Wednesday, October 31, 2007


As winter approaches the sun rises farther to the south. This morning it cones up right over this farmstead. With it came a few wisps of cloud that we haven't seen much of lately

10/31/07 Wednesday
It’s 8:33 tonight. Nothing on TV but psycho murder, psychic whatever, and Hell’s kitchen. All crap. I get tired of all the murder stuff that seems to be the mainstay of “entertainment” on “Zombievision” (my nickname for TV). So this is a good time to write in this journal.

Today we finished up the last of the cotton fields. I can’t say who’s field it is because of a confidentiality clause but it’s got the best cotton of them all. Way above the rest. Instead of using the little plastic bags provided to put the cotton in I found some full size garbage bags in the truck. We picked enough cotton to fill four of them. They were just getting ready to pick it so we got there just in time.

What else? The CRP check didn’t come so that keeps things tight, holds off plans for a bit. There were other things I wanted to write but can’t remember them at the moment. So I guess that’s all for now.

OK. Looking at the pictures I just downloaded I found something I wanted to mention. I noticed yesterday all these spots on the fig bush and looking around saw some on the flowers I planted this spring. I went online to try and learn what kind of fungi, bacteria, or virus it might be. I found a reference to herbicide overspray settling on plants and the description matches this type of damage. With that thought I looked around and found every plant and tree we have has the same kind of dead spots.

Now I am sure this is from what they spray on the cotton to defoliate the leaves so they can harvest. They sprayed the fields next to us with airplane and the farmer across the highway used a tractor spray rig. Where it came from we can’t tell but we are surrounded on four sides with cotton fields. This will be a problem. The apple trees have all been hit hard. What will this do for our plans to create an orchard?

I’m not sure how to approach it. First of all I don’t like the idea of this potent a poison covering everything around where we live. I mean, they spray the cotton and all the leaves fall off dead in just a few days. The fig is right next to our window. What do I say and who do I say it to?

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm back

10/27/07 Saturday

10/29/07 Monday
I see I didn’t get far with the Saturday entry. Have gotten several Emails and Amy’s comment about my not posting. I apologize though I am touched by the fact that you care. With my computer being screen dead I have stopped my daily routine of keeping the journal. Kinda started it on Cherie’s laptop (which I am writing this on now) but haven’t kept up with it. Routines are important for those of us with traumatic brain injuries and developing them was part of my training at the Brain Injury Institute in St Louis.

While much has happened there is much I don’t clearly recall at the moment. One of the things that stands out is my meeting with Matt Hanson. He’s the young man who was featured in the Midland Reporter a week or two ago that is working to get a farmer’s market started downtown and is an organic gardener. I called the reporter to get Matt’s phone number so I could meet him.

He’s quite a guy and I guess I could call him a kindred spirit. We talked about lots of things connected with organic farming and also delved into some philosophical areas. Matt has quite a background in organics and recently moved from the Austin area, which is on the forefront of Texas organic farming. Matt talked about a type of community involvement with the farm where folks basically invest in each years crops, helping the farmer cover expenses and sharing in the results be it bad or good. They share the risks with the farmer. He had some initials that represented what this concept was called but I don’t remember them. I look forward to getting to know Matt better for he knows lots of stuff and I don’t about how to farm. He is also getting in touch with others in the area who are small organic farmers and it would be good to become a part of that community.

What else? The Redneck Steel business that’s on the I-20 service road near us burned again. This is the second fire he has had this year and evidently he lost about everything. We drove past as the fire was just breaking through the roof and watched it get worse from the house. Here is a picture we took.

We went to the Lunch with the Pastor thing at First Baptist. Great food and we met a couple of other people. It is mostly to get folks acquainted with how to join the church and an introduction to the staff. Lots of staff. We aren’t going to join just now. I guess we are a little gun shy after what happened with the Cedar Creek church in Toledo.

I’ve been helping Cherie with her cotton surveys and that takes a lot out of me. Now we’re picking lots of cotton as it is ready to harvest. There’s lots that needs to get done before each farmer strips the cotton and then a timeline where we must get in each field within three days after the harvest. So we have to drive out to the fields and check on them. That’s gonna add up to hundreds of miles but we get paid mileage. I suppose this has contributed to my not posting.

We went to a great concert at First Baptist. I think the guy’s name is Randy Cottrell or something like that. Pretty talented guy and lots of his music is sung at the church as it is. Several of the folks from our Sunday school class are in the choir and play instruments and they were all a part of it. I knew Don would be there despite his broken leg and sure enough he was. Just about as…stubborn?...determined?...I’m not sure of the right word to use but basically he’ll endure the pain to do what he wants or feels that he needs to do. I like it cause I’m like that too. Anyway it was a great time.

Can’t think of much else now other than the fact the puppies are probably teething. They chewed the power supply cord for the laptop through leaving two pieces. That’ll cost another thirty of forty bucks. Another thing to add to our CRP check shopping list. We called FSA and they said the checks should be sent out this week. It would be a big help.

I think we had dinner with some folks from the church but am unclear on who or when. OK, I remember who but not their names or if it was after my last post or what. Sorry, that's a bob thing, part of what I live with. Speaking of that I may have already written about Redneck Steel and gotten confused on when it happened.

That’s all I’ll write tonight. No promises on when I’ll post again

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rough spell

It's been a hard day all day but when I walked out and saw this moon I had to get in the truck and line it up with the oil rig. Here, in one picture, we have the two driving forces in Martin county. Oil and Cotton

10/25/07 Thursday
I’m having a pretty rough spell right now. Down to a four on the bob scale. That’s at the point I am wandering around, head out to do a task and forget what I was going to do so end up doing something else, for the moment until something else distracts me. I cut some more wood today. Planted the plants Cherie got from Jen yesterday. Walking is hard, just shuffling around mostly. I’ve pushed through this all day. Kept going. Cherie went to check on some fields so I decided I should come in.

One thing I want to note. Don called me yesterday and said he had some work that needed to be done around the house so asked if I thought Chuck would be interested. “Oh yeah, he’d love to” I replied. It was construction type stuff and Chuck’s good at that. I called Chuck and Lillian about it. Lillian answered so I gave her Don’s number. She is thrilled about it. That got me to thinking. You know Chuck and Lillian aren’t the type to ask for anything and would much rather earn their way. So perhaps work is a better gift than cash.

I’m fading away here pretty bad. These spells take a lot out of me and I’ve kept myself going all day so perhaps I should take a nap.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cutting wood

10/24/07 Wednesday
I’ve spent the morning cutting firewood. I fell down, tripping on some of the logs I was splitting. I know the doctors tell me falling down is not a good idea with the types of injuries I’ve had but what really hurt was the hundred or so grass burrs that my two hundred plus pounds pressed into my flesh. Ouch. (and a few other words I’ll not repeat here) Anyway I’m a bit tired now. I wore through another set of gloves. Strangely enough that makes me feel good for it is evidence I am working hard. Much of the time I am frustrated that I don’t get anything done but it’s easy to feel that way when you don’t remember your day well. So I’m happy I wore the gloves out. I’ll have to wait for the check to come to buy another pair. There’s a whole lot of stuff that will be coming out of this next check.

I haven’t gotten a lot of response yet to yesterday’s request for help for Chuck and Lillian but it’s only been a day. A few folks Emailed me to say they are giving this some thought and another asked for a list of specific items needed. Of course, in my imagination I envisioned hundreds of people rushing forward to build them a whole new house. I always dream big. Odds are that won’t happen but who knows. They will be grateful for anything. Even for some work they could do for others.

I was going to call Don, who has hairline fractures in his leg, but thought today was Thursday till Cherie corrected me. Just wanted to give him a little encouragement but today is his dialysis day and that pretty much puts him out for the day.

That’s it for now. Cherie will go to Jen’s this afternoon to dig up some flower bulbs or something. I’m going to cut and split some more wood. There is something else I had in mind to do but it escapes me at the moment. I left the water on the apple trees all night again. That is the second time in as many days. I need to develop something to help me not do this. There are nine trees and as I work to water them one at a time it is a constant series of forgetting all about it till I happen to walk by and see the latest lake I’ve made. It’s taken me two days to water nine trees. When we lived in Toledo I would forget I was pouring dishwater when I walked out of the kitchen for a minute and flooded the kitchen several times. We bought a timer that beeped that would remind me of whatever task I was on. That helped but won’t help when I’m outside here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First fire

10/23/07 Tuesday
With the temperature going down to 33 degrees last night I lit our first fire for the year. Every time I use this woodstove I think of and thank Amy, who bought it for us when she learned all we had for heat were electric space heaters. The way this house is set up I can put a fan in front of the woodstove and blow heat through the whole house.

The first thing we did at Chuck and Lillian's was kill this rattler. Chuck said it's the tenth one they've killed

There is much that has happened since my last real post. I’ll cover much of it sparingly as there is something very important I want to focus on. Saturday we went to Chuck and Lillian’s to take some pictures and sort of interview them. The results of that are the primary focus of this post. We were surprised when they rolled out the red carpet for us, cooking up steak, pork chops, and chicken on the grill Chuck had built with some old cinderblocks. It was quite a meal.

Sunday, after church, we had dinner at John and Cindy Marshall’s along with Wally and Jen. That was another great dinner and most of all an expansion of our growing list of friends. It is so good to be accepted. She whipped up a great build your own dish involving what I suppose you would call a Mexican American list of ingredients. I don’t know the name of the dessert but…man! was it good. (yeah I know, a little of the early 70’s language, man) It was a great time of fellowship and my cognizance level was high, about an eight or nine on the bob scale, so I had no problem participating in the conversation. Hope I didn’t talk to much but I think I did OK.

Right now I don’t remember too much of yesterday. I know from the pictures that I finished taking the tiller motor apart in preparation for putting on new rings and honing the cylinder. Hang on, I’ll go look at my pictures and see if that triggers any other memory.

Other than it was a windy day with lots of sand blowing and there was a great sunset there are no other pictures. The strange thing is I’ll probably remember yesterday better tomorrow than I do today. (How’s that for a statement. But it’s true) The short term memory part of the brain is more damaged than the longer term part.

So now to what I really want to talk about. Chuck and Lillian we met when we first came down from Toledo to begin the process of cleaning out this house to move in. Peggy, a friend of my mother, had given us their name when I asked if she knew anyone who could help us haul stuff out and away. We liked them right away as they have a somewhat similar background as I do. Na, we’d of liked them anyway, just good people. We were happy to find a home with them for some of the old furniture here that we had no need of.

We were just down here that time for a couple of weeks. I’ll have to check the blog to see if there is a record of that time on it. Can’t go back through my journal to look for that is locked up in my now broken laptop. I checked, the blog doesn't go back far enough.

It was a few months later when we moved here for good. We were quick to get back in touch with Chuck and Lillian as they were much more open and welcoming than those we met at first church of Stanton. As we did we became more familiar with their situation. We already knew it was tight for them but found things to be worse than we thought. All of the times we received gracious help from the Midland Christian community and Amy also from San Antonio I would think of Chuck and Lillian, and their daughter, Miracle. Sure we had no heat, no hot water, only a toaster oven and hotplate to cook on, but we were in better shape than they were.

I felt guilty accepting the help of others when I knew someone with a greater need so now I will try to remedy that. Here is a letter I formulated with their approval to explain the circumstances that led to their current situation. Often those who are in poverty have drug and alcohol problems that contribute to that. Sure Chuck and Lillian “partied” in the past but so have most of us. With the birth of Miracle all of that changed. They don’t drink at all, not a drop in the house. About as clean a life as you can find. Cigarettes are their only vice and both are working hard to quit. Now providing a good home for Miracle is the number one priority in their lives. So here is the letter and pictures we took. I will be taking this letter to our church in addition to presenting it to others we know in order to raise funds and help for them.

Here is Chuck, Lillian, and Miracle at the dinner we had together

Chuck and Lillian met and fell in love about thirty years ago. They were wild and adventurous as young people often are but set out to make a life together. Eventually they made it to Missouri where they purchased their first home. Things were going fairly well until Lillian began to get sick. The doctors couldn’t, or didn’t figure out what was wrong with her. Eventually it got so bad she couldn’t work any more and things began to go bad without her income to help. Finally the doctors checked Lillian’s blood sugar and found out she was severely diabetic. With a blood sugar level in the five hundreds it’s amazing she hadn’t gone into a diabetic coma.

The house, I believe it was the original homestead where Chuck's grandparents lived but am not totally sure

Now there were large medical expenses to deal with on top of her being unable to work so the bank began foreclosure on their home. It was around this time that Lillian discovered she was pregnant. After two decades of trying they had assumed having children was not a possibility so to say it was a surprise would be a big understatement. The timing however was poor to say the least.

The west side of the house. This will give you an idea of how wide this structure is.

It was not an easy pregnancy. They named their little girl “Miracle” because she was indeed a miracle. Because of Lillian’s diabetes Miracle had to be placed in intensive care as soon as she was born. This added to the medical burdens but fortunately Medicaid approved them for help because of Miracle. Unfortunately that will soon end. Chuck and Lillian were now living with friends and doing the best they could.

The back side of the house. It lay vacant for 40 or 50 years. How old it is I don't know but would guess eighty years or more. The entire house is covered with roofing shingles, necessary when you consider the walls are simply planks, perhaps barn siding, nailed in a vertical position. Chuck is constantly working on the house. On one of my visits he was replacing some of the shingles that had blown off along with some rotted two X fours in the roof

I think it was after Miracle was stabilized that it was discovered that Lillian had some serious heart problems. She had gone back to work but was again having problems, getting weaker and unable to keep up. Nothing showed up on the EKG and other tests till they did a radioactive dye test. Then it was discovered that 55% of her heart was dead. There is evidence she had had previous heart attacks, which had gone undiscovered till now. In fact the heart had created it’s own bypass as it worked to repair itself. Lillian had several operations and many stints put in. Now the medical bills were absolutely out of reach.

This picture shows the inside of the wall. If you click on it the picture will enlarge so you can see better. There is no insulation in the house save a small portion Chuck put in a few weeks ago. The outside wall is the inside wall with only thin paneling to provide an interior surface. As you can see it is easily broken as this hole happened when Chuck leaned on it while repairing the ceiling

As is often the case, having a child brings about major changes in the parents lives. Miracle is a miracle in many ways. Looking at her Chuck and Lillian knew they needed to change their lifestyle in order to create a better environment to raise her in. Chuck and Lillian decided it was time to move back to Texas and leave the problems of Missouri behind.

Here is a portion of the ceiling. They asked me if I thought these tiles contain asbestos. I don't know but the possibility exists.

Chucks family has some land in Stanton that he was to inherit. On it was the old homestead he had spent his childhood on. The house had sat empty for twenty or thirty years and had just been used to store things in. As you will see time had taken it’s toll. There was no electricity, gas, and no water. They began the hard task of making it livable on an extremely limited income. Despite Lillian’s health problems she would work as best she could with her husband who has started a “handyman” business, doing odd jobs in this area. Two of their friends, knowing the extreme difficulties of Chuck and Lillian have moved here from Missouri to help. That makes five people living in the house. It is at the hard times you find out who your true friends are.

Here is a view of the ceiling in the kitchen

Lillian must take some twenty or more pills a day and that expense is currently covered by Medicaid but that will soon run out. Unbelievably Lillian does not qualify for disability because her condition does not effect her arms, legs, or brain. The future will continue to be an uphill struggle for them with great difficulties ahead. But they are doing the best they can to make a good home for their precious little girl.

The bathroom. There is no tub or shower and I don't remember even a sink when I peaked in

While Cherie and I faced some similar difficulties when we moved here from Ohio they are nothing in comparison. We have been greatly assisted by some in Midland's Christian community and have learned to appreciate the love those have shown. The events in Chuck and Lillian’s lives have drawn them closer to God but, like us, they were not well received locally. They are not the type of people who ask for help, just as I am not inclined to do. While I don’t ask much for us I have no problem asking for someone else and that is the purpose of this letter.

The shower. It's a PVC pipe frame staked down to prevent the wind from blowing it down. It still does. Chuck only recently was able to get the well going and ran water to the house with a garden hose. They were able to rent a trencher to dig a trench so they could lay pipe from the well that is fifty or a hundred yards away. Up until then it was bottled water for everything. Fortunately they are able to use a relative's bath to keep clean but they're not too keen about doing that

The "hot water heater" for the shower. It's a garden hose spread out to collect the sun's rays. On some days it will get scalding hot

Chuck is digging this trench to run a gas line to the house by hand. Make no mistake, he works hard to create a home for his family, when he has time between handyman jobs and has funds to buy needed materials.

Chuck and Lillian’s experience with a local church has been one of judgment, not the love of Jesus. This has naturally soured them when it comes to the established church. It is my hope and desire that this can be remedied through true compassion and love being demonstrated by the Christian community towards them as it was for us.

Miracle, a precocious three year old who loves to play with her food. She has no idea things are hard

As I was putting this together it dawned on me that I have made no avenue for people to help. I will talk to some at church to see about setting up a fund or opening a bank account as well as oversight to insure any donations are handled properly. In the meantime please Email me at or call my cell 432-488-7346
I would greatly appreciate you sending this post to as many friends and associates as you can. You can click on the envelop icon at the end of this post to do so. Thanks in advance for what you can do. If any want to donate some time and labor let me know and we will get something figured out. God bless

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hey guys, I'm alright, just been a busy weekend. Should be able to catch you up tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dead screen

I'm posting this from Cherie's computer. Mine is pretty much non usable. Last the screen stayed on long enough to post but this morning will only come on for a few seconds each time I restart it. I won't even be able to keep the journal up though I suppose I could do it with Cherie's laptop.

Because we expected the CRP check we weren't as careful with our money as usual so things are pretty tight now. That's ok cause we're used to it. I'm not sure what I'm doing today. Will have to check with Cherie to see if anything's scheduled. If not I need to get to work on firewood. I need to buy a spring to continue working on the tiller so that will have to remain dismantled all over the garage. See ya when I get back I suppose.
I sharpened the blades on the tiller. That's as far as I got before one of those debilitating headaches kicked in. It's one of those that puts me out of commission. I've been researching grants and scholorships online with some difficulty. Just hard to think and process with my head pounding. I think I'll go sharpen the chain on the chainsaw now. That I can do in the garage where the light is dim and it's not noisy. Mice or rats are in the garage and got in my seeds so Cherie cooked up some venison sausage we were given that I will use in the traps I got a while back. The rats have successfully stolen the bait off these traps before so I suppose it's a contest now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

decent day

10/18/07 Thursday
I finally got to work on getting the kitchen sink sealed. Janie had purchased the silicone sealant needed for this job…uhm...about a decade ago. As is unfortunately usual with me it became another project that I didn’t get to. That’s all part of the dumbest smart person of my self definition. You know, I’m either the smartest dumb person or the dumbest smart person you will ever meet. It just depends on the moment you meet me. I’d keep seeing it and say to myself “I’ve gotta do this” but forget all about it a few minutes later. I ask Cherie to remind me but she’s not a whole lot better than I am memory wise. This is due in part to the menopause thing from what I’ve read. She brought the sink up yesterday so I had her write it down on the schedule we try to keep up in order to accomplish anything around here.

Right now I am laying down to ease the back pain. It’s so strange to be able to bend over and pick things up without great difficulty or pain but to have the simple thing of working at a countertop level so debilitating. I’m not picking up anything heavy or straining when I do, it’s just something about the slight stoop required. I will note that yesterday I was unusually weak. Had a real hard time replacing one of the five gallon water bottles on our…uh…water bottle drink dispensing thing. I can’t think of the name for it right now. It’s not usually a problem. Perhaps the three or so bad days contributed to that.

God willing I’ll get to work on the tiller today. It’s 1:00 now and I’m just about done with the sink. All I have to do is put it back in. Spent a lot of time cleaning the hard water deposits off of the faucet. The Lime Away barely touched them so I had to practically chisel it off with a scraper. I found some Teflon tape that I had picked up somewhere and wrapped the threads cause something was leaking. Hopefully that will cure it.

Well the pain pill and laying down has eased the pain so I’ll get back to work.
My computer screen has been blacking out. I’ve been nursing this thing for a few months now. I dropped it when I heard Cherie scream “The puppies are in the road” and rushed to get them. It’s got cracks and black spots and lines all over it now. I’ve been working around them as best I could. It’s flickering again now so will probably go blank again. I hope that using it for months with it being cracked hasn’t strained whatever powers the screen cause then I’ll have to replace more than the screen. We’ve been waiting for the CRP check to get it fixed. That hasn’t come yet and I worry that our taking five acres out of the program will cause a glitch in the bureaucracy.

I got the weed whacker out and finished the weeds by the old melon patch. There were more in the pile but they blew away in the strong winds we had yesterday. Still it’s a pretty good pile. All of it was possible because of the gift of the weedeater from those in our Sunday school class. What a difference a few friends can make. We are and always be grateful.

I had Cherie get the camera out to take pictures of it. I knew it would burn fast and it took maybe three hundred seconds to burn away. What a blaze that was. I don’t know what our neighbors think. Burning off the field drew some attention and this time someone rushed by in their pickup. Seeing me tending the fire he did a U turn and headed back. I’m gonna hurry to get this posted as the screen is flickering

That's it. The day's done. I did get to take the tiller all apart again and removed the reverse mechanism. Will need to replace a spring to make the clutch work. If I had the bucks I'd go ahead and replace the rings but that will have to wait. See ya.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

not a bad day

It hasn’t been a bad day. That’s good. I got most of the five acres burned off. There has been a strong wind coming out of the west and that’s just what I needed to do this relatively safely. I don’t know why I’m burning off the grass and weeds but it seemed like the thing to do. In my mind it will help kill off the grass burrs but they seem to be the least effected. I might just be making things worse.

If we get the check I want to see about renting a tractor with a tiller and churn it all underground. Then I’d like to plant Rye as I read it is very aggressive and will fight off the weeds, thus beating out the grass burrs. The concept being that next year they will be much less of a problem. So can I harvest the Rye? How can I do that? Tilling it under as living compost is something else I read about. I’ve read so much but it gets blurred with the short term memory problem. Eventually I’ll know what I’m doing. Till then I’ll just plug along as best I can. If I had the money I would love to go to college and learn about this stuff. It would be nice just to know some folks who already know it.

An orchard we passed in New Mexico

The distance from here to the house is part of what I measured to mark off the five acres. That is the same distance it goes to the left as we pulled out an equal sided square from the CRP program. In my imagination I see it planted with crops we can sell at the markets and to folks who come out and pick their own. Eventually it will be planted with fruit trees for the orchard. I wonder how much an acre can generate money wise in a good year? Could it be enough to pay for a tractor? Then there are issues like how do I water five acres of plants. All part of the adventure of building a farm on a disability check. Some say it can’t be done, especially by a guy with a traumatic brain injury, but you watch and see, I’ll do it.

I never did work on the tiller. Perhaps I’ll try to get some light in the garage and work on it tonight, take advantage of being fairly sharp. The one light bulb doesn’t quite do it.

Push through

10/17/07 Wednesday
I lost a whole day yesterday. Hate when that happens. This morning my body feels like I worked hard yesterday when I really didn’t do much at all. I have a slight headache but it’s nothing to slow me down. Hopefully today will go better. Jimmy Patterson said he’d like to use some or one of my pictures in the newspaper so I was up till midnight trying to learn how to use Flickr, a picture thing on the internet that may enable me to send pictures to Jimmy. I had set up an account the day before but had to learn everything all over again after getting lost finding what I did before. I’ll work on that again this morning, or at least today.

This morning I need to clean the puppy room. That was one of the things I was going to do yesterday, and the day before for that matter. It’s a little stinky so I need to get my butt in gear. Hopefully I’ll get the tiller going again but we’ll see. After several rough days I don’t really have a lot of confidence about getting things done. I’ll do the best I can.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

1:00 – Pretty bad slow down right now. My first clue was when the wrong words were coming out. I was getting them switched around or something. Right now it’s hard to type or at least typing is real slow. I might have to lay down. We were going to check out this farmer’s market he has on…some highway I can’t remember right now. As always, this sucks.
It’s 4:40 now. This was a rough one with one of those headaches so bad I had to pull the drapes and turn off the lights because of my sensitivity to the light. I am pretty drained now. After a while I had some chips and a glass of wine to see if that helped. It did but just a little.

Long sleeve shirt

10/16/07 Tuesday
This is the first morning I’ve put on a long sleeve shirt. Yep, winter’s on it’s way. After my first Texas summer I suspect I’ll be more sensitive to the cold but I really like it. I think the puppies like it too as they are full of pep and vinegar this morning. But that’s not unusual for these young guys. I am amazed at how quick Trixie has bounced back. She scares me as she gallops and summersaults at full speed when rascal tackles her. She still has the row of stitches on her belly. I check them and a few have fallen out but it hasn’t broke open as I fear.

Yesterday I spent twenty three bucks on parts for the tiller. It was all stuff for the carburetor and the most important was the air filter. I had folded up a piece of T-shirt and made a wire screen backing to hold it in place but when I took the carb off it was full of sand. Really not good. I hope the sand didn’t do too much damage to the interior of the engine but I know it didn’t do it any good. At some point in the future I’ll need to pull the head, hone or bore out the cylinder, and put on new rings. It’s too nice of a classic to let go. Besides, new ones cost six or seven hundred bucks and don’t look near as sturdy.

"Please, Please give us some of your scrambled eggs daddy" Oh yeah, they've got the look down pat.

We went for our walk this morning. Getting back into the habit. I do it mostly for Cherie so she can get some exercise and in better shape. Unfortunately walking is hard on her back and has increased her pain. I think one of those bicycle exercise things would be better and easier on her back. Those are usually not hard to find used as lots of folks get them with dreams of sculpting a perfect body and quickly lose heart. Yep, those failed new year’s resolutions will work to our advantage in this. I’ll start looking for one when we have some spare cash. The CRP check hasn’t been released yet and we don’t know when it will. We got it last year around the tenth of the month. That sucker will get spent fast but on nothing frivolous, all useful and essential things. We’d love to go visit family and friends in Toledo but I don’t think it will happen. That’s about a thousand dollar trip when all’s said and done.

This morning I’m getting back to work on the tiller. I’m debating whether or not I will pull the engine to see about fixing the clutch. That’s allot of work and will turn it into an all day project. I think I will as an investment in this machine. Hopefully I’ll have it running after we get some rain because that will make this hard soil much easier to till. I burned off some more of the land yesterday. When it got dark I was still doing so and it caused a little consternation with the passing motorists. I could see lots of brake lights as they went by and a few stopped and turned around. Most of them seemed relieved when they saw me standing out there with a shovel in my hand. One old guy pulled up to check with me. I told him how much I appreciated his doing so.

Time to get to work folks. The morning started out clear and cloudless but then a fog rolled in. At first it looked like a rain storm with it’s big cloud on top but turned out not to be so. Rain would have been nice for us but I don’t know how that would affect the cotton around here.

See ya later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's getting cooler

10/14/07 Sunday
(That’s as far as I got)

10/15/07 Monday
It’s a cool morning. The temperatures have been dropping, letting me know winter is coming. I need to cut more firewood to prepare. There is still a big log I cut down at the pond that needs to be cut to size and split. This wood is still wet so won’t be good for burning till maybe the end of the season. There is lots of dead wood left in the Mulberry trees and I am counting on that for our winter heat. Unfortunately it’s hard to reach and a little precarious so I’ll have to go slow and careful. I bought another file to sharpen the saw, which I’ll need as the Mulberry is some hard stuff and dulls the chain in a heartbeat.

I want to record the end of Saturday and what we did yesterday. Saturday evening was the dinner for our Sunday school class at Don and Cynthia’s. There were lots of people there, many of whom I did not recognize. That’s not unusual for me but some of them I think we had not met yet. It was an enjoyable time. I tried to join in as best I could. There was a football game on that all the men were watching so I sat and watched with them. It was LSU and someone else but I don’t remember who. I don’t know who LSU is. There are very few teams that are familiar to me. I don’t really watch football or any sports for that matter so much of it is foreign to me. I’m sure I kept up with sports better before the coma but it hasn’t been a part of my life since I woke up. Everyone has their favorites they root for and part of the fun seemed to be that kind of rivalry as they talked up their team, expressing their confidence in their team’s superiority over the others. I can’t really do that cause there is really no background I have to form such opinions so I mostly just watched and listened, occasionally nodding. I did comment on the quarterbacks inability to hit his target, that way I felt like I was participating.

The food was great and there was plenty for everyone. It seemed that the men and women split into separate groups from the start. I suppose that’s how things work. I don’t really have a lot of experience in social gatherings like this, at least not since I woke up so it’s all part of my learning this new world. But it was a good time. I heard one of the guys say he has a water purification business so I went over and talked to him about the needs for the farm. He had some good information but I really don’t remember much of it.

We followed Wally and Jen to their place so I could pick up the grass catcher to the lawnmower he gave us. We both just loved their house. Really put together well and not like the average place as far as it’s layout. Has a great feel of openness. Despite being practically exhausted from a long busy day they visited with us for quite a while. Wally has a great 50’s Pontiac that only has something like 47,000 miles on it. I really enjoy that kind of thing. It’s all original and in great shape. I think they would have talked with us all night but I could see how tired they were so decided it was time to go home.

Yesterday? We went to church and stopped at Lowe’s after so I could pick up a bolt and some O-rings for the tiller. When we got home I put the extra wheel on the tiller next to the other one that is breaking. I figure the two together will hold up under the beating that tiller puts out. The first wheel I put on the replace the original that had rusted away. Hope it works.

While doing that I had a slowdown or something that was like getting kicked in the head. My cognizance level wasn’t effected but there was a bad headache that came on in seconds and it hit my ability to work the right leg and side. That put me out of commission for a few hours.

Despite being drained from that I got up to do something, anything except laying in bed. Watering the trees worked and I removed the carburetor from the tiller cause I need to see if I can fix whatever it’s doing wrong. It leaks gas all over the place. The O-rings are the wrong size so I will take them back today.

It was starting to get dark and there was a gentle wind coming out of the west. That is perfect for doing a controlled burn so I got the propane torch out to see how that worked. It wasn’t bad but the fire didn’t hit the grass burrs as much as I wanted. That’s the main reason I wanted to burn.

It’s my hope that the fire would destroy the grass burr seeds to reduce them coming up next year. The wind is blowing the wrong direction this morning so I’ll have to wait to try this again. The last thing I want is to lose control of the fire and have it go raging across our seventy five acres.

I pulled a bob last night. Forgot all about the water I had on the apple tree so it ran all night. You can see some of the puddle in this picture of this morning’s sunrise. Short term memory loss strikes again. I do this all the time, getting distracted and forgetting the task I was on, but usually catch it before it gets too bad. Oh well.

I think I’ll get back out to work now. Always plenty to do here

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trucks fixed

10/13/07 Saturday
Well the truck’s fixed. We took it to Auto Zone on the way to the farmer’s market. They could test the battery while it was still in the truck and found it was bad. I went to buy a new battery, which we can afford because of the work Cherie’s been doing for Janie, and they asked if I wanted them to install it. I presumed there was a cost for that so said no but asked what it cost anyway. Free!!! I can work with that. We left the truck there and ran to the farmer’s market.

There were only three small stalls open. We had expected a lot more than that but we’re used to Toledo, which is in the middle of the farm belt and is seven times bigger than Midland. Schuyler, the rancher I met at the Farm Bureau lunch, was there with his freezer full of beef. He had a grill and was cooking up some strips of steak he had marinaded in red wine. “The cheaper the better” he told me as we talked about it. Good stuff I tell you. There was a sweet little old lady who had the booth next to him. She’s the run who runs the show. She had tons of onions and maybe ten or fifteen different kinds of canned vegetables and relishes. She was tickled pink to hear we planned on getting involved next year and was a load of information about gardening. She’s part of the master gardener program that put on the composting seminar we went to and encouraged us to get involved. I think we’ll do that.

We picked up the truck after that and I followed Cherie over to Janie’s where she’s doing some laundry and stuff. Cherie had a list of what she needs for the dish she’s cooking for the care group dinner we are going to tonight. She gave it to me so I could pick it up on the way back home. There was a woman in the HEB parking lot wearing a dress that seemed out of place on her. She ran a well practiced “We’re out of gas and just need a couple bucks to get to Odessa” that is a familiar tune to me. Her pin prick sized pupils tell me she’s probably using Meth or some other drugs so I just said “That sucks” and went on in the store.

I got out the list and commenced to finding the items on it. I was fine at first but after a bit I started getting the peculiar dizziness that is a sign of a slow down. There is just too much commotion and activity for me to handle in the store today. I’m still slow despite being home for an hour and feeling pretty drained now. I want to tear the tiller back apart in an attempt to get the clutch working right. Think I’ll put that off a while and just lay down for now. The puppies were excited to see me as usual. I let them out for a short time so they could take care of their business but am keeping them in for now. I can’t watch them from in here and don’t want them in the cotton fields after they’ve been sprayed with the defoliant.

So that is the start of the day. Gonna grab a nap. First I want to write about the other guy who sat next to me at the Farm Bureau lunch. I mentioned being in the coma and brain injury and he told me he’d been knocked out and had suffered similar problems I had such as memory loss and severe depression. “It took ten years for me to get back to normal” he said. Another case of undiagnosed traumatic brain injury. I am amazed at how often I run into this now that I’m aware of it. He lives just down the road and told me about honking his horn at the puppies cause they were playing in the road as he drove by. “I just wanted to scare them” he said. They were real small he told me so that was a couple of months ago. Hopefully they aren’t doing that anymore.

That’s it. I’m tired so will break off now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bussy day

10/12/07 Friday
It’s been a busy day. Yesterday didn’t end too hot as I got all pissy about Cherie not coming to pick me up when she had dinner with Janie. It’s frustrating to not have the truck running and be stuck here at home. I got over it today but sure gave Cherie a hard time about it. I can be an ass when things don’t go my way. Feel bad about it later but it’s too late by then. So enough about that. I don’t just sugar coat things and try to be as honest as I can with this journal, so I tell the bad with the good.

I worked on the tiller a lot yesterday and got right on it this morning. Even with the schematic I found again and downloaded it’s like putting a jig saw puzzle together. Unfortunately I have two snap rings left over and can’t even see in the schematic where they went. There were several times I had to take the tiller partway apart because things had to be put together in a particular order. I finally got it done as far as I can tell and commenced to trying to get it started. The clutch doesn’t work so I did something wrong there. It’s totally engaged so the machine is usable but that makes it a bear to try and start.

Pulling the starter rope is hard because it must turn the gears and tiller blades. That also makes it a little unsafe when it starts cause it’s going right away. It took quite a number of pulls before it finally kicked. Wore me out and I had to take a few breaks. I was about to give up, thinking it was a dead machine when it finally coughed to life. I had to play with the carburetor settings to get it to run right but it ran pretty solid after that. I tilled a small area and that sucker is a handful to handle. Unfortunately it was blowing a lot of oil through the oil filler cap. I tried putting it on tighter but that didn’t stop it. That’s a sure sign the rings aren’t in good shape and there is lots of blow by pressurizing the crankcase. I suppose that’s to be expected in a late 1950’s engine. I’ll pick up an O ring to reduce the oil flow and suppose I’ll just have to keep putting oil in it. I’m gonna study the schematics to see what I can do about the clutch. I’d hate to take the tiller apart again but as always I’ll do what I gotta do. Perhaps unhooking the reverse mechanism would help. When I Googled it looking for the schematic I saw there had been lots of lawsuits due to injuries related to the reverse so I don’t intend to use it anyway.

Today the Farm Bureau had their annual steak dinner and business meeting. Being a member and wanting to meet folks I went. Cherie wasn’t feeling well so stayed home. It was a good idea to attend. I met a rancher who also is involved with the farmer’s markets in this part of Texas. He knows the folks who own the apple orchard in Lubbock. The Easter freeze and snow pretty much wiped out their crop this year. I told him and a few others about my plan to make the farm a pick your own orchard and everyone was positive and even enthusiastic in a couple of cases about the whole idea. That is encouraging. At the board meeting they discussed a resolution concerning land owner rights regarding oil leases. Seems that oil companies can just march in and drill when and where ever they want whether you like it or not. Sometimes destroying valuable farm land. We need to go to the courthouse and pull the oil lease on our property. I’ll have Steve look at it as he’s what they call a “Land man” or something and is real familiar with this stuff. I’m pretty clueless.

So that’s it so far. It’s getting dark so there’s not much more I can do on the tiller. Tomorrow looks like it will be a busy day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An early start

10/11/07 Thursday
I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning. Just couldn’t get back to sleep. I needed to wash my hair so took a bath. Running the bathwater woke Cherie up so she wandered in and sleepily said “Are you taking a bath? It’s three in the morning”. I told her it was almost four and she went back to bed. So I wrote a letter to Wayne. I can’t remember if I wrote about it and am too lazy to go look but I was able to talk to Wayne and get things straight. At least I hope so but knowing how MS affects the brain I wrote the letter to make sure he was clear on things.

After three rough days it’s good to be sharp again. I’m getting moving early to take advantage of it. I suppose 3:30 might be a little early but I never know how long these periods of cognizance will last. Sometimes it’s days but others it’s only hours. First thing I want to tackle is the tiller. I painted it yesterday so it’s ready in my mind to put together. I know I didn’t need to paint it as that is cosmetic and doesn’t effect the performance but I generally don’t do anything halfway. Just a little pride in my work. I’ll have to do a little Southern Engineering for the throttle control but that shouldn’t be too hard. When there’s some money I’ll buy one at the small engine repair shop I found. It’s a good thing I downloaded the manual for it as there is a schematic that shows what goes where cause I sure don’t remember.

The sunrise this morning was one of those where the sun looked twice it’s normal size due to how the atmosphere magnifies it. There is a hazy mist over everything and a heavy dew has every surface dripping wet.

Yesterday we rushed to get the dogs in and closed up the house for they were aerial spraying the cotton field next door. I enjoy watching the skill of the pilot as he loops and dodges the power lines like a fighter pilot. But he’s probably spraying a defoliant to get the leaves on the cotton to fall off so they can harvest. Some of the fields are already ready to go and are white as snow with the leaves gone. Looks like there will be some good harvests.

Time to get back outside. The puppies are doing well and Trixie is moving around much better, even running on occasion.

I just went out to check on them and the suckers were out in the cotton field running at full speed. We don’t want them out there in the first place because of the field being sprayed. In the second place it’s not good for Trixie to be running that hard yet so I called them in and settled em down.
Nuts, the manual I downloaded doesn’t have the particular section I need the most. That’s how the reverse clutch belt assembly goes together. I’m sure I’d seen it but must not have downloaded that part. Now I’m going online to see if I can find it.

I got frustrated which slows me down so went out back and worked on the compost pile. Simple work helps. I burned some of the dead Johnson grass out there. It’s so thick that it coats the bottom of my shoes and takes quite some time to peel off. I now do it over the grill so I can use it to start the fires thus destroying the seeds and keep from tracking it back on my feet. It’s going to be a major ongoing fight to get this weed under control.

Eric let me know this stuff isn't Johnson grass. I really don't have a clue what it is other than nasty. As with many things I just guess and when I hear a name use it till I learn better.