Monday, June 30, 2008

Cool weather

6/30/08 Monday
Yesterday the weather forecast predicted high temperatures of 93 degrees. This morning it is predicted to be in the seventies. This of course is great news. We had some more rain last night. Don’t know how much because we don’t have a rain gauge but the ground is nice and wet. This is the most moisture we have had all year and is a welcome sight.

With the cool temperatures and wet soil I’m going to be busting my butt to get as much tilled and planted as possible. I worked hard at it all day yesterday and had expected to finish all the tilling and at least get the rest of the melons planted. Things never seem to go as fast as I think they should. It is a common misjudgment I continually have. Perhaps it is related to the brain injury like my ability to judge what size container is needed to hold whatever it is I want to contain. I don’t know but I didn’t even finish tilling despite working at it till it was too dark to see, about 9:30.

So I am almost done tilling now. It’s 10:15 and I’ve been at it since 7:30 this morning. Was working on the last patch when I had one of those chest pains that occasionally show up. This one came with an instant headache so I shut off the tiller and came in. I just chewed up a couple of aspirin like I usually do when this happens and am laying down to relax. The pain has subsided and the headache’s gone almost as quick as it came. I’ll wait a few and go back to work.

Emergency room

6/29/08 Sunday
Yesterday, at about 4:30 in the morning Cherie woke me up. I had already been kind of awake hearing her walking around saying things like “I’m so tired” but never really became cognizant till now. “I think you need to take me to the hospital” she said. That woke me up. Cherie explained she had a burning pain on her left side down in the abdominal tract and that it was bad and getting worse. I asked questions like “Have you been able to go to the bathroom?” and “What did you have to eat?” to search out an answer. There wasn’t one for my limited knowledge of human ailments. I asked her if she could hold on and see if this passed in order to not incur the big bill that would come with a hospital visit because we have no insurance. She reluctantly agreed. Understand that I was more than willing to take her and eventually did but left the decision in her hands.

A few hours later she announced “I know what this is! It’s a kidney stone. I can tell because the pain has moved”. Come to find out Cherie has had three kidney stones prior to this so was familiar with this pain. I did what I could to make her comfortable. Asking if there was anything I could get she said “Cranberry juice and some popsicles” so I got in the car and went to the IGA when it was late enough for them to be open. By this time Cherie wasn’t very coherent or able to think well. Upon my return I asked if she would like a popsicle and she just stood there. “It’s a simple question” I said in frustration but she still didn’t answer. Finally she said yes so I unwrapped one and held it out for her. She looked at it blankly for a bit and finally said “Put it in the freezer”. Seeing as it was unwrapped and there was a whole box full I ate it. At 9:30 or so she decided we needed to go to the hospital. “This hurts more than the other times” she said.

She had called her mom for prayer and on the way called up Jen as well. Jen asked about coming to the emergency room and visiting as well as telling her she would put this out on the Simon Department (Our Sunday school group) internet thing. As Cherie did this I thought about how foreign it was to me. I can’t remember ever having or needing people I could call for prayer or support. I suspect they were there when I was a pastor but don’t recall much about that. What I do know is that I have always depended on myself and seldom if ever asked for help. This is one of the things that has changed since I woke from the coma. I have been brought down to where I do need the help of others but I’m still not good at asking for it. That is part of the humility that I am still being taught. It started with having my diapers changed in the hospital.

At the hospital they were busy. Cherie was in the reception area when I came in from parking the car. They called her name soon after so I followed her to the nurses’ station where they asked the standard questions and took her temperature and blood pressure. She was asked to give a urine sample so I went back out to the waiting room. After a bit Cherie came out with a strange smile on her face. Come to find out, when she gave the urine sample she passed the kidney stone. She could see it in the clear container they had given to her. She still was in pain but it was fading. We sat there for an hour or so waiting for her turn to be seen.

After discussing it we decided there was no sense in waiting because the problem was solved as far as we could tell. This would reduce the bill as well. Just as we came to that decision and were preparing to get up and leave Jen walked in. “You’ve got a visitor” I told Cherie, pointing to Jen. What a surprise it was and a blessing as well. It is so good to have friends like this who truly care and such a relief after our rejection in Stanton. We are truly blessed to know these good people. Jen took us out for hamburgers and malts at…a pharmacy who’s name I can’t recall. It has an old time style counter similar to the one in Stanton and makes great simple hamburgers like you make at home and great malted milk shakes. The store was full of neat nostalgic gift items too. We were tired, especially Cherie so we didn’t stay too long. It was great to visit with Jen and we talked about lots of things. She reads this so “Thank you Jen”.

We got some light rain that lasted till about noon or so. I had forgotten that I was to pick some blackeyed peas for Don so got out early this morning and picked them in the rain. I kind of like working in a light rain. Keeps everything cool and that’s quite a break from the normal heat out here. At church it was heartwarming to see how many had heard of Cherie’s kidney stone and expressed their concern and how glad they were to hear things “Came out OK”. (pun intended) We are touched.

I’m taking advantage of this cooler day and the wet soil. It’s only supposed to get up to 88 degrees or so. The tiller will be getting a workout for sure and I hope to get a lot of seeds planted, mostly the rest of the melons. Melons and squash I seem to have the most luck with out here. It is so late to be planting but like Jen said, if it works I’ll have melons when everyone else has run out. Cindy bought Cherie a canner and we picked that up from her at Sunday school. It’s exactly the same one she had been looking to get. Another blessing from our new family. The lesson in Sunday school was on the early church as described in Acts. In that first beginning of Christianity they all gathered together sharing and caring for each other’s needs some even selling their possessions to help others. How appropriate that is and how good it is to see people living what they believe in this day and age.

Friday, June 27, 2008

6/27/08 Friday
I worked till 10:30 last night ending the day as I usually do by watering the melons with emphasis on the newly seeded areas. As Cherie and I walked through the garden checking on things I received a shock. Some creature, probably a gopher, had gone right down the row of the Orange Glo watermelons digging holes to the roots. Each mound had two or three, and sometimes four, holes dug around the bases of each plant. What a discouragement. It pissed me off to say the least. I got the gopher poison and placed it in all the holes but don’t have confidence they will eat it. These are shallow holes, not the tunnels they run in.

Today I go into Midland to take care of Steve and Janie’s dogs. While there I will go online and order the castor beans that promise to be a good gopher getter. I was going to hold out till my check came at the first of the month but am motivated now. We will have to fence off an area to grow them and I’ll need help building that. Because the beans and the plants themselves are poisonous it is vital to protect the animals. It looks like the best place to get them will be E-bay because the seed catalogs only sell ten or so in a package. On E-bay I can get them in amounts like fifty or seventy five dollars. That will allow me to use some to poison the gophers and some to plant.

At some point I need to build fences around this garden. That will take money I don’t have yet and physical help. For the gophers the fence needs to include an underground barrier that goes at least two feet deep. Above ground it needs to be fine enough to prevent rabbits and rats out. My grandfather used sheetmetal, mostly steel roofing, that extended two feet into the ground and about a foot above. If I had a trailer I could get lots of the steel roofing and sheetmetal at the landfill. I’ve picked up some but most of what you see there is too big to fit in the truck. Chuck has a trailer I can borrow but it’s one of those made out of a short pick-up truck bed so won’t work for long pieces of sheetmetal. Eventually we will get a trailer, it’s one of those essential pieces of equipment we’ll need for the farm.

I finally got through to Agristar, the firm that provides satellite access to the internet for farms. They have had problems finding someone to install it in this area. The company they said will come out is called “Photo Prescription”. I know Hugh’s Satellite, the provider of the satellite service Agristar uses, was advertising for installers. Evidently all they found was some kind of photograph company that probably is just doing this for a little extra cash. Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence but we’ll see. Perhaps we will at last get the service we ordered over a month ago. I’ll give them a call in just a few to see what’s up.

Well that didn’t go far. All I got when I dialed their number was one ring and then silence. I tried the number five times with the same result. Agristar’s phone system is still out of service like it was yesterday.

It’s going to be another hundred degree day. Actually the weatherman predicted ninety nine degrees but I don’t see a difference in one degree. As far as I’m concerned ninety nine is a hundred. I’ll get as much done as I can but it doesn’t take long for the heat to render me useless. At least at Janie’s I can enjoy the air conditioning so I’ll head out there around one or so when the heat gets unbearable. Their dogs are digging up the yard real bad, mostly Zoie the puppy. She’s gotten down to were the sprinkler system is exposed and that will get expensive.

Time to get back out there and beat the heat.
The back pain is a little better but it didn’t take long pulling weeds before I had to come in and let the muscles untangle and relax, thus reducing the pain. At least I was able to keep at it till I finished the section that required pulling the weeds by hand. That took an hour. I should take a queue from the dogs. They always come in with me and immediately crash out, getting their rest when they can. I just can’t afford to do that, there is too much that needs to be done and too much that doesn’t get done.
6/26/08 Thursday
I was up watering the melons till 12:30 last night. I can’t remember if I skipped watering them the day before. Of course I can’t remember, that’s the bane of this brain injury. It is vitally important to keep the new plots I planted moist because the sun can bake the seeds while they are still in the ground. I know I spent a lot of yesterday mowing the rye in order to make mulch I could spread over where I planted the melons to protect them. It may be too late as they have been in the ground for days now.

The problem with the pain medication is it masks the pain and then I can work harder. That just aggravates the source of pain and probably reduces my bodies ability to repair the damage, or creates more damage. Anyway, I am back in pain again, to the point getting in and out of bed is an exercise in how to do it without causing too much hurt. With Cherie working I have set up a pad of paper to keep a record of when I take a pill. When she’s here I would just tell her. This helps compensate for the short term memory and will protect me from taking too many of them. Just now I came in to take one and got to typing. Now I don’t remember if I took it or not. Because of this it is possible for me to mistakenly take enough to cause an overdose. I could take a pill every five minutes because each time I would think it’s the first time. So now I make a notation of what time I take one.

Despite the high pain level I must get out and work. In this harsh environment skipping one day of water can kill the more delicate plants. Plus there is tons of weeding to do. There is always weeding to do. I haven’t been keeping up with it and can’t really say why. Do I just have other things more important that needs doing? Do I just forget? I know I constantly pull weeds as I water but there is much more to do. Right now bending over and pulling a weed is excruciating so I’ll avoid that. Even sitting on the ground and pulling weeds is pretty bad so that’s not an option. However, I can operate a hoe just fine. I bought a second one that has an extra long handle that works better for my six foot tall frame. As long as I can keep my back stiff and straight up it doesn’t hurt too bad. Plus I can push the mower without serious problem and there is plenty of mowing to do. Running the tiller is a different, that is hard on the back when it’s in good shape simply because it requires that slight stoop that kills me.

The black eyed peas are coming along well and some are ready to pick. Here’s where I have a problem. I’ve talked to several people who know about “truck farming” but I’m not sure how to go about it. How and what do I charge? Do I need to supply bushel baskets or bags? Should I just run an ad in the paper? Do I need a scale?

Last year Cherie and I waited till the blackeyed peas were dry before we picked them. We didn’t know any better because the peas and beans we’ve bought in the store were all dried except green beans and the like. When we were visiting with Jay and Jeanette the other day she laughed when she heard that. Jeanette was raised on a farm and told us about how to pick and…whatever you call getting the peas out of the pod. She called the skin or pod “Snaps” and explained how you cook some of them in with the peas. We’ve got lots to learn. Jay used to can his chili peppers along with lots of other stuff. They can teach us lots of good stuff.

So if any of you want some blackeyed peas just come on out. Bring something to put them in and I suppose that until we know how to do it you can just pay us what you want. Email us at for directions and to make sure we will be here. Actually email won’t work well because I only can go online twice a week or so. I’m hesitant about giving out my phone number but have to figure something out. We need a business phone so perhaps I should just make my cell phone the business phone. That’s something I’ll need to discuss with Cherie. Last night we went to Stanton and tapped into someone’s Wi-Fi while sitting in a parking lot. We are still waiting for the satellite internet to be delivered and installed. It’s been a month now. I tried calling the number this morning and just got a busy signal. That is so frustrating as the internet is a vital part of our life and this farm.

That’s it for now. I just got done watering the last of our apple trees. Out of nine there are four left. One of the things I want to do is take some college courses on agriculture with an emphasis on orchard and greenhouse operations.

It’s 11:00. One of the things I haven’t been tracking is my slowdowns (petite seizures). So I don’t have a clue if I’ve been having a lot of them or am in that part of the cycle where they occur rarely. I think I’m in that part of the cycle but sometimes I’m so tired, frustrated, and confused along with the pain, that it’s hard to tell the difference between that and a minor slowdown.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pushed too hard I guess

6/25/08 Wednesday
I guess I hurt myself. It’s not unusual for me to overdue it but this time it’s coming with a price. I hurt bad enough from loading the stones but unloading them put the icing on the cake. It feels like I pulled a muscle on the right side of my lower back, just above the hip. When I went to Janie’s Cherie met me there after she got off work. Jeanette (I think that’s her name. Am never sure) from next door came over to see if we wanted the kitchen cabinets they are replacing. When we went over she could see that walking was difficult for me so asked what was wrong. We visited with her and Jay (her husband) for a while. They gave me some ointment for my back. I guess it helped a little but at this point it’s hard to tell. Walking hurts, sitting on the bed is an exercise in pain, laying down I must do carefully but can’t be done without stressing the muscle. Even rolling over in bed is excruciating. There are always things that need to be done out here but I don’t think I’ll be doing much today. Perhaps the pain pill will help.

We got a little rain last night so that’s good. I’ll still need to water some but it takes the pressure off. There is so much to do that I’ll have to clench my jaw and do it, but I’ll be careful not to hurt the back more.

I just drifted off to sleep. Didn’t get much last night so am pretty tired.

Did it again. I suppose I should take a nap though it’s only 9:30.

I was able to get a few things done. My back eased up a bit by four or so.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I think I will make that a separate post so here’s the rest of what’s been going on. My pain level is unusually high today. This is due to what I did yesterday and when I did it I knew this would be the result. I’ve been meaning to get a load of rocks for a few weeks now and when we picked up some cactus when we got the bicycle for Cherie that a lady was giving away getting rocks became more important. That is because we need to make a rock garden to plant the cactus in. The bicycle we picked up is in bad shape and needs tires and a lot of work but Cherie wants it to help her get back into shape.

So I got rocks, lots of rocks, some really big rocks. It kind of rocked my boat picking some of these up but I gritted my teeth and pressed on, as I am prone to do. It hurt then and I knew it would hurt more later but that isn’t the kind of thing that will stop me. I don’t let much stop me. Pain is just an inconvenience that I live with every day. I resisted the temptation of taking two pain pills this morning. That’s something I won’t play with having gotten addicted to pain pills back before the wreck when I had broken two of my ribs. I didn’t get hardly any sleep last night because of it and getting out of bed is quite an adventure. By the time I got home yesterday walking was difficult to say the least but I had stuff to do so that didn’t stop me.
Here's the "Headlight" I got. It allows me to work long after the sun set.

But I didn’t water the melons last night like I needed to so watered them this morning. The black eyed peas seem to have grown pea pods overnight. I guess I haven’t noticed because I was working on so much other stuff. It’s gratifying to see them doing so well when so much other stuff has been hit so hard by the wind and heat. We also have some of the European melons forming as well. I can’t remember the name of them right now, something like Charentaise or something. I’ll look it up later. Don’t have time right now.

Cherie loves her new job and is happy to be back to work. She’s not too good at cleaning house but receptionist and office work is what she is good at. I am glad to hear she’s happy with this job. I just like her to be happy but there is nothing worse than working a job you don’t like. I’m not talking about cleaning house. She’s fine with that but it’s hard on her physically. She had some jobs in Toledo that entailed doing receptionist and office duties but the atmosphere was unpleasant to say the least. She would come home drained and depressed. It is good to enjoy your work.

I’ve got to run to Janie’s and take care of their dogs today. First thing is to get the truck unloaded. It’s a commercial truck but the stone weighs so much the bumper is almost on the ground. Unloading will be easier than loading it was, at least I hope it will be. I’ll have to put some black plastic down first so weeds won’t grow up between the stones. I’ll arrange everything later on and build on the wall then, right now I just want to get the truck empty before I go to Midland.

It's our anniversary!!!

6/24/08 Tuesday
There is lots to catch up on but first I want to write about what happened Friday. Cherie had gone to work for Carol, a friend from Sunday school, cleaning her house. It was an all day job and when she called me at five or so I could tell she was exhausted right away from her voice. “I don’t know what I’ll fix for dinner” she said so I suggested going out to eat. I know we are pretty poor right now but sometimes you need to just let go of those worries, and I felt that this was one of those times. Cherie thought that was an excellent idea. We agreed to go to La Mission, a Mexican restaurant we both like a lot. Cherie was indeed tired so we talked about that. Cleaning house is not something Cherie is keen about. She never had to clean much in her life being an apartment dweller with roommates most of the time. Plus she’s not in the best of shape so it is physically demanding for her to do for eight hours straight.

As we talked I asked her “How long have we been married?” It is not unusual for me to ask questions like that. I still have a problem with how old I am, thinking I’m fifty one or fifty years old when I’m fifty two. And I often am not sure what day it is. This is one of those strange glitches that comes with the brain injury. Anyway, when I asked the question Cherie’s eyes got real big and she said “Oh!!! Oh!!! Today’s our anniversary!!!”. Go figure. Of course it never dawned on me and if I hadn’t brought it up probably wouldn’t have till months later. So here we are having a nice dinner at a nice restaurant, something we rarely get to do, and come to find out it’s our anniversary. It really worked out nicely. So we’ve been married four years now though it seems like we’ve been together forever.

I was skinny and had a lot more hair in our first wedding.

Our first marriage lasted four years before we separated because of the drastic change of personality that was a result of the brain injury I received when I fell out of the tree that broke my neck, back, and gave me a concussion. I still can’t believe it when I look at Cherie, realizing she is back with me, that she is by my side. What a miracle it is. Just blows me away, but my whole life has been a series of miracles since I woke from the coma, and it’s still going on. Despite all my doubts I have to believe that God has done this and has something in mind for us.

Threaten my friend?

6/21/08 Saturday
I decided to run into Stanton yesterday, where I can go online through the Wi-Fi on this computer. Amy had sent me an email the day before telling me she had gotten a strange and threatening message that had come from my blog and asked if I had sent it. Of course I didn’t but asked what it said. So I got her reply, the message basically said that she better quit prying into others lives or she would find her life being pried into. The reason this showed up as coming from my blog is whoever sent it linked to her through her comments on the blog. So I must ask you readers, have any of you received similar emails??? I suspect that this came from someone in the Stanton community. I know I have rankled and upset some at the first church of Stanton. I have been honest and frank telling about our experiences in that church and that doesn’t go over well I have learned.

I recall a conversation I had last month with one of the locals. When I said that I believed in being honest and saying what you thought she told me that she didn’t like that and wouldn’t want to be around someone like me. This kind of thing puzzles me. There was a time where saying that a man was “forthright” was a complement speaking to the man’s honor and integrity. When I woke from the coma I determined to live this gift of life I have been given as good as I can. This included being honest and transparent. I actually was already of such mind before the accident and had posted on the walls of my showroom a placard that said “It only takes two things to get my respect. Say what you mean and do what you say”. In the world of criminals I have touched on in my past deceit is a mainstay and something to brag about. I heard tales of how they would suck someone in and gain their trust with their guile, and then take them for what they could. There are songs about this. One says “Smiling faces, sometimes hide a frown, smiling faces give no traces of the evil that lurks within”.

So someone has threatened a friend. Who I don’t know but it’s pissed me off. You don’t mess with my friends. And of course, whoever it was is a coward because they didn’t have the guts to leave their name. Now I may be wrong in what I’ve said but I don’t hide and am more than willing to accept criticism. In fact I ask for it and desire to be told when I am wrong. Then I am more than willing to apologize and change erroneous thinking. The fact is I often get confused or interpret things wrong, this is a common problem us survivors of brain injuries have.

Because of this I’m going to write a piece regarding the issues and thoughts I have from our experience in Stanton. It will be blunt, honest, and I’ll probably preach some.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hundred degrees

6/19/08 Thursday
It’s a hundred degrees out according to the thermometer we have outside the kitchen window. I don’t know how accurate it is but I’m sure it’s close. I generally work for about two hours out in it and then have to come in to cool off and recover. I’ve been in for an hour now so am about to head back out but wanted to make an entry in this journal first. I figured that the plants would be looking good after this rain we got but was real disappointed to see the tomatoes were looking rough. This morning I discovered that I had forgotten to turn the water to the strawberries off. That means it has been on for at least two days and nights straight, even through this hard rain we had. Not good at all. It is so frustrating to have these constant lapses of…I don’t know, just to keep forgetting things and have that damage or destroy what I’m trying to accomplish. Hopefully the strawberries will survive.

I called Jeffery at Agristar this morning to let him know that when I called the company that is to install our satellite internet they didn’t have a clue about it. He had called last week to give me their number and the order number and also said they would give us a month’s service for free because of how long it has taken. He said he would have to call back when he found out what was going on. It will be a tremendous help when we can access the internet whenever we need to.

I also called Patrick, our attorney, to let him know the letter he sent never arrived. He was puzzled about that and double checked out address. He had it right. I explained that this wasn’t something new, that we have had several pieces of mail just not show up, mail I know was sent and sent to the correct address. Some of this mail was from the VA hospital and caused problems when we didn’t get notifications of appointments or test results. I went to the VA administration office to confirm they had the correct address and information because of this. Now they call me to confirm appointments and stuff. The suspicious or paranoid part of my mind wonders if some nosey people in Stanton are intercepting the mail to see what I’m up to. Paranoia is a common problem with brain injuries and one I contend with daily.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Serious rain

6/18/08 Wednesday
We had some serious rain last night, which is always welcome. So this morning I got the tiller out to work now that the ground is soft and pliable. There was some serious damage done over the last two days when the storms moved through. We lost another panel off the greenhouse and some of the plants were broken off at the ground, but that’s nothing compared to other areas. The tiller is working great now. It sputtered and backfired at first and was hard to start but cleared up. That is a big relief.

We usually keep a window open so the evaporative air unit can work better. That way there is a better flow of air through the house. When the storm came through Monday night it came with a wall of sand. As we watched it approach Cherie and I both wondered about the darkness that was apparent on the ground level even though the storm was twenty or so miles away. You couldn’t really tell a difference between it and the rain you could tell was coming down. When it rolled in there was no mystery anymore. It was sand kicked up by the powerful wind that arrived with the storm. But that was coming out of the northwest. Sometime in the night the wind changed direction and came from the east. That’s the side of the house we had the window open because it was opposite of the wind direction at the time. When we got up everything was covered in sand. I remember getting up at two in the morning because of the noise of the wind and closing the window. That didn’t matter, the sand came through every crack in the house it could find, and there are lots of cracks.

A neighbor of Cherie’s friend, Jeannie, had her Mulberry tree split by the micro burst that took out so much of the north side of Midland. These micro bursts are strong downdrafts from the thunderheads that can cause hundred mile per hour winds. It twisted some of the metal stop lights and snapped many telephone poles in half. Jeannie called to ask if we could use the wood and we said we could. So right now the truck is seriously overloaded with wood. Even with over forty pounds of pressure the tires still look low.

I told our story to the owner of the tree service that came to finish taking the tree down. He’s a strong Christian and said we had really uplifted his day with this testimony. I asked about getting firewood from him and he said that is fine and he would deliver it if we pay for the gas. He also has lots of mulch from all the branches he chips up.

There is lots more I want to write but I am exhausted from tilling this morning and cutting the wood. Cherie and Jeannie helped load it but there is more than a ton and the larger pieces I had to do. I’ll be sore in the morning. Here are some great pictures I’ve taken over the last few days.

Gonna be a scorcher

6/16/08 Monday
It’s gong to be another scorcher today. The temperature this morning was eighty degrees at 7:00. Yesterday the weather guy predicted 106 degrees and this morning that was dropped to 103. There is not a big difference to me when it gets that hot. This is hard on the plants and hard on the hoses as well. I’ve had several blowouts. Was up till 11:30 last night getting water on the melon plants. I think they will be our best money maker. We are starting to see more of those big nasty grasshoppers in the garden. They are destructive pests chewing right through stems and leaving bare stalks behind.

I hope to get the tiller running better but don’t have a lot of confidence in that. I just don’t know much about it and being unable to go online to look up information adds to that frustration. Janie gave us an advance on our pay so we can write a check when the satellite dish is installed. I got a call from the Agristar (the company that makes satellite internet available to agricultural entities) rep Friday. He gave me a number to the company that is to install the system and gave us a free month’s service because it has taken so long. When I called the number the guy who answered didn’t even recognize the name “Agristar” and knew nothing about it. Not the most comfortable start of a relationship. The internet is such a valuable and even vital tool I hope they can get it together. There is so much I need to learn as I go through each day, such as the identities of the latest bugs that are swarming around the plants and what they do.

I’m getting out early before this heat gets up there. Cherie is making a couple of gallons of the green tea that I will probably drink before the day is up. John and Cindy from our Sunday school class said they would like to come out this week and help us work on stuff. Cherie said that Jen and Wally might come out too. We could sure use the help. When John asked when a good time would be I told him either early or late when the temperatures aren’t too bad.
Here's our new kittens. Today is landfill day as the garbage can is full. Monday’s are usually the day I go unless the garbage builds up before that. So I started the truck to let it warm up. I’m careful about that as I’m gonna baby this truck to get as many miles out of it as I can. Then I grabbed my tools in case I need them to take something apart at the landfill that interests me, and my gloves. I talked to Cherie a bit, loaded up the dogs cause they love to ride with me and investigate at the landfill, and headed out. I drove nice and slow to conserve gas, coasting up to the stop signs and accelerating at a gentle pace. The gas gauge is almost on E so that motivates me to conserve. Getting to the landfill I pull up to where I need to unload, put it in park, and get out. Going to the back of the truck I opened the doors and saw that I had forgotten to load the garbage. I’m not happy. It’s another slap to remind me I have this problem they call a disability. You’d think I’d get used to it and accept it but I don’t think so. I don’t want to accept it and won’t ever be used to it. I don’t like it and will always try to beat it.

So I came back home and Cherie wondered why I was angry till I explained what had happened. I loaded the garbage and headed back out, not at all happy about the gas I wasted. On the way back I stopped at a place I’ve been checking out every time I go by. It’s a nice little homestead that has horses and an area to ride them with barrels set up. I’ve been thinking about asking them what they do with the horse manure so decided this would be a good time. That way I get a little more out of the gas I used.

It was an older gentleman who answered the door. His name is Omert? Homer? Olmert? Or something like that. I didn’t want to ask him how to spell it as I thought it would be rude or something so just tried to listen when he repeated it for me. Still don’t know for sure. I explained what I had in mind and we talked a bit about it. During the summer there isn’t much as the sun quickly dries it out and the wind blows it away. During the winter it’s a different matter because the horses are in their stalls. He’s a real friendly guy and is more than happy to give it to us. What he’s been doing up till now is just spreading the horse crap out by the road during the winter so this will be good for both of us. We talked about truck farming, horses, goats (they have a few) and the Islamic religion. I plan on visiting some more and will bring Cherie to meet his wife. I know she will love to see the horses.

One of the things Olmert said was that he had moved here in 1962 so was still considered a stranger in these parts. What a sad commentary that is.

Hurray! We got rain.

6/14/08 Saturday
Hurray!!! We got rain!!! Not a whole lot but it was enough to soak the ground a bit and it came after the sun set so didn’t all evaporate out in a few minutes. This morning I need to get out there with the tiller while it is still wet. There is a whole lot of tilling that I’ve been waiting for some rain to do. Yesterday I had to where a handkerchief over my face as I tilled for, without much wind, the dust just billowed around me like a cloud. I don’t know how long it will take the sun to dry everything out but it won’t be long. I hope this was enough rain for the cotton farmers. If not they could have their worst year ever.

Anyway, times a wastin so I got to get out there.
Sure wish I could last longer out there. The tiller wasn’t running real smooth so I got out the manual to see what it said. It pretty much said “We don’t want you to work on it. Take it to the shop” but in not so many words. So I cleaned the air filter again and took the spark plug out to see what it said. It said the motor was running a little rich because of the black carbon deposits on it. I cleaned that and looking at the carburetor made an educated guess on which screw adjusted the fuel mixture. Then I made another guess on which way to turn it. Must have guessed right cause the tiller runs much better.

I forgot how much running that tiller brings out the back pain but was reminded in no uncertain terms. Now I remember writing how much better it would be if I could raise the handle a little. No biggie. No matter what the tiller saves me a ton of work and hurts a whole lot less than doing all of this by hand would. The garden looks a lot better with it tilled up where I had let the rye grow. This is all part of my playing with different ideas of how to do things, all part of my education. What I think I’ll do next year is to plant the rye but keep mowing it down. Where I mowed it this year the rye stayed green longer and kept growing, almost like a grass. When it went to seed it dried out. Of course the drought contributed to that too. Regardless, where the rye is there are far fewer weeds. The weeds are still there but not nearly as bad as other areas. I’m going to till the areas where I mowed the rye under just a few inches. My hope is this will help the seed that is in the rye heads germinate into a new crop of grain. I’ll run the sprinklers to help out. It will sure be nice when I can do something about this water system, like put in a new well up here near the house.

Boy am I tired. Keep almost falling asleep when I close my eyes just for a second. But it’s 2:00 and that’s when I often must take a nap. It’s just not convenient to need to do this when there is so much I want to do. But an hour’s nap does wonders to refresh me so I guess it would be a good idea. Cherie gave me my haircut this afternoon. She’s gotten real good at that and it saves us a lot of money. It’s ten dollars worth of gas to go to Midland and a cheap hair cut costs about ten bucks if I remember right.

Well that was demoralizing. I went out at 3:00 and started the tiller up again. It’s running crappy again. I really don’t want to take it into a shop because that always costs money. I’ll have Cherie dig up the invoice to see when we bought it. If it wasn’t too long ago maybe Tractor Supply will adjust whatever needs adjusting. It’s worth a shot. So it’s only 4:20 and feels like a hundred degrees already. The ground is dry now. That didn’t take long. It was nice and moist even several inches deep but now the tiller was just kicking up clouds of dust like before the rain. I’m wiped already. An hour out in this heat kicks my butt. I need to build terraces for the tomato and other plants out there. First I must drink two large glasses of green tea and cool off in front of the fan. Cherie ran into Midland to pick up her pay for the housekeeping she does. I think maybe I should work on the business plan that Texas Rehab needs and wait till it begins to cool off before I do any more outside work.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Still hot

6/13/08 Friday
It’s another hot day with a lot more to come. I see that the last entry I made in this journal was Monday so now I have to piece together what happened. Don came to visit yesterday. He was glad to get out of the house now that he can move around on crutches. Despite that he went out to look at the garden with me. I think I talked more about what I haven’t done in the garden than what I have. He brought over a huge oak rocking chair that his daughter gave to us. I hope to refinish it sometime in the future but don’t have any confidence that will happen. I just don’t have much confidence in myself right now. My track record is pretty bad.

Out of the ninety afghan pines we planted to make a wind break only fourteen still live. Some of them are in such sad shape I don’t have a lot of hope for them. I can’t blame this on the gophers. Sure they took out some when we first planted them but I pretty much have killed the rest by not keeping up on watering them. This hundred degree heat hastened that. Every day I would get up and think “I need to water the afghans” but it would never happen. I just forget, and forget, and forget again. I stay busy but get little done. I paid the twenty dollars it takes to fill the propane tank up and tried to blow up the gopher tunnels with out success. The other day there were more potato plants dead so I got it out again. Perhaps just filling the tunnels with propane will work by making the air unbreathable. So I put the hose down the hole and turned it on. I ran up front to turn water on, get gloves, or something. Hours later I noticed the tank sitting out and remembered I was gassing the gopher tunnels. It was empty. This is typical and frustrating. Just about everyone we talk to say they have the same problems forgetting things but it’s not the same. I’m like the eighty year old who puts a pot on the stove and forgets, thus being a danger to themselves and others around them.

They had a piece on the news about heat exhaustion and heat stroke because it has been so hot lately. When they listed the symptoms I realized I have been dancing on the edge of this for as long as it’s been hot. Sweating profusely I do anyway so never thought much about it. Getting dizzy is also something I commonly endure because of the brain injury and is often a part of the petite seizures, so I never equated that to heat exhaustion, or at least never thought much of it. The lightheaded disorientation is also something I regularly experience from the TBI so wasn’t significant to me. Seeing all of these listed helped me realize that I experience all of them after being out in the heat for an hour or two. But that won’t change much. I work till I get weak and tired and come in to cool off anyway. Plus I drink a gallon or two of the green tea Cherie makes. I’m in right now to do that. Lots of times I fall asleep when I do.

I’ve been mowing and then tilling between the rows for the last two days. Pretty much have to because the weeds and sticker grass are growing despite the rye.
I’m back already. Went out to do some more mowing and I don’t think I made it an hour. One of my hoses burst so I fixed that. This is a regular event as most of my hoses are the old used ones I pick up from the landfill or are given to me. Laying out in this Texas sun does them in pretty quickly. Anyway, I didn’t last long out in this heat. This morning the humidity was at 65% and I’m sure it’s still up there. Unfortunately this means the evaporative air conditioner doesn’t cool the air as well but it’s still better than outside. Our electric bill is now over a hundred dollars because we run it so much. If we had a regular air conditioner it would probably be around three hundred dollars and we can’t afford that. When I come in I just strip my t-shirt off and sit in front of the fan till the sweating slows down. Otherwise my pillows will get soaking wet when I lay down. They get wet anyway. There is not much wind out there and that makes it worse. I was complaining about how bad it is to have a hundred plus degree wind blowing in your face but now would rather have that. At least then the sweat evaporates quickly, thus cooling you down some.

So I’m not getting much done. I’ll have to call it quits till later this evening when it cools down some. It was still ninety one degrees out at ten o’clock last night so even that is still warm. There is so much to do but I’m just not up to it, not in this heat. It’s 3:30 now and I’m tired as I often am at this time of day so I guess I’ll take a nap.

Never took the nap. Cherie got her check for the one day of work she did subbing for a receptionist so I can get enough gas to get to Midland and back. I need to go so I can poop scoop for Janie as well as draining the dog tank and putting fresh water in it. Gracie, the cat we got from Janie’s garage, went in to get fixed today. That will slow her down for a bit. She’s not warming up to the new kittens very well but that’s to be expected from a cat that lived on the street for a while. Poor Rascal wants to play with them in the worst way, whimpering in her frustration when she can’t join in. They hiss and get all upset when he tries. The only way Rascal knows how to play is roughhousing with Trixie. When he first tried I thought he was attacking them so smacked him to say “no”. He watches them play intently with his tail wagging, just wanting to join in but not knowing how.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The day after

6/9/08 Monday
It’s the day after my birthday. The depression I fight so much has sunk in again. It has nothing to do with me being another year older. Fact is every year I get is a blessing just like every day I wake up, so these are things I appreciate and rejoice about. Just yesterday Cherie and I talked about what our lives would have been like if we hadn’t once again found each other. It wouldn’t have been good for either of us. So our lives are a miracle of providence. Providence? I’m not sure if that’s the right word but it seems to fit everything that has happened since I woke from the coma.

My son Bruce in Iraq

So what is the source of this depression? Cherie says it’s connected with the birthday and perhaps that is partially true. My mind has been dwelling on the two boys I raised from the second marriage. There has been little contact with them and that is mostly my fault. I keep thinking of sending them emails but it never happens. I only get to go online once or sometimes twice a week and am usually rushed as we are over at Steve and Janie’s when I do. There I have work to do and always need to get back here to the farm where I am always behind. So in the rush I consistently forget not just emailing Bruce and Adam (My two boys) but many other things I want to do. When we get our satellite service hooked up that will help for I can go online and do things when I think about it. In addition to my boys I’ve been worrying about Eileen, my former secretary and good friend. What I heard from her daughter was disturbing to say the least. So I’ve been thinking about Eileen and several other friends in Toledo who I’ve lost contact with because they moved or something. It would be so good to be able to go to Toledo and spend a couple of weeks visiting with them. I know Texas is home now but Toledo is where I spent twenty five years of my life so I miss it. Up until I married Cherie and moved to Toledo my life had always been on the move, growing up military where we moved around the world never staying in one place more than two or three years. Then my early adult years were also on the move but that’s another book.

Then I suppose there is the frustration of getting this farm going and the constant fight to overcome the problems that come with this brain injury. I am surrounded by my failures to follow through and the consequences of it. Every where there are piles of unfinished projects laying around but speaking to me, reminding me I didn’t accomplish another goal. And there is the constant wind, a hundred plus degree heat, and no rain that wreaks havoc with so much we are doing around here. And no money, that doesn’t help either. I’ll pull out of this as I always do but it’s no fun when this depression hits.

It’s so strange to just wake up like this and not be able to make it go away despite logic telling me there is no good in allowing this to continue. If I could blow some of these gophers a hundred feet into the air that would lift my spirits I suppose. But that requires oxygen and getting oxygen requires money. Someone in Sunday school said that castor beans will get rid of them. He worked for the telephone or power company and said they used them where the gophers would be eating the underground lines. Said they killed the gophers and worked real good. I don’t know where we can get them but I remember seeing them in seed catalogs so we can grow them for next year.

Cooled down???

6/6/08 Friday
I suppose you could say it’s cooled down now, relatively speaking. The high is predicted to be ninety seven degrees. Anything less than a hundred is good right now. The heat and strong wind burned the edges of the leaves on just about everything I have growing. Each one has a brown edge now. It just flat out killed some of the pepper plants.

After losing another potato plant I decided to go ahead and get the propane torch Harbor Freight has on sale. I’m inspired by the video I saw on U-tube where two guys were injecting propane into the gopher tunnels igniting it. You can see the earth rise as the explosion runs the length of the tunnel, clearly marking it’s path. This seems to be an effective way of destroying the gophers and their tunnels. From what I’ve read other gophers will reoccupy old tunnels whenever they can so destroying them is good.

Unfortunately the torch set up I got won’t work. I carefully uncovered the tunnel that led to the latest potato plant and, setting the nozzle into it ran the propane at full strength. When I went to light it almost nothing happened. Because gophers keep all their holes plugged the gas mixture was unable to flow through and fill the tunnels. This is partly due to the design of propane torches which mixes air with the gas simply by jetting the propane into a nozzle that is open and allows air to be drawn in. So what I need is a tank of pressurized oxygen such as used with a welding torch. This will force a gas air mix into the tunnels and I am sure is what the guys on U-tube did. But this will cost more money and the budget is tight. Perhaps we can find someone who has a bottle I can borrow. A small new empty bottle costs seventy bucks at Harbor Freight and still needs to be filled. Perhaps you can rent these. I don’t really know but need to find out. Gophers are a serious problem, cause serious and expensive damage, so require serious measures. They will always be an issue.

It looks like we have added a new member to the family. It’s the cat that wandered into Janie’s garage. Her name is Gracie. Janie graciously covered the cost of taking her to the vet and having her fixed. That will happen next week. Gracie is seven months old and other than having tapeworms is very healthy. It will take a while for Carman kitty to get used to this intruder to his domain but he will. Gracie already has commanded the dogs respect through some aggressive hissing and claw action. She jumped right at them, not far but enough to let them know she wasn’t taking any guff. But at the same time she keeps out of their inquisitive reach.

Milk jugs we use to protect some of the plants.

Chuck and Lillian have a bunch of kittens we had expressed interest in getting to keep the rats and other rodents population down. I think we will still do that. Tommy and Jamie stopped by yesterday to deliver an invitation to Chuck’s birthday party tomorrow. He’s turning fifty. My birthday is Sunday so it’s real close to his. They mentioned that they would probably take five of the kittens to the animal shelter. I think we will get maybe three of them. Cats don’t last long out here, at least outside ones don’t and these will all be outside cats. We may let Gracie go out but she will mostly be an inside cat.

I seem to be pretty drained today. Cherie thinks it’s because of how much time I’ve spent in the heat the last few days. That probably has something to do with it. But there is so much that needs to be done and I am always behind on it. I’m just tired all the time and when I come in to take breaks from the heat I often drift in and out of sleep.

Too much heat

6/5/08 Thursday
Yesterday we went to see the lady at the Texas rehabilitation office in Big Spring. I was surprised to find that she really has a handle on the issues I face with the brain injury. It was real encouraging. We need to put together a business plan now for the farm. They will use it to provide help to accomplish these goals. It sounds exciting but I have a hard time putting too much hope in it. There is a part of me that waits for it all to fall apart because some minor detail doesn’t line up with the governments rules. It has been my experience in the past. But there is hope and that keeps me going. I had a hard time keeping up with all the things she was saying but that’s why I make sure Cherie is there for stuff like this. She helps fill in the voids my injury causes. Together we can do most anything. One of the things I said we could use help with is finding the funding that is available through so many sources and filling out the paperwork to access it. We were told about ten thousand dollars in grant money that is available through a branch of the Farm Services Administration for drip feed irrigation earlier this year but never followed through on it. This is the kind of stuff I get confused about and not following through is a constant and serious problem we have.

It looks like we will finally get a break from the hundred degree heat. I can’t remember how many days in a row it was triple digits but I am sure it was at least seven. Today will be 101 degrees but after that it will be in the mid to high nineties. I suppose that could be considered “cool” temperatures, relatively speaking. The soaker hoses we invested in pretty much saved many of our crops. I picked up some more soaker hoses at the landfill when I took our garbage out there the other day. Some of it is damaged but I can piece together lots of usable sections.

Cherie is at a day long seminar connected to the website we purchased last week. I don’t remember if I wrote about that. There is so much I haven’t been recording here lately. Part of that is due to how drained I am at the end of these hot days. Hell, I’m drained by noon lately.

So this website thing started with a sales flier that was an invitation to a “conference” regarding making money on the internet. We knew it would be a ninety minute sales pitch but it came with a free meal and business organizer so “what the hell” it’s a free meal. We already purchased a domain name and website but have yet to create the site. A website is a vital part of the business plan I’ve been working on. Despite telling ourselves we wouldn’t buy anything it looked like a real good deal so we purchased the site. Mostly because it is already set up with a shopping cart and PayPal so folks can order products. These things cost extra on the Go daddy site we have already gotten and when it’s all said and done the math works. This site is cheaper. Unfortunately, when Cherie later looked into this company she found there have been lots of problems and even several lawsuits with them. They are called “Stores”. Now there were good reports along with the bad so it may be ok.

I know the seminar Cherie is at is designed to sell us more stuff to go along with the site, things like tools to get us to show up at the top of the list for Google searches but think Cherie is able to resist the sales pitches. At least I hope so. I was to go with her but there is so much to do here I opted out.

We found a good deal on a shade cloth for Steve and Janie’s kennel so drove to Odessa and got it for them. With these temperatures it is dangerous for her dogs to be out in the sun. That made it important to us as Steve and Janie have been such a tremendous help. It feels good to give back a little. Wish we could do more. So we stopped by their house with it to see how well it would fit. Fits real good.

Janie and I worked to get it up at least temporarily and when she went into the garage to find tie wraps we heard a subdued “meow”. “NO WAY” were the first words out of Janie’s mouth. Sure enough, a cat had wandered into the garage at some point and gotten trapped when the door was closed. I had noticed it wasn’t closed all the way a day of five ago so that’s probably when the cat got in. It’s a beautiful dark grey cat that was obviously used to human contact from the way it took to Janie’s embrace. The cat probably escaped from it’s home and has been on the street for quite a while. The poor thing was just skin and bones, in real poor shape from that standpoint. Janie is allergic to cats and their two hunting dogs would probably make short work if it so keeping it wasn’t an option. We have been thinking of getting a cat or two to keep the rodents down so decided to adopt it. First thing will be to get it to a vet and have it checked out. I would also like to try and find the owners to return it, but odds are against that succeeding. Cherie dropped it off at Janie’s this morning and Janie will take it to her vet.

We decided to get the satellite internet hookup that was offered to members of the Farm Bureau. The invoice came a couple of days ago but we don’t have to pay it till they come and install the satellite dish. Don’t know when that will be. As much as we would like to have it yesterday I hope it will be a few weeks from now. This month is when my birthday is so that means things like vehicle registration are due so it cramps the budget somewhat. Still we look forward to once again having that powerful tool at our fingertips. There are so many times I need to look up things like how to plant or care for crops and can’t until I drive to Midland. The journey there and back now costs ten dollars with the price of gas going up. Fill ups on the truck now cost over a hundred dollars. Besides that, when I do go to Steve and Janie’s, where I go online, I often forget what I wanted to look at and just have time to post on the blog and check my email.

I’ve got lots to do but wanted to at least put these notes down. It will be a very windy day along with hot so protecting the plants is on top of the list. Despite aiming to mow lots of rye for mulch over the last few days none got mowed. Hopefully that will change today. It is frustrating to constantly not do what I intend to. But this has been a busy week with the website conference and yesterday’s meeting with the rehab lady. Plus we went to Odessa to get the sunscreen cloth. Time to get out into the wind and heat and get things done.

The gophers took out another potato plant. That makes four now and I’m sure they are not done. Fact is they won’t quit till they are dead and in the meantime I’m sure the well fed things are making lots of babies. The poison doesn’t seem to be very effective. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and spend some money to make something I can pump propane into their tunnels with and blow them up. They are just killing me. I’ll start creating barriers that go at least two feet into the ground around the garden beds. I’ll start when I’m able to and I don’t know when that might be. In the meantime I’ll keep collecting pieces of sheetmetal and steel roofing from the landfill to use for this. Perhaps someday we will have the funds to rent a trencher that can dig the trenches I can insert the sheetmetal in. Digging it by hand isn’t really feasible. It would kill me.

It’s eleven now and I’m in for my first real break. I’ve come in a few times to get something to drink but this time I’ll lay down and give my back a rest. My fears about the greenhouse being able to survive this West Texas wind have been confirmed. Last night was the first real wind we’ve had since I got it put together. Several panels have broken and blown out and an aluminum brace broke. And this isn’t even a bad wind, maybe thirty miles per hour or so. It might be worse, I don’t know. It’s a shame it’s coming apart. I’ll see what I can do to make it survive. We don’t need it for this season but it will help us get a jump start on next year.