Sunday, December 31, 2006

A good day

12/31/06 Sunday
I’m doing well this morning, in fact I seem to be fairly sharp judging by how well my fingers find the right keys on this laptop. I am always grateful to not be slow when going out in public. Usually I hide when real bad. We are going to the breakfast at the church and Cherie is hurrying as she always seems to have to. We got up early and were determined not to do this last minute arrival time but to no avail. Don’t know what it is but Cherie seems to be unable to do that. Just fifteen or twenty minutes ago she was proudly saying she would be ready early. This is just the way it is. Right now I am going out to warm up the truck

8:02 – It was a very good day. I didn’t have any slow downs, stayed fairly sharp all day long. Church was great. Pastor Dave said they usually cooked for fifty or sixty people at the breakfast but there were only maybe twenty. Because of that I piled my plate up with food. Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and of course coffee. It was good eatin. We sat with Rita and her husband. There was another guy there but I don’t remember his name. The lady behind us brought in a baby that was maybe a month old and of course the baby stole the show. Everyone had to come over and coo over it or at least the women did. Kid was cute as all babies are. There were some other kids there who excitedly shared what they got for Christmas when asked or not asked. Christmas is for kids. We were asked several times “How was your Christmas?” and Cherie had the best answer “It’s over”. Short, sweet, and to the point without sounding real negative. It was just another day for us and with Cherie’s family being two thousand miles away it was a lonely one.

We went over and thanked Pastor Dave’s wife (forgive me for not remembering her name) for the hot chocolate mix she mad for us. We talked for a short time about their sudden trip to Colorado to visit his mom, who had fallen. Then it was time to go across the street to church.

They had communion today and the pastor read out of the book of Romans. It is the one that describes the communion thing with the significance of the bread and wine. Part of it said that by Jesus dying we have new life. I couldn’t help but think of the parallel to my life and what I wrote in yesterdays entry. Fact is that my literal death ultimately gave me a new life and freed me from the things I had become enslaved to.

When we came home I went right to work on the bus. When I am staying sharp I like to work cause I like to work anyway. The wind was blowing from the north so that was perfect to allow me to burn stuff safely. Burn I did. For five hours straight I hauled wheel barrow after wheel barrow of the crap from the bus. Had to do it a little at a time to insure everything got burned despite being soaking wet. To amplify the heat I threw on two of the tires that had one time been an integral part of the pack rat high rise.

After that was done I got the hose and went into the bus with the idea of spraying the remaining debris out. Sounded good in theory but it only took seconds for me to see it was not that good of an idea. The rat poop quickly turned into a mass of goo with the consistency of a very wet clay. This was not going to be fun. If I had a fire hose maybe but the garden hose would be a slow process. I went and got the big scoop shovel and broom and proceeded to scrap, spray, and shovel it out. Here’s the end result.

By the end of the day I was worn out and had a hard time walking straight with the pain level very high. That’s OK. I was happy to work and happy to not have a slow down so a little pain I can deal with. Hell I deal with it daily as it is. I found two more treasures as I finished cleaning this stuff up. One was my grandfather Rudy’s driver’s license from 1982 and the other was this plaque. In a real way Cherie and I are continuing Lee and Rudy’s love story. There are so many symbols of their love remaining on this farm as well as some remnants of dreams gone by. The bus was full of maps. Many were for places they had visited. As a child I remember Lee and Rudy taking my brother and I camping and to places like Carlsbad Caverns. Some I don’t remember but found pictures of us there. Now Cherie and I will bring this farm back to life.

I am quite tired now and sitting at this chair is hurting so much I need to quit so I will post this and go to bed. I do want to mention that I called Wayne in Toledo up. Wayne’s the guy with MS I had helped get off the street and other stuff. He is doing fine but hasn’t gotten his Social Security check yet but should have the first one by the thirteenth of January. Of course the state has already cut him off cause they know he was finally approved for his SS disability. He was glad to hear from us and greatly appreciated the card we sent.

Night all.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Frozen morning

12/30/06 Saturday
Everything was frozen this morning. There was a coating of frost and many puddles turned to ice. I went out and put food in Skittles bowl, then got him some water. So far so good. Then I removed the baseboard I had left up in the back room in order to put the carpet down better. I woke up with a mild headache so had already taken some aspirin for it.

By the time I took the baseboard outside to remove the nails I was starting to slow down. An hour later I remembered I had gone out there to do that but had gotten distracted and wandered off to other tasks. Cherie and I were talking about what to do with the day when I remembered so I went out to do it before I forgot again. Have to stay focused on one thing at a time or nothing gets finished. Multitasking is something I can no longer do.

Going outside I saw Skittles sitting at the door obviously cold so I decided I would take the time to sit down and let him climb up on my lap to get warm. I wondered why he wasn’t laying on the chair he likes with the big warm cushy blanket on it so sat on that chair and found out. When I sat I felt the cold sensation of water soaking into my pants. “What gives?” I thought as I got up and looked. Sure enough there was a circle of wet. I sniffed it to see if it was cat pee but my smeller wasn’t working so I went in to have Cherie check. She sniffed once and recoiled. “Oh Yeah, it’s cat piss” she let me know. Now that’s how to start a day. I stripped off the clothes and washed my ass. Carman wasn’t happy smelling another cat despite him and Skittles communing at the screen door. Later, when I opened the door for them to “talk” Carman expressed his feelings with some loud hissing.

I had gotten so slow that I was forgetting what I was looking for as I looked for it. This was making basic things hard to do. Imagine standing up to get the hammer that is maybe ten feet away and then wondering what you stood up for. I have tried to explain this result of my brain injury to get a consistent “That’s nothing. I do that all the time” from those who can’t seem to understand. Sure we all have times where we walk in a room and forget why but this is different. For those of you who have smoked pot or gotten drunk it is kinda like that. I have said that it is hard to believe that I used to pay money to get in this condition. This comes and goes so it’s no wonder that my brother would tell Minnie Lee, and most certainly my father and everyone else, that I was on drugs. What an ass he has been.

Anyway it was a short slow down (petite seizure) and I am doing much better. Cherie just got her income tax forms in the mail. It looks like she will get everything back she’s paid in because her income for the year is less than what is taxable. That’s good news cause we can sure use it.

Cherie is going to the laundrymat in Midland to wash my clothes and the blanket. She had hoped to do it at the laundry in Stanton but it was closed. The clothes and blanket smell bad even wrapped in the plastic bag. I’m going to get this posted and paint the baseboards now that it’s above freezing.

Yesterday we went shopping and bought as wisely as we could. We went to a grocery store called Mercado or something like that. Cherie had been there before and was initially uncomfortable because she was about the only white person there but she has adjusted. I like it. They are a Mexican oriented store and make tortillas right there in large quantities. As usual stores that cater to poorer people have better prices and this was no exception. We found milk at $1.99 when milk everywhere else is four bucks or so. We bought two and will freeze one of them. We had already shopped at Walmart and bought things in larger packages to get the most for the money. We had planned on going to Sam’s Club but Cherie was getting burned out on shopping so we did laundry instead. Afterwards was when we went to Mercado cause she had rested up. In all we got food that will last the month and only spent eighty or so dollars.

Gotta go now and get some stuff done while I’m still sharp

I caulked around the wall where the drywall meets the floor to seal it off with the idea of making it harder for bugs and scorpions to get in. It also will help keep the cold and in the summer the heat out. Then I laid the carpet out but didn’t tack it down. Mostly because it needs to be stretched and I don’t have what is called a kicker to do so with. Thinking of making one. I’m not sure what else I did though I know I painted the baseboards and brought them inside so they wouldn’t blow away.

Pastor David called us about an hour ago (8:30). He said that some members of the church had let him know we missed last weeks service because we had the time mixed up. He wanted to let us know that this week’s service would be at the same time and also to invite us to the breakfast they were having at 9:00 in the morning before church. That was sweet and we are again impressed by this church. The fact that whomever knew we missed church because of forgetting the time indicates they read the blog. This again shows how the blog is an effective window into our lives.

The pastor shared how they had needed to go up north Christmas Sunday because his mother had fallen. She is blind, which I am sure David had told me before but I didn’t remember. Another thing he shared was that his dad had died on Christmas so that was always a tough time for his mom. One of the sacrifices of his being in the ministry is that he has been unable to be with his mom on Christmas in four or so years. I told him that in a strange way it was a blessing for her to have fallen for it meant they were together for Christmas.

That’s kind of a hard thought to process but it is good to find the positive in a situation. Sometimes it’s hard to find but good can come out of the most retched of circumstances. I am living proof of that, or at least I think so. When others hear what I’ve been through they often say “I’m sorry”. Fact is, if I hadn’t died at that car wreck (The police report listed me as “dead at the scene”) I don’t think I would be alive today. I suppose that will require some explaining. At the time of the wreck I was running from the law, had five different ID’s and someone else’s birth certificate and was a total mess. I had gone through a two year long divorce and had sunk into a deep depression that had reached clinical levels of psychosis amplified by extreme drug and alcohol abuse. Rational thought was no where to be found. Waking up from coma in a hospital a month later I was a different kind of mess. As they worked to teach me how to walk and talk I had plenty of time to think. There were enough fragments of memory left for me to partly comprehend what had happened. The next two years also helped me gain a new perspective on life and as I recovered more memories and began to understand things better. Then came the miraculous reunion with my wife (Click on “The Love Story” on the right side of this blog to read of that) All in all I am grateful for the wreck as it probably saved my life in the long run.

OK, I’m getting long winded and Cherie is laying here ready to go to sleep so I suppose I should finish this, post it, and hit the sack also. Night folks.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Storms rolled in

12/29/06 Friday
The storms rolled in last night with lots of lightening and rain. If I had been sharper yesterday, knowing rain was forecast I would have pulled the tarp over the pile of stuff I had cleaned out of the bus. Now I have a soggy, heavy pile of mostly cloth items. It is supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow also.

The disability check did make it in. Cherie went through the bills and paid many of them online. I looked at what we owe and made a decision that we must skip paying some of them in order to eat and have electricity. It’ll be another tight month. When all is said and done we have maybe $250 left after the bills we did pay. That works out to $62 a week for food and gas. There are some bills that may come up we don’t have a handle on yet. If the Farm Bureau finally gets a quote and approval on our car insurance they will want cash right away. We still owe Patrick, the attorney we ¬had to get for the estate, $900. He agreed to accept payments and we haven’t been able to do that for two months.

This is hard on Cherie. I need to talk to Billie Pinkerton to encourage her to finish the taxes on the estate so it can finally be closed and we can receive what little is left in the account. Cherie is looking for a job and I will be focusing on making this a working farm but that will take about five years. The first step for that will be researching available resources such as grants and programs designed to help farms and those with disabilities. There is a whole lot of things out there but I have to find them. That and I need to get an education, probably through Texas A&M university, on farming cause I don’t have a clue being basically a city guy. It’s going to be a rough few years but I am confident things will work out. Just have to keep our spirits up.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


12/28/06 Thursday
It is windy as predicted this morning. We ate oatmeal as there are only two eggs and almost no milk left but when my disability check comes tomorrow (fingers crossed here) we will be able to stock up.

I don’t think I will be doing much outside. Cherie will run into town and check our mail. The wind is out of the south so burning the bus crap is out of the question and besides that it makes the 39 degrees temperatures feel like 30. Perhaps we can do the painting we didn’t get to yesterday. I am running just a hair below average as far as my brain function goes, about a 6 on the bob scale. There is a headache present but it’s not a bad one.

Well I kinda froze as far as what to write so I’ll just go online and check E mail.

That turned out to be a chore. I think the wind is causing interference, perhaps from blowing the high power lines that go in front of the house. I know the TV channels are deciding to come and go so something is up. Anyway I’ve been bumped offline a few times so here’s another try to post

It was a long hard day. I stayed at a six or less all day long with a steady headache. Everything was a chore to do. Much of the time I was unsteady on my feet. I pretty much piddled around in the garage straightening things out. I decided to put one of the old two by fours I had recovered from someplace across the wall so I could hang tools like shovels and pitchforks up. I didn’t have any nails big enough so went out back and pulled some from the old fencing I had torn down. They were pretty bent and rusty so I hammered them straight and sharpened the tips I had flattened hammering them out. Then I worked on getting the two by four up. I did, it wasn’t straight but I don’t care, it works.

With that done I went into the house. I really was tired and felt like lying down but pushed on anyway. Cherie and I decided to finish painting the back room. Painting is something I can do when I’m not real sharp. As long as I don’t have to figure things out I’m fine. Anyway we got it all pointed. I went back out to the garage and put in nails for each tool I wanted to hang, one at a time to make sure I didn’t get confused.

Cherie came out to let me know that the news was coming on cause she knows I like to watch it. I came in and we watched it. The weather says there will be thunderstorms tonight so I had to go out and get things put up that I didn’t need to get rained on. I closed up the garage and that’s pretty much my day. Of course now that it’s come to an end I am sharpening up some and the headache is finally gone. Go figure.

That’s it for today. Pretty sucky day in general. Tomorrow will be better, especially if my check comes in. Then we can get our laundry done and pick up some things we need. Oh yeah, here’s some pictures of the stuff I pulled off the bus.

Yeah I know. Who wants to see more pictures of crap. That's how crapy my day was when these are the best I can do. See ya tomorrow, it'll be better for sure.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Slow getting up

12/27/06 Wednesday
We were slow getting up this morning, slept in till a little after 8:00. I turned on the TV as that helps Cherie unfog in the morning and we watched about Gerald Ford’s death and ultimately his life. I went ahead and cooked bacon and eggs for me as Cherie only wanted cereal or oatmeal. I took some food out to Skittles as he finally ate what I’d put out before. I guess he hasn’t caught any birds or rats lately. The fact that I’ve been clearing out the bus and wrecked the pack rat nests probably contributed to that.

It will get almost up to seventy degrees today so will be wonderfully warm. The rest of the week doesn’t look bad either with temps running in the high fifties. There may be some rain but that is always a big if.

This morning I am running at my average of 7 on the bob scale. We are hoping my check will come Friday as the first falls on Sunday. If it does we will go into Midland to stock up on essentials. Then we can buy some stamps and mail off the rest of the Christmas cards we have. I’m sure the receivers will understand or at least I hope. Hey, you run out of stamps and money you do the best you can. No apologies here.

We hope to finish painting the back room. That is no problem. I also plan to make a saw guide jig correctly this time so I can get Cherie’s sewing cabinet done. With the back room finished we can get her sewing area fixed up the way she needs it. If the check comes Friday I can put gas in the truck so we can take the loads of laundry that have built up into Midland. We will hit Home Depot where we will use the gift cards to get the caulk needed to seal up the space between the drywall and floors, thus making it harder for scorpions to find their way in. What else we do with the gift cards we haven’t decided yet but will spend it carefully. The cheapest hot water heater we found was around $220 so the gift cards only cover half of that. The first of the year brings bills that only come up then such as the farm insurance. Add to that our need to get car insurance in Texas and other things it will be a tight month.

I also would like to finish clearing out the bus. That is a nasty job that I will be glad to finish. The dumpster is empty and Sunday is the end of the month so it’s our last chance to fill it. I think I will haul everything off the bus and then pick what I can’t burn to fill the dumpster with. It’ll leave an ugly pile of crap visible to all who drive by but hopefully they will understand we’re fixing up the place and aren’t the Beverly Hillbillies. Who knows. I suppose I shouldn’t care what people think but I do. There was a time I didn’t but times change don’t they.

I need to take my medicine and an aspirin to thin my blood. Good for the heart you know. Then I’ll get to work so see ya later.

Well we never painted the back room. I was doing a see saw thing with the petite seizures and then it settled out with me running a five on the bob scale. I worked on making another saw guide jig, carefully measuring and taking my time to get it right. Despite that when it came to make the first cut on it I measured again and the line I had drawn was a half inch off. Figures. At least it was correctable. I finally got it done and it seems to be correct so that’s a relief.

By then I was moving slow. Cherie had looked out the window and came out, telling me she could tell I wasn’t doing well by the way I walked. A headache was coming on by then also. She fixed some coffee and made a great lunch with cornbread and the last of the beans.

There was a nice breeze coming from the west so I decided it would be a good time work on the bus as it would come straight through giving me some fresh air.

(Gotta take a break cause Cherie just brought me some asiago cheese chicken sausage with macaroni and cheese for dinner. We got the sausage at Sam’s Club around thanksgiving when we went during their food samples marathon. That was our dinner that night. I am so spoiled)

Anyway, with shovel loads of the thirty year accumulation of rat shit fresh air is good. It’s a shame this was allowed to happen. Sorry about the picture but it’s all part of sharing our lives, the good with the bad.

Cherie came out and took a bunch of pictures. This is nothing yet. Tomorrow I’ll take a picture of the piles of stuff I threw out of the bus. This was after several days and several dumpster loads and there was still this much left. If the wind is right I’m going to have another bonfire. If it’s not it’ll be an ugly pile till it is.

I’ll fill the dumpster one last time. I collected two boxes of canning jars out of the hundred or so jars found in every nook and cranny. Most of this stuff should have been thrown in the dumpster instead of loaded on this bus. Minnie Lee could well have insisted it be saved but there were probably fifty old plastic milk jugs that were so old they just crumbled away. That and loads of clothes and cloth. The house had been full of clothes also.

Tomorrow I plan to get the hose and wash out the inside of the bus. Then I will see if I can get it to run. Not tomorrow I won’t, just over the months to come. If I can I’ll try to get it to move. The sand has piled up to the bottom of the rims so that may not happen even if I do get this motor to run. That will be a challenge in itself as it has sat for thirty years. The bus was bought in 1982 to move my mother down from Chicago when she had cancer for the second or third time. It is a 1972 Ford. Still don’t know what to do with the thing.

Anyway I finally got done. Coming into the house I stripped down in the office and the clothes went straight into the laundry bin. Cherie had already heated some water so I could wash my hair and bath. I first sucked water up each nostril to wash the nasty dust out of them. I know that sounds rough but it’s what I did. I know I should be wearing a dust mask but I get going and don’t take the time to do so.

That was it for my day. I don’t know what Cherie did but I know she stayed busy. She did call Paula with the Farm Bureau. Cherie asked about their payment plan for the insurance and got us enrolled. That will help our finances immensely. Paula has still not heard about the car insurance cause the underwriter has a staff infection so we will keep our Ohio policy for now. Paula went and looked at the blog while we were talking and thought it was a great thing. Maybe she will join the growing audience we have. Don’t know. It’s 8:00 now and I will call it a day. Goodnight folks.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I hate reminders

12/26/06 Tuesday
How I hate reminders. Not of things I need to do but of this thing called a disability. I used to joke “I am either the dumbest smart person or the smartest dumb person you will ever meet. It just depends on the moment you meet me”. I haven’t said it much lately as trying to find humor in this problem doesn’t seem to work very well. While it is a cute play on words at the same time it is an accurate description of what I go through. I am sharp, I am slow, I run across the board at the random will of my brain. Today was another example.

I planned on making a bottom to fit in the metal cabinet that I plan on painting for Cherie. She will use it for her sewing stuff. In order to cut straight lines with my circular saw I decided to make a jig. It’d be great to have a table saw as that would solve this issue but that’s ok. I do the best I can with what I’ve got. Now making the jig is no big deal and I have made them before when I had the wood shop. As I dug through the pieces of wood I have scavenged I had an idea. Wow! I thought. It’d work great to put a strip of wood on the bottom so I could securely mount the jig on the handy work bench I got on sale at Lowe’s.

Pleased with my clever idea I proceeded to put this together. I was careful to insure the edges were straight as providing a straight cut is the purpose of the jig. It excited me to be making this piece as it would be something I will use for years to come. I am building my shop one little piece at a time. Each piece puts me closer to this goal. I cut, I drilled, I glued, and I screwed, then I started slowing down so I went in to take the nap that often helps.

As I lay in bed it suddenly dawned on me. Damn. My clever idea not only wouldn’t work but rendered everything I had done useless. You see the saw guide has to rest on top of the piece of wood I am cutting. By putting the wood strip on the bottom and clamping it in the workbench there was no way I could do that.

I was still slow when I went out to the garage to look at my blunder. I decided to make the last cut just on principle with the hope I could find a use for this piece of wood. I took the saw and started making the cut. That didn’t last long. I cut the handle off the workbench. That’s it. I should know better than play with power tools when I am going through a petite seizure. Cognizance is the awareness of ones surroundings and that includes things like where a saw blade is heading or at least looking before you cut. I put the saw away and went in. Cherie and I put the first coat of paint on the backroom after I patched the hole in the wall I made removing the shelf under the air conditioner. I guess I shouldn’t use a pry bar when I am slow either.

It was a frustrating day but Cherie fixed a fantastic dinner that made up for it. Another bright spot was an E mail I got from my son Bruce. He answered the one I had sent. His was short but still a blessing just to hear from him.

It’s 8:00 now and I think I need to call it a day. Got another headache and am still tired.

Monday, December 25, 2006

So this is Christmas?

12/25/06 Monday
So this is Christmas? A time when friends and families get together to show their love and affection? Sometimes but for many of us it’s just another day. The sun and the moon haven’t changed, the animals still concentrate on survival, much of the world still fights for power, domination, and riches that fade away. Killing and being killed in that never ending cycle that has been a part of mankind since the beginning of time.

So this is Christmas? Even this holiday is a focus of dispute and always has been. The early church selected this date to combat the pagan holidays that are based on the winter solstice so it’s inception was contention. That of course only grows as other religious beliefs vie for a chunk of this season along with those who seek profit in every thing they can. The profiteers seem to be on top of that heap so money rules as is usual.

So this is Christmas? A time when suicide and domestic murder rates peak along with heart attacks and strokes. When depression rises it’s head in triumph over the hopes that it crushes.

So this is Christmas? It is the yearly culmination of the constant tug of war between good and evil where the magnifying glass of life enlarges and focuses our attention on our faults, blessings, and failures. On one side there is the joy and love we prefer to see but on the other a different reality we choose to blind our eyes to. Out of this darkness shines the good that manages to make it’s way to the surface like a bright sparkling diamond on a black surface. These nuggets of light help those, whose daily lives are a struggle to keep their heads above the black mud of despair, have hope. For without hope there is no longer life.

So this is Christmas? Cherie and I will spend it together, missing those we love and in my case want to love. It is a day we will be glad to see go for then we can move on, we can focus again on the life we wish to create here. What is truly a labor of love.

I apologize for my dark perspective on this day. It is hard to be positive when I have daily reminders of the greed and darkness of those who I, naively, expected better of. I tried again to call my youngest son, Adam, with no luck. Ed again answered the phone and said Adam didn’t make it home yet. At least he did give me Bruce’s (my oldest) new home phone number, which I called only to get his machine. I left a message for Bruce but will send them both an E mail as that is more sure to be seen.

Last night was windy with gusts up to sixty miles per hour. I have yet to go outside to see what has blown away and has come in with the wind. Haven’t been in a hurry as it is still windy and only thirty five degrees out. The saw horses I had out for painting the baseboards blew over.

We’re not going to do much today. Perhaps finish painting the back room. Part of me wants to take the remainder of the trash from the bus and have a bonfire but that’s probably not too wise. The winds last night would have blown much of it away but that’s no way to get along with your neighbors.

Cherie and I took our walk down to the well and back. It’s something we plan on making a regular part of our routine. We both need to exercise and lose some weight. Skittles followed us about halfway up. He is quiet a part of the family now.

Right now we are watching a movie called “Radio”. It’s the kind of movie that touches my heart as it is one I can relate closely to. In it a young retarded guy who is picked on and ridiculed finds acceptance through a coach who took the time to understand. My entire childhood was one where I was rejected. I was the kid others beat up, I was the last one picked for a team and only because there was no one else left. I remember sitting at my desk in kindergarten and watching the rest of the class playing outside. I wasn’t retarded, in fact my tested IQ in high school was 136, the low end of the genius scale. I just had no social skills at all. This is something commonly found in children who have been abused. It is a recognized result of shaken baby syndrome and also with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.

As I was writing this Cherie looked this up online.
By Barbara L. Kirby
Founder of the OASIS Web site (
Co-author of THE OASIS GUIDE TO ASPERGER SYNDROME (Crown, 2001, Revised 2005)
Asperger Syndrome or (Asperger's Disorder) is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published a paper which described a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. In spite of the publication of his paper in the 1940's, it wasn't until 1994 that Asperger Syndrome was added to the DSM IV and only in the past few years has AS been recognized by professionals and parents.
Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see. It's important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".
By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.
At this time there is a great deal of debate as to exactly where AS fits. It is presently described as an autism spectrum disorder and Uta Frith, in her book AUTISM AND ASPERGER'S SYNDROME, described AS individuals as "having a dash of Autism". Some professionals feel that AS is the same as High Functioning Autism, while others feel that it is better described as a Nonverbal Learning Disability. AS shares many of the characteristics of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder; Not otherwise specified), HFA, and NLD and because it was virtually unknown until a few years ago, many individuals either received an incorrect diagnosis or remained undiagnosed. For example, it is not at all uncommon for a child who was initially diagnosed with ADD or ADHD be re-diagnosed with AS. In addition, some individuals who were originally diagnosed with HFA or PDD-NOS are now being given the AS diagnosis and many individuals have a dual diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.
There are many other causes of this lack of social skills but the results are universal, especially in the sometimes vicious realm of school. How much I longed to have friends, to belong, to be accepted. Anyway this is why I have such an affinity for others who are rejected or looked down on. The movie is based on a true story. It all boiled down to the coach’s compassion and of Radio’s (the kids nickname) simple love and acceptance of all around. In the Christian and Jewish faiths caring for the downtrodden is the core. Unfortunately it seems to be lost on some but…Nah I don’t have time to preach here. The movies over and it’s getting close to eleven so I need to finish this and get to bed.

Cherie baked an apple pie for Christmas. It was great. She made up a dish with the hamburger we had left and some rice based on Mediterranean influences. That also was good. I went ahead and burned some of the stuff out of the bus because the wind was blowing in a direction that made it safer to do. Still lots of nasty left on that thing.

Cherie called home and we talked to the family for a while. First it was Cathy because it was her cell phone we finally got through on, then mom got on the phone. She seemed to be doing OK. After that dad got on and we talked about lots of things. He started crying when it came time to say bye but that’s how it is when your little girl is miles away I suppose. We thanked them for their gifts of two fifty dollar gift cards for Home Depot. Between that and the gift card Robin sent we got a total of three presents for Christmas. All of them are practical gifts that we can apply as best needed. Much better than something like a tie.

Never did get to painting the other half of the back room. Maybe we’ll do that tomorrow. I need to post this and get to sleep so night all.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Christmas eve

12/24/06 Sunday
It’s Christmas eve. There was a thick fog this morning and temps were in the high 20’s but it is warming up rapidly as it does out here. We are getting ready for church now. I washed my hair and shaved as I usually do before we go to church. Because of not having hot water I only shave once a week and wash the hair twice with the exception of times we go into town and have to meet people. Cherie washed her hair also. For her it is a greater ordeal because it is long, thick, and beautiful. I helped her by slowly pouring the bottled water we heat for washing up on her head as she lathered, rinsed, and put on conditioner. The rest she does herself. I think that when my check comes on the first we will pay the $5.00 it costs to use the showers at the Stanton truck stop just off I-20. For her a shower would be a welcome luxury she hasn’t enjoyed since we left Toledo. Even if we had hot water we couldn’t shower cause all there is, is the old leaky bathtub. Later we dream of redoing the whole bathroom, expanding it to make some room and replacing the tub with something we can shower in. Of course we have lots of dreams but time will tell.

I was thinking about our conversation with Cathy yesterday. She is carrying the whole load of taking care of mom and dad and coupled with her two children it leaves her close to the breaking point. They said they would like to come visit us, perhaps next summer. We welcome that but worry, not about us but them. How will they take the heat and somewhat primitive conditions here? They would need to stay in a hotel but with the high cost of mom and dad’s medications and only dad’s pension there is little cash left over. In fact Cathy is paying for part of their meds and much else. With out her I think Mom and Dad would be eating cat food as so many of our elderly are forced to do. It is sad how our drug companies are strangling the poor and elderly in this country. Go to Canada and the same medications cost half or less than they do here. That is a crime endorsed by our federal government who’s pockets are lined by the drug companies. The doctors here get kickbacks to prescribe certain medications. These come in the form of many perks and incentives that are cleverly packaged to be hidden from the publics eyes. That’s why Mom and Dad are prescribed the most expensive pills and now are given pills to correct the side effects of other pills in a never ending cycle of sucking every penny out of their pockets they can get.

It’s time to get my “Sunday go to meeting” clothes on. I am sharp this morning as you can tell from my writing. Hope to stay that way. If so I’ll get the rest of the back room painted. I’ve already cleared the furniture out in preparation.

Well that sucked. After all the preparation and rush to get to church we arrive to see everyone leaving the service. I know that they announced and put in the bulletin that the Christmas eve service would be at ten instead of the usual eleven. I remembered there would be no Sunday school but the change in their service time didn’t register. Then Cherie didn’t make it to church last week cause she had a pulled muscle or something that cause pain in her shoulder so she didn’t hear anything either. It kinda pissed me off and I didn’t say much of anything all the way back home. I had really looked forward to going for once, mostly to greet the people we are starting to know. This has dampened my enthusiasm for today but I’ll deal with it and get moving.

Called Troy Bradshaw, one of Lee’s brothers and talked to his wife whom I think is called Aileen but am not sure. She was not enthusiastic at my call but they are in their nineties so that’s to be expected. When I invited them out here she said they don’t go out much. “Maybe we can come by and visit” I said but she was not encouraging. After that I called Delmer Bradshaw and got his answering machine. Aileen said they knew we were here now so I am sure Delmer does also.

Kinda depressed. I tried to call Adam but when Ed, the guy I had caught Barb (the second wife) having sex with, answered he said Adam was in Monroe with his girlfriend so no luck there. I called the number I have for Bruce but it belongs to someone else now so I no longer have a number for him. Feeling alone as far as family goes. It’s just me and Cherie here.

Christmas is not a happy time for either of us. We are both depressed as suppressed and sad memories are awakened by this season. We have each other. I cleaned out part of the bus and again packed the dumpster. As I did I couldn’t get the thoughts of how friends and relatives had picked my grandmothers bones before she was even dead. It grates hard. I don’t know who or when I just know some of what is gone. I want to expose them, put them under a light that reveals all. The scripture comes to my mind “That which is done in darkness will come to light”. That is my prayer. I found one of the cast iron pieces that was part of my grandmother’s collection in the back of the bus. I guess someone missed it or decided it wasn’t good enough to steal.

Cherie is fixing some dinner now. I noticed that as I worked on cleaning out the bus and heard a vehicle approach I would listen, hoping it would slow down and be a visitor. I got to get out of this depression now. There are many good things to think on. We are blessed with this farm despite the hardships now and ahead. We are blessed to be together after twenty five years of separation. My sister, Robin, has not rejected me. Virginia has also been kind and accepting. There are those from the church whom we hope to become friends with. I need to focus on the good not the bad.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Real slow this morning

12/23/06 Saturday
Was up at 6:30. Got the garbage and compost done. Then I started clearing the unpainted side of the back room in preparation to finish that job. Right now I am going through a slow down which, as always, is inconvenient. This one comes with a headache as they seem to more often do these days. I told Cherie that the pattern of these problems has changed since we came to Texas. Not sure what to attribute that to. Right now I am having to take a break and wait till this clears up. Won’t lay down unless the headache reaches migraine level. Then I’ll crawl into bed and shut out as much light as I can cause light and noise make things worse. It’s 10:41 now.

The rain snow mix forecasted hasn’t arrived. This is one of those times I like it when the weatherman gets it wrong. Other areas probably got hit but we lucked out. Perhaps I’m speaking to early on this. Still slow and it’s 11:44. The headache is manageable. I took one of the Tramadol I have been hoarding away, saving them for the bad times like this cause they help better than the pills the VA prescribed for the migraines. I got the Tramadol for the back and neck pain from the pain management VA clinic a year ago. There are only six left.

I am again trying to do the Microsoft update. Last night it went for thirty minutes searching for available updates with out finishing. I gave up and went to bed.

Didn’t work again. Trying a third time after turning off all my spyware protection programs. Then I’ll give. I’m getting worse now with this partial seizure. At stuttering level where it’s hard to formulate words fast enough. Writing works as you can read but just this paragraph has taken a while. Like five or ten minutes. Can’t tell without using a clock cause sense of time is not there.

Headache is at migraine level. The light hurts my eyes. I’m going to put the blanket we have over the office window down to reduce the light. It’s 12:40 now. This sucks as always. Going to post this on the blog and go to bed. Didn’t finish moving stuff in the back room. Damn it, can’t hit the right keys to type. I quit.

I finally began to clear up around 4:30. Doing much better now. The rain did come but it wasn’t bad. Cherie said there was a little sleet or snow mixed in like the weatherman said. I didn’t get anything done today and really don’t feel like doing much of anything now. Cherie suggested I hook up the DVD player so we could watch some of the movies Cherie had picked up while we were still in Toledo.

We just watched “What About Bob”. Cool movie. I had seen it before but as is usual for me remembered little of it so it was still very much like watching it for the first time. We enjoyed it greatly and laughed lots. After that Cherie called back home to her family. She couldn’t get through on her mom’s phone so she called her sister, Cathy’s phone. She put her cell on speaker mode so we all could talk. There was lots of joking but also some serious conversation about her parents. All parents get old and with age come problems that generally don’t get better but steadily get worse. This is what nearly all children eventually face and is universally hard. There will be no easy answers. Cherie told me before we left for Texas that she may need to return home to help out. She has my full support but money will be the determining factor. If you can’t afford the gas to make the two thousand mile drive there is little you can do but feel bad. As we talked about this Cherie said something I was glad to hear, “If I need to go the money will be there”. That kind of faith is something of more value than money. It provides a peace of mind you can’t buy.

It is good to be back as far as my brain function goes. Too bad I lost another day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. We will go to church tomorrow and I plan on talking to pastor Dave about the job opening they have. I am sure there is a committee that is responsible for the hiring decision but I still want to make a pitch for us. While Cherie will be the one hired they will get two for the price of one for I will help her on my good days and will not accept pay for it. That plus the fact we will live here the rest of our days I think make a good hiring decision. With my companies I always looked for stable long term employees. Cherie intends to get her sewing business going, which will not be a full time thing, and takes care of me on my bad days so working at the church would be a perfect fit.

Tomorrow and or Christmas day I will be pulling stuff out of the bus and packing the dumpster as tight as I can cause it will be picked up Tuesday. That is the last time we will have it as we are canceling that service come January. Can’t afford the thirty five bucks a month it costs and I can take our trash to the landfill for free. I got the pick up not just to pull the trailer to Texas but because I know it will be most valuable on the farm. Eventually I may take the cap off. Who knows.

I plan on calling all the Texas relatives I have on Christmas eve with the exception of my dad and Larry. My dad made it abundantly clear he never wanted to speak to me again and flat said “Don’t you ever call here again”. I hope that might change as the years go by but think the odds are against me. Larry I have little to say to as he is a thief and a liar. If he ever decides to come clean about that I will be glad to talk with him but won’t hold my breath. I know that in his mind he has justified everything and thinks he has only taken what he is due but that is typical for an alcoholic. The ability to rationalize our actions can be astounding sometimes. Sure he sacrificed to help me when he picked me up from the hospital but that doesn’t justify forging my signature and cashing checks my grandmother sent for me. What a paradox. He was the only one in my family who helped me at that time but at the same time he screwed me. How strange. How should I feel? The last straw was on this estate and the discovery of how he took advantage of our grandmother and then stole what he could out of the house. Not just after she died but before also. Of course he wasn’t the only one. Well I’m back on my rant again so I’ll stop.

Night all. I’ll be back but it I don’t have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last warm day for a bit

12/22/06 Friday
Good morning. I woke up and looked at the clock, finding with amazement that it was already 7:00. Usually I’m awake by 5:30 or earlier. Cherie had a hard time waking up also. I guess we were both pretty tired. We’ve had our coffee and ate cereal for breakfast. Then I went out to feed Skittles. He was scratching at the door as he is every morning anymore. I had his food in the coffee mug we now use for that and Skittles followed me eagerly into the garage where we have set up a, I suppose you’d call it a nest for him. In it I placed Cherie’s heating pad under the blanket he lays on to keep him warm during the freezing nights. I poured his food into the bowl but he was more interested in getting his pets and hugs than food. This is the norm with him now. Going around the house to inspect things as I do Skittles followed me, bounding around like a little puppy dog. I’ve never seen a cat act like this before. Then, when I went inside, he meowed like he had lost his mother, almost a loud howl. He’s just lonely which is something I can relate too and accounts for his craving for affection. I usually sit in the chair out in what I call the veranda and he crawls all over me purring like crazy.

Skittles and Carman kitty have spent allot of time examining each other. Carman hasn’t been too happy but Skittles seems eager to make a friend. On the warm days when we have the doors open with only the screen door there it has been interesting. One time Carman launched an attack that nearly opened the door. Skittles disappeared for about ten seconds but soon returned meowing in a “I want to be your friend” way. Now that weeks have gone by Carman seems less threatened by Skittles but that may just because he knows Skittles isn’t allowed in.

I’m going to get some work done outside as this is going to be the last warm day till after Christmas. First I will continue getting the winter wheat seeds spread out and raked over in the front of the house. Then I will finish pulling the nails out of the baseboard and paint them in preparation for installment when we are finished painting the back room and hall. Cherie is working on the kitchen. The last major nasty spot is under the sink. With that done she will work on choosing what goes where. That’s partly a response to my nudging (or I suppose nagging). I have a firm belief that there should be a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Part of this is from the brain injury as I do much better with surroundings that are familiar where I know what is where. It’s much better than it used to be. In the early days of my recovery it would really throw me off when things changed. Of course that was back when every time I woke up it would take a while to figure out where I was. Pretty much disorientated till I could figure it out because everything was completely unfamiliar at first. Kinda like you were transported to some strange place in your sleep. After a period of time that would wear off though I still wouldn’t know what day it was. I am much better now thank God. Time to go to work now folks so I’ll see ya next time I make it to this journal.
1:17 – I just had a nice lunch Cherie fixed. It was some of the big batch of beans I had cooked up last week mixed with some fresh cornbread made with canned corn in it the way she likes. I like it too. I’ve been pulling up the rocks from the walkway I uncovered. We have decided to shorten it to accommodate the drive we envision coming through there. I also cleared some of the remains of the brush Ronnie had mowed down way back when. Then I spread some of the winter wheat he gave us and covered it with dirt from the walkway. Then I put the water sprinkler on it. I washed the baseboard in preparation to painting it. It is fairly nasty and a little torn up but it’s all we have so will do just fine till we are in better shape. I was slowing down while Cherie and I ate lunch so had to call it quits for a bit. Will take a nap. That usually helps.
8:08 – It did help but didn’t take the headache away. I finished pulling the rocks and dug out where I would like to place them. Then I spread some more of the dirt where I sowed the winter wheat seeds. The covey of quail discovered the seeds and were feasting on them. Skittles was busy sleeping as he does so I woke him up and told him he wasn’t doing his job. He didn’t care. Typical cat.

I set up the sprinkler and kept it watering the area though I still had to keep the quail off. Then I got the baseboard painted. Cherie and I went for a walk up to the well and back. She needed it because of frustration stemming from dropping things in the kitchen including our lone electric pot burner which broke. It’s still good just lost a bit of plastic. Also frustrating was she kept getting bumped off line. Walking is something we have talked about doing for our health and to help Cherie lose weight. It’s a pretty good walk to the other end of eighty acres. There is lot to see if you learn how to look so I pointed out many of the signs of life. We didn’t see any animals but we know they are there. Lots of holes in the ground. Cherie asked what lived in them and I told her I really didn’t know but that most animals need shelter and there isn’t much available but a hole in the ground. Anyway it was a nice peaceful time.

Getting back Cherie went to work getting the chicken ready for our rotisserie oven. It’s the one that Steve and his wife bought us. Cherie was going to save it for our Christmas dinner but noticed that the date said to cook by the 22nd. That’s today so it’s chicken day. It was a great chicken and we will cut as much meat off as we can for chicken salad, then we will boil the rest to make chicken soup. No waste here guys.

Right now Cherie is making banana nut bread cause our banana’s were getting ripe. I’m looking forward to that. There is nothing interesting on TV so I am here writing. Of course we can only get two stations right now. That’s what’s weird in this house, we never know what channel will come in when. One will be crystal clear one day and not there at all the next or fade out in the middle of a show. Frustrating. One of these days I’ll move the antenna and get it set up better but can’t till I get a taller ladder. There used to be one here but of course that mysteriously disappeared as did pretty much everything else of value. If I could find proof of those who stole from Lee and as heirs from me I would file criminal charges in a heartbeat but that probably won’t be possible. Nothing lower than someone who steals from family or friends. Low life pieces of crap. I would at least make sure everyone possible would know. Larry I have evidence on. Found checks Lee had sent to me that Larry forged my name on the back of and cashed. He forged our mother’s name on the title of her truck after she died to make it his. That I can also prove. All this is just the tip of his shenanigans. Enough of this bitter ranting. I’ll let it go for now but it still eats at me.

The banana nut bread is starting to smell real good. Think I’ll go online and post this after I check my E mail.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bright day

12/21/06 Thursday
It’s a bright morning. Caught this picture of the sunrise. It’s not as spectacular as some but I seldom get to take a picture of one, in fact I may never have. The sunsets I have been better at getting.

I was sharp this morning, with Cherie laughing and enjoying each other. Lately I’ve been making fun of the “Enzite” commercials where some guy runs around with this frozen smile on his face. I should have been a comedian cause I am always putting on a show. Of course it’s easier when my audience is Cherie and putting a smile on her face is one of the biggest joys of my life.

I rushed to start this journal as I detected the precursors of a seizure. I am getting better at recognizing them. I remember that Mark Sherry, the director of disability studies at the University of Toledo who is a brain injury survivor, has a dog that is trained to warn him when a seizure is coming. It can tell when these are coming. Maybe by detecting sweat, skin temperature rise, or who knows. I get a feeling in my head that I can best describe as a thickness for lack of better words. That and also a warm and sometimes hot sensation on my skin almost like I am standing in front of a radiant heater. I hope this is a short one. Some only last a few minutes and are gone, leaving me tired.

I’m going to post this now. It’s getting hard for me to put words together and I’m misspelling and hitting the wrong keys. But first I want to say what we’re doing today. We will put a second coat of paint on the back room. I have the space heater there now to warm it up. There is a light frost on the ground. At two I have an appointment at the VA hospital in Big Spring. We will go there and then hit the Walmart to get gas and necessities such as eggs, milk, and cat litter. That’s a must.

Check back in later as I sometimes add to these posts as the day goes by. There’s a icon you can click on at the end of each post that will let you be notified each time I make one. Gotta get moving.

OK. Before I could post this I heard Cherie’s panicked voice yelling for help. Come to find out it was a scorpion. Instead of killing it I caught it and put it in a bottle. It probably won’t live long cause I crunched it a little but I wanted to get a good picture of it. As a kid we used to catch them and put them in a jar to watch them fight.

It’s already 7:00. We got back from Big Spring about forty minutes ago. The orientation at the VA hospital was pretty much what I expected with the exception that most of the staff who were to speak were not in today. No surprise considering how close we are to Christmas. Unfortunately a migraine started coming on while there and was in full force by the time we left. I did stop by the doctors office and told the nurse that I was concerned about taking the Hydrococone pain meds because of the outrageous amounts of Acetaminophen. I let her know that I had hepatitis C and took the year long interferon shots for it so was concerned for my liver, especially after reading the warning label on the bottle.

We went to Walmart after that and, not at all feeling good, I stayed in the car while Cherie went in to get the food we needed. While waiting for her my phone rang. It was the VA nurse. She said she talked to the doc and he said the acetaminophen levels were acceptable so I should go ahead and take it. NO I won’t. I’ve only got one liver and don’t feel like playing with it especially after the FDA just announced it was requiring stronger warning labels on the over the counter acetaminophen (Tylenol) because of studies they had just completed. Next I had to set up an appointment to see the doc and argue my case to get something different. That won’t be till February 14. I’ve endured some intense pain since I woke up and had refused strong medication because of having a problem with abusing them back before the wreck. Now that I’m doing some physical work the pain has gotten pretty bad so it’s something that will help me keep going.

After that I called my former secretary, Eileen. She didn’t answer so I called her daughter, Suzie. Suzie ran off a whole litany of stuff. She tends to be a bitter person but what she had to say seemed to justify that. Come to find out Eileen has moved out of her house into an apartment across the street. She had talked to me about letting her son Bobby move into her house with his wife and kids. I told her it would be tough for her to handle because the kids are not really controlled. Because of there environment it is not unusual to hear these kids, who are maybe ten years old, cussing like a sailor. F—this and F—that with no correction. Add to that mix Bobby’s serious alcoholism and it’s a unsettled household with Bobby and Nancy constantly fighting. No wonder Eileen moved out of her own house.

Of course her mom had died upstairs in her bedroom and her husband Glen died in the living room so there are lots of unpleasant memories there. Suzy told me that Bobby had taken the bad battery out of his van and switched it with Eileen’s without telling her. She had to get help when the car wouldn’t start at the grocery store. Then Bobby got possessive of what was in the house, not wanting his mom to get her furniture and things so Suzie said she and Calvin, her boyfriend, had to sneak in and retrieve some of it. At least the house payment is being made because Nancy’s dad gets her welfare check and sends in the payment. Otherwise Bobby would get a hold of it and drink it away.

While talking with Suzie the call waiting on my cell let me know that another call was coming in. It was Eileen. She was returning the call I had just made. Eileen said she was very happy in her new place, despite it being across the street. We talked quite a long time about how Mick, her one time boyfriend whom she almost married thirty or so years ago, was being cold after their brief reunion that had made her so happy and hopeful. Merle, another old flame who wanted to marry her has been back in the picture. I met him at the VOA when he was on work release from prison. When Eileen worked for me Merle would send her letters from prison to my company so her husband wouldn’t see them. We used to laugh at them as she showed me what they said and how he couldn’t spell. Merle had been a drug addict and was constantly in trouble with the law, burglarizing homes and businesses to support his habit. I wasn’t happy to hear he was calling her aggressively after Glen died but Eileen said he is clean and a changed person, working sometimes sixteen hour days and a steady job he has held for a while now. That eases my mind some. I told Eileen not to keep chasing after Mick cause she was better than that but if Merle was doting on her and not using her to go for it. “You deserve to be happy Eileen” I said. She also told me that she fractured her ribs but didn’t know how. At her age and the advanced Scoliosis I am sure her bone density is not good. She is my best friend. No one knows me like she does and she has been with me longer than anyone with the exception of the seventeen hellish years I spent with my second wife. Cherie and I both love her to death and she is one of the ones we helped financially when we got the first inheritance check.

I did finish painting the half of the back room Cherie and I did yesterday. The second coat made all the difference though I did have to put a third coat here where you can see how the first didn’t cover the bottom half of the wall well.

You can also see the original color of the walls. I call it nicotine yellow. Cherie is cleaning in the bedroom right now. The incident with the scorpion has inspired her to get everything off the floor she can and she is running the shop vac, with it’s powerful suction and long hose, through every crack and crevice she can reach. It’s a wonder how much motivation a scorpion can generate. I’m staying here in the office where it’s safe.

Doing well now. The headache is pretty much gone. Think I’ll call it a day soon. There are an increasing number of people reading this blog now. Of course it helps that I can go online whenever I want and keep this up to date. (more or less) Some of the new regulars are from Stanton, which I like cause it’ll let them get to know me. We are going to spend the rest of our life here so that will be good, at least for the most part. There is still a part of me that is unsure and a little paranoid of being ill thought of. I suppose that will always be there. I think I will go ahead and post this. Tomorrow will be a decent day but the cold is scheduled to come in Friday night with snow Saturday. We will keep the space heaters going though we can’t run more than two at a time in different parts of the house or we will blow the circuit breakers. Plus we learned we can’t have too many (that would actually be two) kitchen appliances on along with the bedroom heater cause they are all on the same circuit. When I rewire this house that’s one of the issues I intend to solve. Don’t know when that will be. I don’t know much about wiring a house other than electricity can kill you if you’re not careful. Careful I’ll be and besides that I’ve got a book that explains it in simple terms. Getting the wire to the plugs through the walls may be the hardest part. That will be a ways down the road because of finances. No money no fixey

Good night all. God willing I'll be back tomorrow

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blustery day

12/20/06 Wednesday
It is a blustery windy morning. Last night it stormed with some powerful rains. Out here rain is usually a welcome thing except for the occasions it comes so hard and fast it becomes what they call a gully washer. Even then it is welcome for water is a precious commodity.

Cherie is cold as she often is so has gone to the kitchen to bake some cookies because that is warmer. The news said there was black ice and lots of wrecks in Midland this morning. It will warm up to maybe 57 degrees today and will be sunny. I was going to go to a breakfast thing where folks from all the churches meet at 6:30 AM. I decided not to not only cause it’s nasty out but mostly because it is eleven miles there and back and at sixteen miles per gallon it would burn off nearly a gallon of gas. I just put in five dollars worth of gas which is just over two gallons and there is no longer any cash to spare. Cherie went online to check our Toledo bank account and discovered that they have charged a five dollar checking account fee along with a buck fifty cash withdrawal fee we are clueless about. That leaves us two dollars in the account. Ouch! It’s ten days till my check comes in.

I don’t think either of us will be going outside so it will be a good day to paint half the back room. Cherie will run her application for the custodian job to the church and check mail but her gas is where mine is. We put five bucks in yesterday. At least her Prizm gets much better gas mileage than the truck does so that will help. We also have the quarters we saved up to do laundry with to tap if need be.

I’m going outside to check on what’s making so much noise on our roof. The wind is whipping out of the west and I ought to make sure the steel roof is well attached. It’s been there for decades and I know the nails can creep out over the years of wind and rain. It looked fine when I gave it a cursory look.

The roof was fine. Most of the noise evidently came from dead branches breaking off the pecan tree that stands over the house and garage. However I noticed that part of the metal roof on the old henhouse was banging up and down. Some of the corner had long since blown away. Remembering what I saw at Chuck’s place I found one of the old tires that was laying around and put it on the roof to keep the metal in place.

Monday the wind had been blowing strong from the east when I had been struggling to pack as much of the school bus debris into the dumpster as I could because trash pickup is Tuesday. As I tried much of the paper and lighter stuff went flying away. Now the wind is blowing from the west and I saw that some of the trash came back home and was stuck on the fence. You know how it is, easy go and easy come back. “Nuts”.

Remember what I wrote yesterday? About how things seem to work out as if there is a hand on our lives? Cherie went into town to drop off her application and pick up mail. We got our first Christmas card!!! I know you’re supposed to wait till Christmas to open things up but never have been one for tradition. It was from my sister Robin, the only member of my family who I really can communicate with. She sent us a fifty dollar Walmart gift card. With that we can buy gas and food. Heck we might even get something nice to fix for Christmas. What a blessing and what great timing. Thanks Sis (She reads this blog on occasion,What a powerful way for others to keep up)

I got an E mail from Jay and Sherrie Gilchrist who are with the MS Lunch Bunch in Toledo. At the Christmas party many were asking if anybody had heard from us. I wrote a nice E mail telling of how we are and giving the blog address so everyone could see how we are doing. I also asked if they could see about getting Wayne to the monthly luncheons. That and Denise’s new address. Anyway it touches me that others are thinking about me. Not used to that too much really. Helps the self esteem.

I think I will go online to post this and then we will start painting.

We got the first half of the painting done. It’s always great for us to work together. Of course with the cheap paint it’ll take two maybe three coats. Carman kitty snuck in and got himself a little painted. Shows up well on a black cat. While painting I again heard the neighbors on their ATV’s so got the binoculars out to make sure they weren’t riding on our property. Sure enough they were. I had to get in the truck and go over there where I let them know they couldn’t. I had been thinking of going over and introducing myself for a while but never did. This is probably not the best way to introduce myself but that’s the way it is. One of the reasons I can’t let them ride on the land is that is a specific criteria spelled out in our CRP contract and it could result in a fine or something. Besides that as a former motocross racer and dirt biker I know how quickly this can tear up the land. The guy I talked to was around twenty or so. I don’t know if he is the owner or son at the house or for that matter if he is related at all. There were seven or eight guys there. While there I noticed that a wide swath had been cut around the house. I will have to have this land surveyed as soon as we can afford it. Lee had said that her brother Troy had built on her portion of the property. We’ll see.

It’s late and the reception from Alltell is weak so I keep getting bumped offline so I’ll get this posted while I can. Goodnight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm sharp this morning so it'll be a long post but good

12/18/06 Monday
It’s 9:00 this morning. I’ve been up and moving for about an hour now. Didn’t get much sleep last night. We fixed a big pot of beans yesterday and they are great so I had two big bowls. Beans are one of the most economical foods around but caused some serious gastric disturbances. I guess beans are high in fiber so it was like eating several bowls of bran cereal. I was up and down to the bathroom at all hours of the night. On top of that is one of the well known results of eating beans. If I could strap a trumpet to my ass I could have played the Dixie land blues. Yeah I know, too much information.

I am only running at about a five on the Bob scale this morning. My average level of cognizance is a seven so this is a bit lower but I can still get things done just have to push through and work hard to stay on task. Cherie will help me with that.

I want to mention about our electricity prices here in Texas.

12/19/06 Tuesday
That’s as far as I got with yesterday’s journal. I am sharp this morning and the way my fingers are dancing easily on this keyboard tells me I am running at a nine on the Bob scale so this will probably be a decent and long entry.

Let me finish the thought I started at the end of yesterday’s entry. In Toledo electricity cost us $8.56 per kilowatt hour after you added up all the different fees. (I couldn’t do the math yesterday) We used 754 hours in June. Here in Stanton it costs $7.16 per kilowatt hour which is significantly less. In the house here on the farm we only used 202 hours which was much lower than we had feared with using the space heaters to keep warm. Of course having lots of warm days helped that quite a bit. Now the well, which is on a separate meter, only used 125 hours of electricity. That also was much less than we had expected. The old bills my grandmother had were significantly higher, probably due to having an undersized pump pushing sandy water through pipes that were too small. Needless to say we were bracing for a big electric bill we wouldn’t be able to pay and it was only $49.50. Big help.

Now I am going to do something I’ve been debating internally for a few days now. That is to be honest about our money situation. Part of the reason I didn’t was to not give Cherie’s family something to worry about. The other was my pride and the desire to put on a front that we are doing great. Actually we are, at least as far as our attitude and optimism. Yeah things are tough but so are we. Both of us have experienced tough times. When Cherie lived in Phoenix before we got back together she went through a period where she would eat rice for breakfast with some sugar and butter on it and rice for many of her other meals so she could put gas in her tank to get to work. After she filed her bankruptcy she lost the car and had to take a bus to work.

Now I’ve been to hell and back so there is little that daunts me. Now back to the inner debate I had. Part of the decisions I made when I re-evaluated life after waking from a coma and discovering I had been declared dead at the scene of my accident is to be completely open and honest. This has actually cause some problems as many I’ve met don’t understand and misinterpret such honesty. They are so used to people having ulterior motives that they presume I am not being straight with them. That and the problems I had comprehending and relaying my thoughts due to the brain injury was the basis of the gossip going around the leadership at the Cedar Creek church. This resulted in them writing a letter asking us to go somewhere else. You can go back to around March 2005 in this journal to read about this sad time that caused so much pain and disillusionment for us.

OK, enough said. Here is how things are and have been. I’m going into detail because of my expectations of judgmental attitudes. I fear that some will think we blew all the money and are bums. I know that Billie Pinkerton, who did Minnie Lee’s taxes, asked “What about all that money you got?”.

When Lee died and we first heard about the size of the estate we had the impression that after all was said and done we would have about thirty five thousand dollars to use for fixing up the house and getting the farm started. One offer for the land changed all of that. It doubled or tripled the assessed value of the land and with my brother’s greed and haste to cash out, things ended up on a drastically different note.

Larry tried to push me into just signing off on buying his half of the land out of my cash portion of the estate without me even knowing how much that was or how much he would get. I tried to get some figures from Jim McGilvray, the lawyer handling the estate, and Virginia who is the executor of the estate with no luck at all. Everyone seemed to be shuffling around these things, leaving us in the dark about what was where. Hell I had a hard time getting a copy of the will, having to request it several times. Didn’t get it till after it was filed and it came from the courthouse, not the attorney and executor though they did send it a few days later. Larry started getting real nasty about me just not agreeing to whatever he said. Our phone conversations were shouting matches. Much of this is recorded in this journal. I sent him E mails because he wouldn’t communicate with me at all so he finally called. This is when I was in the middle of moving Sharon out of the apartment complex she had been beaten up in. “You want to F—in talk, F—in talk now” were the first words out of his mouth. I hung up on him after telling him to call when he wasn’t drunk or could talk civilly. Finally we got a lawyer. This cost us over $2000 but was what we needed and in hindsight was a good idea. Till then I felt like I was being treated as a second citizen with others assuming that my brain damage made me stupid. I wouldn’t make decision till I understood what I was doing and they made little effort to help me understand. Our lawyer, Patrick Duffy, helped clear things up greatly so we both could comprehend what was going on. It was simple enough and would have been much better if others would have just taken the time to talk.

I gotta take a break for the moment. Cherie just finished heating up some water so I can wash my hair. That’s never fun when it’s cold. I only wash it now maybe twice a week to conserve water. We go through about ten gallons of bottled water every three or four days. In case I didn’t mention it we did get rid of the E coli in our well so it is safe to use but the water is so hard soap won’t lather up and it actually stains cloth. That’s why we use the bottled stuff for cooking, washing, and anything else having to do with our bodies. For washing our hair we just lean over the tub and pour water on our heads from a pitcher.

What we ended up with was somewhere close to twenty thousand. Cherie’s got the exact figures but this is pretty close. So where did it go? I bought a pickup truck because we would need it to pull the trailer down to Texas. That was $4,000 but the book value was listed at close to $8,000. I always good at getting deals on that kind of stuff. I paid $600 for the 1969 livestock trailer but had to put another $2,000 to get it fixed up. That was a total rebuild where I took it down to the frame, had Nate weld new steel to reinforce where the rust had eaten it up. I had to put in a whole new floor, new electric brakes, and sides to make it weather proof and protect our furniture, and all kinds of other stuff like new sheetmetal for the roof and sides. Knowing I will be rebuilding much of the house I started stocking up on the tools I would need. Many of them were necessary to fix the trailer. Understand that just four years prior to this I was homeless and carried everything I owned in a garbage bag so I didn’t even have a screwdriver. Cherie thinks I spent maybe three grand on tools though I don’t think it was that much.

Thinking we would be able to completely reequip the house we joined Direct Buy, a buyers club that offers just about everything you need for a home at what retailers pay. That means that a washer that cost a grand would only cost us five hundred dollars. That membership costs four thousand dollars which we make payments on after a hefty down payment. It would have been a wise decision had things gone the way we expected. Now we can’t afford a new set of cookware. Maybe we’ll be able to make use of this later, I hope so. Seemed like a good idea at the time but once the contract is signed that’s it. Hey, I didn’t say we didn’t make mistakes.

I did buy Cherie a new laptop computer. That ran $1200. We already had printers and I had gotten my laptop, office furniture, printers and stuff when I got the first check from my veterans disability pension. That had been a large one as it covered the year I waited for approval so those items so my stuff didn’t come out of this inheritance. There were other incidental things we bought though I can’t remember them at the moment. I know we paid off Cherie’s car so all our vehicles are paid for with no payments owed. We took Cherie’s family out for a nice going away dinner. That cost a couple hundred bucks which we don’t regret at all.

We also helped out some of the people we had been ministering too. Some were in dire financial straits and others such as Wayne needed some basic things such as clothes and furniture. I paid to have three computers that had been donated cleaned and fixed up and gave them to Wayne, Sharon, and Denise. That only cost a couple hundred bucks.

With that explained I’ll get to coming to Texas. We came here in July to clean and assess the farm house. What a mess. That is well covered in the blog if you care to go look just click on July at the archive menu. That trip cost us well over $3,000 between hotels, gas, dumpsters, and hiring some help for the physical work I was unable to do.

Next is our final move here. The drive down cost $1200. That includes the outrageous price of gas, hotels, and the cost of repairing both vehicles when they broke down on the road. Getting here we had to spend several days in a hotel till we could get electricity turned on. That of course required a deposit though it wasn’t too much. The well had been struck by lightning so there was no water. After talking with a few people in town we went to a well guy who had been highly recommended. He was flabbergasted when he saw the well saying he’d not seen anything like it before. Pulling up the pump he found it to be fried in addition to being an old used one despite the invoice we found for a new one that was supposed to be installed in 2004. There was no casing on the well which made it illegal for residential use. When all was said and done it cost about $3,000 to get it fixed.

Other expenses included another deposit on phone service, getting dumpster service (Which we are canceling at the end of December) and $175 for one hundred gallons of propane which leaked out in two weeks. We had to purchase things like a nice toaster oven, electric burner for heating water and cooking, ironing board, and other things for daily living. Oh yeah, space heaters so we didn’t freeze. We had to get cell phones and a special PC card for our laptops. This enables us to go online, which we view as a necessary thing. This cost a couple hundred bucks and will be a major monthly expense.

We spent a few hundred dollars on flooring tile and carpet as well as other things to make parts of this house livable. Of course there are things like food, gas, and laundry at the laundrymat. All said and done we currently have eleven dollars in the savings account we have in Toledo and nine dollars in our Stanton bank account. That will have to last us till I get my monthly check January first. All the inheritance money is long gone now for those of you who were asking or wondering about it. I hope this explains things for you.

Now back to yesterday and this morning. I made this towel rack yesterday for our bathroom out of some of the old lumber that I scavenged from around here. By the way, just to assure our family back in Toledo, Cherie and I are doing fine and not worried about things. We now have a good handle on what our monthly budget will be. There are a few bills from Toledo that we must pay but overall things are covered. Next month won’t be nearly as tight. Fixing the house will be a slow ongoing process as funds become available. The kitchen and office are done and the bedroom will be fine. Cherie has done a good job stocking up on food, finding great deals as she can so ably do. Milk, bread, and eggs are the main consumables we will need to get till my check comes so that’s covered with what we have left. The gift of food from Steve at the church was a powerful boost for us. Our life is an ongoing miracle and every need has been met as it comes. We are blessed so don’t worry guys. For you Christians out there, which includes you, mom and dad, I’ll quote out of the gospel of Luke, chapter 12. In verse 22 Jesus says “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”. I may have my doubts that I struggle with but this speaks well and I hope it brings some peace of mind to our family in Toledo.

2:29 – We just got back from picking up our mail and getting an application for a custodian at the church. That might work out well as it is only about 25 hours a week and may be flexible as far as the hours worked. There was a woman who had the job before so it’s something Cherie could handle. I can help her out when I am up to it. Right now I have a killer headache on the way up. Took aspirin as the other stuff doesn’t help at all. Am running allot slower than this morning. Down to a six on the Bob scale. Tired to so I am laying down as I write this.

I want to make a note about my conversation with Virginia. I asked her when the estate will be settled after saying that it has been a year since Lee died. She said that Billie Pinkerton had to do the taxes. That has me puzzled. Billie Pinkerton has done Lee’s income taxes for years and I didn’t think you paid those when you were dead. When I told this to Virginia she said you did and she must wait for Billie to get them done. I’ll have to ask Billie about that. Still confused about it.

I think I need to take a nap now. Maybe it’ll help the headache.

No it didn’t. The headache is still there though I think the aspirin I took helped. It’s still strange to me that I need to take a nap halfway through the day but I find it’s not unusual with TBI’s. The doctors told me I should do it and the research I did on the internet also talked about it. They said it was more mental fatigue than physical. Whatever, I know it is a big help and refreshes me. Makes me feel like I’m eighty or something.

Cherie fixed a fantastic dinner with the pork steaks she had found such a deal on a couple of weeks ago. That and some kind of little red potato called a creamer potato. Never heard of it but with the homemade sauce Cherie made they were great.

Good night all. Be blessed