Tuesday, July 24, 2012

there is always a fight

7/24/12 Tuesday
          It is a nice cool morning. Cherie had to get out early for a company meeting at her new job. She loves the job and we are grateful for the additional income. So it is a  blessing all around. Cherie is much less stressed now as her other job provided little in the way of emotional stability due to a wide range of factors that is not appropriate to go into.

          Meantime, on the farm. I had created a concoction of hot peppers and garlic to make a hot oil spray for the corn. After straining out the oil I used the mush of ground up garlic and peppers to create a paste I painted on the watermelons. My hope was that would deter the coyotes from destroying any more melons. Yesterday I discovered that this did not work. Our fight against the forces of nature continues, with nature winning more times than not. This is hard country for sure. I do not have the resources needed to overcome coyotes and gophers, both of which require the building of barriers to keep them away from crops. The tomatoes I pretty much have given up on. Don’t know if the gophers tunneled in and got them or the heat, or the salty well water, but they never thrived.

          We have one little apple on the apple tree. It doesn’t seem too anxious to grow in size but at least we have one. Odds are the apple tree needs others around to help pollinate it but the gophers had killed the other sixteen trees we bought. There was some recent gopher tunneling around this last tree but it seems to have gotten established enough to survive their attacks. I don’t like gophers.

          I went to the jail yesterday and had a nice talk with the one I have been ministering too for months now. He is doing well and has a trial date. We prayed about that and about what his future holds. He has a good chance of having what appears to be false charges shown for what they are and the case finalized in his favor. He expressed his gratitude that I come around and spend time with him, telling me it lifts his spirits each time. That is what it is about, encouraging and lifting up your brother in the Lord. It is so sad that so many in churches spend their time tearing others down, busy looking for faults and gossiping about them. I guess it makes them feel more spiritual or something to point out the failings of others. They seem to have no idea of what God thinks about this and also apparently have no fear of any consequences on judgment day. I fear for them and pray for them for they cause so much harm as they blissfully follow that path, thinking they are something spiritual when in reality they are a stink in God’s nostrils. Their pride has blinded their eyes and it is a sad thing to watch.

          Today I will start out repairing another area the gophers have chewed up my underground irrigation. Then I will get back on the tractor and continue moving the tons (literally) of sand that has blown in and covered so much up. Yesterday I dug up all kinds of telephone poles and lumber I had gathered for future fence building and other construction projects. Despite hours on the tractor with the little back blade it seems I barely scratched the surface. There is always so much to do and so little of me.

          There is a big problem brewing with the VA. I am so grateful for the pain pills they give me and take them daily, as they go a long way in making the pain I live with manageable. In June they drew blood and took a urine sample, as they do regularly, to insure I am taking the medication and not selling these powerful narcotics on the street. The urine sample clearly showed I have opiates in my system but the blood sample, which is shipped to some lab in California, came back showing zero opiates at all. There is something terribly wrong here. They draw my blood and hand me a cup. I then walk 5 steps to the bathroom set up at the lab that has a revolving door in the wall to place the sample in. The urine they test in house but the blood sample is mailed to California.
 This picture shows one of the water faucets. It used to stand two feet above the ground but has been completely covered over with wind blown sand. Dug it out by shovel and will work to remove the mountain of sand that has built up ten foot and more all around.

          Without notice, though the records say someone tried to call and left a message, my prescription was cancelled. When I discovered this I protested strongly, which did not seem to be appreciated. So the doctor ordered a more in depth testing of my blood. Got a call yesterday from the nurse, who told me that once again it shows 0 opiates in my blood. Not possible because I very much take this medication, especially now that I am doing so much on the farm. Something is wrong somewhere. I have to wonder if this lab in California, that probably was the lowest bidder, is doing something wrong. I also have to wonder if because of that thousands of my fellow veterans are now being denied their medication. We will scrounge up the $200.00 or so dollars to pay for an independent court certified lab to conduct a test. There are two types of tests they can do. One is a hair test that shows all drug usage for ninety days and the other is the blood test. I am not sure which one to do as we cannot afford both but probably will go to the hair test. The problem is that it is not as specific to the types of opiates used where the blood test is. Regardless, with the documentation I can prove that something is not right and hopefully start an investigation. The other side of the coin is that the VA has been known, on occasion, to not react well when anyone stirs the pot. But my concern is now for the thousands of potential victims of some laboratory that is collecting tons of cash from the government but doing a poor job.

          But as I ponder this I wonder if my lifestyle affects the tests. After getting that gout I drink gallons of water every day. Plus the gout medication works to clean the  blood of those urea salts that create the intense pain in your joints. Add to that the fact that I work hard in this often one hundred plus degree heat and sweat profusely every day. This also helps clean the system out. I don’t know, what I know is I take the medication but the tests are saying I don’t. That is why I made a request to the VA and said I was willing to make the 44 mile drive twice a day to take the medication in the presence of a witness, and then be tested again. This would prove something, either that the lab was doing a poor job or that the gout medication, large amounts of water consumed, and intensive sweating affect those tests. They have yet to respond but I just made that request yesterday.

          There is always something, always a fight one kind or another, always a struggle and obstacles to overcome in life. I believe that these struggles serve to make us stronger but at the same time it can be discouraging. I get tired of always having to fight but refuse to quit. There are many people that have learned what I must overcome due to the injuries in my body and extensive brain damage, who express their amazement and how I encourage them with their problems. When they do I am not sure what to say because I often do not feel that victorious and don’t picture myself as any kind of example of strength. I suppose sometimes I do and having had so many explain how my resolve to push forward has helped them encourages me to keep writing this journal.

          It looks like the internet just came on. So I will go out and take some pictures with my phone to post on the blog and get this on.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thoughts on the shooting, and farm stuff

7/20/12 Friday
          We woke up this morning to the news of the shooting of 50 people at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. I am sure that in the days to come we will learn many details concerning the man who did this. They mentioned on the news that he was in Colorado to get his PHD. The truth of this will be made clear as the investigation continues. It is sad to hear of these kinds of things and it seems we face these senseless killings more and more these days. It is hard to understand what can lead others to kill so coldly. But I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg, that we will be seeing some horrible things in the days to come. It is nothing new. Throughout the history of man there have been countless ravages of life, often on scales that boggle the mind. With the pagan religions it was a part of their belief systems and then there were the shameful times that Christianity, the religion that has “Love your neighbor as yourself” as a foundation stone, has been perverted to justify torture and murder on a world wide scale.

          Why is this? What is it in the human psyche that pushes us to embrace such cruelty? There is, deep within all humans, an animal core that goes back to creation. It is a survival instinct, a desire to win, to overcome those who are seen as competition that traces its roots to our primal beginnings. This is often vented more safely through sports and other venues that allow us to compete and vanquish our “foes” in an organized and somewhat civil manner. Racism has this primal instinct at its root, the “I’m better than they are” concept coupled with a fear of losing, of letting any others come out on top. This is ultimately the source of all wars, as leaders harness our need to win and manipulate our fear to justify killing those perceived and presented as threats to our way of life.

          Think about Hitler, as an example of how quick this can happen. Germany was a Christian nation that had a large population of Jews, both of whom worshiped the God of Abraham. It was an industrial powerhouse but hard times were coming due to the poor decisions made by those in power coupled with world-wide financial unrest. (Sound familiar? It is the same scenario we find in our world today) Hitler inflamed those fears and fanned the flames of fear into hatred, focusing that hatred on one religious group. He also presented the Arian doctrine, which has been around for centuries anyway, and thus turned racism into an “Everyone is bad except us” form of extremism. What is amazing is how quickly good, loving, considerate, and kind people turned into hateful, even evil people, who exhibited no qualms about imprisoning, and killing the neighbors next door, whom used to be their friends.

          My point is this. We have the total recorded history of mankind that shows again and again our propensity to do evil. What makes you believe it can’t happen again? I foresee much that is coming in our future. A future that is only days away from being here. I see a religious ideology that is based on hate and on the subjugation or elimination of all who do not conform, rising quickly to power throughout the entire world. I also see extreme financial hardships coming as the economies of most of the countries of the world teeter on total collapse. I see those who choose not to believe such a thing is possible burying their heads in the sand. I also see the prophecies in the bible quickly coming to fruition. Some have mocked me, saying I am paranoid or using whatever label is convenient to make my words not worth regarding, thus dismissing my views. But I also hear and read about a growing number of people and organizations who also see the handwriting on the wall, and are sounding the warning as well. So I am not alone.

          Meantime, back to the farm. Cherie and I went and got another load of rocks for the growing hole we call our driveway. It will take many more loads before we can make this a level area that does not turn into a muddy lake each time we get a rare rain. One of these years I will be able to afford a dump truck load of caliche that will help this driveway be much more accommodating. But until then I do the best I can with what I have.

          I took the residue of ground up garlic and hot pepper we boiled in oil to make a bug spray for the corn, and mixed it with water to make a paste I painted on all the watermelons we have growing. The hope is this will discourage the coyotes from breaking open and eating the melons. When I walk outside in a few minutes I will see if that worked or not. We will keep experimenting until we find something that works. What I know is needed, a good fence, we can’t afford just yet so as always we do the best we can with what we have. I suppose that is now the official company mantra, because I say it so much.

          I spent a good part of the last two days on the tractor. Decided to give that a rest late yesterday because we are out of the lower priced red dyed agricultural diesel fuel and can’t afford to buy any more until Cherie gets her first paycheck from the new job. Last thing I need is to run that tractor out of fuel because when you do it gets air in the system and is a real problem to get started. There is so much to do I can spend a solid week on that tractor and still not be finished. So in addition to running the tractor I have spent many hours with the hoe, pounding those weeds that grow so fast and big. Some of them required an axe to chop down. Always so much to do and so little of me. The pain level has been very high due to my increased work load. No problem, I just keep going despite of it, but it does slow me down some.

          Nate bought us some better animal traps while we were in Tractor Supply. The Harbor Freight traps are cheap and more times than not the rats have forced their way out of them. These new ones are much tougher and so far I have caught 4 pack rats from the garage. This was a much needed blessing as the pack rats are causing extensive damage throughout the garage. They have chewed up cords to my power tools, chewed up wood implements, and regularly steal whatever is laying about and take it to their nest. One of these days I will pull all the wood and stuff I have stuffed in the back of the garage and uncover those nests. There is no telling what I will find.

          I managed to plant blackeyed peas shortly after the last rain. Am not sure how much will come up because the pack rats stole much of the seed I had kept from last year and some of the seeds are from two and three years ago. Hopefully there was enough moisture in the ground to cause it to germinate. We will see.

          I have several areas prepared for fall planting. Not really sure what I will plant other than the rest of the corn seeds I have from last year and the red corn seed a friend sent from Kansas. There are the Loufa gourd seeds someone sent that I need to plant too. For that I must install new drip irrigation. The tomatoes are barely clinging to life and many have not made it. We only got one tomato out of the 60 or 70 plants we put in the ground. I suspect that the well water is so bad that it is killing them. There are some areas I have drip irrigation underground where the Bermuda grass is growing like crazy. However, when I run the irrigation for a day or two, forgetting I had it on, the Bermuda grass turns yellow where it is. Not a good sign.

          That is all for now. Been working hard and there is plenty more to do. Drinking tons of water to replenish the tons I sweat out. Doesn’t take long to turn into a sweaty stinky mess out here. Especially when the humidity is high, which has been a lot lately.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We are blessed

7/12/12 Thursday
          We are blessed. Blessed in so many ways that it is hard to count. One of the biggest blessings is to know real followers of Christ. In this world there are many pretenders, when it comes to the faith. They say all the right words and are sure to be seen in the right places, but when it comes to practicing our faith, particularly when that involves personal sacrifice, they are noticeably absent or quick with excuses and justifications why they can’t participate. This is nothing new. It has always been this way even going back to the foundations of our faith as found in the old testament. Jesus explained it would be this way many times in His teachings, once likening the church as a field of wheat full of weeds, all growing together till that final day. It is then that the true believers will be revealed, based on what they have or have not done, especially in regards to how they treated fellow believers.

          I have a busy day ahead so must resist the temptation to preach a sermon here. What I will take the time to do is praise the Lord for His provision and honor those who were eager to make themselves available to do His will. We have had one of the two trucks that broke down repaired, a car given to us to help provide reliable transportation, and yesterday got our well repaired. When word got out about us not having any water a brother, from the prison ministry, offered to help me do the physical work of pulling the dead pump out and putting a new one in. He learned we did not have the funds to purchase a new pump so made some calls to others in that prison ministry. It only took two calls to find someone eager to purchase that pump for us. Ken came over this afternoon with the pump and we worked about 3 hours getting in installed. Cherie had to hold back the tears when she came home and found we now have running water. It was good to take a bath.

          This is how it should be in the church. In Acts, where it describes the early church, we find that people were selling their land and property to help provide for the needs of those who had little. It states that there was no one who lacked because of this display of caring for others more than for themselves. This is the Love that you hear so much about, but sadly often have a hard time finding. Love is the foundation of our faith and it started with God’s love for us. That is a love so deep that He sent His only son to earth, to grow up from birth in a human body, and then to die a horrible death in order to pay the price of all the wrongs we have done. Jesus said “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12) If more would practice this the church would be triumphant over all the earth and we would not hear the common excuse given about going to church. “I won’t go to church because of all the hypocrites”. It’s a lame excuse but a common sentiment, based on what people see in reality.

          Today I will spend a lot of time at the VA hospital. They suddenly stopped my medication, based purportedly on a lab test that indicated I was not taking the pain medications. It is a mix up because this is the same lab test the doctor read when he approved renewal. One of them showed zero but the urinalysis test verified I was taking the medications. Thus I will be taking lots of lab tests and must visit with the doctor again and get it resolved. Always something. The medication is a vital help for me in overcoming pain and allowing me to continue the hard manual work I must perform on the farm, as well as when I help others.

          Gotta go. First I must write a letter to the doctor, as I can explain things better in writing than when trying to formulate speech in person. When stressed my brain often slows down, making communication difficult.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

From bad to worse

7/10/12 Tuesday
          When I finally made it home late yesterday, after running all over to get a new wet and dry vacuum, to replace the one that just died, and running errands for one of the widows we help, I rushed to wash my hands for the dinner Cherie was preparing. There was no water. None, Not a drop. Nuts. Now Casey had called a week or so before, and gotten real nasty about the fact we still had not paid our bill for the new water well pump he put in. In that conversation he threatened to come and take the equipment back. I explained that the person who had offered to help with that and to invest in drilling a new well for our RV park, had changed his mind and left us hanging. I also let him know that Cherie started a new job so we would be able to start making payments. So my immediate thought was that he had done just that so rushed out to the well and see.

Nope, the pump was still evidently there but it did give me a chance to look at the job they had done. What a scary looking poor job of wiring this is. The connector to the relay was just sitting unconnected on top of where it was supposed to go. I suspect this probably contributed to a brand new pump going bad. It looks like it had just enough contact to activate the well but…well just barely. The other wires where about as haphazard a wiring job as I have ever seen. These guys did not even take the little amount of time required to simply twist the strands together. I also know that poor connections can cause an electric motor to overheat and fail too.

Regardless, we are without water on the farm, or in the house. I will go out and collect all the containers I can find and then fill them with water where ever I can locate a spare spigot I can use. There is a meeting of the prison ministry council this morning at a church in Midland so I suppose I can find clean water there. This morning I got some of the rain water we collected to use for flushing the toilet. Cherie asked “What are we going to do?” and I didn’t know what to say other than “We will trust in the Lord”. That is hard to do sometimes. We just had our church friends spend over a thousand dollars to fix the truck and others gave Cherie a car to drive, so I am not at all comfortable asking for more. It makes me feel like a bum as it is. I was asked about applying for work and explained that I have put my application in a few places. “Not one of them called me back” I said, and explained why that was. “Just imagine what they thought, when on an application for a maintenance man they read my last job was over eleven years ago and it was CEO of not one but three companies, all of which I had founded and built from scratch”. In fact my only job since 1989 was building and running my companies and then there is this eleven year stretch of no permanent work.
(This is the car I was in and then pronounced dead at the scene. November 2001)

The fact that I had an accident and could not easily fulfill most job requirements, especially at first, does not help instill confidence in hiring me. Now I do work, and have worked several part time jobs, ranging from cutting down trees, mowing lawns, and securing properties for financial institutions, along with restoring that 1929 model AA truck. Plus I work on this farm every day. Work till I hurt too much to work, lay down, take a pill, and go to work again. And I work in the ministry too, helping others where I can, doing handyman jobs for no charge and spending time in jails and prisons whenever I can. However, I suspect that there are some who see me as some kind of a bum, sponging off of others all the time. This is a hard place to be.

I have a dream, a dream of building a farm that is self-sufficient, and part of that dream involves turning this land into a profitable income producing property. An RV park is a vital part of that plan, and the most viable one that can quickly produce revenue. Do I abandon that dream and just spend my time making small change so others won’t think so poorly of me? Or do I press on towards the goal I have set before me, the goal of being self-sufficient where we don’t need to beg for help every time something goes wrong. I will press on. Quitting is not a part of my make-up. I will succeed, with God’s help. But getting there will require overcoming many obstacles and hardships. I must run to town now, and get some water on top of two meetings. There is the prison ministry council and the Ministerial Alliance, a regular gathering of pastors and those in active ministry. Both are today.