Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tornado wanna-be

4/19/09 Sunday
I was surprised to see that I haven’t posted since Wednesday. I guess I shouldn’t be, because I’ve had several “slowdowns” and have been working as hard as I can, considering that. The labor we hoped for and expect from the two we sold Cherie’s car to hasn’t come about. Tommy just learned that he has a hernia, probably brought on when they helped us get all those railroad ties, so I can understand his reticence about working for/with me. I told him there is plenty to do that doesn’t require heavy lifting and that they need to at least start “making payments” on the car, that would be working off the agreed to price. So far they haven’t done anything but that’s ok. I just sure could use the help. Trying to hang a fluorescent light fixture in the garage by myself turned out to be quite a task. I fell off the ladder twice but landed on my feet. Holding a four foot four bulb fixture with one hand while I tried to screw it onto the rafters proved to be difficult but I’m a stubborn man and kept at it till I was done. I think it took me at least an hour to finish.

The seed starting setup. You can see the 400 watt light is on. A 1000 watt light would be better but costs more. Got this fixture cheap at the Habitat for Humanity's Restore.

So now I have five fluorescent lights working in the garage instead of the two our church family helped put up. Actually they put up four but only two of them were hooked up to electricity. All this started with my desire to get a seed starting station hooked up. Because it required running wires over the rafters I figured I might as well do the other wiring I plan on while I was up there. There is a fine dust on top of all the rafters that is an inch deep in some places and not fun at all to deal with. Lots of it ended up in my hair and probably lungs. While on a wiring kick I also hooked up several electric outlets on the north wall and replaced the extension cord I had running to the other side with regular wiring. All of this took several days, with me having to redo some of it when I would discover little glitches in my reasoning. Simple things like running the wires in the wrong direction, just little gaps in my cognitive skills that I must deal with daily anyway, but it’s frustrating to be stupid for a moment.

We had some interesting weather a few days ago. I can’t remember what day it was now but we have lots of pictures. I went inside and told Cherie “You’ve got to see this”. She calls this formation “Big foot”. It was steadily spinning at a slow pace, at least it seemed slow to us but it was still a few miles away so the probability is that it was a pretty heavy wind up there. But we knew it was a tornado trying to form so Cherie quickly packed up things we didn’t want to lose in case it turned into one. Top of that list was our computers and the external hard drive we keep everything backed up in. There was an extra change of clothes and room for Rascal and Trixie in the truck so with that done we watched the storm slowly approach. I took pictures the whole time, perversely kind of hoping for a tornado just to capture it on film. Ok, it’s a digital camera so there’s no film but you know what I mean.

It was something else to watch. You could see the tornado trying to form and then dissipating to try again somewhere else. All of this while it slowly got closer and closer. It went directly over our house with both of us watching carefully for a tornado to come out, ready to grab the dogs and hop in the truck to race away in an instant.

Looking around I could see how the powerful updraft of the storm was sucking sand out of the farmer’s fields right up into the clouds. The clouds had passed over us when that part hit. It blew, was sandy, and things got tossed around a little, then all was quiet. With the potential danger passed Cherie went back inside but I stayed out watching, ready to dial 911 if a tornado should appear.

It was something else to see how quick this storm evolved into something big. There wasn’t a drop of rain when it went over us but after that you could see it was just pouring torrents. There was a huge column of sand rising up to the cloud that I saw once it was a mile or three away so I tried to get a picture of it. It’s hard to see but if you blow up the picture you might be able to detect it. That’s when the lightning started in earnest.

Things are starting to green up here. The trees are getting their first leaves. I’m always glad to see that but it just presses home how far behind I am on getting things planted. I really need that help from Tommie and Jamie. I was very glad to see that the two remaining apple trees are blooming too. All the others had died, probably due to gopher attacks.

Yesterday we went to the Master Gardener’s plant sale at the Horseshoe Arena. Cherie had wanted to go to get flowers and shrubs for around the house. We got there early to beat the crowds but the crowds were already there. It was a mass of confusion with people running around and grabbing what they could. Cherie looked at me and suggested we should go but I doggedly said “We’re here so lets at least look around”. It didn’t take long for Cherie to find things that excited her so we started filling the boxes we had to put things in. All the activity was real hard on me. It got to a point where I told Cherie “this is about $XXX dollars so far”. She knew I was pushing through and said “This is enough stuff. I’ll quit now”. We went to Walfart as planned but in the store I had a serious slowdown, triggered I’m sure by all the commotion at the plant sale. I pushed through with Cherie helping to guide me if I got lost on what I was doing. That was it. The other plans we had for Midland got shoved off and we went home.

I was in poor shape all the rest of the day but there were things to do so pressed on. Last night we had the church fellowship at Jen and Wally’s and decided to go despite how bad I was. There was a table set up in an outer room that was a little more isolated so that’s where we headed after getting a plate full of food. Oh, it was good food, without a doubt. John and Cindy sat with us and I was able to hold a decent conversation though I concentrated on my food. I just don’t do well in social settings as a general rule but it’s better when they are people I’m familiar with and comfortable around.

They played an interesting game where everyone wrote something “Wild and Crazy” they had done in their lives on a post card without their name on it. The cards were pulled out of the bag and read one at a time. The task then was to guess who had done the crazy thing written about. I had a hard time figuring out something to put down that wouldn’t be too shocking for these good people. I decided to put down the motorcycle ride I took in December when I went from Toledo to Denver. The ride was grueling in itself and without all the details as to why I did this and what happened in Denver it was tame enough for this crowd.

The interesting part of this was that as a “Wild and crazy” happening was read people would often look at me and say “That must be Bob”. I think I won the prize for being the most likely candidate to have done all these things. One of the guys said something about the expression on my face leading one to think I did these things. That brings up one of the issues that comes with my TBI. That’s the expression one often finds on my face. I look stern, or mean, or something uncomfortable much of the time. This doesn’t reflect what’s going on inside, at least not too much. One of the things lost or damaged with the TBI is that part of the brain that controls the social communication performed by facial expression. I laugh when I know I should, not because I understand the joke told. I’ll understand the joke a few minutes later but often don’t process quick enough to get it right then. Much of the time I’m working to keep up with what’s going on around me so perhaps have an expression that shows that struggle. I don’t know cause I don’t keep a mirror handy to see what my face looks like all the time. What I know is that I can make others uncomfortable around me. Most of us judge people on the expressions of their face. For me that’s bad because unless I think about it I don’t have one, or at least not a pleasant expression. Thus I am judged by many.
Here's the wanna be tornado directly over the house. (You can just see the top of our chimney at the bottom)

I was glad to get home, where things are familiar and safe. These slowdowns drain me. We went straight to bed. Today we decided to skip church. Cherie has lots to do and of course I always do. Mostly we decided to not go because of the “One month to live” program the church is putting on. It’s a powerful emphasis that I know hits people hard with the reality that life can be short and puts the question in front of them “What would you do if you knew you only had one month to live”. Having already not just died but lost everything, even my mind, I’ve already dealt with such questions in a way beyond what this teaching can do. So it doesn’t have the impact on me that it might on others. I loved being able to put some of my experience on the table to help bring these points home but I’m sure that some might get tired of hearing that so will stay home and work.

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