airborne. He comes out ever so often to graze around the yard and soak up some sun. He likes to lay snuggled down in some leaves or near some of the bushes that break the wind for him. He has been making quite a bit of noise today. I think it’s because the wind is making things noisy outside and he doesn’t like it. His new treat is English walnuts. I give him a handful each morning and before roosting time. Like any of us he likes variety in his diet.

I can’t help putting another picture of the pink dogwood tree as the blooms are fully out now and I can’t keep away from it. This year it has reached it’s peak of perfection. The azalea’s are almost full out…..the one by the house is a mass of the most beautiful color.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of them all, as I do. How are you celebrating Spring in your area of the world? I know a place I would love to see once more. John had all of us go through a special place where the owner had planted azaleas all over their grounds. The walk through was wonderful…..a pathway of wall to wall blooms, a walk around the lake area and then back to the beginning. It was a beautiful place and it was a perfect day. Some times things come together in such overpowering beauty, all of us were together…….it is one of my favorite memories.

Essentially Esther

Saturday, April 18, 2009


There are many different legends about the dogwood tree. Here are a couple....however I should mention when viewing, the nail scars and blood are more prominent in the traditional white dogwood tree. They grow wild in our area and for a change my husband and I planted a pink tree. This is the best it has ever bloomed due to late freezes.

The stunted and twisted dogwood used to grow tall and straight. But since the tree was so humiliated, after Jesus cross was made from it, God promised that it would never grow strong and straight again to be used for such a purpose. Another legend associated with the dogwood is linked to it’s beautiful flowers. Lore has it that the dogwood’s cross-shaped flowers, commemorate the shameful purpose for which it was used. Can you see the “nail scars” on the tips of the petals and a crown of thorns in the middle?

When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
It’s branches were strong and interwoven
And for Christ’s cross it’s timbers were chosen.

Being distressed at the use of the wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Not ever again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so
Slender and twisted it shall always be
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be
A reflection to all of my agony.”

Essentially Esther

Thursday, April 16, 2009


To my many cousins who remember as I do the lilacs along the road going to “grandma’s house.” Lilacs seemed to be the “thing” that made all of us think of grandma. My mother and her sisters were almost reverent when smelling and looking at lilacs over the years………..their voices drifting off in memory.

Mom planted some in every yard she ever lived in and her love for them made me want some. I don’t remember when but a few years ago I planted a few in the back and I was prepared to wait a while for blooms. I had been told it took 7-years for lilacs to bloom and multiply.

You can imagine my excitement when one Spring I noticed a few little buds coming on the limbs that were purple!! At last, I could enjoy the icon of the Stricklett family.

When Rocky and I married he dug up a lilac from his farm and brought here to plant with the other ones. Of course it was a little one but after a few dry summers and us fussing over it……..it reached maturity. The small one on the right is the one and the Rockenbach kids can enjoy that one especially, knowing their dad planted it. It means all the world to me now that he is gone.

I love the smell of lilacs……..so sweet and old fashioned…….and as I’ve said before, I love the old fashioned flowers from days gone by.

Essentially Esther

Monday, April 13, 2009


Rocky’s brother and wife arrived late Thursday afternoon after a drive down from near Chicago. We always have a good time when they come and they always leave too soon. Their lives are full with family, travel, and their hobbies; woodworking for Richard and cooking for Helen. They are both good at what they do.

Becky hosted an Easter Egg Hunt for her grandchildren and had friends (and me) over for dinner on Saturday. The day was perfect after being rainy when Richard and Helen were here. Sunday I was surprised by a call from Becky to come and have breakfast. Surprised because I was still sleeping when she called. By the time I woke up good enough to get to the phone I was greeted with the answering machine’s message.

Now when Becky fixes breakfast it’s worth getting up for. She had delicious sausage patties, American fries, biscuits and gravy with lots of good hot coffee. She had a lot of food left from the day before so our friends were invited back to her house for leftovers in the evening (and me too.)

Today is dreary out but it’s a good day to stay in and get some things done. I finished crocheting an afghan I was making and it’s now in the washer ready to finish in the dryer. I have a box full of afghans that are the result of my therapy. Knitting and crochet are something I do just for the shear pleasure of doing it. I call it my therapy because no matter the mood when I begin I always end with a sense of accomplishment. That’s important for me as I always like to have something to show for my time. Our time is our most valuable commodity.

The pictures are of Richard and Helen, Becky and me while they were here. Someone always has to be the photographer so it’s hard to get all of us in one picture. I hope your weekend was good and whatever you are doing today brings you joy.

Essentially Esther

Sunday, April 12, 2009


John Chapter 20: 1-18

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb while it was still dark and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. And so she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went forth and the other disciple and they were going to the tomb. And the two were running together and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in he saw the linen wrappings lying there but he did not go in.

Simon Peter therefore also came following him and entered the tomb and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb….and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been lying.

And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and beheld Jesus standing there and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman” why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener she said to Him, “Sir if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”

Mary Magdalene came announcing to the disciples,, “I have seen the Lord.” and that He had said these things to her.

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


We’ve had high winds and cold weather but my blooms are still showing forth. What a testament of hanging on when the going gets tough. My pink dogwood is full of buds and if it makes it through one more day I will be blessed with a beautiful pink cloud later on. This should be the last of the killing frost.

The red bud trees are just beginning to come out. They aren’t in their full glory yet so I will take a picture later when they are at their best. I know folks who read this are from all over the world and I’m sure our flowers are of interest to them. I also have family who miss out on the Spring blooms here in the Ozarks so it gives them a look from back home.

I am expecting Rocky’s brother and his wife on Thursday so I will be absent on the blog during their visit. We always look forward to them coming. Anyone connected to Rocky is very special to me.

And now, I’d better get busy. Have a wonderful Tuesday everyone.

Essentially Esther

Friday, April 03, 2009


Years ago women often met at the fence between them while they were planting flowers. The method was something like this…..if she had something you admired she would dig some up and pass over the fence. The home we had when the children grew up was sadly lacking for landscaping. I had grown up watching grandma work in her flowers and my mother planting things “from the home place.”

Over the years I brought things home from grandma Strain, grandma Stricklett, my mother and friends. Our gardens were very personal because everything came from someone else. Such a thing was true of my bleeding hearts.

An older friend who was the age I am now, brought me some bleeding hearts to plant, telling me where to put them for optimum growth and blooms. Over the years when they needed separating I gave them to other friends and my mother. As it so happened years later when we moved to Missouri next door to mom and dad, she brought some “starts” for me and I have had them ever since.

They are beautiful to me. The little “hearts” make me think of all the people I am bonded with because of them. I appreciate that they are some of the first blooms of the season and I can enjoy them more.

Some flowers, like the bleeding hearts, seem frail in the early spring when weather is cruel, but in deference to that the plants hold their blooms long enough to reproduce the next year.

I want to be like that. In the storms of life I want to be pleasing to others and resilient enough to continue on no matter the weather or circumstances……….the message is clear. What we give away will return to us in due time.

Essentially Esther

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I snapped this picture of Napoleon this morning when he wanted his picture taken. He fluffed up for me for 15-minutes and the big ham kept posing. I have about a dozen shots of him but this is the best, I think. The other is of early spring flowers in the garden and they are most welcome. The red-buds are about to break out in full bloom and then I will take those for “show and tell.”

The day after the funeral (Sunday) an amazing thing happened. The weather had been so bad on Saturday there were no friends or neighbors from the old neighborhood. Quite a few kids who were in school together, then Scouts, first jobs, etc; bought property back where they grew up, sort of a second generation community. Our own George bought property a couple of blocks up the street from where we used to live.

Well, all of a sudden on Sunday with decent weather, we had visitors all over the place. Long time friends of ours who used to live across the street surprised us by driving up from Emporia. It had been a long time since we’d seen them and it was great.

It’s kind of strange to see the “kids” I knew, as middle-aged with families of their own, some even grandparents. Wasn’t I their age just yesterday? Where have almost 77-years gone?

It was such a nice time to reminisce about days gone by and George Sr. would have been proud of the young people who came to give their respect. We never know the lives we touch while living. My mother had a verse over her cedar chest that read: “Give me my flowers while I live for I shall not pass this way again.” She acted on it faithfully through many kind acts to others.

I think most of us remember the last time we see someone when we learn of their passing. It is my habit to tell family and friends I love them as we part. If I never make the next visit I would like them to remember me that way…..a loving farewell.

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


…..we were invited to the home of friends for dinner. Frank Byrant and John had more or less grown up together. We met his parents at the church we attended when John was only 9-months old. We were picking up our boys at the nursery door and guess what? We were new members, moving from across town, and they invited us to dinner. It takes a stalwart person to invite a family with three kids to their home for a meal. They thought it would be good for us to get acquainted in our new neighborhood……as it turned out we were only a couple of blocks apart. It was the beginning of a long friendship that continues with our children.

When Frank was a little boy I hardly would have thought that some day he would provide dinner after George Sr.’s funeral. Life seems to surprise events in many ways. Frank and wife Terry are grandparents now and their home is warm and friendly…..as they are.

After a good meal, visit and nice evening we drove back to George’s home and the snow and rain mix finally stopped. The day had been bitter-sweet and I know George would have been proud of the way his children honored him.

This picture is the same as yesterday except with Barbara in it while I took pictures. These were taken the day we left each other (Monday)and headed home in opposite directions.

Essentially Esther