Monday, October 27, 2008

desperate times

10/27/08 Monday
Desperate times make desperate people who do desperate things in order to survive. This city traps those who live in it with this desperation, a desperation that covers the city like a thick black tar pooling in the lower parts to kill all life immersed in it.

I just talked to Suzie in Toledo. That's the city I wrote about in the first paragraph.(Thought I better say that in case someone interpreted it as referring to any local municipality here in West Texas) More later, maybe.

There is so much I need to write about but haven’t gotten too. Right now I have to climb on the tractor I borrowed from the old man and mow the five acres. Been busy for a week and haven’t written a thing. Hope I’m up to it when I get done. Be patient. I’ll be back. Got work to do.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Toughing it out

10/21/08 Tuesday
I got up and got going early. Picked up the trailer from Chuck and Lillian and went to get straw and manure from the old man. That took three trips and there is more to get. Unfortunately I am having a slowdown now, it’s 2:30. The dogs escaped from the kennel again despite all the work I put into making it secure. They discovered that I didn’t wire it down on the back side and actually moved the entire kennel over to take advantage of that. I didn’t wire it because it was against the fence so I figured it would be secure. Damn dogs are smarter than I am. I should lay down now but there is too much to do so will tough it out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's been one of those days

10/20/08 Monday
It’s been one of those days. I remember telling Cherie that I was a little more vacant than usual. I’ve been forgetting things a lot. We went to Lowe’s to buy a screen door and when we walked out I saw a dent above the front wheel of my truck. “Someone ran into the truck” I angrily told Cherie and went back in to see the manager to get him to review the surveillance tapes to see who did it. Their camera’s don’t cover that particular area so there was nothing to see. When Cherie and I went back out I looked more closely at the dent and saw that there was undisturbed dirt on it so it wasn’t a recent thing. That’s a problem with this memory loss, especially on the visual part of my memory, which is most affected. I can watch an entire movie and when I see it again at a later date most of it is totally new to me again. This damage on the truck could have well been on it the day I bought it over two years ago but when I walked out and saw it today it was brand new. Not every day is like this but there are times when this problem is more…evident?... active?...I don’t know, it just comes and goes like the slowdowns. It’s probably a form of slowdown. There have been times I would be driving along and suddenly not recognize anything or know where I was going. Kind of like I had been transported to another city or something. When it happens I keep driving till something becomes familiar and the knowledge of where I was going returns. This doesn’t happen much nowadays but used to be a regular event when we lived in Toledo. Back then Cherie and I would drive out of the apartment parking lot and at the corner I would have to ask Cherie where we were going and what direction I needed to turn. I’m glad that doesn’t happen much anymore. It hardly happens at all now but today was a reminder of how far I’ve come. It’s like being on drugs with out the drugs.

I worked for the old man this morning. It was about dinner time when I remarked to Cherie about how tired I was. “Gee, I’m sure tired and I don’t think I did anything all day” I said. Cherie reminded me that I had worked for him this morning and then I remembered. It’s been one of those days.

Suzie called today. For those of you who don’t know, she is my former secretary’s (the one who was killed by the heroin addict whom I flew to Toledo to bury) daughter. Things are pretty rough for them now with Toledo’s economy going down the drain. Calvin, her husband, can’t find work as the unemployment rate is something like twenty percent. Their car died so they must walk everywhere. Their three children can’t make it to school unless someone can be found to drive them. Suzie asked if we could help them buy a truck that Calvin can use to make some money scrapping metal or whatever else he can find. He can get one for $350.00. If they had asked last month we could have done it but with Cherie losing her job and my disability check probably going to get cut we can’t afford to. I told Calvin that if he could make it down here there is tons of work and he could stay with us till they got back on their feet. That’s a hard thing. They have three teenage kids, two daughters and a son, so just up and moving to Texas isn’t an easy proposition and leaving them to come here and work is just as hard. I want to fly up there and save the day but that’s not how it works is it? Calvin is a jack of trades and is able to do lots of things from carpentry to driving a truck but he doesn’t have a CDL license so can’t do that. Any ideas out there? They are family to me and I've watched the kids grow up and have been involved in their lives over the last thirteen years so have deep concern.

I’m tired so goodnight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Didn't go to church

10/19/08 Sunday
I didn’t go to church this morning. Yesterday was another lost day where I got very little done. This time it was not because of a slowdown. I bought three hundred and fifty pounds of rye and winter wheat. Unloading it took my back out so doing much of anything was excruciating. Even the pain pills didn’t help much. There were other things going on but I can’t remember right now. I’m a bit slow, running a five on the bob scale. (That’s a one to ten scale I use as a measure of cognitive ability. Seven is my average)

There is so much to do and so much that hasn’t been done. Keeping this journal up has suffered too. Because I need it to remember what has happened I’ll jot a few quick notes while I can remember them. Janie took us out to eat either yesterday of Friday. We met a new friend whom Janie found via a blog. She is a manager of an Odessa restaurant we like and was transferred here from the Dallas area. The kid Steve and Janie are “Big Brother” (I think that’s the program name) to was there as well. He’s a ball of energy and eats like a horse. Real good kid with a great attitude.

Ben, the golden retriever we rescued from the interstate, finished off our screen (or storm, not sure what it’s supposed to be called) door the other day. Cherie had damaged it a while back when she fell headfirst into it but when Ben jumped on it he broke it all the way. I priced them and it will cost at least $88.00 to get a new one. Fortunately we have a few bucks left from our trip to Toledo so we can afford it. That won’t last for long. With Cherie not working now and my disability check fixing to be reduced or stopped all the way things will get tight so it’s back to serious frugality. We spent a lot when we went to Toledo but don’t regret it. This was our vacation and a time to enjoy seeing family and friends. Some of the money we gave to Suzie to help them out.

I just finished repairing the kennel. Should have done it before we left for Toledo but never did. The strays are wandering far lately and that worries me. I think that started when we went to Toledo. Gretchen is in heat so that is probably a factor. Of all of them Ben is the one I most want to keep. My heart goes out to Gretchen and Scooter as I have a great empathy for all who have been abused and rejected, whether human or animal, but if they disappear it will just be a sad part of life in the country. Rascal and Trixie are the ones we raised from puppies and part of the family. If something happened to them it would break our hearts.

My anger level has been high lately. Part of this stems from a call I got from a collection agency. Before we moved here we had joined Direct Buy, a company that offered name brand products at true wholesale prices. At the time we had the mistaken belief that there would be a substantial amount of cash as part of the inheritance so figured it was a wise thing to do as we planned to renovate this house and purchase new appliances. My brother’s greed and unwillingness to try and work things out made that not happen so we were unable to make the payments and unable to purchase anything. I was going to write a letter to them and explain our situation with the hope of getting out of the contract but that was just another one of the many things I never followed through on. So we are stuck with a membership to a buying club that we never used one time. I think we made a $1200.00 down payment and the collection agency said we owe another $3000.00. I tried to explain but the lady was rude so I lost it, cussed her out, and hung up. They will be coming after us for money now. If Cherie gets a job her wages will be garnished I’m sure and they could go after our property and put a lien on the house. All of this for a product we never used one time and are unable to use. That’s four grand out the window.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We made it back

10/16/08 Thursday
We made it back. What a trip this has been. We never sat still as we tried our best to see as many people and get as much done as we could in the short time we were there. It didn’t take us long to see there was no way we could get it all done in the time we had allotted to be there so we extended everything by a day. It would have been two days but we didn’t pack enough extra medicine so kept it one day. Even that wasn’t enough. Things went smoothly coming back until the last leg from Dallas to Midland. The plane we were to take broke down in Houston so didn’t make it. They found another one but couldn’t find a pilot so had to call a flight crew in. they couldn’t make it in till the flight was two hours overdue. That kept us from picking up Rascal and Trixie because the kennel closed at six and we didn’t get there till 6:30. Plus the tire was nearly flat on Cherie’s car that we had left in the long term parking lot. Parking cost $25.00 for the week, not as bad as we thought it would be.

It sure felt good to be home, to see familiar sights and smell the oil. Driving to the house you could feel the tension as we got closer and closer. It wasn’t bad tension. We both wondered what we would find and longed to lay in our bed and just conk out so there was worrying and longing mixed in that tension. Pulling in the drive we were greeted by all three of the strays, Ben, Gretchen, and Scooter. It was good to see they survived the week and they expressed how happy they were that we came back and didn’t abandon them. They were out of food so were quite hungry. Mark had stopped and checked on them for us but we didn’t have any extra food so they may have been out a couple of days. We discovered that Gretchen had gone into heat while we were gone so odds are she will be having puppies. It’s a shame we couldn’t afford to get her or Ben fixed before this happened.

The cats were fine in the house though they got into everything they could while we were absent. What a mess that is. Unfortunately Carman Kitty got into something so we had to take him to the vet this morning. She said it looked like an allergic reaction of some type. Carman was fine last night but in bad shape this morning. The vet gave him shots and will keep him overnight.

We picked up Rascal and Trixie this morning as well. Boy were they happy to see us and we were just as happy to see them. They are our babies you know. Right now Rascal is on the bed sleeping as I write this. Trixie is somewhere sleeping too. They got as much rest over the week as we did, not much. The lady at the kennel said both of them never quit barking and weren’t very friendly. That’s a shame as we hoped being in the kennel would help them become more social. Oh well.

There is so much to do we don’t know where to start. When we got home we found two boxes sent by K’s Chimney to replace the wrong parts they sent before. Both boxes contained the wrong parts again. One of them was sent overnight air. I called them about it but don’t have much confidence in them at the moment. Next Saturday we are having a gang of folks out to help work and fix things around this house and farm. Fixing the chimney is a big part of that but can’t be done without the right parts. I hope they can get it together.

That’s it for now. There is much I need to record about our visit home but we are both wiped and have much to do so that will have to wait. Just thought y’all would like to know we made it back.

Friday, October 10, 2008

We're heeeere

10/10/08 Friday
We made it. Flying sure beats driving for sure. If we drove it’s two days on the road each way, which makes four long exhausting days on the road. Plus the price of gas actually makes flying cheaper, or at least close to it. Gas prices here are amazingly cheaper than in Texas. It was $2.87 at one place. You’d think that it would be cheaper down in oil country where they make a lot of the gas for this country.

It was wonderful to see the trees from the air. They are starting to change to their fall colors. Ahh, trees bigger than houses, that’s something we miss. What they call trees in West Texas are just big bushes to us. Yeah, that’s a little exaggeration but not much. I guess a little Texan is wearing off on me. You can find trees in the city where they are watered and cared for but out in the desert it’s not to be.

There is so much we want to do that scheduling will be important. Last night we were exhausted and hungry, not having eaten dinner yet, but it was important to call the folks and let them know we were here. We went over for a short visit with them. Mom had broken her foot several months ago and it still hasn’t healed up so she still wasn’t supposed to be on her feet much but it’s hard to keep her down. Dad was sharp and looked a lot better than Cherie expected considering he’s been going through radiation treatments for cancer. It was good to see that. Cathy is worn from the tremendous burden she’s carrying taking care of mom and dad on top of working and her kids. What a load she carries on her shoulders. I’m impressed by her commitment and fortitude.

I called Suzie this morning and talked to her a bit. We’re heading over there right now and then I’ll run Cherie over to mom and dad’s where she will join them for lunch with her aunt and uncle, who’s fiftieth anniversary party we’ll be going to Saturday.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We'll be leaving tomorrow.

All those little spots down there are oil wells. They cover the land all the way to the horizon and keep going for hundreds of miles

10/8/08 Wednesday
Well we’re leaving for Toledo tomorrow morning. Both of us have been busy preparing for this trip. Cherie handled all the detail things like arranging for Rascal and Trixie to be kenneled as well as car rental, hotel reservations, and a whole list of other things I’m lost on. The other three dogs we will let run free. They were strays when we got them so should be fine. I’ll make sure they have food and water. We called Mark and Pam to let them know we are going and asked them to come and pick as much stuff out of the garden as they can so it doesn’t go bad. They will look in on the dogs as well. The cats will have the run of the house and all the food they could want as we will pour out a twenty pound bag for them to eat on. We will leave a bucket under the leaky faucet in the tub so there will be plenty of fresh water. That and a big bag of cat litter in two bins should do the trick.

I’ve been focused on the farm, doing things that I would be doing anyway, trying to mow weeds and keep up with the garden. The pumpkins are pretty much done for, a total loss. If I get five regular pumpkins out of the hundred and twenty plants I’ll be lucky. A lot of this stems from the five days I was gone to Toledo for Eileen’s funeral. Just five days at a crucial time, it rained and the squash bug population just exploded along with the weeds. I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. So what will this six day trip bring? I’m afraid to find out. The fall planting of blackeyed peas is starting to produce. Those are some hardy plants so I’m not worried about them. They were our best money maker for sure.

I just got back from working for the old man. We repaired part of his cattle pens. I noticed some plywood had blown out of the window at the building I’ve been cleaning for him so will run out there right now to fix it. Then it’s getting ready for Toledo for the rest of the day. We are both looking forward to it and could barely get to sleep last night as we kept checking to see if we forgot anything that needs to be taken care of. If we did we’ll remember when we are twenty thousand feet in the air on the plane. I think we did fine.

Got to go folks. I’ll try to keep y’all up to date on things.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The unseen hand

Click to enlarge.(It makes it easier to read the fine print)

10/5/08 Sunday
It’s hard to believe we will be flying to Toledo on Thursday. That’s just four days away and time sure speeded up on that one. This trip we had planned and already obtained the tickets for (Thanks Janie) back before my friend, Eileen, was murdered. She was one of the people we had been looking forward to seeing but now we will be attending a memorial in her honor at the hospital she was dropped off at. The memorial was an unexpected surprise. Her daughter, Suzie, got an envelope with the hospital’s name on it and expected a bill. Instead it was an announcement the hospital was conducting a memorial service and asked how many guests she would bring. We still don’t know how this came to be.

Anyway, we are so looking forward to going. Cherie’s Aunt and Uncle are having their fiftieth anniversary, coming from their home in Florida for it, so the timing is good there. Of course she, and I, will be able to visit with her parents and family too. This will be a chance for me to look up friends I’ve lost contact with and hopefully spend some time with the two son’s I raised with the second wife. One of the great sorrows I have is how my relationship with them was damaged in that divorce. Hell, it was pretty much destroyed. I haven’t been good at keeping in touch with them, just as I haven’t been good at keeping in touch with anyone at all. It’s another issue with the brain damage. I keep thinking of sending emails and keep forgetting. I’ve been going to write my sister for months in reply to her last email where she told me about visiting Oregon or Washington state. I can’t quite remember which one it was. It’s just like everything else I want and intend to do in my life. Little or nothing seems to get done.

I got an email from someone who’s husband suffered a traumatic brain injury just last year, thanking me for sharing my post TBI life on this blog. I looked at her blog and it’s a heart wrenching journal of her life as a caregiver for a TBI survivor. Her husband’s injuries are worse than mine were but the similarities in the issues they must deal with sure revived some memories of my early experiences. Here is her site address. Please read it if you could as it will expand your understanding of what the millions of TBI survivors, and those that care for them, go through. And of course increasing awareness and understanding of TBI is one of my missions in life and a reason for this blog.

Cherie lost her job Friday. How did she put it? She was transferred back to the temp agency she works through. Cherie is the seventh temp this firm has gone through. When her friend Cindy? (I’m never sure about names) heard that she said “Do you think their expectations are a little high?”. Cherie was an invoice clerk and is about as good with numbers as I am. That would be not very good. I could run two companies but paid someone to do the math. Plus it is a complex environment that is ever changing and requires a lot of knowledge of the industry so Cherie walked in like an elementary school student in a college class and just couldn’t learn fast enough. Add to that the pressure from the massive end of the month crunch to get everything done and out and it was just too much. Cherie doesn’t do well under that kind of “Do It Now, Get it DONE” pressure. For that matter neither do I, fact is my brain can’t process things fast enough and just freezes up when overloaded, sometimes triggering seizures.

So we are back to just my disability check and that is probably going to be cut off anyway. Cherie was almost crying as she contemplated that and she apologized repeatedly for losing the job. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths” I quoted to her in reassurance. I reminded Cherie of how things always seem to work out, of how there seems to be an unseen hand on our lives that provides whatever needs we have. I’m not worried.

Friday, October 03, 2008

learn to be content

10/3/08 Friday
I still hurt some and am a little slow but can’t let that stop me. Yesterday I had to take part of the steering column apart to get Cherie’s key to work. It’s still apart now so if she gets pulled over it looks like someone tore it up to steal the car. I’ll work on it when she gets home.

One of the things I read yesterday said that it takes 180 degrees to kill weed seeds. That’s not good because I’ve been putting all the sticker grass clippings in the compost bins believing that hot composting would kill them. Now I may just be spreading this problem directly where I plant my crops. Nuts. I think I will do some more research with the hope of finding out this is wrong.
(click to enlarge. It really makes a difference)

Yesterday I worked hard cleaning and organizing a barn for the old man. I had been carefully moving and stacking wood in a spot for maybe an hour when I looked up and suddenly saw this. It stopped me cold in my tracks. I just stood there frozen for a while as it talked to me. It told of an entire life lived with a debilitating disease, There were happy times for sure but the pain, the anguishes? Oh God. In the past I wrote and took pictures of the worn out wheelchairs the old man had at another location but this just drove things home more. I bow in respect to the father who loved and did the best he could and know there were many others who were in touch with this mans life.

I realize again how blessed I am. I live in pain, I get lost and easily, sometimes forgetting what I’m doing as I do it, I have these types of seizures that make me stupid for a while, I…well there is a whole list of problems from the brain injury but don’t want to get into them. The point is that despite all my problems I’m a blessed man. I have life, I have my wife, I am clothed and fed, what more can a man ask for? Oh, we can all ask for more things but with these I am content. To learn to appreciate the life we have is to learn how to be free of the things that can consume true joy, to be free of greed, covetousness, and the unhealthy ambitions that drive many of us. I sometimes say “I used to complain about having no shoes till I met a man with no feet” and the fact is that is true. I once met a man with no legs and he had a great attitude that put me to shame. So I need to focus on these things when my problems get me down.

I took a pain pill so it’s time to go out to work. Got a farm to build.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stiff and sore

10/2/08 Thursday
I knew I would be stiff and sore when I got up this morning so it’s starting with a pain pill. Hate to take them but like to work so that’s the trade off. I had Cherie review what I wrote yesterday as I usually do when I mention others. She wasn’t thrilled with it but didn’t suggest I change or remove anything. I just don’t let go and keep stirring the pot but in my mind it’s always better to be honest and open, to not hide what you feel. However I am resisting writing a whole essay on things and have been for months now.

I help the old man today, Lord willing and providing both of us are up to it. I’m fine so far. Yesterday I found a home for one of the stoves and a kerosene heater he needs to get rid of. The other stove is in too bad of a shape for anyone so will end up in the landfill. There is a TV in a beautiful wooden cabinet that makes a fine piece of furniture, it works fine so if any of you know someone who would like it email me at . The price is right, free. Pay for the gas and I’ll deliver it.

That’s all for now. I’ve got an hour before I help old man so will get some garden stuff done. Yesterday Cherie told me we had lots of green beans coming in and picked some. It was a surprise to me but shouldn’t have been. I don’t know if I looked at them and just forgot but the last I remember is they were all little plants just starting out. When I went out and looked they have climbed to the top of the trellis and in my mind it’s like they did it overnight. Of course I can watch a movie or a TV show that I know I saw a month or three before and it’s all brand new to me, though I may remember a scene or two when they come on. That’s life with short term memory loss. I’ve noticed that it’s more of the visual memories I have a hard time retaining. I can remember a conversation often times but can’t put a face to it.

By the way, there is a new website on traumatic brain injuries I’d like you to check out in my quest to help raise awareness of this injury. This week they talk about injuries sustained by concussions in youth sports that would be advisable for any of you with active kids to read. It’s also good information for coaches and others who are involved with youth activities.

Nuff said for now. Got to go.
I hurt. I look at something I know I shouldn’t try to lift and do it anyway. Nothing new there but as always there is a price to pay. I called the old man, told him I was done for and came home. Cherie just called to let me know her car key won’t turn again so I’ll have to run up there and see if I can fix it. This used to happen a lot until I told her she needs to not be in a hurry when she parked the car, to let the steering wheel relax before she pulled the key out. That stopped the problem till today. I’ll have to take a pain pill and lay down before I do anything else.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

someone hacked our account

10/1/08 Wednesday
I’m off to a much better start today. By the time Cherie got off work I had cleared up and cheered up a great deal. I time going to Janie’s to poop scoop to be in Midland when she gets off work so we often go out to eat. That’s a big help for Cherie as it saves her from cooking dinner. When we got home I ran over to pick up Chuck and Lillian’s trailer so I could gather horse manure from the old man’s horse barn. Got so much I had to drive home at thirty miles per hour to prevent it from blowing out all over the highway. I’ll get that much every month just from him and there are two, maybe three, other places I can get manure from.

Last night Cherie noticed two charges on our commercial farm account that we didn’t recognize. Calling the phone numbers attached I was able to reach one of the companies. The other was a voice mail jungle that, when you finally reached a mail box, informed you it was full so couldn’t take a message. The other one was a telemarketing service in India where we could barely understand what the guy said. When I called back I got someone who spoke English without an accent. Come to find out the charge was for an adult site. Someone named Kenneth Levine from Rockford, Illinois, had made the charge. We obtained his IP address but don’t know what we can do with it. The other charge appears to be for a facial treatment that you see ads for all the time, Pro something that I can’t remember at the moment. So someone has hacked into Cherie’s computer and stolen our credit/debit card information, or at least I think so. They used the card that Cherie has and her computer is the one we have all our bank information on as it’s the one Cherie does the online banking. Not good, I’ll be running to the bank today to see what we can do about it.

There is lots to do as there always is. This is one of the days I work for the old man so I need to be there at nine. That barely gives me enough time to water the melons so I’ve got to get moving.
There were a lot of doors I moved out of the old man’s building. They weren’t terribly heavy but they added up fast so I’m pretty sore now and not walking well at all. Nothing unusual there. I went to lunch at a little place in Stanton called Mama’s or something similar. They have a great sit down menu, actually they don’t have a menu per se but list the day’s choices on a board. I had chicken fried steak and it was great. There were some people there, one of whom looked vaguely familiar, who made a point of asking how I was doing. I told them great but a little sore as I carefully found a seat. I could overhear them and from the conversation figured out they were from the first church of Stanton. When I finished eating I asked if they were to confirm it and then asked how pastor Dave was doing. “The last I heard he had surgery on his neck but I’m not really in contact with anyone at the church so don’t know” I said. They told me how he was recovering from this surgery and able to play racquetball to get exercise.

When one of them said “You should come and visit” like a dummy I opened my mouth. I’ll never learn I guess but always am honest and open about my feelings so I expounded on how we had gone there for over a year and not one person had visited so we went to First Baptist in Midland where we found friends to fellowship with. There is no telling what will happen with those words if they travel back to the church through them. I just have a big lack of trust and some of the paranoia I constantly contend with when it comes to that. Plus the hurt runs deep and won’t go away. I still don’t understand what happened. But I told the guy, who is the youth pastor I think, about how a group from our church will be coming out on the 25th to help work on stuff and invited them to come out. “It will be a great time of fellowship and there will be food as well so we’d love it if you came” I said, and I mean it. In fact it’s an open invitation to anyone who wants to come, that includes all of you readers out there. If you need directions on how to get here just email me at

After that I went to the bank to deal with this identity theft or credit card theft issue we have. I canceled both bank cards and filled out a dispute form regarding the problem. She explained how things would work, that if any money was withdrawn fraudulently we would get it back. That’s good to hear.

I’m falling asleep so need to take my afternoon nap. I suppose it will always bother me that I must do this but that’s the way it is.