Thursday, April 05, 2007

Catch up

4/4/07 Wednesday
It’s 2:18. I just came in to record a “Bob moment” and pull up this journal confident I had written an entry this morning. YES I DID! I wrote the date and day. Typical for me, especially lately. There is much more for me to do now that spring is here and I don’t seem to be keeping up. I think this is contributing to the short term memory being worse than normal. This story is a good illustration of how that effects me.

I’ve been working on making the lettuce beds and then moved on to planting more corn. I use the pitch fork to turn the dirt and break it up. Earlier I prepared some dirt for starting seeds. It consists of the tumbleweed compost, leftover Miracle Gro starting compound, and a cupful of the organic blood and bone meal we got at the greenhouse. I stirred it all up in the wheelbarrow and am using it for everything I’ll be planting. For the corn I’ll take an antique enameled ladle and use it to make a dimple. This I will fill with this dirt and then plant the seed in the middle. I get everything together but had a thought “Which bed do I plant the Sugar Buns corn in? I better make sure I get this right” With that I headed to the house where I would find the map that tells what is planted where.

Going in I spy the ice tea that is kept on the counter next to the counter so have a refreshing drink. I look around and didn’t see anything I needed to do so headed back outside. “No! Wait. I’ve got to get a kiss while I’m this close” runs through my head as I head to the office. “Oh Oh. What’s that?? It’s Bob sneaking up on you. Whatever could he want??” I announce as I walk up behind the office chair that held Cherie. She spun and spread her arms wide with that smile that enamors me anew every time I see it. Wow is the only word I can come up with to convey this love and our self awareness of how blessed we are.

Now that’s not the main story here, I just can’t help but talk about her. Point is, as I turned to head outside I spied the map I had originally come in for and so remembered. If I hadn’t seen it I would have gone out and started all over with deciding I need the map and coming in for it. Some times this can happen several times, where I repeat the same steps until I succeed at the task, which may be as simple as getting a pencil.
4/5/07 Thursday
We set the alarm for 6:30 again this morning as we work to get moving earlier every day. There is nothing on the schedule though I never got a hold of Nate. I’ll just send him an E mail.

I have the lettuce beds prepared but still need to research and see what other seeds we have do better in shady areas. There isn’t much room left back there and I am using part of it to store stuff I took out of the garage to make more room. I’m not real sharp this morning, only running a five or six on the bob scale. Been mixing words up a lot lately. In fact I had typed “money” instead of “room” on the previous sentence. This makes for a few laughs when a wrong word comes out in the middle of a sentence. Just another common symptom of TBI (Traumatic brain injury). I usually catch it when I do this and Cherie knows and understands it’s part of the package but it can cause some embarrassment in more public situations. That hasn’t really happened as I am seldom in public situations that involve any conversation beyond casual pleasantries. It would be nice just to have someone to talk to in addition to Cherie.

The muscles are sore this morning, mostly in the right shoulder and neck. Muscle pain is good and a sign of the strengthening of this beat up body. I can deal with that with a shrug but the deeper pain in the bones and back are different and harder to shrug off. As much as I hate it the pain pills are a blessing and have enabled me to keep going when I otherwise would have to go to bed and lay down to get some relief. I still have to on occasion but not as much.

As you can tell I’ve missed recording most of yesterday. The idea this journal serving as a memory isn’t really going to work that well because I miss so much and only record a few things, usually gardening or related stuff. I’d have to write a book for each day to make it complete. The pictures I take often tell more than I can remember. So I will go through them for the last two days and put them here with descriptions.

Going back I see I had mentioned the old compost pile and the area it is in. At the time I figured the composting attempt was a total failure but on examination that is not completely true. The reason I figured it was a disaster was the whole surface of this pile showed nothing but the sticks and twigs of the dead dried up tumbleweeds. I didn’t know it then but this is because the rain had washed the dirt out leaving the sticks.

When I started to move this pile I found that there was what looked like good dark rich soil mixed in with the twigs. Unfortunately it was not really usable with all the sticks in it. Unable to buy GOOD (as in not Miracle Gro or full of mulch) potting soil because of a tight budget this dirt was a valuable commodity. I set up a screening operation where I could extract this dirt from the debris.

This was a slow process where I could only proceed at one shovel full at a time for more than that overwhelmed the screening setup. While this was not physically hard in the sense of lifting a lot of weight it was far more painful than the more strenuous work I’ve been doing. This is because of the part where I simply ran my gloved hands over the dirt so it would sift through the screen. Unfortunately the height of the wheelbarrow required me to stoop slightly. If I could have stood erect or sat down I would have been fine but this slight stoop is what kills me. This holds true for anything that requires this change in posture. Washing dishes in the kitchen sink is a good example. If I ever get to rebuild the kitchen I will raise the counter top by about four inches. That’s all it takes to make this a much less painful operation. Cherie would like a higher counter also.

I was surprised at how much dirt I was able to get out of this. I tested the PH of it and it came out almost perfectly neutral which is ideal for most plants. I have only been able to sift half of the compost pile because of how tedious and painful the process is. I’ll get the rest later.

Our friend down by San Antonio, Amy, suggested we plant the lettuce between the garage and house where it would be cooler versus being under the baking sun. Lettuce doesn’t do well with heat. I looked at this but it won’t work. Part of the reason is there are no gutters on either the house or garage so rain water pouring off the roof would absolutely beat up and wash out anything underneath.

So, with her advice in mind, I looked for a spot that would match the needs of these plants. There it is, behind the old henhouse. There haven’t been chickens here for thirty years but I have to imagine that the decade or so they were here would have enriched the soil underneath. I’ve read that chicken poop is too strong for plants unless it is composted or something. Unfortunately there is at least two feet of soil that has built up over the original surface so any nutritional benefit is buried deeper than lettuce roots will reach.

Cleaning up this area has always been on the agenda but not a high priority till now. There is much to do. First job is to remove the wire screen that was placed overhead to prevent hawks from dropping in and killing chickens. Then it’s picking up the debris and also the items I had put here to get out of my way. I had already spent a lot of time cleaning out the inside of the henhouse, which was a nasty job dealing with decades of rat waste mixed with everything that had been thrown in it. There is still a big pile of dirt filled with rat feces in there. I will take that to the new compost pile. There temperatures and bacterial action will kill off any E coli type germs and reduce the waste to good fertilizer.

Another thing I’ve been doing the last few days is “Mowing” the back yard. “Mowing” is a misnomer as the reality is I have been scraping the yard. Pretty much all that is growing there are weeds. Now most of y’all know we don’t have a working lawnmower for I haven’t had time to look at the one I picked up at the landfill. So what I do is use the hoe. I’ve sharpened it up so it cuts the weeds off at the ground more easily.

Here is a before and after. Now is that a clean lawn or what? (Won't have to mow this for a while)

With good dirt at a premium and no money to spare I take advantage of every little thing I can. Thus I rake up all the weeds I cut down so I can pile them in the compost pit. No waste here.

One of the flats we planted had nothing come up, that was out of seventy two spots. Then there was a surprise. This is a Hyacinth bean plant. It is a vine that grows aggressively. We planted it where the old grapevine had been.

Being spring we have flowers showing up everywhere. Now I know that in general a “Manly Man” isn’t supposed to be into something as feminine as flowers but I really couldn’t care less about fitting into anybody’s stereotype. Fact is I still have a childlike wonder at these things. When I woke from the coma six years ago much of the world was brand new to me. Most of what I experienced was as if it were the first time. For that matter much of what I know now I have learned over the last six years. Of course I often have to relearn it again and then again.

Yesterday Cherie saw some Blue Bonnets growing on the side of the highway. They are the state flower of Texas and can cover acres like a blue blanket. She pulled over and picked these.

The yellow flowers are showing up all over our fields. I’m sure these little delicate ones do to but aren’t as easy to see.

Cherie loves these purple daisy like flowers. Anytime I see a new flower I go get Cherie to show her. She loves to see them and coos “Oh, they’re so pretty”. God I love to make her happy and put a smile on her face.

I’ve been working on this entry for two and a half hours now so I’ll go ahead and post it on the blog. It always takes me a while unless I am running sharp.

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