Friday, February 29, 2008

Rubik's cube greenhouse

2/29/08 Friday
I am in the middle of my second slowdown for the day so making this entry will take some work. The first one came around ten or eleven. Maybe, nothing is real clear right now. It was a bad one that dropped me to a three on the bob scale. I know Cherie was concerned enough to suggest she stay at home instead of going to S&J’s to work. I quickly dissuaded her of that notion. Told her I was a big boy and could take care of myself. We were to meet Eric at two so we could pick up the bookcases and stuff they wanted to get rid of. I told Cherie I would most likely be cleared up by then. I did clear up about a half hour before but the seizure sure drained me. Driving over I felt like I’d been up all night.

Our trees from the Audubon Society came today. We got ten of them. Two each of Sargent Crabapples, Easter Redbud, Washington Hawthorn, White Flowering Dogwood, and Goldenraintree. Plus there was one Crapemyrtle thrown in as a bonus. All of this for a contribution to the Audubon Society. We must plant them tomorrow. The hardest part will be deciding what to put where. On top of that we will pick up the ninety Afghan Pines we ordered from the Forestry Service next Friday. Little by little we are turning this place into our dream.

The other reason we went to Eric’s was for his help getting the greenhouse. The idea was to load it on his trailer and slowly drive it out to the farm. Unfortunately the greenhouse was wider than his trailer so plan two was to dismantle the thing. That was like figuring out a Rubik’s cube. What a puzzle this was. After trying this and trying that and damaging something else we got it apart, mostly. Putting this sucker back together will be a real challenge. Jeannie’s husband came out when we were almost done and asked “What are you doing?”. Jeannie had evidently not told him she gave us the greenhouse. After being reassured things were alright we talked a bit but Eric let me know he had to get moving so we closed the conversation and hit the road. The simple put a greenhouse on a trailer job had turned into a much longer and more complex event. Eric is so gracious. Thanks dude.

I got running the wire from the house to the garage done. It looks good. Folks, I’m again exhausted from this second slowdown so this is all I’m going to write.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

They are spraying

2/28/08 Thursday
They are starting the aerial spraying now, probably herbicide. The plane is buzzing two fields away and the wind is blowing in our direction. Cherie is going to sew up a windsock that I will put up in our field. I will stop Bud (the farmer next door) and ask him to insure the sprayers are careful to protect us from the drift. Last year we got hit with the defoliant spray pretty hard. Hope this doesn’t cause problems with Bud but that’s the way it is.

There is always lots to do so this will be a short entry.
Getting the electric wire inspires me to finally attack replacing the old ate up wire that runs electric to the garage. I talked about this when we first moved in over a year ago but like many things never got to it. I couldn’t pull the wire through the hodgepodge of pipes and tubes I had buried between the house and garage for this purpose so dug it up. What a mess it was. Back then I did what I still do now, the best I can with what I’ve got. I just didn’t have much to work with. Since then I picked up this orange pipe from the landfill. Right now I’m trying to make it straight. I’ve wedged it between fence posts and the clothes line and heated it with the propane torch. It’s slowly getting there. Then I’ll put a bend on the ends to come out of the ground when I bury it in the trench. It’ll be much better than what I had.

I’ve been working on this since yesterday. Had a slowdown hit me at three so that put a crimp in the day. It is always frustrating for it to take so long to do things. Once I get the wire run to the breaker box on the house I’ll put the old breaker box, the one replaced when Steve and Janie’s friend rewired the house so we could install the water heater and kitchen, in the garage. From that I can run a circuit to the seed shack and it’s the start of wiring the garage so I don’t run everything on extension cords. I need to dig up some light switches somewhere. Got thirty of forty brand new plugs that Nate threw in with a bunch of other stuff he gave us when we left Toledo. Who knows, perhaps there are some switches to be found at the landfill. It will be nice to have lights and plugs in the garage. Perhaps I’ll get that done this year. I bought light fixtures at the Habitat for Humanity Restore last year. They’re full of sand the some of the bulbs have gotten broke since then. I just can’t put them up by myself.

But the important thing now is to get the seed shack wired. We’re under the gun on that as spring is just weeks away. Jeanie, the lady with the small greenhouse, said we can have it in exchange for stuff we grow this year. That will be a big help in getting plants started. Eric has a trailer and will help us get it moved. They also have some bookcases and stuff that they no longer need due to moving into a new house we can have. If it works out we will move all of it at once tomorrow.

Cherie has already started some plants. The broccoli seeds sprouted almost instantly. Two days and they were a quarter inch tall. Today they’re an inch. Wow!!! She has three flats planted. That’s something like seventy five seeds planted. We’ve got much better dirt this year and learned a bit last year. So I’ve got to get that seed shack wired. No time to write, got to work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I won't be bored

2/27/08 Wednesday
I don’t remember if I got much done yesterday after going to the VA. I know I was tired and had a hard time thinking about how to do the wiring, getting confused, so I called it a day and came in at six or so. I’ll tackle that today while I’m fresh and have time to think it through. Today is also the day I pick up the broken bags of stuff at Lowe’s so I’ll do that first thing this morning. The rye is doing well near the house in the spots I seeded earliest. It took me over five weeks to get all four hundred and fifty pounds of seed spread and raked in by hand. Unfortunately I hadn’t gathered and spliced together enough hose to get water out to the far edges so that’s in the worst shape. There are lots of tumbleweeds starting to grow so I pull as many as I can up but that is just a dent. I’ll have to dedicate some time with the hoe regularly to keep that problem under control. The two acres I didn’t seed is the worst. If I had a tractor I could till that under. I have a responsibility to keep those weeds down for the cotton farmer next door as they can affect his crops. The three acres I managed to get planted will be a ton of work just to keep the weeds down much less caring for the crops I plant. At least the rye will help combat the weeds. That’s why I planted it.

So I will be pretty busy all year. Perhaps more than busy. I may have bitten off more than I can chew but life without challenge is boring. I won’t be bored.
They say that all good things come to an end. That may be true but I sure wish they would stay longer. Seems that Lowe’s manager had a meeting with everyone and is tightening things up regarding damaged inventory. I looked at some Romex wire for the seed shack job and there was a roll that had obviously been used and returned. Not only was every inch of the hundred foot roll dirty but there were cuts through the insulation. I asked the employee stocking shelves next to me how much I could get it for. He pointed to the $77.00 price label on the shelf and said “That’s how much”. When I protested that usually stuff like this is reduced he said the manager was cracking down. OK.

I went to the lawn and garden department and said “I’m the guy who picks up your broken bags”. I was informed that the store manager declared that broken bags could only be sold at twenty five percent off unless more than half was missing. Then it would be fifty percent off. Crap. That kills the deal for me. I got deals all last year so this is a major policy change. At least I got one truck load for a good price. In talking to the employees I hear that they are under great pressure to keep everything neat and clean but must wrap torn open leaking bags of dirt and stuff in clear plastic and put it right out in front to sell. Kind of backwards I think. Keep it looking nice and clean but put the ugly stuff right on top of the good. Oh well, pinch a penny and lose a dollar.

I went to Home Depot to see if I can work something out with them but the guy I need to talk to wasn’t in. I did look at their wire and compared prices with what I saw at Lowe’s. Lowe’s has a hundred feet of twelve gauge for $77.00 and Home Depot was $50.00. Not sure if that is an apples for apples but it seemed comparable. Then I saw a two hundred and fifty foot roll for $65.00. It’s more than I need, I think, but is for sure the better price. Fifteen dollars more gets me a hundred and fifty feet. I’m sure I’ll use it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Need to get glasses

2/26/08 Tuesday
I broke my glasses a few days ago so got an appointment at the VA. They gave me an examination and a set of glasses maybe three years ago. I’m legally blind without them. Can’t tell my fingernails from my fingers at arms length. Fortunately I had bought a nicer pair of glasses when the inheritance came in. Those are the ones that broke but I have the ones from the VA as backups. Unfortunately I can’t see as well out of them so my prescription has changed over the years. The glasses that come from the VA aren’t pretty but will work. We just don’t have the money for that, especially because Cherie needs new glasses too. She checked out prices on that and bifocals cost a ton of money by our standards. She may go to contacts and use reading glasses. That will be cheaper. I was supposed to get bifocals back then but decided not to. I just wasn’t keen on having to get used to them having never had bifocals. I’ll probably get them this time. So that appointment is at 1:00. I have to see the regular doctor who then schedules the eye appointment.

It’s a chilly morning. Got a fire going last night as the cold front that is responsible for our fifty mile per hour wind gusts rolled through. Got up at five thirty this morning to fire up another one. There is not much wind out so I should get lots done. I forgot to roll up a window in the truck yesterday so it was full of sand. One of the first things I need to do is unload the stuff I got from the landfill off the truck. Then I’ll get back to work on the seed shack now that I have the materials I need. I just realized that I need to run electrical wiring in there before I put up the plywood. Glad I thought of it.

The skin on my hands has been dry and cracking for a month or more. Sometimes it cracks so deep it bleeds. I keep putting on lotion and when it bleeds antibiotic cream. It doesn’t seem to do a lot of good.
I would have never thought that going to the VA hospital to see about getting glasses would be a moving experience. We took the first exit off the interstate going into Big Spring. That’s right were the Webb Air Force Base I was born on used to be. It is now the city airport and I think a federal prison. Just as we headed into town a police car with it’s lights flashing pulled across the road blocking traffic. We could see a line of police cars, all with their lights flashing. “What’s going on?” Cherie asked. “I don’t know. Maybe there’s a wreck. No wait! Is that a hearse? I think it’s a funeral” I replied. We watched the procession turn into the airport. I wondered if there was a graveyard back there or what. It had us puzzled for sure. When the procession went in we proceeded to the hospital.

Pulling in there were American flags on flagpoles all over. They lined the drive and went around the parking lots. Something was up but we weren’t connecting any of the dots so were clueless and curious. I went in and did the normal weight, blood pressure, why are you here? Are there any problems? intake routine. We saw the doctor who then scheduled my appointment for the optometrist. I went to the travel desk to make sure I got my travel pay for when we went to Albuquerque. I had and the lady said we would be just in time for the parade. “Parade?” I said questioningly. Now we learn what’s going on.

The body of a local young man who had been killed in Iraq had arrived by air. He was a husband with two children if I remember right. Just as we walked out we saw the procession starting. There were eight or ten police cars leading the way. Then came the hearse. It was followed by a color guard of Harleys flying flags. After them were a long line of cars and at the end more police cars and some fire trucks that had blocked off the roads. Many people lined the street with hand held flags seen everywhere showing their respects, honoring this young man. We watched from atop the steps. I wiped tears from my eyes as I thought of the sacrifice made and pain the mother must be enduring.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wicked wind

2/25/08 Monday
Yesterday was a good day. I didn’t have any slowdowns and got a lot done. Didn’t have to take any pain medication Saturday and only one pill yesterday. One of the highlights was another visit by Don. He’s the only one who regularly stops by and I sure appreciate it. Most of the other folks we know are working and have much less time to get out and visit. We talked about bible things and how dangerous and demonic Islam is. Too think Khomeini called the US the “great Satan”.

I ran the extension cord back to what will be the seed shack so I could set up a light. This enabled me to work on it after the sun went down. I really need to get it set up cause the season is fast approaching. If we can get the little greenhouse down the alley from Janie that would be a big help. It’s just a matter of arranging help and the use of a trailer. Eric said he can do it after they move into their new house. I’m going to the landfill this morning to see if I can find some plywood I need for the seed shack. You know, go shopping at the cheapest store in town.

I got some old water hoses from Ed at church yesterday. They are pretty worn but that’s fine, they don’t leak. I’ll put them where they won’t get moved around a lot so that should prevent possible breaks. If I have time I think I’ll rearrange my hose set up. I have a good hose going across the drive in front of the garage that I think I’ll replace with one of the older ones. I need to bury whichever one I use as right now I have to walk over it every time I go in and out of the garage and roll the wheelbarrow, tiller, or anything else over it as well. That’s not good on the hose.

It’s going to be wicked windy today so first thing is to make sure nothing will blow away. I had to catch the big insulation I got last week as the wind started to blow it away. Put some concrete blocks on top of it. Lot to do so no time to write.

So much for posting this. I called Alltel this morning to see what’s up with our loss of signal and having so much difficulty getting and staying online, plus losing phone calls. The techy I finally got to said we were being bounced between two towers and will try to fix it. We are spending a hundred and fifty bucks a month for our two phones and internet service and that’s a chunk of change for us. At this rate I think it would be cheaper to get a satellite set up. Not only will that give us reliable internet access, which will be more important when we get the farm website up, but we can get some decent tv to watch. Right now we only get two, sometimes three channels. ABC doesn’t come in at all so it CBS, rarely NBC, and Fox, which has been off the air a few times when it gets windy. That and the two religious stations. We both miss PBS. Lots of good intelligent stuff on that we used to watch in Toledo.

What was funny, in a sad way, was we lost the call with the Alltel techy while he was explaining what he was going to do. How ironic.

Just got back from the landfill. Got some plywood but it’s pretty ragged. It’ll have to do. Finally got online after three tries but got bumped off again. I’ll keep trying
I was going to work on the seed shack today but the wind is blowing so much sand I need goggles. So perhaps I will tinker with the tiller I thought but now I have one of those splitting headaches that occasionally come along. I’m going to try and print some of those “year in pictures” I put together. I got them done last month finally but now haven’t gotten around to printing them. It frustrates me how much I forget stuff like this, how I don’t do what I plan. The light is pretty bright in the office now because this headache really makes me sensitive to it.

I got two sets of the pictures printed. We are running out of ink now so will have to purchase more. That’s some expensive stuff. I think it’s over thirty bucks a cartridge. Mostly I quit because this headache is so bad. Came in the bedroom, turned off the lights and laid down. I’m not at all tired but quiet and dark keep this headache manageable.
It’s 9:30 now. I pretty much lost a day. At least I got to the landfill this morning, finding the plywood, some two by fours, and large sheets of cardboard I can line the puppy room with, so it’s not a total loss. I was thinking earlier about how it was when I was living on the street. Back then I was in much worse shape, slow almost all the time, especially with the stress, and these headaches coming much more frequently. There wasn’t a bedroom to go into and turn off the lights. I carried everything I owned, all my worldly possessions, in a heavy duty black garbage bag. I had to find a safe place to sleep every night. Someplace where I didn’t have to fear being attacked by other vagrants or picked up by the police. Of course not being rained on was nice too. For a while I snuck into my old warehouse where I could sleep in one of my back storage areas and had access to a bathroom. But Joe, the janitor who was working with my former employee to steal my stuff, found me out. It was a hard time to be sure and should have never been that way, but that’s how the cards were dealt. I had no control and certainly no choice in the matter, it was just a question of survival now.

So it will be some book if I ever get around to writing it. Night all.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lots of chores

2/23/08 Saturday
Odds are I won’t be staying on top of this journal because there is so much to do and occupying this mind. We finally ordered a lot of the seeds needed for this farm. We will not be getting nearly as many types of fruits and vegetables as we want. For one thing I wonder now how much I can actually handle. The other is money. It will be over a hundred dollars it looks like, and that is just a start getting the minimum quantities. What I’m thinking is we can harvest seeds from what we plant and be able to plant some serious numbers next year. With what we are sure to learn this year next year should be much better.

Speaking of learning, there is a Home and Garden show this weekend where presentations will be made on a variety of subjects of interest like how to grow tomatoes and drip irrigation. That is a must for us. Janie is back from her travels so we will have lunch with her today as well.

On top of that is the continuing list of chores around here. Just as I hoped I found some insulation at the landfill Wednesday. That seems to be how it works lately. I need it, someone throws it away. Now if someone would just throw away a tractor I’ll be in good shape. Picked up another hose and some shelving along with another roll of metal fencing. There’s more there but I had to make two trips as it was to pack this in the truck. The insulation is not the twenty four inch wide stuff I’m used to but an eight foot wide sheet. I’ll cut it to fit. I also picked up some two by fours needed for the seed shack project. They are full of nails but after I hammer those out they will do just fine.

I also picked up the keyway thing that sheared on the tiller so will work on putting that back together. It is a vital piece of equipment for us, actually the only piece of equipment other than a lawnmower that we have. Oh, I have a hoe and shovel but can only do so much with them before I’ve reached my limit. Among the things I need to do is fix the front door. The wind blew it open the other day and I must fix the latch now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pity parties over

2/21/08 Thursday
I’m a lot better today. Done with the pity party for now, but it’s still hard to think things like this.

So I’ve been working pretty hard, taking advantage of this good weather. Some rain would be nice though. I’ve been having lots of problems processing, thinking I suppose would be a way to put it. Slow downs are coming easy when I have to figure out what I’m doing or how to do it. I’m trying to just focus on one task to alleviate that some.

Here’s some pictures I found on the camera. First is one wall in the seed shack. (That’s what we’ve decided to call it) This is some insulation I recovered from the landfill. I know it doesn’t look pretty but who cares, it works and is out of sight. I’ve got that wall covered with some of the plywood I also reclaimed from the landfill. The next wall now has studs in it so hopefully I’ll get to it today. I’m going to run out of insulation though. Today I make another garbage run so maybe I’ll find some at the landfill.

I went to Lowe’s yesterday and picked up my first load of their broken bags of stuff. What a load it was. I asked the manager in charge if it was ok I mention this on the blog and he said it’s fine with him. I got all this stuff for a song but have decided not to tell how much. It’s a blessing and everything we can find a use for.

I am finally getting around to planting the four blueberry bushes we bought a week or so ago. Way behind on that, it should have been put in the ground a long time ago. But that’s the way things go with me. The list of unfinished or even unstarted tasks is long and ever growing. I just can’t seem to get organized. Cherie is supposed to help with that but she’s not much better than I am.
So one of the blueberry plants is called “Rabbiteye”. I seem to remember there was something significant about it so went online to see. It was just that it’s a southern type of blueberry. However in the process of looking it up I ran across instructions on how to plant and care for blueberries. Good thing I saw that. I’ve spent an hour or two mixing up some soil to plant them with and come to find out I did everything wrong. Blueberries are particular plants and what’s good for other plants is not always good for them. The dirt I mixed would probably have killed the plants so I dumped that and have mixed up a new batch.

I came in to eat the pizza Cherie made for lunch and figured I’d take this time to post on the blog. There’s lots to do so here it is and see ya later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I am alive, this I cling to

2/19/08 Tuesday
Yesterday was a day spent in anger and frustration. I recognized this but it was like I was a spectator watching and unable to stop what was happening. I finally found the bowls. They were of course right where I put them and forgot. This is not unusual for me. Much of my days are spent looking for my gloves that I lay down and don’t remember where many times during the day. I hate being lost so much. I am also not comfortable with not always being in control of my emotions. I was to go into town yesterday but didn’t dare while like this. The farm is a safe haven for me, a place I can hide while enduring these things. While I am not like this most of the time now it still causes me to be fearful of inappropriate behavior with those who care for us so much. I will probably always keep a distance from others, a small wall of security, not to protect myself as much as those around me. It’s not that I fear being violent, I just don’t want to hurt them. I want to have friends but am afraid to.

This morning Jay called. He needs the tools that he had lent me to fix the fire damage back. I have noticed them and decided to return them several times but like so many things it escapes my mind each time and never happens. I told him we haven’t used them yet because we need to buy the fifteen degree elbow kit to install the chimney right. I didn’t tell him we haven’t gotten it because the funds aren’t there because he already gave us two hundred dollars towards this need and I’m just not comfortable asking for more. The chimney company who has the best deals online finally got back to me yesterday by email. He said the kit costs $139.00 which is far better than the next closest price we found of $190.00. I told Jay we will probably wait till the weather warms up to finish this job as it will require dismantling the entire chimney just to get to the wall much less put the chimney up correctly.

I’ve been struggling with the tiller all morning. After taking the carburetor off and going through it I got the tiller to start but it only ran for seconds before cutting off. Now it won’t even fire up at all. I’ll take the top off to access the points and see if there is something obviously wrong there. Without the tiller things will be much harder to do. It is all such a struggle right now and makes future hopes more distant. After yesterday depression is rearing it’s ugly head so there’s another battle in what has always been a constant war.

I will go to Midland today to do my poop scooping job. It’s also the day I set up with Lowe’s to pick up the broken bags of dirt and stuff. I wonder how that will work out. We never ordered the tomato, corn, and melon seeds we need. It should have been done a month of more ago. I am frustrated by this as well. If I can’t manage to even order seeds what makes me think I can farm or do much of anything at all. God I feel like a vegetable. Hell I just remembered that I remembered to move the water sprinklers over an hour ago. They have been watering the same area for three hours now. I forgot to set the phone alarm when I placed them. I must stop writing now and do it immediately for I will forget in about two sentences.

So I’m back and remembered to set the alarm. While doing so I thought about all this and I wonder. Are all these dreams I have just a delusion? It is so hard to accept how far I’ve fallen. To think that at one time I built several companies from scratch and without a penny in my pocket for a few of them. To think there were articles about me in the paper and the local CBS station interviewed me and featured my telemarketing company as an example of ethics in the industry. Now I have a hard time keeping up with a garden. But I have Cherie. If nothing else happens I am blessed and life is good for I am alive when I once was dead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

2/18/08 Monday
We got a lot done yesterday. I prepared some beds for the flowers Cherie picked up and she planted many of them. This morning she looked out the window and saw the dogs eating the daffodils. They chomped off all the blooms. That got them put into their room after it was made clear that eating plants is a big “NO, BAD DOG”. Not that that will do any good. I will run into town and pick up some of the inexpensive wire fencing I saw. It’s only about a foot tall so they can easily walk over it but perhaps it can serve as an identifiable barrier they can recognize as a no cross zone. We bought some dog repellant last week but when I put it down it basically just created curiosity. They sniffed with great interest and started to taste it when I yelled “NO”. So much for that. Perhaps that too can be a recognized barrier if I train them that crossing it brings an unpleasant response from us.

I fired up the tiller and it ran well, tilling a fifty foot row before it died. Nuts. It’s a lot of work to hang on to but much less work than tilling three acres of beds by hand will be. I suspect it’s a stuck float or needle valve in the carburetor. At least I hope so for that I can fix, at least temporarily. Building this farm will be hard without the right equipment. The pioneers at least had horses to pull plows with. I’m getting the chairs back out to sit in when I get tired or hurt too much. Today I will work on the tiller some but can’t spend all day doing it. The seed shack is a higher priority and there is much to do there. I started putting in studs to hold the plywood and insulation yesterday. Running electricity out there will be a project for sure.

I tested the compost with the soil test kit we got and was very disappointed to see it was extremely alkaline and has almost no nutritional value at all. So I must mix lots of fertilizer in it but don’t know how much is right. I’m guessing at it and will test a batch of soil I’m going to mix today. Yesterday I just mixed some up and threw it into the flower beds. Kind of hit or miss. Yesterday was another slow day where my ability to calculate or figure things out was hampered and I got lost and confused easily. There is so much to do but I must pick a task and focus on it or nothing gets done.

I took a pain pill this morning but when I did couldn’t remember if I had already done so. This is why I try to tell Cherie every time I take one, otherwise I can forget and take one or two or three, thinking each one was the only one I’d taken. With my seizure medicine I use a pill minder so can look at it and know if I took it or not. The pail pills are “take as needed” so a pill minder doesn’t work. But I can feel it’s effect more than usual so may have screwed up. It’s not a dangerous thing to have taken two instead of one as there was a time I ate this stuff by the handful to get high, but I am careful to not fall into that trap, thus will watch carefully.

This morning we heard a “THUMP” that shook the windows. “What was that” Cherie called from the back room. “I don’t know. Maybe something big just drove by” I replied though it didn’t really match the sound we heard. Cherie went outside to look and there was nothing. I told Cherie that it may have been a blast wave as I’ve experienced a few in my life. If it was I knew it had to have come from a distance for it was soft compared to what I’ve seen. Just a while ago, as I moved the water sprinklers, I noticed this column of smoke rising in the distance. It looks like it may be as far as twenty miles away but that’s just a guess. Whatever it is, it’s huge. If that’s the source of the blast wave there is a major event going on towards Big Spring. We will be watching the news to see.

Alltel is continuing to be a pain when it comes to going online. I’ll try to post this but it may take a while and be quite frustrating.
I’m not doing good at all. I have a level of anger that is not healthy and am slow. If the two are related or not I don’t know. It started when I went to get one of the stainless steel bowls I use so much and couldn’t find it. I looked and looked but it wasn’t to be found. The more I looked the angrier I got. I had just used it yesterday and the cloth I used to clean it was still on the counter. I can’t remember exactly but think I may have left it on the table where the water spigot is.

To add to the anger I discovered the puppies had chewed through one of the panels I put up in their room to protect the walls. Then they pulled it off the wall and chewed a hole in the wall. Now I’m yelling. This is not good. My paranoia has me imagining someone snuck up here and stole the bowls. There were two of them stuck together. I have spent hours looking for them now and nothing else has gotten done. The anger has drained me and I can’t handle being around the dogs a lot so they are locked in the front area while I rest on this bed. Maybe after I take a nap I’ll settle down.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a shame

2/17/08 Sunday
The valentine’s social turned hard for me. I was fine when we walked in the door. But it didn’t take long for things to get overwhelming for this brain I am stuck with. All the conversations around, answering questions from people who know me but I can’t quite remember, trying to figure out what I was supposed to go was too much. I sat down next to Don or someone else I was familiar with to hopefully reduce the stress and keep the slowdown I could sense from getting bigger. Having Cherie next to me is a strength at these times but the room had divided up with the men on one side and women preparing things and visiting on the other. When it was time to get in line to fix your plate it was announced that couples were to not sit with each other. This came as a blow to me. I waited till nearly last to get in line.

Was in bad shape by this time. When I got my plate fixed and headed to find a seat someone asked “Where you going?”. “I don’t know” was my honest answer. They invited me to sit next to them so I did. By now the sound of all the conversation was a cacophony and I could hear each one of them and couldn’t tune them out. I just sat there concentrating on my plate though I wasn’t really eating anything. It must have been obvious to Cynthia because she suggested to Cherie that she sit next to me. I am grateful for that but was already gone. We were going to leave early so she had us tell how we met and about our first date, as everyone was to do, first. I don’t remember a first date. We just saw each other every day at the college. I so wish I was lucid so I could tell of our first love but really couldn’t talk well. By now I felt naked, exposed to all, embarrassed. We stayed to hear everyone else’s stories, and they were good ones. Then we didn’t wait around but headed out the door right away. Cherie drove home because I wasn’t in good enough shape to drive.

It’s a shame that we couldn’t enjoy this wonderful time. It also reminds me of how much I depend on Cherie and that I can be a burden to her. I don’t want to go to church today. Just embarrassed. Cherie makes the point that everyone there understands but that doesn’t help. I’ll just stay home and safe. There is plenty for me to do here anyway. Besides that there is something wrong with Carman kitty. We don’t know what but his eyes are dilated and he seems to be in pain, just hunkered down in a corner under the desk and won’t come out. We occasionally hear a long plaintive meow from him. We wouldn’t go to church anyway because of this.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

2/16/08 Saturday
This morning I must make a list of things to do. I haven’t been doing that and as a result many things have gone undone. Scheduling my life is one of the things I was taught at the Brain Injury Institute but it doesn’t do any good if I don’t practice it. On top of the list is to finish the seed starting shed or at least get it to the point we can start using it. Then I need to start mixing dirt for this purpose. Yesterday I went into town to see what’s available to test ph in the soil. Lowes had the same kind of tester I got at Tractor Supply so I don’t want that. Home Depot had nothing electronic, only the one time use chemical test kits. Ace Hardware has a kit that tests nutrient levels in addition to ph and contains enough material for ten tests each. At thirteen bucks it beat out the four dollar one time use kits by a landslide.

I asked to see the lawn and garden managers at Home Depot and Lowes to see if we can make an arrangement for me to pick up the bags that often get broken open. I got a lot out of both stores last year by going in and asking, but it was always a hit or miss proposition that required them finding a manager who would make the decision. I got lots of mulch, composted manure, and fertilizers that way. They would charge me various prices depending on what manager they found and how he felt. So I will ask them if we can develop a relationship where I come on a regular basis and remove this stuff for them. The people I need to talk to weren’t in yesterday but I got their names and will hopefully catch them today.

So that’s part of today’s schedule. The to do list I’m making won’t be just for today but a list of projects that need doing that I can check off as done. Tonight there is a valentine’s social thing at church that we will go to. Hope I do well but should as there will be many people from our Sunday school class we are familiar with. That will reduce the stress of new and unfamiliar circumstances so will reduce the chance of a slow down.

Speaking of our Sunday school class, one member was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and it is a particularly aggressive strain. The first round of Chemo was not as affective as hoped so they flew him to Dallas for intense treatment and a bone marrow transplant. For those of you who pray I ask that you lift him up in prayer. His wife sends out a daily letter she calls “Robert’s Journey” where she reports on his progress. Her bravery as she faces this incredibly hard time is an inspiration to say the least, but pray for her too. Even the strongest can lose heart during trials this hard.

They are predicting precipitation today. It may be freezing rain or perhaps snow but it’s wet so we hope to get a lot of it. We haven’t had any rain for quite some time now so it would be good. The rye is growing slowly despite my constant watering. It takes a week for me to cover the three acres with the two sprinklers we have and by the time I start over the soil has been bone dry for a few days. So rain would be good.

If I have time I will run the tiller today, give it it’s first serious workout since rebuilding it. Hope it holds up.

Time to get out in the cold and get to work. First job is to scrounge through the lumber I’ve been gathering to locate enough two by fours to finish the inside of the seed shed. The oak I got from the landfill has been a great help in providing wood for the stove to keep us warm. That frees up a lot of my time as it’s quick and easy to cut with my chop saw.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cold front came in

2/15/08 Friday
I was real busy yesterday. Had planned on putting a short summary of our love story on for valentine’s day but never got to it as often happens. I bought five hundred feet of half inch tubing at Tractor Supply for the drip feed irrigation we will be putting in. That’s just a start in my mind but we will see if I can keep up with my plans. I seem to think bigger than my ability. Bought an electronic ph tester while there but it doesn’t seem to work. All in all I spent a hundred plus dollars. Had to pull funds out of the savings account but it’s all stuff we need. Picked up a five pound bag of seed potatoes at Walfart also. It’s not much but it’s a start. Knowing a winter storm would blow in today I cut some firewood. Waited till Cherie went to Midland because I know she would be upset about me climbing the Mulberry tree with a chainsaw. After all that’s how I broke my back, neck, and sustained the brain injury that broke up our marriage in 1982 or so. But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and staying warm is important.

Today I plan on planting the blueberry bushes we picked up at Lowe’s. Cherie picked up some aluminum sulfate for me to lower the ph of the soil with. I’m going to have to get a different way to test soil ph first. The kits I’ve seen cost four bucks and are only good for one time. The electronic one was six dollars so I’m pretty disappointed. I’m going to soak some soil in water to see if that helps it work. It’s going to be cold for the next two days but that’s no problem for me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not keen on reminders

I’m not too keen on reminders of the results of the accident. Mixing up the concrete was one thing but driving nails quite another. The process of turning the old henhouse into a plant starting shed requires I fix the roof a little. This picture shows where a piece of tin roof was torn off by the wind. There are nails coming out all over this shed as they seem to everywhere else on this farm. I tried to drive them back in but the underlying wood is too old and rotted so they just bounce back out. I found an old piece of this type of corrugated steel that was a little rusty and beat up but you know my saying “I do the best I can with what I’ve got”.

Unfortunately attaching this to the roof proved to be difficult. First of all is my problem driving nails. When they were teaching another part of my brain to operate the right side of my body one of the exercises was playing catch with a rubber ball. This was designed to develop the ability to put my hand where I wanted and close my fingers at the right time. I had a real hard time with that and never finished the therapy as Toledo extradited me and then kicked me out on the street. So I can’t drive a nail well though I did a great job of hitting my thumb. I only had a few of the right nails I had picked up laying around so after managing to get them into the rotten wood I just grabbed two old tires and put them on top to hold the piece of roofing in place. That will have to do. This is why I prefer to use screws for just about everything. A screw and cordless drill are much easier for me to use and less painful as well.

What I want to do next is insulate and cover the inside wall. I have plenty of old two by fours I’ve scrounged up to use. There isn’t enough insulation but I’m sure I’ll run into some. I’ve got three sheets of plywood I picked up at the landfill to use. I’ll need more so will go shopping at the landfill till I find some. I think I’ll run by there today and see what’s come in.

Don stopped in yesterday. It’s nice to have company out here. We a talked about things I can’t remember now. I remember showing him things out back. He still can’t walk very well so we didn’t go far. Of course you don’t have to go far out here to get a solid coating of stickers on your shoes so he had to scrape that off. He mentioned they use old cedar posts for the living history events they participate in and I had a couple. I gave him one but the other still has fence wire attached so I’ll clean that up. He can also use some of the wire fencing I’ve recovered from the landfill to keep his dog out of the garden. “Are you sure you don’t need it?” he asked when I offered to load it on his truck. “I say what I mean” I replied. I suppose that was blunt but fact is I feel great about being able to help him any way. So when I go to the landfill I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some cedar fence posts. They are often to be found there.

I still haven’t finished the chimney. I emailed the internet place that had the elbows I need twice and never got a reply. I give up on them. It looks like the two elbows will cost at least two hundred dollars and that is beyond our reach. I suppose I’ll patch the hole up the best I can and wait till we have the funds.

I was going to Midland for something but can’t remember what. OK, Just checked the earlier entry and see it is to get a PH tester and ammonia sulfate to acidify the soil. That’s what this journal is supposed to do but I seldom remember to write down stuff. It worked this time.

I just got pretty confused putting pictures on this blog. Plus typing is getting harder so there is a seizure coming. I'll find something simple to do and not go to the store in Midland till this clears up.
I found this picture in the camera when I downloaded the pictures of the shed. Don't know when I took it.

I just broke a water sprinkler. I definitely won’t go out in public like this. I broke it because of a cognizance issue. Cognizance being an awareness of things. When I pushed the sprinkler base into the ground my hand was on the hose connection, tearing it off. I know better, just wasn’t aware I was doing it. I won’t drive when like this, might forget to look before I change lanes. These are times Cherie helps me a lot. I think I will play in the dirt for now. Start mixing it up for the seed starting operation. Can’t break dirt you know. It’s frustrating.

Finished the floor

2/12/08 Tuesday
I spoke too soon last night as going online again became a source of great frustration. When we go to S&J’s today I’m running to the Altell office to see what’s up. There is some cold weather coming at the end of the week so I need to stock up on firewood again. Now that we’ve ordered plants and seeds I need to map out and start the beds. A big part of that is testing the ph and prepping the soil. The blueberry bushes we are going to get from Lowe’s as their price is competitive. The last section of floor in the seed starting shed will get poured today if everything works out as planned. Then I need to run some electricity out there to power the metal halide lamp and other stuff. So I will be busy today providing there are no slowdowns. Fact is I will be busy all year with this farm start up. That will be good though a challenge with my problems. It’s the first time since I woke from the coma I’ll be working so to speak though moving in here has required a lot from me.
2/13/08 Wednesday
I finally got the floor poured. My inability to judge volumes became evident. This is one of those weird little problems that comes with my brain injury. You’ve probably heard of some who can do fantastic things like count all the matchsticks in a bowl, like the guy in the movie Rainman. With me I am unable to look at a plate full of food and figure out what size bowl to get out for it. Anymore I just go for the biggest bowl. So I’m looking at what’s left for me to pour and figure I can finish the job with three of the wheel barrow mixes. It took seven. One of the batches I mixed before didn’t turn out right but that’s tough cause I’m not going to tear it out and redo it. There is too much sand and not enough concrete. This is probably because I forgot how many shovelfuls of sand I had put in so just guessed. Did this several times but it usually turned out good. But the jobs done. Next is to run some electricity to it. That will be a challenge for me.

Yesterday we went to Lowe’s. Cherie picked out some flowers and I got four blueberry bushes and a staple gun. We checked out the drip feed irrigation stuff they have as well. I’ll have to write down the prices so we can figure out who’s got the best deal. Today I’m heading into town to get a ph tester and some stuff to acidify the soil as blueberries need a high acid ph level.

That’s it. Got lots to do so gotta get moving.

Monday, February 11, 2008


2/11/08 Monday
I didn’t wake up with the level of pain I figured I would have after how hard I worked yesterday, for that matter the last few days. Now all the bending and lifting sure hurt while I was doing it but that’s when I’m grateful for the pain medication despite being uncomfortable taking it.

Been focusing on pouring the floor in the soon to be seed starting shed. Went out and collected a few hundred pounds of rocks for the base of the floor. Don’t really know what I’m doing but it seems right. Also loaded up some of the big rocks out there that I am using to build a little rock wall out front. All part of making this a nice place to look at. The big rocks were why I thought I would be in pain but I was careful about how I lifted them so that helped.

Just went to the landfill. There was some insulation someone had torn out of a wall I picked up. It will be good in the starting shed to keep temperatures manageable. There was some nice steel roofing but the panel was maybe fifteen foot long. That’s too much to put in this truck. One of these days I’ll have a trailer and that will help. There are some old telephone poles at Bud’s place where I’m getting the rocks that would be nice to have but again it’s more than this truck or I can handle. I’ll have to ask Bud about it next time I see him.

That’s it for now. I’m heading out to get some more rocks to finish up the floor with.

I was going to post this but we’ve been having lots of problems with our Alltell connection lately. It took me an hour with fifteen disconnects to get our order in at Henry Fields. That had me pretty bent out of shape. Right now it is again showing “No signal” meaning the PC card that connects us to the internet through our cell phone account can’t even call in.

Finally was able to get through. I think Altell fixed something cause their signal comes in strong now.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Walk the talk

2/9/08 Saturday
I’m doing good this morning. There were no slowdowns I can remember yesterday though I did end the day with one of those sever headaches that require darkening the room and reducing noise. I’m running at a good eight on the bob scale. I always enjoy these occasions.

One of the things I want to record while it’s still in this mind is going to the men’s retreat at the circle six campground. Ed had invited me and I was glad to go. I was worried, as I always do, about what kind of reception I’d receive from the first church of Stanton folks I was sure to see. Pastor Dave of course I was able to recognize along with Charlie and my cousin Daryl. None of them rushed up to say hi when they saw me but I didn’t expect that. I approached Dave and told him I’d heard about his neck and asked how he was doing. He seemed appreciative of my concern. It is hard for me to read other’s expressions and reactions to know how they feel though some are obvious even to me. When they won’t look at you, keep their eyes averted and answers short, it’s pretty clear something is wrong in their heart.

I went up to the table Charlie, Daryl, and Rita’s husband (I still can’t remember his name) were sitting at and said “Hi”. Charlie was the most open. Daryl didn’t say a word till I addressed him directly. Rita’s husband never turned to look at me even when I tapped him on the shoulder. What should I read in this? I don’t know but wonder. What do they say when I’m gone? Why haven’t they shown any of the love that is the foundation of their Christian faith? Many have told me to let it go but I can’t help but to be bothered by this seeming rejection of some. Not once has anyone ever visited despite my repeated invitations. What do I want? I want them to be better Christians, to practice their belief, to walk the talk, to at least take the time to know who we are. Ephesians 4:32-5:2 says “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. I’d love to see and experience that. Now I know I’ve spouted off on this blog about the whole thing and am sure I’ve offended though I feel I only spoke the truth. So forgive. It’s a choice and a sacrifice.

The paranoia that is an unavoidable and common part of this brain injury has me thinking they gossip and judge us, or at least me and Cherie because of me. I have no way of knowing otherwise but it’s a natural fear as I seek to understand this distance imposed on us. There were two who said hi on their own. One seemed vaguely familiar and does tax work. He was very pleasant and seemed comfortable. The other guy I don’t have a clue of recognition for but he seemed absolutely pleased to see me. He was a younger guy with a “Cops” hat on and really wanted to know how things were going. That was really good. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

The men’s rally was fantastic. I knew the singing would be from the time I went last year at pastor Dave’s invitation. Ed likes to sit up front where he “can see the whites of their eyes” so we were in the second or third row. The guest speaker preached on “What would Jesus do?”. That’s always a good premise to live by. My prayer is it others be “Doers of the word, not hearers only”.

Today is supposed to be beautiful, getting up to 71 degrees without the nasty winds we had yesterday. That should help me get a lot done, especially if I stay sharp. I don’t know what I did yesterday but know I was tired at the end of it. We need to order our stuff from the Henry Field’s catalog as some of their specials have already expired. It won’t take long to go through the funds we have earmarked for these purchases. The blueberry bushes take two to three years before the bear fruit. It’s all an investment in time, long term planning for a good future.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The tiller's workin

2/7/08 Thursday

It’s a good morning. My cognizance level is running a good 8 on the bob scale. I’m not totally clear on what the word “cognizance” means but am sure that being able to think clear is part of the definition. I looked it up several times and am still not sure. Not being able to remember what I read doesn’t help.

So the news. The part for the tiller (the pulley for the pull start) came in yesterday. It took a bit of figuring to get all the little springs and parts put in right but I was sharp yesterday and after a few stabs at it got it right.
I was thrilled to start the motor and hear it run well. I’ll need to play with the carburetor adjustments to help it idle better. The device I fabricated to hold the clutch lever back seems to work well. The original design appears to have required you to hold the lever by hand as you pulled the rope to start the machine up. Otherwise the blades will spin. Of course with a fifty year old machine things might have fallen off. The clutch like this is awkward and I think unsafe so I created this…uhm…holder? Can’t find the word to use so that will work.

So now I have a tiller and there is much tilling to do. Among the tasks is I want to till the driveway border where the rocks and stuff are and then mix up a sand cement to pour. The dogs constantly scatter the rocks off of it and the red mulch that looked so good there has long since blown and floated away. The puppies helped with that too. How the dogs move those big rocks I don’t know. So with the sand mix I can imbed the stones and weeds can’t get a foothold, thus this landscaping will stay a while.

I’ve been playing with different ways to mix up sand and concrete to find something that works well. The recipe on the Portland cement bag calls for pea gravel which I don’t have. Actually I do because when Leroy worked on the well they had a lot left over so just spread it around on the ground. I went up there yesterday and scraped a few bucketfuls up. One of the things I’ve been experimenting with is the Bentonite I picked up at the landfill. When added to a cement sand mix it seemed to make it crumble but just a little Bentonite and sand makes a pretty solid block. It doesn’t do well when it gets wet though.

The important project is to get a floor poured in the henhouse for my seed starting operation and I want to stretch the concrete I have out and make sure it holds up. I picked up what seems like five hundred pounds of rocks at Chuck and Lillian’s to use. They are mostly about the size of my fist. That should help reduce the amount of concrete I use. It’s all new to me so it’s all part of my continuing education on how to do stuff. You can see in the left form I put up the wires I placed. I’m thinking that like rebar it will help strengthen the floor. Don’t think that will go well with the big rocks but I’ll give it a shot. All of this experimentation will help when I get to building serious things like a henhouse for when we get chickens and some greenhouses.

I’ve been keeping the water running every day all day long to encourage the rye to grow. There are lots of little tumbleweeds starting to show up. I’ll have to start carrying the hoe with me everywhere I go to constantly get them. I’m only working three of the five acres I cleared. That’s for several reasons. First is I don’t think I can handle more than that on a physical level. I’m not even sure about being able to keep up with three. Second is that is as far as I can reach with the garden hose so there’s no sense planting where you can’t water out in this part of the world.

I plan on ordering lots of plants and seeds today. Henry Fields has a special on strawberries so we’ll probably order two hundred of them. Then there are raspberries, blackberries, and perhaps some others depending on funds. We’ve only got $150.00 in the farm account so that won’t last long. On top of plants and seeds is the drip feed irrigation I must set up. I can get good deals on the parts needed at Tractor Supply but even good deals add up pretty quick. I should go online to see what I can find but that’s the kind of thing I never seem to find the time or remember to do. One of our online friends, Barbara, sent us a ton of cool seeds to plant. What a help that is and the good thing is that once we get the heirloom plants going we can harvest the seeds along with the produce. Thus we won’t have to purchase them the following year. In fact we could package and sell the seeds as well. You can’t do this with the hybrid seeds, only heirloom. At least that’s my understanding.

The phone alarm went off so I must get out and move the water sprinklers. Time to get back to work.
It’s noon now. Cherie is doing much better but I’m keeping her from doing too much. Or I think I am. We haven’t been kissing during this bout with the flu so as not to share the germs but now we feel it’s safe. I know it’s too much information but it’s sure nice to be kissing her. I mentioned this to Eric last night and he said “Get a room”. Yeah I know, I’m like a little kid yelling “Hey, I kissed my wife”.

I’m pretty tired so will take a nap. Cherie just got back from picking up the mail. Suppose I’ll post this and crash. It will always be frustrating I suppose to get tired like this and need to take a nap. I explained to someone that it’s like I was eighty years old. This kind of thing is not unusual for those of us with traumatic brain injuries. The nice thing is an hours nap can really refresh me and revitalize my energy and cognitive level. An hour is all I’ll get cause the phone alarm will go off to remind me to move the sprinklers.
It’s 4:35. I am having a slowdown. It’s a pretty bad one. It seems that the pendulum is swinging to the seizure side now. I’d have to look but think I had a rough one a day or so ago. Went for a while without any big ones. This is the pattern, the cycle I seem to go through. If so I can expect several bad days. This one came with the return of one of the senses I lost in the wreck. I am intensely hungry and hunger is a sensation I rarely experience. Sometimes it’s the sense of smell, taste, or my hearing but my hearing is acute anyway. I often hear things Cherie cannot. But part of that is the filter we all have for sounds is damaged. Most people’s brain tune out constant noises like a fan running or the buzz of a fluorescent light. Mine doesn’t so being in a crowd with everyone speaking is deafening for me.

Anyway, I am dizzy and unsteady on my feet. It is hard for me to type. At least I got one of the spaces I made filled with concrete. That was more work than I thought or at least harder on me physically. Had to take a pain pill. I went gopher hunting today, prodding the ground with a steel rod I made trying to find their tunnels. Not sure if I did but when it felt like it I dropped some of the poison in.

Cherie came home from shopping. She knew I was having a slowdown just by looking at me. When I talk it’s really obvious but there is something about my face that she can detect. I asked her what but she really can’t put her finger on it. She can just sense it after three years of marriage.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lots to do

2/6/08 Wednesday
I’m doing much better than yesterday. That one didn’t clear up till about 8:00. Right now I am running a good nine on the bob scale, way above average where my fingers just dance on this keyboard. I love it and need it as there is so much that needs to get done in order for this year’s crops to get in the ground. It’s my first real year of this farming stuff so I want to do a good job of it. Much of the work I do will be laying the groundwork for future years, making them easier. I think.

The part came in for the tiller so that’s good as there is much tilling I need to do. I’ll run into town in a bit to get it. I’m having to make Cherie stay in bed and rest. She keeps wanting to get up and do things cause she’s feeling guilty about not working. She wore herself out at Janie’s yesterday and needs to get well from the flu so Dr. Bob is ordering bed rest.

There is so much I want to write but too much to do. I did finish the letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal article on traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately it ended up being several pages and is certainly too long to get published so I will post it here.
A friend who is familiar with my TBI problems emailed me this article. When I contacted Tom Burton he suggested that I send this to you.

I have a long history of undiagnosed head injuries that date back to when I was an infant. My grandmother told me of seeing bruises and other signs of abuse until my other (paternal) grandmother paid my mother for custody of my brother and I. There was always “something wrong” with me and I was sent to see psych doctors through out my younger years. I was the kid that never fit in, never had friends, and the one always picked on and beat up. My research on TBI leads me to believe I had Asperger’s Syndrome or at least was a high functioning autistic. This is very often associated with TBI’s. Despite having a very high IQ I had no social skills and pretty much was lost most the time. My military dad didn’t have a clue what to do with me so I spent most of my time locked in my room and was seldom allowed to be out of sight. At fourteen I got tired of being beat and ran away from home. I was sent to live with my grandmother in the small West Texas town I was born in.

Still without social skills I found acceptance of sorts with the drug crowd but never had a girl friend or got close to anyone. I ran into a car at about forty five MPH on the off road motorcycle I rode around town on when I was sixteen. Unbeknownst to me I broke my neck along with knocking myself silly though I never lost consciousness. The neck injury wasn’t detected till years later because I never went to a hospital, just stayed in bed for two weeks. Shortly after that I got more rebellious and in trouble with the law. I was given a choice of military service or prison. On my seventeenth birthday I was put on a bus to basic training.

Despite having only completed the ninth grade I easily passed my GED and had scored so high on the entrance exams was assigned to be trained as a crew chief on B-52s. But I had problems. Couldn’t fit in and couldn’t get along. Drugs were again my source of acceptance so I delved deeper into that realm. After the Vietnamese war ended I was “strongly encouraged” to accept an honorable discharge. It didn’t take long for me to get into trouble again and at nineteen was sentenced to ten years in the Texas prison system. This was for a packet of ground up aspirin and Alka-Seltzer I was selling for ten dollars as cocaine.

After two and a half years I was released and went to a bible college where I studied for the ministry. It was there I met and fell in love with the woman who would be my first and third wife. (I’ll tell about that in a bit) She was not only my first love but the first girlfriend I ever had. My social skills were much better by this time.

When I graduated we moved to Toledo, Ohio, where Cherie is from. There I was actively involved in the ministry and helped start a church. Things were going great until I fell out of a tree. I broke my back, neck, and sustained a concussion. This was when we discovered I had broken my neck previously as it showed up on the X-rays.

I went through a dramatic personality change that none of the doctors could explain. My ability to control my emotions was gone and I would fly off in rage at the slightest thing. This was an old problem that had plagued me my whole life, and its return was not a good sign. Cherie (my wife) tells me that even the way I talked to others changed. All of this scared her and we ended up going through a heartbreaking divorce.

It tore both our hearts out and for the next seventeen years we never saw or talked to each other. Cherie left town and traveled the country, coming to Toledo only when her parents needed help because of health problems. I got married but also drifted back into drinking and drug use. After five years I founded the first of three companies I would start up. It was successful and one year I employed 127 people.

My emotional control issues had subsided for the most part but I had a serious short term memory problem. This was compensated for by my efficient secretary who would remind me of where I needed to go and who it was I was talking to. In 1992 I founded my second business, a liquidation company. With two companies to run I worked about eighty hours a week but was able to handle all the fast moving complexities involved and they both thrived.

Then came another traumatic brain injury. Whether it was the car accident or a twenty foot fall off the pallet racking in my warehouse I don’t know. What I do know is my secretary tells me I became an “instant ass----“. It was probably a combination of both but the fall knocked me out and broke two ribs. Now everything began unraveling. My second marriage had always been unstable but now seriously deteriorated till she filed for divorce (after I caught her with another man).

I sunk into a deep depression that only accelerated how my entire life and everything I’d achieved was falling apart. I became addicted to the pain medication I was taking for the broken ribs and when that prescription became unavailable began using heroin. In addition to that I was drinking and using other drugs at a suicidal level to escape the reality of my failed life.

After filing charges against an employee I caught stealing (by this time the rats were taking as much as they could) his dad and wife accused me of selling them a stolen computer. Unable to rationally defend myself I just complied with my court appointed attorney’s advice to plead no contest and was convicted.

That was the last straw. My divorce was finally finalized so I signed the papers, packed everything I could into my car, and headed to Texas. Trying to make the twenty four hour drive without stopping I fell asleep just on the other side of Oklahoma City. I was flung out the back window as my car flipped end over end and initially pronounced dead at the scene. After being lifeflighted to the hospital I remained in a coma for about seven weeks. This was the third time I broke my neck. Without insurance I was taught how to walk and talk as quickly as possible and discharged into my brother’s care.

He took me to St. Louis and stuck me in a run down building with broken windows, giving me twenty dollars a week to live on. I struggled to a hospital because of my pain and being unable to sleep for days. When they discovered my situation I was put in touch with social agencies who began to get me the help I needed. This included being enrolled in the Brain Injury Institute along with physical rehabilitation. After testing me to determine the extent of my brain damage the Brain Injury Institute began to teach me how to function and live. This is the first time I have ever been diagnosed with a brain injury.

Unfortunately I had been placed on probation in Toledo when convicted of the “Receiving stolen goods” charge and had violated the probation by being in a coma and not reporting. Of course leaving the state was a violation as well so I would have been in trouble regardless. When check was done on me the warrant for my arrest showed up and I was extradited back to Toledo.

It wasn’t until then that I began to understand how much of my memory I had lost. When the court saw just how bad a shape I was in they decided not to violate my probation and placed me in a facility designed to reintegrate convicts being released into society. I was unable to get along, accept my circumstances, or even be rational, refusing to participate in fire drills and other similar behaviors so was put back in jail. Not knowing what to do with me and unwilling to bear the expense of getting me the help I needed I was kicked out onto the street to fend for myself.

There I wandered homeless, sleeping where I could and researching who I was at the main library. There I found articles and pictures about me and my companies. I walked for miles looking for anything familiar and when I did memories would often return. It took me four days of walking to find my former secretaries house even though I had lived next door at one time. She had been told I was dead because the police had been looking for next of kin when the wreck first happened. You can imagine her surprise to open the door and see me.

Still unable to function well in society I was kicked out of several homeless shelters. I emailed all of the local television stations asking for help and the ABC affiliate responded. They did a story calling me “Toledo’s John Doe”. I knew I had friends but couldn’t remember who they were. When the story aired many of my old friends saw me and called in to help. They got me off the street, giving me a place to sleep and providing meals.

One of the people who saw the story was my first wife, Cherie. What a shock it was for her to turn on the TV and see me, a homeless messed up man. She called in to help, initially because she knew so much of my past and could help restore these memories. When we finally met after carefully communicating by email for a month we both realized we had never stopped loving each other. It wasn’t long before we rekindled our relationship and remarried.

Getting off the street and finding the comfort of old friends, and Cherie of course, greatly reduced my stress, which allowed me to start healing and to be able to function in society. Being a veteran I was placed in the VA’s homeless program and began to get medical attention through them. Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur, who was sponsoring a bill to get TBI’s recognized under the American Disabilities Act, had me flagged for congressional interest. This helped speed my approval for Social Security disability. Otherwise it would have taken years if it ever happened. The VA, after extensive testing, also accepted that I had a disability so I was approved to receive a veteran’s disability pension.

It’s been seven years now since I had that accident. My brain has been steadily repairing itself and I do much better. I still have had problems getting along or fitting in. We were asked to leave one church in Toledo, and were more or less shunned at one here in West Texas. Through my blog, we have found people who have taken the time to understand the issues that come with a traumatic brain injury and have accepted us. What a joy, relief, and comfort it is to find acceptance and understanding. We now attend the church many of them go to. Right now Cherie and I are rebuilding our lives and marriage on the farm I inherited from my grandmother (whom I’d been going to see when I had the accident). It is a challenge to do so on a disability check but a farm is just what the doctor ordered. Less stress, more exercise, and everything moves at a slower pace I can keep up with.

It is so hard for people to comprehend when someone has no obvious outward signs of an injury. I can hold a normal intelligent conversation much of the time so folks think I am “normal”. They can’t see the confusion inside as I struggle to interpret what I see and hear. They can’t see my fear and paranoia of saying or doing the wrong thing and again being rejected. It’s hard when I don’t remember what I said a few moments or days ago. The most important and helpful thing others can do is to talk with me. To let me know what I said and tell me if it was inappropriate.

Anyway, I was glad to see the article and hope to see more as with knowledge hopefully understanding will follow. I had multiple TBI’s that were never diagnosed and have met many who also have unrecognized injuries yet must deal with the problems that come with them.

I’m sorry this is so long. I wrote Tom about two paragraphs and he suggested I revise it and send it to you. So you got a life story. Feel free to shorten or modify it if you feel it is appropriate for print. If not that’s fine. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

2/5/08 Tuesday
It’s been a decent day until now. It is 3:00 and I am having a bad slowdown so I came in. This morning I cut enough firewood out of the mulberry tree to keep us warm when it goes down to freezing tonight. Then I went to S&J’s to clean their yard. Cherie is still fighting the flu. I took her to Rosa’s for lunch. There is much I need to do but was just wandering around lost and confused. Yesterday was an interesting day that I want to write about but I’m having a hard time pulling my thoughts together so won’t right now. Hell, writing this much has been a struggle. I think it’s been a few days since I’ve had a seizure at this level.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

winds died down

2/2/08 Saturday
Cherie’s still sick. We finally found our thermometer and she’s running a 101 degree fever. I’m taking over home chores like cooking and just washed the dishes. It’s always a reminder when I do so as counter top level works really brings pain in the lower back. So strange that other stuff doesn’t bother me like the little stoop of washing dishes. I plan on being real busy to take advantage of the warm weather. I’m behind the eight ball on farm stuff so will push. Right now I must order the chimney parts needed to finish that job before I forget.